Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021

2021 mid-season F1 driver rankings part 5: 4-1

2021 F1 season

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Which of the four remaining drivers has taken the top spot in RaceFans’ mid-season F1 rankings? Read on to find out.

4. Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc

Beat team mate in qualifying8/11
Beat team mate in race6/9
Races finished9/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate373/547
Qualifying margin-0.1s
Points80

Leclerc often does with his Ferrari what Russell does in his Williams: Extract dazzling qualifying performances which put the car ahead of where it’s likely to finish. He’s qualified in the top two rows for more than half of this year’s races, including that remarkable pair of pole positions in Monaco and Azerbaijan.

Ferrari’s vulnerability on the straights meant the latter was never likely to yield a victory. But in Monaco he ultimately paid the price for his qualifying crash as he was unable to start the race. Had he done so, it’s highly likely he would have won.

He came within a few laps of victory at Silverstone too, capitalising on the collision between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen while badly showing up their team mates who lagged behind.

The rest of the time Leclerc has usually banked solid points finishes. Only in Hungary, where Lance Stroll smashed into him, and France, where the Ferrari chewed its tyres, did he fail to score.

He has been perhaps a touch too cavalier at times: In the Styrian Grand Prix he made contact with no fewer than three of his rivals, yet rode his luck and avoided damage and penalties. But with the prospect of a Ferrari power unit upgrade on its way, he may have further chances to win in the second half of 2021.

3. Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

Beat team mate in qualifying8/11
Beat team mate in race6/8
Races finished11/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate449/545
Qualifying margin-0.2s
Points195

The opening race of 2021 was an intriguing taster for the season which lay ahead. Mercedes had plainly been forced onto the back foot by Red Bull, as Max Verstappen planted his car on pole position. But Lewis Hamilton drove a superb race to snatch victory away, hopping into the lead via a well-timed pit stop and resisting his rival’s attacks.

Hamilton immediately took the shine off that bravura start to the season with a crucial error at the very next race. Having taken pole position, he was mugged by off the line by Verstappen, who dealt with the Mercedes forcefully at the first corner. Hamilton then slithered off a still-damp track at Tosa, losing a significant amount of time, only to regain it thanks to a red flag. Second place was a major ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ moment, and not his last.

As Mercedes got to grips with their car Hamilton added wins in Portugal and Spain – the latter again involving a near-miss between the title contenders at the start – before Red Bull took the upper hand and Verstappen grabbed the championship lead. But at Silverstone the title fight swung sharply in controversial circumstances.

Unwilling to be cowed in another first-lap fight with Verstappen, Hamilton stayed alongside his rival as they entered Copse. He was undoubtedly entitled to do so, but strayed wide and caused a huge crash for his rival. Gallingly for Red Bull, not only did the subsequent red flag again allow Mercedes to fix Hamilton’s car, but his 10-second time penalty for the contact didn’t stop him from winning.

Hamilton’s Imola slip was less costly than it could have been
Hamilton should have won again in Hungary, but slipped up by failing to switch to intermediates on time. His recovery drive was superb, albeit frustrated by Alonso, confining him to second place. Nonetheless, the reigning champion went into the summer break leading the points.

He’s had luck on his side, however, and often got away lightly when he’s slipped up, with two notable exceptions. The first was in Monaco, where he was uncharacteristically outclassed by Valtteri Bottas, and finished in the seventh place he started. Then in Azerbaijan a minor error with his steering wheel at a late restart cost him very dearly, leaving him out of the points.

Red Bull are so strong this year that even though Hamilton leads the championship now, those lost points may hurt him come the end of the season.

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2. Lando Norris

Lando Norris

Beat team mate in qualifying8/11
Beat team mate in race9/10
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate495/626
Qualifying margin-0.33s
Points113

McLaren’s top points-scorer – by far – has been simply incredible this year. Now in his third season of Formula 1, Lando Norris has assumed the role of de facto team leader, eclipsing highly experienced incomer Daniel Ricciardo.

Over the 11 races so far, Norris has been the first driver home in a car other than a Red Bull or a Mercedes on seven occasions. Considering he was taken out at the start in Hungary, that is a remarkable 70% strike rate in a seriously competitive midfield.

He was ‘best of the rest’ over the opening four races despite not always delivering his best in qualifying, specifically Q3. Whether not quite getting the most from his final run or losing times due to track limits violations, Norris only out-qualified Ricciardo once over the opening four rounds. That looks remarkable in hindsight, as he’s been unbeaten since.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Norris has more podium finishes than Perez
Spain was the only race where Norris wasn’t at his best and the sole occasion where he followed Ricciardo home. He did pass Russell, Alonso and Ocon for eighth, but was given a rare black-and-white ‘unsporting conduct’ flag for defending too firmly against Sainz.

But a trio of podiums (one more than Sergio Perez has managed in a much quicker car) and eight top-five finishes underline the quality of job Norris is doing this year. At Imola he blended opportunism as he made his way forward with the sense not to throw a good result away in fighting Hamilton too hard. He delivered a fine podium in Monaco under pressure from Perez, and grabbed another in the Austrian Grand Prix, where a harsh penalty for his defence against the same driver arguably cost Norris second place.

As Ricciardo continues to under-perform in the car, Norris’ contribution to McLaren’s points haul has become invaluable. No wonder they were so quick to extend his contract earlier this year.

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1. Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen

Beat team mate in qualifying10/11
Beat team mate in race8/9
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate543/569
Qualifying margin-0.45s
Points187

Max Verstappen has the quickest car in Formula 1 at the moment, yet he isn’t leading the championship. Therefore it’s surely too generous to place him at the top of our driver rankings?

Certainly, Verstappen’s season so far hasn’t been perfect. He paid the price of straying beyond track limits more than once in the opening races, losing a potential win in Bahrain and compromising himself in the race and qualifying in Portugal. But it would be fatuous to claim details like these are the main reason Verstappen isn’t at the top of the table.

He’s suffered three major losses this year, only one of which could reasonably said to be his fault to even the slightest degree. The tyre failure in Azerbaijan was out of his hands, and undoubtedly cost him a maximum score. He was blameless in Hungary too when he was taken out on the first lap. Then there was the collision at Silverstone, which the stewards ruled Lewis Hamilton was largely to blame for.

Had it not been for the Baku tyre blow-out Verstappen would have had five wins in a row at mid-season. The other four included a commanding drive on the streets of Monaco, a pair of lights-to-flag wins in Austria and his fine performance in France, where Red Bull first mugged Mercedes in the pits and Verstappen then reeled in Hamilton for a satisfying win.

The two races before the summer break were anything but satisfying, however, and leave Hamilton eight points to the good. But over the 11 races so far Verstappen has left no room to doubt he can get the job done and deny Hamilton an eighth world championship this year.

While Hamilton has won four times, Verstappen has taken five wins – six if you count sprint qualifying

2021 F1 season

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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...

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148 comments on “2021 mid-season F1 driver rankings part 5: 4-1”

  1. Verstappen’s season is reminding me of Hamilton in 2017-2019 against Ferrari. No matter what Vettel and co threw at him, Hamilton was somehow always capable of coming out in front because of how good he and the team worked together. After Bahrain i thought we’d have another case of that, with Verstappen having the faster car for most of the season but losing the title because Hamilton and Mercedes would be more efficient and consistent.

    So far, it’s been the other way around and Hamilton and Mercedes have dropped the ball a few too many times, can’t wait to see what the 2nd half of the season is going to turn out like.

    1. I thought Max was the most consistent and efficient driver but influence from outside costs him a lot 3 dnf (technical) otherwise he would be far ahead already.

    2. @xenn1 2017 and 2018 yes. 2019 Ferrari was not a championship winning car, not with the aero package they had. But I guess when a Ferrari gets pole, it’s the car, and when it doesn’t fight for the win, it’s the drivers. This seems to be applicable for everyone but Hamilton (and Verstappen on a few occasions).

      1. @wsrgo oh no you’re absolutely right, the 2019 Ferrari definitely wasn’t a championship contending car, but Hamilton still won races that were Ferrari’s (or other drivers’) to lose in 2019, like Canada and Mexico for example.

        2017-2020 i think Hamilton was at his absolute best and this year we maybe, just maybe, are starting to see the first signs that he’s past his prime. Time will tell

        1. 2017 Hamilton wasn’t near his best in my opinion, he was similar to Vettel in 2018 making a fair few mistakes with Vettel being consistent and driving fantastically. That year he was fortunate the Mercedes was faster, then in 2018, the roles were reversed. 2018 was definitely his best year in recent times. 2019/2020 the car and Bottas flattered him, he had no real competition and Bottas has never been able to keep up with him, perhaps he kept that speed and form from 2018, but it’s a lot easier to be consistent and mistake-free without any pressure and competition.

