Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2021

2021 mid-season F1 driver rankings part 3: 12-9

2021 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

How well are the championship contenders’ team mates performing in 2021? Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez appear in part three of RaceFans’ mid-season Formula 1 driver rankings.

12. Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

Beat team mate in qualifying6/10
Beat team mate in race3/8
Races finished9/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate255/584
Qualifying margin-0.01s
Points30

When the season began it seemed Sebastian Vettel was in no better shape following his move to Aston Martin than he had been at Ferrari the year before. His last season in red was a bruising encounter in which he was consistently out-paced by Charles Leclerc and made too many unforced errors in races.

At the season-opener this year he started near the back after collecting a penalty in qualifying and ran into Esteban Ocon, receiving another endorsement from the stewards. Although he reached Q3 in Portugal he slipped out of the points places in the race, and in Spain he circulated behind Stroll, who’d just gone 3-1 up on him in qualifying.

However the next race in Monaco proved a clear turning point, since when Vettel has only been out-qualified by his team mate once. Eighth on the grid became an excellent fifth on the race as he ran long and jumped ahead of Hamilton and Gasly after the leaders pitted. Better was to follow in Azerbaijan where he rose nine places to finish second, dodging the usual drama as he went.

Another second place followed in Hungary, though he was disqualified as his car was found not to contain sufficient fuel at the end of the race. This was no reflection on a solid drive, though a slightly messy arrival in his pit box potentially cost him the chance to jump ahead of Ocon and win.

Vettel hasn’t quite banished the memories of last year: He spun out early in the British Grand Prix, ruining his afternoon. But if he gets his Hungary points back he’ll be ahead of his 2020 tally already, a fair reflection on a considerably better campaign so far.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

11. Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

Beat team mate in qualifying1/11
Beat team mate in race1/9
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate26/569
Qualifying margin+0.45s
Points104

Though it won’t be a popular sentiment in Milton Keynes, Red Bull were oddly fortunate when a failed left-rear tyre pitched Max Verstappen’s car out of the lead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Had it happened at any other race, it would have handed victory to one of their rivals. Instead, an on-form Sergio Perez was there to salvage a win for the team.

Azerbaijan was an obvious high point for Perez. Although he was pushed back to sixth on the grid by Pierre Gasly (one driver he particularly needs to beat at the moment) and Carlos Sainz Jnr, he latched onto his team mate’s tail at the start and from there on played the perfect rear-gunner role. Almost too perfect, in fact, for as well as jumping past Lewis Hamilton in the pits he nearly took Verstappen too.

But Perez hasn’t come close to this high watermark often enough. His Baku win aside, he’s only visited the podium on one other occasion, while Verstappen has been there eight times.

The season started promisingly. A three-tenths deficit to Verstappen in Bahrain was a fine first effort given Alexander Albon only got closer twice during the whole in 2020. After a pre-race engine problem Perez recovered magnificently to fifth. Then at Imola he astoundingly beat Verstappen in a straight fight in qualifying to claim a place on the front row.

That proved a precursor to an error-strewn performance in a damp race on Sunday which left him out of the points. Like Baku, this was an outlier of a weekend, though he had a poor round at Silverstone too. That ended up with him sacrificing 10th place – or potentially better – just so Red Bull could deny Hamilton the bonus point for fastest lap, at no gain to Perez.

Although Perez has been closer to Verstappen on race day than his predecessors were, the picture is complicated by the fact this year’s Red Bull is a more competitive machine. He’s trailed Verstappen in qualifying but usually makes the necessary gains on race day to ensure Red Bull remain in a competitive position in the championship. But considerable scope for improvement remains, and Red Bull may be looking for signs he can deliver it in the second half of the season before committing to Perez for 2022.

10. Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas

Beat team mate in qualifying3/11
Beat team mate in race2/8
Races finished8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate96/545
Qualifying margin+0.2s
Points108

In the toughest season Mercedes has faced since the beginning of the V6 hybrid turbo era, Valtteri Bottas has been found wanting too often.

