Formula 1 2020 – The Ultimate Season Head to Head Review

I​t might have been a shortened season but it certainly included its share of highlights. We review each driver’s performance against their teammate - the only relative guide to performance!

15w ago

Well what a year 2020 has been – including Formula 1! With the opening round in Melbourne cancelled at the last minute and the whole season in doubt, the powers that be still managed to put on a show…and what a show it was!! We witnessed 17 (mostly) memorable races and crowned a record equaling seven time World Champion.

Other than Lewis Hamilton’s Championship feat what other drivers impressed in 2020? There were a number of stand out performances but as always the only way to really gauge the relative performance of each driver is to compare them to their teammate – the only other driver who has exactly the same opportunity to perform.

For a number of years after each race we have updated six head to head factors to monitor who is outperforming their teammate. At the end of a hard fought 2020 season (especially in the midfield) we analyse the results, look at the casualties and also look ahead to 2021.

For a full description of the six H2H factors check out our H2H Explanatory Notes.


WINNER: Lewis Hamilton, 6:0

Another devastatingly imperious year from the now seven times World Champion. He can be a divisive character for some but few could argue that Lewis Hamilton is one of the best drivers to ever pull on the overalls in F1. Is he the GOAT...well he isn't done yet and we look forward to analysing his career in more detail in the future.

In comparison to his teammate Hamilton again dominated Valtteri Bottas in 2020.  The final score of 6 nil was the same as 2019...and 2018, with the Finn's only factor win since joining the team being in 2017 when he headed Hamilton in total laps in the top 10.  That's one factor win to Valtteri compared to 23 for Lewis in their four years together!

After George Russel’s performance in Bahrain the rumours of a potential move to Mercedes in 2021 were in full force but Valtteri has managed to secure another year with the team. Few would doubt the likeable Finn is an extremely capable driver but it feels like Mercedes would prefer to keep a relatively compliant wingman rather than risk pairing Hamilton with a “young gun”. Having said that Lewis is yet to sign a contract for 2021…


WINNER: Charles Leclerc, 6:0

The changing of the guard. Charles Leclerc beat Sebastian Vettel 4:2 in our 2019 head to head (interestingly Vettel was leading Leclerc 5:0 at midseason in 2019). In that year Charles achieved his first win (of two) but also made a number of errors. In 2020 a more polished Leclerc saw off his four time World Champion teammate six nil in our head to head.

Ferrari’s dismal year in 2020 was at times painful to watch for fans of the Scuderia but the glimmer of hope for the future was the young Monagasque’s performance. Charles regularly put the Ferrari in a grid position the car arguably didn’t deserve and his race craft didn’t include the number of errors of 2019.

For Sebastian Vettel his time at Ferrari, like Fernando Alonso before him, didn’t result in a Championship. It must be a bitter pill for the German to swallow that he came close to securing a title and emulating his countryman Michael Schumacher but in the end was soundly beaten by his teammate. How Seb will fair in 2021 against a comfortable Lance Stroll at the “new” Aston Martin team will be extremely interesting to see.


WINNER: Max Verstappen, 6:0

Sadly a tale of two drivers at Red Bull in 2020. Max Verstappen had an exceptional season ending 2020 only nine points behind second placed Valteri Bottas in the World Drivers Championship. As the only driver to consistently trouble the Mercs Max undoubtedly also troubled his teammate with Alexander Albon finishing the season seventh in the Championship. With a six nil result in their head to head and Max blowing Alex away 17 nil in qualifying the writing was probably on the wall.

There is no doubt Albon had his share of bad luck in 2020 but the likeable Thai Brit was too consistently behind his teammate to offer support in the fight against Mercedes. It was not surprising to see RBR drop Albon for 2021 after giving him a season and a half to prove himself (compared to only half a season for his predecessor Pierre Gasly). It might be a tough school but it’s hard to argue with the stats. Whether the experienced Sergio Perez will be able to match the ultra talented Verstappen in 2021 is one of the key questions for next year.


WINNER: Daniel Ricciardo, 5:1

The final result of 5:1 perhaps flatters Esteban Ocon after what was probably Daniel Riccardo’s best and most dominant year over a teammate. After the Honey Badger’s 6 nil thrashing of Nico Hulkenberg in 2019 we were extremely interested to see how he would matchup with one of the young guns in 2020. He lifted his game.

Like Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, in 2020 Riccardo consistently put the Renault in grid positions it arguably didn’t deserve. In 2018 Ocon beat Sergio Perez 16:5 in their qualifying head to head. In 2020 Ricciardo smashed Ocon 15:2. Different teams, different engines and a host of other variables that may affect a driver but in 2020 Dan’s one lap pace clearly maximised the machinery at his disposal.

The Australian is at the top of his game. His move to McLaren in 2021 has much potential and we are very much looking forward to finding out what they can achieve together (with a Mercedes engine). For Esteban Ocon…train hard young man…you have a two time World Champion with unfinished business to deal with in 2021. How good is Fernando Alonso? Very Good…check out our analysis of his career here.


WINNER Draw 3:3

A year to probably forget for the HAAS team but one to remember for us here at F1B. Not only because it’s probably the last time we will see both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen drive in F1 but also because their draw in the final head to head battle couldn’t have been more fitting after their four years as closely run teammates.

Grosjean and Magnussen have been extremely evenly matched teammates but even with many intra team crashes (much to Guenther Steiner’s often animated chagrin) they appear to have remained friends. Though Kevin has bested Romain 14:9 in our head to head factors over their four years together the Dane has beaten the Frenchman by just one point in qualifying in the 77 race weekends they have been teammates!

