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Most Powerful Driver Pairings – World in Sport

Most Powerful Driver Pairings – World in Sport

Published on 27 Nov 2022 7:14 pm (UK Time)

Yes, the 2022 season has only just ended, but I am already way too excited for F1 in 2023. After an emotional farewell for many beloved drivers in Abu Dhabi, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi, we can expect to see some fresh faces next season.

Vettel’s retirement triggered a chaotic driver market with drivers playing musical chairs across teams on the grid. Soon we will see how well 2021 F2 champion Oscar Piastri can perform or if Williams’ risk of hiring rookie Logan Sargeant will pay off!

Not only do these new drivers have the capacity to create exciting storylines next season, but also existing ones too. Next year we will be treated to the fiery team duos of Ocon and Gasly and Alonso and Stroll. With so many changes, F1 fans are in limbo, wondering what to expect from the grid next year.

Do not fear; I am here to give you my complete rankings of which team has the most powerful driver lineup. 

I have ranked the teams and their duos from 10-1. The best driver duo is not just based on the raw talent of the drivers’ within the teams but also their compatibility and ability to work together to ensure the best result for them in the championship. 

Without further ado, here are my rankings of the 2023 driver duos! Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with where I put your favourite teams.

10. Williams

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Drivers: Alex Albon (THA)

             Logan Sargeant (USA)

Williams was a difficult one to rank. The poor pace of their car has often masqueraded driver performances, and with a rookie in its ranks, their driver duo struggles to rank highly. 

Alexander Albon is a consistent and stable talent within the team and the de facto team leader. His experience is integral for a team like Williams to acquire points but lacks that edge that the most successful drivers on the grid possess. 

He will outpace his new teammate, F2 graduate Logan Sargeant, but they are a duo with space for improvement. Sargeant finished 3rd in the F2 championship this year, majorly behind winner Felipe Drugovich in terms of points. With two feature race wins. Sargeant enters F1 with a relatively subdued reputation, unlike previous F2 graduates Leclerc or Russell. 

I predict at times; they will both have accidents that cost the team points and money and, as a duo, will struggle to pull the Williams to places it shouldn’t be. And for that, I’m sorry, Williams, but you are my least powerful driver pairing. 

9. Haas

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Drivers: Kevin Magnussen (DEN)

             Nico Hulkenberg (GER)

Okay, hear me out! K-Mag and the Hulk are a popular pairing with a wealth of experience, but this driver duo is one of the weakest on the grid. Magnussen on his day is fantastic. His pole in Brazil is a prime example of the performances he is capable of when given a chance. However, for most of 2022, Magnussen has been largely off the radar, his teammate Mick Schumacher managing to outpace him on occasions. 

Despite being a great personality and figure in the sport, Hulkenberg has had time to prove himself in F1. His failure to capitalise and gain a podium when he has had the chance throughout his career confirms his status as an average driver. Altogether Haas’ lineup feels relatively flat and is indicative of their struggles to find the right driver lineup.

Another aspect worth mentioning is their previous rivalry. Yes, it may all be water under the bridge, but both drivers, older and experienced, will be desperate to be number one, not wanting to be outdone by each other.

It will be a fascinating rivalry but one that could cost Haas points. In the end, the Haas will not be a race-winning car, so their priority should be maximising points for Haas. But if they are both competing for the top spot in the team, well, then that could hamper this aim. 

8. Aston Martin

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Drivers: Fernando Alonso (SPA)

             Lance Stroll (CAN)

Let me make one thing clear. Alonso is carrying all of the power in this team ranking. Stroll has displayed glimpses of his talent before, but his utter disregard for safe racing against Alonso at COTA and his teammate in Brazil is a problem. 

Alonso has left a fiery relationship with Ocon at Alpine and could potentially enter a worse one at Aston Martin. If his outbursts against his teammate didn’t go down well at Alpine, then they certainly won’t go down well when his boss is his teammate’s Dad.

