Verstappen voted 2021 Driver of the Year by RaceFans readers

2021 F1 season review

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RaceFans readers have voted Max Verstappen as their top driver of the 2021 Formula 1 season.

The Red Bull driver, who scored his first world championship victory in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, took 55% of the vote, finishing ahead of runner-up Lewis Hamilton (24%) and McLaren’s Lando Norris (7%).

This is the first time Verstappen has topped our readers’ poll. Hamilton was voted top driver in each of the previous four years.

RaceFans’ annual Driver Rankings will appear in the new year.

RaceFans F1 Driver of the Year poll winners since 2010

2021: Max Verstappen
2020: Lewis Hamilton
2019: Lewis Hamilton
2018: Lewis Hamilton
2017: Lewis Hamilton
2016: Daniel Ricciardo
2015: Sebastian Vettel
2014: Daniel Ricciardo
2013: Sebastian Vettel
2012: Fernando Alonso
2011: Sebastian Vettel
2010: Lewis Hamilton

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RaceFans 2021 F1 Driver of the Weekend winners

Here is who you voted as Driver of the Weekend for all of this year’s races, plus who won Formula 1’s official poll for Driver of the Day:

RaceRaceFans readers’ Driver of the WeekendF1 Driver of the Race
2021 Bahrain Grand PrixLewis Hamilton (43.4%)Sergio Perez
2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand PrixLando Norris (70.4%)Lando Norris
2021 Portuguese Grand PrixLewis Hamilton (40.9%)Sergio Perez
2021 Spanish Grand PrixLewis Hamilton (60.5%)Lewis Hamilton
2021 Monaco Grand PrixSebastian Vettel (36.0%)Sebastian Vettel
2021 Azerbaijan Grand PrixSebastian Vettel (55.3%)Sebastian Vettel
2021 French Grand PrixMax Verstappen (60.0%)Max Verstappen
2021 Styrian Grand PrixMax Verstappen (41.8%)Charles Leclerc
2021 Austrian Grand PrixLando Norris (61.9%)Lando Norris
2021 British Grand PrixCharles Leclerc (53.9%)Charles Leclerc
2021 Hungarian Grand PrixFernando Alonso (43.1%)Fernando Alonso
2021 Belgian Grand PrixGeorge Russell (71.9%)Not awarded
2021 Dutch Grand PrixMax Verstappen (50.8%)Sergio Perez
2021 Italian Grand PrixDaniel Ricciardo (65.2%)Daniel Ricciardo
2021 Russian Grand PrixLando Norris (64.4%)Lando Norris
2021 Turkish Grand PrixValtteri Bottas (39.5%)Carlos Sainz Jnr
2021 United States Grand PrixMax Verstappen (63.9%)Max Verstappen
2021 Mexico City Grand PrixPierre Gasly (35.6%)Sergio Perez
2021 Sao Paulo Grand PrixLewis Hamilton (89.3%)Lewis Hamilton
2021 Qatar Grand PrixFernando Alonso (63.7%)Fernando Alonso
2021 Saudi Arabian Grand PrixLewis Hamilton (52.1%)Max Verstappen
2021 Abu Dhabi Grand PrixLewis Hamilton (37.8%)Kimi Raikkonen

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2021 F1 season review

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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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65 comments on “Verstappen voted 2021 Driver of the Year by RaceFans readers”

  1. An amazingly talented driver, MV stood out this year, his car control at the limit was astounding. For me, beating your teammate is an excellent pointer. In terms of respect for other drivers, maybe he’ll calm down now he has been given the title. We can hope.
    Several others also did well IMO. Sir Lewis seemed somewhat off his game, for once. Hopefully he’ll react as he always does and we’ll see an even better SLH.
    2022 should be good, new rules, new cars, if we can now have a consistently applied set of rules, and re-emphasize the ‘sporting’ bit over the ‘show’, could be a good year. May the best team+driver win!

  2. Out of interest, based purely on the driver of the weekend votes, who comes out on top across the season? Lewis won most of them but on those he didn’t win (and Max didn’t win) what did the percentages work out as.

