Brazil GP driver ratings: Under-fire drivers show signs of resurrection

Luke Murphy
Brazilian Grand Prix driver ratings, 2023.

The ratings are in from Interlagos as Fernando Alonso just about held onto a podium.

The Red Bull machine powered on in Sao Paulo as Max Verstappen continued to break records, here are our driver ratings for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Driver ratings explained: Every driver starts the weekend slap bang in the middle with a 5/10 rating and we operate on a sliding scale from there. We take the entire weekend into account, not just the race itself.

However, the scores will be weighted more towards a driver’s race performance, but qualifying performances (good or bad) are also factored into our ratings and, in extreme circumstances, practice will also play a minor part in the overall score.

Max Verstappen dealt with potential banana skin moments in Interlagos to come perilously close to another perfect score, with the Dutchman fending off yet more McLaren challenges to take a Sprint and Grand Prix double.

With star performances from Norris and Alonso, under-pressure drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll found some form with strong outings in Sao Paulo.

Max Verstappen 9.5

The World Champion continues to close every potential avenue for defeat in these closing races of the season. With the only blemish on his weekend record being his Sprint qualifying defeat to Norris, the Dutchman quickly made amends by reclaiming the lead at Turn 1 and controlling the Sprint from there.

From pole position, Verstappen executed two superb starts to put himself in prime position to control the race. Only reliability issues, pitstop mistakes or poorly-timed Safety Car deployments could have stopped the Red Bull driver.

Lando Norris 8.5

The McLaren driver was once again frustrated by having an on-form competitor in a fast, reliable car ahead of him in yet another race. The Briton was disappointed with his efforts in Friday qualifying, but made up for it with a Sprint pole and second place.

He made amends for being beaten by both Aston Martins in qualifying by passing them both into Turn 1 of the race, but was unable to make any moves on Verstappen at the second start and opening phase of the race. He now equals Nick Heidfeld’s record of 13 podiums without an F1 win, a stat which will surely become history in the years to come.

Fernando Alonso 9

In a sport where people can have short memories, the Sao Paulo race gave Formula 1 fans a timely reminder of his qualities with a ‘never say die’ performance. Their Sprint day was nothing to shout about, and Alonso wasn’t helped by the bizarre collision with Ocon, but Aston Martin took advantage of the chaotic Friday qualifying to line up on the second row for the race.

Alonso lost out to Norris at the starts, but that was probably a blessing due to the McLaren’s pace, and it allowed Alonso to control his pace give himself the best podium shot. His last lap repass on Perez was finely judged, and Aston Martin now have headaches about their car development failures in recent months.

Sergio Perez 6.5

After a run of poor form, Perez started to look closer to the driver that we saw earlier in the season. His third place in the Sprint was his first top three result since the Italian GP, and he demonstrated pace which was relatively close to Verstappen’s.

However, he was unable to get an important clean lap together in Friday qualifying, and spent the entire race trying to recover from it. Perez made strong starts and, after not being helped by having to pass Hamilton more than once, gradually reeled in Alonso. He looked to have the job done, but perhaps gave Alonso one final chance to reclaim the podium place with an over-defence of Turn 1.

Lance Stroll 6.5

With Aston Martin undoing many of their upgrades for this race, both Alonso and Stroll confidently battled Ferrari and Mercedes to give the team their best points haul for months. The Canadian impressed with an unexpected P3 result in qualifying before Aston Martin’s low-key Sprint day.

After losing out at the start, Stroll fought his way past the Mercedes drivers to place his car pretty much where it needed to be as roughly the third-fastest car this weekend. A long-awaited solid result for one of F1’s most criticised drivers.

Carlos Sainz 5

On a weekend where Mercedes struggled, Ferrari were unable to take the opportunity to make a dent on their P2 Constructors’ Championship position. After finishing behind Leclerc in both qualifying sessions and the Sprint, the Spanish driver looked destined to finish behind again before Leclerc’s formation lap dramas.

Sainz blamed a bin-worthy clutch for poor starts, but he managed to eventually defeat Russell and Hamilton to salvage P6 for Ferrari.

Pierre Gasly 6.5

A strong race for the Alpine driver, who completed a Sprint and GP double victory over teammate Esteban Ocon. Gasly marginally out-qualified and out-raced Ocon in the Sprint, partly thanks to Ocon’s Sprint Shootout crash, although no points were gained on Saturday.

Starting right behind Ocon for the Grand Prix, Gasly survived the Turn 1 dramas and got ahead at the second start, and became the lead ‘midfield’ runner after that. Alpine ended up completing two pit stops with Gasly, and three with Ocon, and the two-stop strategy prevailed in this race.

