Our Evaluation of Every Driver’s Performance at the Miami GP F1 Race
The 2023 Miami Grand Prix saw all Formula 1 drivers finish the race, making pre-race mistakes costly. This assessment evaluates each driver’s performance during the second Miami race weekend, considering factors such as pace, racecraft, consistency, and mistakes.
The absence of race retirements meant that pre-race mistakes had a considerable impact on the race results, affecting some drivers more than others. Meanwhile, the season’s standout performers continued to impress.
This is our assessment of the F1 drivers’ performance during the second Miami race weekend.
The 20 drivers will be evaluated and ranked based on their performance during each grand prix weekend, considering various factors such as pace, racecraft, consistency, and mistakes. A crucial aspect will be how well each driver maximized their car’s performance potential.
It is essential to emphasize that this evaluation reflects the entire weekend’s performance, recognizing that qualifying is essentially ‘lap 0’ of the race and crucial for setting up the race foundation. This ranking is not indicative of each driver’s overall abilities but merely their performance during a specific weekend. Consequently, the rankings will vary significantly from one weekend to another.
Given that each of the 10 cars has different performance potential and factors beyond a driver’s control (such as luck) can influence the weekend’s outcome, this ranking will differ considerably from the overall race results.
During qualifying, Alonso displayed his usual effectiveness, advancing through Q1 using only one set of tires and completing a solid lap on used softs during his single Q3 attempt, securing second place on the grid. This strategic positioning provided him with a vital advantage during the race, which he converted into a third-place finish.
Verstappen was bound to overtake Alonso and did so sooner than anticipated. Afterward, Alonso’s primary focus was battling Sainz and then Russell.
Alonso triumphed over Sainz by overtaking him following an undercut at the pitstop. He then maintained a safe distance from Russell during the second stint, preventing any potential threats. As a result, Alonso achieved his fourth third-place finish in five races. Our assessment: He maximized the outcome in both qualifying and the race.
Verstappen experienced a strong run throughout practice and the first two qualifying segments, apart from issues with his HANS device getting caught in the headrest. This performance made him the leading contender for pole position. However, a mistake approaching Turn 7 during his first Q3 run led him to abort the lap. When Leclerc’s crash triggered a red flag and prevented Verstappen from making a second attempt, it served as a costly reminder of the need for a banker lap.
During the race, Verstappen, starting on hard tires, demonstrated ruthless efficiency. He reached second place in just 15 laps. As his stint progressed, his exceptional pace allowed him to close in on Perez after the pitstop, making his subsequent pass for the win inevitable.
Although Verstappen’s strategy was ultimately effective and he spent more of the race on the more robust hard tires, his pace was crucial in ensuring its success. Our verdict: Aside from his first Q3 run, it was a nearly flawless weekend.
Considering Mercedes’ challenges in qualifying trim and their better race pace, Russell achieved the best possible results.
Fortune contributed to his high qualifying position, but he followed up with an outstanding race, overtaking Gasly in the first stint and then catching and passing Sainz in the second.
Russell and Hamilton performed at similar levels throughout the weekend, with the only distinction being the slight edge Russell had in Q2 due to Hamilton’s tire-preparation issues. This advantage led to a smoother race for Russell, who capitalized on his opportunity. Our verdict: He maximized his qualifying and race results given the car’s capabilities.
Perez referred to Miami as “my worst weekend up to qualifying” due to difficulties in finding a consistent balance and confidence as grip levels varied. In the three practice sessions and the first two qualifying segments, the closest he came to Verstappen was a 0.350s gap, so he would likely have been content with second place entering Q3.
However, by delivering a solid banker lap during his first Q3 run, Perez positioned himself to capitalize on a disrupted second run, earning an unexpected pole position despite a time slightly slower than Verstappen’s Q2 pace.
The race was primarily about Perez’s competition with Verstappen. In the first stint on medium Pirellis, which didn’t perform as well as expected, Perez maintained the lead. After switching to hard tires, he was poised to retake the lead once Verstappen pitted. However, as Verstappen’s hard stint progressed, the expected gap decreased, making it inevitable for Perez to lose the lead after Verstappen changed to medium tires, even though he tried his best to defend. Unlike in Jeddah and Baku, Perez’s pace was not enough to match Verstappen. Our verdict: Perez was not quite at Verstappen’s level.
Hamilton narrowly missed the Q2 cut-off, with a 0.232s deficit to teammate Russell largely due to a moment entering Turn 1. Hamilton attributed this to traffic during the out-lap, which negatively affected his tire preparation.
