Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Yas Marina, 2021

2021 F1 driver rankings #7: Pierre Gasly

2021 F1 driver rankings

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There was no repeat of Pierre Gasly’s stunning 2020 Italian Grand Prix win last year. However he amassed points at much the same rate as the previous season, thanks chiefly to his consistently excellent qualifying performances.

Pierre Gasly

Beat team mate in qualifying19/20
Beat team mate in race13/16
Races finished19/22
Laps spent ahead of team mate779/964
Qualifying margin-0.53s

Gasly’s average position in qualifying sessions was better than either Carlos Sainz Jnr or Daniel Ricciardo managed in their quicker cars. His AlphaTauri was usually found on the third row, with occasional forays onto the second. In Qatar he took his first front-row start but there was an element of fortune about: Two other drivers collected penalties for failing to slow for yellow flags which Gasly had triggered by damaging his front wing on his final lap.

Indeed, once penalties were taken into account, Gasly had the fourth-best starting position of any driver on average over the whole of 2021. Does that make his resulting ninth place in the drivers championship something of a disappointment?

For the most part, no, as an AlphaTauri was always going to struggle to out-score the McLarens and Ferraris, not to mention a Red Bull, over the course of the year. And Gasly both put in several excellent drives and can point to days when he deserved a greater reward.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Baku City Circuit, 2021
Superb Baku drive put Gasly on the podium
Gasly’s season really started to come good on the early street races. He pulled off a great surge in pace to prevent Lewis Hamilton jumping ahead of him in Monaco (though narrowly failed to contain Sebastian Vettel as well). In Azerbaijan Gasly superbly managed an engine problem as he repelled Charles Leclerc for third place.

Sixth on the grid for the next three races, Gasly added more points except in the Styrian Grand Prix, where he was taken out by Leclerc at the start. Luck deserted him at Silverstone too, where he worked his way into the points places before collecting a puncture.

By mid-season Gasly was in great shape. In Hungary he delivered fifth place and might have done even better had he not been badly delayed by the multi-car collision at the first corner. After sixth in the non-race at Spa, Gasly produced a top-drawer performance at Zandvoort, starting and finishing fourth on a day when Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari all got both of their cars home.

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A frustrating run of races followed. Gasly qualified well at the scene of his 2020 win but picked up front wing damage at the start of the sprint qualifying race, crashed heavily, and retired early in the grand prix with technical trouble. He was frustrated by his team’s qualifying tactics in Sochi, missing the cut for Q3 as they decided against fitting a fresh set of intermediates, and left point-less after reacting to the rainfall too late in the race.

More car trouble put him out at the Circuit of the Americas, while two weeks earlier in Turkey he collected a questionable penalty at the start for a collision with Fernando Alonso. Nonetheless he recovered to sixth place. He improved on that in Mexico with a superb drive to fourth place, helped by his team mate giving him a tow in qualifying.

Over the final five races it was only in Qatar, scene of his front-row start, that Gasly failed to score. The AT02 simply lacked pace in the race and he plunged down the order to 11th. But he was quick in Jeddah – just two-thousandths slower than Sergio Perez in qualifying – and led the Ferraris home for sixth. He was fifth in the finale but came in behind his team mate, who also out-qualified him.

This was unheard of in a campaign where Gasly almost invariably had the beating of the inexperienced Yuki Tsunoda. As was widely noted, the 110 points Gasly scored in his AlphaTauri AT-02 were more than enough to secure sixth place in the championship for the team – one place higher than they finished last year – without any contributions from his team mate. However it was also true that they might have beaten Alpine to fifth place were it not for a few missed opportunities on Gasly’s side.

These were mostly clustered around the opening races. He failed to score from fifth in the grid in Bahrain after colliding with Daniel Ricciardo at the early restart. Fifth on the grid at Imola yielded sixth in the race but more had clearly been possible on a day when he had to make an extra pit stop after choosing wets instead of intermediates at the start. He took a point in Portugal by passing a tyre-troubled Sainz but compromised his race in Spain by lining up in his grid box incorrectly and collecting a penalty.

