2021's top 10 F1 drivers rated

Mark Hughes has his say on the season’s best performers, although we’ve had to allow him some extra decimal points to help separate them...


Max Verstappen Red Bull side profile
1. Max Verstappen 9.998

Stunning combination of speed and racecraft, totally fearless, incredible tenacity and ability to comeback from adversity. Only one real error all season.

Max Verstappen head portrait


Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2021 side profile
2. Lewis Hamilton 9.997

Churlish not to give the champion top spot after such a season, hence Lewis has to be second, but this was perhaps his most impressive season of all, given what he was having to fight against.

Lewis Hamilton head portrait


Charles Leclerc Ferrari side profile 2021
3. Charles Leclerc 9.1

Brilliance in qualifying and transcending the level of the car has become routine for him now. A few offs as he pushed beyond the limits in practice but he can go head-to-head with anyone now.

Charles Leclerc head portrait


George Russell Williams side profile 2021
4. George Russell 9.0

He’s a could-be world champion in the ninth-fastest car and occasionally, when circumstances aligned, he could do something to make your draw drop – like qualifying a Williams second at Spa.

George Russell head portrait


Lando Norris McLaren side profile 2021
5. Lando Norris 8.999

Stunning and effortless pace, made more apparent by how he gets around the McLaren’s odd traits in a way that left Daniel Ricciardo bewildered. Ready to win lots of races if the car’s right.

Lando Norris head portrait


Carlos Sainz Ferrari side profile 2021
6. Carlos Sainz 8.7

This guy is so impressive in the way he can meet the demands of any situation. He worked away at it and by end of his first Ferrari season had closed the gap to Leclerc almost completely.

Carlos Sainz head portrait


Fernando Alonso Alpine side profile 2021
7. Fernando Alonso 8.5

Took about half a season to return to his previous amazing level. The expertise and the understanding of the race and tyres is all still there and the speed is barely dimmed.

Fernando Alonso head portrait


Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri side profile 2021
8. Pierre Gasly 8.3

He’s always there, pushing the car’s limits, pulling the little team along with his aggressive push to the front. Relentless and mentally strong. Results weren’t quite on par with qualifying though.

Pierre Gasly head portrait


Esteban Ocon Alpine side profile 2021
9. Esteban Ocon 7.8

A tough, doughty competitor, he was determined not to let Alonso walk in and take
the team off him – and he succeeded in this. Breakthrough victory will only make him better.

Esteban Ocon head portrait


Valtteri Bottas Mercedes side profile 2021
10. Valtteri Bottas 7.0

Was at least able to give Hamilton more race day support than Pérez was able to do at Red Bull. Still has the speed to occasionally outqualify Hamilton, but race performances are still patchy.