Who Are the Most Underrated Drivers of the 2020 F1 Season?

Published 12/27/2020, 1:27 PM EST
Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc arrives at the Yas Marina Circuit Hamad I Mohammed/Pool via REUTERS

When the 2020 Formula One season concluded, Lewis Hamilton stormed to his 7th F1 title. Amid the Mercedes dominance, there were several drivers who flew under the radar. There were surprise wins from Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez, as well as many decent performances in the midfield.


Article continues below this ad

However, one really has to wonder about who were the most under-rated F1 drivers on the 2020 grid. Of course, someone like the Mercedes duo or a Max Verstappen do not really count, as people know what they are capable of.

Obviously, the following drivers are surely talented, but managed to get out every ounce of performance from their cars.


Article continues below this ad

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 12, 2020 Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in action during qualifying Pool via REUTERS/Giuseppe Cacace

Without a doubt, the 2020 Scuderia Ferrari was a terrible F1 car. There is no sugar-coating it at all. Both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel struggled in the SF1000.

However, the Monegasque was able to extract a bit more performance from the car. Considering how he managed to salvage 8th place, 5 places ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel, it is a heck of an achievement.

Leclerc managed to sneak 2 podiums, including at the season opener in Austria. In the meantime, he utterly outclassed teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Who else joins Charles Leclerc in the under-rated F1 drivers section?

McLaren has been in rebuild mode ever since they linked up with Renault. Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz have complemented each other well.

Carlos Sainz was a picture of consistency, having finished in the Top-10 in every race except for both Silverstone races. Admittedly, he got taken out of the race at Mugello, and a silly error at the start of the Russian Grand Prix saw him crash out. Sadly, a power unit issue forced him out of the Belgian Grand Prix before the lights went out.

Pierre Gasly’s entire Formula One career up to this point was a rollercoaster. When he started his F1 career at Toro Rosso, he put in impressive performances.

That earned him a promotion to Red Bull, something that most Toro Rosso drivers can only dream of. Unfortunately, it turned into a nightmare soon enough, and he got demoted to Toro Rosso halfway through the season.

Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 6, 2020 AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly celebrates winning the Italian Grand Prix on the podium Pool via REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

Luckily, he had his own back with that podium in Brazil 2019. Later on, he strung together impressive performances in the 2020 season.

Later in the season, Gasly became an unexpected winner at Monza, to his delight. Things were finally coming full circle for the Frenchman.

Finally, we have Williams F1 driver George Russell. He has definitely been one of the standout performers of the 2020 Formula One season.


Article continues below this ad

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 13, 2020 Williams’ George Russell the race Pool via REUTERS/Bryn Lennon

If his 2019 trouncing of Robert Kubica was not enough proof, he thoroughly dominated Nicholas Latifi. No matter how hard he tried, he always missed the points. Despite this, he always dragged the Williams car into places it was never seen before.

Soon, when Lewis Hamilton was down with COVID-19, Mercedes gave him a well-deserved promotion. Truthfully speaking, that Sakhir Grand Prix race win should have been his. Without the royal screw up in the pit stop, he could easily have won the race, which would have been so poetic.


Article continues below this ad

Hopefully, for the sake of these 4 drivers, the 2021 F1 season offers them a chance to truly showcase their talent. The likes of Leclerc, Sainz, Gasly and Russell are young and have their entire careers ahead of them.


Dhruv George

11433 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.