In qualifying, Bottas continues to give a reasonable account of himself. Over 11 qualifying sessions, he’s beaten Hamilton three times and been within two-tenths of a second of his team mate a further six times.

It’s in the races where Bottas has come up short too often. Imola and Baku were the most obvious examples – he was on the point of being lapped by his team mate in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix shortly before he went out in a collision. While Bottas may not have been responsible for the clash with George Russell, the point remains he shouldn’t have been fighting a rearguard action against a Williams.

Hamilton nearly his Mercedes took to victory in Azerbaijan, but in Bottas’ hands the car didn’t look good enough for a points finish. But his performance in Monaco two weeks earlier should be taken in mitigation, as he clearly outclassed Hamilton there until he was sidelined by a disastrous pit stop. These sharp swings in performance indicate the extremes Mercedes have pursued trying to wring every last hundredth from the W12.

As the second driver in a top-flight car, Bottas inevitably invites comparisons with Perez, who despite winning one race has only taken two podium finishes to Bottas’ seven. So Bottas gets the nod over him here, but the driver he really needs to be worried about it Russell.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

9. Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon

Beat team mate in qualifying5/11
Beat team mate in race5/8
Races finished9/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate327/550
Qualifying margin-0.04s
Points39

It’s been a tumultuous half-season for Ocon who began his second year back in F1 strongly, signed a contract extension, slumped to a pair of consecutive Q1 exits, then bounced back to score an opportunistic first grand prix victory.

It’s not easy to pick out the signal amid the noise, but while Ocon can be satisfied with the job he’s done, returning team mate Fernando Alonso has generally eclipsed him, aside from that somewhat fortuitous result at the Hungaroring.

Ocon held the upper hand over the opening races, aside from his luckless outing in Bahrain. His put in a fine showing in Portugal, planting his Alpine on the third row of the grid and taking seventh at the flag, though by that point Alonso had closed to within a second of him.

Ocon pounced on his chance to score a shock win
After collecting his fourth points score on the trot in Monaco, a series of tougher races followed. While Alonso piled on the points, Ocon either finished out of the top 10 or failed to reach the chequered flag, due to an early power unit failure in Baku and a first-lap collision at the Red Bull Ring. The latter was a by-product of starting 17th for the second race in a row, a puzzling slump of form which prompted Alpine to swap his chassis.

That did the trick. Ocon was back in the points at Silverstone, though again overshadowed by Alonso, then came good in style at the Hungaroring. He out-qualified Alonso for the first time in six races, which proved timely, as the first-lap shunt cleared the way for him to take a remarkable first win. That capped a solid first half of the season, if not one which quite deserved a higher points tally than his team mate.

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

2021 F1 season

Browse all 2021 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

34 comments on “2021 mid-season F1 driver rankings part 3: 12-9”

  1. I agree with these 4 and i actually had Perez in 11th and Ocon in ninth. I would possibly swap Vettel with Bottas as Valtteri hasn’t impressed in 2021 bar Monaco where he unfortunately he was an innocent victim of this horrendous pit stop by Mercedes.

    Vettel had some weird moments as mentioned in the article, but he had some stellar drives that this package couldn’t easily achieve.

  2. Vettel behind Checo and Bottas?

    Really???

    1. That order seems a bit inconsistent also knowing that:
      Vettel had 2x Star performance against a single Struggler;
      Bottas was a 3x Struggler, and Perez a 2x Struggler (no Stars for them).

    2. Well he has only finished in the points 4 times (3 counted) as Stroll has managed to do 6 times. For Aston Martin points are what matters. For Bottas he has been on the podium 6 times which is good for n2 driver and for Perez only 1 retirement which wasn’t his fault and he has been on the top 6 8 times. So I think Vettel is in the right place.

      1. Erm, so Bottas did well because we was on the podium in 6 out of 11 races with an Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 car?

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          19th August 2021, 9:34

          Bottas should have had more podiums than he has, but the Red Bull has clearly been better. I myself think it is clear Bottas has been better than Perez. Vettel has had 2 outstanding moments, 1 very poor and quite a lot of underwhelming ones too. I think he is pretty even with Bottas. I would probably rate Perez below Vettel though.

