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Formula 1

Edd Straw's 2024 Monaco Grand Prix F1 driver rankings

by Edd Straw
9 min read

While Charles Leclerc finally got the Monaco Grand Prix win he yearned for, many other Formula 1 drivers had very frustrating Sundays on the streets.

But who only had themselves to blame? Here’s Edd Straw’s judgement on the field.

How do the rankings work? The 20 drivers will be ranked in order of performance from best to worst on each grand prix weekend. This will be based on the full range of criteria, ranging from pace and racecraft to consistency and whether they made key mistakes. How close each driver got to delivering on the maximum performance potential of the car will be an essential consideration.

It’s important to note both that this reflects performance across the entire weekend, cognisant of the fact that qualifying is effectively ‘lap 0’ of the race and key to laying the foundations to the race, and that it is not a ranking of the all-round qualities of each driver. It’s simply about how they performed on a given weekend. Therefore, the ranking will fluctuate significantly from weekend to weekend.

And with each of the 10 cars fundamentally having different performance potential and ‘luck’ (ie factors outside of a driver’s control) contributing to the way the weekend plays out, this ranking will also differ significantly from the overall results.

Started: 1st Finished: 1st

There was never a point when it looked like Charles Leclerc wouldn’t win his home grand prix, although he did take a little time to dial back into the car in the first half of qualifying.

The result was pole position, from which he held the lead in two starts and then controlled the race to take a famous win.

Verdict: Completely in control.

Started: 9th Finished: 9th

Alex Albon made the most of a car that has been well-balanced all season to drive with confidence when it mattered, delivering the first Williams Q3 appearance of the year then an error-free race to a couple of points.

Uneventful, but superbly-executed.

Verdict: Couldn’t have done more.

Started: 8th Finished: 8th

Although Yuki Tsunoda had aspirations of doing even better in qualifying, starting and finishing eighth looked to be the maximum of his machinery.

He was quick, consistent and error-free, which is becoming the norm for Tsunoda in 2024.

Verdict: Another excellent weekend.

Started: 2nd Finished: 2nd

Oscar Piastri carried his Imola confidence into Monaco, crediting his commitment for his pace.

While he was the quicker of the McLarens, there was perhaps an opportunity to have beaten Leclerc to pole, and therefore likely victory in the race, given combining his ideal sectors placed him seven hundredths of a second quicker than Leclerc.

Considering he had damage estimated to be worth a quarter of a second in the race, he did well to ensure that didn’t cost him a place. 

Verdict: Superb - but pole was perhaps possible. 

Started: 5th Finished: 5th

George Russell was a little disappointed not to have picked off Lando Norris for fourth in qualifying but, while the pace of the Mercedes was decent, fifth on the grid was a good return.

He spent the race, in his own words "just pootling around", but that was exactly what he needed to do given he was forced onto mediums by the early red flag. Absorbed late pressure from Max Verstappen well.

Verdict: An effectively-executed weekend.

Started: 7th Finished: 7th

Lewis Hamilton went into the weekend without the new-spec Mercedes front wing by agreement given he wasn’t keen on the risk of having just one assembly available.

He looked the quicker Mercedes driver during practice but lost out to Russell in qualifying by half a tenth and two places on the grid.

From there, there was little opportunity to make gains as he spent the race chasing Verstappen, although he was frustrated he wasn’t told to attack on his out-lap to put greater undercut pressure on the Red Bull.

Verdict: Similar level to Russell considering the spec difference.

Started: 10th Finished: 10th

Pierre Gasly started the weekend on the back foot after a wastegate problem restricted his mileage on Friday, but he caught up well.

He beat Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon to Q3 with an outstanding Q2 lap, and although a graze of the wall cost him on his final banzai attempt, the pace probably wasn’t in the car to do better than 10th.

A tidy race, after surviving a clash with Ocon, earned him his first point of the year.

Verdict: His strongest weekend of the year.

Started: 3rd  Finished: 3rd

By his own admission, Carlos Sainz couldn’t match team-mate Leclerc’s confidence in the Ferrari and that showed in a consistent pace gap between the pair. The quarter-second difference in qualifying was a fair reflection of that.

While he was fortunate to get a reprieve by restarting in his original third place, he was unlucky to get a puncture after grazing Piastri at the first start - although there was always a risk of that by trying to hang on up the inside at Sainte Devote on lap one.

Verdict: Good, but not at Leclerc’s level.

Started: 4th Finished: 4th

Norris did nothing wrong in Monaco, but he wasn’t quite at team-mate Piastri’s level and ended up at the back of the Ferrari/McLaren group both in qualifying and the race - and came perilously close to slipping behind Russell on the grid.

Given Ferrari’s management of the gap back to Russell, there was no opportunity to take a pitstop to try to force the issue in his chase of Sainz for third. 

Verdict: Piastri got more out of the car.

