The 2023 Formula 1 season is just around the corner. Not only have drivers between switching teams, but we’re also ready to welcome some brand-new drivers to the F1 grid this season. There are some familiar faces returning to the grid, and some brand-new drivers heading into their first-ever Formula 1 season.
It’ll be incredibly exciting to see how they get on throughout the season, but there will be a ton of pressure on these drivers to deliver the results that their teams expect. Let’s take a deep dive into the new faces on the grid in 2023.
Car number: 81
Oscar Piastri might only be 21 years old, but the Australian youngster was involved in one of the most dramatic and bizarre driver announcements in the history of the sport. After his impressive Formula 2 Championship season in 2021, Piastri was a part of the Alpine Junior Academy and took the role of test and reserve driver for the Formula 1 team in 2022.
When Fernando Alonso made the shock announcement that he would be heading to greener Aston Martin pastures in 2023, Alpine was quick to pull the trigger and announce their brilliant academy driver as his replacement. However, there was no response from the Piastri camp for several days — no press release, no social media posts, just pure silence. That’s when suspicions began to arise about Piastri’s race seat for 2023.
Eventually, Piastri took to social media to confirm that Alpine had put out the announcement without his consent and that he was, in fact, not going to be driving for the French team in 2023. Communications from both sides then went silent as both parties tried to resolve the issue.
It was later revealed that Piastri had agreed to take the McLaren seat in 2023, but the two teams would have to fight it out for the driver in court. The F1 Contract Recognition Board found that McLaren’s contract with Piastri was valid, and the Australian would be allowed to race for the British team in 2023 and 2024.
Despite all the drama and chaos around his arrival to Formula 1, Piastri is one of the most exciting talents to show up on the grid in 2023. The youngster dominated his junior career, winning Formula Renault, Formula 3, and Formula 2 World Championships consecutively. The Australian is incredibly talented and has made a habit of winning in his rookie season. But, he’s up against Lando Norris this season, and he’s going to be under immense pressure.
Car number: 2
Williams announced that they will be parting ways with Nicolas Latifi for the 2023 season. This opened up an additional seat for another young driver to grab. At the 2022 US Grand Prix, it was announced that Logan Sargeant would take the Williams seat in 2023 should he gain enough Super License points to be eligible to race in Formula 1.
The American had to finish third in the F2 standings to secure his seat for 2023, and he was on course to do so by the time the announcement had been made. The final F2 race of the season was in Abu Dhabi, and Sargeant managed to secure his third place, which means that he officially takes the 2023 Williams seat alongside Alex Albon.
Sargeant now becomes the first full-time American Formula 1 driver since Scott Speed in 2006. With three Grands Prix in the United States this year, Sergeant has a ton of home fans he needs to impress. The good news for Sergeant is that James Vowels — former race engineer for Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes’ head strategic brain — has taken over as team principal at Williams. This could mean that the British team is on the verge of an upward trajectory in the near future.
Nyck De Vries
Team: Alpha Tauri
Car number: 21
With Gasly departing from Alpha Tauri, Nyck De Vries finally got his shot at a full-time Formula 1 seat. The 2019 F2 Champion missed his chance at Formula 1 and was recruited to race for Mercedes in Formula E, where he also won the championship in the 2020/2021 season.
The Dutchman is now 27 years old, but he’s already impressed in the world of Formula 1. He made his official debut at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix in Monza when he replaced Alex Albon who was out due to appendicitis. De Vries managed to secure two points in his first-ever Grand Prix, and that was done in a Williams at the fastest track on the calendar too — a truly impressive performance from the Dutchman.
Having been an integral part of the Mercedes family in recent years, the move to Alpha Tauri was certainly a surprise to many. In Abu Dhabi, the Mercedes crew gave De Vries a traditional send-off to the Red Bull-branded team. A tyre trolley was used to deliver the Dutchman to his new team’s garage.
De Vries has shown some impressive performances in a single-seater race car. Fans are eager to see how he’ll perform with Alpha Tauri and whether he can score some valuable points to make a name for himself on the F1 grid.
Car number: 27
Mick Schumacher had a tough season in 2022 the decision was made to drop him from the team and bring back Nico Hülkenburg. Hülkenberg is experienced in Formula 1, and despite never having a top car to compete for wins, he delivered an incredible pole position driving a Williams at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix in damp conditions.
The German has become known as a “super sub” among the Formula 1 community. There have been several races where a driver was unavailable due to positive Covid tests or other health reasons, and Hülkenburg was usually the first driver on call. Most recently, he took Sebastian Vettel’s seat for the first two races of the 2022 season after the four-time World Champion tested positive for Covid.
Hülkenburg is one of the oldest drivers on the grid, but he still has plenty to offer the Haas team. His experience will help them to develop the car, and his racecraft is still impressive, so the team could be hunting down a decent amount of points this season.
There are several new faces on the grid this year. Some exciting new talents are looking to prove themselves at the pinnacle of motorsport, and we’re even seeing some familiar faces returning to the paddock. It’s always refreshing having new personalities and new driving styles in the mix, so 2023 is set to be an incredible season!