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Home   /   Formula One 2021 Season – Driver Ratings

2021 was the season in which Max Verstappen finally took the scene, as the Dutchman went head to head for the title with Lewis Hamilton. The two drivers were on another planet and fought hard to come out on top, with Verstappen narrowly winning at Abu Dhabi with a last lap overtake on the last race.

 BhrERPorSpaMonAzeFraStyAutGbrHunHolItaRusTurUSMexBraQatRSAUAEAverage
Hamilton9.57.59104.5598.5656.58.5597881010997.81
Bottas6476.58376.59206.5961054.56.54.5655.81
Verstappen9.59.589.59.510101010 810788.5101089598.93
Perez7576.57.59.586.55.54 566.5887.56648.56.6
Norris99.59697.599.59.58 5.59875.5758787.8
Ricciardo76.56846856.57.5551075846.5485.56.31
Stroll6.56.5567.566.57.55.57367.567.554.5585.556.05
Vettel4565.59107.555.5585555786.55.55.55.56.12
Ocon56.58785.554.5479.57656.54577.5976.38
Alonso7.55.57.55.54987.57.589.587.586678104.577.21
Leclerc7.58.57.5977.54.57610 88.568.5979685.57.5
Sainz6.5866.595.5688786.5798.567.577.56.597.29
Gasly56.5778.59.5867589657.569.57.567.587.12
Tsunoda7.555547.54.565774.55457.5 45.54.595.63
Raikkonen7.56.5465.5856.5567  8657.566.5556.11
Giovinazzi6.56.575.58666554854765.555865.95
Schumacher5.55.57.575.56.55.56.575.57665865.54.56.5576.12
Mazepin354.54.55.54.5554.565.5434345.55.545N/A4.55
Russell75.566.56.55.588.587867.5865.55.55.56.5656.57
Latifi5555.565.555459574.5554.555.564.55.33

Max Verstappen – 9.5

Verstappen was sublime in 2021. He finished in the top two 18 times, which means that he never finished on pace behind two other cars. 

The only times he didn’t score a podium were as a result of accidents in which he had no major fault (Azerbaijan, Great Britain, Hungary, plus the controversial Italy). 

He made the difference all the time on Sergio Perez, proving unreachable for the Mexican and capable of driving at championship winning standard. 

10 wins, 10 poles, plus the numbers stated earlier, show that had it not been for the crashes, he could have clinched the title by an even bigger margin. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P1 (x10)P1 (x10)6191820-219-3395.58.93
Embed from Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton – 8

Rating Hamilton this season is incredibly hard. He made many mistakes, yet he finished miles ahead of Valtteri Bottas with the same car and was the sole rival for Verstappen.

The Brit’s first-half saw crucial mistakes, like running off at Imola and Baku, scoring a lone seventh in Monaco, plus a wrong strategy call that cost him a win at Hungary. 

After his crash with Verstappen in Monza, however, Hamilton increased his level, finishing in the top two in seven of the last eight races (only missing out in Turkey after a grid penalty), with a sensational drive in Brazil.

It’s clear that, although he was pushing his limits and thus couldn’t find perfection, he was still racing at the highest level. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P1 (x8)P1 (x5)6201716-618-4387.57.81
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Valtteri Bottas – 4.5

Bottas’ season was his worst since joining Mercedes. He could only enter the top two twice in 22 races, missing out on points eight times, of which only two due to mechanical failures. 

Managing 11 podiums meant he effectively missed out on half of the races, but Hamilton’s performances were showing that there was potential to achieve a lot more with his car. 

Bottas struggled a lot when finding himself in the midfield battle, showing high difficulties at overtaking and being protagonist of numerous anonymous races. This wasn’t helped by a recurring trend of poor outings in the opening laps. 

For the Finn there were little high moments, with a lights-to-flag win in Turkey as his only highlight. It’s a shame, because he could only match the front duo’s pace at times. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P1 (x1)P1 (x5)414116-164-182265.81
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Sergio Perez – 4.5

If Verstappen wasn’t able to win the title any earlier, it was largely because he was racing on his own and had nobody taking points off Hamilton. The only times Perez could take points off the Brit were Monaco, Azerbaijan and Turkey. 

