Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Melbourne, 2023

2023 Formula 1 driver rankings #5: Lewis Hamilton

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The 2022 season was supposed to be Lewis Hamilton year of revenge after he lost a record-breaking eighth world championship title in infuriating circumstances the previous season.

But for Hamilton and Mercedes, it was more of an ‘annus horribilis‘.

For the first time in his career of unparalleled achievement in F1, Hamilton failed to win a single race over the year. He also struggled with the W13’s laundry list of balance, ride and handling problems and was upstaged by new team mate George Russell.

Perhaps for the first time ever, genuine questions were being asked over whether the sport’s most successful driver of all time was still in that elite tier – or if age was finally starting to rob him of some speed. But team principal Toto Wolff offered an impassioned defence of his driver, insisting Hamilton’s early season struggles in 2022 were down to him acting as Dr Frankenstein to the W13, testing out an array of parts every weekend. As the season progressed, Hamilton seemed to find more form and was regularly ahead of Russell on race days – except for Brazil, where Hamilton’s much younger team mate beat him across the weekend to claim the team’s one win of the season.

So heading into 2023, Hamilton was always going to be one of the most fascinating storylines to follow. Would he be back to being one of the best drivers in the field, or would the critics who said he was past his prime grow more vocal?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monaco, 2023
Mercedes’ latest car proved another disappointment
Although 2023 proved about as fruitless for Mercedes as the previous season, Hamilton was once again one of the more consistently impressive performers on the grid. Hamstrung by another imperfect Mercedes, which he was blunt in his criticism of from the outset, the seven-times champion appeared to bring the best out of the flawed W14 more frequently than Russell did – even if he lacked the outstanding results in another year utterly dominated by Red Bull.

Over a season where the form of teams behind the champions fluctuated wildly, almost on a race-to-race basis, Hamilton ensured that he was scoring solid points for his team every Sunday. Over the first 16 rounds of the championship, Hamilton finished inside the top six positions on Sundays 15 times – almost twice as many as Russell’s eight. Hamilton also made a habit of finishing higher than he qualified, showing that his racecraft has not gotten rusty in his time away from the very front of the field.

When Mercedes found their form early on in the season in Melbourne, Hamilton held off Fernando Alonso for the vast majority of the race to take second place and his first podium of the season. His sixth place in Baku was also better than it looked after he was caught out by the timing of the Safety Car, but he finished right behind Carlos Sainz Jnr’s Ferrari which was clearly superior over the weekend, and was almost half a minute ahead of Russell at the flag.

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Lewis Hamilton

GP start113 (x2)
GP finish2 (x3)9

A particularly strong run of races followed between Monaco and Montreal. He couldn’t find a way around Esteban Ocon in Monaco but still moved up two places from his starting position to claim fourth and the bonus point for fastest lap. The following weekend in Barcelona, Mercedes had their strongest Sunday since Melbourne and Hamilton again was the better of the Silver Arrows, passing Lance Stroll and Sainz during the race to finish second, the best position available to him.

Another podium followed in Canada. Hamilton beat Alonso off the line to run second over the early laps of the race, but while he could not prevent the Aston Martin from passing him he held close to his long-time rival to claim his third podium over the first eight rounds – the most of anyone behind Alonso and the two Red Bulls at that point in the season.

A tough weekend in Austria was followed up with a morale-boosting home podium at Silverstone. Although he got lucky to jump Oscar Piastri with the Safety Car, then appeared to have Lando Norris vulnerable in front of him for the late restart with soft tyres on his Mercedes, Hamilton could not find a way by the McLaren driver. Still, third was another strong result – even if it proved that Mercedes would now have to fight with the McLarens over the second half of the season.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2023
Hamilton lost his pole position advantage in Hungary
Then, unexpectedly, Hamilton was one pole at the Hungaroring – his first since late in the 2021 season. He couldn’t covert such excellent starting position and fell behind Max Verstappen and both the McLarens at the start. He did eventually catch and pass Piastri but was denied a podium after he was caught by Perez.

A couple of untidy moments in the mid-season – clashing with Perez in the Spa sprint race and driving into Piastri in the Italian Grand Prix – did not reflect best on Hamilton, but in Singapore he was the one who kept a cool head as both he and Russell hunted for victory. When Russell crashed out on the final lap, Hamilton was able to pick up the pieces and come home third, but it was hard not to wonder if Mercedes should have allowed themselves to be beaten by a McLaren.

Later in the season, Mercedes faced renewed competition from their rivals around them. That limited the opportunities to fight for podiums, but in Qatar both he and Russell found themselves closest to Verstappen during grand prix qualifying. Hamilton got the better start of the three, but in his eagerness to challenge Verstappen into turn one he turned in on Russell, taking himself out of the race. Hamilton accepted responsibility for the clash after watching the replays, but it did little to change the fact he had unintentionally ruined one of his team’s best chances of the season.

