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Formula 1

Edd Straw’s 2021 Spanish GP driver ratings + reader debate

by Edd Straw
14 min read

Two 10-out-of-10 performances headline Edd Straw’s Spanish Grand Prix driver ratings, and a driver who had a lot to be disappointed about at the finish comes away with a very strong score for his own efforts too.

But some of 2021’s strugglers fared even worse than usual at Barcelona.

Whatever your view of Edd’s judgements, you can debate the scores with him live in the comments section at 5pm UK time today.

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: 1st Finished: 1st


Hamilton eased his way into qualifying during Q1 and Q2, but nailed a pole position lap on his first run in Q3 when it really mattered to notch up his 100th pole position.

A slightly scruffy exit from the chicane did let Verstappen get close though, with the final margin just 0.036s.

May 09 : Spanish Grand Prix review


After slipping to second at the first corner having wisely given Verstappen the room he needed to complete the move, Hamilton stuck with his prey in the first stint then made the most of his two-stop strategy to chase down the Red Bull twice, resulting in his move for the lead at the start of the 60th lap.

VERDICT: Did the job in qualifying and executed the race beautifully.

2021 Site Bot

Started: 3rd Finished: 3rd


A need to correct the rear at the apex of Turn 10 hurt his first Q3 lap in the best of the conditions, and he estimated it cost him a tenth. That potentially let second on the grid slip, although Hamilton had a slender edge through the rest of the lap anyway.


Bottas held third at the start but was caught unaware by Leclerc in the Turn 3 right-hander, with the Ferrari going around the outside to take the position.

Leclerc stayed there through the first stint but although Bottas completed an undercut pass Ferrari didn’t contest, he was disconnected from the lead fight and stayed a lonely third.

VERDICT: Effective enough, but a clear step behind Hamilton and Verstappen.

2021 Site Per

Started: 8th Finished: 5th


A mystery shoulder problem that manifested itself just before qualifying and gradually got worse put Perez off his game, with a spin at Turn 13 on his first Q3 lap meaning he missed the best of the conditions and ended up down in eighth based on his second-run time.

While he never looked like being at Verstappen’s level, the nine-tenths gap was exaggerated by his struggles.


A good run through the early corners got him up to sixth, Perez making his pass on Ocon around the outside of Turn 4 and then slotting in behind Ricciardo.

As he put it, he spent much of the race thinking ‘how am I going to make it?’ before finally passing Ricciardo for fifth with a remarkable move around the outside of the McLaren at Turn 1 from a long way back.

VERDICT: How much of his poor qualifying was down to his shoulder problem is difficult to gauge, but he recovered well in the race even though he was not a factor in the top three battle.

2021 Site Ver

Started: 2nd Finished: 2nd


Verstappen strung together his best sectors when he needed them on the first fliers in Q3, although time lost off Turn 7/8 and through Campsa cost him around a tenth-and-a-half to Hamilton.

He closed that gap to just 0.036s with a mighty final sector but it wasn’t quite enough. Given he was a little quicker off Turn 7/8 on a second lap that was slower overall, maybe pole was possible, although unlike at Imola and Algarve the evidence is inconclusive.


Verstappen pulled a forceful, but superb, pass on Hamilton in the first corner but couldn’t shake the Mercedes off in the first stint.

His challenge was to keep Hamilton at bay on a one-stopper, which he was unable to do. A late stop then facilitated fastest lap.

VERDICT: Maybe pole position was just possible, but a high-quality race drive showed the Red Bull didn’t quite have the pace to win on Sunday.

2021 Site Ric

Started: 7th Finished: 6th


Ricciardo outqualified Norris for the third time in four races despite still not being entirely on top of the car on corner entry in terms of how much he can trail the brake.

But he again owed his qualifying result not to outright speed but to getting through Q1 on one set of softs, which ensured he got his first Q3 run on fresh rubber in the best of the conditions. This meant his failure to start a lap in time on the second run was moot.


