70th Anniversary GP driver ratings

Qualified 4th, Finished 1st

It was always going to take something special to stop Mercedes. But Max Verstappen – as he has proved over the years and during F1 2020 with his drives in an under-performing Red Bull – is very special. Yes, his tyres helped, as did the warmer conditions, but it was Verstappen who stormed past Nico Hulkenberg at the start and it was Verstappen who was lapping faster than the Mercedes on old tyres, let alone fresh rubber. He created his own chances.

And he only needed one characteristic Max overtake to do it, with his surge around the outside of Valtteri Bottas at Woodcote turning out to be decisive. His win on Sunday was more about excellent tyre management – one of the Dutchman’s best traits, and one which drivers usually develop in the later years. Verstappen, incredibly, is still just 22.

Now just 30 points behind Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen is suddenly the six-time champion’s closest rival. And after a DNF in the opening race. Very, very impressive.
Rating out of ten: 9.5

Qualified 2nd, Finished 2nd

Same track, same car, but a very different second weekend at Silverstone for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes than the first. Yes, there was no dramatic late tyre puncture this time, but what there was were high temperatures that underlined that the world champions still do have an Achilles’ heel after all.

But having lost pole position to Valtteri Bottas on Saturday, in a performance he rightly admitted “wasn’t the end of the world” but not quite good enough on this occasion, Hamilton still beat his team-mate to second place behind an ultimately faster Red Bull.

“It was such a difficult race,” admitted Hamilton. “I love a challenge, but it was just an unexpected challenge that we had.” It was in the second stint, when he managed blistered rear tyres for 27 laps, that made a difference in the end, as he was able to race back and pass Charles Leclerc and then, crucially, the frustrated Bottas with two laps to go.
Rating out of ten: 8

Qualified 1st, Finished 3rd

A miserable, and possibly decisive, fortnight at Silverstone for Valtteri Bottas. His puncture to drop him out of the points last weekend was cruel, but Bottas appeared even more frustrated after the second UK race. He was adamant he should have won, let alone finished second ahead of Hamilton.

Bottas’ view has been downplayed by both Toto Wolff and Hamilton, who say Red Bull simply had a better package on Sunday, but the Finn was certainly right when he said his strategy was “sub-optimal”. Securing pole and challenging Verstappen closer than Hamilton, actually appeared to cost Bottas in the end.

A key moment for Bottas was when Verstappen was about to pit for the first time. He says he didn’t get the hurry-up from Mercedes and if he did, he may well have kept track position for longer. Having a Mercedes in the way for a few laps to overtake certainly would have made Verstappen’s job harder, at the very least. Then, Mercedes pitted Bottas again at the same time as Verstappen – giving him a much longer second stint and leaving him vulnerable, and ultimately helpless, to Hamilton.

Bottas will be wondering how he has lost more title ground to Hamilton, having not done an awful lot wrong on the track all weekend here.
Rating out of ten: 8

Qualified 8th, Finished 4th

Just how is Charles Leclerc fourth in the Drivers’ Championship? In what has often been only the fifth quickest car in qualifying, Leclerc left the fortnight at Silverstone with an impressive fourth place to go with his surprise third from the week before.

That he achieved it via one of only three one-stop strategies in the whole field on a day of stifling heat at Silverstone was all the more commendable. Leclerc was particularly chuffed afterwards given tyre management had been a problem for him last year.

With Sebastian Vettel all at sea in the sister car and leaving the Scuderia in four months’ time, Ferrari’s long-term faith in Leclerc is looking ever-more secure.
Rating out of ten: 9

Qualified 9th, Finished 5th

Disappointing Saturdays and sparkling Sundays have become quite the theme for Alex Albon in F1 2020. Again, he will be ruing a low grid position as in the race, he appeared to have similar pace to race-winner Verstappen in clear air and so should really have been challenging Mercedes.

His race included brilliant and fearless overtakes around the outside of Stowe, and the ease in which Albon makes his way through the field is the thing Red Bull value most about the youngster.

But he really does need to improve in qualifying. 13th, 12th, and 9th are his last three results.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

Qualified 6th, Finished 6th

Although it was his stand-in team-mate who took all the plaudits up until the race, Lance Stroll finished as the lead Racing Point on Sunday in sixth after avoiding the need for a late third pit stop like Nico Hulkenberg. Stroll was close behind his team-mate when Racing Point pitted the German after he had reported tyre vibrations and, although he briefly took over fifth place, Red Bull’s Alex Albon overtook him three laps from home.

Jumped by the one-stopping Leclerc, Stroll added: “We’ve banked some good points with a solid strategy. We always want more, though, so we’ll go away and look into all the different strategies used and learn from it.”

He’s now finished in the points for four races in succession for the first time after a series of solid results.
Rating out of ten: 7

Qualified 3rd, Finished 7th

The undeniable star of qualifying had a quieter race, but seventh place in his first Sunday in that Racing Point really is a brilliant effort from Nico Hulkenberg. His stock, which should already have been high in the paddock after over a decade of strong results, must be soaring now.

It was understandable that Hulkenberg lost a place to Verstappen at the beginning of the race given that was his first start procedure in the RP20, but the German then showed admirable pace – comfortably keeping temporary team-mate Stroll at bay until tyre blisters in the closing moments.

