Running through the Formula 1 field after a thrilling United States Grand Prix on Sunday, Crash.net F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith brings you his driver ratings.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - 8

Lewis Hamilton lost for just the second time on American soil on Sunday after seeing his race come undone with a two-stop strategy. After a brilliant charge to pole on Saturday, the early pit stop under the Virtual Safety Car meant Hamilton was forced into a second stop, costing him track position. The failure to get past Kimi Raikkonen - who was on fading tyres - was particularly damaging to his win hopes, resulting in his expected coronation being delayed by a week.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes - 6

A so-so weekend for Valtteri Bottas in Austin. The Finn was off the pace in qualifying, finishing three-tenths back from Hamilton and the two Ferraris, and then struggled in the race. Mercedes’ Soft tyre woes meant he was powerless to keep Sebastian Vettel back late on, leaving him a distant fifth at the flag. Bottas is now the only driver in the ‘big three’ teams not to win a race this year.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari - 5

There’s plenty to deduct Sebastian Vettel marks for in Austin. The failure to slow for the red flag in FP2 was a silly error that triggered a three-place grid drop for the race. The most costly mistake was his spin when going wheel-to-wheel with Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap that forced him into another fightback drive through the field. Ferrari’s pace was such that, without that spin, Vettel could have been a real contender for victory. Another opportunity missed in a season full of such cases.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari - 9

Few thought we would see a Kimi Raikkonen victory again in F1, but after five years, the Iceman was back on the top step of the podium in Austin on Sunday. A rocket start saw him get the better of Hamilton, but where the race was really won was in his defence of the lead from Hamilton - on far fresher tyres - shortly before his first pit stop. He was then able to perfectly manage his pace at the front, allowing him to then push through the closing stages to the line. The only thing costing him a perfect 10 is the 0.070s gap to pole in qualifying that left him P3!

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull - 7

Daniel Ricciardo continues to build a really strong case for being the unluckiest man in Formula 1 right now. He did all he could in qualifying to secure P4 on the grid following Vettel’s penalty, and looked in good shape to fight with the lead runners prior to the issue that forced him to retire just 10 laps into the race. He still hasn’t stood on the podium since Monaco, and will be praying for a change in fortune this coming weekend in Mexico. 

Max Verstappen, Red Bull - 10

The only perfect score this week goes to Max Verstappen. Just as he did 12 months ago in Austin, the Red Bull driver fought his way through the field with ease, capitalising on the early drama to rise from 18th to ninth on the opening lap. His pace in both stints was hugely impressive, but particularly on the Supersofts that he somehow stretched out to the end of the race with no issues, having also got the undercut on Valtteri Bottas. To beat both Mercedes at a power circuit from P18 on the grid is no meant feat.

Sergio Perez, Force India - 6

Force India once again found itself fighting at the front of the midfield in Austin, but it was Esteban Ocon, not Perez, who led its charge. Four-tenths and four places back from his teammate in qualifying, Perez ran ninth through the opening stint before losing a place to Kevin Magnussen after hitting traffic soon after his pit stop. P10 became P8 after the post-race penalties, but it was really more than Perez deserved at COTA.

Esteban Ocon, Force India - 7

Sunday offered another race to remind you why it is a crying shame Esteban Ocon probably won’t be on the F1 grid next year. Ocon was the best of the rest in qualifying, taking sixth on the grid, but slipped back to eighth behind the Renaults on the opening lap. Ocon did all he could from there to finish P8 at the flag, only to then be disqualified after a fuel flow issue on the opening lap.

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Lance Stroll, Williams - 4

Lance Stroll called his race a “terrible day” after contact on the opening lap with Fernando Alonso, but it was all on the Canadian who went for a gap that was never really there through the esses. The mistake and subsequent penalty left him stone dead last for the remainder of the race, making it a weekend to forget.

