Which F1 team has the best driver line-up for 2021?

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After a lot of action on the driver market last year, the majority of teams have changed at least one new face in their line-ups for the 2021 F1 season.

But who is going into the new championship with the best pairing? Have your say in this weekend’s debate.

The 2021 F1 team mates

MercedesLewis HamiltonValtteri BottasHamilton is now empirically the most successful driver ever in terms of race wins. Only Michael Schumacher is a match for his titles record – and that could change this year. Mercedes are yet to officially confirm his presence on the 2021 grid. That should be a formality, albeit an expensive one.
Red BullMax VerstappenSergio PerezIn a departure for Red Bull, the team has looked beyond its young driver programme to bring experience into its line-up. Perez therefore becomes Verstappen’s fourth team mate in as many years.
McLarenLando NorrisDaniel RicciardoMcLaren will be looking to recreate the harmonious and successful partnership of Norris and Sainz as Ricciardo arrives to replace the latter.
Aston MartinLance StrollSebastian VettelThe team formerly known as Racing Point dropped their top points-scorer of the past six seasons to bring in Vettel, alongside the owner’s son Stroll. Vettel is looking to reinvigorate his career following an awful final season at Ferrari.
AlpineEsteban OconFernando AlonsoTwo-times champion Alonso returns and will likely be no less a formidable force than before. Ocon took a while to get back up to speed on his return last season following a year out.
FerrariCharles LeclercCarlos Sainz JnrHiring Sainz to replace Vettel was a huge statement by Ferrari, who insist he and Leclerc will have equal treatment from the start of the season.
AlphaTauriPierre GaslyYuki TsunodaFollowing a poor half-season at Red Bull in 2019, Gasly thrived on his return to this team, and took a shock win at Monza. He is partnered by 2020’s top Formula 2 rookie Tsunoda.
Alfa RomeoKimi RaikkonenAntonio GiovinazziWhile Mercedes have the sport’s most successful driver, Alfa Romeo has its most experienced competitor, plus the steadily improving Giovinazzi.
HaasMick SchumacherNikita MazepinThe only team on the grid with an all-rookie driver line-up. Schumacher arrives with Formula 2 and Formula 3 titles to his name – and what a name it is. Mazepin has not won a junior-level title but covered extensive testing mileage with Mercedes.
WilliamsGeorge RussellNicholas LatifiRussell’s one-off appearance at Mercedes last year generated much excitement as he proved a match for Bottas. Latifi lagged some way off his team mate’s pace in his first season.

I say

Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Istanbul Park, 2020
Expect Mercedes’ pair to set the standard again
There are a lot of exciting new line-ups in the 2021 field which I’m looking forward to seeing in action: Alonso’s return alongside a promising rookie who underperformed last year; Ricciardo, who had a very strong 2020, teaming up with the improving Norris at McLaren; Red Bull’s break with convention to bring Perez in alongside the immense talent that is Verstappen; Ferrari’s gamble on the young – but not inexperienced – pairing of Leclerc and Sainz.

But, realistically, the champions’ line-up has to be seen as a cut above their rivals. Hamilton showed last year he’s at the peak of his abilities. Bottas is a capable and sometimes underrated team mate and race winner, and while it’s hard to imagine him suddenly turning the tables on Hamilton, I might have said the about Nico Rosberg five years ago.

Mercedes have the best driver line-up for 2021 assuming, of course, that Hamilton does sign up as he is widely expected to. But the shake-up among their rivals brings the possibility that may change over the course of what promises to be a fascinating season.

You say

Which F1 team has the best driver line-up for 2020? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Which F1 team has the best driver line-up for 2021?

  • Williams: George Russell and Nicholas Latifi (0%)
  • Haas: Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin (1%)
  • Alfa Romeo: Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi (0%)
  • AlphaTauri: Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda (1%)
  • Ferrari: Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr (19%)
  • Alpine: Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso (1%)
  • Aston Martin: Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel (1%)
  • McLaren: Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo (15%)
  • Red Bull: Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez (40%)
  • Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas (23%)

Total Voters: 341

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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87 comments on “Which F1 team has the best driver line-up for 2021?”

  1. I voted for Mclaren. I initially struggled to choose from Mclaren, Mercedes, and Red Bull, though. The eventual choice was based more on the midfield battle, given the advantage of Mercedes and some uncertainty in Red Bull. Mclaren mightn’t have the outright third-fastest machinery, but I reckon they have an advantage in the driver line up over their closest rivals Aston Martin and Alpine.

