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Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, the remainder of the field
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Formula 1 Australian GP
Opinion

How the brutality of F1's new class system will hit in 2023

OPINION: It may not look it from afar, but the 2023 Formula 1 season is building up to be one of the closest campaigns in years – just not at the very front. Behind the Red Bull domination, the margins are closer than ever. And judging by what played out in Australia, this is having a remarkable impact on the pack

Red Bull’s dominance of Formula 1 this year poses a clear risk of being a turn-off for those who think there is no point tuning in on a Sunday to watch the same team win. While we may well be set for a pretty one-sided affair when it comes to the F1 championship battle, what is important not to overlook is that elsewhere the grid has never looked as competitive as it does right now. In fact, there appear to be signs of a significant revolution in which F1 has moved from a clear class system of frontrunners, a midfield and backmarkers.

Now, that has all been wiped away and there is literally nothing that separates a bunch of squads from a weekend of Q3 and points joy to one of Q1 exit misery. The swings of positions that come from finding a couple of tenths with the latest upgrade, or the pain that is triggered from a lock-up on a final qualifying lap, are extreme and brutal for those on the losing end. There are probably just four teams – Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin - that don’t have to worry too much about this potential to be Q1 chumps. For the rest, every weekend is a case of walking that tightrope.

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