Winter is a somber time for most motorsport aficionados. The world's most watched racing series come to a halt around October or November, leaving us with nothing else to do on the weekends but pay attention to our families or interact with our friends. It's awful. The only exception is Formula E, which runs through winter, opposite to other series. So if you're an FE fan, high five. For the rest of us, today is a good day, because today is the first day of the 2023 Formula 1 and IndyCar seasons. Hooray!
As Aaron Cole expertly highlighted in his 2023 F1 season preview, this year is going to be a big one for the pinnacle of motorsport. With 23 races, 20 drivers, and two championships up for grabs, it'll be up to Red Bull and its drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez who will have to prove themselves capable of continuing their winning streak. It'll also be a year when Mercedes attempts to rebuild and claw its way back to the front after a tumultuous 2022. And Ferrari, well, Ferrari will try to undo over a decade of missed opportunities to give Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz a shot at glory.
And then there's the best of the rest: AlphaTauri, Alpine, Aston Martin, McLaren—all theoretically capable of fighting for those coveted fourth, fifth, and sixth places that pay enormous dividends in FIA prize money.
Action already began in Sakhir today with FP1; Perez led the field followed by Fernando Alonso who set the second-best time. Verstappen squeezed into the top three while McLaren's Lando Norris and Ferrari ace Leclerc wrapped up the top five. Qualifying will take place Saturday morning at 10 a.m. ET, with the Grand Prix of Bahrain happening Sunday also at 10 a.m.
While F1 has certainly been getting more exciting lately, nothing can really beat IndyCar for unpredictability and the average number of passes per race—at least in open-wheel racing. North America's premier racing series is more global than ever in 2023, with a roster of racing drivers from the States, Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, France, Sweden, and more. And not to mention former F1 racers Romain Grosjean and now Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson.
Making the 2023 season even more exciting is the fact that you have established (and incredibly successful) veterans like Scott Dixon, Joseph Newgarden, Will Power, and Simon Pagenaud, fighting alongside hungry up-and-comers like Ericsson, Colton Herta, Pato O'Ward, David Malukas, and, of course, Scott McLaughlin. McLaughlin isn't much of a rookie, but he's certainly making a big name for himself in the series. He's likely the one driver to really watch out for in 2023.
You can't talk about IndyCar without mentioning the Indy 500, and this year will be a particularly interesting one. The 107th running of the 500-mile race will give Brazilian Helio Castroneves a shot at winning a fifth Indy 500, catapulting him into extremely rarified air, especially after his back-to-back Daytona Rolex 24 victories.
Action in St. Petersburg, Florida begins today at 1:55 p.m. E.T. when the first practice session of the year kicks off. Qualifying will take place Saturday at 2:15 p.m. with the race kicking off Sunday at 12:00 p.m.
The wait is over, friends. Enjoy!
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