This year, we have decided to rank the drivers in order for their end-of-season report. We are thus going to publish the 20 reports in the reverse order of the classification that the editorial staff of Nextgen-Auto established by noting the drivers.
Lando Norris’ sixth overall championship finish certainly does not reflect his level throughout the 2021 F1 season. The McLaren driver was very impressive in the first part of the season.
His frustrating races at Monza and Sochi, just like the slump that followed and which can be explained, should not make us forget the mastery of the Briton throughout the year, in the race as well as in qualifying.
Until the crash in the Hungarian Grand Prix, Norris was having a perfect season. Apart from his eighth place in Spain, he had made nine top 5 finishes in 10 races, including three podiums at Imola, Monaco and Spielberg.
In qualifying, Norris only missed Q3 once, and never again in the first half of the season. After missing a top 3 on Saturday at Imola due to an error, he managed to get to the front row at the Austrian Grand Prix.
In the second half of the season, he seemed favorite for pole position at Spa-Francorchamps, before crashing at the top of Raidillon. Zandvoort was his worst qualification, with a 13th place.
Fourth in Italy, he had a somewhat frustrating race, seeing his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo win. But his second place finish was his best result in F1, and he followed it up two weeks later with pole position in Sochi.
Dominant in the race, he was unfortunately trapped by the rain at the end of the race. In addition to his stubbornness to stay on track, he paid dearly for the lack of precision of information on the radio.
His seventh-place finish was the worst moment of his season, and Norris seemed to be marking time after that disappointment. But in reality, however, the Briton had a solid end to the season.
The main problem for him, as for the other pilots having driven with a customer Mercedes engine, was the wear of its power unit. The McLaren was less lively than the Ferrari and the AlphaTauri, or even the Alpine sometimes, during the last races.
Still, Norris had a strong end to the season with seven Q3s and seven top 10s in the final seven races of the season. Ricciardo made progress which made his team-mate feel freewheeling, but he was very consistent.
Faced with in-form Ferraris, he could not resist the return of Carlos Sainz to the championship, and had already had to give in to Valtteri Bottas and then Sergio Pérez earlier in the season, after having occupied third place in the championship for a long time.
While it was considered that Norris could find himself threatened by Ricciardo in 2021, the Briton shone and overshadowed his experienced teammate, who saved his season with a victory at Monza.
With a record of four podiums, a pole, a best lap, 21 Q3, as well as 20 top 10 including 10 top 5, Norris fully deserves his place as best driver behind the two tenors of the championship, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
6th in the championship with 160 points
— 4 podiums
— 1 pole position
— 1 fastest lap
Comparison with Daniel Ricciardo
Race: 14/6 in favor of Norris (when both have finished)
Qualifying: 15/7 in favor of Norris