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Ferrari, McLaren, Haas, and Alpine: How the Extended Break in the F1 Calendar Impacts Each Team



Ferrari McLaren Haas alpine Break in the F1

The 2023 Formula 1 season has been off to a compelling start with three races already completed. However, the Chinese Grand Prix’s cancellation has left a four-week gap in the schedule, providing teams with a much-needed break to reflect, regroup, and make progress.

The Chinese Grand Prix, initially scheduled for April 16, was canceled, leaving a four-week gap in the 2023 Formula 1 schedule that organizers decided not to fill. This break, which is uncommon in a hectic season, could be advantageous for teams struggling after three rounds. However, for other teams, it may halt their momentum, giving their competitors an opportunity to make progress that they wouldn’t have had by round four.

It may seem illogical to propose that anything could hinder Red Bull in a season they are expected to dominate. Nevertheless, given their evident car superiority and the struggles of their rivals, Red Bull’s current objective is to navigate through races as swiftly as possible.

Their goal this year is to accrue numerous victories and a significant points advantage early on to reserve as much of their reduced aerodynamic testing allocation as feasible for the 2024 car.

Red Bull’s strategy for 2023 is to seize opportunities while they are available, and while it may not significantly impact the outcome of the season, they would have undoubtedly profited the most from a front-loaded calendar. Therefore, the absence of races during a period when their car is notably superior and their rivals have a few weeks to work through their issues and make progress with solutions is at least a minor setback.

However, the break could be advantageous for Max Verstappen in some ways.

Verstappen, along with Fernando Alonso, is likely the most eager driver on the grid. During this break, Verstappen will undoubtedly be spending a significant amount of time sim racing. He even acknowledged that he would not typically look forward to a break this early in the season, finding it “weird” to have such a lengthy break after just three races, as he stated during his time in Australia.


Despite his enthusiasm for racing, Verstappen acknowledges that he requires this gap to recover entirely following his illness before the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. Although his ailment was downplayed at the time, Verstappen now feels that he was “missing a lung,” and he requires the three-week break to complete his full rehabilitation program. As a result, the break is advantageous for him in some ways.

Ferrari began the 2023 season with high hopes of a championship challenge, but they have had their worst start to a season in terms of points since 2009, which has brought them back to reality.

The team faces two challenges at present. Firstly, as team principal Fred Vasseur repeatedly emphasizes, they must make the most of the Ferrari SF-23’s potential regarding balance and tire management. There were indications of progress in this regard at Albert Park, but it is possible that this was a circuit-specific occurrence. Consequently, the break provides the team with time to reflect, analyze, and gain a better understanding of the situation.

Aside from their immediate concerns, Ferrari is also attempting to expedite their upgrades so that they can be introduced sooner than initially anticipated, allowing them to close the gap to Red Bull. The break in the calendar will provide them with the necessary time to implement these changes and reflect on the team’s long-term direction, particularly with the need to make a decision on the 2024 concept looming.

For Ferrari, the constant cycle of racing, followed by a short break, and then more racing can be grueling, particularly if they underperform, which will lead to criticism in the Italian media, where the team has a large following. However, the extended gap in the calendar will enable the team to gain some perspective and make key decisions with a clear mind. It will also provide them with a realistic opportunity to make short-term gains and close the gap on Red Bull.

At the start of the 2023 season, Williams anticipated finishing last but with a closer margin compared to 2022. However, their fortunes improved when Alex Albon secured a point on the FW45’s race debut. He followed this up with an impressive eighth-place finish during the Australian Grand Prix qualifying, marking the team’s best dry-weather qualifying result in almost 21 months.

Williams’ recent performances have raised expectations that they could be a regular threat for points in the early stages of the 2023 season, despite Alex Albon’s crash preventing a points finish in Melbourne. It is difficult to assess where Williams stands in the current pecking order, as they finished last in the supertimes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia before jumping to sixth in Melbourne. However, it is evident that the team can compete for the lower points-paying positions when they execute a weekend well.


As other teams, including their current rival McLaren, have an aggressive batch of upgrades planned for the upcoming five grands prix in six weekends, Williams is unlikely to match the pace of development. This is particularly true since Williams has not identified a fundamental problem with its car concept, unlike McLaren, implying that their ceiling for improvement in 2023 may be lower.

If races were front-loaded, Williams would have benefitted more than a one-month grace period for those who got it wrong, as it would have allowed them to exploit any advantages they may have had before their rivals could adapt. However, there are still two essential benefits of the gap for Williams. Firstly, the break provides new team boss James Vowles with an opportunity to evaluate the team’s structure and develop long-term strategies to kickstart Williams’ recovery.

