2021 British Grand Prix – Driver Ratings
Two weeks on from the Austrian Grand Prix, the Formula One cars were back in action at Silverstone, the home of British motor racing. Taylor Murray evaluates the performance of each driver as they roared round the sweltering Silverstone track.
Silverstone was the first Formula one race to have a FULL crowd in attendance since the pandemic began. The government gave the track the green light to test having a full capacity crowd at the track. Over 340,000 attended the race weekend, with 140,000 all at the race on Sunday, which did not disappoint.
Max Verstappen went into the weekend on top of the Drivers’ Championship, leading Lewis Hamilton by 35 points, However, after a controversial collision with Hamilton in the opening lap, Verstappen crashed out of the race as he flew into the wall at Copse. Hamilton then had to battle for 50 laps and overcome a 10 second time penalty to get in front of a persistent Charles Leclerc to take the win, which was his eighth at Silverstone.
Below are my ratings for each driver’s performance out of 10 – given two drivers didn’t complete the race, they will not receive a score.
P1. Lewis Hamilton – 9/10
A lot of people had predicted that Mercedes had moved priorities to next season after failing to win a race since the Spanish Grand Prix. That could not have been further from the truth. Mercedes brought new upgrades into this weekend to try and catch the RedBull cars, which looked to become the fastest on the grid during the triple header. After an OK start, both Hamilton and Verstappen were battling hard for the top spot going through the first seven corners. It looked like it was going to be an enthralling race until Hamilton tried cutting up the inside at Copse and took out Verstappen. This led to Verstappen crashing out of the race, with Hamilton being awarded a 10 second time penalty as a result. Debate on the race stewards’ decision aside, Hamilton roared round the track after serving his penalty during his solitary pit stop. He looked like a man possessed and on lap 50 he caught Charles Leclerc to take the lead and the win. Although there will be a debate about the severity of Hamilton’s punishment, there is no doubt how incredibly talented the Brit is. Now an eight-time winner at his home track and going for his eighth title, the Championship has been spiced right up.
P2. Charles Leclerc – 9/10
Leclerc found himself leading the race after the crash between Hamilton and Verstappen. Ferrari certainly weren’t expecting to be leading the race after one lap, but they were more than willing to take the position. Up until Silverstone, Leclerc was the highest positioned driver in the Championship to have missed out on a podium finish. He looked to be squeezing absolutely everything out of his Ferrari on Sunday, keeping distance from Hamilton as the race entered its final stages. However, despite Leclerc claiming that he had “pace in his pocket,” it wasn’t a match for Hamilton’s W12, which continued to gain on the Ferrari, despite setting numerous consecutive personal best lap times. Although he will have been devastated to have narrowly lost out on a first win since 2019, he can be proud of his efforts, especially considering that Ferrari’s battle in the Constructor’s Championship is with McLaren, not RedBull or Mercedes.
P3. Valtteri Bottas – 7.5/10
Bottas managed to get on the podium for a third consecutive race. The Finnish driver put in a good shift for his team, and I express the team part, as he followed team orders without a fuss. Bottas could have finished in second, or at least battled for it, but when given a team order to let Hamilton through, he cooperated without a fuss. There has been a lot of talk about his seat for next year and that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. That being said, Bottas is playing all the right cards to still be in that Mercedes seat next year, by putting himself on the podium consistently. A good drive – nothing more or nothing less.
P4. Lando Norris – 8/10
Lando Norris had a hell of a week. After being mugged at Wembley at the Euro 2020 final, he would have been forgiven to have not been in the right head space. But that wasn’t the case. Norris could have been a thorn in Mercedes’ side if it wasn’t for a slow pit stop that prevented him from stopping the Bottas overtake. It was reported that the car was struggling more than in previous weeks, but to still be in P4 and pushing McLaren up the Constructor’s table, Norris can be happy and call this a successful weekend after his performance.
P5. Daniel Ricciardo – 8.5/10
I am very close to saying that Daniel Riccairdo is back, but I am going to resist – for now. In the last few weeks, the Australian driver has got his smile back, and Sunday’s race helped to share that toothy grin around the McLaren garage. Given how well Charles Leclerc had been at holding Hamilton off at the front, it looked like only a matter of time before Carlos Sainz breezed past the Australian driver. Yet, Ricciardo held him off and did so with such style and confidence. There were a few opportunities where Sainz went for the overtake on Hangar Straight but Ricciardo used all the tools in his box to keep himself ahead and it paid off. McLaren in P4 & P5 helped keep them in front of Ferrari in the Constructor’s table, but also helped both drivers gain more confidence for future races.
