It may have been a damp squib of a season in terms of excitement, but 2023 saw records broken aplenty as Max Verstappen and Red Bull romped away at a canter with both the drivers and constructors championships.
But away from Verstappen’s and Red Bull’s waltz to victory, there were some tremendous individual seasons up and down the pitlane, giving themselves and their teams a moment of glory. This first part takes a look at the bottom five teams in the constructor standings, Alpine, Williams, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, Haas.
Like our regular race ratings, team errors such as a slow pit stop or poor strategy do not affect our ratings as they are no fault of the drivers. Instead, our driver ratings solely look at how well the drivers got on throughout the season.
Pierre Gasly 8/10
Best Qualifying: 4th in Spain – Best finish: 3rd in Holland – Championship position: 11th – 62 points
After five and a half years punching above his weight at AlphaTauri/Toro Rosso, Pierre Gasly flew the Red Bull nest to join Alpine, forming an all-French dream team with Esteban Ocon.
Alpine came into 2023 with high hopes after finishing fourth in the constructors in 2022, but the team’s 2023 challenger, the A523, had proven to be a disappointment in pre-season testing. Nonetheless, Gasly still picked up a pair of ninth places in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to get off the mark.
Gasly had been poised for a good result in Australia before the red flag came out with the resulting chaos at the restart, where he and Ocon tangled, throwing some much-needed points down the drain.
The Frenchman’s luck for the rest of the first half of 2023 was mixed as points in Monaco, and Miami were offset by a Lap 1 exit in Hungary and being taken out by Stroll at Silverstone.
The turning point came at Spa on a weekend where Alpine’s off-track management saga dominated headlines; Gasly produced a tremendous drive to finish third in the Sprint, bringing some joy to the beleaguered team.
Gasly finished third again in the race at Zandvoort after a level-headed drive which saw him overcome a five-second penalty for speeding in the pits to end a two-year podium drought. Zandvoort wasn’t a one-off, however, as Gasly produced excellent performances in Singapore, Austin, and Interlagos, finishing all three races inside the top eight and ending his season with a flourish.
Final verdict: He may have initially regretted his move to Alpine, but Gasly had a terrific season, producing several strong performances and was quicker than Ocon throughout 2023, potentially earning him lead driver status for 2024.
Esteban Ocon 6/10
Best qualifying: 4th in Monaco – Best finish: 3rd in Monaco – Best finish: 12th – 58 points
Three years of playing second fiddle to more illustrious teammates made 2023 a big year for Ocon if he wanted to stamp his authority down at Alpine and make the team his own.
Bahrain was a bad omen of how Ocon’s season would play out after receiving over 15 seconds’ worth of penalties in the race whilst his new teammate came from last to score.
Ocon got off the mark with eighth at Jeddah before the inevitable happened in Australia, as he and Gasly collided, wrecking both cars and costing Alpine vital points.
Then came Monaco, where Ocon performed his best weekend of 2023, briefly holding provisional pole before keeping quicker cars behind to finish third, earning his first podium since winning the 2021 Hungarian GP.
But, Ocon still had a habit of making clumsy mistakes, which included race-ending contact with Piastri on Lap 1 at Austin and hitting old foe Alonso in the Sprint shootout in Brazil.
There were snippets of success from Monaco onwards, but Gasly had the edge over his teammate bar a couple of great drives in Singapore and Las Vegas, where he finished a superb fourth.
Final Verdict: The tide is turning against Ocon as an underwhelming campaign and a convincing defeat by his teammates makes 2023 a year which may define his F1 career, but not for the right reasons.
Alex Albon 8/10
Best qualifying: 4th in Holland – Best race: 7th x2 – Championship position: 13th – 27 points
Now firmly established as Williams’ team leader, Albon finally had a car which could enable him to showcase the talent, that earned him a Red Bull seat in 2019.
Points in Bahrain were a good start, but Albon lost his chance to convert a Q3 appearance into a top-six finish at Australia by making a rare mistake where he spun into the gravel and slammed into the barrier at Turn 5.
A few pointless rounds followed, but in Canada, Albon defended stoutly to secure seventh and on home soil at Silverstone, he gave Williams’ loyal fans plenty to cheer about with eighth.
