Throughout 2021, each driver is awarded a rating out of 10 for their performance across a grand prix weekend. We’ve taken the ratings and created an average based on the season so far. The order and rating are based on a numerical average throughout the season, rather than a pre-decided order after the opening 11 races of the season.

Max Verstappen - 9.64 

Max Verstappen might have relinquished the lead of the drivers’  championship after the Hungarian Grand Prix, but there’s no doubt he’s been F1’s star performer in 2021. While the Dutchman has arguably had the fastest car this season, he’s been pretty much faultless since the second round at Imola. The only blemish on his campaign is his failed overtake on Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain season-opener, where he ran wide at Turn 4 and was forced to give the position back. Four wins in five races looked like it was going to be a comfortable maiden title triumph for the Red Bull driver but three separate cases of bad luck, totally out of his control, has put the momentum back with Hamilton and Mercedes. A tyre failure cost him a guaranteed win in Azerbaijan, while he was taken out on the opening lap of the British GP by his main title rival. Hungary would have been a podium at worse had it not been for Valtteri Bottas.

Lando Norris - 9

Norris has emerged as one of the sport’s top talents with his spectacular run of form. Nine top-five finishes in the opening 11 rounds put him ahead of Bottas and Sergio Perez in the drivers’ championship. Remarkable given the deficit between McLaren and the top two teams but his sheer consistency has been unrivalled, Verstappen aside. Many expected Daniel Ricciardo to be the top dog at McLaren but it simply hasn’t materialised given the Australian’s inability to adapt to the MCL35M. Norris has taken the next step up as a driver and his performances in 2021 make him the second-best performing driver on the grid.

Charles Leclerc - 8.2

Next up is Leclerc in the Ferrari. 2021 has reminded us just how good the Monegasque is and why it is down to the Scuderia to deliver him a car capable of taking it to Verstappen and Hamilton. His pole positions at Monte Carlo and Baku were stunning, while his race-day performance at Silverstone should have earned him his first victory since 2019. His great speed does bring some downsides - his crash in Monaco qualifying meant he was unable to start the race due to a driveshaft hub failure, while a clumsy incident with Pierre Gasly on the opening lap of the Styrian Grand Prix could have easily been avoided. 

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Lewis Hamilton - 8.18

Some might think fourth on our list is harsh for the seven-time world champion given that he is leading the championship. Taking into account Verstappen’s bad luck in the first half of the year, his lead should be greater than eight points. While we saw Hamilton at his very best with his performances in Bahrain, Spain and France, there have been several high-profile mistakes that have impacted his rating. His off at Imola was saved by Bottas and Russell causing the red flag, while he finished seventh on merit at Monaco having been completely out-performed by his teammate. Azerbaijan was unfortunate but it still goes down as a Hamilton mistake because he was the one who pushed the brake bias forward. He was fortunate to win at Silverstone after his penalty, while in Hungary he should have won as well had it not been for the world-class defence of Fernando Alonso. Hamilton has set his standards so high in recent years but the first half of 2021 has been short of that.

Pierre Gasly - 8

Gasly continues to impress for AlphaTauri as he completes the top five of our mid-season driver ratings. Q3 appearances in all but two grands prix, while eight points finishes including a podium in Baku puts him eighth in the championship overall. It would have been interesting to see Gasly up against Alexander Albon in the second AlphaTauri but it’s clear that the Frenchman is suited to life at the Faenza-based outfit. 

Fernando Alonso 7.82

There were doubts as to whether Fernando Alonso still had what it takes to perform in F1. Up until Monaco, it looked as if the comeback was going to be unsuccessful with just two points finishes in the opening five races. Since Baku, Alonso has finished in the points at every grand prix, putting in some spectacular drives. Alonso’s starts in Azerbaijan and the Silverstone sprint race were reminiscent of his times with Ferrari in the early 2010s. To top it off, Alonso’s defensive masterclass up against Hamilton, not only allowed his teammate to take the win but showed everyone he has still got what it takes to go up against the very best.

George Russell - 7.72

Russell’s graduation to Mercedes is inevitable and given his performances in 2021, it would be thoroughly deserved. The Williams driver has maintained his 100 per cent qualifying record against Nicholas Latifi, progressing into at least Q2 in all but one of the opening 11 races. Russell made Q3 twice and picked up his first points as a Williams driver last time out at the Hungaroring. Latifi finished ahead of him on track but it was a just reward for Russell’s performances this season.

Carlos Sainz - 7.64

More credit needs to be given to Sainz for how he’s adapted to life with Ferrari so quickly, especially when comparing him to Ricciardo, Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, and the time they took to adapt to their new machinery. The Spaniard sits ahead of his teammate in the championship after his second podium finish of the season in Hungary, benefitting from Vettel’s disqualification. While it’s clear that Leclerc is still the faster driver, Sainz has often been within a whisker of his teammate. Nine points finishes in 11 races shows Ferrari was right to sign the Spaniard. 

