The first grand prix of the season will be held in Bahrain on Sunday.
After a year of overwhelming dominance by Max Verstappen and Red Bull, Formula 1 will resume its rights during the first grand prix of the 2023 season in Bahrain on Sunday 5 March.Between novelties, certainties and questions, Cyril Abiteboul, ex Renault (now Alpine) Managing Director and ManagerReturn to franceinfo:sport for details on this new edition of the Queen of Motorsport category.
Franceinfo: Sport: As every year, the rules change (car weight, roll cage firmness, fuel temperature, etc.). Can these modifications reshuffle certain cards on the track?
Cyril Abiteboul: I do not think so. We’re more of a year of consolidation and continuity after a major turmoil last season. For the first time in the history of Formula 1, there have been very visible aerodynamic evolutions, derived through simulation, science and engineering, to make the car more spectacular and more competitive on the track. This is really a great technological revolution. This year, I don’t want the grid to be reversed.
“In this period of regulatory stability, we will have a tighter grid and therefore more intense than last year.”Cyril Abiteboul
In franceinfo: sports
The striking novelty of the season is the addition of Pierre Gasly to the Tricolor Alps, who will form a 100% French duo with Esteban Ocon. What does this association mean for the development of French Formula 1?
It’s a great story for them personally, and it’s a great story for France. In general, it’s important to have ambassadors who talk about our sport, embody it and bring it to life.Formula 1 is strong in Germany thanks to Michael Schumacher, in England thanks to Lewis Hamilton, in the Netherlandsdown Thanks Max Verstappen… Indeed, France, which has no national grand prix this year, needs these speeches and the narrative embodied by the pilots. But for this story to be heard and carried over, it is paramount that the pilots shine, and that they are in a stable environment that allows them to succeed.
Fifteen years after Jean Todt left at Ferrari where he won it all (8 constructors’ titles and 6 drivers’ titles from 1999 to 2008), the new Frenchman Frédéric Vasseur takes over Head of the Italian team. What are the expectations for his arrival?
You have to ask Fred that question (laughs)! Seriously, Ferrari overhauled its organization after finishing second last year, so there’s nothing else to do but win. The title has eluded them since 2008. Since the departure of Jean Todt, the team has regularly changed organization and managers. Victory could come this year. What needs to be done is to find stability and give Fred time to bring the team back to the forefront.
For Frédéric Vasseur to make Ferrari stand out again, as you say, it has to surpass Red Bull. The Austrian team, sanctioned by the FIA for going 1.6 per cent over budget for the 2021 season, came out on top in last weekend’s Bahrain test. Will Red Bull’s dominance continue this season?
When we say to ourselves that the 2023 season should be a continuation of last season, I don’t see why Red Bull’s reign should be any different. Yet last year, under the new rules, they didn’t start off in the best possible way. This shows their ability to understand their mistakes, raise the bar and ultimately crush everyone in the development race.
“Red Bull’s strength lies in its ability to dominate and crush rivals in a period of regulatory stability.”Cyril Abiteboul
In franceinfo: sports
Who do you think your other favorites are?
It’s hard for me to imagine last year’s top 3 not being this year’s top 3. I think Red Bull has an advantage. Later, it will be between Ferrari and Mercedes.
Besides these three, what stables are there?
There are two stables that I think deserve attention. The first was Aston Martin, as they made a name for themselves with a phenomenal test run against Fernando Alonso. The second is Alpine because it’s kind of like my favorite team, but other than that, I think it’s a well-equipped team since the budget cap was imposed 3 years ago. In terms of financial and technical resources, Alpine is on par with the best teams today. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them reach a new level this season.
The new Las Vegas Grand Prix, scheduled for November 18, 2023, will be the penultimate stage of the season. Could the late arrival of the new track change that?
That’s a good question, it’s hard to say exactly what this Grand Prix is about. When we develop the car, we pay a lot of attention to the level of downforce required for each track. The fact that the Las Vegas Speedway is held late in the season is ultimately an advantage. Teams will have the time to anticipate and develop truly special racing packages if necessary.
Liberty Media, which has owned Formula 1 since 2017, will use this Las Vegas Grand Prix to develop an appeal around the sport. What could be better than hosting a Grand Prix in a temple of spectacle and entertainment?
When the leaders of Liberty Media arrived, in our first interaction with them, they announced two goals to us: growing from a digital perspective and putting the US and China on the calendar. We’ve seen the incredible work they do, especially on Netflix. They can’t do China, but the United States has done it. I think we have to pay homage to the strategic quality of this new Formula 1 promoter, which changed everything about the sport.