By: Sam Donsig
You couldn’t have asked for a better follow-up race after the Bahrain Grand Prix three weeks ago. From the opening lap to the Valtteri Bottas and George Russell incident, it was an action-packed race. Here are my driver power rankings for the Imola Grand Prix.
1. Max Verstappen - 9.5/10
(Season total - 18/20)
Max Verstappen had a fantastic race from start to finish. He was able to overtake Hamilton on the first lap and maintain his lead throughout the Grand Prix. He was able to keep Hamilton behind him and build himself a pretty comfortable lead at the front of the grid. It’s good to see him win a race, as we now know for sure that we will have a title fight on our hands for the entirety of the 2021 F1 season.
2. Lando Norris - 9.2/10
(Season total - 17.9/20)
Lando Norris, what a race from the young Britain. Despite starting from seventh on the grid after having his lap time deleted in qualifying on Saturday. Norris made his way up the field to second place and held his ground against the seven-time world champion Sir Lewis Hamiton. Eventually, Hamilton did overtake Norris to take second. Regardless Norris has shown insane pace in the first races this season and currently sits third in the driver’s standings.
3. Sir Lewis Hamilton - 8.9/10
(Season total: 17.9/20)
Lewis Hamilton had a far from the perfect race. He did come home to finish second place, behind Verstappen. However, it did not come without some great battling back after he went off the track and dropped to ninth place. His performance in the Imola Grand Prix indeed showed why he is a seven-time world champion because when he faces adversity, he can bounce back and still have a successful day on the track. It will be exciting to see if Hamilton can hold onto his lead against Max Verstappen throughout the season. Hamilton leads the title fight by just one point, with Hamilton at 44 points and Verstappen at 43 points through two races.
4. Charles Leclerc - 8.5/10
(Season Total: 16.5/20)
Charles Leclerc had a much better race than his race three weeks ago in Bahrain as the Monegasque driver was able to keep his composure and score some major points for Ferrari. He finished fourth just ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. Leclerc. This season has been able to extract everything out of the 2021 Ferrari car, and it is showing. Leclerc and Sainz Jr. will be a fascinating duo to watch this season, especially considering how competitive both drivers are on track.
5. Carlos Sainz Jr. - 8.2/10
(Season total - 15.2/20)
Speaking of Carlos Sainz Jr., what a bounce-back race for him after a less than exciting debut for Ferrari. Sainz Jr. showed his genuine pace in the race, as he was able to work his way up from 11th on the grid to finish fifth. Sainz Jr. is usually known as one of the best drivers in the wet of the current drivers on the grid right now. However, today was a bit of a different story. He went off track on multiple other occasions. However, he maintained his position and scored some big points for Ferrari to stay in the fight for the Constructors title.
6. Daniel Ricciardo - 7.9/10
(Season total - 15.1/20)
Daniel Ricciardo didn’t have the best race on Sunday, as his race engineer ordered him to let teammate Lando Norris pass him. Norris was the faster car of the two Mclarens, and they wanted to maximize their points. Team orders are something that we have seen many teams do. Most famously, everyone remembers the “Multi 21” incident between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. It was the right choice, as Norris finished on the podium and scored some significant points for Mclaren. Regardless, Ricciardo still had a good race, and he was able to stand his ground and score some good points for Mclaren. Of course, he wants to be finishing higher as Mclaren in my mind, has established themselves as the third fiddle to Red Bull and Mercedes so far this season.
7. Sergio Perez 7.7/10
(Season total: 16.9/20)
Despite finishing outside of the points for Red Bull, Sergio Perez had a much better race when you look at it from a wide lens as he qualified second on the grid and showed some great pace throughout the race. However, he did go off, and it cost him as he could not make his way back up the field to catch up with his teammate Max Verstappen. On the bright side, Perez qualifying second showed F1 fans that Red Bull does have two cars to challenge Mercedes. Which is something we haven't seen since Daniel Ricciardo was paired with Max Verstappen.
8. Lance Stroll 7.5/10
(Season total - 14.3/20)
Lance Stroll had a quiet race on Sunday and scored a small number of points for Aston Martin. He managed to stay out of harm’s way and overall had a good race weekend. Aston Martin seems to be a middle-of-the-pack car for the remainder of this season, and I feel that we’re going to be Stroll in a position near midfield all season long. He has matured a lot more as of late and is still developing as a racer. With some more time and with the right car, I believe he can be a race winner.
9. Pierre Gasly - 7.2/10
(Season total - 12.5/20)
Now I know it seems weird that Pierre Gasly is ranked lower than Stroll, but hear me out. Gasly did not have a great race despite his finishing position. Now it’s not all his fault, as he did get screwed over by his strategy team that decided it would be good to start the race on wet tyres instead of intermediates like everyone else. This mistake did cost his chances at a high finishing position. As the track continued to dry up, he kept losing positions lap after lap. He did eventually come in and put on a set of medium tyres. Regardless, the damage was done, and also, he seemed to be struggling throughout the race with pace. After qualifying fifth on the grid once more, he struggled to maintain his place during the race, and it cost AlphaTauri some major possible points.
