This Week – 22/01/2023


Hello, January has appeared to be all about looking ahead not just to the season which lies ahead but beyond to the 2026 regulations, and the future plans for races, drivers and teams. That is no surprise, the sport has always and always will be about the future, with six weeks to go until Bahrain and launches getting ever nearer, this will continue to be the focus….

General News

Steve Nielsen has taken a new role with governing body the FIA with the aim of fixing the sport’s race-management problems. Nielsen has left his current job with Liberty, to oversee race control following the controversies we have seen in recent years with race control and the way the decisions have been made.

Nikolas Tombazis, formerly FIA single-seater technical director, has been promoted to single-seater director. In a new management structure announced by the FIA, Tombazis has been given a new position that puts him in overall charge of the FIA’s F1 operations under president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. Former McLaren technical director Tim Goss has been promoted from deputy technical director to technical director.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is set to remain in Jeddah until at least 2027 as work continues on the new facility at Qiddiya. The street circuit was intended to be a temporary home until 2024 while a permeant circuit was built on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.

This is news I kind of expected we have not really heard or seen many pictures showing the development of the circuit or news hasn’t been there normally by now we would have had some images a project update. But as work continues on the state-of-the-art facility, Jeddah is now expected to host the race for at least another four years, with a number of the temporary facilities at the track being made permanent.

Martin Whitaker, the CEO of the Saudi Motorsport Company that promotes the race said, “It’s important that we future-proof the Jeddah track and for this reason, we have again been working with the FIA and Formula 1 to ensure that we have a circuit that will allow us to stage the sport in Jeddah while work begins on the track in Qiddiya.”


Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff remains confident that Lewis Hamilton will sign a new contract with the team before the start of the 2023 season. The seven-time champions current deal signed this time last year expires at the end of the year, both Hamilton and Mercedes have expressed intent to extend it.

As has become a regular silence, partially last year, Hamilton has spent the off-season travelling to places around the world and most recently Antarctica. I feel this again as we have seen before this might be more speculation about his long-term future. I think he wants that eighth title and to build his legacy both on and off track.

Wolff told Sky Sports, “As for contract discussions, we have a full year to go. We are so aligned – in the last ten years our relationship has grown. It’s just a matter of him physically being back in Europe, sticking our heads together, wrestling a bit, and then leaving the room with white smoke after a few hours.”

Wolff also urged caution about the team’s title hopes as going as far as warning the team may need to even braced for not having closed the gap to Red Bull yet. The German manufacturer spent much of last year in ‘no man’s land’ between the top two and the midfield after struggling with porpoising in the first half of 2022.

As he and we always say when talking about Mercedes the team is always cautious when discussing targets and progress.

While later in the week Wolff said he was hopeful that they could have the fastest and steepest development rate. The team has seventeen per cent more aero testing time, a significant advantage over Red Bull, but as is often said that final second is the hardest to find.


Ferrari has announced that Antonio Giovinazzi and Robert Shwartzman will share the role of reserve driver this season. Giovinazzi continues in the role for a second season while Shwartzman steps up from a position as development driver.

One of them will attend each race this season as well as helping car development in Ferrari’s new simulator. Italians Antonio Fuoco and Davide Rigon will be development drivers.

Giovinazzi and Fuoco will also compete for Ferrari in the world endurance championship in the new 499P Hypercar. Shwartzman and Rigon will race in the GT endurance category in the 296 GT3. Their season will begin in Florida with the 1,000 miles of Sebring in March.


McLaren team principal Andrea Stella believes that Oscar Piastri’s lack of Formula One experience won’t hold the team back as it continues its push to catch the sport’s top three players.

Stella told, “I think the important point is to have continuity with Lando, he keeps the kind of reference. It’s a reference that we know very well, because we have gone through the development of Lando together with him. There has certainly been a development from a technical point of view, from a driving point of view, race craft point of view.”


