Formula 1

Edd Straw’s 2021 Mexican Grand Prix driver ratings

by Edd Straw
14 min read

The best drive of the Mexican Grand Prix was one of the loneliest, reckons Edd Straw in the latest edition of his driver ratings.

Here’s his full assessment of all 20 Formula 1 drivers’ performances through the Mexico City weekend.

After each grand prix, The Race will rate each driver’s weekend with a mark out of 10.

This year, in an attempt to utilise a wider range of scores, we have recalibrated the scoring to make 5 out of 10 an average mark and therefore indicative of a decent drive given the high standard of drivers in F1.

For a more in-depth explanation, read our outline of the modified system.

2021 Site Ham

Started: 2nd Finished: 2nd


With neither Mercedes driver improving on their second Q3 run, it was all down to the first runs and Hamilton ended up a tenth and a half slower than Bottas.

This was largely down to not being entirely comfortable with the grip levels in the changing conditions and time lost in the middle of the esses.


Hamilton got a better start than Bottas and covered the inside line on the run to the first corner.

But he was a little disappointed Bottas let Verstappen get alongside him on the outside which, combined with not being as confident on the brakes, meant Hamilton ended up in second place.

And there he stayed, lacking the pace to challenge Verstappen but covering off the challenge of Perez effectively.

VERDICT: Qualifying could have been better, but couldn’t have done more in the race.

2021 Site Bot

Started: 1st Finished: 15th


Bottas produced not only one of the most surprising, but potentially the best of his 19 pole positions in F1 on his first Q3 lap.

Other than a few hundredths of a second given away to his best in the first sector, it was the kind of confident, assured, committed lap Bottas is capable of delivering at his best.

Nov 08 : Mexican Grand Prix review


He fractionally bogged down at the start, which allowed Hamilton to get alongside to his right and, later, Verstappen on the left.

He was conservative on the brakes and slipped to third, then was tipped into a spin by Ricciardo and dropped to the back. While initially ahead of Ricciardo, he lost a place to him on the restart lap thanks to Stroll rejoining and forcing him wide at Turn 6.

Bottas spent the rest of the race behind Ricciardo, until two late pitstops that yielded fastest lap on the last lap and only cost him two places.

VERDICT: A glorious Saturday, an unfortunate first turn and a moribund race thereafter.

2021 Site Per

Started: 4th Finished: 3rd


Perez was just over a tenth slower than Verstappen in qualifying, having had to bail out of his final lap thanks to the dirty air caused by the slow Tsunoda.

While heading into the weekend he’d have expected that to be good enough for second, it left him down in fourth as he also struggled with lower than expected grip – as well as a front wing strike when landing after taking the Turn 2 kerb.


The home hero used the tow to close on the top three at the start but was faced with a wall of cars before having to take to the grass to avoid the spinning Bottas.

He settled into third and a race-long battle with Hamilton that never quite sparked into a wheel-to-wheel fight even with an 11-lap tyre life advantage that preceded reeling him in.

VERDICT: Not quite the home GP he dreamed of, but did a good job overall.

2021 Site Ver

Started: 3rd Finished: 1st


Verstappen looked favourite for pole after practice, but a combination of struggles getting the tyres in the right window and some late rear wing repairs meant he simply wasn’t able to get near the Mercedes drivers.

Despite the complaints about Tsunoda being in the way, third looked the limit for the Red Bull.


The dominant winner did everything right, picking up the tow at the start, placing his car on the outside into the first corner and sweeping around into the lead thanks to greater confidence on the brakes.

From there, he was utterly in control.

VERDICT: Continued to look every bit the potential world champion with a super recovery after Red Bull’s Saturday difficulties.

2021 Site Ric

Started: 7th Finished: 12th


While Ricciardo was happy to split the Ferraris and continued to look ever more comfortable in the McLaren, a lock-up into the Turn 13 hairpin in the stadium and resulting wide moment, followed by struggling for grip in the last corner, cost him the chance to beat Sainz.

His pace comparison with Norris is of limited value given his team-mate’s grid penalty, but he did have the edge in Q2.


Ricciardo made an excellent start and was threatening the top four approaching the first corner, having jumped Gasly and Sainz.

But after a brief lock-up that he controlled, he tagged Bottas at Turn 1 and lost his front wing. He was also hit by Russell at Turn 6, giving him a little floor damage.

After a pitstop for a new nose, it was a long race for Ricciardo, jumping Bottas out of Turn 6 at the restart and holding him off all race even before the Mercedes’ flurry of pitstops.

VERDICT: Quick but could have been slightly more circumspect at the start even though he was a little unfortunate to tag Bottas, which does damage but not destroy his rating.

2021 Site Nor

Started: 18th Finished: 10th


A new MGU-K, turbo and V6 meant a back-of-the-grid penalty for Norris, who reached Q3 (setting his Q2 time on mediums) in order to provide a tow to Ricciardo.

He served that purpose well, albeit meaning he didn’t set a proper time in the final stage of qualifying, which meant he lined up second of the four drivers with back-of-the-grid penalties, behind Tsunoda.


