Formula 1

Edd Straw’s Austrian Grand Prix driver ratings

Jul 6 2020
By Edd Straw

Edd Straw rates the grid for the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, which kicked off the Formula 1 season in dramatic style on Sunday after a long wait for on-track action.

There were some unlikely stars and some big-name question marks which Edd’s rating reflects. And if you want to debate any of his scorings, you can!

A live driver ratings Q&A will take place here with Edd at 1.30pm UK time today. To get involved, leave your question in the comments at the bottom and Edd will be here to join the debate from 1.30pm.

Lewis Hamilton Rating

Started: 5th

Finished: 4th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 105

Gap to team-mate: +0.012s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.095s

Hamilton did have the speed to outpace Bottas, but had an untidy session culminating in the loss of his first Q3 time then a belated grid drop for failing to slow for yellows in admittedly confusing circumstances.

Race

Penalties: +3 grid drop (yellow flags), +5s race (Albon collision)

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 0

Strategy: 1 stop: soft/hard

Hamilton’s first stint went well and he was able to pick off Norris and Albon then close on Bottas. He looked threatening at the start of the second stint but repeated warnings about kerbs blunted his challenge until his late clash with Albon at Turn 4, which dropped him to fourth as Bottas being in the way meant he couldn’t press on any further in the ‘virtual’ battle with Leclerc and Norris.

Verdict: The underlying pace was there but the uncharacteristic rough edges were too costly.

Bottas

Started: 1st

Finished: 1st

Qualifying

Practice laps: 97

Gap to team-mate: -0.012s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.039s

After struggling a little in practice Bottas really picked up the pace in qualifying. But he was fortunate to get away without his off exiting Turn 4 in Q3 costing him pole position, albeit with the added bonus that it led to his main title rival being hit with a grid penalty.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 0

Strategy: 1 stop: soft/hard

Bottas ticked all the boxes during the race, holding the lead at the start and through a trio of safety car restarts and absorbing the pressure that Hamilton put on him early in the second stint while managing the car problems. Other than the final few laps before the first safety car, when he started losing significant time to Hamilton, everything looked perfectly under control.

Verdict: Hit his marks perfectly in a complicated race but he rode his luck to get away with the Q3 error.

Sebastian Vettel Ratings

Started: 11th

Finished: 10th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 100

Gap to team-mate: +0.165s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.153s

Vettel struggled with oversteer and never looked like matching his team-mate’s pace, resulting in an avoidable Q2 exit after a final lap that was a little ragged in a few key corners.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: Up 1

Strategy: 2 stops: medium/hard/soft

Having passed Ricciardo at Turn 4 on the opening lap to run 20th, Vettel continued to struggle with the rear end and admitted he was fortunate not to spin more than once after a few lairy moments, but hitting Sainz was a rookie error that ruined his race.

Verdict: Unconvincing, showing neither the confidence in the car nor the racecraft to match Leclerc.

Leclerc

Started: 7th

Finished: 2nd

Qualifying

Practice laps: 96

Gap to team-mate: -0.165s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.025

He probably overachieved in qualifying in terms of position with a lap time that was close to the ultimate the car could achieve, partly with the help of yellow flags, but had a decisive advantage over Vettel in the battle to escape Q2.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 0

Strategy: 2 stops: soft/hard/medium

Leclerc held seventh at the start and was handed two places in the race by the two Red Bulls hitting trouble. But it was after the second safety car that his race really came alive, making opportunistic passes on Norris and Perez to be in a position to earn up second thanks to Hamilton’s penalty.

Verdict: Drove beautifully in a mediocre Ferrari and turned fifth into second with his incisive passes on Perez and Norris.

Verstappen

Started: 2nd

Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 98

Gap to team-mate: -0.391s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.083s

Achieved the best possible result by setting the third-fastest time, outpacing Albon by four tenths albeit with the advantage of aero upgrades his team-mate didn’t have. His medium-shod pace in Q2 was particularly valuable, allowing him to start the race on mediums.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 0

Strategy: 0 stops: medium

He was in roughly the right place in second and keeping Bottas in sight when an electrical issue put him out of the race. There’s every chance he could have won given the troubles of the Mercedes drivers.

Verdict: Did everything he could to stay in victory contention before his early retirement.

Alex Albon Rating

Started: 4th

Finished: 13th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 98

Gap to team-mate: +0.391s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.002s

Albon was frustrated with his performance in qualifying and surprised to come out of it with fifth as, despite the fact he was running a different spec to Verstappen, he didn’t get the best from the car.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 0

Strategy: 2 stops: soft/medium/soft

He was keeping Perez covered in the battle for third when the second safety car hit and he pitted for softs. This gave Albon a shot at victory and his incisive pass on Perez for third meant he had a clear run at the Mercedes drivers, only to spin after being hit by Hamilton at Turn 4.

Verdict: Slower than Verstappen even allowing for the car spec difference but while unlucky to be hit by Hamilton was that move really the percentage play?