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He made up for his error the following round at Circuit of the Americas. Over a race weekend where Mercedes were probably at their best all season long, Hamilton was in the top three in all four competitive sessions in Austin, finishing behind Verstappen in both races – and only by two seconds on Sunday after pushing the champion to the finish. Sadly, it all came to nothing as he was disqualified after the race for excessive plank wear, giving him just as much reason for frustration as Qatar.

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Circuit of the Americas, 2023
Hard-fought second place in Austin was all for naught
After two point-less Sundays in a row, Hamilton looked to be in more trouble in Mexico as he began the weekend with an awful feeling with his car. However, he gradually ironed out the handling concerns with each session and moved forward in the race from sixth on the grid, switching to used mediums under the red flag in an aggressive call but making it work for him to pass Charles Leclerc and hold on to an excellent second place.

That was his last podium appearance of the season. As Ferrari began to pressure Mercedes for second in the championship, Mercedes seemed to struggle for speed. A weekend in the doldrums in Interlagos saw Hamilton fade to eighth place after being nailed by Alonso at the early red flag restart. An eventful evening in Las Vegas followed where he was hit by Sainz at the first corner, then suffered a puncture after contact with Piastri before climbing up the order from 17th to be seventh in the final classification.

The final round in Abu Dhabi was one of Hamilton’s weakest of the year. He struggled to keep his W14 happy across the three days, missed Q3, clumsily damaged his front wing after contact with Pierre Gasly and was ninth at the chequered flag – his lowest finish of the year. Hamilton climbed out of the car after the race glad that he would never have to drive that particular car ever again.

Despite the poor result, he had still comfortably secured third in the championship by more than a race win’s worth – and would have by even more had not seen his Austin podium stripped from him. In a season where the competition behind Red Bull had been as intense as it has ever been, finishing as “best of the rest” behind Verstappen and Perez was an achievement in itself – even if it was one that would have meant little to Hamilton. Although it was not Hamilton’s best season in his illustrious career, he had still proven that he was just as elite as ever and why Mercedes would want to keep him on into his forties with a two year contract extension.

Now all Mercedes must do is given him a car over the winter that can allow him to challenge for that eighth title once again.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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80 comments on “2023 Formula 1 driver rankings #5: Lewis Hamilton”

  1. Will, I want you to think this over carefully. And I say this as someone who has always supported whoever is going up against Hamilton for wins and titles.

    There’s zero justification behind Lewis being below Charles and just three places ahead of George, who in race conditions was firmly the number 2 for most of the year.

    Respectfully, this makes no sense.

    1. I agree here. Feels like the last races are weighing to hard here. He had a solid season and was best of the non redbulls.

    2. His second part of the season wasn’t that remarkable (poor in ABU, BRA, QAT, ITA , and even LV, JAP, SNG, NET were just average).
      During that part of the season Charles had only one poor race in the Netherlands.

      I rate Lewis’ capabilities still higher than Charles, but this season Charles performed better overall (IMO).

      PS in a ranking there is little you can deduct from “just three places ahead”; the performance difference can still be massive.

      1. I agree on that last point. There’s a big gap between 3-5 (presumably Leclerc, Norris, Hamilton) and 7-11 (Piastri, Russell, Sainz, Gasly, Ocon).

        You could reasonably flip a few people around in those bunches – for me, Norris/Hamilton and Piastri/Russell/Sainz are all basically tied – but the point is that the gap between 5th and 7th this year was significant.

    3. I’m also surprised by this ranking. Hamilton did way more to maximize on his package. He made fewer mistakes than Charles, so i don’t understand how he would be ranked behind Charles. His efforts was the principle reason why Mercedes finish 2nd in the constructors. This makes no sense.

      1. I agree. The end of the season is where Lewis underperformed, especially in Abu Dhabi, Italy and Spa, but up until that point, his season was significantly better than Leclerc’s. Other than Max, Alonso and Hamilton were the two drivers consistently getting the most out of their car over the entire season. Lando did a great job as well.. but failed to capitalise on some big moments.

        I would rate Leclerc at#5 and Lewis at#4 this year.. with Lando marginally ahead at#3

        1. Yes, I think there was the possibility to rate hamilton ahead of leclerc, norris or even both of them, and if I recall he’s also been seriously underrated in the race-by-race rankings.

          1. “if I recall he’s also been seriously underrated in the race-by-race rankings”

            Iirc, Russell ended up with a higher race-by-race average score than Hamilton. This fact alone indicates Will is seriously under-scoring Hamilton.

        2. https://www.racefans.net/2023/10/10/2023-qatar-grand-prix-weekend-f1-driver-ratings/

          They don’t show for all races, most recent I found is qatar and hamilton is at that point considered the 9th best driver this season, behind russell, and the season is almost over at that point, I think the comments would’ve been outrageous if that made it to these rankings, at least he got a better position than that.

