Saudi Arabia F1 driver ratings: 4/10 for Hamilton and here's why... F1 journalist Connor McDonagh runs through the field’s driver ratings following a thrilling Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13.

Max Verstappen - 9

(Qualified 4th, finished 1st)

The reigning F1 champion made amends for an underwhelming qualifying performance with his first victory of the year. Max Verstappen got ahead of Carlos Sainz on the opening lap before jumping teammate Sergio Perez through the Safety Car period. After an exciting ding-dong with Charles Leclerc for the victory, Verstappen finally made the pass into Turn 1 on Lap 47 to win in Jeddah. 


Charles Leclerc - 9

(Qualified 2nd, finished 2nd)

Leclerc narrowly missed out on pole position by less than a tenth on Saturday but looked in control of the grand prix when he took the lead off Perez through the Safety Car phase. Red Bull’s superior straight-line speed performance meant Leclerc had little chance to keep first place once Verstappen closed in at the end. Still, Leclerc deserves a lot of credit for how he defended and the tactics he deployed.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 leads Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18.
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 leads Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull…

Carlos Sainz - 8

(Qualified 3rd, finished 3rd)

Sainz once again couldn’t match his teammate in Q3 and then lost out to Verstappen at the start. The Safety Car handed the Spaniard a lifeline, allowing him to get ahead of Perez who had stopped a lap before once the Mexican surrendered the position after being instructed to do so by his team. From then on, Sainz had to fend off Perez, keeping him out of DRS to maintain the position.

Sergio Perez - 9

(Qualified 1st, finished 4th)

It was the best qualifying lap of Perez’s career as he finally claimed his maiden pole position with a breathtaking effort. The Red Bull driver controlled the race from the front, leading Leclerc by over two seconds before stopping on Lap 16. It was awful timing for Perez as Nicholas Latifi just crashed, allowing the three cars behind him to ultimately jump him under the Safety Car. Very unfortunate for Perez who was a serious contender for the victory.

George Russell - 9

(Qualified 6th, finished 5th)

George Russell got the most out of Mercedes’ W13 in qualifying and race. With teammate Lewis Hamilton struggling for pace and grip, Russell drove a quiet but impressive race to finish fifth which moves him ahead of the seven-time champion in the standings.

Esteban Ocon - 8

(Qualified 5th, finished 6th)

Ocon was one of the stars of qualifying with a strong lap to put him fifth on the grid ahead of Russell and Alpine teammate Fernando Alonso. The Frenchman struggled more in the race, dropping behind Alonso after an aggressive battle before losing another spot to Valtteri Bottas. Ocon was promoted back up the order following Alonso and Bottas’ retirements and then just held off Lando Norris for sixth in the closing laps.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A522 leads team mate Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522.
Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A522 leads team mate Fernando Alonso …

Lando Norris - 7

(Qualified 11th, finished 7th)

A sign of recovery for McLaren? After a lacklustre start to the race, Norris enjoyed a strong second half to the grand prix as he gained three places from Alonso, Bottas and Ricciardo’s retirements. Still, his pace at the end was impressive as he duelled Ocon for sixth. Some good fortune but McLaren will be satisfied with his speed at the end of the race.

Pierre Gasly - 7

(Qualified 9th, finished 8th)

Despite qualifying inside the top 10, Gasly’s hard work was soon undone as a poor opening few laps dropped him down the order. Like Norris, the Frenchman benefitted from Alonso, Bottas and Ricciardo's retirements. Still a solid drive and a deserved return to the points given that he was on for a top 10 in Bahrain before his DNF.

Kevin Magnussen - 8

(Qualified 10th, finished 9th)

Another impressive showing from Magnussen in Saudi Arabia. He once again made Q3 and ran comfortably in the points during the opening phase of the race. The early Safety Car compromised his strategy - as he was in the minority to start on the hards - but he drove well to get back into the points.

