January 23, 2021

British GP driver ratings

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There was late drama at Silverstone, with Hamilton hanging on by a thread – literally – from Verstappen. Here, we rate the drivers.

By Matt Morlidge and James Galloway

Last Updated: 03/08/20 11:50am

Lewis Hamilton
Qualified 1st, Finished 1st

Winning on three wheels? Just another day in the office for Lewis Hamilton, although even the six-time champion admitted he had never quite experienced a final lap to a race like the one at Silverstone as he manhandled his W11 to the finish. As Max Verstappen readily acknowledged, it would have been cruel misfortune had anyone but a Mercedes driver won that race – and Hamilton was the quicker of the two at Silverstone, although not by the largest of margins.

Bottas certainly pushed the world champion here – as Hamilton and Mercedes themselves acknowledged afterwards – but the world champion, as so is often the case, found the way to make the difference. No more so than in Q3 of qualifying, when Hamilton brushed off a rare spin in the second stage like it had never happened to break Silverstone’s track record not once, but twice, for another pole position.

Valtteri nearly got him at the start, but nearly does not cut it against a six-time champion in this kind of form. Three pole position-race win doubles in a row makes for very ominous reading.
Rating out of 10: 9

Max Verstappen
Qualified 3rd, Finished 2nd

One of the loneliest races of his career almost turned into the most surprising victory for Max Verstappen as after a race in distant third – never challenging the Mercedes but some way clear of the chasing pack – the Dutchman finished just 5s, and likely one more corner, off a win due to the incredible late drama. It is testament to Verstappen’s speed, and more importantly his extracting of every drop of performance from that Red Bull, that he was ever even in the reckoning.

Verstappen was a second off the pace in qualifying – and that he was happy with his lap tells you how much work Red Bull have to do in that regard – but managed to lap within a few tenths of the dominant Mercedes for the majority the race and that meant he was well-placed to take advantage of the tyre chaos. While Max seemingly also managed his tyres better than the Mercedes duo, Red Bull were fearful of a puncture themselves and so the tactical pit-stop – while in hindsight perhaps costing their driver the win – made complete sense as they added an extra fastest lap point to their haul.

Verstappen was not complaining at all, saying he still felt “lucky” to finish second given his often “boring” afternoon, and he is – remarkably – just six points off Valtteri Bottas in the standings.
Rating out of 10: 9

Charles Leclerc
Qualified 4th, Finished 3rd

On a weekend when his outgoing team-mate could be described, at best, as being on the periphery, Charles Leclerc delivered the kind of leading performance in a difficult car that led Ferrari to hand him a five-year deal last winter.

He certainly lucked in to finish on the podium when the luckless Bottas plummeted down the order with two laps to go, but Leclerc had made Ferrari’s aggressive set-up work and managed his tyres to the finish.

“We extracted absolutely everything from the package,” said Leclerc. “Of course, we don’t want to be fighting for fourth place for too much longer, but at the moment that’s what our car is capable of.”
Rating out of 10: 9

Daniel Ricciardo
Qualified 8th, Finished 4th

He did it the hard way – qualifying eighth and scrapping with the McLarens throughout the afternoon – but Daniel Ricciardo’s excellent work at Silverstone paid off at the end of the race as he equalled his best Renault finish in fourth. And only a second off a podium, too.

Renault certainly have some work to do in qualifying but seemed to be the leading midfield car in terms of race pace on Sunday, particularly in Ricciardo’s hands as he out-lasted the McLarens and looked to have enough speed to snatch third if there were more laps. Ricciardo has not been on the podium since his Monaco GP win back in 2018, but despite just missing out here, this was a very encouraging day for him and Renault.
Rating out of 10: 8.5

Lando Norris
Qualified 5th, Finished 5th

Fifth in qualifying and fifth in the race were the headlines from another very impressive weekend from the ever-improving Lando Norris. True, he would have finished behind team-mate Carlos Sainz but for the sister McLaren’s late puncture, but he fought back well to the Spaniard’s tail after losing two positions at the start.