Perez was 205,5 points off his teammate, which is the highest tally ever recorded between two drivers with the same car and could only manage a win at Baku due to Verstappen suffering an issue. 

It’s true that he did have some spectacular drives on Sundays, but that was mostly due to difficulties in qualifying, which saw him not match his car potential (he missed the top four 12 times). 

At least, he proved helpful at Abu Dhabi, when Red Bull needed him the most, but the Austrian team couldn’t achieve the Constructors’ championship, and Perez’s only five podiums are a big reason why. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P1 (x1)P2 (x1)21652-203-191906.6
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Carlos Sainz – 7.5

At last, out of nowhere, Carlos Sainz pipped both Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc to finish fifth in the championship. 

This is an enormous achievement for a driver coming up to a new car (we saw the difficulties others endured, like Perez and Daniel Ricciardo), plus facing one of Formula One’s biggest prospects that is his Monegasque teammate. 

His fifth place was mostly due to consistency in his results (he scored points 20 times, that is an absolute record in the history of the sport he shares with Norris and Hamilton). In fact, he didn’t necessarily prove faster than Leclerc and the two were pretty evenly matched across the season, with Leclerc holding the upper hand in the head-to-head race. 

However, by featuring in the top six for the third year running, Sainz is proving that one of his best qualities is surely that of ending the season with many points. How about that for a sport that is scored by points and not individual stand out performances. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P2 (x1)P2 (x1)02048-148-14164.57.29
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Lando Norris – 8

In 2021, Norris showed everyone he is a special talent and his difference in performance compared to Ricciardo, who was expected to be the first driver and was on a much higher wage, was very significant all throughout. 

In the first-half of the season, Norris was so good that he occupied third place in the standings up until round 12, in front of Bottas and Perez. He was very unlucky after then, only gaining 47 points, compared to 113 in the opening 11 rounds, despite his speed not dropping. 

He lost potential wins at Belgium, Italy and Russia, plus suffering heartbreak with punctures in Brazil, Qatar and Abu Dhabi. 

Overall, he finished on the podium four times and only missed out on points in Hungary, when he was crashed out when third, other than Belgium, when the race didn’t take place. A superb season, almost a perfect ten until August and dropping a bit at the end. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P2 (x1)P1 (x1)120415-715-71607.8
Embed from Getty Images

Charles Leclerc – 7

On the whole, Leclerc season wasn’t too bad, staying in front of Sainz for most of it in races and in the general standings. Finishing behind was more a matter of consistency than poor performances, but the Monegasque was expected to be Ferrari’s number one, particularly considering his experience within the team. 

Leclerc proved very fast at times, achieving 10 top fives, to Sainz’s six; two pole positions, to Sainz’s none, but yet getting only a podium to Sainz’s four. 

Most of the opportunities were lost with errors, either strategical, like failing to pit in Russia when third and dropping out of the points; mistakes, like Monaco’s qualifying shunt which lost him pole position; and bad luck, when he was taken out in Hungary at the first corner. 

Leclerc was good and he lost out given Sainz’s capability to take opportunities. However, he proved, as usual, a valid driver and an important asset to Ferrari, achieving third in the constructors. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P2 (x1)P1 (x2)018114-814-81597.5
Embed from Getty Images

Daniel Ricciardo – 6

The only thing that saves Ricciardo from scoring a negative rating is getting McLaren’s first win in nine years, which in itself was a very fabulous achievement that came after a superb weekend in Monza. 

However, a driver like the Australian wasn’t expected to be so consistently behind Norris and especially by such a wide margin (Norris missed out on Q3 once, Ricciardo 11 times).
He lived a troublesome season, struggling to adapt to the car and costing his team third place in the constructors. 

Although he finished in the top six nine times out of 13 points-scoring races, which shows that in some weekends he looked strong, there were too many times in which he missed out. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P1 (x1)P2 (x1)11317-157-151156.31
Embed from Getty Images

Pierre Gasly – 8

On too many occasions, Pierre Gasly failed to convert his qualifying potential in the race, with many errors and first lap blunders. 