Lewis Hamilton - 4

(Qualified 16th, started 15th, finished 10th)

The seven-time champion endured its worst qualifying since the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix as he was knocked out in Q1 in disappointing fashion. Hamilton used the hard tyres to great effect in the first stint as he cut his way through the field. Mercedes decided to keep him out under the Safety Car to give him clear air to push and gap the midfield before making his mandatory pit stop. Hamilton’s race was undone under the VSC phase when Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo stopped at the entry to the pit lane. He had one opportunity to stop before the pit lane was closed but didn’t with Mercedes calling him in too late and Hamilton himself being too indecisive, distracted by Ricciardo’s stricken McLaren or potentially flashbacks to the 2020 Italian GP where he got a penalty for entering the pit lane when it was closed. Even so, Hamilton’s pace on the mediums was poor when he finally stopped as he was slower than Magnussen in the Haas.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13.

Guanyu Zhou - 5

(Qualified 13th, started 12th, finished 11th)

After the highs of Bahrain, it was a difficult race for Zhou in Jeddah. Alfa Romeo’s clutch problems continued as Zhou struggled off the start before bogging down in the opening sequence of corners, dropping to the back of the grid. As he overtook Latifi into Turn 1, he ran wide and cut the corner. He picked up a five-second time penalty which wasn’t properly served into the pits and thus was converted into a drive-through penalty. Not entirely his fault but a scrappy race for the rookie.

Nico Hulkenberg - 6

(Qualified 18th, started 17th, finished 12th)

Another solid substitute appearance for Nico Hulkenberg. Aston Martin kept the German out under the Safety Car which allowed him to mix with the midfield before dropping back as his tyres wore out. 

Lance Stroll - 6

(Qualified 15th, started 13th, finished 13th)

Stroll was the team leader again in Sebastian Vettel’s absence and progressed into Q2 at Hamilton’s expense. It was a steady race for the Aston Martin driver as he mixed it with the McLarens. Contact with Albon in the closing laps resulted in damage, dropping him to 13th in the final classification.

Alex Albon - 5

(Qualified 17th, started 16th, DNF)

Albon was once again the lead Williams in Jeddah, beating teammate Latifi by 1.3s in qualifying. The Thai driver ran well in the race, moving up to as high as 10th as the late pit stops played out. Albon’s race ended early after he collided with Stroll, with the stewards later handing him a three-place grid penalty for the Australian GP.

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW44.
Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW44.

Valtteri Bottas - 8

(Qualified 8th, DNF)

Bottas maintained his remarkable record of making Q3, stretching back to the 2017 Australian Grand Prix. Despite a sluggish start, Bottas maintained eighth and began his pursuit of Ocon. The Finn overtook Ocon into Turn 1 on Lap 17 and pressured Alonso for sixth. Unfortunately for Bottas, a cooling issue forced him into a second stop before retiring the car on Lap 36. Good points were on the cards otherwise.

Fernando Alonso - 8

(Qualified 7th, DNF)

We saw the very best of Alonso on race day as he went wheel-to-wheel with teammate Ocon. The Spaniard ultimately came out on top before holding off Bottas. The two-time champion reported ‘no power’ on Lap 36 and was forced to retire prematurely, costing him a P6 finish.

Daniel Ricciardo - 6

(Qualified 12th, started 14th, DNF)

Daniel Ricciardo was edged out once again by teammate Norris by a slender margin but was hit with a three-place grid penalty for impeding Ocon. An early pit stop allowed him to jump ahead of his teammate, where he remained before retiring from the race.

Nicholas Latifi - 1

(Qualified 19th, started 18th, DNF)

Another awful weekend for Latifi as he crashed in qualifying before doing the same in the race. The Canadian has been comprehensively beaten by Alex Albon so far this season and has a lot of work to do.

Yuki Tsunoda - N/A

(Qualified 20th, DNS)

A weekend to forget for Yuki Tsunoda as he was unable to compete in qualifying or the race due to various technical issues.

Mick Schumacher N/A

(Qualified 14th, DNS)

Schumacher was unable to take part in the race after his heavy shunt in Q2.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 leads behind the Mercedes FIA Safety Car.
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75 leads behind the Mercedes FIA Safety…

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