Edd Straw's 2021 Italian Grand Prix F1 driver ratings - The Race
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Edd Straw’s 2021 Italian Grand Prix F1 driver ratings

Sep 13 2021
By Edd Straw

The 2021 Italian Grand Prix is clearly going to be remembered for Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen clashing again, and McLaren ending its long Formula 1 win drought in style with a 1-2 pretty much on merit for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris.

But how well did all those involved in those unforgettable moments actually drive? And what about the rest of the field?

Find Edd Straw’s take on all 20 drivers’ performances below.

Sep 13 : Italian Grand Prix review

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.


2021 Site Ham

Started: 4th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Hamilton just lost out to team-mate Bottas in qualifying having been fractionally slower in the first two sectors.

Although he was quicker at the end of the lap, that added up to a 0.096s deficit.

Sprint

According to Hamilton, he went 2mm too deep on the clutch paddle and picked up wheelspin at the start, sliding from second to fifth behind Verstappen and the two McLarens – although Gasly’s crash at least ensured he wasn’t even worse off. He couldn’t do anything about Norris for the rest of the race.

Race

Attempting to pass Verstappen around the outside into the second chicane on lap one led to a trip across the kerbs and meant Norris got back past him.

He spent the majority of the first half of the race behind Norris before passing him, but a slightly slow stop when called in to cover Verstappen meant he was under attack at the first chicane.

Hamilton was ahead, took the line mid-corner then had a Red bull on top of him.

VERDICT: Didn’t quite make optimum use of the pace of the Mercedes on a weekend when he could have won with relative ease.

2021 Site Bot

Started: 19th Finished: 3rd

Qualifying

A small error in the second chicane on Bottas’s first Q3 run left him down in fifth, but his storming pace in the first two sectors was enough to give him the fastest time.

Sprint

Bottas made a good start to hold the lead and took a well executed lights-to-flag victory despite knowing that he would start at the back for the grand prix whatever happened thanks to power unit change penalties.

Sep 06 : Is Bottas right to pick Alfa Romeo over Williams?

Race

He made short work of the backmarkers and moved into 10th by passing Latifi on lap 10. He then picked off Alonso and Stroll to run eighth, which meant sixth at the restart thanks to the Hamilton/Verstappen collision.

Bottas then passed Sainz and Leclerc in quick succession and briefly looked a victory threat, but spent the rest of the race stuck behind Perez, which was enough for third given the Red Bull driver’s penalty.

VERDICT: On his best form of the season, but the power unit penalties cost him a victory shot.

2021 Site Per

Started: 8th Finished: 5th

Qualifying

Perez was cast in the role of wingman to Verstappen in qualifying, going out first on the road on the key final run in Q3 to provide a tow.

To be six tenths off while punching a hole in the air with no tow was actually a far more impressive effort than the timesheets suggest.

Sprint

Perez went into the sprint determined to attack but instead lost a place to Stroll through the first chicane.

After initially repassing the Aston Martin by cutting the chicane, he gave the place back, then made a decisive move at the same place on lap 10. He could climb no further and finished in the ninth place he started in.

Race

He moved up to seventh on the first lap then picked off Sainz to run sixth. That became fourth thanks to the title contenders’ collision, but Perez’s pass on Leclerc at the second chicane resulted in a five-second penalty thanks to a track limits violation.

He couldn’t pull away from Bottas and Leclerc, meaning third on the road became fifth in the results.

VERDICT: Qualifying was better than it looked, but judgement in battle compromised him in the races.

2021 Site Ver

Started: 1st Finished: DNF

Qualifying

For Verstappen, third place had to count as a win at a circuit that doesn’t play to the strengths of the Red Bull. Assisted by Perez’s tow, he did a good job to keep the McLarens at bay.

Sprint

Having repulsed Ricciardo’s challenge for second at the first chicane, Verstappen knew he only needed to follow Bottas around to secure pole position. And he did exactly that.

