The Italian Grand Prix once again proved to be an absolute belter, with the return of Sprint qualifying, a McLaren masterclass and a collision with huge implications for the Driver’s Championship, it was a weekend full of talking points.
So here we go, my driver ratings for the 2021 Italian Grand Prix weekend.
- Daniel Ricciardo – 10
Yes, that’s right, Daniel Ricciardo just won the Italian Grand Prix, on merit!
All throughout the first half of the season the Australian has struggled for form and been slower than his young teammate Lando Norris. But after a summer break to reflect on his performances, he has come back to win in Monza and secure his first win since 2018.
This victory also marks the first McLaren win since Jenson Button at Brazil in 2012. An incredible stat to think of being its McLaren but shows the fantastic progression of the team in the last couple of years.
From Friday he looked strong in the car, just missing out on P3 in qualifying. This followed with an excellent start in the Sprint race, overtaking Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris to secure a front-row start for Sunday.
As for Sunday, a superb start saw him approach Turn One ahead of pole-sitter Max Verstappen into the lead, where he sat for the majority of the race to follow.
A perfect weekend for the Honey Badger, and I doubt any Formula One fan wasn’t beaming with joy as the Aussie passed the chequered flag. Simply magical.
- Lando Norris – 10
Both McLaren boys deserve nothing less than TEN!
Securing their first win and second place finish since Canada in 2010, Lando Norris’ pace helped secure this with another fantastic drive and finish on the podium, on merit.
For Norris, his weekend before the race was just as good as Ricciardo, with a quick start in the sprint race also allowing him to pass Hamilton. Norris then held off the seven-time World Champion for 18 laps to secure P3 on the grid on Sunday.
His pass on Charles Leclerc at Curva Grande was a highlight of my race, showing absolutely no fear to the cause in securing a podium, and his support for teammate Ricciardo really melted the heart.
- Valtteri Bottas – 9.5
Bottas was pretty flawless all weekend wasn’t he. Pole position, sprint qualifying winner comfortably, and a stellar drive from 19th on the grid to secure a podium. He did after all tell his team he would end up there!
What started with a quite amazing qualifying lap whilst being the driver giving Hamilton the all important tow around Monza, Bottas secured the pole in dominant fashion.
Although his grid penalty for a new engine put him at the back of the grid, an immense charge up the field and pure speed in a straight line with the setup spot on, proved to be one of the best weekends Bottas has had in a long time.
And in a week where it was announced he would be racing at Alfa Romeo next season; it was lovely to see Bottas so happy and performing to levels he is more than capable of.
- Charles Leclerc – 9
Charles Leclerc did more than enough to give the fanatical Tifosi something to cheer about this weekend.
A good sprint qualifying saw him move up from P8 to P6, and this good form certainly continued into Sunday’s race.
A pleasantly timed pit stop during the Safety Car placed him P2, but with the pace lacking compared to other teams, he drove immensely to secure P4 after serious hard racing. The performance was even quoted by Leclerc as being “one of my top five performances in Formula One”.
- Sergio Perez – 6.5
Perez needs to improve on his one-lap pace, because it’s becoming a familiar story of him needing to work his way up the grid after a poor Saturday (and Friday in this instance).
His race day performance was levels above however with a sublime move on Carlos Sainz, leaving a podium looking on the cards. An overtake on the other Ferrari was poor and resulted in a penalty, killing all this momentum.
All in all, he made some nice moves on Sunday but needs to improve on his speed across the weekend as a whole.
- Carlos Sainz – 7
Again for Carlos Sainz it was a weekend of mixed emotions.
A crash in FP2 never helps proceedings, but then he managed to out-qualify his teammate Leclerc on Friday. However from then on in it was advantage Leclerc, with Sainz always lacking the pace around his new home circuit at Ferrari on Saturday and Sunday.
He can be happy with his debut in front of the Tifosi though, scoring solid points and helping the team to keep the gap close to McLaren even after their perfect weekend.
- Lance Stroll – 7
A very solid Sunday for the Canadian.
Friday didn’t start to well as he was out-qualified by teammate Sebastian Vettel whilst failing to reach Q3.
Saturday’s sprint race proved beneficial for Stroll though as he switched with his teammate to start P10 for Sunday. In the race, teammates would again be discussed together as Stroll forced Vettel off the track, which is never good.
But he recuperated after this secure a solid P7 and best of the rest in terms of abilities of the cars this weekend.
- Fernando Alonso – 7.5
Alonso does it again. Mr Consistent once again gets his Alpine car into the Top Ten.
Jumping two places in the sprint from P13 to P11 set the tone for Alonso’s weekend, as he gradually improved as the weekend progressed. A sound race for the Spaniard left little action on the broadcast, but the points are all he will be bothered about I assume.
- George Russell – 8.5
Remember when the curse of George Russell getting points at Williams was a thing? How that’s all been forgotten, some people might not have even realised Russell came P9 this weekend!
The weekend didn’t start as planned with a P15 qualifying, but that’s probably where the car should be on merit around Monza.
