George Russell, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

2021 Belgian Grand Prix Star Performers

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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George Russell, Max Verstappen and Lando Norris were RaceFans’ Star Performers of a Belgian Grand Prix race weekend which saw no racing. Here’s why.


George Russell

  • Played an aggressive game from the start in qualifying, leaving the pits on intermediate rubber from the off in Q1
  • Despite only having won intermediate rubber left in Q3, and having to start that session on full wets, he stormed to a remarkable front-row start, just three-tenths of a second away from pole position

Max Verstappen

  • Crashed at Malmedy at the end of second practice, though the damage to his car did not incur any penalties
  • Took pole position – but only just – in challenging wet conditions

Lando Norris

  • One of the fastest drivers on the track in the wet qualifying sessions, leading Q1 and Q2, setting the quickest time of qualifying in the latter
  • Suffered a heavy crash at Raidillon in Q3 as the rain was at its worst, forcing him to take a five place gearbox penalty. While that might ordinarily rule him out of consideration for a ‘star’ accolade, given other drivers were aquaplaning on straights at the time, it’s doubtful the session should have been running at the time he crashed

Given the extraordinary circumstances of last weekend’s race, no drivers have been named as ‘strugglers’ for the Belgian Grand Prix.

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And the rest

Lewis Hamilton

  • Struggled with set-up in first practice
  • Beaten to pole position by Verstappen and – astonishingly – knocked off the front row by Russell, having run a slightly lower downforce set-up on his car

Valtteri Bottas

  • Was almost two-and-a-half seconds off his team mate in Q3 which, on a day when the driver expected to replace him put a Williams on the front row, was unfortunate. He also lost out to a McLaren, an Aston Martin and an AlphaTauri

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
Perez’s car was repaired for a race that never happened
  • Qualified in seventh, over two seconds slower than Verstappen in the wet
  • Crashed during his reconnaissance lap, damaging his right-front so badly it initially seemed he would not be able to participate in the race
  • The lengthy delay to the start and rapid Red Bull repair work meant he was able to rejoin, not that it made any difference

Daniel Ricciardo

  • Was alarmingly far from his team mate’s pace early in qualifying, but scraped into Q2
  • Consistently improved his lap times and eventually secured his best grid position in a McLaren to date with fourth place

Lance Stroll

  • A five-place grid penalty from Hungary meant he was always going to have a compromised starting position
  • Ending Q2 at the bottom of the times was something of a surprise for a driver who has had some decent wet weather results in the past. It left him at the back of the grid
  • A penalty for a rear wing change during the race meant he was classified last

Sebastian Vettel

  • In the top ten in throughout all three practice sessions
  • Secured fifth on the grid, his best starting position of the season, a tenth of a second away from the second row

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Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
Hungary winner Ocon was the only Alpine driver to reach Q3
  • Alpine said their car did not perform well on the intermediate tyres, and that was reflected in their qualifying results
  • Ocon at least made it through to Q3, unlike his team mate, but was the best part of four seconds slower than the pole-winner

Fernando Alonso

  • Compromised his tyre warm-up before his final run, ultimately ending Q2 a disappointed 14th, eight-tenths slower than Ocon

Charles Leclerc

  • Crashed in second practice on the exit of Les Combes, requiring a new chassis
  • Only just missed out on Q3 in 11th as both Ferraris failed to reach the final 10

Carlos Sainz Jnr

  • Was out-qualified by Latifi’s Williams as he failed to secure passage through to Q3

Pierre Gasly

  • Took yet another top-six start for AlphaTauri

Yuki Tsunoda

  • Given the conditions it was little surprise to see Tsunoda drop out in the first round of qualifying, over two seconds slower than his team mate

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
Four-time Spa winner Raikkonen had a tough Saturday
  • Qualified on the back row, over two seconds slower than team mate Giovinazzi, and beaten by Mick Schumacher’s Haas as well
  • Required to start from the pit lane after car was modified under parc ferme

Antonio Giovinazzi

  • Went out in Q1 like his team mate, but got a lot closer to making the cut, missing it by just under half a second

Mick Schumacher

  • Slower than team mate Mazepin in Friday’s sessions
  • Out-qualified Mazepin – by almost a second – and Raikkonen to line up 18th

Nikita Mazepin

  • Faster than team mate Schumacher on Friday
  • Slowest of all in qualifying, eliminated in 20th

Nicholas Latifi

  • Comfortably qualified for Q2 with a lap good enough for tenth in the wet
  • Unable to match his team mate, but still secured best grid position of the season with 10th

Over to you

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

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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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25 comments on “2021 Belgian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Norris as a star is lenient. Perez not a struggler is lenient. Otherwise, the list is ok.

    1. Yes as he crashed it’s a bit hard to give him a star. He did very well offcourse and could maybe take polepostion but we will never know.

    2. Yes, he was extraordinary up until the mistake, but he makes a good point with the conditions not being suitable to drive probably.

    3. Very good points. Norris a star is too much. Being super fast in Q1 and Q2 is not what counts. While he was in awful conditions, as brundle mentioned, he touched the white line and the kerb, which is too risky in these conditions and he believed that triggered it more so than aquaplaning. He seemed to be taking this line more than other drivers. Norris being a star to me would be a bit more understandable if say he’d had a mechanical problem in Q3, but it was his own mistake. I think Him being a star makes about as much sense as Mazepin being a star for getting fastest lap.