  2. Lewis got to 234 points in 2023 vs 240 points in 2022. In 2022 he finished 2nd in a race 5 times vs 3 times in 2023. That is a bit backwards when there is reason to label the car being better in 2023 since he could get a pole once and had 4 fastest laps (vs 2 in 2022) with it. He did get to the second place in the standings overall, which probably explains why he is a bit high in this years Racefans ranking. Personally I think his 2nd place in the standings needs to be also seen taking into account the underperformance of Ferrari and especially that of Perez. So these circumstances flattered his performance a bit. Interesting to see where it goes from here. Will he be an Alonso or a Vettel in the twilight of his career?

    1. You keep repeating he finished 2nd in the standings when he actually finished 3rd.

      1. Yes, was thinking the same, he’s been fighting for 2nd but in the end red bull was just too strong for that.

      2. My bad, 3rd.

    2. And I think it’s more likely he will be an alonso than vettel in his last f1 years, but I think he’s in the middle of the 2 in terms of staying motivated when the car isn’t that good\when he’s not as hungry.

  3. I’m quite surprised how low this ranking is. I appreciate Norris and Leclerc drove well in stages but both made some fairly poor mistakes. Lewis wasn’t faultless but he’s had the measure of George for the majority of the year, and I’d certainly have rated Russell as the best of the 3 team-mates going into this season.

    Russell and Hamilton are too close on this ranking for me – Russell finished ahead 3 times in the final 17 rounds. Qualifying pace aside that is a big gap for drivers rated 5th and 8th. Of those 3 finishes ahead, Austria I felt Hamilton was poor but only 7 tenths behind in the GP, Italy where Lewis was untidy all-round and Abu Dhabi, where Lewis was very poor. In the 4 rounds where one driver didn’t finish, Hamilton was ahead in Canada, Brazil too. Hamilton was disqualified from 2nd in the US. Qatar was 100% Lewis’ fault, there’s no getting away from that and it’s another example of his diminishing ability to race wheel to wheel.

    During the mid season rankings, Hamilton was 3rd and I argued with numerous posters who believed he should have been 2nd. I argued that couldn’t be possible given in his opening 5 rounds he was out qualified 4 times and finished behind in 2 with Russell retiring ahead in Melbourne. I’m not sure his performance has dropped off enough to drop 2 ranking places given that dominance over his team-mate and special results like pole in Hungary. I don’t think there were as many points dropped by Hamilton as there were by Norris and Leclerc – I think Hamilton did a solid job this year.

    1. But his overall performance was less than in 2022 in terms of podiums and total points. And Russell is no Rosberg yet in terms of consistency. Plus the fact Lewis comes with quite some expectations, being a 7* WDC. So from my perspective there is no reason to rank him higher.

      1. Plus the fact Lewis comes with quite some expectations, being a 7* WDC.

        Experience, expectation, previous performances, nor rookie-status should impact a driver performance rating/ranking.
        I find it incorrect to rate one racer higher only because we expected less of him; Stroll might top the rating for many commenters ;)

        1. I would disagree – if Piastri and Norris got exactly the same results I would rate Piastri higher than Norris simply because it is more impressive for a rookie or someone with less experience to get the same results as a more experienced teammate.

          Same applies for Lewis, except for Alonso, Lewis is the most experienced driver and for sure the most experienced driver in a competitive car and top team.

          Experience should definitely be factor in the ranking whereby driver errors/accidents/sub par performance should punish a very experienced F1 driver more than it should a rookie.

          1. if Piastri and Norris got exactly the same results

            If there is a forced ranking (no ex aequo), then I’d agree with you to use experience as a tie braker.

            In stats though, I’d go with pure performance (in this case of the driver) rather than including experience.
            If I run the 100m in 20s, I don’t expect to be ranked a better sprinter than Bolt, only because I’m less experienced.

      2. I’m not sure about that. In the first 9 rounds of 2022, Russell finished ahead in 8 with 3 podiums to Hamilton’s 1, 99 points to Lewis’ 61. Obviously Mercedes had a lot of issues at the start of last year and in the second half of the season Lewis beat George convincing but his first half was poor by almost any measure. Russell won in Brazil too.

        With regard to more podiums, Mercedes was clearly 3rd best last season, this year with Aston and McLaren they weren’t. Merc had 17 podiums, LH with 9, 8 for GR, this season 8 with Lewis scoring 6 to 2. That’s a much more complete performance this year than last.

        Obviously expectations play a part in any ranking but I think Lewis conceded less points and made fewer errors than CL or LN. I can’t really think of many occasions where he could have had much, much better results than he did and I think that should be the basis of the expectation.

        1. Eh, lewis hasn’t been known to come out swinging for the fences in the opening rounds has he? I mean even during the domination era bottas had better opening rounds.
          I’m not disagreeing with you or saying you’re wrong or justifying lewis’ performance. I guess I’m saying it’s a feature not a flaw. He’s always needed higher stakes to perform no?

