Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Poll – Which F1 team has the best driver line-up for 2022?

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There are some very strong driver pairings across the grid heading into the 2022 F1 season, with only Mercedes fielding a new driver for this new year out of the top five teams of last year’s constructors’ championship.

But which of the ten teams on the grid has the best pair of drivers in their cars? Have your say in this weekend’s debate.

The 2022 F1 team mates

Team Driver Driver Notes
Red Bull Max Verstappen Sergio Perez Red Bull will have the reigning world champion in their team for the first time since 2014. Sergio Perez was soundly beaten by his team mate last year, but sees 2022 as a fresh start after he’s now fully comfortable in the team.
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton George Russell Lewis Hamilton’s declaration “now I’m back” has put to bed most doubts that he would not return for this season after the events of Abu Dhabi. George Russell now gets his opportunity of a lifetime to fight for a world championship, but has to beat F1’s most successful ever driver first.
Ferrari Charles Leclerc Carlos Sainz Jnr Team principal Mattia Binotto considers Ferrai’s combination of Leclerc and Sainz as the best driver lineup in the sport. With a proven race winner in Leclerc and Sainz more than holding his own in his first season in scarlet last year, could Binotto be proven right in 2022?
McLaren Lando Norris Daniel Ricciardo On paper, McLaren boast one of the strongest pairings with Norris’s talent blossoming year by year. Ricciardo proved his worth with a race win last season, but will be hoping for a much more consistent season in 2022 compared to his younger team mate.
Alpine Esteban Ocon Fernando Alonso Alonso silenced his critics on his return to F1 last season and will almost certainly remain as relentless in 2002. Ocon proved he has race winning potential and is likely not at the peak of his driving powers just yet.
AlphaTauri Pierre Gasly Yuki Tsunoda Gasly was one of last season’s most consistent performers, regularly putting his car on the first three rows on the grid while rookie team mate Tsunoda struggled. Abu Dhabi showed Tsunoda has potential and he’ll need to show more of it this season.
Aston Martin Lance Stroll Sebastian Vettel Vettel had the better overall results last season, but Stroll was not embarrassed against the four time champion. Both will be hoping to be more in the mix up the front of the field this year.
Williams Nicholas Latifi Alexander Albon Nicholas Latifi enters his third season in Formula 1, which is likely more than many would’ve predicted prior to his debut. He will be joined by Alex Albon, who spent a season working behind the scenes for Red Bull’s title-winning campaign after being dropped in favour of Perez.
Alfa Romeo Valtteri Bottas Guanyu Zhou An all-new driver lineup for Alfa Romeo in 2022 sees Bottas bring his race-winning experience to the team. As the sole rookie, Zhou will have a spotlight on him throughout the season.
Haas Mick Schumacher Nikita Mazepin With both Schumacher and Mazepin entering their second seasons, they will be desperate to be able to compete against other drivers and not just each other this year. Last year, Schumacher comfortably had the pace advantage over Mazepin.

I say

If that old adage of “you’re only as good as your last race” remains true, then it’s also the case that teams are only as good as their last season too.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Charles Leclerc, Silverstone, 2021
Leclerc and Sainz were fourth and fifth in our 2021 rankings
There are strong pairings throughout the field – especially at the front – but there were some well-established names who struggled in new surroundings last season and were out-performed by their younger team mates.

With the radical new rules for 2022 meaning that all drivers will be starting fresh with very different cars this season, how drivers fared last season may not be as good an indicator for how they’re likely to get on with the new cars for this year.

The arrival of George Russell into Mercedes brings remarkable intrigue to Mercedes this year and the young British driver may be able to stay closer to Lewis Hamilton than Valtteri Bottas did – but it is very much not guaranteed by any means. If Sergio Perez is able to hit the ground running, he could be far more of a force for Red Bull in 2022 than he was able to be last season, while the same is also true for Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren.