P6. Carlos Sainz – 7/10
Carlos Sainz has been impressive in his last two races, finishing sixth and fifth respectively. On the face of it, the Spaniard looked to have had a fairly poor weekend, when in reality, he was fighting the battle he was supposed to. Sainz did struggle to pass Riccairdo during the race, but this problem was compounded by a slow pit-stop, slowing him further. Overall, Sainz managed the situation as best as he could, and although he could have finished higher, performances like these are sure to yield a podium in the near future.
P7. Fernando Alonso – 7/10
The two-time World Champion has been a great watch over the past few races. He looks like a man who is enjoying the sport now more than he ever did and his performances are flourishing because of this. The Spaniard finished where he started on Sunday, in seventh, which is exactly the result that Alpine are looking for from Alonso, as he gets in about the midfield pack, pushing as high as he can. During Saturday’s sprint race, Alonso rolled back the years as he shot from P11 to P4 in the first lap. This was yet another good, positive drive, having finished in a point-scoring position every race since the Monaco Grand Prix, something that those around him should be looking to emulate.
P8. Lance Stroll – 7/10
I have to be honest. I feared for Stroll this weekend after his practice sessions and qualifying times. This year, Stroll has been up and down in terms of his performances. The Canadian driver can’t seem to put together a run of races and put his stamp on the team. Out of the two Aston Martin drivers, Sebastian Vettel has been the more positive driver. That being said, Stroll DID have a good day at Silverstone. In the sprint qualifying, he reported to his crew that he didn’t have confidence in the car, so naturally it was assumed that he would struggle on race day, as confidence is everything in F1. But he put in a good shift and did what he had to do. In terms of camera footage, he was very quiet and was rarely seen, however, on the left of the screen you could see him moving up the grid and maintaining his place in the points ever since he got there. Overall, Stroll overcame a barrier, which is good to see and I hope that he can keep a run like this going.
P9. Esteban Ocon – 7/10
Ocon was a man in poor form. He was a man struggling to have a good race day ever since he signed the new contract extension – a jinx you may say. But with a new chassis and the backing from his team, Ocon finally had a good day. Before Sunday, the last time Ocon scored points was at the Monaco Grand Prix, which was over two months ago. Ocon emulated what Alonso did, finishing where he started (P9). This was great news for Alpine, as it moved them closer to Aston Martin, who are now only eight points above them. But on a personal level, Ocon will be relieved to have finally delivered since signing the contract. I have no doubt that it would be annoying him that people were questioning if it was the right decision – now he has scored one past the doubters and will want to build on this performance.
P10. Yuki Tsunoda – 7/10
I have to say, I was surprised when I saw that Tsunoda finished 10th. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe he could, as he has been improving as the season has gone on, it was because I heard very little of him. Given that the AlphaTauri driver started 16th, I would have liked to have seen more of how he got there, as that’s an impressive showing, especially for a driver in his rookie season at a track like Silverstone. Tsunoda did burst onto the scene with fireworks as his performance in Bahrain was outstanding but since then he has fluttered with form. Much like Stroll, Tsunoda has been in and out of the points every other race, but his driving has improved over the course of the season – if you ignore the two penalties in Austria! I am happy to see him get the points for AlphaTauri, as a lot of the recent talk surrounding the team has revolved around Pierre Gasly, so it’s good to see the young Japanese driver put his name in the spotlight for all the right reasons.
P11. Pierre Gasly – 6/10
Gasly has been incredible ever since he has returned to AlphaTauri – with a podium finish this season and a handful of points finishes, it is no wonder there has been a lot of talk about where his future lies. Gasly had talks about his future after the Austrian GP and it was said to be positive. That being said, this weekend wasn’t positive for him. The French driver started in 11th and many fans predicted him to push up the grid and challenge the McLaren drivers, but this wasn’t the case. Gasly seemed to just be going through the motions at Silverstone, as he didn’t look like his usual attacking self. It might have been that the track didn’t suit his car or his driving style. Gasly finished three seconds behind Tsunoda and will be unhappy to have not managed to move higher up the grid. I’m sure it was just a bad day at the office for Gasly, and I’m expecting him to dust himself down and go again in Hungary in a few weeks.
P12. George Russell – 7/10
George Russell looked set to start in ninth place on Sunday, but a three-place grid penalty for a collision with Carlos Sainz in the sprint race caused him to drop to 12th. Russell had a good day at Silverstone in front of his home fans, although he didn’t get in the points, he did well to finish 12th. The Williams car is a vast improvement from last year and the fact that they are disappointed that they couldn’t push into the points shows the strides they’ve made in such a short time. Russell has been getting everything out of this car that he possibly can, it just seems to be that on race days, the car hasn’t got the power to hold out for a whole race. I personally feel it is only a matter of time before Russell is getting points week in, week out, and that isn’t for Williams. He is a very talented driver who has a big future ahead of him.
