Edd Straw's 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix F1 driver ratings - The Race
Formula 1

Edd Straw’s 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix F1 driver ratings

Dec 6 2021
By Edd Straw

There are a lot of low scores in Edd Straw’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Formula 1 driver ratings – and the top performer didn’t (quite) make it onto the podium.

Read on to find out his full scores, and how the race’s contentious incidents impacted them.


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: 1st Finished: 1st

Qualifying

While he couldn’t match Verstappen’s pace on the final Q3 runs, Hamilton crucially was able to complete his lap with particularly strong pace in the final sector.

That gave him pole position on a day when it seemed to be going the way of the Red Bull driver.

Race

What started out looking like a regulation drive to victory proved to be anything bit as he survived two helpings of front wing contact – one at the second restart and the other when he hit the back of Verstappen – and multiple battles with Verstappen to eventually come through in the closing stages.

VERDICT: While his judgement wasn’t perfect, it proved sharped in the key moments than Verstappen’s and ensured he took victory.

2021 Site Bot

Started: 2nd Finished: 3rd

Qualifying

Bottas had the edge on Hamilton for much of their final qualifying laps, but slipped behind late on and ended up just 0.111s slower.

Crucially, that ensured he was ahead of Verstappen once the Red Bull driver had failed to complete his final Q3 lap.

Race

Bottas held second early on, but having stopped under the early safety car then locked up at the first corner at the first restart, he found himself in fifth behind Ricciardo.

He spent significant time chasing the McLaren driver before eventually passing him with 10 laps remaining. He then chased down Ocon, passing him on the dash to the line to grab a podium finish.

VERDICT: Not quite as quick as Hamilton, but did the job he was there to do.

2021 Site Per

Started: 5th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

After a slow start to the weekend, Perez looked on for a strong qualifying performance having topped Q1 and been second in Q2 – on both occasions ahead of Verstappen, albeit with extra laps to do it.

But Q3 went poorly as he struggled to get the tyre warm-up right and he dropped to fifth – only just ahead of Gasly.

Race

Perez held fifth in the first stint, but stopped under the safety car so took the first restart in eighth, having missed out on the free tyre change.

His race ended at that restart when, unsighted, he turned across Leclerc’s bows and was turned into the wall.

VERDICT: Quicker than Q3 suggested but paid the price for assuming Leclerc had backed out.

2021 Site Ver

Started: 3rd Finished: 2nd

Qualifying

Verstappen produced 95% of a stunning qualifying lap and was on course to blitz pole position when he had a brief lock-up and, trying to get on the power and hang onto it, slapped the wall at the last corner.

One tiny error between glory and disaster.

Race

Verstappen ran third early on and picked up the lead and a free tyre change by staying out under the early safety car before it became a red flag.

This was the first of a number of swings for and against him, twice having to relinquish position after running off track in battle with Hamilton and also causing a collision with what stewards called ‘erratic’ driving.

This ensured he lost to Hamilton, although the 10s post-race penalty exaggerated the gap.

VERDICT: Stunningly fast, gloriously committed but failed to play the percentages.

2021 Site Ric

Started: 11th Finished: 5th

Qualifying

Ricciardo picked up floor damage in Q2 that struck during the lap that put him 11th. It cost him significant time on the straights in the second half of the lap.

He attempted a third and final lap, but the time loss was too significant and he aborted it, meaning he failed to reach Q3.

Dec 06 : Saudi Arabian Grand Prix review

Race

The McLaren climbed to ninth at the start, which should have laid the foundations for a quiet run to a few points.

But Ricciardo stayed out under the early safety car, which bumped him up to fifth for the restart, then fourth after he got past Bottas.

While he couldn’t keep the Mercedes driver behind, losing the place with 10 laps to go, he managed to hold off the rapidly closing Gasly despite being on ageing mediums late on.

VERDICT: Unlucky in qualifying, lucky in the race – and not the quicker McLaren driver.

2021 Site Nor

Started: 7th Finished: 10th

Qualifying

Norris was the only Q3 runner who used softs to get there and was frustrated not to produce a better lap in the final stage of qualifying – suggesting he could have been a couple of places higher.

Race

A combination of stopping before the red flag and losing out on a free tyre change and being delayed by Perez’s crash dropped Norris to 15th.

From there, he climbed to 10th – passing Stroll for the final point – which was little solace, having run sixth in the first stint before luck turned against him.

VERDICT: Quick but desperately unlucky.

2021 Site Vet

Started: 17th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

On top of the Aston Martin struggling for pace, Vettel had a messy second run in Q1 with his final lap compromised by being in the thick of the last-corner traffic jam and a little traffic on his lap.

While it wasn’t a perfect lap, it wasn’t terrible and just showed the car wasn’t really at the races.

