F1 Driver Ratings from the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix

Crash.net F1 journalist Connor McDonagh runs through the field’s driver ratings following the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps
(L to R): George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing; Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing; and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in the post race FIA Press Conference.
(L to R): George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing; Max Verstappen (NLD) Red…
© FIA Pool Image for Editorial Use

Given the unique nature of the Belgian GP weekend, the ratings have predominantly been based on a driver’s qualifying performance and in certain cases, incidents on race day which impacted their result that were solely in their control. The qualifying position is where they are classified in qualifying and their starting position is their official grid position once the race started. 

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

A sixth victory of the 2021 season has allowed Max Verstappen to stop Lewis Hamilton’s run of momentum. A superb lap at the death allowed him to stop George Russell from taking a surprise maiden pole position. Verstappen trailed Hamilton by 0.9s after the first runs in Q3 so it was an impressive recovery after not topping either Q1 or Q2.

George Russell (Qualified 2nd, finished 2nd) - 10

If you could give more than 10 out of 10 then you would to Russell for his performance at Spa. After making Q3 for the third time this season, no one would have expected him to out-qualify the reigning world champion and potentially his teammate for next year. An outstanding lap put him on provisional pole before being eclipsed by Verstappen at the end. With the race unable to happen in its usual form, Russell secured his maiden podium and Williams’ first since 2017.

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing celebrates his second position with the team.
George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing celebrates his second position with…
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Lewis Hamilton (Qualified 3rd, finished 3rd) - 8

After leading Q3 by such a margin, Hamilton would have been disappointed to be only third on the grid. Tyres not being in the right temperature window was the cause of his inability to find the gains that Verstappen and Russell did on their respective final laps. Ultimately, given Hamilton’s track record in the wet, you expect more in these conditions. Naturally, it would have been great to see what he could have done in a wet race.

Daniel Ricciardo (Qualified 4th, finished 4th) - 8

The Australian enjoyed his best qualifying of the season at Spa with fourth. He left it late to make Q1 and Q2 but a strong lap at the end put him well up the order. On paper, fourth is a great result but given that Norris showed the car was capable of taking pole in Belgium, that is reflected in his rating.

Sebastian Vettel (Qualified 5th, finished 5th) - 9

Vettel is slowly getting back to his best as he was consistently quick throughout qualifying. Had it not been for a mistake at Turn 8, perhaps fourth or better was there for the taking. We once again saw what makes Vettel so likeable when he was the first to stop and check up on Norris when he crashed at the top of Raidillon.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR21.
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR21.
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Pierre Gasly (Qualified 6th, finished 6th - 9

Gasly continues to get the most out of the AlphaTauri with yet another Q3 appearance in 2021. He was just a couple of tenths shy of the faster McLaren in fourth so another solid weekend for him.

Esteban Ocon (Qualified 9th, started 7th, finished 7th) - 8 

The Alpine didn’t have the pace in wet conditions so Ocon did a good job to make it into Q3. Thanks to Valtteri Bottas’ grid penalty and Sergio Perez crashing on his way to the grid, Ocon moved up two places to finish seventh. 

Charles Leclerc (Qualified 11th, started 8th, finished 8th) - 8

Leclerc couldn’t make Q3 as both Ferraris struggled for wet weather performance. He moved up three spots on race day thanks to Bottas, Perez and Norris.

Nicholas Latifi (Qualified 12th, started 9th, finished 9th) - 7

Back-to-back points finishes for Latifi - who would have thought that going into the season. 12th in qualifying marks the Canadian’s best result of the season but given what Russell achieved in the other car, the Williams clearly suited Spa’s treacherous conditions.

Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW43B and George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing FW43B at the pit lane exit.
Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW43B and George Russell (GBR)…
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Carlos Sainz (Qualified 13th, started 10th, finished 10th) - 7

Sainz was left confused by his lack of pace in the wet, given that historically he has been one of F1’s better wet weather performers. Another driver to benefit from Bottas, Perez and Norris’ misdemeanours.

Fernando Alonso (Qualified 14th, started 11th,  finished 11th) - 6

Alonso trailed teammate Ocon by 0.851s in Q2 as he struggled with a lack of grip in qualifying. The Spaniard has always been a man for race day so it’s a shame we didn’t get to see what he could have done. 

Valtteri Bottas (Qualified 8th, started 12th, finished 12th) - 5

After matching Hamilton in Q2, Bottas looked set for one of his better wet weather outings for Mercedes. The Finn was 1.5s behind his teammate after the first run in Q3 and that gap extended to 2.4s by the end of qualifying. A five-place grid penalty meant points weren’t possible but with Perez and Norris also not scoring, he didn’t lose out too much in the championship picture.

Antonio Giovinazzi (Qualified 16th, started 13th, finished 13th) - 6

Giovinazzi was over a second clear of Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying. He moved up two spots thanks to Norris and Perez. 

Lando Norris (Qualified 10th, started 14th, finished 14th) - 5

A missed opportunity for Norris at Spa as he was the man to beat going into Q3 having topped the two sessions prior. With conditions worsening, Norris put a wheel on the right-hand kerb on the run-up Eau Rouge, causing him to lose control of his McLaren and spear into the barrier. A maiden pole was there for the taking as was a first-ever victory. Thankfully Norris left the iconic Belgian track unhurt.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL35M.
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL35M.
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Yuki Tsunoda (Qualified 17th, started 15th, finished 15th) - 4

Another disappointing weekend for the Japanese rookie. Tsunoda was 2.1s behind his teammate in Q1 - an unacceptable margin. He moved up two places on race day thanks to Perez and Lance Stroll’s penalty from Hungary.

Mick Schumacher (Qualified 18th, started 16th, finished 16th) - 6

Schumacher was just under a second ahead of Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin. A clean weekend where he was once again the lead Haas driver. 

Nikita Mazepin (Qualified 20th, started 17th, finished 17th) - 5 

At one point it looked to be a momentous weekend for Mazepin as he picked up the fastest lap. However, due to the countback rule when the red flag is shown, only the first lap behind the Safety Car was used to create the final classification. Thus, no driver was credited by the FIA for the fastest lap.

Kimi Raikkonen (Qualified 19th, started 19th (PL), finished 18th) - 4

Raikkonen struggled in qualifying relative to his teammate and was forced to start from the pit lane due to a rear wing change. 

Sergio Perez (Qualified 7th, started 20th (PL), finished 19th) - 2

The Mexican’s struggles continued in qualifying as he trailed teammate Verstappen by over 1.3s. Perez lost control of his Red Bull in the middle of Les Combes, throwing away a points finish and crucial points for the team in its battle with Mercedes in the constructors’ championship. Just two podiums in 12 races for Perez in title-contending machinery. 

Lance Stroll (Qualified 15th, started 18th, finished 20th) - 4

Stroll failed to cross the start-finish line in time in Q2 meaning he was unable to improve his time which left him 15th on the grid. With a five-place grid penalty to serve for his Hungary mistake, the Canadian started from the back. Post-race, he received a 10-second time penalty for a rear wing change during the red flag period, which dropped him behind Perez.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B leads behind the Mercedes FIA Safety Car.
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B leads behind the Mercedes FIA…
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