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

Edd Straw’s Azerbaijan GP driver ratings + reader debate

Jun 7 2021
By Edd Straw

Two past greats who’ve had tough starts to 2021 are among the biggest scorers in Edd Straw’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix driver ratings, while others who did a lot right threw it all away with very costly mistakes and there’s a spectacular low score for a driver in a frontrunning car.

Whether you agree or disagree, you can debate Edd’s scores with him live in the comments at the bottom of the page at 5.30pm UK time on Monday.

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: 2nd Finished: 15th


Hamilton has probably never been more delighted to qualify second.

The choice to run low-downforce paid off, with Hamilton’s virtuosity combining with a hefty tow from Bottas helping him to a front-row slot that seemed out of the question given the Mercedes struggles during free practice.


Hamilton relieved Leclerc of the lead early on but realistically it was always going to be tough to keep the Red Bulls behind. Having to wait for Gasly to pass in the pitlane made absolutely sure he was jumped by both in the first round of pitstops.

Having picked up second when Verstappen retired, it all came to nothing thanks to Hamilton’s error in accidentally hitting the ‘magic’ toggle on an upshift while battling with Perez, winding the brake bias forward and leading to his lock-up and off at Turn 1.

VERDICT: So much good work was undone by the settings mishap that has to go down as a Hamilton mistake. He can’t be scored higher when his own error turned first place into 15th on a day his title rival was out.

2021 Site Bot

Started: 10th Finished: 12th


Bottas never looked at Hamilton’s level and despite opting for the medium-downforce rear wing in search of more grip, he ultimately didn’t find it.

While the chaos of Q3 meant his pace was made to look even worse, the speed and confidence simply wasn’t there.


Bottas held 10th in the first stint but was able to jump Alonso in the pitstops to run ninth, whereupon he was able to make no further progress.

Things got worse at the first restart, with Sainz, Ricciardo, Alonso and Raikkonen passing him during the lap – then Giovinazzi shortly afterwards to put him 14th. He finished 12th after Hamilton’s off and Latifi being put behind him on the restart grid.

VERDICT: Never in the game and was at a loss to explain why, beyond suspecting some hidden car problem.

2021 Site Per

Started: 6th Finished: 1st


Perez looked on target to fight for a front-row spot, but a lock-up at Turn 4 combined with starting too close to Norris on his sole Q3 lap left him seventh-fastest and ultimately sixth on the grid.

Jun 06 : Azerbaijan Grand Prix review


He needed to make up ground early on and he did so, picking off Sainz and Gasly on the first lap then DRS-ing his way past Leclerc to run third.

After overcutting his way ahead of Hamilton despite a slow stop that was partly a result of poor car placement, Perez kept the Mercedes driver covered until Verstappen’s crash.

That gave Perez a lead he wasn’t willing to relinquish in the two-lap dash to the flag, earning his first Red Bull victory.

VERDICT: Qualifying should have been better, but back close to his best in the race.

2021 Site Ver

Started: 3rd Finished: 18th (retired)


Tsunoda’s Q3 crash left Verstappen frustrated, although he had the same opportunity as Hamilton did to pick up a tow from his team-mate on his key lap.

He was confident he could have gone for pole position with another attempt and a stronger tow.


After doing the hard work early on, overtaking Leclerc for second then comfortably overcutting his way past Hamilton for the lead, Verstappen found controlling the race “not difficult at all”.

The tyre blowout, which appears not be attributable to anything he did, cost him certain victory.

VERDICT: Other than slight underachievement on his first Q3 run, did everything right.

2021 Site Ric

Started: 13th Finished: 9th


Ricciardo was feeling more comfortable with the McLaren and looking significantly stronger than in Monaco – until he put it in the Turn 3 wall on his final Q2 lap.

“In the braking, there was some margin and I tried to take it, but as soon as I did that and turned in, it started to lock,” he explained.


Ricciardo settled into 12th after Ocon’s early retirement and didn’t make dramatic progress. He did overcut Alonso, although he lost that place again in the two-lap dash to the flag, with the only other position gained with a pass coming by getting ahead of Bottas.

The other two positions were handed to him by Verstappen and Hamilton’s problems, while Sainz was able to reclaim the place he gave Ricciardo with his trip up the escape road shortly after half-distance.

VERDICT: Q2 crash shrouded the gains made, but still not at one with the car.

2021 Site Nor

Started: 9th Finished: 5th


Norris had to rely on a time set on used softs for his grid position, although given the pace of the McLaren a place on the third row represented a good result.

But it was undone by a three-place grid penalty for failing to pit immediately under the red flag, with the short reaction time cited in mitigation and saving him from a bigger drop.


Norris got off the line well, but was shuffled down to 12th on the first lap after being pincered between Vettel and Bottas at Turn 1. That became 11th when Ocon retired.

He passed Alonso early in the second stint and also gained places to undercutting Bottas and Sainz’s off. Verstappen’s demise meant he started the two-lap ‘Mini Prix’ seventh, which turned into fifth thanks to Hamilton’s off and battling past Tsunoda.

