British Grand Prix Driver Ratings
Is anyone else still processing the last few laps or is it just me?
Even though we had a couple of safety car periods during the race, up until the last ten minutes or so it wasn't hugely exciting. Once again the two Mercedes cars looked to be in a class of their own with Verstappen in a lonely third place. However, as has been the theme this season, everything kicked off in the last few laps of the race.
We were treated to one of the craziest finishes to a race in recent memory, as the race winner completed the final lap with only three tyres on his car. There were a few great performances masked by the craziness, so let's get into the ratings.
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1st Place: Lewis Hamilton
After this weekend I don't think it is unreasonable to say that Hamilton will win his seventh world championship in 2020. He's now thirty points clear of his teammate Valtteri Bottas, a lead which could only be lost if Hamilton fails to finish a couple of races. The Brit seems to be unbeatable in qualifying, with his lap on Saturday being three-tenths faster than what Bottas could manage in the same car.
I'm not sure about this, but I cannot think of another race where the leader has been able to complete the final lap with a puncture and still win. Hamilton was lucky to have this failure on the last lap unlike Bottas, but even if there had not been any problems he would have extended his championship lead over the Finn.
Over the past week, he also revealed that he would like to stay in the sport for at least the next three years, so for as long as he keeps performing at this level who knows how many titles he may go onto achieve. Could he hit double digits?
2nd Place: Max Verstappen
I feel like I am writing the same thing about Verstappen after every race, as he appears to be the gift that keeps on giving for Red Bull. The Dutchman is extracting everything he possibly can out of his RB15, a car which has proven to be unpredictable and difficult to drive.
Due to the chaotic end to the race, he was unexpectedly in contention for the race win. He finished only five seconds behind Hamilton and would have stood on the top step of the podium if it had not been for the team bringing him into the pits in the closing stages of the race. This was so he could go for the fastest lap, but the team will regret making this decision when they had already seen Bottas' tyre explode.
Verstappen is the only driver this season that is able to keep Mercedes on their toes as they know that if anything goes wrong, he will be there to pile on the pressure.
3rd Place: Charles Leclerc
Leclerc is another driver that is making the most of what he has to work with this season, somehow scoring his second podium of the season in a car which does not deserve to be there. The Monegásque driver somehow managed to put his car in fourth place on the grid, only just missing out on the top three to Verstappen.
Leclerc was then in a race all on his own, maintaining the four to five second lead to the McLarens behind. He was in the right place at the right time to capitalise on Bottas' misfortune, but I feel the least he deserved was a podium finish. This is because when you look at how he compares against his teammate Sebastian Vettel, it is like he is driving a different car.
4th Place: Daniel Ricciardo
Up until this weekend, Daniel Ricciardo has had a pretty quiet start to the season. He has been comfortably ahead of his teammate Esteban Ocon, but unable to provide any head-turning results due to the lack of speed in his Renault.
However, he showed strong pace in qualifying to start from seventh, but it was the race where the Australian shone. He had a good start to get past both Lance Stroll and Lando Norris, but lost out to the latter after the first safety car. Once the hard tyres had come up to temperature, Ricciardo managed to get back past Norris and was in the DRS of Sainz until being gifted fourth place when the Spaniard's tyre exploded.
He will be hoping to continue this good turn of pace going into next weekend's race at Silverstone, as it is a chance for Renault to close up to Racing Point and Ferrari in the constructors' world championship.
5th Place: Lando Norris
Norris went into his second home Grand Prix off the back of a great start to the season in Austria, and Silverstone was a track which the team thought would suit their car a bit better than the Hungaroring.
The British driver yet again performed well in qualifying, beating his teammate Carlos Sainz for the third time this season. He had a good initial start to the race, but locked his brakes and lost a couple of positions to Sainz and Ricciardo by the end of the first lap. However, he managed to overtake Ricciardo and stuck with Sainz until the penultimate lap of the race when he was passed by the Australian.
