Ranking the teams on more than just their final standings.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is done and dusted. Once again, Max Verstappen walked away with the big W. He was followed by Sergio Perez, who Charles Leclerc let through so Checo could build a buffer for a five-second penalty he received for colliding with Lando Norris. Why would Leclerc do this? The battle for second in the Constructors' title came down to the wire, and it was in Ferrari's interest to have Checo finish ahead of George Russell in fourth.
Ultimately, the tactic didn't work as Leclerc couldn't sacrifice his spot, so he finished second, followed by George Russel in third. Thanks to that five-second penalty, Checo was demoted to fourth. Lando Norris brought his McLaren home in fifth.
The big news from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is that Mercedes finished second in the Constructors' Championship, taking that spot away from Ferrari. That's millions in development money but less time in the wind tunnel. Hopefully, it's what the team needs to become more competitive next year.
Instead of the usual post-race breakdown, we decided to do our annual F1 report, working our way from the team that finished last up to Red Bull, which claimed every seemingly possible victory. And to make it more exciting and to spark debate, we'll give every team a score out of 10.
Haas had some brilliant moments this season. The final race is a perfect example. Nico Hulkenberg dragged his Haas to Q3 and put it in eighth position. During many qualifying sessions, Haas has proven that it has one-lap pace, but, unfortunately, that never translated to race pace.
This was a lousy season for Haas, and it cost them millions. Last year, it finished the Constructors' Championship in eighth place, and now it has dropped to last. That's a loss of millions in development money for the already cash-strapped team. At least last place comes with the most wind tunnel development time, so we're hoping Haas can do something with that.
As for the drivers, Hulkenberg finished 16th with 9 points, and Kevin Magnussen finished 19th with three points. That's just one point more than Liam Lawson, who only competed in three races for AlphaTauri.
Haas desperately needs to find a better development path when its car is easily overtaken by rookies.
It's tough to see the oldest name in F1 this far down, but there's an excellent reason. Even before the start of the 2023 season, Alfa Romeo announced that it would end its partnership with Sauber, the actual team (Alfa Romeo was just a title sponsor).
Alfa Romeo only intended to use the last six seasons for marketing and was not too concerned with race results. Its departure this year was planned all along, but it may not be the last we see of the famed Italian name. Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu will race under a new name next year, and hopefully, they'll have a car worthy of their skills.
Things are looking good for Sauber. It will be competing under the Audi name in 2026, but, to date, no announcement has been made about what's going to happen with the team next year. Our best guess is that it will return as Sauber with a bit of sponsorship money from Audi. The German brand has two years to get fans amped for its debut as a full factory team in 2026.
AlphaTauri won't be returning next year. Instead, it likely will be racing under the banner of Racing Bulls, which we think is a dumb name.
Whatever the case may be, the team started off badly. Red Bull's wunderkind, Nyck de Vries, failed to deliver, and Daniel Ricciardo was called back to complete the season. He then had an unfortunate incident with a tire wall, so the team had to borrow Liam Lawson from Red Bull. Lawson put in such a heroic effort that we were sure he'd get a permanent seat, but there's simply nobody to take a place from.
The good news is that Racing Bulls is in a good position for next year. It will be more of a mini Red Bull Racing than ever before and will inherit as much as legally possible from the all-conquering RB19. With a veteran driver like Ricciardo behind the wheel and Yuki Tsunoda swearing his way through the field, we expect big things from Racing Bulls next year.
What a brilliant year for Williams. It dragged itself all the way from last to seventh, scoring millions in the process. If the team keeps this momentum going, it won't be long until it's battling at the sharp end of the midfield.
Kudos to Williams for sticking with Logan Sargeant. He made some mistakes this season, but he's not Nikita Mazepin 2.0. The Russian just straight-up sucked and couldn't even successfully complete the first corner in his first race. At least Sargeant contributed one point.
The real stars of the show were Alex Albon and James Vowles, who came to Williams after leaving his cushy job as Mercedes' strategy director. Albon put himself in 13th place by scoring 27 points, often driving his car well beyond what seemed technically possible. And Vowles found a way to motivate a team that has been struggling for years.
For years, it looked like Williams would simply fade into obscurity, which is sad considering where it comes from. But now it's on an upward trajectory, and we can't wait to see what happens next.
Alpine had a rough year, dropping from fourth to sixth. We can't blame the drivers, who often put in a good race. At the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon was on fire. Estie Bestie also had terrible luck this season and is officially the driver who put in the least laps during the 2023 championship. Pierre Gasly was also in good shape, landing some pretty impressive overtakes.
The French team's problems come from behind the scenes. First, the CEO was dumped, and then Alpine got rid of its team boss. This happened mid-season and must have had a knock-on effect on the team. If ever there was a team that needed a three-month break, Alpine is it.
Let's hope the team returns with a management structure that actually works.
Aston Martin pushed itself from seventh to fifth, though it's not all good news. It should have finished higher if you look at the first few races of the season. Red Bull dominated, but Alonso was on the so-called post-race Max Verstappen podcast more often than not.
