Summer Break already? Let’s see how the drivers have been holding up according to the Mathematical Model. This is the first post that uses a modified model that differentiates between different types of DNF, giving a driver compensation for mechanical gremlins. This makes minimal difference to the rankings though, given how rare DNFs are in modern F1.
Whilst it’s tempting to give myself a little pat on the back for nailing the Red Bull and Ferrari predictions thus far, they’re pretty reflective of the percentages from previous years. Some may be surprised at Pérez seemingly delivering expectations this year, but this result is a combination of factors. Firstly, it incorporates the whole 2023 season, including Perez’s strong first few races. Secondly, it wasn’t known at the time how competitive the cars would be, and given how strong the Red Bull is the model would expect Pérez to be closer to Verstappen’s points haul.
The model also predicted Alonso to easily beat Stroll, but significantly underestimated the difference so far despite their Aston Martin being car competitive (and therefore theoretically more likely to score a more even distribution).
At Mercedes Hamilton has reasserted himself as a clear team leader this year, which is something the model did not predict.
It’s much harder to make predictions on percentages of points scored in lower midfield teams, as the result can swing wildly from just one result. However, thus far we can see the model has correctly predicted Bottas and Zhou being significantly closer than whilst year, along with Hülkenberg being the stronger Haas driver. The Alpine prediction has thus far been totally wrong, with Ocon out scoring Gasly.
20) Logan Sargeant, 53%
Although he has the excuse of being a rookie, Sargeant is the only driver to be beaten 12-0 by his teammate in qualifying this year. He’s also the only one (who’s competed in every qualifying) never to reach Q3 and the only driver in every race that’s yet to score.
Whilst the Williams car has not been competitive, the team are in an intense battle with Haas and Alpha Romeo for 7th in the constructors championship, and they will be hoping for modest gains by Sargeant in the season’s second half that will allow him to compete for points when they’re on offer.
19) Lance Stroll, 54%
Whilst Stroll’s place on the grid is seemingly assured, he’s rarely been able to show what a competitive car the Aston Martin has been at times.
There was initial praise in how he battled through injury at the season opener, but since then the excuses have faded and there’s been little regular sign of improvement. Few would have expected Stroll to match Alonso, but the model predicted this to be the most one sided lineup it could predict for 2023, and Stroll has so far not even hit that level.
18) Nick de Vries, 61%
Rookie F1 drivers are often given 2 full seasons to assess their potential, even within the Junior Red Bull team. Whilst de Vries was given just half a season, the model thinks this his efforts weren’t as disastrous as a midseason switch implies.
The headline stats point to a driver with no points and trailing his teammate. A closer look also reveals some significant errors. However, being a rookie in modern F1 is notoriously difficult (Zhou, Mazepin, Schumacher and Tsunoda all formed the back end of seasonal driver ratings in their rookie years), and his score is virtually equal to the two drivers above him.
Was his dismissal grossly unfair or just the business of Formula 1? The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but much of the answer depends on the specifics of what he was told when he joined the team. His role in the team always seemed like an awkward stop-gap, being outside of the Red Bull program and only debuting in his late 20s. Given this, it shouldn’t be too surprising to see him elbowed aside for “one of their own”, even if it happened significantly quicker than expected.
17) Kevin Magnussen, 61%
After the heroics of last year (including Haas’ first ever pole position), Magnussen has generally been outclassed by teammate Hülkenberg, particularly in qualifying, where he is currently 9-3 down. His forth on the grid in Miami is an obvious highlight, with a hard earnt point his reward come race day.
16) Zhou Guanyu, 62%
After being heavily outscored by Bottas in 2022, the model predicted Zhou to be trailing again, albeit by a smaller margin. His results thus far in 2023 are in line with this, but the points balance could shift significantly at any time.
Zhou’s obvious peak was the Q3 lap at Silverstone was wonderful, qualifying fifth in a car that has struggled to score points all year. Of course it was undone on race day with an anti stall start followed immediately by an entirely avoidable incident.