Albon’s giant killings continued with an outstanding fourth on the grid at Zandvoort before charging to eighth after falling back in the pack due to a poor strategy call caused by adverse conditions.
On Williams’ strongest circuit, Monza, Albon secured his second consecutive top six starting slot before finishing seventh after a superb drive, which included some stellar defensive driving.
Albon was unlucky not to make it a hat-trick of points finishes at Singapore after being punted into the wall late in the race by Perez, whilst, in Japan, damage on Lap 1 ruined his race. Two more ninth-place finishes at Austin and Mexico helped secure Williams their highest result in the constructors’ championship since 2017.
Final Verdict: Albon had one of the finest seasons ever by a driver in a lower-midfield car, regularly punching his weight and helping Williams finally progress up the constructors’ championship after a lean period.
Logan Sargeant 3/10
Best Qualifying: 7th in Las Vegas – Best finish: 10th in Austin – Championship position: 21st – 1 point
It hadn’t been straightforward, but after a great end to his rookie Formula 2 season, Logan Sargeant became the first American representative in the pinnacle of motorsport since Alex Rossi in 2015.
Sargeant’s season started well in Bahrain with a solid drive to 13th, but his over-eagerness put him last on the grid in Jeddah and erased his good progress from the season opener.
Then, the crashes started in Australia after contact with Nyck de Vries, followed by a massive shunt in the Sprint shootout in Baku, which put him out of the Sprint altogether.
He could be forgiven for making rookie errors but the gap between Sargeant and Albon throughout 2023 was concerning and his ability to undo any progress put his F1 future at risk.
An example of this was Zandvoort, where Sargeant had a brilliant performance to make Q3 for the first time, only to throw away his good work by crashing out in the next segment of Qualifying.
With his confidence mangled, Sargeant drove cautiously in the race before a technical issue planted him back into the wall and adding another zero to Williams’ damage bill.
Miserable weekends in Japan and Qatar kept the pressure on to score points, and it finally happened at Austin, securing 10th in the stewards’ office after an excellent drive to 12th on the road. But results didn’t improve despite another good qualifying at Las Vegas and a solid drive to 11th in Brazil, putting his seat firmly back in doubt.
Final verdict: It wasn’t going to be easy, but Sargeant made a hash of his rookie year, as he was comfortably beaten by Albon and stretched Williams‘ resources by crashing too often. However Williams sees something in him and have given him a second go in 2024.
Yuki Tsunoda 7.5/10
Best Qualifying: 6th in Abu Dhabi – Best finish: 8th x2 – Championship position: 14th – 17 points
Year three at AlphaTauri would make or break Yuki Tsunoda’s F1 career, as a less-than-stellar campaign against a highly-rated teammate in De Vries could spell the end of his time in the sport.
His task wasn’t helped by the AlphaTauri not being a world beater, but ironically, it would be the making of Tsunoda as he would secure points in Australia and Baku whilst his teammate struggled.
Tsunoda should have gotten some reward from Monaco and Spain after running in the points for most of the race only for brake issues and a post-race penalty to rob him of a chance of adding to his tally.
Beating Daniel Ricciardo after his mid-season arrival to AlphaTauri following De Vries’ dismissal was Tsunoda’s next big challenge, and he passed with flying colours, outscoring his illustrious teammate by four races to his one.
At times, Tsunoda made the same mistakes which had dogged his F1 career, but unlike previous seasons, he remained calm and quickly back on the pace. An example of his new found maturity came during a great race in Brazil when Tsunoda went wide at Turn 10, losing a spot, before quickly recovering to finish ninth.
Yas Marina was another highlight, as Tsunoda qualified a season-best sixth before leading for five laps on his way to eighth after running as high as fourth at one stage.
Final verdict: Tsunoda stepped up to the plate in 2023 and earned himself another year after a great year, which saw him mature as a driver and squeeze everything out of a far-from-outstanding car.
Nyck De Vries 2/10
Best Qualifying: 12th in Monaco – Best finish: 12th in Monaco – Championship position: 22nd – 0 Points
A dream dashed within five months. That’s the story of De Vries’ 2023 season, which saw him axed from AlphaTauri before the end of the first half of 2023 after a miserable run of form.
