The Bahrain Grand Prix is on Sunday, signalling the start of another thrilling season of Formula One racing on Sky Sports. Here’s your guide to all the excitement
By Chris Miller, Feature Writer
It’s the fastest sport on Earth – and it’s back for 2023! Formula One returns with the Bahrain Grand Prix, taking place at Sakhir’s International Circuit on Sunday 5 March. And you can watch every practice and qualifying session and, of course, the race itself live on Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506).
And thanks to Sky Sports F1®/HD and the Sky Sports app, you won’t need to miss a moment of this season’s action. With Max Verstappen establishing himself as the world’s best driver in a Red Bull car that puts in phenomenal performances week after week, it’s a chance to watch real sporting greatness at work.
So what lies ahead this season? Will Verstappen cruise to the drivers’ title as he did last year – or will we see an epic battle between F1’s best, like we did in 2021? There’s an intriguing new circuit, some up-and-coming challengers, the expansion of the Sprint format, and as ever, guaranteed 200mph thrills and spills over the season’s 23 races. Here’s what’s coming your way in the 2023 F1 season.
Put your money on Max
Last season, we predicted another titanic battle between the Big Two, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, after their epic tussle in the previous year’s championship. It’s fair to say that didn’t pan out. Verstappen wrapped up the drivers’ title with four races to spare, while Hamilton didn’t record a single pole position or GP win all season for the first time in his F1 career.
With Red Bull still looking strong, the smart money is on the Dutchman to retain the trophy. The winnings won’t be huge because the odds are so short. But when you put a driver that skilled in a car that hot, you’d be mad to back anyone else.
Can anyone challenge the champ?
Then again… Charles Leclerc is clearly a champion in waiting, and if Ferrari can sort out the issues that led him to retire not once but twice in 2022 after being on pole, he could get much closer to Verstappen this time.
Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Pérez also has bags of talent and while he’s unlikely to overtake Verstappen all things being equal, anything can happen in any given Grand Prix. George Russell forged ahead of his more celebrated Mercedes colleague in 2022, scoring eight podium finishes including his first GP win in São Paulo. If Verstappen suddenly decides to give it all up and go backpacking through Mongolia, these are the guys who’ll be fighting for the title.
Plus Hamilton. He had a bad season, but he’s a legend and it’s not over for him.
Prepare for life without Seb Vettel
Last time a Formula One season began without Sebastian Vettel on the grid, Tony Blair was Prime Minister, Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger were still battling it out in the Premier League, and there were only three – three! – Fast & Furious movies. He’s been a fixture since 2007, winning four world championships, but he retired after the 2022 season and it’ll be weird without him.
Having said that, there are rumours he’ll be back on the grid in Bahrain sitting in for the injured Lance Stroll, which would make it one of the world’s shortest-lived retirements…
Another former champ, Fernando Alonso, takes Vettel’s place at Aston Martin, while Pierre Gasly moves into the Brazilian’s seat at Alpine. After starting one 2022 race as a stand-in, Formula E champ Nyck de Vries gets a drive at AlphaTauri, and Logan Sargeant graduates from Formula Two to make his F1 debut with Williams.
Time to hit the Strip
One of three GPs taking place in the US is the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which will be staged on a street circuit that takes in a whizz along the Strip. After a hairpin left at the first corner, the drivers will pass Caesars Palace, the Palazzo Venetian, the Flamingo, the Bellagio Fountains and more Sin City landmarks. Although it does start in a disused car park.
Twice as many Sprints
In Sprint events, which were introduced in 2021, the usual qualifying sessions are shifted forward a day to the Friday and a 100km dash takes place on the Saturday as an exciting way of sorting the starting grid for the Grand Prix on Sunday – with extra championship points on offer too. For the past two years there have been three Sprint races, but this season they’ll feature in Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the United States GP in Austin and São Paulo (pictured).
Wave goodbye to porpoising
Among the usual range of rule changes and technical tweaks comes one that should reduce the amount of porpoising. The cars’ design meant that sometimes exterior forces could cause them to rock back and forth, in a motion not unlike a porpoise diving in and out of the sea – and one that could make drivers feel seasick. Some of this season’s design adjustments, including raising the floor edges, should mitigate this. Phew!
Tighten those belts
We don’t honestly know how we’d manage on $135 million a year, but that’s what the Formula One teams have to do in 2023 after the budget cap was reduced by $5 million. This rule is part of the governing body’s commitment to making the sport more competitive and sustainable. Although there still may be a bit of wiggle room, because last year’s cap was adjusted upwards thanks to our old friend soaring inflation. It’s no joke though – Red Bull breached the cap in 2021 and was punished with a multimillion-dollar fine and a restriction on car testing.
When is the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix on TV?
Coverage of the first race weekend of the 2023 Formula One season starts with the first practice session at 11am on Friday 3 March on Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506). Practice 2 is at 4.45pm and qualifying is at 2.10pm on Saturday 4 March. Coverage of the race starts at 1.30pm on Sunday 5 March on Sky Sports F1®/HD.
You can watch every practice, qualifying round and race of the 2022 Formula One season live on Sky Sports F1®/HD. The British Grand Prix is also live on Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108), which shows highlights of all the season’s races. Here’s your guide to every race scheduled to take place this year.
F1 2023 – race calendar
Bahrain Grand Prix
Sunday 5 March
Saudi Arabia Grand Prix
Sunday 19 March
Australian Grand Prix
Sunday 2 April
Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Sunday 30 April
Miami Grand Prix
Sunday 7 May
Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix
Sunday 21 May
Monaco Grand Prix
Sunday 28 May
Spanish Grand Prix
Sunday 4 June
Canadian Grand Prix
Sunday 18 June
Austrian Grand Prix
Sunday 2 July
British Grand Prix
Sunday 9 July
Hungarian Grand Prix
Sunday 23 July
Belgian Grand Prix
Sunday 30 July
Dutch Grand Prix
Sunday 27 August
Italian Grand Prix
Sunday 3 September
Singapore Grand Prix
Sunday 17 September
Japanese Grand Prix
Sunday 24 September
Qatar Grand Prix
Sunday 8 October
United States Grand Prix
Sunday 22 October
Mexico City Grand Prix
Sunday 29 October
São Paulo Grand Prix
Sunday 5 November
Las Vegas Grand Prix
Saturday 18 November
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Sunday 26 November
Watch on the go
Virgin TV customers who subscribe to Sky Sports can watch on the go with the Sky Sports app. Not only will you be able to take your Sky packages with you, but you get in-depth sports coverage, as well as exclusive videos and interviews. On iPad and Android tablets you can also access Sky Sports’ cutting-edge second-screen functions. Download from the Apple app store for iPad or iPhone, or from Google Play.
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