2021 Dutch Grand Prix Star Performers

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Dutch Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Max Verstappen

  • Took pole despite DRS and gear-shift problems costing him time
  • Held his lead at the start and drew away from Hamilton quickly
  • Fast enough to keep ahead of Hamilton despite the Mercedes driver pitting before him twice
  • Kept his cool when he had to pick his way back Bottas and always had a little extra pace in hand when needed

Pierre Gasly

  • Consistently faster than team mate Tsunoda and Red Bull’s Perez across Friday and Saturday
  • Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Zandvoort, 2021
    Gasly showed superb pace at Zandvoort
  • Secured a second row start after “on the edge” Q3 lap to sit ahead of both Ferraris
  • Held his place at the start and made an earlier pit stop than the Ferrari drivers to secure his position
  • Blended strong speed with good tyre management in the second stint and never came under threat from Leclerc

Antonio Giovinazzi

  • Secured the joint-best grid slot of his career with seventh after a “mega” lap
  • Was crowded out at the start and fell to 10th
  • Tyre misfortune struck once again this year, forcing an extra pit stop which dropped him out of the points

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Nikita Mazepin

Mazepin lost his cool in qualifying
  • Caused red flags with practice spin
  • Livid at team mate Schumacher for passing him ahead of their final run
  • Investigated, then cleared of impeding Vettel at end of Q1, but qualified last on the grid
  • Swerved at Schumacher when his team mate tried to pass him early on
  • Retired with hydraulic failure

Sebastian Vettel

  • Managed only six laps in first practice before stopping with a power unit failure
  • Had his final Q1 lap ruined by traffic in the final sector, eliminated in 17th
  • Made an early pit stop but spun at turn three

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And the rest

Lewis Hamilton

  • Lost almost an entire session of running after power unit problem in second practice
  • A superb final lap in qualifying left him just 38 thousandths of pole position
  • Gave chase to Verstappen throughout the race but despite decent pace on medium tyres couldn’t make the difference for victory
  • Could have been a bit luckier with the way traffic landed for him at times

Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Zandvoort, 2021
Mercedes deployed Bottas strategically
  • Shored up Mercedes’ workload after Hamilton’s car stopped on Friday
  • Lined up three-tenths behind his team mate
  • Slipped back in the opening stint but ran a long first stint which proved tactically useful for his team
  • Probably couldn’t have reasonably held Verstappen back any longer than he did
  • Took fastest lap when his team told him not to, and though he left ample opportunity for Hamilton to beat it, an untimely yellow flag would have left him very unpopular with the team

Sergio Perez

  • Struggled for pace in practice after
  • Eliminated in Q1 after being caught in traffic while trying to set a late time
  • Started from the pits after the team took the opportunity to fit a new power unit
  • Locked up his tyres while passing Mazepin which forced an early pit stop, further compromising his race
  • Thereafter got his head down and picked off the McLaren drivers
  • Despite picking up damage while passing Norris he caught and passed Ocon for eighth before the end

Lando Norris

  • Knocked out of Q2 in 13th after red flags prevented him from a final run
  • Ran the longest first stint of anyone, on the medium tyres, to jump Russell and Stroll
  • After Ricciardo waved him by he tried to out-run Perez but lost the position after they made contact

Daniel Ricciardo

  • Finished sixth in Q2 but could not match his lap in Q3, taking tenth on the grid
  • Gained a place from Giovinazzi at the start but had to let Norris by and Perez squeezed him out of the points
  • Felt the call to let Norris past “wasn’t executed perfectly”

Lance Stroll

  • Had an uneventful weekend, qualifying and finishing 12th, spending much of his race stuck behind Russell’s Williams

Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Zandvoort, 2021
Ocon finished behind team mate he called “extremely slow”
  • Pipped his team mate to eighth on the grid by two-hundredths of a second
  • Said Alonso was holding him up badly early in the race
  • Fell back later in the stint, so much so that he pitted before Alonso and remained behind him
  • Felt the timing of blue flags contributed to him losing eighth place to Perez with three laps to go

Fernando Alonso

  • A feisty opening lap saw him pass Ocon and Giovinazzi
  • Managed his pace a lot in the opening stint, then ran longer than several of his pursuers
  • Admitted he was fortunate not to crash out while trying to pass Sainz
  • Took the Ferrari driver for fifth place on the final lap

Charles Leclerc

  • Gasly denied him a place on the second row by less than five-hundredths of a second
  • Felt he had the pace to finish ahead of Gasly but couldn’t overhaul the AlphaTauri driver and collected fifth

Carlos Sainz Jnr

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Zandvoort, 2021
Ferrari had a repair job after Sainz’s practice crash
  • Was fortunate to take part in qualifying after crashing at Hugenholtz in third practice, damaging the rear of his car
  • Said he didn’t enjoy the race and had no pace in the car, admitting he lacked confidence
  • Lost sixth place to Alonso on the final tour

