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Formula 1

Edd Straw’s 2023 mid-season F1 driver rankings

by Edd Straw
14 min read

After each round of the Formula 1 season, The Race ranks the 20 drivers based on their overall performance throughout the grand prix weekend.

This is based not simply on results, but myriad factors including their underlying pace, execution, how they fared against their team-mates, what role luck played in their success, or lack thereof, and mistakes made.

With F1 in the midst of its August shutdown, these rankings can be averaged out to create one reflecting the first 12 events of the season.

This is a straightforward mean/average driver ranking position, calculated by adding the positions for each race and dividing it by the number of events each driver contested.

While the order differs a little from our end-of-season methodology, which can factor in criteria such as a driver’s progression during a season and wider contribution to the team, it gives a reasonable reflection of how the drivers have performed so far this season.

2023 Midseason Sar

Best ranking: 13th

Worst ranking: 20th

Average ranking: 18.2

Williams rookie Sargeant is frustrating because he’s shown plenty of signs of pace, but never managed to string together a ‘complete’ grand prix weekend. That’s reflected in his poor rankings.

However, there are signs of an underlying improvement, for example chipping away at his fast-corner weakness, despite only very rarely shown even glimpses of Alex Albon-like speed. The upturn started in Austria, where Sargeant had a strong race, although the on-paper results don’t show that.

The key question now is whether he can string things together and build on the flashes of performance he has frequently shown. “I need to clean some things up,” was Sargeant’s summary after Spa and his F1 career may well depend on him doing that.

2023 Midseason Dev

Best ranking: 14th

Worst ranking: 20th

Average ranking: 17.8

It was always going to be crucial for De Vries to hit the ground running in his first full F1 season. His failure to do so ultimately proved costly as no matter how harsh his axing after 10 races was, it could at least have been delayed with stronger performances.

Perhaps the most concerning thing was the absence of peaks. You would expect some fluctuation, but generally De Vries struggled to catch the eye.

Spain was perhaps the weekend where he had the pace to score points, but two spins in Q1 at Turn 10 cost him a Q3 shot and left him deep in the midfield. Generally, his qualifying was reasonable but unspectacular, around 0.25% off AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.

De Vries’s technical feedback was highly-praised by the team and overall he performed perfectly competently, but he will be disappointed not to have made a stronger case for himself.

2023 Midseason Mag

Best ranking: 10th

Worst ranking: 20th

Average ranking: 16.3

Magnussen has been caught in a nightmare spiral in that he’s struggling with the Haas VF-23 in qualifying trim, which is where the car excels. That’s largely down to the car’s instability being incompatible with his attacking style and means he’s been eliminated in Q1 too often.

On race pace, he’s more often than not broadly in line with team-mate Nico Hulkenberg but any opportunity of a result has generally been lost given the best chance for Haas is qualifying well, then stemming the losses in races where the tyre degradation problem isn’t so pronounced.

Miami, where he made his sole Q3 appearance and finished 10th, enjoying a battle with Charles Leclerc along the way, was the highlight of a difficult half-season to date in which he’s only managed two points.

2023 Midseason Zho

Best ranking: 2nd

Worst ranking: 19th

Average ranking: 14.5

Zhou’s strengths from last season have carried over, augmented by a step in terms of his racecraft but still with question marks over his outright pace. Overall, he has been second-best of the Alfa Romeo drivers, but not by much.

The peak came in Spain, where he produced probably his best grand prix drive to take ninth and showed his presence of mind by playing the overtaking guidelines well to prevail in his battle with Tsunoda by triggering a penalty for being forced off track.

Hungary should have been the highlight as he qualified a superb fifth but went backwards at the start as the result of a brake-system setting putting him into a safe-start mode. But he responded to that badly and triggered a first-corner crash.

Zhou has impressed the team again with his approach this year and has been a good, solid performer in an erratic operation. But he still needs to find that extra sliver of pace to augment his consistent, clean race performances, as proved by the fact he’s 7-4 down in qualifying where a fair comparison can be made with an average dry-weather deficit of 0.18%.

