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Formula 1

Edd Straw’s Styrian GP driver ratings + reader debate

by Edd Straw
13 min read

The Styrian Grand Prix featured a crushing victory drive, heartbreaking misfortune and will lead to plenty of head-scratching before the 20 Formula 1 drivers do it all again next Sunday.

It was from the most exciting race we’ve seen at the Austrian circuit, but there was a real variety of great, good and clumsy drives throughout the field.

Edd Straw gives his take on each driver’s performance – and you can debate his scores with him live in the comments section at 5.30pm UK time on Monday.

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


This was an untidy qualifying session by Hamilton’s sky-high standards at a circuit that has historically not been his best. Despite being able to squeeze in three attempts on fresh softs in Q3, he couldn’t get close to Verstappen or quite match team-mate Bottas.

Jun 27 : Styrian Grand Prix review


Profoundly second with no way to attack the quicker Verstappen, but Hamilton ensured he left Bottas and Perez behind and he grabbed a relatively easy fastest lap late on.

VERDICT: Qualifying was shaky but he was a cut above Bottas in the race.

2021 Site Bot

Started: 5th Finished: 3rd


Having got lost set-up wise, he moved closer to Hamilton’s approached and was on form in qualifying, outpacing his team-mate by a slender margin.

But he already had a three-place grid penalty hanging over him thanks to his FP2 spin in the pits, which he felt was harsh but was perfectly justified given the safety implications.


Bottas ran fifth early on, then fourth once he’d cleared Norris before jumping Perez in the pits when the Red Bull driver had a slow stop.

He did a good job in his long second stint to keep out of range of the charging Perez.

VERDICT: Beat Hamilton in qualifying but has to be marked down for his pit spin that earned a penalty and he wasn’t at Hamilton’s level in the race.

2021 Site Per

Started: 4th Finished: 4th


Perez looked to have the pace to join Verstappen on the front row, but struggled in Q1 and had to use up a second set of softs. That left him with just one run on fresh softs in Q3, with a mistake in Turn 1 after letting the tyre temperature drop too much costing him. He also ran softs in Q2, which he stressed was a strategic decision rather than one forced by concerns about getting through.


Perez held off Bottas at the start and, after briefly getting ahead of Norris then losing the position, regained third place.

He stayed there throughout the first stint, but a slow rear-left wheel change allowed Bottas to jump ahead. Came back at Bottas after a second pitstop, but was unable to get within range.

VERDICT: Fourth-best but should have second-best ahead of the Mercedes drivers. Yes, the pitstop cost him but he was fortunate to have been ahead of Bottas thanks to the grid penalty in the first place.

2021 Site Ver

Started: 1st Finished: 1st


Yes, the Red Bull had the edge on pace but Verstappen was absolutely in control during qualifying. Unlike several costly occasions earlier this season, his first Q3 lap was on the money and ultimately good enough to give him pole position.


Verstappen was utterly in control, holding the lead at the start, drawing out of DRS range and not putting a foot wrong despite the odd concern with the brakes.

His 35-second winning margin was exaggerated by Hamilton’s late pitstop to go for fastest lap, but he never looked like dropping the ball.

VERDICT: Absolutely in control but, as a result, not unduly extended.

2021 Site Ric

Started: 13th Finished: 13th


An unexpectedly lacklustre performance from Ricciardo, who was optimistic after Friday but simply couldn’t match Norris come qualifying. It seemed his recent progress in adapting to the McLaren didn’t quite translate to the brisker corners of the Red Bull Ring’s second and third sector.


A great first lap, including a pass on Tsunoda around the outside of Turn 9 that was just within track limits, got him up to ninth place. Unfortunately, a loss of power due to a control system problem that was reset dropped him back to 13th on lap seven. He ran long before his stop, picking off Ocon and Giovinazzi in the second stint to wind up back in 13th.

VERDICT: Qualifying was poor but strong first lap laid foundations for what would have been a handy haul of points but for the engine issue.

2021 Site Nor

Started: 3rd Finished: 5th


This was a well-executed session from Norris, who found time in each segment of qualifying and gave McLaren its best starting position of the year with fourth place. He looked absolutely at one with the car, although with a perfect lap he could maybe have picked off Hamilton.


Norris held third place overall after a fine pass on Perez on the opening lap to reclaim the position, but always knew his real battle was not with Red Bull or Mercedes.

After both Perez and Bottas passed him unopposed, he kept a vice-like grip on fifth, although this was assisted by Hamilton blunting Sainz’s late-race charge.

VERDICT: Another strong performance to the best-possible race result, although perhaps could even have beaten a Mercedes or two on Saturday.

2021 Site Vet

Started: 14th Finished: 12th


Vettel wasn’t quite as quick as Stroll in qualifying trim and struggled with understeer, leading to him having his best Q2 lap deleted for a Turn 10 track limits violation. That cost him a couple of places, although he never looked like he had the pace to make Q3 on merit.


