While the 2023 Formula 1 season has been dominated by Max Verstappen, the action throughout the rest of the field has kept it quite intriguing.
One of the goals of the introduction of the new rules and regulations ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 season was to create closer racing between the sport’s 10 teams and to make overtaking a lot more manageable that it had been in previous years.
The domination of Red Bull and Max Verstappen last year left fans doubting that these new regulations had served their purpose. Verstappen set a new all-time single-season record with 15 victories and clinched his second straight world championship with four races left on the calendar, despite his and the team’s struggles to open the year.
Now in 2023, Red Bull’s domination has continued. They are 11 for 11 to start the season, and they have broken the all-time record for consecutive victories with 12 going back to last year.
Verstappen has won nine races this season, including each of the seven most recent events, putting him two wins shy of Sebastian Vettel’s consecutive wins record from 2013. He hasn’t finished lower than second place.
The 25-year-old Dutchman’s average finish is 1.18, and the closest comparison to his season is Michael Schumacher’s historic 2022 campaign, which saw him finish on the podium in all 17 events and record an average finish of 1.41.
While that has led a lot of fans to refer to the season as boring, the reality is that Verstappen winning has been about the only remotely predictable element to it.
Aside from Max Verstappen winning races by more than half a minute, the 2023 season is what Formula 1 fans have been clamoring for.
There will always be a contingent of fans who point to the car alone when it comes to the dominance of one driver. But while Verstappen has certainly capitalized on the fact that the RB19 has been the class of the field, there has been some serious competition for second place — not necessarily the highest non-Red Bull car in third.
In fact, Red Bull haven’t taken a 1-2 finish since the Miami Grand Prix at Miami International Autodrome back in May, the race which began Verstappen’s current win streak after he started in ninth place. Teammate Sergio Perez finished in second after starting on pole as the favorite to win the race and take the lead of the world championship.
Perez also recently went on a streak of five consecutive races for which he qualified no higher than 11th place. During those same five races, Verstappen secured all five pole positions, despite the fact that, compared to his Sunday pace, Saturdays had been somewhat of a (relative) weakness throughout his career.
During Verstappen’s seven-race win streak, Perez has only placed second on one occasion, and he has only finished on the podium on two others.
Four other teams have had one of their drivers finish in second place during this stretch, and it’s not as if these teams are “backing into” second place finishes; there have been four teams during this stretch that have, at some point, looked like the legitimate number two team.
It took just three races into the 2023 season for all 10 teams to score points, an all-time record, and halfway into the season, six of 10 teams have already been on the podium, with five of those six having secured multiple podium finishes.
Three of the four teams without a podium finish are in their own tight battle for seventh place in the constructor standings, with just two points separating them.
Have we gotten a titanic championship battle between the top two drivers competing for the top two teams like we saw in 2021? Not at all.
But to say that this has been a boring Formula 1 season totally undersells some of the action we have seen this year that wasn’t nearly as present in years past. Gone are the days of a clear number one, number two, and number three team, with the “best of the rest” battle being for seventh place.
The second half of the 22-race 2023 Formula 1 season is scheduled to get underway this Sunday, July 30 with the Belgian Grand Prix, which is set to be broadcast live on ESPN from Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today and don’t miss it!