          1. Yeah I agree in general although I think there’s a few caveats. In 2007, he had something to prove so was obviously on fire. In the Merc years with the new car in 2014 he was outstanding 4 wins from first 5, 1 DNF. 2015 again fairly strong 3 wins 2 second places. I think he was victim of his own success in a way in 2015. Between Belgium 14 and US 15 there were 23 races which he won 16 so he relaxed into the end of 15 with the title wrapped up and a new reg change for 17 guaranteeing a Merc champion in 2016. However that allowed Rosberg to win 7 in a row and Lewis started 2016 with 4 defeats and a DNF. I think that cost him the title.

            Since then I think he’s started seasons fairly well, I think the contrast is that his teammate is typically closer at the start of the year like Perez this year. 4 podiums from 5 races in 17 and 18, 3 wins 5 podiums in 19 and 3 wins 4 podiums in 20 and 21. So I thinks there’s a perception he starts slowly which is based on 2016 and 2017 which are more the exception than the rule. 2022 seems a real outlier but with new rules, the first time not fighting for a title in a decade and AD 21 hanging over him, I wasn’t surprised.

        2. in 2022 Hamilton was chef test driver before he was an out right racer. Mercedes had his car hooked up to additional sensors to get a handle on their poor correlation to the simulations. Russell was only driving for himself, plus he got a few lucky breaks with safety cars and strategy calls. 2023 was different and we saw the results.

          1. Also in 2022 Mercedes only win, and Russell’s first was aided in no small part by Hamilton wingman efforts against a charging Verstappen in Brazil.

            Had the tables been reversed and Russell was driving as wingman, it very likely Verstappen would have caught and over taken the leader.

            I wont mention Russell red-flagging the qualifications with a crash before Hamilton’s second run. [Anything like this again is to be penalized according to recent reports]

      3. The reason for having scored lower points in 2023 than in 2022 is obvious. In 2022, Mercedes had a string of succesful races especially in the second half of the season. They and Hamilton were in contention for victory in Silverstone (if not for SC, true mainly thanks to VER floor damage), Hungary (though allowed by VER spin), Netherlands, US (thanks to botched RB pit stop for VER) and Brasil.

        This year there was often a well placed second car behind Red Bull to prevent this. In the first half it was Aston Martin, in the second it was Mclaren. Plus Ferrari was on the occassion a team to challenge Red Bull – namely in Baku, Italy, Singapore and Las Vegas (maybe I missed something).

        Mercedes had only glimpse moments of this in 2023. The initial phase of Australian GP, the Spain where they were clearly the second team but too far behind Red Bull unlike in 2022, and that basically is it. They were second car again in US, Mexico like in 2022. Mercedes was also decent in Singapore, but Ferrari were quicker on one lap pace. During the race the opportunity case only thanks to VSC, otherwise Sainz was just managing it.

        On many races Mercedes were the 3rd or 4th quickest and rarely the 2nd, which explains the decifit in podiums and points to their 2022 tally. Bahrain (4th), Saudi (3rd), Azerbaijan (4th), Miami (3rd), Monaco (4th-5th), Austria (5th), Silverstone (3rd-4th but lucky with SC timing/strategy), Hungary (3rd), Belgium (3rd), Netherlands (3rd-4th), Italy (3rd), Japan (3rd), Brasil (4th at best), Vegas (3rd at best), Abu Dhabi (3rd).

        On reflection that is a very poor showing for Mercedes who can thank both drivers for putting that car to the second in WCC. The both drivers made driver errors (Canada, Singapore, Qatar), but othewise got maximum out of the car, which is not reflected in the Drivers rankings on this site.

        1. Yeah I forgot France 2022 which is not on the calendar now, but Mercedes was competitive there as well (though, so was Ferrari until Leclerc binned it to the wall).

        2. I too wondered, reading this ranking (and thinking of Russell’s too), whether perhaps both were ranked too low due to taking on some of the burden of the car being comparatively weaker since they went wrong with their concept, and unlike McLaren where it was obvious and development was switched early enough that the drivers could profit (and have the poor early season car credited in their ranking), these two had no such luck.

      4. That’s a very flawed way of looking at it. In 2022 there were only 3 teams fighting for podiums, while in 2023 there were 5 teams. This year, points were much harder to come by for both Mercedes and Ferrari. Hamilton scored less points than last year, but comparing it to the other drivers from Merc/Ferrari, it actually looks a lot more favorable:

        2022 2023
        HAM 240 234 -2,5%
        RUS 275 175 -36,4%
        LEC 308 206 -33,1%
        SAI 246 200 -18,7%

        1. Fair point

      5. If the argument is that the overall performance was worse, because he scores 8 points less in the season, the correct conclusion would be that McLaren and Aston Martin have made a serious step up, stealing away points from the big boys Mercedes and McLaren. And this has NOTHING to do with Hamilton’s performance this year.

