As we welcome the new year the clock is now ticking in anticipation for the arrival for yet another explosive season of F1 action when the world’s most skilled drivers and teams face off yet again in Bahrain this coming march.
Last year marked a new era for the sport, with revised regulations brought in to improve competition. Among these were the switch to 18 inch wheels, simplified wings and a new focus on ground-effect aerodynamics.
Following the climactic events of the 2020 season that saw Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen go neck and neck on points right down to the finale, ultimately resulting in the young Dutchman’s first WDC, everyone was expecting Mercedes and Hamilton to come out swinging for 2022.
However this was not to be, as Mercedes found themselves hampered by a flawed car-concept that was unable to match the pace of a newly dominant Red Bull, not to mention a resurgent Ferrari with Charles Leclerc at the wheel.
Ferrari, which appeared to have the fastest car in terms of raw pace, at least for the first half of 2022, looked set to mount a title challenge before numerous strategic blunders, combined with a poor rate of development, conspired to all-but hand the championship to Verstappen for a second time.
The Supreme Dominance of the RB18
However, even if Mercedes and Ferrari found themselves on a more level playing field, it’s questionable whether they would have been able to prevent Red Bull from sailing to victory. A maturing Verstappen at the height of his powers behind the wheel of the sublimely balanced RB18 led to one of the most dominant win streaks in F1 history.
All told, Verstappen enjoyed 17 out of 22 wins, a percentage of 77%, placing his run alongside the likes of Schumacher in the F2004. As such, it should come as no surprise that Red Bull, now back at the top of their game, are the broad favorites to carry the constructor’s and driver’s championships in 2023 – but it may not be so simple this time round.
Big Year for Arabian Racing
This is not least due to the fact that 2023 is set to be the biggest championship in history with Las Vegas and Qatar joining the ranks. Qatar, which has enjoyed its time in the spotlight in the wake of the FIFA World Cup, will become the fourth Arabian venue for F1 on the calendar alongside Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
This marks a new height for interest and investment in the sport coming from the region. As such it should come as no surprise that the likes of Arabianbetting, a regional comparison platform that serves as a directory for the very best sportsbooks and online casinos operating in the gulf, is tabling the latest odds on 2023’s drivers and constructors winners from its partners such as Betway.
In shouldering the commitment to not only provide competitive welcome bonuses for sign-ups via its comprehensive directory, but promote the expansion of F1 into this region, platforms such as these are a major driving force in F1’s recent surge in popularity.
So what do the odds on hand suggest for Verstappen’s chief rivals in 2023? Let’s take a look.
Ferrari number 1, Charles “The Monagascue” Leclerc, amply demonstrated last year that he has the raw pace and racecraft to bring the fight to Verstappen and Red Bull. In fact, in the early stages of the season he was odds on favorite to carry the championship after a string of reliability errors for Red Bull saw the defending champion trailing him for points over the first 5 races.
Odds of 6/1, which put Leclerc in with a 14.3% chance of securing victory highlight the fact that the leading cause for his title challenge collapse was his own team, and with team principal Binotto getting the axe, Ferrari may have to rebuild before they can realistically challenge Red Bull again.
In many eyes, British driver Lewis Hamilton remains the greatest of all time with 7 world championship titles to his name as well as records for the most wins, podium finishes and pole positions of any driver. After a poor season hampered by car performance issues, many are expecting Hamilton and Mercedes to come back strong for 2023.
Odds of 11/4, converting to around 26.7%, also point to Hamilton as the most likely candidate to bring the fight to the two-time defending champion, and arch-rival, Verstappen.