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F1 2023 season, explained: Formula 1 schedule, drivers, teams, DRS rules, sprints, salaries & more

If you’re new to Formula 1, now is the perfect time to join in the fun.

With Max Verstappen bidding to win a third world title in a row, Ferrari desperate to shake off the frustrations of their technical performance last season and Lewis Hamilton still hoping to set a new record for drivers’ championships, 2023 is set to be an intriguing year in the sport.

As ever, the new season brings with it new cars, races and regulations to create more drama and hopefully make for an entertaining spectacle.

To get you up to speed, Sporting News answers all the key questions for any F1 newcomer.

What is Formula 1?

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and the highest class of single-seater racing. F1 races with open-wheel cars, on both permanent race tracks and street circuits, with a new one coming in 2023 on the Las Vegas Strip, no less. F1 visits traditional racing hotspots such as the UK, Monaco, Italy and Belgium every season and has recently ventured into new territories such as Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the Netherlands and Azerbaijan.

MORE: Las Vegas Grand Prix: All you need to know about the new F1 race for 2023

F1 has a competition structure that involves 10 teams, with two drivers per team. It is effectively a league table format, with points racked up over the course of the season (more on that later). 

The world championship was founded in 1950 and is sanctioned by the FIA, which sets the rules and regulations. The sport is unique as teams build their own distinct cars every year, following the rules and regulations set by the FIA. Often they create cars with high cornering speeds. On average, F1 cars generate a top speed over 200 mph (320 kph) on the straights.

Over its 73-year history, Formula 1 has been known to be a dangerous sport, with the drivers risking their lives while racing. Over recent decades, safety has improved drastically with car modifications — such as the halo over the cockpit — to protect the drivers.

F1 drivers and teams in 2023

10 teams and 20 drivers make up the grid for 2023. They will battle it out for the respective constructors’ and drivers’ championships.

Three world champions are on the grid this year, with Max Verstappen the most recent to make the list. He joins Lewis Hamilton, who is aiming to clinch a record eighth world title, and Fernando Alonso, who is with Aston Martin. Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel retired in 2022.

Logan Sargeant’s first season in F1 will be alongside Alexander Albon at Williams, while rookie Nyck de Vries partners Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri.

Nico Hulkenberg is back after three seasons away from the grid, and rising Australian star Oscar Piastri joins Lando Norris at McLaren.

Team Driver 1 Driver 2
Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Lewis Hamilton George Russell
Oracle Red Bull Racing Max Verstappen Sergio Perez
Scuderia Ferrari Charles Leclerc Carlos Sainz
McLaren F1 Team Lando Norris Oscar Piastri
BWT Alpine F1 Team Pierre Gasly Esteban Ocon
Scuderia AlphaTauri Yuki Tsunoda Nyck de Vries
Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Lance Stroll Fernando Alonso
Williams Racing Alexander Albon Logan Sargeant
Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen Valtteri Bottas Guanyu Zhou
Haas F1 Team Kevin Magnussen Nico Hulkenberg

F1 driver salaries in 2023

Formula 1 drivers earn large salaries for their job in addition to endorsement deals. The current set of contracts ranges from $500,000 to $50 million a year. 

In 2023, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will be the highest-paid drivers on the grid. Verstappen recently signed a new contract that keeps him at Red Bull until the end of 2028. His deal is the most lucrative in the history of the sport, and is worth around $55 million a year, roughly $5 million more than Hamilton’s.

By contrast, Yuki Tsunoda is reportedly the lowest-paid driver this year on a salary of around $1m.

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MORE: Predictions and betting tips for 2023 F1 season

F1 schedule in 2023

Formula 1 will race at 23 different circuits in 20 countries during the 2023 season. Italy will host two grands prix, and three will take place in the United States.

The 2023 campaign begins as it did in 2022, with the Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir International Circuit. That race takes place on March 5. The season finale will be staged at the Yas Marina Circuit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as it has been for the past two years, on November 26.

The three races taking place in the United States will be held in Miami, Austin, and Las Vegas.

Date Grand Prix Country Track
March 5 Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain Sakhir International Circuit
March 19  Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Saudi Arabia Jeddah Corniche Circuit
April 2 Australian Grand Prix Australia Albert Park
April 30 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Azerbaijan Baku City Circuit
May 7 Miami Grand Prix USA Miami International Autodrome
May 21 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Italy Imola Circuit
May 28 Monaco Grand Prix Monaco Circuit de Monaco
June 4 Spanish Grand Prix Spain Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
June 18 Canadian Grand Prix Canada Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
July 2 Austrian Grand Prix Austria Red Bull Ring
July 9 British Grand Prix United Kingdom Silverstone Circuit
July 23 Hungarian Grand Prix Hungary Hungaroring
July 30 Belgian Grand Prix Belgium Circuit de Spa Francorchamps
Aug. 27 Dutch Grand Prix Netherlands Circuit Zandvoort
Sept. 3 Italian Grand Prix Italy Monza Circuit
Sept. 17 Singapore Grand Prix Singapore Marina Bay Street Circuit
Sept. 24 Japanese Grand Prix Japan Suzuka Circuit
Oct. 8 Qatar Grand Prix Qatar Lusail International Circuit
Oct. 22 United States Grand Prix USA Circuit of the Americas
Oct. 29 Mexico City Grand Prix Mexico Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Nov. 5 Sao Paulo Grand Prix Brazil Interlagos Circuit
Nov. 18 Las Vegas Grand Prix USA Las Vegas Street Circuit
Nov. 26 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix UAE Yas Marina Circuit

