Christian Horner’s team won 21 of the 22 races, with Verstappen claiming his record-extending 19th victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. It has been a near-faultless campaign, with the team securing their first ever one-two in the drivers’ championship too thanks to Sergio Perez’s runner-up spot.
But what about Mercedes and Ferrari, trailing in their wake? Aston Martin and McLaren were in the mix up top at different points of the season – while Williams took big steps in their first year under James Vowles.
From 10th in the final 2023 constructors’ standings to first, we hand out the report cards to all 10 teams after another F1 season comes to a close.
10. HAAS (12 points) – D
It was a bright start for the popular American-owned team, led by X-rated team principal maverick Guenther Steiner. But boy did they drop off.
After the fifth race of the season in Miami in May, Haas claimed just three points – and only one of those came in a grand prix as opposed to a sprint. It represents a rapid slide. Steiner is very satisfied with his experienced driver pairing of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, but even their wise old heads could not eke any performance out of the VF-23 as the season progressed.
While others around them brought impactful upgrades, Haas languished in mediocrity. There was also a lack of panache and excitement associated with the team this year, without any young guns to follow like Mick Schumacher.
Usually, the most entertaining episode every year in Drive to Survive is the Haas-focused one. The Netflix producers may have their work cut out this time.
9. ALFA ROMEO (16 points) – C-
A similar story to Haas. While Williams and AlphaTauri fought for P7 at the end given their upgraded cars, the Alfa consistently lacked performance throughout 2023.
Highlights include Zhou Guanyu’s fifth place in qualifying in Spain and a double-points finish in Qatar last month. But they were anomalies rather than indications of consistent upturns in speed. Valtteri Bottas has dropped into a bottom-half driver since moving from Mercedes at the end of 2021.
Again, both drivers have been confirmed for 2024. But further ahead, with Audi taking over in 2026, the German manufacturer have a big job to turn this team into a midfield contender.
8. ALPHATAURI (25 points) – B
A season of two halves for Red Bull’s sister team. Remember, for instance, Nyck de Vries’ rough 10 and out stint at the start?
It feels like a long time ago. It was July when feathers were well and truly ruffled as Daniel Ricciardo was brought back to the grid, where it all started for him. But an injury sustained in Zandvoort in August handed a chance to junior driver Liam Lawson.
As the saying went then: more drivers than points.
But an impressive ninth-place finish from Lawson was backed up by three top-10 finishes in the final five races of the season by Yuki Tsunoda. Ricciardo finished seventh in Mexico, too, as AlphaTauri ran Williams close for seventh spot in Franz Tost’s final season in charge. Their rate of improvement was considerable.
7. WILLIAMS (27 points) – A-
From five wooden spoons in six years, it’s been quite the one-season turnaround from Williams in their first year spearheaded by ex-Mercedes strategist Vowles.
Alex Albon has been terrific. So much so that he is being linked with his old seat at Red Bull. He has taken on the role as team leader with poise and determination, best illustrated by his seventh-place finishes in Canada and Italy.
But it could have been better. Rookie Logan Sargeant struggled, earning one solitary point in Austin – and even that was only after Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc’s disqualifications. He finished lower than Albon in every qualifying too and, at the time of writing, the American’s 2024 seat is yet to be confirmed.
Nonetheless, the progress made by a titanic team in F1 has been considerable. Kudos to Vowles. The question now is how far can he take them?
6. ALPINE (120 points) – C-
A season to forget for the French team. What started with a glitzy car launch in London with the likes of Zinedine Zidane presented as an ambassador ended in nothingness, neither here nor there in sixth place.
Top-10 finishes have been hit and miss. Both team-mates have tasted the podium once – Esteban Ocon in Monaco, Pierre Gasly in Zandvoort – and there were only four points to separate them in the standings.
But a team who had a 100-race plan at the start of 2022 to compete for titles may have to realign expectations. A crash between their drivers in Melbourne set the tone for a season of frustration and team boss Otmar Szafnauer was dismissed prior to the summer break.
