Formula 1 2021 Driver Rankings
The 2021 Formula 1 season was one of highs and lows for each and every one of the 22 drivers this season.
As the clock ticks down to the start of a new year, it is time to rank all of them based on how they performed in 2021.
20. Nikita Mazepin RUS (Haas F1)
Never has a driver got a bad reputation as quickly as Mazepin did.
The Russian had a bad reputation off the track before entering the sport which only harmed his poor performances on the circuit.
Mazepin lasted all but two corners at the Bahrain GP before crashing by himself and not once out-qualified his team-mate, Mick Schumacher, on pure pace as the German failed to go out for qualifying twice in 2021.
The only way is up for Mazepin and he surely must do so considering how much money Dmitry Mazepin is investing in Haas.
19. Antonio Giovinazzi ITA (Alfa Romeo-Sauber)
In his third year in F1, Antonio left a lot to be desired as he failed to rack up the number of points that were seemingly in his grasp.
Frustratingly, Giovinazzi had good qualifying performances only to make a costly error in the Grand Prix itself.
While three points is not reflective of Giovinazzi’s season, he did not do enough to stay in F1 in 2021.
18. Mick Schumacher GER (Haas F1)
Decent on occasion but still far too crash-prone by the end of the season.
The German put in enough good performances in his rookie season to show good raw potential and he clearly outshone his team-mate in both qualifying and race pace.
But some costly mistakes cost the German potential points finishes and he must show that he has the ability to iron out those errors and, if given the equipment, must be able to lead the team in 2022.
17. Nicholas Latifi CAN (Williams)
Overall a much better season from Latifi with two crucial points finishes from the Canadian to ensure Alfa Romeo never had a shot at beating Williams this season.
Also, he out-qualified his Mercedes-bound team-mate for the first time at Monza in the sprint format and followed that up in traditional qualifying in three of the last four races.
But he was still completely out-classed by Russell, and while a solid contender, he never set the world alight.
16. Kimi Raikkonen FIN (Alfa Romeo)
A farewell tour for Kimi as he waves goodbye to Formula 1 for the final time.
It was hardly the best season the iceman has had, but he still proved himself to be a safe pair of hands and claimed 10 points this year.
It was certainly time to go, but he leaves a legacy that will forever endure…
15. Yuki Tsunoda JPN (Alpha Tauri)
A very up and down season from Yuki, with great performances in the middle east punctuated by a scrappy and crash-prone rookie F1 campaign.
The second half of the season was certainly better and Alex Albon helped the young Japanese racer to adapt to life at Alpha Tauri.
Points at Bahrain and a fourth-place finish in Abu Dhabi were the highs with the qualifying crash at Imola and other costly errors like it being the lows.
A lot to learn for 2022…
14. Lance Stroll CAN (Aston Martin)
A very anonymous figure in 2021, the Canadian did a solid job in 2021 but lacked the star result that you would expect in a season like this.
After two podiums in 2020, Stroll was expecting more from 2021 but found himself in a weaker car alongside a four-time world champion.
While not blown away by Vettel, the German showed his class where Stroll failed to do so.
13. Daniel Ricciardo AUS (McLaren)
Oh dear… What to say about Ricciardo’s 2021 season?
The Aussie went to McLaren full of promise with the expectation that he would establish himself as team leader within the squad.
But the reality has been that even by the end of the season, Ricciardo still lacked the confidence, pace and poise that Norris was able to extract from the MCL35.
But considering what a shocker of a season it was, he will certainly take victory at the Italian GP following a bonkers race at Monza which provided some nice moments later in the year.
12. Sebastian Vettel GER (Aston Martin)
A reset for Vettel is what was required and it seemed to have done the job.
A shaky start from the world champ in Bahrain soon gave way to better fortune with a top-five in Monaco followed by a podium in Baku.
It has not all been sunshine and rainbows as the Aston Martin has not had the pace this season, but if anyone is up for a challenge, it is Vettel.
11. Sergio Perez MEX (Red Bull)
A year is a long time in sport and so it proved. After ending 2020 without a drive, 2021 was a great season for Perez as he bedded into Red Bull Racing so well and played a crucial role in securing Max Verstappen his maiden F1 world championship.
While he struggled during the first half of the season, Checo almost made up for that in the second half with his superb racecraft against Hamilton in Turkey, Mexico, Brazil and most crucially Abu Dhabi.