Lewis Hamilton 5.5

After expecting the Interlagos circuit to present opportunities for the Mercedes team, the Sao Paulo race became one of their worst of the season. After showing respectable one-lap pace, both cars simply fell backwards in the race as they struggled with tyres.

Hamilton struggled much more than Russell in the Sprint and finished several seconds behind his younger teammate, but took the Grand Prix ‘honours’. However, it was not a convincing win over Russell, and some cynics might think Russell was being held back for much of the first half of the race.

Yuki Tsunoda 7

After dropping the ball in Mexico, Tsunoda needed a strong performance to help himself and the team. He duly delivered with a fine Sprint qualifying and race result to edge AlphaTauri ahead of Alfa Romeo in the Constructors’ Championship.

In the main race, Tsunoda’s early off-track moment might have been punished in tighter races with fewer retirements, but it did not seem to affect the main result too much. He conceded that more might have been possible with fewer race issues, which might have drawn AlphaTauri closer to Williams. As things stand, they’re seven points adrift of P7 with two races to go.

Esteban Ocon 4.5

It was a rather anonymous weekend from Alpine, apart from when he collided with Alonso during the Sprint qualifying, which set him up for a low-key Sprint race. He made good starts in the race, but his fortunes were dictated by a three-stop strategy, brought on by high tyre wear. Probably fortunate to salvage a point in a somewhat-attritional race.

Logan Sargeant 5

The American got close to teammate Albon in the Sprint Shootout but, apart from that, once again never really got that close to his pace. Drove a clean race to finish ahead of Hulkenberg, but any points finish would have been down to luck.

Nico Hulkenberg 5

It was a similar story for Hulkenberg. He qualified well, then fell back towards anonymity in the race, although it might have been partly related to damage from the collision with Magnussen and Albon. Tyre degradation troubled them once again, and they looked like the team least likely to score points this weekend.

Daniel Ricciardo 5.5

Both Ricciardo and Tsunoda would have been disappointed to fall at Q1 in qualifying, but the pace improvements in the cars were shown on Saturday and Sunday. With Tsunoda taking points in the Sprint, the Australian just missed out on the final point, and he didn’t really have the opportunity to try again on Sunday. Rear wing damage due to the lap one crash put him one lap down, and that was effectively the end of his race.

Oscar Piastri 4.5

Another driver whose race was effectively over at Turn 1, Piastri didn’t have sufficient opportunity to try and close the gap to teammate Norris in the Grand Prix. The rookie driver couldn’t replicate Norris’ qualifying heroics and, after having a season of impressive performances, has had a rare weekend which shows that he still has a lot to learn. recommends

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George Russell 6

The Mercedes driver made an opportunistic start to the Sprint race to challenge Red Bull and McLaren early on, but Mercedes’ tyre woes quickly became apparent and Russell was forced to focus on holding P4. He became frustrated behind Hamilton as both Mercedes fell back again in the Grand Prix, but it’s hard to envisage him finishing much further up the road as the drivers looked relatively evenly-matched in the race.

Valtteri Bottas 5.5

The Finn had the measure of his teammate all weekend and, after the team finished way behind rivals AlphaTauri in the Sprint, became Alfa Romeo’s leading hope for points after surviving the chaotic start to the Grand Prix. Points were possible until he became the second of the two Alfa cars to retire with technical troubles. A costly weekend for the Swiss-based team.

Zhou Guanyu 4

The second Alfa Romeo driver only really got ahead of his teammate when he pitted first and profited from an undercut, but he seemed unlikely to maintain any kind of challenge to Bottas this weekend.

Kevin Magnussen 5

The Dane took the Sprint honours in the Haas team, including an uncommon qualifying victory over Hulkenberg, but the hero of the 2022 Sao Paulo GP was unable to get close to any Sprint points in 2023. He was edging ahead of Hulkenberg at the start of the Grand Prix, but the tangle with Albon prevented the opportunity to beat his teammate again.

Alex Albon 5.5

It was a difficult weekend for the Williams team, who were already struggling for performance before seeing their lead driver retire on Lap 1. No driver can really be blamed for the opening lap crash, but after that the team were essentially waiting to see how many points AlphaTauri would gain in the race. Albon comfortably outperformed Sargeant again.

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Charles Leclerc 6

The Monégasque had the measure of Sainz in Brazil, but you get the impression that few people at Ferrari will care after their difficult weekend. Ferrari confirmed hydraulics issues for the formation lap spin that removed him from P2 on the grid, but it might have been a tough ask to fend off the likes of Norris, Alonso and Perez for a podium place.

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