Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Imola, 2020

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix Star Performers

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo’s season at Renault keeps getting better. He raved about the Imola circuit and produced a gem of a lap in qualifying to claim fifth on the grid. He started well, passing Pierre Gasly, and gambled on not making a pit stop during the Safety Car period. That got him up to third, and with a skilful restart he had his tyres up to temperature quickly enough to hold back the challenging field.

Max Verstappen

Once again, this was top-drawer stuff from Verstappen which was cruelly denied the result it deserved. Despite a disrupted Q2 he put the Red Bull where it belonged on the grid, then separated the Mercedes at the start. He was never going to stop Lewis Hamilton from jumping ahead of him at the pit stops, but was superbly placed to capitalise on Valtteri Bottas’s mistake to take second place. He then matched Hamilton’s pace until a tyre failure ended his day.

Pierre Gasly

This may seem generous given that he was out early in the race, but Gasly was on it from the moment practice began. Putting the AlphaTauri fourth on the grid was an excellent effort, and he started well enough to show his nose to Hamilton. Another reliability failure cost him a shot at a podium.

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Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Imola, 2020
Stroll’s point-less run continued
Stroll’s second weekend since returning from his bout of Covid-19 was little better than the first. He was off his team mate’s pace in qualifying and damaged his car at the start which ruined his race. He did a decent job of getting up to speed on the hard tyres, but he was never going to get back into contention, and compounded matters by knocking his front jack operator over. His near-miss with a group of marshals while catching the field up during the Safety Car period was troubling to say the least.

George Russell

We’ve come to expect great qualifying performances from Russell and he did not disappoint. But crashing under the Safety Car was a woeful and potentially dangerous mistake, which squandered a points-scoring opportunity he had driven well to create.

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And the rest

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Imola, 2020
Hobbled by debris, Bottas then ran wide under pressure
Hamilton was out-qualified by Bottas but did what he needed to stand a strong chance of jumping ahead of his team mate through the pit stops, before the Virtual Safety Car made it a certainty. Bottas’s race looked weak until the full details of the time loss caused by a significant piece of debris became known. However an avoidable error cost him second to Verstappen, temporarily.

Albon’s spin capped an unimpressive weekend, but there was a mitigating factor in that Red Bull had blown their call to bring him in for fresh tyres, and left him on well-worn rubber as a result. That notwithstanding, this performance could hardly be considered the obvious case for his retention in 2021 Albon was hoping for.

Ricciardo’s podium place should have been taken by Sergio Perez, who ran a patient opening stint to move forward having gone out in Q2, before a curious strategy call by Racing Point dropped him out of the top five. An unmemorable performance by Esteban Ocon was compromised by an early pit stop to remove a tear-off from a brake duct, then curtailed by gearbox problems.

Daniil Kvyat, AlphaTauri, Imola, 2020
Kvyat put on a late charge
Daniil Kvyat’s final few laps were some of the best he has driven all season, blending aggression and opportunism. He had lagged behind Gasly until that point, however. Charles Leclerc followed him home, the leading Ferrari driver as usual, though Sebastian Vettel’s day was spoiled by a dreadfully slow Ferrari pit stop.

The McLaren drivers took lowly points finishes, Carlos Sainz Jnr passing Lando Norris early on and demonstrating incredible reactions to avoid hitting Albon’s spinning Red Bull. The Alfa Romeo drivers completed the points scorers, Antonio Giovinazzi running a long second stint to superb effect to claim the final point behind Kimi Raikkonen.

Nicholas Latifi came within a second of bagging his first point in a weekend which was a considerable improvement on his form in Portugal. The Haas drivers struggled on with their under-developed car, Kevin Magnussen more so than Romain Grosjean, as his un-repaired gearbox’s upshifts were so violent they induced a headache, and the team eventually decided to retire him.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

2020 Emilia-Romagna 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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27 comments on “2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. I think Kimi (or both Saubers actually) should be Stars instead of Gasly and Verstappen. While Gasly’s qualifying was incredible it’s still silly to name him Star after DNF and same applies to Max as well.

    1. Agree!! Gasly’s classification as Star is way too generous! Kimi should have been here instead

    2. Max overtook both Mercedes drivers, what more should he have done then?

      1. Protected his tyres better and brought home the points which are worh millions. Not overdrive and damage his car by hitting the curbs too aggressively. It looks great on TV but is costly in reality.

        1. Don’t be daft now. His tires were fine and in general the RBR is kinder on its tires than the Mercs. He didn’t abuse the kerbs more than others (afaik he also didn’t have track limit warnings while others did). He is also not know for wrecking tires, more like the opposite.
          Had to be a blowout caused by a cut through debris.

          1. baasbas, you say that “in general the RBR is kinder on its tires than the Mercs”, but I’m not sure that is really that true.

            If you look at the more recent races, Verstappen’s race stint lengths when running the same compound of tyres as the two Mercedes drivers often aren’t really any different. At most venues, there’s usually little more than a few laps difference in the stint length – sometimes he might run one or two laps longer, but equally there have been times when Verstappen has had to pit first because of tyre problems (e.g. the Spanish GP).