          1. @thegianthogweed I don’t think Red Bull is better than Mercedes. It really depends on the track who has the advantage, but it seems Red Bull is maybe slightly better in qualifying on average, whereas Mercedes tends to be faster in the race. In contrast, Pérez is usually better on race day than in qualifying, unlike Bottas. Still, Bottas got quite consistently out-qualified by Hamilton. Not surprisingly, he didn’t stand much of a chance in thee races. I’m surprised he is ahead of Pérez, who actually had a few good performances, but a lot of extremely poor races as well.

      2. @qeki

        For Bottas he has been on the podium 6 times which is good for n2 driver and for Perez only 1 retirement which wasn’t his fault and he has been on the top 6 8 times. So I think Vettel is in the right place.

        You’re ignoring the absolute lows from Bottas in three races (Imola, Baku and Hungary) that cost him dearly in the championship. That’s why he’s not much better than Perez in performance overall (weighting the latter’s highs against his obvious mistakes) and as for Vettel he has been better than both because of his occasional highs and not many obvious absolute lows, despite on his turn not being that much superior to his teammate Stroll.

    3. @magon4

      I agree. That’s quite ridiculous.

      There was a lot of stress on Vettel’s errors such in Bahrain and Britain, along with some mediocre drives up until Monaco, but since then he’s put 3 stellar drives in Monaco, Baku and Hungary. That’s 3 more stellar drives than Checo and Bottas have. I’d rank Vettel at #10 this season. Checo at #12 and Bottas at #11.

      I’d say the rankings from #20 to #10 should have been –
      20) Mazepin
      19) Tsonuda
      18) Latifi
      17) Schumacher
      16) Ricciardo
      15) Raikkonen
      14) Stroll
      13) Giovinazzi
      12) Perez
      11) Bottas
      10) Vettel

      1. @todfod
        Isn’t Stroll too low on your list? He has been a regular points finisher despite his glaring obvious mistakes sometimes and some underwhelming qualis. But his stronger racecraft is probably deserving a place closer to Vettel and above Giovinazzi and Bottas.

        1. @rodewulf @frood19
          Yeah.. it was a difficult one between Stroll and Giovinazzi.. especially as Stroll’s opening few races were pretty strong with 2 points finishes in the first two races… but since Monaco, he’s been a fair bit behind his teammate and even made some big errors. Honestly, I believe Stroll could have also gotten much more out of the car throughout the season, and could have scored a higher points tally.

          I couldn’t find a lot of errors in Giovinazzi, and I think he got a lot of pace out of an uncompetitive Alfa.. he was unlucky to not have had 3 points scoring finishes so far in an Alfa .. as compared to Lance who had 4 points finishes in a significantly more competitive Aston.

          1. @todfod

            Yeah.. it was a difficult one between Stroll and Giovinazzi.. especially as Stroll’s opening few races were pretty strong with 2 points finishes in the first two races… but since Monaco, he’s been a fair bit behind his teammate and even made some big errors.

            For sure, even if Stroll had been unlucky when it comes to big points, that’s nearly indisputable Vettel had the upper hand against him.

            Honestly, I believe Stroll could have also gotten much more out of the car throughout the season, and could have scored a higher points tally.

            He had been one of the luckless drivers points-wise and Vettel more on the contrary, if not for disqualification, his team-mate would have enjoyed the biggest standings’ flattering alongside Hamilton. But despite that, his form was getting a little weaker in recent GPs and there was that Hungary race blunder too like Bottas, so he deserves to be ranked overall with a score at least around 1 point below Vettel, for scores from 0 to 10.

            I couldn’t find a lot of errors in Giovinazzi, and I think he got a lot of pace out of an uncompetitive Alfa.. he was unlucky to not have had 3 points scoring finishes so far in an Alfa .. as compared to Lance who had 4 points finishes in a significantly more competitive Aston.

