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Home   /   Formula One 2021 Russian Grand Prix – Driver Ratings

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th career victory, as late rain denied polesitter Lando Norris, who dominated until a few laps to go.

Hamilton pitted to fit intermediate tyres, whilst his younger compatriot failed to do it on time and relegated to seventh. 

Max Verstappen emerged from the late chaos to salvage an unexpected second place ahead of Carlos Sainz. 

Lewis Hamilton – 9

A century of career wins for Hamilton, who will have to thank the sky for the rain.

He took it cautious at the start and was slow up until he cleared the boxing Daniel Ricciardo. He then came back at Norris with fast pace, but his comeback looked to stop once he reached the back of the McLaren. 

Having more to lose than to gain, and covered by a wide gap over third place, Hamilton chose to pit and it proved to be a winning choice. He and Mercedes redeemed their poor Saturday, in which both committed mistakes, by delivering when it mattered. 

Max Verstappen – 8

Quite frankly, nobody expected him to finish second after starting 20th, particularly as it was all a consequence of the mixing conditions and of a right strategy call. 

Verstappen’s first stint was amazing, as he caught up from the back to be only four seconds adrift of Hamilton. However, his second stint was poorer, as he was stuck in a train of cars and looked set to finish seventh. 

He rightly chose to gamble and fitted the intermediates at the right time to salvage some immense 18 points for the championship fight. 

Carlos Sainz – 9

Sainz didn’t appear as the third fastest driver and his podium finish therefore gives him even more merit. He was fabulous in qualifying and at the start, getting the lead before losing out to Norris. 

He pitted very early and it appeared to be a wrong call, but he held the pressure of faster cars despite having worn tyres and was in third before it started to rain. 

Once overtaken by Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso, he decided to pit, which proved to be a rewarding choice, as he recovered to a brilliant and deserved third. 

Daniel Ricciardo – 7

His work at keeping behind Hamilton could have proved vital, as in a dry race, Ricciardo’s defending could have meant a victory for his teammate. 

His performance was decent, he was in fighting spirit and, despite dropping 40 seconds adrift of Norris, he was having an attempt for the podium. 

Eventually, pitting in a suitable time meant he capitalised on Perez and Norris’s wrong strategy to finish fourth and bring home important points. 

Valtteri Bottas – 6

His late gamble paid off, as he rescued an unexpected P5 whilst being in 14th with six laps left. 

He gets a rating of six because it’s a heavy points-finish in a marginal battle for the constructors with Red Bull, but his race would have deserved a three. 

He started in front of Charles Leclerc and Verstappen, on far stronger machinery, as Hamilton demonstrated, but appeared too easy to be overtaken and never aggressive enough to make progress. Had it stayed dry, it would have been an awful performance. 

Fernando Alonso – 8

He was quite unlucky by stopping a lap later than Verstappen, Sainz and Ricciardo, who all recovered to finish in front. 

Alonso was racing superbly, as he was in sixth when it was dry, before passing all his podium rivals and climb as high as third. 

A strategy call which should have seen him pit a lap earlier proved costly, but Alonso is still racing at an unmatchable level. 

Lando Norris – 8

A moment of uncertainty, a key decision taken wrong, and all the fabulous work of a weekend is cruelly dismantled and taken away from him. 

Norris got a stunning pole position, making use of Hamilton’s howlers and was dominating at the front. His pace was tremendous, he was fending off the Mercedes driver and looked to be a likely winner before it started to rain. 

He stopped two laps too late, in an all or nothing decision which proved wrong and dropped him to 7th. It’s a bitter ending in what should have been a sweet weekend. 

He was 50 seconds in front of third placed Perez, as him and Hamilton were on another planet.  Norris, keep your head up. 

Kimi Raikkonen – 8

Occupying 14th place on lap 47, Kimi Raikkonen took a gamble and boxed for intermediate tyres at the right time. 

He made up ground on most of the drivers in front of him and finished in the top 10. 

For sure, he may have lost his speed, but he remains opportunistic and finished in the points for the third time this season. 

Sergio Perez – 6.5

After a difficult Saturday, he was having a decent race and managed to take the podium off Sainz’s hands with a few laps to go. 

However, he struggled when it started to rain, losing out on dry tyres before switching to intermediates too late. 

This decision had huge repercussions, as Perez dropped as low as 9th to see the chequered flag in the bottom parts of the top 10.  

George Russell – 8

It was another Saturday of qualifying magic for George Russell, who put his car in third place. He held on until his stop, as he started to lose time on the cars yet to pit. 

He was in ninth and stopped at the right time, but the final laps were difficult, and he was overtaken by Bottas and Raikkonen. 

However, the chaos meant he still made up a place and finished P10. 

Lance Stroll – 6

Lance Stroll was having a fine drive in the first half of the race, settling in fourth and then getting past Russell with the undercut. 

At distance, he was dropping behind faster cars, but was still in the points when it started to rain. 

He lost out on much older tyres, also spinning on the way to the pit lane. At the end, he just missed out on points, which would have been deserved.

Sebastian Vettel – 5

For a moment, it appeared like a poor weekend could turn around, as high confidence in the final laps, plus the fact he didn’t stop, lifted him from 11th to 6th

However, when it rained harder, he stopped too late, and all the work was undone. 

Sebastian Vettel was also protagonist of a clash with his teammate, hitting Stroll twice on the way back into the points. 

Pierre Gasly – 5

A wrong strategy call in qualifying denied a Q3 appearance, when it looked like Pierre Gasly and Alpha Tauri had good pace. 

It wasn’t a fine race on Sunday either, with the French driver struggling to attack for the top 10 and being spun around late on by Stroll. 

It was a weekend to forget, as he would have likely finished outside the points regardless. 

Esteban Ocon – 5

He suffered the head-to-head with Alonso, as the two had an opposing race. The Spaniard made progress towards the front, whilst Esteban Ocon was losing out. 

He tried to return in the top 10 by remaining out on dry tyres in the final laps, but it started to rain too hard, and it didn’t pay off.  

Charles Leclerc – 6

It was a fine comeback for Charles Leclerc, who was making up much ground in the final laps after starting from the back with harder tyres.

He was ahead of his direct rivals Verstappen and Bottas and when it started to rain, he occupied for some time a podium place. 

Unfortunately for him, he failed to stop on time and dropped out of the points, but there were some positives to take away. 

Antonio Giovinazzi – 4

After a decent run in Holland and Italy, Antonio Giovinazzi struggled to get the maximum out of the car. 

He was only 18th in qualifying and racing far behind Kimi Raikkonen. He was one of the drivers who tried to finish the race on dry tyres and lost much time.  

Yuki Tsunoda – 4

Yuki Tsunoda struggled throughout the weekend, settling only the 13th fastest time in qualifying and fighting outside the top 10.

He couldn’t make much progress despite the final laps of chaos, pitting for soft tyres with four laps left only to reverse the decision and fitting the intermediates one lap later. 

Nikita Mazepin – 4

His home race didn’t quite go to plan. 

He was an almost embarrassing four seconds off his teammate’s pace in qualifying and dropped back behind despite a decent start. 

He also got in the way of the then race leader Lando Norris in the final laps, ignoring blue flags not for the first time this season. 

Nicholas Latifi – 4.5

An anonymous weekend, compromised by an engine change which forced him to start from the back. 

He was occupying the bottom places, before spinning out with few laps remaining. 

Mick Schumacher – 5

Not a brilliant weekend for Mick Schumacher, who started 14th due to the penalties around, but was off very poorly and quickly dropped to last. 

He managed to get back ahead of his teammate, but had to retire with a mechanical fault. 

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March 2024