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Edd Straw’s 2021 Turkish Grand Prix F1 driver ratings

by Edd Straw
16 min read

The best performance of the Turkish Grand Prix came from a driver who didn’t make it into the top six, reckons Edd Straw.

And two of the most disappointing performances came from past world champions.

Check out Edd’s full assessment in his Istanbul Formula 1 driver ratings below.

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: 11th Finished: 5th


Headed into qualifying knowing he had a 10-place grid penalty thanks to taking a new V6 ahead of the event.

But he ensured that the impact of this was mitigated by taking pole position, 0.130s quicker than Bottas thanks to his pace on the first push lap of his second Q3 run.


Gained a place at the start thanks to Alonso’s spin and took ninth from Vettel at the end of the lap.

Tsunoda held him back until Hamilton went around the outside of him at Turn 3 on lap eight, picking off Stroll and Norris on subsequent laps and then Gasly for fifth on lap 15.

Then the hard work started, Hamilton proving unable to get ahead of Perez in a great wheel-to-wheel battle until the Red Bull driver pitted.

Hamilton overruled the team’s call to pit and was keen to run to the end, but was called in with eight laps to go to bank a safe fifth place.

VERDICT: Would have won without the grid penalty, but recovered well – even if Perez did get the better of him at a crucial time.

2021 Site Bot

Started: 1st Finished: 1st


Given the Mercedes had a pace advantage around Istanbul Park, Bottas headed into qualifying knowing he could afford to be behind his team-mate and still take pole.

The 0.130s gap to Hamilton was a fair one given Bottas didn’t quite have that last sliver of pace, although inevitably it served the team’s and his purposes to be second-quickest.

Oct 11 : Turkish Grand Prix review


Executed the start well and took control from the first corner, never looking like making an error even in tricky conditions and keeping Verstappen covered throughout.

Even when Ferrari threw a curveball by leaving Leclerc to run long on his starting set of intermediates, Bottas was patient before retaking the lead into the first corner on lap 47.

He showed how much he had in hand when he fired in the two fastest laps at the end of the race.

VERDICT: Shaded in qualifying but imperious in the race with Hamilton out of the way.

2021 Site Per

Started: 6th Finished: 3rd


Perez was half-a-second slower than Verstappen in Q3, which isn’t unusual given the recent trends.

He only had one fresh set of softs for Q3, meaning it all came down to his final lap and he found the balance shift with fresh rubber led to more understeer.


Made a good start to run fourth then did a great job in the spell before his pitstop to keep Hamilton at bay.

He stopped for fresh intermediates on lap 37, which temporarily dropped him behind Hamilton before the Mercedes driver made a late stop just before Perez passed the struggling Leclerc through the final complex on lap 51 to secure third place.

VERDICT: Qualifying was poor, but drove an excellent race.

2021 Site Ver

Started: 2nd Finished: 2nd


With the high-rake Red Bull not working at its best and suffering from understeer at Istanbul Park, Verstappen didn’t have any chance of beating the Mercedes drivers given they got the most from their machinery, but he did have to be on it to ensure he was third fastest.

He did exactly that, which he described as a “decent recovery” after an even more tricky Friday.


There’s very little to say about Verstappen’s race, simply because it was unflustered, well-executed and netted the best possible result given the Mercedes had the edge on pace.

VERDICT: Did everything he needed to do on a weekend when the Red Bull was not at its best.

2021 Site Ric

Started: 20th Finished: 13th


Ricciardo struggled more with the limitations of the McLaren than his team-mate Norris and also found it difficult to get into a rhythm in Q1 thanks to the tricky conditions and yellow flag interruptions.

While his last lap was his fastest, it wasn’t good enough to make the cut having lapped over seven-tenths slower than Norris.


Ricciardo started last thanks to a back-of-the-grid penalty for a tactical change of power unit components that only cost him five places on the grid.

He climbed to 16th early on, passing Alonso along the way, but was the first to pit at the end of lap 21 given he was stuck behind Russell.

That early stop did allow him to jump to 11th after others pitted, but he ran out of tyre in the closing stages and was passed by both Alfa Romeos late on.

VERDICT: Couldn’t find the pace Norris did on a tricky weekend for McLaren.

2021 Site Nor

Started: 7th Finished: 6th


With the McLaren not well-suited either to the C4 tyre or the longer-radius corners at Istanbul Park, Norris put in a solid qualifying performance to set the eighth-fastest time.

