2023The Guide

04. Teams, Cars and Drivers

Formula 1, the Teams, Cars and Drivers.

A contest at the highest level of global motorsport, where highly talented teams create the fastest cars they can conjure up, continuously seeking out gains of thousands of a second.  They contract the most talented drivers on the planet to race each other over 24 events in a tournament traversing the planet. 

In a tournament run by Liberty Media and presided over by the FIA, ten teams and 20 cars will take to the grid for the 2023 season. Hundreds of thousands of spectators will attend the events, and millions will tune in to watch the spectacle on streaming services. 

The season starts in February when the teams launch their new challenger, shakedown and complete media duties before heading to Bahrain for the official test. 

But before this, the teams must design, model, prototype, test, refine and build the cars. 


The ten teams currently entered are based in the UK (7), Italy (2) and Switzerland (1). F1 allows up to 26 cars on the grid, but the cost of developing and entering a new team makes it prohibitive for new teams to join. But not impossible for a prospective team with sufficient funding

Each team will have a design studio and factory with between 600 and 2500 staff. Roles within an F1 team are varied, with roles ranging from assembly technicians to team bosses. 

Works teams will have a separate Power Unit factory; others will buy their PU as a customer team. A few richer teams will have their own wind tunnel, and others will lease time in a private facility. This doesn’t allow those with their own facility to do more testing as time in the wind tunnel is regulated. 

Often referred to as a marque, the name or brand of a team is huge. Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren represent their car brands, while teams like Red Bull, AlphaTauri or Haas promote their parent company businesses. Sauber (as Alpha Romeo) and Williams are long-standing race teams born to race. 

Teams, evolution

Over the years, teams have come and gone or changed hands and identities. Still, the fundamental core remains, a group of highly talented people designing, building and driving the fastest car they can create, constantly testing the boundaries to eke out the smallest of gains and beat their competition. 

Teams compete for one race at a time, but in this sport, the end goal of fighting for the top can be as far out as five years, with incremental goals set over a season. 

There is space on the grid for 26 cars or 13 teams, and there is always talk of new teams joining. Doing so is another thing entirely. At the very least, a new team will need to fund a $200m joining fee, the $250m to start a car and agree to forgo prize money for the first year. They will also face considerable pushback from most existing teams as another competitor will dilute the prize pool. 


F1 is arguably the fastest open-wheel racing car on the planet. Yes, Indycars come close and may even have an edge in a straight line, but the F1 car’s superior aero means they will win over a full lap of a race track. And these mighty beasts are regulated to maintain a maximum speed for safety reasons. 

Cars, regulations

The FIA does not use a speed limiter or have the cars top out at a fixed speed; rather, it sets regulations around the size of the car, weight, engine size and aerodynamic requirements. All teams on the grid work to these parameters to create and run the fastest cars possible. 

In addition, teams are restricted to cost caps, restricted testing and work curfews. 

Teams are restricted to the amount they can spend on the cars with the 2023 cost cap set at $154.7m after adjustments for pre-set reductions, inflation and additional funds to compensate for the additional Sprint races ($300k per sprint race). In addition, a cost cap of $95m for teams to supply or source power units and the number of specific parts is limited. In 2023, teams can use four power units before invoking a penalty – up from three in previous years due to the longer calendar and additional sprint races.

F1 cars are incredible machines able to accelerate to 200kph in 4 seconds, travel at 350kph or 88mps and corner at extremely high speeds generating massive G-forces. 

They must not weigh less than 796kgs (down 2kgs from 2022), including driver but excluding fuel, and are powered by V6 hybrid power units generating 1000 horsepower. 

The cars are designed within strict regulations set by the FIA, and the teams search out every opportunity to push the limits and eke out a few thousandths of a second. Speed is maximised on the straight by minimising drag and maintained through the corners with applied downforce. The current cars use a technique known as ground force, where suction is created, holding the car on the track as it speeds through the corners. 

Cars, performance

An F1 car creates more downforce than it weighs, so arguably, it could drive upside down in a tunnel. 

Another key part of the performance of the car is the tyres. Designed and supplied by Pirelli, F1 cars have set wheel sizes, and teams are supplied with tyres that have been selected to suit the characteristics of the track. Three compounds are provided, hard, medium and soft, along with wets and mediums. The different compounds will perform differently and offset durability with reduced speed. 

