Driver ratings from the Austrian Grand Prix

Date published: July 1 2018

Who is heading into the final part of the triple-header with some momentum and who needs to improve ahead of Silverstone?

Max Verstappen: It was Daniel Ricciardo looking for a gift on his birthday, but it was Verstappen who got all the presents courtesy of a monumental cock-up by the Mercedes strategists.

Backed by a 20,000-strong army of fans in the grandstands, the Dutchman was able to clinch a first race win of the season after Mercedes failed to pit race leader Hamilton under the VSC caused by Valtteri Bottas, leaving Verstappen to secure maximum points after getting ahead of an ultra-attacking Raikkonen in the early stages. Raikkonen and Vettel narrowed the gap in the final stages, but Max managed his blistering tyres superbly as part of a very mature drive to ensure that he would not be knocked off the top step of the podium.

Verstappen is now in a real rich vein of form with three consecutive podium finishes for the first time in his career. What difficult start to the season? That will be long forgotten now. 9.5

Kimi Raikkonen: There is life in the old dog yet! With rumours about his Ferrari future continuing to circulate, Kimi had a very eventful Austrian Grand Prix which culminated in a fifth podium finish of the season.

‘The Iceman’ got off to a flying start and once the lights went green and found himself in the middle of a Mercedes sandwich as he battled Hamilton for the race lead. Raikkonen was very aggressive and, for all his hard work, ended up back down in P4, meaning he has still yet to gain a place by the end of  the opening lap this campaign.

But Kimi did not slide away into the background once the drama on the first lap was over. He was competitive, showed good pace, and got himself back into contention with a nice overtake on a (admittedly) struggling Daniel Ricciardo at the time.

But, take nothing away from him, that was a well-deserved P2 for Raikkonen, who showed once again that he can still compete on race day as opposed to qualifying. 8.5

Sebastian Vettel: What a couple of days of contrasting emotions for Vettel, who after being slapped with a three-place grid penalty for blocking Carlos Sainz in qualifying is now back in front at the top of the World Championship standings.

P3 in qualifying became P6 on the grid once the penalty had been applied, and that soon became P8 after losing ground at the start when receiving a tap from Grosjean. Vettel would go on to recover very well, though, as he had a slow pit stop to contend with too, and overtook a very vulnerable Hamilton along the way to ensure that he would be narrowing the World Championship lead to him rather than seeing it extend, which really should have been the case had Mercedes not had the race from hell.

Retirements for Bottas, Ricciardo and Hamilton meant there was definitely room on the podium for Vettel, who probably could not believe his luck that he ended up on there. 8.5

Romain Grosjean: Points, glorious points at last for Grosjean, who thoroughly, thoroughly deserved them after a rock-solid performance all weekend in Austria. He was in the top 10 in all three practice sessions, split the Red Bulls in qualifying with a majestic Q3 lap and crucially kept it all together to give Haas their best-ever finish in Formula 1 history.

It’s been a long time coming for Grosjean to finally get off the mark with bad luck and some stupid mistakes contributing to a lengthy wait, but he has well and truly showed his class this weekend to help mark Haas’ 50th grand prix in style. 9.5

Kevin Magnussen: Magnussen has finished in the top six more times this season (4) than in the rest of his F1 career combined (2), and now even with 12 races remaining, the Dane has surpassed Grosjean’s best-ever total with Haas (29 points) after another excellent P5 finish in Austria. 

While it has been K-Mag bringing home all the bacon for Haas before Austria, both he and Grosjean have finally been able to showcase the strength of the Haas car and come back with a juicy haul of 22 points. 8.5

Esteban Ocon: Ocon got off to a good start after taking full advantage of Sainz’s hectic beginning, but the Frenchman was another on the lengthy list of those to suffer with blistering tyres. He let Perez through with his fresher tyres to try and attack K-Mag and got P6 back when that plan ultimately failed. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome return to the points for Ocon after a miserable home grand prix in France. 7.5

Sergio Perez: Perez was starting in unfamiliar terrority after a combination of balance, traffic and yellow flag issues contributed to shock Q1 exit. Starting from P15, the Mexican recovered very well to get firmly back into the top 10 and help provide Force India with their first double points finish of the season. The Force India duo have clashed in the past, but no sign of that on Sunday as Perez let Ocon back through after initially agreeing to swap places. 8

Fernando Alonso: The way Alonso was talking to his team in the opening stages, it seems he was ready to pull up and get back to the paddock in time to watch Spain v Russia – but what instead followed was another Alonso masterclass.

Starting from the pit lane after have to change his damaged front wing from qualifying, the two-time World Champion battled his way to a very respectable P8 finish just to show everyone he is still the man.

Alonso deserves much better than this and nobody would begrudge him leaving Formula 1 at the end of the season, but performances like this are just going to make it even harder to say goodbye. 9.5

Charles Leclerc: Leclerc has been making it look easy in recent races but this weekend was far from straightforward – still in the points though. There was another Q2 appearance in the bag despite having a scruffy session and a gearbox failure which saw him drop to P17 on the grid.

