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2021 F1 Driver Power Rankings USGP Edition: Verstappen edges Hamilton, Latifi stays at the bottom

(Sam Donsig/TIS)

By: Sam Donsig

The United States Grand Prix proved that drivers like Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are clearly in a class of their own. While other drivers like Sergio Perez are just pawns in a big game of chess. It was a hectic race, with tons of drama. Here are my driver power rankings for the United States Grand Prix.

1. Max Verstappen - (10/10)

Previous rank: 2

For Max Verstappen, it was a perfect weekend. Earning pole position and winning his first race on American soil. Verstappen didn't get the best of starts, as Lewis Hamilton beat him off the line. But after a great strategy from Red Bull, which helped Max get the undercut on Lewis. Verstappen was sitting in the first place, and he managed his second stint of tyres perfectly, which helped him stay in front of Lewis, even when Hamilton was getting close to him at the end of the race. Overall, an excellent weekend for the Dutch driver, who extended his lead to 12 points in the drivers' championship.

2. Lewis Hamilton - (9.7/10)

Previous rank: 5

You couldn't have asked for a better drive from the seven-time champ. Let's say that Mercedes got it wrong on the strategy, and it wasn't their day. As well, it was worth noting that Hamilton got beaten out by Verstappen in qualifying. Plus in the race simulations, it showed that Red Bull was faster than Mercedes by 0.13 seconds. Regardless, Hamilton managed his tyres to the best of his ability but was stranded at the front with his teammate was sitting back halfway down the grid for most of the race. Overall, the Brit ran a good race but was just outclassed by Max Verstappen.

3. Sergio Perez - (9.2/10)

Previous rank: 3

For two weekends in a row, Sergio Perez has helped Red Bull in ways that former drivers like Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly could not. Which is being able to qualify at the front of the grid consistently. Plus, he was able to maintain that race position to help his teammate. Perez got an even better start than Max Verstappen, so much so that he passed his Dutch teammate. However, he immediately gave up the position and let Verstappen pass by. Doing so allowed Max to keep close to Lewis for the first stint tyres that both Hamilton and Verstappen were on. Regardless, Perez still managed his tyres well and held off Charles Leclerc to finish on the podium for back-to-back weekends. I am sure that we will see this success continue in two weeks when Formula 1 heads to Mexico for Perez's home race.

4. Daniel Ricciardo - (9.0/10)

Previous rank: 12

For the first time this season, Daniel Ricciardo outclassed his teammate Lando Norris, to finish above him. We all know how much Daniel Ricciardo loves the United States Grand Prix, and this weekend proved it. After a great qualifying session that saw him put in a great lap to start P7 for Sunday's race. The success continued into the next day, as he had a great start and a chaotic first-lap battle with Carlos Sainz and his teammate Lando Norris. Nevertheless, Ricciardo did a great job finding a solid pace around the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), which helped him secure a fifth-place finish.

5. Charles Leclerc - (8.7/10)

Previous rank: 4

For Charles Leclerc, it was another strong weekend from the Monegasque driver. Leclerc was able to qualify P5 for Sunday's race and was promoted to P4 after Valtteri Bottas' grid penalty was applied. He showed that he has been slightly improving these last few races and finding his form with Ferrari. Leclerc was able to keep close with Sergio Perez for the majority of the race while keeping Daniel Ricciardo at bay for most of the race. Overall, he did a great job from start to finish and scored some significant points for Ferrari.

6. Carlos Sainz Jr. - (8.2/10)

Previous rank: 6

Like his teammate Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr. had a great race to cap off a dream weekend for Ferrari. Sainz Jr. only lost one position during the whole race from start to finish, which is impressive if you ask me. As well, Sainz Jr. challenged Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris on the opening lap, which provided some great action for all Formula 1 fans. Overall, he had a great weekend, although it could have gone a little better if he could find a little more pace with the hard tyres and managed his tyre temperatures a little better.

7. Yuki Tsunoda - (8.1/10)

Previous rank: 13

Yuki Tsunoda has had a rollercoaster season. He started the year scoring points in his Formula 1 debut and since then. He's had up and down results, finishing inside the top ten and even not finishing races due to crashes or mechanical problems. Regardless, on Sunday he proved why he was given a seat in Formula 1 after just one year in Formula 2. Tsunoda after having a superb qualifying, was able to manage his tyre temperatures to perfection. Which helped him time his pit stop accordingly to lose not much track position. From there, he managed his second stint equally as well, to come home ninth and score some more points for himself and Alpha Tauri. It was the only bright spot for Alpha Tauri all weekend.

8. Lando Norris - (8.0/10)

Previous rank: 8

Lando Norris had an overall good race weekend. He showed out in qualifying, starting P8 on the grid for Sunday's race. However, on Sunday the race went a little differently. He had a great opening lap, making an attempt to overtake his teammate and former teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. But after that, he struggled with pace and couldn't make up any positions from where he started the race. Hopefully, he can push a little hard in Mexico in two weeks.

9. Valtteri Bottas - (7.9/10)

Previous rank: 1

Valtteri Bottas didn't have the best of weekends, but it wasn't entirely his fault. The Finnish driver took a five-place grid penalty for taking his sixth new engine this season. Regardless, Bottas struggled for the majority of the first half of the race, unable to make his way up the grid. It wasn't until his second stint that he was able to move his way up to sixth on the grid. However, he struggled with the pace and getting his tyres up to the optimal temperature. Which prevented him from catching up to Sergio Perez who was three places ahead of him. Some of you would say that's not the worse thing, but the most significant key to Mercedes or Red Bull winning the constructors' championship is the second driver of each team. Those two drivers are Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas.