Despite climbing to 12th on the first lap, then picking up 11th when Ricciardo had his power problem, Vettel never quite got a foothold in the points despite occasionally looking like he might be able to bother Tsunoda. He lost 11th to Raikkonen in the closing stages.

VERDICT: Underachieved in qualifying both compared to Stroll and his own pace, which meant he was never a genuine points threat.

2021 Site Str

Started: 9th Finished: 8th


After two Q1 disasters, Stroll said his focus was on things going well on Saturday and he delivered on that by doing a good job to reach Q3. Unfortunately, his sole Q3 lap – completed out of synch between the two runs completed by others – wasn’t his best and he could easily have been as much as three places higher.


Although he didn’t have a great launch, Stroll climbed to sixth on the first lap thanks to Gasly and Leclerc making contact and prevailing in a great battle with Alonso that was resolved with his round-the-outside pass at Turn 6.

Like everyone in this part of the field, his battle was to keep clear of the rapid Ferraris, which he was unable to do as he was passed by Sainz and later Leclerc in the second stint.

VERDICT: An improved, but not perfect, qualifying and great first lap yielded the best possible race result.

2021 Site Alo

Started: 8th Finished: 9th


Alonso was delighted with his performance in qualifying and certainly seemed to have a better handle on the Alpine than his team-mate. Perhaps he should have been seventh given the half-tenth gap to Tsunoda and the fact he gave away a tenth-and-a-half to his theoretical best, but he still improved on his outstanding Q2 lap.


Alonso ran seventh in the first stint after losing out to Stroll at Turn 6 on the opening lap and kept first Russell, then Tsunoda at bay.

But he ended up losing a place to Sainz’s overcut – not helped by having to let Verstappen lap him while the Ferrari driver pitted.

Leclerc caught and passed him in the second stint, but he was adamant ninth was as good as it was ever going to get.

VERDICT: Strong but short of the maximum in qualifying and the race.

2021 Site Oco

Started: 17th Finished: 14th


He struggled for confidence from the start of the weekend despite encouraging pace on Friday. Always looked a step behind Alonso on outright pace, but being almost a quarter-of-a-second off meant he was eliminated in Q1.


Ocon held 14th in the first stint and was still there at the end in an Alpine that didn’t really have the pace to make progress in the traffic jam on the periphery of the points positions. He ran long in the first stint to try to gain a grip advantage in the second half of the race but was unable to make progress.

VERDICT: Qualifying doomed Ocon given the difficulty of making gains in the race.

2021 Site Lec

Started: 7th Finished: 7th


Dealt better with the limitations of the Ferrari than team-mate Sainz, and while he couldn’t match some of the headline-grabbing qualifying positions of earlier in the season, seventh represented an overachievement given the pace of the car. He put together a strong lap when it mattered to ensure he beat Alonso and Tsunoda.


Leclerc pitted for a change of front wing after needless contact with Gasly on the first lap. That put him effectively on a one-stopper and left him coming through from 18th place.

He drove superbly, aside from the moment he clipped Raikkonen’s front wing after passing him, with nine of the 11 positions he made up achieved by on-track passes

VERDICT: From lap two to the end was superb, but lap one was his error and without it could have finished a place or two higher.

2021 Site Sai

Started: 12th Finished: 6th


Sainz seemed to struggle with understeer more than team-mate Leclerc, but he still showed enough speed to have made it through to Q3 if he’d strung together the lap he should have done. But the lap got away from him in the final sector and he ended up down in 12th.


Having got ahead of Ricciardo when the McLaren suffered a brief power loss, Sainz ran 10th in the first stint behind Tsunoda.

Stuck in a DRS train, he extended his starting stint to lap 41, then quickly passed Stroll for sixth.

He started to close the gap to Norris, but Hamilton lapping him then held him up and put an end to that hope despite eventually letting Sainz back past.

VERDICT: A little off Leclerc’s qualifying pace, but a very well-executed race.

2021 Site Gas

Started: 6th Finished: DNF


That he would qualify in the top six for the sixth time in eight races in 2021 never looked in doubt and there was no sign he could have done any better in what was probably his most impressive Saturday performance of the year in terms of execution.


Gasly’s race was over seconds after it started, picking up a puncture after contact with Leclerc on the run out of Turn 1 then making contact with Giovinazzi and Latifi at Turn 3. The resulting damage put him out.

VERDICT: Superb in qualifying, desperately unlucky in the race.

2021 Site Tsu

Started: 11th Finished: 10th


Made it through to Q3 for the second time and although he was giving away two or three tenths to Gasly, had an assured run through practice and qualifying. He had a hand in the grid penalty he was given for impeding Bottas, although the AlphaTauri pitwall failed to give him any traffic updates on his in-lap.


