F1 2023 Season Review
With the Constructors’ title signed, sealed and delivered to Red Bull’s doorstep, Max Verstappen can complete the double and bring the Drivers’ title home next weekend in the Qatar Sprint.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Max has pulled off one of the most dominant performances in the sport’s history. But what about the other 19 drivers? Despite a lack of diversity on the top step of the podium, the remaining pack is tightly packed. Just over 100 points separates 2nd — 8th in the championship.
So who fared best in the longest* season of F1 we’ve ever had? I’ve taken a deep dive into each driver’s season and ranked them accordingly. Starting with…
22. Nyck de Vries
This shouldn't come as much of a shock.
The only driver to lose his seat (so far — I’m looking at you, Logan) and a best finish of P12 in Monaco. Perhaps Helmut Marko jumped the gun at signing Nyck after his points finish in his wildcard 2022 drive in Monza.
There’s no denying that the AlphaTauri isn’t the car to be in, which is ironic, since its mother team is one breaking all the records. But Nyck showed very little growth up until his sacking after Silverstone, with 0 points scored, it’s no surprise he’s been given the boot.
21. Logan Sargeant
Do we have an American Nicholas Latifi on our hands?
Five DNFs to his name, but a season-best P11 in Silverstone symbolises the turbulent season Logan’s had. He has raw pace, there’s no denying that. I think the pressure of having such a rapid teammate (you’ll have to scroll quite a bit to find him, btw) has hurt his confidence. I hope he can turn it around, otherwise, his seat is at risk of vanishing. After all, the fast, points-securing Liam Lawson is now without a seat for 2024…
20. Valtteri Bottas
This one stings.
As a fellow mullet enjoyer, I hate to see Bottas struggling as much as he is in 2023. This season has been rough for the Finn. A promising opening round in Bahrain scored him P8, but this was proceeded by a run of bottom-of-the-grid finishes after being caught up in lap 1 incidents and needing repairs. I dread to think how many front wings he’s been through (and very few from his own doing).
I don’t know many people who wouldn’t want to see Valtteri back up at the sharp end. He’s one of the most popular drivers on the grid. And his style is unmatched (I’m definitely not biased).
19. Nico Hüüüüüüüüüüülkenbeerrrrrrrrrg
The Hulk has disappointed in 2023.
Overshadowed by his teammate (a bit of a theme throughout this year’s grid) and with only one race finish in the points (albeit P7 in Australia), I’m certain Guenther Steiner expected more from the veteran.
18. Yuki Tsunoda
I’m still yet to be impressed by Yuki.
Other than quite a short temper (no pun intended), Yuki has struggled to leave his mark on the season. Three P10 finishes are the best he’s given. Tsunoda’s biggest achievement could be his consistency — he’s only DNFd in two races this year, putting him in a small group of drivers with similar credentials.
17. Zhou Guanyu
Despite only being his second season, 2023 has shown decent potential for Zhou. He regularly outperforms his vastly experienced teammate (Bottas) and has some great one-lap potential.
Two points finishes (P9) are still quite underwhelming, but Alfa Romeo must see potential, as they’ve re-signed him for 2024.
A Zhou top 5 finish is on the horizon, I feel.
16. Kevin Magnussen
Yet again, great potential, rapid pace and some decent race performances. But Kevin’s races are more often than not ruined by damage or race strategy.
Only three finishes in the points and a handful of DNFs make 2023 a pretty unremarkable season for the Dane.
15. Lance Stroll
The ultimate nepo baby’s season has turned on its head pretty rapidly.
2023 had a solid start, with 6 of the 10 first races in the points. Still, not as strong as his teammate, but a huge step up from the 2022 Aston Martin as a whole.
Unfortunately, all this has done has shown the gap in skill between himself and Fernando Alonso. It’s almost a guarantee he wouldn't have that seat in Aston Martin if it wasn’t for daddy.
