2016 Brazilian Grand Prix driver ratings

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Very challenging conditions in Brazil produced some remarkable performances. Here’s F1 Fanatic’s verdict on all 22 drivers.


Hamilton thrashed Rosberg, then called his win “easy”
Lewis Hamilton – Rosberg kept him honest in the fight for pole but Hamilton prevailed. He was at his imperious best in the race, effortlessly quicker than Rosberg. Factor out the stoppages and he’d have finished 35 seconds up the road instead of 11.

Nico Rosberg – Heading into the final sector on his last lap in Q3 he needed only to replicate his run from his first lap to take pole position. But he fell short by a tenth of a second. If Rosberg genuinely was trying to win rather than settle for second it didn’t look like it, though his half-spin early in the race could have cost him dearly.


Sebastian Vettel – Admitted to being too conservative at Juncao on his final lap which account for his sub-one-tenth gap to Raikkonen, two places ahead. The same corner caught him out in the wet race and Vettel struggled to make an impression from then on. Verstappen crushed him aside late in the race though Vettel eventually got by Sainz for fifth.

Raikkonen exited the race in dramatic fashion
Kimi Raikkonen – He confessed to a less-than-perfect start to his final lap in Q3 and was therefore surprised to take third. He was immediately passed by Verstappen at the start then was caught out by aquaplaning on the pit straight which caused a frightening crash.


Felipe Massa – The Williams clearly preferred the hotter conditions on Friday so it wasn’t a great shock to see Massa fail to make the cut for the top ten when the temperature fell on Saturday. The FW38 liked the rain even less and Massa slipped up by passing Gutierrez before the Safety Car line, earning a penalty. His pace on the intermediates at mid-race was good enough to prompt Bottas to go the same way, but as the rain worsened Massa struggled and eventually aquaplaned into a wall.

Valtteri Bottas – Surprised and disappointed to drop out in Q2 after being beaten by Alonso’s McLaren and Grosjean’s Haas. He ran the intermediate tyres for longer than anyone else at the end of the race and impressively kept the show on the road despite slipping up on lap 59. Over the final laps he was on the pace of most of the front runners, but the chance for points had gone.

Red Bull

Verstappen began his late-race charge by passing Gutierrez
Daniel Ricciardo – Another driver who felt he had erred on the conservative side on his final run in qualifying. Ricciardo caught a tough break when he fell foul of the little-used rule on pit lane closures having failed to spot the warning boards in poor visibility. He was also struggling with his visor leaking in the closing stages which partly explains why Verstappen made such better progress over the final stint.

Max Verstappen – Was third after his first run in Q3 but an error on his final effort dropped him behind Raikkonen. However the dire conditions provided a perfect showcase for his talents. During the course of the race he explored every millimetre of the Interlagos track in pursuit of extra grip and had overtaken the likes of his team mate, Rosberg and both Ferrari drivers. The gamble on intermediates was understandable, though it cost him second.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg – Surprisingly neither of the Force India drivers beat Grosjean’s Haas in qualifying. But with Hulkenberg just six-hundredths ahead of Perez it seemed both were close to the car’s potential. Hulkenberg was running fourth at the time the race was stopped but fell to 15th when he was called in to replace his wet weather tyres under the Safety Car, the team blaming a puncture. Without that he’d have entered the final laps in third place with Verstappen bearing down on him. His pass on Magnussen, barely on the track with the pit wall coming up at him, was astoundingly brave.

Sergio Perez – Backed up Hulkenberg to put both Force Indias ahead of the two Williams drivers on the grid. By staying out of trouble and staying out of the pits he rose to third place until Verstappen appeared on his tail, and relegated him three laps from home. But Force India vitally outscored Williams with both drivers.

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Magnussen made an early switch to intermediates – again
Kevin Magnussen – Lost his way with the car’s balance on Saturday and narrowly missed the cut for Q2. As usual he was one of the most fearless in the wet conditions and always among the first to gamble on intermediates. The conditions didn’t play to the tyres, however, and he finished well out of the points.

