Sebastian Vettel’s humbling, Max Verstappen dominance: F1 2020 final head to heads

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton vs Valtteri Bottas

Hamilton 11-5 Bottas
Best result: Hamilton 1st, Bottas 1st
Poles: Hamilton 10-5 Bottas

Hamilton 12-4 Bottas
Best result: Hamilton 1st, Bottas 1st
Wins: Hamilton 11-2 Bottas
Podiums: Hamilton 14-11 Bottas
Points: Hamilton 347-223 Bottas

Hamilton missed one race

Lewis Hamilton’s dominance in the championship was reflected in the Mercedes head to head over his team-mate. Comfortably ahead in all the key metrics, Hamilton remains as formidable a force for Valtteri Bottas to tackle as ever. Saying that, Bottas’ 11-5 qualifying deficit belied what was often a very tight battle over a single lap, often decided by a tenth of a second, although the pace gaps were regularly bigger in Hamilton’s favour on a Sunday.

Bottas won the season-opening race in Austria in July, but Abu Dhabi was just the third time he had beaten Hamilton, who was still feeling the after-effects of Covid-19, in the season that followed.

Red Bull: Max Verstappen vs Alexander Albon

Verstappen 17-0 Albon
Best result: Verstappen 1st, Albon 4th
Pole positions: Verstappen 1-0 Albon
Q3 appearances: Verstappen 17-14 Albon

Verstappen 12-4 Albon*
Best result: Verstappen 1st, Albon 3rd
Wins: Verstappen 2-0 Albon
Podiums: Verstappen 11-2 Albon
Points: Verstappen 214-105 Albon

In the end there was no hiding place from the stats or data for Alex Albon when Red Bull made their choice on Max Verstappen’s team-mate for 2021. The Dutchman proved unbeatable in qualifying and only didn’t take the Sunday ‘score’ at the team in four races he failed to finish and Albon did.

The 11-2 podium record was also telling, with both of Albon’s top-three finishes coming late in the season. Having shown in recent seasons that he now also the consistency to go with his formidable speed and race craft, Verstappen will provide the incoming Sergio Perez with a similarly tough yardstick to try and compete with.

*both drivers retired from the Austrian GP, so no score is awarded for that race

McLaren: Carlos Sainz vs Lando Norris

Sainz 8-9 Norris
Best result: Sainz 3rd, Norris 4th
Q3 appearances: Sainz 14-14 Norris

Sainz 8-8 Norris*
Best result: Sainz 2nd, Norris 3rd
Podiums: Sainz 1-1 Norris
Points: Sainz 105-97 Norris

The friendly and fun team-mate pairing at McLaren over the last two seasons was also arguably the grid’s most competitive, helping push the team to a return to third in the Constructors’ Championship in 2020.

There was little to choose between Sainz and Norris across all the metrics, although the former achieved marginally the better race results on average despite some early-season misfortune to finish higher in the Drivers’ Championship.

*Sainz did not start the Belgian GP, so no score is awarded for that race

Racing Point: Sergio Perez vs Lance Stroll

Perez 10-4 Stroll
Best result: Perez 3rd, Stroll 1st
Q3 appearances: Perez 12, Stroll 10

Perez 8-5 Stroll*
Best result: Perez 1st, Stroll 3rd
Points finishes: Perez 12, Stroll 10
Points: Perez 125-75 Stroll

Perez missed two races and Stroll one

With Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll both driving the most competitive car of their respective careers, the head-to-head battle at Racing Point brought greater rewards in 2020. They both certainly had their high points – for Stroll, there was that Istanbul pole and two podiums, while for Perez there was that emotional maiden win in Bahrain at the 190th attempt in F1.

Despite being dropped by the team for 2021, Perez enjoyed the stronger season with points finishes in every race his car finished helping him claim a career-best fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.

*both drivers retired from the Bahrain GP, so no score is awarded for that race

Renault: Daniel Ricciardo vs Esteban Ocon

Ricciardo 15-2 Ocon
Best result: Ricciardo 4th, Ocon 5th
Q3 appearances: Ricciardo 14-8 Ocon

Ricciardo 13-4 Ocon
Best result: Ricciardo 3rd, Ocon 2nd
Podiums: Ricciardo 2-1 Ocon
Points: Ricciardo 119-62 Ocon

Daniel Ricciardo set a consistently high bar in what was his one season as team-mate to Esteban Ocon at Renault. After a year on the sidelines, Ocon took time to get back up to speed in the early months of the campaign in particular and get to grips with the RS20.

In fact, it took Ocon until the final round in Abu Dhabi for him to outqualify Ricciardo in dry conditions, although the gaps had become smaller than the headline head-to-head suggests. Still, with plenty more Q3 appearances and almost double his team-mate’s points, this was a Ricciardo-dominated season at Renault ahead of his winter exit for McLaren.

Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel vs Charles Leclerc

Vettel 4-13 Leclerc
Best result: Vettel 5th, Leclerc 4th
Q3 appearances: Vettel 3-11 Leclerc

Vettel 5-10 Leclerc*
Best result: Vettel 3rd, Leclerc 2nd
Podiums: Vettel 1-2 Leclerc
Points: Vettel 33-98 Leclerc

Few could have quickly seen the one-sided scale of this one coming back in July, even if news that Sebastian Vettel was leaving Ferrari at the end of the year was already old news by then.

The four-time champion struggled all season to get the underperforming SF1000 to his liking and was firmly put into the shade by his younger team-mate and the man who effectively usurped him as Ferrari’s team driver, Charles Leclerc. All three of Vettel’s meagre Q3 appearances came in the season’s opening four rounds, with his podium in Turkey a rare highlight.

*both drivers retired from the Styrian GP and Italian GP, so no score is awarded for those races

AlphaTauri: Pierre Gasly vs Daniil Kvyat

Gasly 13-4 Kvyat
Best result: Gasly 4th, Kvyat 6th
Q3 appearances: Gasly 11-4 Kvyat

Gasly 9-8 Kvyat
Best result: Gasly 1st, Kvyat 4th
Points finishes: Gasly 10-7 Kvyat
Points: Gasly 75-32 Kvyat

Pierre Gasly made most of the headlines at AlphaTauri this year and, as evidenced by his large advantage in the Saturday head to head, was generally quicker than Daniil Kvyat in the AT01. Securing a race win in extraordinary and unexpected circumstances at Monza, Gasly was a consistent feature in the grid’s top 10.

Already in little doubt about his fate at the team, with Yuki Tsunoda long lined up to replace him before the end-of-season announcement was finally made, Kvyat’s best run of form actually came in the closing races with all four of his Q3 appearances achieved from Imola onwards.

Alfa Romeo: Kimi Raikkonen vs Antonio Giovinazzi

Raikkonen 8-9 Giovinazzi
Best result: Raikkonen 8th, Giovinazzi 10th
Q3 appearances: Raikkonen 1-1 Giovinazzi

Raikkonen 12-5 Giovinazzi
Best result: Raikkonen 9th, Giovinazzi 9th
Points finishes: Raikkonen 2-3 Giovinazzi
Points: Raikkonen 4-4 Giovinazzi

In their second year as team-mates, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi were more closely matched than was the case in the latter’s rookie year of 2019. Particularly so in qualifying, where Giovinazzi took the head to head for 2020 by outqualifying Raikkonen at each of the final three events.

Tied on points in a year top-10 appearances proved scarce for the Swiss team, the vastly-experienced Raikkonen was nonetheless the driver who looked more likely to challenge for points with some strong performances on Sundays.

Haas: Romain Grosjean vs Kevin Magnussen

Grosjean 7-8 Magnussen
Best result: Grosjean 14th, Magnussen 15th
Q2 appearances: Grosjean 3-3 Magnussen

Grosjean 7-6 Magnussen*
Best result: Grosjean 9th, Magnussen 10th
Points finishes: Grosjean 1-1 Magnussen
Points: Grosjean 2-1 Magnussen

Grosjean missed two races

In their four seasons as team-mates there was never much to choose between Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, irrespective of where Haas were in the order. In a particularly difficult 2020, when escaping Q1 alone was a tall order in the VF-20, they both felt they were driving well and getting the most out of the car as possible.

Romain Grosjean’s fiery accident in the Bahrain GP and subsequent early end to his season meant the final head to head with Magnussen was brought to an early conclusion.

*both drivers retired from the Austrian GP and Turkish GP, so no scores are awarded for those races

Williams: George Russell vs Nicholas Latifi

Russell 16-0 Latifi
Best result: Russell 12th, Latifi 15th
Q2 appearances: Russell 9-1 Latifi

Russell 10-6 Latifi
Best result: Russell 11th, Latifi 11th
Points: Russell (for Williams) 0-0 Latifi

Russell competed in one race for Mercedes

George Russell maintained his immaculate qualifying record over his F1 team-mates at Williams, following up his total Saturday dominance over Robert Kubica in 2019 with more of the same against Nicholas Latifi in 2020.

While he did finally break his points duck in his stunning Sakhir GP cameo for Mercedes – a result which would have been so much more but for rank misfortune – Russell’s wait for a top 10 result with Williams goes on into 2021 when he will again be team-mate to Latifi.

*both drivers retired from the Austrian GP and Turkish GP, so no scores are awarded for those races

Grid penalties are discounted when calculating qualifying head to heads, while no race-day score is awarded if both a team’s cars fails to finish or at least one car fails to start.

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