Edd Straw's 2021 Monaco GP driver ratings + reader debate - The Race
Formula 1

Edd Straw’s 2021 Monaco GP driver ratings + reader debate

May 24 2021
By Edd Straw

With pre-race heartbreak for a surprise polesitter, a baffled past winner lapped while his team-mate starred, a disgruntled world champion, bizarre problems and some surprise breakthroughs, the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix had a bit of everything.

And it’s given Edd Straw plenty to get his teeth into for his driver ratings. As ever, you can debate his verdicts with him live in the comments section, this time at 7.30pm UK time tonight.


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: 7th Finished: 7th

Qualifying

Hamilton was disappointed with the set-up direction Mercedes took after Thursday practice, which he blamed for his struggle to get the tyres switched on in qualifying.

Unable to really attack the circuit, he picked up light damage touching the wall in the right hander between the hairpin and Portier on what was his final Q3 lap – although he wouldn’t have got another even if he hadn’t pitted thanks to the red flag.

Race

The champion ran sixth in the first stint thanks to Leclerc’s absence before launching an undercut attack on Gasly ahead. This backfired as not only was Gasly able to pit a lap later and stay clear, but Vettel and Perez also got past by running longer.

A second pitstop delivered a point for fastest lap without costing Hamilton a position.

VERDICT: Uncharacteristically, he didn’t extract the most from a difficult Mercedes.

2021 Site Bot

Started: 3rd Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Bottas was among the drivers frustrated by the Q3 red flag as he felt he had a shot at pole position thanks to being better at switching on the front tyres than Hamilton.

His best sector times combined to the fastest theoretical lap, so the pace was potentially there and he was up on Leclerc’s time when he had to abort because of the red flag.

But even so, pole position would have been a long shot given the relative pace of the cars over the second half of the lap.

Race

Bottas made a great start but didn’t have the space to go for the lead with Verstappen covering him sharply.

As the first stint went on, he slipped out of contact with the leader but his race ended when he made his pitstop on lap 30 and the wheelnut was machined smooth – making it impossible to remove.

VERDICT: Made more of the Mercedes than Hamilton in qualifying and deserved more in the race.

2021 Site Per

Started: 9th Finished: 4th

Qualifying

He came into the weekend optimistic and topping FP1 was a good start, but thereafter Perez never got close to Verstappen’s pace.

That said, what he described as a “nightmare” Q3, with front tyre temperature and traffic troubles, wildly exaggerated the gap.

May 23 : Monaco Grand Prix review

Race

Perez sat eighth in the first stint, but by running long he was able to execute a superb triple-overcut pass to get ahead of Vettel, Gasly and Hamilton.

Still he couldn’t help but think what might have been with a better Saturday.

VERDICT: Poor qualifying, but drove an effective race to salvage fourth.

2021 Site Ver

Started: 2nd Finished: 1st

Qualifying

While Verstappen was understandably furious that the red flag denied him a chance to take pole position, it was no foregone conclusion that he would have beaten Leclerc’s time even if he had completed the lap given the pace of the Ferrari in the second half of the circuit.

Race

Save for the fact he didn’t have the best of launches on the dirtier side of the track, Verstappen didn’t put a foot wrong throughout.

Having covered any challenge from Bottas at the start, he controlled the pace, eked out a lead and never looked seriously troubled even when Sainz temporarily got close in the second stint.

VERDICT: Other than the fact his first Q3 run should have been a little better, little to criticise.

2021 Site Ric

Started: 12th Finished: 12th

Qualifying

Ricciardo was genuinely baffled by his lack of pace compared to Norris after qualifying having lapped just under six tenths of a second slower.

Although suspicious about whether there was some undetected problem with his chassis, he appeared still to be struggling with the car in the entry phase, compromising the speed he could carry into the corner.

Race

A rather subdued first lap, when he lost places to Stroll and Raikkonen, effectively ended any hope he had of points.

He was still puzzled at his struggle to get on top of the car after finishing 12th between Raikkonen and Alonso.

VERDICT: Baffled and lacking in pace as his adaptation troubles continue.

2021 Site Nor

Started: 5th Finished: 3rd

Qualifying

Prior to Monaco, qualifying – specifically Q3 – has been a relative weakness for Norris this year.

But he was on superb in form here, crushingly fast compared to team-mate Ricciardo and putting the car within three-tenths of pole position, which was closer than seemed possible.

The decision to use only one set of tyres in Q3 also paid off thanks to the red flag.

Race

He was put on notice early in the race after picking up two warnings for violating track limits at the chicane.

But he kept things clean from then on, holding fourth place in the first stint, then picking up third when Bottas hit trouble.

VERDICT: Another high-class weekend’s work from one of the season’s standouts.

2021 Site Vet

Started: 8th Finished: 5th

Qualifying

Vettel always looked the quicker Aston Martin driver, save for in Q1 where he flirted with elimination having been the only driver outside the top eight to use just one set of tyres.

He was more comfortable in Q2 and it’s hard to see he could have done better than eighth given the pace of the car.