2023 Midseason Bot

Best ranking: 5th

Worst ranking: 19th

Average ranking: 12.9

Bottas’s season has been better than the results suggest given he’s had several races ruined by circumstances outside of his control. That’s perhaps made it more difficult to spot the positives in his performance from the outside.

A well-executed one-stop race to eighth in Bahrain after staying out under the safety car was his highlight, but he also produced lower-profile strong weekends in Monaco and Canada, taking a point in the latter.

He’s had the edge on Zhou in qualifying and produced some decent race drives despite several occasions when damage often not of his making has held him back – notably in Saudi Arabia, Spain, Austria and Azerbaijan.

2023 Midseason Gas

Best ranking: 7th

Worst ranking: 18th

Average ranking: 12.5

The first half of the season has been one of acclimatisation for Gasly at Alpine and it’s fair to say that he hasn’t consistently been able to get the car to his liking, describing himself at 98-99% at best. That has contributed to an erratic season.

Gasly’s best work has been good, albeit not quite as strong as his AlphaTauri peaks. His third in the Spa sprint and a strong Miami weekend, qualifying fifth and finishing ninth, were highlights, as was his drive in Australia that should have earned him fifth but for the final-restart chaos and his rather careless chop on team-mate Ocon that eliminated both cars.

It’s been a mixed bag for Gasly, although the foundations are there as proved by his relatively even qualifying record compared to Ocon, which stands at 6-5 in his favour – albeit with Ocon having the edge on dry qualifying average pace by just under 0.1%. Therefore, Gasly should climb the rankings in the second half of the year.

2023 Midseason Str

Best ranking: 5th

Worst ranking: 18th

Average ranking: 12.2

Stroll’s Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, jumping in after a cycling accident while still carrying injuries that didn’t entirely clear up until May, was hugely impressive. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the rest of his campaign.

He’s been competent and solid but no more than that as he’s never been in the hunt for a podium while his team-mate has racked up six. On a couple of occasions, he’s got close to Alonso, but he’s not close enough often enough.

This is broadly in line with what we’ve seen from Stroll over his career. And although his determination in Bahrain showed there is steel there, it wasn’t often enough in evidence in normal circumstances and this so far is a season below the level required of a driver in what was mostly a frontrunning car.

2023 Midseason Hul

Best ranking: 3rd

Worst ranking: 18th

Average ranking: 12.0

Hulkenberg quickly eliminated any concerns that three seasons spent largely on the sidelines had dulled him as a driver and established himself as one of the qualifying stars of the season. He’s certainly dealt better with the limitations of the Haas than Magnussen in one-lap trim.

Unfortunately, the tyre-chewing tendencies of the Haas have meant Sundays have been hard work. His drive to seventh at low-deg Melbourne was the highlight, although sixth place in a wet-but-drying Red Bull Ring sprint after a change to slicks was his most eye-catching moment.

Overall, it’s been vintage Hulkenberg – fast, some strong performances but also a few mistakes along the way such as the red-flag speeding infringement that cost him a sensational second on the grid in Montreal and clipping Sergio Perez at Silverstone.

2023 Midseason Ric

Best ranking: 6th

Worst ranking: 17th

Average ranking: 11.5

A sample set of two events isn’t enough for Ricciardo’s ranking to be meaningful, but he’s included for completeness.

He made a strong start in Hungary, although the tricky Belgian Grand Prix weekend didn’t go so well.

But the two weekends banked before the summer break are a good foundation for what’s to follow, and proved that Ricciardo hasn’t lost it.

2023 Midseason Oco

Best ranking: 1st

Worst ranking: 20th

Average ranking: 11.3

Ocon has marginally had the edge over new Alpine team-mate Gasly and certainly has had the higher peaks, notably with his sensational Monaco Grand Prix weekend. There have also been some characteristically strong defensive drives, notably in Monaco and in the Austria sprint.

But there have also been some poor weekends, with Bahrain and Silverstone standing out on that score, and the odd mistake, such as crashing and wiping out his car’s nose in Spa qualifying.

