Formula 1 managing director or motorsport, Ross Brawn, has shared his opinion on who was his ‘driver of the year’, and it won’t come as much of a surprise.
Brawn, a former Mercedes team boss who oversaw Lewis Hamilton’s switch from McLaren to Mercedes, has put the Briton at the top of his ranking and explained his reasoning…
“I think it has to be Lewis, and I say has to be in the sense that he has set a new benchmark in terms of world championships,” he told the F1 Nation podcast.
“I think it’s very easy for people to assume that he had the best car. It’s an easy exercise and it’s far from the case. He definitely won races he shouldn’t have won.”
Brawn highlighted the Turkish Grand Prix where Hamilton started down in sixth and rose to the top in difficult conditions, which saw him clinch his record-equalling seventh title.
“We think of Turkey, probably the most difficult race of the year, and he sat there quietly getting on with it until the opportunity came and there he was in the pound seat and he won the race.
“He just endorsed what we already knew, that he is a truly exceptional driver. Definitely in the higher echelons of the Schumacher’s and the Senna’s, he’s in that group, there’s no doubt about it.”
Brawn described Max Verstappen as “unlucky” in 2020, after the Dutchman scored just two race wins, but believes the 23-year-old has shown he has grown as a driver compared to his early seasons.
“I thought Max matured very well this year. If we think back to the Max of a couple of years ago… He was pretty unlucky this year, I have to say,” added Brawn.
“There were a couple of times the car didn’t quite [perform] and he got caught up in accidents that were not his fault and we were deprived of seeing some great races from him.”
Brawn does however believe the future is bright for F1 with new cars coming in 2022 which will allow for closer racing, and the likes of rising talents, with Brawn noting George Russell’s performance with Mercedes in Sakhir.
“We’ve got a really great run of drivers and I think we were all massively excited by George Russell getting in the Mercedes. That was a fairytale story that didn’t quite happen but I don’t think we will forget that. We’ve had some great stories this year.
“I’m optimistic with the group of drivers that we have, that we are going to have some great races in the future, particularly when we are going to try and improve the cars and the competitiveness of the teams and the ability to follow.”