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Formula 1 2021

F1 Driver Ratings: Who's the top performer in 2021 so far?

The 2021 Formula 1 season has been a thriller so far with the title race perfectly poised for more drama and excitement over the next 12 rounds. Our very own Nigel Chiu has rated every driver's Grand Prix weekend this year, so here are his averages at the halfway mark of the season.

Column
To news overview © Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton is on top of the Formula 1 Drivers' Championship going into the second half of the season, with an eight-point lead over Max Verstappen.

The battle everyone has been waiting for has played out dramatically with incidents and controversy on and off the track. This year, RacingNews365.com has rated all 20 drivers on the F1 grid at each event.

Here's where every driver stands in our mid-season averages.

1) Max Verstappen

Season Average: 8.41 Highest Rating: 9 (x4) Lowest Rating: 7 (Portuguese GP)

Without some misfortune, Verstappen would be leading the World Championship and he deserves to based on his remarkable consistency.

The Red Bull driver has not had an off-weekend, maximising the potential of his RB16B during every session. Verstappen had never been in a title fight prior to 2021 and he's driven like a veteran, not making any significant errors.

2) Lando Norris

Season Average: 8.14 Highest Rating: 9.5 (Austrian GP) Lowest Rating: 6 (Spanish GP)

You could make a strong case for Lando Norris being the best driver from the first half of the season as he has stepped up massively from last year.

Many thought Norris would be under serious pressure from new McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo, but it's panned out the opposite way with Norris having some stunning performances to be third in the Drivers' standings.

It's been a very impressive campaign for the British driver so far and he's turned his long run of excellent form into normality.

3) Lewis Hamilton

Season Average: 7.68 Highest Rating: 9 (x4) Lowest Rating: 4 (Monaco GP)

Hamilton has not been at his outstanding best this year but he has still had some excellent drives to snatch victory from Red Bull at Bahrain and Spain for example.

Key errors at Imola, Baku and Silverstone were salvaged by red flags or misfortune for his main title rival Verstappen. Ultimately, you have to capitalise on any good luck you get and that's what Hamilton has largely done.

Nevertheless, the seven-time World Champion will have to improve in the remaining 12 rounds because he's been subpar compared to his very high standards.

4) Charles Leclerc

Season Average: 7.5 Highest Rating: 9 (x2) Lowest Rating: 3.5 (Monaco GP)

Charles Leclerc has not quite hit the heights of 2020 yet but there have been some incredible performances from the Ferrari driver at times this season.

Two pole positions is something that would have been unheard of for Ferrari considering how far off the pace they were 12 months ago. Leclerc came very close to winning at Silverstone too and has been slightly better than new teammate Carlos Sainz overall.

A few silly mistakes still linger with Leclerc but his raw speed has shone once again.

5) Fernando Alonso

Season Average: 7.45 Highest Rating: 9 (British GP) Lowest Rating: 7 (x2)

Many people doubted whether Fernando Alonso still had what it takes to be a great F1 driver, but the two-time World Champion has put those claims to bed in the first 11 races.

It was a slow start for Alonso but since the Azerbaijan GP, when he had an extraordinary restart, he has been one of the standout drivers in the field.

His battle with Hamilton last time out in Budapest was stunning and he has provided more than enough evidence to demonstrate he can still be one of the best at the age of 40.

6) Pierre Gasly

Season Average: 7.41 Highest Rating: 8.5 (Azerbaijan GP) Lowest Rating: 5.5 (Bahrain GP)

Apart from a costly mistake in the season-opening Bahrain GP, Pierre Gasly has been consistently strong at every F1 weekend. Strategy errors potentially cost him a podium at Imola and the Hungaroring, but he earned an incredible third place at Baku after a fantastic duel with Leclerc during the latter stages of the race.

Gasly has clearly had the better of AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda despite all of the hype about the Japanese driver coming into 2021. He might not have had a win, unlike last year, but Gasly has been performing just as well as his bounce-back spell from a torrid time at Red Bull.

7) Carlos Sainz

Season Average: 7.09 Highest Rating: 8.5 (Austrian GP) Lowest Rating: 4.5 (Azerbaijan GP)

Carlos Sainz settled in very quickly at Ferrari and has been a match for Leclerc at most races. Perhaps he does not have the outright one-lap mind-blowing pace of Leclerc, but he more than makes up for it with his smart racing head and tyre management.

There's a good reason why Mattia Binotto thinks Ferrari have the best driver line-up on the grid and Sainz's ability to join Ferrari and hit the high standards has been a big factor in that claim.

8) George Russell

Season Average: 7.05 Highest Rating: 9 (Styrian GP) Lowest Rating: 4 (Emilia Romagna GP)

George Russell could be on the verge of a Mercedes seat in 2022 and he has shown that he is more than worthy of a place at the top of the grid. He has only been knocked out of Q1 once and has delivered some stunning laps in qualifying such as his Q2 efforts in Austria and Silverstone.

In the races he has not been as impressive, but his qualifying efforts have been enough to justify a possible move to Mercedes. For Russell to perform so well, when negotiations about where he will drive in 2022 potentially come to a crux, is impressive too.

9) Esteban Ocon

Season Average: 6.41 Highest Rating: 9 (Hungarian GP) Lowest Rating: 4.5 (x2)

Don't let Esteban Ocon's recent race win at the Hungarian GP draw you away from the Alpine driver's mixed season. Ocon started off strongly but faded once he signed a new three-year deal to stay with the French constructor.

A chassis change, after getting knocked out in Q1 and failing to score points during the triple-header sequence, has appeared to get Ocon back on track and it will be fascinating to see whether he can stay on terms with Alonso consistently.