Overall, Ocon has had a reasonable half-season but, perhaps inevitably for anyone in an Alpine, an erratic one. He’s had the edge on Gasly, but the underlying performance comparison and trends suggests this is a battle that could go either way in the second half of the year.

2023 Midseason Tsu

Best ranking: 5th

Worst ranking: 20th

Average ranking: 11.0

Given the limited machinery he’s had to work with, Tsunoda has had an impressive season with a marked improvement in terms of consistency. His three points finishes, for 10th places in Australia, Azerbaijan and Belgium, were all well-earned and he generally had the measure of De Vries before AlphaTauri brought in Ricciardo.

Tsunoda had a strong start to the season, although errors did creep in. Austria was the nadir, with a first-corner clash with Ocon, a Turn 4 off after over-optimistic braking with front wing damage, and 20 seconds of track limits violations. But that was the exception rather than the norm.

He’s responded well to Ricciardo’s revival and dealt effectively with the limitations of the car in slow corners in particular.

In difficult circumstances, he has surely taken a big enough step to justify another year in F1.

2023 Midseason Pia

Best ranking: 2nd

Worst ranking: 16th

Average ranking: 9.9

Piastri’s underlying pace has been impressive from the off – usually with the odd mistake in one part of the lap meaning his qualifying performances didn’t always show it. But despite that, the early part of the season was an under-the-radar success in which he performed consistently well and avoided significant errors – until his Q3 crash in Canada, that is.

Once the McLaren took its leap forward, Piastri came into his own despite being a step behind Lando Norris in car specification at both the Red Bull Ring, by a significant margin, and Silverstone, thanks to the lack of the new front wing that cost him around a tenth of a second.

Arguably, in terms of pace, his season peaked with an excellent Spa weekend, albeit one ended prematurely by the first-corner clash with Carlos Sainz.

This made for an excellent trajectory for his rookie campaign, one that can be expected to continue in the right direction in the second half of the year.

2023 Midseason Sai

Best ranking: 3rd

Worst ranking: 12th

Average ranking: 9.5

Sainz’s season has largely been a good one, with decent underlying performance but some uncharacteristic mistakes hurting his rankings – most memorably with his error at the final standing restart in Australia that earned him a penalty and therefore no points.

His qualifying performances have been consistently good, although the struggles of the Ferrari means he’s been restricted to regular fourth to sixth place finishes on a good day – seven of them in 12 grands prix.

But there have been blips, notably his awful Baku weekend where he struggled badly.

Despite being ranked below team-mate Charles Leclerc, Sainz’s overall performance has stacked up well this season, particularly on race pace, although Leclerc has had the advantage in qualifying.

2023 Midseason Per

Best ranking: 1st

Worst ranking: 20th

Average ranking: 9.3

Arguably no driver has had such a remarkable ‘character arc’ as Perez this year.

He started superbly with two victories in four races that owed something to Max Verstappen’s misfortune but also his own pace once ahead in a straight fight.

Then he had an agonising slump with his run of failures to reach Q3 and a mixed bag of recovery drives to positions below what the machinery should have achieved. That was stabilised by a couple of reasonable weekends in Hungary and Belgium where he picked up third and then second place.

That Perez isn’t in Verstappen’s class is neither a surprise nor a disgrace, because very few are, but despite some impressive peaks he hasn’t consistently delivered at the level a driver in the best car should be at.

2023 Midseason Rus

Best ranking: 1st

Worst ranking: 14th

Average ranking: 8.0

It’s been the proverbial (half) season of two halves for Russell, particularly when it comes to qualifying. As he put it, “the first six races, I felt super-comfortable, but recently I’ve been off the pace in quali [but] really strong in the races”.

Australia, where he led the first stint before his race unravelled thanks to a badly-timed red flag then a power unit failure, was Russell’s most impressive weekend, but whether or not it’s a coincidence, he did start to struggle more in the races after Mercedes introduced its major upgrade in Monaco.

This combined with Lewis Hamilton’s improved form has meant Russell has been marginally the less impressive Mercedes driver. But his sights are set firmly on reversing that trend after the break.

