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Formula 1

Edd Straw’s 2023 Dutch Grand Prix F1 driver rankings

by Edd Straw
9 min read

Max Verstappen earned a record-equalling ninth consecutive Formula 1 victory on home soil at the Dutch Grand Prix – but was he the most impressive driver in a chaotic rain-affected weekend?

Edd Straw gives his verdict in his latest driver rankings.

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’ (i.e 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.

Alonso Dutch 2023 Rankings

Started: 5th Finished: 2nd

This was vintage Alonso. He was quick, executed qualifying well, was incisive and inventive in battle in the race and even menaced Verstappen at the final restart.

And while the upgraded Aston Martin looked a little better, it still wasn’t the second-best car. That made Alonso’s second place an outstanding result.

Verdict: Alonso at his relentless best.

2023 Hun Ver

Started: 1st Finished: 1st

Another straightforward and predictable pole-to-flag victory? Not a bit of it.

As ever, Verstappen was stunningly fast, albeit not as fast as he felt he should have been in qualifying after time lost at Turn 1, but what stood out at Zandvoort was how he effortlessly dodged the jeopardy posed by the rain twice arriving, a late red flag and the looming threat of Alonso to take a home win.

Verdict: Made something difficult look effortless.

Sainz Dutch Gp Rankings

Started: 6th Finished: 5th

Sainz did a superb job in a tricky Ferrari, especially given he sat out FP1 with Robert Shwartzman taking over his car.

He reckoned qualifying was close to perfect and despite running as high as third in the race the car simply didn’t have the pace for the podium. He also did well to hold position in the blast to the flag under pressure from Hamilton despite being on a set of inters that were “destroyed” from qualifying.

Verdict: Arguably his best weekend of the season.

2023 Hun Alb

Started: 4th Finished: 8th

Albon didn’t have high hopes heading into the weekend, but a change of wind direction gave the Williams more front end in some key corners and helped to transform it into a car good enough to qualify fourth.

Albon did a brilliant job on slicks in the wet early on to limit the losses and went on to complete a marathon stint on his starting softs. He even felt he could have finished a couple of places higher but for being undercut at his second stop.

Verdict: Fast and in control throughout.

Gasly Rankings

Started: 12th Finished: 3rd

Gasly’s weekend came alive on race day. After qualifying he complained of a lack of rear grip and a car that was unexpectedly slightly overweight, but pitting on the first lap launched him towards the front.

Once there, he absolutely looked the part and didn’t put a foot wrong, finishing fourth on the road and taking third when Perez was penalised at the flag.

Verdict: Transformed once at the sharp end.

Hamilton Dutch Gp Rankings 2023 Corrected

Started: 13th Finished: 6th

Hamilton was happy with the car in dry conditions in practice, although struggled in the intermediate conditions in qualifying. But it was traffic while he was trying to get his second set of inters fired up in Q2 and Tsunoda’s impeding that ultimately doomed him to elimination as he ended up setting his time on a second push lap when the tyres were past their best. But he had impressive pace in the race on his way to sixth.

Verdict: A good weekend undermined by Q2 misfortune.

Lawson Rankngs 2023 Dutch Gpp

Started: 19th Finished: 13th

Lawson was understandably a little tentative in FP3 and qualifying after his late call-up, although the pace deficit to Tsunoda was exaggerated by the fact he didn’t get the most out of his second set of intermediates.

He made a good start and mixed it confidently on the first lap before being called into the pits and earning a 10-second penalty for impeding through no fault of his own given he had to queue for his stop.

Lawson ran as high as 11th, enjoyed a battle with the hobbled Leclerc, picked up a couple of places in the final run to the flag and took a very creditable 13th place.

Verdict: Nothing flashy but an accomplished debut in tricky circumstances.

Norris Rankings 2023 Dutch Gp

Started: 2nd Finished: 7th

Norris’s weekend unravelled when he was left out until lap three when the early-race rain came, much to his frustration given he was pushing for an earlier stop.

That relegated him to 15th and a much more difficult race, but he made steady progress in the middle stages of the race with better pitstop timing on his way to seventh.

Verdict: Potential podium was hung out to dry early on.

2023 Hun Rus

Started: 3rd Finished: 17th

After a strong run through practice and qualifying, Russell’s race was undone by two things. The first was not stopping for intermediates until lap four, which proved to be the worst of both worlds timing-wise, and the second was picking up a puncture in a late scrape with Norris.

That turned to a dust a race that he hoped would deliver a podium.

Verdict: Quick and would have salvaged points without Norris clash.

Perez Rankings Dutch 2023

Started: 7th Finished: 4th

Underachieving in qualifying once again meant Perez was likely to be up against it in the race, only for the first-lap rain and his pitstop to get him into the lead.

While he didn’t sound delighted to be undercut by Verstappen, he should still have finished an easy second but for an off when the rain returned, then a five-second penalty for speeding after glancing the wall in the pitlane left him fourth.

