Experts on new F1 season: ‘Red Bull looks very strong’
The start of the new season has signaled that Max Verstappen could make a serious bid to become world champion again in his Red Bull. Because the first free practice sessions in Bahrain also went well.
Red Bull is off to a good start
Former driver and RTL GP presenter Allard Calf followed the pre-season closely. He is clear: “If you look at the test days, Red Bull have a strong package. I think it’s too early to say they will be at the top for 23 races.”
Test days last week went well for Red Bull, and less so for the rivals. “Red Bull Racing is fast,” Calf says. “Behind that you have Ferrari and Mercedes, but at the moment Aston Martin is probably the third team ahead of Mercedes. There is no position behind it.”
Aston Martin’s well-prepared start to the new season was shown in today’s free practice sessions, where Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso set the second fastest time in the first session ahead of Verstappen and was fastest in second practice. .
Beitske Visser saw Red Bull stand out during the testing days. Visser is a driver in the W-Series, where he finished second last year. “I’m excited about qualifying tomorrow,” says Visser. “We’ll really see how each team has come out of the winter break. We’ve already seen something in testing, but you still don’t know exactly who’s driving what kind of stuff after those test days.”
Either way, Visser and Calf are looking forward to a good battle. “I’m sure it will be exciting,” says Visser. “The best thing to watch is when it’s a good fight. Red Bull looks very strong so far, but we’ll see.”
“From me, Max can win 20 races,” says Calf. “But hopefully we’ll see battles in every race.”
Nick de Vries
While most eyes will be on reigning world champion Max Verstappen, there will also be plenty of attention on newcomer Nyck de Vries this season. The 28-year-old Frisian made his debut as a substitute in the Premier class last season, and immediately scored a high with a ninth-place finish during the Italian Grand Prix.
This season, De Vries has been a regular driver for Alfa Douri. While his chances of competing at the top of the standings are slim, expectations are high. “In principle, Nyck de Vries’ car should be good enough to get points,” said Allard Kalff. You can only achieve it if you are in the top 10.
Beitske Visser knows Nyck de Vries from her hometown Uitwellingerga (population 425) and is looking forward to his performances this season. “We come from the same village and we know each other since childhood,” he says. “I know he’s working hard for it. And he’s shown throughout his career how good he is. He just has to believe in himself and it’ll be fine.”
Allard Calf is particularly confident that de Vries will not forget to enjoy this season: “I expect nothing more and nothing less from Nick de Vries that he makes the most of himself, his car and the team and that he enjoys it. We will. We’ll see the result at the end of the year.”
New faces, old acquaintances
In addition to de Vries, Formula 1 has two new faces this season. Australian Oscar Piastri will drive for McLaren in 2023. He replaces Daniel Ricciardo, whom we will not see on the grid this year.
Logan Sergeant made his Formula 1 debut for the Williams team. The American is driving no fewer than three times in his home country this season. Apart from the United States Grand Prix at the Austin circuit, races in Miami and Las Vegas are also on the calendar this year.
After two years as a reserve driver, Nico Hulkenberg returns as a regular driver. He will replace Mick Schumacher and drive for Haas this season.
This year’s racing calendar is complete with no less than 23 races. In addition to the race in Las Vegas, the Grand Prix of Qatar is included in the program. The Losail International Circuit has already competed in 2021, and the circus will return this year.
Of course, F1 will visit Zandvoort again this year on the last weekend of August. The Grand Prix of the Netherlands will take place on Sunday 27 August.
Mechanics and engineers are also away from home for long periods of time
According to Calf, 23 races in a season is actually too many. “It’s very difficult not only for the drivers, but for the teams around them. You can still say that the drivers are getting million-dollar salaries, but all the mechanics and engineers are away from home for 23 weeks this year.”
Visser doesn’t think the entire calendar can play a role in the championship over the course of the season. “Of course it makes it heavier. You have less rest in between, and the travel takes its toll.” However, he thinks the drivers are ready for a busy season: “I think all the drivers have trained hard over the winter and are in good physical shape. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
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