In the race, the Mercedes showed stronger pace. Hamilton managed to avoid a collision with Hulkenberg at Turn 2 on the opening lap but spent the first 14 laps trapped behind Albon in a DRS train, having started on hard tires. Once he found some clear air, he effectively utilized the car’s pace.
After pitting for medium tires, he found himself in ninth place, which became sixth after Stroll’s pitstop and overtaking Magnussen, Leclerc, and Gasly. Our verdict: Hamilton’s performance was on par with his teammate’s high level, except for a minor Q2 shortfall.
Sainz appeared more confident after his disappointing Baku experience. Although he lacked Leclerc’s dynamic pace, he was the more consistent Ferrari driver.
Sainz secured third place on the grid, meeting his goal, but his first Q3 lap was somewhat messy and slower than his Q2 performance, which would have placed him second ahead of Alonso if repeated. With Sainz on fresh soft tires and Alonso on used ones for that crucial first run, this was a missed opportunity.
Sainz described the race as “tough.” After a solid stint on medium tires, he managed to undercut Alonso. However, difficulties with hard Pirellis caused him to fall back to fifth place after being overtaken by Alonso and Russell. Additionally, he received a five-second penalty for speeding while entering the pitlane, though it did not affect his position. Our verdict: Sainz had a good, mostly clean weekend despite the penalty, handling a challenging car.
Gasly felt confident in the car, although he often seemed just shy of overtaking the Alpine drivers in their close battle. He delivered a “strong” lap on used soft tires in Q3, securing fifth place—though he narrowly missed out on surpassing Magnussen for fourth.
In the race, he faced the challenge of the Alpine being the fifth-fastest car, but Gasly drove skillfully and generally avoided wasting time on lost causes. He finished eighth, ahead of Ocon. Our verdict: Gasly demonstrated top-notch midfield performance.
Tsunoda seemed to outpace his teammate until the final Q1 runs, where De Vries gained an edge in Turn 7, leading to a 0.104s advantage. Despite finding the car balance to his liking, Tsunoda complained of a lack of grip.
After a busy and challenging first lap, he settled into a long stint on the hard tires. He overtook Hulkenberg, and later, once on the medium tires, he passed Albon and Bottas, narrowly missing the top 10 by finishing just 1.364s behind Magnussen. Our verdict: Tsunoda’s impressive performance was unrewarded.
Albon continued his impressive 2023 performance by nearly qualifying for Q3, securing 11th place on the grid. According to Williams head of vehicle performance Dave Robson, this was “a few places higher than the FW45’s natural pace.” With a more aggressive run plan to take advantage of the rapidly evolving track, Albon might have finished in the top 10.
At the start, Albon slipped to 12th behind Hulkenberg and then struggled with grip and a tendency to slide throughout the majority of the race. He was overtaken by Tsunoda and Stroll in the second stint, eventually finishing in 14th place. Our verdict: Albon overperformed in qualifying but struggled during the race.
Magnussen had a more well-rounded weekend than Hulkenberg, though there were indications that he did not possess Hulkenberg’s pace. He outqualified Hulkenberg for the first time in 2023 and produced a “pretty decent lap” on used soft tires in Q3, earning fourth place on the grid as a result of the red flag.
Magnussen could not have stayed in that position, and while he acknowledged that he had abused his tires during a battle with Leclerc, he was never going to win the race. By the end, he was in a decent position given that the Alpine was slightly faster, considering he drove for Haas. Our verdict: Magnussen was very effective in a congested portion of the field.
This was a prime example of a weekend in which a driver excelled in qualifying but fell back to the average on race day. As Bottas admitted after the race, the Alfa Romeo lacked the pace to hold on to a points position.
Bottas thrived on the smooth, low-grip Miami track surface, particularly following challenging Friday practice sessions that resulted in overnight setup changes. This led to Alfa Romeo’s first Q3 appearance of the season, albeit one hampered by the red flag that prevented Bottas from setting a lap time.
After being overtaken by Ocon in the first stint, he was in 10th place, but he was always going to lose ground to the quicker Hamilton. Later on, he was overtaken by Stroll and Tsunoda, who used the ‘inverse’ hard/medium strategy. Our verdict: Bottas flattered the car in qualifying.
Ocon was disappointed not to have the opportunity to make his second run in Q3, meaning he had to rely on his first-run time on used softs – a set that caused him to struggle with sliding earlier in qualifying. The lap was a tenth and a half slower than Gasly’s, with the time loss coming in the second half of the lap.