    I feel like votes cast now for driver of the season after the time are going to just be weighted and forget the race by race impressiveness of drivers, hell people don’t remember what happened in many of the races this season they just know the end results, but the individual polls at the time just after the race were made when people had that race fresh in their mind.

  3. As I said on the original poll, while I feel Max was very slightly faster over the course of the season, I think Lewis was a more complete racer this year, and is still the benchmark in terms of racecraft. In my opinion, Lewis was usually saw the season as a bigger picture and picked hi battles better than Max, who generally approached every weekend and pretty much every opportunity as a do-or-die moment. And that approach appeared to have worked for Lewis, who was especially excellent during the season run-in, right up until the farce that played out in the final few laps.

    Other very strong drivers were Sainz, Norris (in particular the first half/two thirds of the season), and Russell for me. Most of the rest of the field generally had seasons consisting of highs and lows, particularly Gasly, Ocon, Vettel and Leclerc (again, all in my opinion).

    I think it’s time to put 2021 behind us now. 2022 brings in a new era, new regulations and new approaches. I hope it can be a little bit less controversial than this season; I’m not sure I could take another year like this. A happy new year to everyone at Racefans!

    1. @RandomMallard

      In my opinion, Lewis was usually saw the season as a bigger picture and picked hi battles better than Max, who generally approached every weekend and pretty much every opportunity as a do-or-die moment. And that approach appeared to have worked for Lewis

      Sorry, but that is just nonsense. Lewis made some huge mistakes that did or would have cost him major points without the huge luck he had. It was luck that kept him in the race. And his crash with Max at Silverstone was hardly conservative driving and it was extreme luck that he got maximum advantage from it.

      Lewis did drive very well and conservatively at the end of the season, although it was backed by a strong car advantage.

      I think that you suffer from recency bias, where you only remember late season Lewis.

      1. I considered Imola and Baku in particular very much in my original comment, and came to the conclusion that these mistakes, while important and very much out of character for Lewis, were not as damaging to my view on the season as Max’s mistakes in Silverstone*, Monza, Brazil and Saudi Arabia. Both drivers made mistakes, and I felt that Max’s in the second half of the season were more significant than Lewis’.

        *Silverstone is a prime example of what I’m on about. Both drivers made a mistake there. Max may have been entitled to the corner, and that is what the stewards ruled, but by turning in he lost at least 18 points. Had he backed out, like Lewis did in Brazil, he would have lived to fight another day and gain (probably) at least another 18 points, and have another chance to attack Lewis and take 25 points. Max might not have broken any rules, but his aggressive driving style cost him in Silverstone.

        1. I think this ‘live to fight another day’ narrative is one that doesn’t really come from a place that understands championship winning drivers and how they’re wired. Max knew he couldn’t give up the corner from a philosophical perspective. The kind of driver that gives up that corner, is the kind of driver who never makes it to F1. I think this is lot on a lot of commentators of F1.

          Number crunchers forget this is human competition. Max is never going to give Lewis ‘the corner’. That’s not how he is wired. The same way Lewis was never not going to send one in. Its a big Talledega Nights, but this is more about Max saying “I don’t care who you are, and I don’t really care about the points, I am not giving in”, than about points loss. That yields loyalty from the team. They know every time Max is in the car he will do whatever it takes. He’ll never back out. Neither Lewis or Max made an error there, they both did the right thing.

          Schumacher, Senna were like this too.

          1. I think this ‘live to fight another day’ narrative is one that doesn’t really come from a place that understands championship winning drivers and how they’re wired.

            Consider this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO40aRY7GJ4
            To finish first, first you have to finish – Ron Denis
            Denis won multiple F1 world championships with drivers like Lauda, Prost, Senna, Hakkinen, Hamilton.
            A quick Duckduckgo search also brings quotes from others motorsport winners.
            The saying stays because there is some truth in it.

          2. Well timed red flag/safety cars straight after huge Hamilton errors gained him nearly 50 points. A well timed safety car at one race gained Max 7 points but Merc could have covered that. Take those out Max was over 40 points up so definite best driver in 2021. I feel Hamilton had fastest car by quite a margin on balance just not Mercs normal huge advantage. Just an individual’s opinion.