However these were minor errors in an otherwise consistently impressive campaign in which Gasly put the dark days of his mid-2019 ejection from Red Bull further behind him, and continued to build a case for a return to a top team.

What’s your verdict on Pierre Gasly’s 2021 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments. Add your views on the other drivers in the comments.

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

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51 comments on “2021 F1 driver rankings #7: Pierre Gasly”

  1. Putting Gasly behind Alonso is the biggest BS in this year’s ranking.

    1. I think Alonso had a better season than Gasly. The AT was clearly a better car than the Alpine. I believe that Alonso would perform better with the AT than Gasly. I ignore the first 4 races for Alonso after returning.

      1. I’m not ignoring any races for any driver, since every single race counts. And yes, AT was a clearly better car – that’s why Gasly was fighting with McLarens and Ferraris for most of the time. They lost in constructors championship to Alpine only because of Tsunoda, who earned his 19th spot.

        Gasly was on Norris level this year, I’m not sure whether he wasn’t trailing only Verstappen and Hamilton.

        1. Fair point. But I wouldn’t go as far as calling it “the biggest BS in this year’s ranking.” Gasly had a lot of highlights on Saturday, but not so many on Sunday. A lot of that is a product of his stellar qualifying performances, but there were any heroics on Sunday. Gasly had a very fast car, often faster than Mclaren and Ferrari. He often mover backwards on Sunday though. I think I saw a stat about how he was the driver that on average lost more positions on Sunday. But again, one could also argue that he was ahead of where he should have been because of his stellar quali performance.

          Alonso on the other hand… he did have 4 very subpar races. But what he delivered after that was vintage Alonso. Always moving forward on Sunday. Almost always perfectly executing the right strategy. Could have had at least one more podium without some serious bad luck; and of course… only Max and Lewis provided us with more heroic highlights this year. He probably had the most exciting on-track battles with Russell, Hamilton, Sainz, Kimi, and I’m sure I’m missing others.

          So, I don’t think it’s bs. I do think these rankings do have a strong bias towards the last few races of the season.

      2. Alonso has not been that far ahead of Ocon this year. We all expected more from him. Alonso attracted a lot of attention, but I believe this year, Gasly has performed better than Alonso.

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          20th January 2022, 21:57

          Alonso is 40 years old. I was not expecting more from him. What he is doing is incredible for a 40-year old, tough.

          1. It’s not F1 drivers ranked for their age, or F1 drivers ranked by whatever else is going on in their life. It’s F1 drivers ranked full stop. Putting Alonso that far ahead of Ocon is unfair.

          2. Exactly! It’s like some of these commentators don’t know what we’re ranking here: driver’s performance on track over the full season based on the car/luck they were given. Bringing in completely irrelevant attributes is in itself irrelevant here.

    2. I was expecting Gasly to fight for a position with Leclerc and Sainz (4-6) rather than Alonso.
      The latter has too many (up and) downs, and sits closer (just ahead) Ocon and Russell IMO.

    3. Agree!

    4. It’s a subjective ranking, cry harder.

    5. totally agree

      I think Alonso will continue to appear in the top 5 of these rankings even after he retires

    6. I’m a huge Alonso fan.. and even I would say he wasn’t better than Gasly this season.

      Gasly was as good as any midfield driver this season. He was consistent and fast throughout the year, and most of the results that didn’t go his way were either poor calls made by the team, or just pure bad luck. For him to score more than a 100 points in a car that wasn’t much better than the Alpine all season is quite commendable.

      I feel Alonso has gotten a lot of brownie points in these rankings because they’re taking his age and his comeback after 2 years out in to context. No doubt that Alonso’s comeback was impressive. Far more impressive than Schumacher’s comeback at the same age, but Alonso did struggle for the first 6 to 7 races and did lack pace at the odd race here and there. Over the course of the season, I don’t see how Alonso’s performances could match up to the consistent results of Gasly.