His overtake of Ricciardo – his next team-mate in 2021 – on the outside of Luffield after the second Safety Car restart was a highlight, even if he could not quite repeat the feat on Sainz into Copse. Four races in to this intense season and Lando remains fourth in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of several drivers who definitely possess faster cars.
Rating out of 10: 8

Esteban Ocon
Qualified 9th, Finished 6th

Esteban Ocon has been under the radar somewhat since returning to F1, but Sunday was his undoubtedly his best race of the season – while also providing his highest finish since the 2018 Italian GP. He may not be quite as fast as Ricciardo yet but Ocon is settling in nicely at Renault and while his team-mate battled the McLarens ahead, Ocon was stuck with a fancied Racing Point for most of the afternoon, and impressively overtook Lance Stroll into Stowe with six laps remaining. Eighth then became sixth due to the tyre punctures.

“It really felt awesome today and it was a strong performance from the team,” said the Frenchman.
Rating out of 10: 7.5

Pierre Gasly
Qualified 11th, Finished 7th

Approaching the one-year ‘anniversary’ of Pierre Gasly’s brutal demotion back down the Red Bull food chain and the Frenchman continues to quietly go about his business and deliver results for AlphaTauri.

Only out of Q3 on Saturday by dint of the fact Lance Stroll set his identical 1:26.501 lap time first, Gasly lost ground at the second Safety Car phase but pressed on from there and his overtakes on Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and Lance Stroll’s Racing Point helped take him to a hard-won seventh place.
Rating out of 10: 8.5

Alex Albon
Qualified 12th, Finished 8th

Points, let alone eighth, looked unlikely for Alex Albon after slumping to the back of the pack following a 5s penalty and second pit-stop, but the Red Bull driver displayed similar pace to the leading cars to wrestle himself back into contention. Which is why Albon must be so frustrated he found himself in that lowly position in the first place.

Albon had a disrupted weekend, crashing heavily in Friday practice and then having reliability issues in P3, and he then struggled in qualifying – disappointingly knocked out in Q2 for the second weekend running. A clumsy crash with Kevin Magnussen at the start of the race was the last thing he needed, as he desperately tried to re-overtake a Haas car he had been passed by on the opening lap. Albon was lucky it was Magnussen and not him who went spinning out, and in the end he has four points to show for his recovery efforts. But it should really have been a lot more, given the pace of that Red Bull and the late Mercedes drama.
Rating out of 10: 5.5

Lance Stroll
Qualified 6th, Finished 9th

A perplexing Sunday afternoon for Racing Point and Lance Stroll. Ninth place from sixth on the grid underlined a race that certainly did not go to plan, given they had looked altogether stronger on Friday. Falling behind the soft-tyred Sainz and Ricciardo at the start was a setback, but perhaps not a complete surprise given Stroll started on the less grippy medium compound. However, any hope Racing Point had of making the difference by running longer was negated by the Safety Cars.

Lance has matched his career-best streak of three points finishes in succession, but will hope for more than a couple of points in F1’s Silverstone return this Sunday.
Rating out of 10: 6.5

Sebastian Vettel
Qualified 10th, Finished 10th

“If I struggle for so many laps in the race – from the beginning until the end – then there’s something that doesn’t stack up,” said Sebastian Vettel after a weekend that never really got started. He missed P1 completely, had a disrupted P2 and then – while scraping through to 10th in qualifying – had to start the race on the soft tyre and found it difficult to match the pace of the car’s around him, let alone his team-mate up ahead. Being overtaken by Gasly in an AlphaTauri was a low moment for Seb, who is usually so strong at Silverstone.
Rating out of 10: 5.5