    1. @jerejj Personally, I think Ferrari’s lineup is better than McLaren’s. Even though Norris has done a commendable job over the past few years, Sainz was clearly the superior driver of the two. And as for Leclerc vs. Ricciardo, I’d rate Leclerc as being the superior driver on pure pace, as I think he performed better versus Vettel than Ricciardo did.

      1. @mashiat Yes, Ferrari could have a stronger lineup. I left it out because of the question mark on outright pace.

  2. There’s a couple of good lineups here actually, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes all have solid lineups, but I voted for McLaren simply because I’m expecting plenty of memes this year from those guys.

  3. This is a very good question this year. I think, realistically, it has to be between Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren. If I had to rate their first drivers it would be 1 Hamilton, 2 Verstappen, 3 Leclerc, 4 Ricciardo. If I had to rate the second drivers (on how well I think they’ll do next year), it would be 1 Norris, 2 Sainz, 3 Bottas, 4 Perez (I think he’ll struggle with the Red Bull). However, Hamilton has a bigger gap over Leclerc and Ricciardo than Norris and Sainz have over Bottas, so I voted Mercedes. My total ranking of the drivers would be:
    1 Lewis Hamilton
    2 Max Verstappen
    3 Charles Leclerc
    4 Daniel Ricciardo
    5 Fernando Alonso? – he could be second, he could be outside the top ten. No idea how good he will be.
    6 Lando Norris
    7 Carlos Sainz
    8 George Russell
    9 Valtteri Bottas
    10 Sergio Perez
    11 Sebastian Vettel? – again, he could be one of the worst if he drives like 2020, but could be top five if he is back on top form. It’s hard to know how much of his decline over the last few years is the driver, and how much is his problems with Ferrari.
    12 Pierre Gasly
    13 Esteban Ocon
    14 Yuki Tsunoda
    15 Lance Stroll
    16 Mick Schumacher
    17 Antonio Giovinazzi (I think he’ll beat his teammate)
    18 Kimi Raikkonen
    19 Nicholas Latifi
    20 Nikita Mazepin

    So my ranking of the lineups is:
    1 Mercedes
    2 Ferrari
    3 Red Bull
    4 McLaren
    5 Renault
    6 Racing Point
    7 Alpha Tauri
    8 Williams
    9 Alfa Romeo
    10 Haas

    1. Sorry, 5 Alpine (hate this name, and will struggle to get used to it, although this time last year I said the same about Alpha Tauri), and 6 Aston Martin (this one I will get used to. Much better than the forgettable ‘Racing Point’).

    2. Great analysis @f1frog.
      I did a similar (but simplified review) but came to a quite different conclusion. At least it’s not as straightforward as I first thought.

      The strongest drivers in the group are Hamilton and Verstappen (equal). Alonso is close (but unknown after one season out). The next ones are a bit further down on my scale: Ricciardo (very consistently good but not at the level of the previous), and Leclerc (still very inconsistent with clear talent and some high performance spikes).
      None of the other #1 drivers come close enough; I need to see some ‘old Vettel’ before I believe it (or maybe Stroll becomes their #1), and Russell is not that special on Sunday yet (in 2020 I’d even rate Gasly’s Sundays higher).

      But now the difficult part:
      I don’t rate Bottas very highly (since he left Williams). But Perez is not that much stronger over a whole season; in 2020 he had a stellar few races at the end, but preceded by a very average season before that). Notwithstanding this I’d give Perez my preference based on the short term trend and give RBR my preliminary pairings vote.
      Ocon is not strong enough to help Alonso’s positing to be a winner. Sainz is slowly becoming a consistent above par driver. I rate him higher than Perez/Stroll, but not enough to upset the pairings battle.
      Norris is a bit of an enigma. He was closely behind Sainz in 2020, and on a fast improving track. But his improvements are not strong enough nor consistent enough (sometimes he seems to plateau) that he cannot make his pairing with Ricciardo the strongest in the field yet.

      Thus overall my vote stays with Verstappen/Perez, but as a pair the top 5 teams do not have a big gap between them.

      1. On pure driving ability, I agree with you that Perez is better than Bottas, so maybe I should have Red Bull top. The reason I put him down in tenth, when I rated him third in 2020, is just because, after Gasly and Albon’s struggles in the Red Bull, I suspect Perez would struggle too. If he was still in Racing Point/Aston Martin, I would have him sixth in my rankings. Having said that, I think that if Bottas was in a midfield team he would be much better than he is in Mercedes, as despite what Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton have said, I think a lot of his struggles in the last few years are psychological, and are as a result of the pressure of being in the best car, as the teammate of one of the best drivers in history.