The cars themselves are designed and manufactured in the team’s factories. Components are modelled on computers before being formed at a reduced scale and tested in the wind tunnel. Front wings, rear wings, sidepods, floors, diffusers and the rear wing all work together to create the most aerodynamically efficient car. 

Teams are limited to the amount of wind tunnel testing they are allowed to undergo, regardless of whether they own the facility or rent it. The amount of time varies, with those finishing lower down the grid being allocated more testing time. This is, again, an attempt to maintain a level playing field and not allow the richer teams to have an unfair advantage. 

Cars, Safety

Motorsport is inherently dangerous, but the FIA has worked extensively to minimise the risk and make the sport as safe as possible. The drivers sit within a specially designed safety cell to withstand high impacts. The cars have many safety features, like tethers on the wheels to prevent a disconnected wheel from flying off and safety controls when the cars are in the pits


F1 drivers are amongst the most committed and focused sportspeople on the planet. The journey to F1 is long, hard and expensive. They will need determination and grit as well as natural talent and physical attributes like fitness, strength and lightning-quick reactions. Drivers can experience up to 6G’s through acceleration, braking and cornering, and they will lose around three kilograms during a 90-minute race. 

While drivers are a critical component of a winning race team, they are typically contracted to the team for the season, with multi-year contracts being signed for up to 5-years. Drivers can pay for the seat or be paid, with salaries for the latter between $500,000.00 and $50.0m. 

Securing a seat in an F1 car is amongst the most coveted drives in motorsport. Drivers must hold a Super License, and penalties can see demerit points applied with a license suspended if the maximum points are exceeded.  

Apart from the Super Licence requirement, there are few rules that dictate who can or can’t compete in Formula 1. The reality is that a potential driver must be super-talented and have well-funded backers to fund the journey through the feeder categories and lower formulas. A season in Formula 2 will cost around $3.0m. 

Drivers, In the wings

In addition to the contracted drivers, teams will recruit test drivers, sim drivers and reserve drivers. These individuals will have support roles throughout the year and may be seen trackside or focused on data gathering back at the factory. Often reserve drivers are active in other categories, like F2, so they can have very demanding schedules over a race weekend. 

While men dominate F1, it does not exclude women. Over the years, there have been several women competing, with Susie Wolff being the most recent to complete a formal session. Susie talks in her interview on Beyond the Grid about the many challenges faced by women chasing an F1 seat.

Each year, near the summer break, the silly season starts, the period when the driver market is in full swing and drivers without contracts for the coming season look to lock in seats. 

There are no set rules for how this unfolds or when, but it is not uncommon for one move to trigger a run of deals being announced, and that is the reason it is referred to as the silly season. 


2023 Teams, Cars and Drivers

The grid comprises the following teams, drivers and cars (at the time of writing the 2023 cars are yet to be launched, so the 2022 cars are referenced and will be updated) 

Scudaria Ferrari S.p.A 

Scuderia Ferrari S.p.A. is the racing division of luxury Italian auto manufacturer Ferrari and the racing team that competes in Formula One racing. Based in Maranello, Italy, the team first raced in 1950 and is the longest-competing marque on the grid, with 16 world titles to their credit. 

In 2023 the team is headed up by Frédéric Vasseur and contracts Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz as their primary drivers. 

Ferrari is a Works team designing and building their own Power Unit. The 2022 chassis was registered as F1-75

Oracle Red Bull Racing

Winner of the constructor’s title in 2022, Red Bull Racing is a UK-based team with five titles to its name. 

The team’s origins go back to 1997 when it first entered under Stewart Racing. In 1999 it was sold to Ford, who ran it as Jaguar Racing. Red Bull took over in 2005 and today runs it as a Works team with their own Red Bull Powertrains PU. 

Christian Horner has headed the team since 2005, and in 2023 Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are contracted to drive the RB18 chassis. 

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team is a works team, formally Brawn GP. First entered in 2013 and won eight consecutive constructors titles (2014 – 2021). And seven drivers championships (2014 – 2020).

The 2022 car famously struggled with a phenomenon referred to as porpoising

Based in Brackley (chassis) and Brixworth (Power Unit) England, the team is headed by Toto Wolff. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are contracted to drive. The 2022 chassis is known as the W13

McLaren F1 Team 

Founded by New Zealander Bruce McLaren in 1963. Today the team is based in Woking, Surrey, UK.

