International Racing Driver
As usual, the knighted seven-time world champion has been leading the charge for Mercedes. As is not usual, there are serious doubts in 2021 as to whether he has the fastest car. Five wins to date means he trails Max Verstappen by 19 points with four races to go.
Was quick and savvy on his way to the IndyCar title in just his second season in the United States. Impressively, he was new to several circuits that dropped off the calendar in his rookie year due to COVID-19. Even more impressively, he put talismanic Ganassi Racing team-mate Scott Dixon in the shade.
With the Red Bull chassis and Honda engine on song this year, he has finally been able to mount a concerted F1 title challenge. Eight proper wins (plus Spa) means he holds a slender advantage over Hamilton as the campaign enters the final furlongs.
Making this a 50% Dutch contest and a 50% Mercedes shootout is the Formula E champion. Sporting regulations made the electric series a bit random, but the 2019 F2 title winner scored two wins and put together as consistent a campaign as possible to triumph.
International Racing Car
Look beyond Nyck de Vries’s Formula E title victory and you’ll see that this machine was also saddled by Venturi Racing’s runner-up Edoardo Mortara. Add in their respective team-mates Stoffel Vandoorne and Norman Nato, and it won five of the 15 races in the hands of four different drivers.
This car has allowed the Brackley team to narrowly lead the Formula 1 constructors’ standings at present as it bids for an incredible eighth successive title. In the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, it has scored six GP race wins to date and has topped qualifying eight times as the team vies with Red Bull.
With Max Verstappen leading the points, it’s arguably the relative performances of Bottas and Sergio Perez that mean Red Bull has trailed in the constructors’ standings for much of the campaign. Even so, Perez has contributed to the 10 (including Spa) GP wins to date, with the Milton Keynes team on resurgent form.
There were doubts whether this trailblazer for the Le Mans Hypercars movement could even beat the LMP2 cars. But of course it has done this quite comfortably, and six out of six World Endurance Championship wins – including the blue-riband 24 Hours – mean Toyota has picked up in LMH where it left off in LMP1.
International Rally Driver
Our 2020 Award winner is once again in the thick of the World Rally Championship title fight heading into the finale at Rally Monza. A strong late-season run of form with Toyota has moved him ever-closer to team-mate Sebastien Ogier in the points, and included a fine win in Finland to add to his earlier Portuguese success.
Another year of ‘what if?’ for the bespectacled Belgian, who was one of the victims of a run of Hyundai problems that befell both him and Ott Tanak. As ever, he has shown blistering speed when everything is working, and took a home win on Rally Ypres and scored in Spain.
The brilliant Ogier is in prime position to add an eighth WRC crown to his tally. His second season with Toyota brought four victories from the opening six rounds. He’s failed to win across the last five, but road-sweeping duties as series leader bring a toll.
The hype about a Finnish teenager had been deafening for years. And guess what: he has absolutely justified it. On his first full season in the top-class WRC ranks with Toyota, he has scored two wins, in Estonia and rocky Greece. Titles are surely not far away.
The M-Sport-built machine doesn’t have the results this year of Toyota or Hyundai, but it’s been youngsters Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith in the driving seat. Best rally has been their impressive Safari 4-5, with Greensmith just ahead and both within two minutes of victory.
The South Korean marque is only just in with the slightest of mathematical chances of the WRC manufacturers’ crown, but the i20 has been arguably the fastest car of the year, with 109 stage wins to the 97 of the Yaris (and one of the Fiesta). It has propelled Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak to three wins.
It seems a little bizarre to describe a car that could probably accommodate an entire Mini Miglia grid as a Mini, but there’s no denying that it’s a mean rally-raid weapon. The big one is, of course, the Dakar Rally, and the JCW Buggy carried Stephane Peterhansel to victory and Carlos Sainz to third.
While the Hyundai has the edge on fastest stage times in 2021, the Yaris has been the trusty steed of choice for getting to the end of WRC events in first position. This it has managed on eight out of 11 occasions this season, meaning it’s an all-Toyota fight for the drivers’ title.
British Competition Driver
Firmly established as a star exponent of top-flight sportscar competition, Conway has at last taken that long-coveted maiden Le Mans 24 Hours victory with Toyota. Along with co-drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez, he also scored a second consecutive World Endurance drivers’ crown.
The only people surprised by his stunning rookie Formula E season will be those who didn’t know him. Dennis didn’t have the glamour feeder-series titles on his CV, but superbly scored two wins with BMW Andretti on his way to third in the points standings.
He’s just getting better and better with McLaren in F1, and the fact that he didn’t take the marque’s first GP win in nine years was very much against the run of play. As it is, Norris has scored four podiums in 2021 and was just a bad pit call away from his maiden F1 success in Russia.
With Williams, he had no chance of running at the front as he had with Mercedes in the 2020 Sakhir GP. Hang on a minute… Absolutely stunning tricky-weather qualifying showings at Spa and Sochi showed why he fully deserves his Mercedes seat for 2022.
He didn’t win the IndyCar rookie title, but almost certainly would have done had he not skipped the first three oval races. Made a great impression with Dale Coyne Racing after being let loose from F1, and scored three podiums as well as a maiden pole at Indy.
The ludicrous F2 calendar in 2021 means the racing is still only 75% done. The winner of this Award for his 2020 FIA F3 exploits has been a star of F2 on his graduation with Prema Racing. He has a strong points lead, with three wins (two in feature races) as well as three successive poles.
It was a bit of a hiding to nothing to be entering his rookie F1 season in the slowest car on the grid in the form of the Haas. He’s done a thoroughly respectable job to get through to Q2 on a couple of occasions, and has outperformed team-mate Nikita Mazepin.
Of the single-seater graduates flooding the LMP2 ranks in a bid to get noticed for the Hypercar future, this Chinese 21-year-old has been superb. Claimed the European Le Mans Series title with Robert Kubica and Louis Deletraz, and last-lap heartbreak robbed them of Le Mans 24 Hours victory.
The Porsche Carrera Cup GB was vastly more competitive than when this British Touring Car refugee last contested it in 2017. Winning umpteen races was therefore no longer an option, but he allied consistency with pace and became champion for the third time. Also scored a podium on a BTCC one-off.
Crept from under the radar to snatch third place in the BTCC – and the honour of top front-wheel-drive runner – from under the noses of Tom Ingram and Jake Hill. And nearly stole second in points from Colin Turkington. His tally of five race wins in the BTC Honda was matched only by Ash Sutton.
The Dane was the pro keystone to his British GT title with Leo Machitski in the Barwell Lamborghini set-up. Such are the vagaries of the sporting regulations that they could only score one win – at Spa – but they scored well elsewhere and Lind very much did the heavy lifting.
Executed an almost-perfect season within the constraints of the BTCC rules to clinch the title with a race to spare at the wheel of his BMR/Laser Tools Racing Infiniti. He played it cautiously with success ballast but unleashed ferocious speed when he could to build up an irresistible force.