2023 Midseason Alb

Best ranking: 1st

Worst ranking: 16th

Average ranking: 7.6

Albon has performed heroics in the Williams this year, with his crash while running sixth early in the Australian Grand Prix the only major blot on his copybook.

There have been some eye-catching results, notably his superb seventh place in Canada, where he showed his usual defensive precision. There have also been strong weekends that have yielded non-points finishes at or close to the maximum of what is possible, including impressive 11th places in Austria and Hungary and 14th in Belgium, where he starred in the first stint before tyre troubles ruined his race.

He’s spearheaded Williams superbly and looks ever-more convincing as a team leader, unrecognisable from the driver whose confidence took a beating in his Red Bull stint.

2023 Midseason Lec

Best ranking: 2nd

Worst ranking: 16th

Average ranking: 7.5

Leclerc has endured a rollercoaster season with bad luck (a power unit problem while third in Bahrain), bafflingly bad performance (Spain qualifying), massively impressive events (Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Belgium) and mistakes (his Australian GP off and Miami).

But overall, his performance level has been impressive, with his trademark qualifying pace usually in evidence and giving him a clear edge over Sainz.

Overall, Ferrari’s inconsistency has been the dominant factor and Leclerc’s quality has generally shone through.

2023 Midseason Nor

Best ranking: 1st

Worst ranking: 20th

Average ranking: 7.3

Norris has made more errors this year than we’ve become accustomed to – clouting the wall carelessly in Jeddah qualifying, repeating the trick in Monaco, and damaging his floor with an off in Spa qualifying.

You could make a case that the pressure from Piastri’s underlying pace and frustration during times when McLaren wasn’t performing well played a part in that.

But even in the pre-Austria-upgrade days Norris produced some strong weekends, notably in Australia, Azerbaijan and Canada, before really hitting his stride.

Once the McLaren was transformed, so was Norris with outstanding weekends in Austria, Britain and Hungary that were followed by a patchy Spa weekend that he rescued with a fine stint after switching to softs when it was drizzling.

2023 Midseason Ham

Best ranking: 3rd

Worst ranking: 11th

Average ranking: 5.9

You have to look long and hard for a genuinely bad weekend from Hamilton. Saudi Arabia, where he complained of being disconnected and lacking confidence in the car on his way to fifth, and a messy Austrian weekend, where he took eighth, were the lowest points.

He also asserted himself on qualifying pace over Russell after the Monaco upgrade was introduced, by his own admission driving better than some of his earlier and slightly messier efforts.

While the performance level of Mercedes sometimes masked it, Hamilton’s underlying quality has shone through this season. And the trend is positive as the Mercedes has become a little more to his liking.

2023 Midseason Alo

Best ranking: 1st

Worst ranking: 14th

Average ranking: 5.0

Alonso has revelled in his most competitive F1 car for a decade, with his run of six podiums in the first eight races proving any concerns about his age were misplaced.

The only real negatives for Alonso were qualifying in Spain, where he went off in Q1, and the Belgium sprint, where he crashed at Pouhon.

Beyond that, he has delivered consistently well and even flirted with a first win in a decade at the Monaco Grand Prix on a weekend where he qualified and finished second.

The trailing off in results is largely down to the Aston Martin becoming less competitive, but he has had team-mate Stroll emphatically covered and proved the old magic is still there.

2023 Midseason Ver

Best ranking: 1st

Worst ranking: 5th

Average ranking: 2.5

Verstappen’s relentlessness has been his calling card this season, with team-mate Perez’s struggles a counterpoint that shows simply sitting in a Red Bull is no guarantee of success every weekend. Even the two races he was beaten by Perez in had an element of bad luck against him that gave his team-mate a track position advantage, albeit one that later-season Verstappen would have overcome.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Verstappen’s campaign has been qualifying, when the Red Bull has generally not had the same margin as it has on race day. While Perez has too often floundered, Verstappen has always done the job – putting in some dominant wet-weather performances, too.

Yes, he’s in the best car. But as is always the case with dominant-force drivers, his contribution in extracting the maximum is not to be underestimated.

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