Following a thrilling Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday, F1 Editor Luke Smith brings you his driver ratings.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - 8

This was a race Lewis Hamilton knows he could and should have won, only for circumstances beyond his control to cost him dearly. After making a good start to take the lead, Hamilton forged a decent gap before Mercedes’ strategic blunder dropped him down the order. In a futile attempt to try and recover positions, he cooked his tyres, forcing him into a second stop before ultimately retiring due to a loss of fuel pressure. A tough day in the office.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes - 8

For Bottas, read much the same as you did for Hamilton. His charge to pole position on Saturday was stunning, but a tardy start let him down. Bottas was able to recover to second, but his race would last just 13 laps as a hydraulic issue forced him to park up and retire. Bottas’ potential points lost for this year is now up to 50. His gap to points leader Sebastian Vettel? 54.



Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari - 8

A really good effort from Vettel and Ferrari in Austria, all things considered. He was comfortably quickest in qualifying excluding the Mercedes, only for a harsh (but fair) penalty to drop him to sixth for the start. A poor getaway meant he couldn’t get among the front-runners, but P3 - and, more significantly, the championship lead - was nevertheless a well-recovered result come the chequered flag.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari - 7

The Jekyll and Hyde nature of Raikkonen in 2018 continued through the Austria race weekend. Off the line, we saw the 2005-spec Kimi in full effect, bolting between the two Mercedes cars to try and seize the lead. It all went downhill from there, though, as he slipped back to fourth on the opening lap, crucially losing a place to eventual winner Max Verstappen. Raikkonen’s pace thereafter was solid if unspectacular as he crossed the line second. But if he wanted to make his case for Ferrari to keep him for 2019, he blew the audition here big time.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull - 7

Ricciardo was always a step behind Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in Austria. After a bit of needle between the pair over who should give who a tow in qualifying blew over, Ricciardo picked past Romain Grosjean off the line and Kimi Raikkonen during his second stint to sit P2. However, tyre management struggles forced Ricciardo into a second stop - Verstappen didn’t need to come in again - before a gear sync issue brought his race to an end with 17 laps remaining.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull - 9

Max Verstappen has a habit of winning races when things unravel for Mercedes (think Spain, think Malaysia, think Mexico), and Austria was no different. Sure, he got lucky, but that should not detract from an excellent performance by Verstappen on a weekend where Red Bull was, in reality, the third-fastest team. He got given an inch and took a mile, managing his tyres superbly to keep Raikkonen and Vettel at an arm’s length. A big display to answer his critics following such a rough start to the season.

Esteban Ocon, Force India - 7

Given the pace of the Haas and Renault drivers at the head of the midfield fight in Austria, a good haul of points looked like a big ask for Force India on Sunday. Yet Esteban Ocon was able to spearhead its charge impressively, even fighting with the faster Kevin Magnussen at one stage as he rose from 11th on the grid to finish sixth. It was the maximum the team could hope for.

Sergio Perez, Force India - 6

Docked points for a poor qualifying that saw him drop out in Q1 for the first time since Singapore 2016, Sergio Perez pulled his old trick of managing his tyres perfectly to rise through the order and ultimately cross the line seventh, albeit reluctantly after being told to give Ocon sixth back following an agreement earlier in the race. A good recovery from the Mexican.

Lance Stroll, Williams - 6

Stroll impressed on Saturday to make it through Q1, qualifying 15th, but Williams’ form resulted to the same-old-same-old we’ve come to see this year as he finished two laps down in 13th. The team’s biggest hope of points again this year is in crazy races of attrition such as Austria. If it couldn’t capitalise then, when will it?

Sergey Sirotkin, Williams - 5

Again, it was a better display from Williams on Saturday, with Sirotkin finishing just one-tenth of a second back from a Q2 berth, but the race was a more difficult affair as tyre struggles forced him into two stops. Sirotkin was two laps down and the last classified finisher by the end.

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault - 7

A tough day for Renault that ended in its first non-score of the season when points looked likely. Nico Hulkenberg did well to make Q3 and was running ninth before his engine gave way on the main straight, forcing him to retire from the race when a decent score looked possible.

Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault - 7

A similar story for Sainz as for teammate Hulkenberg: a good Saturday was undone by struggles on Sunday. While Sainz made it to the chequered flag, he suffered more than most on the Soft compound tyre, being the first driver to dive into the pits and make the change way before Ricciardo or Hamilton did, with a slow stop deepening his plight. Eventually limped home down in 12th.

Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso - 7

Big credit where it’s due here for Pierre Gasly, who only dropped out of the points in the closing stages when he was passed by Fernando Alonso and the two Saubers despite running his race with a severely-damaged car after being hit by Stoffel Vandoorne on the opening lap. Once again spearheaded Toro Rosso’s charge with an excellent display, all things considered.

Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso - 6

Hartley is still waiting for the stars to align for a clean weekend in F1. After poor qualifying on Saturday, Toro Rosso went for an alternate strategy with Hartley, attempting to go long on the Supersofts before switching to Ultrasofts for the final stint. After being told to let Gasly through, Hartley lost time before a still-to-be-confirmed issue - but nothing power unit related - forced him to retire. Points were within reach, but it wasn’t to be.



Romain Grosjean, Haas - 10

What a way to answer your critics. Grosjean snapped his point-less streak that had dated back to last year’s Japanese Grand Prix in style for Haas, which comfortably ran as the top midfield team in Austria. Grosjean managed to qualify sixth and start fifth, splitting the Red Bulls, and executed a fuss-free race en route to P4 at the chequered flag for Haas’ best-ever result. Full marks richly deserved.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas - 9

The only reason to dock Magnussen a mark from a top score is the fact he didn’t quite match Grosjean for pace through the weekend. Otherwise, he was excellent, recovering from not pitting under the Virtual Safety Car to get back ahead of Esteban Ocon and comfortably take fifth at the finish, continuing the Dane’s superb 2018 campaign.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren - 9

All of the gratuitous hype surrounding ‘Mr. 9.5/10’ Fernando Alonso does get justified from time to time, with his drive from the pit lane to P8 on Sunday being a perfect example. Alonso sounded ready to park up when he was running 19th early on, venting his fury over the radio, but some canny tyre management allowed him to go on a late charge to grab four points for P8. An excellent drive following a rough couple of races.

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren - 4

The pressure continues to build on Vandoorne at McLaren. He may not be expected to match Alonso in every area, but the gulf between them was arguably greater than ever in Austria. A failure to improve between runs caused him to drop out in Q1 before a clumsy opening lap led to contact with Gasly, leaving the McLaren driver in need of a new front wing. Vandoorne was lapped just six laps into the race, and ultimately retired with six laps to go due to a gearbox issue.

Marcus Ericsson, Sauber - 7

An excellent drive from Marcus Ericsson to record his second points finish of the year, taking P10. A poor qualifying display left the Swede on the back foot, only for a super strategy to allow him to rise up the order and pick off the stragglers. Ninth could have been his had it not been for a team call to let teammate Charles Leclerc past on the final lap.

Charles Leclerc, Sauber - 9

Another superb display for Charles Leclerc as he picked up points for the fifth time in the last six races, even with a five-place grid penalty demoting him to 18th for the start. Leclerc showed maturity to manage his tyres after pitting under the VSC, eventually taking P9 at the finish. A big statement once again from the youngster as talk of a Ferrari seat in 2019 begins to gain traction.


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