The Formula 1 field was closer and more competitive than it had been for many seasons in 2021. While Red Bull and Mercedes led the way, McLaren and Alpine also won races and Ferrari collected a pair of pole positions.
By the end of the season the focus was naturally on the championship fight, which went down to the final race for the first time in five years. But was the outstanding driver of the year either of the title contenders, or someone who finished lower down the order?
With the season finishing so late, RaceFans’ annual driver rankings won’t appear until the new year. Until then it’s time to find out who impressed our readers the most during 2021.
How RaceFans assessed every driver’s race weekend in 2022
- 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Spanish Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Monaco Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 French Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Styrian Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Austrian Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 British Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Belgian Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Dutch Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Italian Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Russian Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Turkish Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 United States Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Qatar Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Star Performers
- 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Star Performers
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Vote for your 2022 F1 driver of the year
Who was the best driver of the 2021 Formula 1 season?
- No opinion (0%)
- Robert Kubica (1%)
- Nicholas Latifi (0%)
- George Russell (2%)
- Nikita Mazepin (1%)
- Mick Schumacher (0%)
- Antonio Giovinazzi (0%)
- Kimi Raikkonen (1%)
- Yuki Tsunoda (0%)
- Pierre Gasly (2%)
- Carlos Sainz Jnr (5%)
- Charles Leclerc (0%)
- Fernando Alonso (2%)
- Esteban Ocon (0%)
- Sebastian Vettel (0%)
- Lance Stroll (0%)
- Daniel Ricciardo (0%)
- Lando Norris (7%)
- Sergio Perez (0%)
- Max Verstappen (55%)
- Valtteri Bottas (0%)
- Lewis Hamilton (24%)
Total Voters: 370
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2021 F1 season review
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #1: Max Verstappen
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #2: Lewis Hamilton
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #3: Lando Norris
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #4: Charles Leclerc
- 2021 F1 driver rankings #5: Carlos Sainz Jnr
122 comments on “Vote for your 2021 Formula 1 Driver of the Year”
F1 frog (@f1frog)
24th December 2021, 10:48
1. Max Verstappen – the way he won the championship may have been farcical and unfair, but looking at the whole season, it is clear that he was the deserving champion. Verstappen lost a certain win in Baku and a probable second place in Hungary through no fault of his own, and while he was partly to blame for the Silverstone incident, he still lost 25 points on that day to the driver who was considered predominantly to blame. Without those three incidents of bad luck, he would have comfortably won the title before Abu Dhabi, and so he claims top in my driver rankings for the first time. His best drives were probably two dominant victories in Austria, a great stint on old tyres in Austin and another dominant win after a superb first-lap pass in Mexico. Verstappen also impressed in Monaco with another win, and France where he closed down title rival Hamilton and won. He also deserves a mention for the dominant victory in Imola, where Hamilton hit the wall, for winning in front of his home crowd in Zandvoort. The low point of his season was the Saudi Arabian GP, despite a fantastic double overtake at turn one on Hamilton and Ocon and a tremendous qualifying lap minus the final corner, as his driving was a little too aggressive with a brake-test on Hamilton. He was a little too aggressive multiple times this year, causing Hamilton to back off and give way to avoid a crash, and was blamed for the incident in Monza. But Verstappen was still the best driver in 2021, annihilating his strong teammate in Sergio Perez and winning the title despite awful luck earlier in the season.
2. Lewis Hamilton – for the first time since 2017, Hamilton does not top my end-of-season driver rankings, but made a great recovery at the end of the year to second having spent most of the time scrapping over fourth, fifth and sixth with Gasly and Russell. His first half of the season was his worst since 2011, with key mistakes in Imola, hitting the wall, and Baku, hitting the brake magic button, as well as an awful weekend in Monaco and another poor weekend in Italy that had him closer to eighth than second after Sochi, despite great wins in Bahrain, Spain and Britain, and a cracking fightback to second in Hungary. But from then on, Hamilton drove a brilliant season, with a great drive in USA to just miss out to Verstappen as both drivers were at the top of their game, possibly the greatest drive of his career, and the drive of the season, in Brazil to win having started the sprint race dead last, and then almost flawless wins in Qatar, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi, only for the final one to be cruelly taken away from him, along with the championship, on the final lap. However, while I believe Hamilton to be the rightful champion, the bad luck suffered by Verstappen means that overall Hamilton was lucky to even be in the hunt at the final round. The Silverstone incident also blotted his copybook, but he also deserves a mention for all the times he avoided similar incidents with Verstappen by backing off. I predict he will be champion again in 2022.
3. Lando Norris – for the first half of the season, Lando Norris was an absolute revelation, as he totally dominated highly-rated teammate Daniel Ricciardo, and was without doubt the most improved driver of the season. Despite a great fourth in Bahrain, the first real sign of just how strong he was this season was in Imola, where he initially qualified third before the lap time was deleted, and then recovered for a podium. He then drove brilliantly for fifth in Portugal on the medium tyres, as others on the same tyre tumbled down the order. Monaco was his next podium, where he lapped Daniel Ricciardo on his way to third. In France, he fought through the pack to finish fifth, and perhaps his best weekend came with another third in Austria, after holding Hamilton off for many laps, then coming back at him after the Mercedes was damaged, and would have beaten Bottas for second without the time penalty. In Spa, he lost a probable pole position and therefore a win when he crashed at Eau Rouge, and then he finished second in Monza after the overtake of the season at Curva Grande, and then backed up teammate Ricciardo’s race win. Sochi would have been his greatest drive without the final few laps, as Norris took a maiden pole position, then repassed Sainz for the lead, and pulled a huge gap before Hamilton came back at him, but Norris just looked to have enough to hold him off before the rain came, and he refused to pit, costing him the race. Norris’ form dropped in the latter part of the season and he lost fifth to Sainz in the stronger Ferrari at the final round. However, he was still a lot quicker than Ricciardo and had bad luck in Qatar and Abu Dhabi with punctures. If McLaren can build a good car with the new regulations, Norris will surely win his first race in 2022.
4. Charles Leclerc – despite being beaten by his teammate Sainz in the championship, Leclerc was still the stronger Ferrari driver in 2021. On his day, he is as good as Hamilton or Verstappen, and the British GP was a perfect example of this fact as Leclerc held of Hamilton and Bottas for almost the entire race in a Ferrari, and only lost it at the end in what was one of the greatest drives of the season. He also finished comfortably best of the rest in Catalunya and Austin, when the Ferrari was strong, and briefly led in Turkey before pitting and still claiming fourth. As well as this, he took two incredible pole positions for Ferrari in Monaco and Baku, but only didn’t get to start there in Monaco after crashing in qualifying. But Leclerc is still far too inconsistent to be the best driver on the grid, as these highs were surrounded by poor races like France, where the Ferrari had tyre problems and he finished 16th, and then a strange lack of pace at Qatar and Abu Dhabi. He had more bad luck than Sainz, so was unlucky to finish behind him, but with Sainz new to the team, Leclerc was still expected to have more of an advantage than he did have. I still think he is a potential future champion if Ferrari can get the new regulations right.
5. Pierre Gasly – since losing his drive at Red Bull after a torrid half-season, Gasly has become one of the best drivers on the grid. His 2020 season was impressive as he took an amazing win in Monza and outperformed Daniil Kvyat all season, but in 2021 he stepped up again, achieving fifteen top six starts as rookie teammate Tsunoda claimed zero, and he outqualified his teammate in every race bar Abu Dhabi. His best drives would probably be Mexico and Zandvoort, where he was best of the rest, and he also took a fine podium in Baku after a late battle with Leclerc. He was also very strong in Hungary with fifth after dropping to the back at the start, and in Monaco where he came sixth and beat Hamilton. Gasly finished ninth in the championship, but I would argue he was one of the unluckiest drivers as he lost a lot of points in Monza and Bahrain through tiny mistakes, as well as in Styria. The Alpha Tauri was the fifth best car this season, but only finished sixth in the championship, yet this was not down to Gasly who beat both Alpines comfortably. He is in a good car for now, but I expect Alpha Tauri to drop down the pecking order next season with the new regulations, and Gasly will need to move away from the Red Bull stable to move forward in his career. If Ricciardo continues to disappoint, a place at McLaren could be a good fit.
