Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc are both prepared for a 2023 campaign far closer at the top than the season just gone.
There was great excitement heading into the 2022 season as new Technical Regulations came into force, the goal being for those and the budget cap to work together to bring the pack closer.
The first season with new regulations is always tough when it comes to a close fight at the front, and indeed we did have a dominant team emerge in Red Bull, though statistically more so than in terms of outright pace.
Ferrari had troubles with strategy, reliability and suffered from driver error at times earlier in the season, when their F1-75 was arguably stronger than the RB18.
So, without all of that, Red Bull would likely have had to work harder for their 2022 title double, rather than taking 17 of the 22 grands prix wins on offer.
And Red Bull driver Perez now hopes to carry that momentum into the 2023 season, which he believes will present Red Bull with more competition.
“How we started in the first few races as a team, with the reliability issues that we had, to come away and do such a strong job as a team, it’s very encouraging,” Perez told reporters, including PlanetF1.com.
“And I really hope that we can keep this momentum going for Red Bull and come back next year even stronger.
“I believe that the competition will be a lot closer for next year, so I really hope that we can keep this momentum going.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was able to split the Red Bull drivers in the final 2022 standings, finishing runner-up to Max Verstappen as Perez was forced to settle for P3. Red Bull were therefore denied that first one-two which they craved.
And after seeing his 2022 title challenge fall apart, Leclerc, like Perez, is readying himself for a season where more races are of championship importance.
“I think we all prepared for longer seasons, I hope it will be tight,” said Leclerc as he looks ahead to the 2023 season.
“It’s always nice to have a fight until the end. I’m prepared for more races and for a longer fight hopefully.”
Charles Leclerc does not expect surprise contender
The one obvious team yet to be mentioned is Mercedes, the Silver Arrows having seen their run of successive Constructors’ titles stop abruptly at eight.
But with their peak level of performance improving as the year went on, their one-two finish in Brazil the highlight, they are expected to join Red Bull and Ferrari in the 2023 title picture.
Alpine meanwhile looked like a promising team at the head of 2022’s midfield, their upgrades throughout the season bringing consistent and clear pace gains.
However, Leclerc does not expect them to feature in the battle at the front in 2023.
“I do believe that Mercedes will be in the fight,” said Leclerc at the FIA’s Prize Giving Gala.
“Another team? I haven’t seen signs yet maybe to believe that another team will join the top three, but Mercedes will definitely be there next year with a very strong car.
“We’ve seen how much they’ve improved from the first race to the last race. I think they understood what they did wrong, and this is normally the sign that it will go better. So hopefully it will be a three-team fight next year.”