In addition, the extended gap provides a valuable opportunity for Williams’ F1 rookie, Logan Sargeant, to analyze his first three weekends in F1 carefully and learn vital lessons for the upcoming challenging quartet of races in Baku, Miami, Imola, and Monaco. This is a luxury that ex-Williams driver Nicholas Latifi didn’t have in his COVID-condensed F1 rookie year in 2020, where he had little time to review his first nine race weekends, which came in just 11 weeks.

There were legitimate concerns during pre-season testing that McLaren may have been at the bottom of the F1 pecking order in 2023. These worries were further compounded when both cars experienced mechanical problems at the start of the season opener, and both cars sustained damage in the same incident at the beginning of round two.

Despite their early season struggles, McLaren has managed to climb to a respectable fifth place in the constructors’ championship, trailing Ferrari by just 14 points. The team’s performance in Melbourne, where they finished sixth and eighth, was critical in saving McLaren’s season. The extended gap in the calendar provides the team with four uninterrupted weeks to focus on finalizing their upgrade package for Baku, which they are confident will help rectify the design flaws in their 2023 car.

During its launch, McLaren admitted that they already knew their original car design would not be sufficient for the 2023 season, which appeared to reduce the likelihood of them finishing in the top half of the championship table. This probability worsened after testing and the first two races.

McLaren’s management acknowledges that the Baku development parts alone will not suffice to elevate their car to the desired level, and their faith in the late-winter change in design direction may be misguided. However, if the upgrade delivers what they hope for and the team manages to maintain or even improve their current position, then they will likely look back on this April gap as a turning point in the 2023 season. This break provided McLaren with the much-needed relief and breathing space, which may have prevented the season from turning into a disaster.


Despite the increased financial security resulting from their new title sponsor, Haas’ development pace is not likely to match that of some of their midfield rivals. While the team was ranked sixth in the supertimes after the first three races, their total of seven points does not accurately reflect their pace. Nico Hulkenberg’s opening-lap incident in the Bahrain GP, Kevin Magnussen’s ongoing difficulty adapting to the VF-23, and some of the team’s own optimization issues have somewhat concealed the true speed of this year’s Haas car.

This extended gap in the calendar presents an opportunity for Haas to address their knowledge and application gaps, which have prevented them from capitalizing on their strong start to the season. However, there is also a possibility that they may slide down the pecking order, similar to what occurred in 2022. Haas may come to regret missing out on their early opportunities.

Alpine has had a somewhat inconclusive start to the 2023 season, with a car that has demonstrated some impressive displays of pace but has only resulted in a handful of minor points finishes. Even prior to the race in Melbourne, team principal Otmar Szafnauer was highlighting the benefits of the longer break between races.

Szfanauer stated that the extended gap between races is a welcome break for Alpine as it provides the team with the opportunity to acquire ample car parts and spares required for the upcoming races, along with planning further upgrades using their simulation tools. However, when Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon collided during the final standing restart in Australia, it became apparent that Alpine has a larger task than anticipated in replenishing their stocks.

The extended gap between races will also enable Alpine to conduct a thorough analysis of their car’s performance. Although the car has demonstrated pace, it has not always been fully exploited. In addition, newcomer Pierre Gasly is still in the settling-in phase, and the team needs to focus on optimizing the car for both their drivers. The extended break provides them with a less hurried environment to delve into the nuances of the car and determine how to maximize its potential.

In recent years, F1 has gained a reputation for adding more races than ever before, as it is believed that more races equate to more entertainment, revenue, and overall engagement. However, now the championship has cut a race and left it unfilled, resulting in F1’s biggest gap in recent memory, outside of the traditional summer break.

Although a three-week gap between the initial races and the trip to China was not unusual at one point, a four-week in-season gap is highly unusual in the modern era and more akin to the traditional full summer shutdown. While it could potentially trigger a sense of absence making the heart grow fonder, it doesn’t seem to be the case.


The extended gap in the calendar has caused F1 to lose the early momentum of the season at a time when everyone expects Red Bull and Max Verstappen to continue winning. As a result, there is a legitimate concern that F1’s residual viewing habits may be affected, and people may opt not to tune in during Red Bull’s period of dominance. The prolonged absence may cause people to question their interest in F1 and consider alternatives during the hiatus, which could lead to a decline in viewership when the championship resumes.

Ferrari, McLaren, Haas, and Alpine: How the Extended Break in the F1 Calendar Impacts Each Team Ferrari, McLaren, Haas, and Alpine: How the Extended Break in the F1 Calendar Impacts Each Team Ferrari, McLaren, Haas, and Alpine: How the Extended Break in the F1 Calendar Impacts Each Team Ferrari, McLaren, Haas, and Alpine: How the Extended Break in the F1 Calendar Impacts Each Team Ferrari, McLaren, Haas, and Alpine: How the Extended Break in the F1 Calendar Impacts Each Team Ferrari, McLaren, Haas, and Alpine: How the Extended Break in the F1 Calendar Impacts Each Team