Consistent fourth and fifth place finishes as well as two podium places including a win at Azerbaijan has meant Red Bull is in a fight with Mercedes for the Constructors’ Championship.
5. Charles Leclerc — Ferrari
Charles Leclerc is the face of Ferrari.
Born in Monaco, he replaced Kimi Räikkönen in the Ferrari seat in 2019 and a sign of his team’s faith in him came when they were faced with a choice of having him or four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel as their number one driver.
Ferrari plumped for Leclerc, and it is clear to see why. He has entered 70 Grands Prix and won two of them, but the victory number would surely have been higher had he raced for Ferrari in any other era.
Like Max Verstappen, Leclerc has not always had a car to match his talent, but a sign of his ability is how much he has managed to squeeze out of it.
This season, he has experienced the highs of back-to-back poles but the lows of a DNS in his home race of Monaco and a DNF last time out in Hungary.
The 23-year-old sits in seventh place in the driver standings, three points behind his teammate Sainz, but a second-place finish at Silverstone showed a glimpse of what he could go on to achieve.
4. Carlos Sainz — Ferrari
Moving teams is never easy but it is made all the more challenging when you move to the most popular and historic team on the track.
Ferrari first raced in F1 in 1950 and every driver who pulls on the famous red jumpsuit is subjected to intense pressure from the millions of fans who are known as the Tifosi.
One man who has not struggled to step up is Carlos Sainz. Having formed the grid’s biggest bromance with Lando Norris at McLaren, the Spaniard swapped orange for red this campaign.
Not only was he filling a seat of a Ferrari but also one that had just be vacated by a four-time world champion — Sebastian Vettel.
The high point of his season was a second-place finish at Monaco, earning him the third podium of his career and he added another one to the tally in Hungary.
In the last four races, Sainz has finished no lower than sixth, and has helped move Ferrari up into joint-third in the Constructors’ Championship alongside McLaren.
2. Max Verstappen — Red Bull
If there is one man who can challenge Lewis Hamilton’s supremacy, it’s Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
The son of another F1 driver, Jos, Verstappen announced himself as a serious talent when he won his first race in a Red Bull seat, the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.
Since that day, the Dutchman has been heralded as a generational talent but he has had to put up with a rear view of the two Mercedes cars ahead of him.
Despite being the sixth youngest driver on the grid, Verstappen has entered 130 Grands Prix, a number that can only be beaten by three other drivers, yet the 2021 season is the first time it seems the Dutchman has a car that can match his ability.
That is demonstrated by the fact that a third of Verstappen’s career wins have come this season and he raced into a sizeable lead at the top of the drivers standings before two disastrous weekends going into the summer break allowed Hamilton to overtake him.
As the season heads into the final stretch, Verstappen will no doubt be hungry to show he deserves a seat at the top table.
This content was originally published here.