F1 Driver Ratings from the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix

Crash.net F1 journalist Connor McDonagh runs through the field’s driver ratings following the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.
1st place Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B, 2nd place Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W12, 3rd place Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL35M with Toyoharu Tanabe (JPN) Honda Racing F1 Technical Director.
1st place Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B, 2nd place Valtteri…
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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 1st, finished 1st) - 10

Dominant. Verstappen was faultless yet again at the Red Bull Ring as he claimed a record fourth victory in Austria. While the Red Bull RB16B is the class of the field, Verstappen is executing each race weekend to perfection. Had it not been for a tyre failure in Azerbaijan, the Dutchman would have won the last five races. There’s no stopping Verstappen right now.

Valtteri Bottas (Qualified 5th, finished 2nd) - 8

Bottas continued his impressive podium streak in Austria with second place. It was another consistent, solid performance from the Finn who continues to fight for his Mercedes future. He got past Norris through the pit stop phase, while Lewis Hamilton played the team game after picking up damage midway through, letting his teammate pass on Lap 52. That’s five podiums for Bottas in 2021 - only Hamilton and Verstappen have more.

Lando Norris (Qualified 2nd, finished 3rd) - 10

Alongside Verstappen, Norris has been pretty much perfect in 2021. He narrowly missed out on his maiden pole in qualifying by just 0.048s. More impressively, Norris had the race pace to compete with the Mercedes duo. Had it not been for his unfair time penalty for forcing Perez off the track at Turn 4, there’s a strong chance that he would have beaten Bottas to second. Regardless, it was another stunning drive from Norris as he closed in on Perez for third in the drivers’ championship.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren celebrates his third position on the podium.
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren celebrates his third position on the podium.
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Lewis Hamilton (Qualified 4th, finished 4th) - 8

Hamilton looked on course for a comfortable second place ahead of teammate Bottas after making his first pit stop of the afternoon on Lap 31. His race was undone when he ran wide at Turn 10, damaging the rear of his Mercedes and losing him up to 30 points of downforce. Hamilton’s loss of pace meant he fell into the clutches of Bottas - who he let by - and Norris. Looking at the onboard footage, it’s hard to be too harsh on Hamilton given that every driver was doing similar at the final corner. Bad luck? Perhaps, but still a decisive blow in the race for the championship.

Carlos Sainz (Qualified 11th, finished 5th) - 9

It was another fine weekend for Sainz in Austria as he got the better of teammate Charles Leclerc in qualifying. Starting on the hard tyre meant it was always going to be a tricky start and early phase of the race for Sainz but he handled it well, settling in behind Leclerc and Perez. A late switch to the mediums allowed him to close up to his teammate, before being let past and then overtaking Daniel Ricciardo into Turn 4 with a couple of laps to go. With Perez’s 10-second penalty, Sainz inherited fifth in what was a great race for the Spaniard.

Sergio Perez (Qualified 3rd, finished 6th) - 6

Perez endured one of his most difficult races as a Red Bull driver. Had he made the move stick on Norris at the start, it probably would have been a comfortable 1-2 finish for Red Bull on home soil, but it wasn’t meant to be. While the stewards felt Norris was to blame for Perez ending up in the gravel trap, there’s no doubt Perez could have taken more care, as Fernando Alonso did up against George Russell later on in the race. Once Perez escaped the gravel, he rejoined in tenth and lacked the pace to make a mark on the race. He was overtaken by Leclerc on track before getting back ahead through the pit stop phase. His over-aggressive defending resulted in two separate five-second penalties which cost him fifth to Sainz. A race to forget and one that he could have easily avoided.

Daniel Ricciardo (Qualified 13th, finished 7th) - 7

It was a solid recovery from Ricciardo as he moved up to 11th after the opening lap. McLaren decided to stop the Australian on Lap 30 to ensure he had track position over the Ferraris and Perez. He couldn’t keep Perez at bay but resisted immense pressure from Leclerc. Sainz got through on the penultimate lap, making the most of the alternate strategy. Good points for Ricciardo but still nowhere near the level expected, relative to his teammate. 

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-21 runs wide.
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-21 runs wide.
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Charles Leclerc (Qualified 12th, finished 8th) - 7

Leclerc had the pace but he couldn’t make the moves stick as he got stuck behind Perez and then Ricciardo in the second stint. In his own words, his overtaking attempts on the Mexican were “quite optimistic”. There’s no doubting Leclerc’s talent and speed, but his overzealous wheel-to-wheel conduct will only end in tears given that he nearly crashed into Sebastian Vettel on Lap 1.

Pierre Gasly (Qualified 6th, finished 9th) - 8

Gasly was the only driver to start on the soft tyres that finished inside of the points. The one-stop was favourable but unlike teammate Yuki Tsunoda, and the two Aston Martins, he managed to make it work. AlphaTauri reckons that if there weren't yellow flags on the final lap, Gasly would have been able to challenge Leclerc for eighth. A compromised strategy but good points nonetheless.

