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Home   /   F1 2020 Season – Driver Ratings

Sub-edited by Tony Robertson

Lewis Hamilton won his seventh title in the shortened 2020 season affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as we witnessed a very close and entertaining midfield battle.

Lewis Hamilton: 9.5

His initial slip in Austria gave the impression that he could be beatable, but once again he proved too much for everyone, dominating the rest of the season.

He was extremely quick in most races and he soon dominated his teammate Valtteri Bottas to build a safe lead in the championship.

Winning 11 races out of the 16 he took part in, plus being on the podium a further three times meant he was almost perfect. Only his messy races in Austria, Monza and Abu Dhabi deny him a full score. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head-to-head Race head-to-headPoints
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Valtteri Bottas: 6

Considering he entered the season full of confidence, it was quite disappointing to see that his main fight in the championship was actually against Max Verstappen for P2 rather than with Hamilton.

Whilst it’s true the gap is probably larger than it should be, given his bad luck with mechanical failures at times this season, he was beaten by Hamilton fair and square.

He failed to capitalise most race starts, but even when in front, like at the Nurburgring or Portugal, he was caught and overtaken whilst leading. Not a clean year, only saved by five pole positions and a few wins, but he should and could have done more.

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https://twitter.com/ValtteriBottas/status/1338582465158524931

Max Verstappen: 9

His championship was affected by a whopping five retirements, none of which through faults of his own. Verstappen finished 12 races, all of which in the points and all but one standing on the podium.

At the end he was within touching distance of Bottas, scoring 111 points more than teammate Alex Albon. When analysing his year it’s hard to spot errors, as his only major mistake was in Turkey, a race he should have won.

Apart from that, six second-place finishes also show he was often competitive enough to beat at least one of the Mercedes cars.

Will 2021 finally be when he has a title contending car?

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Sergio Perez: 9

After eight rounds, his teammate was fourth, while Perez 12th with only 34 points (he missed two races with coronavirus). After that, he was never beaten in the race by Lance Stroll, scoring a point in every weekend he contested until his retirement with a few laps to go in Bahrain.

His season was extremely consistent, with two late podiums, including Sakhir’s win that allowed him to fly to fourth place, even by competing in fewer races than everyone else.

There weren’t too many downs in his season, capped off with his first-ever race win at the Sakhir Grand Prix, finishing a very commendable P4 in the driver standings.

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Daniel Ricciardo: 8.5 

Half less than Perez as, compared to the Mexican, the Australian had a few races where he was nowhere to be seen.

Still, finishing a strong fifth, including two podiums, shows it was a very good year for Ricciardo, who leaves Renault on a high.

The comparison with his teammate was impressive, as even with a few bad races where he was outperformed, he was always in front when the car was competitive.

Multiple times, he was the best of the midfield, clinching two podiums at Nurburgring and Imola and scoring seven top five finishes. 

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Carlos Sainz: 8

At the end, it was him to come out on top in his tight battle with Lando Norris.

At one point it looked like the Spaniard was second-best to his teammate, but the turnaround came after three retirements in four races, with just the Italian GP in between, a race he deserved to win, but ultimately had to settle for P2 as he run out of laps to make up the gap to Pierre Gasly.

From the Eifel Grand Prix on, he always scored big, finishing in the top seven places in every single one of the last eight races. 

The end of the season lifts his rating up to a deserved eight, as he showed he has now become one of the top drivers. McLaren may end up missing his consistency and race management, as he moves to Ferrari.

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Alex Albon: 5

His year was disappointing to say the least. After the high hopes pinned on him after some string race performances at the end of last year, Albon flattered to deceive in 2020, and it has ultimately cost him a seat in F1 at the expense of Perez.

Albon never out-qualified his teammate often ended up lacking pace in the races as well. He only finished ahead of Verstappen when he retired, scoring just two podiums which do not reflect the potential of that Red Bull.