Race

Slipping to second at the start was costly, but not as costly as the slow pitstop that set him on a collision course with Hamilton.

His race ended on lap 26 after his attempt to pass Hamilton through the first chicane ended up with him rattling over the sausage kerbs and into the Mercedes.

VERDICT: Dragged all the pace he could from the car, but even if the grid penalty was a little harsh, did play his part in the collision.

2021 Site Ric

Started: 2nd Finished: 1st

Qualifying

Ricciardo pulled out a mightily committed final sector not only to pull 0.107s on Norris through that part of the lap but also set the quickest time overall.

Unfortunately his pace in the first two sectors was good but not so stunning, meaning he ended up just behind his team-mate.

Sprint

Ricciardo made a great start and briefly threatened Verstappen’s second place on the outside line into Turn 1, but settled into third having had to make a little space for the Red Bull mid-chicane.

He ran third to the finish to earn his first front-row start – after Bottas’s penalties – since Mexico 2018.

Race

The Australian produced a superb start to get ahead of Verstappen into the first corner then didn’t look back.

Ricciardo absorbed the early pressure, held the lead through the pitstops and then brought home his first grand prix win since 2018.

VERDICT: Once he had a sniff of victory, Ricciardo showed no signs of letting it slip.

2021 Site Nor

Started: 3rd Finished: 2nd

Qualifying

Again Norris faced a tough time from his team-mate but managed to shade him by six-thousandths of a second thanks to his pace advantage in the first two sectors.

The only criticism is that the pace was probably in the car to have found the few hundredths needed to beat Verstappen.

Sprint

Norris squeezed past the slow-starting Hamilton at the start, but while he was doing that both Ricciardo and Gasly charged past him on the outside. He repassed Gasly through the chicane to run fourth, where he remained and kept Hamilton at bay.

Race

The McLaren slipped behind Hamilton through the first chicane but regained third when the Mercedes driver cut the second chicane.

He then held Hamilton off until lap 24 and headed into the pits as soon as he lost the place.

The timing of the safety car meant Leclerc jumped him but he made an incisive pass on the Ferrari driver, taking a bite of the grass at Curva Grande, then settled into second place to complete McLaren’s perfect day.

VERDICT: The early seconds of the sprint race potentially made the difference between first and second in the grand prix.

2021 Site Vet

Started: 11th Finished: 12th

Qualifying

Vettel was initially behind Stroll in qualifying, but produced a good final Q2 lap and only missed out on the top 10 by 0.031s – partly thanks to the lack of a good tow in the first sector.

No wonder he was frustrated to miss out, although he was still just over a tenth clear of his team-mate.

Sprint

A lock-up into the first chicane left him with flatspots but he held 11th place, which became 12th after slipping behind Alonso approaching the first Lesmo following a battle that began with his wobble through Parabolica at the restart. He ran 12th to the end and kept the chasing Ocon at arm’s length.

Race

Vettel’s race started to unravel when he was forced wide by Stroll at the first Lesmo on lap one, losing places to Alonso, Ocon and Latifi.

After losing a place to Bottas during the first stint, he was then forced wide at the second chicane by Ocon.

Pitting before the safety car was deployed was a further blow, although he did then make another ‘free’ stop a few laps later to switch back to mediums, passing Kubica for 12th in the closing stages.

VERDICT: Friday went well, Saturday was OK but Sunday just went against him.

2021 Site Str

Started: 9th Finished: 7th

Qualifying

Stroll seemed to be on target for a place in the top 10 after setting the eighth fastest time on the first runs in Q2 with a good lap.

Unfortunately, he had less time left to find than others and despite finding a few hundredths on his second lap – albeit having lost time with an untidy middle sector – he ended up 12th.

Sprint

Stroll started 12th and finished 10th, with one of those places gained thanks to Gasly’s crash.

He passed Vettel in the first chicane then squeezed around Perez at the exit despite being edged towards the gravel so ran ninth.

