Following Sunday’s riveting Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, Crash.net F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith runs through the field with his driver ratings.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 9

While his victory may have been fortuitous, Lewis Hamilton was once again on-song at Interlagos. Mercedes was uneasy about its chances after Friday, yet he stuck the car on pole in superb fashion. He managed the race as best he could amid tyre struggles, making him a sitting duck to Max Verstappen, but was able to look after his Mediums well to ensure he did not come under fire from the recovering Red Bull late on. A good job indeed.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes – 7

With Hamilton’s title won, Bottas would have hoped to snap his win drought in Brazil. A great start saw him jump to P2, but more acute tyre issues compared to his teammate meant he was powerless to keep Verstappen back. Superb defence kept the Ferraris at bay until late in his second stint, when Mercedes took a free stop to ensure he kept P5 ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

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Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari – 6

A rare anonymous weekend for Sebastian Vettel. Fastest in FP3 before falling a tenth short of pole in qualifying, the Ferrari man was left hamstrung in the race by a sensor issue, meaning he had to run the car in different settings to protect the engine and ensure he finished. As a result, P6 was really the best result he could have hoped for as Ferrari went down in the constructors’ fight with a whimper.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 7

Kimi Raikkonen’s excellent final season with Ferrari continued at Interlagos as he notched his 12th podium of the season (one more than Vettel). A so-so qualifying was made up for in the race as he benefitted from Vettel’s error before getting past a resilient Bottas in the second stint, leaving him not a million miles off Verstappen come the chequered flag.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – 8

A really impressive fightback drive from Ricciardo. After qualifying just behind teammate Verstappen in P6, he dropped to 11th as a result of his grid penalty, only to ease up the order with some fine overtakes. Mirroring Verstappen on strategy allowed him to jump the ailing Vettel and Bottas, but Raikkonen was out of reach. A decent haul of points for a recovery drive, though.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull – 8

A very hard score to gauge. Verstappen took fifth in qualifying, which was really the maximum as Red Bull put everything on race setup, which allowed the Dutchman to go on his incredible charge in the first stint. Rapid pace plus excellent tyre management showed there was still plenty left in the tank, only for the clash with Ocon to leave him with damage. Did Verstappen deserve to win this race? Yes. It was one of the best displays of his F1 career so far. Does that excuse his childish behaviour after the race? No. For that he loses a mark. 

Sergio Perez, Force India – 7

Perez did well to come away with a point on a weekend Force India lacked the pace to fight with Haas or Sauber. A straightforward one-stop saw him run a pretty lonely race in P10 for much of the afternoon, too far back from Magnussen and too far ahead of the Toro Rossos. One point flattered Force India’s standing at Interlagos, so a job well done.

Esteban Ocon, Force India – 5

Ocon made more overtakes than any other driver on Sunday at Interlagos, charging from 18th on the grid after his penalty. All his hard work was undone with a brave yet foolish attempt to unlap himself, causing contact with Verstappen that compromised both their races. A late second stop followed before crossing the line 15th. Points weren’t on offer, but it was still a rare amateurish moment from Ocon.

Lance Stroll, Williams – 4

A very forgettable display from Lance Stroll. He ran in the bottom three throughout the race, and ultimately finished 18 seconds behind teammate Sergey Sirotkin. Little more to report… 

Sergey Sirotkin, Williams – 5

A similar story for Sirotkin, who said he was fighting to “even keep the car on-track” such were the issues with the FW41 at Interlagos. A decent qualifying display mattered little come the race as he dropped down the order, eventually finishing last bar Stroll.

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault – 6

With Haas and Sauber breaking away at the head of the midfield, points always looked unlikely for Renault at Interlagos, yet Hulkenberg didn’t really get the chance to try. His wheel-to-wheel moment was the standout moment of his race as the team opted to park his car due to high engine temperatures before the end of the first stint.

Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault – 6

Left to fly the Renault flag solo at Interlagos after Hulkenberg’s retirement, Sainz opted for a strange two-stop strategy that included a short middle stint on Mediums before pitting to take on Supersofts for the final push to the line. A late pass on Pierre Gasly gave him 12th, but it was largely a very nothing race for Sainz. 

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Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso – 6

Gasly said on Thursday there were “perfect conditions” for Toro Rosso to impress at Interlagos thanks to the Spec 3 Honda engine and the updated aero package now on both cars. He delivered in qualifying, reaching Q3, but the race was a different story. A messy start followed by race-long tyre struggles made him a sitting duck at the end, although he did irk his teammate by not letting him past.

Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso – 7

Hartley couldn’t match his teammate’s pace in qualifying, dropping out in Q1, but ran a far better race. Excellent tyre management allowed him to go 49 laps before pitting for Supersofts, with late confusion with Gasly forcing Hartley to make the pass himself. 11th was the most Toro Rosso could realistically achieve in Brazil.

Romain Grosjean, Haas – 8

On a weekend Renault left without points, Haas had to try and capitalise. While P8 and P9 may not seem like much, it was the most it could achieve as all the leading cars finished and Sauber was a cut above. Grosjean lost touch with Leclerc early on, leaving him to take eighth ahead of Magnussen. A decent drive all the same.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas – 7

Pretty much the same story for Magnussen, albeit one mark down for being behind in qualifying and narrowly behind in the race. He did all he could with minimal fuss, the only close moment coming in his pass on Marcus Ericsson early on.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren – 5

Even by McLaren’s current standards, this was a deeply underwhelming race for Fernando Alonso. After another Q1 dropout, Alonso gambled on strategy and made an early (and botched) stop for Mediums, but was unable to make them last, forcing a second visit to the pits late on. He got in hot water for ignoring blue flags, dropping him behind Sirotkin in the final classification.

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren – 7

Another quietly impressive display from Vandoorne in his penultimate appearance for McLaren. He made a one-stop strategy work well and pulled off some nice overtakes, maximising the team’s potential by finishing 14th. It may not be a huge amount to shout about, but credit where it is due.

Marcus Ericsson, Sauber – 8

Marcus Ericsson said on Saturday he was hoping to show Sauber what it would be missing in 2019, having recorded his best F1 qualifying result with an excellent charge to P7. He started sixth after Ricciardo’s penalty, but his race unravelled before it had even started when part of his diffuser broke off en route to the grid. A quick fix from Sauber was only temporary, with a lack of downforce costing the Swede as he dropped down the order in the race before then retiring after a high-speed spin. He deserved far better.

Charles Leclerc, Sauber – 10

There’s so much to shout about when it comes to Leclerc in Brazil. His defiance of the team’s call to pit in Q2 to somehow get into Q3. His superb start and pace through the first stint, keeping the gaggle of Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen and Ricciardo in sight. His excellent tyre management to the finish, leaving him without pressure to finish as the top midfielder. And to top it all off? He embraced the ‘Allo ‘Allo! ‘It is I, Leclerc!’ meme. What a dude.

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