After the first part of our 2023 Formula 1 end of season driver ratings, we take a look at the top five teams in the constructors’ championship and how their drivers fared.
Each of the drivers from Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin – apart from Lance Stroll – finished on the podium. However, it was nearly all about Max Verstappen if we are talking about wins.
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.
F1 Driver Ratings – 2023 special
Max Verstappen 10/10
Best qualifying: 1st x12 Best finish: 1st x19 – Championship position: 1st – 575 points
A year for the ages for Verstappen smashing several records and dominating with such proficiency he would have won both championships single-handed.
Even in pre-season testing, it looked as though the championship was Verstappen to lose. Although he had the odd blip at Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan, wins in Bahrain and Australia were easily clinched.
The turning point came in Miami, when Verstappen crushed teammate Sergio Perez to win after starting ninth, kickstarting a run of form that very few past or present drivers will likely better.
Ten consecutive wins, pole laps from the gods, dominations of weekends, it seemed as though the only thing which couldn’t stop Verstappen would be mother nature or a ridiculous piece of bad racing luck.
The ridiculous piece of bad racing luck came at Singapore, where Red Bull struggled, ending the winning streak even if Verstappen managed to take fifth from 11th. One week later at Suzuka, Verstappen resumed his run of dominant weekends before wrapping up his third world title with second in the Sprint at the Qatar GP.
Wrapping up the title in October didn’t stop Verstappen from dominating the remaining five races of 2023, completing a season of near-perfection from a driver who has spent the new standard for all drivers to match.
Final verdict: Verstappen’s 2023 season was one of the greatest individual seasons in F1’s history, consistently producing outstanding weekends and was unlucky not to make it a clean sweep of races.
Sergio Perez 6/10
Best Qualifying: 1st x2 – Best finish: 1st x2 – Championship position: 2nd – 285 points
Typically, second in the championship would be celebrated, but Perez’s 2023 season saw him hit rock bottom.
The season started well with wins in Jeddah and Baku, but cracks were already beginning to show with a Q1 exit in Australia after arriving into Turn 3 too fast, beaching himself in the gravel.
However, the moment momentum shifted was Miami. Despite starting from pole position on a track not known for overtaking, Perez was handsomely beaten by teammate Verstappen, who had started a lowly ninth.
From Miami onwards, Perez constantly made catastrophically poor lapses in judgement, enduring five consecutive Q3 misses as Verstappen continued to dominate, sinking Perez’s already slim chances of a maiden world title.
Perez rallied with podiums in Hungary, Spa and Monza, but he threw away second in Zandvoort with a spin in the wet. He then followed up a second at Monza with two diabolical performances in Singapore and Japan, where he hit everything in sight and was lucky not to receive harsher penalties.
The season ended smoothly for Perez despite being overzealous on the opening lap in Mexico, wrapping up second place in the drivers’ championship with a third place in Las Vegas.
Final Verdict: It’s hard to chastise a driver who has finished runners-up in the drivers’ standings, but Perez should not have had to wait until Las Vegas to clinch it. He must do better in 2024 or face stiff competition for his seat.
Lewis Hamilton 9/10
Best Qualifying: 1st in Hungary – Best finish: 2nd x3 – Championship: 3rd – 234 points
With the hangover of Abu Dhabi 2021 and a miserable 2022 firmly behind him, Hamilton would have thought 2023 was the year he finally returned to the front, only to be given a nasty surprise.
Mercedes’ W14 was worse than its predecessor and was nowhere near a race-winning car during pre-season testing, ensuring another gloomy year was on the horizon. But in typical Hamilton fashion, he dug deep and showcased his class by taking an excellent second in Australia after a brief run in the lead.
New upgrades made the W14 better, and although he crashed in practice at Monaco Hamilton, secured back-to-back podiums in Spain and Canada with relative ease.
Another podium at home was followed up with pole in Hungary, but throughout the season, Hamilton was limited to what he could achieve with the car. Its limitations meant Hamilton had to endure some soul-destroying races, such as Austria, when even Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff pleaded with him to carry on after a painful drive to eighth.
Collisions with Piastri and Russell in Monza and Lusail were his fault, and a sign of frustration which had crept into his driving as Mercedes continued to lurch from crisis to crisis. Arguably, his best drive came in Austin, where he pushed Verstappen to the finish before being disqualified from second for a technical infringement.
Final verdict: Hamilton showcased in 2023 why he’s still among the best on the grid with some outstanding drives in unimpressive equipment. Mistakes did creep in at times, but they were born out of frustration and should fade if the car is up to scratch in 2024.
George Russell 6/10
Best qualifying: 2nd x3 – Best Finish: 3rd in x2 – Championship position: 8th – 175 points
Russell came into 2023 hoping to join the top table of drivers after an excellent first season at Mercedes, which saw him beat Hamilton in the drivers’ standings and win his first GP.
It seemed history was set to repeat itself as Russell made a good start to 2023, securing a fourth in Saudi Arabia and had a brief spell in the lead in Australia before an engine failure ended his charge.
