Formula 1: The big question: Who can stop Max Verstappen?

Formula 1: The big question: Who can stop Max Verstappen?

The first race in just over a month. The first cars will be presented this Friday. Formula 1 is preparing for the season – and there is one pressing question above all.

The worst team from last season, with the only regular German driver this year, is leading the way in the presentations of the new company cars. The big question is who will be in first place at the end of the Formula 1 record season with 24 Grand Prix. Or maybe not?

“There is relatively little to say against Max Verstappen and Red Bull not continuing their dominance,” said Ralf Schumacher in an interview with the German Press Agency. The ex-pilot and current TV expert predicted before the presentation of the new Red Bull: “I believe that there will be something relatively big that will surprise some people.”

What are the biggest changes this year?

Technically, hardly anything has changed. This also means that the teams will primarily continue to develop their cars rather than completely redevelop them. Except Mercedes. The German factory racing team wants to press the reset button after the messed up concept without side pods and the changes during the last season. “Mercedes has to turn the corner as quickly as possible, there’s no question about it. If not, that would mean continued weakness,” said Ralf Schumacher: “It would mean that they obviously no longer understand how to build a winning car.” The car will be presented on February 14th, one day before the new Red Bull.

What speaks against the continued dominance of Max Verstappen and Red Bull?

There are several factors and indications that speak for this. On the one hand, there are no reforms in the technical regulations. But above all the fact that the world champion team stopped developing the RB19, with which Verstappen broke records last season, early on and concentrated on the RB20. What also speaks for Verstappen himself is that the 26-year-old Dutchman has now matured into a class of his own. He controls the race and opponents and drives practically flawlessly. The wait until the first Grand Prix on March 2nd in Bahrain is probably far too long for the thoroughbred racer.

Which teams are considered the biggest and most likely challengers?

Mercedes wants to be the number one challenger with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. With the eighth title, he would be the sole record world champion ahead of Michael Schumacher. But Ferrari also wants – as always – to win the world championship title. Even before it started, the Scuderia extended the contract with the Monegasque long-term hopeful Charles Leclerc. But McLaren also wants to be even further ahead than last year. And the contract with Lando Norris has already been extended for the traditional British team. Planning security as a success factor? It also remains to be seen whether veteran Fernando Alonso can top his strong previous season in the Aston Martin.

How many German drivers are there?

As was the case last year, Nico Hülkenberg is the only German regular driver. The 36-year-old native of Emmerich will be racing again in the car of the American Haas team, which opens the show series this Friday. Hülkenberg only finished 16th in the World Championship last year, and his racing team was last in the constructors’ championship. Mick Schumacher, who Hülkenberg replaced for the 2022 season, will be back for Mercedes as a replacement and test driver.

Michael Schumacher’s 24-year-old son will also be driving for Alpine in the World Endurance Championship and, like his father, will also drive in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. “I think that on the one hand he will find it quite easy to drive the WEC car because of the speed he is used to in Formula 1. On the other hand, of course, he has to learn how to drive a car with his team-mates to share and therefore also make compromises when it comes to the setup, for example. Everything he learned in Formula 1 will benefit him,” said his uncle Ralf Schumacher.

What are the chances of Mick Schumacher returning to Formula 1 as a regular driver?

Answer: While there were virtually no personnel changes in the teams’ cockpits after last season, that could change at the end of this year. Many contracts are expiring. “It could play into my hands that the driver market is already quite active and that will continue to increase in the coming months. A lot will happen,” said Mick Schumacher to “Sport Bild”.

Is there a German race this year?

No. Germany still plays no role in Formula 1 planning. One German race is missing from the record calendar, which includes 24 Grand Prix.

Who shows the races in Germany?

Sky will broadcast all Grand Prix again. The pay-TV broadcaster has also reached an agreement with RTL that the Cologne broadcaster will be allowed to show seven races on free TV this year. This concerns the opening Grand Prix in Bahrain, the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest on July 21st, the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps on July 28th, the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort on August 25th Italian Grand Prix in Monza on September 1st, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku on September 15th and the Las Vegas Grand Prix on November 24th. RTL will present the qualification or sprint either on RTL or on the paid streaming platform RTL+.

Source: Stern

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