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

Edd Straw’s Russian GP driver ratings + reader debate

Sep 28 2020
By Edd Straw

A low score for the often flawless world champion is the big headline from Edd Straw’s Russian Grand Prix driver ratings, as the drivers overperforming in lesser machinery get the Sochi plaudits.

Agree or disagree? Debate the ratings with Edd live at 5.30pm UK time today in the comments section.

Hamilton

Started: 1st Finished: 3rd

Qualifying

Practice laps: 67
Gap to team-mate: -0.652s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.069s

Hamilton had a little work to do after Friday practice but never looked like missing out on pole position when qualifying was going smoothly for him. It wasn’t a perfect run though, as perhaps he left a fraction on the table on his pole lap and the first-run error in Q2 put him in real danger of missing the cut thanks to the late red flag.

Race

Penalties: +10s (for two reconnaissance lap infringements)
Positions gained/lost lap 1: NONE
1 stop – soft/hard

Hamilton put himself in the best-possible position by holding the lead despite Bottas’s attack at Turn 2, but we never got to see how his enforced strategy of starting on the softs would have played out thanks to the 10s penalty he served at his first pitstop. This relegated him to an eventual third.

He seemed a little subdued after the penalty and didn’t threaten Verstappen’s second.

VERDICT: Qualifying was strong and the penalties cost him a good shot at victory, but unusually seemed to lack a little fire thereafter.

Bottas

Started: 2nd Finished: 1st

Qualifying

Practice laps: 69
Gap to team-mate: +0.652s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.316s

Another weekend that started promisingly before he slid away as qualifying progressed, with his struggles to get the tyres in the right window to last over the lap exaggerating the gap to Hamilton.

Over-reaching trying to beat Hamilton likely cost him second place to Verstappen.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 1
1 stop – medium/hard

Bottas had a go at passing Hamilton at Turn 2 on the first lap before settling into second, then picked up the lead when his team-mate pitted to get rid of his softs and serve a 10s penalty.

From there Bottas controlled the race and closed out an easy win.

VERDICT: Underachieved in qualifying and needed Hamilton to hit trouble to win, but still had to execute his race well and showed strong race pace.

Vettel

Started: 14th Finished: 13th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 72
Gap to team-mate: +0.370s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.040s

Vettel actually looked to be a step closer to Leclerc on pace than in previous races, but spun into the barrier while taking an attacking approach to his final Q2 lap having lapped almost four tenths down on his disappointing first attempt.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 1
1 stop – medium/hard

The Ferrari ran 13th on the first lap behind Giovinazzi and was in much the same situation at the end of the race, save for being behind Magnussen instead as Giovinazzi had got ahead of the Haas.

But in a race of no meaningful gains or losses, towards the end of his first stint Vettel did help out Leclerc by holding up Ocon.

VERDICT: His qualifying shunt exaggerated his pace deficit to Leclerc, but he could go nowhere in the race in recovery.

Leclerc

Started: 10th Finished: 6th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 72
Gap to team-mate: -0.370s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Leclerc was disappointed that poor communication led to him not starting his final Q2 lap in the best possible position despite having time to have done so, which he believed cost him a Q3 slot.

That’s likely true, although his underlying advantage over Vettel didn’t look as big at Sochi as it had done at other recent events.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 2
1 stop – medium/hard

Leclerc held eighth in the first stint after a slightly frustrating run to Turn 2 on the first lap during which he had to check up a couple of times.

His decent pace late in the first stint on mediums allowed him to leap past soft-starters Gasly and Ocon to take sixth place.

VERDICT: Frustrated but quick in qualifying, bored but excellent in the race.

Verstappen

Started: 2nd Finished: 2nd

Qualifying

Practice laps: 63
Gap to team-mate: -1.141s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Verstappen started his final run in Q3 under a little pressure from Perez and Ricciardo but nailed a superb lap to slip ahead of the underachieving Bottas and take an unlikely second on the grid.

He described it as one of his best qualifying laps, which shows just how good it was.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: DOWN 1
1 stop – medium/hard

The details of Verstappen’s race were pretty straightforward as he ran third behind the two Mercedes drivers having slipped to second off the line and then behind Ricciardo through Turn 2.

