Ranking the top 3 combustible driver lineups on the 2023 F1 grid

When it comes to F1 driver line-ups, it’s always tough to find the perfect one. You don’t want to have this driver. 1 and driver no. 2 dynamic from the very first race. Whenever this happens, it means that one of the two drivers is not extracting the best from the car.

At the same time, you don’t want a scenario where the two drivers are so competitive that they keep tripping over each other.

What any F1 team ideally wants is two drivers that are relatively competitive against each other but still work together for the team’s cause. This helps to push the team forward and helps achieve the best out of the machinery.

More often than not, in the history of F1, we have seen far too many cases where teammates do not get along. Why? Because at the end of the day, an F1 driver is a competitive beast. He just cannot let his teammates run all over him.

On the current F1 grid, it does appear that quite a few teams have struck the right balance in terms of what they look for in a driver pair. Having said that, there are still teams that might have a line-up that could prove to either be tough to manage or just lead to a complete implosion.

In this feature, we will rank the top three driver pairings that could prove to be a combustible partnership in F1. So, which driver pairings are we talking about? Well, let’s take a look!

#3 Lewis Hamilton-George Russell (Mercedes)

It looks unlikely that the Mercedes driver pair could have a falling out in the 2023 F1 season. The two drivers had a strong relationship in 2022 and George Russell has shown tremendous respect in the way he has conducted himself with Lewis Hamilton.

every time someone speaks down on lewis hamilton, george russell’s eye starts to twitch https://t.co/Nk8xPg8eQn

To add to this, it’s hard to deny the kind of respect Toto Wolff commands within the team and the two drivers would be foolish to push the boundaries against his authority. Having said that, it is also hard to deny that the 2023 F1 season could see elevated stakes.

There’s a strong possibility that Mercedes will be in title contention this season and if that is the case, then the two drivers, in all likelihood, will be in title contention.

What this would mean is George Russell having the opportunity to fight for the title for the first time in his career, something he has craved all his life. On the other hand, Lewis Hamilton will have the opportunity to beat Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles.

It’s hard to judge who would be the hungrier of the two drivers, but it’s not hard to see that neither of the two are going to back off. Are the two Mercedes drivers on a collision course in 2023? There is certainly a possibility of that happening.

#2 Fernando Alonso-Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

If Fernando Alonso was angry at Esteban Ocon’s staunch defense on the track despite him being his teammate, then he has another thing coming for him with Lance Stroll. In terms of driver quality, Stroll is surely a step down from Ocon. But when it comes to staunch defenses against teammates, Stroll makes Ocon look like Alonso’s best friend.

Fernando Alonso was sent to flight school by Lance Stroll and, in just over half the race, went from being at the back from earning points. All of that was done in a car damaged from the collision. Alonso’s drive in that second half of the US GP is EXTREMELY underrated.🐐 https://t.co/nUNV1pe3pr

The entire 2022 F1 season saw far too many occasions where Sebastian Vettel had to take extreme measures to overtake his teammates. These same teammates would have no problem in pushing the German into the wall or off the track if he could.

Vettel’s calmer nature and Stroll being the son of the Aston Martin team owner meant that there were hardly any repercussions or objections raised by Vettel. Even after a clear over-the-line move by Stroll in the Brazil sprint where Stroll pushed Vettel off the track, the German did not say anything.

However, don’t expect the same from Alonso. The Spaniard has a very low tolerance for such actions and would not think twice before speaking his mind to Stroll.

Stroll, on the other hand, is pretty much the owner of the team and he’s not going to back down. Ultimately, we’re looking at the two drivers heading for a collision course this season.

#1 Esteban Ocon-Pierre Gasly (Alpine F1)

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly are two of the brightest talents to come out of France in the last few years. This F1 season, the two drivers will be paired together at Alpine, making it an All-French line-up for the French team.

Before we draw any conclusions on how this pans out, let’s break this down into three parts. Their relationship prior to being teammates, their level of performance, and the stakes involved.

Anthoine Hubert, Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly https://t.co/CTOPVc5koK

In terms of relationship, the two appear to be getting along these days but have had a major falling out in the past. They might be acquaintances, but they’re not necessarily friends at the moment.

Talking about performance levels, looking at both drivers, it’s hard to set them apart. Both are race winners in F1 and have done that in a midfield car. In terms of performance, the two drivers should have a relatively similar performance level.

Finally, the most crucial part of the debate is the stakes. At stake is being the team leader at Alpine and proving yourself to be a viable candidate for a front-running seat if one opens up.

If either Ocon or Gasly is able to outperform their teammate comprehensively, the stock of the driver will be at its highest, and seats at top teams could open up. When we consider all of this, is it safe to say that Gasly and Ocon are heading for a collision course? Yes, it certainly looks like it.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat


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