          3. @x303

            Well Max did for the most part, either 1st or 2nd.

            Point is there are scenarios where two drivers have to make a point. It goes beyond spreadsheet thinking that seems to infest a broad swath of motorsport opinion. People need to realise that drivers who concede corners like some suggest Max should have at Silverstone, don’t get to F1… There’s a ruthless streak in the very best and its evident in Schumacher, Senna, Hamilton, and Max.

          4. Alan Dove
            What’s the point of being fastest if you don’t finish the race?
            You can make all the points you want, if you crash when the opposition score points, you’ll lose the championship. You never know how a crash will end – Verstappen learnt it at Silverstone.
            By the way, it’s better to see drivers overtaking each others during multiple laps – hence racing – rather than crashing on lap one.

            Several world champions had that cautious mindset. On the top of my head: Prost, Lauda, Button, Hamilton.

          5. Max’s OTT aggressive overtakes, were rightly toned down the last three races.

            The narrative that you seem to imply is that he’s the true racer, similar to Senna etc and Hamilton has suddenly turned into Jenson Button, i.e. merely a race manager, is laughable.

            Hamilton fought fire with fire eventually and Max is one lucky boy (given the ending) that his rash ‘no-one is allowed to overtake me’ attitude at Silverstone, didn’t prove fatal for his WDC.

            He deserved the title, but it’s interesting that he says he won’t change. If Ferrari and say McLaren are competitive then that’s great news for Hamilton, because the likes of Riccardo or LeClerc won’t stand for Max’s bully boy driving.

          6. @x303

            Lewis Hamilton never had a cautious mindset early in his career, far from it. He threw it up the inside of Kimi at Monza like a man possessed. People have very very short memories. A driver who concedes at Stowe, is the driver who never got to F1. Do you think Hamilton caught the eye of Hines when he was young being cautious? No. Lewis was one of the most aggressive young drivers I saw.

            Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. it’s like boxing. Tyson could’ve jabbed his way to the win over Wilder, sure, but he went for the knockout. It’s not about the titles, it’s just about being something greater. It about exerting absolutely dominance over your opposition regardless of the personal risk.

            I get some people won’t understand this, but if you observe the very very best… the are just wired differently.

        2. I do get an itch from racefans expecting ‘Max could have backed out in Silverstone’….
          Max was ahead in Silverstone, Lewis went in to hard and completely missed the apex…. drivers do have to trust each other racing at such speeds… It was Lewis who made an immense aggressive move on Verstappen to late…like he did with Albon in Brasil and Austria. Lewis got out in one peace was no more than just pure luck.

          How come people keep blaming one driver when things get close on track…in each and every close encounter Max had with Lewis there where two drivers going to extremes…not just one. Examples are Imola and Spain, while Max put his car ahead of Lewis in the apex, Lewis simply did not yield… than things will get very tight…. Lewis fans blamed Max for being overly aggressive…however in a span of just 29 race it was Lewis who took out a RBR driver simply by not willing to yield when he was beaten to a corner…. in all three situations a penalty followed.

          As for Lewis having better racecraft…. it takes what it takes and Max went all out and succeded in the end.
          Lewis lost a heap of points that where up for grabs… Imola, Baku, Monaco, Austria 2, Silverstone 1, Hungary, Monza 1, Belgium, Turkey

          1. Hamilton didn’t “completely miss the apex”. That is just you version of it. If he did, why did Max get some blame for the collision.

            How come that virtually every other driver asked about it, thought it was 50/50, i.e. no-one thought Max was innocent.

            It’s quite simply reverse the situation and Hamilton, like Brazil is backing off. Yes. we’d have had 10 minutes of him moaning about Max on the radio – but he wouldn’t be losing potentially 33 points to his rival.

