Rookie outdoing Hamilton as Verstappen a class apart in F1 half-term ratings

Lewis Hamilton shows off his impressive surfing skills

Max Verstappen is firmly on course to win yet another Drivers’ Championship title after sailing into a 125-point lead at the top of the standings before the summer break. The 25-year-old is far from the only driver on the grid to have impressed over the last few months, while others such as Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez will be desperately hoping for their fortunes to improve in the second half of the season.

Express Sport takes a look at how each driver has performed in 2023 so far, with a real mix of grades across the board…

Max Verstappen – 10/10

Verstappen has been faultless over the course of the campaign to date and it would not be unreasonable to suggest that we are currently seeing him at the absolute peak of his powers. Red Bull’s golden boy looks almost unbeatable on current form and it will surely not take much longer for him to successfully wrap up his third Drivers’ Championship title in as many seasons.

Sergio Perez – 5/10

It has not been all plain sailing for Perez this year, with the Mexican having failed to perform in qualifying on too many occasions while struggling to challenge Verstappen for wins as often as he would like. He will be frustrated at sitting 125 points behind his Red Bull team-mate in the standings but is still doing a sound enough job as the Dutchman’s support act, which will be his only real function between now and the end of the season.

Lewis Hamilton – 7/10

Another frustrating season at Mercedes has put paid to Hamilton’s hopes of securing an eighth Drivers’ Championship title, but the Brit has shown flashes of what he is truly capable of by reaching the podium four times. He is also yet to finish lower than eighth in 2023, with his impressive consistency levels helping the Silver Arrows to stay ahead of Ferrari and Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship table.

George Russell – 6/10

George Russell managed to beat Hamilton in the standings last year but has struggled to perform at times in 2023, with just a single podium finish to his name thus far. He has also been unable to live up to his reputation as a qualifying specialist, failing to reach Q3 on four occasions, but has done a relatively decent job overall given the lack of pace at his disposal.

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Charles Leclerc – 6/10

It was a difficult start to the campaign for Charles Leclerc, who effectively fell out of Drivers’ Championship title contention after just three races and continues to be haunted by his tendency to push too hard, which often causes avoidable errors. His lack of consistency has also been clear to see but it would be unfair to blame him for all of Ferrari’s shortcomings, with the Italian team yet to shake off their long-term struggles on the pit wall.

Carlos Sainz – 6/10

Carlos Sainz often struggled at Ferrari over the course of last season but has fared better this time around, with the Spaniard having scored points in all but three races in 2023. He is yet to register a single podium finish but, like Leclerc, he is not entirely to blame given just how underwhelming the SF-23 has been in terms of race pace this year.

Fernando Alonso – 8/10

Fernando Alonso made a flying start to the campaign by taking six podiums in the first eight races and is showing that age is just a number in F1 by consistently making light work of his younger rivals. His debut season at Aston Martin is sure to go down as a roaring success but he will be desperate to go one better by claiming his 33rd career Grand Prix victory before the end of the year.

Lance Stroll – 4/10

Lance Stroll has arguably been one of the worst performers on the grid this season, with the 24-year-old having regularly been shown up by Alonso since the Spaniard became his team-mate earlier this year. He currently finds himself ninth in the Drivers’ Championship standings and has failed to make the most of Aston Martin’s impressive pace by only finishing above sixth place on one occasion.

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Oscar Piastri – 8/10

It has been a debut season to remember for Oscar Piastri, who has arguably been one of F1’s finest rookies since a teenage Verstappen burst onto the scene in 2015. The Aussie has long been hailed as a champion of the future and seems to keep improving with each race, with his performances showing exactly why Alpine were so furious when he left their junior setup to join McLaren at the end of last year.

Lando Norris – 7/10

Lando Norris has also fared well in his first season as McLaren’s most senior driver and continues to prove his ability to extract every drop of performance from the machinery underneath him. His impressive sixth-placed finish in Australia came when the Woking squad were still very much lagging behind their rivals, while their recent improvements have allowed him to get back to where he belongs in competing for regular podium finishes.

