Here’s how we rated each driver in F1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix…

Each driver is scored out of ten with the rating being heavily weighted on their race-day performance. Qualifying performance holds less weight when deciding the ratings

Max Verstappen (Qualified 3rd, finished 1st) - 10

A mistake at the Villeneuve chicane cost Verstappen a second successive pole position in 2021 as he was beaten in qualifying by a teammate for the first time since Canada 2019. The Dutchman made amends with a perfect start, utilising second gear to power past Sergio Perez and polesitter Lewis Hamilton into the lead of the race. Verstappen’s switch to the slicks was perfectly timed, allowing him to maintain first place. A heart-in-mouth moment on the restart after the red flag nearly saw Verstappen relinquish his lead - the only blemish on the Red Bull driver’s fine victory at Imola. He ran out a comfortable winner, over 20 seconds clear of his nearest competitor.

Lewis Hamilton (Qualified 1st, finished 2nd) - 8

It was vintage Hamilton in qualifying after not topping any of the three practice sessions or the first two segments of qualifying as he edged out the two Red Bulls to secure the 99th pole position of his career. Hamilton’s performances in wet weather are usually exemplary but a sub-par start allowed Verstappen to take the lead into the Tamburello chicane, although Hamilton’s defensive attempts - brave, proved to be costly as it damaged his front wing. Hamilton’s chances of the win were put to bed when he ran off at Tosa while trying to lap George Russell. The timing of Russell and Valtteri Bottas’ incident was perfect for Hamilton as the subsequent red flag period allowed his car to be repaired before recovering to second from ninth after the restart.

Lando Norris (Qualified 7th, finished 3rd) - 10

A near-perfect weekend for Norris. Had it not been for a minor track extension on his final Q3 effort at Turn 9, Norris would have started the race from third. Nevertheless, Norris showed outstanding pace in the wet and the dry to storm to his second career F1 podium. Overtaking Charles Leclerc following the red flag stoppage proved to be decisive in Norris’ podium pursuit, benefitting from the soft tyre gamble. A lengthier DRS zone in 2021 and the sheer pace of the Mercedes W12 meant he was unable to keep Hamilton behind, relinquishing second place on Lap 60. 

Charles Leclerc (Qualified 4th, finished 4th) - 9

It was more of the same for Leclerc at Imola as he extracted the maximum from the SF21 to put it fourth on the grid. The Monegasque driver was running comfortably in the podium places in the wet conditions, over 10 seconds clear of Perez. A lackadaisical restart - explained by a lack of team radio - meant he didn’t make the most of Verstappen’s error and allowed Norris to get through. Leclerc surrendered the podium to the recovering Hamilton, but ultimately it was another fine drive.

Carlos Sainz (Qualified 11th, finished 5th) - 8 

Sainz struggled in qualifying as he failed to progress into Q3. The Spaniard climbed to eighth on the opening lap from 11th on the grid and quickly made light work of Pierre Gasly, who opted to start on the full wet tyres rather than the intermediates. A couple of off-track moments didn’t deter Sainz as he went onto overtake Daniel Ricciardo to finish fifth.

Daniel Ricciardo (Qualified 6th, finished 6th) - 7

Ricciardo never quite had the pace of McLaren teammate Norris at Imola. The Australian maintained fifth place early on but was ordered by the team to move over for Norris. It was a lonely race for Ricciardo in the second half of the grand prix as he was detached by the group of Norris-Leclerc-Sainz and later overtaken by Hamilton. Ricciardo was then pressured by Lance Stroll and Gasly in the closing laps. 

Pierre Gasly (Qualified 5th, finished 7th) - 8 

Another case of what-if for Gasly at Imola. The Frenchman showed AlphaTauri’s impressive turn of pace in qualifying but a decision to start on wet tyres cost him a shot at the podium. Gasly recovered to finish eighth and inherited seventh after Lance Stroll was handed a post-race five-second penalty. 

Lance Stroll (Qualified 10th, finished 8th) - 8

Another impressive weekend from Stroll as he continues to be Aston Martin’s lead driver. Stroll made it into Q3 for the second race in succession and outqualified teammate Sebastian Vettel. The Canadian made it up to seventh at the start but soon dropped back to ninth. Stroll kept Bottas at bay for much of the wet stint and re-overtook the Mercedes driver after the pair exchanged positions through the slick tyre crossover period. Stroll inherited seventh following Perez’s spin but in the end, he would drop to eighth after receiving a five-second penalty for an illegal overtake on Gasly earlier in the race. 

Esteban Ocon (Qualified 9th, finished 9th) - 8

Ocon did well to put his Alpine in Q3, while teammate Fernando Alonso could only manage 15th. Like Gasly, the decision to start on wets cost him a chance of a bigger points haul. Ocon recovered to tenth having overtaken Alonso with the use of DRS. The Frenchman always had the edge over his more experienced teammate and he inherited ninth following Kimi Raikkonen’s 30-second time penalty.

