September 21, 2023

The most underrated driver on the F1 2023 grid: PlanetF1

While the likes of Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso always catch the eye, wonders who is the most underrated driver on the F1 2023 grid?

If you don’t cross the line first or finish on the podium you are often easily overlooked when it comes to your driving skills, but let’s not forget that to even be in Formula 1 you have to be one of the best drivers in the world. the planet.

Even if you’re racing for a straggler, you’ve spent thousands of hours in a kart, hundreds of hours in a single-seater, and a similar amount of time in your team’s simulator.

In honor of some of F1’s forgotten faces, here at we thought we’d shine the spotlight on who we believe is the most underrated driver on the current grid.

But first some honorable mentions:

The contenders

Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri
Best finish: P4 – Abu Dhabi 2021

This list starts with a man whose future in F1 seemed a little shaky a few months ago. Yuki Tsunoda started the 2023 season expecting to play second fiddle to newcomer Nyck de Vries, but in reality the opposite has happened.

Tsunoda may only be on two points, but his performance in 2023 deserves much more. Three P11 finishes and a P9 in Spain alone only to be relegated to P12.

There is also a good argument that of the three F1 cars Tsunoda has driven so far, two have been duds and only the 2021 AT02 gave him any chance to consistently score points.

Despite the car being disappointing, the Japanese driver has gone from someone on the verge of an exit to a potential teammate for Max Verstappen at Red Bull. then two come at the end of the season.

Alex Albon Williams
Best finish: P3 – Tuscany 2020, Bahrain 2020

Speaking of Red Bull drivers, another man who deserves to be on this list is Alex Albon. The British-Thai driver was one of the few to witness Red Bull’s ignominious exit, but like Pierre Gasly, he has landed on his feet.

After spending a year as a Red Bull reserve driver, his most memorable contribution being a post that Red Bull let him recreate the infamous Verstappen-Hamilton collision at Silverstone as part of their call-up, before returning to full-time racing with Williams in 2022.

Since then he has certainly built his reputation in a car that has often failed to give him the tools to compete.

It took him just three races to score a point with the team and he only needs one race in 2023 to match that feat.

Earlier in the season, when the FW45 looked stronger, Albon was a constant challenge between the points, even if his current scoreline doesn’t reflect that.

He is now 27, the 10th oldest driver on the grid, so definitely no longer a rookie and if he continues to impress at Williams there may come a time when some of the bigger teams will take an interest in his services.

Pierre Gasly-Alpine
Best finish: P1 – Italy 2020

Another man who survived the bumpy fall through Red Bull’s trap door is Pierre Gasly. After leaving midway through the 2019 season, the Frenchman rebuilt his career at AlphaTauri, securing the team’s first and currently only victory since their rebrand, as well as a podium at the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

But as the performance of the AlphaTauri car slipped after the 2022 regulations, Gasly hit a ceiling on how far he could go with Red Bull’s sister team and was soon angling for a move.

An initial one-year extension was later replaced by a move to Alpine and Gasly is struggling to get off the ground.

Back-to-back P9s in the first two races were followed by two pointless grands prix, but he seems to have gotten into a bit of form now, including a P4 in qualifying Spain before nuisance penalties brought him down.

Deciding where Gasly ranks in the F1 driver talent list is difficult and even if he is a step away from the higher echelons, he is certainly a driver many teams would love to have in their garage.

Esteban Ocon-Alpine
Best finish: P1 – Hungary 2021

Another man rarely mentioned in terms of the better drivers in the sport is Esteban Ocon. If there’s one thing the Frenchman should be known for, it’s his improvement. In his full debut season with Force India, he finished eighth, but after being let go following Lawrence Stroll’s takeover of the team in 2019, Ocon’s future in F1 looked very uncertain.

He was sidelined for a year before being given another chance at Renault alongside Daniel Ricciardo. He would finish 12th that year, including a podium at Sakhir, and finish one spot ahead in the 2021 campaign, a year in which he took his first F1 win.

In 2022 he moved up to P8 and achieved the impressive feat of beating teammate Fernando Alonso on points over a season, one of the rarest F1 feats around.

Now, at age 26, Ocon has developed into something of a Mr. Reliable. From the start of his career he achieved an average P9 finish and in 2023 he added a podium in Monaco to his palmares.

The Frenchman is unlikely to make a move to Ferrari, Red Bull or even back to the team that raised him at Mercedes, but his performances over the past few years have proven just how talented he really is. recommends

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Nico Hulkenberg – Haas
Best result: P4 – Belgium 2012, South Korea 2013, Belgium 2016

While the other four drivers mentioned are worthy contenders, there really can only be one name at the top of this list and that is Nico Hulkenberg van Haas.

After the 2019 season and after being dropped for Esteban Ocon, it appeared the German’s F1 career was dead and buried.

He was 33, holder of the unwanted record of most races without a podium, and saw a future beyond the sport he started with nine years earlier.

Hülkenberg, as it were, kept an eye on things with reserve driver roles at Racing Point and then Aston Martin. That led to some super-sub performances, most notably at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix in 2020 where he qualified P3 before slipping down to a P7 finish. When Haas looked for an experienced driver who still had his superlicence, Hülkenberg emerged as a top contender.

But still the expectation was quite low. With the focus more on the departure of Mick Schumacher, many thought Hulkenberg would play second fiddle to Kevin Magnussen, who had impressed in his own comeback season in 2022, but so far it has been anything but.

Hülkenberg has outscored Magnussen by six to two, has often been seen in the top 10 and has generally outperformed everyone’s expectations except those in the Haas garage.

Trackside engineering director Ayao Komatsu said it best: “Nico delivered exactly what we were looking for.

“During the testing in Abu Dhabi it became really clear that he can feel the car very well, so his feedback is very accurate, he is very calm and he rarely makes mistakes. Even when things aren’t ideal, he just stays calm in the car and gives you the feedback in real time, which doesn’t put engineers on edge, it means they can just concentrate.

“Whenever he’s running, we can collect a decent amount of data and he can somehow comment on the behavior of the car in a way that engineers can relate to. He really accelerates our development and our setup, and Kevin benefits from that too.”

At 35 years old and with Haas’ contract due to expire at the end of 2024, the Hulk may not have many years left in F1, but he has certainly shown he is not there to make up the numbers. Reaching this year’s Haas might be a tough question, but to finally score his first podium would be the fairytale ending he’s been looking for.

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