      If I had to rank the midfielders in the top 10.. I would put Gasly much higher –
      #9 Ocon
      #8 Alonso
      #7 Russell
      #6 Sainz
      #5 Gasly
      #4 Leclerc
      #3 Norris

  2. While i would have Gasly higher-up in my personal ranks, i think him being placed as the seventh best driver is acceptable. Unfortunately he wasn’t challenged by Tsunoda (bar Abu Dhabi) so we can’t fully judge him on his 2021 campaign. His 2022 will be really important as he’ll have to take important decisions for his future

    To move on from Gasly,i think that having Alonso inside the top 6 is quite generous to him….

  3. Mmm, I expected him one or two places higher up the ladder.
    A lot of bad luck hampered his season and without it he did great.
    Better then Sainz and leclerc driving in a faster and more stable car.

    1. I rarely agree with you but I do here

    2. Gasly better than Leclerc ? Even Gasly would disagree with you on that one.

      1. This season? Absolutely

      2. This season compairing both cars i would put Gasly above Charles (not in Skill but this year performance)

        I would put this order:


        1. I’d say Sainz 3rd and Norris 4th. There’s something with Norris that has happened every season. His performances languishes towards the end …

          1. I do think Charles was the overall better Ferrari driver in the 2021 season.

        2. I agree with Ankita, I subscribe to your list except for Norris being on top of Sainz. Sainz was able to beat Norris and Gasly with a car that more or less is at the same level than the ML and AT, but with the added difficulty of being the first year for him in a new car and a new team.

        3. Perez ahead of bottas… Leclerc ahead of sainz…

  4. All the points in the article are fine except saying his minor mistakes potentially caused alpha tauri 5th in the championship, that’s all all Tsunoda. Alonso had a solid season but no way should he outscore Gasly and frankly Gasly was easily on the same level as Norris who I expect to be 3rd on this list. Should be Alonso 7th, top 6 Hamilton, Verstappen, Gasly, Norris, Sainz, Leclerc

    1. I agree with the ranking but Gasly should be 8th and Russell 9th. With Alonso 6th and Ocon 7th. Ocon and Alonso should follow each other period. They were that close. Gasly and Russell are overhyped because they went up against two of the worst drivers on the grid.

  5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    20th January 2022, 13:39

    The rankings for 5 drivers namely Russell, Alonso, Gasly, Sainz, Leclerc this season were always going to be really, really tough as you can make arguments in favor of each. I think Alonso was a bit of a disappointment for some because we have ridiculous expectations when it comes to a driver of his caliber but at the same time he did give us a taste of the Alonso we all knew and hoped to see and he’d also been away from the sport.

    What is clear is that Ricciardo didn’t belong in that category, Ocon missed out by a small margin, Tsunoda clearly could have done better, and Bottas also failed to join that group.

    It’s also clear that Norris has done enough to distance himself from the crowd this season.

  6. though narrowly failed to contain Sebastian Vettel as well

    You mean Stroll failed to negotiate the chicane?

    1. Vettel overcut both Hamilton and Gasly in Monaco, but it was tight between Gasly and him on pit exit, they were side by side all the way through Beau Rivage

  7. I forgot Gasly existed. Big qualifying results didn’t often come to fruition. Having Tsunoda as a teammate makes it hard to judge. Also I don’t know if we can judge the AT to be slower than Ferrari and McLaren.

  8. Pierre had a quality season, as the Alpha Tauri was surely not as fast as the Ferraris or McLarens. Though it still leaves a concern as to where he goes next. If 2022 is another great season for him, Red Bull may give him another go, but otherwise I can still see him and Tsunoda being booted out of AT to make way for Lawson/Vips/Daruvula/Hauger.

    1. Can’t see Daruvala ever getting promoted, comprehensively outperformed by Tsunoda in F2 and made no progress in his second season. I’m frankly still surprised he’s in the Red Bull junior program. Vips and Lawson might get promoted but they need to at least fight for the F2 championship in their second season, both had good races, but their performance were not as good relative to what Tsunoda did in his first season. Hauger might be able to leap frog them in the pecking order but in the end who is in that Alpha Tauri seat is going to be dependent on a combination of whether Gasly moves on from Red Bull, and whether Tsunoda can step up his game in his second season.

