The twisting turning Formula 1 season has reached the halfway stage and before the Belgian Grand Prix on 26th August here is my take of how the drivers are rated thus far this season.
- Nicholas Latifi
Latifi hasn’t had a great first half if we’re completely honest, he’s been constantly out-qualified and out-raced by Albon in nearly every single race and hasn’t really been on the pace. The only remarkable performance I can think of for Latifi was at Silverstone where he out-qualified Albon and got into Q3 and managed to finish P12. However he’s had howlers like in Jeddah where he crashed not only in qualifying but also in the race. Overall he’s been the worst driver this year and needs to step his performance up in order to keep in touch with Albon and not lose his seat.
- Lance Stroll
Lance has been very quiet this season but that’s mainly due to the fact that he’s not really had any shining performances that can bat someone’s eye and show the glimpse of the talent he’s got. Even though the car is not quick and bad in qualifying, it’s still very good in race trim and is able to compete with the midfield. Stroll hasn’t really capitalized on that compared to Vettel who had scored 16 points with the highest position of p6 in Baku compared to stroll who had the highest position of finishing 10th in Imola, Miami, Canada and France.
- Daniel Riccardo
Riccardo’s woes still continue sadly with Mclaren even though it all looked so promising at the beginning of last year. He’s been battered by Norris once again just like last season except it’s worse this season. Riccardo’s start to the season looked promising when he beat Lando in the first race and was on course for a P7 or P6 finish in Jeddah. Riccardo needs to sort his game out if Mclaren want to secure p4 in the constructors championship as Alpine look to have the advantage and have caught up to them.
- Guanyu Zhou
Zhou has been quite impressive this season despite the fact that his teammate nearly has 9x the points over him which is somewhat expected considering he’s still a rookie. He would’ve finished p7 in Baku if it weren’t for an engine issue so overall it’s been a decent start to the season for him all things considered, hopefully in the second half of the season he’s able to match his teammate and score points on tracks that help suit the Alfa Romeo’s style.
- Pierre Gasly
Gasly has been unlucky at some points this season particularly in Monaco and France where the car looked highly capable of scoring big points but mistakes from Alpha Tauri put him in low positions which made it challenging. He’s been involved in quite a lot of incidents including Miami, Silverstone, and Austria. Once the upgrades start to kick in, it’ll be interesting to see how he’s able to perform when the car is much closer to the midfield.
- Mick Schumacher
Mick had quite a rough start to the season where he crashed heavily in Jeddah, crashed into Seb in Miami while on course for points, crashed into Alonso at Imola and crashed quite heavily in Monaco as well but from Canada onwards, Mick has been able to get back into the rhythm and has been able to out-perform Magnussen in these last couple of races despite being out-qualified. Mick was on another level in Austria and put in a brilliant performance to finish p6 in front of the Mclarens and his teammate.
- Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki’s has improved a lot compared to last season as he’s on par with his teammate and has been able to out-perform him in rare occasions and would be ahead of Pierre in the championship had it not been for parts of his rear wing coming off in Baku where he was on course to finish p6 just behind his teammate.
- Alexander Albon
Albon has been very impressive this season especially when you consider how diabolical that Williams car is as it’s the slowest car on the grid and miles off the midfield and front runners however Albon somehow still managed to score points in Australia where he didn’t pit until the last lap and in Miami where he stayed off the on track incidents and finished in p9.
- Kevin Magnussen
Magnussen has been mightily impressive this season considering he just jumped into the Haas car during the last few days of pre season testing in Bahrain when he got the call to replace Mazepin, the first race showed signs of what Magnussen was really capable of when giving the right car and right team to back him up as he qualified a brilliant P7 and finished in a brilliant P5 in the race where he was in complete control of the midfield.
- Esteban Ocon
Although Ocon is 8th in the championship and has been highly consistent this season, he hasn’t really been on the pace with Alonso in terms of pure pace when it comes to race and qualifying trim and has had a lot of fortune and luck favoring him over the course of the season except for Monaco and Imola. His best performance so far was in Austria where he finished in p5 and was in control in front of the whole midfield but despite that he hasn’t really shown any signs of his demeanor that shows he can be a future world champion one day as he’s been constantly outperformed by the likes of Perez, Riccardo and Alonso.
- Carlos Sainz
Sainz was very impressive last season on his debut with Ferrari with 4 podiums, 5th in the championship and most importantly beating his teammate. However, this season he’s taken a bit of a step back to Leclerc as the gap between them in qualifying and race trim had expanded more and Carlos didn’t really feel comfortable with a car that has a lot of oversteer and is quite snappy which suits Leclerc’s style more than Sainz
- Sebastian Vettel
Even though this will be the last season we’ll ever see Vettel on the grid, it doesn’t automatically mean that he’s going to lose his mojo as he’s going to give everything he can to deliver as many points as he can for Aston Martin with nothing to lose. Vettel missed the first two races of the season due to covid and came back in Australia. He managed to get into Q3 and finish p8. It’s been a great season for Vettel and hopefully he’ll be able to continue this form.