Fernando Alonso (Qualified 14th, finished 10th) - 9

The two-time world champion was a shoo-in for Q3 had he not been blocked by Vettel at the end of Q2. He wasn’t able to make a typical-Alonso start from 14th on the grid but he fought his way back to finish tenth. He was embroiled in a titanic scrap with George Russell for tenth, coming out on top with a few laps to go into Turn 4. Alonso deserved more than a single point from the Austrian GP.

George Russell (Qualified 8th, finished 11th) - 9

‘Mr Saturday’ delivered yet again as Williams progressed into Q3 for the first time since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix. A poor start due to having to avoid Tsunoda dropped him to 12th, although Russell thinks his poor Lap 1 didn’t compromise his chances of a top ten finish. The Mercedes-linked driver kept Alonso at bay for several laps, but couldn’t resist the superior pace of the Alpine. A fine performance throughout the weekend that warranted points.

Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) AlphaTauri AT02.
Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) AlphaTauri AT02.
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Yuki Tsunoda (Qualified 7th, finished 12th) - 5

Tsunoda was on form in qualifying as he was right behind teammate Gasly. He was on the back foot immediately as he was forced to start on the softs, forcing him onto the unfavoured two-stop strategy. His race was ultimately undone after he picked up two five-second penalties for pit entries offences. He finished well behind his teammate in what was a disappointing race for the Japanese rookie.

Lance Stroll (Qualified 10th, finished 13th) - 6

After having one of his finest weekends of the season last time out at the Styrian Grand Prix, more was expected from Stroll this weekend. He progressed into Q3 but was beaten by his teammate and Russell. The Canadian was overtaken by his teammate on track and only finished as high as 13th after Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen’s shunt on the final lap. 

Antonio Giovinazzi (Qualified 15th, finished 14th) - 6

Giovinazzi once again had the advantage over Raikkonen in qualifying but his race was undone when he picked up a penalty for speeding under the Safety Car. Giovinazzi inherited 14th after the final lap collision between Vettel and his Alfa Romeo teammate. 

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Alfa Romeo Racing C41.
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Alfa Romeo Racing C41.
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Kimi Raikkonen (Qualified 16th, finished 15th) - 5

It was another poor showing from the 2007 champion in qualifying as he was knocked out in Q1 yet again. A long first stint on the hard tyre allowed him to switch to mediums to close down Alonso and Russell for 10th and 11th. When trying to get past Russell on the final lap, Vettel was just behind the Alfa Romeo driver. Raikkonen veered right into Vettel’s path, ending both drivers’ races prematurely. The stewards deemed it to be Raikkonen’s fault and awarded him a 20-second time penalty. It was a solid race up until the final lap.

Nicholas Latifi (Qualified 18th, finished 16th) - 4

Latifi couldn’t match teammate Russell in qualifying and endured an anonymous Sunday drive at the Red Bull Ring. The Canadian would have classified 15th but he was handed a 30-second time penalty for failing to slow down sufficiently under double-waved yellow flags at the end of the race.

Sebastian Vettel (Qualified 8th, started 11th, finished 17th) - 7

Vettel enjoyed one of his better qualifying performances as he qualified eighth. Unfortunately for the German, he was handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Alonso at the end of Q3. Harsh, perhaps, given that he was forced to back off between Turns 9 and 10 due to Sainz and Bottas doing the same just ahead. The four-time champion was compromised by Stroll in the first stint but the decision to qualify on softs was doomed from the start. Vettel was an innocent party as Raikkonen ended his race prematurely, dropping him to 17th.

Mick Schumacher (Qualified 19th, finished 18th) - 7

Schumacher continued to have the upper hand over Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin in qualifying in Austria. Haas lacked the pace to compete with the cars ahead as he was lapped twice. At least his 100 percent finishing record in 2021 continued.

Nikita Mazepin (Qualified 20th, finished 19th) - 5

Mazepin trailed Schumacher by over 0.5s in qualifying. Haas put Mazepin on a two-stop strategy as he finished last of the 19 runners at the Red Bull Ring. A fairly clean weekend for the Russian but still a lot of pace to find relative to his teammate. 

Esteban Ocon (Qualified 17th, DNF) - N/A 

After starting the season so strongly, the form of Ocon is perplexing. The Frenchman once again failed to progress into Q2, losing over 0.3s relative to Alonso in the first sector alone - which consists of one corner and a long straight. His race ended early as he was sandwiched between Raikkonen and one of the Haas drivers, which ultimately went down as a racing incident. Ocon desperately needs a good weekend at Silverstone.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521.
Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A521.
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