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F1 2023 team-by-team review: Doom and gloom for Mercedes but McLaren transformed and Ferrari can close gap

F1 2023 team-by-team review: Doom and gloom for Mercedes but McLaren transformed and Ferrari can close gap

After a season of utter dominance from Max Verstappen and Red Bull, the Formula One world now enjoys a few months off as the focus begins to turn to 2024.

Nobody could get near Red Bull, and more specifically their three-time world champion who failed to win only three races all year. Mercedes finished second in the constructors' championship, but they did not once finish top of the podium.

There were positives for the likes of McLaren and Williams, while things were less chaotic at Ferrari and Fernando Alonso had some standout moments at Aston Martin.

Here's our team-by-team analysis at the end of the 2023 season...

Max Verstappen was untouchable throughout the season (REUTERS)
Max Verstappen was untouchable throughout the season (REUTERS)

Red Bull

Max Verstappen brough the curtain down on the most dominant season in Formula 1 history by winning 19 of 22 races, while Sergio Perez won two of the remaining three. Verstappen led more than 1,000 laps – comfortably a record – on route to wrapping up a hat-trick of world titles.

Amazingly, Red Bull's dominance could have been even more. Perez had a stunning start to the season and briefly threatened a two-way battle for the drivers' crown only for that challenge to fall away dramatically leading to question marks over their future. The reality is Red Bull and Verstappen could well be as dominant again in 2024.

Mercedes

It has been a story of doom and gloom talking to Lewis Hamilton and team principal Toto Wolff, and yet they still did well to finish best of the rest in second place in the constructors' championship after a difficult season. But it was an early season of head scratching before admitting in April time that, after a season and a bit of trying, they had totally got their concept wrong and were planning to start all over again with next season's car.

The one positive was they managed to tie Hamilton down to a two-year contract extension at the end of August.

Lewis Hamilton has not won a race since 2021 (PA)
Lewis Hamilton has not won a race since 2021 (PA)

Ferrari

The Maranello outfit can lay claim to the fact they were the only team to better Red Bull during the course of the season with Carlos Sainz's victory at the Singapore Grand Prix. At points, they threatened to be the second quickest car on the grid but were undone by inconsistencies from one track to the next.

However, there appears to be far greater stability at the team under new team principal Fred Vasseur, who was parachuted in when predecessor Mattia Binotto was deemed surplus to requirements. A good winter's development and they should close the gap next season.

McLaren

Perhaps the biggest transformation of any team must belong to the once dominant force of the sport. Bahrain seems a long time ago where they were utterly dreadful and bringing up the rear of the grid, leading to question marks about Lando Norris looking elsewhere for a competitive drive.

But they turned that on the head with a revamped car, which took on board elements of Red Bull's RB19 and was immediately quick. Having initially been well outside points-scoring positions, by Silverstone Norris was taking the runners-up spot to Verstappen, the first of six second places he would go on to enjoy.

Lando Norris enjoyed a strong season for McLaren (PA)
Lando Norris enjoyed a strong season for McLaren (PA)

Aston Martin

The buzz at the start of the season around Aston Martin was enormous after coming out of the blocks flying and looking like they might have the capability to take on the Red Bulls if they could sort out their in-season development. In truth, it was Fernando Alonso who was the shining light, the 40-something relishing the car at his disposal while team-mate Lance Stroll struggled to get to grips with the machinery.

As the season dragged on, they couldn't quite back up that early season promise although Alonso got himself back on the podium again in Brazil three races from the season's end.

Alpine

There was some early season promise coming out of the French team with an impressive driver line-up in Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. But the pair and the car at their disposal was regularly undone by inconsistency throughout the course of the campaign, undulating from finishing well outside the points one weekend to ending up on the podium the next.

But there are reasons for optimism looking to the future after securing a £175million investment towards the latter part of the season from a star-studded investment group including golfer Rory McIlroy and NFL stars Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.

Rory McIlroy is among the investors in Alpine (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy is among the investors in Alpine (Getty Images)

Williams

There is brewing optimism at the Grove-based team following their best placing in the constructors' championship – seventh – since 2017. Their points haul was not particularly sizeable, just 28 but all but one of those came from Alex Albon, whose stock has risen massively since he was unceremoniously dumped by Red Bull and rehired by Williams. There were a series of drives both in qualify and the races themselves which were far quicker than the team had suggested.

Team-mate Logan Sergeant struggled on his debut and his future is undecided. Overall, an impressive first season at the helm for former Mercedes man James Vowles.

AlphaTauri

This season was the last as AlphaTauri after Red Bull's sister team announced it would more come under the Red Bull racing umbrella. A few possible name changes have been mooted, Racing Bulls being among them. In addition, the team will have a new boss for the first time in its history with Franz Tost having announced the 2023 campaign would be his last.

He will be replaced by Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies. He will have his work cut out to build the team up from eighth place but they have a promising driver line-up in Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo will race for the team again next season (Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo will race for the team again next season (Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

Another team undergoing a name change for 2024, the Alfa Romeo name will be no more after a six-year spell as such. The rebrand is yet to be decided but is part of a slow process to being rebranded as Audi in 2026. It might mean a few fallow years getting up to that point and the best they could hope for in the season past was sneaking the odd point here and there with drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

There is stability next season with both having deals to stay put next season.

Haas

There was no shortage of early season optimism when Haas picked up points in four of the first five races, the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix being the one anomaly. But those points-scoring opportunities became very few and far between as the year dragged on, resulting in the American team finishing rock bottom in the constructors' championship.

It left Nico Hulkenberg calling the team's lack of progress "disappointing and upsetting" and it is fair to say they have taken a big old step back compared to the previous year when Kevin Magnussen took them to eighth in the team standings.