Race Weekend Central

Formula 1 2023 Teams Review, Part 1

Now that the season is over, it’s time to both look back at how each team did this year and the outlook of each team for 2024.

Unlike in American-based motorsport like NASCAR and IndyCar, Formula 1 provides a gigantic prize money difference between each position on the grid instead of just the top two or three. Because of that, and how relatively close the field is now compared to just a few years ago, every position matters in this series. Here’s a look at the bottom five teams of 2023:

10th: Haas Ferrari

Best Result: 7th in Australian Grand Prix (Nico Hulkenberg)

This team was such a mixed bag this year.

In some ways, it was the typical Haas season: a fast start and a fast fall as the season went on. The car had speed in qualifying, right down to the bitter end. But they struggled with race pace after strong results very early on.

Team principal Gunther Steiner was correct in his decision to replace Mick Schumacher with Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg only finished in the points once this year, but his nine points outpaced Kevin Magnussen’s three, and Hulkenberg beat Magnussen 13-9 in races and 13-8 in qualifying.

At the same time, however, how correct does Steiner look finishing last in constructors? Schumacher probably doesn’t get as many points as Hulkenberg, but at the same time, does that really matter as much with the team being last? One thing is absolutely certain: Magnussen will be on the hot seat next year. He will have to be more competitive with Hulkenberg if he wants to stay in F1.

9th: Alfa Romeo Ferrari

Best Result: 8th twice (Valtteri Bottas both times)

This was a weird year for this team, as they were basically in limbo with Alfa Romeo’s title sponsorship, meaning they couldn’t really do much on the outside towards moving to become Audi in a couple of years.

The team retained Zhou Guanyu for next year instead of promoting F2 champion Theo Pourchaire from his reserve role. Zhou had several decent runs ruined throughout the season due to bad luck or bad timing, but he still pretty easily lost to Bottas 15-6 in qualifying.

Something will have to give for Zhou this coming season, as the team has invested a lot of money and time in developing Pourchaire- he really needs to start at least being even with Bottas going forward.

8th: AlphaTauri Honda RBPT

Best Result: 7th in Mexico City Grand Prix (Daniel Ricciardo)

Although this was a lame-duck season for the Red Bull junior team, they did not act like it.

After ten races, the team had enough and replaced Nyck de Vries with Ricciardo. De Vries reminded me a lot of when Sebastien Bourdais drove for the team 15 years ago; an accomplished outside series driver who Red Bull brings in, expects little to no transition time with no resources allocated in training them, then get angry when the results did not come in.

Ricciardo didn’t leave a lot of time to impress, as he would hurt himself in a crash in practice at the Dutch Grand Prix and be out for five races. Liam Lawson got the callup to replace Ricciardo and ended up making a show of it. Although the rookie was out-qualified 4-1 by Yuki Tsunoda, he did beat Tsunoda 3-1 in races and even scored a couple of points by finishing ninth at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Tsunoda really stepped up and became the team leader in a year in which he was just about the only consistent thing on the team. He pretty easily beat de Vries, did well against Lawson, then drew fairly even with Ricciardo. His 17 points led the team among all drivers, and alone, it was enough to secure them 8th in constructors.

Things will be very interesting with this team next year. Long time team principal Franz Tost retired following this season, and the team will be undergoing a rebranding. Tsunoda and Ricciardo will now have a full season to battle it out to be the favorite to take the other Red Bull seat in 2025, with Lawson waiting in the wings if either driver completely bombs out like de Vries did this year.

7th: Williams Mercedes

Best Result: 7th twice (Alexander Albon both times)

Albon followed up his breakout 2022 campaign with a 2023 season that established himself once again as one of the brightest young drivers on the F1 grid. The reality is that Albon vastly overperformed his equipment to make up for his rookie teammate’s struggles.

It was not an easy first season for Logan Sargeant, whatsoever. He did not beat Albon in qualifying all year long; he only beat him three times in a race. Sargeant’s highlight was scoring a point at the United States Grand Prix, following the disqualifications of Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton.

If there’s any positive thing to say about Sargeant’s season, it’s that he did get to the point late in the year where he wasn’t causing a safety car every other race, and was able to at least stick with Albon in races rather than be dramatically off the pace. With his new contract in hand, he has got to take a step up next year.

Meanwhile, with so much of the field free for 2025 and beyond, expect Albon to be a major player next year in silly season talks.

6th: Alpine Renault

Best Result: 3rd twice (one by both drivers)

The strangest team on the grid to define โ€“ Alpine has speed to contend for podiums, and they even got a couple this year. But so often, they faded away during the race and had to settle for places just inside the points.

Alpine was effectively the entire midfield this season. Usually, the teams in second to fifth place would struggle on certain track types and fall prey to the Alpine. But they couldn’t break into the clump of cars at any point, who all took turns as the lead threat to Red Bull’s dominance. They also fell prey to Williams and AlphaTauri once in a blue moon.

The driver battle was very evenly matched. Entering it, I had thought Esteban Ocon should be able to beat Pierre Gasly fairly easily as Ocon had been very competitive with Fernando Alonso the last few years. But, no, both drivers were 11-11 to each other in the races. Gasly had a 14-8 qualifying edge to go along with a four-point edge

Alpine has had a leadership problem for many years now. There is no reason why a works team would be nowhere near a championship as Alpine has the last several years; even Ferrari has pretty consistently been in the top three or four teams every year since their last championship.

Losing out on a prospect as bright as Oscar Piastri the way they did last year and the mid-season sacking of Otmar Szafnauer are symptoms of a major organizational problem. One that will be hard to fix.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

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