6. Fernando Alonso – after Monaco, I said that Alonso’s return to F1 was akin to that of Michael Schumacher. He was being outclassed by Ocon and just didn’t look like the same driver he had been before his two years out. But from then on, he turned it around, and became the stronger Alpine driver. He made up four places on the final restart in Baku, made some great overtakes in the Silverstone sprint, was strong in both races in Austria and in France. But the highlight of his season was undoubtably in Hungary. Having been delayed in the first lap chaos, Alonso found himself in the middle of the pack but recovered back to fourth later on as teammate Ocon led the race. Then Hamilton appeared behind him after dropping to the back, and looked set to catch Ocon and win the race. But Alonso defended magnificently against Hamilton, holding him up for several laps and preventing him from having a go at Ocon. A great team victory for Alpine, who worked together again in Brazil as Alonso gave Ocon DRS to defend from Gasly, and in Qatar as Ocon defended against Perez to give Alonso his first podium since 2014. Alonso was also mightily impressive in Russia. It turned out to be a strong comeback from Alonso. You would expect Alpine to make strides forward with the new regulations, and so Alonso will hopefully win a race in what is likely to be his final season in the sport.
7. Carlos Sainz – the most impressive thing about Sainz’s season was to jump in a Ferrari that four-time champion Sebastian Vettel had struggled so much with in 2020, and be so close behind Leclerc, tipped by many to be the next big thing. While the final points table flatters him; he was the second-best Ferrari driver this season, Sainz still rates as the best second driver on the grid, and was more consistent than Leclerc, even if his peaks weren’t as high. Sainz took four podiums, with a strong second in Monaco as he pushed Verstappen, a lucky third in Hungary, another strong third in Russia from the front row of the grid, and then again in Abu Dhabi where he outperformed Leclerc. Sainz also deserves a mention for Turkey where he finished eighth from the back of the grid after a multitude of great overtakes. The speed at which he adapted to Ferrari was the highlight of Sainz’s season, and while I don’t believe he is quite on the same level as Leclerc, he did enough to suggest he is more than just a number two, and Ferrari probably had the best lineup in 2021.
8. George Russell – after three seasons with Williams in which he was only outqualified by a teammate twice, Russell moves to Mercedes for 2022, and will finally have his big chance to challenge for race wins and even a championship. If Sakhir 2020 is anything to go by, he should have a lot of success. In 2021, Russell had his best season for Williams, and qualifying continued to be his strong point. After reaching Q2 in every one of the first ten rounds, Russell seemed to be gradually moving up the grid, with a great lap in France and twelfth in a race with no retirements, then just missing Q3 in Styria and running in the top ten before retiring, then making Q3 in Austria and losing his first points for Williams with just a few laps remaining as Alonso passed him, and then making Q3 again in Silverstone with a great lap. In Hungary, he finally scored his first points for Williams, but actually came home behind Latifi who benefitted more from the first lap kerfuffle, and showed great teamwork as he offered for his race to be compromised to help his teammate. In Spa, Russell put in one of the greatest qualifying laps in Formula 1 history to claim second on the grid in the wet, entirely on merit, and then took his first podium as the race never really happened. He scored again in Monza and in Russia after another incredible third on the grid, although this one was more lucky. At the end of the season, Russell went missing as he was surely more focussed on his move to Mercedes, and dropped from sixth to eighth in these rankings. Another low point was his hitting Bottas in Imola. Next year, Russell can’t afford to go missing, and there are question marks over his ability on the first lap. But I expect him to push Hamilton hard.
9. Esteban Ocon – after being one of the biggest disappointments of last season, Ocon stepped up in 2021 and is starting to show the promise he had done in his Force India days again. The obvious highlight of the season was his win in the Hungarian GP, where he repelled pressure from Sebastian Vettel all the way through, and Alonso made it a team victory by holding off Hamilton. Ocon repaid the favour in Qatar with a stout defence against Sergio Perez which allowed Alonso to hold onto third. Another race in which Ocon showed real quality was Saudi Arabia, where he led the race at the second red flag, and only just lost a podium to Bottas on the line. He also impressed at the start of the season when he initially looked to be the stronger Alpine driver in Imola, Portugal, Spain and Monaco. Apparently, Ocon cost his team less in crash damage than any other driver this season, showing how he is good at keeping out of trouble and is one of the most consistent drivers on the grid. Ocon has earned a lengthy contract extension with Alpine, and while I no longer see him as a future championship contender as I did when he was with Force India, he still has the potential to be a solid points scorer for the team in the future.
10. Sebastian Vettel – the final place in the top ten goes to a driver who has made a solid recovery after a woeful 2020 in which I rated him last of the twenty regular drivers. The switch from Ferrari was a good move for both parties, and while the Aston Martin wasn’t as good as its Racing Point predecessor, Vettel was still able to take a fine podium in Baku, and a strong fifth place in Monaco. He was also unlucky to lose a second place in Hungary after a fuel leak in the final laps lost him the fuel required to provide a sufficient sample. In the race, he had shadowed Ocon from start to finish despite driving a slower car. The errors that had plagued his Ferrari days did not disappear entirely, with a costly spin at Silverstone, another spin at Zandvoort and hitting Ocon in Bahrain three such examples. His ranking is also hurt by his failure to comprehensively beat Lance Stroll like Perez had done. Although I expected more from Vettel in 2021, much of his problem was down to the uncompetitive Aston Martin, which should be stronger with the new regulations, and hopefully he will get another win soon. And congratulations to Vettel also for being the only driver able to name every champion in the history of the Formula 1!
11. Valtteri Bottas – after five years with Mercedes, they have finally decided to break the harmony and look to the future, and that means Bottas is out and off to Alfa Romeo for next season. While he is a very quick driver, almost on Hamilton’s level for raw speed, Bottas’ key weakness continues to be his inability to overtake and come through the pack. While this wasn’t such a problem in 2017-19, as he rarely found himself down the grid, it has cost him in 2020 and particularly 2021. Throughout most of the season, Bottas remained a solid number two to Hamilton. He took one excellent win in Turkey, and drove brilliantly to third in Monza from the back of the grid. He was also very unlucky in Monaco to lose second with the now infamous 43-hour pitstop. But there were too many races where Bottas just went missing entirely, and these were usually down to an inability to make his way through the grid, Monza excepted. In Imola, Bottas had no pace in the wet, and was hit by a Williams in a battle for position. In Baku, he got stuck in the midfield all race, and finished outside the points after being swamped at the restart. In Hungary he locked up in the wet and took out Norris, Perez and Verstappen (effectively). Then in USA he got trapped in the midfield and couldn’t pass, and the same was true at the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Take away these bad races and Bottas would rank higher than Russell, but he needs to improve his overtaking in Alfa Romeo next year. Hamilton proved it is not the car with his win in Brazil. But I think that on pace, Bottas is among the fastest drivers, and will be a big improvement on Raikkonen and Giovinazzi.
