Mario Andretti, the 1978 World Champion, is hopeful that multiple teams will be in a position to fight for victories during the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Max Verstappen dominated F1 last season, claiming a record 15 wins as he stormed to his second successive title, but it is hoped that there will be greater competition at the front this year.
Despite their failure to sustain their strong start, Ferrari enjoyed their most productive season in years in 2022 as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz claimed four wins between them, while Mercedes will be expected to hit back hard having been restricted to just one victory last season – taken by George Russell in Brazil – as Lewis Hamilton suffered the first winless campaign of his storied career.
Andretti wants to see all three teams fighting for the title in 2023 with some underdogs – including McLaren, whose most recent victory came at Monza with Daniel Ricciardo in 2021 – interfering with proceedings on occasion.
“You have to assume that they fight back as hard as they always have,” he told RTL on the prospect of a possible Mercedes resurgence in 2023.
“Can you imagine if we had three teams fighting hard and every now and then a fourth team like McLaren sticks its nose in?”
Andretti revealed he is also expecting big things from Aston Martin this year following the arrival of two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso from Alpine, with the Silverstone-based team’s new factory set to open this year.
“If they have their factory and all that together, besides, Fernando Alonso is there now.”
The 82-year-old also singled out Russell for special praise following his first season as a Mercedes driver in 2022, in which he claimed a surprise pole position in Hungary and ultimately finished 35 points ahead of seven-time World Champion Hamilton.
“If you look at his performance last year, not only in qualifying, but also his racing strength, you have to see him as a revelation,” Andretti added.
Russell recently outlined his satisfaction with his first year at Mercedes, telling BBC Radio Norfolk: “It takes some time whenever you join a new team, regardless of who your team-mate is, to embed yourself and gain that trust and confidence within the whole organisation.
“It’s been a good journey for me, being team-mates with [Hamilton].
“He’s the greatest of all time so I’m in a very privileged position to go up directly alongside him but also learn from him.
“I’m really excited for 2023. I’m still going to be trying to improve my driving, what I do on and off track, and hopefully we’ve got the car beneath us to fight for the Championship.”