He fought hard to hold off Perez but his defiance could only last until lap 10.

Race

Stroll survived light contact with Perez on the first lap and then cutting the second chicane to run eighth on the first lap, but only after a battle through Lesmo 1 with Vettel resulted in his team-mate taking a chunk of the grass.

From there, it was a well-executed tyre management race for Stroll, who shook out seventh having lost a place to Bottas and gained when the title contenders clashed.

VERDICT: A couple of good first laps then a well-executed race added up to his best result of the season.

2021 Site Alo

Started: 10th Finished: 8th

Qualifying

Alonso had the edge over Ocon on the second runs in Q2 having locked up on his first attempt and cut the chicane.

He didn’t feel it was a particularly good lap, although the Alpines didn’t really show top 10 form at all on Friday.

Sprint

Alonso made a great start and launched himself between the two Aston Martins before having to back out of it approaching Turn 1.

He briefly slipped behind Ocon but got a better launch off the first chicane and repassed him. Took the restart 12th having gained a place to Gasly’s crash and attacked Vettel immediately, eventually completing the move into the first Lesmo and running 11th to the end.

Race

Alonso described his race as lonely, which was reasonable considering he ran ninth in the first stint after Giovinazzi’s off before slipping to 10th behind Bottas.

After stopping under the safety car, he rejoined eighth thanks to the retirement of the title protagonists and there he stayed.

VERDICT: A good weekend’s work considering the Alpine package wasn’t well suited to Monza.

2021 Site Oco

Started: 12th Finished: 10th

Qualifying

By his own admission, Ocon could have done more in qualifying with an iffy run through the first chicane on his final Q2 lap.

He also gave away time to Alonso in the middle sector, although he appeared to be carrying fractionally less wing.

Sprint

Ocon started 14th and finished 13th thanks to gaining a place through Gasly’s shunt.

He did briefly get ahead of Alonso through the first chicane but slipped behind him heading into Curva Grande after a little wheelspin.

Race

Ocon cut the second chicane on the opening lap, passing Alonso and Latifi in the process but only gave a position back to his team-mate.

He was unhappy that he wasn’t instructed to give the place back until lap seven and was still behind Latifi when the Williams driver stopped shortly before the safety car.

A five-second penalty for crowding Vettel off track at the entry to the second chicane, which he objected to, meant Ocon rejoined 11th after stopping under the safety car, but he sealed the final point by overtaking Latifi a few laps later.

VERDICT: Similar pace to Alonso, but the untidy first lap cost him at least one place overall.

2021 Site Lec

Started: 5th Finished: 4th

Qualifying

Leclerc was battling what was described as an engine braking problem in qualifying that he felt was costing him time. So he was content to have made Q3 and lapped within half a tenth of Sainz given he was carrying the problem throughout, leading to a power unit change overnight.

Sprint

Leclerc made a slightly better start than Sainz and passed him through Turn 1 thanks to having the inside line.

He had a go at passing Hamilton too on the run to the second chicane but after gaining a place to Gasly’s shunt, held sixth for the duration.

Race

Leclerc held fifth in the first half of the race and the timing of the safety car meant he could pit and rejoin in second.

But the Ferrari didn’t have the pace to stay there, being passed by Norris, Perez and Bottas in quick succession but staying close enough to the top four on the road to pick up fourth place when Perez was penalised.

VERDICT: Held back in qualifying, he pushed relentlessly in the race and rated it as one of his top five F1 race drives.

2021 Site Sai

Started: 6th Finished: 6th

Qualifying

Sainz didn’t have the best first half of his final Q3 lap, but had a mighty run through Ascari and Parabolica to ensure he shaded team-mate Leclerc.

Sprint

A heavy impact at Ascari during FP2 was far from ideal preparation for the sprint, but after losing seventh to Leclerc at the first chicane thanks to having the outside line and a fractionally less good start, he held position. Thanks to Gasly’s crash, that meant an uneventful run to seventh.