He quickly repassed Ricciardo before the safety car and from there it was plain sailing to a straightforward second place.

VERDICT: A great qualifying lap and, start aside, a good race too, capitalising in both cases on Mercedes’ troubles.

Albon

Started: 15th Finished: 10th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 69
Gap to team-mate: +1.141s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.016s

Albon slid further away from Verstappen as qualifying progressed and appeared to struggle to follow the track evolution and master the tyre prep on out-laps.

The result was a massive deficit – although he did at least do well to reach Q3 in the first place given he had to improve after the Q2 red flag to make it.

Race

Penalties: 5-place grid penalty for gearbox change, +5s for not using marker chicane at Turn 2 runoff
Positions gained/lost lap 1: DOWN 2
2 stops – soft/hard/medium

Albon was out of position at the start and 17th after his lap-one stop.

Locked into a two-stop strategy, it was always going to be a battle to get a point but he managed at least to salvage one after a dogged race.

VERDICT: “A lot of work for one point” was Albon’s summary – very true, but this was also one of his least convincing weekends of the season.

Norris

Started: 8th Finished: 15th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 78
Gap to team-mate: +0.297s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.081s

Norris ran McLaren’s one example of the new-specification nose in qualifying and the race, although the team didn’t reckon this amounted to a significant performance difference given it’s just part of a longer-term change.

He actually suggested that the aero work he had to do might have disadvantaged him, ending up three-tenths off his team-mate Sainz after a solid run in qualifying.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: DOWN 10
1 stop – soft/hard

Norris suspected he picked up a little damage piling through the debris from Sainz’s crash and stopped under the safety car to take hards having dropped to the back anyway. After getting past Russell and Albon, he had a brief off and dropped to last again.

He did get back into the points but couldn’t fight gravity and the effects of a lock-up while trying to hold position. After being shuffled out of the points, made a second stop on his way to 15th.

VERDICT: The slower of the McLaren drivers, but misfortune on the first lap meant it was always going to be tough to make something of the race.

Sainz

Started: 6th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 61
Gap to team-mate: –0.297s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.064s

Sainz recovered well from backing his McLaren into the wall in first practice to lead the way for the team.

Although his sector times suggested he could have been very slightly faster on his final Q3 lap, the car wasn’t quick enough to be any higher up the grid.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: N/A
Retired early – soft

Sainz took to the runoff at Turn 2 on the first lap, something that was avoidable, but seriously misjudged his angle of attack and speed into the marker-board chicane while rejoining and wiped out the front-left.

VERDICT: A strong qualifying performance wasted by his own bad misjudgement.

Ricciardo

Started: 5th Finished: 5th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 61
Gap to team-mate: -0.260s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.215s

Sochi hasn’t traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Ricciardo, but as he explained at length he put in his homework, modified his approach and the reward was a strong performance in qualifying.

But had he matched his Q2 lap, which he reckoned was close to perfect, he could have been one place higher on the grid.

Race

Penalties: +5s (failing to go through marker board chicane at Turn 2)
Positions gained/lost lap 1: NONE
1 stop – soft/hard

Ricciardo briefly managed to get past Verstappen into third on the first lap before being repassed at Turn 5, then carried too much speed into Turn 7, running wide and letting Ocon through.

From then on, he drove a fine race and, having been ordered past Ocon, built the advantage he needed to ensure the 5s penalty he earned for missing the marker-board chicane didn’t cost him a place to Leclerc.

VERDICT: A strong weekend all round, although he did leave a small amount on the table in qualifying and had, as he put it, moments of imperfection and recovery in the race.

Ocon

Started: 7th Finished: 7th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 64
Gap to team-mate: +0.260s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.008s

Ocon performed well in qualifying, it’s just that he still had the usual deficit to Ricciardo, which generally bounces between two and four tenths on Saturday afternoons.

The red flag in Q2 meant he used an extra set of tyres and denied him a fresh set of tyres on his first Q3 run, but even so he was not quite at Ricciardo’s level.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 3
1 stop – soft/hard

A strong first stint featured Ocon holding fourth place, but he struggled for grip and balance once he switched to the hards, which led to Perez and Leclerc jumping him after running longer and the team ordering Ricciardo past.

