Which driver would be the quickest in equal machinery?

Published on 20 September 2023 at 13:00

Formula 1 is a sport where engineers come into fruition designing philosophies that can gain their team an advantage over their rivals. Over the years of the sport, there has been clear dominant teams - most recently Mercedes and Red Bull. However, if all drivers were put in the same car, who would be the quickest?


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This season, it has been Max Verstappen and Red Bull dominating the 2023 season. Only up until last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, Red Bull had won every race of the 2023 season.


Verstappen had also won 10 races in a row prior to the race in Singapore, breaking Sebastian Vettel's record of nine consecutive wins back in 2013.


It is fair to say that the RB19 has been in a league of its own throughout the entirety of the 2023 season. However, it has been Verstappen dominating, whereas teammate Sergio Perez has struggled significantly more compared to the Dutchman.


Max Verstappen


Verstappen is on course to winning his third consecutive world championship with Red Bull, after dominating the 2023 season. The Dutchman had also won the previous two championships in 2021 and 2022.


The reigning world champion has been praised by many for his excellence, comparing his talents to the great Ayrton Senna. He has been in the sport for a while, despite only being 25 years old. 2015 would be Verstappen's debut season in Formula 1, meaning he has a lot of experience at a young age.


Verstappen proved his talents during his first race for Red Bull at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver would achieve a debut win after both of the dominant Mercedes cars took themselves out of the race.


During the 2021 season, the Dutchman had an intense title fight with Lewis Hamilton, going right down to the wire. Both drivers' respective cars performed better at certain tracks, resulting the drivers being tied for the final race in Abu Dhabi.


That final race in Abu Dhabi can be labelled as controversial as Hamilton was cruising to victory without the safety car. However, barring that race, you could see the competitiveness between the pair, making it a close battle.


Lewis Hamilton


Hamilton is statistically the greatest driver of all time. The Briton has won 102 races - clear of any other driver. He also has 104 pole positions - well clear of Michael Schumacher in second with 68. The Mercedes driver has won a total of seven world championships, equalling with Michael Schumacher.


When Hamilton first joined Formula 1, he would have a tough teammate during his rookie season in Fernando Alonso at McLaren, Alonso had just come off the back of two consecutive world championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006.


However, that would not deter the rookie as he would finish the season equal on points with Alonso, finishing just one point behind 2007 championship winner Kimi Raikkonen. The Briton had one mistake at the Chinese Grand Prix, getting stuck in the gravel when going in the pits, that cost him a championship on his rookie season.


However, Hamilton would win his first world championship in 2008 for McLaren. Then he would win six more championships with Mercedes during their dominant turbo hybrid era.


The seven-time champion has had tough teammates throughout his career. He started with Fernando Alonso, then Jenson Button at McLaren. When he joined Mercedes he had a fierce rivalry against Nico Rosberg, before having a good partnership with Valtteri Bottas. Now the Briton has George Russell - a young driver with high potential.


Fernando Alonso


Alonso has been in the sport more than any other driver in Formula 1 history. At last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, the Spaniard became the first driver to drive 100,000km in the sport.


Alonso debuted in Formula 1 all the way back in 2001 - before some of the current Formula 1 drivers were born. The Spaniard drove for Minardi - the first of many teams he would drive for throughout his career.


Throughout his career, Alonso would drive for Minardi, Renault, McLaren, Ferrari, Alpine and now is at Aston Martin. During his time in the sport, the Spaniard has had teammate such as Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Esteban Ocon. Most recently, the 42-year-old is now teammates with Lance Stroll.


Throughout his career, Alonso has only won two world championships, which was achieved with Renault in 2005 and 2006. The Spaniard came close to world championships with Ferrari in 2010 and 2012, but was narrowly beaten both times by Sebastian Vettel. Not winning a championship with Ferrari was the 42-year-old's biggest regret.


Any of the other drivers?


The sport has seen some talented drivers enter over the past years. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is considered one of the quickest over one lap. However, the Monegasque is known for pushing too hard at times, ending up in the barriers.


Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz has always been a consistent driver. However, the Spaniard has upped his game recently, taking victory in Singapore and has been qualifying well compared to Leclerc also, taking pole in both Monza and Singapore.


Lando Norris has improved year after year since his debut season for McLaren back in 2019. The Briton has proved that he can fight at the front, especially this season, securing multiple podium finishes with the upgraded MCL60. The 23-year-old has come close to race wins in Sochi and Singapore, but has not had a race-winning car to prove himself yet.


Mercedes driver George Russell impressed many at the start of his Formula 1 career at Williams, managing to occasionally get into Q3 with the slowest car on the grid. He eventually got his move to Mercedes. However, the Silver Arrows had become less dominant than they have been with the new regulations in 2022. The Briton managed to win last year's Sao Paulo Grand Prix and managed to take pole at last year's Hungarian Grand Prix.


Overall, I think Lewis Hamilton edges Max Verstappen as being the quickest driver in equal cars. I think the Mercedes driver has the experience over him and still obtains his rapid pace, which is shown in qualifying, whilst having better race craft through his experience in the sport.


Nathan Hartley 

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