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Formula 1

Edd Straw’s 2023 British Grand Prix F1 driver rankings

by Edd Straw
10 min read

The British Grand Prix was yet another 2023 Formula 1 race largely dominated by Max Verstappen, as many of his and Red Bull’s regular closest threats fell by the wayside.

But that’s not to say his was the standout drive at Silverstone. Edd Straw delivers his verdict on who impressed most as he ranks the drivers’ performances across the weekend from best to worst.

How do the rankings work? The 20 drivers will be ranked in order of performance from best to worst on each grand prix weekend. This will be based on the full range of criteria, ranging from pace and racecraft to consistency and whether they made key mistakes. How close each driver got to delivering on the maximum performance potential of the car will be an essential consideration.

It’s important to note both that this reflects performance across the entire weekend, cognisant of the fact that qualifying is effectively ‘lap 0’ of the race and key to laying the foundations to the race, and that it is not a ranking of the all-round qualities of each driver. It’s simply about how they performed on a given weekend. Therefore, the ranking will fluctuate significantly from weekend to weekend.

And with each of the 10 cars fundamentally having different performance potential and ‘luck’ (ie factors outside of a driver’s control) contributing to the way the weekend plays out, this ranking will also differ significantly from the overall results.

Nor Bri 2023

Started: 2nd Finished: 2nd

Aced it both in qualifying and the race. The only time when he looked like losing out was at the restart when he was on hards and Hamilton behind was on softs, but Norris did a brilliant job in those two laps to hold off the Mercedes and was rewarded with his seventh F1 podium finish.

Verdict: Superb blend of speed and execution under pressure.

Pia Bri 2023

Started: 3rd Finished: 4th

Piastri’s weekend was effectively a reflection of Norris’s, adjusted for two things. The first was the difference in car spec, with Piastri not running the new front wing and nose the team reckoned was worth a tenth of a second – explaining the majority of the 0.131-second deficit to his team-mate in qualifying, with some of that remaining gap potentially explained by being on an older engine. The second was pitting before the safety car, which cost Piastri a place to Hamilton and turned his deserved third place into fourth.

Verdict: Right there with Norris.

Ver Bri 2023

Started: 1st Finished: 1st

Verstappen executed the weekend with his usual excellence, save for the mishap when he clouted the pitwall in qualifying and damaged his front wing in Q1! He was utterly in control in qualifying and the race to claim his sixth consecutive win. The superb execution means there’s little else to say.

Verdict: Another weekend of pulverising excellence.

Alb Bri 2023

Started: 8th Finished: 8th

Albon was again one of the stars of the weekend. The stellar form on Friday slightly flattered the Williams, but he was still a solid Q3 runner and ended up eighth after recovering from a difficult start in the damp-but-drying Q1.

He was assisted by the safety car in the race, which allowed him to restart ahead of Leclerc and Gasly, but he made the most of the opportunity and picked off a struggling Sainz to bag eighth.

Verdict: Another excellent weekend.

Rus Bri 2023

Started: 6th Finished: 5th

The battle between the two Mercedes drivers was nip and tuck, but Russell had the better of it despite the timing of the safety car meaning he finished two places behind his team-mate. He had a slender advantage in qualifying then held fifth in the first half of the race running long (and competitively) on softs before a pitstop for mediums.

That strategy would have worked well but for the timing of the safety car, which dropped him behind Hamilton and turned fourth place into fifth.

Verdict: Very marginally the better Mercedes driver, despite what the race result suggests.

Alo Bri 2023

Started: 9th Finished: 7th

The Aston Martin wasn’t the potent weapon it has been at times this season, with Alonso’s relatively subdued qualifying and race results the consequence of the car being ill-suited to a high-speed track with so much flat-out running rather than any underachievement on his own part.

The fact he could stop under the safety car allowed him to beat the Ferraris and possibly even Gasly, who had just launched an undercut attempt.

Verdict: Maximised a car that was not at its best.

Lec Bri 2023

Started: 4th Finished: 9th

Losing FP2 to an electrical problem proved to be even more detrimental than it first appeared given it cost Ferrari valuable tyre knowledge. Nonetheless, Leclerc should have put the Ferrari on the front row but slipped to fourth after a mistake at Stowe that cost him around a tenth. “I went a bit wide,” he said. “It was still a bit wet there”.

In the race, he held fourth but Ferrari’s excessive conservatism with the tyres led to an early stop on lap 18, a slow start to his hard stint then a second stop to return to mediums under the VSC. That put him 10th at the restart, and he was only able to gain one place at Sainz’s expense.

Verdict: Slightly underachieved in qualifying but was at the mercy of Ferrari’s struggles in the race.

Ham Bri 2023

Started: 7th Finished: 3rd

Lost out to Russell by just over half-a-tenth in qualifying then slipped behind Alonso and Gasly on the first lap when he ran wide and off track at Turn 3. He repassed Gasly into Vale at the end of the lap to run eighth, picking off Alonso later in the stint.

Hamilton was still out there when the VSC appeared, allowing him to pit and emerge third ahead of Piastri, Russell and the Ferraris – all of whom he’d been behind in the opening stages. He couldn’t find a way past Norris in the first couple of laps of the restart before his softs were past their best and he settled for third.

Verdict: Fortune favoured him in the race.

Sai Bri 2023

Started: 5th Finished: 10th

Should have seized on Leclerc’s small error to outqualify his team-mate but a poor exit from the last corner left him fifth. Sainz held sixth early on, which became fifth when Leclerc stopped, but pitting six laps before the safety car proved costly. In what he called a 50/50 call, he stayed out on hards and after taking the restart seventh he was shuffled behind three cars on fresher rubber – Perez, Albon and Leclerc – in the final stint.

