Whilst the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen is taking most of the headlines from the current Formula 1 season, there is an interesting subplot with regard to how some drivers are adapting to their new teams, with Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso far outshining Daniel Ricciardo.
Baku was an exciting race on Sunday, despite the fact Pirelli’s tire issue influenced the outcome of the Grand Prix, yet it also provided us with a fair point of assessment for the drivers who changed teams during the offseason.
Vettel returns to relevance
Very few saw Aston Martin producing a car that would be able to match their 2020 vehicle, yet Vettel was able to finish in a remarkable second place behind Sergio Perez.
Despite a slow start, the German driver has scored two near-perfect weekends in Monaco and Baku, finishing well inside the points on both occasions.
It has been a remarkable return to relevance, with the former World Champion having endured a disastrous final year with Ferrari.
Many suspected he would be a second driver behind Lance Stroll with Aston Martin, however he has outperformed his teammate to this juncture.
Alonso finding his pace
Alpine aren’t going to be a big challenger in 2021, instead putting a lot of effort into their 2022 car, yet Fernando Alonso is getting the maximum performance out of his car.
After two years away from Formula 1, Alonso has settled back in like the consummate professional he always has been.
Finishing sixth in Baku was a huge shock and he now surpasses teammate Esteban Ocon in the drivers’ standings by one point.
Ricciardo is a long way behind Norris
Lando Norris had an excellent working relationship with former teammate Carlos Sainz, yet with Daniel Ricciardo taking his place in the offseason, it was a debate as to how the two young drivers would coexist together.
Norris has carried over his excellent performances from 2020 into the current season and is fourth in the drivers’ championship with 66 points, whilst Ricciardo is still attempting to get to grips with his new car.
The Australian has 28 points and needs to improve if McLaren are to put forward a real challenge for a third-place finish in the constructors’ championship.
Sainz has the only podium for Ferrari
In partnering Carlos Sainz with Charles Leclerc, Ferrari were hoping to build a young driver duo that was capable of taking the Italian giants back to the top of the sport.
Thus far, the signs are positive with Leclerc securing two successive pole positions, even if he had to surrender his spot at Monaco, whilst Sainz has taken the only podium for the team this season.
Leclerc has 52 points and Sainz has 42, which is a fantastic return for a team that was simply nowhere near the requisite pace last season.