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Sky Sports F1 Podcast: Who was the best driver on the grid in 2023 aside from world champion Max Verstappen?

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Karun Chandhok, Ted Kravitz and Bernie Collins tell us who has impressed most this season beyond Max Verstappen.

Bernie Collins, Karun Chandhok and Ted Kravitz picked the drivers they thought performed best in 2023 as they reviewed the season on the Sky Sports F1 Podcast.

With Max Verstappen having delivered the most dominant season in F1 history, there was little doubt that the Dutchman was the standout driver of the year.

The competition was far more fierce behind him, with several drivers making the most of the cars that could not keep up with the RB19.

Reflecting on the season, Bernie, Karun and Ted went through several categories, including:

  • Most under-rated driver
  • Best race weekend
  • Best qualifying session
  • Most heart-warming moment

You can find out their selections for those by listening to the Sky Sports F1 Podcast above, but for now, here is who they each chose as the best driver aside from Verstappen.

Bernie Collins: Alex Albon, Williams

I class the driver of the year as the driver who's out-driven the car, the driver who's performed better in the car than I think other people could have done in that car and got better results than potentially the car deserves.

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Watch Alex Albon knock his team-mate Logan Sargeant out of qualifying with a last ditch effort!

I was going to say Albon, when you look at where Williams finished in the Constructors' Championship, they finished P7 - that's massive for them.

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Albon scored, I think, all but one of those points. So he has out-driven that car, he has brought that team forward in a way that when you look at the drivers' and constructors' standings, it stands out.

And that's why I thought that he'd driven really well through a lot of races this year and qualifying.

Karun Chandhok: Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin

I just think he maximised every opportunity in a very Fernando Alonso-esque way. There were races at the start of the year where the Aston was clearly very competitive and he was racking up those podiums and we all thought, 'this is going be brilliant, they're going be the second best team.'

And then from Barcelona onwards, we had some changes to the front wings and things like that came about, and they never quite managed that same form as they showed in the early part of the season.

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Ride on board with Fernando Alonso as he takes on Sergio Perez in an epic battle to seal a podium place in Brazil

Other people develop, it's all relative… it's hard to say if they went backwards, but the reality is, if you look at the early part of the year - I was doing some numbers yesterday - until Spain, they were 0.51 per cent off the pace setting Red Bull. From Spain onwards, it becomes nearly 0.9 per cent, that gap to Red Bull, so that seems to be the tipping point.

But I look at races like Holland, where we had that rain, we look at Brazil - a bit of strange weather in qualifying, Alonso's there. He hangs on in the race, incredibly opportunistic when it came to racing against Checo there towards the end.

Apart from Mexico, where it looked like he was carrying some damage, there was never a weekend where he was outpaced by his team-mate, and I think he really, really maximised any performance that was there in the car.

Ted Kravitz: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

I actually think it's Fernando, but I'm going to say Lewis Hamilton.

In a car where, do you remember at the start of the season, there was this thing where Lewis was telling us all that he sits too far ahead in the car and he feels disconnected from the car?

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Lewis Hamilton pips Max Verstappen to claim a record 9th pole position at the Hungaroring

Well, he stopped telling us that he sits too far forward in the car, maybe because Mercedes were saying, 'well, he sat no further forward than he did last year.' And Lewis would say, 'well, yeah, but last year didn't go exactly very well either and I just didn't talk about it.'

But I just think when you look that he was not connected to the car and particularly that was evidenced in Abu Dhabi last weekend, for him to still be P3 in the drivers' [standings], is the driver of the year who's not Max Verstappen.

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