Yuki Tsunoda

  • Could have done without losing yet more time in practice, this time due to a power unit problem
  • Eliminated in last place in Q2, 1.7s slower than his team mate in the same session, which was disrupted by red flags
  • Ran 14th until more power unit trouble put him out

Robert Kubica

Unexpected comeback for Kubica went as well as it could
  • Called up at short notice on Saturday morning as substitute for Kimi Raikkonen
  • Managed to avoid the back row of the grid despite only 28 laps of running prior to qualifying
  • Passed Latifi on the final lap, which along with the retirement of the other Williams promoted him to 15th
  • Was satisfied with his performance on “probably the toughest track physically” after his unexpected return

Mick Schumacher

  • Out-qualified Mazepin as usual, to his team mate’s obvious displeasure
  • Collected front wing damage while trying to re-pass Mazepin on lap two
  • Finished a distant 18th after having to cut his hard tyre stint shorter than he wanted to

George Russell

  • Both Williams drivers crashed in Q2, the car seeming a handful
  • Was running 12th when a gearbox problem ended his day

Nicholas Latifi

  • Comfortably secured passage to Q2 by ending first session in fifth place
  • Had his second Q2 run compromised by red flag cause by team mate Russell
  • Then crashed at turn eight himself, leading to repairs which forced him to start from the pits
  • Passed the Haas drivers and got ahead of Kubica for a while, before the Alfa Romeo driver reclaimed his position at the end

Over to you

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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 “2021 Dutch Grand Prix Star Performers”

    1. Giovinazzi a star, over Alonso? Interesting choice.

      1. I suppose Gio was able to show us a bit more in quali, but indeed.

      2. I always rate race performance over quali performance.
        So I’d pick Alonso as well.

        1. I don’t think rating someone on quali after tha race makes much sense.

      3. Alonso was the raciest driver in the Dutch Grand Prix by far. Ok, Perez got more overtakes, but that’s what you get when you put the second best car at the end of the grid. Alonso’s quali was not brilliant (it was never his forte) so maybe not DOTW but sure enough DOTR (Lando usually is but was strangely subdued yesterday).

        Anyway Alonso is certainly not this web’s manager pet driver and has to work one hundred times harder that any other to be a star. Such as other drivers are never strugglers, no matter how abysmal their weekend.

        1. Well, Alonso had contact not with one, not with two, but with THREE other cars in lap one, not to mention the situation with Sainz in the end.
          If he was any other driver, he would be bolted at the “Strugglers” of the race section. To consider him as a “star performer” in Zandvoort is almost delusional.

          1. Absolutely false, contacts like that that don’t have consequences are irrelevant, no one would be rated struggler.

            Agree with melanos sometimes there’s a feeling of bias, example hamilton is never rated a struggler: true, he rarely qualifies for that, but when he does he gets a pass (monaco).

            I think alonso not being a star is the biggest point of contention for this article.

    2. I know there’s a desire to not have too many stars, but from the text (apart from maybe ‘tone’) of Hamilton’s entry (might be ‘almost got pole and managed to put Verstappen under pressure for most of the race despite missing FP2 due to PU failure and a the team seeming to be lost a bit on strategy’) it’s not really clear why he wouldn’t be in there either.

      Not that I think he really needs to be, but I did note that quite often the text and the placement aren’t quite as strongly coupled as one would like, esp. when comparing to Bottas ‘at that pace we will not interact with the front runners’ (ie. again not really that ace that Mercedes needed w. Verstappen’s Red Bull being ahead and w. touch more pace) just behind that.

      1. Yes, hamilton was a star candidate as well now I think about it.

    3. Stars: VER, GAS, and ALO
      Strugglers: SAI, PER, NOR, and VET

      1. I think it’s a harsh on Lando Norris to make him a struggler. He was poor in qualifying, but didn’t get a chance to redeem himself due to the Williams cars crashing, and then he got ahead of Ricciardo in the race and beat him comprehensively.

        1. @f1frog Still, he only finished P10, three higher than his starting position.

        2. NOR got to use a new set of Medium tyres in the first stint which enabled him to go longer and faster than RIC who was forced to run a set of used Softs, which then enabled NOR a much shorter stint on Hards and so again faster on their second sets of tyres.

          They really do need to get rid of that ridiculous rule where a driver is better off in a race by being half a second slower than another driver in qualifying.

          1. I like the q2 rule, makes top teams go with slower tyres sometimes, which means they might not top the session and sometimes they might struggle to qualify with that.

          2. So it sort of makes top teams run handicap in q2 and mixes the field up a bit, then ofc they get a further advantage in the race.