There were a few races where he showed his quality, like Styria, Mugello or Abu Dhabi, but too often he was miles off Verstappen. Finishing seventh is simply not good enough for a team looking to take the fight to Mercedes.

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Charles Leclerc: 8

Five finishes in the top four with the SF1000 car show there were races where he really outperformed the car, as he scored triple the points of Sebastian Vettel.

In some races, he was able to capitalise on other’s mistakes, like in Austria. But in others, he was very quick, like the two at Silverstone or Portugal. He couldn’t keep that level up throughout the season, as the car tended to drop massively in the races, suffering from a severe lack of power compared to 2019.

The comparison with Sebastian Vettel sees him as a clear winner, but a few unforced errors in Styria, Monza and Sakhir, plus a costly mistake in Turkey bring his rating down. 

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Lando Norris: 7.5

He had peaks of performance which equalled Sainz, but over the course of the season, the Spaniard still proved to be slightly better.

He started on a high with the podium in Austria, coming close on other occasions, but his downfall was his lack of consistency.

His results were often affected by his qualifying performances, as the times where he started at the front, he was commanding, appearing to struggle when stuck further behind.

It was a positive season, but one which shows he still has a lot to learn. In such a tight contest, delivering the best week in and week out is what makes the big difference.

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head-to-headRace head-to-headPoints
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Pierre Gasly: 8

His first-ever race win at Monza wasn’t his only highlight of the year, as the Frenchman drove a stupendous season, finishing in the points 10 times.

The head to head in qualifying with his teammate proves he was particularly quick, managing to deliver consistently in races to finish ahead of the likes of Stroll and Esteban Ocon, plus a long way in front of Daniil Kvyat.

The car wasn’t quite as fast as the other midfield competitors, but he was able to make good use of it, driving to a race win in Monza as well as strong drives in Portugal and Bahrain to complete a positive season. 

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Lance Stroll: 6.5

6.5 is the average between his very positive first half of the season and an unexplainable second half, where he completely lost himself. After the first four rounds, he only out-qualified Perez in precarious conditions at Turkey, albeit to claim his maiden pole position, plus the finale in Abu Dhabi, where the Mexican didn’t contest.

He started off really strong, with a streak of seven points finishes culminated by a Monza podium. After that, he scored only once in the following seven races, that being Istanbul, where he dropped a long way off after a stunning pole position.

Let’s not forget he was also being outperformed by Nico Hulkenberg in Silverstone. Some great results, but a disappointing end, which didn’t match Perez’s level. 

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Esteban Ocon: 5.5

The Frenchman didn’t pick up where he left in 2018, a year which saw him going head to head with Perez. His season was quite disappointing, living without stand-out moments until his late podium in Sakhir and spent mostly trailing behind Ricciardo.

It’s hard to spot very well driven races, because even when he finished fifth in Belgium or sixth in Britain, he was still behind Ricciardo.

Next season he will need to step up, because it’s ok to start slowly after a sabbatical, but he will need to deliver more, particularly for Renault’s constructors charge.

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Sebastian Vettel: 4

Very harsh rating for the German, whose only really good race was in Turkey, with a beautiful third place finish.

However, aside from that, he only finished better than 10th twice, with a well-driven one-stop in Spain (P7) and another mixed-conditions race in Hungary (P6).

His qualifying performances were also very disappointing, particularly as that is known to be one of Vettel’s best assets. He started fifth in Hungary, but otherwise always 10th or lower, coming out very badly in the head to head with Leclerc.

He and Aston Martin will be hoping this was a one-off season which will be resigned to being nothing more than a bad memory sooner rather than later.

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Daniil Kvyat: 5.5

He always finished 12th or better, apart from on three occasions, showing he reached maturity and was taking the car home.

However only seven points finishes highlight he struggled to match Gasly’s level, which he only did very late in the season.

