JP Kurbhi, 2nd February, 2023
With the 2022 season having ended at Abu Dhabi last year, the world and the most avid of Formula One fans would have to endure a harsh wait for any activity whatsoever, on the edge of their seats, awaiting for the first signs that F1 was back in action. Like always, the thing that kicks off the action waiting to unfold are the car and livery reveals the teams are set to make. Let’s have a look at what Formula One’s warriors have to show to us, from new cars and big livery changes.
A refreshed Haas team introduced a striking black to their red-and-white scheme from last year.
After a much improved 2022 season (in comparison to their last 3 seasons), Haas are giving us a new refreshed look, adding striking streaks of black around the side pods and airbox of the car, also helping highlight the team’s new main sponsor, MoneyGram. With a car immediately compared to Ferrari’s car last year, Haas, now fielding two fairly experienced drivers in form of Kevin Magnussen, who was responsible for showing the improvements Haas had made between their disastrous 2021 season and last year, and Formula One’s newest super-sub, Nico Hülkenberg, who, despite not having a full-time race seat since 2019 (where he drove for Renault), has made multiple appearances standing in for drivers between 2020 and 2022, in a total of four races. In 2020, he stood in for COVID-stricken Sergio Pérez in the two Silverstone races, while he also stood in for Lance Stroll at the Eifel Grand Prix, at the Nürburgring. After a race-less 2021, Nico returned in 2022, as he stood in for German four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, for the first two races of the year, at Bahrain and Saudi Arabia respectively. With a pair of experienced drivers, a reliable sponsor (for now) and a good amount of potential coming into the second season with the new regulations, it’s interesting to see where Haas will end up when the pre-season testing gets underway at Bahrain on the 23rd of February.
Keeping it the same: other than a few sponsor changes, the Red Bull livery remains the same as last year.
While for Red Bull, they have mostly kept their livery the same in comparison to last year, there are two very small sponsorship changes that are noticeable if you keep your eyes peeled, those of software company Citrix and sportswear company Puma, that have been replaced by technology company Rokt and sportswear brand Castore. But Otherother than these two small changes, the Red Bull livery remains entirely the same in comparison to its constructor-champion older sibling. Having won their first constructors and drivers championships in the same year since 2013 (with Sebastian Vettel), Red Bull’s pace is very well being speculated by the media and fans alike, as while even though they are coming back as reigning champions, there are concerns over Red Bull having their development time cut down due their cost cap breach back in 2021, which certainly does put a question mark on where Red Bull will be on things such as reliability (as that was a concern at the early parts of the season last year).
Similarly to Red Bull, Williams, despite a deal struck with Gulf Oil, remains mostly the same.
In a similar fashion to Red Bull, Williams’ livery had no big changes, other than some sponsorship changes. There were many rumors circulating around the deal between Williams and Gulf Oil prior to the car’s reveal, and fans were expecting a livery similar to the one McLaren ran back at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix, which left fans waiting in anticipation for the reveal. However, they would then see Gulf Air stickers at the rear wing and front of the car, much to their disappointment. Despite not much change, we can commend Williams on having the first good livery reveal which wasn’t boring enough that it made us fall asleep (looking at you, Red Bull). It’s also interesting to note that some sponsors that had been at Williams for a while have now disappeared off their car, most notably brands such as Lavazza and Sofina, both of which were brought onto the team by Nicholas Latifi, who lost his seat at the end of that year. With former Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles now at the helm of the team, we can only wait and see how Williams will perform with Thai driver Alexander Albon and American Rookie Logan Sargeant this season. A highlight of this livery is the clever airbox intake painted like a Duracell battery. Pure genius!
A “meaner” look: Alfa Romeo drops the white in their livery, with a stunning red-and-black combination.
