In a surprising turn of events, Formula 1’s team principals have overwhelmingly declared Max Verstappen as the best driver on the grid for the 2023 season, breaking tradition by omitting Lewis Hamilton from their top four rankings. Verstappen’s stellar performance throughout the season solidified his position at the summit, with an impressive record of 19 wins from 22 races, 21 podium finishes, 12 pole positions, and nine fastest laps, ultimately securing his third drivers’ title.
Hamilton’s Unusual Ranking:
Despite finishing as the best of the rest in the 2023 season, Hamilton found himself dropping to fifth place in the team principals’ rankings – his lowest-ever position. This unexpected placement comes even though the seven-time world champion secured a third-place finish in the drivers’ standings with 234 points, claiming one pole position, six podiums, and leading the race head-to-head against George Russell with a 17-5 record.
Controversial Rankings and Social Media Backlash:
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella stirred controversy on social media by placing Verstappen, Lando Norris, and Fernando Alonso ahead of the highly decorated Lewis Hamilton during an interview with DAZN Spain. The decision to omit Hamilton from the top four sparked debate among fans and pundits, questioning the criteria used by the team principals in their evaluations.
New Entries and Departures:
The team principals’ rankings also witnessed two new entries for the 2023 season. Oscar Piastri, who had an impressive debut season with McLaren, secured a spot after winning the Qatar Sprint Race and accumulating 97 points. Another addition was Alex Albon, who garnered 27 points and finished 13th in the standings while racing for Williams. The newcomers replaced Sebastian Vettel, who retired at the end of the 2022 season, and Valtteri Bottas, whose challenging second season with Alfa Romeo led to just four points finishes.
Max Verstappen’s unanimous recognition as the best driver of 2023 by Formula 1’s team principals has shifted the narrative, especially with the conspicuous absence of Lewis Hamilton from the top four. As the motorsport community dissects the rankings and debates the unexpected choices, it adds an intriguing layer of discussion to the off-season speculation and anticipation leading into the upcoming Formula 1 season.