Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Albert Park, 2023

The drivers who are impressing in F1’s qualifying battles so far this year

2023 Australian Grand Prix

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Three races into the 2023 F1 season, the qualifying battles have been one-sided affairs at the majority of the 10 teams.

Six drivers have gone unbeaten by their team mates in a straight fight, though at one of those teams reliability problems have kept us from seeing the full picture.

Nonetheless George Russell, Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Alexander Albon and Nico Hulkenberg have all out-qualified their team mates three times out of three. Hulkenberg is an especially impressive case, as he’s returned after three years without a full-time drive to consistently beat Kevin Magnussen.

Russell also deserves singling out for continuing to out-perform Lewis Hamilton. After the Saudi Arabian race Hamilton regretted not following Russell’s lead on car set-up, and today his qualifying effort was compromised somewhat by Hulkenberg.

Max Verstappen has also out-performed his team mate in qualifying, though technical problems have intervened on the last two occasions. Verstappen’s qualifying session ended due to a driveshaft problem in Jeddah, while Perez was plagued by difficulties getting his car stopped on Saturday in Melbourne, which brought his participation in qualifying to an early end. “We suspect an engine setting issue contributed to a lock-up that he had on his first lap in qualifying,” said team principal Christian Horner.

Team mate battles

Qualifying scores
Lewis Hamilton 0 – 3 George Russell
Lance Stroll 0 – 3 Fernando Alonso
Kevin Magnussen 0 – 3 Nico Hulkenberg
Nyck de Vries 0 – 3 Yuki Tsunoda
Alexander Albon 3 – 0 Logan Sargeant
Esteban Ocon 2 – 1 Pierre Gasly
Lando Norris 2 – 1 Oscar Piastri
Valtteri Bottas 1 – 2 Zhou Guanyu
Charles Leclerc 2 – 1 Carlos Sainz Jnr
Max Verstappen 1 – 0 Sergio Perez

Methodology: Whichever team’s driver reached the later stage or set the faster lap time is judged the winner, unless either was unable to set a time due to a technical fault

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Q1, Q2 and Q3 appearances

Tap each layer to compare eliminations and appearances by team mates.

Q1 eliminations

Perez’s problem meant Red Bull chalked up their first Q1 elimination of the season so far today.

Alfa Romeo also dropped out in Q1 for the first time this year. Despite the close contest in the midfield, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu have been eliminated in the same sessions at each round so far, the pair having reached Q2 at the previous two races.

Nyck de Vries made his first appearance in Q2, leaving Logan Sargeant as the only driver yet to make it beyond Q1 this year.

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Q2 eliminations

Alpine registered their first Q2 elimination of the season today as Esteban Ocon was pipped to the final place in the top 10 by Alexander Albon, the pair separated by just seven thousandths of a second.

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Q3 appearances

Red Bull’s car trouble means there are three teams who have not yet missed an opportunity to get a car into Q3 this season: Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin. However none of them have been able to knock Red Bull off pole position yet.

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2023 F1 season

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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3 comments on “The drivers who are impressing in F1’s qualifying battles so far this year”

  1. George, Nico, and Zhou are outstanding. Also Albon when we look at the grid difference against his teammate.

    1. Have to agree with George, Nico and Zhou. Specially Nico getting on the grid again and still showing the same qualifying speed as he had before. Albon though is up against a rookie in Sergeant who never really been that big of a deal in the formulas in race pace nor qualifying.

  2. It’s three GPs. At least save this for after round 5.

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