Ricciardo had a great launch to jump to fifth and just managed to hold onto it through Turn 1, meaning he settled into a battle to keep Perez at bay.

He did so through the first round of pitstops all the way to lap 46 when Perez surprised him with a great move round the outside of the first corner.

Ricciardo promptly pitted, dropping two places but easily picking off Ocon and being let past by Norris to return to sixth.

VERDICT: Still not perfect, but getting stronger each weekend.

2021 Site Nor

Started: 9th Finished: 8th


Norris had the pace advantage over Ricciardo in most sessions, but being held up by Mazepin in Q1 forced him to use another set of softs.

That meant he used scrubbed softs for his first Q3 lap in the best of conditions, meaning he couldn’t improve through a combination of less good conditions and pre-lap traffic trouble at the end.


Holding ninth at the start meant Norris’s die was cast for a tough race in traffic.

On the orthodox two-stop strategy, he passed Ocon, Alonso and Russell in the final stint to climb up to eighth having lost track position to the latter two thanks to their differing strategies.

VERDICT: Solid, but misfortune made it difficult for him to show what he could really do.

2021 Site Vet

Started: 13th Finished: 13th


With the floor upgrade on his car for the first time, Vettel said his confidence in the Aston Martin continues to build.

But in qualifying, he was marginally the slower of the team’s drivers and lapped a tenth off Stroll in Q2, which put him two places behind his team-mate.


Vettel ran 12th early on and on a regulation two-stopper never quite managed to threaten the points.

He was still 12th in the closing stages, but one-stopping Raikkonen managed to undercut his way past at what was Vettel’s second stop, leaving the Aston Martin driver 13th.

VERDICT: Half-a-step behind his team-mate in qualifying and race.

2021 Site Str

Started: 11th Finished: 11th


The Aston Martin wasn’t quite a Q3 car, although given Stroll was only eight-thousandths off the top 10 it’s clear that picking off 10th-fastest Alonso in Q2 was possible.

But he always looked to have the edge over Vettel, so 11th was a decent return.


Stroll held 11th in the first stint and ran on an orthodox two-stop strategy. He passed Alonso in the second stint with a good move that started around the outside of Turn 4 and finished into Turn 5, but had to do it all again once it became clear Alonso was one stopping.

Time spent working past Alonso and Russell meant he was passed by Gasly – who had an eight-lap tyre life advantage and was more incisive in traffic – for the final point in the closing stages.

VERDICT: Eleventh in qualifying and the race seemed about par for the Aston Martin, although Ocon and Gasly were beatable in the race.

2021 Site Alo

Started: 10th Finished: 17th


Alonso may have reached Q3, but it wasn’t easy. Unlike his team-mate Ocon, he required two runs to escape Q1 then scraped through Q2 after having to abort his final lap due to an error in Turn 4.

With just one fresh set of softs thanks to what happened in Q1, he set his qualifying time in the less favourable conditions late in Q3.


Tenth during the first stint, Alonso was still there with five laps to go. But having opted for the risky one-stop strategy, once Stroll breached his resolute defences – after Alonso had forced him to take to the runoff at Turn 1 – he immediately dropped behind Gasly and Raikkonen so was called in for a late pitstop.

Alonso dropped to 17th, which is where he finished despite almost passing Latifi after the Williams driver’s final lap error heading into the chicane.

VERDICT: A valiant effort to make the one-stopper work almost paid off, but overall still a step behind Ocon.

2021 Site Oco

Started: 5th Finished: 9th


Ocon sailed through Q1 on one set of tyres but although Q2 was far from perfect, he made Q3 more comfortably than his team-mate.

He set the fourth fastest time on the first run, but Leclerc bumped him to fifth on the second runs, with Ocon confident he could have taken fourth but for a misfire and driveability problems on the second run.


Ocon lost his early seventh place to an undercut by Sainz at the first round of pitstops.

From there, he committed to a one-stop strategy that briefly got him up to sixth before two-stoppers Ricciardo, Sainz and Norris worked their way past.