P13. Antonio Giovinazzi – 5/10
A poor race from the Italian driver on Sunday. Unlike last Sunday, the Italian couldn’t ‘Bring it Rome” for Alfa Romeo. Giovinazzi looked to be struggling for pace at Silverstone as he didn’t make an impact on the battle for the points. The Italian has shown he can find pace in the car in the past but it wasn’t there on Sunday and given where his teammate finished, it might have just been a track that didn’t suit the car. Giovinazzi will take positives from this weekend though, as he finished above Räikkönen for the second race running. He will be keen to show his team that he can continue to deliver for them after Alfa Romeo announced a new multi-year deal to stay in F1.
P14. Nicholas Latifi – 5.5/10
Nicholas Latifi manged to finish 14th after starting from 17th. He didn’t look to be troubling any of the midfield pack but also kept his head in the game and didn’t allow the likes of Räikkönen and Pérez to just get past him. Splitting the Alfa Romeo is no mean feat, especially given that the two cars have finished in the points not so long ago. Unlike Russell, Latifi isn’t getting as much out the car, and looks to be where many people expect Williams to be at this current time. However, every cloud has a silver lining, as he can see what George Russell is doing, so if he can extract the essence of his teammate’s race strategy, he knows he could be pushing and competing on the edge of the points.
P15. Kimi Räikkönen – 5/10
Räikkönen looks to be going through a rough patch just now, as he can’t get a lot out the car. I said after the Styrian Grand Prix that it was a good race from him and hopefully he can kick on, however that doesn’t seem to be the case. Räikkönen looked to be a passenger at Silverstone, but much like his teammate Giovinazzi, it could be a track the car isn’t suited to. Räikkönen might be in his last season in F1, and if he does go, it will be a sad farewell, as he has been a great driver throughout the years. Hopefully Räikkönen can use the summer break for some much-needed R&R and come back fighting for the last part of the season. He has proven he has pace in the car, it’s just about extracting that every race week.
P16. Sergio Pérez – 3/10
Sergio Pérez’s weekend was one to forget. He span out in Saturday’s sprint race, leading to a substantial repair job and a start from the pit lane. After the race restarted following Verstappen’s crash, Pérez looked to have been getting through the pack, edging towards the points. That was until he got stuck in a cluster of traffic, which gave him plenty of problems. At one point, Pérez sat in 10th and looked to be getting RedBull some points, but after dropping back out of the points, his team called him back to the pits in order to go for the fastest lap, preventing Hamilton from grabbing the extra point. This moved him back into P16, and although the Mexican driver did not have a good weekend overall, he will write this one off and look to get back on the horse in Hungary.
P17. Nikita Mazepin – 5/10
Nikita Mazepin managed to finish above his teammate for the first time in two months, but that again will be the only positive of the weekend. It is hard to judge the two Haas drivers’ performances, considering the team aren’t focusing on this year’s car. However, the only thing I can look at is how they perform against other. Mazepin spun out in the first lap but from then on, he had a clean race with a good move on his teammate happening towards the end of the race. If any Haas driver finishes in the points this season, then that is the day I am putting the lottery on as all the stars will have aligned.
P18. Mick Schumacher – 3/10
As stated in the section above on his teammate, it is hard to pin an exact rating for these drivers without being totally unfair on their driving ability. Both drivers are obviously talented, but we haven’t seen them in a car that can compete to a certain degree. Schumacher has been the more positive driver of the two in recent races, with the German finishing above Mazepin in every race since Monaco, but at Silverstone, he seemed to struggle. This will be a good learning curve for both drivers as they are getting a free run at a season before they are EXPECTED to compete. So, any mistakes can be written off this year. That being said, Team Principal Guenther Steiner will still be expecting both drivers to try and get points and reach Q3 in qualifying every week, not allowing the two drivers to relax.
DNF. Sebastian Vettel – N/A
Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire on lap 40 as he had terminal problems with the car. This is possibly due to a spin off he had in the opening lap of the restart, as he spun the car going into the old pit straight, and nearly went into the wall at the old pit lane. Vettel will be annoyed to have not finished the last two races, as he was a driver that was on the up. They say bad things come in three’s – let’s hope that’s not true for Vettel’s case in Hungary.
DNF. Max Verstappen – N/A
Trying to approach this without causing an argument is like adding petrol can to a fire and hoping it won’t explode. Verstappen was taken out at Copse corner on the opening lap after Hamilton hit his back tyre. Verstappen then went flying off the track and hit the tyre wall after the gravel at a force of 51G. He was taken to hospital for a precautionary check and was given the all clear last night. For who caused the accident, I’ll leave that for you to decide, but it was certainly an incident that has divided F1 fans. The main thing is Verstappen is okay and is only walking away winded and possibly bruised.