    3. Alpine


      Alfa Romeo


      1. I meant Alpine and Mclaren at the top.

    4. keep dreaming why you presume Ferrari will go from midfield to 2nd with basically the same car, maybe 2022 but definitely not in 2021, Redbull will destroy most of your ratings and I believe you overrating Russell who still drive the slowest car for the third season, Hamilton, Riccardo, Leclerc, Max or even Perez had to do that. But oh well good wishing.

      1. When did he say anything about the performance of the Ferrari car? This is a discussion purely about drivers.

  4. There are really only two driver pairings here who I think couldn’t win the WCC championship in terms of driver line-up.
    Sadly for all of us, though, the drivers don’t make enough of a difference in total performance – and even if the Haas or Alfa Romeo guys were driving the Merc, they’d still take both the WDC and WCC.

    1. Sadly for all of us, though, the drivers don’t make enough of a difference in total performance – and even if the Haas or Alfa Romeo guys were driving the Merc, they’d still take both the WDC and WCC.

      Oh would this argument just die already… Max has already shown he can keep up with Bottas in the Merc, if it were Grosjean and Kevin (or Kimi and Tony) driving for Merc, Verstappen would be a multiple WDC by now.

      1. Yes, while I really hate the level of mercedes dominance, verstappen showed that around half the grid would lose the 2020 championship against a fairly competitive red bull and him.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        23rd January 2021, 19:10

        He’s overdone it a bit but the point is valid. Over half the grid would win the title easily if they were in the number 1 Merc which qualifies the statement that “the drivers don’t make enough of a difference in total performance.”

      3. Disagree with this statement…

        The sad reality is that Russell was on track to win his first race in the Merc. despite him not being familiar with the car or even fitting in the cockpit!

        All capable driver pairs including Magnussen and Grosjean would likely perform spectacularly in the Merc. and win most races.

        In the end we will never know – this is just speculation – which is why I think hard statements are not meaningful…

        1. bottas v0.3. still beat him in qualy and race, so not sure what’s your point

          1. My comment was meant as a reply to Esploratore (@esploratore)… who made the statement that Max would be multiple champion by now if Kevin and Grosjean (or another pair) was driving for Merc.

            Think Russell’s stint in the Merc. showed us very clearly that this is not the case!

            Oh – and no: Bottas v0.3. marginally grapped pole but was outclassed by Russell in the race until all the havoc happened

  5. Botas is no match for Perez in my opinion. And Max is a match for Lewies, so I had to vote for RedBull.

    But nobody knows how Perez will cope with the awkward redbull car or if he’ll have the support he needs to adap.

    All in all, most teams have an excellent lineup.
    Special mention to McLaren, Ferrari and obviously Merc.

    1. Bottas is a better qualifier than Perez, although he qualified worse this year than ever before. Perez is a better driver in the actual race and actually races, while Bottas again did himself no favor this year by being less racy than ever.

      It makes a big difference whether Bottas bounces back or whether he performs the same or worse in 2021.

    2. I too voted for Red Bull. The question asked which team had the best driver line up, it didn’t ask which team had the best car and driver line up. If it had, then Mercedes would be the obvious first choice, but when it comes to just the best driver line up then that is more difficult. I don’t see Mercedes having the best driver line up. It is good, but I think there are better combinations, e.g. Max and Sergio, Lando and Daniel, and Charles and Carlos. I chose Red Bull’s driver combination as the best.

  6. Can’t vote for Mercedes on the basis they only have one driver at the moment. Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari all have exciting lineups. Ultimately I think Red Bull shades it, but any one of those drivers could have a stellar year and propel their team higher than it deserves to be.

    1. Mercedes have one driver? I thought the other driver finished 2nd in the championship last year, I might have been too high !

      1. I think he means that Hamilton hasn’t signed yet, so at the moment they only have Bottas.

        1. Right.

          He hasn’t officially signed yet.

          This, as driver ranking, is subjective anyway.

          1. Unofficially no signing eather.

          2. I don’t see why Mercedes would put an embargo on announcing Lewis’s signing, so my guess is he hasn’t signed at all. I think he would have signed long ago if he really wanted to race this year.

      2. @red-andy is probably referring to the fact that Hamilton has not been confirmed as a driver for 2021

  7. invincibleisaac
    23rd January 2021, 9:50

    It’s very close … but I’d have to say Ferrari. Assuming Hamilton does sign, Mercedes have a very strong line up as usual, however I don’t rate Bottas as one of the top drivers on the grid. Red Bull have a great lineup although we will have to see how Perez will do – whilst I rate him very highly, I wouldn’t put him above the level of Ricciardo or Leclerc. Sainz and Norris are both very strong and with Leclerc seemingly one of the “next bests” in the sport and Sainz being extremely quick and consistent, I would just about say Ferrari have the strongest lineup. I believe Sainz will be closer to Leclerc than most people think.

