First of all, let me start by saying that all Formula 1 drivers are under pressure, in fact everyone involved in the sport is under an enormous amount of pressure to perform at the highest level, but you won't be seeing the greatest drivers in the sport on this list. Because the cream always rises to the top.
But let's not dilly dally, I covered this list a few weeks ago on the PIIMF podcast, Episode 103. But it's important to document it and write it out. We are going to start off with some honourable mentions. Some drivers that are still under a lot of pressure, but at the end of the day, I don't believe they are going to lose their job at all this season.
Now he has just made the move from Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton's shadow to Alfa Romeo, he is free to enjoy his remaining years in the sport, but with the new kid on the block, Guanyu Zhou, you need to be able to still show the field that you have it. I think Bottas will dominate Zhou, but if Zhou beats Bottas in a handful of races and qualifying sessions this season then that's when I can start to see the pressure being put on him.
Look here, Pierre Gasly is amazing and has squeezed every single bit of power and performance he can from the Alpha Tauri. He's even won in the car and with his teammate Yuki Tsunoda failing to live up to expectations and challenge Pierre, I don't think Pierre is under pressure from his teammate or to keep his seat at Alpha Tauri, he is however under a different kind of pressure.
If Gasly ever wanted to be at the pointy end of the grid again, then he will need to be doing even better than what he is doing now, with more and more talented young drivers waiting in the wings, Gasly needs to start getting some podiums, beating some Red Bulls and Ferraris each race and qualifying and prove he deserves a second chance in a top tier team.
But enough with the honourable mentions, it's time for the main event, the top 5. So here are the Top 5 Drivers under the most amount of pressure in Formula 1.
5 - Sergio Perez
As it stands right this second, this guy had no pressure on him, but he is the sole reason that Red Bull didn't win the constructors championship, not Max Verstappen. Valtteri Bottas DNF'd 4 times in the 2021 season and was still able to also win a race and finish on the podium and consistently score more points than Checo. This is all despite Sergio's involvement in the race of the year last season. His defensive driving was the reason for Max winning a world title, but if Red Bull continue to fall short to Mercedes this season and with a list of about 300 young drivers at Red Bull looking for a shot as an F1 seat, then Checo really needs to deliver.
4 - Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc, how could you possibly put him on the list, this is ridiculous behaviour, or is it extremely accurate and everything I say is correct? Look the thing with Charles is he is a phenomenal driver, one of the best on the grid and there is no way he will lose his seat at Ferrari, he's contracted at least until the end of 2024, and I actually think it could be longer than that. But he is the number 1 driver there, and all Formula 1 drivers have an ego and a drive to be the best, they are competitive assholes, it's why and how they've been able to get their bums in a seat.
The number two driver at Ferrari is the smooth operator, Carlos Sainz, and he is dominating in that car, out-driving his expectations and as a result making Leclerc look like a bit of a silly goose. There is no pressure on Leclerc right now, but if Sainz beats him again I can see questions being asked about whether or not they got the right man in that seat, especially when in a couple of years there will be a man by the name of Mick Schumacher looking to jump in.
3 - Daniel Ricciardo
Like many of the lovers that BDDR takes, this one hurts a lot. Big Dick Danny Rick, can't believe I need to add you to this list. But alas, I do, because you're the future World Champ, you're the next big thing, people are even talking about you replacing Hamilton in that Mercedes when Hamilton finally hangs up his boots. But right now, you're struggling to get into Q3 in a McLaren when your teammate, who hasn't even reached puberty yet, is like a stripper putting herself through college and sticking it on pole.
There was no consistency last season from you and although you won one of the best races from the 2021 season you are either doing that or you're close to the back of the grid, there's no in-between, there is no consistency which is why when you look at the points tally you're doing the back end and not challenging the Ferrari's like McLaren drivers should be.
He wont lose his seat, but I think a repeat season like last years and a lot of questions wills tart being asked of him. But then again with a sledgehammer and bowling balls between your legs it's no wonder the car was a little sluggish. Remember, all gaps are small for Big Dick Danny Rick.
2 - Alexander Albon
Now here is really where the pressure is applied, and it's usually unfair for someone that didn't race in the previous season to have all this pressure. But it's because he has had an opportunity. He is now in a Williams against Nicholas Latifi, someone who isn't considered that great and we are really going to see how good Albon is as a result. If he beats Latifi in most races and qualifying then we can have a great comparison between Albon now and what George Russell was doing for the past three seasons.
If he struggles, can't be Latifi, then I'm going to say it, the Albon experiment is over and the likelihood of him sticking around or even getting a 3rd chance in an F1 seat, is done and dusted. This is one I really hope I'm wrong on, I don't have an issue with Alex Albon at all and I wish him all the luck in the world of Formula 1, but it's a put up or shut up time for him at the moment, and this is his make or break moment for his career.
1 - Yuki Tsunoda
Everyone without question would have to have Yuki Tsunoda on their list as the number 1 driver under the most amount of pressure in Formula 1. The man had two ok races last season, the season opener in Bahrain and the season closer in Abu Dhabi. Other than that he has been miles behind his team mate, Pierre Gasly has been destroying Yuki in the points. Tsunoda is the reason why Alpha Tauri didn't beat Alpine in the constructors, and with there being a cost cap in Formula 1 and Yuki's love for the red flag, I can see the higher ups at Alpha Tauri and Red Bull thinking, this guy is costing us way too much money for the results we get from him. I could be wrong, having him in the sport might be generating a lot of revenue in Japan and with Honda's involvement it's clear to see that Red Bull are the team dominating the space in the Japanese Market at the moment. But that can only buy you so much time.
Do I actually believe that any of these drivers will lose their job during the season, no, because of the cost cap, they'd need to spend money on the current drivers, time fitting a new driver, and with the new cars there will be a lot of room to grow and learn, But there will be some changes at the end of the year, that's for damn sure, I predict there will be some major shake ups at the end of the 2022 season and the F1 Drivers seat musical chairs dance will begin all over again.