Italian GP driver ratings: Verstappen’s masterclass, Sainz shines and Stroll stumbles

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Driver ratings image, 2023 Italian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz throws his cap off the podium at Monza following the Italian Grand Prix.

As Ferrari failed to disrupt the dominance of Max Verstappen, here are our driver ratings from an engaging Italian Grand Prix.

Driver ratings explained: Every driver starts the weekend slap bang in the middle with a 5/10 rating and we operate on a sliding scale from there. We take the entire weekend into account, not just the race itself.

However, the scores will be weighted more towards a driver’s race performance, but qualifying performances (good or bad) are also factored into our ratings and, in extreme circumstances, practice will also play a minor part in the overall score.

Formula 1 witnessed history as Verstappen became the first driver to win ten races in a row, despite a valiant effort from Ferrari on their home turf.

Along with the usual performance from Verstappen, there were sterling efforts from a new tifosi favourite and unlikely backmarker pedallers.

Here are PlanetF1.com’s driver ratings for the 2023 Italian Grand Prix:

Max Verstappen: 9

What else can you say about Verstappen? Red Bull’s record-breaking season continues with the Dutchman taking his tenth race victory in a row, a thoroughly impressive feat that you simply have to applaud.

He might not have taken the lead at the start, but when Verstappen started talking to his engineer in a way that suggested a race-winning overtake wasn’t far away, then the writing was on the wall for Ferrari.

He might have avoided these minor inconveniences by securing pole position, but he dealt with Ferrari throwing the kitchen sink at them masterfully.

Sergio Perez: 7

After qualifying in fifth, Perez was always expected to move forward with his incredibly raceable RB19. He made hard work of overtaking George Russell, who was driving the third-fastest car this weekend, but mostly kept his head enough to catch and pass the Ferrari duo later in the race.

He didn’t seem to have the same level of patience as his teammate when dealing with a fired up Carlos Sainz, but he dutifully brought the second Red Bull into second place.

He solidified his place as the firm favourite for second in the Drivers’ Championship, which would be the first time Red Bull have claimed a one-two in the overall standings.

Carlos Sainz: 9.5

It was a valiant effort from Sainz, and it would have been cruel to have seen him fall away from the podium positions in the closing stages of the race. Ferrari clearly threw everything at trying to disrupt Red Bull and prevent taking a record on their home turf, but they would have required a series of unusual circumstances to deny the Austrian team.

He handled the start incredibly well, and didn’t panic when racing against the much faster Red Bulls. He appeared to suffer with the tyre degradation at the end of his stints but, with everything at stake, it can’t really be held against him.

However, his late repass on Leclerc into the second chicane, where both drivers ended up cutting the chicane, might have drawn more action from the stewards on another day.

Charles Leclerc: 7.5

Beaten by his teammate in qualifying, Leclerc stayed with the main fight for the lead until the Red Bulls found their way past and disappeared into the distance. He was unable to help his teammate out very much, but matched his pace throughout.

Leclerc looked like he was completely at the limit of adhesion when racing Sainz at the end of the race, and it looked close to ending in tears when he was locking up and sliding into Turn 1.

It’s hard to know whether or not Ferrari will discuss the edgy racing in their debrief, but you would think some team bosses might have interfered in the final laps of the race and called it off sooner.

George Russell: 6.5

Russell had a combative start to the race, defending very well against Perez, but he ended up not getting very much screen time after the pit stop phase.

The Mercedes man had a clumsy and needless encounter with Ocon when he came out of the pits, which might have proven more costly on another day, but Russell will be happy to have finished ahead of Hamilton in five races.

Lewis Hamilton: 6

With Russell showing sufficient pace to cruise away from the McLarens and Williams’ Albon, eyes were on Hamilton’s attempt on the alternate strategy to haul himself back into a more respectable points position.

After playing the waiting game in the first stint, he made light work of most of the opposition apart from Oscar Piastri. The Mercedes driver was rightly penalised for the collision with the young McLaren driver, but on this day the penalty was inconsequential.

Alexander Albon: 8.5

Albon’s points-scoring drives for Williams have often been accompanied by a trail of faster cars unable to get past, and Monza was no exception. He recovered a lost position at the start and initially looked to be breaking away from the McLarens early on in the race, but tyre wear issues brought the papaya team back into play.

Thanks to a big tyre differential, Albon was unable to keep Hamilton at bay, but patient racing, competent defending and very strong straight-line speed helped prevent more places being lost.

Lando Norris: 6.5

McLaren weren’t able to replicate their form shown at other European venues at Monza, but it will be some comfort that a bad day can now yield a points finish. Norris was out-qualified by his rookie teammate, but his experience showed with some of his racing today.

He managed to leapfrog his teammate during the pit stop phase, and calmly passed him around the outside of Turn 1. He wasn’t able to make a move stick on Albon, but McLaren might have hoped to eke out more points on a day where Aston Martin weren’t at their best.

Fernando Alonso: 6.5

After the heroics of Zandvoort last weekend, it was a relatively quiet Monza race day for Alonso. He fell behind Hulkenberg at the start but, after repassing the Haas, he had a relatively lonely race after that.