            Giovinazzi was more consistent than Stroll and had slightly better qualis but he had considerably worse starts and weaker race pace, even when adjusted to machinery power, as well as some very strange strategy calls in which he could have done more to be called off of it, in case he had more experience. About his chances of scoring, in which races exactly he could have had points finish but lost mostly down on bad luck? I remember Imola and that’s it, which more? As for Stroll, actually he had a respectable amount of six points finish this season, and additionally was denied a slam dunk one in Baku with a tyre failure. Had he scored only lowly points as he did but just four times with an Aston Martin, certainly he should be further down in the performance rankings.

      2. @todfod that’s a pretty good list. I might have stroll ahead of Giovinazzi and perhaps tsunoda ahead of Latifi, but otherwise agree.

  3. This was my comment from the Part 2 of the article:
    16 = Raikkonen, 15 = Ricciardo, 14 = Giovinazzi, 13 = Bottas

    On second thoughts, I have to agree with the article that Perez was worse than Bottas. I will revise my ranking as below
    16 = Raikkonen, 15 = Ricciardo, 14 = Giovinazzi, 13 = Vettel, 12 = Stroll, 11 = Perez, 10 = Bottas, 9 = Ocon

    I still maintain Vettel to be worse than Stroll. Vettel still hasn’t got rid of the errors that have crept in since 2018. Stroll has finished more races ahead of Vettel and spent more laps ahead of Vettel.

    I think top 8 being Both Ferrari drivers, Hamilton, Max, Lando, Gasly, Russell and Alonso makes sense. These 8 definitely have been a cut above the remaining 12.

    1. In the top 8 it seems easier to rank the top 3 than #4-8.
      I wonder how people will rate these (a few have been shared already).

    2. sumedh
      My top 8 is the same of yours even if in a slightly different order, I think it’s the most consolidated part of the performance rankings overall. Take a look at other commentators’ rankings and attribute a score probably helps too.

      1st – Max Verstappen (9.2)
      2nd – Lando Norris (9.0)
      3rd – Charles Leclerc (8.5)
      4th – Lewis Hamilton (8.3)
      5th – Fernando Alonso (8.1) – Sunday tie-break
      6th – George Russell (8.1) – Sunday tie-break
      7th – Pierre Gasly (7.9)
      8th – Carlos Sainz Jr. (7.4)
      9th – Esteban Ocon (7.2)
      10th – Sebastian Vettel (6.9)
      11th – Lance Stroll (6.1)
      12th – Sergio Pérez (5.6) – Newcomer tie-break
      13th – Valtteri Bottas (5.6) – Newcomer tie-break
      14th – Mick Schumacher (4.8)
      15th – Nicholas Latifi (4.7)
      16th – Daniel Ricciardo (4.4)
      17th – Antonio Giovinazzi (4.3)
      18th – Kimi Räikkönen (4.2)
      19th – Yuki Tsunoda (2.9)
      20th – Nikita Mazepin (2.6)

      1. That’s a ranking I could agree with

        Vettel must be given slack for new car and lowest test mileage of all. He might have had luck with his 2 podiums, but he still had to be there and drive them.

        Similarly Bottas has had his usual bad luck, but still the pace has been poor. Bottas in the Aston would be worse than Vettel I feel.

        1. Vettel must be given slack for new car and lowest test mileage of all. He might have had luck with his 2 podiums, but he still had to be there and drive them.

          That’s right, Vettel had only three really good races, namely Monaco, Baku and Hungary, and the rest was average or lacklustre, some with big mistakes, but still enough to be ahead of Perez (who had only two similar highs and was even more error-prone) and his teammate Stroll, despite having less points finishes than him. I’ve seen some rankings of others here putting the Aston Martin drivers, particularly Stroll, a little higher or a little lower so it’s coming close to a consensus. But one thing that some might think is too harsh is ranking Giovinazzi 17th despite his improvements. Many would take pity on him and find it dismissive of his efforts, but I argued that even with his current level he almost certainly wouldn’t be doing any better than Perez or Bottas, and probably also Ricciardo this season, if he was to find himself on their place. In 2019 he was outclassed by Raikkonen who was already far from his own peak so, the thing is Gio improved from subpar to just okay and that earns him still a nearly red, maybe orange score, if it was to arrange colours by performance levels.