Initially Tsunoda slotted in behind Russell but a poor exit from Turn 7 on lap one allowed Ricciardo to draw alongside and complete a pass around the outside of Turn 9.

He regained the place when Ricciardo suffered a brief power loss on lap seven to run ninth, then gained a place when Russell hit trouble. But he was overcut by Sainz and then passed by the recovering Leclerc, which added up to 10th place.

Tsunoda felt that without a miscommunication caused by him not updating his tyre condition indicator that led to the team telling him to push rather than manage, he could have had a run at Alonso’s ninth place.

VERDICT: Not at Gasly’s level but a solid weekend’s work compromised by a needles grid penalty

2021 Site Rai

Started: 18th Finished: 11th


Sat out FP1 in favour of Robert Kubica, but didn’t feel the loss of the session cost him. In his own words, “I didn’t manage to make one good lap” in qualifying, which has been the trend this year, and he ended up falling in Q1 – 0.337s slower than team-mate Giovinazzi. Also had a trip into the Turn 4 gravel on his second push lap of the first run.


While he didn’t make gains off the line or through the first corner, the Turn 3 incident opened things up and he ended the first lap 13th. He gained from Ricciardo’s problem then caught and passed Vettel in the final stint, but ultimately couldn’t quite get within range of Tsunoda for 10th.

VERDICT: Drove a decent race but could have picked up a points finish with a stronger qualifying

2021 Site Gio

Started: 15th Finished: 15th


Again had a pace advantage over Raikkonen and made it through to Q2 with relative ease. He only had one set of fresh softs for Q2, using mediums for his first run, and put together what was largely a very good lap – save for a messy run through the final corner that potentially cost a place.


His race was undone at Turn 3 on the opening lap when, after moving to the outside to go round the slowing Gasly he was turned into a spin by the AlphaTauri.

There was nothing wrong with his race pace and he quickly got back past the Haas drivers, but he made a relatively early stop to hards and struggled for grip towards the end of the race, dropping from 12th to 15th in the closing stages having earlier undercut his way past Raikkonen, Ocon and Ricciardo.

VERDICT: His race was ruined by lap one and resulting aggressive strategy.

2021 Site Maz

Started: 20th Finished: 18th


Lapped a tenth-and-a-half of Schumacher and could have been a little quicker but for starting his final Q1 lap with a lock-up at the final turn. Looked a little more comfortable in the faster corners than the slower ones.


Did a good job on the first lap, picking the outside line at Turn 3 and getting ahead of his team-mate. He made his one and only pitstop at the end of lap 21 having stayed ahead of Schumacher but was passed during the second stint – also losing a place to the recovering Latifi in the closing laps.

VERDICT: Pace was unremarkable and race again trailed off after a promising start.

2021 Site Msc

Started: 19th Finished: 16th


Looked the quicker of the Haas drivers, as usual, although a mistake at Turn 1 on his third and final Q1 run meant that he didn’t deliver the laptime he should have done. But it was still enough to put him ahead of Mazepin, and the Haas didn’t have the pace to do better than the last row.


Schumacher held position at the start, but was passed by Mazepin on the outside line into Turn 3 as he picked his way through the Gasly/Giovinazzi/Latifi melee.

He ran behind his team-mate before Mazepin was called in, partly to defuse their battle, but after making his pitstop 12 laps later then caught and passed him for 16th – also keeping the recovering Latifi at bay.

VERDICT: The quicker Haas driver, but not by a massive margin in terms of raw pace.

2021 Site Lat

Started: 16th Finished: 17th


Had three shots on fresh softs in Q2, which put him into the top 10 at a time when most had only completed one run. But he failed to improve on his third and final run, losing time from the start of the lap then having to go round distracting but out of the way traffic late in the lap. To his credit, was only 0.033s off Q2 and within two-tenths of Russell.


Picked up a right-rear puncture at Turn 3 on the first lap as he unsuccessfully attempted to get round the Gasly/Giovinazzi collision. That cost Latifi close to a lap and cast him adrift at the back.

From there, he ran a soft/hard strategy, getting ahead of Mazepin but falling a few seconds short of catching Schumacher.

VERDICT: Not at Russell’s level but solid enough and unlucky in the race.

2021 Site Rus

Started: 10th Finished: DNF


Another fine Saturday for Russell, who strung together an excellent Q2 lap to miss out on the top 10 by just eight-thousandths of a second. Was delighted to feel the car “come alive” in qualifying despite increased focus on race set-up.


Had a good first lap, effectively holding position but ending up eighth thanks to Gasly and Leclerc hitting trouble.

He managed the first stint beautifully but was losing air from the pneumatic system, forcing an early stop, then a second stop, then retirement.

Had he held position between Alonso and Tsunoda, that would have been 10th place – and he even suggested finishing as high as seventh was possible.

VERDICT: There was very little more he could do.

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