            In the Styrian GP, Max’s first stint on the C4 tyres was 24 laps and his second stint on the C3 tyres was 44 laps. Both Mercedes drivers managed to run a longer first stint – 27 for Hamilton and 34 for Bottas in that race. Hamilton then also ran a 44 lap stint on the C3 tyres, the same length as Verstappen – however, if you look at Verstappen’s times, his times started to worsen after about 30 laps whereas Hamilton’s times didn’t drop off over his stint.

            If you look at the Spanish GP as another example, Verstappen’s first stint on the C3 tyres was only 21 laps, whereas Hamilton and Bottas managed 23 laps. Both Hamilton and Bottas also had slightly more consistent times than Verstappen – whilst all three stopped improving their lap times after about 14 laps, Hamilton held his times in the mid 1m23s bracket and Bottas in the high 1m23s bracket, whilst Verstappen’s times slightly worsened from the mid 1m23s bracket to the low 1m24s bracket.

            If you then look at his next two stints of 20 and 25 laps on the C2 tyres, there isn’t any distinct advantage in the rate at which his times improved or degraded compared to the two Mercedes – his times dropped off at much the same rate as the two Mercedes did.

            In the British GP, similarly Verstappen’s times on the C1 tyre followed the same trend as the two Mercedes drivers in terms of lap time evolution. Bottas and Verstappen both set their best laps on the C1 tyre on lap 41, with Hamilton’s best lap being on lap 45, and then all three showed a fairly similar slight worsening of lap times from that point onwards.

            In the Belgian GP, where so many drivers ended up on the same 33 lap stint on the hard tyres, again the lap time trends there were very similar for all three drivers. Again, both Bottas and Verstappen set their best times on the same lap – lap 27 – with Hamilton’s best lap being on lap 28, before all three saw their lap times drop off at roughly the same rate. Similarly, in the Eifel GP Hamilton and Verstappen saw their times follow pretty much the same trends with regards to wear rates over their stints.

            If you look at the rate at which the lap times have evolved over a race distance, I would disagree with the claim that “in general the RBR is kinder on its tires than the Mercs”.

            Normally, Max’s times follow a fairly similar trend to the two Mercedes drivers and his best times are usually set at about the same point in a race stint, give or take a handful of laps. I would suggest that a more realistic assessment would be that Red Bull’s tyre management is about the same as that of Mercedes – there isn’t really much of an advantage for either team.

            As for your comment that “he also didn’t have track limit warnings while others did”, it is worth noting that there were pretty much no warnings for track limits during the race – so it is wrong to assert that others were getting penalties whilst Max wasn’t, as in reality nobody was getting penalties.

            Secondly, that point is also flawed as penalties were only given for certain corners, which were Turns 9, 12 and 15 (i.e. Piratella, Acque Minerali and the exit of the Variante Alta). Where Verstappen was reportedly using the kerbs more aggressively than other drivers was actually at Rivazza – Turns 18 and 19 – where penalties were not applied. In particular, there was a suggestion that he was allowing the car to run out wider onto the exit kerbs on the exit of Turn 19 to maximise the speed he carried onto the main straight.

            If I were to suggest a potential place where Max might have run over debris and damaged his tyre, then the exit of Rivazza would be a likely candidate – it would be about the right spot if his tyre then failed on the main straight. I agree that debris is the more likely answer, with one possibility being that you might have had another driver kick up debris on the exit of Rivazza and Max might have then collected it if he was running wider than other drivers normally did.

            To that end, I do recall seeing a few drivers going a bit wide on the exit of Turn 19 – does anybody have a list of who did run wide at Turn 19 and on what lap?

        2. Lol, that’s why he has had so many tyre blowouts during his carreer. Oh wait.

        3. compare his (clean) laps with Bottas on similar tyres, Bottas was in gravel a couple of times, which is really being over the limit, Of course Max could have chosen not to fight and try to finish with tyres which can last another GP….but that’s not really racing is it?

  2. Star for VER seems a stretch. Was his performance good? Yes, consistent with other races. You could add a bit of bonus for Q2. But he couldn’t make a move on BOT, only push him into an error in a compromised car. And then we lost him with a third of the race to go. For someone being consistently good it is harder to ‘star’. I suppose if BOT didn’t have damage it would be OK to star

    1. Pushing someone in a error is a star worthy. Showing yourself constant and keeping in the 1 sec is very hard. Don’t forget that overtaking is at this track very hard. Straight line speed the merc was flying, even with the mistake of Bottas, Max just managed to get passed. A star is in my opinion a driver who always maximes its results, no matter the troubles of your component. That’s why Daniel is also a star. You have to be there when it matters.