        1. big boys mercedes & ferrari, sorry. Should’ve proof read

  4. Hamilton is held to higher standards, has been compared to or if not heralded the goat on numerous occasions and this will follow him during and at the end of his career.

    Mercedes have given him 2 terrible cars, however going from great cars to terrible ones isn’t an easy thing to deal with clearly and that can be seen across history. (Meaning other drivers)

    With all things considered being 3rd in the rankings is pretty good considering what the current situation is. Overall fifth, I’m trying to think of a driver that performed better (apart from the obvious) then again not sure what metrics are being used here.

    1. “Mercedes have given him 2 terrible cars”.

      Very much disagree – Lewis in 2022 and 2023 had a competitive car just not for the championships. Both years he had opportunities to win a race but failed to do so.

      A terrible car would be a car that finishes 7th-10th in WCC – any car that finishes top 3 in WCC is a good and competitive car. Lewis has never driven F1 cars that didn’t finish top 3 so to him it might feel as a terrible car but if was put in the Alfa or Haas he would beg to be allowed to drive the Mercedes again.

      1. The Merc hasn’t been a particularly great or consistent car for the last couple years, making it “terrible” compared to the 2021 car.
        the 2014 Red Bull is very much in the same boat, technically not a bad car as it was 2nd in the constructors but not a patch on the 2010-2013 cars and Vettel couldn’t do with it what he could previously.

      2. Coulthard recently drove the RB19, and his opinion was that while the speed wasn’t brain melting, it was a very reliable and stable car to drive, with amazing grip.

        Everything Russell and Hamilton have said about the Mercedes W13 and W14 was that they were terrible, unpredictable, cars to drive, with the handling changing from one set of tires to the next, sometimes dramatically. Changes that one weekend made the car 0.1 seconds faster, the next weekend made it slower.

        So, yeah– a terrible car. Probably 3rd or 4th fastest overall, but consistently putting in better results due to the team being very good at optimizing it (Sprint weekends, which left the team less time to optimize the car, were frequently the worst weekends for Mercedes), and the drivers, particularly Lewis, being able to wring just a little bit more out of the chassis.

        While it’s not possible to get more than 100% out of a car, I think Lewis was able to get closer to 100% than Russell.

      3. no, he really had no opportunity to win this year, except if you count pre-disqualification when Max let up to make it seem like Lewis had a shot at COTA. no, RBR owned all but one circuit in 2023, and singapore was clearly Ferrari domination by one Carlos Sainz. Really, Merc’s car is zero match for RBR, down the straight it was destroyed by RBR, in the corners, off the corner, it was no match for RBR at any time except for Singapore which is becoming sus as to why RBR refuse to win there.

  5. Seems the rating has quite strong recency bias. Plus the fact that Sainz got ranked very lower.

    My guess is Lec would be ranked very high in this ranking.

  6. As expected. Watch the number of comments on this post vs the other drivers so far. It’s never actually about driver ratings, it’s about boosting those lower click rates over the winter.

  7. Third best car pretty much all year (Aston Martin, Mclaren and Ferrari all faster at various stages), best of the rest in the championship yet behind 3 other drivers who couldn’t beat him. At least he made top 5 I guess.

    1. Third best car pretty much all year (Aston Martin, Mclaren and Ferrari all faster at various stages)

      When being third behind three different teams in second throughout the season, then at the end you are (on average) 2nd best ;)

      1. McLaren arguably had a faster car for nearly 2/3 of the season. Just the first 8 races were awful. Aston Martin we have no idea why they underperformed mid season but their pace came back at the end, yet none of that poor period were reflected in Alonso’s ratings. Ferrari definitely had a faster car than Mercedes for most of the year and it is their own failings that resulted in them finishing behind Hamilton and Mercedes.

        Pretty sure the stats will reflect that Mercedes were not the second fastest car this year on average, just they delivered the results because they have the best drivers. Aston Martin with a capable second driver should never have finished behind Ferrari and McLaren this year. Mclaren without a rookie in the second seat would also likely have overtaken Mercedes and Ferrari. Ferrari without being Ferrari would have finished second.

        1. Changing the narrative from “ third best car pretty much all year” to McLaren and Ferrari being faster most of the year, and Aston Martin faster than both of them, will indeed move Mercedes down in the pecking order.
          New inputs/assumptions can give you the desired outcome, but that’s not how solid statistics work ;)

          PS I think you initial statement (Mercedes 3rd best most of the season) was wrong.

          1. I think it was correct or if anything underselling them actually having the 4th best car for many races. No narrative change. If you take the average qualifying position metrics alone I’m pretty sure it will be Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes/Mclaren.

            But don’t take my word for it, try Gary Anderson’s review which at least agrees that Ferrari were faster than Mercedes on average over the year in terms of ultimate one lap performance.

          2. I think it was correct or if anything underselling them actually having the 4th best car for many races. No narrative change. If you take the average qualifying position metrics alone I’m pretty sure it will be Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes/Mclaren.