Started: 6th Finished: 6th

Verstappen dealt with Red Bull’s ride troubles superbly. However, while his suggestion that nobody would be able to drive the tricky RB20 faster than him holds water, a moment on his final Q3 lap significantly compromised his result.

This was comfortably Red Bull’s worst weekend of the year, but unlike at Imola Verstappen couldn’t deliver the maximum.

Verdict: Small qualifying error cost him three or four places in the race.

Started: 14th Finished: 11th

Fernando Alonso’s weekend was ruined by traffic on his final Q1 lap at the chicane and Rascasse, costing him more than the 0.132s he missed out on Q2 by.

So despite showing good speed at times in practice, that condemned him to a futile Sunday afternoon.

Having to restart on mediums then jumping ahead of Daniel Ricciardo when the race resumed meant he spent much of the race with a queue of cars behind him, headed by the RB.

Verdict: Opportunity limited by Q1 exit.

Started: 19th Finished: DNF

Nico Hulkenberg produced a good lap in qualifying in a Haas that never showed Q3 pace and felt he “squeezed everything out of it” - even if it counted for nothing once both he and team-mate Kevin Magnussen were disqualified from qualifying.

His race was brief, jumping ahead of Zhou Guanyu at the start but losing that place to Magnussen in the Ste Devote traffic jam.

He was the innocent victim of the Sergio Perez/Magnussen shunt and did everything he could to avoid it.

Verdict: Showed good pace, but unlucky on Sunday.

Started: 15th Finished: 15th

Logan Sargeant fell in Q1 and felt after setting a time 0.397s off team-mate Albon's there that he’d maximised the car given Williams didn’t have enough parts for him to run the latest high-downforce rear wing and the recent floor upgrade.

He struggled in the slow run from Mirabeau to Portier, which suggested that while the car specification held him back he also wasn’t extracting the maximum there.

He had a solid race in which he was the only hard-starter not to take mediums at the restart, meaning he had to make a green-flag pitstop.

Verdict: Better than he looked on paper because of the spec difference.

Started: 12th Finished: 13th

Not for the first time this season, Ricciardo struggled to find the laptime gain needed in Q2.

That said, he always appeared to lack the edge of pace RB team-mate Tsunoda had even though the deficit of almost four tenths was slightly larger than expected.

He lost a place at the restart thanks to being boxed in on the run to the first corner, slipping behind Alonso, where he stayed all afternoon.

Verdict: Decent enough, but lacking his old Monaco magic.

Started: 17th Finished: 13th

The Sauber really wasn’t competitive around the streets of Monaco, but despite a brush with the wall on his first FP3 flying lap that cost him the session Valtteri Bottas made the better use of the limited machinery.

But that still meant he was at the back and starting on the hard, which forced him onto mediums for the restart.

He dropped from 14th to 16th when he made a relatively early stop to switch back to hards and passed Sargeant on his way to 13th.

Verdict: Didn’t have the machinery to impress.

Started: 13th Finished: 14th

Lance Stroll was the quicker of the Aston Martin drivers in qualifying, although that was impacted by Alonso hitting Q1 traffic. An untidy final corner in Q2 then cost him.

Having capitalised on Alonso creating a gap for him to make a pitstop without losing track position, a misjudgement at the chicane meant he grazed the wall and picked up a puncture.

Verdict: Sunday misjudgement ruined a solid weekend.

Started: 18th Finished: 16th

Sauber struggled, but Zhou did doubly so as he appeared to lack confidence on the brakes in qualifying, having had a brush with the wall earlier in the weekend.

Slowest in qualifying meant he inevitably spent the afternoon towards the back of the field, much of it in the queue that built up behind Alonso.

Verdict: Struggled more than his team-mate.

Started: 11th Finished: DNF

It says a lot about how much more competitive Alpine was in Monaco that it was disappointing Ocon missed out on Q3 given the pace he showed throughout the weekend.

His lunge on Gasly was massively aggressive given it was on his team-mate and he paid the price with the resulting contact that prevented him taking the restart - and earned a grid penalty for Canada.

Verdict: A missed opportunity in qualifying and the race.

Started: 18th Finished: DNF

Perez’s gap to Verstappen at around three and a half tenths was in line with the deficit at many races, but it made all the difference as he fell in Q1 with traffic contributing to his downfall.

Given he appeared to be aware of Magnussen putting his car into a closing gap, Perez could have played the percentages better and left space to avoid the contact that had such devastating consequences for his race.

Verdict: Mix of misfortune and underachievement.

Started: 20th Finished: DNF

Magnussen’s pace was good throughout the weekend, although he didn’t make good on that in Q2.

While he blamed the Haas team for making him abort a lap, after which he couldn’t improve, backing off for that lap was always in the plan so at best that was a case of confusion.

After a good start he paid the price for taking a big risk by heading into a closing gap on the run up the hill and clashing with Perez.

Verdict: Quick but didn’t play the percentages.

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