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Formula 1

Our choices for best race drives of the 2023 F1 season

The RacingNews365 team has got together to select the three best race drives of the 2023 season.

Hungary start
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Now the dust has settled on the 2023 Formula 1 season and reviews have been written, one ever-popular question is that of which race drive was the best throughout the year.

It is not necessarily a case of a driver simply winning a race and this being the best drive.

Perhaps a driver has overcome a major disadvantage to pluck a stunning result out of nowhere, or put in a defensive masterclass to hold back a pack of much-faster cars to bank the result.

The RacingNews365 team has selected three drives we feel were the best of the season, in a particular order from a variety of drivers.

Team members who voted: Jake Nichol, Rory Mitchell, Fergal Walsh.

Do you agree with our choices for the best race drive of the 2023 season? Let us know by voting in the poll at the bottom of the article and in the comments! Would you have chosen differently?

Jake Nichol - Carlos Sainz, Italian Grand Prix

It was difficult to select from a shortlist of four my drive of 2023, with Sainz's Singapore win, Alex Albon's defensive masterclass to seventh in Canada and Lando Norris's charge to fifth in Mexico City the other contenders.

But Sainz's run to third at Monza edges its way to the top of the list, and pips his win at Marina Bay just.

Ferrari brought a 'Monza Special' to its home race, and Sainz was the better of the two drivers throughout practice, and then stuck it on pole.

With Max Verstappen up his gearbox for the opening 14 laps before the Red Bull eventually sliced past on Lap 15 and pulled away to a 12th win of the year.

But after being passed by Verstappen, Sainz put in a dogged performance to expertly defend the final podium from the sister SF-23 of Charles Leclerc. The moves to defend were pulled off with millimetre precision that could have ended with a lot of Tifosi tears with even the slighest misjudgement.

Sainz won the race to the line by 0.184s for a first podium of the year.

The reason for me that this tops the extraordinary piece of race-craft in Singapore to give Lando Norris in P2 the DRS to defend from the charging Mercedes duo is that it came in Singapore.

Granted, overtaking is not easy at Monza either with the low-downforce rear-wings not allowing vast amounts of slipstream, but it is still far easier than in Singapore with its batch of 90-degree corners.

A defensive drive is far more likely to suceed in Singapore than at Monza.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Rory Mitchell - Max Verstappen, Dutch Grand Prix

When you're talking about one of Max Verstappen's best drives in 2023, you'd think it would be hard to chose from 19 victories.

Amidst his total domination at the wheel of the RB19, it could be easy to think that it all comes easy to the team. They have had their fair share of challenges throughout the season, but one stands out from the rest.

The home advantage is said to be worth at least half a second at Silverstone, so at Zandvoort you can probably bet it's worth the same when 100,000 of the orange army comes out.

The tones of 'The Second Waltz' by Andre Rieu drown out the pre-race buildup, as dark clouds descended on the coastal circuit from the North Sea. Fans battened down the hatches under ponchos and clutched onto their plastic pint cups.

When the heavens opened on the first lap, chaos ensued as everyone scrambled to the pits for Intermediate tyres. Verstappen got his call spot on, dropping down to fourth but applying the pressure on those who waited out the storm at the behest of their engineers.

Once he was second, his gap to teammate Sergio Perez went from 11.7s at the start of the seventh lap, to 7.4s by the end - he was on fire. As the track dried he stopped earlier than Perez, produced a blistering out lap, and assumed the lead.

Job done? Far from it. With 11 laps to go the heavens opened again, this time in a way more intense manner. Perez was among those who skated off, with Zhou Guanyu suffering the heaviest crash at Turn 1.

Verstappen managed to keep it controlled for the most part, hanging on to the lead before the Red Flag came out. He would only need to lead the field through a six lap dash to the finish, taking arguably one of his most iconic races victories of his dominant year.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Fergal Walsh - Fernando Alonso, Sao Paulo Grand Prix

The package of Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso was one of the biggest surprises of the year as it commenced the season in top form, scoring six podiums in eight races.

Alonso’s decision to leave Alpine at the end of 2022 seemed to be immediately justified as it allowed the Spaniard to tip his podium tally beyond the century mark.

However, podium opportunities dwindled as the season wore on, with Aston Martin finding itself caught by its rivals. Just a further two top-three scores came Alonso’s way in the second half of the year - one of which was at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

For much of the race, Alonso was running in third place, taking the position at a race restart following a brief red flag period. However, in the final laps, he came under pressure from Sergio Perez in the rapid RB19 and was overtaken on lap 70 of 71.

The Spaniard didn’t give in and on the final tour of the circuit, he forced his way past Perez at Turn 4 before staying ahead in a drag race to the finish line, retaining the podium spot by just 0.053s.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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