Our Top 50 drivers of the year… (40th to 31st)

Our journalists have elected their 50 best drivers of the 2023 season, all categories combined. At the end of a long process of selection, consultation and votes, here is our verdict.

Published on 27/12/2023 à 11:01

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Our Top 50 drivers of the year… (40th to 31st)

AUTOhebdo invites you to discover the second part of its Top 50 2023 with the drivers ranging from 40th to 31st place. ©DR

> Our Top 50 drivers of the year 2023… (50th to 41st)

40. Andrea Kimi Antonelli

2023 FRECA Champion

If all championships were equal, the Italian hope of the car would probably be in the top 10! The most highly rated nugget of the promotion formulas, Kimi punctuated his second season in single-seater racing with a second major title. After the Italian F4 in 2022, the protégé of Mercedes won the FRECA (4 victories, 300 points), an extremely tough championship whose last rookie champion was Lando Norris in 2016. Last winter, he also won F3 Asia, the preparatory championship for the European season. This extraordinary talent with a meteoric trajectory will have to pass two levels at once in 2024, since he will be aligned with Prema alongside Ollie Bearman in Formula 2. By skipping the Formula 3, SO. Until then, not many people among the top pilots had risked it. Its evolution will therefore be interesting to follow…

ANTONELLI Andrea Kimi, Formula Regional Middle East & FIA Europe by Alpine, portrait during the 2023 FIA Rally & Circuit Prize Giving Ceremony in Baky on December 9, 2023 at Baku Convention Center in Baku, Azerbaijan - Photo Grégory Lenormand / DPPI

Italian nugget Andrea Kimi Antonelli will move directly from FRECA to Formula 2 in 2024. / © DPPI

39. Robert Kubica

2 LMP2023 world champion in WEC

Trophy winner Endurance FIA LMP2 Drivers with his teammates Louis Deletraz with whom the alchemy has been operating since 2021 and Rui Andrade, the ex-driver of Formula 1 – BMW Sauber (2006-2009), Renault (2010) Williams (2019) et Alfa Romeo (2021) – is rightly rewarded for his efforts in the WEC. He who narrowly missed the category victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, first with Prema last year then with WRT during the Centenary in June, confirmed that he had become one of the leading drivers in the discipline. A recognition which once again opened the doors of Ferrari to him, he who without his accident in rally in 2011 would have been promoted to pilot of the Team in F1 for the 2012 financial year. Next year, he should play in the 3e 499P Hypercar from the Italian firm, a reward worth all the titles. Adding a victory in the Sarthe to his already track record will be the objective for this driver known for his high speed, his determination in the face and his extreme resilience.

KUBICA Robert (pol), Team WRT, Oreca 07 - Gibson, portrait during the Bapco Energies WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain 2023, 7th round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, from November 1 to 4, 2023 on the Bahrain International Circuit, in Sakhir, Bahrain - Photo Julien Delfosse / DPPI

Robert Kubica will finally join Ferrari and renew the thread of his destiny. / © DPPI

38. Ryō Hirakawa

World Champion Hypercar Drivers 2023 in WEC

Compared to his teammates Sébastien Buemi et Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa is ranked much lower in this ranking. Over the entire season, the Japanese would have deserved to be higher: for his second season in the premier category in WEC, within a team Toyota still as dominant, the 29-year-old driver was not ridiculous, as evidenced by his fine stint at Fuji by going for the Porsche head to take back control. However, his 2023 campaign was marred by an unfortunate event, and not the least: his accident in the final minutes of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In pursuit of the #51 Ferrari, the Japanese driver made a mistake at the worst possible time. Toyota's unfortunate hero at Le Mans, Ryo Hirakawa found himself, sometimes wrongly, at the center of criticism. A difficult but necessary step in his learning phase of high level Endurance.

