RACE DEBRIEF

    It's a new year and the 2023 Formula 1 season is almost upon us. Just in case you weren't raring to go, here are 10 – well, quite a few more than 10 – reasons to be excited for the upcoming campaign...

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    1. Ferrari and Mercedes on the hunt

    Two giant teams are chasing Red Bull this season, and they’re hungrier than ever for success.

    Ferrari, who started last season strongly before falling behind the rampant Red Bulls, have rung in the changes: ex-Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur has been made Team Principal in place of the outgoing Mattia Binotto. After leading the qualifying charts last season, the Scuderia will now be looking to prove that they can execute Sundays just as well as Saturdays.

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    Mercedes hope to put memories of last year’s campaign – and their W13 – firmly in the rear-view mirror after the Silver Arrows fell to third in the standings and notched just one win over the season, with George Russell coming out top in Brazil. Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, had his first winless season in F1, and will be looking to make up for that.

    The ‘new’ era – well, current era – of cars has promoted overtaking and improved the action, so we can’t wait to see if some more three-way fights erupt over the next year…

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    Ferrari and Mercedes will be eager to make gains on 2022's campaign

    2. Verstappen defending his crown

    Red Bull have the unenviable task of defending their championships over a long season. But they have all the ingredients, and if Max Verstappen can continue driving at his current level, we’re in for a show.

    The Dutchman pulled off some stunning performances last season, including comebacks in Hungary and Belgium, but he missed out on what could’ve been a second straight Monaco victory, and still hasn’t taken a British Grand Prix victory. He’ll be looking to add those to his burgeoning trophy case.

    WATCH: Relive the best of the thrilling on-track action from 2022 in our season montage

    There are a few technical changes for teams to consider, with floors needing a redesign for this season to combat porpoising, but don’t expect that to overly shake up the competitive order.

    Then we have Sergio Perez, who at times seemed to be troubling the champion elect last season before falling to third in the championship. The Mexican veteran will be looking to become more than a thorn in his team mate’s side this season; with Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings, perhaps we’ll see a fraught intra-team battle at Red Bull. Imagine that…

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    Can anyone stop Verstappen?

    3. Rookies on the grid and proven drivers changing seats

    We finally get to see the results of a dramatic silly season that has six out of 10 teams sporting different driver line-ups for 2023.

    There are three full-time rookies this season: Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri), Logan Sargeant (Williams) and Oscar Piastri (McLaren).

    READ MORE: The Top 10 F1 drivers of 2022 – as chosen by the drivers

    Their progress will be an interesting watch, but note that Dutchman De Vries has already made his F1 debut – for Williams at Monza. Williams driver Sargeant will be flying the flag for the United States and he’ll have three opportunities to delight his home fans this year. And finally, Piastri will have all eyes on him after last year’s dramatic contract tug-of-war between Alpine and McLaren.

    Speaking of that tug-of-war, ex-Alpine driver Fernando Alonso will be bringing the experience of his two titles to Aston Martin, in the absence of the now-retired Sebastian Vettel.

    Pierre Gasly leaves the Red Bull family to join Alpine in an all-French line-up alongside Esteban Ocon, and, at Haas, Nico Hulkenberg returns to Formula 1 to join his former nemesis Kevin Magnussen at the North Carolina team.

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    Alonso dons green this season...

    4. A close quarters midfield battle

    We’ve covered the myriad driver changes carried out by the midfielders, but what we haven’t touched upon is how those midfielders could add to the fireworks this season.

    Aston Martin picked up 37 of their 55 points after the half-way point last season, and that is proof of their development path yielding rewards. They will surely be looking to head their rivals in the race for P6 in the standings – but can they go a step better and challenge Alpine and McLaren?

    As for McLaren, the only team bar Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes to pick up a podium last season, they will be ruing lost points that saw them fall to fifth in the 2022 standings and this season – with rookie Piastri alongside an exceptionally strong Lando Norris – they’ll surely be challenging Alpine once again.

    READ MORE: Jolyon Palmer picks his stand-out drivers and performances from a sizzling 2022 season

    We’re also yet to see the effects of Andreas Seidl’s move to Sauber/Alfa Romeo. But Alpine, who still have two proven points-scoring drivers despite Alonso’s departure, were clinical last season. A podium or two isn’t out of the question for them.

    The field will converge, naturally, as teams explore these relatively new technical regulations, and this coming season will reflect that. Williams – without Jost Capito and FX Demaison – AlphaTauri and Haas have plenty of work to do if they are to stay on the tail of the midfield.

    It's not long until the teams unveil their 2023 machines...

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    We're due another scintillating face-off in the midfield

    5. Viva Las Vegas

    The 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix is a brand-new round on the calendar as F1 gears up for a return to Las Vegas. The cars will blaze down the world-famous Strip and its incredible landmarks on November 16-18 – and excitement is already ramping up for the event.

