2021's Top 5 F1 team-mate pairings

Ferrari and Red Bull (Via Instagram @scuderiaferrari, @redbullracing)
Ferrari and Red Bull (Via Instagram @scuderiaferrari, @redbullracing)

For most people who are less familiar with the sport, F1, on the face of it, seems like an individual sport. Many do not realize that an entire team's effort goes behind the success of the man under the helmet, sitting in his car and flying past the checkered flag. Another common misconception that people often have is that your teammate is your greatest enemy, and while this may be true on certain occasions, a great teammate pairing can make all the difference in the world for where a team stands in the constructors' championship at the end of a season.

Whilst the definition of what is considered to be the "best" teammate pairing may differ for everyone, this ranking considers factors including the quickest pair, the one that works best together, as well as the team-mate pairing whose performance has consistently been closely matched.

Here is the ranking for 2021's F1 team-mate pairings:

#1 Ferrari

With a massive jump from P6 in 2020 to a strong P3 finish in the 2021 F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari teammates pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz scored 323.5 points with a total of five podiums this season. Throughout the season, both Ferraris were seen finishing the race one behind the other in six different races. At the end of the year, the two were separated by 5.5 points in the drivers' standings, with Sainz taking P5 from Leclerc at the very last race in Abu Dhabi with a podium whilst the Monégasque driver finished at P7 with a one-point deficit to Lando Norris of McLaren.

In his first year with the Italian constructor, Sainz fit perfectly into the team and completed the season with an impressive streak, finishing the last 14 races on points consecutively. At the same time, moments of poor fortune were balanced out by Leclerc, whose six P4 finishes were on the brink of a podium. Despite an undeniably weak first half, the team picked up massively in the second half of the season to not only put up an intense fight with McLaren for P3 but also lead the British team by 48.5 points by the end of the F1 season.

#2 Red Bull

Ever since the departure of Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull in 2018, the Austrian team has struggled to find a suitable teammate for their star driver Max Verstappen. This year, however, it seems as though the team has finally found the perfect driver to complement the Dutchman in Sergio Perez, whose indispensable support contributed greatly to Verstappen's first championship victory. Although the Mexican driver had inconsistent performances and struggled to settle in in the first half of the season, with five podium finishes in 2021, Perez seems to have found his comfort with the team. He finished P4, the highest standing achieved by a Red Bull F1 driver apart from Verstappen since 2016.

The 2021 F1 season saw Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton as title contenders. Whilst Verstappen managed to achieve his first title as world champion in the final race in Abu Dhabi, it would not have been possible without Perez's unbelievable defense against Hamilton which allowed Verstappen to close the gap and eventually take the win. Similarly, the Turkish Grand Prix was another example of Checo's prowess when his intense wheel-to-wheel battle with Hamilton allowed Verstappen to stay ahead and earn significant points over his title rival.

#3 Alpine

The two biggest highlights of the 2021 F1 season for Alpine were undoubtedly Estaban Ocon's phenomenal maiden win in Hungary and Fernando Alonso's first podium finish in 7 years at the Qatar Grand Prix. The major contributor to both achievements were the teammates themselves. Alonso's glorious defense against Lewis Hamilton in the Hungarian Grand Prix and Ocon who managed to return the favor and "defend like a lion" against Sergio Perez in Qatar make them a great team, as also reflected in the final results at the end of the year.

Although the team finished in P5 in the F1 constructors' standings, Ocon and Alonso managed to battle it out with Alpha Tauri and emerge victorious with a 13-point lead by the end of the season. They may not have been the fastest pair on the grid, but their teamwork gave them the edge over other driver line-ups this year.

#4 Mercedes

The 2021 F1 season marked Valtteri Bottas' fifth and final year with the eight-time F1 world champion constructor, alongside Lewis Hamilton. Although the Briton was unable to achieve a record-breaking eighth F1 drivers' championship win, the strong pairing together managed to take the team to the top once again.

Despite failing to score combined points in nine races, the team pulled it together at the end with extremely strong point finishes by both drivers who also shared the podium eight times this season, making the Mercedes pairing undeniably the quickest all season.

#5 McLaren

In his very first year with the team, Daniel Ricciardo's maiden win at the Italian Grand Prix gave McLaren their first win since 2012. The win also marked the only 1-2 finish of the 2021 F1 season with Ricciardo's team-mate Lando Norris, right behind the Australian in P2. With Norris' incredible momentum and 4 podiums, McLaren started the year with a comfortable lead over Ferrari even though Ricciardo undeniably took a while to find comfort with his new team.

As the season progressed, however, while the gap between the two team-mates in terms of performances and total points began to reduce, the team as a whole started to fall behind in the fight for P3 in the constructors' standings and ended the season with a 48.5-point deficit against Ferrari.

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Edited by Anurag C