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2021 F1 Driver Power Rankings Italian GP Edition: Ricciardo and Norris Surge, Verstappen drops down

(Sam Donsig/TIS)

By: Sam Donsig

Well, that was undoubtedly an entertaining race. From McLaren finishing first and second for the first time in 11 years to Valtteri Bottas going from 19th to finish third on the podium. The Italian Grand Prix had its moments. So here are my driver power rankings for the Italian Grand Prix.

1. Daniel Ricciardo - (10/10)

Previous rank: 11

Wow, you couldn’t have asked for a better race from Daniel Ricciardo. Right from the start, he got a jump on Verstappen and didn’t look back. He fended off every challenger that came at him, including his teammate Lando Norris. Ricciardo was running his own race, and after the championship contenders took each other out, it was smooth sailing to the checkered flag. He managed his tyres to perfection and seemed to have solved the braking issue that he was having at other races. It was great to see Ricciardo back on the podium and win a race.

2. Lando Norris - (9.5/10)

Previous rank: 10

Likewise for Lando Norris, superb race from the young British driver. He as well managed his tyres perfectly, which led to him finishing second behind his teammate. Norris did a great job fending off Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen from taking second place. When Norris finally pitted, Hamilton and Verstappen moved up to first and second place respectfully. This was before taking each other out. Regardless, Norris still ran a great race, showing how far McLaren has come over the past two years.

3. Valtteri Bottas - (9.2/10)

Previous rank: 6

For Valtteri Bottas, he fulfilled the promise that he made to the team. That promise being he would score a podium at Monza. After taking a new gearbox and having to start the race at the back of the grid. Bottas was able to slice through the field like a hot knife cutting butter. One after the other, he had incredible pace and was able to manage his tyres to perfection. Which allowed him to move up multiple positions in a short period. The cherry on top for Valtteri Bottas is that his teammate Lewis Hamilton crashed out with championship rival Max Verstappen. Which made Valtteri Bottas the sole contributor in terms of constructor’s championship points for Mercedes. Overall, I think that after last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas enjoyed this race weekend at Monza.

4. Charles Leclerc - (9.1/10)

Previous rank: 5

Charles Leclerc overall had a pretty good weekend. Despite McLaren finishing first and second at Ferrari’s home race, Leclerc himself had a good race weekend. Leclerc despite qualifying eighth on the grid for Saturday’s sprint race. Leclerc put in a solid effort on Saturday and moved up two positions to start Sunday’s race in sixth. From there on, he had a decent pace and was in a close battle with Lewis Hamilton. He also had some good battles with Sergio Perez later in the race and defended well, earning himself a fourth-place finish. Overall, a good weekend for the Monegasque driver.

5. Sergio Perez - (8.8/10)

Previous rank: 8

For Sergio Perez, he had a good weekend. Starting from ninth on the grid to finish fifth was all Perez could manage. He made some nice overtakes throughout the race and was quite aggressive in certain situations. Which somewhat affected his race, as he was handed a five-second penalty for taking a shortcut when passing Charles Leclerc. Regardless of the five-second time penalty, he could still finish fifth and salvage some points for Red Bull. However, it seems that Mercedes is slowly extending their lead in the Constructors Championship standings race by race. Overall, it was a decent race from Perez, and it will be interesting to see how he does at Russia in two weeks.

6. Carlos Sainz Jr. - (8.6/10)

Previous rank: 7

Carlos Sainz Sainz Jr. had a boring race after making contact with Antonio Giovinazzi on lap 1. Sainz Jr. stayed in sixth for the majority of the race and avoided most of the on-track battles. Other than when Bottas passed him, besides that nothing else. Regardless, he still ran a decent race. Managing his tyres well and was able to help Ferrari score some points, it didn’t mean much as McLaren finished first and second on the podium. Overall, it was an okay race weekend for him, and it will be interesting to see how he does in Russia.

7. Lance Stroll - (8.4/10)

Previous rank: 12

Lance Stroll had an exciting race weekend. He qualified 10th on the grid for Sunday’s race and made use of that positioning as he moved up three places to come home seventh place. However, that didn’t happen without some interesting overtakes and good tyre management. He passed his teammate Sebastian Vettel by pushing him off the track and making way for himself. Vettel was angered by the move and let his race engineer know. Regardless, the Canadian still had a decent race, and it will be interesting to see how the team deals with the possible internal conflict.

8. Fernando Alonso - (8.2/10)

Previous rank: 2

Fernando Alonso had a good race weekend. He drove well from start to finish and made some nice overtakes. As well, he was able to manage his tyres well. It seems like Alonso still has a lot left in the tank in terms of raw race pace. However, the 40-year-old Spaniard is not going away soon and with good reason. Alonso has been able to help support Esteban Ocon, and Alpine score some decent finishes throughout the season. Significantly, his stellar defensive driving against Lewis Hamilton in Hungary. Which ultimately helped Esteban Ocon secure the win.

9. George Russell - (8.0/10)

Previous rank: 17

For George Russell, he once again proved why Mercedes signed him on for 2022. As he finished in the points for the third time this season. Russell drove with pure class and finished ninth after starting the race from outside the points in 14th. He had a strong pace out on track and was able to make some nice overtakes as well. Overall, Russell had another strong weekend and we will see if he can once again finish in the points in Russia.