14. Daniel Ricciardo
This might be an unfair placement since he’s only taken part in two races.
Since he’s arguably driving the worst car on the 2023 grid and replacing the disposed of Nyck de Vries, Danny Ric was in the hottest of hot seats when he arrived in Hungary.
Due to his broken hand in Zandvoort, we've only seen a P13 and P16 from Daniel. Pretty mediocre for an 8-time winner. Hopefully, he will come back strong from his operation.
13. Esteban Ocon
This might seem a little harsh, but hear me out.
He’s a former race winner and on his day, he is quick.
Take Singapore, for example, he was absolutely rapid and performed some of the best overtakes we’ve seen this season. Unfortunately, a mechanical issue unravelled this success, but it was clear of his potential.
Still, a podium in Monaco is nothing to turn your nose up at. It’s just a shame he’s otherwise quite inconsistent — he has six DNFs to his name.
Otherwise, he’s a regular points finisher and would find himself higher on this list if not for his unpredictability.
12. George Russell
Also might seem a little harsh. But again, don’t close this tab just yet.
The Mercedes still isn't close to its pre-2022 form. But I think George is slowly realising, along with Mercedes, that he isn’t as quick as he promised in his Williams days.
He’s having a hard time accepting that his older, more decorated teammate is faster — consistently.
A single podium so far this season is far from what Mercedes will expect from George. But far too often, he crosses the line as the shadow of Lewis.
11. Pieeeeeeeeerrrreeee… Gaaaaaaaassssssllyyyyyyyyyyyy
Pierre’s first season in the all-French outfit has proven pretty fruitful. a P3 in the Netherlands and consistent top-10 finishes outweigh the three DNFs he’s had so far (one of which he shared with his teammate and compatriot — how sweet?).
Gasly is frequently one of the leaders of the mid-field battles and he’s had a stellar first season at Alpine as a result. More of this please, Pierre!
Top 10 time… what do you think about the list so far?
10. Liam Lawson
Yes, you read correctly.
Liam replaced the injured Daniel Ricciardo from Zandvoort onwards (and is likely to replace him at Qatar, too). He’s raced in four Grand Prix and already has more points than Nyck de Vries and Daniel Riccardo combined (and only one point behind Tsunoda).
In Singapore, he was the only Red Bull to make it to Q3, and he knocked Max Verstappen out in the process. Not bad going for a rookie who was thrown into the car only a month prior.
He is showing amazing potential. The Dutch Grand Prix was a cruel introduction to F1, with the weather being as consistent as his AlphaTauri teammates.
I want nothing more than Liam Lawson on the 2024 grid.
9. Sergio Perez
The Minister of Defence has been on the offence, as of late. And not in a good way.
There’s no doubt that having Max Verstappen as a teammate will mess with your head. You cannot compare yourself to what can only be described as a man possessed. And yeah, he's P2 in the championship, but you can thank Adrian Newey for that.
Yes, the Red Bull is the fastest car on the grid, but I can’t help but feel that someone like Lando Norris (or even Danny Ric) would be sticking it to Max more often than Checo is.
Two race wins added to the Red Bull domination of 2023 and he was a firm championship contender until round six in Monaco… And then it all fell to bits.
Five Q2 eliminations on the bounce made his job harder than it needed to be, but he is fading in the tyre marks of his teammate.
8. Charles Leclerc
The sport’s darling. Everyone loves Charles and wants to see him win. A Charles vs. Max would arguably be the most exciting thing to happen since the 2021 title fight. We had splashes of this in 2022, but he just isn’t on Max (or Red Bull’s) level this year.
Three podiums and every (finished) race in the points, with the exception of P11 in Spain, would be a strong result for a driver of lesser calibre.
But Charles is a proven rocketship and race winner. It’s a shame we haven't seen that in him this year.
7. Carlos Sainz
The smoooooooooth operatorrrrrrrrr.
