Hey folks, how about one bonus D.R.E (Dre’s Regular Editorial) for the road? Dre’s back with another chat about some of the more under-appreciated stories of 2023!
And just like that, the 2023 season is over. I’ll be honest, it probably won’t be going down as a classic but there was still many a cool story to tell over the year if you searched hard enough. Let’s talk about some of the hidden gems of the past year.
Andretti – Yes, one of the bigger stories of the year I still think wasn’t talked about enough. Why? Because I think it’s all-encompassing of so much of F1’s politics.
As predicted by many, the FIA only approved Andretti’s bid to join F1’s grid, and seeing F1 scrambling to find reasons to dismiss it has been eyebrow-raising, to say the least. From potentially paying a huge anti-dilution fee to needing a factory partner, to needing to build their own engines, it’s been hilarious seeing F1 look for every reason in the book not to take them in. A sport that had no problem spending half a billion dollars on a Vegas race no one asked for but doesn’t want an American factory team. Ha. It plays perfectly into…
F1 vs The FIA – Mohammed Ben Sulayem has now built an infrastructure to step back from the day-to-day running of F1, with many saying his cautious tweets in response to rumours Saudi Arabia was going to spend $20 billion to buy F1, led to the sport itself sending a letter calling Ben Sulayem’s tweets “acting in an unacceptable manner”. With Andretti, they almost feel like a pawn between two entities that have very different beliefs and raised tensions about where the sport should be going. I think this, and the Andretti F1 bid will go on and on into 2024 and beyond.
Red Bull’s Driver Mess – I genuinely think it’s messier than many have let on, with the four-driver umbrella potentially having four drivers fighting for three spots in 2025. Some of the talk calling for Sergio Perez’s job has cooled with some slightly improved results at the end of the year, but he’ll still likely have Daniel Ricciardo, Yuki Tsunoda, and the ghosts of Liam Lawson’s impressive cameo rather fresh in the memory. Goodness only knows if Zane Maloney or Isack Hadjar has a big 2024 in the junior ranks. Speaking of which…
F2’s Stagnance – We’re sports fans at heart, we want to get excited over the next big thing. Andrea Kimi Antonelli’s F2 debut in 2024 might be just what the doctor ordered, but Theo Pourchaire’s 2023 title and likely not ending up in F1 despite three years in Sauber’s Academy is startling, the third straight junior series champion that won’t make the big dance straight away. Yes, there are question marks about him and Felipe Drugovich’s credentials over how long it took them to win (We’re a 1-2 year standard now, for better or worse), but the growing bottleneck of getting into F1 with one of its most stacked grids ever is going to be a problem soon if the chains don’t keep moving. Is it any surprise Christian Lundgaard, Callum Illot and Marcus Armstrong have made names for themselves in IndyCar already?
A Genuinely Fun Midfield – I get it. It’s not a title fight. Sometimes you have to make your fun and we certainly got that. Mercedes ended second overall almost purely by screwing up the least in 2023. Ferrari was awful to start the season but found some form to close out the year (That Brazil DNS for Leclerc is going to sting in the off-season). Aston Martin was the sexy newcomer to the scene in the first half of the year but then got completely overshadowed by McLaren having the best in-season turnaround I’ve ever seen.
Second to fifth was a barfight in 2023, and if F1’s usual ‘law of diminishing returns’ hits Red Bull in the future, we could have an incredible fight in the future. Or Red Bull just flattens them all like a pancake. Either or.
A lot of people don’t want to admit it, but it is the politics of the sport that can often provide the most fun, and this year it’s kinda hard not to look in this direction given the on-track product was going to be compromised the moment Red Bull rolled the RB19 out of the garage in Bahrain testing. Better luck next year, eh?
What stories did you feel went under the radar in 2023? Sound off in the comments!