The Most Underrated Drives of 2021 Formula 1 Season

Published 12/26/2021, 7:15 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after the start of the race REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Formula 1, in 2021, was filled with moments of brilliance, surprise, and sheer luck. But amongst all those moments, there were some drivers whose exploits went under the radar.


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Now that doesn’t mean what they achieved wasn’t worth a headline, but that what they achieved was simply outshined by the bigger events of that race.

So, let’s explore some of the most underrated performances of the 2021 season.


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1. Charles Leclerc, United States Grand Prix

The Ferrari driver had qualified in P4, which was a good result. And although he finished in P5, it was his stellar defense against the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo that went unnoticed.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 23, 2021 Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in action during qualifying REUTERS/Mike Blake

2. Fernando Alonso, Russian Grand Prix

Most of the memories fans will carry of Alonso from this season would be his stellar defense in Hungary and his podium finish in Qatar. He finished in P6 after starting in P6 as well, but his stellar performance fell just short of earning him that long longed podium which he finally got in Losail.

3. Pierre Gasly, Spanish Grand Prix

The Alpha Tauri driver could easily be the contender for the most underrated driver in 2021. With regular appearances in P5-P10, Gasly helped his team finish in P6 in the championship. And in Barcelona, Gasly salvaged a crucial point despite being relegated to the back with a time penalty.

4. Esteban Ocon, Qatar Grand Prix

At the Losail circuit, Ocon did for Alonso what Alonso did for him in Hungary—defend. The Frenchman defended bravely ‘like a lion’ against the charging Red Bull of Sergio Perez, who was on a hunt for a podium.

Ocon finished in P5, but his defense for his teammate went largely unnoticed.

5. Carlos Sainz, Turkish Grand Prix

Sainz stepped up his game in his first season at Ferrari. The Spaniard had four podiums throughout the season and finished in P5 in the championship, but his recovery drive in Istanbul was arguably the best of the bunch.


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He started the race in P15 and earned valuable points for his team as he finished in P8 and earned driver of the day.

Formula One F1 – Turkish Grand Prix – Intercity Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey – October 8, 2021 Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in action during practice REUTERS/Murad Sezer

So these were only a few of the great performances that we got to see from drivers in Formula 1 this season.


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Let us know which were the other underrated performances you loved in the comments section below.

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Shaharyar is a Formula 1 & NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for better part of the decade. A Max Verstappen and Ferrari supporter, he dreams of a pairing of the two in future.