Formula 1

Edd Straw’s Qatar Grand Prix 2021 F1 driver ratings

by Edd Straw
13 min read

There were definitely contenders for a perfect 10 out of 10 score in Edd Straw’s Qatar Grand Prix Formula 1 driver ratings.

Did anyone manage it? Find out 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: 1st Finished: 1st


The champion looked utterly in control from the start of qualifying, setting laps good enough for pole position on both of his Q3 runs.

Particularly strong in the first sector on his first qualifying lap, Hamilton always had time in hand over Verstappen and Bottas.

Nov 21 : Qatar Grand Prix review


Hamilton took the lead at the start and didn’t put a foot wrong to win with relative ease on a two-stopper.

VERDICT: At the top of his game, but circumstances meant he never needed to dig as deep as in Brazil.

2021 Site Bot

Started: 6th Finished: DNF


After a strong Friday, Bottas found things a little trickier on Saturday with the differing wind conditions and also struggled a little for tyre temperature in qualifying.

The upshot was that he always looked a step behind Hamilton throughout FP3 and qualifying.

He also lost out to Verstappen on pace, mainly thanks to time lost in the second half of the first sector.

He was later hit with the three-place grid penalty for missing a single waved yellow flag.


A poor start meant he was shuffled down to 11th, but Bottas avoided getting bogged down and made five on-track passes for position to ensure he was on target for a potential third place.

On a one-stopper, he was attempting to extend his advantage over Alonso, who had already pitted, in the final few laps of his stint when the front left punctured.

He continued after a stop, but given the lack of progress and damage, the team retired the car.

VERDICT: Set to salvage a good result after penalty and terrible start, but was out of luck.

2021 Site Per

Started: 11th Finished: 4th


Perez’s recent run of strong qualifying performances came to a juddering stop.

Having struggled a little through practice, difficulties getting both the soft and medium tyres up to temperature led to his elimination in Q2.


Perez made good progress early on to ensure he was in the mix for a podium, which came down to a battle of his two-stopper with Alonso’s one-stopper.

Ultimately, time lost clearing other one-stoppers – including Esteban Ocon – and the late VSC meant he ran out of laps and came up just under three seconds short.

VERDICT: Didn’t execute qualifying well, but recovered well in the race and was unfortunate not to get third.

2021 Site Ver

Started: 7th Finished: 2nd


Given the Red Bull simply didn’t have the pace of the Mercedes, to get between Hamilton and Bottas with a very tidy lap was a success.

But failing to clock the double-waved yellows proved costly (although the stewards did concede the trackside light panel and Verstappen’s dash didn’t show yellow), earning him a five-place grid penalty for completing a lap that he didn’t actually need to secure second.


Verstappen made short work of the cars between him and Hamilton, jumping to fourth at the start then passing Gasly and Alonso in quick succession.

He tried to keep the pressure up on leader Hamilton, but the car ultimately didn’t have the pace – although he was so far clear of Alonso that he could take an extra stop to make certain of fastest lap.

VERDICT: Although unlucky, he could have avoided the yellow flag error. But there was nothing more he could have done in the race.

2021 Site Ric

Started: 14th Finished: 12th


For all the progress he’s made this season, the ‘combined’ corner entries of this circuit remain a challenge for Ricciardo.

Turn 10 was particularly costly in his battle with Norris, with the four-tenths deficit to his team-mate in Q2 more than enough to ensure his elimination.


Ricciardo made some early progress, but then was forced into an enormous amount of erroneous fuel saving that appears to have been prompted by a system error. By the time McLaren realised and asked him to pick up the pace, his race had been ruined.

VERDICT: Struggled relative to Norris on a track that exposed his weaknesses, but his race was ruined by the unnecessary fuel saving.

2021 Site Nor

Started: 4th Finished: 9th


Norris went into qualifying expecting to be competing for a fifth-row slot and was delighted to find himself sixth-fastest after probably one of his strongest qualifying laps of the year.

He only had one set of softs available for Q3, but it all came down to the last lap, on which he nailed his best three sectors of the weekend.


Norris held fourth place on a one-stop strategy and was well set to finish there or fifth – depending on whether or not he could keep Perez at bay.

Then he suffered a left-front puncture, pitting and salvaging ninth place after picking off Gasly and Vettel in the closing laps.

VERDICT: A quietly strong weekend that merited a better result.

2021 Site Vet

Started: 10th Finished: 10th


Vettel always appeared to have the edge over Stroll on pace and did a good job to reach Q3.

But once there, he ended up 10th and slowest having relied on his first-run time on used softs given he picked up yellow flags on his second run.

At the time, he was on target for a similar time to his Q2 lap, so likely destined only to be one place better off.


‘Started 10th and finished 10th’ sounds simple, but a moment at Turn 1 that pitched him onto the runoff left Vettel down in 17th and with a lot of work to do.