Sergey Sirotkin, Williams - 6

Sirotkin was the better of the two Williams at COTA, outqualifying his teammate before then dodging the start shenanigans to run as high as 11th early on. Williams’ lack of pace and floor damage left him unable to fight much, leaving the Russian to ail to 15th at the chequered flag, having moved onto a two-stop strategy after pitting under VSC.

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault - 9

Sunday offered a super performance from Nico Hulkenberg at COTA as he led Renault’s charge to a result that could be the clincher in the fight for P4 in the constructors’ championship. Hulkenberg qualified seventh before rising to fifth on the opening lap, after which point he was always the leading midfield runner, finishing seven seconds clear of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. at the flag.

Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault - 7

Renault had the pace at COTA, but Sainz’s rise to seventh place wasn’t purely down to that. His jump from 11th to sixth on the opening lap came as a result of cutting out part of the esses - allegedly to try and dodge an accident - that triggered a five-second penalty. It seemed pretty clear he gained more than that as a result of the move though. Still, he drove a decent race en route to P7.

Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso - 6

A quiet weekend for Pierre Gasly. After looking strong in Q1 on Saturday before parking his car due to the grid penalty, Gasly rolled the dice on a stop under the VSC early in the race, but could not make a one-stop work from there. Floor damage didn’t help the Frenchman’s cause, leaving him 14th come the finish. 

Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso - 8

Hartley put in one of his strongest F1 performances to date on Sunday in Austin. Starting last due to the grid penalty, Hartley kept it clean early on and managed his tyres well, giving him the chance to get the jump on many of his lower-midfield rivals. P11 on-track was the maximum he could manage, having held on brilliantly from Marcus Ericsson late on, and that then became P9 after the post-race penalties to give the New Zealander his best F1 finish.

Romain Grosjean, Haas - 5

A disappointing end to Haas’ home race for Romain Grosjean. Decent qualifying on Saturday left him P8 on the grid before clashing with Charles Leclerc on the opening lap. Grosjean did brake early to try and avoid the accident, but the resulting three-place grid penalty for Mexico and FIA Super License penalty points leaves him at serious risk of a race ban.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas - 7

A Q2 exit on Saturday proved costly for Kevin Magnussen in the midfield fight, meaning he could not properly compete with the Renaults. The Dane managed to get the overcut on Sergio Perez with a rapid first stint, rising to P9, only to then get chucked out of the race for exceeding the fuel limit.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren - 6

For all of Alonso’s self-fanfaring over his displays, his lap in qualifying was genuinely foot-perfect, even if it was only good enough for 16th. The Spaniard’s race ended early after being run into by Stroll, prompting an angry rant about “amateurs” in F1, having said it was “impossible to race with these guys” over the team radio. Don’t worry, Fernando, it won’t be your issue next year.

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren - 5

It was a pretty typical weekend for Vandoorne: Q1 exit, not a lot of pace, no points. His clash with Sirotkin on the opening lap didn’t help matters much before an attempt at a two-stop strategy dropped him out of the fight for 11th. He was ultimately classified there after the disqualifications, but it wasn’t enough to end his points drought.

Marcus Ericsson, Sauber - 6

Ericsson lacked the pace of Charles Leclerc yet again in qualifying, dropping out in Q1 as his Sauber teammate reached Q3. In the race he made a long first stint work well, avoiding an early stop under VSC to put himself in a position to fight Hartley for 11th in the closing stages. Unable to make a pass, Ericsson had to settle for P12, but that became P10 after the penalties, giving the Swede another point for his collection this year.

Charles Leclerc, Sauber - 6

Leclerc will likely have left Austin wondering just where Sauber would have measured up in the midfield. After finishing sixth in Q2, he went slower in Q3, leaving him ninth on the grid and, as a result, in the firing line for the clash with Grosjean on the opening lap. Despite efforts to keep going, Leclerc had to retire just past half-distance, having spent the race running well down the order. A missed chance for Sauber.

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