            As a Hamilton fan, I hope he continues his aggressive ways – we saw at Yas that the stewards are no longer going to allow his lunges down the inside, which forces the lead car to take evasive action (and why should they when virtually no other driver during the last 10 years have been allowed)

          2. @banbrorace
            All our opinions on it will always be our versions :-)

            I like these animations. To me it makes it clear and should end any ‘Verstappen should have backed out’ narrative. But it won’t on this site.. fine. Hamilton did miss the apex completely. Verstappen pinned Hamilton to the inside wall after Woodcote so he ruined Hamilton’s corner entry to Copse, very smart. At that point Hamilton had the choice of either lifting to make the apex or not lift and go wide into Verstappen. He chose the latter while Verstappen left room on the inside only for him to make the apex. In fact, his trajectory left Hamilton even more space than Leclerc. There is no room (pun intended) for a ‘he steered into me’, he steered into the corner. We can have a discussion on interpretation of facts. But not the fact itself and it is a fact he missed it completely.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGgpdb2WhRE

            In the end most of these discussions get ruined by blind fans refusing ‘their driver’ actually made a sub-optimal or heavens forbid a wrong decision… So I’ll also add this since nuance doesn’t exist on the internet:
            On the other hand, I don’t see how Verstappen should not be awarded a penalty for forcing Hamilton off the track in Brazil. Just don’t brake and miss a corner should not be acceptable.

            That should confuse a few people

  4. Matija Majdanac
    31st December 2021, 16:55

    Entire world see that Max is in league of his own, his qualy laps are racing masterpieces, I enjoyed watching him all season long, never give up attitude, never impressed by anything or anyone. Staredown in Abu Dhabi before the race showed everything you should know about him. So happy that he is so young and that we will be watching him at least for a decade more. Max Verstappen you are the world champion!

    1. I don’t, so you’re wrong.

  5. Both drivers had incredible moments this year, and while I felt that Hamilton made too many uncharacteristic mistakes, I’m sure he’ll come back even stronger next year.

    Though surely 89.3% is the biggest percentage of Driver of the Weekend votes in Racefans/F1F history?

    1. I’m not sure but it’s indeed pretty high, should check ricciardo in monaco 2018, I remember that being a slam dunk too, but maybe not that high.

  6. Racefans DotW summary:
    Hamilton x6
    Verstappen x4
    Norris x3
    Vettel x2
    Alonso x2
    Leclerc x1
    Russell x1
    Ricardo x1
    Bottas x1
    Gasly x1

  7. Total number of Race Fans Driver of the Weekend wins:
    Hamilton 6
    Verstappen 4
    Norris 3
    Vettel 2
    Alonso 2
    Leclerc 1
    Russell 1
    Ricciardo 1
    Bottas 1
    Gasly 1

  8. Deserved position. Can not wait on Keith’s article about the World champion.
    If you look at the enormous international fanbase and the influence he alone had on the F1 viewing you can only conclude it was exactly what f1 needed after years of pure boredom.
    Let 2022 come fast..

    1. btw a very interesting theory about lewis unfollowing Mercedes is found here: https://youtu.be/vHoGf9FYWE4

      1. @erikje

        It’s a bit ridiculous to hang a theory on him unfollowing his team when he unfollowed everyone and his dog, and that is not figurative, since he actually unfollowed his dog.

        The more logical explanation is that he didn’t want to hear from anyone.

        1. nevertheless the theory is interesting.. the math in it is correct

          1. It’s possible. But I also think Hamilton is doing the smart thing, keeping quiet and making his mind up in silence – though I’d be surprised if he left it late to advise Mercedes he wasn’t continuing.

            Would pitting have saved Hamilton the race and championship? Unlikely unless he was in P2 for the final lap and then we’d have seen some ‘spectacular’ defending from Verstappen. But would they have actually raced We’d have a reversal in the final laps under the SC with Red Bull appealing to let the race finish ‘properly’ under the SC regulations, Mercedes appealing for the race to restart. So, would that have happened with the respective ‘radio lobbying’ roles switched? Want a simple answer? No. They’d have finished the race under the SC and Max would have been champion anyhow. Partly due to the different pressure exerted, partly as it suited FIA and Liberty to have Max as champion, so why intervene in the way they did when Hamilton was at the front?

          2. Ahah, agree with the spectacular defending from verstappen, he’d have tried everything and it’s not completely obvious hamilton would’ve passed, so would’ve been a risk from merc either way.