Race

Vettel held seventh in the first stint, but executed a masterful overcut on Hamilton and Gasly – completing the latter by squeezing past him on the run up the hill to Massenet on his out-lap.

Once into fifth, he never looked like losing it.

VERDICT: This was the Vettel of old, fundamentally quick and deploying that pace when it counted most.

2021 Site Str

Started: 13th Finished: 8th

Qualifying

“Tough session”, was Stroll’s summary of qualifying after being eliminated in Q2.

He never looked as comfortable as Vettel, particularly in the first half of the lap, so it was no surprise to see him lagging behind by three-tenths in the second part of qualifying.

Race

Stroll started on hard rubber and ran long, twice clattering over the kerbs at the Swimming Pool exit in the first 31 laps. But that didn’t stop him producing an effective first stint having slipped past Ricciardo into the first corner to run 11th.

He survived an investigation into failing to keep to the right of the pit exit line without penalty, and by running to lap 58 he overcut his way past Ocon, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen to take eighth.

VERDICT: Not at his team-mate’s pace but executed the race well.

2021 Site Alo

Started: 17th Finished: 13th

Qualifying

Alonso seemed well set to be the lead Alpine driver in qualifying after outpacing Ocon through all three practice session – albeit having suffered a front wing-crunching moment at the final corner on Thursday.

But he struggled with the tyres in qualifying and appeared a little more tentative than Ocon on corner entry – as well as complaining about traffic – hence the Q1 exit.

Race

Alonso was characteristically attacking on the opening lap, jumping Tsunoda on the run to Ste Devote then – after catching some wheelspin on the run up the hill – passing Russell through Massenet.

That put him 14th, which became 13th thanks to Bottas’s problems – although he couldn’t make an overcut pass on Ricciardo work.

VERDICT: As Alonso put it, strong except in qualifying. And that was the problem.

2021 Site Oco

Started: 11th Finished: 9th

Qualifying

Considering the Alpine completely lacked the pace its low-speed prowess at previous events suggested would serve it well at Monaco, 11th was a superb result from Ocon.

Like Alonso, he struggled a little with the weak front end but hustled the car more effectively when it came to qualifying having been behind throughout practice.

Race

Ocon held position at the start, surviving a touch with Stroll out of the hairpin on the opening lap, to run 10th.

He managed his softs in the first stint beautifully, showing good pace late on and unleashing a superb in-lap to pit and stay ahead of Giovinazzi, who had just pitted.

Despite managing various problems, including a long brake pedal, he was able to stay ahead comfortably.

VERDICT: Considering Alpine’s struggles, delivered when it really mattered in a race that could easily not have yielded points.

2021 Site Lec

Started: 1st Finished: DNS

Qualifying

Despite losing FP1 to a gearbox problem, Leclerc hit the ground running in the afternoon session and never looked back.

His pole position, superb as it was, was tainted by the crash on his second Q3 run, not because of any foul play but simply because he was too aggressive trying to make up for a poor start to the lap. Even if he had got away with it, a big error.

Race

A non-event after a problem with the left-side driveshaft manifested itself on a reconnaissance lap.

VERDICT: One error ruined a potentially perfect weekend – and his rating.

2021 Site Sai

Started: 4th Finished: 2nd

Qualifying

Sainz was disappointed after qualifying to end up fourth on the first occasion he had a chance to challenge for pole position.

But despite being frustrated at losing the chance to complete his final lap, he was already a quarter-of-a-second off his best, and just under a tenth slower than Leclerc’s pole time, when he was forced to abort.

However, given his pace through the second and third sectors and the fact he reckoned he’d given away a good three tenths on the first run, he’d certainly have done better than fourth.

Race

Sainz settled into third in the first stint, which became second when Bottas hit pitstop troubles.

While Sainz was able to close in on Verstappen, albeit never by enough to cause concern, he ultimately slipped back after being disrupted by traffic.

VERDICT: His first Q3 run should have been better, but his pace was impressive and he didn’t put a foot wrong in the race.

2021 Site Gas

Started: 6th Finished: 6th

Qualifying

Gasly reckoned his qualifying lap, set on the first run in Q3, was one of his best in Formula 1 and it was certainly committed even though he wasn’t completely happy with the front end.

He did have a chance to improve on the second run but aborted the lap after being hindered by Perez leaving the pits at the start of the lap, with his final attempt interrupted by the red flag having found three-tenths in the first sector.

Race

The AlphaTauri held position at the start so ran fifth in the first stint ahead of Hamilton.

Gasly did what he needed to do to see off Hamilton’s undercut, but Vettel just squeezed him out after exiting the pits. Perez then also overcut him, leaving Gasly sixth, where he had originally qualified.

VERDICT: Superb in qualifying and did a good job in the race, but maybe could have kept Vettel behind with a perfect start to the second stint.

2021 Site Tsu

Started: 16th Finished: 16th

Qualifying

Slapping the wall at the exit of the Swimming Pool section on his 12th lap of FP2 was a damaging setback on Tsunoda’s first visit to Monaco.

Without losing those crucial Thursday laps, the team was confident he’d have made Q2 – and perhaps without losing a little time behind Stroll he would have found the couple of hundredths he needed to make it. But he never showed showed signs of anything more than solid pace.

