Despite Red Bull's dominance in the current season, there are still a few important questions to be answered in the following weeks. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó picks out some things to watch out for in the remaining six rounds in 2023.
Calendar – After 16 races completed, F1 teams and drivers face two fully packed months with both October and November featuring three races respectively.
Next on the schedule is the Qatar Grand Prix that makes its return following a year hiatus. As part of Covid-19-induced calendar reshuffle, the Lusail race was first held in 2021 and was expected to be moved to a new purpose-built circuit, but it has been retained on the track that has become famous for the MotoGP races.
The field then will have a week off before a triple header commences with the United States Grand Prix on 22 October. Following the Texas round, the action will resume in Mexico before the 2023 season’s sole triple header comes to a close in Brazil.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix will make is return to the F1 schedule on 18 November. The spectacular round will be held on a new street track across the Las Vegas Strip. This will be the first time that three races are held in the United States in the same season since 1982. That year also marked the second and last time that Formula One visited Las Vegas which hosted the Caesar Palace Grand Prix.
The season will then conclude in Abu Dhabi on 26 November with Yas Marina Circuit set to stage the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the 15th time.
Sprint races – Sprint races debuted in 2021 and saw the usual weekend format changed to introduce a second, shortened race to offer more wheel-to-wheel action, attempting to ensure each day of the Grand Prix weekend includes significant action.
The 2023 season saw the number the sprint races increase from three to six. Azerbaijan, Austria and Belgium have already hosted the special weekend format, but there are three more rounds that include the sprint schedule.
Qatar will not only make its return to F1, but will host the fourth Sprint of the year on October 7 before the US GP's Circuit of the Americas stages its first Sprint weekend on October 21.
Round 20 of the current season, the Sao Paulo Grand Prix will continue its record of being the only circuit to host the format since its inception on November 4.
Driver line-ups - There’s just one seat up for grabs for the 2024 Formula 1 seat after most of the teams confirmed their driver line-up for the coming season.
Ferrari will compete in the 2024 F1 season with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz with both drivers having a contract until the end of 2024.
On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix, Mercedes announced a contract extension with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell with their deals running until the end of 2025.
Alpine will continue to field an all French driver line-up next year with Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly set to race together for the Anglo-French team for the second time next year.
Lando Norris has a contract with McLaren until the end of 2025. His rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri signed a contract extension with the British team on the eve of the Japanese Grand Prix with his new contract running until the end of 2026.
The Sauber-run Alfa Romeo team is set to go through key changes next year with the Italian marque leaving the Swiss operation. However, the Hinwil-based squad’s driver line-up will be unchanged with Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu set to work together for the third consecutive year. The Finn is contracted to the team until the end of 2025 while the Chinese driver’s recently extended contract runs until the end of next year.
Aston Martin and Haas have also sorted out their driver pairings. The Silverstone-based outfit will compete in the 2024 season with Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll. The Spaniard, who made a sensational switch from Alpine to Aston Martin at the start of the current season, is under contract at the British team until the end of 2024.
Haas have recently opted to retain both Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg for the F1 2024 season.
AlphaTauri confirmed during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend that they will compete with Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda next year despite some eye-catching performances from Red Bull’s reserve driver Liam Lawson.
However, the his team-mate Logan Sargeant is still without a contract for next year. The American, who made his debut in F1 this year following a successful second half of the 2022 season in F2, has had a very difficult season. He is yet to score a point this year with an 11th-placed finish at the British Grand Prix having been his best result so far.
Despite a difficult Japanese Grand Prix that saw him crash into the barriers during qualifying and crash into the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas the next day, Williams has indicated after the Suzuka race that Logan Sargeant will not be ousted at the end of the season.
Power units – There are only six more races to go, but many drivers are on the verge of exceeding their power unit allocation. Ferrari drivers appear to be under the biggest threat with Sainz and Leclerc most likely set to take an additional engine with several other components in Qatar or Texas.
Over the course of the 2023 season, a driver may use no more than four ICEs, MGU-Hs, MGU-Ks and turbochargers. Furthermore, drivers are restricted to two energy stores and control electronics, and eight of each of the four elements that make up a set of exhaust systems (comprising primaries left-hand side, primaries right-hand side, secondary LHS and secondary RHS).
Six drivers have already received grid drop penalties for exceeding their allocation for 2023. Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and Liam Lawson received additional energy store and control electronics. Zhou Guanyu exceeded his allocation of internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and control electronics.
Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg have taken additional internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and control electronis while the German has also received a third energy store and the Dane has also taken an additional MGU-K.
The two Haas drivers and double world champion Max Verstappen have also exceeded their gearbox allocation.
Lando Norris is the only driver who has new parts in his power unit allocation. The McLaren driver can still add a fresh turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K to his ‘pool’ of PU components.
In the past years, the United States Grand Prix has served as a location where the effect of grid drop penalty is significantly lower than at places such as Suzuka or Zandvoort, let alone Singapore or Monaco. It could mean that drivers, who are in need of fresh power unit components, will receive new parts in Texas where overtaking could be executed more easily.
Constructors – After Red Bull Racing clinched their second consecutive Constructors’ Championship title in Suzuka, the battle between the teams is restricted for lower positions.
Mercedes are second in the teams’ standing, but Ferrari have closed in on them thanks their impressive form in Monza, Singapore and Suzuka. The two teams are separated by 20 points.
Aston Martin was in contention for second place in the teams’ standings, but they have dropped down the order to P4, 84 points adrift of Mercedes.
Despite having started off the pace, McLaren have been getting closer to Aston Martin in the standings. Based on their recent form, the gap of 49 points is not insurmountable.
With 84 points collected so far, Alpine appears to be in a no man’s land., sitting sixth in the standings. Considering their ambitious targets set for this year, this might turn out to be disappointing result though.
For the moment, Williams look safe in P7 with 21 points with all of them having been collected by Alex Albon.
Haas and Alfa Romeo are in a close fight for P8 in the standings with only two points separating them. AlphaTauri has only collected five points so far, and even if they are only seven and five points adrift of Haas and Alfa Romeo respectively, it will be a tall order for the Faenza-based outfit to get involved in the fight for P8 in the Constructors’ Standings.