A big off-season is needed for the Renault-owned team.
5. ASTON MARTIN (280 points) – B+
The early-season surprise package really tailed away after the summer break – but it’s still been a season of hope and optimism for Aston Martin.
The signing of Fernando Alonso was an inspired acquisition, in a car that was quickly dubbed the “Green Red Bull”. The Spaniard recorded five podiums in the first six races, with a twinge of what could have been inevitable after pole position in Monaco was snatched away from him late in the day by the peerless Verstappen.
Yet while their rivals at the top upgraded and improved, Aston stood still. If there’s any lesson they can take from this season, it’s to make sure the in-season evolution of the car matches their off-season work.
Oh, and stop the over-reliance on Alonso. Lance Stroll is a capable driver – he will be disappointed by his performance (and his professionalism, cc. Qatar) in 2023. While Alonso claimed 206 points, Stroll recorded just 74.
4. MCLAREN – (302 points) – A-
If you had told McLaren fans after a disastrous double DNF at the season opener in Bahrain that they’d be challenging for race wins by the halfway mark, you’d have been laughed out of the room.
But after an opening where Zak Brown and co admitted they hadn’t reached their off-season development targets, McLaren’s in-season work has paid off big time. The difference between their car pre and post Austria in July was like night and day.
Since then, they’ve arguably been the second-quickest car on the grid on race day. Lando Norris has been on the podium seven times, with the only obvious regret the fact he is still yet to claim an inaugural win.
Rookie Oscar Piastri has been excellent, too, fully vindicating Brown’s decision to dump Ricciardo last year. He claimed a sprint race win in Qatar and gave Norris the competition he has sorely needed for the last few years. But, can they close the gap to Red Bull next year?
3. FERRARI – (406 points) – B-
Ah, the Scuderia. Unlike last year, when they were genuinely armed with a championship-winning car, they – like the rest – slumped behind Red Bull.
On a Saturday – particularly in the hands of Charles Leclerc – the car came alive, especially towards the end of the season. But on a Sunday, their race pace floundered all too often.
They did give us one of the races of the season, though, with Carlos Sainz’s super drive to win in Singapore. But just one victory, and third place in the constructors’ championship, is a far cry from the glory Ferrari crave.
Fred Vasseur took over a shop in disarray following strategic errors in 2022. There’s been less of that. Yet it’ll still take a big winter in Maranello to close the gap to the leaders.
2. MERCEDES (409 points) – C+
Their first winless season in 12 years. Toto Wolff dismissing the car philosophy after just one qualifying session in Bahrain. Both drivers left reeling from an unreliable, pernickety W14 – Mercedes have been a shadow of their former selves.
It took until Monaco for them to, finally, ditch the unique and ineffective no-sidepod philosophy. Results then picked up, including a double podium in Barcelona. But that was just about as good as it got.
Unlike 2022, Lewis Hamilton won the battle of the team-mates at a canter up against George Russell, who too often cheaply threw away points. The seven-time world champion was on the podium six times but is now without a win for two years.
He will be desperate to compete against Verstappen again – and he’s signed up for the fight for another two years. Wolff compared it to scaling Mount Everest after the final race on Sunday. It is going to have to be some climb to haul in the deficit to Red Bull next year.
1. RED BULL (860 points) – A*
The most dominant season in Formula 1 history.
Winning 21 out of 22 races is an astonishing feat. The RB19 car, designed by Adrian Newey, has been a rocketship, particularly in the hands of the indomitable Verstappen who has swept away the field week after week with exemplary class.
For Sergio Perez, there’ll be regrets that he could not bring a title fight to Verstappen. And that should be the target next year – the Mexican has a rare chance to genuinely compete for the top spot.
But he claimed P2 in the drivers’ championship comfortably in the end. What was even more comfortable was a wager of the Dutch and Austrian national anthems being played on the podium after every grand prix. Verstappen has, well and truly, been in a league of his own.
It’s now all about his legacy – he won’t stop at only three titles and will rightly be the massive favourite next year.