Race

Tsunoda lost a place to Latifi on the run up the hill to the casino having wisely backed out of a side-by-side battle.

He then settled into the longest first of any driver, running all the way to lap 64 before making his stop, which dropped him back behind the Williams drivers.

VERDICT: Never fully recovered from the time lost to his Thursday crash.

2021 Site Rai

Started: 14th Finished: 12th

Qualifying

Another lacklustre qualifying performance from Raikkonen, who struggled to get the tyres in the correct window and ended up just a quarter-of-a-second off Giovinazzi in both Q1 and Q2.

The tyre struggles appeared to dent his confidence, although he was bang on his team-mate’s pace in the first sector.

Race

Raikkonen made a good start and gained a position by squeezing past Ricciardo at the first corner, running in 12th place in the first stint.

After starting on mediums, he ran long and his pitstop timing was governed by the need to cover the threat of Ricciardo. This ensured he held position, finishing 11th behind Giovinazzi.

VERDICT: Qualifying and a mediocre first stint cost points shot.

2021 Site Gio

Started: 10th Finished: 10th

Qualifying

Giovinazzi did a superb job to reach Q3 for the first time this season, ending up 10th having had to run used softs for his first run.

He did have a chance to improve on fresh rubber before the red flag, but lost time at Ste Devote and Massenet and missed out on jumping Perez before having to abort his second push lap because of stoppage.

Race

The Alfa held ninth at the start but gradually fell away from the top eight runners. Thanks to having to start on softs, Giovinazzi couldn’t run too deep into the race and his pitstop timing was forced by the higher-than expected degradation and the threat of losing time behind long running Alonso.

He lost a little time behind the long-running Ricciardo after his stop, and also had a brief off at the chicane, which helped Ocon overcut his way past. He spent the rest of the race behind the Alpine, which also allowed Stroll to overcut him.

VERDICT: A strong all-round performance, with starting-tyre limitation costing him a place or two.

2021 Site Maz

Started: 19th Finished: 17th

Qualifying

Mazepin made methodical progress throughout the weekend and, crucially, kept his Haas out of the barriers throughout practice and qualifying.

With no team-mate to benchmark his qualifying pace against, it’s difficult to judge it but he had looked a bigger threat in practice than he had in previous outings this year – albeit failing short of threatening the cars ahead in Q1.

Race

Mazepin got ambushed by Schumacher in the hairpin traffic jam on the opening lap, but was able to get back ahead near the end of the opening stint when his team-mate suffered engine cutting-out problems.

He then kept him behind to the finish, and avoided picking up a track limits penalty despite getting a black-and-white warning flag in the first 13 laps.

VERDICT: Kept it clean and made good progress, but was lucky to beat Schumacher in the race.

2021 Site Msc

Started: 20th Finished: 18th

Qualifying

While his Thursday impact at Massenet didn’t cost him much, his FP3 shunt at Casino after the rear stepped out and put him into the wall when he tried to carry a little too much speed through the corner did.

The resulting damage prevented Schumacher from participating in qualifying.

Race

Schumacher pulled an opportunistic pass on Mazepin at the hairpin on the opening lap and likely would have finished ahead of him in the race but for a fuel pick-up problem that cost him his advantage and led to him letting Mazepin past.

VERDICT: FP3 crash defined his weekend, although he had Mazepin beaten before the fuel pick-up problem.

2021 Site Lat

Started: 18th Finished: 16th

Qualifying

His crash exiting the second Swimming Pool chicane dented Latifi’s Williams far more than his confidence given he reckoned he already had the necessary “references” and the team got it fixed in time for qualifying.

He struggled with the tyres in the cooler conditions and referred to “a few big saves and some wall-brushers during the lap”, admitting he’d have hoped to be a little closer to reaching Q2.

Race

Latifi rated this as “probably the trickiest race I have done so far in Formula 1”, finishing just behind team-mate Russell in 16th place.

He got up the inside of Tsunoda at Ste Devote on the first lap and completed the move up the hill to take 16th, but neither Williams driver ultimately had the pace to stay ahead of the long-running AlphaTauri driver.

Latifi ran 12 laps longer than Russell before stopping and finished close behind – hinting he could have been quicker.

VERDICT: His best weekend of the season but still needs to unlock more qualifying pace.

2021 Site Rus

Started: 15th Finished: 15th

Qualifying

Russell maintained his 100% record of reaching Q2 in 2021, although it did look touch and go at times before his mighty pace in the first sector through Ste Devote, Massenet and Casino saw him through by less than a tenth.

While he admitted that he might have been able to squeeze a tenth-and-a-half more out of the car in Q2, that wouldn’t have gained him a place.

Race

The Williams cut in behind the kerb at Ste Devote on lap one, which was a wise move. Russell held 16th during a difficult first stint.

He was happier with the car in the second and kept Latifi behind, but given the pace of the Wiliams there was no opportunity to do anything more.

VERDICT: Q2 was an overachievement, but the car didn’t have the pace to do more in the race.

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