With the fall-out from the dramatic Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale now petering out, F1’s 10 team principals have delivered their verdict over who was the better driver out of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in 2021.
Verstappen pipped Hamilton to the post to win his maiden F1 title in Abu Dhabi on December 12 in the most dramatic of circumstances, after a controversial safety car ruling from FIA race director Michael Masi.
The fall-out has been bitter with Mercedes immediately launching two protests following Masi’s safety car decision, while Hamilton has remained silent on social media as he continues to get over his F1 title heartbreak. And now with fans already desperately looking forward to the 2022 season, the 10 team bosses have voted for their number one driver of the year in F1’s annual poll – with the picks remaining anonymous. And just like at the Yas Marina circuit, it was Red Bull star Verstappen who came out on top over seven-time world champion Hamilton in the team principal voting. The F1 bosses were asked to pick their top 10 drivers of the year – with drivers being awarded scores based on the F1 points system currently in place.
That meant 25 points were handed to the top driver while the 10th-placed racer was given just a mere point. These scores would then be combined to create a final ranking from the votes. Verstappen came out on top for the first time among the team principals after receiving 213 points – 21 more than his Mercedes rival Hamilton (192).Hamilton was followed closely by a fellow Brit hoping to tread the same path and become a world champion – with McLaren’s Lando Norris coming third with 110. Norris began the season on fire with 10 successive points scores, including three podium finishes before his season petered out towards the end.
The trio were the only drivers to surpass the century mark, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz coming home in fourth on 85 points ahead of his team-mate Charles Leclerc on 70. Fernando Alonso (69), Pierre Gasly (64), George Russell (44), Valtteri Bottas (43) and Esteban Ocon (41) made up the rest of the top 10.After Hamilton missed out on the main prize this season, he will be desperate to exact revenge on his Red Bull rival next season – so long as he doesn’t retire. Speculation has swelled about retirement for the Brit with Hamilton having not broken his silence on social media following his heartbreak in Abu Dhabi. But his younger brother Nicolas has since explained why the seven-time world champion has remained silent on all social media platforms.
“I think he is just having a bit of a social media break, which I don’t blame him for,” Nicolas explained to fans during an exchange on streaming platform Twitch. “Social media can be a very toxic place. But he’s cool though. He’s fine.”