AlphaTauri didn’t produce a great car, but De Vries didn’t help himself by being off the pace of Tsunoda and being nowhere near the points in the opening three races.
Undoubtedly, the weekend which sealed his F1 fate was Baku, as two accidents and a collision with his Tsunoda who scored points meant De Vries needed to up his game quickly or face the axe.
Miami and Monaco saw him make Q2, but it was still the other side of the garage which looked most likely to score points, increasing the pressure to start performing or face the axe.
But contact with Magnussen in Canada gave the impression of a desperate driver trying too hard to impress, and with Ricciardo waiting in the wings, De Vries was in the last chance saloon.
Ultimately, another miserable weekend at Silverstone, where Tsunoda again outpaced him, cost him his drive and ended his short stint in F1.
Final verdict: Nothing went right for De Vries in F1, and although the car and pressure from outside didn’t help, he only got himself to blame for losing his seat.
Liam Lawson 6.5/10
Best qualifying: 10th in Singapore – Best Finish: 9th in Singapore – Championship finish: 20th – 2 points
Entering 2023, Liam Lawson would have expected his programme to consist of securing the Super Formula championship with the occasional FP1 thrown in on an off weekend.
But when Ricciardo got injured during FP1 at the Dutch GP, opportunity knocked for Lawson, who jumped in with only one practice session under his belt, driving a solid race in awful conditions to finish 13th.
At Monza, he broke into Q2 for the first time and drove another great race to 11th, but at Singapore, he shocked the F1 world by knocking Verstappen out of Q3, qualifying an excellent 10th.
Lawson then backed up his excellent qualifying with his first F1 points, producing a calm drive to ninth on a track he didn’t know and at Suzuka, another solid performance saw him finish 11th.
The only blemish of what was a superb cameo role was a poor Qatar weekend, which saw him spin-off in the Sprint before finishing 17th in his final race weekend before Ricciardo returned to duty.
Final verdict: With limited time to prepare, not much was expected of Lawson, but he delivered with aplomb and will surely be in a full-time F1 seat sooner rather than later.
Daniel Ricciardo 5.5/10
Best Qualifying: 4th in Mexico – Best finish: 7th in Mexico – Championship position: 17th – 6 points
Two unhappy seasons at McLaren had left a mark on Ricciardo as his driving style, adapted to a tricky car, caused his form to suffer, damaging his confidence in the process. The happy-go-lucky Australian seemed content to sit 2023 out and recharge his batteries as Red Bull’s reserve driver with no competitive drive available.
But after Ricciardo gave a good account of himself at Pirelli’s tyre test at Silverstone, the Australian was parachuted into AlphaTauri to save their season and lift them off the bottom of the constructors’ championship.
On his first weekend back in Hungary, Ricciardo drove a cautious race to 13th after being caught up in a Turn 1 fracas, and in Spa, Q2 was on the cards if it weren’t for a track limits breach.
However, at Zandvoort progress came to a grinding halt as Piastri‘s stranded McLaren left Ricciardo with nowhere to go but the wall, injuring his hand and putting him out of action for the next four races.
When he returned to duty in Austin, Ricciardo‘s weekend was ruined by damage. Yet, one week later, in Mexico, he produced a vintage performance to out-qualify Perez and finish a superb seventh.
Yet Ricciardo‘s luck quickly ran out as points in Brazil after again being caught up in an opening lap pileup, whilst a lack of grip in cold conditions at Las Vegas meant he struggled for pace. Another couple of laps could have finished his year with points, but an early stop caused by a tear-off being stuck in his brakes left him with too much to do.
Final verdict: The old Ricciardo is coming back, and if he maintains this upward trajectory and beats Tsunoda more often, there may be a slight chance he could return to Red Bull.
Valtteri Bottas 5/10
Best qualifying: 7th in Hungary – Best Finish: 8th x2 – Championship finish: 15th – 10 points
Following a successful 2022, where he helped Alfa Romeo finish sixth in the constructors’ championship, Bottas came into the year hoping to take the Swiss team to even more dizzying heights.