Outside the points

When you are trying to battle for a world championship, this is certainly the kind of setback you do not need. Although Valtteri Bottas was not going to win Sunday’s British GP, he had kept the sister Mercedes more than honest in the battle up front before initial concern about tyre vibrations gave way to a rather more fundamental drama. Could Valtteri have managed his tyres better? Was he just bang unlucky with debris? We will wait to find out more on that, but a 30-point deficit in the standings is unescapably problematic against a driver who has finished the last 37 races in the points – winning 22 of them.
Rating out of 10: 7.5

He’s been an F1 2020 star, and this was George Russell’s most complete weekend of the season. After the disappointment of being dropped to the back of the grid with a grid penalty after somehow wrestling his Williams into Q2 for a third qualifying running, Russell – or ‘Mr Saturday’ as Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz now calls him – responded on Sunday by moving up eight positions in the race. Sure, he was aided by some retirements and punctures, but Russell still out-paced his competition – namely his team-mate and the Alfa Romeos – and was encouraged Williams managed to show some strong race pace for the first time this season.
Rating out of 10: 8

Rather like the start of last season, Carlos Sainz has not completely had the rewards his performances deserve so far this season. He looked nailed-on for fifth most of the race, was briefly up into fourth with two laps to go, and then dropped all the way to a point-less 13th when his tyre let go. How’s your luck, Carlos?
Rating out of 10: 8

Antonio Giovinazzi made a great start to rise up to 12th from 15th on the grid and was keeping up with Ocon and Vettel ahead of him in the opening stages, but after the second Safety Car whatever hopes Alfa Romeo had of points on Sunday all-but-evaporated, along with their pace. Giovinazzi then lost two more places due to a 5s penalty for a Safety Car infringement. Still, at least his race was not Kimi Raikkonen’s.
Rating out of 10: 7

Nicholas Latifi was happy with his “alive” Williams car on Sunday, and for the first time in F1 2020 we got to see the Canadian battle some other cars. He did so nicely, overtaking Raikkonen, although yet again was not a match for his Williams team-mate.
Rating out of 10: 6.5

He may have finished down in 16th, but it’s fair to say Romain Grosjean had an action-packed race. After which, Sainz called him “very dangerous” and “unacceptable”.

That’s because Grosjean, who was running up in fifth after Haas left him out following the Safety Cars, defended rather aggressively as the sitting duck to the faster cars behind, weaving under-braking when being overtaken by Sainz and then Ricciardo. Grosjean received a black-and-white flag and was then summoned to the stewards for those manoeuvers, and was probably rather lucky to avoid a penalty. That gamble from Haas left him way down the field following his eventual stop.
Rating out of 10: 6

He was out-qualified by his team-mate and was then the only driver to be lapped on Sunday, which was topped off by a front-wing failure late on. Kimi Raikkonen did not have a great day in his Alfa.
Rating out of 10: 5

Did Not Finish

It was a scary crash, and a frustrating one, for Daniil Kvyat as after starting 19th he was actually running just behind Gasly when he went off at Becketts. Kvyat took the blame on team radio, although replays appeared to show a puncture – which the team and driver admitted was likely the cause afterwards.
Rating out of 10: 6

Another driver who was ruing an early crash was Kevin Magnussen, who had overtaken Albon on the first lap before being shunted off at Woodcote by the Red Bull. “It was a good first lap with the positions gained, we were close to the top 10,” said K-Mag. “It was looking good, I’m very gutted.”
Rating out of 10: 6.5

1:37
Late stand-in Nico Hulkenberg was unable to start the British Grand Prix due to a problem with his Racing Point

Late stand-in Nico Hulkenberg was unable to start the British Grand Prix due to a problem with his Racing Point

Try having a 72 hours as crazy as Nico Hulkenberg. He got called up to be a Formula 1 driver again, qualified 13th on one of the sport’s most difficult and demanding circuits, and then cruelly didn’t even get to start the race after a car failure before he made his way to the grid. At least he should get another opportunity this weekend in Sergio Perez’s absence.
Rating out of 10: N/A