    2. Max overtook one Merc at the start, the other during the race….
      Let’s be fair, Mercedes are faster….

      Max has been the start each race, finished ahead of one or more Merc driver 6 out of 9 races, was on the podium each race he finished. Both Lewis and Bottas can’t say the same while being in a car 0.5-1.2 sec faster

  3. Ricciardo, Verstappen did well some will say Ricciardo lucked into 3rd. He was in the right place at the right time when RP blew it.
    Blaming Stroll for the Marshal incident? Wasn’t he just doing as directed to unlap himself was he speeding? I would have thought Massi should have made sure the track was clear before releasing the back markers.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      3rd November 2020, 11:18

      Yes the Racing Point hate is really getting ridiculous here.

    2. about Stroll: no
      I replayed all the on-boards from RAI, GIO, LAT, GRO, VET and Stroll…
      All slowed down a lot, especially RAI, GIO, LAT and GRO, they really acted the way I think they should, full of respect to the marshalls.
      VET slowed down, but less and later than the others, though ‘respectfull’
      Stroll, he seemed to miss the yellow matrix signs, and only acted when he saw the marshalls, very dangerous

  4. Stars: RIC and KVY
    Strugglers: STR and ALB.

    1. Yes exactly, I think Albon deserves to be amongst the strugglers. Struggled his way out of that Red Bull next year, that some struggling

    2. @jerejj I’d agree that Kvyat really deserves more of a mention as a star of this weekend, as this was his best performance in the entire season.

      Kvyat put in his best qualifying performance of the season and was genuinely quick enough to consistently harry Albon throughout most of the race – in the few times he got some clear air, he was more than a match for Gasly.

      On the restart, meanwhile, he made full use of the fresh soft tyres to pull off several passes – furthermore, the 4th place that he scored in this race is the second best result that the team has scored this season. I would say that Kvyat performed far above expectations this weekend, and thus put in far more of a standout performance than most of those listed.

  5. Kimi was voted second last time I looked, so why leave him out?
    48 laps on one set of tyres, running p4, no lucky sc, good points finish after starting p18. Why does Keith dislike Kimi??

    Yeah Ric done good. Gasly and Max? you just can’t dnf and get a prize. That’s just not good sense.

    1. Well, you could have a stellar race and then get a technical DNF near the end. Does that mean you didnt deliver a star performance? I guess the team didn’t but the driver did.

    2. Rodber You can definitely make a case for Kimi being a star this race, but this is the author’s opinion, so it doesn’t need to match the fan vote. Otherwise they would just post the results of the DoTW poll instead of this article.

      You can definitely be a star while still suffering a DNF. Verstappen’s retirement was late enough in the race that he was virtually assured of 2nd – the job was nearly done. You can argue that Gasly’s retirement was early enough in the race that we needed to see more before calling him a star, but it’s debatable. But if a DNF was always disqualifying, then a Williams could get pole and lead every lap, only to retire at the end and not get a star rating. That doesn’t make any sense.

  6. How on earth are Vettel and Albon not included in the strugglers list?? Albon was poor on Saturday and awful on Sunday. He spun himself out of a race where he should have finished on the podium after his teammate’s retirement.

    Vettel was outqualified by Russell.. who has been named as a struggler on this list. Vettel’s Sunday wasn’t spectacular either.. he finished behind Latifi.. and 2nd to last of all the finishers.

    1. Vettel is so consistently poor that we dont even notice him anymore as a struggler. Soon we will be renaming this section to ‘Grand Prix Star & Vettel performers’

    2. While Vettel is indeed underwhelming in 2020 he didn’t spoil his pitstop himself.

    3. Vettel had made up a lot of places and might well have finished in the points but for the mess his team made of his pitstop. He could even have finished in front of the two McLarens.

      His qualifying was pretty poor though.

    4. Agreed, Vettel had a bad weekend. As did Albon. Obvious strugglers in my opinion…

      Further VET was more than lucky not to get a penalty for punting KMAG – his onboards almost makes it look like he did it on purpose. I think he has a problem with putting circumstances behind him and just focus on driving, these days…

      1. Claus, to be fair to Vettel, that very slow pit stop by the team did also cost him quite a few positions. If you look at where he was likely to have been with a normal length pit stop, he’d have been around about where Norris was, or possibly splitting the two McLaren drivers.

        In addition, Ferrari’s decision to pit Vettel for tyres under the safety car meant he dropped back behind Latifi, Grosjean and Giovinazzi. If his initial pit stop hadn’t been that bad, then he’d have been in the mix with the McLaren’s and Kvyat on the restart – and if Ferrari hadn’t messed up his initial pit stop and also elected to hold onto track position instead of pitting for softs, he’d have probably been in around 6th place on the restart.

        Whilst he might not have had a stellar qualifying session, by running quite long on his opening stint and setting decent lap times, Vettel was actually on course to make up a number of places until the botched pit stop and that strategic mistake. If Ferrari hadn’t sacrificed track position under the safety car either, he might well have been in a position to at least fight for a position around 6th-7th – so the team has to carry at least part of the blame there.

  7. Stars: Kvyat, Ricardo and… Raikkonen, maybe?
    Strugglers: Stroll, Albon and Russell(sqaundering maybe the only points Williams could have scored this season)

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