Amidst the final major shake-ups to Formula 1 team management to close out the 2022 Formula 1 season and with 2023 Winter testing a few short months away, we’re focusing on the 2023 preseason World Drivers’ Championship odds.
We might not know much about Ferrari’s potential fix for their power-unit reliability issues or what Mercedes is designing back at their Brackley factory. Still, we do know which drivers are the preseason betting favorites. We’ll review the current top 5 Drivers by odds to win the Drivers’ World Championship.
2023 Drivers Championship Odds to Win
Max Verstappen – Red Bull (-134)The reigning, defending two-time World Drivers’ Champion will again sport the number 1 on his Red Bull and a new set of golden racing boots in pursuit of a third-straight Drivers’ championship. Verstappen’s current racecraft, pace, and tire management are of a truly elite form that is reminiscent of greats like Prost and Schumacher from the past.
Red Bull has the strongest base from which to start their 2023 season, although they will have aerodynamic and CFD testing restrictions due to their cost-cap infringement from 2021. What effect this will have on the development of the 2023 Red Bull and Verstappen’s potential title bid are unknown, but Verstappen’s all-time great performance levels will not drop as he approaches his athletic prime.
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes (+280)
Lewis Hamilton is one of the greatest racers of all time and the statistically most successful driver in Formula 1 history. The fatally-flawed Mercedes W-13 let Hamilton down in 2022, which was the first season in his career that Hamilton failed to secure a win and pole position.
Mercedes claims to have found the solution to their problematic W-13 and should produce a championship-contending car in 2023. With a competitive Mercedes likely to debut at 2023 winter testing, Hamilton will be a threat to win his eighth World Championship when the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix closes out the 2023 season.
Charles Leclerc – Ferrari (+600)
Ferrari’s reliability issues and a wide variety of errors and misjudgments by the team and drivers alike sunk Ferrari’s early season optimism of challenging for both World Championships in 2022. However, we learned in 2022 that Charles Leclerc is the best single-lap driver on the grid.
We also watched Leclerc and Ferrari struggle to turn pole positions into wins throughout the 2022 season. With long-time Leclerc ally Frédéric Vasseur as the new team boss at Ferrari, and a rumored fix for the Ferrari power-unit issues that plagued the Ferrari works team (and client teams alike), Leclerc could turn his electric one-lap performances into wins and potential 2023 World Drivers’ Championship.
George Russell – Mercedes (+720)
George Russell impressed during his first season with Mercedes, going from “Mr. Saturday” for his excellent qualifying performances with Williams to “Mr. Consistency” for finishing in the top 6 in 20 of 22 Grand Prix in 2022. Russell was the best driver of the weekend and the rightful winner of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix and the Sao Paulo Sprint Race.
Russell has been tagged as a future Formula 1 World Champion throughout his rise through the junior single-seater racing categories as a Mercedes-contracted driver. If Mercedes has truly built a car that will close the gap to Red Bull, Russell and not Hamilton could be the Mercedes driver who brings the World Championship back to the silver arrows.
Carlos Sainz Jr. – Ferrari (+2400)
There is a steep drop-off in the odds from the top four Drivers’ World Championship contenders, and the fifth driver with the best odds, Carlos Sainz Jr. Sainz took his first pole position and Grand Prix win in 2022 and proved to be Ferrari’s best strategist, albeit from the cockpit and not the pit wall.
However, we’ve watched Sainz fade away from the front-running duo in races too many times in 2022 for Sainz to have better odds of winning the 2023 World Championship. If Ferrari has the power-unit solution, Sainz can build a championship campaign slowly with his intelligence and racecraft. Sainz will need to improve his race pace across the season to truly be a contender for the 2023 Drivers’ World Championship.