Fernando Alonso (Qualified 15th, finished 10th) - 6 

Alonso never quite had the pace of teammate Ocon at Imola. He damaged his front wing with an off at Tosa on his way to the grid but luckily managed to get back to the pit lane and start the race as normal. Running in 12th on the restart after the red flag, Alonso was overtaken by Gasly and teammate Ocon. The Spaniard picked up the final point, benefitting from Raikkonen’s post-race time penalty.

Sergio Perez (Qualified 2nd, finished 11th) - 4 

Having starred in qualifying, much was expected from Perez on race day - Sunday are usually his forte. His race began to unravel when ran off track under the Safety Car, losing two positions before repassing those two cars. Perez was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty for his offence but the Red Bull driver was still in contention for the podium, running fourth behind Norris and Leclerc after the red flag. Perez then dropped it at the exit of the Villeneuve chicane, running his chances of a big points haul and ensuring Mercedes maintained first in the constructors’ championship. 

Yuki Tsunoda (Qualified 20th, finished 12th) - 3 

It was a disastrous weekend all in all for Tsunoda as he crashed out in Q1 following a spin at Variante Alta. While Tsunoda enjoyed a mostly clean first half of the race, his good work was undone when running ninth, spinning at Tamburello while battling Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. He was later handed a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits to top off a disappointing weekend for the Japanese rookie. 

Kimi Raikkonen (Qualified 16th, finished 13th) - 5

Raikkonen’s drive to ninth place looked to be a fine day’s work for F1’s most experienced driver. The Finn resisted immense pressure from the Alpine duo in the closing laps to score Alfa Romeo’s first points of 2021. That was until he was handed a 30-second time penalty for not following the correct procedure under the Safety Car. Ultimately it was his own spin that caused the confusion under the Safety Car thus it’s hard to be too sympathetic.

Antonio Giovinazzi (Qualified 17th, finished 14th) - 6

Giovinazzi was unfortunate not to score his first points of 2021. The Italian had been running inside of the points after the red flag stoppage in eighth place. He was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop due to a rear brake problem. Unlike teammate Raikkonen, his chances of points were completely ruined through factors out of his own control.

Sebastian Vettel (Qualified 13th, started from the pit lane, classified 15th) - 4

Vettel was once again beaten by Aston Martin teammate Stroll in qualifying and he didn’t fare much better on race day. The German’s chances of a good race were hampered from the off as he, like Stroll, suffered a brake issue on his way to the grid, and was forced to start from the pitlane. Things got even worse for Vettel as he was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty after Aston Martin hadn’t fitted all four tyres to his car before the five-minute signal ahead of the grand prix.

Mick Schumacher (Qualified 19th, finished 16th) - 5

Schumacher was once again the faster of the Haas pair. Starting on the wet tyres, Schumacher was running in 16th until he embarrassingly spun into the barriers under the Safety Car while weaving down the start-finish straight. The German returned to the pits for a new front wing and ultimately finished well clear of teammate Mazepin.

Nikita Mazepin (Qualified 20th, finished 17th) - 4

Progress for Mazepin as he completed his first F1 race at Imola. Generally a smooth grand prix with just one spin in the closing laps to his name. Still needs to find more pace and confidence to be on level terms with Schumacher.

Valtteri Bottas (Qualified 8th, DNF) - 2

One of Bottas’ poorest weekends as a Mercedes driver. While he did look strong in Friday practice, Bottas’ inability to get the front tyres in the right temperature window was his downfall in qualifying, losing over 0.4s to teammate Hamilton in the first sector on both of his laps in Q3 to leave him eighth on the grid. A slow start dropped him to tenth and then he was stuck behind the Aston Martin of Stroll. Bottas’ race came to an end prematurely after contact with Russell on the start-finish straight on Lap 31. A weekend to forget.

George Russell (Qualified 12th, DNF) - 4

Russell’s weekend started off well as he qualified 12th, just over a tenth shy of making it into Q3. As Bottas struggled to get his slick tyres up to temperature, Russell saw an opportunity to overtake the Mercedes driver with the use of DRS. Russell went right but in doing so, he touched the damp white line, causing him to lose control of his Williams and spear into Bottas. Another big opportunity for Russell to score points for Williams goes begging and on balance, it was his own misjudgement despite Bottas’ slight move to the right.

Nicholas Latifi (Qualified 14th, DNF) - 2

Latifi looked to be the faster of the two Williams drivers after practice but came up short yet again in the battle against Russell. The Canadian spun off at the second part of Acque Minerale, dropping him back down the field. Latifi rejoined and moved right, unaware Mazepin was next to him on track, hitting the Haas and smashing into the barriers in the process.

 

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