          I think he hit the start of his peak around 2013/2014 and it ended sometime in 2019/2020. I think 2017 was just an off-season where he wasn’t used to competition, and perhaps this year is the same story and his peak hasn’t ended yet. But if this is to continue, then I will look back and say he dropped off somewhere in 2019/2020. While he is a great (potentially legendary) driver, Bottas, Mercedes, and his artificially inflated statistics have flattered him a lot in my opinion to people thinking he has God-like abilities. Look at his McLaren years, 2017-2018, and now this year, and that’s where we see how good he really is. Clearly, one of the all-time greats, but not the unstoppable God people claim him to be. He’s shown virtually every year that he is a great driver, but like all greats he still makes mistakes, has flaws, and has off-seasons, that not’s to discredit him, but to show he is still human. This is probably not all relevant, but Hamilton fanboys need to recognise this.

          Reply moderated
          1. True, while Hamilton is world-class and legitimately one of the best, it doesn’t mean that the other drivers suck hard or are all nowhere near him regardless of if they’re WDC or not, or that nobody can replicate Hamilton (people have a tendency to only give credit to the drivers alone, like treating Hamilton as single-handedly making Mercedes dominant so it’s “his work”, or blaming drivers for team’s failures. F1 is a team sport, other than Hamilton the Merc crew as a whole are great as well), like when people doubt Verstappen before 2021 for going up against Hamilton, like using their rookie stint as comparison, or even ignoring car difference – or elevating any of Hamilton’s teammates (other than Alonso. Rosberg can be subjected to this too) Bottas as probably 2nd best driver or on par with Verstappen (that’d mean treating Mercedes and Red Bull as equal) to further overrate (at this point the term is right) Hamilton.

            People also can use the excuse of “best drivers got the best cars” to discredit any other drivers including Verstappen, using the mindset to explain that “Verstappen isn’t in best team therefore he’s not one of the best drivers”. It should be more like: “The best drivers don’t always end up in the best cars, but when they do, they deserve it”. And the fact that F1 teams can only house 2 drivers, just because someone doesn’t get top seat doesn’t mean they suck or far from being the best, like the slot is already filled and they won’t be ditched, not to mention that sometimes teams choose to not employ 2 top drivers at once given some of the consequences for that.

            Like you said there fanboys, while defending Hamilton (from idiots who claim Hamilton is only about the car and actually discredit him) is fine, outright ignoring car difference is not, and that’s outright wrong claim delusional move. The fact is that best cars or those close to it (like 2nd best car or probably 3rd too, as long as the margin is close) are the only ones have a shot to win titles, and F1 is much more car dependent, and especially in Hamilton’s dominant seasons, only other Mercedes driver had a shot (Rosberg in 2014-2016 was the other Merc driver, not that all other drivers are much inferior to Rosberg for being nowhere near as close to Hamilton as him; in 2015 Vettel was the one who fought with Rosberg in inferior Ferrari…), and Bottas was unstoppable too in years like 2019-2020.

        2. @xenn1

          oh no you’re absolutely right, the 2019 Ferrari definitely wasn’t a championship contending car, but Hamilton still won races that were Ferrari’s (or other drivers’) to lose in 2019, like Canada and Mexico for example.

          Yeah, Lewis and Max were performing in a close level to each other for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. It was definitively a more solid display from Hamilton overall than 2021 has been.

          2017-2020 i think Hamilton was at his absolute best and this year we maybe, just maybe, are starting to see the first signs that he’s past his prime. Time will tell

          For sure, too early to tell that Hamilton’s decline has come to stay, even more true if you come to think he also produced many good stuff or some even better this season despite his glaring blunders and one-off. As for Verstappen, he’s on a clearly improving trend along recent years, and his last season tarnished by some unforced mistakes was 2018.

      2. Mercedes have more poles than RBR this season…including the Silverstone pole on Friday.
        On race day they did have (over 10 races) the edge on medium and hard tyres… the fastest car varies from race to race and often was depended on it the team did get the tyres to work…or not.

        The fight was quite evenly matched, wthout Max’ DNF’s and Lewis’ luck we’de be facing a 100 point gap

        1. It’s a crazy and false narrative that RB has the superior car this year.

          Only in preseason testing, the Merc was behind which was largely repaired by the opening race. From race2 onwards it has been equal. Given how good the Merc behaves on the harder compound, it gives them the better strategic options in the race.

          We saw that in eg Spain .
          Merc and their drivers dropped some balls this season; otherwise they would be further ahead of RB.

          1. I honestly wonder whether FOM broadcasts the same stuff to everyone.

          2. Emma

            I honestly wonder whether FOM broadcasts the same stuff to everyone.

            Really? So tell me, in how many races Red Bull was the fastest car, in how many Mercedes was the fastest one, and which races were those for each team? If you’re capable to answer that, your dissing comment would have slightly better grounds.

          3. @rodewulf – may I ask a simple question before I answer yours? Has the McLaren been faster than the Mercedes at any race this season?

          4. may I ask a simple question before I answer yours? Has the McLaren been faster than the Mercedes at any race this season?

            Mrs. Emma, this is a drivers’ performance rankings, not a reproduction of the WDC standings. Norris is ahead of Hamilton because he made the most due the limitation of his machinery, i.e. he scored more points than the expected given the limited power of his McLaren in comparision to that of Mercedes. So to answer your question, the amount of races in which McLaren has been faster than the Mercedes this season is zero. That’s why you shouldn’t reasonably expect Lando to be ahead of Lewis in the standings for him to be considered a best performer. I hope it’s clear now.

          5. @rodewulf – I asked a simple question and as expected, you went round in circles. No where did I say it was a reproduction of the WDC standings. It may have escaped your notice but my original comment was a reaction to someone claiming the RB has not been the superior car this season. The reason I asked that particular question was to try and get your insight into how one concludes that a particular car is faster at a particular event. But from your response (including the unwarranted ‘Mrs’), it is of no use engaging you further. Stay well.

          6. Emma

            I asked a simple question and as expected, you went round in circles. No where did I say it was a reproduction of the WDC standings.

            How could you not find the answer in my reply, didn’t you even bother to read it? It’s not a big comment, so no excuse. Your question was:

            Has the McLaren been faster than the Mercedes at any race this season?

            The answer was there:

            So to answer your question, the amount of races in which McLaren has been faster than the Mercedes this season is zero.

            You’re doing that bad faith, actually, just because I’m critical of Lewis. This “as expected, you went round in circles” is your dismissive approach trying to run away from my arguments and your “including the unwarranted ‘Mrs’” is an attempt to divert from the topic down on irrelevant referential remarks.

            It may have escaped your notice but my original comment was a reaction to someone claiming the RB has not been the superior car this season.

            It looks like you was the one who promptly ignored my question on this topic, do you remeber that “Really? So tell me, in how many races Red Bull was the fastest car, in how many Mercedes was the fastest one, and which races were those for each team?” in the comment before? I answered your unrelated question and then, that intelectually dishonest call for the main topic. Pure rhetoric tricks to make it lool like you came out ahead.

            it is of no use engaging you further. Stay well.

            You never wanted to have your point checked in first place, right? That’s the reason for running away from a question with lots of smokescreen. You know you can’t properly defend your point but insist on commenting that anyway, while disdaining of more elaborated ones, this is how it rolls.

          7. Emma, you know what? Legend says you still want me to answer that Russell outburst. I will never.

    3. I’ve thought of the Schumacher 2000 season, also with the DNF’s mid-season back in the day eroding a big lead.

    4. It actually reminds me of 2016, where the better driver had a lot of bad luck setbacks; hamilton’s 2017 season wasn’t anything special, was vettel level that year, vettel lost points with a few mistakes (not many like 2018) and hamilton lost a similar amount through underperformances the likes of monaco 2021.

      1. @esploratore1

        It actually reminds me of 2016, where the better driver had a lot of bad luck setbacks; hamilton’s 2017 season wasn’t anything special, was vettel level that year, vettel lost points with a few mistakes (not many like 2018) and hamilton lost a similar amount through underperformances the likes of monaco 2021.

        Spot on! Very few remember today Hamilton’s sluggish start of 2017 season, failing to properly understand how the tyres worked, struggling in some races with cold tyres. Vettel made some big mistakes, but in a smaller amount than in 2018 as you rightly pointed out, so that his and Ferrari’s gradual fall in form later in the year obscured it. The 2018 season sadly was just a repeat of this process, albeit with a way sharper decline for Ferrari and especially for Vettel, horrible mistakes pilled one after another, in their self-imploding fiasco for the latter part of the year. Let’s see how Verstappen/Red Bull will stand at the same stage for this season.

        1. I also agree. Hamilton beat Vettel in 2017 in a slightly quicker Mercedes, but crucially more reliable. It was mostly the unreliability of the Ferrari late in the season that cost Vettel that title as well as his crucial mistake in Singapore, which was arguably a 38-point swing. Hamilton’s driving was, overall, only slightly better than Vettel’s, and I rated Hamilton third-best that season, behind Alonso and Verstappen, with Vettel fourth.