On a one-stopper, he avoided getting bogged down in the backmarkers early on and cycled up to ninth late on before losing the position to the recovering Norris with just under three laps remaining.

VERDICT: Recovered well after his costly Turn 1 moment.

2021 Site Str

Started: 12th Finished: 6th


Stroll always looked to be giving away a little to Vettel on pace, and that proved to be the case throughout qualifying.

His final Q2 lap didn’t start so well, running a little wide at Turn 1 then even wider at Turn 6, which added up to being a couple of tenths off his team-mate and elimination.


The Aston Martin jumped to 10th at the start thanks to Bottas and Vettel dropping back. Stroll then passed Tsunoda before losing the place to Bottas, meaning he was still in 10th when the pitstops began.

He ran to lap 23 before stopping to switch from mediums to hards, undercutting Sainz then rising to sixth as others stopped for a second time or hit trouble – and pressuring Ocon to the end.

VERDICT: A solid qualifying followed by a very well-executed race.

2021 Site Alo

Started: 3rd Finished: 3rd


Alonso clicked with the Qatar circuit from the off and sailed through to Q3 with relative ease.

There, he set the fifth-fastest time on his first run despite a lap with a few minor errors that potentially cost him a shot at fourth place. Yellow flags interrupted his second lap, which wasn’t on target to be an improvement anyway.


Competitive gravity always seemed to be against Alonso, yet having briefly run second after passing Gasly before being passed by Verstappen, his relentless pace kept him in the hunt for a podium.

Bottas’s puncture while on target to beat him eliminated one rival, while Alonso just managed to keep out of range of the charging Perez as he came through after his second stop.

VERDICT: A great weekend from Alonso, only missing a maximum score because qualifying could have gone even better.

2021 Site Oco

Started: 9th Finished: 5th


A brake vibration that struck early on in qualifying proved a distraction, but Ocon did a decent job to make it into Q3 anyway.

There, he had no answer to Alonso’s pace, particularly in the middle sector.


Ocon made a great start to run sixth on the opening lap, and was locked in to a one-stopper from early on.

He didn’t put a foot wrong and even cost Perez a little time as the Red Bull driver attempted to chase down Alonso, before ending up fifth thanks to the punctures that afflicted Norris and Bottas.

VERDICT: Didn’t have as smooth a weekend as Alonso, but it was still a good one.

2021 Site Lec

Started: 13th Finished: 8th


Leclerc was baffled by his struggles in qualifying, only for a crack to be found in the chassis subsequently that forced a car change to one built up around the spare monocoque.

The crack was sustained on his first Q1 run when the rear stepped out in the final corner of his second push lap, sending him wide out over the kerbs as he caught it.


Leclerc had to fight a rearguard action on the opening lap, hanging onto 13th then moving up to 12th by passing Raikkonen on lap six.

Executed his one-stop strategy well to jump the AlphaTauris, with punctures for Norris and Bottas helping him to eighth, right behind Sainz.

VERDICT: Chassis crack explained qualifying struggles, then he raced well.

2021 Site Sai

Started: 5th Finished: 7th


Sainz saved his best for the medium tyres, becoming the only non-Mercedes/Red Bull driver to get through Q2 on them.

He wasn’t able to unleash such strong pace from the softs, with his final Q3 run starting reasonably strongly before getting away from him, meaning he had to rely on his medium-shod first run.


Sainz’s attempt to go around Norris at Turn 1 left him exposed to attack from Ocon, who swooped around him at Turn 2.

That left him seventh in the first stint, which should have left him on course for a sixth-place finish.

Unfortunately, he missed two instructions to pit on lap 26 – for which he was apologetic – allowing Stroll to undercut him. Although he pressured the Aston Martin driver, he couldn’t find a way past.

VERDICT: Turn 1 over-ambition and missed pitcall potentially cost two positions.

2021 Site Gas

Started: 2nd Finished: 11th


Gasly was rapid throughout qualifying and on course to go even quicker on his final run when he went wide at Turn 15, tearing up his front wing and suffering a right-front blowout.

While that ruined his lap, the first run had been good enough to secure him fourth place, although the yellow flag he caused did help to protect his position – and penalties for people missing those yellows then placed him on the front row.


The AlphaTauri briefly held second but was shuffled down to sixth by the time Gasly came in for his first pitstop on lap 13.

That was a sign he was working the front left too hard and that continued to be a problem in a race in which he described the pace as “shocking”.

He came close to salvaging a point on his “aggressive” two-stopper, but was powerless to stop the recovering Norris coming through late on.

VERDICT: Fast but unable to stem the losses in the race.