Norris

Started: 3rd

Finished: 3rd

Qualifying

Practice laps: 101

Gap to team-mate: -0.345s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

A mistake on his used-tyre run in Q3 dented his confidence but he nailed his final run to take an unexpected fourth on the grid, the best result he could have achieved in qualifying.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 0

Strategy: 2 stops: soft/hard/medium

Norris kept Perez at arm’s length in the first stint having inevitably been passed by Albon, only to be passed by the medium-shod Racing Point driver after the first safety car when on hards. His attempt to repass Perez on lap 64 allowed Leclerc to overtake him around the outside into Turn 4, but a surprise late-braking move on the Racing Point gave him fourth place. But he nailed one of the great last laps to set fastest lap and steal third place from Hamilton by two tenths.

Verdict: Brilliant qualifying and a mostly superb race, particularly that stellar last lap, but could have finished second.

Sainz

Started: 8th

Finished: 5th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 102

Gap to team-mate: +0.345s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.098s

Sainz wasn’t as convincing as Norris, admitting that he was struggling a little for confidence in the car in the faster corners. But he was denied a chance to show what he could really do on fresh softs in Q3 by the yellow flag for Bottas’s off.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: None

Strategy: 2 stops: soft/hard/medium

Sainz held eighth early on and had one of those races where he gave nothing away and picked up the pieces after those ahead hit trouble, gaining two places to Red Bull’s problems then one more to Perez’s penalty – although he also came very close to passing Norris in the closing stages before being conveniently told to watch the engine cooling.

Verdict: Didn’t hit the peaks of Norris but executed a characteristically effective race drive.

Ricciardo

Started: 10th

Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 78

Gap to team-mate: -0.620s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.024s

The Australian was denied the chance to set a serious time in Q3 by yellow flags, which is a shame because he had already showed himself capable of dragging some superb times out of the Renault. His Q2 lap, aided by a big tow, hinted he could have been capable of as high as the third row by himself.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: Down 1

N0 stops: soft

Slipped to 11th on the first lap after Vettel slipped past him on the inside line at a congested Turn 4, but held what became 10th position after Verstappen’s retirement until an overheating engine put him out of the race after 17 laps.

Verdict: Very fast in a tricky car, but bad luck meant you had to look hard to spot it.

Ocon

Started: 14th

Finished: 8th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 75

Gap to team-mate: +0.620s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.018s

While Ocon didn’t look to have Ricciardo’s pace, the lack of a tow in Q2 exaggerated the gap. But 14th place was disappointing given he should have been ahead of the AlphaTauris.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: Down 2

1 stop: medium/hard

The early stages of the race didn’t go well as he was shuffled down to 15th behind Giovinazzi before passing him using the DRS on the run to Turn 4 on lap 15. And that was pretty much where he stayed, relying on problems for others to gain places – although he did make Kvyat unhappy along the way by pushing him wide while holding onto a place he’d gained through the AlphaTauri driver

Verdict: Solid at best for a driver who is far better than this. A weekend for shaking the rust off.

Pierre Gasly Rating

Started: 12th

Finished: 7th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 95

Gap to team-mate: -0.126s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.045s

The AlphaTauri wasn’t a Q3 car, but Gasly’s pace meant that he flirted with making it and he had a clear advantage over Kvyat, putting the car a row higher than it really should have been.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 0

Strategy: 1 stop: medium/hard

Gasly’s race was a relatively straightforward one, which is no bad thing given the chaos going on around him. From 12th on the first lap he finished seventh having gained places to Verstappen, Ricciardo, Stroll, Vettel and Albon suffering various problems but did come close to retiring with a brake problem that cleared itself.

Verdict: Excellent in qualifying, faultless in the race and earned the best possible results in both.

Daniil Kvyat Rating

Started: 13th

Finished: 12th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 77

Gap to team-mate: +0.126s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.247s

Kvyat always looked the slower of the AlphaTauri drivers and that proved to be the case in qualifying, although the final margin wasn’t too big and ensured he was ahead of Ocon’s Renault.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: Down 2

Strategy: 2 stops: medium/hard/soft

Kvyat slipped to 15th on the opening lap behind Magnussen and Giovinazzi, who he picked off later in the stint. Retirements got him into the top 10, but after being frustrated by being forced wide at Turn 6 by Ocon late on, he was passed by Giovinazzi and Vettel, forcefully, in the closing stages and was 11th when he suffered a failure in the left-rear corner. This was potentially a legacy of Ocon forcing him onto the kerbs.

Verdict: Lacked the edge of pace Gasly had, which would have cost him a points finish even without his late retirement.

Perez

Started: 6th

Finished: 6th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 100

Gap to team-mate: -0.161s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.198s

Only sixth having had to set his Q3 time without the assistance of a tow, but the car didn’t quite have the pace in qualifying trim to have beaten Norris. He was also unlucky as he set an identical time to Albon, but was classified behind the Red Bull driver thanks to setting the time second.