Race

The Aston Martin climbed as high as eighth after the second restart, having gained the free tyre change under the red flag, but Vettel was fighting a losing battle in a slow car even before Tsunoda hit him.

Vettel then suffered floor damage while battling with Raikkonen, something he had a bigger part of causing, and ultimately retired while on a road to nowhere.

VERDICT: Did OK given the machinery, but could have avoided the Raikkonen clash.

2021 Site Str

Started: 18th Finished: 11th

Qualifying

Like his team-mate, Stroll struggled for pace but hit even worse traffic trouble.

As a result, he didn’t put in a lap as good as he could have done and he ended up only just ahead of the Haas of Schumacher.

Race

Having run 16th early on, Stroll did stop under the early safety car.

Incidents ahead and his own clean race allowed him to get up to 10th, but the car didn’t have the pace to keep Norris behind and he inevitably slipped to 11th and eventually dropped 16s behind the McLaren driver.

VERDICT: Nothing special, but was about par for the machinery.

2021 Site Alo

Started: 13th Finished: 13th

Qualifying

Struggled with oversteer and failed to escape Q2.

Alonso opted for a single, lengthy run on mediums in Q2 but aborted his first push lap because of yellow flags then abandoned his second after a big rear end snap meant he “nearly spun”.

It all came down to the final lap, which wasn’t good enough to make Q3 with time lost over the second half particularly damaging.

Race

Alonso held 12th when the safety car was deployed, but missed the chance to gain places by pitting so he couldn’t benefit from the free tyre change.

A spin later showed how uncomfortable he was in a race that uncharacteristically went nowhere.

VERDICT: A poor weekend battling oversteer for the out-of-sorts Alonso.

2021 Site Oco

Started: 9th Finished: 4th

Qualifying

Struggled less with oversteer than his team-mate due to his smoother style, with the rear end giving him more confidence than it often has this season.

Didn’t manage to repeat his medium-shod Q2 pace on softs, but did enough to beat Giovinazzi.

Race

Ocon gained two places to run seventh, then stayed out when the safety car was deployed.

This meant he took the first restart fourth, then after climbing to second took the final restart on pole because Verstappen dropped back.

He quickly fell behind Verstappen and Hamilton but held onto third place until the last lap, losing ground in the final couple of laps after a piece of floor damaged earlier came away. A de-rate on the dash to the line allowed Bottas to deny him third by a tenth.

VERDICT: Decisively the stronger Alpine driver and produced a good race, even if third was achievable.

2021 Site Lec

Started: 4th Finished: 7th

Qualifying

A Turn 22 shunt on Friday set back his weekend, yet come Q3 he rose to the challenge – picking up a couple of tenths in the same corner after metaphorically ‘closing his eyes’ and being rewarded with a superb fourth on the grid.

Race

Leclerc held fourth in the first stint, but stopped under the safety car and lost places to Ocon and Ricciardo, who gained free tyre changes.

He then tangled with Perez at the first restart but survived to take the final standing restart seventh, only to drop to 10th behind Giovinazzi, Vettel and Tsunoda on the first half of that lap.

He recovered to seventh thanks to Vettel and Tsunoda tangling and passing Giovinazzi on lap 39.

VERDICT: His brilliant qualifying was undone by ill-fortune and some tricky first laps.

2021 Site Sai

Started: 15th Finished: 8th

Qualifying

Sainz looked on target for a strong qualifying performance, only to fail to adapt to the balance shift when on mediums in Q2.

That led to the rear stepping out at Turn 11, which he was previously flat through, and Sainz spinning – catching the endplate of the rear wing on the wall.

There wasn’t time to change the rear wing and he went off again at the same corner on his second run, leaving him down in 15th.

Race

Sainz climbed to 10th by the time the race was first red-flagged, taking the ‘free’ tyre change and gaining another place when Perez crashed.

He was then able to chase down and pass Giovinazzi, following Leclerc home.

VERDICT: Q2 went disastrously wrong, but he was quick other than that and recovered well.

2021 Site Gas

Started: 6th Finished: 6th

Qualifying

Gasly only missed out on beating Perez to fifth place by a couple of thousandths despite admitting to not being entirely happy with the balance of the car.

He faced a tougher challenge than usual from Tsunoda, although come Q3 he pulled out a healthy gap.

Race

The AlphaTauri dropped to seventh off the line thanks to Norris’s fast start, then slipped to eighth behind Ocon after a small error at Turn 4.

He took the restart seventh, having benefitted from a free tyre stop, taking sixth when Leclerc tangled with Perez.

And there he stayed, initially falling to 12s behind Ricciardo thanks to being on hards versus mediums for the final restart, then catching back up but running out of time to pass the McLaren.

VERDICT: The race was harder work than it might have been after iffy first lap.