It was still a good result for Norris, crossing the line in fifth place to retain his fourth place in the world championship. He will be hoping for more of the same next weekend, and without that lock up he had the pace to finish in fourth.
6th Place: Esteban Ocon
Ocon has had a pretty slow start to the season up until this point, consistently being off the pace of Ricciardo and finishing at the back end of the midfield. However this weekend the Frenchman started to show the pace that he had back in 2018, as he becomes more accustomed to his Renault RS20.
He had a good battle with Lance Stroll during the race, eventually managing to pass the Canadian to cross the line in sixth place. I hope to see Ocon build from this strong result, as I feel he has the skill to be challenging Ricciardo on a regular basis.
7th Place: Pierre Gasly
Gasly has been one of the star performers this year for me, but his great driving has gone under the radar. He has regularly beaten his teammate Daniil Kvyat in qualifying and has been a consistent points scorer for AlphaTauri this season.
The Frenchman has found the speed he showed before his short spell at Red Bull, but I don't know if he has a route out of AlphaTauri. This is because although Albon isn't performing as well as the team wants, I just can't see them taking Gasly back given how bad it was the first time around. Whether this is true or not, he definitely isn't harming his chances of returning to Red Bull with performances like this.
8th Place: Alex Albon
I think you would struggle to find somebody who isn't feeling a bit sorry for Albon at the moment. He went from being in contention for the race win in Austria to being knocked out of Q2 in both Hungary and Silverstone.
He has not been able to get to grips with the unpredictable RB15 this season, crashing heavily in FP2 and only managing to qualify in twelfth for the race. I don't think it is fair to put the blame on Albon completely, as although he is far behind his teammate the car has been designed around the Dutchman. I think Red Bull have made the right decision to bring Simon Rennie back into the fold as his race engineer, and this gives me hope that Albon won't be cast out in the same way as Kvyat or Gasly.
For me, this just shows how well Ricciardo did in a team that is clearly focused around Verstappen (thanks to Matt Gallagher for this realisation).
9th Place: Lance Stroll
It was a rather disappointing week for Racing Point, as they received the news that Sergio Perez had tested positive for COVID-19. This meant the Mexican driver was forced to miss the team's home race, leaving Stroll as their best chance to score a good result.
The team were unable to show the pace that many expected them to have going into this weekend, as Stroll was only able to qualify in sixth place. Both he and his teammate Nico Hulkenberg thought they had left time on the table in qualifying and hoped to do a bit better in the race.
However, Stroll was unable to fight with the likes of McLaren and even Renault, finishing at the bottom end of the top ten in ninth place. The team will have a lot of work to do to figure out where their pace has gone from the first few races, although I have a feeling the answer is currently in quarantine.
10th Place: Sebastian Vettel
At this rate, I think that Vettel will be counting down the days until his Ferrari contract is over. The German driver was off the pace of his teammate Leclerc all weekend, and he appeared once again to really struggle with the handling of the car.
Now, there is an argument to be made that his car is not equal to Leclerc's, but I do not think this is the case. This is because, for a team as proud as Ferrari, there is not a chance that they would ever do anything to make themselves look even worse than they already do this season. When considering what could be wrong, you have to ask the question of whether Vettel is part of the problem.
11th Place: Valtteri Bottas
I feel sorry for Bottas after his tyre blowout, as through no fault of his own, he saw his championship challenge go up in smoke. The gap to Hamilton went from five points to thirty in the blink of an eye, an unattainable challenge when the Brit is driving as well as he is currently.
Bottas was yet again unable to challenge Hamilton in qualifying after showing good speed in practice, but he did manage to stay close to his teammate in the race. He was consistently within a couple of seconds of Hamilton, ready to capitalise on any mistake.
He will need his luck to change in order to retake the championship lead, but I really can't see this happening. I am willing to be proven wrong on this, but how often does Hamilton retire from a race, nevermind make a mistake?
