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Which F1 team will make the biggest step in 2023? Our views before testing begins · RaceFans

Launch season is over, and all that is left is to put the Formula 1 field of 2023 on track and start racing.

With the first test of the new season just two days away, our writers tip the teams they think will make the most progress this year.


Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF23, Silverstone, 2023
Few driver- and car-related retirements should help Haas score more points

The reliability improvements made to Ferrari’s engine means the three teams which use it should be able to get more out of it this year: Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted at the end of last season they dialled back the performance of their power units in response to a series of failures. Customers such as Haas encountered problems of their own.

Although Mick Schumacher made progress during his second season it was cancelled out by the repair bills he generated through big crashes. The team has a replacement who promises to be an improvement in all areas in the form of Nico Hulkenberg.

He may have the unwanted record of going 181 races without a podium, but that extensive F1 experience is a positive. His track record indicates he may be able to show the potential of the Haas VF-23 in qualifying more than team mate Kevin Magnussen, who is well equipped to get the most out of it in races.

The team also has a financial boost this year with new title sponsor MoneyGram, plus other backers, which could help it keep up with the pace of development over the season. The rise in income, plus a further fall in the budget cap level this year, means Haas should be spending at the cap for the first time, according to team principal Guenther Steiner.

Ida Wood

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George Russell, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2023
Mercedes have reverted to a black livery in pursuit of performance, but the changes go much further

It would be easy to assume that Red Bull will be the front-runner in F1 for the foreseeable, and you may not be wrong for thinking so. But if we are talking about who will have a more successful 2023, Mercedes are top of my list.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2023
Hamilton has faith in Mercedes’ W14

The eight-times world champions were plagued with problems last season, from a porpoising W13 to fundamental strategy mistakes, not forgetting some good old-fashioned bad luck. Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton appeared frustrated, some even suspected he had lost confidence in the team, something he fiercely denied.

As the season went on, Mercedes remedied some of the W13’s most taxing problems, including the troublesome porpoising and issues with the engine, and began to challenge Red Bull and Ferrari on the team’s stronger tracks. Mercedes showed good pace at Zandvoort, Hungary and Singapore. Finally in Brazil George Russell snatched a maiden win for the car, with Hamilton completing a one-two which seemed a far away dream a few months earlier. Mercedes made 14 podium appearances in 2022 and gave Ferrari a run for their money in the battle for second place towards the sharp end of the season.

Despite losing their strategy director James Vowles to Williams, Mercedes seemed quietly confident at their launch. With the black livery appearing to be the biggest visual change on the W14, there will need to be significant improvements to get back to consistent winning ways in 2023.

In contrast to the start of last season, Hamilton says they remain realistic heading into the upcoming campaign but stressed Mercedes have used all of their resources to work out how it misjudged the new regulations last season. With plenty to work on, including the engine, the floor, and the weight of the car, morale appeared high at the team. Yet if it is to beat the might of Red Bull and challenge the speed advantage the Ferrari has, they’ll need more than that to get the job done.

Claire Cottingham

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Aston Martin

Aston Martin launched their AMR23 with “a touch of swagger”

Many teams saw the total reset caused by the 2022 technical regulations as their opportunity to leap towards the front of the field. Aston Martin failed to do this at first, with their cars oftening failing to reach Q2 in the early stage of last season.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Silverstone, 2023
Alonso’s arrival will boost Aston Martin

But near the end of the year they made serious progress with the AMR22, honed into more competitive shape by former Red Bull aerodynamics chief Dan Fallows. Their haul of 30 points over the final six races was much closer to the likes of Alpine and McLaren (48 and 52 respectively) than Alfa Romeo, Haas, AlphaTauri and Williams, who mustered just 10 between them.

The sting of missing out on sixth in the championship by the narrowest of margins will have eased when they remembered that, under F1’s performance-balancing rules, it meant they could spend more time on development than six of their rivals. Aston Martin can exploit that advantage using the first new-build factory F1 has seen since 2004, where the expanded workforce will benefit from smoother interaction and the latest equipment (though not all of that will be at their fingertips immediately).

The team may have lost a multiple world champion in the shape of Sebastian Vettel, but have acquired another in his place. And make no mistake, 41-year-old Fernando Alonso is as unrelentingly sharp and pitilessly competitive as he was when he won his two world championships, only with the benefit of an extra decade-and-a-half’s experience.

There was a touch of swagger to Aston Martin launch as the team highlighted the presence of a genuine 2023 car, in an obvious contrast to Fallows’ former team. That’s the only other outfit I suspect have made more progress over the off-season than Aston Martin, and I see I’m not alone…

Keith Collantine

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Red Bull

Red Bull presented a show car at their launch and are yet to publicly reveal the new RB19

You can doubt Red Bull. You can even dislike Red Bull. But for the foreseeable future, you’re going to have to deal with Red Bull being at the top of F1.

The world champions’ return to the top is nothing short of a remarkable achievement. For years, Mercedes were simply untouchable. But after chipping away, year after year, Red Bull eventually drew level with F1’s all-conquering force in 2021 before well and truly seizing the throne for themselves last season.

Yes, the events of Abu Dhabi 2021 should not have happened. Yes, Red Bull have been punished for breaching F1’s budget cap in the same year – and they’ve earned valid criticism for it. But it’s foolish to dismiss Red Bull’s accomplishments over the last 24 months, deride them as simply being “cheaters” or doubt their ability to retain their titles in 2023 – even with their financial and aero testing handicap.

Last season, the Milton Keynes team demonstrated just how talent-rich their organisation was from top to bottom. In the factory, their technical team produced yet another championship-winning car. The execution in the pit lane was near-flawless – unlike that of the Ferrari garage next to them. On the pit wall, Red Bull’s strategists put on a masterclass all season long. And whatever your feelings on Christian Horner, the reality is that a team as big as Red Bull would not be as successful as it is without strong leadership.

It’s easy to assume that Mercedes will make amends for 2022 and be right back in the battle – and it’s very possible they will be. But Red Bull stepping up once again to defend their crown and give Mercedes and Ferrari an almighty, year-long headache would not be at all surprising.

In fact, it would be exactly what we should expect them to do.

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Will Wood

Over to you

Which team do you expect has made the most progress since the end of last year? Share your views below.

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