We all know that Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Scott Dixon, and Kyle Larson are some of the greatest race car drivers of our era. This comes as no surprise to anyone. But I want to know your thoughts on the other end of the spectrum: who’s the most underrated?
I want to preface this by saying that I do not mean for you to blindly pick your favorite, stats be damned. My husband is a fan of James Hinchcliffe. I am a fan of Conor Daly. Neither of us will gain anything by trying to claim they’re the most underrated race car drivers of the year, because they are not. They are fine drivers. They’re also not really hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
If you asked me at the start of this year, I think I’d have said Yuki Tsunoda. The AlphaTauri driver started the F1 season with a lot of promise, and it kind of looked like he could be one of those drivers whose raw talent could be honed into something incredible by the end of his rookie year. Now, I’m more of the opinion that he has a lot of work to do. Ask me this question again in a few years, and I’ll probably have changed my mind.
Instead, I think I’m going to go ahead and say Romain Grosjean. He was a similar Tsunoda type, where it was obvious that he had talent in the start of his F1 career, but he just didn’t know how to apply it to competition. By the time he really refined his talent, he’d been mired away in a slowly withering Haas team — and he’d been pegged with a bad reputation.
But his IndyCar debut seems to have injected new life into the driver. He quickly adapted to the car and has proceeded to finish incredibly well with a team that we’d expect to belong back near the end of the grid. It kind of makes you look back on his F1 years in a different light.
What about you fine folks? Who’s on your underrated list?