As with any Formula 1 season, there have been plenty of moments in 2023 where drivers exit the cockpit cursing their luck - though it must be said that some have endured that feeling more than others.
From Logan Sargeant and Esteban Ocon's season-high seven DNF's, to Lewis Hamilton's W14 woes and Daniel Ricciardo's broken hand - 2023 has seen its fair share of misfortune.
In our ongoing annual awards season, where the GPFans reader shapes the outcomes, we've already allowed you to choose the best young driver, the standout non-champion driver, the most thrilling race, the team that showed the most improvement and the best moment of the season. Now, it's time to reflect on F1's unluckiest drivers in 2023.
Assessing the candidates...
Alpine's Ocon could stake claim to the title of the unluckiest driver in 2023, facing seven DNFs, including one during the Qatar Sprint. Failing to complete nearly a third of the races, Ocon was often in contention for points before encountering mechanical issues. A notable instance was in Singapore, where he retired while running sixth, adding to the string of unfortunate incidents, including one on his birthday.
Also with seven DNFs, Sargeant claimed the dubious distinction of incurring the highest crash damage costs across the F1 grid in the 2023 season. Unfortunately for the American, despite demonstrating notable speed, Sargeant grappled with a series of errors, particularly evident during qualifying sessions.
Spare a thought for Sergio Perez, too, who despite finishing P2 in the drivers' championship faced near-constant scrutiny over his future and worth alongside his world championship winning team-mate Max Verstappen. Perez's year was marred by accidents, subpar performance, and a hefty accumulation of penalty points. With the threat of losing this position in the championship looming large in the closing races, he even crashed out of his home race in Mexico at the first corner. Now that's unlucky!
Ferrari's duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc also faced a turbulent season. Sainz performed well, securing P8 with 200 points despite three DNFs. However, Leclerc grappled with bad luck, Red Bull dominance, and Ferrari's inherent challenges. Finishing fifth in the drivers' championship, it was likely the best achievable outcome for him. In Sao Paolo, Leclerc crashed out on the formation lap, which was probably his unluckiest moment of the year. While in Las Vegas, Sainz hit a loose manhole cover which destroyed the underside of his car. When things like that happen, you can only be left looking up to the sky and asking 'why me?'.
Ricciardo may look back on 2023 with fondness, but the broken hand he suffered in the Netherlands sidelined him for five races having only just returned to the grid. His best moment came with a strong showing in the Mexico City Grand Prix, but persistent challenges, including an accident through no fault of his own in Brazil, just go to show that sometimes, you just can't catch a break.
Hamilton faced a somewhat demoralising 2023 season in the subpar W14 Mercedes, witnessing a decline in podiums and points compared to the previous year. Despite these challenges, though, he resiliently secured a P3 finish in the drivers' championship, still contributing significantly to Mercedes' second place in the constructors' championship.