While many of the drivers on the 2023 Formula 1 grid are locked into long-term contracts, many of them still face pressure to deliver.
Whether it’s drivers looking to impress in new teams, rookies looking to make a mark, or drivers who want to remind others of their presence, there will be many storylines to take away this season.
Here are five drivers that need to make a mark in their respective teams this year…
Lance Stroll – Aston Martin
The start of the 2023 season will mark the seventh year in F1 for Stroll, after making his debut with Williams at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix.
While the Canadian has shown that he has the ability to fight with the front runners when he took a sensational pole at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix in a Racing Point, his good form has since been sporadic.
In the last two years he’s finished 13th and 15th in the Drivers’ Championship with Aston Martin, but with Fernando Alonso as his teammate in 2023 he will need to up his game to justify his seat on the grid.
Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
There is no denying that Carlos Sainz has a long-term future at Ferrari given he signed a multi-year contract with the team at the beginning of 2022.
A maiden win at the British Grand Prix gave him the much-needed confidence that he can beat teammate Charles Leclerc in the same car, along with a couple of podiums throughout the season.
While there have not been that many mistakes for Sainz, he needs to regularly beat or be close to Leclerc to stop the team focusing on one driver for the title challenge at any early stage of the season.
Sergio Perez – Red Bull
The curse of the second Red Bull seat has not necessarily been as prominent with Sergio Perez as it has with drivers who previously occupied that seat. Therefore one has to ask why he is unable to match Max Verstappen at critical points during a race weekend?
The race in Hungary where both were given new engine components was a clear outlier last season, the Dutchman coming from 10th to win on a track where overtaking is supposedly difficult while Perez only finished fifth.
At the moment he is acting like a great rear-gunner to Verstappen as Red Bull returns to Constructor success, but if he’s willing to put his car on the line at Monaco for a win he needs to exhibit greater form if he wants to achieve his ambition of becoming World Champion.
Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri
Yuki Tsunoda’s first year in F1 in 2021 was everything one might expect from a rookie: Points on a race debut, crashes throughout the year, difficult races at circuits he didn’t previously race on in junior formulas.
But after his sophomore year and with Nyck De Vries the newcomer at AlphaTauri, you get the feeling that Tsunoda can no longer hide behind his excuse of being a rookie in the team.
Red Bull has a pool of six drivers waiting to be promoted to the premier motorsport class in Formula 2 this year, and Tsunoda must convince them that he’s still worth having onboard.
Pierre Gasly – Alpine
This is the second big break in Pierre Gasly’s F1 career following his unsuccessful promotion to Red Bull in 2019.
Although one could argue that the team gave him little time to make a mark in the big team, sending him back to AlphaTauri did inject a new lease of life into the Frenchman – especially after his win at Monza.
Most are expecting the move to Alpine alongside old karting rival and fellow compatriot Esteban Ocon to end in tears, but it will be a test of his character to cast previous history aside and deliver results worthy of a works-backing.