            But don’t take my word for it, try Gary Anderson’s review which at least agrees that Ferrari were faster than Mercedes on average over the year in terms of ultimate one lap performance. (try searching for “gary anderson 2023 f1 verdict”)

          3. Why would I search for another person’s opinion, when I reacted to your comment?

            You stated that Mercedes had the “third best car pretty much all year”; I merely pointed out what the (statistical) consequences are of such an opinion.
            But I see that you have now adjusted your opinion to “them actually having the 4th best car for many races” :P

          4. Is it factually incorrect? None of those statements are mutually exclusive. Did you even watch a race this year?

          5. Is it factually incorrect?

            You seem to have missed your statistics classes.
            Try to calculate the averages of various permutations with Mercedes as ‘third best car pretty much all year’ and Ferrari, AM, McLaren in position two (RBR in position 1). You’ll notice that in almost all cases Mercedes ends up as second best on average.

            I tried to make this clear to you in a lighthearted way (hence the smile emoticon at the end), but it seems you prefer to change the narrative rather than to admit to a consequence that doesn’t support your beliefs.

            PS yes I watched every race, sprint, and quali integrally this season. But again you are changing the subject from the fact that you made a statement in your original post which doesn’t support your desired outcome. How often I watch a race doesn’t change the way logic and statistics work :P

          6. The stats that proved the point were referenced in my earlier post. I proved the point with statistics while you’ve just used straw man arguments and passive aggressive insults to deflect the point. It’s fine that you disagree with me but when I’ve proven the argument I made has merit then either put up your facts to disprove my point or shut up :-). See the smiley face so it’s all friendly.

          7. Third best car pretty much all year (Aston Martin, Mclaren and Ferrari all faster at various stages)

            When being third behind three different teams in second throughout the season, then at the end you are (on average) 2nd best ;)

            Read again, and this time try to understand.
            You will never learn, or progress in life, if you are stubbornly ignoring your own mistakes.

  8. This year, no British driver or team won a race.

    That means for the first time since 1952 God Save the Queen or King was not blasted out of the speaker-system at the end of a grand prix weekend.

  9. There were significant fluctuations in the qualifying performances of the Mercedes drivers due to the difficulty that the car has with getting into the optimal tyre temperature window, but really I think I would rank Hamilton higher based on reputation. We know that George Russell is a brilliant driver because of his visibly perfect laps in the Williams, and that extraordinary drive when called up to Mercedes in Sakhir 2020. We know Lewis Hamilton is a brilliant driver because he has won seven world championships, and beaten Fernando Alonso in the same car as a rookie. It seems more likely to me that the car is slightly worse than the drivers make it look and Hamilton beating Russell so comprehensively is a sign that he really had a great season, rather than Russell having a bad one.

    Similarly, Charles Leclerc beat Sebastian Vettel in his first season with a top team, then destroyed him in the second, and Max Verstappen and Lando Norris have both absolutely destroyed good teammates in the same car. Yet Carlos Sainz has been close to all three when they were teammates (and ahead of a less experienced Norris). Whereas Alex Albon’s 2020 season was worse than Perez’s 2023, his gap to Kvyat in 2019 was far less than Gasly’s, and he has since only beaten two poor teammates. And Fernando Alonso did look to be having a better season than last year but the fact that he wasn’t that much better than Esteban Ocon then makes me question how much the Aston Martin is flattering him. I would therefore suggest that the Aston Martin and Williams are better cars than we have been led to believe, while the Ferrari and Mercedes are worse cars. That is why I would rank them in the order:
    1. Max Verstappen
    2. Lando Norris
    3. Lewis Hamilton
    4. Fernando Alonso
    5. Charles Leclerc
    6. George Russell
    7. Carlos Sainz
    8. Alexander Albon
    9. Esteban Ocon
    10. Pierre Gasly
    11. Oscar Piastri

    Obviously, drivers’ form can change season to season which is why Albon is still in the top ten because he is better now than he was in 2020. You can tell he is far more consistent and got the best out of the car more often, even if I suspect he was missing a few tenths that Russell could get out of the car. Meanwhile, Perez was on par with Ocon when they were teammates but clearly had a worse season this year than in his Force India days so is nowhere near the top ten. I also suspect that, at 42, Alonso is missing a few tenths that Norris or Hamilton or Leclerc could get out of the car, but I still rated him higher than Leclerc as he made fewer mistakes and had fewer terrible weekends, which means his 2023 season is better even if I would overall rate Leclerc the better driver at this point in their careers. I may have underrated Oscar Piastri as he was definitely closer to Norris in qualifying than Daniel Ricciardo was, but his race pace didn’t impress me so much and he often ended up a long way behind his teammate. I think he will get there and be one of the best on the grid in the future, but I don’t think his first season was worthy of a place in the top ten.