Aston Martin weren’t expecting to be quick at the high-speed circuit, but the 42-year-old profited from the Hamilton-Piastri tangle to improve to P9. He was brought into play for more points due to Albon’s tyre struggles, but the pace never really seemed to be there to challenge for anything more.

Valtteri Bottas: 7.5

Another driver to profit from the inverse tyre strategy, Bottas started on the Hard tyres and worked his way into the top ten before making his one pit stop for Mediums.

Of the drivers who started ahead, Hulkenberg naturally fell back due to Haas’ tyres woes, Piastri fell behind due to his collision damage, Tsunoda retired before the race start, and Lawson committed to a two-stop strategy.

Still, Bottas had to dispose of Logan Sargeant in the faster Williams car in order to secure the point, and he had enough pace to prevent the two-stopping drivers fighting back.

Liam Lawson: 8

The New Zealander was given his first chance at a full F1 race weekend, and he acquitted himself well at AlphaTauri’s home race. He was surprisingly close to teammate Tsunoda’s qualifying pace, but any comparison between the two ended before the start of the race, due to his teammate’s DNS.

Running just out of the points for much of the race, AlphaTauri rolled the dice in the second half of the race by converting to a two-stop strategy. This was fundamentally the wrong choice on outright pace, but a more chaotic race might have yielded a late opportunity for the 21-year-old. After penalties, P11 is a fine effort from a first full F1 weekend.

Oscar Piastri: 6

After a strong Q3 lap to outqualify his teammate, Piastri got off to a great start by nipping ahead of Albon. He was repassed, but stayed in touch with the Williams driver in the first stint.

He was unlucky that Norris was called into pits first, which invited the undercut that allowed the Briton to pass into the Turn 1 chicane as Piastri emerged from the pits. The Australian’s defence into the chicane was a tad clumsy and caused contact, but they got away with it.

He was also unlucky to be nerfed off the track by Hamilton. After that, he earned a penalty for his chicane antics against Liam Lawson, but by this point he was probably too annoyed to care.

Logan Sargeant: 5

Following his hydraulics-related retirement from a Zandvoort race where Williams surprisingly excelled, Monza was a race where the whole team expected to be competing for points. Sargeant was unable to follow teammate Albon through to Q3, but was competing on the fringes of the points for some time.

The American emerged in P10 in the later stages of the race, but he was also suffering from the same tyre wear issues as his teammate, having pitted earlier than Albon did. Nevertheless, he was unable to prevent Bottas from overtaking, and picked up a time penalty for a tangle for good measure. A good opportunity missed for Sargeant, who really needed to be closer to Albon’s pace this weekend.

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Guanyu Zhou: 4.5

It was a fairly anonymous race from Sunday’s second Alfa Romeo driver, who was out-qualified and out-raced by Bottas.

The team tried two different kinds of ‘alternate’ strategy; Bottas ran a Hard-to-Medium plan, whilst Zhou ended up on a two-stop strategy, which wasn’t quick enough to trouble those in the point-scoring positions.

Pierre Gasly: 5

After his unlikely podium at Zandvoort, the Frenchman was brought back down to earth by a very uncompetitive performance from the Alpine team. He fractionally out-qualified teammate Ocon, but both fell out of Q1.

Gasly’s crew attempted a two-stop strategy of Medium-Hard-Medium tyres, but it was a roll of the dice that almost didn’t matter.

Lance Stroll: 3

He was on the backfoot from missing almost every bit of Friday running (due to Felipe Drugovich driving and his car having mechanical troubles), and Stroll found it difficult to match Alonso this weekend.

Starting last, it was always going to be difficult to catch his teammate from there, but he was unable to make his one-stop work either, and fell victim to the two-stopping cars around him.

Nico Hulkenberg: 6

It was another demoralising weekend for the Haas team. Hulkenberg’s race weekends follow a rather familiar formula at the moment: Qualify well, make a reasonable start, fall back during the race with poor tyre degradation. This race was no exception, and a two-stop strategy didn’t make things better either.

Hulkenberg’s qualifying results, and briefly running in the points at the start of the race indicates that some pace is there, but the team seemingly need bizarre races to score points right now.

Kevin Magnussen: 4.5

Perhaps an indicator of Haas’ tyre issues, Magnussen was one of just three drivers to start the race on Hard tyres, and yet he was one of the first drivers to make a pit stop.

He was out-qualified and out-raced by his teammate once again, but it will be interesting to see how the two drivers compare when they’re not desperately trying everything they can to find car performance.

Did not finish

Esteban Ocon: 5.5

After qualifying behind his teammate, Ocon moved ahead of Gasly at the start of the race before the strategies of the two drivers veered off into different directions.

The two almost came together at the pit exit partway through the race, but we never had the chance to see who would emerge ahead due to Ocon retiring with handling issues.

Yuki Tsunoda: 6

With the AlphaTauri’s lining up for one of their best collective qualifying results since the Monaco GP, hopes were high for the Italian team on home soil.

With the team hoping to capitalise on a solid qualifying result and work towards moving off the foot of the Constructors’ Championship, Tsunoda’s car packed in before the race commenced. A thoroughly disappointing outcome for the team and their lead driver.

Read next: McLaren issue very stern response as Norris and Piastri clash at Italian Grand Prix