Norris didn’t make significant gains on the first lap, save for jumping the four drivers in the wars on the opening lap – although this was offset by Ocon getting ahead.

That meant he had to climb from 15th to 10th the hard way, passing Ocon, Latifi, Mazepin and Russell early on then jumping Giovinazzi by running significantly longer.

VERDICT: With qualifying an enforced write-off, did a good job to salvage a point.

2021 Site Vet

Started: 9th Finished: 7th


Given he was 0.357s off a Q3 place, having left little on the table in what he called a “reasonable” lap, 11th – which became ninth on the grid thanks to penalties for Tsunoda and Norris – was a good effort from Vettel.

It was doubly so given his first Q2 attempt was ruined by a lack of grip that he suspected was down to a combination of having a tear-off stuck in his rear wing and a poorly-managed outlap.


Vettel avoided the first-corner chaos, although he did have to take to the grass, and emerged in eighth place.

He held that position in the first stint before Giovinazzi pitted, but by running longer while the Alfa Romeo driver was stuck behind Bottas he was able to take seventh place easily.

VERDICT: Did a good job in marginal Q3 machinery.

2021 Site Str

Started: 20th Finished: 14th


Stroll headed into qualifying with a back-of-the-grid penalty, but with the incentive to outperform the other three drivers in a similar position.

But he asked too much of the rears in the final corner, running wide in correcting and pitching the car into the wall.

He completed his one and only flying lap by crossing the timing beam as he came to rest, so didn’t set a representative time.


Stroll was always on a hiding to nothing thanks to the back-of-the-grid start and his attempts to be aggressive, which also led to a lap-five off, didn’t pay off in the early stages.

On a two-stop strategy, he couldn’t climb higher than 14th but did make a good pass on Russell along the way.

VERDICT: A needless Q1 shunt laid the foundations for a difficult race.

2021 Site Alo

Started: 12th Finished: 9th


After the red flag interrupted a promising first run in Q1, Alonso wasn’t able to replicate that pace.

At the second attempt, he struggled for grip – in the sweepers in particular – and was six tenths slower than his initial lap at the point it had been aborted at Turn 7. The result was elimination in Q1.


Alonso held 12th on the first lap, having had to take to the grass coming out of Turn 2, but quickly picked off Mazepin and Russell to run 10th.

That, combined with Giovinazzi’s early stop before being caught in traffic, added up to ninth place for Alonso after running long in his first stint.

VERDICT: Qualifying didn’t go well, but raced effectively to pick up a couple of points.

2021 Site Oco

Started: 19th Finished: 13th


With a back-of-the-grid penalty for power unit component changes, Ocon was only in qualifying in order to act as a towing partner for Alonso.

Unfortunately, having strung together a better lap than his eliminated team-mate, Ocon was in Q2 with nobody to tow and ended up third-quickest of the quartet with back-of-the-grid penalties.


Ocon found himself squeezed between Schumacher and Tsunoda heading into Turn 2, resulting in contact from both sides.

But he was fortunate to escape without any significant damage and was satisfied with his performance thereafter

That amounted to being on course for 14th for much of the race, which became 13th thanks to Bottas’s fastest lap quest.

VERDICT: Doomed to a lower-midfield finish by power unit component changes and first-lap contact.

2021 Site Lec

Started: 8th Finished: 5th


Having struggled on Friday, Leclerc was far happier with the car heading into qualifying but by the time he reached Q3 he was surprised by the lack of grip.

He ended up two places – but less than a tenth behind – Sainz, having lost time into Turn 4 but made some up later in the lap.

He wasn’t happy, saying “the main person to blame is myself” for too many mistakes.


Leclerc got ahead of team-mate Sainz in the chaos triggered by Bottas’s spin, which put him fifth.

He effectively controlled the position all race without quite finding the pace to challenge Gasly, although he did let Sainz, who had a tyre-life advantage, ahead to have a go in the second stint before being given the place back.

VERDICT: Not his strongest weekend but still took a good result.

2021 Site Sai

Started: 6th Finished: 6th


Sainz was surprised to be as high as sixth given he didn’t feel his final Q3 lap was anything special.

But crucially, it was what he described as his first clean lap of the session and was just enough to pip Ricciardo by two thousandths.


Sainz held position into the first corner, but having to avoid the spinning Bottas allowed Leclerc and Giovinazzi to get ahead and leave him seventh.

He passed Giovinazzi around the outside of Turn 1 at the restart to take sixth and opted to run long.

This gave him a tyre offset and he was team-ordered past Leclerc to have a go at catching Gasly, but relinquished the position again having been unable to do anything about the AlphaTauri.

VERDICT: But for being delayed at Turn 2, would have outqualified and outraced Leclerc.

2021 Site Gas

Started: 5th Finished: 4th


Gasly was consistently at the front of the pack chasing Mercedes and Red Bull through qualifying.

Although he benefitted from having a tow from Tsunoda in Q3, he was over three tenths clear of Sainz in fifth place with what was largely an excellent lap, although he did lose time through an off the final corner as he struggled to keep the rear in line – potentially costing him the chance to beat Perez.


The AlphaTauri briefly challenged for third on the opening lap, having taken to the grass at Turn 2 to avoid Bottas before settling into fourth place.