      Perez was as bad as Bottas in qualifying. Both being around 2 and a half seconds behind their team mates. But Perez was the only driver to go off on the way to the grid. To be realistic, he didn’t deserve to be able to be classified as it took over an hour and a half to mend the damage.
      So I think Perez should be a very easy struggler. Anyone remember how much Grosjean got laughed at in Brazil 2016? This should be the same for Perez.

  2. I can understand that you want to nominate Stars/Strugglers, but then you should refrain from criticising FIA for awarding points and pushing poor Spa to refund the spectators.

    Sometimes your high road position is blurred by tunnel vision.

    1. I don’t agree, the FIA decided it was a race, then it deserves fastest lap and driver of the day (as well as all the associated articles on If you make it a farce, play it until the end, no reason to go halfway and lose even more credibility.
      This could still be an important argument for Georges to get a drive at Mercedes, hence it has a value even if not in the same way of a “normal” race.

      1. I agree with you that FIA made a mockery of this as well.
        But my comment is purely a criticism of the dual standards of this website. If Keith claims that there was no racing then there should not have been a Rate the Race poll.
        It is easy to criticise others (like I do here), but then you have to hold yourself to those same high standards.

    2. someone or something
      1st September 2021, 8:22

      Is it just me? I see absolutely no connection between arguing against points for the event and refunding the spectators on the one hand, but acknowledging that a significant portion of the weekend has happened, during which some drivers have clearly performed better than others, on the other.

      This isn’t international diplomacy, where some countries may disagree with the circumstances under which a country was founded, so they refuse to acknowledge its very existence, and, by extension, the Olympic medals awarded to its athletes …
      This is just an article with little to no impact on the real world, in which the performances of F1 drivers are ranked in a subjective manner, based on what was observable.
      Treating that like a violation of some kind of embargo is just weird.

    3. I disagree completely. Officially, a Formula 1 Grand Prix took place, so I don’t have a problem with Keith conducting a Rate the Race poll. It’s what I’d expect him to do as a motorsport journalist, regardless of his personal feelings on the matter and it implies nothing about whether he personally felt it was a ‘real’ race or not.

      Secondly, while there was not any actual racing, there was some action taking place in the form of qualifying. That can certainly be rated and has been.

      Next time you argue, I’d advise you to try and structure your argument in such a way that the premises lead to a true conclusion. Yours doesn’t.

  3. Latifi should be a star. Sure, not punching as high blows as Russell, but to qualify 12th in those conditions with that car is no mere task. He only just missed Q3. And managed to go from outside the top ten to a second consecutive point finish in a race with no racing laps! that’s a feat in itself…

    1. @fer-no65
      I’m surprised people still imply the williams as a similar car to what it was last year and before. Notice how Russell has been qualifying much higher quite regularly, as well as Latifi more often too (q2 several times). Have they both improved a lot this year or something and all these “incredible” Saturday performances in the past now don’t mean as much for Russell? I would say he has always been pretty good but the car has been getting a fair bit better. I don’t agree with latifi that the car is near the back still in these conditions. I’d say it is in the upper midfield and Russell had an incredible lap last time out. I would say Latifi should have got though to Q3. He’s been in Q2 before when the car didn’t look as good.

    2. …but to qualify 12th in those conditions with that car is no mere task.

      That Williams car is starting to get close to that position on pure pace. It really is better than Haas and Alfa Romeo and on a good day is matching the Alpha Tauri (at least in the hands of Tsunoda).

      1. @gechichan
        Yeah, definitively it looks like Williams overtook Alfa Romeo for 8th fastest car on pure pace overall as well, given that especially in recent qualis and races it had been a fair bit quicker. It doesn’t diminish Russell’s and even Latifi’s latest heroic deeds, just put that into perspective.

  4. Definitely perez should be a struggler, he was both bad in qualifying and the only one who crashed before the “race”.

  5. Star performers: Alan van der Merwe.

    Strugglers: Michael Masi.

    1. Soon Masi’s dismissed.

  6. Stars: VER, RUS, RIC, & MAZ
    Strugglers: PER

  7. “Took pole position, but only just” seems a bit disingenuous. He took pole by a full 3 tenths over George. That’s quite a margin, considering George only took 2nd by a hundreth.

  8. Stars: the fans at Spa!
    Strugglers : fia, fom and the press in general. By stating all kind of nonsense to fill the time.

  9. A star performer had to be Alan van der Merwe in the medical car more high speed laps on Sunday than anyone else.

  10. Mazepin clocked the fastest lap of the race, so his absence from the star list is a travesty.

    1. Having the fastest lap behind safety car is quite an achievement!

      1. Only for a race that felt like a joke in itself.

      2. @pinakghosh Not only Mazepin clocked a stonkin fastest lap of the race, but also managed to do it without overtaking anyone.
        If you do that and you are NOT a star, I just don´t know what is a star anymore…

  11. Since there was no race, there can’t be an overall star performer of the Grand Prix. But only based on results on Saturday, this one has to go to Russel.

Comments are closed.