The Ultimate 2023 Formula 1 Spotters Guide
Everyone put your best Crofty voices on.
After what feels like forever, Formula 1 is finally back this week. On Friday, cars will hit the track for first practice in Bahrain, before qualifying on Saturday sets the grid for Sunday’s grand prix. I’m excited, are you? Well, whether you’re a returning fan or someone new to the sport, we’re so happy to have you!
Ahead of us, we’ve got 23 races all across the globe that will pit 20 of the fastest cars in the world head to head. Along the way, there will be drama, joy and a whole lot of bickering. It’s going to be great.
If you’re new to the sport for 2023, it can seem daunting at first. But, don’t worry, Jalopnik is here to guide you through everything you can expect from the 2023 Formula 1 season. Here, we’ve rounded up all the essential team and driver info you’ll need, as well as a few essential rules to keep you in the loop on Sunday.
So, flick through the following slides, pick a team or driver you like the sound of and come revel in the joy of a Formula 1 season with us. You won’t regret it.
Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen: 1
Sergio Pérez: 11
Team principal: Christian Horner
At the sharp end of the grid this year you’ll find Red Bull Racing and its two drivers, Max Verstappen (L) and Sergio Pérez (R). Dutch racer Verstappen is chasing his third consecutive world title this year, after dominating in 2022 and setting a new record for the number of race wins in a season.
Other notable people to look out for at Red Bull include team boss Christian Horner and team advisor Helmut Marko, who heads up the outfit’s driver development program.
Charles Leclerc: 16
Carlos Sainz Jr.: 55
Team principal: Fred Vasseur
The oldest and most successful team in Formula 1 is easily spotted by its bright red car, bright red fire suits and iconic prancing horse emblem that’s plastered over almost everything. It is, of course, Ferrari who are looking to make amends for a tumultuous season last year.
Drivers Charles Leclerc (L) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (R) remain at the Italian team this year, but are now joined by new team principal Fred Vasseur. The ex-Alfa Romeo boss will be looking to tighten up the team’s performances in 2023.
Mercedes AMG Petronas
Lewis Hamilton: 44
George Russell: 63
Team principal: Toto Wolff
Once known as the Silver Arrows, Mercedes will run a black car this year after its paint was stripped back to save weight. That’s just one of the ways Mercedes hopes to claw its way back to winning ways in 2023.
The team fields an all-British driver lineup of seven-time champ Lewis Hamilton (L) and young hopeful George Russell (R). A nice thing to look out for with Mercedes is the way it color-codes its cars and drivers. As such, Hamilton runs a with yellow numbers on his car and yellow winglets over the front wheels. For Russell, those same parts are all green.
Esteban Ocon: 31
Pierre Gasly: 10
Team principal: Otmar Szafnauer
The first of six teams running a new driver pairing in 2023 is French squad Alpine. Its wholly French lineup of Esteban Ocon (L) and Pierre Gasly (R) is a much anticipated pairing for 2023 and is all part of the squad’s plan to challenge for podiums this year.
Alpine will race with two different liveries in 2023. The blue and pink scheme you see above will be raced from Azerbaijan, while the first three races of 2023 will see Apine run an all-pink livery to highlight its sponsorship deal with BWT.
Lando Norris: 4
Oscar Piastri: 81
Team principal: Andrea Stella
Another team looking to fight its way back to winning ways is British squad McLaren. This year, all eyes will be on new Australian driver Oscar Piastri (R) after his signing for the papaya side almost sparked a legal battle between McLaren and Alpine.
For 2023, the young Aussie partners Lando Norris (L), who’s now entering his fifth year in F1 and still chasing down his maiden win. The side also has a new boss in the form of Andrea Stella, who will work alongside McLaren Racing CEO Zack Brown.
Alfa Romeo Sauber
Valtteri Bottas: 77
Zhou Guanyu: 24
Team representative: Alessandro Alunni Bravi
Finnish racer Valtteri Bottas (R) partners Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu (L) for a second season at Alfa Romeo. This year, the squad is sporting a new black and red livery and a new way of doing things at the top. After Fred Vasseur left to join Ferrari, Sauber appointed ex-McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl as CEO. The German then chose Alessandro Alunni Bravi as team representative, so that’s who you’re likely to hear from over most race weekends.
Fernando Alonso: 14
Lance Stroll: 18
Team principal: Mike Krack
One of the biggest talking points from F1 testing in Bahrain was the surprise performance of Aston Martin. The green team partners Canadian racer Lance Stroll (L) with double world champion Fernando Alonso (R) in 2023. The team’s reserve driver, Felipe Drugovich could also make an appearance for the team this year after Stroll was injured while cycling over the winter break.
As well as the drivers, the big people to look out for at Aston Martin include team principal Mike Krack and Lawrence Stroll, the squad’s owner and father of Lance.
Haas F1 Team
Kevin Magnussen: 20
Nico Hülkenberg: 27
Team principal: Guenther Steiner
Finally, we reach America’s Formula 1 team: Haas. After a few torrid years, Haas is back in 2023 with a new title sponsor, in the form of MoneyGram, and a refreshed driver pairing that sees Kevin Magnussen (L) partner the returning Nico Hülkenberg (R).