10. Sebastian Vettel - (7.8/10)

Previous rank: 11

Well done to Sebastian Vettel, starting from 18th on the grid to come home 10th and score some much-needed points for a struggling Aston Martin team. Vettel carved his way through the back end of the field and managed his tyres to perfection. From then on, he was able to keep everyone behind him at bay and cruise to a 10th place finish. Overall, a great weekend for the four-time German world champion.

11. Pierre Gasly - (7.6/10)

Previous rank: 7

It was pure heartbreak for Pierre Gasly once again at the United States Grand Prix. Gasly was running strong just outside the points when one of the several large bumps on the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) resulted in his suspension breaking. Therefore, he had to retire from the race. Now you're probably wondering why he's so high up in this week's rankings. Before he retired from the race, Gasly showed some great pace and had a great qualifying session. Gasly's luck has been unmatched by any driver on this year's grid, and it's tough to watch it every race weekend. Overall, he ran a good half of the race and hopefully he can compete in the entire Mexico Grand Prix.

12. Antonio Giovinazzi - (7.5/10)

Previous rank: 14

Antonio Giovinazzi had a hectic race from start to finish. The Italian driver was sticking his elbows out, being aggressive with Fernando Alonso throughout the race. Giovinazzi managed his tyres well and was able to finish the race just outside the points, overall a good result for the Italian driver. These last five races will either make or break his hopes for the 2022 season.

13. George Russell - (7.3/10)

Previous rank: 17

George Russell had a quiet race, there wasn't much action happening for the young Brit driver who finished 14th. The reason why I have him up so high is purely based on that he had a clean race and was not involved in any accidents with any other drivers. Compared to his teammate Nicholas Latifi. Russell did a decent job in terms of pace, however, he wasn't able to do much during Sunday's race after a tough qualifying session. Which saw him not setting a time in Q2.

14. Kimi Räikkönen - (6.9/10)

Previous rank: 15

Kimi Räikkönen seemed to turn the clock back to 2005, as Fernando Alonso and himself had quite the on-track battle for several laps. Going back and forth, jostling for position. Räikkönen since returning from being out due to contracting COVID-19 has been driving like his younger self. Being aggressive on the track and not giving any leeway for other drivers. He did a poor job managing his tyre temperate which forced him to come in at a bad time and ultimately give up his prime track position. Overall, it was an okay race for Kimi Räikkönen.

15. Fernando Alonso - (6.5/10)

Previous rank: 19

It wasn't the best of weekends for Alpine Racing and Fernando Alonso, as both himself and his teammate Esteban Ocon had to retire from Sunday's race. However, before Alonso had to retire the car. He was showing his youth on track and sticking his elbows out for a good majority of the race. Making a few nice overtakes, carving his way up the field. Overall, it was not a great weekend, but as they say. There is always next time.

16. Esteban Ocon - (6.2/10)

Previous rank: 10

For Esteban Ocon, it wasn't a dream weekend. After having a good qualifying session that saw him qualify 11th on the grid for Sunday's race. There was some hope to score points during Sunday's race. However, after having to retire the car, that was put to bed. Regardless, Ocon was running a solid race. He managed his tyre's temperature well, but couldn't find a strong enough pace to pass any of the cars in front of him.

17. Mick Schumacher - (6.3/10)

Previous rank: 16

For Mick Schumacher, the United States Grand Prix was a little hectic. Schumacher got a great start and was able to move up the grid quite quickly. He managed his tyres well to help him hold a position in 16th place. Schumacher has done a great job this season with the car that he is driving, and it is showing. Now, the reason I said it was hectic was that at the end of the race. Schumacher was caught in the middle of a tight battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Schumacher got out of the way and let the two rivals go at each other. Overall, it was a good race weekend for the young German driver.

18. Lance Stroll - (6.1/10)

Previous rank: 9

Lance Stroll didn't have the best of race weekends. After a poor qualifying that saw him not even make it into Q2, it got worse for him during Sunday's race during the opening lap.

He and Nicholas Latifi collided, causing Stroll to spin around and face his fellow Canadian.

From there on, Stroll made a few excellent strides up the grid to come home 12th place.

But it wasn't the weekend that Stroll wanted, especially coming together with Williams'

driver Nicholas Latifi.

19. Nikita Mazepin - (5.9/10)

Previous rank: 20

Not much really to say about Nikita Mazepin's race weekend. He stayed out of trouble from any other driver and didn't get in anyone's way. Mazepin, even though he qualified last, wasn't far off his teammate's pace. This is good to see, as Mick Schumacher has been almost one or two seconds faster than Mazepin in qualifying for most of the season.

20. Nicholas Latifi - (5.5/10)

Previous rank: 18

Nicholas Latifi did not have a great weekend, he struggled with pace from Friday through till Sunday. Latifi did not have a good qualifying session, which resulted in a poor race on Sunday. As mentioned above, Stroll and himself came together on lap 1 of the race, which resulted in having Latifi having to pit early. From there on, he did not make any noise throughout the race. I am interested to see how he does in two weeks at the Mexican Grand Prix.


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