And there Gasly stayed, not fast enough to bother the top three and quick enough to keep the chasing Ferraris at bay.

VERDICT: He described it as a “perfect” weekend, which is a fair description.

2021 Site Tsu

Started: 17th Finished: DNF


Despite his back-of-the-grid penalty, Tsunoda attacked Q1 and Q2 in order to ensure he was there to tow Gasly in the final part of qualifying. In doing so, he used softs in Q2, locking him in to a start on that compound.

Despite the criticism from Red Bull top brass after being in the way while on an inlap, having helped his team-mate, that was a consequence of the situation the AlphaTauri team put him in and the need for a slow inlap.


Tsunoda never had the chance to find out how big a disadvantage it was to start on softs given he was launched off Ocon’s car in the Turn 1-2 confusion. After a hard landing, he was out.

VERDICT: Unfairly maligned in qualifying despite doing a decent job and unlucky in the race.

2021 Site Rai

Started: 10th Finished: 8th


Twelfth-fastest in qualifying was Raikkonen’s best Saturday performance of the year, lapping over three tenths faster than team-mate Giovinazzi. That added up to a first top-10 start since last year’s Turkish Grand Prix.

His lap wasn’t perfect, as he hit the kerb a little hard at Turn 3 and then had a tiny lock-up at the hairpin that led to a sideways moment, without which he could have beaten Vettel.


Raikkonen held 10th on the first lap then picked off Russell later in that stint to run ninth.

He held position in the queue thereafter, also jumping Giovinazzi thanks to his team-mate’s poor strategy, which added up to eighth to match his and the team’s best finish of the season.

VERDICT: A good all-round performance to net a strong result.

2021 Site Gio

Started: 11th Finished: 11th


Giovinazzi generally struggled to match Raikkonen’s single-lap pace and was set to be behind him even before turning into the Turn 12 right-hander at the entry to the stadium on his final Q2 lap while touching the left-side rumble strip and spinning into the barrier.

He was able to recover to the pits but ended up 14th-fastest, which looked about par for him.


Giovinazzi wasn’t happy to finish 11th having initially run sixth, then seventh after being jumped by Sainz at the restart.

A relatively early stop left him parked behind Bottas and allowed the group of cars ahead to overcut him easily, leaving him just outside the points.

VERDICT: Arguably the slower Alfa Romeo driver, but poor strategy cost him a potential seventh place.

2021 Site Maz

Started: 15th Finished: 18th


Despite complaining about not being given permission to pass Schumacher on their outlaps after the Q1 red flag – and being told do drop back and make space if he wanted to by chief race engineer Ayao Komatsu – Mazepin started his lap in good shape in terms of tyre temperatures and traffic, but lost a couple of tenths to Schumacher in the middle sector and got out of shape in the last corner, adding up to a deficit not far off half-a-second.


Mazepin climbed to the uncharted territory of 11th place on the first lap, but inevitably competitive gravity took over and he soon slid to the pack.

He tried to keep the Williams of Latifi in sight and seemed to set a respectable enough pace, although he had no team-mate to compare him to.

VERDICT: Still not delivering the pace he needs to.

2021 Site Msc

Started: 14th Finished: DNF


Schumacher described qualifying as “not the best of performances” as he struggled both with tyre temperature and traffic on his final Q1 lap.

Even so, he was comfortably ahead of Mazepin as usual, gaining time in particular through the sweeps in the middle sector of the lap.


His race was over as soon as it started, Schumacher launched off Ocon’s Alpine as he attempted to capitalise on the Turn 1 chaos and make his way between the Alpines. The resulting damage put him out.

VERDICT: Qualifying was untidy and his race brief.

2021 Site Lat

Started: 13th Finished: 17th


Latifi turned in a tidy enough lap in Q1 but was struggling for grip, which he blamed on not quite getting the tyre preparation right.

That left him eight tenths off Russell and eliminated in the first stage of qualifying, Latifi having lost the majority of time to his team-mate in the last two sectors.

But thanks to penalties, that still added up to 13th place on the grid.


Latifi kept out of trouble at the start but felt he lost out by not taking to the grass and ended up 13th.

But with Williams struggling for pace and having to manage the car significantly, he slid back and opted for a two-stop strategy given he had nothing to lose, finishing ahead only of Mazepin after struggling for pace – albeit not far behind his team-mate.

VERDICT: Lacked the spark of pace Russell had in qualifying on a difficult weekend.

2021 Site Rus

Started: 16th Finished: 16th


A gearbox problem manifested itself on Friday, costing him much of FP2 and resulting in a five-place grid penalty.

Russell wasn’t able to do anything to mitigate that, setting 13th-fastest time and therefore being placed ahead of the four drivers with back-of-the-grid penalties in the starting order.


The Williams got up to ninth at the start, partly thanks to barging Ricciardo and Raikkonen wide at Turn 6.

But the car simply didn’t have the pace and Russell fell down the order, ultimately finishing two laps down and just under 15 seconds ahead of his team-mate.

VERDICT: Qualified well but was on a hiding to nothing in the race in what he called a “sluggish” car.

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