F1 2020:20 My Driver Preference

F1 2020:20 is a new series of blog posts and potentially videos (which I will post to the TGSF1 YouTube channel) ranking the 20 drivers on the grid based on a variety of factors.

Ideally when the season eventually gets started, if it ever does, I will be able to be more scientific with 2020:20 and look at the data and championship narrative as it plays out to rank drivers on more race specific attributes like overtaking and defending ability, race craft, over/under achievers etc. However, with no races underway, the only (and quickest for blog purposes) way of rating the drivers right now, is jut from my most to least favourite!

I’ll justify all my rankings with a few summary points, but it should be noted their are no drivers I actively dislike on the grid just ones I do see to connect with more than others…

So here is TGFF1’s ranking of the 2020 driver grid from my most to least favourite.

  1. Lando Norris

The young Brit acts the way that I would hope I would myself in his position. Considering all F1 drivers are at the absolute pinnacle of their sport, paid absolutely huge sums of money to do it and have admiring fans all over the world, not all of them seem to have as much fun doing it as others.

Lando showcases a carelessness and fun side that not all drivers seem to possess. He manages to avoid as much as possible the politics and negativity that being involved in the sport can bring and shares his journey very openly with his fans through his various and exceptionally popular social channels.

The question has been asked a lot of Lando as to how long he can keep up this side of his persona particularly if success on the track and a equally competitive teammate will begin to take more of a toll on his relaxed and fun-filled attitude to Formula 1.

2. Daniel Ricciardo

Most the points I just raised about Lando Norris you could have applied several years ago to the fun loving Australian. In fact, the only real reason Daniel isn’t numero uno is my own bias as a Mclaren fan and a Brit just gives Lando the edge.

Daniel is the class clown of the paddock always with a beaming smile and an amusing comment to make. Whilst his move to Renault seemed like a strange one to me (they never really looked like being close to competitive for a number of years) he has still been able to keep up his happy-chappy demeanour whilst cruising around in the lower points.

I would love to see him in a car that is pushing for podiums again but outside of just being a general misery guts – I cant see too many reasons that anyone could have a problem with the Aussie.

3. Carlos Sainz

If not for Netflix’s Drive to survive coupled with the fact he moved to McLaren I would likely not have Carlos so high on my list. The two aforementioned events really leading me to spend more time getting to know the Spaniard. 

Son of a Racer himself, Carlos has a very likeable demeanour and his passion and drive to succeed always shines through in everything he does. He self proclaimed one of the hardest workers on the grid and his determination shines through every time he gets his game face on. Someone who I think with the right machinery has the genuine potential to be a championship winning driver. He has shown on various occasions that he can get the best out of the car and last season felt like something of a breakthrough for him despite having a few years under his belt already. 

That potential that to me feels like it still locked inside him really draws me to him and I can see him being in the sport for many many years to come. 

4. Charles Leclerc 

The Monégasque has absolutely exploded onto the scene since he became an F1 driver in 2018. Trailing with him a past full of family tragedy his success and promotion to the Ferrari seat reads somewhat like a fairytale. 

Like many of the younger generation of drivers he is not afraid to have fun and showcase his enjoyment at being in the position he is. The model Ferrari driver he has the all the marketability that a top team needs and all the skill and raw passion to match. Unless you are a die hard Vettel fan I find little you could dislike from his 2019 campaign. Assuming Ferrari get their affairs in order some time in the next 4 years there is o doubt this man will be a future word champion. 

His driving style and on camera persona is very enjoyable to watch and or that reason he is certainly one of my top 5 drivers for 2020. 

5. Lewis Hamilton

The Greatest British F1 Driver of all Time as he will no doubt go down as- Lewis has been at the pinnacle of the sport for what seems like an eternity at this point.

Though he can divide opinion amongst fans, it would be hard for me to have him anywhere outside the top 5. His personality is not one I gel with as much as even others who are perhaps lower down on this list, but his relentless pursuit of excellence and his drive to be the best is enviable.

Not the funniest or most charismatic on the grid, but his calculating and persistent attitude is something to be admired and watching him wave the Union Jack atop a podium at Silverstone is something you cant help but enjoy as a fellow Brit.

6. Sebastian Vettel

The other man in red on the grid this year has many characteristics of his much younger teammate. Having been around long enough to have seen and done it all Seb is one of the most successful drivers on the grid at the moment. Whilst his demeanour had been understandably a little more subdued last  season due to the Ferrari not being as competitive as hoped early in the 2019 and teammates tensions in the latter half, the German still never fails to crack a decent joke or drop a comedic quip during an interview. 

He has a very relaxed and calming presence and other than the odd glum look always seems to be happy to entertain the fans and share his happiness with the fans. 