Alfa Romeo certainly rolled heads when they dropped their new livery for their 2023 challenger, the C43. The white that had been so prevalent on the team’s livery ever since 2019 was completely dashed for this season, instead being replaced by a maroon and black combination which revealed a fantastic final result. Now to see whether the car will perform better than its predecessor, the C42, who suffered of reliability issues at the first half of the season despite showing really good pace in comparison to the previous years, but was able to come back at the second half, snatching a 6th Place in the Constructors Championship from Aston Martin. We now wonder whether the car even will be as good as it was last year, and whether Alfa Romeo’s drivers Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou will be able to bring in the points for the team this season like they were able to last season or they will end up falling back this season (in a pace similar to their 2019-2021 seasons), which isn’t necessarily impossible (just look at Mercedes last season as an example).
Branching out: AlphaTauri’s new car is taking a step into being less reliant on Red Bull.
First of all, we have to congratulate AlphaTauri for completely outselling Red Bull when it came to their car reveal (or livery reveal, for Red Bull), and everyone was quite surprised to see AlphaTauri take quite a different approach with their car in comparison to what we’ve seen in past years, where we have seen AlphaTauri rely on Red Bull’s tech in order to build their car, but fans were positively surprised to see a car quite different from what we saw from them last year, with a sharper nose being the most notable of changes (compared to the more stubby design from their 2022 car). It’s also quite refreshing to see a little bit of new colors in the car, since AlphaTauri has been the same black-and-white scheme for the past three years, with a splash of red being added on the halo, sides and rear wing thanks to their new Orlen sponsorship (which unfortunately likely resulted in certified GOAT Robert Kubica ending his career spell after the company left Alfa Romeo). With an interesting (and short) lineup consisting of Japanese Yuki Tsunoda (still the youngest in the grid) and Monza’s own wonder Nyck de Vries (who ironically signed with the team after being in the Mercedes academy since the dawn of time), we are very excited to see what AlphaTauri has to offer this season that’s up their sleeves, and we will also want to see if AlphaTauri will keep outselling Red Bull in multiple other ways.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Aston Martin’s iconic green livery stays mostly the same for 2023.
In a similar case to teams like Red Bull, Aston Martin’s livery this year is a perfect example of the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, with the iconic Aston Martin Green still being the standard for the team’s liveries. With Aston Martin’s apparent hunger for the top spots (mentioned by Fernando Alonso during the car reveal event), we can be very interested to see how Aston Martin will run throughout the 2023 season, as Alonso seems quite satisfied with Aston Martin’s ambitions for the season after being quite frustrated by Alpine’s reliability issues that cost him crucial points last year. This will also be an important season for Canada’s Lance Stroll as well, as the Canadian had a somewhat lackluster season in 2022, where he got consistently outpaced by four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who retired at the end of last year, which in turn resulted in Alonso moving to the team and kicking off the 2023 silly season in the most insane way possible. Will the team be able to bounce back from a mediocre 2022 with a two-time world champion at the helm, or will the team’s lineup have a season akin to Alonso and Stroll’s moment in Austin last year? That’s something we’ll all have to wait for, even if the wait seems unbearable.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it Part 2: Electric Boogaloo - McLaren also remains mostly the same for 2023.
In a similar fashion to Aston Martin, McLaren kept their livery mostly the same for their 2023 challenger, with the only real change being the rear wing being completely orange now. While the livery doesn’t show much change from its 2022 predecessor, the team in general has had some quite important changes; especially to its lineup, as while Lando Norris stays with the Woking outfit for the 5th successive year, 2021 Formula 2 vanquisher Oscar Piastri joins the team after leaving the sinking ship that is Alpine and its driver academy with one of the most legendary Formula 1-related tweets which people were left with their jaws dropped once it happened. The Australian rookie is replacing fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo, who went back to Red Bull as a test driver following him and McLaren mutually terminating his contract for 2023 (as they were likely trying to get Piastri onto their team). Last year, McLaren struggled severely in the first half of the season, but were able to get back in the second half and were successfully able to remain with the “best of the rest” title for 2022. Even with such a strong end to the season, McLaren team boss Andrea Stella has stated that he isn’t generally happy with the car as it is, as the team will bring upgrades as the season progresses (with upgrades being promised for the Azerbaijan round).
