Other than the most die hard supporters, fans of a sport in general prefer it when there’s plenty of competition. One team or individual running away with event after even become monotonous and the surprise that great sporting moments bring is lost.
Formula One experienced this like never before during the first 8 years of the V6 Turbo hybrid era with Mercedes winning a record eight consecutive constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ titles as well.
Recent F1 pecking order shaken up
The pecking order has been shaken up with Mercedes relegated to third in 2022 and Max and Red Bull Racing claiming the championships.
Yet last season was less than satisfactory in the entertainment with Verstappen cruising to victory with four rounds to spare.
So its time for some F1 hope and cheer for the shiny new year ahead of us and Christian Horner leads off the “reasons to be hopeful” role call.
Horner believes in a surprise contender this year
The Red Bull team boss believes there could be a surprise contender jump out from the pack.
Horner has been hearing, “big numbers” from Aston Martin on the grapevine and with their newly signed and motivated double world champion in Fernando Alonso together with their new high profile recruits of 2021/22 now embedded in the team, the AMR23 may be up to the job.
“Aston Martin, we keep hearing big numbers coming out of there in their expectations, so you just don’t know in terms of what the running order will be,” said Horner to AMuS.
Alpine the natural choice to join top order
Alpine pipped Aston Martin to P4 in last seasons championship and if they can close the gap to the top three further would be the natural choice for some shock results this year.
Horner agrees the French branded team’s upward trajectory means they’re in the mix too. “You never know, I mean Alpine made progress in the second half of the year.”
Zak Brown has played down McLaren’s chances as they chase the big boys to upgrade their infrastructure. Yet with Lando Norris repeatedly outperforming the car the Red Bull boss believes they’re in with a shout.
Horner believes in McLaren
“But McLaren maybe even will get it together this year. So inevitably, the grid should with stable regulations start to close up.”
Objectively, Alpine look the weakest in terms of investment in infrastructure and personnel. Further, there are cultural questions still hanging around the team from the Red Bull Racing partnership days and without a proven winner of a driver, maybe Alpine will slip back this season.
With rookie Oscar Piastri to get up to speed, McLaren will have a job on their hands depending heavily on Norris early season to score the majority off the points.
Even if just Aston Martin managed to mix it up with the top three teams from last season, it will create an additional spectacle and hopefully see Red Bull challenged so there’s no repeat of the 17 race wins they claimed last year.