Indeed, at one point we had Norris in 3rd place in WDC for quite a while, and even now the gap between Alonso in 10th and Bottas is smaller than the gap between Bottas and Hamilton.
Bottas has 58% of Verstappen's points (two places difference) whereas Norris has 75% of Bottas's points (two places difference)
However, one problem with this comparison is that the points delta of the higher places is bigger - you get a lot more advantage of first over second than fourth over fifth - and with Hamilton and Verstappen having the lion's share of the 1sts and 2nds, it does push their team mates closer to the competition, so I was curious how the championship would look if they weren't scoring.
While it's impossible to fully simulate a championship without their participation, the closest we can do is to just remove them from the championship. Say- hypothetically their engines blew up with 3 laps to go in every race.
|points no HAM/VER||278.5||282||221||217||218||149|
Bottas has seven extra wins - which give him 7 or 10 extra points each, whereas Perez makes smaller gains but more regularly.
It's not completely fair to compare this to the midfield teams (as the top teams don't have the buffer of a second car to push the mid field off of the podium, however they are substantially lower in points compared to their team mates achievement (Bottas total is 81% of Hamilton's points, Perez total is 80% of Verstappen's points) and this isn't affected by that.
There is no doubt that the Mercedes and Red Bull are the class of the field. But they only have that 'different formula' level performance when being wielded by their lead driver. Neither Perez nor Bottas are slow drivers, and they would also have been clear of the rest without Max and Lewis in their team, but their cars would not have been as all conquering as they have appeared this year and it only serves to highlight the level that both drivers have been performing at.