VERDICT: Compromised his chances with qualifying red flag error, but recovered well in the race.

2021 Site Vet

Started: 11th Finished: 2nd


Vettel looked set to make Q3 but missed out by 0.029s to Alonso. This was partly down to the red flag Ricciardo caused at the end of Q2 and partly down to Vettel lacking a tow and not having the perfect exit from Turn 16.


From his great move around the outside of Bottas and Norris to gain two places at the start to his well-managed extended first stint on softs and his attacking driving at the first restart to pass Leclerc and Gasly, Vettel executed the race superbly.

Second place was his reward, with only three of the nine places he gained gifted to him.

VERDICT: Slightly underachieved in qualifying but stellar in the race.

2021 Site Str

Started: 19th Finished: DNF


Stroll looked to have similar pace to Vettel, but his Saturday was ruined by locking up and hitting the wall at Turn 15 on his first flying lap in Q1.


Stroll was the only driver to start on hards and was up to fourth place – having not pitted – when his left-rear let go as he approached the end of his 30th lap.

He wasn’t at fault for the failure, and was on target to emerge 10th after his tyre change despite starting on the back row.

VERDICT: Drove a decent race, but the qualifying crash was hugely costly. Even had he finished 10th, it would’ve been an underachievement based on Aston Martin’s capabilities this weekend.

2021 Site Alo

Started: 8th Finished: 6th


Alonso cut it fine in Q1 and, particularly, Q2 but reached Q3 for the first time in four attempts in Baku and outqualified Ocon for only the second time this year.

While he didn’t get to set a time on fresh rubber in Q3, he benefited from a decent tow and still did enough to be ahead of Bottas.


Things started well, with Alonso holding seventh in the first stint, but an aggressive early stop on lap seven didn’t pay off. That shuffled Alonso out of the points but he moved back up to 10th when Verstappen retired.

He was at his incisive best at the standing restart, picking off Ricciardo and Sainz in Turn 1 (and gaining another place thanks to Hamilton’s off) then overtaking Tsunoda around the outside of Turn 5 to secure sixth.

VERDICT: Continues to get stronger and showed his racing nous in the two-lap dash.

2021 Site Oco

Started: 12th Finished: DNF


Ocon hoped to make it to Q3, but grazed the wall on his Q2 lap and didn’t get the chance to improve subsequently.

But he looked to be struggling to match Alonso’s pace through much of the weekend.


Ocon had little time to make an impact, running 11th after getting ahead of Norris but retiring after three laps with an engine problem.

VERDICT: A little off his team-mate’s pace but had little chance in the race.

2021 Site Lec

Started: 1st Finished: 4th


“That wasn’t a good lap” was Leclerc’s verdict after completing a lap that turned out to be good enough for pole position.

There were several errors, including at Turn 4 and Turn 6, but he picked up a mighty tow from Hamilton at the end of the lap and ended up fastest by 0.232s given the red flag that ruined everyone’s final laps.


Leclerc held the lead at the start and managed to get out of DRS range of Hamilton, but blamed an errant branch on the track that forced him to cut Turn 15 for the Mercedes being able to close up and get past. Verstappen and Perez soon followed, leaving Leclerc fourth.

Gasly overcut his way past at the first round of stops, with Vettel relegating Leclerc – who had a big lock-up – to sixth at the first restart.

The title contenders’ problems put Leclerc back up to fourth but he couldn’t find his way round Gasly in the two-lap dash.

VERDICT: Overachieved slightly in qualifying, underachieved slightly in the race.

2021 Site Sai

Started: 5th Finished: 8th


Just as in Monaco, Sainz was frustrated that his final run in Q3 was ruined by an incident ahead of him, this time Tsunoda’s – which triggered his own spin.

His first Q3 run was 0.358s slower than Leclerc, although the majority of that was down to his team-mate getting a more powerful tow – on top of a tenth lost in the middle sector.


Sainz held sixth in the first stint, but a trip up the Turn 8 escape road after what he described as losing concentration while struggling to get the hards working after his first pitstop left him down in 14th place.

It was a long way back from there, especially with his front tyres flatspotted, but he passed Giovinazzi, Alonso and Ricciardo, which left him eighth at the finish once things had shaken out.

VERDICT: Pace was good but too many rough edges added up to a disappointing result.

2021 Site Gas

Started: 4th Finished: 3rd


Gasly seemed absolutely on it from the start of practice and even felt he had an outside chance of pole position after topping FP3.

Despite the disrupted end to qualifying, Gasly was able to put in a time good enough for fourth on his one quick lap despite lacking a tow and having a poor exit from Turn 16.


A race of snakes and ladders for Gasly, who lost a place to Perez at the start to run fifth but overcut his way past Leclerc at the first round of stops.

He then lost a place to Vettel at the first restart, but gained two places when Verstappen and Hamilton hit trouble, which added up to third place and his first podium since that famous Monza win last year.

Despite an engine problem that cost power late on, he held off Leclerc in the final two-lap dash.

VERDICT: On great form, with the only real criticism that he could have beaten Vettel to second.

