Driver ratings from the Turkish Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas wins Turkish Grand Prix. Istanbul October 2021

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas wins the Turkish Grand Prix. Istanbul October 2021

In tricky conditions in Turkey, the drivers starting at the very front and the very back of the grid were the ones to stand out.

Valtteri Bottas: With his team-mate having a grid penalty, Bottas headed to Istanbul Park knowing it could well be the last big chance he has to ever add to his win tally in F1, and he took it emphatically.

Starting on pole after qualifying in P2 behind Hamilton, the Finn made the perfect start, staying ahead of Verstappen, and didn’t look back after that, pulling away from the Dutchman and maintaining a gap throughout.

So strong was his pace that the only driver to threaten him was Leclerc with the Ferrari man trying to go to the end without pitting, but the Mercedes passed him with ease to secure victory.

With Hamilton out of the picture, many expected Verstappen to easily clear Bottas and take the win himself, but Valtteri reminded us all that he’s no pushover on his day. The only thing stopping him from getting a perfect 10 is the fact that he couldn’t beat his team-mate on Saturday, but along with Monza, it was still his best weekend of the season. 9.5

Max Verstappen: This was one of Verstappen’s quietest weekends in a long, long time, with the Dutchman unable to find the pace to challenge Bottas. That was almost solely down to the fact that he had a slower car though, with there being very little wrong with his driving on either Saturday or Sunday.

Given the Mercedes was faster, he needed to get ahead of Bottas at the start if he wanted to win, but couldn’t get a good enough getaway and struggled to keep up with his rival after that, with his lap times often being closer to Charles Leclerc’s.

While he couldn’t fight for the win though, he did ultimately secure P2 very comfortably which was the best possible result really and enough to give him back the lead of the standings.

Across the weekend, he made no major mistakes, and generally got every bit of potential out of his car, shown by how far ahead he was of his team-mate. 8.5

Sergio Perez: For the first time in a while, Checo delivered the exact drive that Red Bull needed from him at Istanbul Park, being the perfect number two.

After qualifying, in which he finished in P7, it looked as if he’d yet again fail to challenge for a podium, but that changed at the start with him getting off the line well and diving down the inside to squeeze past Gasly and Alonso. The Mexican then settled into P4 but struggled for pace, falling behind Leclerc and being caught by Hamilton.

While his outright pace wasn’t great though, he delivered an absolute masterclass in wheel-to-wheel racing, holding off the seven-time World Champion with some fantastic defensive driving and later taking the final podium place from Leclerc with a nice move.

It was a performance that showed he can be a match for the very best when comfortable in his car and a result that massively helped his team-mate. All he needs now is to show this sort of performance on a more consistent basis. 8

Charles Leclerc: He may not have got the win that briefly looked to be in sight, but it was still an immensely impressive weekend from Leclerc.

As if often the case, he was one of the stand-out driver in qualifying, taking P4 and thus starting P3, and he held his position at the start too, being more than a match for the Red Bulls in terms of race pace throughout the first half of the race.

He was the one that then suggested to try and go to the end without pitting, and it was a good bit of thinking at the time. While it didn’t pay off, it didn’t cost him much either and was worth a shot.

The only downside in terms of performance was that he struggled for pace after finally changing tyres and therefore lost P3 to Perez. Even so, he was one of the drivers of the weekend nonetheless. 9

Lewis Hamilton: Hamilton needed to be at his best to stay in touch with Verstappen in the standings, and as he often is in Turkey, he was.

After being fastest on Saturday, he picked up where he left off in the race, clearing the midfield drivers and getting into the top five with ease, being as much as a second faster than anyone else on track at one point.

Once he caught Perez though, he couldn’t find a way past the Mexican despite his superior machinery and that probably cost him a podium as he then decided to reach the finish without pitting only for his team to call him in once the Red Bull and Leclerc had closed the gap on him.

We’ll ultimately never know whether he was right or wrong to disobey his team and go for the no-stop strategy, but either way, it was still a good drive. 8

Pierre Gasly: Perhaps more so than with any other driver, we feel like we end up writing the same things about Gasly most race weekends this year, which is a testament to his fantastic performances.

As per usual, he was one of the most impressive drivers on the grid in qualifying, securing a second-row start, and as per usual, he was just as good on race day, with only a harsh time penalty preventing him from finishing inside the top five.

While he didn’t do much wrong when he hit Alonso at the start, he could have avoided being in the situation in the first place with a better getaway and couldn’t match those ahead in terms of pace afterwards.

Still, the fact that, with that penalty, he still managed to beat the rest of the midfield pack aside from Leclerc while his team-mate couldn’t score any points shows just how well he drove. 9

Lando Norris: Norris couldn’t fight at the front as he did in the previous two rounds, but it was still a solid showing from him in Istanbul.

Throughout the weekend, his McLaren wasn’t as fast relative to the rest of the field as it has usually been this year, and he was unable to find enough pace to challenge those in better machinery. On the bright side, he was far quicker than his team-mate and those in slower cars.

On the whole, he drove pretty well, even if not as spectacular as he has at other rounds this season. 7.5

Carlos Sainz: Sainz was given the official Driver of the Day award, and rightfully so. P8 was an excellent result given he started at the back, and it could have been even better if not for some bad luck.

The Ferrari driver was simply stunning in the opening stages, making overtake after overtake to get himself into the points before his good work was partially undone by a slow pit-stop.

He again recovered well after that though, being the fastest man on track at one point and making some clean overtakes to get himself well inside the top-10 again.

The Spaniard lost around six seconds or so in the pits and would have been right in the mix for a top-six finish if not for that. Not bad for someone who started in P19. 10 

Lance Stroll: While he couldn’t repeat his 2020 heroics at the track where he got his first pole position, Stroll was again impressive there.

