While some drivers excelled in the F1 2023 season (Max Verstappen, mostly), others did not quite live up to the mark.
The 2024 grid will have a unique distinction in that the season will start with all 20 drivers in exactly the same seats in which they finished the previous year, so things can’t be that bad at least.
That being said, there were a few drivers to go awry in F1 2023, but who do our writers feel missed their potential the most in the season just gone?
Our biggest F1 2023 driver disappointments revealed
Mark: After a very good first season with Mercedes, I was expecting to see George Russell really take the fight to Lewis Hamilton again this year. I’m now left with doubts about whether he really is the driver to spearhead the team when Hamilton decides to call it a day.
I know he didn’t have the best car in the world to help showcase his talent, but Lewis got a whole lot more out of it than he managed to and, by his own admission, George knows this is a season to forget very quickly.
I can’t be disappointed in Sergio Perez because I don’t believe he is capable of winning a World Championship, with or without Max Verstappen in the other car. That’s not to say he is a bad driver, though.
Michelle: The list for this one is long, isn’t it? It pretty much starts at P2 with Sergio Perez and ends with Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries barring a few exceptions.
Perez failed to give Formula 1 fans a title fight, Charles Leclerc couldn’t turn a pole position in a race win, George Russell spent more time whinging than racing, Lance Stroll was, well, Lance Stroll, Valtteri Bottas was too focused on his butt cheeks, Yuki Tsunoda needed Daniel Ricciardo to develop the car, and Sargeant… let’s just leave it that.
All I can say is it can only get better next year. I hope…
Henry: Having seen him excel in other categories and finally get a chance after his supersub appearance at Monza, I can’t be the only one to be disappointed with how Nyck de Vries’ stint panned out.
With the pedigree he has in every other series in which he’s raced, that perhaps placed an unrealistic level of expectation on him, with Red Bull expecting him to lead from the off at AlphaTauri.
Even still, 10 races before replacing him is absolutely brutal, even by Red Bull’s standards, but his deficit to Yuki Tsunoda was ultimately too much in a car that did not inspire confidence in the first half of the year.
Jamie: I have to go with Sergio Perez. Of course, Max Verstappen is an elite level F1 driver, who would have been seriously challenged by very few in the Red Bull RB19 this season, but Perez should at least have been a comfortable second.
The fact that he came under brief threat from Lewis Hamilton in that inconsistent Mercedes, was not a good look for Perez, and even less so was his five-race run of Q3 absences, while spearing into Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, a week after hitting Alex Albon’s Williams, were further unacceptable lows among several F1 2023 capitulations.
An F1 veteran like Perez, who has impressed throughout much of his tenure, should not be falling into such an extreme spiral.
Sam: To break from the norm set by my colleagues, I am going to not say Perez but instead George Russell.
Having impressed at one of Mercedes’ worst times in 2023 and beaten Lewis Hamilton, Russell’s performances have dramatically fallen away this year and he was soundly beaten by his team-mate.
He scored just two podiums this season, the joint lowest of any driver from the top four teams, and failed to find his form throughout the year.
There is also a petulant side to his driving that more people are beginning to take note of.
Thomas: It can only really be Sergio Perez, can’t it? Armed with that car, the machine that’s proven to be the most dominant ever in the entire history of Formula 1, and he managed to make an absolute meal out of finishing second in the Drivers’ Championship.
It all started so well, too – Sergio looked properly quick and assured to win out in the two races he did manage to clinch, but he didn’t come close to matching Verstappen’s performance even once again over the entirety of the remainder of the season.
Being defeated by Max in Miami seemed to absolutely crush Checo’s spirit, to the point where it became quite sad to see as the season unfolded. While Perez steadied himself enough to earn himself a stay on execution, a poor start to 2024 will likely trigger his demise and the promotion of Daniel Ricciardo.
Perez is a better driver than what his 2023 showed but, mentally, he collapsed under the weight of expectation this year.
Oliver: Sergio Perez, whose signing in 2021 was supposed to put an end to the days of the second Red Bull going missing in action.
For all the talk of a Red Bull return for Daniel Ricciardo this time last year, there were only two possible scenarios in which Perez’s place would come under threat in 2023: A) if he suddenly turned into Pierre Gasly or Alex Albon and his performances fell off a cliff, or B) if the underlying tension between him and Verstappen became an issue.
From missing Q3 for five straight races to putting Max on the grass at Red Bull’s home track in Austria, Perez managed to do both in 2023 and will start 2024 under huge scrutiny.
He has played his hand so badly.