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Home   /   Formula One 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Driver Ratings
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The epic showdown of an epic season saw Max Verstappen clinch the world championship in the most bizarre way, as Lewis Hamilton looked to have race and title in the bag. 

The Brit moved in front at the start and dominated until six laps to go, when a crash by Nicholas Latifi forced out the safety car. The race was restarted with one lap left, in which Verstappen overtook Hamilton thanks to a stop for softer tyres. 

Max Verstappen – 9

An enormous amount of luck helped him recover the opportunity to win the championship, with a safety car on the final laps that saw him catch up and pass Hamilton. 

This pays back all the bad luck he had throughout the season, but to evaluate today’s race in itself, most of Verstappen’s hopes were almost lost with his poor start. 

He played second to Hamilton and tried to move in front in every way possible, up until the call to box for soft tyres under the safety car gave him a last lap he will remember for the rest of his life. 

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Lewis Hamilton – 9

On Sunday’s race, he has nothing to blame himself for. He did what he had to do, shooting past Verstappen at the start and opening a gap at the front. 

He appeared commanding and would have fully deserved a win, but the racing gods decided it wasn’t to be, with the safety car reducing his advantage on Verstappen and meaning the race would be decided with only a lap to go.

Mercedes’s decision not to pit Hamilton proved costly: on harder and worn tyres, the seven-time world champion could stand no chance to beat his younger rival. 

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Carlos Sainz – 9

A solid performance caps his 20th points-finish of the year and gives him fifth place overall in the standings. 

Carlos Sainz finished on the podium with a brilliant display, moving past Lando Norris at the start and leading the midfield pack without any particular problems. 

Sergio Perez’s bad luck on the final laps meant the Mexican retired and the Spaniard was promoted to third place and a brilliant podium.  

Yuki Tsunoda – 9

This performance leaves people hoping that maybe Yuki Tsunoda won’t endure a 2022 season like he did in 2021, struggling at the back.

The Japanese driver was at his best, outqualifying Pierre Gasly for the first time this season and also outracing the Frenchman, bravely holding Fernando Alonso, plus Valtteri Bottas for many laps. 

On the final lap, he was also able to move back past the Finn and claim fourth: his best finish in Formula One. 

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Pierre Gasly – 8

Gasly didn’t have his best weekend, but yet finished the season on a high with a great fifth place achieved by passing Bottas on the final lap.

He had a difficult Saturday, starting from 12th, but he could make up for it in the race by extending his stint and benefitting from a stop under the virtual safety car. 

He returned on track eighth and finally cleared Fernando Alonso, before benefitting from Perez’s and Norris’ issues. 

Valtteri Bottas – 5

His final race for Mercedes sums up his season: disappointing and a consistent struggle. 

Bottas is showing massive issues when having to compete with other cars and not being able to race in clean air. His sixth place start didn’t help, neither did dropping a further two on the opening lap. 

He could clear Tsunoda with the overcut, before struggling to move past Charles Leclerc and Norris. 

He was fourth before the restart, but somehow managed to lose two positions to the Alpha Tauris, all this whilst driving the car Hamilton was commanding in front with. 

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Lando Norris – 8

Norris lived a second-half to the season tremendously affected by bad luck. It once again showed as he lost a shot to the podium due to a slow puncture. 

At least he could salvage seventh, but it doesn’t fully reward the Brit, who did a stellar job on Saturday to put his car third on the grid.

Although he was relegated to fifth after the first lap, he was fighting with Sainz and would have likely kept Bottas behind all the way, but an extra stop forced him to lose precious time. 

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Fernando Alonso – 7

Alonso secured his 15th points-finish of the season with a decent performance that saw him start 11th and end the race in eight. 

He benefitted from the virtual safety car, which saw him extend his stint and move up from 11th to P8. 

He eventually lost the place to Gasly, but kept the rest of the drivers behind and finished the season with four more points to his name.  

Esteban Ocon – 7

The Alpine driver had a decent weekend and arguably only finished behind his teammate due to the stop under the virtual safety car. 

He qualified ninth and kept his place all the way before the round of stops, before losing out to Gasly and Alonso. 

Charles Leclerc – 5.5

Leclerc didn’t exactly have the perfect ending to the season and this unfortunate race also saw him lose the opportunity to finish fifth in the standings, dropping to seventh. 

An error in qualifying saw him start from seventh, before clearing Bottas after lap one, but a mistake when following the emergent Verstappen from the pit exit saw him lose the rear of the car and lose time.

A two-stop strategy didn’t pay off, as the Monegasque was put out of the points, before finishing 10th thanks to Perez’s retirement. 

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Sebastian Vettel – 5.5

An anonymous ending to the season, with a struggling Aston Martin that failed to keep up the pace of its competitors. 

He finished behind Lance Stroll in qualifying, even though he moved in front by overtaking the Canadian on track, but it wasn’t enough to snatch a point. 

Daniel Ricciardo – 5.5

The virtual safety car and a late gamble to box for new tyres meant he lost multiple position and a probable P8 due to misfortune, but the Australian was off the pace compared to Norris. 

He was following the cars in front, but spent most of the race without putting up a move on Esteban Ocon and eventually dropped as low as P12 with his late pit stop. 

Lance Stroll – 5

A difficult race spent dropping back and finishing in his grid slot despite a few retirements in front. 

The Aston Martin lacked speed, but Stroll finished behind his teammate in a lone P13. 

Mick Schumacher – 7

Mick Schumacher spent his race in the mix with other drivers after qualifying not so far off the two Williams cars. 

He moved in front of George Russell at the start and was a winner in the fight with Nicholas Latifi. That was all he could do in inferior machinery. 

Sergio Perez – 8.5

Perez was there when Red Bull needed him the most. Although he should have done better in qualifying, only managing fourth, eight tenths off Verstappen, he quickly followed the leading duo at the start. 

For strategy and team duties, he was forced to go long and try to hold up Hamilton, a feature he did perfectly for two laps, making the Brit lose seven seconds to Verstappen, with some assertive and fair racing. 

He would have deserved a podium, but an issue with few laps to go forced him to stop and retire the car. 

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Nicholas Latifi – 4.5

A late crash after a difficult race saw him having a premature end despite a good qualifying, in which he beat George Russell. 

He was fighting at the back with Schumacher, before running off and crashing a few corners later with dirt on his tyres. 

Antonio Giovinazzi – 6

He ended his spell in Formula One with a positive race that ended prematurely due to a mechanical issue. 

He qualified 14th and was running in front of his teammate, which is a fair thing in a track which didn’t seem to suit the Alfa Romeo. 

George Russell – 5

Russell would have wanted to finish his Williams stint on a high, but it was a thoroughly difficult weekend, in which he was outqualified and found himself last in the race. 

A mechanical issue saw him retire, as he probably would have not finished much high in the standings. 

Kimi Raikkonen – 5

The Finn ends his career in Formula One with a weekend in which he lacked pace and made few mistakes across the three days. 

He was only 18th in qualifying and had to retire with an issue in his car. 

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