10) Sergio Perez

Season Average: 6.36 Highest Rating: 8.5 (Azerbaijan) Lowest Rating: 4 (x2)

Sergio Perez has been an upgrade on his Red Bull predecessors, but he has performed poorly at times too, which is not what the team need when the battle with Mercedes for top spot rages on.

A win in Baku and two great podiums in Monaco and France were key to get Red Bull into a commanding position, but a run of bad form over F1's latest four races before the summer break has been a slight letdown. Perez is under pressure to iron out some of his uncharacteristic mistakes.

11) Sebastian Vettel

Season Average: 6.32 Highest Rating: 8.5 (x2) Lowest Rating: 3 (Bahrain GP)

There were worrying signs for Sebastian Vettel during his first four race weekends with Aston Martin, but he's managed to turn things around very well.

His nightmare season-opener in Bahrain has largely been forgotten thanks to his remarkable podium at Baku and his near-win in Hungary, until he was disqualified post-race.

The four-time World Champion has also had the better of Lance Stroll recently too, so things are definitely on the up for Vettel, who has shown signs of some of his very best form.

12) Kimi Raikkonen

Season Average: 6.27 Highest Rating: 7.5 (Emilia Romagna GP) Lowest Rating: 3.5 (Portuguese GP)

Many of Kimi Raikkonen's best drives have gone under the radar because they have not resulted in points. Qualifying remains Raikkonen's biggest issue, but on race day he has been able to use his superior tyre management to give Alfa Romeo a fighting chance of a top 10 result.

Strategy and pit-stop errors have let both Alfa Romeo drivers down this year and Raikkonen has arguably been just as good as teammate Antonio Giovinazzi.

13) Valtteri Bottas

Season Average: 6.18 Highest Rating: 8 (Austrian GP) Lowest Rating: 3 (Azerbaijan GP)

Valtteri Bottas' Emilia Romagna, Azerbaijan and Hungarian Grand Prix showings bring his average down significantly in a 2021 campaign which has failed to impress.

Bottas has shown a feistier side this year but it's not changed his on-track performances which have simply failed to match Hamilton. The Finn has played the team game and was there when Hamilton had off-days in Monaco and Austria, so it's not all doom and gloom.

Whether he's doing enough to retain a seat at Mercedes is very questionable.

14) Lance Stroll

Season Average: 6.05 Highest Rating: 7 (x6) Lowest Rating: 3.5 (Hungarian GP)

Lance Stroll had a great start to the year but has been quiet at many events too as Vettel turned his form around. There have been no standout performances from Stroll which is unusual considering most of the midfield runners have had an incredible result or drive at some point in 2021.

It would be great if the Canadian can show a glimpse of something special, as he is capable of doing so, it just rarely happens.

15) Antonio Giovinazzi

Season Average: 6.05 Highest Rating: 7 (x2) Lowest Rating: 5 (Hungarian GP)

Giovinazzi needed a big year and on paper he should be beating Raikkonen who is past his peak. It's been level pegging overall so far even though Giovinazzi has started most races further up the grid.

Alfa Romeo could shuffle their driver line-up for 2022 so Giovinazzi needs to find that extra gear and consistently outperform Raikkonen, which is yet to happen.

16) Daniel Ricciardo

Season Average: 5.95 Highest Rating: 7 (x3) Lowest Rating: 3.5 (Monaco GP)

Arguably the biggest shock in F1 over the last six months has been the downfall of Daniel Ricciardo. The 32-year-old has been well off the pace of Norris, regularly more than three-tenths of a second adrift of his McLaren teammate.

It's been a major surprise and the worst thing is Ricciardo does not know how to find those precious tenths of a second he is lacking. Without a doubt, nobody expected this and he is underperforming significantly. The rest of the year could feel very long for Ricciardo.

17) Mick Schumacher

Season Average: 5.86 Highest Rating: 7 (x2) Lowest Rating: 4 (Monaco GP)

Mick Schumacher has generally done all of the right things for a rookie. There have been some mistakes, as expected, but he has outclassed Nikita Mazepin in every department.

It's difficult to say how well Schumacher is doing due to the unknowns of the Haas car, but everything is pointing in the right direction and the son of Michael Schumacher has proved he more than deserves to be on the F1 grid.

18) Yuki Tsunoda

Season Average: 5.45 Highest Rating: 7.5 (Bahrain GP) Lowest Rating: 2.5 (Emilia Romagna GP)

Everything started off so well for Yuki Tsunoda in Bahrain, but a series of mistakes which started at Imola has destroyed his confidence.

A move to Italy near AlphaTauri's factory in Faenza has helped, and Tsunoda has ironed out some of his mistakes. It's now raw pace which he is lacking, perhaps due to his change in driving style.

For Tsunoda, he needs to find the difficult balance of risk versus reward and being on the right side of that compromise more often than not. Nevertheless, it's not been the season Tsunoda has been hoping for so far.

19) Nicholas Latifi

Season Average: 4.82 Highest Rating: 7 (Hungarian GP) Lowest Rating: 4 (x4)

The quietest driver on the grid, Nicholas Latifi came alive last time out in Hungary to score a shock seventh place, beating Russell at the chequered flag.

Apart from his spectacular Sunday in Budapest, though, it's generally been the same old story of being relatively far behind Russell on Saturdays but slightly closer come race day.

20) Nikita Mazepin

Season Average: 4.05 Highest Rating: 6 (British GP) Lowest Rating: 2 (Bahrain GP)

Plenty of controversy surrounded Nikita Mazepin even before he turned a wheel, and he has not been able to silence his doubters. Multiple spins and mistakes set the tone for the rest of his 2021 campaign to date, although he has had fewer pirouettes in recent races.

It's no surprise to see he is at the bottom of our ratings list.

In our latest video, RacingNews365.com takes a look at the most important changes over the years regarding the safety of F1 cars.

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