F1 practice, qualifying and race schedule

A race weekend takes place from Friday to Sunday. The weekend consists of three one-hour Free Practice sessions; two take place on Friday (FP1 and FP2), and the one takes place Saturday morning (FP3).

An hour of qualifying split into three sessions takes place Saturday afternoon. That forms the starting grid for the race Sunday, with the format detailed below. 

The race is the main event of the weekend, and it’s where the points are delivered to the teams and drivers. The drivers race each other around the circuit for 190 miles (305 km), typically across two hours, but race can take up to four hours depending on red flags (that is to say, the race needing to be suspended due to a crash).

The race features elements of strategy, with pit stops and fuel management to consider. Incidents have a big impact, too; they lead to safety cars and virtual safety cars (meaning no overtakes and a limited speed).

MORE: Explaining the huge F1 rule changes for 2023

How does F1 qualifying work?

Qualifying is used to determine the grid positions for the race on Sunday and traditionally takes place on a Saturday — or on a Friday afternoon during Sprint weekends (detailed next in this guide).

The session is split into three parts. In Q1, all drivers take the track to set the fastest lap time possible in 18 minutes. The slowest five drivers are dropped from the session and will start the race from their finishing position. Q2 repeats the process, but with 15 drivers and in 15 minutes.

The top 10 in Q2 progress to Q3, where they battle for pole position in a 12-minute shootout session. The fastest time earns the pole and will start the race on Sunday in first place. Second through 10th place are determined by the next-fastest laps.  

For the 2022 season, drivers will have a free choice of which tyres they can use to start the race. They no longer have to stick with the compound they use in Q3. 

Qualifying during a Sprint weekend alters the structure. The session takes place Friday afternoon, replacing FP2. Those results determine the grid for the Sprint, where the drivers will race Saturday afternoon for their grid slot for the main event on Sunday.

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What is F1 Sprint?

In a bid to improve the entertainment value of a race weekend, F1 proposed and trialed a sprint format in 2021 at three race weekends and that continued last year. In 2023, that number has doubled to six.

Sprints are designed to create more racing action and change up the grid ahead of Sunday with an extra, shortened race on Saturday.

Traditional qualifying, normally held on a Saturday, will take place on Friday and form the grid for the sprint. The drivers will compete at a one-third race distance; the top eight finishers will earn points toward their championship standing. During a sprint weekend, the driver who finishes first in qualifying will earn pole position, but the driver who finishes first in the sprint will earn the right to start the race from first. 

The sprints in 2023 will take place at the grands prix of Azerbaijan (Baku), Austria (Red Bull Ring), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps), Qatar (Lusail), the United States (Austin) and Sao Paulo (Interlagos).

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

What are the F1 tyre and pit stop rules? 

Pirelli supplies the tyres and produces three compounds for the teams to use over the weekend: softs, mediums and hards.

Softs are the quickest tyres, but they also wear away quickly, while the hards are the slowest but have a longer durability. Teams use the practice sessions to form their strategy and understand the tyres for the race. In qualifying, the teams use the soft tyres to produce the quickest lap times.

Softs, mediums and hards are the dry, slick tyres, while the intermediates and wets are used for wet conditions. During a dry race, everyone must use at least two different compounds of the slick tyres. If it rains, they’re permitted to use any compound.  

During the race, teams must make at least one pit stop to change tyres, where 23 mechanics all work on the car, change tyres and make any changes on the car, generally in under three seconds. The fastest pit stop recorded in F1 was by Red Bull Racing, which managed to execute a pit stop in 1.82 seconds at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. McLaren came close to matching that in 2022, with Daniel Ricciardo undergoing a pit stop of just 1.98 seconds in Mexico City last October.

How many pit stops F1 teams decide to take is up to them, but they use free practice sessions to get a feel for the tyres and understand the level of tyre degradation on their car. Teams will run race simulations over the three sessions before finalizing a strategy for the race: whether they want to do one stop, two stops or even three stops. A team’s strategy can change over the course of the race with incidents, safety cars and red flags playing a part. 