    5. Well sort of. Will see how Red Bull performs in the second half. Hamilton had a destatingly dominant car in the second half of the year. We talk about 2017 and 2018 being somewhat competitive because they seemed that way in the first half. Don’t forget those titles were wrapped up very early, long before the last race of the year.

      Max has a much more difficult battle this year with a car that has been the best of the field maybe 60% of the races?

      1. @ajpennypacker

        Max has a much more difficult battle this year with a car that has been the best of the field maybe 60% of the races?

        About that proportion of races, not much higher than that. Mercedes was faster at Imola, Portugal, Spain, France and at least one of the last two races (Britain or Hungary). They’re nearly 50/50, no matter how much Mercs backed propaganda tried to deny it.

  2. I agree Verstappen and Norris have been the stand out performers so far. Norris has been near perfect, but Verstappen has been handed a much tougher task, trying to almost single-handedly wrestle the title from Mercedes after 7 years of dominance. And he’s been 1st or 2nd on merit in every race he’s finished.

    Hamilton has also been very strong this year also, despite the occasional error and off performance. His damage limitation in Baku was Alonso-esque until he literally hit the self destruct button. And he’s generally maximised his results on the occasions when fortune has played into his hands (Imola, Silverstone, Hungary).

    Hamilton v Verstappen is true box office. We missed out on Senna v Schumacher due to tragedy, we missed out on Hamilton v Alonso due to, well… you can insert your own personal views here. But we’ve got two once-in-a-generation talents going at it in a titanic battle. I for one can’t wait for it to resume.

  3. In the Styrian Grand Prix he made contact with no fewer than three of his rivals

    This is really lazy. Only the first incident with Gasly can I say that Leclerc got away without ‘penalties’ (his front wing broke, but hey, I guess he ‘rode his luck’). You need a level of daftness to claim that Leclerc was to blame for Raikkonen making an exaggerated swipe to the outside to get a better line for a counter-attack, or for the Alonso incident, which Fernando himself said he was responsible for. It’s almost like you guys get stuck into a journalistic narrative that you refuse to edit or update even when the facts are right there for you.

    1. @wsrgo You are completely right. Very lazy characterisation, overly hyperbolic.

      For anyone who can’t remember the Raikkonen incident, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NXhMsxk36E

      The Alonso “contact” is here too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0ewZAIBCos

      1. someone or something
        23rd August 2021, 11:36

        Yeah, as if that one contact that was actually his fault wasn’t bad enough.
        But hey, downplaying Hamilton’s smorgasbord of mistakes and form swings can only do so much, you have to find ways to make others look bad, too, in order to justify putting his name anywhere near the top 5, much less in the top 3 …

        1. That’s what it is

    2. @wsrgo @cduk_mugello

      You need a level of daftness to claim that Leclerc was to blame for Raikkonen making an exaggerated swipe to the outside to get a better line for a counter-attack, or for the Alonso incident, which Fernando himself said he was responsible for. It’s almost like you guys get stuck into a journalistic narrative that you refuse to edit or update even when the facts are right there for you.

      Humm… Raikkonen “incident”, Alonso “contact” at Styria race? Why does he have to include such non-occurrences of blunders? We can’t hardly call those race incidents as such trivial small contacts they were in fact. Collision would be another hyperbolic word, used by Hammy fans to describe Verstappen’s light contact with Schumacher in Hungary, for instance. I guess in Keith’s case it’s there in order to stick to his game as a justification to put Hamilton above Leclerc in performance.
      But then, he did forget the contact between Alonso and Hamilton in Hungary during that amazing fight for 4th place, in which Lewis complained but he was the one who put his nose where he shouldn’t, as Alonso was ahead and rightfully closing the door when the corner was tightening. But coming from a driver who said certain things about hard challenges lately, Fernando’s tough masterclass of defending should have been a blow to Lew’s inflated ego due on entitlement to an empty track. No wonder why he looked like was about to die in the podium ceremony.

  4. Seems fair. Entirely convinced that with the uncertain calendar and the form guide, Hamilton ends up winning an eighth world title. Incredibly, it would probably be the first he’s won which wasn’t deserved.

    1. Let me see, he certainly had 2 he lost he probably deserved to win, as in 2007 (arguable) and for sure 2016, on other hand probably 2008 massa was more deserving, he had more mechanical issues, even including the silly spa penalty, and it was a very error prone season for both, then 2014, 2015 it’s hard to say he deserved it more than ricciardo or vettel but when you look at the only car that could win he deserved it more than rosberg, 2017 again hard to say between him and vettel, to me drivers looked similar but merc was a step up; 2018 for sure he improved and vettel got worse in a finally really competitive ferrari, 2019 and 2020 he was again the best of the merc, not that beating bottas is much to brag about.

    2. @hahostolze

      Seems fair. Entirely convinced that with the uncertain calendar and the form guide, Hamilton ends up winning an eighth world title. Incredibly, it would probably be the first he’s won which wasn’t deserved.

      If the benchmark is Bottas, of course he deserved his last four titles. 2017 and 2018 were against short-lived challengers (Vettel/Ferrari); 2019 and 2020 were without any real competition bar his relatively weak teammate. So, not exactly hard fought WDCs.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        24th August 2021, 14:52

        It’d be really hilarious if Bottas goes to Red Bull and is quicker than Max. Horner and Marko would probably switch to badminton after that.

  5. I’m okay with this order, even if I predicted 2-3 the other way round, but fair enough. Leclerc’s contacts in the Styrian GP were racing incidents, although the Alonso one was unseen on the world feed.

    1. someone or something
      23rd August 2021, 11:39

      @jerejj

      although the Alonso one was unseen on the world feed.

      It wasn’t, you must’ve been looking away or something. Here’s a link to a video of the live footage of that incident. It’s hard to see, but it clearly shows the moment they made contact.

      1. someone or something

        It wasn’t, you must’ve been looking away or something. Here’s a link to a video of the live footage of that incident. It’s hard to see, but it clearly shows the moment they made contact.

        Yeah, Alonso even went to talk with Leclerc about the light contact, he felt worried about the possible outcome and admitted his role on it. It wasn’t Leclerc’s blame, even though discussing so deeply where lies the blame of this type of big mistake’s non-occurence is weird when we had plenty of dangerous or careless driving this season, and the worst of those caused by a Mercedes driver conveniently sweeping one or two Red Bulls.

  6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    23rd August 2021, 9:48

    I thought I would wait for my rankings until all the ones on this site were done. Some commented that they suggested i did my own, but I did actually wonder why nobody who rated them didn’t follow the pattern of the articles and just rate them around 4 at a time – or wait until they knew all of them.

    Here is mine:

    The clear two best drivers this season:
    1: Verstappen
    2: Norris

    Amazing speed, but a few too many mistakes to be up with the top two:
    3: Hamilton
    4: Leclerc

    With their season’s balanced out, all these below have been pretty solid. They have made mistakes (or lacked pace sometimes) but made up for it with many good performances:
    5: Gasly
    6: Alonso
    7: Sainz
    8: Russell

    All here have been inconsistent with pace (some with crashes and incidents, but all have also had several races with very good pace throughout the whole weekend:
    9: Ocon
    10: Bottas
    11: Vettel
    12: Stroll
    13: Giovinazzi

    Inconsistent / lack up pace / crashes or poor performance overall:
    14: Perez
    15: Ricciardo
    16: Raikkonen
    17: Latifi
    18: Schumacher

    Very poor season, even for a rookie:
    19: Tsunoda

    Just not good enough for F1:
    20: Mazepin

    1. I like your grouping, and concur with most of it.
      re. groups – I’d join the bottom two as of these two at least Mazepin is showing a bit of a learning curve.
      drivers: it feels too harsh for Schumacher to be at the tail-end of his group; I would even consider him for the descriptive group ahead.

    2. I like this ranking, as it’s very similar to mine ;)

      Mine was: 1 Verstappen, 2 Norris, 3 Leclerc, 4 Hamilton, 5 Gasly, 6 Russell, 7 Alonso, 8 Sainz, 9 Vettel, 10 Stroll, 11 Ocon, 12 Giovinazzi, 13 Perez, 14 Bottas, 15 Ricciardo, 16 Raikkonen, 17 Schumacher, 18 Latifi, 19 Tsunoda, 20 Mazepin. Full explanations as to why are in the 20-17 section, and I put them all there, before all the other rankings were revealed, so that they would not be influenced by other rankings.

      The main difference between my rankings and Keith’s are that the Aston Martins are much higher in mine, but I think they might have been a bit overrated by me as the car is probably faster than it initially seems. The correct placing of Vettel and Stroll is most likely somewhere in between. I think 16th for Stroll is too low. I also maintain the belief that Giovinazzi has definitely been better than Raikkonen this year. But overall, I mostly agree with the Racefans driver rankings.