Jolyon Palmer – Despite being held up by Ocon in Q3 Palmer claimed a place in Q2. He was lining up to pass Kvyat at the restart on lap 19 when Raikkonen crashed in front of them and Palmer was caught out by Kvyat slowing down. The resulting contact ended the Renault driver’s race.

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat – Was the quicker of the two Toro Rosso drivers in qualifying for once but his tidy lap didn’t trouble the top ten. He sacrificed track position with an early pit stop for intermediates, then was hit by Palmer. His team reckoned the damage to his diffuser cost Kvyat around 20 points of downforce, and he also picked up a puncture. The two Red Bulls ejected him from the points positions late in the race and in the final laps Alonso and Bottas demoted him too.

Carlos Sainz Jnr – Found little improvement in Q2 and dropped out along with his team mate. However he was on great form in the race. Unlike Kvyat he didn’t pit for intermediates and this paid off handsomely: he was fourth with five laps to go. While Verstappen’s pass was probably inevitable he let Vettel go by rather too easily.


Ninth for Nasr was a huge relief for Sauber
Marcus Ericsson – Only did a single lap in final practice due to a power unit problem. Nonetheless he beat his team mate in qualifying by a few hundredths. However in the race he quickly paid the price of trying to run the intermediates – he crashed within two laps of putting them on.

Felipe Nasr – Blamed traffic and a misfire for a lap which left him last on the grid until Ocon was penalised. Another driver who steered clear of the intermediates, Nasr spent a significant chunk of the race in sixth place before Hulkenberg and the Red Bulls demoted him to ninth. He never lost sight of his goal, however, which was to beat Ocon and grab Sauber’s first points, which he achieved.


Fernando Alonso – Bounced back from a technical fault in second practice with a fine performance in qualifying. He beat Button by half a second in Q1 and went on to reach the top ten. He pounced on Perez superbly at the start and beat the Force India to the line. However his switch to intermediates a few laps later dropped him back into the pack. By the final restart he was back up to eighth, but he blew his chances of a better points finish with a spin. He salvaged the final point by taking Button, Magnussen, Wehrlein, Bottas, Kvyat and Ocon in the sprint to the flag.

Jenson Button – This was a horrible weekend for Button with no obvious upside. Having been tenth in the warmer conditions on Friday he dropped out in Q1, prompting him to claimed “there’s definitely something not right”. He was still mystified after coming in last in the race.


Pascal Wehrlein – After a difficult Friday he was rejuvenated on Saturday and out-qualified Ocon, albeit by the tiny margin of five thousandths of a second. Given Manor’s lack of downforce it was no surprise neither driver wanted to try the intermediates, and by the stoppage both had risen into the top ten. Wehrlein slipped back more quickly, however, and a gap of almost 15 seconds had opened out between the pair by the end of the race.

Ocon conclusively won the Manor drivers battle
Esteban Ocon – Dropped back to last on the grid by a penalty for impeding Palmer. However in his eighth grand prix – and first wet one – he gave a fine account of himself and only dropped out of the points places two laps from home. Staying off the intermediate tyres helped and it was striking that Verstappen’s former F3 rivals was one of few other drivers exploring the outer edges of the track in pursuit of more grip.


Romain Grosjean – Switching to Carbone Industrie brakes produced a better feeling “right from the beginning” for Grosjean, but delivering seventh in qualifying was well above what the team expected. But Sunday was a crushing disappointment: crashing before the race has even started was a rare flashback to 2012-specification Grosjean.

Esteban Gutierrez – Qualifying was typical of his season: while Grosjean dazzled with his Q3 run, few noticed Gutierrez had only been a tenth off him in Q2. Fine margins are amplified in the midfield. His race was a frustrating affair as an MGU-K fault compromised his power delivery problems under braking and while cornering. Then the MGU-H packed up and a visibly furious Gutierrez vented his frustration at team principal Guenther Steiner. The team had already announced Gutierrez will not be driving for them next year.

Vote for your driver of the weekend

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Who got the most out of their car in qualifying and the race? Who put their team mate in the shade?