This added up to a three-place loss from the first lap.

VERDICT: Not as quick as Ricciardo and struggled in the second stint, but strong first stint showed what he’s capable of.

Gasly

Started: 9th Finished: 9th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 72
Gap to team-mate: -0.110s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Normal strong qualifying service was resumed after the disappointment of Mugello even though Gasly didn’t carry great confidence into qualifying thanks to practice struggles.

An excellent first run in Q2 ensured he safely made the top 10 and he strung together his best three sectors of qualifying to take ninth.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 2
1 stop – soft/medium

Gasly ran seventh in the first stint, but starting on softs locked him into a strategy that was always likely to lose places through the pitstops and he was jumped by medium-shod Leclerc and hard-shod Kvyat after getting stuck in midfield traffic.

The VSC triggered a second stop that proved a disadvantage thanks to the yellow period not lasting long enough, but he regained what he’d lost and took ninth – although he had lost any chance of chasing down Kvyat and Ocon ahead.

VERDICT: Back to fine qualifying form and had a good race compromised by having to start on softs.

Kvyat

Started: 11th Finished: 8th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 73
Gap to team-mate: +0.110s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.154s

Kvyat was 10th fastest after the first runs in Q2 and confident of finding a few tenths on his second attempt having not hooked up as strong a final sector as he did in Q1.

The red flag interrupted that run and the tyres were past their best after the restart, meaning he didn’t improve. Even so, 12th was about par for Kvyat and he was only a tenth off Gasly in Q2.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: NONE
1 stop – hard/medium

Kvyat held 11th at the start having started on mediums and settled into a lengthy first stint, passing Magnussen and Grosjean along the way.

When he finally stopped, he emerged eighth having jumped Gasly and comfortably held the position to the end.

VERDICT: Lacked the edge in qualifying, but drove a fine race on an alternate strategy with a couple of passes along the way.

Perez

Started: 4th Finished: 4th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 72
Gap to team-mate: -0.326s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.102s

Despite not having the Mugello aerodynamic upgrade worth two or three tenths of a second, although he did have the new suspension introduced at Sochi, Perez looked the more comfortable Racing Point driver throughout the weekend. His reward was fourth place

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: DOWN 2
1 stop – soft/hard

Anger-inducing wheelspin off the line meant he was shuffled down to sixth place. But after the restart he turned in arguably his best race drive of the season.

A superb pass on Ricciardo that started at Turn 2 but was completed through Turn 3 in the first stint gave him fifth while his pace on aged softs late in the first stint allowed him to jump his way past Ocon for fourth.

VERDICT: Strong qualifying and, save for a so-so start, an outstanding race drive with trademark ace tyre management.

Stroll

Started: 13th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 68
Gap to team-mate: +0.326s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

The red flag and engine overheating while in the queue waiting for the restart meant Stroll didn’t get a second Q2 run in, with his first-run time not good enough to make Q3.

The final sector proved to be his undoing, costing him more than his deficit to Perez on the first Q2 run.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: NONE
Retired early – medium

Stroll didn’t have a perfect launch but an incisive run to Turn 2, combined with problems for others, meant he was in seventh and right behind Perez heading into Turn 4.

Unfortunately, although he left ample room, Leclerc hit his-right rear at the exit while attempting to go up the inside and this fired the Racing Point into the wall.

VERDICT: Qualifying was a blend of underachievement and bad luck, but he’d laid the foundations for a good race result before being ejected.

Kimi

Started: 19th Finished: 14th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 71
Gap to team-mate: +0.673s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Raikkonen had a solid but unspectacular first run in Q1, then had a spin after a slight lock-up and running deep at Turn 2 and clouting the exit kerb on a lap the team hoped might prove good enough for Q2.

He put that down to the tyres being a bit down on temperature, something the moment he had exiting the last corner of the lap confirmed.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 4
1 stop – hard/medium

On his record-equally 322nd F1 start, he ran 15th in the first stint and passed Latifi shortly after the safety car restart to run 14th.

And there he finished after a long first stint on hards following a pitstop where he lost 4.5s to a slow front-left change then an uneventful run to the finish

VERDICT: Looked marginally quicker than Giovinazzi before the qualifying error and had an unremarkable Sunday.