Ocon went for the inverse strategy, starting on hard tires and running a long first stint. He lost a position to Bottas due to wheelspin off the line, and then to Verstappen later on the first lap. He quickly regained his position ahead of Bottas and settled into ninth.
Apart from briefly cutting the chicane, Ocon had a relatively straightforward race as he maintained his position in ninth place. However, he believed that more was possible if qualifying had gone according to plan. Our verdict: Ocon demonstrated excellent pace throughout the weekend.
Norris boosted McLaren’s morale by setting the sixth-fastest time in FP2 before being eliminated in Q1. He attributed the Friday performance to cooler weather and a strong lap, but he admitted that he should have made it to Q2. However, he did not believe that he could have done much better than 15th, owing to the car’s struggles in low-speed and long corners.
Given the slim chances of scoring points on merit in a straightforward race, Norris started on soft tires, which gave him additional grip to gain positions at the start. Unfortunately, he was then rear-ended by De Vries, which sent him to the back of the pack.
Despite an early switch to hards, Norris made little progress, leaving him to complete a marathon stint until the end of the race. Verdict: Norris should have made it to Q2, but he had little chance of scoring points in the race.
Despite a spin into the wall during FP1, Hulkenberg demonstrated impressive pace and appeared to be on track for a spot in Q3 until he missed the apex by a considerable margin at the first corner on his final Q2 run. He attributed the mistake to compromised tire temperature, caused by Alonso overtaking him approaching the final corner, resulting in him aborting the lap.
Hulkenberg committed to a long first stint by starting on hards, but the race never fully materialized for him. He struggled with the car in traffic, a recurring problem for Haas this season, and was unable to make much progress once he switched to the medium tires.
Had he started the race from a higher position, there was a possibility that he could have been in the points and potentially ahead of Magnussen. Our verdict: Hulkenberg showed pace but was unable to recover from the damage caused by his Q2 mistake in the race.
Leclerc had impressive speed in Miami, but he was also prone to errors due to an aggressive setup and pushing the limits. He crashed on Friday and then ruined a potentially great lap in qualifying by locking up and running wide. He then spun into the barrier after taking too much kerb at Turn 6. In the race, he struggled with tyre troubles and inconsistency in his wind-sensitive car, and lost sixth place to Hamilton in the closing stages. Although he eventually got ahead of Magnussen, he made little progress overall. Verdict: Showed impressive speed but also made costly mistakes.
Piastri narrowly missed out on matching Norris’s Q1 time by only nine hundredths of a second, which translated into a two-position difference. Although he considered his lap to be satisfactory, he believed he could have pushed harder.
During the race, Piastri experienced a challenging and prolonged ordeal due to a BBW issue that caused an excessively long brake pedal. Despite making a good start, the problem hindered his performance throughout the race. Piastri humorously described the brake pedal as being “about two metres long.”
As a result, Piastri finished in 19th place, being lapped by the leaders. In summary, Piastri performed commendably, being the second-best driver in the tenth-best car.
On Saturday, Zhou couldn’t match Bottas’s pace, and the lack of slipstream in Q2 was cited as the reason for him not advancing to Q3. Even with the slipstream, Zhou likely wouldn’t have been able to match his teammate’s performance. However, the half-second gap between them was considered a significant exaggeration.
In the race, Alfa Romeo used a split strategy, and Zhou started on the hard tyres. He spent the early part of the race in a DRS train but displayed impressive pace once he had clear air. However, given the car’s speed and strategy, he was always facing a challenge, and he could only overtake Norris once when he switched to mediums for his final stint. In summary, Zhou’s performance was solid, but he was not quite at Bottas’s level.
Stroll’s weekend was marred by one misjudgement: Aston Martin’s decision to try and get him through to Q2 on just one set of tyres despite a first-run time that seemed insufficient. As a result, he ended up down in 18th place, trailing Alonso by three-tenths.
Despite starting in an unpromising position, Stroll performed decently in the race. He was stuck in a DRS train early on, but he managed to overtake Zhou impressively, as well as Hulkenberg, Albon, and Bottas in the second stint, finishing in 12th place. In conclusion, as Stroll himself acknowledged, the damage was done in qualifying.
De Vries did well to qualify for Q2 and outperform his teammate Tsunoda, particularly because he had been struggling recently. He managed to find time in Turn 7 during the second run in Q1, which helped him secure his position.
However, his race took a turn for the worse at the start. Norris made a good start in his soft-shod McLaren and moved ahead of De Vries, who locked up under braking for Turn 1 and collided with the back of the McLaren. Although De Vries escaped significant damage, he did develop a vibration.
