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POLL: Who will win the 2023 F1 world title?
By Mat Coch
Monday 27th February, 2023 - 3:02pm
The 2023 F1 season is almost upon us and hence we ask in this week’s Pirtek Poll: which driver will claim the 2023 F1 world title?
There have been only three days of testing in Bahrain, offering the merest of glimpses into how each respective team is tracking.
Reliability and mileage are to key markers, more so than lap times, while comments made to the media must be taken with a pinch of salt.
There are games afoot, of course, with teams wanting to conceal their true performance ahead of returning to the Bahrain International Circuit this weekend for the opening round of the season.
Is the confidence that is oozing from Red Bull real, and is Max Verstappen on pole position for a third world championship?
The car ran reliably, looked balanced and composed, and both he and team-mate Sergio Perez ended a day of running fastest – the latter managed the best time of the entire test in the final stages of Saturday’s running.
Could the Mexican gain the upper hand over his Dutch team-mate? He was in the mix during the early part of the 2022 season; can the lessons learned from that push him towards a maiden title?
Charles Leclerc meanwhile said Ferrari has “work to do,” but that could mean almost anything from a complete redesign of the SF-23 to polishing it and turning the engine mode up.
Second in last year’s championship race, the Monegasque was towards the top of the timesheets while logging strong laps.
However, he was typically overshadowed by Carlos Sainz with the Spaniard faster on two of the three days of running.
Ferrari split the three days in half, so the time of day Leclerc and Sainz were on track played a significant contributing factor in their outright pace, meaning that alone is not an apples-for-apples comparison.
Next up is Mercedes, which found form in the latter part of 2022 and challenged Ferrari for second in the constructors’ championship as a result.
Heading into last year there were some brash statements made. A year on, the team has greater humility.
It also has two happier drivers, with the porpoising that held back the W13 not a significant feature of the 2023 machine.
Lewis Hamilton was happy yet measured when speaking to the media.
There were of course the usual qualifiers (he didn’t know what others were doing, Mercedes was just focused on itself), but the underlying message was a positive one: Mercedes is in the fight.
The seven-time world champion clocked 220 laps across the three days of running, the fourth most of all drivers.
That works out to a touch under 1200 kilometres of track action, versus the 963 George Russell managed.
The young Brit’s time was interrupted by a hydraulics problem which ended his Friday running two hours early.
That was an odd day for Mercedes too, the team claiming to have lost its way somewhat having been in a good spot on Thursday.
Could those comments have been part of the merry dance that is testing, and designed to have rivals dismiss the Brackley operation?
It bounced back well (no pun intended) on Saturday, suggesting the team quickly understood whatever the issue (beyond hydraulics) was.
Beyond the top three it’s difficult to imagine an F1 world title challenge, but let’s not rule out a surprise performance – we’ve seen it before; 2009, anyone?
Aston Martin caught the eye of many leading to suggestions that Fernando Alonso might finally have landed himself in the right place at the right time.
Lance Stroll’s task will be difficult as he is almost certain to miss the opening round of the year – while not confirmed, paddock rumblings are he’s broken his wrist.
And what of Alpine? The Anglo-French team has Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly this year and a level of confidence that it didn’t have a year ago.
Could we see the first French world champion since Alain Prost in 1993, and the team’s first title since Mick Schumacher drove for it two years later?
McLaren has a job ahead of it, but who’s to say the car won’t be a bullet once the planned upgrades arrive and the team has resolved the hindrances that blighted testing for Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.
Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu showed promising pace for Alfa Romeo Sauber at times, the latter topping Friday’s running to deny Red Bull a clean sweep of all three days.
Then there is Haas, Scuderia AlphaTauri, and Williams, which are all long shots, but in a season that looks as closely matched as 2023, let’s not rule them out entirely.
Who do you think will win this year’s F1 world drivers’ title? Cast your vote below.
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