This dynamic will seriously restrict the team from performing despite Alonso’s pace and best efforts. Their potential to come together, which seems inevitable due to Lance Stroll’s inability to learn from his mistakes, will cost the team dearly regardless of where the car finds itself next year.

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The reason they rank higher than Haas is purely because of Alonso. He eeks out extra performance from whatever car he drives and can fight for those big points in ways Stroll or any of the Haas drivers could not.

I cannot wait to see how he handles Lance Stroll, but this potential conflict hampers their team duo power rankings for me.

7. Alpha Tauri

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Drivers: Nyck De Vries (NED)

             Yuki Tsunoda (JAP)

The seemingly unassuming lineup of Nick De Vries and Yuki Tsunoda could work. De Vries has proven his worth in his F1 race debut at Monza and will come into Alpha Tauri as a team leader. He will be one of the more competent rookies, with maturity and championship-winning racecraft in his arsenal. 

His genuine pace is unknown, which makes his entry into F1 both exciting and precarious, and he is precisely the figure needed within Alpha Tauri after Pierre Gasly’s departure.

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Tsunoda, who will enter his third season in F1, should also be a stable force that allows Alpha Tauri to pick up points. He is one of the more mistake-prone drivers’ on the grid and hasn’t shown glimpses of immense talent, but he should be in a place now where he has refined his skills.

Whilst this pairing does not promise exceptional performances every weekend, it is still an interesting dynamic. The two drivers will have a good working relationship to aid their team back up the midfield.

6. Alpine

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Drivers: Esteban Ocon (FRA)

              Pierre Gasly (FRA)

Allez les Bleus! Alpine can finally enjoy their status as best of the rest after beating McLaren in the constructors this year, but can they keep this up in 2023? 

They want a strong driver lineup to achieve this. Esteban and Pierre are two evenly matched drivers with one race win and strong leadership qualities- and of course, they are both French! However, with two alpha drivers, Alpine will also have a massive headache next year. 

Both will want to be the number one driver within the team, especially Estie Bestie, who has been loyal to the team for several years and will not want his position in the team usurped by Pierre Gasly.

Similarly, the 2020 Monza winner has much to prove after his disappointing and frustrating final season at Alpha Tauri. Throw into the mix they supposedly don’t like each other! I predict they are going to be one hell of a problem!

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Ocon has already had a few spicy incidents with Alonso this year, and his rivalry with Checo at Racing Point was equally as explosive. It almost seems inevitable the same will happen with Pierre. Crashes and squabbles over No.1 or who may get the tow in qualifying will hurt Alpine’s quest for advancement in 2023. 

5. Alfa Romeo

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Drivers: Valtteri Bottas (FIN)

              Zhou Guanyu (CHI)

You may wonder why Alfa Romeo has ranked so highly on my list. Can their driver lineup match the star power of Fernando Alonso or the Alpine boys? As I mentioned in the intro, it’s not just about being the best drivers that make an F1 team rank highly.

The consistency of Alfa Romeo’s lineup sets them apart from the teams ranked before. Valtteri Bottas is a solid figure leading Alfa, a race winner at Mercedes and always managing to qualify well when the car has the potential.

Fundamentally his relationship with the young Guanyu Zhou will drive the team forward. As they have proven this year, they have a mutual respect for one another, with Bottas guiding Zhou and helping improve his racecraft over the team radio. 

Through working together, they are prioritising the team result and how best to understand a car that, let’s face it, has underperformed in 2022. With this driver lineup, Alfa Romeo has the best chance to acquire points and improvement in 2023.

4. McLaren

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Drivers: Lando Norris (GBR)

             Oscar Piastri (AUS)

Despite Daniel Ricciardo’s poor performance in 2022 (and yes, that hurt to partake in Danny Ric slander!), McLaren nearly beat Alpine in the constructors’ title this year! Lando Norris maximised all he could get out of that terrible McLaren, confirming him as one of the most consistent and quick drivers’ on the grid.

