Rating all 20 drivers as the Turkish GP throws up another entertaining wet weekend, with Valtteri Bottas taking the victory and Max Verstappen the championship lead; There were some great drives, and big mistakes, in Istanbul…
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 12/10/21 11:53am
Valtteri Bottas: 9.5
Qualified 2nd (Started 1st), Finished 1st
Welcome back to the top step of the podium, Valtteri Bottas. The Finn ended a 378-day race win drought in Istanbul and, to tell you the truth, this was quite possibly the most impressive of his 10 F1 victories.
No, Bottas didn’t quite deserve his pole – Lewis Hamilton was comfortably faster in qualifying before his grid penalty – but as Sky F1’s Jenson Button said, he was “faultless” in the race, and in wet conditions he sometimes struggles in.
Would Mercedes have retained Bottas if he had shown this form prior to confirming they are replacing him for 2022? Maybe, maybe not. But Bottas can certainly help both team and team-mate in their championship quests this year.
Max Verstappen: 8.5
Qualified 3rd (Started 2nd), Finished 2nd
Second in the race and turning a two-point title deficit into a six-point lead represents a decent weekend for Max Verstappen, though both he and Red Bull were somewhat off-colour in Turkey.
In the dry, Verstappen only just beat Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly in qualifying and in the wet, where he so often flourishes and which in theory should have lessened Mercedes’ advantage, Verstappen never looked likely to challenge Bottas.
No need to panic just yet, but Verstappen has urged Red Bull to “step it up” with just six races remaining.
Sergio Perez: 8
Qualified 7th (Started 6th), Finished 3rd
Sergio Perez also struggled to unlock the Red Bull’s pace – and his qualifying form really is a worry as he finished only seventh on Saturday – but the Mexican driver did race rather well a day later.
After a much-needed good start he didn’t have the pace of Verstappen but, crucially for his team-mate, excellently held up and even re-overtook Hamilton after an epic wheel-to-wheel battle through four corners and one long straight.
After that, Perez chased down the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc before another great lunge, sealing his first podium in nine races. A long time coming.
Charles Leclerc: 9
Qualified 4th (Started 3rd), Finished 4th
Charles Leclerc was one of the stars of the weekend in his Ferrari and likely would have had an easy podium if pitting when his Red Bull rivals did, having trailed Verstappen closely through the first stint. Instead, like Hamilton, Leclerc opted to stay out longer before his no-stop gamble was abandoned.
Leclerc was still third after pitting but couldn’t get his tyres working quickly enough to hold off Perez, who he had led by over 10 seconds earlier in the race.
A shame, but still an excellent weekend for Leclerc and his team in their championship scrap with McLaren.
Lewis Hamilton: 8.5
Qualified 1st (Started 11th), Finished 5th
Fifth place after an engine penalty is by no means a disaster for Lewis Hamilton, although he must leave Turkey with tinges of regret as his weekend had gone pretty much perfectly before those final laps. Hamilton was at his absolutely dominant best at Istanbul Park, well ahead through Friday’s practice and indeed Saturday’s qualifying before that grid drop. While he took his time to pass some midfield cars in the race, particularly Yuki Tsunoda, Hamilton again looked to be the fastest car on track in clear air, his only blip really coming when being held off by Perez in the Red Bull.
But Hamilton then rejected Mercedes’ calls to follow Verstappen and Perez into the pits in a bid to finish the race on the same tyres he started on, a decision that ultimately cost him a very decent chance of third. Ten laps later Hamilton eventually came in, but struggling for grip on new tyres he only just held off Pierre Gasly in the end. What could have been a one-point title deficit to Verstappen is now six points. Will Hamilton and Mercedes be made to pay for that?
Pierre Gasly: 9
Qualified 5th (Started 4th), Finished 6th
Pierre Gasly has without doubt been one of the form drivers in 2021 and this was another fine weekend, despite a rather harsh time penalty in the race.
Gasly qualified superbly again, as he has done all season – this was a quite incredible 12th top-six grid appearance in 16 rounds. Then came an unfortunate start to his race as he was sandwiched between the Red Bull of Perez and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso into Turn 1, nudging Alonso off track.
Good pace from there meant that five-second time penalty, served in the pits, looked likely to be inconsequential as he sped away from the chasing midfield pack. But he finished 2.4seconds behind Hamilton in the end. Was fifth place possible?
Lando Norris: 7.5
Qualified 8th (Started 7th), Finished 7th
Hearing Lando Norris say seventh was the absolute maximum he could have achieved makes it clear that McLaren were rather uncompetitive in Turkey following the race win in Italy and the near-race win for Norris in Russia.
Norris still comfortably out-performed his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and pumped in some late fast laps to hold off a clearly pacier Ferrari, so can leave F1’s 16th round with his head held high.