But if we are to look at the team with the most consistently impressive pair of drivers last season, then Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr ranking in fourth and fifth in RaceFans’ driver rankings for 2021 makes them, on average, the best performing team mates on the grid last season.

Maybe the outcome of 2022 will be that Mattia Binotto is not the only one who’ll declare that Ferrari have the best driver pairing on the grid…

You say

Which F1 team has the best driver line-up for 2022? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Which F1 team has the best driver line-up for the 2022 season?

  • Haas - Mick Schumacher & Nikita Mazepin (0%)
  • Alfa Romeo - Valtteri Bottas & Guanyu Zhou (1%)
  • Williams - Nicholas Latifi & Alexander Albon (0%)
  • Aston Martin - Sebastian Vettel & Lance Stroll (0%)
  • AlphaTauri - Pierre Gasly & Yuki Tsunoda (0%)
  • Alpine - Fernando Alonso & Esteban Ocon (2%)
  • McLaren - Lando Norris & Daniel Ricciardo (6%)
  • Ferrari - Carlos Sainz Jnr & Charles Leclerc (37%)
  • Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton & George Russell (50%)
  • Red Bull - Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez (6%)

Total Voters: 378

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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56 comments on “Poll – Which F1 team has the best driver line-up for 2022?”

  1. Ferrari for me. 2 young talented drivers that have some years in F1 and more than 1 year in the same team.
    If Russel in 2021was at Mercedes with good results in his back, i would had vote for Mercedes.

    1. Agreed, the Ferrari duo is the most impressive and seem very complementary. I also rate quite highly the Alpine pair, in my opinion their are the second force.

      Obviously, it will be one of the highlights of the first 2022 GPs (with an s, say 5-6 GP) to see how GR will fair compared to HAM. This line-up could quickly become the most impressive on the grid. But today, it’s an unknown, so say 3rd position. Also looking carefully at DR at McLaren. There also, we could be on for a great surprise, but obviously with 2021 in mind , it’s hard to put them in the nb1 spot.

      I have a hard time to imagine Perez suddenly finding his footing. He didn’t seem to improve over the 2021 season and while super efficient during races to maximize the point scored, he never struck me as « one of the fastest ». I sort of expect him to stay behind… hopefully, he will prove me wrong.

    2. Yeah, I agree @bluechris. At Red Bull, I do think Perez will further grow into that support role of Max. And depending on whether Ricciardo can get a grip on stuff, McLaren might have a decent shot at a good line up too, as well as a decent team at Alpine. At Ferrari we’ve seen them work together, both have their strengths and Sainz showed he could get up to speed and show his effectiveness in bringing results.

      For Mercedes I see too much potential for Russel taking a while to bed in next to Hamilton as well as some disruption as he will inevitably want to be his own man, not the 2nd driver.

  2. Mercedes for me. While Ferrari has a good line-up both drivers are no Lewis Hamilton and I think Russell is on par with them. And he is imho also better than Perez, thus beating the RBR line-up with Verstappen at least on par with Hamilton.

    1. Same for me but George has to be solid but as good secong i had Charles and Sainz.

    2. This depends very much on your definition of “best driver lineup”.

      If you are talking of just the best 2 drivers possible (say, score all drivers out of 100, and choose the team with the combined highest score), I completely agree that Mercedes are out in front. Max and Lewis would be scored very similarly, and I believe Russel is head of Perez.

      However, if you are talking of the pairing which is most likely to give the best possible results for the team over the course of the season, I think RBR have the advantage. We all know Perez is not going to be fighting Verstappen, so won’t be taking points off him, whereas Russel is a hungry young driver, keen to prove himself in top machinery. He will not be on Hamilton’s level, but I also doubt he will be happy to just play second fiddle all the time. He is certainly unlikely to be a Bottas… So, I think that there is more risk of Russel taking points away from Hamilton, and possibly even away from the team, than there is of Perez taking them away from Verstappen, leaving RBR as the stronger driver lineup by this definition.

      However, seeing as most people seem to be taking the first definition, I’m going to cast my vote for Merc based on that.