7. Pierre Gasly

Oh what a U-Turn this man has done in my brain. There is no point in denying it at the early stages of last season I was screaming at the tele how essential it was that Pierre was replaced by Alex Albon. The Frenchman was something of a clown in the travelling circus that is Formula 1.

But after watching Drive to Survive Season 2, not only did I completely changed my stance of Pierre I also felt a great deal of regret for being so torrid to him from my sofa at home for several months. The Frenchman’s journey in 2019 was truly brutal, thankfully culminating in the ”best moment” of his life. The anguish he suffered last year at Red Bull coupled with the overwhelming joy of his podium at Brazil has truly turned me into a fan for life.

8. Kimi Räikkönen

The Iceman is just unintentionally funny. All. Of. The. Time.

Some of his radio messages are absolutely legendary and you cant help but enjoy the way he plays the media and has a genuine disinterest in fame and attention which makes for not only hilarious viewing but also a side show in the the paddock itself that manages to entertain most fans of the sport.

For all those reasons and for the fact he has been one of the ever-presents in my enjoyment of the sport he is certainly a top 10 favourite of mine and many others.

9. Max Verstappen

More for the way he drives than his personality Max gets a top 10 spot. There is something about the raw talent he showcases on the track every week has that just draws you in and cant help but will him to get towards the front for an epic battle with any race leader.

His occasional churlish arrogance as on display during qualifying for Mexico last season is one of the things that can frustrate me about Max, it seems he would win over a few of his boo-boys if he took an extra second or so to think before speaking on occasion: But equally that is why so many like him. And with an entire nation’s passionate support pushing him on every ace, the dutch driver is surely closing in on a World Title in the coming years.

10. Sergio Perez

Checo is a great racer to watch, he always seems to outperform the car and draw as much performance as possible from the machinery at his disposal.

He can show finesse in his race craft were required whilst also not being afraid to get his elbows out and barge through the field. I always find him intelligent and engaging in interviews and reviews of himself and the car and he seems like an honest competitor. He will surely be upset that the season has been delayed after the ”Pink Mercedes” raised so many headlines at testing…

11. Kevin Magnussen

The Dane has a proper do not give a fuck attitude which I really enjoy. Whether it defending his position as aggressively as legal to his willingness to tell other drivers to suck his balls, all the way through to smashing his team principles office door.

Often described as a bit of a maverick his ”I’m just here to race” mentality and is colourful language in the car can throw up some amusing and entertainment during a race weekend.

12. Alex Albon

Not the most explosive personality on the grid but this man certainly lets his driving do the talking. I find Alex quite an interesting character, very softly spoken he never really grabs my attention when he is away from the track, but that transition to ultimate racer when in the car is something that I find quite interesting.

It was only really when he found himself in the Red Bull seat that the true talent of his became realised in F1. I am sure he will find his way onto the podium in 2020.

13. Valteri Bottas

The quiet Fin may find himself in the ‘Number 2 Driver’ category and his lack of challenge to Lewis despite a decent start to the season was quite thr frustration for the neutral.

I would likely not have him in my top 15 had it not been for the Beyond The Grid Podcast he did in October last year. A truly down to earth guy, getting to know more about him in that audio made me realise his persona around the paddock is more due to the fact he is a true gentleman and a consummate professional focussed on his goal and that context around his upbringing and his passion or racing helped being me on side.

14. Romain Grosjean

However easy it is to make memes and mock the Frenchman for his propensity to send his car into spins and into walls I cant help but like Romain.

He is possibly one of the most enthusiastic drivers on the grid and despite the fact he is (in my opinion) lucky to still be with a seat in Formula 1 when you consider the talent that is availableI do always enjoy watching Romain over a race weekend and is usually wearing a beaming smile… until Sunday.

15. George Russell

Yet to be given a car to really showcase the talent he exhibited in the junior Formula, George is a racing who I think handles himself very well in 2019 seen as he had to spend most the year cruising around with no one in front of him and no one behind him but his Williams teammate and cars coming to lap him.

Destined for a place at Mercedes in the coming years the driver is surely just biding his time before a move to a more competitive outfit. He clearly has his frustrations with the position he has found himself in but I think he had a wise head on young shoulders and will be exciting to see him in better machinery over the years.

16-20: The Rest

Stroll, Giovinazzi, Kvyat, Ocon, and Latifi.

I don’t dislike any of them – I just seem to see much less of them (Latifi as I don’t follow the junior Formula) as I do for the rest. For whatver reason they’ve either al just had less coverage here in the UK, or when they are being covered I struggle to connect or engage for some reason.

Even Ocon who has had previous spells in Formula One has never really engaged me. Stroll I think gets too much hate for his pay driver status but I understand why people recoil from him…

And that’s your lot! Let me know who you think I got wrong and what your order is!

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