HIRAKAWA Ryo (jpn), Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota GR010 - Hybrid, portrait during the Bapco Energies WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain 2023, 7th round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, from November 1 to 4, 2023 on the Bahrain International Circuit, in Sakhir, Bahrain - Photo Frédéric Le Floc'h / DPPI

New title for Ryō Hirakawa in the WEC but his mistake at the 24 Hours of Le Mans weighs heavily on the final results. / © DPPI

37. Yuki Tsunoda

14th in the 1 Formula 2023 Drivers’ World Championship

The Japanese appears in our top 50 for the first time in his career. Legitimately overshadowed by Pierre Gasly in 2021 and 2022, Yuki tsunoda took on the role of boss this season. Following the departure of the Frenchman, the Nippon was able to become a leader at Alpha Tauri, despite the difficulty of having to deal with three different teammates during the year. Six times in the points, he came close to giving the Faenza team 7th place in the Manufacturers' championship. However, Yuki still lacks more consistency in his qualifying results to achieve big results every week. This is undoubtedly what is still missing to be really considered by Red Bull for the second seat next to Max Verstappen. By reaching a new level in 2024, Yuki will certainly be able to claim a top 20 in our ranking next year.

TSUNODA Yuki (jap), Scuderia AlphaTauri AT04, portrait during the 2023 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 22th round of the 2023 Formula One World Championship from November 24 to 26, 2023 on the Yas Marina Circuit, in Abu Dhabi - Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

Yuki Tsunoda has taken on a new dimension at AlphaTauri this season. / © DPPI

36. Doriane Pin

Revelation of the year in WEC, vice-champion of Formula 4 South East Asia

Dorian Pin quickly took the plunge for its first season in prototype. Of the 1000 Miles of Sebring (USA), the 19-year-old Frenchwoman became the first woman to lead a proto class in the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship. Still in Florida, she scored her first podium in the category in her first race in LM P2 alongside Mirko Bortolotti and Daniil Kvyat. Success was not necessarily there during the following events on the calendar and the Habs did not have the chance to experience the joys of the WEC podium again. Her level of performance nevertheless marked observers and her peers to the point that the young driver was named Revelation of the Year by the championship. Building on his momentum, Pin made a remarkable debut in single-seaters at the end of the year. Competing in the last six rounds of the Formula 4 South East Asia championship, she scored four podiums including a victory and finished vice-champion.

Sport minister Amélie Oudea-Castéra with LeBron James, FILLON Pierre (fra), President of ACO, GOSSELIN Pierre and PIN Doriane (fra), Prema Racing, Oreca 07 - Gibson, portrait during the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2023 on the Circuit des 24 Hours of Le Mans from June 10 to 11, 2023 in Le Mans, France - Photo Germain Hazard / DPPI

Doriane Pin greeted by the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudea-Castéra at the 24 2023 Hours of Le Mans, under the eye of Pierre Fillon and LeBron James. / © DPPI

35. Esteban Ocon

12th in the 1 Formula 2023 Drivers' World Championship, 1 podium in Monaco

His potential was known, and it is no surprise that he confirmed in 2023 that he is capable of great things when everything goes his way. Like in Monaco where Esteban achieved what is considered one of the best performances of the season for a driver. On provisional pole at the end of Q3 before taking fourth place on the grid which became third after the penalty of Charles Leclerc, he was able to keep his composure throughout the race, even in the rain, to distance Lewis Hamilton and climb to the third step of the podium after one of his best career performances. Often ahead of his teammate Gasly in the race, he lost the qualifying battle (14 to 8). Despite having one more top 10 than his alter ego Normand, he ended the year four points behind the latter, who managed to slightly eclipse him.

OCON Esteban (fra), Alpine F1 Team A523, portrait during the 2023 Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix, 21th round of the 2023 Formula One World Championship from November 17 to 19, 2023 on the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, in Las Vegas, USA - Photo Antonin Vincent / DPPI

Esteban Ocon, here at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, had his ups and downs with Alpine this season. / © DPPI

34. Frederik Vesti

2023 FIA Formula 2 runner-up (6 wins)

The Dane held the cards in hand but a terrible chain of circumstances made him lose everything. Exit in the reconnaissance lap in Belgium, wheel loose in the Netherlands, stuck in Italy, Frederik Vesti experienced an ordeal during the summer which practically offered the title on a plate to Theo Pourchaire. In Abu Dhabi, he tried everything but the 25 points behind were difficult to erase, ultimately failing by 11 points. However, we must not forget that the Scandinavian had one of the most polished seasons of his career. No other driver has won as much as him because in addition to the two Main Races, the Mercedes protégé has gleaned four Sprints for a total of six successes in 2023. Unfortunately for him, insufficient to fill the void left by his misfortunes.