From that point on, he had a relatively uneventful race, apart from a battle with Piastri in his first stint, and he spent most of the time at the back of the pack. In summary, his qualifying performance was impressive, but his mistake at Turn 1 erased any gains he had made.
Sargeant’s debut in his home grand prix was disappointing, as he finished last in qualifying and last in the race. However, his performance as a rookie was solid, even if he lacked the pace of Albon.
During qualifying, Sargeant felt he had the speed to advance to Q2, but he failed to deliver on his final Q1 run, ending up a couple of tenths off the pace with his tyres past their best.
Unfortunately, any hopes of a better performance in the race were dashed when he collided with Stroll in the chicane on the first lap, resulting in damage that affected his car’s performance for the rest of the race. He had to make an early pit stop for a new nose and hard tyres, which ultimately resulted in him finishing last, 14 seconds behind the pack, despite displaying respectable pace under the circumstances. In summary, his first-lap damage proved to be a costly setback.
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08/05/2023 at 23:01
Perez couldn’t quite match Verstappen’s performance. Despite driving the same car, he was effortlessly outperformed by a driver who began 8 positions behind. It’s hard to imagine how much larger the gap might have been if Max hadn’t needed to navigate through traffic and was able to simply cruise after overtaking Checo.
08/05/2023 at 22:57
The commenter gives an impressive rating to a specific driver, stating that they witnessed the best driver/car combination they have seen in many decades. According to the commenter, this was not simply due to the car. The event has convinced the commenter that Max Verstappen is a truly exceptional driver who is in a class above all the other current top F1 drivers.
08/05/2023 at 22:55
The commenter believes that de Vries’ performance highlights the failure of Red Bull’s driver development program. According to the commenter, any driver who sits in an Alpha Tauri seat should have the potential to race for the Red Bull team.
Instead, Alpha Tauri has one driver who is there to please Honda (which the commenter thinks is becoming less important) and another who dropped out of the Mercedes program. Neither driver is likely to have a chance at racing for the Red Bull “A” team, so the commenter believes they are wasting their time.
The commenter believes that Marko, who is in charge of Red Bull’s driver development program, should not be surprised if he loses his job.
08/05/2023 at 22:54
It appears that Alpha Tauri had high expectations for de Vries and he may be feeling the pressure to perform better. While his qualifying performance was a nice result, he made a costly mistake at the start of the race. If he doesn’t start producing good results in the next few races, there is a possibility he could be replaced before the end of the season. The team has a good car, and de Vries is squandering opportunities for them. Fortunately, Yuki has been performing well and making the most out of the car.
As for McLaren, the commenter is wondering what’s going on with the team. They seem to be struggling and the commenter believes that it may be time for Zak Brown to be replaced. Despite having ample time to fix the issues, the team hasn’t seen much return on their significant investment in recent years. The commenter suggests that a more technical leader may be needed to sort through the technical side of things and improve their results.
08/05/2023 at 22:53
After reading the evaluation, the commenter found themselves humming Queen’s “Invisible Man”. For fun, they created a list of other Queen songs that they think fit each driver. The list includes “Tear It Up” for Oscar Piastri, “Break Thru” for Logan Sargeant, “Back Chat” for Yuki Tsunoda, “I Want to Break Free” for Lando Norris, “The Invisible Man” for Zhou Guanyu, “It’s a Hard Life” for Lance Stroll, “Play the Game” for George Russell, “Calling All Girls” for Charles Leclerc, “We Are The Champions” for Max Verstappen, “Friends Will Be Friends” for Esteban Ocon & Pierre Gasly, “Hang On In There” for Alex Albon, “Under Pressure” for Nyck de Vries, “Save Me” for Carlos Sainz, “The Miracle” for Kevin Magnussen, “Another One Bites the Dust” for Sergio Perez, “Somebody to Love” for Valtteri Bottas, “Don’t Stop Me Now” for Nico Hulkenberg, and “Radio Gaga” for Fernando Alonso.
08/05/2023 at 22:51
Kmag seems to feel somewhat underestimated and should have been placed higher. Aside from that, good job! By the way, I would have put both Alonso and Verstappen in first place, despite the banker lap in second. Verstappen missed out, but this difference is a matter of personal bias or preference.
08/05/2023 at 22:49
Erin, thank you for the great reviews. Although I would prefer a rating system instead of a ranking, I find the summaries of each driver’s weekend to be the real value in your evaluations. You have a talent for noticing details that I may have missed and presenting them in context. Your work is greatly appreciated!