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

Edd Straw’s Sakhir GP driver ratings + reader debate

Dec 7 2020
By Edd Straw

A sensational Sakhir Grand Prix generates some sensational scores in Edd Straw’s Driver Ratings – including a very, very rare 10.

Not everyone impressed that much, though…

Passionately agree or vehemently disagree with Edd? You can debate his ratings with him live in the comments section at the bottom of the page at 5.30pm UK time on Monday.

George Russell Mercedes F1 2020

Started: 2nd Finished: 9th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 117
Gap to team-mate: +0.026s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.001s

Lewis Hamilton’s stand-in impressed with his calm, methodical approach – not to mention speed – during practice and did a superb job in qualifying to miss out on pole by just 0.026s.

His weak point, as he put it, was not optimising the rotation of the car in corner entry at Turn 1, which led to the snap on his final lap that cost time – but over the second and third sectors he was faster than Bottas.

Race

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

Russell aced the start and looked utterly comfortable in the lead, ensuring he wasn’t under threat from Bottas around the pitstops.

Tyre confusion at a precautionary pitstop led to a stop to rectify the error, but he was on course to climb from fifth to victory after a glorious pass into the chicane on Bottas before picking up a puncture suspected to be as a result of some debris remaining from Aitken’s crash.

Recovering from 14th to ninth and fastest lap was little consolation.

VERDICT: Wouldn’t quite be a maximum for a regular driver, but the circumstances further elevate a superb drive

Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Fq1 2020

Started: 1st Finished: 8th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 116
Gap to team-mate: -0.026s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.067s

Despite not having the benefit of a tow and also failing to improve on his final Q3 lap, Bottas pipped Russell to his 16th F1 pole position.

By his own admission, it was “not my best qualifying” and he would have liked to have been further clear of Russell, but it was enough.

Race

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

Bottas made a slightly worse start than Russell and settled into second place, which is where he looked destined to finish despite closing on Russell in the second stint.

Then came the disastrous pitstop, forcing him to finish the race on used hards. He dropped from fourth to eighth as he struggled to stem the losses.

VERDICT: Not the performance he needed up against his long-term rival for a Mercedes seat despite it ultimately being bad luck that ruined the result.

Dec 07 : Sakhir Grand Prix review

Sebastian Vettel Ferrari F1 2020

Started: 15th Finished: 12th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 100
Gap to team-mate: +0.350s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.052s

While Leclerc was able to wring the neck of the Ferrari in qualifying to glorious effect, Vettel was once again more constrained by the limitations of the car.

That little bit more hesitant on corner entry, the time loss was relatively even throughout the lap.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 4
3 stops – medium/hard/soft/soft

Vettel briefly ran in the top 10 in the early stages before inevitably being shuffled back and finishing at the back of the midfield group and ahead of the leading ‘Class C’ car of Giovinazzi.

A slow front-left tyre change at his final stop didn’t impact the result.

VERDICT: At the back of the midfield pack in qualifying and the race, but at least clear of Class C.

Leclerc

Started: 4th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 58
Gap to team-mate: -0.350s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

You could make a case for his Q3 lap being the qualifying lap of the season, but for the fact you’d have to work out if it was even the best of Leclerc’s campaign given the regularity of his stunning Saturday performances.

With just one set of softs, he went early and nailed it to take fourth.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1:
Retired before pitstops – soft

Leclerc set out his stall to be aggressive on the first lap but got sucked into hitting Perez at Turn 4 having put his car in a risky place. As a result, he crashed and was hit with a three-place grid penalty for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

VERDICT: Went from hero in qualifying to zero in the race.

Verstappen

Started: 3rd Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 95
Gap to team-mate: -0.379s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.024s

“Ah, so close,” said Verstappen after his final qualifying lap. While it was a good lap, he didn’t match his personal best first sector time. But he also didn’t have much of a tow so while finding hundredths to beat a Mercedes or two might conceivably have been possible, there wasn’t much time left on the table on such a short lap.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1:
Retired before pitstops – soft

Verstappen played it sensibly on the run to Turn 4 on the opening lap to ensure he didn’t get squeezed between Perez and Bottas.

He couldn’t avoid taking to the runoff to avoid the spinning Perez but hit the wall, not helped by getting back on the throttle just before hitting the strip of gravel.