12. Sergio Perez – some may have expected more of Perez at Red Bull, but considering how much Gasly and Albon, two good drivers, struggled in that second seat I think Perez did as well as expected. He was not as fast as Bottas, and had a few qualifying shockers where he missed Q3 or even Q2 in the case of Zandvoort, but he was a loyal number two, and the highlight of his season was surely that stout defence against Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, which allowed Verstappen to close by five seconds in one lap. He also won in Baku, a track where he’s always gone well, but without the late chaos he would have lost to Verstappen, but beaten Hamilton. Perez also took strong podiums in USA, Mexico and France. The only time he outqualified Verstappen on merit was in Imola, and the fact that he was further behind his teammate than Bottas was most of the time is why he ranks behind him. But Perez was a clear improvement on Gasly and Albon, and deserves to keep the difficult job of being the number two driver at Red Bull.
13. Lance Stroll – this was his best season in Formula 1 so far, and he is definitely good enough for Formula 1 now, although it is still slightly unfair that he has had this long to prove himself and effectively has a free drive for as long as he wants it. Stroll didn’t hit the occasional highs that he has in the past in 2021, such as the Turkey pole and Baku podium, but was far more consistent. His best result was a fine sixth in Qatar, while he also had a very strong eighth in Styria and Imola. There were still a few lows, such as his crash in Hungary and a very poor weekend in Mexico, but overall he proved to be a match for his illustrious teammate Vettel. The most impressive moment in Stroll’s season was in Baku, when he successfully fought his car to the side of the road after suffering a puncture, and avoided a big accident. Aston Martin will be faster next year, and hopefully Stroll will continue to improve.
14. Antonio Giovinazzi – he has gradually improved over three seasons in Formula 1, but like last season only seemed to turn up when his job was on the line, and unlike last season it wasn’t enough to save it. The highlight of Giovinazzi’s season was two brilliant efforts in qualifying in Zandvoort and Monza where he was seventh on the grid, but on the first occasion he was unlucky, and on the second he crashed out. He had two points finishes in Monaco and Saudi Arabia, and both were good, solid drives. He also had a lot of bad luck, and would have scored more but for poor strategy in Mexico and elsewhere. He usually had the measure of Raikkonen in qualifying, and was slightly better than him overall, but given that Raikkonen is over forty and had struggled at Ferrari for years before going to Alfa Romeo, I think the team have done the right thing in replacing him with Guan Yu Zhou. I wish Giovinazzi well in the future in Formula e.
15. Daniel Ricciardo – the disappointment of the season was Daniel Ricciardo’s inability to adapt to the McLaren, and he was completely outclassed this season by Lando Norris. The Honey Badger had a horrible first half of the season, where his struggles were first apparent in Imola, having to let Norris through and then falling away from him. Then getting lapped by his teammate in Monaco was a massive low point, as was the huge gap in both Austrian races. Ricciardo’s season looked to have turned after Monza, where he won brilliantly in what was the only real highlight of the season, and McLaren recorded the only one-two of the season. He also drove well in Russia with fourth, and in Austin with fifth. Spain was also a positive towards the start of the season. But after Russia, Ricciardo disappeared again with a very poor end to the season similar to the start, but less obvious due to Norris not hitting the heights that he had early on. He should improve in 2022, but if he doesn’t there will be a lot of hungry drivers looking to take his place at McLaren, not least Pierre Gasly. A move away may be beneficial to both parties.
16. Kimi Raikkonen – ‘Dear Kimi, we will leave you alone now’ was a nice tribute to this retiring great. He had a very under-the-radar last season for Alfa Romeo. There were some great drives, such as the eighth in Mexico where he drove consistently, but perhaps would have been beaten by his teammate but for the poor strategy for Giovinazzi. He was also excellent in Sochi, pitting for intermediates before the majority of the grid and coming home eighth. But in qualifying he was too far off Giovinazzi, and was usually second-best Alfa Romeo driver, contrary to the final standings and the statistic that says he was ahead of Giovinazzi on the road the vast majority of the time in 2021. Raikkonen also made some silly errors, such as hitting Giovinazzi in Portimao and turning in on Vettel in Austria. It is the right time for Raikkonen to go, and he has very much earned his retirement.
17. Mick Schumacher – it was always going to be difficult for Mick joining a Haas team not developing the car all season, but it will make him feel better about this season. It is possible that Schumacher is being flattered by his teammate, and had Grosjean or Magnussen been in the car they would have been close to Latifi more often, but this is impossible to say for sure. Schumacher had a couple of good performances at the beginning of the season, beating Latifi in Portugal and going well in Spain. At the end of the season, he went well in Qatar and Abu Dhabi, where he inadvertently stopped Hamilton from beating his father’s record of championships (just a joke!). He was always a lot quicker than his teammate. However, there were too many crashes this season, with Mick costing the team a lot of money and he missed two qualifying sessions because of it. He may not be on the same level as Michael Schumacher, but young Schumacher proved himself to be a nice guy, and potentially an average F1 driver in the future, when he hopefully has a quicker car next season. And in junior formulae he has always excelled in his second season after starting slowly.
18. Nicholas Latifi – his season, and probably his career, will always be remembered for crashing in Abu Dhabi and bringing out the safety car which changed the championship. We will have a better indication of how good Latifi is next season once Russell has had a season against Hamilton, but in general this season he was some way behind his teammate, and usually in no-man’s land between the midfield and Haas. He did a very good job during the middle of the season, when Williams had a strong run of results, taking his first points with seventh in Hungary, where he briefly ran third, and he also scored with ninth in the Spa non-race. Monza was another strong weekend for Latifi, as he was unlucky with the safety car to be beaten by Russell and finish outside the points. He finally ended a 34-race streak of being outqualified by Russell in Brazil. Williams should move up the grid in the next few years with new investment, and it will be interesting to see how long they stick with Latifi and his money for.
19. Yuki Tsunoda – another big disappointment of the season was Yuki Tsunoda not living up to the hype. After a strong Bahrain test, he went into the first weekend of the season and went second fastest in the first runs of Q1. Despite a poor Q2, he then finished the race in ninth, and was labelled ‘the best rookie in years’ by Ross Brawn. But from then on, Tsunoda’s season was a disaster. He caused four red flags in qualifying, and was generally a very long way off Gasly’s pace, never reaching the top six in qualifying while his teammate made it fifteen times. He also made clumsy errors in the races, such as hitting Stroll in Brazil. Finishing fourteenth in the championship with the fifth-best car is a damning indication of his season. However, he showed improvement with a great fourth place in Abu Dhabi, which was his best weekend and the first time he outqualified Gasly. He also took strong points finishes in Baku, USA and Hungary. He retains his seat for 2022, but will need to improve to keep it beyond that.
20. Nikita Mazepin – joined Haas due to the deep pockets of his father, and very little was expected from Mazepin before the season started, after never really challenging for the title in Formula 2. There were fears that dangerous driving from F2 would continue into F1, but he generally avoided that, aside from one swipe on Schumacher in Baku. Unfortunately, Mazepin still didn’t appear good enough for Formula 1, as he usually qualified over half-a-second behind fellow rookie teammate Schumacher, spun often, with his first weekend in Bahrain being particularly poor, and seemed to ignore blue flags and hold up the leaders on many occasions. His best weekend was probably Brazil, where he beat Schumacher, but generally he was just too slow. Will stay in Formula 1 next year, and the Haas will probably be more competitive, allowing him to have more of an impact. Hopefully he will improve in the coming years.
Awards for the 2021:
Driver of the season – Max Verstappen. The way he won the title was unfair, but over the whole season he deserved it. Honourable mentions to Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris.
Most improved driver – Lando Norris. Turned a corner compared to 2020, where he was still impressive, and totally crushed Ricciardo. Honourable mentions to Verstappen, Gasly, Ocon and Vettel.
