Verstappen heads 2021 poll of F1 bosses' top 10 drivers

Drivers' end of season photograph. 12.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina
© XPB 

Max Verstappen has taken his second crushing victory over Lewis Hamilton in less than a week, by coming out top of Autosport magazine's annual anonymous pole of Formula 1 bosses naming their choice of best driver of the year.

Nine out of the ten team principals took part, with only Ferrari's Mattia Binotto opting to sit this one out on the sidelines.

They were all asked to name their top ten drivers of the season which were duly scored using F1's traditional system. For the last five years the top two have invariably featured Hamilton and Verstappen, with Hamilton always coming out on top.

Last year Hamilton received 171 points to Verstappen's 156, but this year for the first time it was Verstappen who was named as their choice of best driver on the grid in 2021, with Hamilton having to accept the runners-up spot instead.

The result was fittingly close, with Verstappen scored on 188 points which was 14 more than Hamilton received.

Some way further back, and perhaps in part due to Binotto taking part, McLaren driver Lando Norris managed to edge out Carlos Sainz for third place, a year-on-year climb of four positions for both. Norris was pipped to fifth in the actual drivers standings by Sainz by just 3.5 points after Abu Dhabi.

The pair had been team mates at McLaren until the end of 2020. Sainz' successor at Woking, Daniel Ricciardo, had been fourth in last year's pole but didn't even make the top ten this time despite claiming victory in the Italian GP, reflecting his early post-transition struggles and inconsistent form.

Sainz' new team mate at Maranello, Charles Leclerc, had finished a single point behind Norris in the final championship standings and was sixth in team principals pole.

That put him just behind Alpine's Fernando Alonso, who was listed in fifth on his return to Formula 1 after a two year sabbatical competing in endurance sportscar racing. His team mate Esteban Ocon just made the cut in tenth place in the pole.

A strong season for Pierre Gasly saw the AlphaTauri driver named in seventh place behind Leclerc, while George Russell's strong summer run which included his first podium finish saw the Williams driver in eighth.

The Briton's eye-catching run of four points-paying results from five races over the summer helped secure his promotion to Mercedes. The man he replaced, Hamilton's reliable 'wingman' Valtteri Bottas, was named ninth for a second consecutive season in the team boss poll as he heads to Alfa Romeo for 2022.

There was no room on the list for Formula 1's most experienced driver Kimi Raikkonen, who has called time on a career spanning 349 race starts over the course of two decades.

And Sergio Perez was a notable omission. The former Racing Point driver failed to make the top ten despite being fifth in last year's pole and finishing fourth in the final drivers standings despite his move to Red Bull and making a big impact in the team's championship campaign.

  1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull - 188 pts
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - 174 pts
  3. Lando Norris, McLaren - 100 pts
  4. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari - 70 pts
  5. Fernando Alonso, Alpine - 63 pts
  6. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari - 58 pts
  7. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri - 56 pts
  8. George Russell, Williams - 44 pts
  9. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes - 43 pts
  10. Esteban Ocon, Alpine - 41 pts

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