    3. @thegianthogweed

      I kind of agree with your grouping as well. For me Verstappen and Norris were clear standout drivers from this season, followed by Charles and Lewis (Personally, I thought Charles was better than Lewis this season).

      In group 3, I think you’ve flattered Gasly a little too much.. and George way too less.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        23rd August 2021, 14:09

        @todfod

        I found Gasly tricky to rate. He made a mistake in the first race, but while he may have had underwhelming pace in a few races, I still think he’s been better than Alonso and Sainz. But i still myself thing 5th looks too high, yes.

        Russell, I concidered 9th actually. Qualifying isn’t actually as big a difference between him and his team mate as it looks. He by many if said to be a top qualifier. We know Verstappen is, and yet Perez on average is further away timewise from Verstappen than Latifi is from Russell. Rather than say Perez is as bad as Latifi here, I would say Russell isn’t as good as many claim he is in qualifying. And the biggest let down for Russell is his starts In nearly half the year, he has lost places in the first few corners, and a few times to his team mate, so this continues to be a weakness for him. I wouldn’t be heavily against people voting him 1 or two places higher, but for the reasons I have started, I think 8th is perfectly fair.

    4. @thegianthogweed Your rankings are incredibly similar to mine, being identical apart from positions 12-15. The rankings on this site are also pretty similar, with my biggest deviations being Stroll and Raikonnen who I have switched in the 13 and 16 spots. Pretty uncontroversial rankings all round I would say though you can argue a few places difference here and there, especially at the tail end of the rankings which are always harder to judge.

  7. Nonsense that Verstappen had the best car for this season.
    Merc started on the backfoot in Bahrain only but was back in it in the next races:
    – RB initially slightly better in quali mode (only in the hands of Max)
    – Merc significantly better on the medium tyres in the race. Already showed in Imola and this continued in Spain and France.

    Also compare the 2nd drivers. Perez gets beaten on pace by Bottas. Two comparable, average drivers.

    So let’s stop this narrative that RB has the superior car. It was only really the case in preseason testing and opening race.

    1. @trib4udi

      So the 2 Austrian Grand Prix did not happen then or Baku? Or Imola slow man Perez nearly getting pole his second race.

      Reply moderated
      1. I am not saying Merc had the best car. I am saying that it was on&off.
        There is no objective measure to conclude that Merc or RB was the best car on average in H1. So any narrative stating that is nonsense.

        The hypothesis that Max extracts more out of a car than any driver on the grid is closer to the truth than the RB being the superior car.

    2. On average it seems the best car in qualifying over the season, but stuff like that can change easily with more qualis like hungary, and they seemed pretty even in the races so far, red bull had their own races where they looked a lot better, such as austria, monaco, baku.

    3. But I agree with what you said about the tyres, the first race in austria I was wondering if hamilton would start gaining on the harder tyres since he couldn’t keep up with verstappen on mediums, which was unheard of except in street tracks, when he didn’t I said, finally! Cause up till then mercedes had always been same or faster in regular tracks in race pace.

    4. @trib4udi

      So let’s stop this narrative that RB has the superior car. It was only really the case in preseason testing and opening race.

      Even good faith commentators forget that Mercedes had the upper hand for Imola, Portugal and Spain races. In the end we’ll probably have two top teams closely matched up to mid-season, like in 2018.

    5. @trib4udi Indeed. Red Bull started slightly behind and got level and ahead in Red Bull, but Silverstone and Hungary now it’s back to Mercedes again, so to say Verstappen has the quickest car in F1 at the moment is just not correct. Although it was predictable.

    6. Maybe you are new to this website @trib4udi, Ferrari was fastest in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Red Bull are fastest this year.

      1. Oh and Rosberg did not win the 2016 WDC.

    7. People cannot accept the fact that Hamilton can be matched or beaten, especially likely exaggerating the situation like Max and Checo leading the most laps in F1, so they make excuses about RB being faster.

      Reply moderated
  8. I think Norris should be the number 1 here. The pace he has been extracting out of that McLaren is insane. Especially when compared to Ricciardo, whom made it Max quite difficult at Red Bull, he is doing extremely well. Great qualifying, great racecraft. He only made a mistake at Baku. Verstappen is having a fantastic season as well. Albeit in the best car at most tracks. Let’s not forget Lando is P3 in this championship fight in a car that is mostly third or fourth fastest.

    I rate his performance thus far the best out of anyone.

    1. Norris had ups, but also downs with a few poor races like Spain and Baku, he did pick up a few penalties here and there as well.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        23rd August 2021, 10:43

        I think one of Norris’s biggest mistakes would have been in Hungary, that is if Bottas didn’t back off when he did. As Norris very aggressively cut across Bottas, despite having a clear speed advantage. This would have resulted in Bottas’s front wing breaking off and at least a puncture for Norris, and Possibly Perez too, and could have resulted in a similar pile up to to what Bottas ended up causing.

    2. @spafrancorchamps He has been amazing, but Verstappen is equally trouncing his team mate, and is delivering great under championship pressure which is still a question mark with Norris.

  9. I feel Lewis in front of Charles in the rankings is debatable. Lewis made more mistakes. Lewis in Imola (which he got away with) and in Baku and in Britain (which he capitalised from). Charles made a mistake in quali of Monaco and a wing clip in Austria. On the mistakes front, I thought Charles did better.

    On the consistency and brilliant drives both were great on multiple weekends.. Lewis in Bahrain, Portimao and Spain, and Charles in Imola, Britain and Spain.

    Lewis also had a one weekend where he was miserable (Monaco), which Charles didn’t have. Overall, I would think that Charles would be performing better than Lewis if he had the same car as Lewis.

    So I’d rank it as
    #4 Hamilton
    #3 Leclerc
    #2 Norris
    #1 Verstappen

    1. And the interesting part is the constant missing error by Lewis in Monaco. Where he damaged his car in qualifying.

    2. You were doing well there until you starting comparing Monaco

    3. I agreed up until the point where you said hamilton was miserable in monaco while leclerc was fine in france. Ok, the car was horrible, but he didn’t make the best out of a bad car there, so they both had a miserable weekend.

      1. @esploratore1

        Man.. I forgot about France. You’re right Charles was pretty poor that Sunday.. Coupled with some serious issues on that Ferrari in tyre deg and poor strategy. I would still say Lewis’ weekend in Monaco was poorer though.

    4. Oh, and I agree leclerc would be doing better than hamilton with the same car as him, let’s not forget many complained verstappen took too much risk and wouldn’t be able to hold a championship challenge, but it’s all about car performance, if you have a car like red bull before this year or the one leclerc has now it makes sense to risk, on a championship contender I’m sure leclerc would be more conservative too.

    5. @todfod

      I feel Lewis in front of Charles in the rankings is debatable. Lewis made more mistakes. Lewis in Imola (which he got away with) and in Baku and in Britain (which he capitalised from). Charles made a mistake in quali of Monaco and a wing clip in Austria. On the mistakes front, I thought Charles did better.

      Correct! You forgot no big mistakes from those two drivers.

      On the consistency and brilliant drives both were great on multiple weekends.. Lewis in Bahrain, Portimao and Spain, and Charles in Imola, Britain and Spain.

      The case for Lewis and Charles being closely matched in performance this season with the latter above the former is hard to contest.

      Lewis also had a one weekend where he was miserable (Monaco), which Charles didn’t have. Overall, I would think that Charles would be performing better than Lewis if he had the same car as Lewis.

      Some might say Leclerc’s 16th place finish in France was miserable. Some who didn’t watch the race but just looked at the final result. Yes, he was poor in Paul Ricard, but Hamilton in Monaco was another league of horrible display. Damage in qualifying, persistent lack of pace during almost the entire weekend, inept strategy. He was flattered even for 7th finish and a FLAP point for this race. Not even taking into consideration the sportsmaship side of things, in which he put the blame on his team despite his awful performance. In effect, this weekend showed how low he can get about everything. On the next race, it was Bottas’ turn to be even more dreadful.

  10. I had all the same 4 drivers in each 5 sections but I only rated Perez and Russell in the same position as @keithcollantine

    1. and Verstappen and Norris

      1. You didn’t have Mazepin as 20th, nor Tsunoda as 19th?

        1. And Mazepin and Latifi.. I seem to remember very well what I wrote a few days ago…

  11. So the Styria GP did not happen by far the biggest gap Max had 3 races where his car had a crazy advanatage 2 in Austria and Baku. Merc have had no race where they have been way ahead. Sergio Perez nearly got pole his 2nd ever race says it all how quick RedBull where. Ves dropped the ball in Bahrain and he should of beat Bottas atleast in Portimao. Imagine having the best rear end and u lose it on the exit for the straight and people say it was not a mistake. Max has also made mistakes. Lando has been the perfect driver maximising everything.

