The 2023 Formula One season gets underway on the first weekend of March, with a record 23 races scheduled over the course of nine months.
The bumper calendar includes visits to classic circuits such as Monaco and Silverstone, plus a trip to Nevada for the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix.
We have analysed 20 years’ worth of results to identify the main contenders for the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in 2023, and where each trophy could be won and lost.
Will we see one team dominate?
Last season was completely dominated by Max Verstappen and Red Bull, with the Dutchman winning the drivers’ title by 146 points from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen won 15 races, which is the most by any driver in a single year.
With team-mate Sergio Perez also collecting a pair of victories, a Red Bull driver topped the podium in 17 out of 22 races – a success rate of 77%.
This continued a recent trend – nine of the past 10 seasons have seen a single constructor win the majority of races. In contrast, the previous decade had seen a number of close championship battles, with just three years dominated by an individual team.
Can Lewis Hamilton bounce back?
Verstappen’s excellence coincided with the decline of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in 2022.
Hamilton finished sixth in the drivers’ championship, having failed to win a race across an entire season for the first time in his 16-year career, while Mercedes were outperformed by Red Bull and Ferrari in the constructors’ standings.
History suggests that Hamilton will find it difficult to regain the drivers’ title, with 16 of the past 20 world champions having finished in the top three in the previous season.
Only Jenson Button managed to win the championship from a worse position in the prior campaign. His 2009 victory with Brawn came on the heels of a disastrous season with Honda in 2008, in which he struggled in an uncompetitive car and finished 18th.
As a result of his difficulties at Honda, Button started 2009 as a rank outsider but his rebranded Brawn car proved to be both quick and reliable. He won six of the first seven races and held on for the rest of the season to lift his only drivers’ title.
Which races predict the drivers’ championship?
The winner of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola has gone on to lift the drivers’ title in each of the last three years, with Hamilton topping the podium in 2020 and Verstappen doing so in 2021 and 2022.
The historic circuit – located in Northern Italy – made a welcome return to the F1 calendar during the coronavirus pandemic and has been retained for a fourth successive season in 2023.
Elsewhere, the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka has been a reliable predictor of success over the past two decades, with 11 out of 16 winners ending the year as world champion.
On the other hand, the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos – often scheduled near the end of the campaign – has been consistently unpredictable. Only four of the past 19 winners have collected the drivers’ title, most recently Hamilton in 2018.
Which races are hardest to finish?
Almost a third of drivers have failed to finish the Australian Grand Prix since 2003, with the 16-turn Albert Park circuit proving tricky to master for even the strongest drivers.
Hamilton, for example, has only tasted victory twice at the Melbourne race, which is normally scheduled early in the season. The first of those wins came in 2008, when there were three collisions and only six classified finishers.
The Montreal and Monaco Grands Prix have also provided more than their fair share of incidents over the years, with over a quarter of drivers unable to cross the finish line.
Which circuits produce the closest races?
Being a narrow street circuit, Monaco is traditionally a hard place to overtake but it tends to produce close races, with an average winning margin of less than five seconds.
The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, is the only track to provide tighter races over the past 20 years, with just over four seconds separating first and second on average.
At the other end of the spectrum, Silverstone has the longest average winning margin of any circuit to have hosted five or more races since 2003.
Hamilton has eight victories at his home race, the most of any driver in F1 history, winning by more than 10 seconds on five separate occasions.
What happens at new circuits?
F1 is heading to Vegas for the first time in its history in November, with the famous Nevada city hosting the penultimate Grand Prix of the season.
Based on previous results at new venues, grid position is likely to be important in this decisive race.
Since 2003, 11 out of 16 (69%) inaugural Grands Prix have been won from pole position, compared with 187 out of 366 (51%) at circuits that had been raced at least once before.
Fernando Alonso’s 2008 Singapore victory from 15th on the grid is the only win at a new track by a driver who qualified outside the top three.
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