As he put it “nothing great”, but considering Ricciardo’s struggles it was a good performance.


Norris had a straightforward race to seventh, holding sixth place at the start then inevitably getting passed by Hamilton on the 10th lap.

He took the orthodox strategy, stopping for fresh tyres after 34 laps, but with the McLaren not having one of its strongest weekends, the key was sustaining his pace throughout the race to keep the recovering, but faster, Sainz at bay – which he did with just over five seconds to spare.

VERDICT: So-so by McLaren’s standards, but a strong weekend given the car’s weaknesses at Istanbul Park.

2021 Site Vet

Started: 10th Finished: 18th


Vettel struggled with the damp patches during Q1 and Q2, which resulting in him missing the Q3 cut after losing time at Turn 1 when he had a wobble.

Turn 1 was a particular problem given it was the first sector where he was generally losing most time to team-mate Stroll. Even so, he only missed the cut-off by around a tenth-and-a-half.


Held 10th for the first 12 laps having been passed by Hamilton on lap one, but then slipped behind Sainz to run 11th.

The gamble on switching to mediums, which he took responsibility for, proved disastrous and he rightly aborted it to switch back to inters after one painfully slow lap, relegating him to 18th.

VERDICT: Was a shade off Stroll’s pace, but was a points threat before his disastrous slicks gamble.

2021 Site Str

Started: 8th Finished: 9th


A lock-up and resulting trip through the gravel at Turn 1 on his last lap in Q2 looked to have jeopardised his Q3 place.

But his first push lap on that run had been a very strong one, save for a little time lost in the penultimate corner, and was enough to go through.

Given the pace of the Aston Martin, ninth-fastest was a good result.


Drove a precise and consistent race, running seventh early on before being passed by Hamilton, who there was little point in resisting.

He then lost another place to the recovering Sainz, who undercut him. But he didn’t put a foot wrong on his way to ninth place, passing non-stopping Ocon late on to secure the position.

VERDICT: The Aston Martin was a marginal top 10 car in Turkey and Stroll made the most of it.

2021 Site Alo

Started: 5th Finished: 16th


Had a fraught start to Q1, getting a little aggressive on the power coming out of the pits and firing himself onto the run-off area then triggering an investigation on suspicion of not heeding yellow flags on what would have been his first flying laps.

Fortunately, given his session was strong thereafter, he avoided a penalty and earned his best grid position of the year with fifth having set the sixth-fastest time with a very tidy lap on his final Q3 run.


Went into the race expecting to drop to the natural position for an Alpine, but instead plummeted when his attempt to go around the outside in Turn 1 resulted in Gasly understeering into him.

Alonso then clobbered Schumacher at Turn 4 on lap two, earning his own five-second penalty to be served at the pitstop.

Even before the second incident, his race was ruined and he made little progress on his way to 16th.

VERDICT: Great in qualifying. Unlucky, albeit following a risky outside move, at Turn 1. Cack-handed when he hit Schumacher.

2021 Site Oco

Started: 12th Finished: 10th


Struggled with the same inconsistency in the car that he complained of at Sochi despite being “quite close” on set-up to his team-mate.

But he probably had the pace to have made it to Q3, given he was ninth-fastest on the first runs, had he not had to abort his final Q2 lap after encountering Alonso, who was on a slow lap behind Schumacher, coming through Turn 4. Given his track position there was no time for another lap.


Ocon had a non-stop race in the back of his mind from the start thanks to a long stint on intermediates last year.

His plan paid off given he was on course for 12th prior to the pitstops beginning and hung onto 10th – just – despite the rapidly-closing Alfa Romeos in the closing stages.

He reckoned he would have had a puncture had the race been one lap longer.

VERDICT: Not as comfortable as Alonso, but drove a brilliantly-managed race to bag a point.

2021 Site Lec

Started: 3rd Finished: 4th


Leclerc had a scruffy run through Q1 and Q2 and admitted to making too many mistakes, although in the end his pace was plenty good enough to advance.

But he saved the best for last. Having had to run used softs on the first run in qualifying, he switched to a fresh set for the second attempt and nailed a lap good enough to be fourth fastest, which became third on the grid, when it really mattered.


Despite concerns he might plummet given the low downforce set-up in the wet conditions, Leclerc spent the first 36 laps of the race in third place, moving into the lead when Verstappen and Bottas made their stops and attempting to keep going on his starting set of tyres.