    Reply moderated
    1. No one is saying Merc had the best car. I am saying that it was on&off.
      There is no objective measure to conclude that Merc or RB was the best car on average in H1. So any narrative stating that is nonsense.

      The hypothesis that Max extracts more out of a car than any driver on the grid is closer to the truth than the RB being the superior car.

  12. Austria and Baku have been the biggest advantages we have seen all season in races and RedBull not Merc were the ones with the advanatage. Max dropped the ball in Bahrain and he also with better downforce choked in Portimao had a massive snap that made Lewis go past on the straight because of Max’s poor exit. Merc have never been as dominant as RedBull.

    Reply moderated
    1. Merc have never been as dominant as RedBull

      So, you are new to F1.

  13. lol at the Max should be 100 points clear. If Baku does not happen Lewis gets 3rd anyway so loses 10 points so give Max back his 10 points now it is 2 points. Then we get to Silverstone give Max the win Lewis 18 points then in Huingary Hamilton looked the quickest give him the win Max 2nd. It would be about 40 point gap. Max dropped the ball in Bahrain btw aswell. Lost position in Portimao by nearly dropping it leading onto the straight(with the best rear downforce on the grid btw). So im sorry this 100 point gap thing is hilarious.

    Reply moderated
  14. Article and ratings good. But where is any articles about lemans 24h? Robert Kubica with his team was on course to win in LMP2 until 23hours, 58minutes, start of last lap his car stopped… The unluckiest driver. He and his 2 co drivers heart broken. Delatraz’ post race tweet needs to be in roundup.

    1. Indeed. Heartbreak for Kubica, Deletraz and Yifei.
      That was also crazy at the end there, also with the the flagman almost getting mowed down at the finish with the other LMP2 cars racing to the line.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd August 2021, 13:17

        @john-h yeah, they were so unlucky, especially Kubica.

        Good race!

    2. Well, they got there because the #31 WRT ran into trouble the last couple of hours with the rear air-jack and other issues. They had a comfortable 1-2 minute lead on the #41 most of the race.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd August 2021, 13:51

        I didn’t know that – thanks for setting the record straight! I wish the commentators had explained that since obviously most folks don’t watch the entire race especially in the wee hours of the morning. Still heart-breaking for #41 but a bit of karmic redemption for the #31. Did the #41 take 3rd spot in the LMP2 or was it “retired”?

    3. Yeah, it’s a bit odd to change the name to “RaceFans” to signify a wider range of motorsports, and then apparently completely ignore Le Mans, beyond the Ferrari boss waving the go-flag.

  15. I’m not so sure Max has the “quickest car in Formula 1 at the moment” and I would probably have put Leclerc ahead of Hamilton, but otherwise sound reasoning for the rankings as always.

    1. @john-h It’ll always be impossible to tell in a close season. People are still arguing over 2006!

      Hamilton can do better than he has this year, yet he’s usually in contention for the wins and is leading the championship. The Mercedes is a very good car. Verstappen has put in his best season yet, but aside from the two races in Austria he’s had to fight for most of his wins this year. The Red Bull is a very good car. Which one is better? I suppose that’ll depend mostly on the track characteristics and race day conditions.

      Either way, it just makes the lacklustre performances of Bottas and Pérez all the more disappointing for us fans. These guys are driving the two best cars in F1, and neither has been a factor for the wins in more than one or two races.

      Hopefully both teams reconsider their options for next year. Mercedes has an obvious choice in Russell, but Red Bull has mostly run out of young talent. Gasly tried and failed (according to RBR), and Tsunoda hasn’t really carried his impressive F2 form into F1.

      1. Indeed @cashnotclass. I would say they have equally quick cars personally and as you mention, depends on the track. You’re spot on when it comes to Perez and Bottas, I’m actually really dissapointed by Perez I was expecting him to be closer by the mid-stage of the season. I think we’ll be seeing Gasly back in maybe 2023 or something. The new car will hopefully be a different ball game for him, and a repeat of the previous situation seems unlikely.

  16. It’ll always be hard to factor out the impact of the car, so while this makes for an amusing read in between the races its mostly a nice recap of the season rather than a driver ranking that should be taken too seriously.

    As someone who’s mainly a Ferrari fan, although it’s been many a year since that was a serious emotional investment, Leclerc might have been putting in solid races but it’s hard to overlook him throwing the car into a DNS at Monaco, clumsily surrendering the lead at Silverstone, and arguably not making a whole lot of his impressive and surprising Azerbaijan qualifying result. Especially considering the people on the podium that day.

    Verstappen and Norris have indeed been the stand out drivers this year.

    1. @cashnotclass That’s unfair as the DNS was no fault of his own as his crash was in qualifying. Blaming the driver for not fixing the car properly is practically silly. As for ‘clumsily surrendering the lead’ at Silverstone, he had a big speed deficit to the Mercedes that no amount of defending would overcome on such a track, and not extending the ‘fight’ to a few corners more in no way detracts from the fact that he would have won that day without tech issues.

  17. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    23rd August 2021, 13:47

    But over the 11 races so far Verstappen has left no room to doubt he can get the job done and deny Hamilton an eighth world championship this year.

    I’m going to quote Horner here: “There’s a big difference between thinking you can do something, and actually doing it”.

    Verstappen could have been 40-50 points ahead of Hamilton heading into the summer break. All Hamilton needed was 1 foot and a wet race to take the lead from Verstappen and Red Bull.

    Advantage: Hamilton

    1. @freelittlebirds

      “and a wet race”
      Was that the race were he parked is car in the barrier (just like Germany 2019), only to be saved by the red flag?
      Or was that the race were his teammate secured a new contract by taking out 2 Red Bulls?

      “was 1 foot”
      Was that the foor he used when he completely destroyed his (already very tainted) legacy when he floored it Schumacher style and send Max in the barriers?

      I love seeing the complete desperation, the lies and falsehoods perfectly mirroring Lewis’ lies and falsehoods, from the slumboy fanatics in their attempt to salvage something from this year where it became officially clear everything Slummy achieved is down to his car and his slave teammate.

      Reply moderated
      1. Reminder: That’s Niki101/Oconomo
        Another reminder: Don’t trust them

    2. The ONLY reason Hamilton is ahead in the championship is cos of the crash at Silverstone(not giving an opinion on who was at fault cos it doesn’t actually matter) and Bottas proving he’s the worst driver on the grid in Hungary. No sane person could actually suggest otherwise.

      Think about it logically – At silverstone it would’ve been a hamilton and max 1-2 without the crash(doesn’t matter on the order), at hungary the same. Therefore Hamilton would not be anywhere close to top, regardless of that order. But neither happened SOLELY because of the two crashes

      Those aren’t opinions, those are facts which actually cannot be disputed

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd August 2021, 15:22

        I agree with you – Max could have easily won at Silverstone. All it took was a less aggressive turn into Copse. Anyone else – well with the exception of Maldonado, Albon, and some other notorious hot heads – would have made that corner. Verstappen chose not to and whether that’s a great or bad choice at the time, it was his choice. Logically, he knew Lewis would be there and decided to roll the dice. The dice landed on 5.1 for his car and the rest is history.

        As for Hungary, you seem to forget what happened on Lap 21. Didn’t Lewis put in a mega lap to come ahead of Verstappen and Ricciardo? Verstappen, being the #1 driver on this list, shouldn’t he have asked Red Bull to bring him in sooner and he could have played Alonso for 50 laps, right?

        Here’s a replay of how Lewis barely got by Verstappen and Ricciardo:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfAmQi5Tg8I

        Sounds to me like Lewis won that lead fair and square and I repeat with 1 foot and a wet race (plus a mega lap).

        1. @freelittlebirds And of course your blatant bias continues. Blaming Max for something for which LH was penalized. Talk about hot heads, how about the one who decided to be stubborn, couldn’t take the space that was left him, and ended up hitting Max instead, was penalized for it, and damaged his car enough that if it hadn’t been for the red flag repair time he himself caused, would have taken himself out of the race too.

          And then otherwise if the best you can do is congratulate LH for coming out ahead of DR who we all know is struggling this year, and Max with half his car missing thanks to penalized VB, well that’s pretty petty on your part. But hey, I get your need to grasp at straws to try to pump up LH. With Max badly damaged, and the only two other drivers with consistently win-capable cars taken out by VB, LH had by far the fastest car out there. But hey, that’s racing, but it isn’t always fair and square, so why try to paint that picture, other than via blatant bias.

          1. @robbie

            And of course your blatant bias continues. Blaming Max for something for which LH was penalized. Talk about hot heads, how about the one who decided to be stubborn, couldn’t take the space that was left him, and ended up hitting Max instead, was penalized for it, and damaged his car enough that if it hadn’t been for the red flag repair time he himself caused, would have taken himself out of the race too.