      1. @drmouse Yeah, well thought out. It is going to be fascinating to see what happens at Mercedes. Because GR did so well in his one-off run replacing LH for that one race, and at Williams as well, it does feel like he will come out of the blocks strong, and at least stronger than VB perhaps ever did. But who knows right? I think it still stands that GR, just like it was for VB, just like it theoretically is for SP too, will ‘have to’ come out of the blocks swinging, for if he doesn’t then presumably that’s going to mean that right off the start LH and Max (again, presumably) will be immediately making themselves the go-to points getters on their teams.

        As good as GR may or may not be this season with this new car, and as hungry as he is, he may have to take the ‘student’ to ‘master’ role and simply not be ‘allowed’ in a position to take points away from LH unless LH is simply too far away in a given race to be helped. If the best on average GR can do is thirds for the initial stages of the season, they’ll have to ensure LH gets the lion’s share of the points, and keep GR behind and trying to disrupt Max, no matter how hungry or better-than-VB GR is. But I take your point that the odds are better of GR taking points away from LH than of SP taking them from Max. But you called it a ‘risk’ of GR taking points away from LH, and of course Mercedes can control that risk if/when they need to.

        And of course SP has never done much too too special in F1 so the assumption is that he simply will not be able to challenge Max, and let’s face it that’s a very tall order. So it is quite interesting to see GR get all these props when he has so much to prove yet, but of course I get that he has had much less car and time to prove anything than SP has had. So yeah, historically it does feel like it could be another Mercedes WCC but a close fight again for the WDC between Max and LH, but then…these wholly new cars etc etc. What if Mercedes and RBR are eating Ferrari’s scraps, lol? Can’t wait. We’ll only know when we know.

      2. Well thought @drmouse. But maybe George won’t be as aggressive as some expect. He has always been a team player at Williams, offering to sacrifice his race to maximize the team’s points.
        For some reason people expect Mercedes to be like Todt’s Ferrari: select a number one before the season starts and back him until the end. But it’s not how it went since they bought the team. Of all their pairings, the number one driver either emerged naturally (Rosberg vs Schumacher, Hamilton vs Bottas) or didn’t emerge at all (Hamilont vs Rosberg).
        The only way Mercedes may impose team orders is if one of their driver in the title fight and the other isn’t (see 2021).

        We’ll see.

  3. I think an argument could be made for either of Merc, McLaren or Ferrari, although I’d only ever vote for Merc or McLaren on what, in theory, they could do. Personally I rate Norris at Leclerc’s level, but typically I’d have Ricciardo above Sainz Jr. But that’s just based on what I think Ricciardo can do, rather than his 2021 performance. This is sort of similar for Merc. I rate Hamilton above Leclerc, and I think Russell is probably ‘faster’ than Sainz, but there’s absolutely no way of saying for sure that Russell is going to be able to perform in the race as we only really have Williams performance to go on. Assuming that he can I’d say that Merc has the strongest, however as a known quantity I’d agree that Ferrari is probably the strongest. I wouldn’t be surprised at the end of the year if either of those 3 teams come out as peoples ‘strongest’ driver pairing at the end of the year.

  4. If Russell lives up to expectations (performs similarly to how he did on the Bahrain short track), then mercedes will be formidable on the driver front.

    1. Yes Russell is supposed to be their Max rival of this generation, so unless Mercedes have got it wrong then Lewis outguns everyone but Max, who’s on a par, and George should outgun all the others bar Leclerc, whom Hamilton outguns.

    2. Agree. Russell will be the driver to watch on Saturdays and Lewis on Sundays. It’s a shame Red Bull doesn’t have a formidable driver in that 2nd seat. I don’t think Perez will be anywhere close to challenging the likes of Lewis, George, Charles, Carlos and Lando in the coming season. Max will be fighting these drivers alone each weekend.

      1. @todfod Hard to argue that based on what we know, but then there is a ton we don’t know too. I get why you are saying this of Perez, but I also think that SP could surprise us. He has definitely shown us some race craft, excellent at times, particularly last season on the days when he was more on form with the car. Now it is a clean slate with the different cars and tires. Sure I get the historical lacking of anything that special that has come from SP, but then again he is now on a (presumably still) top team and past his initial year at RBR and of course depending on where the car is amongst the competition and how much it suits him I just think that he himself personally is probably on the current highest high he’s ever been on confidence wise and car wise. I think he feels very much comfort and support as part of the family at RBR already. I have no doubt that SP will be looking at this season as potentially his best ever in F1. Or at least his best ever chance to really shine. So yeah, from the outside looking in I get your opinion on SP and this season, but from within SP himself, I bet he is as stoked as he has ever been to be in F1. Let’s see where he can take it.

  5. The year verstappen partnered ricciardo, everyone was convinced they formed the best pairing on the grid.
    While Norris is growing rapidly, with the promise of a Verstappen like talent, ricciardo seems on the wrong path.
    Sainz and leclerc are both excellent drivers but both have their inconsistencies. Sainz during free practice (but apart from damage that’s of little consequence) and leclerc making mistakes as a result of lack of patience.
    Russell, Hamilton could be a strong pair. But I never have seen Russell under this kind of pressure. So a lot to learn there.
    Verstappen, perez. Interesting pair. The consistent power of Verstappen combined with a self confident perez could prove valuable. Hard to measure for now.
    Ocon (surprised me last year) combined with a still growing Alonso could be the dark horse. If Renault is capable of producing a performant and reliable engine.

    1. I think Daniel made himself difficult by switching teams so fast that he has adjust problems.

  6. Interesting question and one of the reasons I’m excited about the upcoming season. I have a feeling the new cars will show up some of the drivers we consider to be among the best (ala Seb 2014 or Danny 2021) and the consensus may be completely different come end of season. On paper, I think Mercedes probably edge it although I agree the case for Ferrari is strong.

  7. Definitely Ferrari, both young, hungry, fast, respectable drivers with a lot of marketability.

  8. This is a tough call between Mercedes and Ferrari. If we’re talking about consistently performing at the highest level, then Hamilton could be better than both Leclerc and Sainz. But on the other hand, neither Ferrari driver driver has had a car fast enough to challenge for the world title yet, at least not over the majority of a season.
    Leclerc’s best chances probably came in 2019, but even then his car was only competitive at 7 or 8 races that season. Plus the Ferrari was very aggressive on its tyres, so that he often suffered in the races due to high tyre wear.
    George Russell is in a similar, or possibly in an even more disadvantegous position. He had only one race so far, where he raced at the front (2nd race at Bahrain in 2020). He did very well that weekend, stepping in for Hamilton and could or should have won that race, if it wasn’t for the tyre mixe up. However, his performances in the Williams, 2021 in particular, were a little bit ‘up and down’. Sometimes he was clearly faster than Latifi, sometimes on par with him and on few occasions he was even slower than his teammate.
    But that could have also been down to the basic car characteristics of the Williams and Russell going for some gambles, which didn’t pay off. Who knows?! But he certainly lacks some experience when it comes to racing for race wins and championships in F1.

    If the Mercedes and the Ferrari were to be on the same level this season, then I’d say Leclerc would at least give Hamilton a good run for his money. Charles is very quick in qualifying, possibly even faster than Verstappen, is good at overtaking and defending his position in wheel-to-wheel battle. If he is able to deliver his performances consistently, then he’ll be very hard to beat.
    Sainz, on the other hand, is lacking a little bit in terms of raw pace I think. He’s a very consistent and intelligent driver, but I’d say he’s more likely to crack under pressure than his teammate. He reminds me of Nico Rosberg. Quick and intelligent driver, just lacks a little bit of extra pace and mental stability.

  9. Loving the closeness of the poll so far between Merc and Ferrari. Mercedes’ line-up is only in doubt as far as Russell having yet to prove himself in a top team, whereas Hamilton, Sainz and Leclerc all have. So the deciding factor is where George’s skill cap lies.

    For the people, myself included, who think he’s the real deal, and can fight for the championship immediately in 2022, then Merc wins out for me.

  10. I also go for Ferrari based on overall consistency.

  11. Hard to look past the Mercedes duo. You’ve got the second best driver on the grid along with a really exciting young talent. From a long-term perspective, the Ferrari pair might be better, but for a season I don’t think there’s really a competition.

  12. I went for Ferrari as Mercedes’ as we still don’t know how Russel will perform in a top car over the course of a season.

  13. I voted McLaren with Alpha Tauri a close second. I find these pairings are asked to do the most with a lot less than the Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari teams.

  14. petebaldwin (@)
    6th February 2022, 16:11

    It’s a difficult one to answer because different teams need different things. If Ferrari are capable of fighting for the Championship this year, I think Leclerc and Sainz might get in each other’s way a bit too much…. If they’re 3rd again, they have a perfect lineup where both drivers are capable of getting great results.

    Mercedes have had a big upgrade with Russell and I think he’ll still be off the pace of Hamilton enough that there will be a clear Number 1/Number 2 situation – at least in the first half of 2022.

    Red Bull are OK if they are at the front but even then, Perez was too far off the pace last year. If he improves, they’ll have a good lineup providing they’re near the front. If they’re a bit off the pace, Perez will get swallowed up by the midfield like Albon did.

    McLaren need more from Ricciardo this year – with the new cars, that’s entirely possible so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on. I think he could be faster than Norris if he’s happy with the car.

    Other than that, I don’t think the rest will be on the pace so it doesn’t really matter how good their drivers are. Alpine will likely be the 5th best team and the rest will follow behind them.

  15. RandomMallard
    6th February 2022, 16:14

    As with many others, I think it’s very close between Merc (assuming Hamilton stays, which I expect will be the case) and Ferrari. Russell is a bit of a toss-up in terms of how he will perform, so will definitely be interesting.

    McLaren have the potential to have a very good pairing, if Ricciardo can make his form from Monza more permanent, and Norris can keep his high levels up. Alpha Tauri also has potential, but Yuki does need to realise his potential more often. An all round exciting line up for the season as a whole tbh.

  16. It’s definitely between Mercedes and Ferrari. I went with Mercedes on the basis that I am more sure that Lewis Hamilton is better than Charles Leclerc than that Carlos Sainz is better than George Russell. Russell is difficult to judge based on his Williams performances as Latifi and Kubica are such unknown quantities, but if Sakhir 2020 is anything to go by he will be as good as Hamilton. I decided to rank all the drivers on the grid next year by how good I think they will be:
    1. Max Verstappen
    2. Lewis Hamilton
    3. Charles Leclerc
    4. Lando Norris
    5. Carlos Sainz
    6. Pierre Gasly
    7. George Russell
    8. Daniel Ricciardo
    9. Fernando Alonso
    10. Valtteri Bottas
    11. Alexander Albon
    12. Sebastian Vettel
    13. Esteban Ocon
    14. Sergio Perez – note: I actually think he is far better, but not at Red Bull
    15. Mick Schumacher
    16. Lance Stroll
    17. Yuki Tsunoda
    18. Nicholas Latifi
    19. Guan Yu Zhou
    20. Nikita Mazepin

    1. Mercedes
    2. Ferrari
    3. McLaren
    4. Red Bull
    5. Alpine
    6. Alpha Tauri
    7. Alfa Romeo
    8. Aston Martin
    9. Williams
    10. Haas

    1. This is the way I look at it as well, using a simple average of drivers ranks.

      I think though that you’ve been a bit harsh on Alonso and Ocon. (I expect Alonso ahead of Russell and Ocon not far behind).
      And Norris remains ahead in my book compared to Leclerc.
      And Sergio I expect ahead of Bottas, Albon, Vettel.

      All resulting in:
      1. Ferarri: 4.5
      2. Mercedes: 5.0
      3. Red Bull: 6.0
      4. McLaren: 6.5
      5. Alpine: 8.0

  17. Mark in Florida
    6th February 2022, 17:00

    I find it strange that RedBulls rated so low when both drivers worked so well together. They did win the DC after all, no matter the controversy. They drove superbly over the course of the year. I think that they will be just as strong and the other teams will have to go through them to get to the championship. Ferrari has a great lineup but their car needs to match the talent they have. Mercedes has Lewis and Russell sounds like a great pairing but will Toto neuter Russell for Lewises sake? If so he might get turned into another Bottas, losing his killer edge to become another assistant for Lewis or he could be the breakout driver of 2022. McLaren needs Daniel to step up to be anywhere near the potential of the car.

    1. losing his killer edge to become another assistant for Lewis

      And what is Perez?

    2. I don’t think they’re rated low necessarily. It’s just the nature of this kind of survey when you can only pick one. We’d get a much better picture of our collective opinions of we’re asked to rank them.

  18. Presuming he returns, Hamilton and Russell. Easy.
    I’d actually put Norris and Ricciardo in second, Leclerc and Sainz third, Verstappen and Perez fourth.

  19. I feel like we did this poll a few months back. Anyway….

    Pretty interesting most people chose the Mercedes and Ferrari duo’s with Red Bull and McLaren’s so far behind. I’m not a fan of either Hamilton or Russell, but there is no denying Hamilton’s high level and I suspect Russell is going to be right up there with him if not slightly ahead. In terms of team work I’m not so sure they’re going to work well together if Russell is as competitive as I suspect.

    Sainz and Leclerc at Ferrari are up there in talent, but Leclerc has underperformed a little since Sainz joined.. So I’m not convinced their team work is top notch.

    As for Red Bull, Max is clearly up there as one of the best if not the best on the grid, he’s been improving every year and he made the difference with his Red Bull last year. I think Checo clearly underperformed, although had some strong moments last year and I back him to have a much improved season.. The team work was excellent last year and there seems a good spirit in the team..

    Norris had a great year, but kind of faded away near the end of the year coinciding with Ricciardo finding more performance. They’re both talented drivers and I expect them to have a strong season, but they don’t seem very natural when in interviews together.. Team work is a question mark although Ricciardo did give way a couple of times early on last year, when he was more up to speed he got the elbows out and despite the silliness and laughter they both provide, I suspect it’s going to be extremely tense between them this year.

    I personally think

    1 Merc – I think Russell would listen to team orders reluctantly.
    2 Red Bull – Checo to make a good step forward, get closer to Max.
    3 Ferrari – Great pairing, but I sense some tension between Leclerc and the team.
    4 McLaren – Great individually, but I can see things getting fiesty on track.
    5 Alpine – Alonso is still great, but past his best.. Good team work, but I don’t rate Ocon that highly.
    6 Alpha Tauri – Gasly, excellent… Good relationship with Tsunoda who I expect to take big step forward.
    7 Aston Martin – Vettel, past his peak yet carrying the team with inconsistent Stroll.
    8 Williams – Albon? I hope he bounces back. Latifi is Latifi :)
    9 Haas – Mick and Nikita really don’t get on very well. It’s a reset for both of them.

    1. Ooops, I forgot Alpha Romeo.. :D. Poor Bottas, totally forgot about him and Zhou. Lots of question marks. Bottas is one of the fastest qualifiers, weaker in race trim… I honestly don’t know much about Zhou. Alonso praised him when he was testing the car at Alpine, but that doesn’t say much. I probably would slip them somewhere between 7-8th pairing.

    2. Well, I think the reason is people no longer trust ricciardo and perez to perform well, I understand a few races but not a full season like that.

  20. I’m the one who voted Alpha!

    Valtteri, with his years of inside experience of the top team, is poised to become the greatest threat known to Lewis!

