2021, 2022 - and also 2023? Max Verstappen is targeting the World Championship hat-trick in Formula 1. Mercedes and Ferrari not only want to intercept Red Bull for the Dutch superstar at the first Grand Prix of the season in Bahrain on Sunday (4 p.m. / CET / Sky).
Nico Hulkenberg is back. After Mick Schumacher left Haas, he took over his cockpit and will be the only regular German driver this year.
Who is the favorite for the world title?
Max Verstappen. The Dutchman has been crowned Formula 1 king for the past two years. This year, in contrast to the past, there is something new: His Red Bull team showed strong early form at the official tests in Bahrain. The RB19 acts quickly and reliably. At least that's the conclusion after the test runs, which should be treated with caution. "We'll see how fast we are next week, but I'm positive about it," said Verstappen. Only Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have managed a title hat-trick so far.
What about the competition?
Lewis Hamilton, who would replace Michael Schumacher as the sole record champion with his eighth title, is apparently rid of a problem: the so-called bouncing. As a result of the aerodynamics revolution, cars in 2022 started bouncing at high speeds on long straights - some more, some less. Mercedes rather more. "It's nice to drive without the bouncing for the first time," said Hamilton. Mercedes is "not quite where we want to be yet, but it's a good starting point." Ferrari with Vice World Champion Charles Leclerc is the second Red Bull challenger.
How many German drivers are there?
Sebastian Vettel ended his career at Aston Martin at the end of last season. There were only brief wild rumors about a lightning comeback at his old racing team to replace the injured Lance Stroll. Mick Schumacher had to vacate his regular cockpit at the US team Haas for returning Nico Hülkenberg and is a reserve driver at Mercedes this season. Hülkenberg, last reserve man at Aston Martin, should use his experience at Haas. The only German with a regular cockpit holds an inglorious record: he never made it onto the podium in 181 races.
Is there a Grand Prix in Germany?
No. It remains the case that the Nürburgring 2020 only stepped in as a Corona temporary help. In Germany, the routes have to refinance themselves, in other countries the respective state or private investors help to pay the multi-million dollar inaugural fees. 24 Grand Prix were originally planned this year. However, due to the difficult corona situation in China, the race planned for April 16 in Shanghai was canceled. 23 Grands Prix this season is still a record. One can be particularly excited about the Grand Prix of Las Vegas. The third USA race on the calendar after Miami (Florida) and Austin (Texas) is set to be a mega spectacle on November 18th. You drive along the legendary Las Vegas Strip along the dazzling casino hotels.
Where is Formula 1 on TV?
As has been the case since 2021, Sky is the only provider in Germany to show all Formula 1 races. RTL had shown four races per sub-license in the past two years, but decided against a new contract with the pay-TV broadcaster at the beginning of the year . Since then, the pay channel has been looking for a new free TV partner for the most important motorsport series. According to the contract with Formula 1, four races per season must be free to view.
What's new this year?
Formula 1 doubles the number of sprint races from three to six. The premier class of motorsport will hold the mini-events over 100 kilometers each in Baku (Azerbaijan), Spielberg (Austria), Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), Doha (Qatar), Austin (USA) and São Paulo (Brazil). The minimum weight of the cars was reduced from 798 to 796 kg (without fuel). Many teams therefore do without painted surfaces on their cars, which would be unnecessarily heavy. After Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)'s horrific crash at Silverstone in 2022 when he flew headfirst into the safety fence, the roll bars were reworked to provide more safety.