          Similarly Bottas has had his usual bad luck, but still the pace has been poor. Bottas in the Aston would be worse than Vettel I feel.

          Bottas in comparision to Perez has been a tricky one too. Like about Giovinazzi some people tend to value too much his consistency and forget about his absolute lows of race pace in tricky conditions and toothless racecraft. Despite Perez’ blatant mistakes and poor qualis, he had been way better on that department. LH fans also only want to see Bottas’ decent one-lap speed, but GPs aren’t won on Saturdays, and actually they say that mostly to indulge Hamilton and pretend he has fierce intra-team competition. So it’s curious that most of the worst features of Perez tend to be the best features of Bottas, and vice versa. But their respective scores just shouldn’t be much different from each other anyway, as currently disappointing second drivers.

  4. Bottas has performed better than half the grid? Pull the other one. Let’s dive into those performances a bit more…

    Bahrain: +37s behind teammate
    Imola: Woeful performance, crashed whilst fighting backmarkers
    Portugal: +30s behind teammate
    Spain: +26s behind teammate
    Monaco: Unlucky retirement
    Baku: Disastrous – couldn’t even get points whilst his teammate was fighting for the win
    France: +12s behind teammate
    Styria: +11s behind teammate
    Austria: Finished P2, best Mercedes driver
    Silverstone: +11s behind teammate
    Hungary: Bowling ball takes out half the grid

    Take those rose tinted specs off, that’s not the performance of a driver who deserves 10th best on the grid!

    1. 10-odd seconds behind team-mate in a 50-60 lap race is ok. Doesn’t disqualify some from not being in top 10 of the grid.

      Bahrain and Portugal gaps are because he stopped for fastest lap towards the end of the race. On the flipside, Styria is 11s gap inspite of Hamilton stopping for fastest lap towards the end of the race.

      And his team-mate to whom he is finishing 10-20 seconds behind every race is Lewis Hamilton. Not an average driver.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      19th August 2021, 10:37

      Hamilton is having a worse season that his usual standards, but you are comparing Bottas to just him and suggesting that his performance must mean he’s been worse than half the grid. Even with hamilton at the performance he’s had this season, he’s still been one of the best drivers out there (the lowest I could rate him is 3rd. And his pace is still there, which is something that makes Bottas look worse than he is. I wouldn’t really argue with Bottas being just outside the top 10, but being just in it isn’t unrealistic either. You also don’t judge every race fairly. Bottas’ pace was as good as Hamilton in Bahrain, and his terrible pit stop pretty much cost him from being very close to Verstappen at the end. 3rd likely was the best he could do, but his pace was up there with the leaders. There was another race shortly after this where he lost power as he was closing in on Verstappen and lost any oppertunity he had to get by. Admittedly, he only lost 5 – 10 seconds that race, but again, the gap that was there isn’t realistic.

    3. Imola: Racing incident 100%.

    4. @cduk_mugello True, he’s nowhere near his 2017 or 2019 level.

  5. Sainz and Gasly, where are you? Is it fair that both Alfa drivers are down the bottom because their cars are slow.

    1. The thing is the alfa drivers don’t seem to perform well: if a driver regularly beats the other by 3-5 tenths in quali, that other driver is not extracting good performance on a single lap, and if this other driver than regularly beats the first driver in the race, viceversa goes for the other.

      1. @esploratore1 Imagine Giovinazzi in present day McLaren being teammate to Norris. Despite having improved a lot, it would be hard to imagine him beating the Ferrari drivers regularly (the cars are close, Gio’s best feat has been quali what would not be enough, plus Leclerc and Sainz are better racers than him anyway) so if the average race finish for Norris is at least 5th place, Giovinazzi’s would be not much better than 8th. That’s already a minimum of 6 points difference per race and more than double points for the leading driver. In fact, there’s no reason to conclude that neither Giovinazzi nor Raikkonen would be doing any better than a battered Ricciardo in the McLaren, as much as it might seem otherwise it’d be the most likely thing to happen.