            Relax, it’s worthless. Any view about the incident that Hamilton and his troop brings on, regardless of how wicked it might look, guys like this Michael will blindly buy. He’s not a serious poster, like his wishful thoughts about the drivers’ performance levels this season suggests, completely messed up by bias, putting Hamilton unreachable in an altar together with the gods.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd August 2021, 18:04

            @robbie

            With Max badly damaged

            Check out the lap times to see how much pace Verstappen had compared to Ricciardo.

            Were you talking about car damage or damage to Max’s ego?

          3. @freelittlebirds Lol of course in your world it is easy to deny the car damage Max had, and just carry on like it was a normal day for him and he suddenly forgot how to race, nothing to do with his car being whacked whatsoever. Why embarrass yourself?

          4. @freelittlebirds

            Check out the lap times to see how much pace Verstappen had compared to Ricciardo. Were you talking about car damage or damage to Max’s ego?

            That’s right, Red Bull messed up with strategy and Max complied. The same for Mercedes and Hamilton when it should be clear it was time for slicks. Their excuses were not enough for the strategy blunder, as he probably would lose 1st place behind the queue if everybody stopped but he still could come up ahead of the second drivers in pit stop order from each team as they waited to have their cars serviced. This, in comparision to dropping down to last, would ensure an easy win for them but they squandered on it and another key factors later.

          5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd August 2021, 19:35

            @robbie @rodewulf Max could have overtaken Ricciardo as he proved in the race. Why did he leave it until the end? Had he done that earlier, he might have won the Hungarian GP. I doubt he would have tangled with Raikonnen coming out of the pits on the Alonso overtake…

            And thank you for omitting that Daniel’s car was as badly damaged, if not worse, than Max’s…

            So what we’ve proven here is that if Max had avoided Lewis at Copse which he could have easily done and had he overtaken Ricciardo sooner, he would have been ahead of Lewis by 50 points.

            Now, I understand the exhaustive list of excuses that you have presented and I respect them.

          6. @freelittlebirds

            Max could have overtaken Ricciardo as he proved in the race. Why did he leave it until the end? Had he done that earlier, he might have won the Hungarian GP. I doubt he would have tangled with Raikonnen coming out of the pits on the Alonso overtake…

            Sure, Max could have won the Hungarian GP with that damaged car!1!1!
            As in everything else, you project Lewis’ current falling short of glory instances on Max, then you can make an absurd point like that. Max could have finished 6th at best, if not for his and Red Bull’s strategy mistake. You could leave your LH fanatics’ echo chamber for a while and ask any specialised journalist if Max could have won that race with his heavily damaged car. Which one would be the answer?

            And thank you for omitting that Daniel’s car was as badly damaged, if not worse, than Max’s…

            Both cars heavily damaged, that’s why Max took lots of time to pass.

            So what we’ve proven here is that if Max had avoided Lewis at Copse which he could have easily done and had he overtaken Ricciardo sooner, he would have been ahead of Lewis by 50 points.

            Now, here we have the apice of the illogical reasoning. Of course somehow it should come to that point eventually. Everything Lewis did wrong or failed to do what needed, it should be transferred to Max’s account. Nevermind he was the mostly to blame for the collision, more than on the contrary, he had no blame at all but even then the bad system got him. Ain’t it right?

            Now, I understand the exhaustive list of excuses that you have presented and I respect them.

            Which excuses? You make a poor copy of my arguments in reverse and then come with one like that? This is a fully laughing stock, really.

    3. @freelittlebirds A very skewed comment of course. Max of course was ‘actually doing it’ at Baku when his tire suddenly blew. Max was actually doing it when LH was penalized for hitting him and taking him out. Max was actually doing it when VB was penalized and took him and others out. This is why Max has left no room to doubt he can get the job done. He’s been doing it all along. So with reference to the quote cited from Horner, it is not like Max and RBR are sat there scratching their heads, and have had to come to some conclusion such as thinking they can do it is not the same as actually doing it, and they need to learn a lesson from Horner’s own words, which I assume is your point. They will have every confidence in the world that they are actually doing it very well this season.

      Advantage: Max

    4. Max lost: Baku 26, Siolverstone 26, Hungary 16 = 68 points
      Lewis gained: Imola 19, Monaco 4, Silverstone 8, Hungary 3 = 34 points

      Makes 102 points decided by DNF’s and crashes….one was very lucky, the other very unlucky.
      The immense point swing translates into ALL rankings, everyopne agrees Lewis is not leading the standings on merit.
      We can think of all sorts of theories what Max ‘could’ have done, it’s pointless though, he never was in the wrong…. it’s all mindgames to soften Lewis relative poor performance over the first half of the season.

    5. Yes, ridiculous comment, fair and square, just like rosberg winning the 2016 title. When the other driver performs better than the one who wins the title, it’s all but fair.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd August 2021, 17:53

        @esplorative @robbie I do see your points and I respect them but I’ll offer one statement. You can argue and throw epithets.

        What other driver on the list has taken away 50-60 points from their competitor who is ranked #1 on this list simply with 1 foot and 1 Hungarian masterpiece?

        1. @freelittlebirds Repeating a ridiculous statement simply does not score you any points.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd August 2021, 18:25

            @robbie I don’t know if I’ve said this before you seem to have a knack for identifying ridiculous statements.

        2. and 1 Hungarian masterpiece?

          Starting on pole, racing without opponents trying to pass a way slower car (3 sec slower!) for 13 laps, and ending just on podium.
          Behind a first time winner in a lousy car.
          A real masterpiece indeed..

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            24th August 2021, 13:54

            @erikje Hungary is notoriously difficult to overtake. I think the fact that Hamilton overtook Alonso without a collision is probably one of the most impressive overtakes in F1. Lewis waited and bade his time until he forced Alonso into an error. Sure he had to settle for P3 but sometimes that’s the best result.

            Just curious, what do you think of Max’s stint behind Ricciardo for what was almost the entire race? Do you think he lacked pace? If I’m not mistaken, Max posted the 4th fastest lap on lap 40 or so and it was 2-3 seconds quicker than Daniel.

  18. “His recovery drive was superb” as the car that was between 2.5 and 5 seconds a lap quicker than the rest of the field easily overtook cars that were 2.5-5 seconds a lap slower than him let him past.

    His recovery drive was “okay” at best

    1. Of course, that deserves a mention, while Leclerc’s Styrian GP has been described as a demolition derby. As the crown starts slipping from Lewis’s head, it seems the Britishness of some of these journalists has been ramped up to 11.

      1. @wsrgo

        Of course, that deserves a mention, while Leclerc’s Styrian GP has been described as a demolition derby. As the crown starts slipping from Lewis’s head, it seems the Britishness of some of these journalists has been ramped up to 11.

        Yep, obvious double standards applied given Hamilton and Leclerc performances are closely matched with similar ups and downs.

  19. I have the top 4 in this order: 4. Hamilton, 3. Leclerc, 2. Verstappen, 1. Norris.

    I think Norris has been outstanding considering what might have been expected from his car and who his team mate is. He’s ahead of a Merc and Red Bull in the championship in a car that is nowhere near as competitive. So I think he deserves this. Be very interesting to see how he does in the second half of the season.

    I would also comment that I think it’s ridiculous to suggest, as some have, that Hamilton should not be in the top 4. Despite making some mistakes and misjudgements he’s come up with some great comeback drives. He’s had better luck compared to Max but has still driven well.

    1. I think Leclerc has been too messy this year, messier than Hamilton. Keiths ranking is OK, bu

  20. As a Hamilton fan, I aint even mad at this ranking. It is encouraging that Lewis is having a messy season for his standards and is still on top in the points at the half-way mark! This is still something us Hamilton fans are not used to in his title fights!! So yeah I am very confident he will still bring it home even though he is not at his best. RedBull has the faster car, but Hamilton has a new girl, and her name is lady Luck! Haha.

    1. @david-beau Well he’s going to need a lot more of it because Max/RBR is the better performer. Personally if I depended on luck for my driver’s ‘success’ vs the consistently better performer, I wouldn’t be too encouraged.

      1. I am by no means a big Lewis fan but he does have a way of getting decent results when he really needs them. I would not rule him out just yet regardless of the relative merits of the two cars. He’s very consistent.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          23rd August 2021, 20:39

          @phil-f1-21 Indeed and many people mistake that as luck.

          1. @freelittlebirds
            If one drives a motorbike blindfolded making circles around a railroad crossing but manages to come alive it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t by luck. Either you don’t really know what luck means, or you’re trying to beg the question about it to fit your agenda.

      2. I agree red bull and verstappen performed better, but I don’t think hamilton and merc need any more luck, I think even as things have been so far they have a good chance to win, verstappen especially already lost so many points, red bull a bit less cause they managed to get a good amount of points after verstappen’s baku problem and bottas had an unlucky dnf too, so if anything I think red bull need some luck turnaround.