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2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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40 comments on “2016 Brazilian Grand Prix driver ratings”

  1. I like Ricciardo a lot, but 4 is too much for what he did yesterday.
    Together with Japan and Canada, this was one of his worst races this year.
    A 3 would be fair enough.

    1. 4 was right, considering his penalty and pit calls he had to overtake a lot of cars and was never a passenger like a lot of the grid..he drove a well controled race…..though leaking or a clear visor he would of never of matched Max who was in a class of his own

    2. I heared that his visor became heavily fogged due to a fault that made things very difficult.

  2. crashing before the race has even started was a rare flashback to 2012-specification Grosjean

    Was that actually driver error and not the car? Yes, on the one hand, Grosjean has made mistakes. But on the other hand, the Haas has also proven to be finicky with its braking (not just the brake material, but also the brake-by-wire behaviour).

    1. It was not at all a car thing. This wasn’t close to a braking zone and it was an admitted driver error.

      1. @hahostolze – thanks for clearing that up. 👍

      2. @hahostolze
        Where exactly did you pick up this ‘admitted-driver-error’-statement? I saw an interview with him in which he said not to know what happened, that he wasn’t even pushing and that there’s a problem with the full wets.
        Wait and see.

  3. The Ricciardo excuse ratings

    1. bla bla bla. Try driving a single seater in the rain with a leaking visor(or even an ordinary cabrio/motorcycle). I’d love to see where you end up

  4. I think there must have been an issue with Button’s car. Not that he doesn’t have dips in form, but it’s very rare for him to be so far off his teammate’s pace, especially in these conditions.

    1. Really? There were times when Lewis lapped him during a race at their time together at McLaren – and he wasn’t suffering any mechanical issues. Performances like this are certainly not unusual for Button. And there are many wet races where he was also under par.

  5. I was surprises by wehrlein. Looked totally out of his comfort zone.

  6. Mercedes:
    Hamilton – 5/5
    Rosberg – 3/5

    Vettel – 3/5
    Raikkonen – 3/5

    Bottas – 3/5
    Massa – 2/5

    Red Bull:
    Ricciardo – 3/5
    Verstappen – 5/5

    Force India:
    Hulkenberg – 5/5
    Pérez – 4/5

    Magnussen – 3/5
    Palmer – 2/5

    Toro Rosso:
    Sainz – 4/5
    Kvyat – 3/5

    Nasr – 4/5
    Ericsson – 2/5

    Alonso – 4/5
    Button – 1/5

    Wehrlein – 2/5
    Ocon – 4/5

    Grosjean – 2/5
    Gutiérrez – 2/5

    1. Lewis said himself he had a easy race and it is clear that nico has not been racing lewis the last 3 races and driving for a safe second..lewis drove at the front in no spray in the fastest car knowing his teammate wouldn’t challenge him..hardly worth the same rating as Max imo.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        14th November 2016, 22:38

        I think it is very reasonable that Verstappen and Hamilton get the same score. There are some disadvantages to running 1st in the race. There are not the tyre grooves that all the drivers behind Hamilton will get. So Hamilton will have to create new ones every lap when it was raining heavily. And the others behind him have the consequences of spray. But those in front and behind have advantages as well as disadvantages in these conditions.
        Also Hamilton had a good qualifying. Not that Verstappen had a bad one, but a Ferrari did beat him and that is a little surprising. Then in the race, yes, Verstappen’s looked far more impressive than Hamilton’s but he made several mistakes. Hamilton was faultless the whole race. Verstappen nearly lost it twice. One time was only a minor wobble, the other was very nearly a crash. A mixture of skill but mainly luck avoided a crash that could have ended his race just like it did for others. He also clearly overtook Rosberg under the safety car which I don’t know how he got away with as other drivers have been given penalties for that in the past.

        Anyway, while I look like I’m trying to find fault with Verstappen, other than his few mistakes, his race was incredible. That last lot of overtaking was amazing coming from well below 10th to 3rd. I think overall, his performance quite easily is equal with Hamilton for the race so I could easily give them both 5/5.
        For driver of the weekend, I really struggled to choose between them. But as Hamilton made no mistakes at all, had a good qualifying as well as pulling well away from the rest of the field ever time they restarted as well as making no mistakes, I went for him in the end. It was very tough between them though.

