Happy 2023 everyone! Similar to last year and 2021, I’ve used the mathematical model to make predictions on the driver lineups for the 2023 Formula One season. We have some fascinating new lineups to compare this year. I’m personally most interested in the new pairings at Alpine and Haas.
We also have 3 drivers getting yearly contracts for the first time. This unfortunately means there are no predictions for McLaren, AlphaTauri and Williams.
Red Bull: Verstappen vs Pérez
More of the same is expected from Red Bull. It would be a major upset at this point for Pérez to outscore Verstappen over a season. The model predicts a points ratio inbetween the results obtained in 2021 and 2022, which seems reasonable.
Ferrari: Leclerc vs Sainz
It’s one year a piece between Leclerc and Sainz in points standings, but for the 3rd year in a row the model predicts Leclerc will come out on top by a small margin. Sainz had an inconsistent 2022, so it wouldn’t be a surprise for this battle to be closer this year.
Mercedes: Russell vs Hamilton
A controversial take. Hamilton is still considered to be a better driver at his peak. However he’s just turned 38, suggesting his peak days are perhaps behind him. Having said that, he has so far shown little signs of decline. This is particularly true when compared to other driver as they approach their twilight years (Räikkönen, Schumacher and Vettel spring to mind).
This is the only case of the 2022 prediction being fundamentally different from 2023. I personally think it is questionable whether Russell really goes into the season as the favoured Mercedes driver to score the most points.
Alpine: Gasly vs Ocon
Both drivers are race winners that still need to prove they can make the next step up. For both drivers this is also a critical year for their reputation. The model thinks Gasly is the slight favourite, but with Ocon having a slight edge over Gasly in last years rankings, there are no guarantees.
Alfa Romeo: Bottas vs Zhou
Whilst Zhou showed potential at times in 2022, his tally of just 6 points was a major disappointment. With an extra year of experience, a repeat of such a thrashing is unlikely. The model therefore thinks Zhou will be closer with an extra years experience.
Even this may under represent how close the battle will be, given that Zhou managed to score 40% of Alfa’s points in the final 2/3rds of 2022. (6 points out of a total of 15 for Alfa.)
Aston Martin: Alonso vs Stroll
The model unsurprisingly puts Alonso as the firm favourite here. This is considered to be the most one sided line up for 2023 that can be compared. The margin is similar to that achieved by Vettel in 2022, but may reduce slightly if the team are able to deliver a more competitive car.
Haas: Hülkenberg vs Magnussen
Few would have predicted Magnussen’s return to F1, but he delivered a 5th place on his return, and an even more unlikely pole position later in the season. Despite this, the model predicts a slight edge to Hülkenberg. Nico has less recent F1 experience to draw upon. However, he starred in equally unlikely comebacks during the 2020 season and his peak seasons have been higher than Magnussen’s.
Teams with rookie drivers:
As the model uses past results to predict the future, it’s unable to use any data for rookie F1 drivers. Instead, I’ve offered
McLaren: Norris vs Piastri
After his recent thrashing of Ricciardo, the model considers Norris to be a genuine star that was often overlooked in 2022. For Piastri, the aim is surely to beat Ricciardo’s McLaren performances and justify the effort McLaren put in to snatch him away from Alpine.
The model has not been particularly complimentary of rookie drivers recently, but Norris’ 2019 season was considered impressive despite being heavily outscored by Sainz. There’s no reason that Piastri can’t repeat this. Beating or even matching Norris in his rookie year is considered to be very unlikely, but it’s not beyond possible.
AlphaTauri: Tsunoda vs de Vries
Tsunoda showed significant improvement across 2022, whilst de Vries shined in his only race. Both drivers still have something to prove if they want to remain on the grid long term, and the dynamic between the pair will be fascinating. Tsunoda will surely want to lead as the more experienced F1 driver, despite being 5 years younger than his rookie teammate.
Although he has far from embarrassed himself, the model has not been overly impressed with Tsunoda’s results thus far. As such, being close to Tsunoda’s points haul is seen as a realistic aim for de Vries.
Williams: Albon vs Sargeant
Albon impressed across 2022, and was ended up 9th in the 2022 driver rankings. Racing his 4th teammate in 4 seasons of F1, he will surely feel confident to come out on top as he did last year against Latifi. Like Piastri, Sargeant’s first aim will be to match the previous incumbent to justify his place on the grid. Anything less will surely be considered a failure.
Thanks for reading! As usual I’ll update as the season progresses to see how accurate the predictions end up.