The Hungarian Grand Prix was perhaps the best race of an excellent 2021 season, delivering plenty of drama early on and an anxious wait to see if we’d get a first-time winner.
As usual after every F1 weekend, Edd Straw assesses how every driver in the field fared – from those who clearly starred to those who will be desperate to forget the Hungarian GP going into the summer break.
If you want to debate Edd’s driver ratings with him, you need to be part of The Race Members’ Club. Members will be sent a link to the debate via email later on Monday or you’ll be able to access details in the members’ area of the Members’ Club homepage later today.
Note that at the time of publication the provisional results still listed Sebastian Vettel in second place. But this is written on the basis that his exclusion, which is set to be appealed, stands.
After each grand prix, The Race will rate each driver’s weekend with a mark out of 10.
This year, in an attempt to utilise a wider range of scores, we have recalibrated the scoring to make 5 out of 10 an average mark and therefore indicative of a decent drive given the high standard of drivers in F1.
For a more in-depth explanation, read our outline of the modified system.
Started: 1st Finished: 2nd
“The lap felt really beautiful” was Hamilton’s verdict of the first-run time that secured pole position. That he was the only driver who made Q3 to string together his theoretical ideal lap supported that claim, as he excelled in getting the most from a Mercedes that was working well.
He held the lead at both starts, albeit with the caveat he was alone on the grid for the second one. But he dropped to the back after making his pitstop, setting the stage for a charging drive.
Clearing traffic was the problem on what was, from there, a two-stop strategy but he might have been able to trouble the leaders late on but for the 10 crucial laps he spent stuck behind Alonso.
VERDICT: Did a great job in qualifying and recovered well in the race – but should have made the call to pit before the standing restart.
Started: 2nd Finished: DNF
Struggled to get back into the swing of things on the softs on the key first Q3 run, having used mediums in Q2 – with the deficit of 0.315s within the spread, albeit at the high end, of where Bottas’s pace was relative to Hamilton.
Basically matched his team-mate in sector one, with the majority of the deficit in the middle sector, specifically Turns 5, 8 and 9.
Had a load of wheelspin off the line and slipped to fifth, then made a disastrous misjudgement and locked up when he hit the brakes behind Norris, shoving the McLaren into Verstappen and then himself into Perez. Race over.
VERDICT: After doing a decent backup job in qualifying, the race couldn’t have gone worse.
Started: 4th Finished: DNF
Suffered from the same balance struggles as Verstappen during the weekend, but was unable to mitigate them effectively.
The closest he got in any session of the weekend was 0.514s, and the seven-tenths gap in Q3, in which Perez didn’t make the line in time to have a final attempt, was representative.
Was battling with Norris for third into the first corner on the outside line, only to be collected by the Bottas/Norris/Verstappen collision. That brought his race to an immediate end.
VERDICT: Struggled badly for pace but was well-placed at Turn 1 when he was wiped out through no fault of his own.
Started: 3rd Finished: 9th
Having had no choice but to complete a lap on softs in Q2 to ensure he advanced, Verstappen struggled with the balance in Q3, as he had all weekend – ultimately resulting in both Red Bull drivers having to switch to a lower-downforce rear wing to have a chance to find some semblance of balance.
The first run was decisive, and Verstappen felt that any compromise caused to his final lap by the Mercedes traffic ahead made no difference to his result given the insurmountable 0.421s gap to Hamilton – although perhaps he could have beaten Bottas.
This was one of the hardest-fought lowly points finishes Verstappen will likely ever take given the condition of his car after Norris was booted into him at Turn 1.
With parts missing and floor damage, the car was all over the place but despite having to make three stops, he eventually prevailed in his long pursuit of Ricciardo and passed him for 10th in the closing stages, with Vettel’s exclusion bumping him up another place.
VERDICT: Showed heroic determination to salvage a points finish.
Started: 11th Finished: 11th
After the promise of Silverstone qualifying, it was no surprise to see Ricciardo slump to just under half-a-second off Norris and exit in Q2 at a circuit that requires far more rotation of the car and some longer corners. Turn 5 was a particular weakness.
While Norris was out of reach, Ricciardo felt he’d underachieved by not beating Vettel into Q3.
Briefly looked set to benefit massively from the first-corner accident, before Leclerc was punted into him by Stroll. That gave him damage which he carried throughout the race, battling hard to keep Verstappen behind before eventually yielding, with soft-shod Raikkonen also picking him off.
VERDICT: Struggled badly for qualifying pace but was unlucky that first-corner damage ruined his race.
Started: 6th Finished: DNF
Didn’t have the smoothest of runs through Q1 and Q2, which meant he had only one set of fresh softs for Q3. That proved costly as he felt that with two cracks on new softs in Q3, he could have picked up a place or two.
Made a good start to jump ahead of Bottas and Leclerc, only to get rear-ended by Bottas into the first corner. That led to him skittling the Red Bulls, and having made it back to the pits he had too much damage.
VERDICT: Strong in qualifying and did a great job in the race for the few seconds it lasted.