    1. How is HAM above ALO?
      HAM is 5th best. MAX, ALO, NOR, LEC are better

      1. Frog explained in the post. They decided before the season even started that Russell is brilliant, Hamilton is even more brilliant, Albon is worse than Perez, and Alonso is only a bit better than Ocon. Then they’ve made rankings that reflect those pre-season perceptions rather than actual performance.

        1. You need some kind of pre-season perceptions to judge rankings because if you just look at 2023 in isolation, you have absolutely no idea how good the cars are.

      2. I would even go a bit further tbh. My top 10 is VER, ALO, NOR, LEC, SAI, PIA, ALB, HAM, RUS, GAS. But the Mercedes guys for some reason are always a bit favoured in the rankings. Doesn’t matter, apart from VER & ALO there are arguments to swap them a bit around depending on the narrative angle. I guess it is understandable people’s view differ.

    2. Max entertainment? i think not.

  10. Maybe Alonso did better over the entire season, even if his shine faded a bit midway through, but Norris and Leclerc as well? That seems like a bit of a stretch.

    Hamilton had the car to win in Singapore and messed it up in qualifying, but he was on the whole very strong.

  11. Then, unexpectedly, Hamilton was one pole at the Hungaroring – his first since late in the 2021 season. He couldn’t covert such excellent starting position and fell behind Max Verstappen and both the McLarens at the start. He did eventually catch and pass Piastri but was denied a podium after he was caught by Perez.

    Will, it was never his race to win and we both know that. We both know it would have taken an intervention outside Hamilton’s racing abilities to convert that pole that even YOU admitted to be unexpected into a win. The odds were still in Max’s favor. Yet it’s written like this very expected outcome is an indictment on Hamilton.
    It’s like you decided on 5th then wrote to justify it.

    If the rankings end with Charles -> Alonso -> Norris -> Max
    Whatever is left of your journalistic integrity and cache is dead with me but hey, at least you got what you wanted, this article will easily break the three digit comment count mark!

    1. It’s like you decided on 5th then wrote to justify it

      If that was really Will’s intent – to justify a predetermined rank – then he failed.
      Everyone seems to agree that the rank is wrong, and the very first comment, from an anti-Hamilton fan (by his own admission) says that.
      I saw the ranking, read the text and couldn’t figure out how the text justified the number.

      Still, such things are worth the paper they are written on at best, and this isn’t on paper.

      1. never said his justification attempt was well received, just that his (ulterior) intent was clear.
        and by golly looks like Will is prepared to run this crusade

        It may not be on paper, but the immortality of the internet means this…whatever this…is will haunt us all and live on past our years.
        I’m just gobsmacked at the intention of it all.


  12. I don’t understand how Fernando Alonso would end up having a better rank than Lewis Hamilton. Fernando inherited & started the year with a better car, some dubbed the 3rd Red Bull on the grid. It took a turnaround by Mercedes, Ferrari & McLaren to overhaul Aston Martin, which was surely massively aided by their drivers feedback & ability to extract the maximum out of it. I just fail to see what criteria led to determine that Fernando was a better driver than Lewis in 2023. At worst, they’d would be on par in my view.

    1. Also some of Alonso’s strategy calls to ‘go long’ turned out be poor decisions, and that was all down to him. Despite providing us with the entertainment of watching an ‘oldie’ racing, he certainly did not get as many points as he could have.

      If these rankings are based on a perceived ‘entertainment value’, then RaceFans should say so. It will be interesting now to see if Verstappen makes it to 1st, based on that criteria.

      1. Alonso has, historically, overrated his ability to maximize tire life. I’ve always considered his one-lap performance to be a bit questionable (It’s improved in recent years, though). Where he stands out is the ability to be absolutely relentless on Sunday. This can be a bit hard on the tires, though.

      2. Now that you raise this point, perhaps indeed there is an ‘entertainment value’ which could be judged by the number of clicks received when Alonso is on the headline of a Racefans article. Alonso certainly has had some great clawbacks in races after qualifying lowly. Dutch & Brazil come to mind, which certainly make great headlines compared to those that regularly qualify in the Top 6, where the race pace differential to the cars in front is less.
        LH’s quali performance took a dive towards the end of the season, not getting past Q2 – this is something hard to explain and something LH had prophesized. I wonder if he had some 2024 development parts on the car that were being tested out, which GR didn’t but allowed for gaining benchmarking results.
        Alonso is a great racer, no doubt at all. He’s proving that 40s is the new 20s. Kudos to him. But that in itself is no reason to rank him ahead of LH. LH is also above 40.

    2. Fernando Alonso had an excellent season. He maximised every opportunity of the car, excepting one or two races. I don’t think the Silverstone team, in any guise (as Jordan or Force India) have ever had such success with eight podiums. Even when the team lost form mid season, he doggedly dragged that car into the points almost every race – and let’s be clear, mid-season, the Aston Martin was sometimes only the 5th or even 6th best car on occasions.