  8. Mercedes, Alfa Romeo and Williams are the only teams with same line-up than last year. It should be an advatage but as Russel demonstrated if the car is good enough talented driver can do miracles with it.

    Red Bull
    Alfa Romeo
    Aston Martin
    Alpha Tauri

    1. Mercedes – Hamilton can do anything with that car if Bottas is on his best he can easily get that 2nd place but now when RB have Perez he is in danger.

      Red Bull – Verstappen and RB can be rated in the same level as Ham/Mercedes. Perez is a mystery card but he has much more experience than Albon and Gasly combined.

      Mclaren – Ricciardo is again showing signs of 2014 and if he can be one with that Mercedes powered Mclaren it could end up being a very fast podium contender. Norris is starting his 3rd season with the team and even though he has a podium Ricciardo is tougher teammate than Sainz.

      Ferrari – Leclerc goes in the same group with Ham and Ver. As Ricciardo Sainz has a good season underneath him. Still he is now driving that n.2 Ferrari which was one of the worst cars last season.

      Alfa Romeo – As we saw in 2019 Kimi and Antonio can get good points in that Alfa if the car is good enough. Kimi has the experience and Antonio has get a much better since his first drive in 2017. He has made some rookie errors but so did Lance.

      Aston Martin – Two drivers whose last season end miserably. Vettel started the season to fight for the wins and Stroll was 4th in the standings in midseason. Aston Martin is likely to be a fast car but how Vettel and Stroll can get their heads in the game.

      Alpine – Alonso is fast and that is a fact but he hasn’t raced in F1 for 2 years. Question is how familiar is he with that Alpine. He can be there with the Ham/Ver/Lec but his spanish blood can chance the course of his season too. Alpine needs Ocon to get those valuable points because Alonso can’t drive two cars at once. Ocon is good enough for that job but that’s about it.

      Williams – I think we can say that Russel is there with Ham/Ver/Lec and if that next Williams is even a bit faster than its predecessor he can get that car in the top 10. Even with one season under his belt Latifi seems to have that same effect than Sutil. Surprisingly fast but still a bit plain.

      Alpha Tauri – Gasly is the only driver who has a rookie besides him. He can win a race but now he needs to be a team leader which could affect his future. If he can do that he has good cards for that 2022 seat. Tsunoda is in his maiden season and all he has to do is to get experience. The more points for him and the team the better.

      Haas – Everything can happen in here :)

      1. @qeki

        The issue with Alonso is not just his time off, but also his age. F1 Metrics analysis shows that drivers tend to seriously decline around this age. For an example, see the late Michael Schumacher.

        1. Yes, at alonso’s age he should already have lost a significant amount compared to his peak, not as much as schumacher yet, but if he plans to stay for a while it’ll happen to him too.

        2. @aapje He is old and is right on the verge of being too old. But he has been racing all the time. Not of course with F1 but with WEC, Dakar and Indycar. Compared to Michael who (what I remember) did some laps in a GP2 car. It helps but I’m not sure how much.

  9. RBR

    The differences are minimal anyway between top4 in my opinion.

  10. Well we know Perez beat Stroll from around the mid point of the season (after he lost his drive basically) so he must be up there with the best. Plus we know Bottas has been unable to consistently beat arguably the best F1 driver ever, so he must be really poor.

    Other than that, I wonder how badly Norris will be beaten by Ricciardo and if Leclerc is actually going to be able to beat Sainz.

    Plus I wonder how good Alonso will still be. I remember the people feeling sorry for Rosberg and how badly he would be beaten when Schumacher returned. Oddly enough usually the same people who had scores of excuses ready when Rosberg kept destroying Schumacher. Still, I would agree to the fact that age doesn’t help a driver have the same sharp reflexes needed to keep the car on the limit.

    On the whole Hamilton (if he signs) and Bottas form the best lineup available. They work well together, keep improving the car. Bottas fights hard on the few chances he gets, but he doesn’t deliberately take his team mate out. While Red Bull has two drivers in their team who are know for taking other drivers and even their team mates out deliberately.

    Ricciardo would be the driver I rate highest after Hamilton and Russell, but I’m not so sure about Norris. Norris can have his good days, but he also has these dry spells where he is just not on it. At least Ricciardo has shown he can help a team forward like Hamilton does. If he can do the same for McLaren, together with potentially the extra boost from the Mercedes engine, they could be the team on the rise.