Rookie of the season – Mick Schumacher. Crashed too often, but did what was expected of him. Honourable mention to Tsunoda.
Biggest disappointment (driver) – Daniel Ricciardo. Most expected him to beat Norris, but one good win aside, he was totally beaten and never adapted fully to the McLaren. Honourable mention to Yuki Tsunoda.
Drive of the season – Lewis Hamilton, Brazil. From last in the sprint to first in the race, this was an incredible fightback, one of the best drives I have ever seen. Honourable mentions to Charles Leclerc, Britain, and Lando Norris, Russia.
Qualifier of the season – George Russell. Made Q2 so many times, and even made Q3 a few times for Williams. Belgium was utter brilliance, Russia more lucky. Honourable mentions to Verstappen and Norris.
Qualifying lap of the season – George Russell, Belgium. With second place for Williams, completely on merit, in the wet, this was the best lap since Nico Hulkenberg’s pole in Brazil 2010. Honourable mentions to Charles Leclerc, Baku, and Lando Norris, Austria.
Race lap of the season – Fernando Alonso, Hungary. Can’t pick the exact lap, but this defence against Hamilton was a joy to watch. Honourable mention to the Hamilton-Verstappen scrap on lap one at Silverstone (or half-lap).
Overtake of the season – Lando Norris, on Leclerc at Curva Grande. With a wheel on the grass, this was incredible bravery to take second. Honourable mention to Verstappen, on Hamilton and Ocon in Saudi Arabia turn one.
Blunder of the season (driver) – Lewis Hamilton, Baku. For hitting the brake magic button and, losing eighteen points. Honourable mentions to Bottas, Hungary, and Leclerc, Monaco.
Team of the season – Red Bull. For winning the drivers’ championship despite a lot of bad luck, and finally being the team to challenge Mercedes. Honourable mentions to Ferrari, Alpine.
Most improved team – Ferrari. From sixth to third, although really this was expected. Honourable mentions to Red Bull, Alpha Tauri, Williams.
Biggest disappointment (team) – Aston Martin. It was a shame they couldn’t keep up their 2020 pace with Vettel driving. Honourable mention to Alfa Romeo.
Best innovators – Mercedes. Red Bull were faster in the first half, but the update from Silverstone changed this to Mercedes in the second half. Honourable mention to McLaren.
Best mechanics – Red Bull. For all those quick pitstops, and for fixing Perez’s car in Belgium. Honourable mention to Williams.
Best strategists – Red Bull. So many strategic battles between Mercedes and Red Bull, but Red Bull won more. Honourable mentions to Mercedes, Alpine.
Blunder of the season (team) – Mercedes, Hungary. For leaving Hamilton on the grid. Honourable mention to Ferrari, Monaco.
Race of the season – Hungary. For Alpine’s amazing team victory. Honourable mentions to Britain, Russia.
Best moment of the season – when Hamilton and Verstappen were confirmed to be having equal points going into the final race. An amazing title battle. Honourable mentions to Alpine’s team victory in Hungary, and Russell’s qualifying lap in Spa.
Worst moment of the season – the farcical final lap. The rules were bent to prioritise entertainment over sporting integrity. Honourable mentions to the sprint races and Ross Brawn’s ‘avid fans’ interview.
Thank you, Formula 1, for the 2021 season. As Murray Walker would say, ‘incredible!’
24th December 2021, 11:10
Well, not much point making my own ranking when I would change very little compared to yours, is there? I would maybe have rated vettel a bit lower, but it’s not like bottas or perez were very special either, and I’m glad to see bottas ahead cause people tend to over-rate perez compared to him.
Think I would have raikkonen ahead of giovinazzi, although you have your reasons, and ricciardo has been so inconsistent that it’s hard to say if he should be ahead of 1 or both of the alfas.
It’s very easy to agree with the best few and worst few drivers.
24th December 2021, 11:13
@f1frog nice summary there. The point on Gasly was interesting but I think I see him being a Alpine driver when Alonso leaves as the best fit for him.
24th December 2021, 11:19
Now I wonder if the winners will come and collect their trophies.
Merry 2022 and a Happy Christmas. And congratulations to all of you who expect to have a birthday in 2022 plus those who were born on 29 February.
24th December 2021, 11:29
and now a serious question:
Would it still be ‘worst moment of the season’ had the season ended behind a SC on a safe track only because lapped cars needed time to catch up? And answer that question independent of who would be in the lead in that situation Hamilton or Verstappen.
The way the SC is used (not the ‘need’ for a SC) and the rules around it is a disgrace to F1 racing (same with the Red Flag rules). These are bigger artificial reset fakeries than a Sprint Race can ever become, and Brawn can quote me on that as an ‘avid fan’.
Safety is paramount, but don’t use that as an opportunity to make a circus out of a car race event.
I agree though that the title deciding last lap of the season was the wrong time to introduce ‘rule flexibility’ to “let them race”.
24th December 2021, 11:42
Fully agree with you. Regardless of the outcome of last race, this rule as a whole is just a reset artificial fakery most of the times. Well said.
24th December 2021, 12:02
Well and just to add to my comments, red flag situation are always gimmicks nowadays, and the reset tires rules under red flag a travesty too.
24th December 2021, 11:43
I disagree that the SC is fake. Bunching up the field is often necessary for safety, but not something that really can be undone. You have the exact same issue when red flagging and restarting a race. Gaps are then wiped out too.
I just think that the unlapping of back markers is both unsafe and a waste of racing laps. Send them to the back.
24th December 2021, 11:47
Ahah, fun the avid fan comment, as in he will take the smallest positive thing towards sprint races he can find on your comment!
31st December 2021, 11:02
I’m unable to summon enough enthusiasm to vote anything other than no opinion because of this. There has been some great driving by many, but the whole season is completely overshadowed by the terrible decision making by the officials. I can’t make a rational call on this with that cloud hanging over the season, so I’ll stay out of it.
24th December 2021, 11:50
That is a nice category:
I would say, 1) Leclerc, Britain; 2) Hamilton, Brazil sprint; 3) Verstappen, Russia
(Almost) Best drive of the season: Norris, Russia
Qualifying lap of the season: 1) Russel, Spa; 2) Sainz, Russia. Many people don’t realize how good it was but Sainz was one of the 1st drivers to cross the finishing line on a drying track, he had the older engine, his race pace next day clearly showed Ferrari were no better than the 4th fastest car that day
(Almost) quaifying lap of the season: Verstappen, Saudi
24th December 2021, 11:54
Well, as always a good balanced assessment, and I agree with most of it. Maybe I would rate Gasly and Sainz a bit higher and Leclerc a bit lower this season, but really good assessment. Well done. And whilst Hamilton drive in Brazil was indeed amazing, I think it was a bit easier there for overtake due to too powerful DRS zone on main straight ( as with Kemmel straight at SPA where DRS works against the circuit making for more dull overtakes) which compounded with new engine made it the job much easier. I would put maybe Vettel and certainly Bottas a tad lower too on the ranking. And for me the highlight of the season was Alonso’s defense against Hamilton at Hungary. A joy to watch, reminded me of F1 of the early 80s. Really good.
24th December 2021, 12:50
24th December 2021, 13:30
@f1frog – decent account for the season. Max had championship winning machinery for the first time and credit to him didn’t waste the opportunity.
Hamilton had a seesaw of a season wasn’t always at his best but when things started to click for him, the team and the strategy he was unstoppable, even in the face of extreme adversity.
My personal favourites were definitely Norris and Sainz, they were exceptional. I also think Perez had flashes of great driving and him and Hamilton had the best on track battles.
FIA destroyed the season for me and I hope they don’t in the future.
24th December 2021, 13:48
@f1frog Yet another brilliant piece!