    READ MORE: Why Las Vegas will finally get the Formula 1 race it deserves in 2023

    Red Bull driver Perez was among a few F1 drivers to have delighted fans with show runs at the Las Vegas Grand Prix launch party in 2022, and he said: “It was a great weekend. It's great to see how the fans are looking so much forward to it. Things didn't go that well in the casinos, so not very nice memories, but other than that everything was really cool… I think it's going to be the biggest event in the world next year.”

    Mercedes’ Hamilton added: “It’s crazy to think we have a Grand Prix coming here… to see that there’s an actual buzz around F1, and people will come out here just for this, is a small insight into what we’re going to experience when we come out here in 2023.”

    We can’t wait to see how the Grand Prix weekend turns out…

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    Vegas beckons...

    6. A record-breaking calendar

    Las Vegas is one of 24 Grands Prix on the 2023 calendar – a record breaking campaign.

    There’s a terrific mix of old-school circuits – Monaco, Imola, Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and Zandvoort – and modern arenas such as Lusail, Miami and Singapore.

    We’ll have a better idea as to which car is suited to which circuit (Mercedes might be expected to shine in Brazil after last year’s triumph) but the pecking order isn’t set in stone. The only thing that’s guaranteed is high drama from March to November.

    READ MORE: The 2023 Formula 1 calendar

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    There's intense action in store from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi

    7. Six Sprints

    Not only do we have 24 Grands Prix to look forward to in 2023, but six Sprint events too.

    Sprints are 100km dashes to the line that take place on Saturday, ensuring action across the weekend, and setting the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix. We’ll see Sprints take place in Azerbaijan (Baku City Circuit), Austria (Red Bull Ring), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps), Qatar (Lusail Circuit), the United States (Circuit of The Americas) and Sao Paulo (Interlagos).

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    There will be a couple of changes this season, with DRS activation to be brought forward by one lap at the start of Sprints and Safety Car restarts within Sprints, as part of a trial by the FIA, who are also bringing in some parc ferme and damage allowance changes.

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    There are more Sprints than ever this season

    The road to F1

    The road to F1 plays its biggest role yet in 2023 with a record-breaking 10 Formula 3 rounds along with 14 Formula 2 rounds across the year.

    Both campaigns begin in Bahrain in support of the Formula 1 weekend at Sakhir on March 3-5 and, for the first time, both championships will support the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 31-April 2.

    READ MORE: Formula 2 and Formula 3 reveal race calendars for 2023 season

    F3 will also join F2 on the Monaco Grand Prix support bill in May, before July sees four F2 and F3 rounds.

    We’ll keep a keen eye on the two prestigious single-seater categories as the potential future stars of F1 go wheel-to-wheel on the world’s greatest circuits.

    SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 28: Felipe Drugovich of Brazil and MP Motorsport (11) leads the field into turn one at the start during the Round 11:Spa-Francorchamps Feature race of the Formula 2 Championship at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28, 2022 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Alex Pantling - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)
    F2 and F3 will support F1 at the likes of Monaco and Melbourne

    9. F1 Academy

    F2 and F3 will be joined by the all-female F1 Academy series, which makes its debut in 2023.

    Five established squads – ART Grand Prix, Campos Racing, Carlin, MP Motorsport, and PREMA Racing – will field three cars apiece to make up the grid, with the calendar and driver line-ups to be announced very soon…

    READ MORE: F1 Academy announces the five teams entering 2023-2025 seasons

    “We believe it is important that everyone has the chance to follow their ambitions and get the support and guidance needed to progress and excel,” said F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali in 2022.

    “The F1 Academy is an important part of our plan to increase diversity and representation in motorsport and we are looking forward to the first season in 2023. Stay tuned for more news in this area.”

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    Bruno Michel, F2 & F3 CEO, and Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1 President and CEO, announced F1 Academy in 2022

    10. More fun off the track

    This year, there are more ways than ever to engage with Formula 1.

    Netflix are set to release the fifth season of Drive To Survive, their ever-dramatic and absorbing recap of the past Formula 1 campaign.

    Depending on your territory, a subscription to F1 TV will unlock thousands of hours of exclusive shows, highlights and race replays alongside live F1, F2 and F3 coverage.

    F1 Esports will return after McLaren Shadow and Lucas Blakeley won the 2022 Series – with qualification to open very soon. And you can compete against the world and win prizes with our official F1 Fantasy game.

    Madrid hosts the F1 Exhibition – an interactive journey through the sport’s history – and those in London can check out the brand-new F1 Arcade experience.

    Here on F1.com we’ll have all the content you need to bring the season to life, including podcasts, videos and articles. This will be the biggest and most enjoyable season yet – wherever you are!