Race

Sainz survived Giovinazzi rejoining and hitting him at the second chicane and held sixth in the first stint before being passed by Perez.

Bottas then passed him after the mid-race safety car period, which added up to sixth place given he couldn’t stay close enough to Perez to gain a place from the Red Bull’s five-second post-race time penalty.

VERDICT: Another crash counts against him but produced a decent race drive, albeit unable to quite match Leclerc’s relentless pace at times.

2021 Site Gas

Started: Pits Finished: DNF

Qualifying

You can set your watch by Gasly’s qualifying performances and he was sixth fastest in a car that didn’t look to have the pace to do any better.

His Q3 lap was committed, if not perfect, and ensured he was well clear of the Ferraris.

Sprint

Gasly passed Hamilton on the run to Turn 1 and held fifth, but was caught out by Ricciardo having to check up in the middle of the chicane and clipped him.

That gave Gasly front wing damage that made his attempt to stay flat through Curva Grande ill-advised, with it failing completely and sending him into the barriers.

Race

The AlphaTauri started from the pits after a system problem related to the throttle was detected pre-race. Gasly soon retired as the issue remained.

VERDICT: Great in qualifying but it all went wrong for him in the sprint, with no chance to recover on Sunday.

2021 Site Tsu

Started: 15th Finished: DNS

Qualifying

Tsunoda did a lap good enough to reach Q2, which was just over three-tenths slower than Gasly’s Q1 time, but it was deleted for exceeding track limits at the Parabolica. Ultimately, he once again didn’t have anything like the pace of Gasly.

Sprint

The rookie made an attacking start but suffered front wing damage when Kubica cut across him at the second chicane.

That led to a pitstop and taking the restart 19th. He picked off Kubica, Schumacher and Mazepin to recover to 16th.

Race

A braking problem meant he was unable to start.

VERDICT: Poor in qualifying, unlucky in the races.

2021 Site Kub

Started: 17th Finished: 14th

Qualifying

With just one free practice session he was always on the back foot and was then baulked by the unfortunate Mazepin on his first run before lapping 1.333s slower than team-mate Giovinazzi on the second. He described it as not a “smooth session”.

Sprint

Kubica had a poor getaway and dropped to last behind Schumacher, but repassed him through the first chicane.

He picked off Russell and Mazepin approaching the second chicane and attempted to outbrake Tsunoda too, getting round him in the first part of the corner before taking the second apex. That resulted in contact with the AlphaTauri and the Alfa Romeo spinning into the gravel.

Kubica rejoined the back of the queue under the safety car and despite right-rear floor damage that made the car oversteery in right handers, passed Schumacher for 19th approaching Parabolica on lap 11.

Race

Raikkonen’s stand-in started on hards and jumped ahead of Mazepin at the start to run 14th before settling into 15th after being passed by Bottas.

He held 12th after the safety car but was passed by Vettel and Giovinazzi in the closing stages.

VERDICT: Considering the format was against him with his lack of car experience, did another decent job.

2021 Site Gio

Started: 7th Finished: 13th

Qualifying

Giovinazzi reached Q3 for the second event in succession, and did so with relative ease.

While he wasn’t able to do better than 10th, his one attempt in Q3 was a decent enough lap even though he was a little off his best middle sector time.

Sprint

Thanks to being on the inside line at entry, Giovinazzi managed to get around Perez to take ninth into the chicane on lap one.

He absorbed pressure from Perez later in the sprint to retain the position.

Race

Giovinazzi got ahead of Sainz at the start and was threatening Leclerc, only to cut the second chicane while trying to defend against the former coming back at him.

After doing so, he swept across the track on rejoining and turned himself round after hitting Sainz.

He continued after the impact and got to the finish, having served a 5s penalty, taking 13th from Kubica late on.

VERDICT: A potentially excellent weekend ruined by his Turn 2 misjudgement.