However, in comparison to Yuki Tsunoda he was on a completely different level, showing immense potential and racing ahead of the McLarens and Ferraris for large parts of the year. 

Gasly started in the top six 15 times and that’s impressive considering only the title contenders and Bottas have done better this season. He was also a points finisher 15 times and proved very quick, with a podium in Baku and other great drives at the front of the midfield in Azerbaijan, Holland, and Mexico. 

A few errors at the start in Bahrain, Austria, Turkey and Italy, when he was always at the front, denied him a shot to other podiums and a higher rating. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P3 (x1)P2 (x1)115121-116-51107.12
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Fernando Alonso – 7.5

On his return to Formula One, Fernando Alonso managed to finish in front of his teammate in the standings and impressed at times for his speed and race management. 

In between Azerbaijan and Russia, he scored points in nine races in a row (if we exclude Belgium’s farce), with his streak ending after he was taken out in Turkey from Gasly despite starting fifth in the rain. 

Alonso was ever more regular and gained a deserved podium in Qatar, which coronated 14 more points finishes. He was spectacular in Azerbaijan with some last lap manoeuvres, and Hungary when he drove his heart out to stop Hamilton and allow his teammate Esteban Ocon to win. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P3 (x1)P3 (x1)015111-1111-10817.21
Embed from Getty Images

Esteban Ocon – 7

Ocon was called up to a difficult task against a returning Alonso and he managed not to be completely beaten like his previous teammates, even if he still finished behind in the standings. 

2021 marked the year in which he got his first Formula One victory, in Hungary, and although it came pretty fortuitously, it was a great drive, which serves as his highlight of the year together with a great performance in Saudi Arabia.

Along with these, came further top seven results in Portugal and Qatar (plus Belgium). 14 points finishes and an almost levelled head-to-head record suggest that his only limitation, right now, is having a champion like Alonso driving alongside him. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P1 (x1)P5 (x1)014111-1110-11746.38
Embed from Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel – 6

When he joined Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel was probably expecting to have a much more successful season, and for the team it’s a major step down compared to 2020. 

Vettel didn’t prove to be faster than Lance Stroll across the full season, but proved more capable at taking opportunities. In fact, three of his seven points finishes are top fives (Monaco, Azerbaijan and the Belgian farce), plus a seventh place in Mexico. 

The German also had a second place taken away in Hungary due to the car being irregular, but the rest of the year proved mediocre, also finishing the majority of races behind his Canadian teammate, which is not what you would expect from a four-time world champion. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P2 (x1)P5 (x1)07112-109-12436.12
Embed from Getty Images

Lance Stroll – 5.5

Across the season, Stroll proved to be more regular than Vettel, scoring points on more occasions and finishing in front on more occasions. 

However, for a midfield team that struggles to score big, it’s more efficient to have fewer points finishes, but score bigger, which is the reason why Vettel finished in front and could get podiums. 

Stroll struggled to establish in the higher zones, only twice finishing better than eighth and only scoring three times after the Summer break. On the whole, it wasn’t even a bad year, but Stroll will need more exploits and will need to prove better at taking opportunities. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P6 (x1)P7 (x1)09010-1212-9346.05
Embed from Getty Images

Yuki Tsunoda – 4.5

His latest result at Abu Dhabi, with a P4 finish, was his best and massively helped him save his reputation, after a horrible year in which he very rarely matched Gasly’s pace and often was protagonist of race incidents. 

Tsunoda arrived in Formula One with extremely high expectations, with the Alpha Tauri management effectively sending away former driver Daniil Kvyat due to his “poor results”, but this didn’t help the team. In fact, Alpha Tauri proved the third fastest car on many occasions, but only finished sixth overall. 

The Japanese driver scored points seven times, with highlights being decent drives at Azerbaijan (seventh) and Abu Dhabi. Even towards the end of the season, when he started racing towards the front, he had incidents in most races, which compromised his results. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P4 (x1)P7 (x2)0701-215-16325.63
Embed from Getty Images

George Russell – 8

George Russell’s performances were spectacular towards the halfway point, even if the ending was short of sensational. (The car’s lack of pace in the final months didn’t help). 

