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Formula 1 2023 Teams Review, Part 2

It’s time for the second part of Fronstretch’s Formula 1 teams review for 2023.

5th: Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes

Podiums: Eight. Que grande eres Magic.

Where to even begin with this team.

At first, Aston Martin started off as the clear number two to Red Bull. After one bad decision after another, Fernando Alonso looked like he had finally made a brilliant career move. The team’s peak came at the Monaco Grand Prix, in which Alonso qualified and finished second in a race where they were one bad pit call away from actually taking the lead.

But the thing with peaks is, well, they tend to go down after they pass. Aston Martin ended up doing exactly that.

Alonso scored three more podiums in the year, two second places at the Canadian Grand Prix and the Dutch Grand Prix, then a blockbuster third at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix following a duel with Sergio Perez. But new upgrades set the team back compared to their rivals, and they couldn’t figure out why exactly they weren’t working. Only taking them off in the last few races led to decent results to end the year.

The driver difference was very dramatic. Alonso proved he is still one of the very best the sport can offer at age 42, while Lance Stroll struggled mightily. At one point, Stroll failed to score any points in almost three months. He was able to save face with a pair of fifth-place runs late in the season, but by that time, he had been pretty thoroughly exposed.

Entering a contract year and one in which he will turn 43 in July, there will be a lot of eyes to see if Alonso will show any signs of regression. If they can start fast next year and properly upgrade the car, Alonso has a shot at maybe getting that 33rd win.

But big questions will also need to be answered sooner rather than later on how viable Stroll is as an F1 driver. His underperformance throughout the season cost the team at least fourth in constructor points, something unacceptable for any driver whose dad doesn’t own the team.

4th: McLaren Mercedes

Podiums: Nine

McLaren was the opposite side of Aston Martin on the car development coin.

The papaya team rolled out a joke of a car in pre-season testing. In my testing ranking way back when, I put McLaren ninth, only ahead of an AlphaTauri team that was being heavily rumored at the time of being sold off.

Somehow, a fantastic upgrade rolled out at the Austrian Grand Prix midway through the season completely turned the tide. The team hadn’t finished higher than ninth a couple of times outside of a very wacky Australian Grand Prix that was a clear outlier.

Lando Norris finished fourth in the car in Austria, then began a run where Norris finished second five times in eleven races. The car was a rocket ship.

The highlight for the team was Oscar Piastri’s win in the Qatar Sprint. This was the lone Sprint win for a driver not named Max Verstappen, and Piastri was able to hold him off very well in the closing laps.

Piastri performed very well in the closing months of the season, albeit more unlucky at times than Norris. McLaren has a great duo on their hands… as long as they don’t produce too good of a car. Then they might have a giant rivalry in a few year’s time.

3rd: Ferrari

Podiums: Nine

I’ll say it now: if any team has a chance to consistently threaten Red Bull next season, Ferrari may be the horse to put money on.

Four of the team’s nine podiums on the year came in the last few weeks. Had Charles Leclerc not been disqualified at the United States Grand Prix, his last five races would have had all four of them and three second-place finishes. They only had two podium finishes in the first half of the year.

Obviously, the highlight of 2023 for the Tifosi was seeing Carlos Sainz score the lone non-Red Bull race win of the season at the Singapore Grand Prix, expertly holding off Norris and the two Mercedes drivers all the way to the checkered flag.

Outside of that win, however, this year proved that Leclerc is the team leader at Ferrari. Third place in points will get you that. Ferrari’s top priority for 2024 off-the-track will be retaining the Monegasque driver for the foreseeable future.

2nd: Mercedes

Podiums: Eight

Outside of Red Bull, the Silver Arrows were the most consistent of all of the front runners.

There wasn’t a dramatic rise or a dramatic fall. Mercedes was usually the third fastest team on the grid, and that was good enough for second in points due to the dramatic swings the other teams had in their overall performance.

The team finally ditched its no-sidepod car design midway through the year, with performance not really seeming that much different. This was probably deliberate, as they know they have a gap to Red Bull that needs to be cleared and one that may do better with development on the 2024 car.

Lewis Hamilton rose up this season and took the fight to George Russell after Russell’s 2022 performance raised some questions as to whether the king was losing his crown at Mercedes. Hamilton held a 15-7 edge on Russell in race head-to-head, despite an even 11-11 in qualifying head-to-head. Hamilton also had four more podiums and finished second in points.

How Russell’s 2024 response is will be crucial to his Formula 1 future. Underperform again versus Hamilton and he might be on the way out of Mercedes, or at the very least solidified as the dreaded “second driver”.

1st: Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT

Podiums: “lol”

I mean, what else is there to say?

The RB19 is a fantastic race car, but let’s be clear: it was not the most dominant race car in F1 history. At the start of the turbo hybrid era, some of the Mercedes could lap the field almost by default. The Red Bull could probably win with any other driver pairing, but the x-factor had to be Verstappen.

You could count on one hand how many mistakes Verstappen made this season. He has always had pace, but now he can avoid mistakes and also temper himself without making too many risky decisions.

Car and driver broke numerous records this season, capped off with an Abu Dhabi triumph that brought the Dutchman’s career wins to third all-time. Yes, only Hamilton and Michael Schumacher have more career wins now than Verstappen.

And the scariest thing? At age 26, Verstappen might not even have hit his final form yet, especially considering Hamilton and Alonso’s longevity. It is hard to imagine Verstappen not being crowned champion in 2024, and Red Bull would be right there with him in their 20th season in Formula 1.

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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