Carlos Sainz: 9.5
Qualified 15th (Started 19th), Finished 8th
A Driver of the Day performance from Carlos Sainz after an epic charge from the back following his new Ferrari engine.
In very difficult conditions for overtaking, Sainz skilfully picked his way through the field with several spellbinding moves – his sweep past Antonio Giovinazzi was a beauty – and could have even finished in the top six on Sunday if not for an eight-second Ferrari pit-stop. Bravo, Carlos, who stays just ahead of Leclerc in the drivers’ standings.
Lance Stroll: 7.5
Qualified 9th (Started 8th), Finished 9th
It wasn’t quite the dazzling pole-sealing display in difficult Turkey conditions last year from Lance Stroll but the Canadian still enjoyed a strong weekend, out-qualifying and out-racing Sebastian Vettel in an Aston Martin that wasn’t quite quick enough for him to challenge drivers ahead.
Esteban Ocon: 7
Qualified 12th, Finished 10th
Unlike Hamilton, Esteban Ocon did manage to last all 58 on his intermediate tyres – becoming the first driver since 1997 to finish a race without stopping. It was some effort from Ocon, although it was not pretty at the end – he was nearly five seconds per lap slower than the Alfa Romeo behind on the last lap and a puncture was surely on its way.
One point is his reward at the end of a weekend where he was outshone by Fernando Alonso for the most part.
Out of the points
Antonio Giovinazzi: 7.5
Antonio Giovinazzi and Alfa Romeo struggled in qualifying – out in Q1 – but impressed in the wet conditions on Sunday. The Italian raced very solidly until the final laps and was an agonising seven tenths of a second off what would have been his first points since Monaco. Has Giovinazzi, who continues to outshine Kimi Raikkonen, done enough to secure what is F1 2022’s final seat? Not yet, it seems.
Kimi Raikkonen: 6.5
Kimi Raikkonen had a similar weekend to Giovinazzi, just slightly slower throughout. He can take solace from the fact he managed to beat many faster cars behind as he moves into the final six races of an iconic F1 career.
Daniel Ricciardo: 5.5
Daniel Ricciardo had a pretty frustrating weekend, born from the fact he was, albeit unluckily, knocked out of Q1. McLaren decided to double up that woe with an engine penalty but Ricciardo couldn’t make the same progress as Sainz managed from the back, and though an early pitstop lifted him a couple of places he was never really in contention for points.
Yuki Tsunoda: 5
Yuki Tsunoda showed improved pace in Turkey, qualifying in the top 10 before running well at the start of the race. But then came a costly spin which dropped him three places to 13th. Still well off the pace of Gasly, these are the kind of mistakes the Japanese driver really needs to cut out.
George Russell: 6.5
George Russell has made a habit of outperforming his Williams car’s potential, particularly in the wet, but made an uncharacteristic error on his final Q2 lap that cost him a shot at the top-10 shootout. Williams struggle a bit more in race conditions and Russell just couldn’t get anything going on Sunday.
Fernando Alonso: 7
After securing a first top-five grid slot since 2014, Fernando Alonso must have been eyeing up some big points in Turkey, and possibly even a podium. Then came the first-corner collision with Gasly, ruining Alonso’s race.
Alonso wasn’t at fault for that incident as he tried to gain places at the start but he was definitely to blame for crashing into Mick Schumacher soon after, a move he apologised for and was penalised for. 16th place is by no means a fair reflection of his weekend – Alonso was in fine form.
Nicholas Latifi: 5
A weekend to forget for Nicholas Latifi, who was knocked out in Q1 and still can’t outqualify George Russell. It arguably went even worse for him in the race after an early spin.
Sebastian Vettel: 5.5
The most disastrous pit-stop strategy of the weekend? That has to go to Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin. Running 10th, Vettel took the bizarre gamble of fitting the medium tyres in the wet conditions, a decision he regretted immediately as he skidded out of the pit-lane and around the sodden Istanbul Park circuit. Vettel pitted immediately for intermediates, but the damage had been done and he finished only ahead of the Haas cars.
Mick Schumacher: 7.5
Mick Schumacher deserved more from what was one of his best F1 weekends. Schumacher took part in Q2 for the second time in his career on Saturday, beating several faster cars in the process, but his race was then ruined after being taken out by Alonso. Even after that, Schumacher showed good pace and got ahead of his team-mate.
Nikita Mazepin: 4
The slow pace of Nikita Mazepin, who was well adrift of his Haas team-mate all weekend, is disappointing in itself, but the Russian is also doing himself no favours by blocking other drivers when being lapped. This time, Mazepin very nearly caused a collision with Hamilton as the Mercedes came speeding – with Hamilton having to back out.