    2. Don’t hold you breath. This isn’t F1.com, it’s still F1fanatic! The editors reserve the right to do as they please, which they exercise constantly. As they should. As I appreciate.
      I have to think that you must love it here too erikje, otherwise why would you be such a faithful participant here?

      1. Well I like the clowns in the circus too!

  9. I’ve no real issue with the result. However, it’s interesting to note that Hamilton actually outscored Verstappen 6 to 4 in DoTW votes, Hamilton got by the far the most resounding DoTW win (São Paulo) and he clearly bookended the season with an excellent start to the season and an immaculate final four races with zero DoTW wins between. That suggests Verstappen was the consistent driver over the season, Hamilton the more outstanding. Which is essentially how I saw it. Max never drove as badly as Lewis did at Monaco, say, and had less mistakes, but I seriously don’t remember any extreme heights comparable to Lewis at Interlagos, or such clear-sighted perfection as Lewis’s end of season form.

    1. Hamilton actually outscored Verstappen 6 to 4 in DoTW votes,

      and you see that as something special on a Hamilton fan site?

      1. Genuine question erikje. Are you based in the UK? Hamilton is genuinely one of the most disliked sports people in the UK. Just because it’s a UK site doesn’t mean the whole uk is supporting him… unlike a certain “orange army” who vote a driver of the race when he should have been disqualified

        1. Hamilton is genuinely one of the most disliked sports people in the UK

          but not here

          1. It’s strange because looking at the dotd votes I can see hamilton bias, but then with the driver of the year votes it’s a more fair %, so I don’t understand why a vote is biased and the other isn’t.

      2. erikje you truly are the most consistent downer on my otherwise enjoyable visits to this forum.

        1. @cairnsfella I’m with you here. It’s so boring to hear about Hamilton bias on every article. It’s imagined, only due to their own biases.

          With regards the article. Max was the worthy winner for me. Hands down. The consistent gold and silver finishes and unrelenting push in every session, despite the pressure of the championship, did it for me.

          Less mistakes, and they came from himself pushing the limits. Other comments here have condemned that with “fight another day” comments. I completely disagree. Max needed to show Lewis he wasn’t flustered, just as Lewis had to show Fernando all those years ago.

          Another comment here I disagree with is that he had less highs. I think, especially considering that immense pressure, he pulled out some stellar drives.

        2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          1st January 2022, 11:59

          A few people have suggested to not give him/her/it/they/them oxygen.

          1. Probably the same hamfans that attacked latifi.

          2. @erikje I think you’re better than that. I don’t mind your interventions, though I don’t take them so seriously because you seldom (ever?) post something longer – it’s easy to respond with one liners, not so easy to try to make a sustained argument. But whatever. However, I don’t think you should respond to criticism with that kind of comment, you’ve no evidence for that kind of slur and it demeans the conversation here in which you quite willingly (and apparently happily) participate. How about a slightly different, more nuanced approach in 2022?

          3. (@david-br)
            Interesting you seem to ignore the appalling remark and responded to me.
            Very strange.
            One liners as response to nonsense statement and arguments for real discussion.
            If you put aside your obvious bias you will find them.

    2. +1 Max rarely out performs the car. The RedBull was the best car this season as stated by the guy who designed it before anyone moans at me.

      1. Would be nice with some proof cause I listened to newey after the race and didn’t hear anything like that.

        1. There are a number of articles out there with the evidence you seek. I cant be bothered to search them out for you but if you want to believe otherwise that’s your prerogative.

      2. I think you are wrong there. Watch the season review and you will see how strong the Merc was even at the beginning of the season. Max was outstanding this year, he just finally got a car which could challenge for the title.

      3. I double checked it and nobody ‘outperformed their car’, nor did any driver ‘give more than 100%’.

        1. 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  10. I think a fair result. Hamilton was a bit too patchy, particularly during the first half of the season (seems likely long-covid took a few % off his performances for a white) and Max was the most consistent through the year. Hamilton had a tremendous final few races, and possibly had the “higher highs”, but also the “lower lows”.