In the event of an incident where the driver may take damage to the tyres, the mechanics can replace them with a new set of tyres. If there is a broken front wing, they can change the wing in under eight seconds. Damage to the rear wing, suspension, engine and more require further work in the garage and F1 teams will often retire the car for events such as those. 

How much does an F1 car cost? 

F1 cars are very expensive. They cost millions to create, develop and race yearly. F1 cars are often created to race for just one season and are given upgrades and new parts over the year to maintain top performance and stay close to the field. 

The cost of an F1 car varies from team to team depending on their budget for construction and development of new parts. For example, the chassis of an F1 car can cost up to $700,000 while the halo around the driver is around $17,000. The most expensive piece of the car, however, is the engine. A new engine for an F1 car and all its components can cost up to $18 million.

In total, an average F1 car costs around $20 million per year.

F1 standings, explained: Points and scoring system

Points are awarded to the top 10 finishers in a Grand Prix. The winner receives 25 points, second place collects 18 points and third place gains 15 points. Here is the breakdown for every finishing position in the grid.

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Position Points Scored
1 25
2 18
3 15
4 12
5 10
6 8
7 6
8 4
9 2
10 1
11-20 0

An additional point is awarded to the driver with the fastest lap, but the driver needs to finish in the top 10 to collect that point.

For the sprint, additional points will be on offer for the top eight drivers, with the winner earning eight points. P2 through P8 will earn seven, six, five, four, three, two and one point, respectively.

For 2022, a new points system was introduced for races halted during the Grand Prix due to an incident, bad weather or a situation where a race can’t go ahead. This was a reaction to the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, where the race was canceled after two laps because of torrential rain and half-points were awarded.

  • No points will be awarded unless the minimum of two laps have been completed under green flag conditions.
  • Points will be awarded on a 6–4–3–2–1 basis to the top five if less than 25 percent of the race is completed.
  • Points will be awarded on a 13–10–8–6–5–4–3–2–1 basis to the top nine if between 25 percent and 50 percent of the race is completed.
  • Points will be awarded on a 19–14–12–9–8–6–5–3–2–1 basis to the top 10 if 50 percent to 75 percent of the race is completed.

There was some confusion at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, where drivers were awarded full points even though less than 75 percent of the race was completed, the decision having been made as the race ended in green-flag conditions. To avoid confusion this year, all races under 75 percent completion will follow the sliding-scale points system.

The points are added up over the course of the season and go toward the drivers’ and constructors’ championship. The driver and team with the most points at the end of the season are crowned champions. 

Who has won the most F1 world championships? 

34 different drivers have won the world championship, with icons Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton both having won seven, tied for the most in the history of Formula 1.

Schumacher clinched titles in 1994 and 1995 with Benetton before moving to Ferrari, where he won five consecutive titles from 2000 through 2004.

Hamilton won his first title in 2008 with McLaren before switching to Mercedes in 2013. He went on to win titles in six of the next seven seasons. 

Max Verstappen won his first championship in 2021 and defended that title in 2022. Fernando Alonso is the only other driver on the grid to have won titles, having done so in 2005 and 2006 with Renault. Sebastian Vettel, who won four in a row with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013, retired from F1 last year.

Long before the arrival of Schumacher and Hamilton, Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio held the record for the most titles with five. He won them in the early years of F1 in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957. Alain Prost won four titles in the 1980s and 1990s while also forming an iconic rivalry with Brazil’s Ayrton Senna, who won three titles during that period. 

What TV channel is F1 on?

ESPN will broadcast Formula 1 for viewers in the U.S., with fuboTV also carrying the action via live stream.

UK viewers can watch every session live on Sky Sports F1. Channel 4 will broadcast qualifying and race highlights. 

Viewers in Australia can watch on Fox Sports channels and on Network Ten.

What is Formula 2?

Formula 2 is F1’s feeder series and is the final step for junior drivers to compete in before jumping into F1. The series uses the same cars, tyres and engines across the board, which means it is down to the drivers to deliver on track.

F2 races alongside F1 during Grand Prix weekends and acts as its support series over the three days. There will be 14 F2 races in 2023, beginning in Bahrain on March 4-5.

A sprint race takes place on Saturday afternoon after F1 qualifying. The top 10 drivers in F2 qualifying are reversed and the race is lights to flag. On Sunday morning, the feature race takes place. The results from F2 qualifying form the grid and a mandatory pit stop is in place. 

F2 has developed young, talented drivers who have gone onto achieve great success in F1. Lewis Hamilton competed in the series in 2006 and won the competition then known as GP2 Series. Other stars such as Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Mick Schumacher have won the F2 championship, while the likes of Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Nicholas Latifi, Yuki Tsunoda and Guanyu Zhou all raced in F2.

American Logan Sargeant, who competed for Carlin in F2 last year, will be racing for Williams in F1 in 2023.

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