Formula 1 Aramco Pre-Season Testing: Verstappen Hoping to Lay the Wood, Again!

A Primer on The 2023 F1 Season and Betting Odds Ahead of Testing in Bahrain

The 2023 Formula 1 season informally starts this week with preseason running at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. Teams will have multiple sessions over three days to understand the cars. They’ll be back in Sakhir for the first race on the Formula 1 schedule on the first weekend of March.

All of the teams have unveiled their 2023 cars, starting with Haas on Jan. 31 and ending with Alpine on Feb. 16. Here’s a primer for the 2023 season ahead of testing this week:

Red Bull vs Ferrari, Again

Ferrari came out of the gate strong in 2022. Two wins in the first three races was a sharp improvement from 2021. Charles Leclerc took the pole in six of the first eight races in a show of force on one-lap pace. But a focus on upgrading the power unit for that pace came at the cost of reliability. A mix of mechanical failures and strategy problems led to Red Bull and eventual champion Max Verstappen taking control by the summer break.

There’s a new man at the helm for Ferrari in 2023 with team principal Frรฉdรฉric Vasseur coming over from Alfa Romeo. The team has hinted that a focus on developing reliability started around the summer break in 2022. That’s a good sign for the team that’s looking for its first constructors’ title since 2008.

Red Bull is continuing its secretive ways to start the 2023 season. For the second straight year, the car the team unveiled in New York likely will not resemble the one that takes the track in Bahrain this week. Though it sometimes couldn’t match Ferrari’s single-lap pace in 2022, Red Bull remains the favorite for the constructors’ championship once again at -110. Barring an incredible showing from Ferrari (+550 for the constructors’ title) this week in testing, they’re starting the 2023 Formula 1 schedule firmly at the top once again.

Mercedes (potentially) Close Behind

Unlike Red Bull, Mercedes revealed a lot with its car launch for 2023. Other teams moved to follow design cues from the leading Ferrari and Red Bull cars but Mercedes is keeping faith in its “zero-sidepod” design from 2022, at least ahead of testing.

By the end of 2022, Mercedes notched a race win and was closing the gap on the top two teams. Mercedes have much better F1 betting odds than Ferrari at +137 for the 2023 constructors’ championship. Those odds seem too good given the problems with bouncing and running an increased ride height for most all of last season.

A packed Midfield

Behind the top three teams are McLaren (+12500) and Alpine (+12500). The two had a close battle for fourth in the championship last year and Alpine ultimately came out on top. Both are long shots for the constructors’ title in 2023. From what was said at the launch events, Alpine may end up on top again.

McLaren downplayed the initial potential for its 2023 car and has already admitted there will be updates early on the F1 schedule. Rookie Oscar Piastri may also need time to come up to speed.

In contrast, Alpine launched its 2023 car with promises it’s solved reliability issues faced in 2022. Technical director Matt Harman’s said the team’s found the root cause of the issues and are feeling confident. It looks now like they’ll be ahead of McLaren to start the season.

Behind those two are Alfa Romeo (+35000) and Aston Martin (+35000). Aston Martin has high hopes for 2023 with a car that takes a lot of design cues from Red Bull. That’s understandable given technical director Dan Fallows’ experience with Red Bull and this car being the first he’s had full design control over.

Alfa Romeo also takes cues from Red Bull with its aero changes ahead of the 2023 F1 season. The strong pace early on in 2022 fell off towards the end of the year. They’ll likely need a big improvement to jump ahead of Aston Martin.

Rounding Out the Grid

The final three teams are extremely unlikely to win the 2023 constructors title and come into testing with different questions to answer.

AlphaTauri (+50000) finished ninth in 2022 after struggling to improve after the first third of the season. Nyck de Vries is a full-time F1 driver for the first time in 2023 and Yuki Tsunoda needs to improve his consistency for the team to finish higher.

Haas (+100000) had more retirements (eight) than anyone but Ferrari in 2022. Savvy performances by Kevin Magnussen kept the team in eighth in the constructors’ standings and they’ll have another veteran driver for 2023 in his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg. Taking advantage of opportunities will be key for the team.

Williams (+200000) was well behind the rest of the grid in 2022 but the funding help from majority owners, Dorilton Capitol, finally kicked in to help development on the 2023 car. Alex Albon had multiple 10th-place finishes to give the team points last season. With design cues from both Ferrari and Red Bull, there’s a chance they close the gap to the midfield a little more in 2023.

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