He did a superb job to hold off Gasly and Stroll in the closing stages for ninth.

VERDICT: The stronger Alpine driver and did a particularly good job in the long final stint to hang onto a points finish.

2021 Site Lec

Started: 4th Finished: 4th


Leclerc was the best of the rest behind Mercedes and Red Bull for the third time in four races, which required a strong final Q3 lap in worsening conditions given he only had one set of fresh softs left.

He actually felt the first lap on scrubbed softs was the better lap, but even if he hadn’t had to use an extra set of softs in Q1 he wasn’t going to qualify any higher.


A great move around the outside of Bottas at Turn 3 on the opening lap caught the Mercedes driver unaware and allowed Leclerc to run third in the first stint.

Ferrari sensibly ran him long given his real battle was with the midfield. Leclerc didn’t put a foot wrong, keeping Perez at bay and taking fourth place.

VERDICT: Best possible qualifying, best possible race. A superb weekend.

2021 Site Sai

Started: 6th Finished: 7th


Sainz reached Q3 with two sets of fresh softs available, unlike his team-mate, although perhaps he didn’t make the most of that advantage after lapping less than a tenth quicker than Leclerc’s first run time on old rubber. Sainz’s first lap time stood and put him sixth on the grid.


Sainz slipped behind the fast-starting Ricciardo off the line, with Perez also getting past into Turn 1 thanks to Sainz getting boxed in behind Ocon and Leclerc on the inside line.

Having spent the first stint chasing Ocon, he undercut his way past the Alpine before having to pass him on track after making his second stop. Despite chasing Ricciardo hard, he was unable to make a move for sixth.

VERDICT: “The car was the better than the result,” was his summary, which is fair despite a decent performance.

2021 Site Gas

Started: 12th Finished: 10th


Gasly missed out on a Q3 place by just 16 thousandths of a second but did have more than that in the car.

However, rear tyre overheating on his final Q2 lap cost him time, meaning that despite being happy with the car’s balance overall, he couldn’t get it into the top 10.


Overshooting his grid box for the start meant Gasly had to serve a five-second penalty at his first stop, which came on lap 18.

From there, a one-stopper was never on and when he made his second stop on lap 47, he rejoined in what was effectively 15th place – not helped by four seconds lost in the stop to a slow rear change.

In a charging final stint, he picked off Vettel, Russell, Raikkonen and Stroll – as well as jumping Alonso when the Alpine driver made a late stop – missing out on taking ninth from Ocon by just two-tenths.

VERDICT: Qualifying could have been better but his race drive was strong, although his rating suffers because of the elementary grid-slot blunder.

2021 Site Tsu

Started: 16th Finished: DNF


Tsunoda lapped 0.366s off Gasly in Q1 and failed to advance to Q2, leading to complaints about “no grip” and questions about whether he had the same car as his team-mate, the latter of which he later recanted.

His frustration was clear and probably counter-productive, with the main problem seeming to be getting the tyres in the right window.


His race lasted a grand total of six laps before engine problems set in and forced his retirement.

But Tsunoda kept it clean on the opening lap despite being shuffled down to 18th before pulling off a superb move around the outside of Russell at Turn 4 on the second lap.

VERDICT: Qualifying should have been better and had little chance to make amends in the race despite great pass on Russell.

2021 Site Rai

Started: 17th Finished: 12th


Raikkonen fell in Q1 having lapped three-tenths slower than Giovinazzi, although that wasn’t representative of the gap.

On his final flier, he started a little too close to Latifi and the resulting dirty air didn’t help, particularly in the final sector, but would have been marginal to make Q2 even in clean air.


Raikkonen was the only driver to start on mediums, climbing to 14th on the opening lap then running to lap 37 before stopping for softs. That dropped him down to 15th, with hopes of picking off those attempting one-stoppers.

The strategy was defined by the tyres and inevitably led to time loss at the end of the first stint, but it was well-executed despite Raikkonen struggling to unleash the full pace of the car due to traffic in the second stint that also led to him being passed by Gasly. He netted 12th place after jumping Alonso and Vettel when they pitted.