The Canadian had the upper hand on team-mate Vettel throughout the weekend, out-qualifying the German on Saturday and spending the whole race ahead of him, scoring some valuable points in the process.

It was simply a very tidy race weekend, with him displaying consistent and steady pace throughout, even if it wasn’t quite enough for him to really challenge Gasly, Norris and Sainz. 8

Esteban Ocon: Ocon carried Alpine’s hopes of a top-10 finish on his shoulders after his team-mate spun at the start, and he did just what was needed of him.

While Leclerc and Hamilton flirted with the idea, the Frenchman was the only one to commit to doing the whole race on his first set of tyres and pulling it off. To be able to make them last and have just enough pace to score the final point was an immensely impressive achievement.

Tyre management isn’t something Ocon is known for, but judging by that effort, it could well be in the future. If his one-lap pace was as good, it would’ve been an excellent weekend. It wasn’t with him way off Alonso in that regard, but it was still a good drive. 8.5

Antonio Giovinazzi: After being second fiddle to Raikkonen upon the Finn’s return last time out, Giovinazzi took back the role of lead driver in Turkey.

Starting one place ahead of Kimi in P16, the Italian made an excellent start to move up to P12. After that, he looked after his tyres well and it so nearly paid off with him passing Ricciardo towards the end and finishing right behind Ocon, just missing out on the final point.

He’ll be gutted he couldn’t score it, but will be glad he was the team’s strongest driver again and comfortably had the beating of the Williams pair. 7.5

Kimi Raikkonen: Kimi had a hugely similar weekend to his Alfa Romeo team-mate; he was just ever so slightly slower throughout.

Like Giovinazzi, he made a strong start, had a solid middle stint and was rapid towards the end relative to those ahead on older tyres.

It was a decent Sunday drive, but a poor Saturday and the fact that he was second best to the Italian limit his rating somewhat. 7

Daniel Ricciardo: After two excellent results in a row, Ricciardo looked more like the driver from the first half of the season this time around.

After a poor qualifying in which he was knocked out in Q1, he took a grid penalty for an engine change and started from the back. The Aussie then struggled to make his way up the order, getting stuck behind Russell while rival Sainz pulled away.

He got himself into the mix for points by choosing to pit for inters long before anyone else and displaying decent pace on them to gain a huge number of places. However, just as it looked like he could take P10, his tyres hit the cliff and he dropped down to P13.

There were some encouraging signs – from that second stint in particular – but not too many with him firmly second best to Norris again. 6

Yuki Tsunoda: It was a weekend of two halves for Tsunoda, with him looking very good initially before struggling in the latter part of the race.

The Japanese driver made it to Q3 and then did a really good job holding off Hamilton in the early stages of the race, doing his bosses at Red Bull a huge favour, but such a strong defence cost him as he killed his tyres.

He then spun as he so often has this year. That caused him to drop down the order, and he didn’t have nearly enough pace to recover after that.

He showed some decent pace at times and drove well early in the race, but made another costly mistake and was again a long way off Gasly. 6

George Russell: Williams struggled for pace in Turkey, and unlike so often in the past, Russell couldn’t compensate for that with his driving.

He did well to make it to Q2 but missed out on Q3 due to a mistake and then struggled to make up any ground in the race, although he did do well to hold off Alonso for pretty much the whole day.

It wasn’t a bad performance by any means, but not one that was particularly impressive either. 6

Fernando Alonso: Alonso looked to be in with a shot of scoring some big points after securing his first top-five starting position since 2014 with a stunning Saturday showing, but then it all quickly went wrong the next day.

It wasn’t his fault that he was hit by Gasly at the start, but he was definitely to blame for hitting Schumacher himself soon afterwards. After that, he spent the rest of the race struggling to clear slower cars.

We saw the very best of him in qualifying, but the Alpine man won’t be happy with how he performed after that. 5.5

Nicholas Latifi: Latifi had a weekend to forget, with him being one of the drivers to struggle most with the tricky conditions.

While he did at least beat both Alfa Romeos, he couldn’t join Russell in Q2 and then dropped back to last at the start of the race after spinning. After that, the best he could do was get back ahead of both Haas cars and Vettel thanks to the German’s decision to try slicks out.

In short, it was a weekend to forget for the Canadian. 5

Sebastian Vettel: The same thing can be said about Vettel, who struggled at the track where he enjoyed one of his best races last season.

It was his call to put on the slicks and it proved to be a poor one with him having no grip whatsoever and having to put inters back on soon afterwards.

That ruined his race, but things hadn’t exactly been going great before that with him being the slower Aston Martin driver. 5

Mick Schumacher: The result doesn’t reflect it, but this was one of Schumacher’s best weekends since joining the F1 grid.

If Driver of the Day awards were given out on Saturdays, he may well have got it with him somehow getting his Haas into Q2 ahead of much faster cars. He then recovered well on Sunday after being hit by Alonso early on, getting back ahead of his team-mate.

With performances like that, it’s hard not to be excited at the prospect of one day watching him in a better car. Hopefully, it’s not far away… 7.5

Nikita Mazepin: Things couldn’t have been more different for the other Haas driver with Mazepin worlds away from Schumacher all weekend.

He was almost four seconds slower in qualifying and finished behind him in the race despite the German’s spin. To make matters worse, he so nearly took out Hamilton after not moving aside for the Brit when being shown a Blue Flag, although he says that was due to an issue with his mirrors.

Either way, not a good few days. 4


Winners and losers from the Turkish Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen will be pleased with their races, but even after rising through the field, Lewis Hamilton was one of the big losers in the Turkish Grand Prix.