FORMULA 1 2020 TOP BEST DRIVERS
F1Lead presents its best Formula 1 drivers of the 2020 season.
It has been the most remarkable of seasons, that appeared at one stage might never get off the ground as Covid-19 took a stranglehold.
But Formula 1 found a way, producing a captivating 17-race season that may have resulted in Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes winning the titles again, but not without plenty of drama along the way.
Some drivers shone, others struggled, so without further ado, we present our best of the F1 drivers of 2020.
Let’s face it, there really was no other candidate for the number one slot. With the exception of contracting COVID-19 that resulted in him missing the first grand prix of his entire F1 career, Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed a stellar season.
Lewis Hamilton led the way both on and off the track as he dominated en route to creating yet more F1 history.
Lewis Hamilton reached new heights in 2020, a year in which he cemented himself as statistically the most successful driver in F1 history alongside campaigning for equality and an anti-racism push.
On paper, 11 wins and 10 pole positions from the 16 races he contested would suggest that Hamilton had by far the best car on the grid as he blew away the competition to secure the title with three races to spare to match Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record of seven world championships, but he still demolished teammate Valtteri Bottas.
It was a season in which he also set a new record for most wins of all time, eclipsing Schumacher’s tally in Portugal.
Bottas often ran Hamilton close in qualifying but Hamilton was simply in a different league on race day, turning his Saturday deficit into victory at the Nurburgring and Imola with his superior race-craft and abilities in wheel-to-wheel combat coming to the fore.
Notable highlights came in qualifying for both the Styrian and Belgian GP rounds, as well his methodical approach which resulted in a title-sealing wet weather masterclass in Turkey on a day in history when his Mercedes was not the fastest car on track.
Rare errors at Monza and Sochi acted as minor blotches on what was an otherwise flawless campaign as Hamilton asserted his supremacy at the top. Worryingly for his rivals, neither his speed nor motivation is showing any signs of dropping.
Without doubt one of the highlights of the season was Gasly’s astonishing victory in the Italian Grand Prix with AlphaTauri, a case of being in the right place at the right time to capitalise on the misfortune of others, notably Hamilton.
Pierre Gasly’s F1 redemption arc was completed in 2020 as he took a shock first victory in the sport for AlphaTauri amid a brilliant season.
After his knock backs and Red Bull rejection in 2019, Pierre Gasly hit back with remarkable resilience as he carved out the best season of his F1 career to date with AlphaTauri.
Naturally, his dream maiden F1 victory at Monza will be remembered as the standout moment of 2020. Aided by a large slice of good fortune and luck, Gasly found himself in the unlikely position of leading the Italian Grand Prix and resisted intense late pressure to fend off McLaren’s Carlos Sainz to take his first win in the sport and deliver one of F1’s greatest feel good moments of the year.
But Monza was just the highlight of a number of accomplished drives Gasly produced across the season. Following on from his strong end to 2019, the Frenchman continued to build on his performances and took important momentum into an unprecedented 2020 campaign.
Gasly was back to his best at AlphaTauri as he worked to successfully rebuild his reputation following his demotion from Red Bull that left his career up in the air in a year in which he had also suffered personal tragedy after losing his best friend Anthoine Hubert.
Gasly claimed 10 points finishes across the 17-round campaign to earn himself a spot inside the top-10 in the drivers’ championship, with particularly outstanding drives coming at Spa, Portugal and Bahrain.
He also made it into Q3 on eight occasions as he comprehensively outperformed teammate Daniil Kvyat in both qualifying and the races, beating the Russian 12-2 in the Saturday head-to-heads and managing 63 points compared to Kvyat’s 26.
Now mentally stronger than ever having recovered from his lowest of lows, Gasly was reliable and consistently fast as he not only secured his future in F1 and proved his qualities beyond doubt, but also asserted himself as a team leader at AlphaTauri.
Despite catching coronavirus and facing uncertainty over his F1 future, Sergio Perez was one of the most impressive and consistent drivers on the grid in 2020.
Sergio Perez produced a truly outstanding 2020 season. The Mexican confessed Racing Point’s controversial RP20 challenger was the best car he’d ever driven after pre-season testing, and his assessment was justified with a brilliant campaign.
Racing Point was frustrated to have only scored one podium by the halfway mark of the campaign given it boasted the fastest car of the midfield, but Perez would use this to his advantage in the second half of the season as he claimed a remarkable fourth place finish in the championship, having scored points in every race he finished.
That was despite missing both Silverstone rounds – where Perez felt Racing Point’s performance was strongest – as Perez’s consistency proved hugely important in his rise up the championship order. He followed up an excellent second-place finish in Turkey with a stunning last-to-first fairytale maiden victory at the 190th attempt in Bahrain, one week after he lost a certain podium due to an engine failure.
After putting in the strongest season of his career, Perez is fully deserving of his opportunity to return to the front of the grid and drive race-winning machinery at Red Bull.
It will be fascinating to see how he shapes up against Max Verstappen and whether his combination of experience, speed and race craft and guile can help Red Bull provide a greater challenge to the dominant Mercedes squad in 2021.
You sense so much more was possible for Verstappen, but five retirements – astonishingly including in all three grands prix in Italy – in 17 races tell their own story, and not one was of his own making.
In the other 12 races, Verstappen finished on the podium on 11 occasions, with two wins, six runner-up slots and a trio of thirds as he was quite clearly the best of the rest behind Hamilton.
In qualifying, prior to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 23-year-old Dutchman could do nothing to match the pace of the Mercedes over one lap, to such an extent he joked at one stage that for the post-race written media interview the chair reserved for third on the grid bore his impression.
In all seriousness, Verstappen was the only driver to give Mercedes a run for its money, and that will more than likely be the case again next year due to the relative stability in the regulations.
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