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Esteban Ocon - 7.4

After struggling up against Ricciardo in 2020, many expected a repeat alongside newly-signed two-time champion Alonso. Ocon has fared better than expected, even without his recent maiden victory at the Hungaroring. He started the year well with regular Q3 appearances, scoring points in four of the opening five races. A drop in form coincided with suggestions from Ocon himself that his car wasn’t performing as it should, leading Alpine to change his chassis and several parts on his car for Silverstone. He found his form again as he returned to the top 10 before claiming a shock first-ever F1 win in Hungary. Inheriting the lead thanks to the first-lap chaos and Mercedes’ strategy blunder, Ocon kept it cool as he resisted immense pressure from Vettel throughout the 70-lap race.

Daniel Ricciardo - 6.91

Has Ricciardo been the 10th best performer in 2021? Probably not. The Australian has struggled immensely since moving to McLaren, leaving him 63 points behind Norris in the championship. While Ricciardo’s performances have been often lacklustre, he has regularly found himself in the top seven. He hasn’t really had a catastrophic weekend - Bottas in Baku, for example - hence why he’s maintained a solid average rating. 

Sergio Perez - 6.73

Perez insisted that it would take him at least five races to adapt to life with Red Bull. And what do you know, he won on his sixth start for the team after inheriting the lead from Verstappen in Azerbaijan. The problem for Perez is that his performances haven’t improved since Baku, in fact, they’ve gotten worse. Qualifying has been the Mexican’s Achilles heel, with his average qualifying position worse than Leclerc in the Ferrari. On race day, he’s a great performer but given how close Ferrari and McLaren are now, he’s often losing out too much in the early phase of the race. Given that Bottas is enduring his worst season as a Mercedes driver, being behind him in the standings with four fewer podiums isn’t a great first half of the year.

Lance Stroll - 6.73

While Lance Stroll hasn’t had a standout result so far this season, he’s been a steady performer in an Aston Martin car that simply isn’t as fast as the McLaren, Ferrari or even AlphaTauri. Stroll has six points finishes as opposed to Vettel’s three, while qualifying has been a closely-fought battle. The four-time champion is growing with confidence so Stroll will have to find a little extra in the second half of the season.

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Sebastian Vettel - 6.45

We’ve seen the very best and very worst of Vettel during his 11-race spell with Aston Martin. His drives in Monaco, Azerbaijan and Hungary were the 'Vettel of old', but he’s still capable of avoidable errors such as clattering into Ocon in Bahrain or spinning by himself at Silverstone. Given that Vettel, statistically at least, is one of the sport’s greatest drivers, three points finishes in 11 races simply isn’t good enough. The highs have been very high but greater consistency is what you’d expect from a driver of Vettel’s calibre.

Antonio Giovinazzi - 6.45

2021 has been a breakthrough year for Giovinazzi as he’s finally been able to get on top of Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying. The Italian has out-qualified his world champion teammate on eight occasions highlighting his significant improvement over one lap. Alfa Romeo simply doesn’t have the pace to score points on merit, although, given some of his qualifying performances, he will be disappointed to have just one point to his name.

Mick Schumacher - 6.36

There’s not much more you can ask from Mick Schumacher in his rookie year. He’s consistently ahead of teammate Nikita Mazepin and he’s been classified in every race so far. The German has shown glimpses of his true quality, defending from Verstappen for several laps in the early stages of the Hungarian GP. Schumacher needs to cut out his crashes in practice but overall it’s been a solid rookie year so far.

Kimi Raikkonen - 6.18

Six Q1 eliminations for Raikkonen in 2021 sums up where it’s going wrong for F1’s most experienced driver. Qualifying has let Raikkonen down as on race day, his racecraft is still up there with the very best on the grid. 

Yuki Tsunoda - 6

After his impressive debut in Bahrain, much was expected of Yuki Tsunoda. The Japanese rookie hasn’t beaten Gasly in qualifying at all this season, failing to progress from Q1 on five occasions. Sakhir, Azerbaijan and Hungary were highs for Tsunoda but frequent crashes and sheer lack of pace surely means Helmut Marko is running out of patience. 

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Valtteri Bottas - 5.81

Six podium finishes isn’t a bad return for Bottas but his three abysmal weekends at Imola, Baku and Hungary puts him 18th in our ratings. The Finn has shown why he is a dependable number two driver, making way for Hamilton in Spain and Britain on track to allow his teammate to take the victory. 2021 has ultimately shown why Mercedes should retain him - his ability to play the team game and still out-perform his second driver counterpart at Red Bull, but also why it needs to replace him as his off weekends are too frequent as of late. 

Nicholas Latifi - 5.37

Latifi hasn’t shown much sign of progress in his second year in F1 as qualifying remains his main weakness. Race day brings him closer to Russell’s level and points in Hungary, beating his teammate on track, was a nice reward for his efforts over the past 18 months. Latifi lacks ultimate pace but he’s a dependable, likeable performer who brings much-needed cash to the Williams team.

Nikita Mazepin - 4.64

Mazepin rounds up our list for Haas. Putting aside the pre-season controversy, based on his form in F2, I expected the Russian to run Schumacher close. It’s hasn't proved to be the case as he’s often been 0.5s off Schumacher. Mazepin has reduced the number of unforced errors, but his lack of pace has been the most worrying thing about his season so far.

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