The Qatar GP has the potential to provide some surprises for the F1 grid. Red Bull should still be the dominant force, and Max Verstappen will almost certainly claim a third World Championship.
However, the Sprint race format will severely limit the time teams can spend collecting data and optimising data. At a circuit with only one previous F1 event, this is significant.
Another important factor will be weather conditions, which could play a key role in Qatar. Heavy winds are expected to wreak havoc and set-up and drivability.
Perhaps most importantly, the high temperatures have forced teams to opt for very specific configurations. Cooling the car and avoiding overheating will be complicated – in a Losail circuit that will push these F1 machines to the limit.
Despite the majority of 2023 already being completed, the upcoming six rounds will still be critical for development.
This is especially true for the likes of Aston Martin, who will be eager to understand their current limitations to inform their development over the winter.
Below are the confirmed upgrades for this weekend, with only a handful of teams introducing changes:
- Floor body (performance)
- Rear corner (performance)
- Cooling louvres (circuit-specific)
Alfa Romeo (1)
- Beam wing (performance)
- Floor edge (performance)
At face value, there aren’t many upgrades to be excited about this weekend. This is a fairly accurate assessment – since only three teams introduced new parts in Losail.
However, it is still worth noting that Alpine have a significant floor upgrade for this weekend. In a session where the A523 has been largely uninspiring, the French team needs to find signs of potential for next season.
They have a reasonable foundation, but Bruno Famin’s team will be eager to avoid stagnating again over the winter.
AlphaTauri will also be a team to watch, having progressively improved since introducing their large update package in Singapore.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang