Edd Straw's 2021 F1 season driver ratings - The Race
Formula 1

Edd Straw’s 2021 F1 season driver ratings

Dec 28 2021
By Edd Straw

Following each grand prix, The Race rates all 20 drivers competing based on their performance throughout the Formula 1 weekend.

These ratings are out of 10, with five defined as an average performance for an F1-level driver, meaning it’s still a solid score given the level grand prix drivers operate at.

Dec 20 : Our top 10 F1 drivers of 2021

After 22 events – and the ratings are awarded based on performance throughout the whole weekend – this paints a picture of the performance level of the various drivers over the year.

The ratings listed are simply the mean average of the scores given to the drivers across the season with no adjustment. The ranking order simply reflects this rather than any other factors.

2021 Mazepin

A below-par first season for the Haas driver, even factoring in the fact he was lumbered with a back-of-the-grid Haas and various chassis struggles he complained about.

Comprehensively outperformed by team-mate Mick Schumacher, his pace was disappointing with the moments of promise usually fizzling out, with his approach sometimes seeming to be counter-productive.

2021 Latifi

There were some encouraging signs for Latifi, notably outqualifying team-mate George Russell on single-lap pace twice with some solidly-executed race drives.

Unfortunately, he failed to extract anything like what Russell could when the car was at its best and too often was left frustrated by failing to deliver the performance level that did appear to be within his grasp.

2021 Tsunoda

Tsunoda’s improvement in the closing stages of the season was undermined by his tendency to ruin weekends with mistakes. Aside from his nine in the Abu Dhabi season finale, his second-highest score was 7.5 and it dropped as low as two.

Yet for all that, the trend was encouraging through a difficult season and there were enough encouraging signs to suggest Tsunoda can expect to produce much-improved results – and ratings numbers – in 2022.

2021 Raikkonen

It’s appropriate that the rating has Raikkonen’s season as pretty much bang on average for a driver at this level. His qualifying record was dire, although his performance in races was generally much better.

Too many times he was left with too much work to do, with several needless errors – spinning into the gravel after being released from the pits after the Imola red flag, hitting Antonio Giovinazzi in Portugal and driving into Sebastian Vettel in Austria, but while there were a few good results his weekends of peak delivery never got higher than a rating of 7.5.

2021 Schumacher

Rating Schumacher was always difficult given the machinery and the fact he was generally significantly quicker than Mazepin, although the feeling in the first half of the season that he wasn’t accessing the maximum performance of the car was borne out by his strong performances in the undeveloped car late in the year.

But it was a very credible rookie season during which Schumacher showed an intelligent, professional attitude and made good progress.

2021 Giovinazzi

Giovinazzi was comfortably the strongest qualifier among the Alfa Romeo drivers, but even then there were times when the team didn’t feel he’d extracted the maximum from the car in Q2 in particular. But his quartet of Q3 appearances showed how quick he could be on the weekends when the car worked well.

His race pace was not always convincing, but there were some strong performances – notably his points finishes in Monaco and Saudi Arabia and also in races where the car wasn’t strong enough for points. Overall, his average rating reflects a decent grand prix driver but whose full potential hasn’t always shone through.

2021 Stroll

While Stroll may not be the ideal choice for Aston Martin in terms of the level he performs at, he showed again in 2021 that he’s a perfectly serviceable grand prix driver. And while he settled into generally being a little slower than team-mate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying, the gap wasn’t big.

Stroll’s main problem is that his strongest weekends, and there were some good ones, lacked that edge of genius that Vettel occasionally delivered in races like Baku and Monaco, but he showed regularly – including in Styria, Italy and Qatar – that he could piece together decent outings.

2021 Perez

His high points were excellent, notably the win in Baku where he backed up Max Verstappen well, the run of podiums towards the end of the season and with cameos such as his time-sapping defence against Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi.

But his ace deficit to Verstappen was too often too large to be a consistently effective wingman and fell short of the expectations for a driver of his calibre as a top-team number two. However, the high points showed what he might be capable of next year.

2021 Ricciardo

Think of Ricciardo’s season as a highlights reel and the average rating seems outrageously low. But while there were some great moments, notably the Monza win, many of his better results were a consequence of canny race execution and a little good fortune rather than being completely on top of the car.

He worked relentlessly through the year to adapt to the esoteric challenges of the car and was able to end the season with a credible points haul, but this was a season where Ricciardo’s usual pace was more often than not contained – leaving him a step behind his team-mate.

2021 Vettel

Vettel’s season was a little erratic, but there were plenty of high points that ensure he shows well in this ranking with six scores of 7.5 or higher. This was a season not of Vettel at his best, but with flashes where he was close to it.

He was also generally that little bit faster than Stroll even though they often found themselves in similar parts of the race, but there were also a few errors – notably rear-ending Esteban Ocon in Bahrain and spinning at Silverstone – that kept his average down.

2021 Bottas

Bottas again suffered by being measured against an all-time great team-mate but put together a fairly typical mixed bag of a season. The peaks were the win in Turkey and a ‘dominant’ Monza weekend that nonetheless only yielded third place, the troughs were Imola, Baku, Hungary and Sochi, where he struggled to make an impact.

But in between, there was plenty of solid work in the service of Hamilton and Mercedes, with his stronger performance level than his opposite number at Red Bull delivering the constructors’ championship.

2021 Ocon

The Hungary win was his crowning glory, but more impressive was that the battle with team-mate Fernando Alonso was generally nip and tuck with a good improvement gradient over the season that culminated in four strong scores on the bounce at the end of the season.

Counting against him were a few difficult spells, although the one that happened at the Red Bull Ring appears to be attributed to an initially-undetected front suspension problem. But overall, it was a reputation-enhancing campaign for Ocon that shored up his F1 future.

2021 Russell

There were some epic highs for Russell during 2021, including his astonishing second on the grid at Spa during what he called a “golden spell” of four points finishes in five mid-season races. These proved beyond doubt that he deserves his shot with Mercedes.

But it was difficult to disentangle any inconsistency in his performance from the erraticness of the car. There was also a quiet end to the season when Latifi was generally closer to him than usual that nudged his average down a little.

2021 Alonso

It took Alonso a little time to play himself back into F1 form, and for the car tweaks to the steering and front end to give him the feel he wanted, with his average over the first five weekends just 5.2. But then he kicked off his season proper with sixth in Baku and was generally a consistently strong performer from then on.

His third place in Qatar and the rearguard action on his way to fourth at the Hungaroring that ensured team-mate Ocon could win the race were the high points, but for most of the season he looked every bit the formidable Alonso of old.

2021 Kubica

Kubica’s sample set of two weekends means that his average isn’t especially meaningful, but does indicate that he did a very capable job after being slung in on Saturday at Zandvoort, then having to dive straight into qualifying at Monza after a single free practice session.

His results were unremarkable, but he showed that he could deliver at a decent level when called upon.

2021 Sainz

Sainz was performing at a decent level right from the off with Ferrari, but the overall trend was for improvement as the season progressed, culminating in his top score – 9.5 – in the Abu Dhabi finale.

There were a few mistakes along the way, which led to some lower scores, but overall he produced a strong season that justified the expectations that he would thrive at Ferrari.

2021 Gasly

Gasly took another step in terms of performances and, in particular, consistently during a fine season. Consistently among the six fastest qualifiers, he produced nine weekends rated eight or higher.

There were a few weekends where his score was ruined by errors, notably Bahrain and Monza, and he perhaps lacked a truly season-defining performance while in the thick of an intense battle, but even so, it was another strong season for Gasly who has proved himself conclusively to be a very effective F1 driver.

2021 Leclerc

Although Leclerc slipped behind team-mate Sainz in the final standings and only managed one podium finish, second and a near-win at Silverstone, he still had a formidable season – albeit one with a slightly tame end.

Nine scores of eight or more with two maximums – in Britain and Spain – showed how strong his campaign was, with only three – including Monaco, where he took pole position but crashed in Q3 and caused the damage that denied him the chance to start the race – scores of under five.

2021 Norris

Norris established himself in the upper echelon of F1 drivers with consistently strong performances during 2021, doing all but winning his first grand prix.

While his best results were in the first half of the season, his disappointing race results in the closing stages were largely (but not entirely) the result of misfortune rather than his own errors. By outperforming Ricciardo so consistently, he showed how on top of the esoteric McLaren he really was.

2021 Hamilton

Hamilton operated at a consistently high level throughout 2021, although his average was dragged down by a few errors and a subdued Monaco weekend.

Maximums in Brazil and Spain crowned his season, with his run of eight weekends at the end of the season delivering a rating of eight or higher took him to the brink of winning the world championship.

2021 Verstappen

Verstappen’s sky-high average shows how consistently formidable he was during 2021 with only one weekend – Monza – where he dipped as low as an ‘average’ performance with a five and the rest of his weekends producing a seven or above.

While he didn’t score any maximums, his astonishing return of 12 scores of 9 or 9.5 shows just how remarkable Verstappen’s season was as he earned a clear victory in the battle to be top of the average ratings.

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