The Formula One season may have come to an end in Abu Dhabi, but the wheels have kept on turning during the off-season. The Sportsman will bring you fortnightly updates on all the goings on from the greatest sport on four wheels, and here is everything you might have missed from the past few weeks!
Dutch GP contract extended
The Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, famed for orange flares and Max Verstappen’s huge popularity, will remain on the calendar until 2025. The initial contract was set to run until ‘23 but has now been extended by two years, given the excitement it has brought to the calendar.
It’s great news for Verstappen fans, but something must be done about safety ahead of the next Grand Prix in the Netherlands. FIfteen women reported being harassed over the weekend of the 2022 edition, and that is something that needs to be addressed if Formula One is going to enjoy long-term success there.
Six sprint locations revealed
The number of sprint races in 2023 will go up to six, and now it has been revealed where those races will take place. Analysis of which tracks would be best suited took place, and the commercial terms were then agreed with race organisers.
- Mattia Binotto's exit could spark new dawn
So now, the Grands Prix in Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the USA and Brazil will host, with the number of sprint events doubling due to increased revenue and a spike in TV audiences.
Qualifying will move to Friday, points will be awarded to the first eight finishers of the sprint and it will define the grid for the main Grand Prix on Sunday.
The prestigious Autosport Awards 2022 took place, with the great and the good of the sport gathering for a night of celebration. Max Verstappen unsurprisingly won International Driver of the Year, Lewis Hamilton won British Driver of the Year and Sebastien Vettel was presented with the Gregor Grant Award.
But there was also some fun to be had. Red Bull’s Christian Horner presented the Rookie of the Year award, and couldn’t help himself cracking a joke at Mercedes’ expense. Horner began with "and the winner is Toto..." before smiling at the Mercedes boss and announcing Zhou Guanyu as the winner. But perhaps the organisers had the last laugh, as they placed Horner and the Red Bull crew at table 44, the famous number of a certain Mr Hamilton.
Portimao to replace China?
Because 23 races aren’t enough, Formula One could announce Portimao in Portugal as the race to replace the Chinese Grand Prix in 2023. Shanghai dropped out due to their continued and strict Covid-19 rules, which opened up a spot in the calander.
Motorsport journalist Joao Carlos Costa announced: “Portugal once again on the F1 route. Imminent decision - Portimão should replace China in the 2023 calendar. Small details are missing, to be resolved before the FIA World Council, scheduled for December 9, in Bologna. Portuguese fans, what a Christmas gift!”
However, as of yet, nothing has been announced and there is still some way to go before Portimao is chosen.
Ferrari’s big announcement, Mattia Binotto is now no longer their head honcho. There are a number of names in contention to replace him including Ross Brawn, but Alfa Romeo boss Fred Vasseur is now likely to be the man Ferrari choose.
Vasseur needs to lead the team in a slightly different way and certainly needs to sort out the strategy for 2023, as this is the area that let them down massively in 2022, as Red Bull ran away with the Constructors’ Championship. If you want to read more about how Ferrari came to that major decision, check out our article here.
Verstappen wants endurance challenge
Max Verstappen, now two-time world champion has told reporters he will look to compete in endurance racing when his contract expires in 2028. Clearly that is six years away and there could be several more titles to come, but the Dutch driver wants ‘more fun, less pressure.’
“F1 is a lot of fun, and I'm having a lot of success at the moment,” he said.
“But I want to do other things as well. I know my contract runs until 2028. I will be 31 at that time. I'm probably still going to be competitive for a few more years after that.
“But in those years I also want to experience other things and just have a bit more fun with less pressure and less of a schedule.”
He has previously said he would be interested in trying the 24hr Le Mans race and said it would be “mainly endurance” if he were to move away from the sport.