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Analysis | This data shows who really are the best drivers in 2021 Formula 1

Analysis | This data shows who really are the best drivers in 2021 Formula 1

30-09-2021 08:00 Last update: 09:23

With only seven races left in the Formula 1 Championship, we are already heading towards the end of the season. It is therefore a good moment to take a look at how the internal battles within the teams are developing. Who has clearly earned the number one status within the team and where is the fight the most fierce? You can read it in this post.

The rules of GPblog

GPblog keeps track of different statistics for each race weekend. For this article, a number of statistics have been used. First of all there is the race duel. Here a driver scores a point if he finished ahead of his teammate in the race if both crossed the finish line. If one of them crashed or there were technical problems, then no points are awarded.

Besides the race duel we also use the difference in points and the qualifying duel. In the qualifying duel a driver gets a point if he has qualified before his teammate. For this, we look specifically at the original qualifying and not the sprint race.

At those fifteen driven qualifications, we also noted the difference between the two drivers. Hereby the most representative session is used. So if a driver drops out in Q1 and the other one goes to Q2, then for the comparison the times of Q1 are used. When a driver doesn't really participate in the session, due to a crash or grid penalty, this time is not counted because drivers will never really be on the limit. The qualfying sessions in Belgium and Russia are not included in the average difference, because of the big differences.


Drivers: Lewis Hamilton - Valtteri Bottas

Race duel: 8-2

Points: 246.5-151

Qualifying duel: 11-4

Average qualifying difference: 0.184s in favour of Hamilton

At Mercedes, it has actually been clear since 2017 who the real frontrunner is within the team. Nico Rosberg was still causing war within the team, but that has disappeared since his departure. Also in 2021, it is painfully clear that there is a number one and number two status within Mercedes. Yet the Finn continues to do well. For example, he's doing exactly what the team expects of him by occupying P3 in the standings ahead of rival Perez and staying close to Hamilton in qualifying on average.

Red Bull Racing

Drivers: Max Verstappen - Sergio Perez

Racing: 10-0

Points: 244.5-120

Qualifying duel: 14-1

Average qualifying difference: 0.471s in favour of Verstappen

That Red Bull Racing has a problem with their second driver. It is painfully clear from these statistics. Bottas is always accused of being a simple second driver next to Hamilton, but Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon and this year Sergio Perez show that it is not that simple. For now, Sergio is still being outworked by his teammate, and the gap in qualifying and the race is simply too big.


Drivers: Lando Norris - Daniel Ricciardo

Racing: 10-3

Points: 139-95

Qualifying duel: 10-5

Average qualifying difference: 0.220s in favour of Norris

At McLaren, it's starting to look more and more like a duel throughout the season. Norris clearly had the upper hand at the start of the season, but the experienced Australian is coming back into the game more and more. He has won some qualifying, finished ahead of Norris in a number of races and has managed to reduce the average difference in qualifying to well over two tenths. There's still room for improvement for someone with his CV, but for McLaren, this is an ideal situation, with two drivers who seem to be getting the most out of the car.

Aston Martin

Drivers: Sebastian Vettel - Lance Stroll

Race: 3-6

Points: 35-24

Qualifying duel: 9-6

Average difference in qualifying: 0.002s in favour of Stroll

At Aston Martin, the difference in qualifying is the smallest of any team. Where that would normally be a good situation, you can now have your doubts. Stroll has always been beaten by his teammates in recent years and usually by a wide margin. Perez was on average three tenths faster in qualifying than the Canadian. So either Stroll has made a huge step forward, or Vettel is continuing his lesser line at Ferrari and isn't really able to impress at Aston Martin either.


Drivers: Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon

Racing duel: 6-5

Points: 58-45

Qualifying duel: 8-7

Average difference in qualifying: 0.048s in favour of Ocon

At the start of the season, Esteban Ocon looked like he was going to be the man at Alpine, but never discount Alonso. The Spaniard was happy for his teammate when he took a win, but Alonso has been able to bend the team to his will more and more. In the races, he often finishes ahead of the Frenchman and on Saturdays, he is often faster. During the qualifying in Russia (which was not included in the average because of rain) he was 1.6s faster than Ocon.


Drivers: Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

Racing duel: 7-5

Points: 104-112.5

Qualifying duel: 10-5

Average qualifying difference: 0.110s in favour of Leclerc

Charles Leclerc might having a harder time of it this season than expected. The Monegasque was seen as Ferrari's front runner and he will prove that status in Saturday's duel, but Carlos Sainz is proving to be a formidable competitor. The Spaniard continues where he left off at McLaren: scoring points every race. As a result, Leclerc has the upper hand at times, but Sainz' constant performance ensures that he is never far away from Leclerc on Saturday, and he is even ahead of the Monegasque in the points standings.


Drivers: Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda

Racing: 10-0

Points: 66-18

Qualifying duel: 15-0

Average Qualifying Difference: 0.649s in favour of Gasly

Yuki Tsunoda was hailed as a major new talent in Formula 1, but aside from a points score on debut, the Japanese driver has yet to live up to that status. Tsunoda has never qualified ahead of his teammate and has rarely impressed in the race. If Gasly isn't being seriously considered for Red Bull Racing then it's hard to imagine what Tsunoda will be doing at AlphaTauri in 2022 if his performance continues to be anything like this.

Alfa Romeo

Drivers: Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen

Racing: 4-7

Points: 1-6

Qualifying duel: 9-4

Average qualifying difference: 0.343s in favour of Giovinazzi

On Saturday, Antonio Giovinazzi's performance seems like a lot, but when you look at the numbers on Sunday, you can see why Frederic Vasseur is looking outside his own team as well. Kimi Raikkonen no longer has the speed over one lap that he used to, but at 41 he still mostly outperforms his younger teammate on Sunday. This actually says enough about Giovinazzi's talent.


Drivers: Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin

Racing: 7-2

Points: 0-0

Qualifying duel: 13-2

Average qualifying difference: 0.473s in favour of Schumacher

Ahead of the 2021 Formula One season, Günther Steiner was ridiculed for wanting to put two rookies in the car. How much pain this will cause Haas will become clear especially in 2022 when the new car will be driven by these inexperienced drivers, but in 2021 it appears that the choice for Nikita Mazepin was remarkable. If the Russian had presented these numbers against an experienced driver you could have understood it, but against another rookie this is just not good enough for F1. However, the logo of his father's company is on the car and all of the team's garments, so there is a small chance that Nikita's place is actually under pressure.


Drivers: George Russell and Nicholas Latifi

Racing: 8-1

Points: 16-7

Qualifying duel: 15-0

Average qualifying difference: 0.380s in favour of Russell

The difference between Latifi and Russell is not as big as it seems according to team principal Jost Capito, but the numbers really tell a different story. For two years now Russell has easily outperformed his teammate at Williams. The differences are huge, although it must be said that Latifi drove a strong race in Hungary and the difference on Saturday is not as big as in 2020. Back then, the Canadian lost over six tenths per qualifying session. However, it will be interesting to see if he can make more of an impression opposite Alexander Albon.

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