The 2022 Formula 1 season started with the promise of completely shaking up the pack thanks to some of the most radical revisions to the rules that we’ve seen in the history of the sport. Combining the fiscal restrictions of the budget cap and the limits placed on wind tunnel simulations during the season with major changes to the overall aerodynamic concepts of how the cars are designed meant that teams had to start from scratch.
The rule changes certainly achieved their aims, at least in the beginning. In addition to making 18 cars that were incredibly bouncy as they made their way around the circuits, the Mercedes team were floundering in the midfield while Ferrari were back to their winning ways.
However, as the dust began to settle, Red Bull managed to take the lead and an equilibrium began to form. Ferrari went backwards, Mercedes came forwards, and Max Verstappen ran away with the title.
The rules will be remaining much more consistent heading into the 2023 season, so what can we expect to see in the upcoming championship battle?
2021 created one of the tightest and most brutal championship battles we’ve seen in Formula 1. 2022, on the other hand, was a much more sedate affair.
As things stand, it’s probably more likely that we’ll see something in the middle. Red Bull have, clearly, managed to exploit the new aero rules very well right out of the blocks. Mercedes, in contrast, made some fundamental mistakes in their understanding of the ground-effect concepts but began to close the gap in the final few races of the year.
Ferrari also have a fundamentally fast car, but haven’t been able to exploit that pace due to strategy blunders and careless mistakes. However, with a new team principal in post, this could change in 2023.
Therefore, we could be in store for a three-way battle for the title between Leclerc, Verstappen, and Hamilton. If this is the case, we can also expect F1 betting markets to explode with volume as fans all try to predict the outcome of each Grand Prix and the two championships.
And given that F1 is really taking off in the USA, American sportsbooks like DraftKings will likely be offering more free bets that can be used on the sport throughout the season and especially in the lead-up to the three Grands Prix taking place in the country in 2023.
The First Saturday Night Race
One of those three races will be taking place in Las Vegas. This will be a weekend of many firsts, as the Grand Prix itself is scheduled to take place on the Saturday night to be prime time for American audiences and to get the full effect of the neon lights of the strip.
It will mean F1 will, for the first time in decades, deviate from its standard three-day schedule, a concept pioneered by Bernie Ecclestone in his process of professionalizing and commercializing the sport.
The sprint races have been a somewhat controversial addition to the F1 weekend, with some praising the new element that it brings to some rounds, while others have criticized the fact that they just break up the race into two parts. Despite the naysayers, F1 is expanding the spring program for 2023 – doubling the number of events from three to six.
These will take place at Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the United States (COTA), and Brazil – all tracks that are typically easier to overtake on.
With the anticipation of a tight battle for the title, the additional points on offer for these sprint races could mean they’ll have a material effect on the outcome of the championship.
There are some car changes to be forced by the rules in 2023, however, they are mostly tweaks to improve safety rather than fundamental performance alterations. For example, following Zhou Guanyu’s accident at the British Grand Prix last year, the roll hoop regulations have been beefed up to increase their strength and prevent it from being torn away in an accident.
The cars will also be getting larger mirrors to help visibility, something we’ve seen tested on several Friday sessions in 2022.