VERDICT: Quick in qualifying and unlucky at Turn 4, but would more patience on the throttle once off have kept him out of the wall?

Albon

Started: 12th Finished: 6th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 82
Gap to team-mate: +0.379s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.052s

While Albon pointed to the traffic on the preparation lap as compromising his tyre prep, he wasn’t the only one in that position.

His final Q2 lap was messy, starting with struggling to get the nose in at Turn 1 and the result was he missed the top 10 by 0.084s. He also pointed to not running softs in FP3 in preparation as holding him back.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: NONE
2 stops – medium/hard/soft

Albon survived a clash with Magnussen at Turn 4 on the opening lap and ran 12th at the restart, climbing to 10th by passing Magnussen and Vettel. He ran all the way to lap 47 before stopping for hards and rejoined 11th.

He passed Norris superbly, then jumped Gasly and Kvyat when they made their second stops before profiting from the misfortune of Mercedes.

VERDICT: Had the opportunity and the right strategy but couldn’t make much of it.

Norris

Started: 15th Finished: 10th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 76
Gap to team-mate: +0.875s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.499s

Going out early for his final Q2 run meant Norris had to roll around slowly on his prep lap and he aborted his flying lap almost immediately thanks to the tyres being too cool.

His second attempt on a busy track was messy and meant he set a time half-a-second off his Q1 pace, leaving him at the back of the Q2 runners.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 9
2 stops – soft/medium/medium

Norris started 19th after power unit component changes but passed three cars on the run to the first corner, although he was momentarily repassed by Raikkonen before the Alfa Romeo spun.

He then gained six places thanks to the Turn 4 incident. This added up to 10th place at the restart and he soon passed Vettel for ninth. Perez, in the first stint, and Albon, in the second, passed him, but a VSC pitstop allowed him to jump Gasly.

VERDICT: Could have done a better job of qualifying but drove a decent race for a slender reward.

Sainz

Started: 8th Finished: 4th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 96
Gap to team-mate: -0.875s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.296s

Although Sainz’s Q2 time would have been good enough for sixth, suggesting he underperformed when it really mattered, that was aided by a mighty tow that wasn’t repeated in Q3.

Considering McLaren’s struggles, he was satisfied that he extracted close to the maximum of the car without a tow on his one shot using fresh softs in Q3.

Race

Practice laps: 96
Gap to team-mate: -0.875s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.296s

Sainz held third place comfortably in the first stint thanks to a good start combined with the Turn 4 incident.

He thought a podium was on, but being on an orthodox two-stopper worked against him and, having found his way past the struggling Bottas, he couldn’t get close enough to Stroll to attack in the closing stages.

VERDICT: A characteristically strong qualifying and race performance.

Ricciardo

Started: 7th Finished: 5th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 101
Gap to team-mate: -0.124s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.210s

Given his pace in Q2 despite a big snap of oversteer in the last corner that cost time, Ricciardo thought a top five was on in Q3.

But despite having two sets of softs available thanks to escaping Q1 with one run, neither of his Q3 laps were anything special. He put that down to a lower level of grip than expected, but despite that seventh was a solid result.

Race

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

Ricciardo’s race was defined by strategy, losing a place to Kvyat at the first round of stops, which contained him in the second stint, then regaining it with a little help from the VSC at the second.

Beyond that, aside from passing the struggling Bottas late on, he was locked in place with Perez and Ocon getting ahead thanks to strategy.

VERDICT: Qualified well but not brilliantly and drove a good, tidy race.

Ocon

Started: 11th Finished: 2nd

Qualifying

Practice laps: 120
Gap to team-mate: +0.124s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.061s

Ocon had the pace to make Q3, but lost around a tenth through the chicane and that was enough to mean he was eliminated in Q2.

So it was no surprise that he admitted to being a little disappointed with qualifying, even though he had the consolation of a free starting-tyre choice.

Race

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

As the lead driver with free starting-tyre choice, he settled into a long stint on his starting mediums, running eighth thanks to the Turn 4 crash.

While he was unable to keep the charging Perez behind, a crucial undercut that was completed by an on-track pass using the DRS on Stroll’s out-lap got him ahead of the Racing Point. And he stayed there.