Esteban Ocon – 6/10

A spectacular podium finish in Monaco helped Esteban Ocon to underline his credentials as a leading midfield driver but the Frenchman has struggled to shine to the level that he would have been hoping for. His next best finish so far has been eighth, a result he has managed on four occasions, while he has failed to finish more races than any other driver with four retirements to his name thus far.

Pierre Gasly – 5/10

Pierre Gasly picked a difficult time to join Alpine given the off-track chaos that has engulfed the team this year and it has shown in the 27-year-old’s recent performances. He is not having a nightmare season by any means but there is still plenty of room for improvement after managing just four point-scoring finishes, with Gasly struggling to replicate the form he managed at AlphaTauri during his final years with the team.

Zhou Guanyu – 6/10

Zhou Guanyu has been quietly putting in some solid showings at Alfa Romeo this year in spite of the Italian outfit’s lack of pace, with the man from Shanghai often going under the radar in midfield. He remains a single point behind his team-mate in the Drivers’ Championship standings, though, and will be hoping to overtake the Finn by unlocking another level of performance and consistency when the season gets back underway.

Valtteri Bottas – 5/10

It has been a frustrating year for Valtteri Bottas, who showed what he is capable of during his time at Mercedes but has seen his hands tied by Alfa Romeo over the course of this season. Their C43 challenger has been painfully slow at times and there is not much that he or Zhou can do to improve things at the moment, apart from crossing their fingers in the hope that their fortunes will soon change.

Alexander Albon – 7/10

Alexander Albon has picked up where he left off in 2022 by continuing to impress at Williams, who appear to be making steady strides back up into the midfield under the direction of new team principal James Vowles. The former has managed to reach Q3 on four occasions, demonstrating his ability to exceed expectations in terms of one-lap pace, while his ever-improving racecraft has allowed him to challenge for points on a consistent basis.

Logan Sargeant – 4/10

It seems as though a race weekend seldom goes by without a hairy moment for Logan Sargeant, who is still getting to grips with life as a F1 driver and has been unable to lay a glove on Albon thus far. The Miami native is by no means a lost cause but will be hoping to demonstrate that he is capable of improving in order to justify his seat at Williams ahead of next year and beyond.

Kevin Magnussen – 5/10

Kevin Magnussen is one of the most experienced drivers on the F1 grid but is not showing it at the moment, with the Dane having struggled to impress on too many occasions in recent memory. He has not been helped by Haas’ lack of pace but would have been hoping to score more than his measly haul of two points in what has turned out to be a largely unremarkable campaign.

Nico Hulkenberg – 6/10

It has been a similar story for Nico Hulkenberg, who has scored more points than Magnussen but has still been largely anonymous since replacing Mick Schumacher at Haas this year. He has done well to reach Q3 on no less than six occasions but has managed just one point-scoring finish, when he came home in seventh place at the Australian Grand Prix.

Yuki Tsunoda – 6/10

Yuki Tsunoda should really be starting to kick on in his third year with AlphaTauri but his individual progress has been hampered by the team’s slow pace over the course of this season. He is yet to finish higher than 10th in spite of his best efforts, which has largely been through no fault of his own, but his results will do little to aid his hopes of earning a Red Bull seat one day regardless of the wider context.

Daniel Ricciardo – 5/10

It is still too early to pass a hard judgement on Daniel Ricciardo, with the Aussie having raced just twice in 2023 following his return to F1 with AlphaTauri to replace Nyck de Vries. It seems clear that his best days are firmly behind him but the 34-year-old is still more than capable of doing a job for his team if he manages to pick up some momentum over the next few races.

Nyck de Vries – 2/10

It was hugely disappointing to see De Vries axed by AlphaTauri after just 10 races, with his unceremonious exit showing that Red Bull are unlikely to ditch their ruthless approach to driver recruitment any time soon. There is no denying that the Dutchman’s results were pretty awful but he was hardly given the chance to prove himself and will be left to rue what went wrong for the rest of his career, with a route back into F1 looking highly unlikely as things stand.

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