After a long winter break, many motorsports’ fans can finally feel the joy of watching their favourite drivers back out on a racetrack again. Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula 3, and IndyCar all had their first races of the 2023 season this past weekend with F1 Academy set to kick off in Austria at the end of April and Formula E already having completed five of their races with the latest being in Cape Town.
Of course, due to the busy weekend, there is now a lot to catch up on and look forward to in the motorsport world, and I’m going to be taking you through all of it.
Max Verstappen came out on top in Bahrain, which was one of the more unsurprising moments of the weekend as the Red Bull looks to be the most dominant car once again this year.
F1 has been growing in popularity at a rapid rate recently and this season is going to need to have the drama and suspense that keeps races entertaining if they want these new viewers to become fans of the sport. One way that F1 is branching out is by collaborating with the brand PacSun. These two did collaborate last year and have continued their partnership, with PacSun releasing a large selection of F1-branded clothes just before the race weekend kicked off.Embed from Getty Images
As well as branching out the owners of F1 Liberty Media can thank Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin for helping to create an exciting battle in this first race of the season. Mercedes, who still seem to be struggling, were fighting the Aston Martin’s on track and because of this the viewers were gifted some great overtakes and defensive driving. This may not be where Mercedes wants to be and whom they want to be fighting but seeing Lewis Hamilton and Alonso fighting wheel to wheel was a treat for the fans.
There may be multiple reasons why Mercedes have fallen behind Red Bull, but the main talking point at the moment is the team’s concept when it comes to their car. Last season was a game-changing one when it came to car design as we saw such a contrast in ideas, with sidepods and suspension designs varying. The Brackley-based team now looks to possibly be losing all hope in their concept as both Hamilton, George Russell and Team Principal Toto Wolff agree that they are too far off the pace when it comes to wanting to challenge for the championship. Of course, upgrades will come throughout the season, but we will have to wait and see if any of these upgrades will be significant enough when it comes down to gaining lap time and race pace on their competitors.
It was many drivers’ F2 debuts in Bahrain, but it was returning driver Theo Pourchaire who dominated the field in qualifying and the race on Sunday.
Despite the Frenchman being lightning-quick in his ART car throughout the whole weekend it is Campos Racing who have walked away from the first race weekend at the top of the constructors’ standings.
All the drivers racing in the series this year will be hoping to emulate the likes of current F1 drivers George Russell, Oscar Piastri, and Nyck de Vries by winning the championship and one day hopefully making their own way into F1. A few of the teams within F1 already have some of the F2 drivers within their junior teams such as Red Bull currently having Dennis Hauger, Zane Maloney, Enzo Fittipaldi, Jak Crawford, Isack Hadjar, and Ayumu Iwasa as part of their team. So, within this F2 championship, there is also going to be some slight competition between these junior team drivers to try and show their F1 team that they are the fastest driver and best option if they are looking to promote anyone into the top category anytime soon.Embed from Getty Images
The team walking away from Bahrain with the biggest smile on their face was 100% the Trident team as they left the first race weekend with a 1-2 in the feature race and a 1-2 in the driver’s championship standings as well.
Moving onto their next race in Australia, which won’t take place until the end of this month, teams like Prema are going to be looking to have a slightly cleaner weekend than they did in Bahrain with points being lost in the feature race due to their cars coming together.
The teams and drivers will want to impress going into Australia. The ones who struggled in the first race are going to want to show improvements and the ones who did well in Bahrain are going to want to keep up their strong form, but as we know in Formula 3 it is easy for things to change from race to race and scoring points at every opportunity is crucial when it comes down to the championship.
Moving onto IndyCar which has the Vice Champion of the 2020 F2 season Callum Ilott featuring on the grid for the second year in a row this season. He managed to finish the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in fifth place, and it was ex-F1 driver Marcus Ericsson who managed to take the win.
A race that started with chaos after the red flag was waved just mere seconds into the first lap had carnage throughout with contact between drivers happening on multiple different laps during the race.
Lap 42 involved a crash which saw Jack Harvey go into the back of Rinus VeeKay’s car that was in the tyre barrier at a worrying speed. It was an unavoidable accident as there was really no time for Harvey to avoid VeeKay’s car. Luckily everyone involved in this crash and the other’s that happened in the race are all okay, and hopefully we won’t be seeing any more accidents like those throughout the season.
It is now a long wait for IndyCar fans until the first of April where we will get to see the drivers back out on track at the Texas Motor Speedway where Josef Newgarden won last year.
So that is all for this week but please make sure to check back next week as I look at the Formula E races that we’ve had so far this season, what we know about the F1 Academy, and preview the upcoming races.