  6. Can’t understand how Bottas is ahead of Perez or Vettel.

    1. Bottas or perez vs vettel is up for debate, but unless you count perez is new to red bull and bottas isn’t to mercedes, bottas has simply been better. Perez had higher highs and lows but bottas has been consistently decent, getting a lot of podiums, some people said it’s easy to get podiums on a merc, ok, but where are perez’s podiums then?

      1. @esploratore1

        Bottas or perez vs vettel is up for debate, but unless you count perez is new to red bull and bottas isn’t to mercedes, bottas has simply been better.

        Seems about accurate.

        Perez had higher highs and lows but bottas has been consistently decent, getting a lot of podiums, some people said it’s easy to get podiums on a merc, ok, but where are perez’s podiums then?

        Somewhat surprisingly, despite that the difference of performance between them is not great at all. The reason is Bottas had many absolute lows (Imola, Baku and Hungary races) and very few highs beyond mediocre podium finishes. Of course to bring the car to the podium somehow is better than not, but notice that whilst Bottas has a lot of 3rd place finishes, Perez has many 4ths and 5ths as results. His highs has been compensating this for the time being, helped by Bottas’ abysmal performances not much rarely, but those two are far from being solid second drivers anyway. Bottas has been more consistent but appalling weak generally on races, and Perez the opposite.

  7. Not sure I fully agree with these rankings, but there is one thing in common with all of them: lack of consistency. Results can vary from too heavily weekend to weekend, and this is something they all must improve on during the latter half of the season.

  8. A couple of grammar mistakes in the article as far as I see, first one is very weird, as far as I know, and even checked dictionary, endorsement is a sort of approval, something positive, so I find it very weird that vettel gets endorsement used as a negative:

    “At the season-opener this year he started near the back after collecting a penalty in qualifying and ran into Esteban Ocon, receiving another endorsement from the stewards.”

    And then in the bottas’ article this seems like poetic writing, it’s fun though!

    “Hamilton nearly his Mercedes took to victory in Azerbaijan”

    Apart from that, I like this ranking article, I agree with all of them, the most important point is putting bottas ahead of perez, while many fans rated perez higher which I just don’t understand, when you don’t give him a pass for being new to the team, which rankings shouldn’t do.

    1. I think endorsement is like demerit points on your license.
      Demerit points is like penalty points on your license.

      You might have to translate the page from English to English.

  9. I would have had Vettel above Perez & Bottas – given the car the unfamiliar car he’s driving and its performance level he’s doing reasonably well. I’d say while Perez is still underperforming in many ways he’s still doing a better job than Bottas given – like Vettel, he’s driving a totally unfamiliar car. Bottas, given his experience, position in the team and ability should be extracing a lot more from that Mercedes than he is. Ocon… would be a lot lower if it wasn’t for that win.

    So, for me I’d reverse the entire ranking. Ocon, Bottas, Perez, Vettel.

  10. Okay, my ranking now is getting substantially different:

    9) Alonso: at the back of my head I guess I expected more from a guy with his fame and form. Still, got to grips in a decent time frame, pulling out pretty solid results that reminisces his good days that, Hungarian GP aside, somehow got over-praised whilst his team mate who was leading him got a chassis problem. But, just like Vettel, he showed he still got it, though with less impressive results than the former and also Ocon, both of which I rated a tad higher so far. Regardless, I anticipate an even better form from him from now on.
    10) Russell: Mr. Saturday, this time generally unimpressive (and a bit erratic) when it matters, the race day. Can’t get higher than that.
    11) Stroll: nicely upping his game season-by-season by now. He is holding up decently against Vettel. Had his fair share of bad luck, true, but he had solid testing, has the preference on new parts, and still blow up his chances now and then. If he straighten up, he can achieve his best season at his entire career.
    12) Mick Schumacher: this one impressed me. Granted, as a rookie, he is doing some errors, but held strong against way better cars (without getting a tenth of the appreciation the likes of Alonso has got), pulled out unexpected performances on Q, and is almost always ahead of his team mate.
    13) Bottas
    14) Perez
    15) Raikkonen
    16) Giovinazzi
    17) Latifi
    18) Ricciardo
    19) Tsunoda
    20) Mazepin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.