2023 Formula 1 season review: Year of the [Red] Bull
Our views on how the 2023 Formula 1 season went.
Another season of Formula 1 is in the books, and while it won’t go down as the most exciting season ever, it definitely won’t be forgotten about any time soon.
With much to look back on, we’re bringing you our 2023 Formula 1 season review, with a rundown of the year, our end-of-season awards and our driver ratings for the year.
2023 Formula 1 season review: Rundown
Coming into the season, there was a lot of hope for a more competitive year than the one prior. While Ferrari did give Red Bull a run for their money in 2022, by the end it was still rather clear for the Milton Keynes-based team.
But boy did it go the complete other way this year. Despite Red Bull’s limitations due to them breaking the budget cap in 2021, many expected them to be on the back foot without as much testing and wind tunnel time as the other teams.
Instead, Adrian Newey being the aerodynamic mastermind that he is, created the single greatest car in Formula 1 history.
That car partnered with a prime Max Verstappen ended up producing the most insanely one-sided season ever.
Some of the blame does need to be put on the other teams though for not doing better, a fact which many team bosses did admit. But what were they to do when they were up against a car like that?
There still were other teams that impressed this season. McLaren coming from the back of the grid to the front was the biggest in-season jump we’ve ever seen and shows promise for the coming seasons.
Charles Leclerc also did well to get five pole positions in the season. On their day, Ferrari was a force that seemed like they could challenge Red Bull - if they could just have a competent enough strategy team.
Overall, it wasn’t a season like 2021 that brought in many new fans, even doing the opposite by the end, but for the true F1 connoisseur, the marvel of engineering and driver quality from the big winners this season is most prominent and will be remembered forever.
2023 Formula 1 season review: End-of-season awards
We may not have the prestige of the FIA Prize Giving Ceremony, and we don’t have any physical trophies, but the Digital TV F1 end-of-season awards still mean something!
Here are the award categories and subsequent top three for each from this season.
- Max Verstappen – 19 wins, 21 podiums, 12 pole positions
- Lando Norris – 0 wins, 7 podiums, 0 pole positions
- Lewis Hamilton – 0 wins, 6 podiums, 1 pole position
Obviously, Verstappen is number one. 19 wins. 10 consecutive wins to break that record. A further seven straight to end the season. If it weren’t for that one blip in Singapore, there is no doubt he would’ve had 18 straight and 20 total. Mental.
Second and third place was kind of close to call. Both Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton did very well considering their situations throughout the year.
Of course, McLaren started with a tractor and ended with the second-best car on the grid. It was a phenomenal turnaround for them, spearheaded by their number one driver, Norris.
Seven podiums and a couple of occasions where he genuinely looked like he could challenge Verstappen for the win. Norris was consistent once McLaren had brought a car that could challenge for podiums, and if it weren’t for the torrid start to the season, he likely would’ve finished third or even second in the championship.
Third place goes to Lewis Hamilton, who did a fantastic job of navigating the once-again problematic Mercedes to finish third in the Drivers’ Championship.
A surprise pole position in Hungary and various other glimpses of the old seven-time World Champion Hamilton shone through, but overall it was another winless season for him in a tough car.
- Red Bull – 21 wins, 30 podiums, 14 pole positions
- McLaren – 0 wins, 9 podiums, 0 pole positions
- Ferrari – 1 win, 9 podiums, 7 pole positions
Again, obvious number one. Red Bull’s feat of engineering this year was and still is mindblowing. The most dominant car in F1 history, no-one could hold a candle to what they achieved this year.
Second place for us goes to McLaren. Again, despite the tractor they put out at the start, they turned things around incredibly and started comfortably achieving podiums. They look to be the biggest threat to Red Bull’s supremacy going forward.
Third place goes to Ferrari, simply because their car was better than the Mercedes and Aston Martin on Saturdays (and six Fridays).
While the stats would suggest Ferrari was better than McLaren, the actuality was that the Ferrari was fast but couldn’t sustain it during races. The McLaren, Mercedes and at times Aston Martin cars would fairly regularly outperform them.
