RANKING THE 2021 DRIVER LINE-UPS FROM WORST TO BEST
Ranking the 2021 driver pairings from worst to best
Written by Humza Khan
For the 2021 season there are 7 brand new driver line-ups including three rookies. In this article I will rank the line-ups from worst to best and give my personal reasons for each one. Relationship, skill and experience will all be taken into consideration.
#10 - Haas - Mick Schumacher & Nikita Mazepin
With the most inexperienced driver pairing on the grid this season with two rookies, its little surprise that Haas comes in at number 10 on this list. Mick Schumacher, last years F2 Champion comes in with a lot of hype and huge expectation, alongside the controversial Nikita Mazepin who placed 5th in the F2 standings. Although Mick has spoken respectfully of his relationship with Mazepin, the latter didn't exactly return the same respect, recently telling Match TV: "To be honest, his name does not matter to me". In the same interview he also claimed “We are not friends, but I can call us old friends. We did karting together." If this is anything to go by, it sounds like this relationship may get a bit fiery at some point. Only time will tell how much potential this line-up really has.
#9 - Alfa Romeo - Kimi Räikkönen & Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo are one of only three teams who have retained their 2020 line-up heading into 2021, this in turn has kept their line-up mediocre at best. The relationship between Kimi and Antonio seems to be pretty good but with Kimi possibly heading into his final season and way past his prime, although still showing flashes of brilliance. Antonio is expected to step up this season and show his full potential after a pretty average first two seasons, especially with plenty of Ferrari juniors waiting in the wings, ready to snatch that seat away.
#8 - Williams - George Russell & Nicholas Latifi
Another team with an unchanged line-up for this season is Williams, to be fair most of the personnel changes were done behind the scenes with the team starting their first full season without a member of family in charge. I think its fair to say the line-up is more reliant on Mercedes protégé and upcoming superstar, Russell as opposed to Latifi, although, I do think Latifi isn't as bad as people make him out to be, who isn't too bad on a Sunday. Though he does need to step up in Qualifying, especially against "Mr Saturday" himself. The pair do seem to get a long and have a fairly professional relationship but Latifi will have to prove himself this season if he wants to stay on for the future.
#7 - Alpine - Fernando Alonso & Esteban Ocon
To be completely honest, I think Alpine (previously known as Renault) are the only team on the grid to have decreased in firepower for 2021. Considering the strength of their car in 2020, the team should realistically be placed much higher up on this list. Ocon will surely be stronger than last season but I reckon they lost out heavily with Ricciardo leaving, even if it is Alonso who is replacing him, with 2 years out of F1 I don't think he's touching a prime Daniel Ricciardo, although I believe he'll still be fast enough to be the de facto team leader.
#6 - Aston Martin - Sebastian Vettel & Lance Stroll
It was difficult to decide who was gonna take 6th between newly rebranded Aston Martin and newly rebranded Alpine, Aston just about edges it though in my book although both teams are very similar with their line-up. Sebastian Vettel is past his prime and was comprehensively out-performed by Charles Leclerc in his final season with Ferrari but I think he still holds a slight advantage over Alonso due to his experience in modern F1 cars. Stroll on the other hand is on a very similar level to Ocon, although I would say Stroll holds a slight advantage in performance. It will be interesting to see how this line-up will hold up with both drivers having something to prove. Vettel has to prove he's not totally past it and is expected to beat Stroll. Stroll on the other hand has to outperform a Vettel who isn't in his prime anymore to prove he deserves his seat especially after the controversial decision to remove Perez.
#5 - Alpha Tauri - Pierre Gasly & Yuki Tsunoda
Alpha Tauri have a rookie joining their ranks for 2021 in the form of Yuki Tsunoda who is an exceptional talent and a brilliant choice for the Honda powered outfit, finishing 3rd in the F2 standings last season. Alongside Tsunoda is arguably one of the best drivers of 2020; Pierre Gasly, now a race winner and completely unrecognisable driver to the one who had a disastrous Red Bull stint in 2019. Pierre is now the uncontested team leader and will looking to use 2021 to propel himself even further into the limelight as he will surely be performing to sign for a new constructor for 2022. The potential in this line-up knows no bounds, the sky really is the limit with this pair.
#4 - McLaren - Daniel Ricciardo & Lando Norris
McLaren have taken a big step forwards with their line-up this season, with the two funniest drivers on the grid it looks set to be a firework of bromance with both drivers having \great relationship outside of racing and they both seem like great friends. Finishing 3rd in the constructors and now with a Mercedes PU and the incoming Daniel Ricciardo, the Woking team look set to make it back into the 'Big 3' once again. It does look it will be slightly one sided as Ricciardo is known as one of the 'Top 4' superstar drivers on the grid, Lando will have a lot to prove as his competition is a step up from Carlos Sainz although he holds the advantage of knowing the team and could take a huge step in his career if he can outperform Daniel.
#3 - Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas
The reigning Champions currently have the most experienced line-up on the grid and by far the most successful. I'd be lying if I didn't say that a big majority of that success has come from one side of the garage in the form of newly crowned 7 x World Champion Lewis Hamilton. Incredibly, at the time of writing Mercedes are still yet to confirm Hamilton's seat for 2021. Although Bottas plays an obvious back up role to Lewis, his consistency in announcing that he intends to compete for the title at the beginning of each season leads to a lot more expectation from fans which he is yet to deliver on, this season seems like make or break for the Finn, especially with George Russell waiting on in the wings ready to pounce for that seat in 2022. The relationship between Hamilton and Bottas is one of the most respectful on the grid with Hamilton praising Bottas in almost every pre race press conference, they tend get along well but the new recruits from their two biggest rivals in the for of likes of Ferrari and Red Bull are a lot more fresh and exciting than silver arrows' current line-up, which is unfortunate really especially if Mercedes end up in a one-horse race for the titles again.
#2 - Ferrari - Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz
Considering that the Italian outfit finished at the lower end of "Formula 1.5" in 2020 its actually incredible how much of an upgrade they've made on their line-up for this season. Charles Leclerc is considered a top 3 driver and his performances in a below average Ferrari last season has only enhanced his reputation, taking that car to places it just shouldn't have been and demolishing 4x world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel. His new team-mate, Carlos Sainz was one of the better drivers of last season even with a heavy amount of early season bad luck, this line-up looks to be one of the most exciting partnerships with two young but super fast and relatively experienced drivers, it may be the partnership I'm personally looking most forward to. I feel as if both drivers will get along very well as they're both calm and friendly characters and neither one comes across as aggressive on or off track. I think Charles will come out on top but Carlos will surely give him a run for his money.
#1 - Red Bull - Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez
At number one we have Red Bull, with in my opinion, the quickest line-up on the grid, Verstappen is currently at least the second best driver on the grid and arguably the fastest, alongside him he finally has a teammate who has the ability and the speed to actually back him and will on occasion be able to push him and beat him, in Sergio Perez. Sergio had one hell of a season in 2020 and was arguably another shout for driver of the year last season and is fully deserving of a title challenging F1 car. He may not be able to live with Verstappen who is beginning to enter the prime years of his career and will be looking to push Mercedes to the absolute limit. Perez will be a significant upgrade on Albon and will be able help Red Bull to take advantage of Mercedes when they lapse in performance, he will surely at least compete with Bottas. This is the line-up that promises the most fireworks with both drivers very competitive and aggressive on track and I doubt Max will be too happy if he gets out qualified or out-raced too regularly. I'm not too certain that they'll have bromance like the McLaren drivers but the speed of this pairing together... man this season needs to start ASAP.