2021 Site Maz

Started: 16th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Mazepin seemed to have the pace to challenge Schumacher having been more comfortable with the low-downforce trim from the off.

But on the final runs in Q1, Mazepin was too aggressive on the brakes into the second chicane, locked the rears and had a big oversteer moment.

He ended up 0.468s slower than Schumacher in that sector, which was identical to his final deficit.

Sprint

Mazepin made a good start then passed Schumacher after the restart to run as high as 15th before being overtaken by Russell then Tsunoda to finish 17th.

Race

Mazepin slipped behind Kubica and Bottas on the first lap and, having been jumped by the recovering Giovinazzi at the pitstops, set about chasing Schumacher.

After the restart, he tipped Schumacher into a spin at the second chicane, saying “it was my mess-up”.

He then had a big lock-up and cut the first chicane, clipping a marker board in the process and forcing another stop, before retiring from 16th with an engine problem.

VERDICT: Improving pace shrouded by errors but gave Schumacher a hard time.

2021 Site Msc

Started: 18th Finished: 15th

Qualifying

After struggling a little more than Mazepin initially, it seemed nip and tuck between the pair on the final Q1 run.

But Schumacher had a clean lap, which Mazepin didn’t, which added up to an advantage of almost half-a second.

Sprint

Schumacher briefly got up to 16th through the first chicane before sliding back behind Tsunoda, then getting squeezed off the track at the second chicane by Kubica.

He then had to get out of the throttle to avoid the spinning Kubica but ran 15th under the safety car.

Mazepin and Russell passed him on the restart lap, with Tsunoda and then Kubica picking him off later to relegate him to last.

Race

Schumacher picked up some front wing damage on the opening lap when Mazepin moved over on him approaching the second Lesmo but stayed ahead of his team-mate in the first stint.

He slipped behind Giovinazzi after the pitstops then was tipped into a spin by Mazepin before being given the place back by his team-mate flatspotting his tyres.

VERDICT: Didn’t look at his best running the low-downforce package.

2021 Site Lat

Started: 13th Finished: 11th

Qualifying

Latifi usually makes a strong start to weekends, so going straight into qualifying suits him.

He was only 0.043s off Russell in Q1 so failed to advance, with Russell’s advantage in the middle sector proving decisive.

Sprint

Latifi jumped the slow-starting Russell immediately and repassed Tsunoda after briefly slipping behind him to run 14th. And there he stayed.

Race

The Williams completed the first lap in 11th, although Ocon was later ordered to hand him 10th thanks to getting ahead of him by cutting the second chicane.

Inevitably, Latifi slipped back to 11th when Bottas passed him but he was still on target for points, but for stopping shortly before the safety car was deployed, which allowed Russell to jump him.

That left him 10th, but Ocon overtook him with a wheel-rubbing move through the first chicane.

VERDICT: Outqualified (officially but not on single-lap pace) Russell for the first time and only bad luck meant he finished behind him.

2021 Site Rus

Started: 14th Finished: 9th

Qualifying

Having not been happy with the balance of the car on low fuel in FP1, Russell still didn’t appear to be at his strongest in Q1 having “turned the car upside down”.

Even so, he managed to slip through to Q2 – albeit only after Tsunoda’s lap was deleted. Despite finding a chunk of time in Q2, he wasn’t able to manage higher than 15th.

Sprint

Russell didn’t execute the start well thanks to missing the parameters set by the team, engaging the clutch too much and suffering wheelspin and slipping behind Latifi, Schumacher and Tsunoda.

He took the restart 17th after Tsunoda’s stop and passed Schumacher on the run to the second chicane then picked off Mazepin on lap six to secure 16th.

Race

He held 13th early on, which became 14th once Bottas got past him.

The Verstappen/Hamilton collision did him a favour as it allowed him to stop under the safety car and jump Vettel, Latifi and Ocon, earning a third points finish in four races.

VERDICT: Not his best-executed weekend and needed some luck to score.

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