The Haas team has close ties to Ferrari, so expect similarities between its racer and that of the scarlet squad, except with a sleek black and white paint scheme. Watch out for colorful team boss Guenther Steiner each race weekend, as he’s a real star of the paddock.
Yuki Tsunoda: 22
Nyck de Vries: 21
Team principal: Franz Tost
Red Bull junior team AlphaTauri used to be the most fashionable team on the grid, but after ruining its livery with a whole load of red accents, I’m not sure it can claim that crown anymore. One title it can claim is shortest driver lineup, as both Yuki Tsunoda (L) and Nyck de Vries (R) measure just 5′ 3″ and 5′ 6″ respectively.
Alex Albon: 23
Logan Sargeant: 2
Team Principal: James Vowles
The final team to watch out for is Williams, which this year fields Thai driver Alex Albon (R) and American rookie Logan Sargeant (L). Also new to the team for 2023 is team principal James Vowles, who joins the British outfit from Mercedes.
The team showed impressive form in testing, so will be hoping to end its run of last-place finishes in 2023.
Tires are a pretty essential part of Formula 1. In each race, a driver must use two different types of tire, across the soft, medium and hard compounds that Pirrelli brings to a race weekend. You can always spot the soft tire with its red sidewalls, the medium is marked by a yellow sidewall, while the hard is white.
The rule dictating at least one tire change in a race is scrapped if there’s rain on track. If that happens, drivers will be able to run either green-striped intermediate tires or the blue-colored full wets. Each comprises a specific tread pattern designed to help clear standing water off the race track.
Formula 1 uses two different safety cars through its season, including an Aston Martin Vantage (pictured) and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The two cars are the latest in a long line of safety cars, which are deployed to control the pace of the cars on track.
Before the race starts, the safety car will lead the 20 racers on a parade lap of the circuit, before each car lines up in its grid spot for lights out. The safety car is then called on to slow the pack following any incidents. If there’s a collision, the safety car is deployed to bunch up the cars and give the marshals space to clear the track.
Once the track is cleared, the safety car will peel off into the pits, before the lead car restarts the race once more.
Fun With Flags
There are 12 different flags that can be waved by marshals during an F1 race, and you can find out the details on all of them here. But, if you want to know the essentials, you just need to remember yellow, red, blue and checkered.
The yellow flag signals danger ahead and prohibits overtaking in the section of the circuit where it’s being waved. If double yellow flags are waved, drivers should be prepared to stop. A step up from this is the red flag, which is waved whenever the on-track action is being brought to a halt due to an accident.
The blue flag is seen when a slow moving car is about to be lapped by one of the leaders, and the black and white checkered flag signals the end of the race.
It might not seem like it sometimes, but F1 does have rules that the drivers must follow over a grand prix weekend. These govern how they can behave on track, dictate where the track starts and finishes, and affect how much fuel cars can use over a race. But, what happens if these rules are broken?
Well, in that case, drivers and teams can be hit with fines and in-race sanctions. The most visible over a race weekend are grid-drops and time penalties. Racers can be handed five- or ten-second time penalties in a race if they are found to be at fault. If they’re given one of these, they must take it at their next pit stop, where they will be held for the allotted time before the team can get to work.
One up from this is a drive-through penalty, which forces a racer to pass through the pit lane without stopping for tires. The most severe penalty is a ten-second stop-go, which forces a driver into the pits where they must then stop on their mark for ten seconds before rejoining the race. Mechanics cannot work on the car during one of these penalties.
Points Mean Prizes
By this point, you’re probably wondering how all this is scored. Well, at the end of the race, and after any last-minute penalties have been added, Formula 1 hands out points for the top ten finishers. First place gets 25 points and tenth is awarded just one world championship point. The rest of the top ten shakes out like this:
1st: 25 points
2nd: 18 points
3rd: 15 points
4th: 12 points
5th: 10 points
6th: 8 points
7th: 6 points
8th: 4 points
9th: 2 points
10th: 1 point
There’s also a cheeky bonus point for the driver that completes the fastest lap of the race. But, they can only collect this if they finish in the top ten. If the driver that does this is outside the ten fastest finishers, then nobody gets the point.
At the end of the year, the driver with the most points is crowned world champion, and the team with the most collective points from its two drivers is crowned the constructors champion.
So, that covers most of the major talking points over an F1 weekend, but there are a few other little nuggets that might crop up over a race and leave you scratching your head.
First up, you’ll hear a lot of talk about DRS. Full name Drag Reduction System, this is a flap in the rear wing that drivers can open to reduce the car’s drag and increase their top speed. Racers can only do this on certain points on a track and only if they are less than a second from the car in front.
Another term you will hear a lot is “box, box.” This is used by race engineers when they’re telling their drivers to come into the pits to change tires. Once they’re heading to the pit, you’ll see racers slam on the anchors when they enter the pitlane as there’s an 80 km/h speed limit in place – limiting the cars to about 50 mph.
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