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Formula 1

The big winners from the 2023 F1 season

RacingNews365 has tweaked its traditional post Qualifying or Grand Prix analysis for an end of season special two-parter, but who makes the winners?

Brazil sprint start
To news overview © XPBimages

There is a scope with a season review special of Winners and Losers to expand and select maybe five winners to include in this first part of the analysis.

But sticking to the traditional three winners as is normally (except in outstanding circumstances) the case helps raise the bar and threshold to who actually qualifies to be a winner.

While the overall championship storyline was basically over after Lap 48 in Miami and the remainder of the year was Max Verstappen putting 16 further cherries on top of his cake, elsewhere there was some great on-track battles, controversy and proof to the big teams that the gap between them and the upper midfield is closing bit by bit.

Part two - Losers of the season will follow on Monday 18th December.

Winner - Max Verstappen, Red Bull

There has, on occasion, been criticism of this analysis on a given Grand Prix weekend for not including Max Verstappen wrapping up another pole or routine win.

The reasoning behind that has been very simple. The idea is to bring you the stories from up and down the grid that make their efforts outstanding.

For example, if Verstappen turned up, dominated practice, stuck it on pole and led all but four laps of the race on his way to a win where he wasn't seen after Turn 1, that does not necessarily make him a winner. There is nothing to say about his race.

In contrast, say a driver had a terrible Friday, suffered a shock Q1 elimination, but then roared back to fifth-place by the flag, that counts as a winner. But, it would certainly be amiss to not include Verstappen in this piece.

Perhaps the trait that best summed up Verstappen's third World Championship was his sheer bloody-minded to drive Sergio Perez into the dirt and not allow the Mexican up for air at any point.

In the past, Lewis Hamilton has been guilty of easing off after winning the championship, by that final 0.1% that can make all the difference - but there's no chance with Verstappen.

Six of his 19 wins came after the title was sealed in the Qatar Sprint, as his desire just to win and be the best shone through.

It must be said that underneath him was statistically the greatest F1 car of all-time in the RB19.

But by the same token, that was the same car underneath Perez - who won two races to Verstappen's 19.

You can have the best car in the world, if the driver is not able to extract the maximum from it everytime it is on track, you will get nowhere near the title.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - McLaren

Red Bull has simply done the best job on the grid, and the onus is on Mercedes and Ferrari to get their acts together and do better.

That might seem simple, but a spanner has been thrown in the works through the resurgence of pesky McLaren and Aston Martin who had their turns as Red Bull's closest challenger.

It's hard enough trying to catch Red Bull as it is, trying to do so while defeating two upper midfield teams is a problem Mercedes and Ferrari can do without.

But why McLaren for this piece instead of Aston Martin?

Well, it's because the Woking squad was able to be consistent throughout the year and ended the year with the most important feeling: momentum.

After its early season run of six podiums in eight races, Aston Martin stalled with the AMR23 and went backwards, becoming the fifth-fastest team in a handful of races. Some Fernando Alonso brilliance bagged two podiums after the summer break, but they were firmly Alonso podiums rather than Aston Martin ones.

Moreover, if Lance Stroll hadn't had such a rotten run of form when the car was as its worst, Aston would have finished fourth in the Constructors' - but that went to McLaren.

There is a lot to be positive about McLaren at the moment. It has arguably one of the best driver pairings in Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, a CEO in Zak Brown who had turned the team around from its knees in five years, new technical infrastructure and a team boss in Andrea Stella who won many paddock plaudits for his approach.

Crucially though, after admitting it got the launch-spec MCL60 wrong, every time an upgrade was bolted to the car, in Austria and Singapore, it worked as intended and lofted McLaren from also-ran to podiums to best behind Red Bull.

There are still problems that must be ironed out with the fundamental DNA of the cars, especially in low-speed corners, but McLaren is now officially back and a team on the up.
			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Alex Albon, Williams

Of the clutch of four teams fighting over seventh to 10th in the Constructors', there was little to really separate them over the course of the year, except one thing.

Williams had Alex Albon.

Of the 10 drivers who drove for Williams, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo and Haas, the highest points scorer, bar Albon was Yuki Tsunoda with 17 - with 14 of those coming once the AT04 received a big upgrade package in the United States.

Albon finished with 27 points, and single-handily earned Williams seventh in the Constructors', with team-mate Logan Sargeant bagging just one point in a mixed rookie season.

If 2022 was about Albon blowing away the cobwebs and re-establishing himself as a Grand Prix driver, then 2023 was about him kicking at the door of a return to the top table with some exceptional performances.

Seventh in Canada was one of the drives of the season, placing the car just so on the entry of the hairpin so that the chasing Esteban Ocon could not use DRS to pass.

Albon's efforts in helping Williams secure seventh - its best result since fifth in 2017 - is worth about an extra $30 million when the prize money is awarded from FOM.

With the exception of 2021, Williams had finished last every year since 2018, but this injection of around $30 million is priceless to a team slowly being moulded into a 21st-century Grand Prix team and not one stuck in its old ways.

What is vital for the team is to keep hold of Albon if it can. He is the public face and figure-head of the rejuvenation, and it would be a shame for Williams if he departed.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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