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Autosport Top 50 of 2023: #21 George Russell

8th in the Formula 1 World Championship 

Top 50 2023 dotcom21

Top 50 Drivers of 2023

Autosport's team of expert journalists got together to try to assess who were the top 50 drivers of 2023. Here are the results.

On qualifying performance, George Russell was 11-11 in the head-to-head against Lewis Hamilton, but the younger Briton was often outgunned by his more experienced Mercedes team-mate in the races. Overall, Russell termed 2023 as “one of the worst seasons of my career” as Mercedes failed to make the strides it hoped for with the W14.  

PLUS: Is Mercedes experiencing an extended blip or the end of an F1 dynasty?

He enjoyed excellent races in Spain and the Abu Dhabi finale, along with his Qatar recovery to fourth after the first-corner clash with Hamilton, but there were low points too. Unforced errors in Canada and Singapore knocked the wind out of his sails, particularly at Marina Bay during his pursuit of victory. 

Why Russell's season was better than the results suggest 

“It's just tiny little things which you can say 'easy to rectify that'. When it happens once or twice, you can put it down to bad luck. When it happens on maybe nine, 10, 11 occasions throughout the year, it's definitely not luck.” 

This is Russell's assessment of the mistakes and ill-fortune that he faced over 2023. Results in 2022 seemed to be looking up by the end of the year, as the King's Lynn-born racer had chalked up his first F1 win in Brazil, but 2023 brought no such results. Mercedes went winless for the first time since 2011 as a result. 

2023 proved a difficult second album for Russell with Mercedes, although he ended it on a high with Abu Dhabi podium

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

2023 proved a difficult second album for Russell with Mercedes, although he ended it on a high with Abu Dhabi podium

The early season showed glimmers of promise as Russell hoped to outscore Hamilton for a second successive year, particularly with his qualifying efforts, but the end results did not reflect this. He fought for a podium in Saudi Arabia, until Verstappen muscled his way back into the top three. Then there was his excellent start in Australia, but a red flag derailed his early pitstop gamble when Alex Albon crashed – before his engine failed.  

In his haste to reclaim results, Russell reckoned that he'd been "overreaching at times, which has led to a bit of a drop in performance" - along with his unforced error in Canada that cost a potential podium finish while chasing Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. 

Top 10: Ranking the top 10 Formula 1 drivers of 2023

He returned from the summer break with increased confidence, but Zandvoort was undone by a late pit call amid the early rain, and Singapore was strong up until his Turn 10 crash on the final lap. On a day when Carlos Sainz had been keeping Russell right where he'd wanted him, tucked up behind Lando Norris, a final lapse of judgement cost him third place. 

Overall, he'd fallen short of Hamilton over the season - but at least ended the year on a high with his third-place finish in Abu Dhabi to help Mercedes clinch second in the constructors' standings. And there will be lessons for Russell after his difficult second Mercedes album; patience is a virtue.

There must be some degree of frustration that Mercedes' drop in performance had coincided with his arrival, but he must knuckle down and help the team create its own revived fortunes going into 2024. 

 
Russell must avoid the kind of mistakes he made in Canada to help Mercedes recover its championship-winning form

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Russell must avoid the kind of mistakes he made in Canada to help Mercedes recover its championship-winning form

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