VERDICT: After underperforming in qualifying, delivered a decent race drive but a point or two may have been possible with an outstanding one.

2021 Site Gio

Started: 14th Finished: 15th


Giovinazzi faced pressure from Raikkonen in the intra-team qualifying battle, lapping fractionally slower on the first Q1 runs but putting in a good lap to make it to Q2.

While his Q2 lap wasn’t perfect, realistically it’s unlikely that cost him a place given the gap to Vettel ahead.


After losing a position to Raikkonen at the start, an early stop under the safety car should have put Giovinazzi in a good position with two sets of fresh mediums, but for valve damage that meant his front-left had lost air pressure.

A lengthy stop dropped him to the back, and he took the restart still 12s off the back thanks to being given an erroneous delta time to keep to on his out-lap.

So there was little more he could have done than recover to 15th ahead of the Haas drivers plus late-stoppers Alonso and Latifi.

VERDICT: Qualified well but harpooned by misfortune in the race.

2021 Site Maz

Started: 20th Finished: 19th


Mazepin suffered the ignominy of going off on his first flying lap of the weekend, but despite tidying things up after that he never really found much pace.

He slipped from a quarter of a second off Schumacher on the first Q1 runs to seven-tenths off after three runs and also earned a grid penalty for impeding Norris having been caught up in a warm-up lap queue at the chicane and launching his lap as the McLaren closed.


Mazepin ran last for the majority of the race, losing a quarter-of-a-second per lap to his team-mate in the first stint. As has been the trend, the deficit increased to around half a second in the second stint as he struggled with mitigating blue-flag time loss.

Although he ran a shorter middle stint, both Haas drivers two-stopped with a final gap of just over a minute.

VERDICT: Another tough weekend, on which pace proved elusive.

2021 Site Msc

Started: 18th Finished: 18th


Schumacher continued to make good progress by outqualifying the Williams of Latifi, also lapping seven-tenths faster than his team-mate in a Haas he’s increasingly at home with.

That said, although he lacked a tow on his final run, he also lost time in Turn 1 and ended up a couple of tenths off his theoretical maximum.


Schumacher briefly got up to 16th on the opening lap, although he didn’t have the race pace to keep the Williams drivers at bay.

He had a pace advantage over Mazepin, which grew once they started to be lapped, finishing over a minute up the road.

VERDICT: Another decent weekend of methodical progress, but with little to fight for.

2021 Site Lat

Started: 19th Finished: 16th


As is often the case, Latifi had a reasonable Friday but struggled in FP3 and in qualifying too.

His Q1 was made even more difficult by picking up understeer for the first time in the Campsa right-hander on the second of three runs, rattling the kerbs and causing bargeboard damage, compounding his 0.774s deficit to Russell.


Latifi ran with team-mate Russell in the first/second stint, only losing a couple of tenths in green-flag conditions.

But he couldn’t match his team-mate’s tyre management and started to lose significant ground in the third stint, eventually taking a fourth stop on his way to 16th.

VERDICT: Poor in qualifying and couldn’t stick with Russell as the race progressed, as well as having a brief last-lap off.

2021 Site Rus

Started: 15th Finished: 14th


With Williams opting to use all three sets of fresh softs in Q1, Russell was never going to do better than 15th having had to take a scrubbed set he’d used for his out/in-lap sighter at the start of qualifying.

He did a good job to make Q2 ahead of the potentially faster Alfa Romeos.


Russell took the wide line at Turn 3 on the opening lap, which meant he lost touch with the Alfa Romeos before a snap in Turn 4 allowed Schumacher to get ahead.

Having passed Schumacher just before the safety car was deployed, he was brought in with Latifi to bank a position gain over Giovinazzi.

That turned it into an effective one-stop race and Russell did a superb job to stay in with a shout of a point before the tyres fell off a cliff in the final laps and he dropped to 14th.

VERDICT: His strongest weekend of the season, particularly on race day – first lap aside.

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