VERDICT: Qualifying underachievement laid the foundations for a faultless race drive

Gasly (1)

Started: 9th Finished: 11th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 109
Gap to team-mate: +0.248s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.249s

Realistically, Gasly had to be satisfied simply to reach Q3 given he twice clouted the underfloor with mistakes – once in Q1, once in Q2.

He estimated that cost him around 15 points of downforce, as well as compromising the balance, so it was no surprise to see him outqualified by Kvyat. But while his underlying pace was better, it was Gasly’s errors that compromised the car.

Race

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

Gasly held seventh in the first stint thanks to the Turn 4 chaos, but he lost out to Ocon, Albon and the recovering Perez thanks to being on a two-stopper.

Norris also jumped him for the final point due to the VSC, but this was also a slightly subdued race pace-wise for Gasly.

VERDICT: Scruffy in qualifying and unremarkable, if unlucky strategically, in the race.

Kvyat

Started: 6th Finished: 7th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 121
Gap to team-mate: -0.248s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.103s

This was Kvyat’s best qualifying position since he managed sixth on Saturday in Baku last year, so it was no surprise that he described it as his best qualifying lap of 2020.

Given he only had one set of softs and he went off in Turn 2 after the rear stepped out when he was too aggressive on the throttle on mediums on his first run, this was an excellent performance.

Race

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

Kvyat didn’t have the best of luck in this race as he was among the group of leading midfielders on the disadvantageous two-stop strategy.

He undercut his way past Ricciardo, but the VSC played a part in the Renault driver repassing him in the second round of stops.

VERDICT: This was Kvyat’s most complete weekend of the year and could have yielded a better result.

Perez

Started: 5th Finished: 1st

Qualifying

Practice laps: 105
Gap to team-mate: -0.410s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.122s

While not the perfect lap, Perez’s Q3 effort was plenty good enough for fifth place and it’s hard to see where Perez would have found the time to overhaul Leclerc for fourth given the gap.

Another well-executed Saturday performance from Perez.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: DOWN 12
2 stops – soft/medium/hard

Being clouted into a spin by Leclerc on the opening lap proved to be a blessing in disguise by putting him onto what effectively was a one stopper after the opening-lap pitstop.

But it came at the cost of track position so he had to make short work of traffic to make the strategy work with passes on Albon, Stroll and Ocon crucial to his path to victory.

Could he have held off Russell? It’s unlikely, but he thought it was possible.

VERDICT: Classic Perez – good in qualifying, outstanding in the race. The only tiny blemishes the fraction left on the table in qualifying and assuming the Turn 4 apex would be clear.

Stroll

Started: 10th Finished: 3rd

Qualifying

Practice laps: 103
Gap to team-mate: +0.410s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.360s

Stroll always looked like the second-fastest Racing Point driver, but not by as much as the margin in Q3 suggested.

Floor damage picked up at Turn 8 in Q3 held him back and he lost out to Gasly in the battle of the hobbled drivers to avoid 10th in the final stage of qualifying.

Race

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

Stroll got up to sixth at the start thanks to the Turn 4 incident and settled into a long opening stint on softs that allowed him to one-stop and get ahead of Kvyat, Ricciardo and Sainz.

But Ocon had launched an undercut then passed Stroll using the DRS on the run to Turn 4. Thirteen laps later, Stroll ran wide while chasing Ocon, allowing Perez past. He didn’t know it, but his victory hopes vanished in that moment.

VERDICT: Floor damage masked his qualifying pace and while third was a good race result, he could have been a place or two higher

Kimi

Started: 18th Finished: 14th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 106
Gap to team-mate: +0.440s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.002s

Raikkonen struggled for pace in qualifying and was well off his team-mate having struggled to recreate the FP3 balance that allowed him to show promising speed.

Race

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

A spin on the opening lap after taking to the Turn 3 kerb dropped him to the back and he became embroiled in a lengthy battle with Aitken that was eventually settled in the Williams driver’s favour.

Aitken’s off allowed Raikkonen back ahead and the resulting safety car let him close the gap to Magnussen before passing him for 14th into Turn 1.

VERDICT: Outgunned by his team-mate on a difficult weekend.

Giovinazzi

Started: 14th Finished: 13th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 112
Gap to team-mate: -0.440s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.037s

This was a well-executed qualifying session for Giovinazzi, who reached Q2 for the third time this season.

With the help of a tow from Vettel, he made Q2 comfortable and probably delivered about the best position possible for the Alfa Romeo with a tidy lap.