VESTI Frederik, Mercedes AMG F1 Team W14, action during the 2023 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 22th round of the 2023 Formula One World Championship from November 24 to 26, 2023 on the Yas Marina Circuit, in Abu Dhabi - Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

Frederik Vesti drove for Mercedes during the F1 rookie tests. / © DPPI

33. Liam Lawson

2023 Super Formula runner-up, luxury F1 freelancer at AlphaTauri

The New Zealander was difficult to classify, due to his somewhat unusual season. He went to Japan, adapted brilliantly to Super Formula to the point of leading the championship for several weeks, and finally finished vice-champion. This fine performance, achieved without prior experience in the land of the rising sun and while he was discovering the car, alone deserved a presence in our top 50. His five Formula 1 Grands Prix in which he participated as a replacement Daniel Ricciardo at short notice allowed him to gain valuable positions to reach the gates of our top 50. The Kiwi in fact inherited the wheel from the Australian at Zandvoort, in Free Practice 3, during a very difficult Saturday due to weather conditions. His five-race stint was brilliant, as he regularly dominated Yuki Tsunoda, and even achieved an extraordinary 9th place in Singapore, signing the best performance of the year for AlphaTauri (since beaten by Ricciardo, 7th in Mexico). By displaying his potential in this way, Liam has probably already secured a seat in F1 for 2025.

LAWSON Liam (nzl), Scuderia AlphaTauri AT04, portrait during the 2023 Formula 1 Lenovo United States Grand Prix, 18th round of the 2023 Formula One World Championship from October 20 to 22, 2023 on the Circuit of The Americas, in Austin, USA - Photo Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Launched into the deep end of F1 after Daniel Ricciardo's injury, Liam Lawson impressed with Alpha Tauri. / © DPPI

32. Jules Gounon

Winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona, winner of the 12 Hours of Bathurst, 2023 GTWCE Endurance Cup champion, winner of Petit Le Mans, champion IGTC 2023

It is still one of the references of world GT. As in 2022, Jules Gounon once again had a successful season this year. The French driver – who now races under an Andorran license – won prestigious races in 2023: 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Bathurst, Petit Le Mans… Still aboard the Mercedes-AMG GT3, Jules Gounon managed to maintain his title in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, including a 2nd place at the 24 Hours of Spa, and in the Intercontinental GT Challenge with five podiums in as many rounds. Vice-champion in the GTD Pro category in IMSA, the native of Aubenas (Ardèche) even tried his hand at the FIA ​​GT World Cup in Macau at the end of the year, without however experiencing the same success for his first in the streets of the city-state. Nothing to spoil a remarkable 2023 record!

Another season full of trophies for Jules Gounon, who now rides under an Andorran license. / ©SRO/IGTC

31. George Russell

8th in the 1 Formula 2023 Drivers' World Championship, 2 podiums (Spain, Abu Dhabi)

The fall is dizzying for the man who was 4th in our previous ranking. The Briton has not had a bad season, his level of performance has often been very good (11-11 in qualifying against Hamilton), but he has had too many slumps and above all made too many mistakes. in important moments. Unhappy in Australia with his engine when victory was far from unthinkable, George mainly made mistakes alone in Monaco, Canada and Singapore. Each time, the podium was within reach. Given the talent and intrinsic level of the boy, this is obviously insufficient. The 59 points behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the championship largely explain this ranking that is not in line with his qualities.

RUSSELL George (gbr), Mercedes AMG F1 Team W14, portrait during the 2023 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 22th round of the 2023 Formula One World Championship from November 24 to 26, 2023 on the Yas Marina Circuit, in Abu Dhabi - Photo DPPI

George Russell had a more complicated second season in Mercedes colors. But his driving skills are not in question. / © DPPI

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