The two consecutive third places conquered by Sergio Perez in Turkey and Austin have ‘put back’ the world championship standings. In fact, now in the top four positions there are the four drivers of the two teams that are dominating this 2021 season: Mercedes and Red Bull. This further opens the hunt for that fifth place in the drivers’ standings which in recent seasons has been known as the ‘first of the others’. The challenge, that is, between those drivers who do not have at their disposal a means that is constantly competitive, race after race, in order to allow them to battle for podiums and victories.
This platonic recognition went in 2019 to Carlos Sainz, sixth in the standings with McLaren, and in 2020 to Sergio Perez, fourth with Racing Point. This year the challenge appears to be between McLaren’s Lando Norris and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, with the Monegasque being chased at a short distance by Sainz himself, now his box mate. For most of the season the best driver not at the wheel of Red Bull or Mercedes was undoubtedly the young Englishman. Norris found himself third in the championship for a long time, coming to have a margin of 39 points over Leclerc after the second race in Austria. Since then, however, the wind has changed.
In five of the last eight rounds Leclerc has scored more points than Norris, reducing the gap 39 to 21 points. A trend that if confirmed would allow the Monegasque to compete for fifth place in the championship point to point with his rival in the final Abu Dhabi GP. Carlos Sainz, who nibbled his former teammate 14.5 points, is also making a similar ascent. These numbers confirmed Ferrari’s performance growth, which is currently -3.5 behind the Woking team in the standings, despite the ‘papaya’ double at Monza. The main focus of the team obviously remains the third place among the manufacturers, but even the fifth place of Leclerc or Sainz at the end of the year among the drivers would have the flavor of the warning message to the competition in view of 2022.
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