Emilia-Romagna GP driver rankings: Verstappen wins chaotic race

Max Verstappen won a thrilling race around Imola in changing conditions after Lewis Hamilton crashed halfway through the action. Hamilton ran wide into the gravel and dropped to ninth and a lap down, before remarkably getting back through the field to claim second with Lando Norris rounding off the podium in the McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton – 9

Hamilton secured his 99th career pole position, largely due to the Red Bull’s not putting in clean laps. Hamilton was jumped at the start by Verstappen, but as the track dried out Hamilton was clawing back the time to Verstappen quickly. Hamilton made a rare mistake by running into the gravel at the Tosa hairpin trying to lap George Russell. This put him ninth and a lap down. His fight back through the field shows that it is the driver making the difference at the Mercedes team, considering the poor performance of his teammate.

Valtteri Bottas – 2.5

Quickest in FP1 and FP2… qualifies eighth? On pace alone, made mistakes, it’s poor. Race day, you’re battling a Williams having just been overtaken by Stroll’s Aston Martin. Nothing is there to indicate that there was a problem with the car, Valtteri Bottas was just slow. Poor performance, one Bottas can not afford.

Max Verstappen – 9.5

Verstappen should have been sitting on pole position, but he ran wide through the Villeneuve chicane and lined up third. You wouldn’t believe that if you saw him coming out of Tamburello on lap one, he was first after a lightning start. Verstappen didn’t put a foot wrong (I’m not counting his near spin under the safety car) and led every lap except for when he pitted.

Sergio Perez – 4

Perez lined up on the front row for the first time in his career, five hundredths off pole position. He did nicely in the opening stages, but then it went all wrong. Going off under the safety car is bad enough, but then overtaking? Every driver knows that is a huge mistake. Having a spin at the Villeneuve placed Perez near the back, and he couldn’t recover to score points. He should have scored a podium.  

Lando Norris – 9

Norris set two purple sectors, and a maiden pole position was in sight. Ultimately, he qualified third, but his lap was deleted for track limits. Fine margins. Starting seventh he had a bad start and dropped to ninth. From then on, outstanding. He was fourth throughout the rain section of the race, staying twelve seconds away from Perez. The gamble from the McLaren team to put Lando on the soft tyres was a masterstroke at the restart. He passed the Ferrari of Leclerc and held onto second almost until the end, but had no chance to defend from Hamilton.

Daniel Ricciardo – 6

Ricciardo was off the pace all weekend, especially against his teammate. Had Lando’s lap counted, Danny would’ve qualified four tenths behind his teammate. In the race he was asked to pull over to let Lando through, a smart decision given Lando was a lot quicker. Ricciardo finished the race in sixth, 28 seconds away from Lando after the red flag restart. Ricciardo has a steep learning curve, it’s clear he isn’t settled into the car yet, not like Sainz has for Ferrari.

Lance Stroll – 7

Stroll squeaked into Q3, something the Aston Martin doesn’t look all that capable of. He was maintaining position for much of the race, excellently dispatching Bottas at the wet-slick crossover period. Post-race Stroll was handed a five-second penalty for cutting the Tamburello chicane overtaking Gasly. Was surprised he didn’t immediately give the position back.

Sebastian Vettel – 4

Bad luck. Vettel qualified thirteenth but had to fall to the pitlane due to brake issues prior to the start. The car was capable of points, and Vettel made the gamble to be the first to go onto the slicks, maybe a lap or two early, but the right call. Until he was handed a ten-second penalty for a pre-race infringement. Vettel struggled with no heat in the tyres and brake issues throughout, and then ultimately retired with a gearbox issue.

Fernando Alonso – 5

Alonso had a poor qualifying session, finishing fifteenth and it was the first time he was outqualified by a teammate since Malaysia 2017. He had an eventful day, crashing on the way to the grid in the slippery conditions and having a few offs in the race. He finished tenth, more due to others dropping out rather than being in contention for points on pace alone.  