Let’s not forget this man qualified the ninth-fastest car in P2 and P3 in Belgium and Russia, with further Q3 appearances at both races in Austria, plus Great Britain. He lost points in Imola, when he crashed with Bottas and in Austria, when he was overtaken with few laps to go. 

However, luck turned to his side in the Summer, with a P8 at the incident-packed Hungaroring and a surprise podium in Belgium, in which the qualifying result proved valid. (He still qualified his car to P2 on merit and would have likely stayed there with similar conditions in the race). 

Finally, he also scored points in Italy and Russia, and only once did he see the chequered flag after his teammate. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P2 (x1)P2 (x1)04120-215-5166.57
Embed from Getty Images

Kimi Raikkonen – 6.5

Kimi Raikkonen’s lack of pace in 2021 was evident in qualifying, but he managed to make up for it mostly in the races, with decent come-back drives. 

The Finn often qualified behind Antonio Giovinazzi, but finished in front on most Sundays and scored points four times, in Azerbaijan, Hungary, Russia and Mexico. 

To put it simply, he may have been slower, but his experience proved decisive, allowing him to score more points and be Alfa Romeo’s only chance to catch Williams in the Constructors for most of the season. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P8 (x2)P10 (x1)0407-1310-9106.11
Embed from Getty Images

Nicholas Latifi – 5

Nicholas Latifi had some positive exploits during the season, being the first driver to give Williams points in two years at Hungary, in which he finished in front of Russell to a surprise P7. 

He was also awarded points for his ninth-place start in Belgium, which was the only time he entered Q3. On the whole, there were many improvements and he massively closed the gap to his teammate, but not enough to be regularly challenging him. 

He lost out on points in Italy, when he was outdriving Russell, due to a safety car, but on too many occasions he was inconsistent and, even if close behind, rarely ahead of Russell. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P7 (x1)P10 (x1)0202-205-1575.33
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Antonio Giovinazzi – 5

If Giovinazzi lost his seat in the sport, it definitely wasn’t because of his raw speed. In fact, the Italian improved massively in this respect, outqualifying Raikkonen (and Robert Kubica) on 15 occasions. 

He entered Q3 four times, to Raikkonen’s zero and his best qualifying finish was six places higher (if we exclude grid penalties promoting drivers up the grid). 

However, when Giovinazzi had the opportunity to deliver big points, he, or the team, often screwed up. His lap one incident in Monza was enormously costly and very unjustifiable. 

He enjoyed worthy drives in Saudi Arabia and Monaco, but lost chances to score points too many times, most remarkably in the action packed Hungary race, in which he was the only driver to fit the dry tyres at the right moment, but got a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. 

It’s a shame to rate so low a driver that proved faster than Raikkonen, but with only three points to the Finn’s 10, it’s hard to rate him any higher.  

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P9 (x1)P7 (x1)02015-711-1035.95
Embed from Getty Images

Mick Schumacher – 6

To get a fair idea of Mick Schumacher’s real worth, it may be better to wait to see him drive a faster car and with a faster teammate. 

He was always faster than Nikita Mazepin, only finishing behind in qualifying when he was excluded after practice shunts in Monaco and Hungary, and occasionally challenged the two Williams cars. 

He proved incident prone, but in his debut season and with a struggling car, it can be justified. Otherwise, Haas’ difficulties were too evident to allow Schumacher finish any higher than fourth-to-last in the races.

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P12 (x1)P14 (x3)00020-215-506.12
Embed from Getty Images

Nikita Mazepin – 4

It’s true that he was a rookie, but Mazepin’s struggles were too large to go unnoticed. What was worrying weren’t the crashes, which severely reduced as the season went by, but his vast gap from his teammate. 

He was always beaten in qualifying when Schumacher competed, most of the times by half a second or more, which is an enormous amount for Formula One standards. 

He finished better than 17th only once, at Baku, which was a one lap race with many retirements and in the standings he finished last, even behind Robert Kubica, who only appeared twice for Alfa Romeo. 

Best finishBest startFastest lapsPoints finishesPodiumsQualifying head to-headRace head-to-headPointsAverage rating
P14 (x1)P15 (x2)0002-205-1504.55
Embed from Getty Images

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