Impressive: Ferrari were brave to have an open-door shakedown of their car minutes after their reveal.
Ferrari were next, and while most of the car remains somewhat unchanged, some splashes of black were added onto their livery to go alongside that iconic Ferrari red they’re so well known for, with props to their eye-catching rear wing, that, while simple, is quite impactful at doing its job of truly showing who Ferrari really is. After a rollercoaster 2022 season, which saw them at thrilling highs at the beginning of the season to depressing lows by the end, Ferrari seem to be quite ambitious for this season, hinted alone by the fact that they chose to do a shakedown of their 2023 car only a few minutes after it was actually revealed, which seems quite mind-boggling considering a lot of the teams settled on just revealing to the world a test model or just putting their new livery on their 2022 car. True bravery coming from the Prancing Horse, as they also have a new team boss at the helm, in the name of Frédéric Vasseur, inbound from Alfa Romeo. Will Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. be able to end that nearly eternal hiatus of any titles or will they suffer through all the pain they have suffered last season? We’d have to see if Ferrari spooked away their 2022 ghosts with this new car and whether Leclerc and Sainz will be able to consistently score points for their run.
Back to Black: Mercedes drops the silver in quite a clever strategic move.
It’s a familiar sight making its return to the sport after a one-year break, the “Black Arrow” strikes back with quite a triumphal return. Back in 2020, the Mercedes went all-black as a result of the growing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and the team would then go back to their iconic silver livery in 2022, as the team felt enough movement was made about it. However, this time, the return to black is actually a quite interesting strategic move, as they decided to completely remove the silver and expose the car’s black carbon body without any paint, with only little painted details at certain areas of the car. This is in an effort to reduce the weight of the car, which can serve as a huge competitive advantage for when the season starts, which can concern the frontrunners of last year. Mercedes had quite a tricky season last year, with only a single win in comparison to their 9 wins back in their title run in 2021, along with generating Lewis Hamilton’s first season without a single win or pole, which honestly comes out as a shock considering how close he was to winning in Austin last year. Will we see Hamilton and teammate George Russell bounce back from that tricky 2022 season, or will they have to wait another year to truly go back to their winning ways?
Unchanged, with Black Stripes: Alpine also decided to shave off some paint off their 2023 challenger.
Alpine was the last in line to reveal their car for the 2023 season, and it was quite interesting to see the approach the team took with their reveal. While, like many others, choosing to put their new paint scheme over their 2022 model, what truly set their reveal apart from the rest of the competition was how they got their technical Matt Harman to analyze the changes for their new challenger for the 2023 season (in comparison to their 2022 car), which did add a little bit of interest and something new to the table when it came to the content in a car reveal for F1 teams. Alpine will keep French driver (that is way too aggressive with teammates) Esteban Ocon for a fourth successive season, while Pierre Gasly finally escaped the clutches of Helmut Marko, a crappy car and the never existing chances of returning to Red Bull by moving to Alpine, where F1 fans immediately expect to see some action in a way similar to Hamilton and Rosberg during their time at Mercedes (due to the duo’s very interesting past), all while Australian F2 driver Jack Doohan was able to actually get a relevant role in the team (something most Alpine Academy Drivers can’t say they have) by taking the reserve role spot, a role previously taken by now McLaren driver Oscar Piastri. We’ll have to wait for the pre-season testing to see where Alpine will rank and what they will have on their hands for the hotly anticipated 2023 season.
And that is it! 10 teams, 20 drivers, and one incredibly exciting season coming soon to us, as the pre-season tests will be held in Bahrain between the 23rd and 25th of February, where we’ll see where each team ranks up in comparison to their past performances, and even keep a close eye on if any teams have climbed up the ladder or slipped down the order with their 2023 car. What will we see? Well, we won’t be seeing Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll throughout these tests, as this opens the door for Fernando Alonso to take all the testing to himself or see former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne and 2022 Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich take seats during the tests. We now await an exciting pre-season testing, where everything will be set for the season. See you then!