Pierre Gasly says he had to “put emotions aside” when deciding to leave his Alpha Tauri “family,” and make the step up to Alpine this season. For the first time in his career he will race outside the Red Bull family after proving since being demoted from the senior team in August 2019.

He then appeared to rebuild his reparation over the next three and a half years with Toro Rosso/Alpha Tauri, becoming a consistent midfield driver and taking Alpha Tauri’s first win in twelve years at Monza in 2020. The Frenchman has previously spoken of the comfort he felt within the small, family atmosphere at Faenza, and conceded that it was “for sure” one of the hardest things to give up.

Gasly told, “Looking at a career, you need to be quite pragmatic. I know where I want to go, I know what I want to achieve in Formula 1. You’ve got to put emotions aside, and just look at it in a very pragmatic way: what are the best chances for me to reach my target?”

Alfa Romeo

Allan McNish, the former team principal of Audi’s FE team, says the german manufacturer is on a “good runway” for its preparations to join the grid. The German manufacturers announced at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix. The deal will see Audi will supply engines to the Swiss-based squad and take a majority shareholding to form its works F1 operation.

McNish told at Autosport International on Saturday, There’s always a point where all the stars align. That’s clearly the point now with the technical regulations, and it’s where the company is. “

“And 2026 with the base regulation change, that allows a good runway for preparations. It is definitely exciting. Everybody is buzzed about it. But at the same time, there is a lot of work to be done between now and the real buzz, which is the first race.”

Valtteri Bottas is another driver looking for stability saying he wants his future resolved early in the year. As we know during his time with Mercedes and Williams his contracts were only renewed annually and one of the reasons he joined the Sauber-owned team was because of that stability,

Bottas told, “I’ve been in that situation so many times where it’s become a distraction. So yeah, for sure, it’s going to be a talking point hopefully quite early [in the year] on what’s going to happen. It is important to me to have that stability after ten years of not so much stability.”


Logan Sargent will make his debut in Bahrain and be the first American to race in the sport in eight years. he has always made sure to remember to live out his dream with a team which has supported him for years. He described it as a dream come true with sixteen years of hard work lifting a weight off his shoulders.

This is what he told Sky Sports, “Obviously it is super special to be the first American driver in a while. With three Grand Prix’s [in America], that is going to be fun. Miami is just on my doorstep so I am really looking forward to that one.”

Three-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick will remain as a member of the Williams academy in 2023 as she looks to “keep that Formula One dream alive.” This year Chadwick will race in the rebranded Indy NXT series with Andretti Autosport. Although the move puts her on the IndyCar junior ladder she will continue with Williams as development driver.

It could potentially also open up the route into F1 with Andretti if they are granted an entry for 2026. Chadwick said, “To be continuing my relationship with Williams is amazing, I’ve had their support since 2019. Having the opportunity to immerse myself within the team and keep that Formula 1 dream alive is very important. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”

Three-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick will remain as a member of the Williams academy in 2023 as she looks to “keep that Formula One dream alive.” The Englishwoman has been with Williams since 2019, her three W Series titles has made her the highest-profile woman in motorsport.

This year she will race in the rebranded Indy NXT series with Andretti Autosport. Although the move puts her on the IndyCar junior ladder she will continue with Williams as development driver. I think this makes sense rather than moving to the F1 Academy or staying in W Series, she needs to progress in mixed motorsport to further her career.


Haas announced a new title sponsor, MoneyGram, last week. The added financial boost is set to take Haas up to the budget cap moving forward, and while Steiner said the team was “never in a bad position”, he said the arrival of MoneyGram would put it on a more even playing field.

Gunter Steiner said, “2020 was not an easy position, because of the pandemic when that broke out But I think yeah, it puts us in a very solid position. The best one or not? I think in the beginning, we were very solid with everything. When we came in in ’16, there was no budget cap, so you are a lot lower than the other teams, even if you are in a good financial situation.”


Due to other commitments, This Week will be off on Sunday 29th January, 12th and 19th February
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