    If RB produce a good car under the new regulations, and Max slightly fine-tunes his racecraft (still aggressive, but staying within the limits), he will be extremely hard to beat.

  11. I don’t see anything unusual for a different driver to have more driver of the weekend “wins” even if the exact same people voted for the driver of the year. The reason being, there is no indication of how many votes each received for a weekend. I mean first place and second place could just as easily been 100 votes to 50 votes or 100 to 99 votes.

  12. Sure WDC and all. How about this…? … Driver of the year: Lando Norris.

    1. Sportsman of the year : Lando Norris

    2. Uh no. Russia proved he can’t handle the pressure. I hope he learned from it and in the future he will be best driver of the year and/or world champion.

  13. Just shows that Max is just the more popular driver at the moment. To me Lewis is still the best driver in the world. He did not perform at his best in the middle of the season, but he more than made up for it at the end with some exceptional performances. I also think the way Max drove the final races was appalling. I understand he was going for his first championship and was quite desperate, but he crossed the line far too many times in regards to what is considered fair racing. Great driver for sure, but needs to hone in that race craft. I mean it sucks when you can’t even pass Mick Schumacher without banging wheels. If the field bunches up next year he will be exposed. No doubt in my mind.

    1. Noframingplease (@)
      5th January 2022, 16:27

      Agree that little Maxi may race a bit less aggressive. But than giving the example with Schumacher is a bit uninformed. On that race max his car was heavily damaged. So I think you didn’t see that race and just maybe the interview with nick (in which he was saying that was the highlight of his year). So…. Not so Quick around Nick,… has some reasons

  14. Well deserved champion with the 2nd best car after Mercedes setup the overclocked engine.

    I cannot remind any other driver driving at this level at their 24.

    Hopefully next year we will have a Ferrari or Alpine there in the middle.

  15. RebelAngelFloyd (@)
    1st January 2022, 8:56

    What is it with this guy, this Max?

    He became WDC in 2021.

    Autosport named him best driver.

    The F1 -drivers choose him as best driver.

    The F1-bosses choose him as best driver.

    And he was voted driver of the year on this site.
    An extra accomplishment considering he is not British and his name is not Lewis.
    😉

    1. Autosport put Hamilton #1, which was obvious after they wrote that cringe inducing ‘letter’ to Max prior to the race.

      1. Interesting because they scored max higher during the season points but changed opinion after the Lewis loss.
        Sympathy vote there…. Again .

    2. Perhaps @rebelangelfloyd, we can now stop suggesting that the site is biased.

      Says a British guy, who voted for Max.

      1. That whole bias thing is based on nothing as you rightly put it @gongtong.
        People were tired of seeing Hamilton wins, just like they were tired of seeing Vettel and before him Schumacher wins. It made any compliment to said drivers during their domination suspicious. Maybe we’ll see the same towards Verstappen in a few years time.

      2. Every site on the internet seems to have a few people that post continually with obvious bias driven by what seems to be perceived personal dislikes rather than balanced constructive views.
        They ruin it for everyone else. Personally would like to see some limit on posts in some way.
        Less is definitely more in most cases.

  16. @x303 yeah I think you’re right. There’s also the issue that journalists, when writing objectively about very successful sportspeople, are always going to sound like they’re overly supportive of someone who dominates to the degree that F1 often sees.

    Even in years where the champ was dominant though, others shine. I believe, during the last decade of Mercedes/RB dominance I’ve agreed with (or at least not passionately refuted) this writer’s opinion that Ricciardo and Alonso were the cream of the crop. Neither of whom are British. From past experience, I’m expecting Keith to give Max the nod this year as well. But I await the rankings with my usual excitement.

  17. I am not a fan of LH or MV but I did think that the Mercedes was overall a better car. So kudos to MV to drag that beast to wins. In my opinion that really shows his huge talent.

  18. Wow, Lewis was driver of the year in 2010… Can someone remind me what for?

    1. Driving a car!

      1. @erikje

        You need to be more specific, man. There were another 26 drivers who did the same thing, but didn’t get the “honor”.

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