Despite an all-new campus and multiple 110th-anniversary celebrations, the team started sliding backward as soon as the first upgrades rolled in. Instead of making the car faster, Aston's upgrades had the opposite effect. In the end, the team removed all the upgrades and returned to the OG car. That gave Alonso a much-needed boost, and the team now seems to understand where it went wrong.
Aston Martin needs to make some tough choices. This year, it was the best example of why it is not just the car that matters. Fernando Alonso finished the championship in fourth, which is his best result since he finished second in 2013. He scored 206 points for the team. Lance Stroll only amassed 74 points. You can see why it's essential to have two top-tier drivers in a team.
If Aston had that from the start, it would be up there duking it out with Ferrari and Mercedes.
At the start of the season, McLaren sucked big time. It looked like Oscar Piastri made the poorest decision of his life by not sticking with Alpine. The Papaya team would have done better during those first few races if it had sent a McLaren 750S out there. Even an MP4-12C would have gotten the job done better.
But then McLaren's fortunes changed, and suddenly Lando Norris found himself on Verstappen's podcast frequently. Piastri won his first (Sprint) race and had one of the best rookie years we've seen since Sir Lewis Hamilton stepped into a McLaren. Piastri finished in ninth, beating several F1 veterans.
But the real star at McLaren is Lando Norris. Surely, his first victory must be around the corner. Despite racing the first half of the season with one hand tied behind his back, Norris finished in sixth with 205 points. That's just one point behind Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso.
Norris and Piastri worked together beautifully to push McLaren into fourth place ahead of Alpine. Its car is so close to the Bulls, and the extra millions it will be getting next year should help it close the gap.
Ferrari was its own worst enemy this season, which is why it lost second place in the Constructors' race to Mercedes. But it is worth pointing out that Ferrari got its mojo back these last two races, and the roar of the crowds when Leclerc passed Perez on the final lap at the Las Vegas Grand Prix was a magical moment.
While it's easy to dump on Ferrari, let's not forget that it was the only manufacturer to take a win from Red Bull, Carlos Sainz prevailing in Singapore to stand in the way of Red Bull making a clean sweep this season.
For a while there, it looked like Sainz would end up higher in the Drivers' Championship than Ferrari's golden boy. But Leclerc put in a mighty effort near the end and tied with Alonso on 206 points. Alonso is just one spot higher by finishing on the podium more. But Leclerc needs to watch his back because Sainz finished in seventh, just six points behind.
It's good to have the old Lewis Hamilton back. Last year, George Russell finished in fourth, two spots ahead of Hamilton. This year, Hamilton took third place behind the Red Bull duo, and he did so in a car that's probably the fourth fastest on the grid. He gave us some GOAT-like driving but made a massive mess of things at certain races. At least things have returned to semi-normal, with Russell finishing eighth this season.
Mercedes is proof that consistency is more important than outright speed, though the car was looking mighty fast during the last few races. By the time testing starts in Barcelona in March, Mercedes may finally have this ground force thing figured out.
It has two strong drivers, but they need a decent car. That's Merc's number-one priority right now. Get Hamilton a vehicle worthy of his talent.
Well, what other score could you possibly give Red Bull? It won everything there was to win, apart from the Malaysian Grand Prix. It secured the Constructors' title at the Japanese Grand Prix, and Verstappen won the Drivers' Championship a week later. Sergio Perez finally secured second place at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
With 860 points, Red Bull has more than double the number of points of Mercedes in second place. In fact, if you added Mercedes and Ferrari's points together, you still wouldn't get to Red Bull. Adrian Newey and his team built a monster of a car, and RB19 will go down as one of the all-time greats.
Then we move on to the Champ, who broke more records than he won races. Sure, there will be fanboys who say that this kind of domination is not good for the sport, but we love witnessing greatness in action. Also, where were you guys during those eight years Mercedes dominated the Constructors' Championship?
We'd like to make a case for Liam Lawson, after being thrust into an F1 car with little warning and still turning up at each and every session. The composure and speed he displayed are exactly what an F1 driver needs to succeed, and he behaved like a seasoned pro.
Oscar Piastri is also worth a shout for entering his rookie year with a bit of rust and still taking the fight to Lando Norris. Once the car was good enough to compete near the front, both McLaren drivers seized whatever opportunities they could, and Piastri's calm focus when those chances came was commendable. Norris was good too, but he made several costly mistakes in Qualifying.
Fernando Alonso also proved yet again that to him, age is just a number. As we've always said, put Alonso in a competitive car, and the rest of the pack will start sweating.
But two drivers stood head and shoulders above the rest. Max Verstappen is almost robot-like in his consistency and his car control is among the best out there. Yet, we found ourselves even more impressed with Alex Albon. Like Verstappen, his points haul was leagues ahead of his teammate, but what makes Albon's achievements more special is how he was competing in one of the most compromised machines on the grid while Verstappen was in the most successful F1 car ever.
But what do you think? We look forward to reading your opinions in the comments.