10. Esteban Ocon 7.0/10
(Season total - 12.9/20)
Esteban Ocon had a much better race at Imola than compared to Bahrain three weeks ago. He didn't finish in the best position, but it's the best he can do based on the car that he is in. Ocon did show a solid amount of pace in Sunday's race, but he could not make his way up the field and finished in the same position he started in.
11. Fernando Alonso 6.5/10
(Season total - 11.6/20)
Fernando Alonso showed on Sunday that he still has something left in the tank as he scored his first points of the season. He initially finished outside of the points, but he moved up into 10th place after some post-race penalties. Regardless, the seasoned veteran displayed to all F1 fans that he's still got it. Of course, everyone knew this. People were waiting to see it live because it seemed that he wouldn't score many points this season.
12. Yuki Tsunoda 6.3/10
(Season total - 13.8/20)
Compared to last weekend, Tsuonoda's second career Formula 1 race did not go as planned. As the young Japanese driver struggled with pace throughout the race, the AlphaTauri strategy team did not help him. However, he did make his way from the back of the grid to finish 12th. This may seem like it's not that great and all, but moving up eight positions in Formula 1 is impressive in my books. Tsunoda continues to impress me, but he still has lots to learn in Formula 1.
13. Kimi Räikkönen 6.1/10
(Season total - 12.6/20)
The "Ice Man's" race on Sunday wasn't the best of his career, as he struggled to fight for positions and was put out of the points due to a post-race penalty. Race stewards gave the penalty to him for not entering the pits after race directors brought out the red flags to pause the race. Kimi Räikkönen has struggled in the first two races of the season, and it seems like it will continue for the entire season. The Alfa Romeo isn't much more developed than the 2021 Haas car, and it is becoming more evident after each race.
14. Antonio Giovinazzi 5.8/10
(Season total - 11.9/20)
Antonio Giovinazzi, like his teammate Kimi Räikkönen, also struggled in Sunday's race. He had a reasonably quiet race and was sitting comfortably in 14th. I have a strong feeling that Giovinazzi will be around 13th-16th in the driver's standings for the entirety of the season. As mentioned above, the 2021 Alfa Romeo car isn't developed and has the drivers struggling for pace.
15. Sebastian Vettel 5.6/10
(Season total - 11.3/20)
Sebastian Vettel continues to struggle at Aston Martin, as this Sunday was another prime example of that. Now it's not all his fault, but seeing teammate Lance Stroll in the same car and finish significantly higher than him. It does tell us something, which is that Vettel may be coming towards the end of his F1 career. It's unfortunate to say something like that, but it's essential to look at the facts. He hasn't won a race since Singapore 2019, and now I know this might seem a bit out of pocket. I think Ferrari not extending his contract last season clearly showed that they did not want him to continue racing for the team.
16. Mick Schumacher 5.3/10
(Season total - 10.8/20)
Mick Schumacher is still taking time to get adjusted to his new team, and it's showing. As the young german struggled for pace, which isn't his fault when considering the car Haas built for the 2021 season. However, Schumacher isn't going to score many points this season, if none at all. This is quite unfortunate because he does have a severe amount of skill. He needs to be in the right car. Maybe in four or five years from now, we will see him make the switch to Ferrari. The Tiffosi would be delighted to have another Schumacher join their team.
17. Nikita Mazepin 5.1/10
(Season total - 9.6/20)
Like his teammate, Nikita Mazepin is still getting used to his new team and driving an F1 car. He has continued to struggle to keep the car on track. The 2021 Haas car is as good as the 2020 Ferrari, and both have been called tractors. Mazepin will take at least two to get used to Formula 1 and the spectacle that it is.
18. Valtteri Bottas 4.9/10
(Season total - 12.6/20)
What to say, what to say about Valtteri Bottas. Well, one thing is for sure he has taken a significant step down in performance from last season to this season. In the two races, he has finished third and DNF'd at Imola. The incident was not his fault. However, he should have never been in that position. He should have been fighting for a podium up with teammate Lewis Hamilton and rival Max Verstappen. Regardless, if he continues to struggle throughout the season. Mercedes might consider some potential replacements for the finish driver.
19. George Russell 4.7/10
(Season total - 11/20)
George Russell had a pretty solid race on Sunday, other than the incident with Valterri Bottas. He has a nice clean race and was able to show some solid pace. However, that's not how it exactly ended. As just over halfway through the race, he put his car on the grass, lost control and turned in and collided with Bottas in a significant accident. Russell despite being in Formula for two seasons, he still has lots to learn.
20. Nicholas Latifi 4.4/10
(Season total - 9.3/20)
Nicholas Latifi had a very short race on Sunday after he crashed out on the first lap of the race. Latifi seems to continue to struggle at Williams, as I believe he is still getting used to Formula 1 racing. Now, he did outqualify his teammate on Saturday. This was the first time that Russell had been out-qualified by a teammate. With some more time and more time on track. I do believe that Latifi can have success in Formula 1, but only time will tell.