That forced him into another stop, dropping him down a few places. But Hulkenberg should be proud, in what could be his last race of the season with Sergio Perez hoping to return in Spain.
Rating out of ten: 8.5

Qualified 11th (Started 14th), Finished 8th

Renault’s gamble on an unfancied one-stopper paid off nicely for Esteban Ocon. He salvaged an eighth-placed finish from a weekend that had appeared set for disappointment when he missed out on Q3 and then picked up a three-place grid for blocking George Russell.

From 14th on the grid, the Frenchman picked up two places on his medium tyres at the start and was running seventh once others had pitted early by the time of his own stop on 22. From there he took his hard compounds the 40 laps to the finish to come home ahead of Lando Norris’ McLaren. Now to sort out those Saturdays. “Our target is to qualify better – we have the pace for that – and then we can really fight for more points,” said Ocon ahead of the next round in Spain.
Rating out of ten: 7

Qualified 10th, Finished 9th

A tougher weekend for McLaren and indeed Lando Norris, but the young Brit still finished ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz for the fourth time in five F1 2020 races. Both McLarens struggled with tyre management in this race and Norris said he had the “worst stint ever” before his second stop, and that cost him ground and ultimately the chance to overtake Ocon at the end of the race.

“It was just a very tough race,” said Norris, although there are still plenty of positives. He has only dropped one position to fifth in the standings, while this was his 12th Q3 in a row in qualifying.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

Qualified 16th, Finished 10th

“I felt like it was a mega race,” said Daniil Kvyat after he beat AlphaTauri team-mate Pierre Gasly to the day’s final point. Finishing as the team’s lead car hadn’t looked likely when Kvyat dropped out in Q1 while Gasly qualified seventh, but the Russian tuned that right around during the course of a strong Sunday drive.

He steadily picked up places through the first stint on hard tyres – which he took another set of at his opening lap-19 pit stop – and then held a top-10 position all through the second half of the 52-lap race as he expertly navigated a final stint on mediums.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

Outside the points

After another dazzling qualifying which had him up in seventh on the grid, Pierre Gasly was understandably disappointed that he missed out on points on Sunday – pointing the finger at his team for their strategy.

“I had a good start and also felt quite comfortable with the tyres on the first stint, so I was a bit surprised when I was called in for the first pit stop earlier than we had planned before the race,” he said. “I think we tried to cover Albon but actually, that wasn’t really our race.”

From there he said his race was “pretty much a nightmare” after finding himself in traffic, having to push hard to get through it which caused him big tyre problems. A very unlucky race for a Frenchman who continues to impress in F1 2020.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

Oh, dear. For a proud and competitive individual like Sebastian Vettel is, this has got to be really hurting right now. It was hard to envisage how things could have got worse for him around Silverstone after a 10th-place finish in week one at the British GP, yet they did. This week he was knocked out in Q2, spun at the race’s first corner, rebuked the team for their strategy over the radio as his recovery stalled, and then finished a miserable weekend by coming home a point-less 12th. His one-time Ferrari dream is in danger of petering out into a nightmare over these closing months unless something drastically changes in his relationship with the SF1000.
Rating out of ten: 5

“Again I missed out on a good result for reasons beyond my control,” said a disheartened Carlos Sainz, who just can’t catch a break in F1 2020. Yes, he probably should have been higher up the grid for the race, but a superb first stint which saw him just behind Leclerc was undone by a very slow McLaren pit-stop. “It looks like we had a gun failure,” added Sainz. That dropped him all the way back down to 13th and back into traffic, which as other drivers have alluded to, made tyre management almost impossible. He’ll hope to bounce back at his home race next weekend.
Rating out of ten: 7

Finishing so far outside the points was certainly not what anyone – let alone the man himself – had in mind for Daniel Ricciardo after he took the improving Renault RS20 to a very fine fifth on the grid. Slipping behind Lance Stroll at the start was a minor setback, but that was nothing compared to the lurid spin that Ricciardo had on hard tyres on lap 31 when trying to keep Carlos Sainz behind. It was effectively game over from then.
Rating out of ten: 7

P15 from the back of the grid is good going, with Kimi Raikkonnen one of the drivers who managed a one-stop strategy pretty nicely. But it’s clear Kimi, a former world champion who won a race less than two years ago in the Ferrari, wants to be fighting much higher up the order in the Alfa Romeo. “We will need to come up with a better performance,” said the 40-year-old.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

Romain Grsojean put in one of the more impressive laps of qualifying as he beat his team-mate by eight-tenths to make it through to Q2, and then managed 13th on the grid. Unfortunately, his first lap on Sunday all-but-ruined his afternoon as he dropped three positions. From there, points were always going to be unlikely, and high tyre wear in the Haas forced him into an unwanted second stop.
Rating out of ten: 7

Antonio Giovinazzi rose to 15th on the first lap from the back row but while Alfa Romeo have much better race pace than qualifying, he wasn’t able to beat his team-mate – let alone challenge cars ahead. It’s tough going for anyone with a Ferrari engine at the moment, but Alfa will hope for a better result at a less power-dependent circuit next weekend.
Rating out of ten: 6

That’s four Q2 appearances in a row for George Russell, a wonderful effort for a driver who had never reached that portion of qualifying at all before F1 2020. But then the Englishman had a “very difficult race”, not helped by a poor start and a Williams which didn’t manage the tyres well at all.
Rating out of ten: 7

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