    1. Perez was a different driver after RP dropped him – he’s been a bit of a one trick pony for years, garnering track position by extracting maximum tyre life, otherwise unable to dominate competition in similar performance windows. I think he’s a vastly improved proposition and it’ll be interesting to see if he carries on with a similar aggressive mindset this year or if Redbull consistently compromise his strategy to suit their lead driver.

  11. Quite tough as nearly all teams have one very good driver (Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Alonso, Vettel, Russel) and one driver who’s not as good as their teammate.

  12. Merc definitely the worst, They only have one driver, who should be karting

  13. If Hamilton signs, I still think he’s clearly the best driver out here at the moment, though the difference between him and verstappen is not that big. And if anything Verstappen made less mistakes resulting in penalties last year.

    Anyhow, many will disagree, but based over the past few years, I still think Bottas is that bit better than Perez, but they are close too. Perez has often had a mixed season like Bottas. people don;t seem to rate Ocon highly at all at the moment do they, but he basically matched Perez in his rookie season. And then Stroll matched Perez for the first half of this season. Stroll seemed to havea very poor 2nd half of the season, and although perez certainly was great, the car also was which I think made people mark his season as better than it was. Bottas is against the toughest driver on the grid, and when he was at williams, he seemed to be rated higher, despite likely not being as good as he is now.

    Easy top 2 being Mercedes then Red Bull. Red Bull also has another good reason to be 2nd as it is a new environment for Perez. They are not settled as a team like Mercedes. I am surprised there are so many more votes for red bull really.

    I think third is harder. Sainz has been against a rookie Norris and I’m not sure if it proves that Norris was very good for matching Sainz or the opposite. I think it is somewhere between that and that Sainz isn’t quite as good as many rate him, but he is at least pretty solid. Ricciardo i think is better, but he will be new to the team which to me would make it hard to rate next.

    Ferrari? Hmm. Leclerc has extreme potential, but he had way too many clumsy errors last season. But maybe he will calm down a bit when the car gets better? Anyhow, he caused 6 retirements last year and while he is quick, I wouldn’t count him as a top driver yet because of this. he seems to be making more and bigger mistakes each season into his career. Strange really.

    There are a few others that could be close but I’ll just mention one more. Renault. I don’t rate Ocon very highly and I’m not convinced Alonso is as good as many are expecting. In his last few years in f1, he seemed to make more mistakes than he used to and although the Mclaren was not quick, I’m just not convinced he has the speed he used to either. And having been out for some seasons, i feel he will at best be a bit better than the average driver on the grid.

    The bottom teams is pretty easy.

    Alpha Tauri
    Alfa Romeo

    1. Agree with you on every point :) except not sure re Hamilton, who’s kinda hard to quantify. Russell surely didnt do him any favours either.

      But yeah, I also don’t really see how Sainz’ stock got so high – he’s been very solid, that’s true, but did her ever beat anyone except for Kvyat at his worst? Norris, marginally. Not sure about him being one of the best suddenly. All in all a great choice for Ferrari perhaps.

    2. stroll was match first half season as Perez miss two races, and din’t get any upgrades and bad calls from pit wall. Alonso will wipe the floor with Ocon is as clear as cristal.

      1. Stroll finished 4 times ahead versus Perez only once. Plus he was on his way to make it 5-1 in Tuscany until the car/tyres tried to kill Stroll.

    3. It depends a lot on who has the best car . Mercedes may not have the outright best pairing but I feel if Hamilton signs and bottas stays for whole year they are best bet for wcc . Red Bull , mclaren and Ferrari have very strong pairings. Disagree about leclerc who admitted taking risks to gain positions on opening lap with a miserable car . I’m sure with a better car than last year he will not make those mistakes .
      If Perez can truly perform far better than albon and Red Bull make a much better car than last year than merc will be under pressure for constructors

  14. Well, that can only be RedBull. You either pick Lewis or Max (doesnt make sense to pick any other drivers) and then look who has the strongest team mate of the two. I rate Perez above Bottas. So Red Bull

  15. For 2021 it is a really good question. It is between McLaren and Alpine. I picked Alpine. merc, rb and Ferrari are all similar, even Alfa Romeo looks ok.