15) Valterri Bottas, 64%
Eighth place in the opening round appeared to be a false dawn, with the team subsequently struggling to score points. The result also indicates how it takes time for the model to form realistic opinions (you can see Bottas’ initial high peak before returning to a much more expected value).
The gap to teammate Zhou is small, but currently Bottas still has the edge in both qualifying (8-4) and points (5-4).
14) Sergio Pérez, 70%
In the first 5 Grand Prix Pérez secured two poles, two wins and two second places. At this point the model ranked him 10th, with only a messy Australian GP preventing him from being higher. His loss of form has been well documented, despite some signs of a recovery across the last couple of GP weekends.
Whilst Pérez sits second in the championship behind only Max, if points were based solely on qualifying he’d currently be in down in sixth place. Despite legitimate challenger from other teams in qualifying, Red Bull have still clearly been the fastest car and Pérez grid slots have too often disappointed after the strong opening rounds.
13) Pierre Gasly, 74%
A frustrating half season for the Frenchman, although he can at least be thankful he’s not driving at AlphaTauri. Seven points finishes in a car that’s regularly only good enough to be on the cusp of points is probably about right, with his 3rd place in the Spa Sprint Race a reminder of what he can do. However, Alpine as a whole have slipped back this year, and haven’t always made the most of opportunities when they do arrive.
12) Yuki Tsunoda, 79%
Comparisons with de Vries initially make Tsunoda look very good, but Red Bull’s reaction (firing de Vries and hiring Ricciardo as a thinly veiled test for a Red Bull seat) suggest the team are still not blown away by his contributions. Still, Yuki has continued to develop with experience and delivered some solid drives in a poor car. So far he’s delivered all of the team’s three points.
Comparisons with the returning Ricciardo have been a mixed bag so far, and it somewhat feels like he can’t win whatever the result: Even if he outpaces Ricciardo over the rest of the season, the likely narrative will be on the Australian’s underperformance.
11) Alex Albon, 79%
Similar to last year against Latifi, Albon has had a clear advantage against new teammate Sargeant. He’s also shown the ability to capitalise on points scoring opportunities when the team is semi-competitive (typically at faster tracks). Perhaps more than any other other team, Albon is the clear team leader at Williams and is still performing to the team’s expectations.
His slow and steady rise in the standings this year is largely due to Verstappen’s strong performances (his only former teammate still on the grid)
10) Nico Hülkenberg, 80%
Hülkenberg’s return has been a quiet success story of the season, with the German driver fully justfying the team choosing him over 2022 driver Schumacher. He’s generally been the quicker Haas driver, with six Q3 appearances including an incredible second place in Canada. The nature of the car has rarely seen him translate these results into points, with both Haas drivers slipping back on race days. However, the team will be satisfied with his performances so far.
9) George Russell, 85%
Whilst Russell has shown his searing pace on occasion this year, the season has definitely been one of ups and downs. Just a single podium (to his teammate’s four), two DNFs and four failures to reach Q3 for the GP suggest he’s been unable to consistently get the results the car deserves (although of course Hamilton is a tough teammate to compare to).
he Hungarian Grand Prix felt like a microcosm of his season so far: He stormed through the field with good pace to take 6th, but realistically a podium was on offer if he hadn’t started 18th due to being stuck in traffic in qualifying (which he was not blameless for). Doubtless there’s more to come from Russell after the summer break, and some strong results await if he and the team can begin getting some clean weekends.
8) Esteban Ocon, 89%
A ranking that has benefitted from his phenomenal Monaco podium, Ocon is currently the lead Alpine driver by a healthy margin. Whilst one might expect their performance score to converge to start to converge over the rest of the season, there’s no doubt that he’s has maximised what’s available to him at times in 2023. If he can do this more consistently in the season’s second half, there’s no reason he can’t build on his respectable 8th place.