Please do follow through on Will’s suggestion yesterday and get a blog! I would definitely be interested!
24th December 2021, 17:57
frog, congrats very excellent…!
25th December 2021, 2:07
Voting for VER as driver of the year means you condone his dangerous driving style. More than two occasions VER was reckless and did not care for his competitor with his “hard” racing approach. Brake-testing your competitor, forcing your competitor off the track, leaving your car on your competitor’s head as your force your car in a place where there was no room are all down-right dangerous and not admirable. There are many occasions that VER deserved penalties and even race bans for actions taken on track. If the FIA didn’t look at him favorably, he would not be in the competition for the championship at season end.
So NO, he is not driver of the year. He does not do things that I want every F1 driver to do. He does not do things that takes the sport in a competitive and respectful direction.
25th December 2021, 8:18
Absolutely spot on Soulmonkey.
In the final four races Merc and Lewis were terrified that either Max or Perez would take Lewis out.
This was an absolute reality.
I really take my hat off to Perez and how well he defended against Lewis i the final race. A skill Max does have.
In fact in the final race at turn 5 had Lewis defended more robustly, Max would have had no compunction in taking him out.
I think Max is an incredible racing driver, but many times this year as i previous years he drives by intimidation.
All the qualities I attribute to a thug.
25th December 2021, 8:19
oops. A skill Max does NOT have!
27th December 2021, 10:27
So you’d say the same about Senna and Schumacher then?
25th December 2021, 7:30
Brilliant writeup, thank you!
Some of the honourable mentions, were dishonourable, but apart from nitpicking, we thoroughly agree
25th December 2021, 8:04
Hard to disagree with any of this! Thanks for taking the time to come up with it.
25th December 2021, 11:55
Drive of the season Brasil…
That was, apart from Silverstone, my true low of the season…25 grid penalties and it didn’t hurt Lewis one bit.
Brasil was a no-competition race with utter dominance of the Mercedes powerunit, something we have witnessed for many years. 2021 was a relief, better racing, better competition, Brasil seemed to tkae that all away.
25th December 2021, 19:37
Very good summary and rankings, thank you. That piece would be worthy of appearing as a full article instead of a comment.
26th December 2021, 7:59
This should be an article in its own, nicely done!
27th December 2021, 5:33
You did not mention the Best Car of the Season?
To be it would be Red Bull, Max Verstappen consistently 1-2, coupled with bulletproof Honda PU. I thought it’s game over for Mercedes after Mexicon had they not brought in the “Spicy Engine” with max power tuned for limited races, so Mercedes would not eligible to be the “Best Car”, we witnessed how amateur Bottas was on Abu Dhabi with the “standard spec” old engine..
27th December 2021, 10:25
Nikita Mazepin had a better season than both of them. I disagree with you on this one.
Why? McLaren went backwards the second half of the season. If any team deserves an honourable mention in this it is Ferrari. They completely turned the table on McLaren the second half of the year, after being behind by quite a mile.
I agree with most of your other conclusions though.
27th December 2021, 14:11
Who are you? Where do you hail from? And where are you taking us? hmm
24th December 2021, 10:59
Keith, would you be so kind to limit the number of words used in posts. Thank you.
24th December 2021, 11:04
Why? This is not twitter!
24th December 2021, 11:35
And there tweeps start sharing photo’s of long-winded statements ;)
I wouldn’t mind some kind of text collapse functionality though.
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
24th December 2021, 22:07
I remember once posting a few whole sentences on discord and some gamer implied they had never seen so much writing in their life. I don’t see why there should be a limit. You can flick past it if you need to, or ignore it totally. The main point of these pages is for the article. I am assuming you are wanting to quickly get to the comments or something?
However, I do think what Jff mentioned would be a good idea. If the comments are more than a few paragraphs, have a button to view the whole message.
24th December 2021, 11:19
The above poster made some great points though. Considering most posts on this site are pretty toxic these days it is more than refreshing to see such a long, balanced opinion comment.
24th December 2021, 12:22
That’s not a comment it’s a report!
24th December 2021, 13:11
Yes ofcourse but still a comment or do you have a report buttom?
If it’s well written to the point then it’s great!
26th December 2021, 8:51
You can exercise your choice to not read it.
24th December 2021, 13:29
Sign him up! (and I’m not just being froggist)
Nulla Pax (@nullapax)
24th December 2021, 11:25
There was no way I was going to read all that F1 Frog posted (I am not that addicted to F1) but I am delighted that passionate people have somewhere to voice their feelings and opinions.
Please continue Mr Frog Sir :)
24th December 2021, 11:26
It might have been longer than the article, but the assessment was spot on!
24th December 2021, 15:41
There’s a reason why we’re here and not on Twitter! Many, actually, but let’s not start that ;)
24th December 2021, 11:07
I couldn’t rate Vestappen as driver of the year as despite some great moments I got the impression he never learned from any of his mistakes, instead doubling down and insisting he didn’t make one (though I suspect Horner and Marko had a lot to do with that) and doing some immensely stupid and downright dangerous things when put under serious pressure.
24th December 2021, 11:13
Yes, I obviously voted for him cause he was the most deserving driver this season, but the point is good, he could end up in the future winning a championship or 2 less than he would otherwise if he insists with the “I’m never wrong” attitude, silverstone should be a learning experience on having to take less risks when fighting championships.
24th December 2021, 11:09
While Verstappen and Hamilton were great, they did have the best cars on the grid and I personally felt Verstappen’s driving crossed the line of dirty driving for the last 4 races and Hamilton had numerous poor mistakes this year he hasn’t done for a long time. Perfectly understand fans of either driver though voting for them.
For those reasons I decided to go for Norris who completely outperformed his car numerous times this year and still managed to keep the points ticking over after McLaren stopped developing the car. He also had some really bad luck this year and still had a great year overall. The only reason McLaren missed out on third was Ricciardo’s awful performance in the first half of the year when they had a better car than Ferrari.
Honorable mention to Leclerc who massively outperformed his car at several races this year. Really hoping Ferrari have a competitive car next year as I think the consistency would improve. McLaren and Ferrari are my favourite driver partnerships for competition, hopefully Ricciardo can raise his game further next year.
24th December 2021, 11:39
Leclerc was somewhat disappointing this season (as I rated him highly previous seasons).
Sainz showed on many occasions (besides that he is a good driver) that it was not the car that was holding them back.
24th December 2021, 11:52
Each to their own I guess, for me Sainz disappointed most of the year lacking consistency although he did luck into some great results which made him appear closer to Leclerc on performance than he was I believe.
24th December 2021, 12:03
Agree with this, can be seen even in the recently posted ferrari comparison article.
24th December 2021, 13:37
@slowmo – I wouldn’t say Norris “outperform ed” his car but he definitely coped and dealt with the shortcomings better than Ricardo. I really wished he won the Italian gp instead of Riccardo and this seems odd but I’m glad he lost the Russian GP, what he learnt that day was far more valuable.
I believe in his talent and I think he’ll be on of the greatest in a few years…
24th December 2021, 18:10
@icarby Good point about Russia. As a McLaren fan, while I am still quite disappointed at how it turned out, I agree that the experience will teach Norris a lot more than a probably win would have. He’s surely got plenty of wins to come as well I would say.
Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
24th December 2021, 11:13
@f1frog – bloomin’ eck that’s one hell of a post!
But – it’s also a great summary and pretty much mirrors my thoughts too. It’s nice to see such a balanced and thoughtful write-up. I think Verstappen will top most folks lists this year, and rightly so. He’s been absolutely amazing to watch. Lewis is probably the closest to a flawless driver I’ve ever seen but he made uncharacteristic mistakes early in the season, by the second half he was back on form and just pure beautiful! I’ve said it before – but Lewis and Max felt as though they were in their own Formula this season.