The season started well with eighth in Bahrain, but this was going to be a challenging year with the C43 a downgrade on its predecessor, restricting Bottas to fighting for the tail-end of the points.
Bottas ended his six-race points with tenth in Canada, but there was no turning point in fortunes as it wasn’t until Monza that he managed to crack the top 10 again.
On occasion, Bottas showed he still had the odd flash of brilliance left in him, qualifying in the top eight at Hungary and Las Vegas, but bad racing luck prevented him from translating his Saturday form into points.
Eighth in a gruelling at Qatar was his final point of the year, and the rest of the season was frankly forgettable, with little to ride home about.
Final verdict: Not a year where Bottas will lack back on fondly achieving his lowest points tally since his rookie year in 2013 despite the odd flash of excellence.
Zhou Guanyu 4.5/10
Best qualifying: 5th in Hungary – Best Finish: 9th x3 – Championship finish: 18th – 6 points
Zhou entered his sophomore campaign as a more polished driver after a decent rookie season and was hoping to make the next step in his F1 career.
He had to wait to score in 2023 finishing ninth in a carnage-laden race in Australia, but it wasn’t until Spain, after a bruising battle with Tsunoda for ninth, where he could add to his tally.
Hungary was an opportunity to score big after qualifying fifth, but a clunker of a start saw Zhou clatter into both Alpines at Turn 1, earning him a five-second penalty and extending the points drought.
Rain at Zandvoort saw Zhou vault into the top three and drive a good race before becoming a passenger in the awful conditions, smashing into the wall and adding another non-scorer to his tally.
Qatar saw a return to the points with ninth, but despite earning a surprise Q3 appearance in Mexico, it didn’t translate into points as he was a sitting duck on the hards at the restart.
Final verdict: With another year confirmed, Zhou needs a breakout year in 2024 if he wants to stay at Sauber when they become Audi in 2026.
Kevin Magnussen 4/10
Best qualifying: 4th in Miami – Best finish: 10th x3 – Championship finish: 19th – 3 points
Magnussen enjoyed a remarkable comeback season in 2022, with his pole position in Sao Paulo being one of the season’s feel-good stories.
Hopes were high that Haas could make another step forward, and although there was no repeat of his 2022 heroics, where he finished fifth, a point was secured with a calm drive to 10th at Jeddah.
Miami was a great weekend as Magnussen qualified fourth but sadly fell back in the race and could only snatch one point from a race which promised a lot.
But Magnussen suffered a soul-destroying run of ten races where he failed to pick up a single point and was left languishing at the back with nothing to show for his efforts.
Singapore was better, qualifying an impressive sixth before finishing tenth, but it was back to reality in Japan when Magnussen found himself being punted into a spin by Perez, restarting his points drought.
A new upgrade package did nothing but make things worse for Haas, and even though Magnussen picked up another Q3 in Las Vegas, the rest of the year was forgettable, with little to shout out about.
Final verdict: Like the whole Haas team, Magnussen will want to forget about 2023 in a hurry after a season where very little went right.
Nico Hulkenberg 7/10
Best Qualifying: 2nd in Canada – Best Finish: 7th in Australia – Championship finish: 16th – 9 points
When it was announced at the end of the 2022 season Haas would be signing Nico Hulkenberg to replace countryman Mick Schumacher, the move was treated with scepticism by some paddock judges. This was because Hulkenberg hadn’t raced in F1 since 2019 and had only made sporadic appearances for Racing Point/Aston Martin in 2020 and 2022.
But Hulkenberg justified Guenther Steiner’s gamble by immediately making Q3 in the curtain raiser at Bahrain, followed by points in Australia after just three races back in a full-time drive.
Like most of Hulkenberg’s F1 career, however, bad luck wasn’t too far away as a front-row start in Canada vanished after being handed a three-place grid penalty for a red flag infringement. In Austria, a decent haul of points slipped through his fingers because of a power loss early into the race.
Haas’ lacklustre 2023 challenger meant he could not challenge for points more often, but in the teammate battle, he crushed Magnussen, out-qualifying and out-racing by a margin of over 50%.
Final verdict: A lowkey but still excellent first year back for Hulkenberg, who should have got more reward for his efforts.