        1. Ben l see your point about carving the way on a wet track, Max was carving his own lines and dealing with spray, Lewis had team mate or team orders who didn’t want to fight him ( cannot imagine senna, schuey or Seb ect settling for 2nd without a fight even with team orders… very disappointed with Nico the last few races).. as a Aussie l am a huge fanboy of Ric as a person and a great driver after demolishing Seb ,and l have been quick to “Bag” Max race after race, though Sunday was something very special and very rarely seen in F1 and quite unbelievable..Ric needs to be worried about becoming the new Webber in RB, the pressure has just up a few notches.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            15th November 2016, 10:20

            Yes, Verstappen did make his own lines a lot of the time, but that was his own choice to make it more difficult for himself. Although, yes, it did also help out a lot of the time so it was worth taking the risk. But if I compare the 2 drivers, Verstappen was more impressive, obviously did more overtakes but made several mistakes and I have to rate them equal for that really. Also, many consider the Red Bull to be the best car in these conditions. But every time the race restarted, Hamilton managed to pull away. That is often hardest and most important part of the race for Hamilton to do. He often only has to do it at the start, but it constantly cot restarted and he managed to do it every time. It was tight between them, but there was enough things that Hamilton did this weekend that made be vote for him over Verstappen. And I’m not a fan of either.

            About Rosberg, he may not be performing as well as Hamilton but he simply doesn’t need to now. He may be just trying to drive as carefully as possible to follow Hamilton home as that will still get him the title. There is nothing wrong with doing that. It could well be better than trying to fight with him as we never know what might happen then. It may make Rosberg appear worse but it could infact be the best way to secure his championship instead of fighting with his team mate. This may sound silly but I think he may not be trying as hard as he could. And I don’t think that is a bad thing at this point either. He needs to try really hard if he knows it is going to be really hard to get the championship, which it probably won’t be now. So he can probably take another careful (and boring for us to watch) drive if he wants and still win it.

      2. Uhh…when Verstappen passed Nico, he attempted to put pressure on Lewis, pulling to within 1 to 1.1 seconds of Hamilton’s gearbox. Lewis responded by cranking out some quick laps, and putting Verstappen back in his place, some 4.9 to 5 seconds behind in a few short laps. Then Verstappen spun attempting to claw time back on Lewis. And you think Lewis doesn’t deserve the rating? Verstappen seemed to have little trouble dispatching Nico when Nico slipped up…Lewis, on the other hand, was sublime and laughed at young Maxy and his temerity, then drove off into the distance, miles ahead of everyone and if not for multiple safety cars, his distance on the field in the rain would have looked like his distance on the field in Monaco 2015.

      3. petebaldwin (@)
        15th November 2016, 14:47

        @nosehair – To be fair, rating it out of 5 doesn’t leave a lot of room for separating them. I’d say Hamilton was a 9/10 and Verstappen was a 10/10… It seems harsh to bump Hamilton down to a 4 (effectively an 8/10) when he drove a solid race in very difficult circumstances.

        1. Yeah Pete l would agree with your point

        2. Ben as much as l like Nico. I dont think Nico beleives he is better driver than LH or he would of be trying to beat Lewis these last few races( team orders or not)..a true competitor who has self belief they are the best does not strive or settle for 2nd no matter what the points sitution is, they want to win every contest in any sport and F1 is no different..

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      14th November 2016, 22:25

      @ultimateuzair, I do think almost all of your ratings are fair, but I’m not sure about giving both Hass’s the same score. I would give Gutierrez a 3/5 as he had at least a reasonable qualifying and he didn’t make any costly mistakes in the race. Unlike Grosjean who didn’t make it to the start by crashing out. Gutierrez was just unlucky to have yet more technical issues. I couldn’t give him 2/5 though.
      I would also give Bottas 4/5 like Keith has. While he didn’t qualify in the top 10, he still had a very solid race with very little mistakes. That is in a Williams that is one of the worst cars in grid when it is wet. And his team gave him intermediates at the last part of the race which hardly any others were using and they suited the conditions even worse than the others. Yet he still managed to keep control of the car finish only just outside the points in 11th. I agree with you giving Massa 2 though. I can’t quite see how he gets a 3 further up when he qualified behind both Hass and crashed out the race. I know it is really hard not to crash out in these conditions but a 2/5 somehow matches his weekend performance more than a 3/5. Such a shame he crashed out on his last home race.