During their careers in the right team either driver arguably had the talent to be WDC and we look forward to seeing what both can do in the future in categories outside of F1. For HAAS 2021 may be another difficult year with no significant rule changes and two rookies stepping up. Having said that having a Schumacher on the Formula 1 grid again will be fantastic for the sport.


WINNER: Sergio Pérez, 5:0

Though pipped at the post for third in the Constructors Championship 2020 was still a memorable year for Racing Point. The team achieved three podiums (after none in 2019) including Sergio Perez’s emotional win at the Sakhir Grand Prix. And speaking of Checo Perez…what a year! Fourth in the Drivers Championship (previous best seventh) and consistent race craft that earned him a call up to the coveted Red Bull Racing seat next to Max Verstappen for 2021.

Yes Lance Stroll is the son of the team’s billionaire owner and has had somewhat of a leg up to get where he is but in Formula 1 there’s nowhere to hide on track. Stroll has shown some serious pace both at Williams and Racing Point including taking pole position at this years Turkish Grand Prix. Checo Perez’s 5:0 (1 draw) head to head result following his 4:1 result (1 draw) in 2019 against Stroll shows the form he is in. Perhaps it was too early in his career for Checo to join McLaren in 2013 but his consistency and race craft in recent seasons means in 2021 Checo may be Max Verstappen’s biggest challenge in a number of years.


WINNER: Carlos Sainz, 5:1

Look at the dart board – it was close! Though Carlos Sainz beat Lando Norris 5:1 it was seriously close in every factor in their 2020 head to head.

In his 2019 debut year Norris showed his pace beating Sainz 11:10 in qualifying but was inconsistent in races scoring roughly half his teammate’s Championship points. Fast forward to 2020 and they were separated by eight Championship points with Lando again beating Chilli by one in qualifying.

Lando and Carlos will lose their teammate bromance in 2021 with both set for some serious teammate challenges. Norris is going to need to maintain his momentum against an in form Daniel Ricciardo and Sainz will need to prove his pedigree when he replaces Vettel at the Scuderia. We’re really looking forward to these two matchups!


WINNER: Pierre Gasly, 6:0

Pierre Gasly was unceremoniously cut from his Red Bull Racing seat half way through 2019. It was sink or swim for the Frenchman…he swam. 2020 was a fantastic year for Pierre including his maiden win in Italy and the team’s first since a young Seb Vettel won at a wet Monza in 2008. Though Checo Perez may have scored the RBR drive for 2021 if Pierre can maintain his 2020 performance perhaps he is a chance to regain the seat in 2022.

Daniil Kvyat is quick – he bettered Albon 4:2 in their head to head half way through 2019 before Alex was promoted to the RBR seat. Daniil has had a number of chances under the Red Bull umbrella but unfortunately it looks like his F1 career may be at an end.


WINNER: Kimi Räikkönen, 4:1

Alfa Romeo was another Ferrari powered team who had a very disappointing year in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2019 Raikkonen and Giovinazzi scored a total of 57 Championship points but this year that total plummeted to just eight. Certainly the drivers cannot be held responsible for the team’s performance but it was still somewhat surprising to hear both the Italian and Finn had retained their seats for 2021.

A positive for Alfa must have been the progress Antonio made in 2020. After losing 6 nil to the Ice Man in 2019 Giovinazzi had a solid showing in 2020 even beating Kimi in their qualifying matchup. A big question for 2021 is will it be Kimi’s last year in F1 or will he follow in the steps of Valentino Rossi and continue at the highest level of motorsport despite being a quadragenarian?


WINNER: George Russell, 3:1

What a year for Williams and for George Russell in particular. During the year the iconic Williams family sold all their shares in the team to a private investment firm. While a sad day for the purists hopefully fresh capital will assist the team to move up the grid in the coming years. Though there were glimpses of an increase in pace compared to recent years the team still failed to score a solitary Championship point in 2020.

What a year of mixed emotions for George Russel! The head to head win of 3:1 and a draw over Nicholas Latifi doesn’t really do justice to the dominance the Brit had over his Canadian teammate. With a 16 nil qualifying result over his Williams teammate (Russell drove one race for Mercedes) George shone in one lap pace. Russell also looked certain to score his first Championship point when behind the safety car at Imola only to make an uncharacteristic mistake and crash out. Nevertheless the Brit had showed enough to get a one race callup to Mercedes to replace the Covid stricken Lewis Hamilton. After missing his first pole position in F1 by less than a tenth of a second and in a strong position to win the race George had a string of bad luck finally finishing ninth though also taking fastest lap on the way for his first (three) Championship points.

With both drivers staying with the team in 2021 and with George Russell eyeing a future full time Mercedes seat Nicholas Latifi is going to have his hands full trying to match the young Brit.

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Comments (5)

  • Great Analysis. What software did you use to make the tables and graphs?

      3 months ago
    • Thanks Aryaman. The tables are just html/css from our website No software for the graphs. The are created bespoke with Python code using the matplotlib package

        3 months ago
    • Alright. Thanks a lot

        3 months ago
  • HAAS: The most balanced team.

    Lando out qualifying Sainz is still impressive despite being his only victory.

      3 months ago
    • Absolutely. Very impressive season for Norris. He was only just behind Chilli in all the other factors

        3 months ago