Verdict: Didn’t make the most of the machinery.

Piastr Irankings 1023 Dutch

Started: 8th Finished: 9th

Piastri’s Friday crash cost him valuable track time and contributed to him only managing eighth on slicks in Q3 having produced top-three pace in the intermediate conditions in Q1 and Q2.

He was left out on slicks during the early rain, which dropped him as low as 17th and his recovery wasn’t helped by a lock-up while battling with Magnussen that forced an early pitstop just before the first safety car. From there, he did a decent job of recovering to the points in ninth.

Verdict: Errors compromised what was otherwise a good weekend.

Leclerc 2023 Rankings

Started: 9th Finished: DNF

Leclerc struggled to get to grips with a Ferrari that he described as the most difficult of the season in terms of balance and driveability.

A crash in Q3 left him ninth on the grid, and then a clash with Piastri on the first lap of the race gave him floor damage. He struggled on gamely in the hobbled Ferrari but his race was effectively over long before he finally retired.

Verdict: Struggled more than his team-mate.

2023 Hun Oco

Started: 16th Finished: 10th

Ocon was eliminated in Q1 thanks to struggling for rear grip and not managing to extract the same pace Gasly did.

A pitstop on the second lap at least ensured he was in contention for a minor points finish and he made good on that by taking 10th despite being frustrated by what he called some missed opportunities.

Verdict: Did a decent salvage job.

Tsunoda Rankings 2023 Dutch

Started: 17th Finished: 16th

Tsunoda was disappointed he didn’t make the most of qualifying, but a first-lap pitstop meant that he was immediately launched into points contention.

Unfortunately, the decision to try to run to the end after switching back to slicks undermined a race that could have yielded points, leading to him dropping back. A clash with Russell also earned him a five-second penalty that cost him three places at the chequered flag.

Verdict: A mixed bag, but could have scored with better strategy.

Stroll 2023 Rankings Dutch

Started: 11th Finished: 11th

Stroll wasn’t at Alonso’s level as is usually the case. But he was perhaps better than the results suggest given he was unfortunate with strategy both in Q2, in terms of switching to a second set of inters too early, and in the race after stopping too late on lap four.

He battled decently to recover from running last for a spell, gaining a couple of places in the final blast after the restart but missing out on points.

Verdict: More solid than the results would indicate.

Sargeant Rankings Diutch

Started: 10th Finished: DNF

Sargeant is forgiven for crashing out of the race because it was the consequence of losing hydraulic pressure when he hit the kerb, but the same can’t be said for his qualifying shunt.

That was the result of a “millimetre mistake” when he touched the wet line, but he had at least made Q3 for the first time, albeit well off Albon’s pace in the wet. However, his dry pace was encouraging on a weekend that promised much but delivered nothing bar the Q3 breakthrough.

Verdict: Positive signs, but another weekend that he didn’t completely hang together.

Bottas 2023 Dutch Rankings

Started: 18th Finished: 15th

Bottas couldn’t escape Q1 despite being content with the feel of the Alfa Romeo in the wet conditions.

The deficit to Zhou was only two tenths, but it was rough for both to be on the wrong side of the cut-off. He was on the wrong side of Alfa’s split strategy in the race, staying out on slicks through the early rain despite wanting to pit and briefly running ninth before inevitably falling back. From there, he had an unobtrusive race down the field.

Verdict: Low-midfield anonymity in off-the-pace car.

Hulkenberg Dutch 2023 Ranings

Started: 14th Finished: 12th

A crash during FP1 set Hulkenberg back and put one of Haas’s three new-spec front wings out of commission.

Thereafter he did a good job to make it to Q2 and then survived the early wet phase on slicks, although he was never a points threat.

He gained a couple of places after the restart thanks to passing Tsunoda and Russell’s puncture to take a solid result in a Haas that didn’t have the pace for much more.

Verdict: FP1 crash dents his ranking.

Zhou Rankings 2023 Spa

Started: 15th Finished: DNF

Zhou capitalised on a combination of pitting on the first lap and having the quickest pitstop of anyone in that phase to leap up to second.

He was never going to stay there, but did a tidy job as he inevitably fell back on mediums in a car lacking pace and was out of points contention when he shunted at Turn 1 in the wet having changed to inters.

Verdict: A good weekend ruined by the crash in the race.

Mag Bri 2023

Started: Pitlane Finished: 14th

An inattentive crash at Turn 3 while on an outlap in FP3 badly compromised Magnussen’s weekend as it meant he had no chance to dial into the conditions ahead of qualifying and was forced to run the old-spec front wing and brake ducts for the rest of the weekend.

He lacked pace in qualifying and despite running seventh after a first-lap stop for inters, inevitably faded given the Haas’s lack of pace.

Verdict: Another patchy weekend.

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