- Valterri Bottas
Bottas left Mercedes to join Alfa Romeo this season and so far, he’s been performing brilliantly with his highest position being p5 in Imola and being able to compete with the Mercedes in Miami.In the championship standings which shows that the car is proficient or adequate of challenging the likes of the Alpines and Mclaren’s. it’ll be interesting to see what the pecking order will be like once everyone has spent all the budget cap required for this season.
- Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton had quite a difficult start to the season where he struggled a lot in the likes of Jeddah, Imola and Monaco where he was nowhere near the pace of his teammate. Canada onwards, Hamilton seems to have found his rhythm again where he’s currently now on a 5 podium streak with three 3rd places and two 2nd places getting so desperately close to that victory Mercedes have always wanted from the start of the season. Mercedes has been on the backfoot this season as their car isn’t competitive enough to challenge for wins but they’re still able to challenge for podiums. It’ll be interesting to see what the pecking order will be like once the new TD comes into play and how will it affect the teams going forwards. Its been a mixed bag season for Lewis but he normally comes back strong in the second half of the season so it’ll be interesting to see where he’ll be in the fight.
- Lando Norris
Norris is the only driver outside the top 6 who has scored a podium this season which was in Imola and has been having a lot of stellar performances this season especially in qualifying where he’s outqualified Russell and Hamilton 6 times in the 5th quickest car and has been scoring the most points out of any other driver in the midfield this season.
- Fernando Alonso
Alonso has been phenomenal this season but unfortunately the results don’t show much of what he’s always been fundamental of due to the bad luck he’s had all across the season but his masterclass in the wet by qualifying P2 in Canada shows that he’s still got that killer instinct in him to fight for wins and podiums and won’t ever stop until he’s reached his peak. With all that being said, Alonso has got what it takes to still fight for a title when given the right car that can compete for wins and challenge the top 3 teams of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes but we can never predict the future as we can only hope that he will be given the right car at some point in the future.
- Sergio Perez
Even though Perez has slightly fallen off a bit in the last two races, he has still improved a lot this season compared to last season as he’s able to be much closer to Max and challenge him at certain points but he’s still lacking a bit of that pace and plus team orders play a big role when it’s risen up.
- George Russell
Russell has been stellar this season and is regarded as Mr. consistency by finishing every race in the top 5 apart from Silverstone where he got involved in a collision with Zhou and Gasly. The gap between him and Hamilton is quite close which is what makes them a dangerous pairing on the entire grid especially on how consistent they have been so far this season by having both cars scoring points in 11 out of 13 races.
- Charles Leclerc
Leclerc has had a lot of blunder strategy calls and reliability that have hampered him this season including Spain, Monaco, Baku, Canada, Silverstone and Hungary. He was on course to win all of those races which shows how quick he is when given the right car. Unfortunately, he’s only come away with 3 wins this season starting from the season opener and Australia where everything was looking so good for Ferrari but since Imola onwards they’ve fallen off the cliff with reliability and strategy calls. Sadly it seems like the title is out of the window as he’s trailing his main rival Verstappen by 80 points going into the second half of the season with 9 races left. Hopefully in those last 9 races he can give it his all. Although there is a lot of what if’s for Charles this season, there is no doubt that he will be a future world champion one day, but still it’s a long road trip for Ferrari to get back to the top and win titles. Leclerc has proven this season that he is able to fight for titles as he’s a generational talent but he can’t afford to make crucial mistakes that can have severe impact on not only his chance to win a title but also his credibility and reputation going forwards so that he’ll be able to evolve more.
- Max Verstappen
Of course it had to be him again, who else could it have been at the number 1 spot? Max has by far been the best driver this season and has actually improved a lot from last season with 8 wins on the trot looking to beat Vettel’s record of 13 wins this season despite being in an inferior car that is on average 2 tenths slower than the Ferrari over the course of the stages this season which shows the driver of his caliber and why he is world champion. Its crazy to think now that he is already in the top 10 f1 drivers of all time in terms of podiums and race victories and has broken quite a few records by being the youngest driver to win a formula 1 GP and the driver with the most podiums in a season with 18 in total. Even with all of Leclerc’s misfortunes this season, Max is still able to capitalize on it and still win on merit as we’ve seen prime examples of what he’s been capable of like for e.g., he had a grand slam in Imola by dominating the entire weekend, having no practice in Miami and still managed to win the race, won the race in Spain with a broken DRS, managed to fend off Sainz in Canada to win the race, finished p7 in Silverstone in a damaged car and won in Hungary from starting P10 on the grid which shows why Max so far has been the best driver on the grid in terms of his consistency, racecraft and pure pace in general compared to the other drivers. With an 80 point lead in the championship, he still has the determination to win the last 9 races and not take it easy despite having such a comfortable margin to Leclerc which shows how strong he is in terms of the mentality and why he’s successful, Max knows what its now like to be world champion which is probably the main reason as to why he’s barely made any crucial mistakes this season compared to Leclerc as he now knows what its like to withstand the pressure and how to firm it till the very end until the whole chapter has been closed. It’s crazy on how much Verstappen has achieved so far despite being at a very young age at 24 years old and is set to become a great in the latter stages of the future as time goes on. He’s proven time and time again as to why he is a world champion in the first place, why he deserves a spot in f1 and why he deserves all the success he is getting right now.