The two drivers have dominated the rankings over recent years, finishing as the top two every year since 2016. But this is the first time that Verstappen has emerged ahead.
In what has become a long-standing tradition created by Autosport, each of the F1 team bosses were asked to pick their top 10 drivers of the year. The individual results are kept secret – so the team principals can answer honestly – and the tally totted up using F1’s point structure that runs from 25 points for first down to 1 point for 10th.
For the first time since he entered F1 in 2015, world champion Verstappen came out on top – earning 188 points compared to Hamilton’s 174.
The polling result comes at the end of a campaign where his team boss Christian Horner said the Dutchman had acted as tremendous inspiration for everyone at Red Bull.
Reflecting on the season, and Verstappen’s progress, Horner said: “I think we've just given him a better car and he's made great use of it.
“He's finished every race either first or second bar one where he had half his car missing in Budapest. And the statistics talk for themselves: the amount of laps that he's led, the pole positions, the race victories. He's been outstanding, and, so few mistakes under massive pressure.
“I think what you forget is the amount of pressure that there's been building and building through the championship. And the way, as a young man, that he's dealt with and coped with that has been inspirational.”
Lando Norris moved up to third overall off the back of a hugely impressive season with McLaren, which included him taking his maiden pole position at the Russian Grand Prix. He was the highest climber in the top 10, along with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, both gaining four spots on their 2020 positions, while the returning Fernando Alonso was fifth.
Despite their wins in the Azerbaijan and Italian GPs respectively, Sergio Perez (fifth in 2020) and Daniel Ricciardo (fourth) have fallen outside the top 10.
The nine team principals who took part were Toto Wolff (Mercedes), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Andreas Seidl (McLaren), Laurent Rossi (Alpine), Otmar Szafnauer (Aston Martin), Fred Vasseur (Alfa Romeo), Franz Tost (AlphaTauri), Jost Capito (Williams) and Gunther Steiner (Haas). The only team that did not take part was Ferrari.
F1 teams principals' Top 10 drivers of 2021:
|1||Max Verstappen||188||Up 1|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||174||Down 1|
|3||Lando Norris||100||Up 4|
|4||Carlos Sainz||70||Up 4|
|6||Charles Leclerc||58||Down 3|
|7||Pierre Gasly||56||Up 3|
|8||George Russell||44||Down 2|
|9||Valtteri Bottas||43||No change|
Past two seasons