Race of Champions returns to Sweden in 2023

The 2022 Race of Champions marked a stark shift from previous editions as it took place exclusively on ice and snow in Pite Havsbad, Sweden. The setup will return for the 2023 event on 28/29 January, retaining the traditional Nations Cup and individual Race of Champions knockout formats.

“I can’t think of a better place for my first race after I retire from Formula One than the Race of Champions,” said Sebastian Vettel, a seven-time Nations Cup winner. “This will be my eleventh appearance, and I keep coming back because it’s a special event, and so much fun. I don’t have much experience of racing on snow and ice so it made for a steep learning curve in Sweden earlier this year, and a very pleasant surprise to reach the individual final against Sébastien Loeb. I can’t wait to come back and give ROC-style ice racing another try and hopefully help Team Germany win another ROC Nations Cup title.”

While Vettel is more known for his circuit racing achievements, the snow/ice layout of ROC 2022 was a significant departure for him. Nevertheless, after finishing runner-up in the individual tournament, he expressed interest in trying off-road in the future which prompted Travis Pastrana, who was due to compete in the event before getting injured, to extend him a Nitro Rallycross invite.

While some such as Loeb and Johan Kristoffersson hail from off-roading backgrounds, many of the other drivers involved were more familiar with pavement versus snow and ice. This marked a stark change of pace for those like Vettel’s Team Germany partner Mick Schumacher, American IndyCar veteran Colton Herta, and Finland’s Mika Häkkinen.

True to the surface, Nitro Rallycross’ new FC1-X car was among the vehicles used at ROC 2022 alongside the FIA World Rallycross Championship’s RX2e and Polaris RZR, though the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport also appeared.

“After taking the Race Of Champions all over the world, it’s been an honour to bring the event to my home country of Sweden, and now we can’t wait to come back,” added ROC president Fredrik Johnsson. “Pite Havsbad is a stunning venue and it’s such a privilege to watch some of the world’s best drivers battle on the snow and ice of the frozen Baltic Sea. Can a Swedish driver use the energy from their home crowd to find the fractions of a second that so often make the difference in a ROC head-to-head? If you’re into non-stop action and excitement you can be there to find out.”

Loeb won the individual ROC while Team Norway of Petter and Oliver Solberg claimed the Nations Cup.