Formula 1 rookie class of 2023 Story-level
When the season kicks off in Bahrain on Sunday, three rookies will have achieved their dreams of getting Formula 1 seats.
Logan Sargeant with Williams, the first American driver in the sport in nearly 10 years; Nyck de Vries with AlphaTauri; and Oscar Piastri with McLaren are embarking on their first seasons.
Piastri replaced another Australian driver, Daniel Ricciardo, who returned to Red Bull as a reserve driver after racing for the team from 2014 to 2018.
“It’s good to be the next Australian in F1,” Piastri said. “Usually there is only one of us at a time, but there is a great sense of pride in being the only Australian on the grid. It’s a special feeling.”
After winning the Formula 3 championship in 2020 and the Formula 2 title in 2021, Piastri became a reserve driver with Alpine last year.
Piastri has already impressed Andrea Stella, McLaren’s new team principal.
“One characteristic that we really like is that he is a man of few words, but the right words,” said Stella.
Formula 1: on and off the track
“He’s certainly focused and also, I would say demanding. The focus is on being demanding with the team, and this will certainly help raise the bar.”
After a year on the sideline last season, which he said was “not ideal”, the 21-year-old Piastri is looking forward to racing again.
“I tried to make the most of what I had last year, trying to learn as much as I could about the F1 environment outside of driving,” he said.
“I learned some things that I wouldn’t necessarily have learned anywhere else. Now, I’m definitely looking forward to getting caught up again.”
De Vries has one advantage over the other rookies: he raced in last year’s Italian Grand Prix.
De Vries, from the Netherlands, was called up by Williams after Alex Albon suffered from appendicitis. The rookie scored two points as he finished ninth.
Then, after Pierre Gasly announced about a month later that he would join Alpine for 2023, AlphaTauri signed de Vries, the 2019 Formula 2 champion and 2020-21 Formula E title winner.
At 28, de Vries is older than usual for a rookie driver, but he is grateful to finally have his chance.
“I have the opportunity to live my dream,” he said.
“I think partly because my journey has been a bit unusual and longer, I’m even more grateful for the opportunity, more motivated to take it and hungry to prove myself.”
De Vries, who was a reserve driver for Mercedes in 2021 and 2022, will share the stage with another Dutch driver, the two-time champion Max Verstappen.
“Obviously Max has done incredibly well in Formula 1,” de Vries said. “He is dominating our sport at the moment and rightly so, the whole country is behind him, and the Dutch are very enthusiastic about Formula 1.”
Unlike Piastri and de Vries, Sargeant has not had the experience of winning a junior single-seater title.
Sargeant was fourth in last year’s Formula 2 championship, taking him past the 40-point threshold required to earn the Super FIA license, the document issued by the sport’s governing body that allows drivers to compete in Formula 1.
Although Williams has finished last in the constructors’ championship in four of the past five seasons, Sargeant knows he will still be under pressure to deliver.
“In Formula 1 you are never completely sure,” he said. “You have to go in there and perform at an extremely high level, but I have to be realistic.
“The focus, especially early on, is to learn as much as possible and go from there. I don’t want to set too many expectations. I’m going to take it as it comes.”
The 22-year-old Sargeant is the first American driver on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015.
He will have the distinction of competing in three local Grands Prix when Las Vegas joins the calendar this year, in addition to races in Miami and Austin, Texas.
“Having three Grands Prix at home is not something many have been able to say,” Sargeant said. “I really see it as a privilege and an honor.”