24th December 2021, 11:13
…so not all F1 fans are Hamilton fans, but also, incredible I know, not all Hamilton fans ar really into F1.
F1 frog (@f1frog)
24th December 2021, 11:15
Like last year, I am also going to count up an overall ranking by finding as many different people’s rankings on the internet, awarding points to the top ten equivalent to the F1 points system, and then adding them up to find the overall fans’ ranking. If you would like your own ranking included, please put at least a top ten in the comments section on this site and I will probably see it.
24th December 2021, 12:04
Just for your statistics:
1. Verstappen, he was too far ahead by the break for his poorer ‘driving’ (Brazil- Saudi Arabia) to take away his lead;
2. Hamilton, too often mediocre (for his standards) early on in the season; his final quality racing sprint was not enough;
3. Norris, also primarily earned it early on, but nobody below him shone constantly in the second part;
4. Gasly, we didn’t see a lot of him, but he was constantly maximising his car’s performance during most of the season;
5. Leclerc, not many special moments this year (compared to previous seasons);
6. Sainz, very close to, and on instances better than, Leclerc;
7. Alonso, not the allround performer anymore, but some absolute gems during some spells of some races;
8. Ocon, not sure what he had for breakfast each race, but he matured a lot this year and in a controlledquality way;
9. Russell, somewhere near the top if this was a Saturday Ranking, but on Sundays some ‘ups’ and many ‘mehs’/’downs’;
10. Perez, he secured this place during the stellar Abu Dhabi laps in which he showed what he is good at.
24th December 2021, 15:49
Thanks for your write-up above, very enjoyable read.
1. Max Verstappen
2. Lando Norris
3. Lewis Hamilton
4. Charles Leclerc
5. Pierre Gasly
6. Carlos Sainz
7. George Russell
8. Fernando Alonso
9. Valtteri Bottas
10. Esteban Ocon
11. Sebastian Vettel
12. Sergio Perez
13. Lance Stroll
14. Daniel Ricciardo
15. Antonio Giovinazzi
16. Mick Schumacher
17. Kimi Raikkonen
18. Yuki Tsunoda
19. Nicolas Latifi
20. Robert Kubica
21. Nikita Mazepin
27th December 2021, 10:31
What did Mick do to deserve this #16 over Kimi, Latifi and Mazepin?
24th December 2021, 11:17
Max is driver of the season for me. Except for Bahrain, there is not a single race where he could have finished higher than where he did.
While the last lap at Abu Dhabi was a farce, in a world without bad luck, he would have wrapped up his title before Abu Dhabi itself.
Think of it this way, even if I wear the hat of the most anti-Max fan ever, I still cannot deny that he should have ended with at least 22 points more than what he did. (+25 for Baku, +18 for Hungary, -18 for Saudi brake test disqualification, -3 for 5 second penalty at Brazil). In comparison, Hamilton’s points loss due to driving errors are at least 43. Monaco: +12, Baku: +18, Austria: +6, Hungary: +7. That is 43 points down to his driving alone. Note: I am counting Hungary as driving related as he should have done a better job of overtaking Alonso.
A shout out to Norris. I feel had he won at Russia, we would have seen a different Norris over the last third of the season as he would have gained even more confidence and become even better.
24th December 2021, 11:42
I have to disagree with the points analysis, I mean, verstappen should’ve won before abu dhabi if not for bad luck, yes, but I get completely different numbers: verstappen lost 26 points in baku, but hamilton would’ve never ran off were it not for the red flag, so he effectively lost 11 points through bad luck there; hungary 18 agree, -18 brake test in arabia is absurd, he was trying to give back the position, and he took more risk than hamilton: if hamilton had lost his front wing and verstappen got a puncture it’d have been a disaster for verstappen, and there was a great likelihood of it happening, there’s no way the brake test was purposeful.
-3 points for 5 sec penalty in brazil is absolutely ridiculous, if verstappen had known a penalty was looming (maybe given immediately, instead of after the race?) he’d have driven fast enough to STILL take 2nd, bottas was nowhere near pace wise.
Overall I’d say for the luck-swing between hamilton and verstappen we have 11 in hamilton’s favour in baku, 9 in hungary (verstappen 2nd, hamilton 1st), 18 in silverstone, let’s say 13 or so in imola, I’m sure he’d score some points without the red flag with 5 in russia for verstappen (both got lucky, verstappen more so), probably 15 in abu dhabi for verstapppen, so that’s 31 still in hamilton’s favour, plenty to win the title before the last race.
24th December 2021, 11:55
Like I said, I am wearing the hat of an absolute anti-Max fan, and even then, he gets 22 points more than what he got. If I be a bit more rational, Max would have even more points. Hence, him being the WDC and the best driver this season is absolutely justified.
24th December 2021, 11:49
Without Max’s tire blowout at Baku, there wouldn’t have been a red flag and thus no opportunity for Lewis to press the wrong button, though.
24th December 2021, 12:07
And without a Sprint Race, Hamilton would not have hit the rear tyre of Verstappen.
And something about my aunt …
27th December 2021, 10:35
The point is that he got it handed on a silver platter and he made a unforced error.
24th December 2021, 11:25
Gasly for me which by the way is pronounced Gally not Gas-ly. He has really stepped up again and despite Tsunodas final race he carried the team into 6th pretty much alone
Jim from US (@jimfromus)
24th December 2021, 16:06
Gasly for me too. He did the most with the least. I find it funny that people voted for the drivers that drive rockets as the best drivers even though they complain all season how certain drivers aren’t that good, it’s just that they have a rocket.
24th December 2021, 19:01
No, the AlphaTauri car was almost as fast as Ferrari and McLaren. Gasly lost many points due to incidents and bad strategy, even if he was unlucky to some extent. Alonso was the one who relentlessly maximised his points in the midfield during most of the season.
Those like Hamilton? Way more flattered by a very fast car than Verstappen and any other non-Mercedes driver.
25th December 2021, 22:41
“Gasly for me which by the way is pronounced Gally not Gas-ly.”
Incorrect, it is pronounced Gas-ly. The “s” is not silent in his name.
27th December 2021, 10:55
@broke1984 I’m pretty sure the French language commentators were saying ‘Gas-lee’ at the end of the 2020 Italian GP.
2nd January 2022, 10:58
According to the French people around me who watch f1 (I live in France) it is silent but perhaps I’m wrong. I will look up how Gasly says it. The rules with letter pronunciation are weird here@peter707 @wsrgo
Nulla Pax (@nullapax)
24th December 2021, 11:30
I have gone with Norris as to me he seems to have been improving and fighting all through the season.
There is in fact only one driver on the Grid now to whom I say “Please go find another hobby”.
31st December 2021, 16:20
Must be Kimi…
24th December 2021, 11:52
Has to be Verstappen. Outscored his teammate by a mile and made fewer mistakes, especially early in the season, compared to Hamilton. He made the most of the car he was given this year and handled the pressure of fighting for the title extremely well.
Jim from US (@jimfromus)
24th December 2021, 16:08
His teammate was sacrificed in qualifying and in races all season long and then he had his share of bad luck. Still want to know the real reason he was retired in final race when there was only 1 racing lap left in the race and he was on podium.
24th December 2021, 16:36
The theory is he was under fuelled. If so, imagine if he’d stopped on track while the field was still under the safety car, with the knock on effect of keeping the safety car out to the end.
24th December 2021, 18:51
Where’s the evidence form this “theory”, oh conspirational one?
