This will be the world champion of the new Formula 1 season

The new Formula 1 season will officially start next Saturday. Ten teams and twenty riders will appear at the start on March 2 to compete for the world title. But before the green flag is waved, MASTERS looks ahead with sports reporter Jaap de Groot. Who will we see finish in the top three this year and which driver will cause the most controversial moment?
Photo by Mark Thompsonn | Red Bull Content

Photo: Photo by Mark Thompsonn | Red Bull Content

Which race on the calendar are you most looking forward to this season?

'That is of course the race on August 25 at Circuit Zandvoort. That is the Netherlands at its best. Both in the field of sports and experience as well as organization and audience.'

Is that unique compared to other races?

'I know that Formula One Management had serious doubts about putting Zandvoort on the calendar. Fortunately, that eventually happened. From the first race in 2021, Zandvoort has really put itself on the map. The race here is a true game changer. I still remember Toto Wolff, Mercedes team boss, saying to me: ''This is so unique''. So far I have attended every match here and it is truly unique. Party for three days. In addition, the images are sent all over the world, which is of course a promotion of I have you there. The race also generates a lot of employment.'

What are the most important changes this F1 season?

'Formula 1 is currently more popular than ever. Requests to organize Grand Prix's are skyrocketing. This year there are even 24 races on the calendar, with China as an addition, for example. The popularity is also reflected in the figures: Formula 1's annual turnover has again increased by 25 percent; from $2.6 billion in 2022 to $3.2 billion in 2023. Not only are 10-year contracts now being concluded with circuits and cities, but drivers also keep their seats. There are no new faces or emerging talents this year. As for Max Verstappen's new car, the RB20, the tests in Bahrain show that it is an improved version of the previous car, faster and more complete. This poses a challenge to the competition, which has been working hard on improvements.'

During the test days Ferrari also showed good results, should we be concerned?

'No. If I have to believe the experts, no one will reveal anything during the test days. What you saw there with Max is the incredible speed he can produce. It also turned out that the car is extremely durable. He could race continuously for hours. Of course, the cars are further developed during the season and the driver and car become an increasingly better unit. But at the moment, with the speed and supremacy that Max showed last year and now also an improved version of the car, I give it to the competition...'


“Lewis Hamilton's switch to Ferrari is so sensitive. I'm watching for the blow that's coming”


So you give it to the competition, who do you see finishing in the top three this year?

'It is difficult to predict, as there have been no races yet. But based on the current situation I would say: Max Verstappen at number one, Fernando Alonso at second place and Charles Leclerc at third.'

No Mercedes this year?

"I have the feeling that Mercedes may be hindered this year by Lewis Hamilton's switch to Ferrari. Drivers normally have a lot of influence on the development of the car, using a lot of their own experience. This is currently lacking at Mercedes, he will take all the knowledge that Hamilton has acquired so far to Ferrari.'

Photo by Mark Thompsonn | Red Bull Content

Which rider will surprise the most this season?

'I'll go for Oscar Piastri. Of course we have well-known names like Lando Norris, George Russel and Carlos Sainz, but Piastri remains a bit in the background so far. However, this could be the season where he leads himself to a big breakthrough.”

And which driver will cause the most controversial moment this season?

'With everything going on, I think Lewis Hamilton. In top sport everything has to be right, especially in Formula 1 it's all about details. Lewis Hamilton's switch to Ferrari is so sensitive. I'm watching for the blow that's coming.'

Is there anyone riding their last season this year?

“I think Logan Sargeant from Williams. Formula 1 is trying to take root in America. They now have three Grand Prix's with Austin, Miami and Las Vegas. I know they would like to have a fourth one, like Chicago. But then you have to be able to connect a very competitive American to Formula 1. Now you have one, but it's not a standout...'