The Mclaren team boasts eight constructors titles and 12 drivers titles from 183 wins. McLaren has collected many famous names over the years, including Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, and Ayrton Senna, who all added world titles to the team’s trophy case. 

Lando Noris and Oscar Pistari will drive the 2023 car under the leadership of Zac Brown and Andrea Stella.

BWT Alpine F1 Team

An F1 constructor with a factory base in Earnstone, UK and Viry-Châtillon, France. The team was previously known as the Renault F1 Team, having purchased the Lotus F1 team in 2016. 

Considered a mid-field team, they finished 4th in the 2022 season. The team have two world titles for each of the constructor and driver under the Renault marque. 

The team is headed by Otma Szafnauer, with Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly contracted to drive the 2023 chassis. 

Scuderia AlphaTauri

AlphaTauri is an Italian Formula One racing team and constructor running the Red Bull Power Train.

Previously entered under the name Toro Roso, AlphaTauri is the sister team to Red Bull. The team’s involvement in Formula One can be traced back to the 1985 season when they first competed as Minardi.

Based in Faenza, Italy, the team is headed by Franz Toast, and Yuki Tsunoda and rookie Nyck de Vries will pilot the cars for 2023.

Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1

Aston Martin is a UK-based F1 team running a Mercedes PU

The team’s Grand Prix history can be traced back to 1922 at the French Grand Prix. From its debut, via privateer heroics and a first attempt on the World Championship in 1959-60, to the modern-day and their comeback campaign in 2021, Aston Martin has a rich legacy in Formula One.

With a new factory in Silverstone, UK. The team is headed up by Mike Krack, and Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll will drive the cars. 

Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN

Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN is the sponsored name of the Sauber Motorsport team, part of a Swiss motorsport engineering company.

Founded in 1970 by Peter Sauber, the team had several motorsport triumphs and first entered F1 in 1993. The team has been to the podium on several occasions but is yet to secure a win. However, the team took the top step in 2008 after selling it to BMW. Alpha Romeo has won from their earlier entries, including the prestige of winning the first-ever GP in 1950

Today the team is based in Switzerland, headed by Andreis Seidl with Valtteri Bottas (No 77) and Zhou Guanyu (No 24). The team runs a Ferrari Power Unit.

Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited

Williams Racing is a British Formula One motor racing team and constructor. Owned and operated by Dorilton Capital which purchased the team from the Williams family in 2000. 

The team is amongst the most successful, with nine constructors titles, seven drivers titles and 114 victories to its name. 

For 2023, James Vowles will take over the leadership role with Alex Albon, and rookie Logan Sargent will be contracted to drive.

MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

MoneyGram Haas F1 Team is an American Formula One racing team established by NASCAR Cup Series team co-owner Gene Haas in April 2014.

The team is yet to make it onto the podium, and its record currently stands at one pole, two fastest laps and a fourth place once (end of 2022 season).

Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg are contracted to drive the team led by Gunther Steiner. 


Formula 1’s Famous names 

Over the years, there have been many famous and well-known teams, cars and drivers.

Teams, names from the past and on the grid today.

Teams like Ferrari, Mclaren and Williams have had long and successful pedigrees. Past teams include names like HRT, Jordan, Hesketh, Brawn and Brabham. And several car brands have tried their luck, including BMW, Honda, Jaguar, Lotus, Renault and Toyota.

Cars, iconic cars from over the years

The following list of iconic cars comes from

.1. Lotus 72,     2. McLaren M23,     3. Williams FW14,     4. Mercedes W05,     5. McLaren MP4/4,     6. Ferrari F2004,     7. Ferrari F2002,     8. Red Bull RB9Read the article and see the images – here

Drivers, famous names over the centuries of F1

Further to the champions currently on the grid – Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen – here are some of the greats…

  • Michael Schumacher (308 races, 91 wins,  7 drivers championships)
  • Sebastian Vettel (299 races, 53 wins, 4 drivers championships)
  • Alain Prost (199 races, 5wins,  4 drivers championships)
  • Ayrton Senna (161 races, 41 wins, 3 drivers championships)
  • Nigel Mansell (187 races, 31 wins, 1 driver championship)
  • Jackie Stewart (99 races, 27 wins, 3 drivers championships)
  • Niki Lauda (171 races, 25 wins, 3 drivers championships)
  • Jim Clark (72 races, 25 wins, 2 drivers championships)
Andrew Burden

The author Kiwi F1 Fan

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