24th December 2021, 23:35
No good conspiracy theory without a secret is it :)
24th December 2021, 12:29
Verstappen. The car was certainly stronger in the first half of the year than the second and he did as much as he could with it and drove better than I’ve seen him drive so far. Deserved champion. Also as a fan of Honda, I’m so happy to see them leave F1 with the driver’s title.
Was also impressed by Norris who did excellently for a while but Sochi seemed to burn him, Gasly carrying AlphaTauri mostly alone and Sainz doing far better at Ferrari than I thought he would. Special mention for Perez’s excellent defensive driving and Alonso’s ‘El Plan’.
Least impressed with Ricciardo who must be the only driver to win a race but still underperform for the whole year, Stroll who still can’t comprehensively beat a team-mate and Mazepin who probably could have done with another year in F2.
24th December 2021, 13:37
Verstappen raised his game so much this year. Early on I’d never have thought he could maintain that level over 20 races. Pity his boss had to be on the winning side and he couldn’t make cleaner, safer passes, but for me he beats a Hamilton campaign with a couple more errors than his usual sky-high standards. Norris improved mightily too – maybe if he’d finished the job in Sochi and not fallen back a bit along with the McLaren.
24th December 2021, 23:40
It’s always nice to see people explaining statistics in their favor :)? Like saying mazespin should win, because everyone took his greatness for granted and did not bothered to vote.
25th December 2021, 11:21
Sorry, meant for other person.
Strange forum sometimes.
24th December 2021, 13:40
Fastest Driver of the season: Max Verstappen
Overall Driver of the season: Lewis Hamilton
I’ve gone this way because I feel while Max is insanely talented and quick, he lacks some of the composure and “racing IQ” that Lewis has, or historically people like Alain Prost, Jim Clark and Niki Lauda had. Lewis knows when to back out to fight another day, and the lack of that very nearly cost Max the championship (and probably would have if not for what went on in Abu Dhabi). That, and the fact that later on in the season he appeared to be getting more and more unnerved and started crossing a few too many lines on driving standards for my liking.
Very honourable mentions:
Lando Norris – had a fantastic season; dropped off a little towards the end but the results don’t reflect the two punctures he received in the final 3 races
George Russell – getting that Williams some points at long last, and also deserves this mention simply for the Quali lap he put in at Spa
Pierre Gasly – very solid and dependable, especially in Quali, had a mixture of mistakes and misfortune in the races that did cost him a bit.
Merry Christmas to everyone at RaceFans!
28th December 2021, 16:46
Max has much higher racing IQ than Lewis. In fact the only driver on the todays grid who could match Max racing IQ is Alonso. Sad if you being an F1 fan not understand that.
24th December 2021, 14:34
Yes, I feel Max was the fastest overall and really should have cleaned house in the Red Bull.
24th December 2021, 14:47
Max. Based on the statistics. Podiums, laps in the lead. Pole positions. Wins.
24th December 2021, 16:28
Haven’t seen that criteria used for a few seasons.
25th December 2021, 12:48
I am a Max fan. It wouldn’t have bothered me if Ham had become WDC again he did a excellent job also. Just tried to keep emotions out this rating and tried to be a racebanen. Difficult 😁
25th December 2021, 12:49
24th December 2021, 15:00
I think Lewis did an amazing job fighting back and he definitely had the best overtakes and races of 2021. We all know his race craft is second to none but he made an exhibition of it this time. When you see this level of performance, it shakes you up especially if this is what you do for a living like the other F1 drivers. I said that about Hungary and Lewis was just warming up:-)
Lewis fought back and was on the back foot for almost the entire season driving against arguably a quicker car (Newey’s words) and I think we can also agree a “favorite” car. I can’t think of another driver that would have managed to equalize and destroy Max and Red Bull in the last race the way Lewis did.
It took the world to stop Lewis and they succeeded but in the process everyone looked like a fool in doing so.
A million people had to come out and say that Max is a deserving champion… Here’s my take, if you have to convince the world that he is a deserving champion, maybe you’re trying to convince yourself more than others. We all know greatness when we see it.
Kudos to Red Bull and to Max for bringing us a great championship! As for Max, he’s very fast but you can see that as Max was developing Jos realized early that Max lacked the ability to race the way the best did and compensated with divebomb overtakes. The Red Bull actually compliments Max’s driving because it’s near impossible to lose that car in a corner as it is nearly 1 second quicker over the Mercedes in sectors with corners. Kudos to Newey! The way that car corners is something else – it can overtake heading into the corner and is gone by the end of the corner. It really prevented Max from ending up in a few extra crashes.
24th December 2021, 18:25
@freelittlebirds I certainly agree that the RB was the quicker car for the first half of the season. But the upgrades Mercedes brought to Silverstone certainly closed that gap, so that by the end of the season I think the cars were very close to equal, or close enough that one car would be faster in Quali and another faster in the race, or some tracks would favour one car, some would favour the other etc. In my opinion, those unknowns were one of the great things about this season.
In terms of who had the better races, I think there are arguments to be made on both sides. Obviously, the overall best drive (or best weekend as a whole) was Lewis in Brazil, and he was very quick in Abu Dhabi as you mention as well. But then Max had very dominant drives in both Austria races (and led every lap in torrential conditions is Spa ;-) ), and both Lewis and Max delivered great “gain back time” drives in Spain and France respectively.
But I agree with your general perception. Max was the faster driver (or certainly the faster driver over 1 lap), but I still see Lewis as being a more complete driver. He may have made a couple of mistakes this year, but on the whole his “racing IQ” is incredible. Up there with people like Prost, Lauda and Clark.
Anyway, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I know we’ve disagreed on occasion this season, but it’s always been a good experience and a good debate. Enjoy the off-season (I think we all need a bit of a break) and as I say, enjoy the festivities.
24th December 2021, 18:51
Yes and people don’t realize that before Silverstone, Max should have built an even larger lead and he seemed very upset as Lewis was somehow sticking closer than he should and sometimes outqualifying Max when he shouldn’t have or outsmarting Max to win the race.
I think the Mercedes had trouble with other Merc-powered cars at times. The Red Bull has different characteristics as it’s so stable in different parts of the circuits and can make up ground there and gave them more options.
I think if McLaren wasn’t so strong, Lewis would have won the WDC. Also, Alonso did his best to help Ocon win a race at the expense of an 8th championship for Lewis. A lot of teams and people worked really hard to dethrone Lewis this year:-) Ultimately, I would say the entire paddock were deserving champions as they somehow collectively managed to beat Lewis and by the thinnest of margins! It took all their talent to make it happen but then again that’s how hard it is to beat the best.
Same to you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
24th December 2021, 23:42
You are fright seeing Silverstone as the defining moment in the season.
It was the moment Lewis lost it and took desperate measures to lead the race.
25th December 2021, 11:39
Erikje We’re talking about the upgrades Merc brought to Silverstone as a defining moment of the season, not the incident. From that point onwards, Merc had a much more competitive car than they’d had beforehand.
26th December 2021, 10:46
max just failed in silverstone with his aggressive approach
24th December 2021, 15:03
Even if Lewis won all the races in emphatic fashion, he still will not get voted driver of the year. There is a pattern by fans of voting against him to choose the underdog, so second place with about 26% of the votes is still a very good sign that he actually did the best performance driver skill wise. Yes, Max was quick but his, wheel to wheel skill is lacking compared to a Kimi or a Sergio and consistency took a nose dive at the end of the year.
25th December 2021, 21:34
@david-beau go check who won last year.
24th December 2021, 16:43
24th December 2021, 17:19
Surprised to see Max have double the votes of Hamilton, on a British site with a very pro-Lewis fanbase. I think that pretty conclusive.
24th December 2021, 17:33
I dont agree at all, voting is allways skewed in a favor of everyone else but Lewis.