  9. As long as Hamilton and Max are on the first two spots (regardless of order), as long as Carlos is ahead of Charles and as long as Dani is not in the top 10 (check) I’m ok with the order.

    1. I think far too many are influenced by points regarding Sainz and Leclerc. I think it is obvious that Leclerc has done that bit better. I suppose some may factor in that Sainz is new to the team, but that isn’t a factor in where they should rank.

      Some of Sainz’s poor performances were hidden as he got very lucky on two occasions. In Imola when he drove off twice and nearly crashed, he slipped down the order and his team actually told him to calm down due to his manner of driving. The chaos caused by Russell and then Hamilton going off resulted in Sainz climbing back up and looking to be matched to leclerc when in reality that wasn’t the case at all.

      Then in Baku, he locked up and totally ruined his strategy, and in a similar way, got saved by the safety car yet again as well as verstappen and stroll retiring and hamilton slipping back behind everyone.

      Some of the time this season, Sainz has looked quicker than Leclerc, but this has only been sometimes. Three have barely been 2 occasions where Sainz has looked significant by quicker. Usually if one or other is faster, it has more often been leclerc, and there have been quite a few occasions where this margin was pretty large. Spain being one example.

      I think overall they have been close, but Sainz being ahead in the standings doesn’t mean he’s been the better driver this season. I’d say Leclerc clearly was that bit better, and what it is that Sainz more recently being the better driver and got ahead in the standings that had resulted in many thinking he’s been better.

      1. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no doubt in my mind who’s the better driver. I just expected more from Charles and to me this was his most unimpressive season in F1 so far.

        1. @jjlehto

          I agree with that regarding leclerc. I do think this has been his weakest season. And this is one reason why I think Sainz has been slightly over rated by many. He’s still done good given he is new to the team, but Leclerc has made as many or more mistakes this season than any of his previous, and Sainz’s mistakes this year have also increased since he was at McLaren. I just think that basing things on the whole season (and not factoring in that sainz is new to the team), leclrec has had the edge. I expect Leclerc will be rated ahead myself.

          1. Leclerc himself told that he had to improve this year because of Sainz. So I am afraid that the excuse of” Nah!, this has been just a bad year,” doesn’t fit with the reality. Or, did he improve himself to be worse? It is nonsensical.

      2. As always your comments regarding how bad is Sainz where expected! Is incredible the amount of
        comments and time you dedicate to downgrade Sainz in the last 5 or 6 years. Well done!!

        1. Even in PG articule you spend your time looking for the bad moments of Sainz! why you do not talk about the fantastic season he did? It looks like something personal!!

          1. Even you shouldn’t deny that he was a lot better at Mclaren in 2019, and I could rate him no lower than 3rd. What I’m saying is that to me leclerc obviously was that bit better. Sainz did not have a bad season, but lots of his errors occurred in races where he had good luck that made his result look better than it should have done.

            If you think me ranking sainz 3rd shows i disrespect him, or under rate him overall, i don’t think you are correct. He’s done well, and better than pretty much all other drivers that have changed teams this year, but I was referring to him against leclerc, which I still think too many have focussed to much on the 2nd half of the season. If it was based on the 2nd half, i myself would rate Sainz over leclerc myself.

          2. I was very impressed by Carlos Sainz this year, and he definitely fared best of the drivers in new teams, but over the whole season he was definitely not quite on Charles Leclerc’s level, even if the points standings tell a different story. I may write my customary 1000-word essay comparing them in the Sainz or Leclerc article (whichever comes first!) but Leclerc rates quite a bit higher. I would rate Leclerc fourth, Gasly fifth, Alonso sixth and Sainz seventh for this season, but this is not factoring in Sainz’s new team at all. Lando Norris I think is a clear third and actually closer to Hamilton in second than the chasing pack from fourth back.

            I think the strong performances of Sainz and Norris this year compared to their respective teammates shows that perhaps we all underrated them at McLaren, when they were in the same team. Sainz was close to Verstappen, who is now the best on the grid, totally dominated Kvyat who was fairly good on his return, and was close to Leclerc who comprehensively beat Vettel. 2018 against Hulkenberg is the anomaly. Then he looked quick but nothing special against rookie Lando Norris, until Norris is partnered with proven race winner Ricciardo and totally dominates him. I think both were a lot better than we thought when they were at McLaren.