He had an honest year, with highlight performances at Imola, with a great charge, and Bahrain, where he featured at the top of the midfield. But he often limited himself to doing the minimum, which in his car meant he didn’t always score points.

A bit more from his side could have helped AlphaTauri to beat Ferrari for sixth in the constructors.

Overall, like Albon his inconsistency has cost of his seat, with Yuki Tsunoda set to take the reigns in 2021.

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Kimi Raikkonen: 6

This season he failed to make the difference over Antonio Giovinazzi, being out-qualified by the Italian and failing to score more points than him.

Alfa Romeo struggled all throughout and it was a matter of survival and making good use of opportunities. He scored points on a couple of occasions, with good finishes at Imola and Mugello.

A few good performances at Monza, Portugal, or Turkey, where he got Q3, weren’t enough to give him points. Overall, his season wasn’t bad, but it was fair to expect more from the Iceman.

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Antonio Giovinazzi: 6.5 

Slightly better than his teammate because he showed some progress from last season, outqualifying Raikkonen and finishing in the points three times.

Unfortunately, the car doesn’t allow him to fight for points regularly, but it looks like he is becoming more of a complete driver.

He scored points at Austria, Nurburgring and Imola, but the most important thing was showing Alfa Romeo they can rely on him as much as on Raikkonen. 

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George Russell: 8

If our sole criteria was speed, he would probably be given a 10, outqualifying Nicholas Latifi in every single race, often by a wide margin, and keeping close to Bottas as Sakhir, looking to be able to win before fortunes turned against him once again. If we said Bottas was unlucky, then Russell might be cursed.

It is clear the Briton is a fast driver, but sometimes he makes few errors, particularly at Mugello, where he messed up the restart, or Imola, crashing behind the Safety Car.

It looked like in the races he still lacks something, as he wasn’t able to make good use of the opportunities to score points. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head-to-headRace head-to-headPoints
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https://twitter.com/GeorgeRussell63/status/1338087226375368706

Romain Grosjean: 5

A season largely spent struggling at the back of the grid. He only scored points at the Eifel GP, when there were multiple retirements, but he struggled otherwise.

Both him and Kevin Magnussen struggled to show their capabilities, having a slow car that didn’t help them.    

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head-to-headRace head-to-headPoints
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Kevin Magnussen: 5

Despite scoring one less point than Grosjean, he wasn’t outperformed during the season, and was actually featuring a bit further ahead more often.

His race in Hungary was spectacular, with an excellent strategy call that allowed him to score his only point of the season, which would have been more had the FIA not deemed the there to be a breach of the rules which deserved a five-second penalty.

He had other decent races at Styria and Russia, but never enough to get in the top 10. 

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Nicholas Latifi: 5

His negative note wasn’t failing to score a point, but the gap to Russell, which was enormous and stayed very consistent during the season.

It’s true he was a rookie, but he made many mistakes, often spinning in the last run of qualifying and in races.

Compared to Russell’s nine Q2 appearances, he only had one, but at least got three 11th places, which would have actually seen him finishing ahead of the Briton if considering only his Williams spell. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head-to-headRace head-to-headPoints
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Mentions:

Nico Hulkenberg

He was Racing Point’s super-sub, qualifying an incredible third at the 70th Anniversary GP and looking good for a strong result until a late puncture.

At the Eifel GP, he jumped in the car without doing practice to get a P8 finish after starting from last. His performances matched that of a full-time driver. 

Embed from Getty Images

Jack Aitken

Only one weekend for him, at Sakhir, in which he wasn’t far off Latifi. Despite a spin in the race, he had a decent performance. 

Pietro FIttipaldi

Two clean weekends for the Brazilian, who still was quite off the pace, particularly compared to Magnussen. It’s unlikely he will feature in F1 again, but he was much better than other third drivers that raced in the past. 

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For more Overtime sport content click here and for more Formula 1 content click here.

You can also check out our driver ratings from the Abu Dhabi GP by clicking here.

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