    2. @david-beau

      As a Hamilton fan, I aint even mad at this ranking. It is encouraging that Lewis is having a messy season for his standards and is still on top in the points at the half-way mark!

      Well, you’re one of the few Hamilton fans commenting reasonable stuff here, it’s almost worth of congratulations. ;)

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd August 2021, 19:42

        @rodewulf and you have only been here for 30 days and have become the de facto judge of all commenters here. In my opinion, this is a troll account.

        1. and you have only been here for 30 days and have become the de facto judge of all commenters here.

          Despite the embarrassing irrelevance of this point, something coming out of desperation to be seen as right, you just brought it up, so I’ll talk about it. I read articles on this site since years ago before starting to actually comment, and the amount of Lewis fanatics here got out of control lately. A crowd so noisy and full of lies that I decided to comment. Sometimes it’s cringey, but on the bright side you guys never disappoint with the childish shouts when proved wrong, though.

          In my opinion, this is a troll account.

          @freelittlebirds , you sound like: This random account here proved me wrong, mom! I think he’s a troll! ;)

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd August 2021, 20:27

            @rodewulf first, if you’d proven me wrong, I would have conceded that. I have done so in the past and have no problem admitting I’m wrong when such is the case. It’s not often but I also do not feel I’m fully right after someone makes a valid argument.

            Second, you’re nowhere near the quality of commenter that I’ve come to expect from racefans. Especially with all the accusations, the personal attacks, the bullying, belittling you are trying to prove that you’re right.

          2. @freelittlebirds
            How can I trust you’re that enlightened soul that admits when you’re wrong? You’ve never dropped a single argument from your idolatry of Lewis, even after it had been extensively refuted, so many reasons to think otherwise. You let go of no points that would make Lewis look not perfect, whilst I’ve abandoned many favourable points for Max and Fernando that simply weren’t true. If in your opinion being intellectually honest is the dropping the quality of RaceFans comments, then the wrong point here is in your side, after having your castle of lies or exaggerations challenged you lose your nerve. So don’t play the victim here, why did you bother to look my activity on this site? Are you a stalker too? Beyond a fallacious fanatic it would come to no surprise.

  21. I knew since the beginning Keith would give a discrete slack on Lewis for this performance rankings by putting him slightly undeservedly above Leclerc, who had been clearly behind the former even in the blunders department, but had been as fast as he was. Charles, our funny petite mustache from Monaco, got widespread criticism for his likely home race win leaked out through the drain. But many seem to forget Hamilton’s fuffled start in Baku costed him the same amount of points. Should you forgive the Mercedes driver for the unusual context of his loss, the same would apply to the Ferrari driver if double standards couldn’t come into play. But hey, at least he didn’t follow the farcical excuses and conspirational appeals to multiply the burden of mistakes for others that a @fool1oSaurus of sorts would give. When a British analyst (not only him, every serious specialised journalist out there) slightly sympathetic to British drivers along the years make rankings very likely to yours when it comes to top drivers, it’s a strong evidence that you got it right, and some dellusional fanbase partisan members on this site got it completely wrong. Max above Lando who’s above Lewis who’s above Charles is a decent mid-season top-4 despite not swapping 3rd for 4th, but some clowns will protest it all except the very latter part, which ironically is exactly the one that’s arguably wrong. If that’s not post-truth stuff, nothing more is in the current world of brainwashing-prone social media. All in all, congratulations Max for his #1 mid-season performance ranking, and a special shoutout to Lando for his hardened-as-a-rock consistency worth of second best performer.

    1. @rodewulf – you seem to have some type of previously undiagnosed issue, based in the diatribe you have put here.

      If anything, Keith was actually unfair to Hamilton by blaming him for Hungary. It wasn’t his fault the team made the strategy gaffe, and expecting him to challenge it doesn’t count either – because other teams made the right call for their drivers.

      So, if you take Hungary out of the mix, i don’t see how Leclerc could be above him in the rankings.

      Please try to get some help.

      1. @kbdavies

        So, if you take Hungary out of the mix, i don’t see how Leclerc could be above him in the rankings.

        Why? And based on what? Only because of your wishes? Sorry, the world doesn’t exist only to indulge your idol.

      2. @kbdavies

        If anything, Keith was actually unfair to Hamilton by blaming him for Hungary. It wasn’t his fault the team made the strategy gaffe, and expecting him to challenge it doesn’t count either – because other teams made the right call for their drivers.

        The very example you brought, Hungary race strategy, if he was the complete driver some think he is, of course he would call the team out of the failed tactics. Those are poor excuses to eliminate his blame and put that only on his team.

      3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd August 2021, 19:44

        @kbdavies I checked his activity – he’s only been here 1 month. I think it’s a secondary troll account…

        1. @freelittlebirds

          I checked his activity – he’s only been here 1 month. I think it’s a secondary troll account…

          Wow! Despair is getting bigger! You even bother to check my account activity but not your flawed arguments? I think I got under your skin with my refutation and exposition of your lies here, you seem all over the place!

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd August 2021, 20:21

            @rodewulf I think you’ve made my case… I’ve known all these folks here for many years and you’re by far the rudest person to post here. We may not share the same opinions but we have a lot of respect for each other.

            I’ll go on the record here and say that some of the folks have forgotten about F1 than I’ll ever know – not you @robbie ;-). Their knowledge of stats and the sport is simply unparalleled.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd August 2021, 20:22

            Oops, I meant “some of the folks here have forgotten more about F1 than I’ll ever know”…

          3. @freelittlebirds

            I think you’ve made my case… I’ve known all these folks here for many years and you’re by far the rudest person to post here. We may not share the same opinions but we have a lot of respect for each other.

            If you’re so considerate for others then why would you stalk on my activity in this site? Another contradiction just yet. If you can’t handle it, why buying it? You mirrored my “accusations” until the point you had been left without arguments, then you melted like butter. You’re just playing drama queen now.

            I’ll go on the record here and say that some of the folks have forgotten about F1 than I’ll ever know – not you @robbie ;-). Their knowledge of stats and the sport is simply unparalleled.

            Of course some on this site might be better than me with stats. I’m not someone who needs to feel indulged by others, like… Well, you know who. The thing is, with the stats that I have and the arguments I wrote, I knew how to sistematically dismantle your points, one after another. This is one of the things I’m sure of, as your absurd manipulations of facts here are somewhat disrespectful towards both the character and effort of other drivers, to other commentators here and to yourself, if you cared enough about trying to find the truth.

      4. @kbdavies

        He has not been here long and already infesting every topic like a rash in a sort of verbal ABH (anything but Hamilton)
        Some of the inane commentary here lately makes me yearn for the old JAF1 site days frankly! Remember them?

        It certainly makes one less likely to engage.

        Hope your well

        1. Some of the inane commentary here lately makes me yearn for the old JAF1 site days frankly!

          Loool! Indeed. I certainly remember those days!

      5. @kbdavies Diagnosing others as mentally ill is about as low as you can sink here, but what can you expect from a Hamilton fan. It’s personal attacks all the way, all the time.

        1. @balue

          Surprised at you.

          It’s irrelevant who is a fan of who or what, which team or other.

          At this point in time and actually since Silverstone this site has been infested by ranting new guys all pretending to be F1 experts, long time lurkers (since 2016) absolutely raging against every nationality, media outlet, fact, statistic or even weather denial.

          Constantly branding anyone that even hints of being British or a modicum of not totally 100% in love with contact racing or red bull modus operandi should not create such a deluge. I am fully expecting the use of the word ‘prime’ in every sentence soon which will confirm much of recent activity is one or two person.(s)

          It’s galling for those of us that pay to uphold this site.

          And choose not to bend facts or stats and regard their own personal opinions as peer checked triangulated research.

          If anyone is making this personal in recent weeks it’s @rodewolf

          1. No, since the worst of the Hamilton fanatics have left or cooled off here recently, the personal attacks have abated and it’s become satisfyingly topical and almost pleasant to discuss F1 here, but as we can see now, there are still a few that need to get packing.

          2. I was here paying to support this site long before you @balue

            If you simply want to ride the coat tails of the frenzied love fest that you currently favourite poster is attempting to create have at it.

            I was probably racing before you had even heard of Red Bull so try not to be so contentious.

            If all the likes of I leave what would you do?

        2. @Balue – you obviously need to educate yourself on what constitutes a “diagnosis”.

          1. @kbdavies The only one needing to educate themselves here is you. Start with civility and normal behavior. Then read the rules here. If it’s all too difficult to come to terms with, go somewhere else.

        3. Can confirm that was an attack as dangerous as the January one.

  22. This final part of the rankings is exactly how I expected it, I don’t find it very controversial, I think hamilton and leclerc could’ve been either way.