  16. The 40% (at the moment) that voted RB better return to this page in half a year. I reckon the top 3 teams all have similarly good line ups but I’m sorry I can’t see Perez keeping up. I was expecting people were voting rb,McLaren and Alpine not just RB.
    At alpine, Alonso might not be same also Ocon is no slouch he was quicker than Perez (who is in your best line-up). McLaren, Ricciardo might not have had Max’s ultimate speed but Max was quicker at a cost. Lando might actually show some speed I really hope so but I doubt it, nevertheless I’d still rank him above Perez. In 2020 Perez proved that he can’t deliver on a quick car, he is really good but he threw away too many results, I’m happy he won a race but he won’t like being team mates with Max.

    1. Let’s say red bull has a hamilton and a better than bottas driver, a decent 2nd tier, I agree with the red bull choice. We’ll see if he can adapt to the red bull but I think he’ll be much much closer to vers than the past drivers have been, something like ricciardo.

      1. I just got through tooting Perez’ horn above – even if he’s able to adapt to a high rake car (it’s possible his soft right foot would be of race benefit but) I’d be shocked and stunned if he proves capable of pushing Verstappen into biting off more than he can chew.
        For some clarification, I put RB’s combo as 3rd best.

  17. I’d say overall Red Bull have the strongest, with Verstappen being one of the strongest in the sport currently and Perez being generally dependable and consistent. McLaren are close, Norris & Ricciardo are both particularly strong and really I think Alpha Tauri have a strong lineup in Gasly & Tsunoda. Ferrari have strong in Leclerc, but I’m not convinced on Sainz yet.

    The others – Mercedes, Alpine, Aston, Williams & Alfa have one strong driver and the other either largely unknown or not on the same level. Haas I think has objectively the weakest but that’s more down to both being rookies.

  18. Mercedes has the better driver line up… Car No1 and no2, :)

  19. Mercedes. They have W12A and W12B

  20. Ferrari, for the first time in a long time have the best line-up

    1. @john-h That’s my feeling too.

  21. I still cannot understand why people rate Norris so high. I have seen some speed, however, nothing outstanding as Leclerc or Verstappen had shown. He is starting his 3rd year btw. Same comments can be said for Sainz, I have to admit. I think that this year we will see how Ricciardo and Leclerc show how much overrated are Norris and Sainz.

    Hamilton is 7th WDC, however, I cannot vote for Mercedes as the stronger line-up. For me, since 2019 that he has been declining in terms of pure speed. I think that he peaked at 2018 (or during 1st half of 2019). The qualification gap to Bottas in 2020 speaks loudly when considering the Russell-Bottas comparison. And Bottas, well, it is clear that he does not deserve to drive the Mercedes 2nd car this year…

    So my vote is for Redbull. But due to the major weaknesses of the other line-ups rather than the strengths of both drivers. I do not rate Perez so high anyway, unless the 2021 Pirelli tires are soft enough.

    1. That 1 race with Bottas and Russell is being used as evidence for too many things. Bottas beat Hamilton int he following race, therefore Bottas must be better than Hamilton. it doesn’t really work like that.

      This was the shortest, simplest track of the year, so it isn’t that much of a surprise that Russell was that close to Bottas, and Bottas was not impressed with his own lap, and given he can often beat hamilton and be pleased with his lap, he clearly hadn’t got the most out of it. He messed up the start which has happened a bit too often, but after that his pace did look slightly quicker, and the same was the case in the long runs on friday. Russell was incredible given he’d just got to the team, but many seem to be against Bottas and even Hamilton for how good Russell was.

      Regarding Norris, I think I have to agree with you. I think it is more concerning that Sainz was matched by a rookie that makes sainz not that great rather than Norris that good. They both are still close, and Sainz made more mistakes this year and I don’t think Norris improved much over last year. I think they are top 10 drivers, but nothing that special. around Bottas’s level probably.

      I don’t think red bull is that far off first, but I think Hamilton is that bit better than Verstappen and over the last few years averaged out, I think bottas is overall better than perez.

  22. There is a difference between the best line-up and the exciting line-up. Red-Bull, Mclaren, Ferrari, Alpha-Tauri are all exciting, but at the end of the year, there will most likely be a Mercedes 1-2 in the driver’s table.
    I am also curious about Aston Martin and Haas. Both has the potential of being a disastrous comedy.

    1. but at the end of the year, there will most likely be a Mercedes 1-2 in the driver’s table.

      Might have something to do with the car they drive, @pinakghosh, rather than the ‘best pairing’.

