In 2022, and especially towards the end of the season, we’ve seen a few of his teammates battle it out on the track. In 2023, there are some changes to the network that can ensure that we will see some great duels. But with which teams will these duels be exciting and possibly hot next season?
Last year it was exciting for a while only at Alpine and Mercedes when it came to cross-qualifying matches. Moreover, on Sunday it was clear who was the better driver in the duel and scored more points. Each team had a standout driver, with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso in particular proving exceptional and equal (but 11 points different, points-wise). Conflicts with other teams were a little clearer last season. However, in 2023, there is enough potential for some exciting duels within teams.
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1: Alpine: Pierre Gasly – Esteban Ocon
We start at Alpine, where Pierre Gasly joined the ranks of the team as a replacement for the departed Fernando Alonso. There has been a tense battle between Alonso and Ocon in recent seasons, and it was clear both on and off the track that the two drivers were not getting along. In 2023 there will be no clear leader in the team who wants to go to the top three teams. Ocon and Gasly will both have ambition and also the idea that they can claim their place as leader. This has to happen outside and on the track, and there is the potential for this to create amazing and potentially controversial moments. And then not to mention the much-discussed liaison Gasly and Akon had in the past.
At Haas, the new driver duo is almost asking for trouble and controversy. Last season it was clear that Kevin Magnussen was the leader and Mick Schumacher was second behind him and he didn’t get the confidence. Nico Hülkenberg will join the team in 2023, so two experienced drivers join a team that wants to take a step up to the sub-top and doesn’t have a clear first driver. Magnussen and Hülkenberg will both feel they have to be given the edge when needed, and when you combine this with both drivers’ histories, it’s almost inevitable that this driver pairing will set off fireworks during the 2023 season.
The unexpected happened at Mercedes in 2022: Lewis Hamilton was slightly better than George Russell on Saturday, but was defeated on Sunday. As a result, his role as a leader at Mercedes is not certain anymore. Mercedes is expected to have a title contender again in 2023, and both Russell and Hamilton will have that ambition. Add to that the fact that both drivers also have the right quality for it, and the Hamilton-Nico Rosberg situation could be imminent. Mercedes will do everything possible to prevent this, but the question is whether this is even possible.
4: Red Bull: Sergio Perez – Max Verstappen
Red Bull isn’t high on this list because it’s interesting or unknown who will be the captain of the team. Max Verstappen is the lead driver, something that really showed last year. It is the condition that the Dutchman imposed with his performance and his contract. However, it is also clear that Sergio Perez has ambitions of his own, and events in Brazil will not completely extinguish the fire. It will be in the back of the mind of both drivers and the entire team when both drivers meet on track. The question then is how Red Bull and both drivers will behave.
5: Aston Martin: Fernando Alonso – Lance Stroll
Lance Stroll raced regularly with Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin and was often the second driver behind the German. However, in 2023, Stroll will once again be facing someone who will probably be instantly bombed as the number one driver: Fernando Alonso. Given the nature of both Alonso and Stroll and the history between the two drivers, long-term fireworks are very likely to be expected. Everyone expects Alonso to do what Vettel has done to outings over the past two years. The question is whether Stroll will allow it.
Last year, the duel between Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz wasn’t quite as exciting. Monegask was by far the better driver on Saturday and Sunday and claimed his role as leader. In 2023, this will be no different at the start of the season, despite the fact that Sainz is hopeful he can get up to Leclerc’s level and also face fewer retirements in 2023. The question is mainly whether Sainz can really make it. It makes it difficult for Leclerc, or Leclerc will once again be Ferrari’s main challenger for the title in 2023. Ferrari will likely hope for a second, as Sainz’s fine performance would leave Ferrari with difficult decisions to make during the season.
7: AlphaTauri: Yuki Tsunoda – Nyck de Vries
At AlphaTauri it was also clear in the last two years that Gasly was the leader. With him gone, Yuki Tsunoda should normally take over that role. However, his teammate, Nyck de Vries, has plenty of rookie experience and actually led free practice sessions for several Formula 1 teams last season. AlphaTauri also announced that Tsunoda and de Vries would start the season as equal drivers. It’s up to Tsunoda and De Vries to take the lead through the season.
At McLaren, Lando Norris has been leading for years. Daniel Ricciardo could barely keep up with the young Brit for two years, let alone compete with him. In 2023, Norris will have a new and talented rival with Oscar Piastri. However, Piastri is still inexperienced and will initially have to take on the role of second driver. Norris has really proven himself in recent years, and he also has a long contract at his disposal. It’s up to Bastry to prove in 2023 that he can perform at his equal.
Last season it was already clear in advance that Valtteri Bottas would be the flagship of Alfa Romeo. This was also evident from his results, although rookie Zhou Guanyu also had a lot of bad luck with reliability issues. However, he convinced Alfa Romeo enough to give him a new one-year contract. The question now is whether Zhou will make a move towards Bottas or if, as in 2022, it will have to come mainly from the Finn.
Logan Sargeant will make his Formula 1 debut in 2023, after he was allowed to drive several free practice sessions by the team in 2022. Despite the young American’s talent, last year Alexander Albon showed he was ready to drive for Williams. Sargent will undoubtedly be a bigger challenge for Albon than Nicholas Latifi, but with the new multi-year contract handed out to Albon by Williams last year, it is becoming clear that the team also considers him as a number one driver. Sargent will play second fiddle, at least before the season.