  13. Yes seems about right.

    Hamilton threw away races and was off pace multiple times. Far less consistent and had no memorable race with significant peak.

    Leclerc’s season with his bad luck got rated appropriately. Alonso didn’t have any weekend where he threw away a race or tangled with multiple drivers like Hamilton. He delivered also under treacherous conditions at Zandvoort while Hamilton went off during the final rain phase and got saved by a red flag.

    For me the top 2 have been Verstappen Alonso.

    Norris I find it hard to judge because like Hamilton he failed to take his chances. At least Hamilton has a track record for winning but Norris was outqualified by his teammate post summer break. His race pace carries him for now.

    I would agree putting Verstappen in his own league, then Alonso below him in his own league and then cluster Norris, Leclerc and Hamilton all in one bucket and then let people argue who’s better.

    Personally I would go, Ver, Alo, Lec, Ham, Nor as I think Nor bottles too many chances.

    1. Alonso was awful and mistake prone in races such as Spain and Singapore. Alonso spun in multiple other races and was fairly anonymous when the AM lost a bit of pace. At least Lewis bagged a pole (unlike Alonso) and was the only driver to seriously challenge the dominant RB for P2 in the standings.

      1. Alonso was poor at Spain, he had suspension damage at Singapore but never dropped the ball when the car was decent. Hamilton potentially threw away a win at Qatar by crashing into his own teammate. Hamilton got passed by Tsunoda while driving with fresher rubber at AD in the last lap while his teammate scored a podium, drove into multiple cars and I can go own.

        I’m sure if I give a season long breakdown you probably won’t handle it so ill pass that one.

        Hamilton “seriously” didn’t do Jack. He finished 51 points behind Perez and never challenged anybody.

        Yeah what a fantastic pole position to fourth place that was. Yet another race where he didn’t maximize his car given the pace in the second stint. All he had to do was not focus only on Verstappen and at least retain P2 and would have easily gotten P2.

        Hamilton’s 2023 season is seriously not a good one. Alonso’s was better in terms of consistency and in terms of minimzing significant errors.

        Hamilton belongs in the same tier of Leclerc and Norris. The former made errors much like Hamilton and the latter while not as error prone is fantastic at bottling when it matters.

        1. In Singapore Alonso made silly mistakes, such as picking up a penalty at pit entry, running wide.

          Overall, Alonso made loads of other mistakes during the season and seemed to spin every other race. And he disappeared when AM lost some pace. For me, 2023 wasn’t a quality year for Alonso. I think there’s a lot of recency bias with Alonso, because he finished the season on a high. For me, Hamilton being in contention for P2 until the penultimate race was a far more noteworthy achievement.

  14. This website has a perpetual anti-Hamilton slant so this ranking is not a surprise. He’s probably very upset about it, almost inconsolable.

  15. Fair ranking, Leclerc, Norris and Alonso got more out of their car, Max in another league of course.
    Russel is ranked too high though, Hamilton clearly outperformed him this season in contrast to 2022.

    1. All indications show Ferrari was the 2nd quickest car yet Charles finished P5 in the standings…so i certainly would debate Charles or even Alonso getting more out the car.

  16. The ratings here have ALWAYS been wrong. Get someone who watches the races to do the ratings

  17. I would’ve put Hamilton P2. 3rd quickest car yet only driver to seriously challenge the dominant RB for P2.

  18. Although 2023 proved about as fruitless for Mercedes as the previous season, Hamilton was once again one of the more consistently impressive performers on the grid.

    Also racefans : LH average driver rating of 6.0 (or 5.9 they gave up in the last races)

    You can at least try to sell us a believable story here. This is just wildly contradiction your own logics.

    1. He is in the top 25 percent of all drivers. That’s well above average and definitely impressive given only 20 drivers drive these cars 👏 👏

  19. More than RaceFans, this reads like a F4nB0yz article. Everything is shown in the best possible light, and the many egregious mistakes are glossed over or directly ignored.

    giving him just as much reason for frustration as Qatar.

    Is this all you have to say about Qatar, Will? Would it have k1ll3d you to write that your hero drove into their teammate at T1?
    Just compare the tone with the one on Carlos Sainz where everything is narrated in the worst possible way for the driver.
    Myself, I would have chosen Carlos over your worshipped one every inch of the way. The one thing Carlos did not do so well was crossing the live track on foot

  20. Its nice to see the old fox in the last years of his career still scoring in the top 10.

  21. Will Wood blatantly doesn’t like people of colour….no other reason for this.

  22. Way too much credit for a 7* WDC. Imho the list is 1. VER, 2. ALO, 3. NOR. No argues there with 99% of the public. And then 4. LEC, 5. SAI, 6. PIA. Also hard to argue otherwise, probably 80% agrees. Followed by 7. ALB, 8. HAM, 9 RUS and 10. GAS. It is hard to argue Lewis did better than Albon this year given the team & material at his disposal and the goat status the UK attributed to him.

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