    1. @esploratore1
      Yes, I wouldn’t protest it either, even if I disagree and show data to suggest it’s not the case, still a minor error. They’re close in terms of performance relative to their machineries anyway.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd August 2021, 18:42

        @esploratore1 @rodewulf

        This final part of the rankings is exactly how I expected it, I don’t find it very controversial

        Yes, I wouldn’t protest it either,

        Thank you to both of you! You made my day.

        1. @freelittlebirds

          Thank you to both of you! You made my day.

          And for what reason, exactly? Did you finally let go of your pro-Hamilton bias out of the sudden? I’d find that unlikely.

        2. @freelittlebirds

          😄😄

          They just can’t see the irony

          Or the long list of commentary doing just that – protesting

  23. I think this is a fair assessment. Lewis typically come good in the second half of the season anyway. Excited to see this play out for better or worse.

    1. @ppzzus So the assessment of their relative performances in the first half of a season is to be viewed how they are expected to perform in the second half? That doesn’t even make sense.

      1. What? I’m simply stating that historically Hamilton has a better second half of the season than the start. @balue

  24. He delivered a fine podium in Monaco under pressure from Perez, and grabbed another in the Austrian Grand Prix, where a harsh penalty for his defence against the same driver arguably cost Norris second place.

    Keith was considerably over-tolerant with Norris and tried to dig mistakes on Leclerc’s performance even when there wasn’t any sign of it, for inconsequential clashes. And some even deny there isn’t at least a slight favouritism of him towards British drivers. Some go as far as saying he is favourable to Max against Lewis, get a clue!

  25. Okay. I ended up with a big intruder in the top-4, let’s go to them:

    1) Norris: if Leclerc punches above his weight, Norris is totally holding his own amongst them. Ahead of two field pointers on the WDC, carrying his team’s WDC fight on his shoulders alone against a strong rival lineup in a Ferrari wild-car(d) capable of pulling surprising results such as poles and even fighting for victories. He is giving a rough beating over a well-respected driver who was expected to be in a leading position by now (not necessarily on points)… Sorry, don’t see any other in 1st.
    2) Verstappen: solid and mature, none of his DNFs were his fault. Needless to add more to that.
    3) Leclerc: he should’ve shown better results or at least more solid form against Sainz, as probably blunders here and there (and Stroll) took that away from him, but he is the clear benchmark. And, more importantly, he is punching above his weight more often than not.
    4) Sainz: one of the biggest surprises. The reason I put him that high is he simply is the best ‘newcomer’ so far. Adjusted to an alien car from the get go and keeping up with a beast that is Leclerc. I can’t set both apart more than 1 position by now, but I give LEC the edge.
    5) Hamilton
    6) Gasly
    7) Ocon
    8) Vettel
    9) Alonso
    10) Russell
    11) Stroll
    12) Mick Schumacher
    13) Bottas
    14) Perez
    15) Raikkonen
    16) Giovinazzi
    17) Latifi
    18) Ricciardo
    19) Tsunoda
    20) Mazepin

  26. Thank you for all you’re rankings, Keith and commentators. Nice job and you inspired me to to mine again.

    First two are easy pickings imho but the order could be the other way around as well.

    1. Verstappen:
    Made yet more progress compared to his already very good 2020 season and is pretty much destroying an other teammate. He seems to have matured, only the Silverstone aftermath could have been handled a bit better but that of course was a bitter pill to swallow…
    Highs:
    France GP when he beat both Mercs on strategy and race craft.
    Imola, where him and Hamilton went for it in difficult conditions until Hamilton cracked.

    Lows: Bahrain, where he and his team were taught a lession by Mercedes and Hamilton.
    His so so Qualifying performances especially at the start of the season. He could have been on pole far more often…

    2. Norris
    Like last year his first half of the season is amazing. With the exception of Spain his performances were pretty much flawless. He appears to have improved a lot on race pace and is leaving a highly rated teammate behind.
    Highs: Both Austrian GP when he was mixing it with the Mercedes and Red Bulls.

    Lows: Early Qualifying losses against Ricciardo and of course Spain where he was to slow.

    3. Leclerc. He’s just falling a bit short from the top 2.
    He’s commited as ever and probably second to none over a single lap. In comparison to last year he looks more consistent in the races too but this could also be down to the fact that the Ferrari is a much better machinery and less likely to go backwards.

    Highs: For me his pole lap in Baku is the stand out performance of the season so far. His first stint in Silverstone and his drive in Imola until the red flag were nice to watch too.

    Lows: France was bad, even though the car didn’t work there.
    The collision with Gasly in Austria 1 was unnecessary (the other “incidents” aren’t even worth mentioning though. No idea, why Keith brought them up…)
    And of course the infamous Monaco accident. Ferrari could and should have found the damage but in the end it was him who sent it into the wall.

    After the top three there’s quite a gap:

    4. Sainz: Very impressive first season for a new team against a very highly rated teammate. He’s missing a tenth here and there but makes it up with consistency and almost no costly errors.
    Highs: His Monaco weekend. He seemed to have the edge pace wise over Leclerc but missed out on the one shot for pole. Flawless in the race and secured Ferraris first podium of the year. His race pace has been very good all year and (almost) on the level of his teammate.

    Lows: His bad pace in Portugal and the crash in Hungary which turned out to be a blessing in disguise though. Generally he’s not on par with Leclerc on saturdays.

    4. Hamilton
    By far not his best season and a lot of luck has been going his way. But maybe if you’re always lucky it isn’t luck any more.

    Highs: Bahrain. It’s maybe a bolt prediction but I think no other driver on the grid would have won the race. Not even Verstappen if the roles would have been reversed.
    Spain, where he played it safe and waited for the opportunity to come. And I was impressed by his pole laps in Imola and Britain and of course his fight back qualities in various races.

    Lows: Speaking of fighting back. He shouldn’t have been in the position to do so in the first place. He did some Vettel stuff in Imola and gave away a likely win in Baku. In addition with an other sub par performance at Monaco, an expensive but small mistake in Austria and an over optimistic move on Verstappen (which could be the championship winning move though) I would rate him close to Sainz but quite a long way behind the top three.

    No it’s getting difficult because it’s so close in the upper midfield.
    But as it is a ranking you have to rank…

    Despite Russell always seems to have no luck at all (nore is he making his own luck) I would still give him P6 closely followed by Fernando Alonso and the two Frenchmen Ocon and Gasly.

    6. Russell (we saw what he’s capable of when he is given a good car. If I could choose between one of these four drivers for my team, picking him for me would be a no brainer)
    7. Alonso (he’s probably not as fast as he was but the fire is still there, as are flashes of brilliance like his defence in Hungary)
    8. Ocon (it is very close between him and his teammate but so far Ocon, despite his win is just a little bit behind)
    9. Gasly (I had him ranked first last year, ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton. He’s way down this year without driving badly by any means. I just think he’s not maximizing the cars’ potential and too many opportunities were wasted)

    The next group contains the drivers that are most difficult to rate. Both Alfas and both Aston Martin drivers. Somehow I think both cars are faster than there respective position in the races and in the championship but on the other hand it’s very close between each driver pairing suggesting that they are somewhere near the limit of the car…
    In the middle of that we have Bottas who’s having his normal season way behind Hamilton but still better than the Red Bull no. 2.

    10. Vettel (not brilliant but doing what he’s been signed for: picking up the pieces that are left)
    11. Stroll (showing that he’s capable of matching a declining 4 times world champion in his first season with the team. Nothing more but also nothing less).
    12. Bottas (Same procedure as every year. Horrible in traffick and in the rain, very fast in qualifying and a safe pair of hands. The perfect no. 2)
    13. Giovinnazi (It’s questionable if he’s improving or his teammate declining but he appears to be significantly faster in qualifying. The races are a different story though)
    14. Raikkonen (Saturdays are underwhelming but come race day he’s still there or there about. To many errors though to be ahead of his teammate).

    The last group and therefore the back end of the grid sees two big names with Ricciardo and Perez, which may appears to be harsh. But in my opinion the reference shouldn’t be championship points but the gap to the other car. And Perez especially is doing no better than Gasly or Albon at Red Bull, so he shouldn’t be ranked any higher than they were.

    15. Ricciardo (very disappointing season. The gap to his teammate is just to big in both qualifying and races)
    16. Perez (even more disappointing season. The gap to his teammate is just way to big especially in qualifying but also in many races. And he’s doing to many errors).
    17. Latifi ( Though I think he’s improved massively I still couldn’t rank him higher. I want to see some real pace from him not a freak result).
    18. Schumacher (it’s impossible to estimate his speed as the car is uncompetitive and difficult to drive. He appears to be a lot better than his teammate but still too many accidents).
    19. Tsunoda (my disappointment of the season. Unable to carry over the pace he showed last year into F1. And way to error prone).
    20. Masepin (slower than his teammate and initially showing a lack of spacial awareness in combination with to many spins. Has improved over the last races though).

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