Started: 10th Finished: DSQ
Always looked to have a slight edge on team-mate Lance Stroll and, on a weekend where the Aston Martin was a marginal Q3 car at best, did a good job to take 10th. He only had one run in Q3 thanks to having just one set of fresh softs, completing his lap just before the final flurry. While he reckoned he could have picked off Alonso had the tyres been in the perfect window, 10th was a strong result.
Jumped to third at the first start, then to second thanks to Hamilton’s late stop to switch to slicks. He then settled into a race-long chase of Ocon, with a slightly slow pitstop compromising his undercut attempt.
He never got a better chance than when Ocon was briefly hindered by Raikkonen shortly after the stops and had to settle for second – until he ran out of fuel and had to stop on the slowing-down lap, which hinted at the disqualification that was to come for not having enough fuel for the mandatory one-litre sample.
VERDICT: Did a strong job all weekend despite not quite being able to get past Ocon before he lost it all to exclusion.
Started: 12th Finished: DNF
Couldn’t build on a promising Q1 and struggled a little with understeer. He ended up a tenth off Vettel, which reflected the fact Stroll looked marginally the slower Aston Martin driver over a single lap, but did leave a fraction on the table in the first part of his final Q2 lap.
Headed into Turn 1 too hot at the start and once he realised he was in trouble, it was too late to escape.
He flung the car to the inside in an attempt to avoid contact but ended up triggering the second first-corner shunt after hitting Leclerc.
VERDICT: Qualifying was solid but he badly misjudged the start.
Started: 9th Finished: 4th
Looked set to outqualify Ocon, but struggled for front grip early in the lap, particularly through Turn 2. That suggested the problem was the fronts not quite being at the right temperature at the start of the lap, which finished strongly. But it only cost him one place.
Unlucky at the start when he was hindered by both first-corner crashes, leaving him sixth at the restart having dived back past Russell at Turn 2. From there, he had a key role to play for Alpine, first sitting in Vettel’s pit window and, more crucially, brilliantly defending against Hamilton for 10 laps to delay the Mercedes driver’s charge.
VERDICT: After the start went against him, he played a key role for Alpine and secured a great result for himself.
Started: 8th Finished: 1st
Ocon was delighted to make it into Q3 for the first time since the Monaco Grand Prix, confirming that his return to form after struggles suspected to have been caused by a front suspension problem were eliminated at Silverstone. He topped that off by finding a little more grip than Alonso in Q3 to pip his team-mate.
Things opened up beautifully for Ocon at the start, allowing him to pick his way through the carnage to run second. That became first when Hamilton stayed out at the end of the second formation lap and from there it was all about both covering Vettel and staying out of reach of Hamilton.
A good middle sector on his in-lap, combined with Vettel’s slightly slow stop, ensured he covered the undercut and he absorbed pressure from the Aston Martin to the end, despite never being able to pull away.
VERDICT: Fortune favoured him, but he didn’t put a foot wrong under constant pressure.
Started: 7th Finished: DNF
Struggled increasingly with the feel of the car as qualifying progressed and the wind picked up, and given the Ferrari’s weakness in medium-speed corners it was perhaps no surprise to see Leclerc seventh – although as he was only 0.017s off Gasly in fifth he had good reason to be frustrated.
For a tantalising moment, it seemed the first-corner accident had handed him second place. Then he was collected by Stroll, giving him race-ending damage.
VERDICT: Was on course for a great result until Stroll torpedoed him.
Started: 15th Finished: 3rd
There were hints that Sainz might be the faster of the Ferrari drivers, but his qualifying hopes were ruined by crashing at Turn 14 in Q2.
He blamed this on a 35-40km/h tailwind, which caught him out even though he entered the corner slower than on his previous run. The upshot was finishing last in Q2.
Leaped to fourth thanks to the first-corner chaos, although slipped behind Tsunoda during the pitstops to change to slicks ahead of the standing restart thanks to being held for traffic before he could leave his pitbox.
After spending the first stint losing time behind Tsunoda and Latifi, he jumped them with an overcut. The timing also allowed him to undercut Alonso, although he couldn’t hold off the charging Hamilton, which added up to fourth-on-the-road but third place factoring in Vettel’s exclusion.
VERDICT: The Q2 crash counts against him, but he made the most of the Turn 1 chaos to recover.
Started: 5th Finished: 5th
Gasly did a superb job in qualifying to put his AlphaTauri at the front of the pack chasing Mercedes and Williams, the eighth time he’s made the top six in qualifying this season.
It wasn’t a perfect lap, as he occasionally tried to carry a little too much speed in, but he always dealt with it well even though his best would have been enough to pip Perez.
Gasly slipped to 11th at the start thanks to having to go the long way round the Bottas-induced Turn 1 accident, then slipped to 12th thanks to what he described as a “mess” in the pitlane that allowed Verstappen and Ricciardo to get ahead.
But he drove an excellent race from there to recover to fifth after Vettel’s exclusion, making several key passes but also executing his strategy well. A late pitstop also allowed him to grab fastest lap off Hamilton by a couple of tenths.
VERDICT: Excellent in qualifying and made the best recovery he could after early losses that were no fault of his.