It looked promising for a while, despite a lock-up and off at the complex, but then the pace dropped off.

He was passed by Bottas, which triggered a stop for fresh intermediates at the end of lap 47.

Unfortunately, he struggled with overheating and graining and was passed by Perez, but took fourth when Hamilton eventually made his stop.

VERDICT: Nailed it when it mattered in qualifying then drove a fine race, although the off counts against him.

2021 Site Sai

Started: 19th Finished: 8th


Sainz had the new Ferrari hybrid system added that Leclerc ran at Sochi, meaning a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to taking almost a complete power unit with all components new except the MGU-K.

That meant qualifying was moot, although he still run in Q1 and therefore aided Ferrari’s cause in the battle for third in the constructors’ championship by ensuring Ricciardo was eliminated. Didn’t run in Q2.


It took only 13 laps for Sainz to surge from 19th into a points position when he passed Vettel, albeit with contact after touching the inside kerb and being pitched into the Aston Martin. Both survived undamaged and Sainz continued on his way.

A slow pitstop cost him around 5.5s and, crucially, meant he emerged from the pits behind Ocon and spent nine laps stuck behind him.

Once he got past, Sainz closed 12s of a 16s gap to Norris but couldn’t improve on eighth.

VERDICT: Drove brilliantly from the back and could have finished higher but for pitstop time loss.

2021 Site Gas

Started: 4th Finished: 6th


Gasly was much happier with the car on Saturday having battled understeer on Sunday, describing it as much more “alive”.

He might even have been able to outpace Red Bull stablemate Verstappen had he had the same tow on his final Q3 attempt as he did on his first and produced a perfect lap.

He ended up behind Verstappen and also Leclerc, which added up to fourth on the grid after Hamilton’s penalty.


Found himself in the middle lane at Turn 1 between Perez and Alonso, who launched a late but legitimate move around the outside, and understeered into the Alpine.

While Gasly survived the impact, he was hit with a five second penalty, which fortunately didn’t cost him a position when he served it at his pitstop.

Ran fifth early on before inevitably being passed by Hamilton, and then stayed in sixth.

VERDICT: A strong weekend but was perhaps unlucky to be penalised for the Alonso contact.

2021 Site Tsu

Started: 9th Finished: 14th


Tsunoda was much happier with the feel of the AlphaTauri on Friday, when its understeer problem gave him more confidence than usual.

But he was less happy on Saturday, where despite making it through to Q3 he was the only driver to use soft rubber to do so.

While he didn’t feel he got the most out of the car and ended up just over a second off Gasly, he did at least end a run of six consecutive races without a Q3 appearance.


Climbed to eighth at the start thanks to Alonso’s spin and placed his car intelligently in battle with Hamilton to keep the Mercedes driver at bay before losing the position to an around-the-outside move at Turn 3 made possible by running a little deep at Turn 1.

He was still in 10th having been passed by Sainz when he went off at Turn 9 and spun, dropping him to 13th. That became 14th at the finish thanks to Raikkonen overcutting him.

VERDICT: Still not quick enough and his off cost a points shot, but a decent weekend after recent struggles.

2021 Site Rai

Started: 17th Finished: 12th


Was on the back foot from his first run in Q1 thanks to having three offs at Turn 1 that prevented him getting a meaningful time on the board.

But he still had the chance to run in the best of conditions on his second set of softs, yet ended up 1.1s slower than team-mate Giovinazzi.

This was partly down to the fact that he never looked completely confident in the car but partly because on his crucial final lap, on which he didn’t improve, he got caught up behind Mazepin.


Gained four places on a superb opening lap, with a good launch combined with some intelligent car positioning – notably passing Schumacher on the outside into Turn 8.

He slipped to 14th behind Sainz but held that position until the pitstops began, stopping on lap 37 without losing a place.

In the second stint, he was quicker than Giovinazzi – mainly thanks to superiority on braking – but his team-mate declined two team orders to let him past, which likely cost Raikkonen a point given he would have caught and passed Ocon.

VERDICT: Poor qualifying but drove a strong race that should have yielded a point.

2021 Site Gio

Started: 16th Finished: 11th


Giovinazzi won the intra-team battle given Raikkonen’s Q1 struggles, but it was a pyrrhic victory because he also missed the cut for Q2.