    He will nurture and coach young Comrade Zhou to become a formidable talent that no one will dare to overtake unless they want to find themselves thrown in with the Uyghurs making cheap rubbish for the vile Capitalist West!

    I’m telling you you fools.
    2027 is the year of the GOAT!
    Can’t you see what is happening here?

    The nurse says I have to take my meds now……

    1. @nullapax Tell your nurse it’s a double dose day… :OP

    2. @nullapax I see no nurse, apart from that sounds readonable to me.

  21. Russell can still be an unknown but the top 5 / 6 pairings are all great !

  22. Mercedes for me. One of the greatest and most consistent drivers of the age in Hamilton paired with a young talent who has shown flashes of brilliance and could have had a win in his substitute drive at Mercedes. He’s made some mistakes as well for sure but not a single driver on the grid hasn’t, including last years champion. To me Mercedes have a super strong lineup, and if their car is still at the top it might actually be too good, if they both end up sharing the points between them and someone else on the grid can come out ahead of them.

  23. This is a tough one! I went with Mercedes but could so easily have gone with McLaren, Ferrari or Alpine. I think we’ve seen enough from Russell to know what he’s capable of and we’re more than aware of Lewis’ talent in a front-running car.

  24. The safe option would be Ferrari, which 2 excellent drivers with very little between them. Both could bring consistently points home and Sainz will surely be a race winner soon. But I went for Russell and Hamilton. Russell impressed in his one chance with Mercedes in very difficult circumstances (see how proven drivers struggle when changing teams) , he managed to make it look easy his one race in Bahrain; he is clearly championship material and I believe he looks like the kind of driver who thrive under pressure; both him and Lewis will put pressure on each other, as Russell wants to prove he can be champion, and Hamilton don’t want to be shown the way by George on his team. Mercedes has a very exciting pairing. I wonder if this will mean an easier title for Max against Mercedes (a bit like when Ham and Alonso stole points from each other in 2007 handing the title to Kiki, or like when Piquet and Mansell did the same handing a chance to Prost steal the title from them). Max is really consistent in all circuits, it will be really interesting to watch the dynamics of this season ( assuming both Mercedes and Red Bull will get right with new gen car!)

  25. Clearly Team Russ… sorry, the great American Haas squad.

  26. Really hard call as any of the 3 teams, Mercedes, Ferrari or Mclaren probably have potentially the best.

    I’m wondering though if all will remain well between the Mercedes pair or the Ferrari pair if their cars prove to be race winners – I suspect their might be some internal squabbles.

    For that reason I went for the Mclaren pairing as I think they’ll have another season of growth without having internal fights between the two of them.

  27. I’m pretty sure mercedes, but then again depends if russell lives up to his potential and matches hamilton or at least gets really close, I have no doubt ferrari would have the 2nd best line-up then.

  28. In my opinion, Ferrari have the two strongest drivers as a pair. Neither of them is as good as Verstappen or Hamilton, but those two have either teammates who are a known quantity of mediocrity (Perez) or an unknown quantity on race days (Russell).
    If McLaren still had Sainz instead of the overrated Ricciardo, then it would be them.

  29. There are some strong line-ups for this year, but some need to prove themselves (Mercedes obviously, and McLaren to a lesser extent), but the Ferrari pair are my pick for strongest duo.

    However, should the Ferrari be a true championship contender, then harmony may give way to sharp elbows and team radio calls to switch positions! But Charles and Carlos are an asset any F1 team would be chuffed to have.

  30. For now I’d give it to Ferrari. Russell did have some great qualifying sessions and a good race in the Merc when Lewis was out, but it remains to be seen how they work together. That also defines the strength of a driver lineup.

  31. Trust in the 🅱️lan.

  32. Theoretically, Mercedes. Practically Ferrari – and not because I’m a biased Tifoso – but because I believe the Ferrari pair can always achieve the best possible result for the team pushing themselves throughout all the race weekend.