Started: 16th Finished: 6th
Backing into the wall during FP1 effectively cost him FP2 given it led to a gearbox problem that only manifested itself when he went out in the second session. From there, he played an unsuccessful game of catch-up and struggled both with getting the tyres to work over a lap and the higher-speed corners, which led to a deficit of just over a second to his team-mate and a Q1 exit.
Came through the first-corner chaos in fifth, which became fourth when he jumped Sainz in the pitstops at the standing restart. From there, he drove a defensive race and was unable to challenge Latifi ahead on track, but did undercut him when he made his relatively early stop on lap 22.
Sainz and Alonso overcut him, while Gasly passed him on track as Tsunoda struggled in the second stint with his tyres, having had to push hard early in the stint.
VERDICT: Not at Gasly’s level on qualifying or race pace, but after two difficult days, he made the most of his first-corner fortune.
Started: 13th Finished: 10th
Produced his best qualifying session performance of the season to match his best grid position of the year (the previous one secured via the Silverstone sprint). While he wasn’t delighted with the feel of the car, this was the first time he beat team-mate Giovinazzi on pure pace in qualifying in 2021 and ended a run of five consecutive Q1 exits.
Climbed to ninth at the first start, but a glitch with the pitstop light system when he pitted at the end of the second formation lap made the lights briefly turn to green, understandably leading to Raikkonen going and hitting Mazepin.
After taking the 10-second penalty at the end of lap 15, he had ground to make up but passed Ricciardo on lap 67 to take 11th, which became 10th when Vettel was excluded.
VERDICT: With Raikkonen blameless for the pitstop collision, this was a decent weekend’s work that merited a point.
Started: 14th Finished: 13th
Giovinazzi was happy with qualifying despite ending up a couple of hundredths slower than his team-mate. He also cut it too fine during Q1 after some slightly scrappy laps, but ultimately ended up roughly where the Alfa Romeo looked capable of being at the Hungaroring.
Gambled on stopping for mediums at the end of the first formation lap, then was one of 19 to switch to slicks at the end of the second formation lap.
Unfortunately, he overcooked it on the way into the pits and was hit with a 10-second stop/go penalty for speeding, dropping him to last where he stayed, having failed to pass Schumacher in the closing stages.
VERDICT: His pace was fine, but his pitlane speeding blunder meant he couldn’t capitalise on the chaos.
Started: 19th Finished: DNF
While he always looked slower than Schumacher, he avoided the fate suffered by his team-mate and was able to run in qualifying. Struggled more than most to keep the tyres alive for a lap, losing ground in the final sector thanks to a lack of rear grip – but was anyway never in with a shout of challenging the Williams drivers ahead.
Survived the first start, only to be eliminated from the race when Raikkonen was released from the Alfa Romeo pit box in front of him during the pitlane chaos at the end of the second formation lap.
VERDICT: Had a solid, if unspectacular weekend and was the innocent victim in the pitlane collision.
Started: 20th Finished: 12th
A shunt at Turn 11 late in FP3 kept him out of qualifying, the result of a combination of surface overheating over the tyres after an earlier moment and the gusty conditions. It was the second time this season he missed qualifying thanks to a practice accident.
Ran 10th and ahead of Verstappen for a period after the standing restart, but soon slid behind the Red Bull as well as the recovering Gasly and Hamilton.
But having been handed a big advantage over Giovinazzi by the Alfa Romeo driver’s penalty, he drove well to stay ahead – particularly under pressure late on.
VERDICT: His FP3 shunt damages his rating despite an effective race drive.
Started: 18th Finished: 7th
Looked to have a chance of beating Russell, but a power unit problem during Q1 led to some hesitancy on the power coming out of several corners. Fortunately, this was solvable through settings changes, but only fixed after qualifying.
Once he leapt up to third at the first corner, this was always going to be a race of minimising losses for Latifi. And he did it well, holding third throughout the first stint.
Tsunoda undercut him with an early stop, while Gasly, Alonso and Sainz overcut him. He was inevitably powerless to hold off Hamilton on track, but all that still added up to his first points finish in F1 in seventh, factoring in Vettel’s exclusion.
VERDICT: Qualified well relative to Russell and executed the race effectively to bag his first F1 points.
Started: 17th Finished: 8th
“Today we just did a fine job, but fine is not enough” was Russell’s summary after he and the Williams team struggled to find a good balance with understeer a problem in Q1. That Russell was only 0.121s clear of Latifi suggests that even with the balance problems this wasn’t one of Russell’s best qualifying efforts.
Finished the brief first part of the race in seventh after being hindered by the Stroll/Leclerc/Ricciardo crash a little more than Latifi, and was on course to take the lead after seven corners at the front of the group of cars that pitted before the standing restart after illegally using the slow lane to jump ahead in the pitlane. He gave back the places he had gained, dropping to seventh.
He made a relatively early stop to cover Ricciardo and Verstappen, although was undercut by Hamilton. Gasly then overcut him, which added up to ninth on the road, eighth after Vettel’s exclusion, and the first points he’s scored for Williams.
VERDICT: Failed to repeat his usual qualifying heroics but didn’t put a foot wrong in the race.