The season opener in Bahrain could feature a few surprise names on the podium this Sunday
Last Updated: 06.51 PM, Mar 04, 2023
The 2023 Formula One season could be one of the closely contested seasons in over a decade. Even though the same has been said for nearly every season since 2010, when Sebastian Vettel won the first of his four World titles with Red Bull, there is genuine belief that under the new regulations introduced last year, all the teams could be more competitive.
Fans of the sport are understandably thrilled with the prospect of more wheel-to-wheel racing, but most fans in India, however, are not too thrilled about the new season for one particular reason — Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar will not broadcast in Formula One from this year, nor will any of other major streaming platforms or TV channels.
Where to watch Formula One in India?
Formula One has launched its own streaming platform in India called F1TV. Their platform offers two packages, F1TV Pro for ₹2499/year or ₹299/month and F1TV Access for ₹1649/year or ₹239/month. Live races can only be streamed with the F1TV Pro pack, while the F1TV Access pack offers replays and other F1 related content.
The new season season will not be available on cable or DTH in India.
What we learned from pre-season testing
Defending champions Red Bull were comfortably ahead of the pack in pre-season testing and looks likely to be the team to beat this year. It remains to be seen how Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will get along this season after their infamous falling out in Brazil last year.
Ferrari under the new leadership of Fred Vasseur will hope that they do not repeat the same calamitous mistakes from last year. The team attempted several aerodynamic tests, and both drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz appear to be cautiously optimistic.
Mercedes struggled last year with porpoising during the first half of the season, and it appears they won’t be plagued by the same issue this year. However, their race pace leaves a lot to be desired, unless of course, they are sandbagging. The team’s English drivers, seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton and rising star George Russell will hope that the German car will have more power come race day.
Aston Martin replaced a retiring Sebastian Vettel with the most experienced driver on the grid, and who some might argue is also the best driver — Fernando Alonso. The two-time World Champion has already raised a few eyebrows with the pace and mileage he has extracted from the Aston Martin. Alonso and his teammate Lance Stroll could be the dark horses this season.
Andreas Seidl replaced Fred Vasseur as the team principal for Alfa Romeo this season. Both drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, appeared to be optimistic about the new Alfa Romeo C43.
Alpha Tauri on the other hand appears to be struggling with pace. The team will hope that their new highly coveted rookie driver Nyck de Vries, and the unpredictable Yuki Tsunoda, can push the car to its limits.
The French team Alpine and their all-French driver line-up of Esteban Ocon and the newly signed Pierre Gasly will hope that the car is better than what pre-testing suggested.
The once mighty McLaren have endured a pre-season to forget. They missed several development targets and the car struggled with reliability. Ironically, reliability is an issue that has long been associated with the team even when they were challenging for titles. Oscar Piastri, who is dubbed the next Max Verstappen, signed for McLaren this year, under a clout of controversy following his unceremonious departure from Alpine. Piastri and his relatively experienced teammate Lando Norris are in for a disappointing campaign this year if McLaren do not sort out their car soon.
Gunther Steiner’s Haas has parted company with Mick Schumacher for the new season, and interestingly enough Steiner has partnered Kevin Magnussen with his former arch-nemesis Nico Hulkenberg. Regardless of how the car performs, Haas will surely deliver entertainment this season.
Williams are going through one of the worst periods in their illustrious history. While their pre-season testing showed considerable improvement from last year, it remains to be seen if the car can help Alexander Albon and Logan Sargent can challenge the midfield.
When to watch the Bahrain Grand Prix
The opening race of the season will be at 8:30 pm IST at the Bahrain International Circuit on Synday, March 5.