Max Verstappen earns more bragging rights over Lewis Hamilton by topping prestigious poll

Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out

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Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has topped the annual team principals’ top 10 driver rankings, pipping Lewis Hamilton to top spot on the prestigious list. Red Bull star Verstappen secured a maiden world title in dramatic and controversial circumstances on Sunday after he and title rival Hamilton went into the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit tied on points.

The Dutchman passed the seven-time world champion – who had dominated for much of the race – on the final lap as a late Safety Car and tyre change swung momentum in his favour. 

Verstappen and Hamilton have commanded respect from the team bosses around the grid, with the two rivals finishing as the top two every year since 2016.

However, this is the first time the Dutchman has claimed top spot.

The list is a post-season tradition run by Autosport, who ask each of the F1 team principals to pick their top 10 drivers of the year. 

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The results are anonymous and tallied using F1’s own points structure from 25 points for first, 18 points for second and so on all the way to a single point for 10th.

Verstappen earned 188 points to win the ranking for the first time of his career while Hamilton was awarded 174.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes the 24-year-old inspired the team to victory in their titanic battle against Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. 

“I think we’ve just given him a better car and he’s made great use of it,” said Horner.

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“He’s finished every race either first or second bar one where he had half his car missing in Budapest. And the statistics talk for themselves: the amount of laps that he’s led, the pole positions, the race victories. 

“He’s been outstanding, and, so few mistakes under massive pressure.

“I think what you forget is the amount of pressure that there’s been building and building through the championship. 

“And the way, as a young man, that he’s dealt with and coped with that has been inspirational.”

McLaren star Lando Norris moved into third – up four places from 2020 – following his incredibly impressive season in which he secured a maiden pole position at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. 

Norris was the highest climber in the top 10 from last year, sharing the honour alongside former teammate Carlos Sainz, who finished in fourth after an incredible debut season with Ferrari. 

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso returned to the sport in 2021 and he rounds out the top five following a fine season with Alpine, which included a first podium since 2014.

Despite both men taking race wins in 2021, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo slipped outside the top 10 after originally sitting fifth and fourth respectively a year earlier.

The nine team principals surveyed were Toto Wolff (Mercedes), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Andreas Seidl (McLaren), Laurent Rossi (Alpine), Otmar Szafnauer (Aston Martin), Fred Vasseur (Alfa Romeo), Franz Tost (AlphaTauri), Jost Capito (Williams) and Gunther Steiner (Haas). The only team that did not take part was Ferrari.

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