But they did have a fast car that could beat the Red Bull over one lap, and that’s why they get the nod for third place.
Aston Martin was second for the first half of the season, but had a rather steep dropoff by the end, while Mercedes had too many differing problems to justify putting them on the podium despite finishing second in the Constructors’ Championship.
- Singapore Grand Prix
- Dutch Grand Prix
- Las Vegas Grand Prix
Unfortunately, there weren’t that many excitingly close races, at least not for the win. Most of the time, regardless of where he started, Verstappen would easily race out to the lead and would never surrender it.
That didn’t happen in Singapore, though, as for the only time in 2023, the Red Bull wasn’t the best car on the grid.
It’s not a track that their car likes very much, but coupled with setup troubles and suddenly, for one race only, we had a Grand Prix where Verstappen didn’t even have a sniff at the win.
And what we got was a super competitive race-long fight between three teams and four drivers. Carlos Sainz did an amazing job of converting pole position to the win, holding off Lando Norris and both Mercedes, who did look to be the fastest car that evening.
The Dutch Grand Prix was also exciting. There were multiple wet-to-dry races in the middle part of the season, but none were better than in Zandvoort. It was all about who took the biggest risks with strategies, and in the end, produced a classic race.
And we all probably owe the Las Vegas Grand Prix an apology. No one expected the race that we got, even up until Sunday.
After a shaky start to the weekend, the race on Sunday was fantastic. Lots of overtaking and action all the way through, it was a near-perfect Grand Prix.
- Oscar Piastri
- Liam Lawson
- Logan Sargeant
Yeah, this didn’t end up being close. Oscar Piastri was easily the rookie of the year, with many possibly rightfully calling it the best rookie season since Lewis Hamilton’s near title-winning 2007 rookie campaign.
Piastri achieved two podiums and even a Sprint win in Qatar (which means he crossed the line of a race first before his teammate Lando Norris did but let's not get into that).
As for second place, it just didn’t feel right to put Logan Sargeant when Liam Lawson, who only competed in five races, did a better job in a shorter amount of time.
Sargeant can take solace in knowing he was miles better than Nyck de Vries, who was dropped mid-way through the season.
What we will say, though, is that we feel De Vries was done very dirty by Red Bull. They never allowed him the chance to settle, putting pressure on him even before the season started when they brought back Daniel Ricciardo to the team and started saying they’d be prepping him for an eventual return.
- McLaren’s sudden emergence
- Singapore Grand Prix qualifying
- Red Bull’s dominance
The biggest surprise of the year in our opinion was McLaren’s huge jump up the grid and emergence as regular podium contenders.
I have been watching F1 for 16 years and have never seen a leap like it. They spent the first eight races bouncing between the very back and getting a few points, then suddenly rocked up in Austria with a rocket ship compared to what they had before.
Singapore was also a great surprise. Even though the Red Bull doesn’t like Marina Bay very much, we still expected to see an easy ride to another win for them.
Instead, qualifying gave us a massive shock result as both Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen didn’t even make it through to the third qualifying session.
And then the third surprise was just how dominant Red Bull really was. Expectations were that they wouldn’t be as strong as 2022, and they were much stronger.
Then the expectations were that they’d drop off during the season, with not much testing and wind tunnel time to develop their car. Instead, they were so far ahead they didn’t need to bring out many substantial upgrades.
It may not be a conventional shock like the other two, but with what many expected from them this season, to see them dominate the way they did was a serious surprise.
2023 Formula 1 season review: Driver ratings
Finally, we’re going to give our driver ratings for every driver this season. It's not exactly like F1 power rankings system, we’ve not gone into detail about statistics and whatnot. We just didn’t want to give definitive full or half points, so it’s a full 0-10 scale going up by 0.1 (it makes a difference, alright).
The ratings have been worked out by each driver's relative performance compared to the situation. For the teams at the back, it was based on who could get the most out of their car, while further forward it was based on how consistent they were.
|Carlos Sainz Jr.
|Nyck de Vries