F1 preseason driver power rankings
Updated: Mar 12
Welcome to the first edition of the F1 driver power rankings for 2023. Each round the drivers will be ranked based on form and how their respective performances shape up from what we’ve seen and for what is set to come.
These are subjective and based purely on opinion mixed with results. Are they 100 per cent accurate? Inside my mind, yes! Outside of it, no. But it’s a nice way to spark some discussion, showcase some form and allow a conversation that brings F1 fans closer together – and maybe further apart at the same time. Fun right? Always!
There’s not as much to go on for the drivers as there is with the teams – stay tuned for the team rankings tomorrow – and I’m sure this will make for some interesting and unique debate.
So without further ado, I present to you the preseason driver power rankings heading into Round 1 at Bahrain this weekend.
10. Logan Sargeant
Of all the rookies at the Bahrain test, Sargeant looked the most consistent. He put in over 200 laps for Williams and produced the second-fastest lap of the three rookies, although technically it was the fastest if you discount Nyck de Vries given he has started a grand prix before. While Williams look likely to be the slowest team, the fact that Sargeant outpaced his more experienced teammate, Alex Albon, in the same machinery was of note and gives the first American in F1 since 2015 a good start to his Formula 1 career.
9. George Russell
Nothing too much to report from Russell on the overall spectacle front. He completed fewer laps than teammate Lewis Hamilton in testing, was slightly slower and wasn’t too excited about the prospect of where Mercedes will be for the season. But the Briton is always consistent, and that works in his favour heading into his second season with the Silver (or black) Arrows.
8. Zhou Guanyu
There’s a lot of talk around Alfa Romeo and their performance at the Bahrain test, with many claiming it was a bit of showboating to get some attention. But there was something great about seeing Zhou setting the fastest time on Day 2 and giving him a boost of confidence heading into his second F1 season. It will be an important year for the Chinese driver as he aims to keep his seat on the grid, and getting some confidence from the test will definitely help him heading into the opening round of the season.
7. Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton produced the second quickest overall time in the test in what was an up-and-down performance by Mercedes. He seemed somewhat buoyant on the car’s performance, claiming it was a “good platform to work from”, but he also seemed less optimistic about his title chances. It was solid but unspectacular by the seven-time champ, but you can never count him out.
(Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
6. Sergio Perez
Perez set the overall fastest time of the test on the final day, but you just never felt Perez was a match for teammate Max Verstappen across the three days. Most of the talk continues to be around him being a solid number two and that he isn’t in the conversation of championship contenders. On his day he is absolutely amazing, but he’ll need greater consistency to surprise people in what is the best car in the field once again.
5. Valtteri Bottas
Similar words to those I used for Zhou, but Bottas gets elevated slightly for being a tad more consistent as well as for his overall demeanour during the test. He set the third-fastest time overall in a very long run on the final day of testing, and ‘Australia’s second-favourite driver’ is heading into this season looking like a new man. If the Alfa can retain some of its strong preseason form, don’t count him out for a strong showing on race day. A sneaky podium in 2023? Stranger things have happened.
4. Carlos Sainz
It’s very hard to separate the Ferrari drivers heading into 2023. Yes, Charles Leclerc is the one everyone looks at, but with each year that passes with Sainz in red, he gets more and more comfortable in the car and really showcases his talent. If there were a true smoky to look out for in the title race in 2023, it’d be the Spaniard. He has what it takes to compete with the best and has the skill to match it with those around him. But could another Spaniard be in that hunt? Read on.
3. Charles Leclerc
Again, it’s hard to separate the Ferrari drivers, but Leclerc was slightly faster than Sainz during the test so gets this position only just. Were Ferrari sandbagging slightly to avoid the hype they had in 2022? Maybe. But you know that if there is a sniff of a title hunt for the team in red, Leclerc will be the man leading it. Let’s just hope he’s ironed out a few more of those kinks and the reliability is sorted like it seems to be so that all us long-suffering Ferrari fans can finally have something to celebrate.
2. Fernando Alonso
Has Nando finally made a smart team-switching move? It might be the case. If there was one overall star of Bahrain, it was the 41-year-old. The hype around Aston Martin seems to be justified, and there is every chance it could be a team in green, not black, fighting for third in the championship. Ninth overall on the time sheet seems not to be a true place for Alonso and Aston, and all eyes will be on him and the team heading into Round 1 to see if they will live up to the hype and form we saw across the three days in Sakhir.
1. Max Verstappen
The reigning two-time champion ended up only 11th overall on the time sheets after setting the fastest time on the opening day, but the ease with which the Dutchman drove in the test and the confidence he is showing really has put some fear into the F1 paddock that 2022 wasn’t a one-off. Each year he is on the grid, Verstappen matures even more, and given the extent of his powers that have seen him become the best driver in the sport over the last two years, you would be a brave person to bet against another Verstappen championship in 2023. He’s the driver to beat heading into round 1.
What do you think of these rankings? Do you agree with the positions? Has anybody been left out of the top ten? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here