Race

Penalties: 5s (pitlane speeding)

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 0

Strategy: 1 stop: soft/medium

Held sixth at the start, which became fifth when Verstappen retired, but didn’t have the pace to threaten Norris’s McLaren during the first stint. Switching to mediums under the first safety car when everyone else took hards changed that and he soon passed Norris and set about menacing Albon. The late flurry of safety cars didn’t go well for Perez as he was hit by a pitlane speeding penalty and also passed on track by Leclerc and Norris.

Verdict: Not a bad weekend’s work, but there was a podium there for the taking that went begging.

Stroll

Started: 9th

Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 101

Gap to team-mate: +0.161s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.036s

As usual, Stroll wasn’t able to match Perez in qualifying but made it through to Q3, where he set his time out-of-phase with the rest and without the benefit of a tow. But he also believes conditions went away from a car a little at the end of qualifying.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 19th

Strategy: 0 stops: soft

Stroll held position early on but barely had time to settle in before engine problems started to set in. His laptimes dropped off dramatically as a result and he was shuffled out of the points before retiring.

Verdict: Did nothing wrong in the race but, as usual, the qualifying pace needs to be better.

Kimi

Started: 19th

Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 91

Gap to team-mate: +0.049s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.067s

Seemed the second-best Alfa Romeo driver heading into qualifying and so it proved, although he was closer to Giovinazzi than expected thanks to the Italian going off on his final lap.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 2

Strategy: 2 stops: medium/hard/soft

Had a strong first stint and was ordered past Giovinazzi before making his stop and ran behind Ocon after that. The strategy backfired as the safety car was then deployed, allowing his team-mate to jump back ahead. That started the unravelling of his race, culminating in shedding his front-right after his second stop while still in with a shot of a point.

Verdict: His single-lap pace was nothing special, but the race was better if dogged by ill-luck.

Giovinazzi

Started: 18th

Finished: 9th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 89

Gap to team-mate: -0.049s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Had a shot of making Q2 but a visit to the gravel at Turn 4 on his final Q1 lap cost him, although he still outpaced Raikkonen having looked faster throughout practice.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 4

Strategy: 2 stops: medium/hard/soft

A good first lap gained him four positions thanks to some canny car placement and, with the Alfa Romeo a little stronger on race than qualifying pace, he capitalised on retirements and others’ problems to take ninth place. But he did it the hard way after taking the final restart last, overtaking Vettel along the way.

Verdict: Qualifying could have been better, but he executed the race well and earned the best possible result.

Grosjean

Started: 15th

Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 74

Gap to team-mate: -0.070s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.010s

With the three slowest teams forming a class of their own at the back in qualifying, only one driver could reach Q2 and that was Grosjean, who took the best possible qualifying position.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: down 3

Strategy: 1 stop: medium/hard

Grosjean’s race was doomed before it started when problems with the front wing and floor started to manifest themselves even before the race. With the added trouble of brake and cooling problems, he was on a hiding to nothing and had a couple of offs before his inevitable retirement.

Verdict: Qualified well and despite a ragged race, the car problems at least partly explain his woes.

Magnussen

Started: 16th

Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 89

Gap to team-mate: +0.070s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Ended up behind team-mate Grosjean in qualifying, although he wasn’t helped by compromised track temperatures thanks to out-lap traffic.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: up 3

Strategy: 0 stops: medium

Until suffering a brake failure, Magnussen drove a strong race and was holding 11th, just ahead of Ocon, when he retired. Considering the pace of the car that was a good effort.

Verdict: Raced very well while the car lasted, laying the groundwork for a potential run at the points.

Nicholas Latifi Rating

Started: 20th

Finished: 11th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 82

Gap to team-mate: +0.590s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

A crash in FP3 wasn’t the ideal preparation for his first qualifying session, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that he was well off team-mate Russell’s pace.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: 0

2 stops: medium/hard/soft

Had a lonely race at the back of the field, but his pace stacked up well enough compared to Russell and, by keeping out of trouble, he ended up just one more retirement away from a debut points finish.

Verdict: Sensible, unspectacular, solid on an occasion that demanded exactly this approach.

Russell

Started: 17th

Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 88

Gap to team-mate: -0.590s

Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.109s

Came close to reaching Q2, which was possible with a perfect session but he didn’t get a tow on his final lap, hence the big gap to his theoretical best lap. Still came close to splitting the Haas drivers.

Race

Penalties: None

Positions gained/lost lap 1: Down 2

1 stop: medium/hard

The Williams didn’t have the race pace that was hoped for, meaning Russell was struggling to stay on terms with his immediate rivals. But before he retired with a loss of fuel pressure, he held off the recovering Vettel and was in the mix for a maiden points finish.

Verdict: Got the most out of an improved but still limited car and bossed his team-mate.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Austrian Grand Prix Race Day Spielberg, Austria

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