Verdict: Perhaps lacked a sliver of outright pace to Leclerc, but unlucky strategically.

Gas Bri 2023

Started: 10th Finished: DNF

Gasly was the stronger Alpine driver on pace and held ninth place until pitting an agonising one lap before the VSC was deployed. That cost him a place to Albon (Perez had undercut him) and meant he took the restart 11th.

He then became embroiled in a battle with Stroll and was furious at what he felt was, and certainly appeared to be, the Aston Martin driver passing him with a move completed by running off track at Stowe. He got back past Stroll at Luffield later on, then had a go at passing Sainz at Copse to get back into the points, only to be eliminated when Stroll went off attempting to retake the position at Vale and clattered the Alpine on rejoining.

Verdict: Was on course to maximise the result and take a point before the ill-timed safety car.

Tsu Bri 2023

Started: 16th Finished: 16th

Given the AlphaTauri upgrade didn’t make the car as competitive as hoped at Silverstone thanks to gains made by rivals, Tsunoda probably did about as much as could be expected. He had the edge on his team-mate, albeit only by a small margin on underlying pace, and drove a solid race on a strategy that proved not to be ideal thanks to the safety car.

Verdict: Did a decent job in a car that wasn’t up to it.

Bot Bri 2023

Started: 20th Finished: 12th

Qualifying was bittersweet for Bottas, who put together a good lap after the Q1 red flag but then ran out of fuel. That meant he started at the back, but by running long on hards he was able to take advantage of a VSC pitstop that allowed him to take the restart 14th. Stroll’s penalty and Gasly’s retirement turned that into 12th place by the flag.

Verdict: A decent weekend in a very limited Alfa Romeo.

Hul Bri 2023

Started: 11th Finished: 13th

This was another weekend on which Hulkenberg qualified well despite just missing out on Q3 but then had a futile race. An iffy first lap meant he was shuffled back to 14th but what ruined his race was a slightly careless clip of Perez coming onto the Wellington Straight. That damaged the front-left endplate and forced a pitstop for a nose change. That cast him half a minute off the back, although after the safety car bunched up the field he picked his way through to 13th.

Verdict: Quick but early clash ruined his race.

Per Bri 2023

Started: 15th Finished: 6th

This was another weekend of a qualifying disaster followed by a recovery drive to salvage a result. He had no excuse for failing to escape Q1 given his pace was unconvincing before the red flag and others around him in slower cars set times good enough for Q2 in the one shot after the restart.

Perez ended the first lap 16th having optimistically tried to squeeze into a narrow gap on the outside of Ocon at the start, ending up off the track. He paced his climb up the field well, albeit taking a hit from the bad timing of the safety car, but the net result was modest for the machinery, especially as his race pace was nothing special.

Verdict: Another qualifying failure hurt him badly.

Sar Bri 2023

Started: 14th Finished: 11th

Sergeant’s Q2 didn’t go well, with his first run ruined by a pair of track limits violations then a disappointing second run in which he was almost a second off his team-mate. That exaggerated the gap, which Sargeant himself said “was about three, four tenths every session” save for that one. But the race was his best yet in F1, netting 12th on the road and 11th after Stroll’s penalty.

Verdict: Qualifying again the weakness.

Dev Bri 2023

Started: 18th Finished: 17th

De Vries was half a second slower than Tsunoda in Q1 after not putting in a great lap in what was effectively a one-lap shootout after the red flag. This exaggerated the gap to his AlphaTauri team-mate, which otherwise appeared to be only around the one-tenth mark.

De Vries ran long on softs in the race and put in a good first stint, only to stop just before the VSC. That compromised his strategy and despite making another stop for softs when it was deployed, he was shuffled to the back in the closing laps.

Verdict: Underlying pace was only just off Tsunoda’s.

Str Bri 2023

Started: 12th Finished: 14th

The gap to Alonso in qualifying was exaggerated by the fact Stroll lacked fresh softs for Q2, although he was on a lap that looked like it was going to be good enough for the top 10 before losing time through Stowe and Vale/Club and fading to 12th. That set the stage for a frustrating race that might have yielded a point, but he became embroiled in a battle with Gasly after the restart that ended with him clobbering the Alpine at Club and a five-second penalty that turned 11th-on-the-road to 14th in the final results.

Verdict: Not a great weekend either on pace or racecraft.

Oco Bri 2023

Started: 13th Finished: DNF

Ocon had bottom-of-the-top-10 pace but things never quite came together for him. At the business end of Q2 he failed to deliver the lap he should have done after locking up and sliding off at Vale while passing Stroll at the start of the lap then, crucially, got held up by Leclerc, who he had slipped behind as a result of that incident. He held 12th before a hydraulic problem put him out after eight laps of the grand prix.

Verdict: One of those weekends that never got going.

Zho Bri 2023

Started: 17th Finished: 15th

Zhou looked more uncomfortable with the slightly unruly rear end of the Alfa Romeo than Bottas in qualifying and was just over three-tenths slower than his team-mate in Q1 as a result. He drove a reasonable race, but had two strokes of bad luck – the timing of the safety car after he had pitted and getting a tear-off caught in a brake duct. Those problems turned a one-stopper into a three-stopper and added up to finishing ahead of only the AlphaTauris.

Verdict: Solid but didn’t look as comfortable with the car’s limitations as Bottas.

Mag Bri 2023

Started: 19th Finished: DNF

Reliability problems ruined both Saturday and Sunday, with a coolant system problem causing him to grind to a halt in Q1 then a power unit failure putting him out while running 14th in the race. It was difficult to measure his pace against Hulkenberg’s on an even basis, although he appeared to be perhaps the slightly slower Haas driver.

Verdict: Weekend was ruined by car problems.

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