Five team-mate rivalries we can’t wait to see in F1 2023

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. Alpine Enstone, October 2022. Credit: Alamy
Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. Alpine Enstone, October 2022. Credit: Alamy

The 2023 Formula 1 season offers plenty of reasons to get excited, none more so than the potential rivalries between team-mates.

The concept of a team-mate in an individualistic sport such as Formula 1 can seem baffling at the best of times but that teamwork is truly tested when things get competitive.

Whether it is fighting for a win, a World Championship or even just being the number one driver at the team, the history of Formula 1 is littered with examples of team-mates not always seeing eye-to-eye with one another.

With that in mind, let us have a look ahead to the 2023 season and pick out the key team-mate battles to keep your eye on:

Pierre Gasly v Esteban Ocon

First up on this list is perhaps the most intriguing relationship of them all. On the surface, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon seem like two of the calmest drivers on the grid but for whatever reason, they used to not be able to stand the sight of each other.

Their quarrel dates back to their early karting days with neither quite sure what started it but the drivers, who grew up in the same region of France, are said to have had a frosty relationship ever since.

Well that relationship is certainly about to be tested as the two Frenchmen are put inside the same garage. With a whole country behind them, it is perhaps only Ferrari where the pressure is stronger than at Alpine and given the events of last season, it is clear to see the team is never too far away from a crisis.

According to the pair of them, as well as team principal Otmar Szafnauer, the drivers have kissed and made up. How true that statement really is will only be known once the Frenchmen hit the track.

Lando Norris v Oscar Piastri

With a considerably smaller dose of animosity than the previous driver pairing mentioned, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will come together as team-mates for the first time in 2023 with the young Australian brought in to replace Daniel Ricciardo.

By all accounts, it should be an easy win for Norris with the Brit having more experience and having comfortably seen off eight-time race winner Ricciardo in the past two campaigns but Piastri comes with a high expectation.

The 21-year-old won both Formula 3 and Formula 2 in his first season of competing, a feat matched only by Charles Leclerc and George Russell, and McLaren would not have gone to so much effort, and money, to prise him away from Alpine if they did not believe in him.

Charles Leclerc v Carlos Sainz

It is 1-1 in the battle between the Ferrari boys with Carlos Sainz having surpassed expectation in his first season before being soundly beaten by Charles Leclerc in his second.

At the start of 2022, it may have seemed as if both drivers were on a level footing when it came to their priority in the team but as the campaign wore on, it became more and more obvious that Leclerc was number one.

This move was highlighted by the hiring of former Sauber boss Fred Vasseur, a team principal Leclerc has worked well with in the past, but should Sainz produce the quick start he is aiming for, it will be interesting to see how loyal Ferrari remain to the Monégasque.

Lewis Hamilton v George Russell

Like Sainz in 2021, George Russell confounded expectation in 2022 to defeat seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton in his first season with the team.

But 2022 was an exceptional season for Mercedes and not in the good sense. The W13 proved to be a dud that seemed more likely to shake some of Hamilton’s teeth loose than it was to challenge for a World Championship and Russell’s schooling at Williams had provided him with the perfect skills to make the most out of an underperforming vehicle.

However, as the Mercedes car improved, so did Hamilton’s form. In 2023, the F1 veteran has a point to prove and his first step will be to remind the young driver next door to him who is boss.

Max Verstappen v Sergio Perez

Halfway through 2022 and it would have seemed daft to even suggest Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez was a team-mate relationship to watch out for and yet here we are.

It seemed as if Verstappen had the perfect team-mate in Perez with someone who was willing to defend for his life in order to help the Dutchman but was also willing to step aside when the team asked him to.

And yet the Sao Paulo Grand Prix suggested all was not well.

Verstappen had sewn up the title while Perez was in a battle for P2, so when the Dutchman was allowed to pass his team-mate on the assumption he would give the place back were he not able to overtake Fernando Alonso ahead, it would have seemed logical that he would relinquish the spot.

The two-time World Champion failed to see that logic.

He held his ground, ignoring the pleas over the team radio before angrily telling them he had his reasons.

What those reasons were never came to light but with Daniel Ricciardo, who shares a good relationship with Verstappen, returning to the team, Perez may now be keeping one eye over his shoulder.

Read more: F1 rumours – Early details emerge on Ferrari and Red Bull 2023 cars

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