January 2, 2024
Richard Foegele

F1 Controversies in 2023

You Can Always Count On Them

With the F1 season finally put to bed, we take a look back at some of the more controversial moments of the 2023 Championship.

By mid-season, the writing was on the wall, with Max Verstappen dominating almost every race. Even a bad qualifying didn’t stop the Dutchman from charging back for the win, setting a new record of 19 wins out of 22 Grand Prix starts. Let’s not forget, Red Bull’s 2023 car (called the RB19) was developed under more than normal aero restrictions (top F1 teams have 10% less wind tunnel time than those further down the grid). The penalty for going over, resulted in a wee bit of overspending (there is a cost cap in F1): $145 million USD to be exact. Despite these perceived setbacks, the lads from Milton Keynes were able to cobble together a superb piece of kit in the RB19.

Max Verstappen celebrates his Championship win

The end of the 2022 F1 season witnessed the retirement of Aston Martin F1 Driver 4X World Champion Sebastian Vettel. Aston Martin was quick to enlist the services of 2X World Champion Fernando Alonso from the Alpine F1 team, that was seemingly unable to commit to the Spaniard (they also waffled and lost the services of young super talent Oscar Piastri). Despite his advanced age (42), Alonso’s never-say-die attitude helped push Aston Martin up in the Constructors’ Championship to an all time best of 5th overall.  

Lawrence Stroll is a highly successful Canadian businessman. He proved it by hiring Fernando Alonso to drive for him, despite the fact that Alonso is a past-due-date F1 driver

So what became of Alonso’s former team, Alpine? Well, after a rash of staff dismissals and firings among team personnel, Alpine decided to sell a 24% stake in the Team to celebs Ryan Reynolds, Michael Jordan and Rob McElhenny. Strange? Not really, as, with all professional sport, there is a business side that overshadows the sporting side: recruiting personnel, updating facilities and sourcing the best players (drivers, in this case) cost serious money.

Actor Ryan Reynolds now owns a share of the Alpine F1 Team

The inaugural F1 “street race” in Las Vegas was not without controversy. A dislodged drain cover ended FP1 after only 9 minutes and left Ferrari with a huge repair bill. The second session was no better, with paying fans being ejected from grandstands before the start of FP2. As for general admission, all the viewing areas were blocked off, resulting in a class action lawsuit being filed. So, was it a bad race? No, actually Vegas turned out to be one of this season’s best spectacles.

The 2023 season could not be put to bed without one last bit of controversy. In early December a report in Business F1 magazine accused Susie Wolff (Managing Director of F1 Academy) of passing team secrets to her husband, Mercedes F1 Team Boss Toto Wolff. Apart from the source being, at best, a gossip magazine with questionable credibility, the FIA decided to publicly investigate. This is not the first time FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has bungled a situation and ended up with egg on his face. As for the Wolff’s, the allegations appear to have been unfounded, with a majority of F1 Team Principals of the opinion that the FIA probe was an embarrassment to the Sport. Susie Wolff continues to promote women in motorsport.

F1 Academy

It is now a few months before the start of the 2024 season in Bahrain and, with Netflix only releasing “Drive to Survive” Season 6, in February (possibly Feb. 23), we will have to be patient for a little while longer.

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About the Author

Richard is a life-long motor-racer with experience in photography, filmmaking and engineering. His friends sometimes affectionately call him "Foegepedia" for his knowledge of the sport.

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