10. Esteban Ocon - (7.5/10)

Previous Rank: 9

When you compare this week to last week for Esteban Ocon, not much changed. He ran a clean race and stayed out of trouble. As well, Ocon finished just inside the points for back-to-back races. It seems that Ocon is starting to find his groove, and hopefully, we will see this trend continue for him. Regardless of the back-to-back points finishes, Ocon still was unable to capitalize on scoring more points. When you consider the type of weekend that Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin had. Considering all things, Ocon still was able to perform well and keep the car on the track.

11. Nicholas Latifi - (7.0/10)

Previous rank: 16

Similar to his teammate, Nicholas Latifi has stepped up his performance in the second half of the season. He’s starting to help pull his weight, and it’s shown in the Constructors’ Championship. Williams is far ahead of both Alfa Romeo and Haas, as they have 22 points. Latifi is starting to find his stride, and with the new regulations coming into effect next year. We could see him perform exceptionally well as Williams over the next few seasons. Only time will tell on whether we see a breakout season or another failed one.

12. Sebastian Vettel - (6.9/10)

Previous rank: 13

Compared to last weekend, it was a similar race weekend for Sebastian Vettel. He was running a decent race until his teammate decided to push him off track to overtake him. In comparison, that’s atleast what Vettel thinks. Regardless, luck has not been on the German’s side for most of the season. He managed his tyres well. It just seemed that Aston Martin did not have the pace compared to their closest rivals. Overall, Vettel struggled with finding the right line at Monza. Which ultimately has been his biggest problem this season overall.

13. Antonio Giovinazzi - (6.5/10)

Previous rank: 14

Antonio Giovinazzi’s weekend started great, however it didn’t finish the same way. Despite qualifying seventh on the grid for Sunday’s race. Giovinazzi dropped to the back after making contact with the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr. Although. He made a slight comeback as he slid back up the grid to come home 13th. Antonio Giovinazzi has been giving it his all in the last few races, as he is driving for his career. With rumours floating around about being replaced, he is driving like no tomorrow. It would be cool if we saw him finish on the podium this season.

14. Robert Kubica - (6.3/10)

Previous rank: 15

Compared to last weekend, not much changed for Robert Kubica. Kubica filling in for Kimi Räikkönen once again didn’t make too much noise on the grid. He had a typical weekend and went out and got the most out of the car that he could. As well, he was able to stay out of trouble, unlike his teammate. It was good to see Robert Kubica return to Formula 1. Even though it was for only two races, it was still worth it.

15. Mick Schumacher - (5.5/10)

Previous rank: 18

Mick Schumacher, the past two race weekends, has had some tense moments. From nearly colliding last weekend at the Dutch Grand Prix to making contact with Nikita Mazepin during Sunday’s race. Things have only gotten worse for the German driver. Besides the internal team problems, Schumacher ran an okay race. He struggled to find a solid line at Monza and couldn’t extract everything out of the car. As we have seen him earlier, this season has had some higher-placed finishes. But overall, it wasn’t the best weekend for either himself or the team.

16. Lewis Hamilton - (5.3/10)

Previous rank: 3

For Lewis Hamilton, it wasn’t the best of weekends. From struggling during Saturday’s sprint race, even though he finished fourth. He failed to score any points, compared to Verstappen, who scored two points. Then on Sunday’s race, he had a good start and was running a decent race. However, he collided with Max Verstappen at turn two after coming out of the pits. Regardless of who you think is at fault. The only thing that matters is that the halo once again saved a life, and that’s it. Overall, this race crash is going to be another defining moment in the drivers’ championship fight.

17. Max Verstappen - (5.2/10)

Previous rank: 1

Max Verstappen’s race weekend started good but finished on a low note. He qualified third for the sprint race and finished second place to snag two points for the drivers’ championship battle. However, it all went downhill on Sunday. As after being overtaken by Ricciardo on the first lap. He seemed to struggle a bit with his overall pace and his tyre management. Plus, crashing out of the race was a significant blow. Overall, it was unfortunate for him to crash out. However, both drivers could have done more to avoid the incident. But that’s what happens when you are racing your championship rival with significant points on the line. Overall, it was an okay weekend for the Dutch driver. It will be interesting to see how he does two weeks in Russia when you consider that he was given a three-place grid penalty for the race on Sunday.

18. Nikita Mazepin - (4.9/10)

Previous rank: 20

Like his teammate Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin has been put in dangerous situations over the past two weekends. In terms of Mazepin, he needs to communicate with the team about his issues with Schumacher better. As well, it works both ways. Schumacher needs to learn how to speak up and voice his opinion. Regardless of the matter at hand, Mazepin still didn’t run a good race. He struggled with his tyre management and couldn’t find a clean line around Monza. Overall, it was not a good weekend for Mazepin. Hopefully, things go better in two weeks in Russia.

19. Pierre Gasly - (4.8/10)

Previous rank: 4

It was a tough weekend for both Pierre Gasly and the whole Alpha Tauri team this past weekend. Gasly crashed out during Saturday’s sprint race and only completed three laps before retiring the car. It was unfortunate not to see Pierre Gasly race, as he was coming off an outstanding performance at the Dutch Grand Prix. In which he finished fourth place. Hopefully, he will bounce back in two weeks for the Russian Grand Prix.

20. Yuki Tsunoda - (4.5/10)

Previous rank: 19

Similar to his teammate, luck was not on Yuki Tsunoda’s side. After not making it through to qualifying 2 because of having his lap time deleted. It went downhill as he could not complete the race due to a brake issue being the number 1 problem. It was unfortunate because Tsunoda is a rookie. He needs as much on-track time as possible to get familiar with the tracks.


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