2021 Site Tsu

Started: 7th Finished: 7th


Tsunoda did a good job to reach Q3 for the first time, although it all went wrong when he crashed at Turn 3 having braked significantly later for the left-hander than he did on his previous push lap.

That brought a premature end to Q3, but left him a career-best seventh on the grid after Norris’s penalty.


Tsunoda dropped a place to eighth at the start and was seventh at the finish having kept Sainz, who had an early off, behind.

But despite losing places to Vettel’s overcut and to Norris’s middle-stint pass, he had got ahead of Alonso by running longer before his first stop, only to be passed by the Alpine driver on the penultimate lap when the race restarted.

VERDICT: Fraught moments, but despite not having Gasly’s pace this was a much-needed decent weekend.

2021 Site Rai

Started: 14th Finished: 10th


Raikkonen wasn’t able to show the pace of the car in Q2 given he only had a used set of softs available, but still did enough to beat Russell to 14th place on a weekend where he looked more comfortable on single-lap pace than in the previous races.


After running 14th early on, he followed a conventional strategy and picked up three places thanks to problems for Verstappen, Hamilton and Ocon.

The other spot he gained through the unusual means of overtaking the Mercedes of Bottas, which meant he shook out in 10th for his first point of the season at the end of the race.

VERDICT: Unlucky in qualifying and drove a controlled race to a valuable point.

2021 Site Gio

Started: 20th Finished: 11th


Gustier conditions in qualifying caught Giovinazzi out and resulted in him nosing into the barrier at Turn 15 before setting a time.


Giovinazzi had a great launch and first lap to climb to 15th behind team-mate Raikkonen, but had a braking problem he had to manage from the start.

He opted for a very early stop and held 12th when the race was stopped. He passed Raikkonen in Turn 1 to get into the points, but hit the rear of Ricciardo at Turn 2 and slipped back to his ultimate 11th place.

VERDICT: Q1 crash and hitting Ricciardo on the penultimate lap were both costly errors.

2021 Site Maz

Started: 18th Finished: 14th


The deficit of eight-hundredths to his team-mate was Mazepin’s best of the season (excluding Monaco where Schumacher couldn’t run in qualifying), but he wasn’t happy.

This was because he locked the inside-front and ran wide at Turn 15 on a lap where he was six-tenths up on his best with a big tow to come.


Mazepin hung onto Schumacher in the first stint but faded badly in the second, not helped by a time-consuming visit to the Turn 4 escape road.

The red flag gave him another chance and he passed Schumacher in Turn 4 to run 13th, only to be passed on the run to the finish line – despite a needless defensive jink to the right that enraged his team-mate.

VERDICT: Aside from slapping the wall in FP3, you’d have said this was a perfectly adequate weekend had Mazepin not made that dangerous move while battling Schumacher.

2021 Site Msc

Started: 17th Finished: 13th


Schumacher had to switch to his original Ferrari power unit from the start of the season after problems in FP2.

Running massively wide at Turn 4 after overcommitting into the right-hander on his best Q1 lap cost him significant time, but Mazepin’s similar error later in a lap meant Schumacher held onto 19th place.


Schumacher had a relatively straightforward race, leaving team-mate Mazepin behind before the first safety car. There, he spotted the right-front hadn’t been properly fitted when he was released and stopped before the team told him to, but ultimately it cost little.

Mazepin got ahead at Turn 4 at the start of the two-lap Mini Prix, but Schumacher got back ahead on the blast to the line – despite Mazepin moving right as he was making the pass.

VERDICT: Left time on the table in qualifying but was comfortably the stronger Haas driver in the race.

2021 Site Lat

Started: 16th Finished: 16th


Latifi was once again frustrated after qualifying, although he had good reason given external factors worked against him.

He used three sets of tyres in Q1 but only had one “representative” push lap on fresh rubber thanks to red and yellow flags. The result was a four-tenths gap to team-mate Russell.


Latifi ran 17th on the first lap and ran the orthodox one-stop strategy, with attrition allowing him to take the standing restart 14th ahead of the two Haas drivers.

He crossed the line 13th, but was relegated to 16th by a time penalty for failing to pass through the pitlane under the safety car, which was the result of his engineer telling him explicitly – and mistakenly – to stay out while attempting to cancel a pitstop summons.

VERDICT: Qualifying underwhelming, but drove well in the race and wasn’t to blame for the penalty.

2021 Site Rus

Started: 15th Finished: 17th (retired)


A water pump problem in FP3 resulted in a change of power unit after, but with the car not getting back to the garage until 95 minutes before Q1, Williams was up against it.

The early red flag helped and Russell made a big step on his second push lap to get through to Q2 yet again.


Russell opted for a strategic gamble by pitting at the end of the first lap, although it ultimately made very little difference to his race whether he did that or followed the standard strategy.

The Williams was relatively close to the pace but still only a lower midfield runner, but Russell might have hoped to get involved in some action in the dash to the flag had his gearbox not failed on the way to the restart grid.

VERDICT: Effective both in qualifying and the race.

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