Despite showing encouraging pace in the wetter conditions in FP3, he found the slick conditions in Q1 tricky and was unable to make the most of the available grip at the end of the session, finding only three-tenths on his last lap.


Climbed to 12th after a good first lap before dropping to 13th when Sainz passed him on lap six.

While he had the edge on pace over Raikkonen behind in the first stint, after they changed tyres the situation reversed and Giovinazzi disregarded two team orders to let his team-mate past so he could continue his charge towards the points.

He fell 0.7s short of catching Ocon for 10th after passing Ricciardo.

VERDICT: Given he cost Raikkonen a point by ignoring a team order, he was obliged to get ahead of Ocon but failed.

2021 Site Maz

Started: 18th Finished: 19th


With regular race engineer Dominic Haines missing the Turkish and United States Grands Prix, director of engineering Ayao Komatsu stood in working with Mazepin.

Mazepin struggled in the tricky conditions in Q1, spinning three times and having been just over three-tenths slower than Schumacher on their first runs ended up three seconds slower having only made one improvement late on.


Ran 19th on lap one after a clean start, inevitably falling behind Sainz and Ricciardo but gaining a place when Latifi spun.

That became 18th after Alonso tipped Schumacher into a spin and 19th when Latifi repassed him on lap 11.

He spent the first stint ahead of Schumacher, but stopped four laps earlier having not appreciated how quick the worn intermediates could be and lost the position.

Thereafter, he lost a second per lap, partly thanks to not managing the blue flag time losses as well.

VERDICT: Struggled more than Schumacher in the tricky conditions, but after a messy qualifying was at least tidy in the race.

2021 Site Msc

Started: 14th Finished: 19th


Not only did Schumacher reach Q2 for only the second time this season, he even admitted to thinking about making the top 10 shootout given he was just over half-a-second off that running used softs in the second part of qualifying.

Key to his success was his one attempt on the third set of tyres in Q1, where he revelled in what he called “a dance with the car” and made the cut despite losing a little time through the still-slipper Turn 1.


Ran 15th having lost a place to Raikkonen on the opening lap, only to be hit by Alonso at Turn 4 on lap two and spun down to last place.

He ran at the back and was therefore the first to fall into being lapped on lap 24, but ran four laps longer than Mazepin before making his pitstop and emerged ahead, thereafter pulling away at just over a second per lap on average, eventually finishing 24 seconds ahead.

VERDICT: Showed good pace in difficult conditions, but had his chances of a better result ruined by Alonso.

2021 Site Lat

Started: 15th Finished: 17th


Latifi felt he had the pace to make Q2 easily, but his second run proved ill-starred.

The plan was to do push-cooldown-push, but the rear stepped out on the damp at the exit and sent him onto the runoff, meaning the lap was deleted.

So he backed off and pushed on the next lap, improving his time despite losing a little speed behind Ocon in the final complex.

Unfortunately, without time for another recharge lap, this meant he wasn’t able to do another push lap immediately in what would have been the best of the conditions.


Was 16th just ahead of Alonso when he lost it on the throttle while on the kerb in Turn 10 thanks to wheelspin that “seemed to come out of nowhere”, spinning down to last place.

He got ahead of the two Haas drivers to run 18th, gaining another position when Vettel had his double pitstop to change to then abandon slicks, but despite patches of good pace never quite latched onto the back of the midfield pack.

VERDICT: Had better underlying pace than he showed, but first-lap error ruined any chance of progress.

2021 Site Rus

Started: 13th Finished: 16th


Russell was on course for a very low 1m41s lap in Q2, more than enough to have reached Q3, when the rear snapped in the final corner and he was spat wide in correcting.

Russell said he was “a little bit disappointed in myself” after “two too many mistakes” – including his spin into the gravel in FP3.

That said, the fact he got so close to Q3 on a weekend when Williams didn’t seem competitive was unexpected.


Dropped two places to Schumacher and Raikkonen early on the opening lap, primarily thanks to having to check up as Alonso rejoined, but picked off Schumacher into the final complex to start lap two 14th.

He was then passed by the recovering Sainz to run 15th, which is where he spent all but six laps of the race, finishing there having found it impossible to attack given the level of tyre management required in mixed conditions where the Williams generally doesn’t go well.

VERDICT: Error cost a Q3 slot before a relatively contained race drive.

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