    You can’t have a better driver than Hamilton with regard to the combination of experience delivering world championships and raw speed. Russell is also a formidable talent and now at Mercedes he only has to transform his status from a young talent to a top driver. The problem here is Wolff who is running the team and also Hamilton who doesn’t like competition from teammates.

    Wolff will make sure that Mercedes will do everything they can to support Hamilton in what will be his final bid for the 8th title within the next 2 years. Russell will eventually be a more consistent Bottas who will support Hamilton and will only be allowed to challenge for race wins in the event of Hamilton not being in a position to do so. The aim for Mercedes is to prepare Russell gradually to take on the lead driver role after Hamilton’s retirement.

    The Ferrari duo on the other hand have demonstrated that they can challenge each other keeping a trouble free environment within the team maximizing the results in every race. I’m not saying the Mercedes pair can’t do that in theory but I believe Wolff will make sure that in realty that will not happen.

    1. @tifoso1989 I tend to agree, and I even wonder if GR instinctively knows that this season may not be his to challenge LH hard. He may be hungrier and better than VB, but the question remains how much he will be allowed to use said hunger and talent. All going to depend on how things start off for the season wrt where the teams are amongst each other and how the drivers like these new cars. GR’s best chance of actually fighting LH is if they start off the season only capable of 4ths or worse on the grid. If they are immediately win-capable then TW has to give the nod to LH and keep GR as student to master, imho. Of course GR’s role will still be to achieve 2nds whenever possible, if they do come out of the blocks in winning form.

      1. @robbie
        If Mercedes are operating into their usual realms then they won’t have too much trouble to maximize their points because they will be scoring 1-2s consistently. They have won 5 consecutive WCCs with Bottas onboard. The problem is if they will be on par with Ferrari and RBR. That’s when I expect their line up won’t maximize the team points due to team orders.

        I imagine in the event of GR being faster than Hamilton who is running 2nd, 3rd or 4th… GR will be told to hold position in order not to snatch points from Hamilton instead of attacking him and the drivers in front of him to the maximum points for the team.

  33. Quite confused as to how this isn’t a complete non-question, really…

    Lewis and Max proved they are in a completely different class last year – massively ahead of their team mates and the rest of the field. Sergio’s talent was always to be consistent and maximise performance from the mid-field cars he had under him, being in a top team/car exposed his performance ceiling imo.

    Russel, on the other hand, regularly put his Williams where it didn’t deserve to be in qualifying (and therefor was always going to go backwards on Sunday), and in the wet was even further up the grid. His one race for Mercedes, in a car that absolutely wasn’t fully set up for him, he was immediately on the pace and gave Bottas a run for his money.

    If George can get a decent baseline setup dialled in quickly, I expect him to be much closer to Lewis than Perez, that would put Mercedes in a VERY strong position for the championship – especially if there is a clause in George’s contract to act as wingman to Lewis for year one while he gets his 8th WDC (tin foil hat time, but I wouldn’t be surprised!).

    1. @joeypropane Interesting way of putting it regarding SP. I can’t say I agree that being in a top team/car exposed his performance ceiling. I think that this was the first time he was on a top team and being an initial year there he was always going to need time, not to mention by all accounts the car was a handful and needed to be driven on an edge like only Max could do there. Normally drivers are coloured by their cars, so I would say that with this no longer being SP’s ‘learning year’ at RBR, and with the cars being such an unknown, and presumably on tires that aren’t nearly the headache to make work, there is a good chance we have not seen SP’s ceiling yet. I’m sure he is thinking he has lots more to give.

      1. Agreed @robbie – getting used to a completely new architecture and driving style makes it tough to be consistent. This year ought to shake things up for everyone, anyway.

  34. If every driver manages to bring their best, it could be argued that we have six teams with driver line-ups that are pretty great: Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Alpine, and AlphaTauri.

    Of course, if things do not work out that well, and we see struggles or uneven performances from drivers like Ricciardo and Tsunoda, we can cross a few of them off the list.

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