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Formula 1

Edd Straw's 2024 Canadian Grand Prix F1 driver rankings

by Edd Straw
8 min read

The arrival of rain before - and during - the Canadian Grand Prix not only contributed to it being easily the most entertaining race of the 2024 Formula 1 season so far, but also provided drivers with their sternest test of the year too.

Who weathered the storm best and who toiled in Montreal? Here's Edd Straw's judgement.


How do the rankings work? The 20 drivers will be ranked in order of performance from best to worst on each grand prix weekend. This will be based on the full range of criteria, ranging from pace and racecraft to consistency and whether they made key mistakes. How close each driver got to delivering on the maximum performance potential of the car will be an essential consideration.

It’s important to note both that this reflects performance across the entire weekend, cognisant of the fact that qualifying is effectively ‘lap 0’ of the race and key to laying the foundations to the race, and that it is not a ranking of the all-round qualities of each driver. It’s simply about how they performed on a given weekend. Therefore, the ranking will fluctuate significantly from weekend to weekend.

And with each of the 10 cars fundamentally having different performance potential and ‘luck’ (ie factors outside of a driver’s control) contributing to the way the weekend plays out, this ranking will also differ significantly from the overall results.

1: Max Verstappen

Started: 2nd Finished: 1st

With the exception of his brief off-track excursion exiting Turn 1 and entering Turn 2 on lap 17, Verstappen performed impeccably.

The fact Red Bull was once again under threat allowed him to exhibit his excellence, delivering in a tricky car in both qualifying and the race. While the timing of the first safety car allowed him to jump into the lead, he was also the cleanest of the frontrunners.

Verdict: Made the difference yet again.

2: Lando Norris

Started: 3rd Finished: 2nd

How different things might have been but for the timing of the first safety car, which turned a healthy lead earned through outstanding tyre management early on into third place.

He recovered to second and was frustrated by failing to win, with the only real negative the brief Turn 1 excursion during his second stint.

Verdict: Could so easily have won.

3: Alex Albon

Started: 10th Finished: DNF

Having struggled to get the Williams to work well over the kerbs, culminating in a brush with the wall in FP3, an unexpectedly big gain was made just in time for qualifying. That allowed Albon to make it to Q3 for the second consecutive race with an outstanding Q2 lap.

He was in the train battling it out for eighth - having earlier pulled off a stunning passing move when he squeezed through a tiny gap between Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon - when he was collected by the spinning Carlos Sainz.

Verdict: Thoroughly deserved points denied.

4: Fernando Alonso

Started: 6th Finished: 6th

After two uncharacteristically moribund weekends, Alonso was back on form in Canada.

The Aston Martin was firmly at the front of the pack chasing the top three teams, with Alonso’s return of sixth place in both qualifying and the race by definition a strong one.

Verdict: Maximised the result.

5: Oscar Piastri

Started: 4th Finished: 5th

On paper, finishing fifth in a race his McLaren team-mate could have won and was runner-up in looks like a poor return, but there was an element of misfortune for Piastri.

He drove well, but the combination of the dry conditions late on and both Mercedes drivers taking fresh slicks under the second safety car meant he was shuffled off the podium in the closing stages.

Verdict: Shadowed Norris most of the way.

6: George Russell

Started: 1st Finished: 3rd

The Canada weekend showcased the best and worst of George Russell.

He took an outstanding pole position then led the first 20 laps of the race, but also made too many mistakes on top of perhaps working his inters a little too hard early on.

Russell still finished third, which shows how quick he was, but it was a rough-round-the-edges drive.

Verdict: Fast but too ragged in the race.

7: Daniel Ricciardo

Started: 5th Finished: 8th

This was the kind of weekend Ricciardo badly needed, and it wasn’t made easy by a false start penalty caused by clutch drag not of his making.

But despite feeling the race was going away from him early on, he kept the inevitable mistakes to small ones and stayed in the hunt for minor points.

His reward was eighth place, picking up a position when RB team-mate Yuki Tsunoda spun late on.

Verdict: His best weekend of the season.

8: Pierre Gasly

Started: 15th Finished: 9th

Gasly did a good job to reach Q2 and perhaps could have picked off Kevin Magnussen for 14th, but there wasn’t much more on offer.

The race started badly with a half-spin following contact with Sergio Perez, but Gasly continued and at times was among the faster cars on track in intermediate conditions.

It was a slow rise, but despite switching to slicks fractionally too early he picked up points after being let past by Alpine team-mate Ocon late on in a futile chase of Ricciardo.

Verdict: Made the most of limited machinery.

9: Charles Leclerc

Started: 11th Finished: DNF

This was a weekend that never really got going for Leclerc, amid the lack of grip that afflicted both Ferraris in qualifying thanks to a tyre pressure misjudgement then the loss of power early on setting him back.

Admirably, he kept in the points hunt in wet conditions, but as the track dried he inevitably faded and the early slick gamble accelerated his obvious descent towards retirement.