But things started to go haywire in Baku as contact with Verstappen in the Sprint saw the pair engage in a heated war of words in Parc Ferme.
The simmering feud with Verstappen rattled Russell as his performances in Monaco, where he rejoined the track in an unsafe manner, and at Canada, where he clattered the wall, lost him two potential podiums.
A solid drive to third in Spain from 12th on the grid settled Russell’s nerves, but it didn’t stop his race craft from weakening in 2023, giving Hamilton the upper hand and making him look ordinary at times.
Singapore was a lost victory after a tactical blunder saw him crash out on the last lap, and in the remaining rounds, Russell either underperformed or collided with another driver. But after several messy weekends, there would be one more highlight for Russell as he produced his best drive of the season at Abu Dhabi with third, securing Mercedes second in the constructors’ championship.
Final verdict: A very underwhelming season for Russell, who regressed as a driver and made some abysmal judgments in wheel-to-wheel combat. He must make up for it for next year or face an uncertain future when his new deal runs out.
Charles Leclerc 9/10
Best Qualifying: 1st x5 – Best finish: 2nd x3 – Championship position: 5th – 206 points
There was an air of excitement around Maranello when Ferrari launched the sleek SF-23 before its ardent Tifosi, which they hoped would propel their messiah Charles Leclerc to a drivers championship.
But those cheers turned to weeps when an engine failure robbed him of third in Bahrain and handed him a 10-place grid drop for Jeddah, handicapping Leclerc’s race. An opening-lap retirement in Australia caused by him being squeezed out on the run-up to Turn 3 capped off a dreadful start to the season.
The SF-23 was not a title-winning car, and this, coupled with Ferrari dropping several strategic clangers and Leclerc occasionally pushing the car beyond its limits, caused results to suffer greatly.
But when the car was just right, Leclerc’s talent came to the fore, producing a stellar pole lap in Baku and giving Verstappen a run for his money in Austria before settling for second.
He played the team game in Singapore, helping teammate Carlos Sainz win his second GP, but a victory for himself despite pole positions in Austin and Mexico City failed to materialise albeit through no fault of his own.
Leclerc’s best performance came from defeat at Las Vegas, where he qualified on pole and led after being squeezed out by Verstappen at the start before snatching second from Perez on the last lap.
Final verdict: A year of frustration for Leclerc, but nevertheless he produced several excellent performances in qualifying sessions and races, even if the race win didn’t materialise.
Carlos Sainz 7.5/10
Best Qualifying: 1st x2 – Best finish: 1st at Singapore – Championship position: 7th – 200 points
After spending 2022 comfortably in Leclerc’s shadow, Sainz needed a good 2023 to re-establish himself as one of the sport’s best drivers.
The season started quietly for Sainz with fourth and sixth at Bahrain and Jeddah before tangling with Alonso at the restart in Australia, throwing away points after receiving a penalty for his mistake.
Sainz put his Australian misery behind him with two-fifths in Baku and Miami but made a hash of Monaco, crashing twice and finishing a lowly eighth. On home soil, he managed a surprise second on the grid but fell to fifth at the flag, extending his wait for a podium.
Canada saw Sainz ruin his weekend by blocking Pierre Gasly in Q1, earning him a grid penalty and forcing a comeback through the field, which saw him finish fifth. In Spa, a clumsy miscalculation into La Source ended his and Oscar Piastri’s day early, completing a patchy first half of the year.
However, fortunes changed for Sainz after the summer break as a magical pole lap at Monza sent the Tifosi into a frenzy en route to his first podium of the year with third after an early race battle with Verstappen.
Buoyed by his Monza heroics, Sainz executed a flawless weekend in Singapore to win his second GP and end Red Bull’s winning run before adding another podium at Austin courtesy of Hamilton’s disqualification.
Final verdict: A second race win and fourth in the championship is a good return for Sainz after the struggles of 2022, but areas of his race craft still need ironing out.
Lando Norris 9/10
Best Qualifying: 2nd x3 – Best finish: 2nd x6 – Championship position: 6th – 205 Points
When pre-season testing in Bahrain ended, Lando Norris looked like a beaten and broken man after McLaren suffered reliability issues throughout the three days of running, setting up a tough start to the year.
A horrible start to the year sunk Norris’ morale further, but he finally got off the mark with sixth in Australia and ninth in Azerbaijan before qualifying an outstanding third in Spain. Unfortunately, his excellent qualifying didn’t translate into a good result, as contact with Hamilton on Lap 1 dropped him to 17th.
There was light at the end of the tunnel for Norris when McLaren brought a new upgrade package to Austria, with the results being immediate, with fourth in Austria and second at Silverstone.
Now armed with a car which could showcase his talents, Norris finished second in three of the next five races, moving him and McLaren up the standings. His drive in Singapore was particularly impressive, as he along with Sainz cleverly kept the Mercedes pair in the closing stages by using the DRS zones, securing second and the Spaniard the win.