And a fortuitous chain of events left him in the Top Ten sure, but to hold his position and secure P9 and valuable points for Williams is still a very good job from the young Brit.
- Esteban Ocon – 6
Bringing up the rear for points was the Frenchman, who to be honest, I didn’t see much of come race day.
Some good spells were seen from Ocon, as he gained places on the race start. But with silly mistakes such as making contact with Vettel leading to penalties, it wasn’t Ocon’s finest weekend. However a point’s a point, so he and the team will be satisfied.
- Nicholas Latifi – 8
Poor Latifi deserved a point from this weekend.
Coming as close as he’s ever come to beating Russell in qualifying set the tone in terms of his speed in Italy, beating Russell in the spring race on Saturday.
Sunday saw Latifi hold P11 on merit showing great pace, but the timing of the Safety Car hampered his momentum and saw him jumped by Russell and Ocon. Albeit though, a very solid drive from the Williams man, something we’re getting used to seeing.
- Sebastian Vettel – 6
Poor Sebastian will be very happy that the weekend is over.
He out-qualified Stroll and made Q3 which was impressive.
But then good start on Sunday was hampered as he was put in the gravel by teammate Stroll, before then being hit by Ocon and Schumacher, making life extremely hard for the German to gain any kind of momentum. Onto Russia ay, Seb.
- Antonio Giovinazzi – 5.5
Like Vettel, poor Giovinazzi!
He looked so strong in every session before Sundays race, then everything just went wrong for the Italian at his home race.
Qualifying P10 was immense given the true speed of the Alfa Romeo, being less than tenth on the grid. But all this momentum was short lived in the race as he clipped an emerging Leclerc as he re-joined the track, rewarding Giovinazzi a time-penalty.
Tale of two stories for Giovinazzi then, who could have scored nine or ten on any other weekend. But with his seat at Alfa Romeo the last to be confirmed for 2022, he needs to be turning his impressive qualifying speed into points.
- Robert Kubica – 6
He’s still beating the Haas cars so that’s always a benefit for the returning Kubica.
Way off Giovinazzi for pace but that doesn’t matter at all, he’s doing the team a favour and doing them proud finishing above rival Haas cars. Sound work.
- Mick Schumacher – 4.5
Tangled with best-mate Vettel as did everyone though. Quicker than teammate Mazepin however before his DQ, so that’s the positives to take away from this weekend.
- Nikita Mazepin (DNF) – 4
Slower than his teammate in qualifying and makes contact with him during the race. Positives for Mazepin though are; he did gain three places in the sprint, although that turned out to be worth very little.
- Max Verstappen (DNF) – 4
Such a shame about Verstappen this weekend, and one he’ll be wanting to forget quickly, after his crash with rival Lewis Hamilton.
Starting on pole due to Bottas’ penalty, that was soon lost as his former teammate Ricciardo beat him into Turn One.
Things then didn’t get better for Verstappen as he failed to pass the McLaren before an 11-second pit stop left him way down the field, before then clashing with Hamilton into Turn Two.
Was there space? I think he’s gone for a gap that wasn’t there to exploit. Hamilton ran off the track on the opening lap which I think Verstappen could have done on this occasion, and this may be why he’s been given the grid penalty for Russia by the stewards.
On the whole, his Saturday showing and picking up the two points was very strong with him getting everything out of his car, but the Sunday start and, in my opinion, slight majority blame in the incident give him the low rating.
- Lewis Hamilton (DNF) – 5
Walking away from Monza with zero points wouldn’t have been in Lewis Hamilton’s plans this weekend, but after what we saw with his crash with Max Verstappen, just walking away from Italy is a win for Hamilton, and really all that matters.
A poor start in the sprint race after losing out to teammate Bottas in qualifying didn’t get Hamilton off to the best of starts, leaving him P4 for Sunday’s race.
Starting on the hard tyres, he got off the line well and looked comfortable keeping pace with Lando Norris, ultimately passing the young Brit.
A slow pit stop left Hamilton unable to capitalise on the even slower pit stop by Verstappen’s crew, the Championship rivals were battling it out, for a very short time.
I think Hamilton left him room into Turn One, and did just enough to get the car in front into Turn Two, before the inevitable crash with Verstappen riding his car over the top of the Mercedes.
It’s a shame as well for Hamilton as he was looking really strong and could have come away with serious points come the chequered flag, but I guess it’s fate’s way of leaving this title fight down to Abu Dhabi!
(Also god bless the Halo, potentially saved his life on Sunday! That was a very scary viewing and makes you grateful for the developments in safety)
- Pierre Gasly (DNF) – N/A
Crashed in sprint qualifying on the opening lap. Couldn’t do anything after that and retired early on Sunday. Such a shame to see last year’s heroic winner have such rotten luck this time round.
- Yuki Tsunoda (DNF) – N/A
One weekend to forget for Alpha Tauri that’s for sure.
Yuki Tsunoda didn’t even make the start of the race so there little to say about him, and he looked poor when he did get behind the wheel.
His seat is secured for next season though, so all smiles for Tsunoda.