12th Place: George Russell
Russell is really showing his class this year in a much improved Williams, as the team are finally able to challenge the back end of the midfield. He once again made it into Q2, outperforming drivers in arguably faster cars.
If I had told you that Russell would finish only ten seconds away from a Ferrari before the season began, would you have believed me? I don't think you would have, and this is testament to the improvements that Williams have made this season. He managed to finish in twelfth from last on the grid, so what could he have done starting from his original fifteenth?
I would have given Russell the perfect 5/5 stars for this weekend if it had not been for his penalty in qualifying, but he will have a second chance in one week's time to show what he can do and hopefully earn his first points finish.
13th Place: Carlos Sainz
Sainz is another driver who has been incredibly unlucky this season, but I'm sure he will be pissed off the most by this weekend. Although the Spaniard was once again out-qualified by his teammate Norris, he had a great start to the race to cross the line at the end of the first lap in fifth place.
It looked like he was set for a fourth-place finish after holding off Norris and Ricciardo in the closing stages of the race, but it was not to be as he was another victim of the Pirelli tyres. His front left tyre exploded on the penultimate lap, forcing a pitstop and lost him and the team twelve championship points.
14th Place: Antonio Giovinazzi
Giovinazzi had another quiet weekend in his Alfa Romeo, which is showing to be one of the slowest cars on the grid this season. The Italian is doing his best despite this, consistently beating his much more experienced teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
He had a few good battles with the AlphaTauri cars in the race but did not have the pace to stick with them after the early stages. I think he is doing a solid job for the team, but questions will still be asked whether he has a future with them when there are a few impressive Ferrari young drivers currently in Formula 2.
15th Place: Nicholas Latifi
I think Latifi is beginning to show the pace that he had in the junior categories, as he only finished two seconds behind his teammate in the race and also looked to have good one-lap pace in practice.
He still hasn't found the consistency that he would like, as the Canadian suffered from a couple of spins over the weekend. The most costly spin was in qualifying, making a mistake on his final lap in the first part of qualifying. This meant he propped up the timesheets on Saturday, but he will have a chance at redemption at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix next weekend.
16th Place: Romain Grosjean
Grosjean was off the pace of his teammate Kevin Magnussen in qualifying, but had a pretty good start to put himself in the mix in the race. The team decided not to come into the pits at the first safety car period, meaning that the Frenchman found himself in fifth place in the early stages of the race.
He managed to race inside the top ten for the majority of the race, but was accused of dangerous driving by both Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo. Grosjean made a few unacceptable moves under braking when defending his position, causing the stewards to wave the black and white flag for 'unsportsmanlike behaviour'. He escaped without a penalty, but he needs to be careful next weekend as his moves at 200mph could quite easily lead to a huge crash.
17th Place: Kimi Raikkonen
If every weekend this year is like this past weekend, I think Raikkonen will just walk away from the sport at the end of the season. He seemed frustrated with his team all weekend on the team radio and was off the pace of his teammate Giovinazzi both in qualifying and the race.
For me, this was the worst performance I have seen from the Iceman in a long time. He seemed to not only be off the pace, but also to lack any sort of motivation. I, like many, hope that he can score a few good results before he decides to retire, but I can't see this happening without some sort of miracle.
I don't give ratings for drivers who don't finish the race, but I do give some honourable mentions to those who I feel deserve it. Firstly, I think that Kvyat deserves a mention for climbing up to twelfth place after starting from last. He seemed to be particularly harsh on himself for a crash which was not his fault, and I am sure he will be back stronger next weekend.
The other driver who impressed me this weekend was Nico Hulkenberg. Yes, he didn't even make the start of the race but that doesn't matter. He was able to jump back in a Formula 1 car after ninth months away and be right on the pace of Stroll in a car which is completely new to him. I hope he is able to show his speed in the race next weekend as he clearly deserves to be in the sport.
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