Pit Debrief’s 2023 F1 Driver Rankings — 10-6

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10) Yuki Tsunoda —

2023 was another year of progression for Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda.

He won the qualifying head-to-head against all three teammates he had over the past season: Nyck de Vries, Liam Lawson and Daniel Ricciardo.

The AT04 was the slowest package at the beginning of the season. However, the Japanese driver managed to take a point from both the Australian and Azerbaijan Grands Prix, with three P11 finishes in the other three events in the first five races of the campaign.

Tsunoda continued to outperform Nyck de Vries in the main before the Dutchman got sacked following the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

While he was beaten by Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying and the race on the Aussie’s return to F1 in Hungary, Tsunoda showed he was up to the challenge as he beat the 8-time Grand Prix winner 14-6 on points during their seven races together.

Ricciardo’s hand injury picked up during FP2 in Zandvoort meant Liam Lawson was Tsunoda’s third teammate of 2023. In their five races together, it was far from smooth sailing for the 23-year-old.

Although the DNS at Monza and a shocking strategy call by AlphaTauri at Zandvoort when running in the points left Tsunoda hung out to dry and weren’t his fault, a qualifying error in Singapore and getting mugged on lap one and beaten by Lawson at his home race at Suzuka meant the Asian leg wasn’t ideal.

The biggest error came in Mexico when he crashed into Piastri as they battled for P7 into turn 1. It undid all his hard work after starting at the back.

Nonetheless, points at COTA (+ fastest lap), Interlagos and Abu Dhabi, as well as only becoming the second Japanese driver to lead a lap, represented a strong end to a very promising season for Tsunoda.

He has made big strides since that incredibly tough rookie season in 2021. If he keeps the progress going, Daniel Ricciardo can expect a massive challenge next year. Could he also give Red Bull or other teams something to think about? Time will tell.

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

9) George Russell —

Mercedes’s latest race winner is among the ten best drivers of the season for Pit Debrief.

After a very successful first campaign with the German team, the British driver’s second year with the eight-time world champions didn’t see him pick up as many podiums or points as in 2022.

In fact, Russell was only twice on the podium, at Barcelona and Yas Marina, and was over 50 points behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton in spite of tying 11-11 in qualifying.

Both Mercedes drivers had encountered troubles at the beginning of the season, but where Hamilton had ultimately been able to extract more from the W14 on Sundays, Russell had more troubles in securing top finishes even after being in control for many laps.

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Among the many missed opportunities, his last lap Singapore crash definitely was the most regretful one for Russell, as he crashed out from third while he was challenging Norris for P2.

On a different strategy compared to the McLaren and Ferrari, with his fresher tyres and his subsequent extra speed, he could and probably should have caught Sainz for what would end up being the only non-Red Bull victory of the season.

At least other two times a podium finish slipped through his fingers due to his own mistakes, going down the run off in Monaco while running in P3, and hitting the wall from fourth in Canada while pressuring Alonso for P3.

The former Williams driver suffered from a number of technical issues as well, too. The big one was in Australia when his W14 caught fire after being in the lead before a horribly timed red flag.

He wasn’t helped by the strategy dice not falling his way at Zandvoort and Silverstone, too.

To sum it up, Russell showcased his driving ability throughout the whole season, but he simply has to cut out the errors and improve his race pace to beat Lewis Hamilton.

8) Alex Albon —

Since his return to the top category of motorsport, Alex Albon has tried to impress some top teams in the category, and boy has he done it this year. We know that the FW45 is not the fastest car at all. However, the British-Thai driver managed to get the most out of it on most weekends.

During the first part of the season, Williams did not look competitive. But the British team managed to considerably improve its car for the second part of the season, appearing multiple times in Q3 and also in the points zone. Although his teammate was a rookie, Alex Albon managed to obtain 27 out of the 28 points the team scored throughout the year.

Albon managed to enter the top 10 in 7 Grand Prix, in addition to scoring points in a sprint race. Likewise, the qualifying session was also his strong point in the second half of the season, since during the Dutch, Italian (Monza) and Las Vegas Grand Prix, the Thai managed to position his FW45 in the top 6.

We can say that Alex Albon managed to adapt well to this new direction of the team, since James Vowles began his mandate as team principal, in addition to the fact that despite not having a car with consistent performance, Albon always tried to fight to be at least in Q2.

The only big blunder you can hold against Albon is his crash in Australia when running P6. Fortunately for him, it didn’t cost Williams P7 in the Constructors’ Championship as AlphaTauri came on strong at the end of the year.

If we compare him against his teammate, the Thai driver always prevailed ahead, both in qualifying and in the race, demonstrating why he is in P8 in our Driver Rankings.

7) Carlos Sainz —

Carlos Sainz’s name is now etched in history as the driver who ended Red Bull’s flawless season by securing a superb win in Singapore. However, his overall performance throughout the season remains a source of concern.

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Prior to the summer break, Sainz’s performance seemed solid but nothing sensational, having not secured a podium finish and openly acknowledging the challenges with the SF-23.

The latter part of the season highlighted Sainz’s exceptional analytical skills, notably in the Singapore race, where he clinched victory, ending Max Verstappen’s dominant run in faster cars than his Ferrari. His heroics in defence and the pole at Monza deserves a lot of credit, too.

Sainz consistently gathered points, with the exceptions of a DNS in Qatar and a DNF in Abu Dhabi.

Having a season full of peaks and troughs leaves Sainz in an ambiguous position, often subjected to heightened scrutiny due to the team’s historic legacy. The perception of his performance is frequently measured against the exploits of his teammate, Leclerc, who outperformed him in single-lap speed, but was plighted with numerous issues in races. In fact, Sainz failed to outqualify the Monegasque for a Grand Prix after that Marina Bay glory.

Currently, Sainz finds himself in a respectable position in an otherwise unremarkable season for the Prancing Horse team. Maintaining a good balance between speed and racecraft should be his focus in his quest for consistency as he aims to maximize his potential next season, where he’ll fight to earn an extension to his contract that ends next year.

6) Oscar Piastri —

Oscar Piastri was one of the two rookies on the 2023 F1 grid and was probably the biggest surprise of the year. The Australian driver was named 2023 FIA Rookie of the Year in the FIA ​​Prize Giving that takes place year after year.


McLaren started the season on the wrong foot. During the preseason tests, a slow MCL60 could be observed without any particular advantage, and all this could be confirmed during the Bahrain Grand Prix, where Lando Norris finished in P17 and Oscar Piastri in P20 and even retiring from the race.


After several races, the British team was reborn after a difficult start, where thanks to the performance of its two drivers, they managed to finish P4, even beating Aston Martin, who seemed to be the candidates to take said position.


Photo Credit: McLaren Racing

The Australian driver’s performance was, without a doubt, incredible for a driver who was in his first season in the top category of motorsport. Silverstone was one of the first races where the MCL60 seemed to be a competitive car. The Japanese Grand Prix was one of the best one, and that was when the Melbourne-born driver managed to get his first podium in the category.


Probably the most significant moment this year for the Australian was the victory in the sprint race of the Qatar Grand Prix, something that many drivers have not achieved, including his teammate, Lando Norris.

The big key to unlock next year will be having great race pace while looking after the tyres. That was a clear weakness versus Norris this campaign.

But overall after a really good and promising first campaign, we saw how the Australian used his exceptional raw talent and speed on plenty of occasions, managing to position himself as high as P6 in our Driver Rankings.