Giovinazzi

Started: 17th Finished: 11th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 68
Gap to team-mate: -0.673s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Giovinazzi had several moments on his first Q1 lap, leaving him well behind his team-mate, but jumped ahead of Raikkonen on the second runs despite having to lift for his team-mate’s spin.

The team reckoned the car had the pace for Q2, but ultimately it didn’t look like Giovinazzi did.

Race

Penalties: NONE
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 5
1 stop – medium/hard

Giovinazzi had a storming first few corners to run 12th then settled into what gradually evolved into a race-long battle to get ahead of the two Haas drivers.

He did this very effectively, overtaking both during the second stint to bag 11th place in arguably his best race performance of the season.

VERDICT: After a reasonable qualifying run, this was his best race for some time, ‘winning’ the unofficial Class C for the first time and taking the best-possible result.

Grosjean

Started: 16th Finished: 17th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 70
Gap to team-mate: -0.089s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Grosjean had a terrible time on Friday, which he later put down to the hangover of his Tuscan Grand Prix crash, with some of the replacement parts not working as well as they should have.

Things improved on Saturday but although he looked destined to qualify behind Magnussen he delivered a decent final lap to take 16th – the best possible position considering the gap to Q2.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 6
2 stops – medium/hard/medium

Grosjean jumped to 10th at the start but soon faded, complaining of the return of the car and tyre troubles that blighted his Friday.

He also twice used the Turn 2 runoff, once demolishing the marker boards, before a late stop dropped him to 17th.

VERDICT: A difficult weekend for Grosjean with only occasional positives.

Magnussen

Started: 18th Finished: 12th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 68
Gap to team-mate: +0.089s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.149s

Magnussen had the underlying place to have the advantage over Grosjean in qualifying, but ended up almost a tenth behind mainly thanks to the front tyres not being up to temperature for the start of his final lap after warm-up lap traffic before a messy final couple of corners also cost a little time.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 9
1 stop – medium/hard

Magnussen put in another first-lap special to run ninth and from that point his race was all about trying to hold off the inevitable loss of places.

That started with Kvyat getting ahead in the first stint. Despite doing an excellent job on an orthodox one-stopper, Magnussen couldn’t keep Giovinazzi and the much quicker Albon behind in the second stint.

VERDICT: Qualifying was slightly disappointing, but he drove a strong race to keep the points within sight.

Latifi

Started: 19th Finished: 16th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 56
Gap to team-mate: +1.046s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Latifi recovered from his shunt in second practice to set a reasonable pace on Saturday morning, just three-tenths off Russell, but qualifying went disastrously.

He aborted his first run after a lock-up at Turn 2, complaining about the brakes, and after working hard to get them in the right temperature window ahead of his final attempt still looked to be lacking the confidence to attack. The result was a huge deficit to Russell.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 6
1 stop – medium/hard

Williams struggled badly with the tyres on race day and, despite making ground on the first lap and driving a solid race, Latifi could only finish ahead of two drivers who made an extra stop – Grosjean and Russell.

But he avoided the lock-up error that Russell made and would have beaten his team-mate even without the additional stop Russell took.

VERDICT: Qualifying was poor amid braking troubles, but drove a solid race.

Russell

Started: 14th Finished: 18th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 70
Gap to team-mate: -1.046s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Russell was back in Q2 having missed out at Monza and Mugello, with strong laps both on his second Q1 run and in the second stage of qualifying in the trimmed-out Williams. Fourteenth looked like the maximum achievable.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: DOWN 3
2 stops – medium/hard/medium/soft

Having made a stop under the early safety car, Russell battled hard with Albon and Norris early on but eventually had a lock-up that forced him to shorten his second stint.

While that compromised his strategy, he was going to have to stop again anyway but this allowed Latifi to get ahead. Having not been able to get ahead of Latifi, he made a late tyre change for a tilt at fastest lap – missing out by just 0.332s.

VERDICT: Excellent in qualifying and initially feisty in the race but the lock-up and resulting early second stop did compromise his Sunday.

Russian Grand Prix 2020 Sochi
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