Dont take my word, find any race where SLH has been outstanding and watch the poling resilts. its allways of somehow, and not to his benefit.
24th December 2021, 17:57
Lewis normally wins the year end vote.
25th December 2021, 14:59
Lewis won last year’s vote (for the 4th time in a row) with 51%. Max in 2nd with 20%
Max has a much higher percentage so far this year because of their than avid Lewis fans, most can see that Max drove extremely well this year and Lewis (considering his high standards) made a lot of mistakes.
25th December 2021, 16:46
@brum55 the people that vote, don’t always write.
24th December 2021, 17:42
Max is for me driver of the year. Simply because he preformed outstanding compared to every other driver. He is the deserved champion.
Jim from US (@jimfromus)
24th December 2021, 17:57
The more we analyze the season the more we see that Max wouldn’t have had the result if not for his wingman especially the last race. Perez towed him in qualifying and then was under-fueled during the race to keep Hamilton back.
24th December 2021, 18:38
@jimfromus You almost have to feel for Perez. He’ll always be remembered as a roadblock to the 8th Championship.
In the end, the FIA screwed things up but Perez’ sacrifice allowed Max to have the strategies he had and Bottas played no role in preventing Max from pitting and losing position. It’s a shame cause he gained so much respect last year with his victory and his promotion to Red Bull and that’s been flushed down the toilet.
It was a perfect storm of almost all of F1 coming together to take the championship away from Lewis – Max, Perez, Latifi, Mick Schumacher, Masi, stewards, Horner, Bottas, Todt.
Husseyn Razaq (@husseynrazaq)
24th December 2021, 19:08
I doubt Red Bull would run the risk of having their second car run out of fuel during the race. The potential for penalties or such a move backfiring would be too high in a title deciding race.
25th December 2021, 15:01
No chance they underfuelled him. They’d have just had him go into fuel saving mode for the whole race until Hamilton caught him if that was their plan. It’s not worth the risk of a huge penalty for only a lap or two worth of fuel over a race.
24th December 2021, 17:54
I eventually went for Sainz after pondering between him & Gasly.
25th December 2021, 16:50
@jerejj you’re so funny. One got beaten by his team mate as usual, and the other was pinned against one of the least impressive rookies in a while.
ferrox glideh (@ferrox-glideh)
26th December 2021, 20:27
Yet you say you also voted for Sainz 22 minutes before writing this comment. Are you just kidding around kiddo?
Husseyn Razaq (@husseynrazaq)
24th December 2021, 19:31
I’ll start off by saying I’m a lifelong Ferrari fan, so I don’t have a horse in the race between Max and Hamilton.
Verstappen and Hamilton were in a class of their own and while I think the two are matched for pace, Hamilton’s experience plus the superiority of the Mercedes later in the season made Lewis the favourite. Ultimately, Max gave the better performance over the season and if other results had favoured him then the championship would have been won much earlier.
24th December 2021, 19:55
Also I think it’s nice to see that even on a site where I frequently see hamilton bias by users (in majority ofc) many recognised verstappen drove better this season, judging by the poll.
Tommy C (@tommy-c)
24th December 2021, 20:41
I went with Gasly. He put in a few surprise performances and then kept putting them in until they weren’t a surprise anymore.
24th December 2021, 20:47
Has to be Phil Jones ;)
25th December 2021, 6:36
I am expecting Yuki to beat Gasly next year , if his F2 performances are repeated in F1 he certainly won’t get in a real Red Bull until Max retires.
25th December 2021, 16:28
Carlos Sainz, just because.
25th December 2021, 16:36
It can only be Max …with Gasly having an honourable mention.
What Max did to bring the fight to the mighty Mercedes machine and put together a championship under immense pressure is nothing short of spectacular. The likes of which we’ve not seen from Schumacher.
25th December 2021, 17:30
MAX VERSTAPPEN. The 1 above the rest.
David BR (@david-br)
25th December 2021, 17:53
I’d safely have voted Max up until Brazil. In isolation, the last four races were Hamilton at another level and, I think, better than Verstappen anywhere all season (feel free to disagree all Max fans). Personally, I think that these races showed Hamilton is simply a more outstanding driver – and that’s recognising Verstappen has everything to be an all-time great too, notwithstanding his different, far more aggressive approach. I realise that won’t be ashared or go down well with plenty of people here, but that’s just my considered view.
Even so, though, I’m not sure if that end to the season was enough to counterbalance the rest of the season. I admit I voted Hamilton, eventually, out of continuing indignation about the final race. Excluding that factor, I’d say even and vote Max simply because winning your first championship is a huge achievement. Congratulations to both.
25th December 2021, 20:11
Like last year championship winning driver has to be there. As well as Hamilton but in the end I gave my vote to Sainz.
25th December 2021, 20:53
Various posters mention that RB had the best car on avg in first half and Merc in the 2nd half from Silverstone onwards due to signifiant upgrade (and the Pirelli favour)
in a 22 race season do these posters realise there were only 9 races before Silverstone?
So “Merc had the best car for 2/3th of the season” is then closer to the truth. :-)
26th December 2021, 10:41
dont remember exactly, but italy was pretty even i think, and mexico favoured RB. so 10/21.
28th December 2021, 16:52
Nice point. I fact Mercedes was the fastest race car on most occasions before Silverstone as well.
Mercedes was the fastest car in Bahrain(yes, Lewis was faster, Max could not open a gap on the first sting, Lewis won a race with extremely suboptimal and slow strategy) Imola, Portimao, Barcelona, France. It is impossible to say anything about Monaco because Bottas’s race pace has never been a reliable reference point.
Red Bull had faster race car only in Baku and Austria – Mercedes struggled with excessive rear tyre deg on both occasions.
26th December 2021, 12:13
I know most will vote for Verstappen and Hamilton, but for me the driver who was best of all this season was Carlos Sainz. No one, me included and I am a fan of his, expected him to best Leclerc in the championship but he did. He very quietly went about his job and he did it very well indeed.
He has become such a good Grand Prix driver over the years, give him the car and he could put together a title challenge.
ferrox glideh (@ferrox-glideh)
26th December 2021, 15:48
Lando gets my vote. He faced quite a bit of adversity on and off track this year, and came through a better driver for it. Of all the drivers on the grid this year, I think that he represented the sport the best to the world with his fine attitude and commitment.
28th December 2021, 7:12
Everywhere you look people are moaning about political correctness and cancell culture.Lets be clear the Racism,Tribalism and Nativism is so clear to see by the responses above. Max dirty and obvious dangerous driving,is just glossed over like its trivial…The white media crucify Lewis for doing a 10th of what they are praising and glorifying Max for doing now.
The guy literally brake tested Lewis to take him out and his fans just act like it’s weaving to break a tow,that a disqualifying offense,they are more angry that Lewis dear to stand his ground in Silverstone.
The Racial discrimination Lewis faced this year in F1, is shocking and amazing yet just power for the course for black people.
Every time max does some dirty illegal move the cry for let them Race,when its Lewis RULES are Rules,when Max does some other dirty illegal move oh we don’t want to punish him so as to affect the closeness of the Championship…..when its Black guy lewis RULES are ruled,so In Brazil 3 races to golets lewis is punished for a minor infrigement which could potentially give Max the championship with 3 race to go……Rules are and Massi is not concerned about thrilling racing any more………I can feel the indignance from here,why is it always racism bla blah just remember white evangilicals and white people in general voted for Trump 8 to 1,voted against every family value and discency they claim to hold dear.
Oh by the way where is Jacky stewart to puntificate.John watson seems very opionated in the past about Lewis especialy 2011,you see how this works silience from the broader media—
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