      1. @coldfly More or less. Arguably, Mercedes do have the ‘best pairing’ in terms of reaching the objectives they set themselves as a team (winning everything) given the car they’re likely to be driving. A less dominant car and the demands shift. A better racer alongside Hamilton would probably improve the team’s overall chances. My favourite pairing last year was Norris and Sainz because they were pretty close and also that positive rivalry seemed to help the team. Before that, Verstappen and Ricciardo were good. Really in good in fact. Horner was right to brag that RBR had the best pairing then. Even Vettel and Leclerc were nicely poised against each other for a while. Looking at this year, I think Leclerc and Sainz are a sharp combination, but who knows how the car will behave. Alonso and Ocon could be entertaining. Gasly versus Tsunoda at Alpha Tauri might be the strongest intra-team battle along with Norris and Ricciardo.

        1. @david-br

          Mercedes do have the ‘best pairing’ in terms of reaching the objectives they set themselves as a team (winning everything) given the car they’re likely to be driving

          Reaching the objectives means maximizing the car potential at every race. That was Hamilton’s case. The races where he didn’t do that were : Austria, Russia, Italy, Sakhir & Abu Dhabi. In the first 3 races he received silly time penalties that were avoidable , save for Austria, and the team share some part of the responsibility. In the last 2 races, he missed the first and wasn’t 100% on form in the last due to Covid-19.

          Over a season Hamilton have actually maximized the car’s potential and he wasn’t pushing all the way in the races. Bottas was underperforming badly even by his standard. The thing is, that didn’t translate in the end result because Mercedes won the both championships and Bottas was 2nd in the WDC but that’s also down to the fact that the W11 is the most dominant car Mercedes have ever made and was miles ahead of the competition.

    2. Indeed, I don’t think you understand the question of the page: best driver line up means the drivers who, assuming all had the same cars, would win the constructor, and they are verstappen and perez, simply because perez beats bottas by more than hamilton beats verstappen, assuming this 2nd statement is even true.

  23. I think it’s very very difficult to judge this year. I think as fans we’re blessed with some extremely good drivers at the moment. I think for all the top 5 teams, they all have a really strong number 1 driver (Ham,Ver, Ric, Lec, Alo, even Vet). In certain years in the past, the number 2 drivers could easily be winning. My initial reaction is Mercedes, as they are the only team with a settled lineup (assuming Ham signs!), so expect them to hit the ground running.

    My biggest interest is how the old mclaren boys (Sainz and Norris) get on, clearly evenly matched against each other. How will they match up against some of the very best. My gut feeling is they will struggle a bit, but could well be proved wrong!

  24. I’m going to argue Ferrari. Why? Because although I rate Hamilton and Verstappen as the two best drivers, fairly easily so, their team mates are both average and, well, dull. Leclerc is a top driver (albeit a notch down on HAM and VER) but Sainz, I think, is a more interesting driver than Bottas or Perez and could/should make a more competitive team mate, willing to push Leclerc. Bottas, we know the story already. Perez? Sorry, but arriving in the team and already expressing how difficult it will be to challenge Max is a sign that it’s all over already. Hamilton and Russell at Mercedes, now that would be good.

  25. Wow I’m very surprised you think Mercedes has the best driver lineup all told @keithcollantine. I think Bottas has more often than not underperformed in the machine at his disposal. For me it’s clearly a tossup between Red Bull and Ferrari – voted Ferrari.

    1. @maciek

      Where does it say keith voted?

      Are you basing it on the list that describes a bit about each driver pairing?

      The order of that isn’t the order Keith has voted (or at least does not say so) – it is based on the order of the constructors last year.

      1. Sorry, I think I may have misunderstood what you meant. But still not sure why you are mentioning Keith in it unless you do mean this.

        1. Keith did probably not vote but made his view clear under the hidden ‘I say – click to reveal‘ tab:

          Mercedes have the best driver line-up for 2021


          1. Yea, that is a mistake by me then.

  26. 1. Red Bull
    2. Mercedes – (If Lewis Hamilton signs?)
    3. Ferrari
    4. McLaren
    5. Alpine
    6. Alfa Romeo
    7. Williams
    8. Alpha Tauri
    9. Aston Martin
    10. Haas – (2 unproven drivers in F1)

  27. 1. Mercedes
    2. Red Bull
    3. Ferrari
    4. Alpine
    5. McLaren

    I put Alpine P4, but it really depends how good Alonso is when he returns. If he’s the same beast he was, I’d put them P3. If he’s lost a bit, P4. If he’s lost a lot, they might even be outside the Top 5.

    1. Red Bull. I believe Verstappen is already the quickest in the field, and Perez generally better than Bottas.

      Of course the Red Bull car is notoriously difficult to drive and the Mercedes relatively easy so might not be reflected in the scores if the cars don’t change much.

