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Japanese Grand Prix: Driver Ratings

Japanese Grand Prix: Driver Ratings



Japanese Grand Prix: Driver Ratings

Japanese Grand Prix: Driver Ratings

Mercedes were crowned constructors' champions for a sixth year in a row at the Japanese Grand Prix, and also guaranteed that the drivers' title will return to Brackley yet again.

Valtteri Bottas took victory to do the honours for the Silver Arrows, who made the most of Ferrari dithering from the front row for the second race in succession, with Sebastian Vettel making a mess of his start from pole and Charles Leclerc crashing into Max Verstappen.

Matt Scott has run the rule over all 20 drivers in action. Let us know if you agree, or not, with the scores on Facebook and Twitter!

Max Verstappen (Qual: 5th - Race: DNF) 5/10

Dr Helmut Marko said the Dutchman fell short of maximising qualifying, but he looked to have made up for that with a brilliant launch to third place. Unfortunately contact with Charles Leclerc spun him out and caused damage to prompt a lap-15 retirement.

Robert Kubica (Qual: 20th - Race: 19th) 3/10

After crashing in qualifying, Kubica's post-race murmurings were significantly more interesting than his on-track efforts, which ran to the usual script. However, the Pole's frustrations with his employers are now starting to become clear.

George Russell (Qual: 18th - Race: 18th) 4/10

The aerodynamic limitations of the FW42 prevented Russell from delivering anything too eye-catching at Suzuka, but his dominant record compared to Kubica rolls on.

Kevin Magnussen (Qual: 19th - Race: 17th) 3/10

Another Q1 shunter like Kubica. Magnussen called his incident "embarrassing" and it left him up against it from the off.

Antonio Giovinazzi (Qual: 11th - Race: 16th) 5/10

The Italian did brilliantly to out-qualify Raikkonen for a third race in a row as Alfa Romeo near a decision on the 2020 driver line-up, but only went backwards in the race, which could prick the ears of a Mr N Hulkenberg…

Romain Grosjean (Qual: 10th - Race: 15th) 4/10

Lost out big time on the first lap, which is becoming a common trait in the Frenchman's efforts following good qualifying performances.

Kimi Raikkonen (Qual: 13th - Race: 14th) 3/10

Renault's progress through the field hindered Raikkonen from doing similar and the Finn is now on his longest streak without scoring points since 2002 when he failed to see the chequered flag in six straight races at the start of his McLaren career.

Lando Norris (Qual: 8th - Race: 13th) 5/10

Norris was frustrated to lose out to teammate Carlos Sainz in qualifying and was then angered further when he was squeezed off-track by the Red Bull of Alexander Albon – friendship counting for little as the McLaren was dropped to the back of the field mid-race! His race had already been compromised somewhat by picking up debris from Leclerc's front wing following his first-lap crash.

Daniil Kvyat (Qual: 14th - Race: 12th) 5/10

While three Honda-powered cars made the top 10 in qualifying, Kvyat was the only absentee, and the Russian also struggled to make much of an impact during the race.

Lance Stroll (Qual 12th - Race: 11th) 5/10

Stroll qualified ahead of Perez for just the second time this year, but the Mexican got the better of him in the race and then had a stroke of luck that the chequered flag dropped before he crashed on what should have been the last lap, meaning Stroll finished outside the points.

Nico Hulkenberg (Qual: 15th - Race: 10th) 7/10

Hulkenberg made an electric start, essentially gaining all his places on lap one and then holding on to his tyres to take back-to-back 10th-place finishes.

Sergio Perez (Qual: 17th - Race: 9th) 7/10

A good start and a long opening stint opened up the race for Perez, who made some impressive moves with soft tyres in the latter part of the race, although one on Pierre Gasly looked to have cost him as he was deposited in the wall at Turn 2. However, the chequered flag had fallen a lap early and Perez took home two points.

Pierre Gasly (Qual: 9th - Race: 8th) 8/10

Given Gasly started qualifying with just 90 minutes in the car under his belt, his achievements to make Q3 and then stick in the points are absolutely phenomenal. Confidence is clearly returning to the Frenchman, who knows this track well having spent a year in Super Formula.

Charles Leclerc (Qual: 2nd - Race: 6th) 6/10

Leclerc was perhaps put off by Vettel's jump-start ahead of him and made a similarly sluggish getaway before clumsily punting Verstappen off in the Esses. His subsequent running with parts of front wing spilling onto the track was irresponsible and the stewards clearly agreed, hitting Leclerc with 15 seconds worth of penalties to drop him a place in the classification.

Daniel Ricciardo (Qual: 16th - Race: 7th) 7/10

Sliced through the field impressively, including a number of late moves to pick up two extra places after being freed by team-mate Hulkenberg to attack the cars of Perez and Gasly that the German had found too tough to pass. After promising he'd do differently over team radio, Ricciardo was true to his word and picked up bonus points through Leclerc's penalty.

Carlos Sainz (Qual: 7th - Race: 5th) 7/10

Yet another smooth operation from Sainz, who has now overtaken Gasly for sixth place in the championship. Time and time again this season, Sainz has elevated himself from those he perhaps ought to be fighting with. Maybe he's in a 'Formula 1.25' all of his own?

Alexander Albon (Qual: 6th - Race: 4th) 7/10

A career-best result for Albon on his first trip to Suzuka, not bad at all. His race might have had even more potential had a poor start not left him behind both McLarens, although whether Red Bull truly had the pace to race Mercedes and Ferrari is up for debate, so we will stick with saluting a job well done!

Lewis Hamilton (Qual: 4th - Race: 3rd) 6/10

Although Hamilton played his part in securing Mercedes' title success with a crucial bonus point for the fastest lap, all did not seem well with the champion here. His race start would have landed him in fifth without the Leclerc-Verstappen collision and came after he had been outperformed by Bottas in practice and qualifying. He must have been sorely tempted to take strategy into his own hands and go for the one-stopper when in the lead of the race, but bowed down to the team, and his team-mate.

Sebastian Vettel (Qual: 1st - Race: 2nd) 8/10

A case of what might have been. Vettel was supreme in qualifying to secure his fifth pole around Suzuka and end Leclerc's run, but then mucked it up at the start, jumping the lights – though not enough to trigger a penalty – and then bogging down when he did finally launch. It allowed Bottas through and he proved impossible to catch, although Vettel did well to hold off Hamilton's charge on fresh tyres at the end of the race.

Valtteri Bottas (Qual: 3rd - Race: 1st) 9/10

Victory for Bottas was founded in beating Hamilton in qualifying for the first time in five races and then timing his launch to absolute perfection. It appeared that Bottas might have even reacted to Vettel's jump , rather than the lights, but it allowed him to sweep past and take a lead that he never looked like relinquishing. The first F1 victory from the second row of the grid was secured with the crushing consistency that Hamilton and Vettel are more associated with and proved that Bottas can lift his game after the summer break.


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Thu 21 May

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