Mirror mirror on the wall, will Red Bull once again conquer all?

As the lights went out in Bahrain and the 2023 Formula 1 season got underway, fans flooded the stands to watch this year’s batch of drivers and cars perform on the track. With lots of speculation about who will win the World Championship, The McGill Tribune compiled a handy prediction guide to help you keep up with the race.

Which teams are the top challengers of the season?

Despite Red Bull’s reduced wind tunnel time, a result of their 2022 cost cap breach, the Austrian team had an easy one-two finish in Bahrain with Max Verstappen taking first and teammate Sergio Perez snagging second. The perfect finish is a telltale sign that Red Bull’s domination is far from over and that their recipe for success is just as effective as last season. The Tribune predicts that Red Bull will easily win the Constructors’ Championship.

On the other hand, Ferrari’s poor strategy over the past eight years—complemented by a number of driver errors—left the former championship-winning team unable to compete for titles. But Ferrari is once again a top contender, with new leadership setting the Italian team on what appears to be the right track to attain multiple podium finishes this year.

However, the Tribune regrets to inform Ferrari fans that 2023 is not the year for their team to regain its former glory. Despite its great car design, the SF-23 is no match for Red Bull, and the Scuderia will probably be second in the Constructors’ Championship. 

Fernando Alonso’s third place and Lance Stroll’s sixth place finish in Bahrain confirm that Aston Martin’s changes in both car design and engineering have paid off. The team can confidently expect to sit on top of the midfield. Fans of Alonso and Aston Martin can also expect multiple podiums from the Spaniard and riveting driving from both pilots. However, do not be fooled by reports that Aston Martin can win the Championship. The team’s performance promises to be exciting, yet insufficient to challenge Red Bull for the title: The Tribune’s crystal ball foresees exhilarating battles with Ferrari. 

Which drivers should fans look out for?

After proving to fans in 2022 that he’s still got it, Double World Champion Alonso’s move from Alpine to Aston Martin is proving to be the right one as he is finally in a podium-finishing car. As the most experienced driver on the grid, Alonso’s love for competition is known by all teams and drivers. The combination of his passion and his car’s abilities are sure to make him a top driver this season. 

Fans who also enjoy battles at the back of the field should look out for HaasKevin Magnussen and Niko Hülkenberg driver pairing. The American team has done a complete 180 from its 2021 strategy: The 2021 team consisted of a pair of F1 rookies, but transitioned to two experienced drivers for its 2023 pairing. This combination will surely bring in some finishes in the points department, especially as Haas finished eighth out of 10 in the Constructors’ Championship in 2022, bringing in additional funding

Which teams have it wrong?

Lewis Hamilton’s P5 finish and George Russell’s P7 finish in Bahrain show that Mercedes can still fight for podiums and be a strong team in 2023. But this is not the standard of competition expected of Mercedes––a team that has dominated F1 for the past decade. Mercedes is a team that should fight for pole positions and championship wins. Instead, it looks like the team still hasn’t found the right combination to bring them back up to their standard of performance.

McLaren also had disappointing results in Bahrain, with a P17 finish for Lando Norris and a Did Not Finish for rookie Oscar Piastri. The team’s performance has slowly declined since the 2020 season when they finished P3 of the Constructors’ Championship. Their results in Bahrain are not only indicative that the team will be unable to rise to the top of the midfield, but also that they have completely missed the mark in terms of car design for this season. 

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