      1. @balue It’s not just about being a quick driver though. Verstappen is lacking in actually bringing the win home and helping the car getting developed in the right direction.

        Plus it’s surprising how few pole’s he got even when the car was fastest he managed to not get pole (Turkey, Hungary, Sakhir and in the past all those Monaco and Mexico qualies), so is he even really quickest when it counts? He doesn’t deal well with pressure.

        Bottas is a lot better than Perez too. Perez got destroyed by Stroll for the first half of the 2020 season. While Bottas is performing very closely the arguably the best driver in F1 for decades.

        1. Was Perez not sick for 2 races the reason Stroll was ahead….. After that Stroll got wasted by Perez.

  28. I think it’s a bit odd to choose Mercs line-up at this stage. Their best driver has no contract yet. In my opinion Ferrari has the best line-up. A wonderful mix of blistering speed by Leclerc and consistent racing by Sainz. I doubt if Ferrari is able to give them a car to match their capabilities, but that is not the question of this articles.

  29. Hmm… hard to choose between Red Bull and Ferrari for me. I’ll probably go with Ferrari as I think Charles and Carlos will work together and more equally than Max and Perez. As for Mercedes – even if Hamilton signs, they still have the wishy-washy dead weight of Bottas in a car, so if their rivals produce good cars that can match the Merc he’ll be left behind in the races.

    As for the others – Mclaren about the same as last year, no idea how Alonso will do at Alpine but I hope he’ll do well, and Aston Martin are in for a shock at just how bad Vettel has become. Haas obviously the worst on paper, but I hope Mick will do well despite the limitations of the car.

  30. Some might think I’m crazy but, to me, Ferrari has had the strongest pairings since Alonso and Raikkonen, which baffles me how incompetent they have been. I can only hope they do not mess up with Sainz’s current form, because I can believe both could fight for 3rd this season if the “new” car does not go backwards once again.

  31. I went with McLaren. Not necessarily the outright fastest but I’d consider them the most reliable to bring the car home with decent points consistently which is what counts for the midfield. Hopefully they’ll be fighting for the odd podium.

  32. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    23rd January 2021, 22:42

    Point wise, Mercedes
    Entertainment wise, Red Bull

  33. It’s hard to judge between Mercedes and Red Bull, Hamilton and Verstappen are pretty much even, it’s a question of whether Perez can perform better than Bottas at a top team or not. I went for Red Bull but it was 50:50 for me. Ferrari are a clear 3rd place.

  34. I feel very frustrated when I hear, or read, comments such as: “Russell can do as well or better than Hamilton in the MB”, re: Sakhir outer track performance.

    This circuit is a simple one with no concatenation of curves and turns and only singles out a drivers ability to brake and negotiate low speed turns. On top of this there is no bench mark to judge Russell’s performance. It is not challenging in terms of grip, tyre management, wet driving greasy track etc. So in judging Russell’s performance, how can we grade it?

    Had it been on the inner circuit, we could have measured his performance and conclude validly. Not the case at present.

    I surmise, RB would be delighted to get rid of the inconvenient Hamilton and have Verstappen clobber both Russell and Bottas. So they promote the idea that Russell is as good a pilot as Hamilton at a lesser cost.

    1. Agreed, but also Bottas doesn’t seem to do well on either Sakhir configuration. Hamilton was 3 tenths faster than Bottas on the full track and Bottas performed poorly in Q3 Sakhir as well. He lost at least 2 tenths. Verstappen also performed poorly, he was fastest by far in FP3 and then couldn’t get a lap together in Q3.

      Russell performed admirably though. Perhaps he wasn’t fastest, but at least he performed at the best he could with the amount of practice het got.

  35. I voted McLaren but actually, I’d change that if I could – I completely forgot about Ferrari. They might be down on power but Leclerc and Sainz are a formidable duo.

    Having said that, we’ve not seem how they work as a team yet. Actually, we’ve only seen how drivers work together as a team for three of the teams in 2021 as most have had driver line-up changes!

  36. RB is the team with best drivers pairing. Checo will be the lead driver by the end of the year. By half season Max will be leading, but by the end of the year Max will face his most toughest challenger of his life, which might lead him to do rookie mistakes and ending up behind Checo.
    You heard it first here. Note down my name.

    1. It’s is just comical to see that people actually think that Perez is anything but a midlevel driver. I doubt Perez could even beat Gasly or Albon.

  37. If all the teams could get their cars done up properly this could be a great year.

    1. @danmar With almost similar cars and even more durable tyres, it will likely be the same or worse. Of course then the battle for 3rd will still be good, so there’s that, but that’s far, far from great.

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