2021 Site Tsu

Started: 8th Finished: 13th


Tsunoda made Q3 for the fourth time in five races, more significantly closing to just three-tenths from Gasly – albeit with the comparison skewed by the fact Gasly didn’t complete his last lap.

Impressively, Tsunoda’s pace compared well with Gasly’s until the fast end of the lap.


Tsunoda ran ninth early on, but struggled to make his starting softs last and also had to make an early pitstop to remove a visor tearoff that became caught in his rear wing.

On a two-stopper, tyre degradation made producing the pace necessary to sustain a points challenge impossible.

VERDICT: Strong in terms of underlying pace, but that didn’t translate to race pace.

2021 Site Rai

Started: 16th Finished: 14th


Raikkonen felt his lap was a decent one, but that the Alfa Romeo simply didn’t have the pace.

His strong run through and off the final corner was decisive in ensuring he beat Giovinazzi, but he never looked to be a Q2 threat.


Raikkonen gained four positions on the opening lap and held 12th in the early stages.

On a two-stopper, his real battle was to win what was a fairly distinct back-of-the-grid class against his team-mate and the Williams and Haas drivers, which he did, although he also finished close to Ricciardo and Tsunoda.

VERDICT: On a poor weekend for Alfa Romeo, produced a good level of performance.

2021 Site Gio

Started: 18th Finished: 15th


Giovinazzi was closely matched with Raikkonen, but their Q1 battle swung against the Italian at the last corner after he had at times earlier in the lap had a fractional advantage.

The reality was that the Alfa Romeo simply didn’t seem very strong on the sweeps of Qatar.


The Formula E-bound driver jumped Ricciardo, Vettel and the Williams drivers on the opening lap to run 14th but wasn’t quite as strong as his team-mate in the race.

While he beat the Williams and Haas drivers, he fell away from Raikkonen in the final stint having got stuck behind Latifi before the puncture released him.

VERDICT: The second-best Alfa driver throughout the weekend.

2021 Site Maz

Started: 20th Finished: 18th


Mazepin was always unlikely to recover after completing just 16 laps during practice thanks to a combination of a kerb strike that damaged his chassis and a problem that struck at the start of FP3.

That played a big part in Mazepin being almost 1.5s slower than Schumacher in a tricky session in which he damaged his front wing running wide at Turn 4 on the first run then had his final attempt compromised by being at the back of the last-sector prep lap traffic jam.


A moment at Turn 1 while menacing Schumacher, then running wide at Turn 4, ensured he was last on the opening lap, but he hung onto the back of his team-mate in the first stint.

Faded after his pitstop once on hards, but worked on his pace throughout the race.

VERDICT: Loss of FP2/3 ruined his weekend, but wasn’t too bad in the race considering.

2021 Site Msc

Started: 19th Finished: 17th


Schumacher described this as probably the best qualifying of the season for himself and the Haas team, delivering a strong lap on his third and final Q1 run to get within striking distance of Latifi and the two Alfa Romeos.

His advantage over his team-mate was enormous, but with the caveat that Mazepin had missed FP2 and FP3.


The Haas got up to 18th ahead of Latifi after an attacking first lap on which Schumacher also had several goes at getting Vettel, but he was then shuffled back to 19th by the Williams driver on lap three.

Having started on softs, he couldn’t shake off Mazepin in the first stint, but subsequently consolidated his position and jumped Latifi when the Williams driver had a puncture.

VERDICT: A good weekend’s work despite not having much to show for it.

2021 Site Lat

Started: 17th Finished: DNF


Latifi ended up three-and-a-half tenths slower than Russell, which made the difference between Q1 elimination and reaching Q2.

The difference was in the fast sweeps later in the lap and the last corner, where Latifi just couldn’t match the speed carried by his team-mate.


Latifi dropped to 19th on a fraught first lap, slipping behind Giovinazzi and then an opportunistic Schumacher

He soon repassed the Haas and settled into an attempted one-stopper that wasn’t leading anywhere given Giovinazzi was about to relegate him to 18th when Latifi suffered a front-left puncture just after the pit entry. He attempted to crawl back to the pits but was ordered to stop.

VERDICT: Solid enough but lacked Russell’s pace.

2021 Site Rus

Started: 15th Finished: 17tn


Russell produced a good final lap in Q1 to ensure he made the second stage of qualifying, shaving off a little more time in Q2 but not enough to do better than 15th place.

Considering the car wasn’t at its best, a strong qualifying effort.


Russell held 15th on the opening lap, although he lost out in his battle with Giovinazzi.

He was passed by Ricciardo and Vettel during that first stint and struck out on a one-stopper that put him 15th ahead of Raikkonen when he suffered a puncture that forced a second stop. The time lost dropped him to 17th behind Schumacher.

VERDICT: Extracted what pace he could from the car, but couldn’t make a one-stopper work.

2021 R20 Driverratings

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