Famed publisher Autosport has released their renowned Top 50 drivers list of 2023, which features eight Kiwis and an unsurprising top spot for Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen.
American-based drivers Tom Blomqvist, Scott McLaughlin and Scott Dixon all appear on the rankings, as does Super Formula runner-up and five-time Formula 1 starter Liam Lawson, Supercars runner-up and Bathurst 1000 winner Shane van Gisbergen, World Endurance champion Brendon Hartley and Formula E stars Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy.
Cassidy appears as the top-placed Kiwi on the list in eighth, entering the frame after not featuring in the 2022 rankings. Cassidy finished as runner-up in the 2022/23 Formula E season, finishing on the podium in eight of the 16 races, including four victories.
Hartley was placed 22nd in 2022 and jumps six places for 16th in 2023, spurred by his fourth World Endurance Championship title that included victories in the 6 Hours of Portimao and 8 Hours of Bahrain, in addition to finishing as runner-up in the 1000 Miles of Sebring, 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, 6 Hours of Fuji and the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Evans falls in one place behind Hartley in 17th, having finished third in the 2022/23 Formula E World Championship with seven podiums, including four wins to his credit.
IndyCar legend Scott Dixon slots into 18th, one spot lower than in 2022. The 43-year-old was runner-up in the 2023 IndyCar Series, taking six podiums, including three wins. He also finished on the podium in the GTP class of the 24 Hours of Daytona and Petit Le Mans and was fourth overall in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Having featured in the top 10 in 2022 following an incredible Supercars season where he won 21 races, including the Bathurst 1000, van Gisbergen drops to 20th in the standings.
While he achieved success on his way to runner-up in the Supercars Championship, including winning at Bathurst, van Gisbergen’s ranking was buoyed by his victory on his NASCAR debut on the Chicago Street Circuit.
Lawson enters the list for the first time and is ranked 29th, with an impressive season in Super Formula and five Formula 1 races filling in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at Alpha Tauri.
The 21-year-old made history in his first Super Formula outing, becoming the first driver to win on debut since 1978. Lawson took two further victories to finish second in the championship, falling just short in the season’s final race at Suzuka.
Following Ricciardo’s injury, the Kiwi was also a late call-up to compete in the Dutch Grand Prix, overcoming a lack of track time and wet conditions to come home a credible 13th, having started on the back row. He went on to finish 11th at Monza before scoring his first Formula 1 points in Singapore, his ninth-placed result, the best result of the season at that time for the team. Eleventh in Japan and 17th in Qatar were his other results.
McLaughlin sits 31st in the 2023 Top 50, just three spots lower than his 2022 position. The 30-year-old finished third in the IndyCar Series, taking a sole win at Barber and three further podiums.
He also claimed LMP2 honours in the 12 Hours of Sebring with Tower Motorsports, coming home third overall in a hectic race that saw the Oreca come home ahead of six of the GTP Hypercars.
Blomqvist rounds out the Kiwis on the list at 32nd, having featured at 26th in 2022. Victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona, Chevrolet Grand Prix and Petit Le Mans were season highlights for the 30-year-old, who also finished as runner-up in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and made three IndyCar starts.
Blomqvist will race in the IndyCar Series full-time in 2024.