Race

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

Giovinazzi took ‘Class C’ victory in 13th place, which was about all that could be expected. He did have to rely on Latifi’s retirement to do so given he was sat behind but unable to threaten the Williams driver before that.

That said, he was unlucky to have lost a position to him on the first lap thanks to being forced to check up at Turn 4, then completing a pass on Latifi into the chicane only to have to hand the place back as it was just as the safety car was deployed.

VERDICT: Qualified strongly and got the best possible result, albeit with a little luck.

Fitti Haas

Started: 20th Finished: 17th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 101
Gap to team-mate: +0.721s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Romain Grosjean’s stand-in made good progress on his debut weekend through practice, although he struggled to adapt his late-braking style to the nuances of the Haas.

This continued in qualifying, but given the 10-place grid penalty for power unit component penalties his main focus was on providing a tow for Magnussen so the gap to his team-mate wasn’t entirely representative.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 4
3 stops – soft/medium/soft/soft

Fittipaldi took it conservatively at the start, which was sensible and ensured he avoided the spinning Raikkonen. He restarted 18th but was soon shuffled to the back by Perez and Raikkonen.

He stayed there until Aitken had his off, but despite keeping the Williams at bay for a while he was eventually passed on the DRS and finished three seconds behind as the last runner.

VERDICT: All things considered, did a fine job in a car he’d never driven before.

Magnussen

Started: 15th Finished: 15th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 105
Gap to team-mate: -0.721s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.000s

Magnussen had a good crack at reaching Q3 with the aid of a tow from Fittipaldi, but missed out by just under a tenth.

Considering the pace of the car, it has to be regarded as him doing well to get so close rather than underachieving.

Race

Penalties:
Positions gained/lost lap 1: UP 4
2 stops – soft/medium/soft

Magnussen went aggressive at the start and was battling with Albon into Turn 4 when the incident happened ahead, earning a clout from the Red Bull.

He then locked up while trying to pass Albon into the chicane, swerving off the track and picking up a flatspot. He took the restart 12th, having given the place back to Albon, but was soon shuffled back to 15th as the Haas lacked pace.

Latifi’s retirement handed him a place, but Raikkonen passed him in the final stint.

VERDICT: His all-out attack approach didn’t quite pay off, but the car didn’t give him much to work with.

Latifi

Started: 16th Finished: DNF

Qualifying

Practice laps: 121
Gap to team-mate: -0.096s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.100s

Latifi was pushed hard by his new team-mate in qualifying and managed to beat him by a tenth, but it was a close run thing.

That said, Latifi’s attacking final lap didn’t quite work as the rear end stepped out and sent him wide in the final corner, costing him at least a tenth.

Race

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

Latifi didn’t make a great start and slipped behind Raikkonen, but regained the place when the Alfa spun at Turn 2. He slipped past Giovinazzi through Turn 4/5, although he lost the place into the chicane just as the safety car was deployed and was waved back through to take the restart 13th.

After passing Magnussen when the Haas driver went deep at Turn 5, Latifi had a Class C lead he only lost when he retired with an oil leak on lap 53.

VERDICT: Qualifying was a struggle, but had a good race before retiring.

Aitken Williams

Started: 17th Finished: 16th

Qualifying

Practice laps: 114
Gap to team-mate: +0.096s
Gap to ‘ideal’ lap: +0.024s

Aitken made very solid progress through practice on his first time in the car as a race driver and had the legs of Latifi in the first two runs in qualifying.

He was close to pulling off the seemingly-impossible and outqualifying Latifi, but with the rear tyres a little hot in the final corner he had a moment of instability and ran wide.

Race

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

Aitken kept out of trouble at the start and took the restart behind Giovinazzi before coming under threat from the Raikkonen a few laps later.

A moment coming through Turn 2 briefly sent him off the track and led to Raikkonen passing him, only for Aitken to retake the place a lap later around the outside of Turn 5.

He was still ahead of Raikkonen and trying to close a 3.7s gap to Magnussen when he ran wide at the final corner and was a little too aggressive on the throttle, pitching the car round and swiping off the nose. He recovered to the pits and rejoined, passing Fittipaldi using the DRS late on.

VERDICT: Despite two offs in the race, one costing him his front wing, showed good pace during an accomplished debut weekend.

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