      3. I have to disagree with that. Leclerc has lost an average of 0.1 positions from grid to finish, while Sainz has gained an average of 1.4 positions from grid to finish. Carlos had also a fair share of bad luck, suffering all the terrible pit stops that made him lose a lot of points and made him go behind his teammate on more than 2 occasions. And I also remember a couple of times Carlos had to slow down and wait for his teammate to let Charles finish ahead. You know, team orders.

  10. this tells me that this list was based on how they performed against their teammates nothing more.

    1. @luca based on the single most important metric in motorsport? That’s surprising?

  11. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    20th January 2022, 16:52

    No way Alonso belongs above Gasly – Alonso barely beat his teammate Ocon who was ranked 9th.

    1. He beat him by 7 points despite which was about 10% of Ocons total, despite Ocon’s great win, which was owed massively due to Alonso’s world class defence of Hamilton.

      1. So Alonso didn’t get helped by Vettel’s disqualification and him moving up to 4th himself? And the fact Bottas barely snatched another podium away from Ocon in the penultimate race? What the hell lol. Alonso and Ocon were evenly matched this year. They were 11-11 equal in qualifying and not far off in points. Alonso should be ahead but Ocon should be right there behind him.

        1. 2 whole points. If Alonso drove like every other driver Ocon would have lost 7 points, whereas Alonso may have had the tyres to attack Sainz.
          Bottas was in a Mercedes tbf, it’s what they do. They were evenly matched but one driver had been in the team for a year, whereas the other had been out of F1 for 2 years.

    2. Maybe Alonso and Ocon should be both above Gasly?🤔

  12. I think that he is good enough to deserve a better drive, but he is in a bad spot with regard to Red Bull. If Perez does poorly next year, the worry is that the car is still too hard to drive for mere mortals and that Gasly would just repeat his poor performance if promoted again. Yet if Perez does well, then why replace him?

  13. I’m also a bit surprised to see gasly below alonso, but obviously there have been mistakes during races after his great qualifyings, I remember monza, possibly during the sprint race, where he threw away a great result in quali by making contact earlier on and retiring, in any case I expected alonso to come now, also because there hasn’t been that much difference between him and ocon this year. I expected gasly to be the one after, or maybe even ahead of sainz.

  14. On the Leclerc vs Sainz debate, here are my numbers and facts:

    Leclerc was better on 11 race weekends, Sainz over 9 race weekends.
    This alone explains why many people would rank Carlos over Charles, since this is not at all what was expected. Something similar happened with Leclerc x Vettel in 2019, where the difference between the two was also much smaller than the perception.

    Still, Charles was slightly the better driver.
    He made my Top 3 drivers of the weekend four times (Imola, Barcelona, Silverstone & COTA).
    Sainz also made the podium four times in my book (Austria, Silverstone, Turkey & Abu Dhabi), but with no “race wins” (Leclerc was my driver of the weekend at Silverstone).
    Sainz has two additional 4th places (Monaco, Styria), Leclerc has four (Bahrain, Monza, Turkey & Interlagos).
    All in all, Leclerc made my personal Top 10 fifteen times, Carlos made it fourteen times.
    So it is close, but Leclerc is slightly ahead in all of those.

    Now Pierre, whom I’d rate above both Ferrari drivers (P4 in the season for me):
    Consistent: 17 Top Ten weekends, five podiums (Monaco, Baku, Zandvoort, Mexico, Interlagos) and one race win (Mexico).
    That’s slightly above Charles, although the direct comparison goes to the monegasse (10×12). Pierre beats Carlos 12×9, by the way.

    Fernando is right in the mix, in my view.
    Only 13 Top 10 weekends, four podiums (Silverstone, Hungary, Zandvoort, Qatar), one win (Hungary). Four additional 4th place finishes.

    My ranking was:

    7-Carlos (139)
    6-Fernando (149)
    5-Charles (154)
    4-Pierre (159)

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