Ferrari’s rising star was back up to P14 very quickly but undid that hard work by running very wide and into the gravel trap through the middle sector, which left him having to take the scenic escape road to get back into the action. He found himself at the back with Alonso, but he too was able to charge through the field and get himself back into the points. He has been squeaky clean for the majority of the season, but this was him rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty. 8

Marcus Ericsson: When you still cannot start ahead of your team-mate who has a five-place grid penalty to contend with, the expectation was to see Ericsson in his usual spot of running at the back of the field in a very minor role for Sunday’s main act. 

But the Swede provided a pleasant surprise as he got himself into the battle for P10 alongside his team-mate Leclerc and Pierre Gasly, via a very solid opening stint on the soft tyres, and went on to help Sauber post their first double-points finish since China 2015. Ericsson also played nice with team tactics as Leclerc allowed Ericsson to pass him so he could attack Alonso ahead, but he gave P9 back to his team-mate on the last lap after being unable to do so. 8

Pierre Gasly: A gutsy performance from the Frenchman as trouble struck him at the very first corner via a shunt from Stoffel Vandoorne. He then had to wrestle with an extremely unbalanced car, which in turn ruined his tyres, for the rest of the afternoon and still managed to bring the car home in P11. A lot of hard work for him and sadly no points to show for it. 8

Carlos Sainz: The Spaniard would have had his eyes firmly set on a seventh consecutive points finish but his Sunday afternoon quickly unraveled in Austria. He was one of many drivers to suffer with blistering tyres and it forced Sainz into making a second unscheduled stop. Just to add insult to injury, that second stop was super slow, moving him from inside the points and all the way to P17. He climbed back to P12, but this was a wasted afternoon for Renault, especially with a Hulkenberg  DNF on the other side of the garage. 6

Sergey Sirotkin: Largely anonymous pretty much all weekend again. Even with six race retirements, Williams are still nowhere near looking in contention for points. 5

Lance Stroll: Another miserable, largely uneventful weekend for Williams running at the very back of the grid. They too had two pit stops during Sunday’s race, but rather than because of tyres blistering it was just because they were so far off the pace and essentially got some extra pit stop practice in. Stroll at least had one moment of joy after returning to Q2 for the first time since Baku.

For that reason, Stroll had half a point more than team-mate Sirotkin, but Stroll was given a 10-second penalty after the race for failing to adhere to the blue flags and became last of the finishers as a result. Sloppy.5

Did not finish

Stoffel Vandoorne: A P14 start has produced six podium finishers at the Austrian Grand Prix but Vandoorne was in no danger of adding his name to that list. He collided with Gasly on the first lap, was unable to get going again straightaway as a jack got stuck under his car when pitting for a new nose, and was lapped after just six laps. Then the Belgian, who is now losing 9-0 to Alonso in the qualifying ‘battle’, was forced to retire with two laps to go with a gearbox problem. 4.5

Lewis Hamilton: Where to even start? As disastrous races to go, this is right up there with the very worst of them. Hamilton got the jump on a wheel-spinning Bottas at the start and had the lead at the first corner after seeing off Raikkonen.

What should have followed was a routine win and another extension to his World Championship lead, but instead he is leaving Austria point-less and is now one point behind Vettel again in the standings. Why Hamilton was not told to box from out in front under the VSC period is a mystifying decision and one that cost him dearly, so much so that the man responsible, James Vowles, publicly apologised for over team radio.

If Hamilton wasn’t already thoroughly p*ssed off, then the loss of fuel pressure which forced him to retire with eight laps to go would have no doubt left him wanting to punch something, or someone.

How he responds to this at his home grand prix next weekend will be fascinating to watch. 7.5

Brendon Hartley: Another DNF for the New Zealander after going the longest of anybody on his first stint on the supersoft tyres. This time it is a suspected drive shaft problem as mechanical issues continue to prevent him from showing if he is indeed worthy of a Formula 1 seat. 5.5

Daniel Ricciardo:  “Let’s make sh*t happen today,” said a confident Ricciardo on the formation lap, but all that happened was a sh*t birthday. Ricciardo hauled himself back up to P2 after a dreadful qualifying  – which will be remembered for the unnecessary bickering about who was supposed to be towing whom – but his soft tyres blistered so much that he had to stop for a second time and then, to top it all off, was a third retirement of the season because of a broken exhaust on Lap 51. 6

Valtteri Bottas: It is just not happening for poor, old Valtteri this year, is it? After pipping Hamilton to pole position he looked primed for a second consecutive win in Austria, but a poor start saw him squeezed out to P4. He responded valiantly with a stunning double overtake on Raikkonen and Verstappen to get back to P2…and then his gearbox failed on lap 15. Impossible not to feel sorry for him. The wait for his first win of 2018 continues. 7.5

Nico Hulkenberg: A third DNF in six races for ‘The Hulk’ as his turbo exploded after just 12 laps, ending all hope of a fourth consecutive double points finish for Renault. 5.5