Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez
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There’s an old adage that the first person you have to beat in F1 is your teammate—and 2023’s pairings are providing us with rivalries that have the potential for fireworks.
By The Red Bulletin
5 min readPublished on
This story is part of The Red Bulletin's 2023 Miami Grand Prix Daily publication.
It’s a truism in Formula 1 that, in a sport in which constructors field independently designed and manufactured cars with often wildly different levels of performance, the only reliable measure of a driver’s talent is how he stacks up against his teammate.
Want to survive for another year? Want to make that coveted step up to a more competitive team? The only sure way to climb the greasy pole in sport’s most cutthroat environment is to crush the guy across the garage.
And while we would not go so far as to suggest that there’s presently open conflict within any particular team, this year’s grid has thrown up some pretty spicy pairings that reunite childhood frenemies or pit new and highly rated rookies against star performers. Here are our picks of the best intrateam rivalries to watch in 2023.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

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It’s a storyline as old as F1: a celebrated, championship-winning veteran battling a hungry, hot-shoe teammate with nothing to lose. Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton imperiously ruled the roost at Mercedes for almost a decade, but last year the team replaced Valtteri Bottas with highly rated junior program alum George Russell—who, after three years of struggle at underperforming Williams, was ready for the big time. A truly troublesome 2022 car unsettled Hamilton, and Russell, used to far worse, seized the opportunity—and at the end of the year, the younger Brit finished the season as Mercedes’ only 2022 race winner and ahead of Hamilton in the standings. The battle continues this year. Although Russell outqualified Hamilton at the first three races of the season, the more senior multiple champion had still outraced his young rival at two of those races (Russell suffered a power unit failure in Australia) and after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Hamilton led Russell TK to TK in the points standings.
Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez

Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez

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The Red Bull Racing drivers are into their third campaign as teammates, and while Pérez had a hard time adapting to the RB16B in 2021 and suffered a midseason slump in 2022 (as Verstappen romped to title number two), this year has so far seen the stablemates operating in the same window. Verstappen had the upper hand at the season opener in Bahrain, beating his teammate to pole by a 10th of a second and then making it to the flag 11 seconds ahead of Pérez in the race. In Saudi Arabia. It was the Mexican driver’s turn to shine, as an issue in qualifying dropped Verstappen to 15th on the grid. Pérez took pole and stormed to victory on Sunday, while Verstappen battled through to P2. However, the Dutchman took the fastest lap from his teammate late in the race, leading to raised eyebrows from Pérez, who felt communication in the team was lacking. In Melbourne, Pérez had a rough weekend—in which he spun off in Q1, started from the pit lane and clawed his way to P5—while Verstappen cruised to a win in style. There’s little to suggest there’s any real present tension between the drivers with the best car on the grid, but the battle between these two likely title rivals could become prickly in the future.


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Take two aspiring and talented drivers, pit them against each other from the age of 9 and see what happens. These teammates have been racing each other since their youngest days in karting, and somewhere along the way the pair fell out—massively. In 2018, Gasly claimed that “I started to beat him and he didn’t like it.” Their careers diverged as they climbed the racing ladder, with Ocon being backed by Mercedes and Renault and Gasly by Red Bull. Now, though, the pair have been reunited at Alpine. Will sparks fly? Both drivers are trying to take the high road. Ocon says, “I don’t think we will ever be best friends but that doesn’t matter really,” while Gasly insists that the pair have “had our ups and downs, but I do believe it’s an opportunity to clear what’s happened in the past.” So far, their rivalry has been a slow burn, with Gasly taking points in Bahrain, where Ocon endured a nightmarish outing filled with penalties. Ocon then finished just ahead of his teammate in Saudi Arabia to restore balance but in Australia the pair collided, taking each other out of the race at the restart. A fragile peace still holds—but for how long?


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Norris, 23, has been one of the most impressive drivers on the grid since his 2019 debut. He has racked up six podium finishes—despite being disadvantaged by some uncompetitive McLaren machinery during his tenure with the team—and is frequently identified as a potential world champion of the future. For the previous two years, Norris was partnered at McLaren by Daniel Ricciardo, a veteran who was patently struggling with his car and whose confidence was taking a beating. However, with Ricciardo now enjoying a semi-sabbatical with a reserve role at Red Bull, Norris has been paired with the highly rated Oscar Piastri. A serial title winner in other disciplines, Piastri won the Formula Renault Eurocup and the FIA Formula 3 and Formula 2 championships. And now that McLaren technical chief Andrea Stella has recently said that Piastri’s “final destination will be one of the best drivers on the grid,” Norris’s comfort zone at the team could come under pressure this year. The fact that McLaren are currently suffering with a poor car means that the temperature remains cool, but if the team solves its issues, then the friction between Norris and Piastri could become one of the grid’s most fascinating.

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Sergio Pérez

Sergio Pérez has forged a place in the top echelon of F1 racers through a combination of grit, tenacity and pace, along the way becoming Mexico’s most successful Formula One driver.


Max Verstappen