Esteban Ocon – 6

Ocon started ninth but had a terrible first stint in the wet conditions as Alpine decided to start on the full wet tyre. He kept his nose clean, being one of few to have no skirmishes with the gravel. The Alpine car is clearly not as good as last year.

Charles Leclerc – 8.5

Firstly, qualifying in fourth is a great achievement for the Scuderia. He was keeping his nose clean on the opening stage, and at the red flag was in second place. He was jumped by Norris at the restart due to the soft tyres heating up earlier. But the Monegasque driver couldn’t get close enough for the DRS to be powerful enough to overtake the McLaren.  

Carlos Sainz – 7.5

Sainz had a nightmare in qualifying, unable to hook up a lap to get into Q3. The race was a different story. Another case of keeping his nose clean that was rewarded by a fifth place finished. I didn’t think that Sainz had the pace of Leclerc, but he kept within two seconds after the restart. Sainz is beginning to come into his own at Ferrari, vital in the Ferrari vs. McLaren battle.   

Pierre Gasly – 7.5

Gasly was screwed from the start with a disastrous strategy to start on the full wet tyres. When it stopped raining, he dropped like a stone, to then come back through the field to finish seventh is a testament to the speed of the AlphaTauri.  

Yuki Tsunoda – 2.5

We know the potential is there, the young Japanese star seems to be over-driving the car. Crashing in qualifying is poor, especially in Imola where qualifying is so vital. After the start, he was quite absent from the field, minus a great overtake on his teammate on the inside of Piratella. Multiple track limits warnings and he finished the race in twelfth, should’ve been more in AlphaTauri’s home grand prix.   

Kimi Raikkonen – 4.5

This is a complex one. The Finn outqualified his teammate, but was out in Q1. Kimi jumped up the grid on the wet tyres, and was running behind Russell in eleventh. He looked faster, but unable to get passed. After the restart he had an off, and failed to go back to the pits to give positions back, as the rules permit. As such, he received a 30-second penalty. He finished ninth, but with the penalty Kimi falls to thirteenth.

Antonio Giovinazzi – 4.5

Another tough one. The Italian was following nicely behind his teammate throughout the wet running. However, a necessary trip into the pits to sort out a brake issue hampered his race and thereafter, could have scored points.

Mick Schumacher – 4.5

Did very well in qualifying to go five tenths quicker than his teammate. Unfortunately, he dropped it on the pit straight behind the safety car trying to heat up his tyres. It is something he will learn from, which is his prime priority, experience. He seemed very downbeat during the race, but I think he did okay.

Nikita Mazepin – 2

Tally up the spins, it’s another three. Poor in qualifying, poorer in the race. He was very slow in the wet conditions, somehow slower in the dry. Mick completed two laps with no front wing and still beat him.

George Russell – 7

Equalling his best qualifying result in twelfth, this race seemed prime for his best opportunity for points in the Williams. Russell was in tenth, ready to overtake Bottas and it went horribly wrong. Everything up to that point was superb. He will drag this team to points this season. Monaco is going to be their best chance, I think.

Nicholas Latifi – 3.5

This one hurts, because Latifi looked lightning Friday and Saturday. He achieved his best qualifying position in fourteenth. An unfortunate off at Acque Minerali put him to the back. He thought he was clear of Mazepin, probably unsighted due to the spray of the rain, and crashed on the opening lap.

DriverAverage driver ranking (season)
Lewis Hamilton9.25
Valtteri Bottas5
Max Verstappen9.25
Sergio Perez5.75
Lando Norris8.5
Daniel Ricciardo6.5
Lance Stroll6.5
Sebastian Vettel3.75
Fernando Alonso6
Esteban Ocon5
Charles Leclerc8.25
Carlos Sainz6.75
Pierre Gasly5.75
Yuki Tsunoda4.25
Kimi Raikkonen5.25
Antonio Giovinazzi5.25
Mick Schumacher3.75
Nikita Mazepin1
George Russell7
Nicholas Latifi3.5

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