The 2023 F1 season is over. It's one that will be remembered for the most dominating performance of driver + team in F1's history. Max has racked up a number of records this season:
- Most race wins (19/22)
- Highest win percentage (86.36%)
- Most number of laps lead (1003)
- Most number consecutive wins (10)
- He also matches the #3rd most consecutive wins this season too at 7.
- He won race 5 - 14 and race 16 - 22
- And a good few others..
F1 is ultimately a constructor's championship and as such people always do question how much the driver made the difference. We've always had people question great drivers, like Schumacher, Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen - how much of their success is down to the car?
The answer? Quite a lot. But the difference is - many drivers wouldn't be able to consistently take advantage of the excellent cars they're given as well as those listed above have.
Max's 2023 has been practically faultless, and the minor wobbles he's had, he's been able to take advantage of his superior equipment to make up for those mistakes. He's finished every single racing lap of the season, a feat only achieved by Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher before him.
It's a massive achievement by Red Bull and Max. The most dominant season we've yet, and may ever, see in F1.
and the rest
What of the rest of the grid? Well, it's been said often this year - take Red Bull out of the equation and we'd have probably had a pretty good and competitive season. Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin - at various stages in the season - were all highly competitive with each other.
Despite what looks like probably the most boring season in history on paper, there's still been a decent enough excitement to keep me engaged in the racing going on behind Max Verstappen. My enthusiasm only really began to diminish after the Brazilian GP this year, the third-to-last race.
We had a somewhat interesting battle for P2 in the constructor's championship in the last race of the season, with Mercedes managing to hold on to it by 3 points.
Mercedes in large part carried by the strong and consistent performances of Lewis Hamilton, who retained P3 in the driver's championship - with at one point looking like he could challenge for P2 despite that being currently occupied by one of the two RB19s.
Ferrari managed to get on top of their race-pace struggles and capitalised on their strong qualifying performance (in both their car, and the usually-excellent qualifier of Charles Leclerc, with Carlos Sainz putting in some great laps too) in the late season to come back at Mercedes.
McLaren's leap up the score board thanks to their massive upgrades brought in Austria was hugely impressive, to see where they came from, to at many points being the second fastest car was great to see. We know how good Lando Norris is, and he proved it again once he had a car capable of good results, however with him able to challenge for pole positions and potentially race or sprint race wins, a few mistakes began to creep in. This allowed rookie Oscar Piastri to steal the spotlight a few times, netting his first win (albeit a sprint race win) before Lando.
Oscar's rookie season has been one of the most impressive we've seen in many years, in qualifying especially he was able to hang with Lando and other excellent qualifiers in the grid. His race pace and management seems to be a bit of a weakness, but he's shown big improvement over the season and remains one to look out for in the future.
Aston Martin's incredible start to the season - with a string of P2 and P3 finishes for Alonso, proving the still-incredible talent he posses remains there when given a good car. It seemed like Aston Martin was going to be the story of the season, leap frogging many, including the works Mercedes team was a huge deal. But they were out developed and fell off, with only in the last couple of races them showing signs of a turn around again.
I'll not give summaries on the rest of the teams, mostly because they weren't really the source of much excitement for me, whereas the above teams were. But I have to call out Alex Albon's consistently great performances (P13 in the WDC) in the Williams he has, practically single-handedly carrying his team to P7 in the constructor's championship scoring 27/28 points his team earned. He's the first driver to out-qualify their team mate for every single race since Max Verstappen did it to Alex himself in 2019.
Will 2024 be better? I think there's a good chance it'll be more competitive at the front. Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren were getting closer to Red Bull towards the end of this season - but Red Bull did cease development on this year's car a long time ago, shifting focus to the next car - so who knows, maybe Red Bull can come out with another car to keep these teams at arms length for another year.
I'm still expecting Red Bull and Max Verstappen to win next year but I'm hoping we can have a few more different race winners. With Max's confidence being absolutely bulletproof right now, those wishing to take a win or two of him here and there will need more than just a competitive car.