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Formula 1

The F1 drivers under pressure after an underwhelming 2023

While some excelled in 2023, others had a underwhelming season and must step up in 2024 or potentially risk not having a seat for 2025.

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To news overview © XPBimages

It must be said that there is no such thing as the 'worst' driver in Formula 1.

For starters, there are only 20 of them, and so by fact, there must be someone who finishes last, but this does not necessarily make them a bad driver.

Racing wheel-to-wheel at speeds over 150mph while 19 others try to do the exact same thing and beat you is dangerous and requires extraordinary skill.

Just because the organic bit in the middle of the finely-crafted machine sometimes cannot perform at their best is no slight. Only the very, very best of the best are able to perform with a robotic consistency, but sometimes even the likes of Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen can have an off-weekend or bad season.

That being said, there were some drivers in 2023 who underperformed and must step up their performances in 2024 to ensure they either keep their seats for 2025 or snap out of a poor season.

Sergio Perez

The decisive moment of the entire season came on Lap 48 in Miami when Sergio Perez was passed for the lead by Max Verstappen.

Perez should have won this race from pole, with Verstappen only ninth on the grid. But the Mexican failed to clear off into the lead, and a strong stint from Verstappen left him only a handful of seconds behind after his final pit-stop. The rest was inevitable.

Perez never recovered from that and the rot set in next time in Monaco when he crashed at Saint Devote in qualifying. The trudge around Europe and into Asia was hard to watch at times, and he should he easily passed Fernando Alonso for third in Brazil.

In the end, he finished 51 points clear of Lewis Hamilton in second place, his best-ever result, but given the dominance of the RB19, that was a lot closer than it should have been.

Given Daniel Ricciardo has his sights set on that cockpit for 2025, a repeat Perez performance in '24 will see him traded out of the car. No-one expects him to beat Verstappen, but 2024 must be a more respectable performance than 2023 - even if his wins in Saudi Arabia, and especially Azerbaijan, were outstanding.

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

George Russell

This was a classic case of second-season syndrome for George Russell at Mercedes.

There was nothing drastically wrong with his season, and he consistently brought home the best result the car was capable of, with few high-profile blunders, except in Canada and Singapore when he slapped the wall that led to retirements and cost podiums.

In the end, eighth and 175 points to third and 234 for Lewis Hamilton is a vast gap of 59 points in what was a season far from Hamilton's best.

He has admitted himself that he had a poor season, but on the flip-side, having a largely anonymous season in a below-par car can be a good thing by making your mistakes out the glare of competing at the head of the field.

What is important is that Russell uses the momentum from his podium in Abu Dhabi to kick off 2024 strongly.

His future isn't in doubt at Mercedes as he is the Heir Apparent to Hamilton - but in his third season at Mercedes, and sixth in F1, he must kick on in 2024.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Zhou Guanyu

All things considered, Zhou Guanyu probably did enough to earn a third season alongside Valtteri Bottas at Sauber.

Given the other likely candidate, Theo Pourchaire's light has dimmed in recent times despite winning the F2 title, the Chinese racer was the obvious candidate to stick around.

But while he hasn't done anything to warrant being dropped, Zhou is yet to make a convinving case to be kept.

That is different to not being dropped, and given Audi will be arriving in 2026, it is likely to want to put its own driver in for '25 to get up to speed before the works attack kicks off F1's looming rules reset.

Whether Zhou can square that circle remains doubtful, but a strong season in 2024 will not do his case any harm, but he could be left without a seat when the music stops for '25.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Logan Sargeant

There is pace in Logan Sargeant, and he does have all the ingredients to become a respectable Grand Prix driver, but he must start piecing it together on a regular basis for 2024.

Take qualifying in Saudi Arabia.

His first lap in Q1 would have been good enough to get through to Q2, but he clipped the pit-entry line, and had the effort deleted. Spins on his subsequent laps had him eliminated in the first segment. The pace is there, but the execution needs to be brushed up.

That will certainly come with a season's experience under his belt and heading to certain tracks for a second time in Grand Prix machinery, but there still needs to be a step closer to Alex Albon in the sister car.

Albon scored 27 of Williams' 28 points with Sargeant only promoted to P10 in the United States due to the disqualifications of Hamilton and Charles Leclerc.

That is not good enough, and with the driver market opening up for 2025, Sargeant needs to make sure his seat is not one at risk. He's more than capable of doing that, but needs to add finese to his potential.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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