Then consider their rookie- Oscar Piastri! The man has quite a reputation for a lad who has never entered an F1 race. Still, his impressive tenure in junior categories and driver market desirability hints that he will be exceptional. He should be on the same level as Lando pretty quickly, which means they are hot favourites for 4th in the constructors’ title next year.

Yet, as the 2022 season has shown, McLaren is Lando Norris’ team. The car fits perfectly around him and his driving style, so it will be interesting to see how much Piastri’s introduction to the team will disrupt this dynamic. McLaren has made no secrets about how much they wanted Oscar, and a scramble to be the number one driver could, as with many of the teams on the grid next year, pose a problem.

3. Ferrari

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Drivers: Charles Leclerc (MON)

             Carlos Sainz (SPA)

Okay, let me say one thing. Ferrari’s borderline offensive strategy this season has masked how talented their drivers are. Charles Leclerc, despite his mistakes, is world-class, and so is Carlos. When Charles is off the pace, Sainz has been there, particularly towards the end of the season. 

Once Ferrari has sorted their internal issues, this team will be a force to be reckoned with and can hopefully give their drivers the chance they deserve to fight for championships. They have proved this season that the two drivers will not come together if they are racing, and Sainz has expressed in interviews he would be compliant and follow team orders if it would benefit Charles in the championship.

Leclerc’s main downfall is himself. You can hear on the team radio when he feels defeated or lacking in confidence, which is why he is not ready to be a World Champion. 

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He needs that Verstappen arrogance just enough to stop beating himself up for silly mistakes and allow him to come back from disappointment and into the fight. His over-eagerness causes his major incidents, and 2022 has been a significant learning curve in that department.

Hopefully, this is the season he needed, his first taste of a championship to iron out those mistakes and finally become the legendary driver people are expecting.

So for goodness sake! Get these men a good sports psychologist and a functioning Ferrari, and they will be a threat. 

2. Red Bull

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Drivers: Max Verstappen (NED)

             Sergio Perez (MEX)

A few weeks ago, Red Bull would have been number one on this ranking list. They had the perfect scenario. Max Verstappen is at the top of his game, unbeatable, inevitable and on course to emulate the successes of Schumacher and Hamilton. By his side, Sergio Perez, the complaint number two driver who never puts his ambitions before the teams- whose agenda solely focuses on Max.

And then Brazil happened…

Perez failed to finish 2nd in the drivers’ championship this year, and you feel Max refusing to sacrifice his position played into that. The battle for 2nd this year became little about the actual place and all about Max showing respect for his teammates’ ambitions. By failing to aid Checo in Brazil, Max revealed his lack of respect and gratitude towards Perez, who helped him to his world titles. Which rightly would anger Checo!

I doubt Sergio will be as inclined to play the team game next year, which, if they are in a tight championship battle next year, could be Red Bull’s hubris.

1. Mercedes

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Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (GBR)

             George Russell (GBR)

Let’s face it the Mercedes PR machine would not allow the cracks between these two to show if they began to appear. However, George and Lewis are the perfect teammates. The difference in age, experience and fundamentally wins means they are at different stages in their career, and they are mutually respectful of that.

Lewis is hungry for that 8th-world title that cruelly avoided him in Abu Dhabi. Russell, that first world championship that racing drivers worldwide have dreamt about since they were young. What drives them is what makes them so strong and why they will always extract the maximum of their talents during race weekends.

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They have worked tirelessly to improve the W13 this year, and their perseverance is commendable. To drive it to multiple podiums and a race win shows the frightening talent level within that team!

Most importantly, however, George Russell is more than a match for Lewis Hamilton. It was untested going into this season, but to claim its first win in such a commanding way under pressure from one of the greats shows how special George is.

Time will only tell how they will fare in a championship battle, but they will be respectful of each other in a way Max and Lewis could never be. They are indisputably the most powerful driver lineup on the grid, one deserving of the team they represent.

Most Powerful Driver Pairings – World in Sport