Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings as Lewis Hamilton dominates to cut Max Verstappen lead

The thrilling Formula 1 title fight took another fascinating turn in Qatar, but who impressed?

Dan Austin
Sunday 21 November 2021 16:08
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Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning Brazil GP

Lewis Hamilton dominated the Qatar Grand Prix to cut Max Verstappen’s lead at the top of the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship to eight points with two races remaining.

The seven-time world champion never relinquished the lead after starting from pole position and looked comfortable throughout at a track where the kerbs caused big problems for car reliability.

Max Verstappen moved up from seventh on the grid after a five-place penalty to finish second, and take a crucial point for fastest lap, while Fernando Alonso earned his first Formula 1 podium in seven years with a superb drive for Alpine.

The championship battle heads to Saudi Arabia next before the finale in the United Arab Emirates, but who impressed in Qatar this afternoon, and who did not?

1) Lewis Hamilton 8/10 - Dominated from start-to-finish, remaining calm when overtaking traffic and resisting the pace of the Red Bull’s without any help from his team-mate.

2) Max Verstappen 8/10 - An electric start saw him make up three places into Turn 1 before he quickly dispatched Gasly and Alonso. Possibly went too aggressively, damaging the front-wing slightly which made catching Hamilton impossible.

3) Fernando Alonso 9/10 - Made the overtake on Gasly at the start to take second and drove a consistently fast race to keep rivals far behind him. Could do nothing to stop the faster Verstappen but made the one-stop work to take a superb podium, his first in 104 races.

4) Sergio Perez 8/10 - Red Bull couldn’t ask for much more from the Mexican after he started a lowly 11th following a poor qualifying session. Made a slew of overtakes early doors using DRS and picked his moments expertly. Lost his podium because of a Red Bull strategy error with the second stop.

5) Esteban Ocon 7/10 - Made positive moves on the likes of Stroll and Sainz at the start and drove a comfortable race from there for an Alpine team which will de delighted with P3 and P5.

6) Lance Stroll 7/10 - Drove a strong, quiet race in which he was able to follow the likes of Ocon through despite starting outside the points.

7) Carlos Sainz 5/10 - Made a poor start and just didn’t have the pace in the Ferrari to make any progress from there.

8) Charles Leclerc 5/10 - Tough weekend for the Monégasque who started too far back at a track where overtaking is difficult to really make an impact.

9) Lando Norris 5/10 - Held off Bottas for a long while before taking to the pits and made a solid overtake on Gasly. Risk of a puncture spooked McLaren and cost him a huge number of places.

10) Sebastian Vettel 5/10 - Dropped back to 17th after an atrocious start but managed the one-stop well and just about recovered into the points.

11) Pierre Gasly 3/10 - Started second but pitted for mediums too early, didn’t have the pace to make overtakes and was left stranded behind those who made a one-stop work.

12) Daniel Ricciardo 3/10 - A third successive finish outside the points after he struggled to pass any cars ahead of him.

13) Yuki Tsunoda 4/10 - Started in the top ten but dropped gradually backwards in an Alpha Tauri which looked set up for qualifying rather than the race.

14) Kimi Raikkonen 6/10 - Made an impressive, hard-fought overtake around the outside of Russell in an otherwise quiet race.

15) Antonio Giovinazzi 5/10 - Similar story to his team-mate but missing the impressive overtake.

16) Mick Schumacher 6/10 - Kept out of trouble throughout and took advantage of tyre issues elsewhere to score what is a relatively high finishing position for Haas’ dog of a car.

17) George Russell 5/10 - Suffered a puncture which dropped him a few places down the order, and it was too late to recover.

18) Nikita Mazepin 1/10 - Horrendous. Over a minute behind his team-mate, again, at the back of the pack. Incompetent at this level and a danger to those around him.

DNF Nicholas Latifi - Drove a very uneventful race before a tyre delamination fprced him to ditch the car on an escape road.

DNF Valterri Bottas 2/10 - Another terrible start saw him drop to 11th, unable to help Hamilton, before a puncture caused by staying on medium tyres for too long eventually forced him to retire.

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