F1 Drivers: Ranking the Top 10

As the checkered flag falls on another exhilarating F1 season, the debate over the best drivers rages on. ESPN’s end-of-season rankings provide a subjective but compelling overview of the top performers. Let’s dive into the list, dissecting each driver’s season based on their machinery, career stage, and pre-season expectations.

1. Max Verstappen: Dominance Redefined

  • Championship Position: 1st
  • Points: 575
  • Podiums: 21
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head with Teammate: 20-2

Max Verstappen’s 2023 campaign etched a new chapter in F1 history. With 19 wins, including a staggering 10 in a row, 1003 laps led, and a points tally doubling that of his teammate Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s dominance was unparalleled. The debates about his superior car fade when considering the margin by which he outperformed his teammate. Even setbacks, like in Baku, only fueled his resilience, solidifying his claim as the best driver in 2023.

2. Fernando Alonso: The Evergreen Contender

  • Championship Position: 4th
  • Points: 206
  • Podiums: 8
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head: 19-3

Alonso’s season with Aston Martin showcased his enduring brilliance. While results tapered off, his ability to elevate the team remained evident. Noteworthy podiums in challenging conditions at Zandvoort and Brazil affirmed his prowess. Monaco teased victory, emphasizing that Alonso remains a force at the forefront of Formula One.

3. Lando Norris: Rising from Adversity

  • Championship Position: 6th
  • Points: 205
  • Podiums: 7
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head: 15-7

A slow start for Norris and McLaren transformed into a season of resurgence. Car upgrades from the Austrian Grand Prix propelled him into contention. Despite personal lapses, like missing out on poles, Norris’s drive from 17th to fifth in Mexico showcased his resilience and marked one of the season’s standout performances.

4. Lewis Hamilton: Consistency Amidst Challenges

  • Championship Position: 3rd
  • Points: 234
  • Podiums: 6
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head: 11-11

Hamilton’s 2023 season, by his lofty standards, might be forgettable, but his consistency stood out. Even without his customary race-winning success, he emerged as the best of the rest. Despite lackluster final races, Hamilton’s resilience in a challenging car hinted at his enduring prowess.

5. Alex Albon: Defying Expectations

  • Championship Position: 13th
  • Points: 27
  • Podiums: 0
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head: 22-0

Albon’s inclusion may raise eyebrows, but focusing on his achievements reveals a different story. Irrespective of his car’s performance, Albon secured crucial points for Williams, outperforming expectations. His perfect qualifying record against his teammate and consistent top-ten finishes underscored his impressive season.

6. Charles Leclerc: Flashes of Brilliance

  • Championship Position: 5th
  • Points: 206
  • Podiums: 6
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head: 15-7

Leclerc’s season, marked by stellar pole positions, paints a picture of brilliance tempered by inconsistency. Engine-related penalties and untimely crashes impacted his points tally. However, his form in the latter part, post a floor update in Japan, showcased his true potential.

7. Carlos Sainz: The Consistent Force

  • Championship Position: 7th
  • Points: 200
  • Podiums: 3
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head: 7-15

Sainz’s trademark consistency shone through, scoring points in all but three races. While not overshadowing Leclerc, his defensive prowess at Monza and Singapore demonstrated a racing intelligence that solidifies his position in the top ten.

8. George Russell: Unfulfilled Potential

  • Championship Position: 8th
  • Points: 175
  • Podiums: 2
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head: 11-11

Russell’s raw performance didn’t translate into commensurate results. Even head-to-head with Hamilton in qualifying, he held his ground. Yet, mistakes in Canada, Singapore, and Las Vegas cost him crucial points, reflecting unfulfilled potential.

9. Oscar Piastri: Rooking Sensation

  • Championship Position: 9th
  • Points: 97
  • Podiums: 2
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head: 7-15

Piastri’s rookie season dazzled with glimpses of brilliance, especially in qualifying. His mid-season surge, coinciding with McLaren’s upgrades, culminated in podiums and a win. Despite fewer points than Norris, Piastri showcased immense promise.

10. Yuki Tsunoda: The Dark Horse

  • Championship Position: 14th
  • Points: 17
  • Podiums: 0
  • Qualifying Head-to-Head: 15-7

Tsunoda’s inclusion in the top ten is a gut feeling based on impressive stats. Scoring points in a slow car, avoiding Q1 knockouts, and consistent performances make a compelling case. His progress from 2022 positions him as one of the most improved drivers on the grid.

In the world of F1, where each lap brings new challenges, these drivers have left an indelible mark on the 2023 season. Whether dominating the track or overcoming setbacks, their stories have added layers to the rich tapestry of Formula One. As the engines cool and the podium echoes fade, these rankings serve as a testament to a season that will be etched in the annals of racing history.

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John Day
John Day is a seasoned sports writer and brings a unique blend of insightful analysis and covers the stories that matter most to sports enthusiasts everywhere.

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