POWER RANKINGS: Which driver scored a perfect 10 after a dramatic 2023 Japanese Grand Prix?
Max Verstappen was back to his exceptional best at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver taking his 13th win of the season. He tops this week’s Power Rankings, but find out below who else joins him in this week's leaderboard.
How it works
• Our five-judge panel assess each driver after every Grand Prix and score them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation
• Our experts’ scores are then averaged out to produce a race score – with those scores then tallied up across the season on our overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)
The two-time world champion was adamant that his and Red Bull’s drop in form in Singapore was simply a blip and he proved himself to be nothing but truthful with a world class performance, one which started from his first lap in FP1.
His form throughout the weekend was out of this world, and that was underlined by his sublime final lap in Q3 – with nobody able to go within half a second of his time. From then on, it was business as usual, as he dominated on Sunday to take another outstanding win, putting one hand on his third drivers’ title.
It’s another second-place finish for Norris on Sunday, but with a performance that clearly showed he has the class of a race winner. Norris qualified third on Saturday, behind Verstappen and his team mate, Oscar Piastri, but turned up on race day a man on a mission.
He overtook Piastri at the start but just did not have the pace to jump Verstappen. From then on, it was simply about cementing second place, which he did expertly, showing strong pace and managing his tyres well in difficult conditions.
That first podium had been coming for the rookie, and it finally happened in Japan, where he finished third. But that was not the only thing he did for the first time at Suzuka, as he qualified second, sealing a maiden front row start for the race.
Unfortunately, he lost out to Norris at the start, and just did not have the pace to keep up with his more experienced team mate. But he did not put a foot wrong all weekend, pulling away from the Ferraris to make sure his spot on the podium was never in doubt.
Leclerc’s season has been hurt at times by issues beyond his control, so in recent weeks it has been good to see the Monegasque showing his true pace, which he did convincingly in Suzuka by finishing fourth.
Ferrari just did not have the pace to match Verstappen and the McLarens, so Leclerc did his best to maximise the performance of his car. He showed his exceptional one-lap ability to qualify fourth, before crossing the line impressively in the same place on Sunday.
Mercedes may not be where they want to be right now but trust Hamilton to achieve the best result possible. The timesheets showed that they were the fourth-best team this weekend behind Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari, so fifth place is a top job.
There were a few contentious moments for the seven-time champ to deal with, including some fiery moments with his team mate George Russell. But he put that all behind him to hold on to a well-earned fifth ahead of the charging Carlos Sainz.
It was announced earlier in the weekend that AlphaTauri’s driver line-up for the 2024 season will be Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo. So, if there was a way for Lawson to show AlphaTauri what they will be missing, his performance in Japan was just that.
He narrowly missed out on a place in Q3, but a strong start, which he had been craving in recent weeks, put him straight into the battle for the top-10 positions. While the AlphaTauris just did not have pace for more, a strong drive to 11th place was just what the doctor ordered.
After qualifying 14th, the last thing Ocon would have wanted was a collision at the start that forced him to pit and knocked him to the back of the field. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened, leaving the French driver with a long recovery drive.
But Ocon showed the type of form he had shown a week prior in Singapore (before he retired at least) as he managed his tyres expertly, while also quickly making his way through the field, to finish in the top 10 for the first time since Zandvoort.
It’s equal scores at Alpine, and while Gasly was not happy about letting Ocon through for P9 at the end, he should be more than satisfied with his own personal showing over the weekend, as he sealed a double-points finish for the team.
He qualified 12th, but was also forced to make a recovery drive of his own, having dropped to 14th. And he did just that, driving so well that chasing Fernando Alonso down for eighth looked to be on the cards. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but it was not for a lack of effort from the French driver.
It may not have been a second consecutive victory but the Spaniard’s form is showing no sign of slowing down, as he once again had a strong weekend. And had a little bit of luck had gone his way, another top-five finish was on the cards.
He qualified sixth but a great start saw him running in the top five behind Leclerc for much of the afternoon. Unfortunately, he was undercut by Hamilton after the final stop, and while he did his best to chase him down until the end, he just did not have enough to overcome the Mercedes driver.
The home favourite had a fine race weekend that started with him being announced as being part of AlphaTauri’s 2024 driver line-up, before he made it into Q3 for the first time since the Monaco Grand Prix in May.
Unfortunately, he found himself outside of the top 10 after the start after qualifying in an admirable ninth place. From then on, it was a struggle to make it back into the points, as he took the chequered flag in 12th. An unfortunate result for what was actually a very good outing.
Two drivers narrowly missed out on a place in this week’s top 10, and they are George Russell and Fernando Alonso. Both drivers scored points for their team, as they finished in seventh and eighth, respectively.
But could both drivers have been on for better finishing positions had Russell opted against the one-stop strategy, or if Alonso had stayed out on the soft tyre a little longer?