Very consistent year for Carlos. He’s the leading Ferrari in the standings for the first time and it’s well deserved. Only two podiums (one of which was the epic Singapore P1) but a regular feature in the top 5.
People have started taking notice of Carlos, hailing him as the #1 Ferrari driver. And it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Some more Sainz wins and podiums, please.
Although, can anyone else ever tell a word he’s saying on the team radio??
6. Oscar Piastri
What a rookie year from the Aussie.
If we take McLaren’s appalling start to the season out of the equation, Oscar has turned up and shown what he’s made of. There’s a reason Alpine and McLaren were squabbling over him last year.
Achieving his first podium in Japan symbolises his rise to success. The podium was always coming, and it arrived while holding off two Mercedes and Ferraris.
Oscar had a tough gig joining McLaren, replacing an unsuccessful Daniel Ricciardo and joining Lando Norris, a proven podium-sitter and one of the best drivers on the grid.
But he’s jumped in the car and immediately been on a similar pace to Lando, which is no mean feat.
Who’s betting an Oscar victory comes before Lando’s..?
5. Alex Albon
What a year for Albonso, the most stylish driver on the grid (don’t @ me).
Alex is putting that Williams in places where it doesn’t belong. Five points finishes, including a masterclass in defence in Canada to claim P7, show just what Red Bull have lost in Albon.
I have Albon joining Mercedes on my bingo cards in the near future… Watch this space.
4. Fernando Alonso
El Plan really has worked a treat in Fernando’s first year in green.
Alonso’s return to F1 in 2021 wasn’t the most remarkable. With two years at Alpine, Alonso scored only a singular podium.
With his surprise switch to Aston Martin after Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement, people were calling the move a career killer. After all, Aston Martin was P7 in the Constructors’ championship in 2022, being beaten by Alpine and McLaren by a landslide.
Nevertheless, Lawrence Stroll cooked up the second most competitive car, and Fernando has bagged seven podiums at the time of writing.
Aston Martin has since dropped off slightly and practically swapped places with McLaren in terms of race pace, but for a 42-year-old to be sticking it to the youngens of modern F1 is easier said than done.
3. Lewis Hamilton
Even though the Mercedes isn’t quite there yet, Lewis never fails to show his raw talent behind the wheel.
Five podiums so far this year in a far-from-perfect car is a testament to Lewis’ race pace and the Mercedes strategy (the Japan Grand Prix was a slight blunder, but nothing too major).
He’s consistently faster than his teammate and out-qualifies him regularly, despite being 13 years older than Russell.
Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
2. Lando Noris
Lando’s loyalty to the papaya boys is paying off.
Since joining F1 in 2019, Lando has been the number 1 driver in McLaren and is seemingly the golden boy of the team. Many thought Oscar Piastri’s signing would change things, but Norris has been the reliable driver to deliver results.
Four P2 finishes (which would potentially be double that if not for McLaren’s shoddy start to 2023) make Norris the most consistent ‘best of the rest’, beating the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Verstappen’s teammate, Perez.
I’m sure most F1 fans would love nothing more than a Lando win. We’ve come close before, but it certainly feels like it’s closer than ever.
Unsurprisingly, the best driver of the season is none other than…
1. Max Verstappen
Where do we even begin with Super Max?
If you thought the record-breaking heights of 2022 would never be beaten, may I redirect you to this season?
Max is on track for another year of total domination, with only a singular blip in form in Singapore. If he wins the remaining races in 2023, he’ll finish the season with an 82% win rate. And yes, that’s a new record, unsurprisingly.
We are witnessing history in the making with his current form, and who knows how long it will last?
I analysed the rise of Max Verstappen in another article, which you can check out here, but it’s safe to say he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
So, there we have it.
That’s my verdict on the season.
Which ratings would you change? Do you agree with the ranking of the drivers?
Let me know.
*Joint-longest. Would be the longest if not for the ImolaGP cancellation.