      Sorry that I almost always disagree with some of your ratings but I much appreciate that you rate the drivers every time. I would take hours to decide if I hadn’t seen someone else’s ratings first.

    3. Your ratings are more accurate in my opinion. Just for Ocon I don’t think he deserves the same rating as Nasr, he had a faster car today and finished behind. And he is a lot more highly rated than him.

  7. Nasr should get 5 out of 5 also

    1. Cream seems to rise to the top in the wet, these ratings show the quality drivers through the field with the 4/5s..amazing

  8. Lewis and Max 5/5 and well deserved. Thought Ricciardo was a bit unlucky, but wouldn’t of matched Max on his day

  9. Agree with a couple of the others concerning Ricciardo – think he only deserves a ”3”.

    Button’s well deserved ”1” made me giggle! :)

  10. Hulkenberg deserved a 5-star. The puncture wasn’t his fault and he was ahead of Perez all the time beforehand. The rest, I agree with

    1. And as far as I know, Hülkenberg didn’t make a single mistake during the race (unlike Alonso and Verstappen).

  11. It took that much for Grosjean to be graded below, albeit not by much, Gutiérrez?

  12. I think we have seen a race that we will remember for decades. And then I don’t think about the perfect but boring race of Hamilton. When everybody worldwide is talking about this race in Brazil, it’s only because of one driver. I think you should add a special category to this review. A 5 + star or a 6 out of 5 qualification.
    Let’s say you may give this qualification maximum one time every season. Then Hamilton 5 but Max deserved that extra point: 6 out of 5!
    This is what we all want to see and what makes watching Formula 1 really exiting. I don’t think people will start watching F1 because Hamilton lead a race from start to finish but with Max F1 has a future.

    1. AmsterdamF1fan
      16th November 2016, 11:39

      I totally agree with that. Max was extraordinary.
      He invented whole new racing lines en held everybody watching on the edge of their seats.
      Someone like Max is comes up only once or twice every generation.
      Lewis did great, keeping great pace. He had advantage of no spray. But non the less great driving. But today my number 2.
      Today Max was the greatest of them all. I’ve never been so happy about a stategy gone wrong, cause now we’ve have seen a brilliant race.

      1. Seems the dutch all agree with one and other. zzz

  13. I have to say Vettel was very unimpressive this weekend imho.

    He got outqualified ágain by his teammate, made a mistake all by himself (again as well really) and drove quite poor vs. Verstappen.

    When VES tried to pas Seb on the outside of T4, Max pulled out halfway through the move because the line was clearly Vettel’s and it was never going to stick.

    Then at the end of the lap VES then faked the outside line coming out of penultimate coner to the inside line for the final corner. In turn VET should have realized it was Max’ line and pulled out but he didn’t and could have easily thrown his entire race away by going off.

  14. I have to say Vettel was very unimpressive this weekend imho.

    He got outqualified ágain by his teammate, made a mistake all by himself (again as well really) and drove quite poor vs. Verstappen.

    When VES tried to pas Seb on the outside of T4, Max pulled out halfway through the move because the line was clearly Vettel’s and it was never going to stick.

    Then at the end of the lap VES then faked the outside line coming out of penultimate coner to the inside line for the final corner. In turn VET should have realized it was Max’ line and pulled out but he didn’t and could have easily thrown his entire race away by going off.

  15. what about Bernd Maylander Keith? C’mon you are usually better than this, you don’t miss these sort of details

  16. Verstappen a 6 out of 5.

    Together with Louis the best, but Hammi had -as he said himself- an easy ride.

  17. Verstappen should have gotten a zero rating and should have had a penalty for dangerous overtaking in the rain…I mean seriously…

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