After a brief blip in Qatar, where he struggled to match Piastri throughout the weekend, Norris drove impressively at Austin, briefly leading from Verstappen before dropping back to third, which later became second through disqualifications.
Brazil was Norris’ best chance of victory as Verstappen had to defend vigorously from the Brit in both the Sprint and the GP before pulling away in the closing stages of both races. The season ended on a whimper as a crash in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi meant he could not secure one more podium to his tally.
Final verdict: This was the year when Norris finally joined the top table of F1 drivers as his intelligent driving helped McLaren recover from a poor start to finish fourth in the constructors. When Norris will take his first win is a matter of when, not if.
Oscar Piastri 7.5/10
Best qualifying: 2nd in Japan – Best finish: 2nd in Qatar – Championship position: 9th – 97 points
After a stunning junior career, Oscar Piastri seemed destined to make his F1 debut in 2023, but the question was where?
Despite being heavily linked with Alpine, McLaren got his signature for 2023, replacing Daniel Ricciardo. Piastri instantly delivered on the hype, securing a Q3 spot in only his second F1 race in Saudi Arabia before finishing in the points one round later in Australia with eighth.
McLaren’s lack of competitiveness meant Piastri could only showcase glimpses of talent during the first half of 2023, managing a point in Monaco and a pair of Q3 appearances in Spain and Canada. But when he finally received the new upgrade package, Piastri shone brightly with a pair of fourth-place finishes in Britain and Hungary.
His drive in a rain-disrupted Sprint at Spa Francorchamps was mighty, finishing second behind Verstappen after briefly leading, but despite some great performances on Saturdays, the elusive podium on Sunday was missing.
Piastri finally secured his podium with a brilliant third at Suzuka, a track he didn’t know before the weekend. He then followed up his Japanese heroics with a stunning second in Losail on a weekend where he took his first F1 win with victory in the Sprint.
The end of Piastri’s rookie season was dogged by bad luck, but he still showed his class with an incredible drive to 10th in Las Vegas, which helped McLaren secure fourth in the constructors.
Final verdict: The best rookie season for a long time from a driver who oozes maturity and drives like a seasoned veteran. Piastri will become an F1 race winner with the right car under him in no time.
Fernando Alonso 9/10
Best Qualifying: 2nd x2 – Best finish: 2nd x3 – Championship position: 4th – 206 points
The breakdown of his relationship with Alpine led Alonso to one last gamble with Aston Martin, a team undergoing a transitional period and off the back of an underwhelming 2022.
But when the teams rolled up to Bahrain, Alonso looked to have pulled off a stroke of genius with podiums in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, sending F1 and Spain into Alonso Mania.
Another podium came in Miami, setting up a chance of career win number 33. The moment of truth would be Monaco, and Alonso was on it, taking provisional pole in the final few seconds in Q3 and, seemingly a hand on victory as the clock ticked down.
But heartbreakingly, it wasn’t enough as Verstappen snatched pole at the chequered flag, with a poor tyre call in the race relegating Alonso to second. The homecoming in Spain was bittersweet, as a mistake in Q3 saw Alonso struggle for race pace, eventually finishing a distant seventh.
Alonso was back on the podium in Canada, but the rest of the year, despite good individual performances, was bumpy as Aston Martin’s form suffered and the competition caught up, stopping his run of podiums.
Zandvoort looked to have turned the tide with a brilliant second, but it was a mirage as Alonso stayed off the rostrum until Brazil, which saw him emerge the victor of a heart-stopping battle with Perez for third.
Final verdict: Watching Alonso back at the front was one of the feel-good stories of 2023, and although the win will have to wait, his performances this year were nothing short of outstanding.
Lance Stroll 5/10
Best qualifying: 3rd in Brazil – Best finish: 4th in Australia – Championship position: 10th – 74 points
Stroll’s season got off to the worst possible start with a pre-season cycling accident, putting him out of action for pre-season testing and casting his participation for the season opener at Bahrain in doubt.
Mercifully for Stroll, quick work by Spanish surgeon Xavier Mir got him on the grid for Bahrain, and despite looking worse for wear at times, he drove well to finish sixth, getting his campaign off to a great start.
More points should have followed in Jeddah before an engine failure eliminated him from the running on Lap 16 on a weekend where he could have joined his teammate in the top five. Stroll was rewarded a fortnight later in Australia, driving a steady race to fourth and securing his best start to an F1 season.
But the honeymoon fizzled out as Stroll’s form became patchy with a pattern of one good weekend followed by a lousy one as his older teammate ran rings around him.
Questions were raised about Stroll’s desire to continue in F1 after a wretched run of form during the second half of 2023. Low points included a violent crash during qualifying at Singapore which ruled him out of the race and a shoving match with his trainer after qualifying in Qatar.
The end of the season, however, was excellent, with points in four of the final five races, which included a pair of superb fifth places, one of which came in Las Vegas after starting from 19th.
Final verdict: Stroll should have gotten more out of his Aston Martin in 2023 and looked resoundingly second-best to his teammate in a year which saw plenty of highs and lows.