Verdict: Early-race defiance was impressive.

10: Lance Stroll

Started: 9th Finished: 8th

A whack of the 'Wall of Champions' in Q1 knocked Lance Stroll's Aston Martin slightly out of alignment in qualifying, although not by enough to explain the gap of nearly half-a-second to team-mate Alonso.

But he drove a tidy race to finish just once place behind Alonso to ensure Aston Martin netted its biggest points haul of the season.

Verdict: A decent, clean weekend.

11: Esteban Ocon

Started: 18th Finished: 10th

With the Alpine only a car capable of scraping into Q2 at best, a slightly messy second Q1 run meant Ocon exited there.

He drove a good race after the team managed to fix a wastegate problem before the start, although he was frustrated to have let team-mate Gasly - on an equivalent strategy - past late on to have a go at Ricciardo and not be given the place back when this was unsuccessful.

Verdict: Anger overshadowed a good race.

12: Lewis Hamilton

Started: 7th Finished: 4th

Hamilton qualified almost three tenths slower than, and six places behind, his Mercedes team-mate Russell, then described Sunday as “one of the worst races I have driven” thanks to the number of mistakes he made.

Hamilton was probably exaggerating given the frustration of missed opportunities, as he knew for once there was the chance for a big result.

Verdict: Better than he claimed.

13: Kevin Magnussen

Started: 14th Finished: 12th

While Magnussen didn’t feel he’d extracted absolutely everything from the car in qualifying, the Haas wasn’t especially quick in Canada.

He made the most of the decision to start on wets by surging up to fourth place and would have emerged still in credit after his inevitable early switch to intermediates but for a slow pitstop. That cancelled out the gains, with a slightly premature switch to slicks then allowing team-mate Nico Hulkenberg to jump ahead.

Verdict: Early-race cameo the highlight.

14: Valtteri Bottas

Started: 19th (pitlane) Finished: 13th

Given the Sauber is now firmly established as F1’s worst car right now, Bottas qualified decently enough and did what he could to keep the car in the hunt to nick a point despite not having the pace to go on the attack.

All things considered, he did a decent job.

Verdict: Fighting a futile cause.

15: Nico Hulkenberg

Started: 17th Finished: 11th

The weekend was fundamentally compromised by aero problems on Hulkenberg's side of the Haas garage that meant the load produced didn’t match that of team-mate Magnussen’s car.

That ultimately led to Hulkenberg running a higher-downforce rear wing in qualifying and an inevitable Q1 exit.

He still felt he had aero problems in the race, but given the pace of the Haas and the conditions he did a good job to come so close to a point.

Verdict: Battled on amid aero troubles.

16: Yuki Tsunoda

Started: 8th Finished: 14th

Tsunoda looked to have a very slight edge on pace over RB team-mate Ricciardo, but a snap at Turn 2 on his final Q3 lap cost him.

He opted to run long on his starting set of intermediates and didn’t pit under the safety car, a tactic that paid off and left him on course for eighth.

Then he made what he called “a stupid move” and spun away ninth place.

Verdict: Made what’s now an uncharacteristic error.

17: Carlos Sainz

Started: 12th Finished: DNF

Sainz had the same troubles in qualifying as his Ferrari team-mate Leclerc, but had a healthy car in the race - save for the front wing damage he picked up when he clipped Bottas’s Sauber.

He was in the mix for minor points when he dropped it while running 10th, collecting the luckless Albon in the process.

Verdict: Errors compounded Ferrari’s struggles.

18: Logan Sargeant

Started: 13th Finished: DNF

Considering Sargeant was still without the lighter Williams floor introduced at Imola three weeks ago, his pace was decent enough and at times in practice he looked impressive.

But the quarter-of-a-second gap to team-mate Albon in Q2 was only partly down to the spec difference because Sargeant also lost time in the hairpin and final corner.

The race was a disaster as he dropped to last after two offs in one lap early on before crashing out for good.

Verdict: Dire race ruined promising weekend.

19: Zhou Guanyu

Started: 20th (pitlane) Finished: 15h

The drivers are hardly the problem at struggling Sauber, but Zhou magnified the struggles with a couple of out-of-character crashes in practice and lagged well behind team-mate Bottas in qualifying as a consequence.

Starting from the pits, he loitered around towards the back but at least kept out of trouble and made it to the finish.

Verdict: Bereft of confidence in the car.

20: Sergio Perez

Started: 16th Finished: DNF

This was one of those weekends where Perez’s existence appeared solely about demonstrating how remarkable a job his Red Bull team-mate Verstappen was doing.

He struggled to get the rear tyres working in qualifying, hence the Q1 exit, then picked up front wing damage after contact with Gasly in Turn 2.

He was unable to climb higher than 13th in the race before backing into the wall at Turn 6 - earning a three-place grid penalty for driving the car back to the pits in an unsafe conditions (under team instructions).

Verdict: A terrible weekend.

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