Now fully integrated at Red Bull, he will be much happier come 2022…
10. Valtteri Bottas FIN (Mercedes)
The Finn just gets the top ten spot ahead of Checo because of his superior pace versus the Mexican over the course of the season.
But in comparison to Perez, his racecraft was once again woeful which was most aptly captured by the way Verstappen steamed past him at the Russian GP, where Bottas would have finished 14th had it not been for the late rain shower.
Being dropped from Mercedes gave him a little release and contributed to a great weekend at the Italian GP and he bagged victory at Istanbul Park, but the Finn’s campaign proved why he has been moved on.
9. George Russell GBR (Williams)
Some people may have Russell a little higher, but one has to feel that the Williams man had a noticeable drop in form at the end of the year.
With that said, he makes the top ten for superb qualifying performances throughout the season, great attacking drives and well-managed points finishes.
The highlight has to be the podium finish at the Belgian GP off the back of an insane qualifying lap.
More to come at Mercedes in 2022…
8. Esteban Ocon FRA (Alpine)
A first win, second podium and out-qualifying Fernando Alonso over the course of a season certainly offers cause for celebration for the young Frenchman.
While the performance of the car went up and down, Ocon’s performances remained steady and he was as brilliant and consistent as his veteran team-mate.
His performance in Saudi Arabia went under the radar and was as good, if not better, than his win in Hungary.
7. Fernando Alonso SPA (Alpine)
The return of the matador was much anticipated and did not disappoint.
Holding up Lewis Hamilton on fresh tires for 12 laps in Hungary, an overtaking masterclass in the two-lap dash in Baku and of course his podium in Qatar.
The Spaniard is back and as good as ever and with his teammate Ocon, he is having a lot of fun at Alpine.
If they deliver for 2022, do not expect anything other than ruthless Fernando to come to the fore.
6. Charles Leclerc MON (Ferrari)
Not a bad season from the young Monegasque, but not a great one either.
Two poles, one podium and seventh in the world championship.
It is clear that Ferrari made a big step over the course of the season and by close of play, they were clearly the third-best team on the grid.
Leclerc’s highlights are difficult to pinpoint as his podium at Silverstone came after he lost the lead to Hamilton three laps from the end.
His pole in Monaco meanwhile had disastrous consequences for the race.
His best races were probably the boring ones at the end of the year such as Turkey, USA and Mexico.
4. Lando Norris GBR (McLaren)
What a season from Lando. Nobody quite expected Norris to have the season he did with four podiums, one pole and one reputation greatly enriched.
The worst moment came at Sochi where a possible win went begging after he slid off the road after dominating the race until that point.
But it was a lesson well learned for Norris and with the backing of the McLaren team, and after having the measure of race winner Ricciardo in 2021, it was a year filled with positives for Norris.
3. Carlos Sainz SPA (Ferrari)
A bit controversial this one, but I believe Sainz deserves huge recognition for beating Leclerc in his first year at Ferrari.
Four podiums to his name and fifth in the championship, he and was clearly the best driver to have switched teams last year and has helped Ferrari exceed expectations in 2021.
The likeable Spaniard has a great relationship with his team-mate Charles Leclerc which could well be stretched as early as next year if the prancing horse can once again be galloping again…
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR (Mercedes)
I hear you Hamilton fans, why not number one?
The truth is, Hamilton had another great year with a record number of front-row starts, eight wins and 17 podiums.
But unlike in recent seasons, Hamilton has been the one to buckle under pressure on too many occasions with small but significant errors.
The first of these came with the restart in Baku, damage on the curbs in Austria, the crash at Silverstone, crashing into the pit lane in Sochi qualifying, tire mixup in Turkey and potentially even the strategy in the closing laps in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton also had a howler of a weekend at Monaco which cost him crucial points.
So while it was an impressive season, exemplified by his performance in Brazil, it was not quite the best in 2021.
- Max Verstappen NED (Red Bull)
Talking of which, at 24 years of age Verstappen put in a glorious season of Formula 1.
The excitement coming into the year of a Verstappen challenge to Hamilton’s crown was palpable and he never had a dip, never an off weekend and without three painful DNFs (plus the Budapest race), he would have sewn up the title before F1 even went to the middle east.
As it was, Verstappen got a bit of luck when it mattered most.
But he still had to make the most of it, and with cramp causing him huge agony, he made the move for the title.
Running with number #1 next year, Verstappen will be on the prowl for title number two in 2022…
So there we have it, my 2021 season rankings.
Like it, love it or hate it, let me know your thoughts in the comments below…