7) Oscar Piastri, 93%
Given the struggles of rookie drivers in recently, McLaren’s luring of Piastri away from Alpine was a genuine, if calculated, gamble. Nevertheless, he’s repaid the team in spades, arriving in F1 as the best rookie in several years.
Whilst he’s down 10-2 to Norris in GP qualifying, it’s often been by fine margins, and he’s typically been closer to Norris than Ricciardo was able to manage. We’ve also seen few of the rookie errors one might expect.
The points deficit to Norris is still significant (he’s behind 69-34), but this is expected for a rookie, even for one with pace. The Australian has also not always received upgrades at the same time as Norris (which is partly responsible for his slight dip in performance score below).
6) Lewis Hamilton, 100%
Hamilton and Russell were closely matched last year, but it was the younger Brit who scored more points, along with a pole and a win. Whilst the Mercedes is still not a race winning car, Hamilton has been able to avoid some of the pitfalls that have made his teammates campaign more spotty and show a remarkable consistency, scoring in every GP thus far.
His opportunistic pole lap in Hungary was particularly impressive, on a day where both the Red Bull and McLaren were probably theoretically slightly quicker. A contract renewal has not formally been announced yet, but any hold up is certainly not due to a lack of ability or motivation.
5) Fernando Alonso, 104%
Alonso’s early season revival into a regular podium contender was one of the big talking points of the early season. However, the most impressive aspect of his season has been the points gap to teammate Stroll. Indeed, Aston Martin’s campaign looking considerably more mediocre without Alonso’s contributions, falling from six podiums to zero.
Despite the naturally fluctuating competitiveness of the car, Alonso’s consistentcy has also shone through. He’s one of three drivers to score points every weekend, and the only driver for reach Q3 in every race qualifying. Whilst Aston Martin appear to have been leapfrogged by Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren in recent races, Alonso has clung onto 3rd in the championship (for now).
4) Carlos Sainz, 108%
Possibly the biggest surprise of the whole list is how well Sainz is rated. Whilst Ferrari have never shown themselves to be quite at the head of the chasing pack, it’s generally been Leclerc that’s grabbed the headline results. However, Sainz is almost level with his teammate in the championship, in a repeat of their comparisons in previous years.
Sainz’s ability to remain in touching distance (and sometimes ahead) of Leclerc is probably overlooked, although even then many will question whether the model’s conclusion that he has outraced both Alonso and Hamilton this year is correct.
3) Charles Leclerc, 117%
In 2023, Leclerc has continued the trend of having a small but decisive edge over Sainz when it comes to pace more often than not. The car has occasionally been quick in qualifying, with two poles (and 8-4 up on Sainz) reflecting Leclerc’s ability to occasionally pull a rabbit out of the hat. Perhaps more impressive is his three podiums, with some excellent work in keeping the faster Hamilton at bay in Spa.
2) Lando Norris, 119%
Due to his rookie teammate, Norris’ rating has stemmed from previous performances, and there’s a sense that the model probably overrates him a tad given his unexpected thrashing of Ricciardo at McLaren. However, there’s no doubt that he’s been a strong and consistent performer this year.
McLaren’s transformation has been miraculous, with Norris’ 12 points in Austria equaling his season total up to that point. Since then he’s been a regular podium contender, and has fitted into the role seamlessly.
1) Max Verstappen, 126%
No surprises here. Verstappen has continued his domination of the sport from last year, and has an average result of 26 points per Round in 2023 (i.e. on an average weekend he’s done better than “simply” winning the GP). The level of domination is near unprecedented and shows no signs of abating yet.
The gap to Pérez has ebbed and flowed over the season, but Max has never faced a serious challenge this year, and made his competent teammate look outright poor by comparison at times. Whilst rivals drivers are regularly in contention for a pole position, none of them have done so consistently, and Max is a further step ahead in race trim.
A third world championship seems all but inevitable at this point, and would very much be deserved despite the obvious car advantage he’s enjoyed.