2021 Site Tsu

Started: 8th Finished: 14th

Qualifying

Tsunoda’s season started in Bahrain with the failure to reach Q3 on medium rubber but finally, 21 races later, he managed to achieve just that for the first time.

Having outpaced Gasly in Q2, he was disappointed to be just over three tenths behind on softs in Q3, but although he blamed traffic in the form of Perez for lost time that didn’t appear to be that big a factor.

Race

Tsunoda dropped from eighth on the grid to 10th at the first corner after Ocon and Ricciardo passed him, then lost places to Giovinazzi and Alonso to run 12th at the end of the first lap.

The free tyre change under the red flag and the Perez crash helped him up to ninth, but he hit Vettel while battling for eighth – running deep on the outside line and understeering into him while riding the kerb.

“Completely my fault”, he said of a clash that cost him a heap of time, his front wing and a five-second penalty, with Tsunoda only avoiding last place by passing the hobbled Raikkonen late on.

VERDICT: So much good undone by a careless error while on course for points.

2021 Site Rai

Started: 12th Finished: 15th

Qualifying

Raikkonen had the edge on Giovinazzi in Q1, but his failure to improve in Q2 either on the medium or the softs meant he ended up 12th.

He did feel that had he persevered with mediums things could have gone better, but his final soft-tyre lap was disappointing right from the start after a poor run through the final corner when he opened the lap.

Race

Raikkonen held 14th in the first part of the race, then 13th after Perez’s crash.

Any tenuous hope of points was eliminated when he clashed with Vettel, which “ruined his race”, forcing a pitstop and leaving him at the back with damage, slipping behind Tsunoda late on.

VERDICT: An anonymous weekend even before the Vettel clash.

2021 Site Gio

Started: 10th Finished: 9th

Qualifying

Despite slapping the Turn 17 wall on his final Q2 lap, Giovinazzi made it through to Q3 for the fourth time in 2021 using mediums.

He found the softs trickier in the final segment of qualifying but realistically could only have done one better than 10th.

Race

Giovinazzi ran 11th when the first safety car was deployed, but restarted eighth after getting a free tyre change under the red flag.

That became seventh when Perez crashed, but inevitably he couldn’t keep the two Ferrari drivers at bay and was eventually relegated to ninth.

VERDICT: His penultimate F1 weekend was among his strongest.

2021 Site Maz

Started: 20th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

His one-second deficit to Schumacher was exaggerated by traffic ruining Mazepin’s third and final Q1 lap before it had even begun.

But it wasn’t by much as he was seven tenths slower than Schumacher on the second runs and lacked his team-mate’s confidence, particularly in sector 1.

Race

Mazepin ran at the back in the first part of the race, but his race came to a savage end at the first restart when he rear-ended Russell in the concertina caused by the Perez/Leclerc collision.

VERDICT: Struggled for pace but couldn’t have done anything to avoid his race crash.

2021 Site Msc

Started: 19th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Schumacher ended up within a tenth of Stroll and might even have picked him off but for an error when he “got confused” at the last DRS zone and was a couple of seconds late activating it.

Dealt with a few moments on his final lap well and always looked comfortably quicker than Mazepin even if the final gap was a little larger than it should have been.

Race

The Haas held 18th before spinning into the barrier at Turn 22.

Schumacher took responsibility for the error, which he put down to pushing too hard trying to get within DRS range of Russell.

VERDICT: Quick but made a disastrous unforced error in the race.

2021 Site Lat

Started: 16th Finished: 12th

Qualifying

Latifi ended up a quarter-of-a-second behind Russell in Q1, meaning he was eliminated, after a final lap that started a little untidily but improved.

He was ahead of Russell after the first flier of the first run, but felt a Turn 4 off on his second push lap harmed his progression through the session, for which “I only have myself to blame”.

Race

A brief first-lap off while trying to keep Schumacher at bay dropped him behind the Haas into 19th.

The demise of the Haas drivers left him at the back, and after making a pitstop when the safety car was deployed he jumped the delayed runners – Raikkonen, Tsunoda and Alonso – to take 12th.

VERDICT: An unobtrusive weekend on which keeping out of trouble yielded a reasonable result.

2021 Site Rus

Started: 14th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

His best lap in qualifying was his final one in Q1, which ensured he advanced to Q2 – although his second-best lap in the first part of qualifying would also have got him through as it was identical to Latifi’s best but set earlier.

He didn’t improve in Q2 having used softs for the first run then, for the first time since FP1, mediums for the second.

Race

Russell was shuffled back to 17th on the first lap, although one of those places was lost to Stroll cutting the track.

Stroll let him back past, although Russell lost the position again shortly afterwards.

He took the restart 17th, but while trying to avoid the Perez accident he was rear-ended by the unsighted Mazepin. “Absolutely inevitable” was his summary of the accident.

VERDICT: Extracted good pace from the Williams but was out of luck in the race.

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