Who didn’t get enough credit? 

Lewis Hamilton

It may have ultimately been another underwhelming campaign for Mercedes, and while Lewis Hamilton would have been disappointed to endure back-to-back winless seasons, his 2023 showed he is still at the top of his game despite the machinery at his disposal. 

Hamilton bounced back from his 2022 defeat to George Russell to convincingly outperform his younger teammate on his way to claiming third place in the drivers’ championship, behind only the Red Bull pair of Verstappen and Sergio Perez. 

That marked a mighty achievement from the seven-time world champion, given he was unable to challenge for victory in a car that at times was only the fourth-quickest on the grid. 

A stunning lap to take his first pole in two years in Hungary was a notable highlight, while Hamilton’s Sunday drives – including six podium finishes – were key to helping Mercedes beat Ferrari to P2 in the constructors’. 

Fernando Alonso 

Fernando Alonso proved that age is no barrier with some incredible performances over the season. The 42-year-old Spaniard capitalised on Aston Martin’s fast start to the season by racking up six podiums across the first eight races. 

Although Aston Martin suffered a form slump as the year progressed, Alonso definitely did not, underlining every bit of his relentless attitude and remarkable skill set to provide his team with plenty of highlights. 

Even when the AMR23 was no longer the second-fastest car, Alonso was still able to wring the absolute maximum out of it – demonstrated by his superb drives to second and third place at Zandvoort and Interlagos. 

Brazil – where Alonso won a thrilling late duel against Perez’s much faster Red Bull to claim P3 – was a prime example of the two-time world champion’s continued brilliance. 

Charles Leclerc 

After a terrible start to the campaign with two retirements in the first three races, Charles Leclerc and Ferrari turned things around, though it was not enough to muster a title challenge to the superior Red Bull. 

The Monegasque’s best moments came on a Saturday as he claimed five pole positions, with three coming over a run of four races in the closing stages of the season. Leclerc ended 2023 only second to Verstappen in terms of being the fastest driver in qualifying – the latest reminder of his immense one-lap speed.

Leclerc also turned in some great races. He put up a valiant fight against the Red Bulls in Baku and came agonisingly close to a win in Las Vegas but saw his victory hopes ended by an unfortunately-timed Safety Car. Vegas was one of Leclerc’s best races in F1 as he ended the year strongly with back-to-back second-place finishes. 

Lando Norris 

McLaren started 2023 in miserable fashion but a spectacular mid-season development turnaround completely transformed the team’s fortunes. 

With McLaren emerging as front-runners, Lando Norris helped the team rise to fourth in the constructors’ championship, while he claimed sixth place with 205 points – marking his best-ever season in F1. 

It was certainly a season of two halves for McLaren and Norris, who produced several memorable qualifying performances and drives as he notched up an impressive seven podiums, six of which were second-place finishes. 

Despite seeing his wait for a breakthrough F1 win go on, the 24-year-old Briton cemented his status as a regular front-end runner and showed exactly why the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari are rumoured to be sniffing around him. 

Oscar Piastri 

F1’s standout rookie in 2023 was undoubtedly Oscar Piastri. There were big expectations placed on the young Australian’s shoulders given his title-winning exploits in F3 and F2, and the fact McLaren believed in him enough to prize him away from Alpine, leading to a messy divorce. 

But Piastri paid back McLaren’s faith and more with what was arguably the most impressive rookie campaign F1 has seen since Hamilton first burst onto the scene in 2007. 

Piastri’s excellent first F1 season had several high points, including a pair of superb sprint events in Belgium and Qatar, where he took both his maiden sprint pole and race win. He went on to finish Sunday’s main race just 4.8s behind winner Verstappen. 

The 22-year-old’s unflappable character, coupled with his raw speed, underpinned a successful campaign that fully justified McLaren’s choice to pick him as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement. 

Alex Albon 

Alex Albon spent most of 2023 punching above his weight as he out-drove Williams’ car and took it to new heights and results that probably eclipsed what it really deserved. 

Williams rose to seventh in the constructors’ championship, an achievement that was practically single-handedly delivered by Albon, who scored all but one of the team’s 28 points, having dominated rookie teammate Logan Sargeant. 

Much of Albon’s hard work was done on Saturdays, thanks to some exceptional qualifying laps. Fourth place at Zandvoort was a particularly special lap from the Anglo-Thai’s seven Q3 appearances (five more than Sargeant was capable of in the same car). 

Albon has restored his confidence and rebuilt his reputation since his gut-wrenching Red Bull demotion and is flourishing as he continues to lead Williams’ F1 recovery effort. 

Notable mentions also go out to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, all of whom turned in impressive campaigns. 

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