    4. It may be unpopular opinion, but I was more impressed with Hamilton this weekend than Verstappen. Of course, there’s no way of knowing for sure, but I think the Red Bull appeared to be the faster car all weekend and the fact that Hamilton stayed so close behind in qualifying and particularly the race was mightily impressive. I would add him to the stars section.
      The other addition I would make is Tsunoda as a struggler. Yes, Gasly maximised his result in qualifying and the race and was my vote for Driver of the Weekend, but Tsunoda was just so far off his pace, and even without the retirement I think he would have been lapped. Perez just misses the struggler title courtesy of a decent fightback, but this was a very underwhelming weekend from him (it’s ridiculous that he got the official Driver of the Day). I would say:
      Stars – Gasly, Hamilton, Verstappen, Giovinazzi
      Strugglers – Vettel, Tsunoda, Mazepin

      1. @f1frog Both Verstappen and Hamilton were very good. The track suited the Red Bull better, which allowed Verstappen to take pole despite not having a trouble-free lap. Both had a tremendous race pace, given that even 4th-placed Gasly was lapped. Hamilton probably had to work harder to be that fast, but Verstappen nicely managed the pace, especially in his second stint. He also managed to overtake Bottas easily, despite a top-speed disadvantage, which was crucial.

        I’m also puzzled Tsunoda wasn’t a struggler. He was really poor considering the car was good enough to beat the Ferraris. Pérez was poor as well. Given he had 5 sets of soft tires for qualifying, he never should have been eliminated in qualifying. Starting on the hard tires was interesting, but locking up tremendously completely ruined his strategy. In the end his 2-stop strategy worked out reasonably well, but an 8th place in the best car isn’t great of course.

      2. Yeah, I thought Hamilton was great too, just relentless pressure and really surprising ability to run in the dirty air for lap after lap. I think if he had led into the first corner we’d have seen a mirror image race and lots of sad Dutch fans.

        1. Absolutely, pace was close enough, he’d have won if he took the lead in turn 1, which some people disagreed on on the other thread.

      3. I was impressed how Lewis turned boo-ing into cheering, he handles that quite well, winning the enthousiastic crowd for him. I was at the GP on Saturday…from where I sat (Tarzan) there hardly was any boo-ing…we didn’t hear it, but noticed it Sunday monring re-watching quali on TV.

        Lewis laps in quali weren’t impressive…yes he missed FP2 for the major part, but not FP1 and 3…he had track time.
        His banker lap was 0.35 sec of Max time and even behind Bottas…. that’s a lot, the last lap was impressive, but just short. Max stuck DRS cost him maybe a tenth…. Who says Max just isn’t one or two tenth’s faster than Lewis…?

        Both drivers in a different league, but Max just that tad bit better like he’s been in 2020 and all of 2021… he just maximized the potential of the car better and has better consistency over both seasons. Mercedes probably still has the better engine…RBR has to compromize with a extreme low drag set-up to keep up… that obviously comes at the cost of car handling, hence the reason Perez is really struggling and lack’s confidence in the RBR.

        1. This is also my point, verstappen could well be 1-2 tenths faster and in that case we need to review the car-order.

    5. Drivers’ Overall Performance Rankings – Up to 13th round
      1st – Max Verstappen (9.3) [+0.1]
      2nd – Lando Norris (8.7) [-0.3]
      3rd – Charles Leclerc (8.5) [±0]
      4th – Lewis Hamilton (8.4) [+0.1]
      5th – Pierre Gasly (8.2) [+0.3]
      6th – Fernando Alonso (8.1) [±0] – Sunday tie-break
      7th – George Russell (8.1) [±0] – Sunday tie-break
      8th – Carlos Sainz Jr. (7.4) [±0]
      9th – Esteban Ocon (7.3) [+0.1]
      10th – Sebastian Vettel (6.8) [-0.1]
      11th – Lance Stroll (6.0) [-0.1]
      12th – Valtteri Bottas (5.6) [±0]
      13th – Sergio Pérez (5.3) [-0.3]
      14th – Mick Schumacher (4.8) [±0]
      15th – Antonio Giovinazzi (4.7) [+0.4] – Teammate edge tie-break
      16th – Nicholas Latifi (4.7) [±0] – Teammate edge tie-break
      17th – Daniel Ricciardo (4.4) [±0]
      18th – Kimi Räikkönen (4.2) [±0]
      19th – Robert Kubica (3.8) [-]
      19th – Yuki Tsunoda (2.9) [±0]
      20th – Nikita Mazepin (2.6) [±0]

      1. Actually you can ignore Kubica’s rankings above, there’s no way to compare him with full season drivers, even if you try to ponder his score. Only taking into account he’s a reserve, Robert can easily get at least 6 out of 10 for his decent stand-in performance after jumping into Alfa Romeo car on short notice.

    6. Main reason for Giovinazzi being a weekend’s star: because the author likes him.
      Main reason for Mazepin being a weekend’s struggler: because the author does not like him.

    7. someone or something
      6th September 2021, 19:42

      Imo, Vettel doesn’t belong in the “Strugglers” category. Two of the three negatives in his summary weren’t even his fault, and one of them (missing most of FP1 due to a PU failure) should actually be counted in his favour, not against him.
      His Q1 elimination after Mazepin’s egregious block was definitely not his fault, and it’s difficult to argue that he was to blame for being vulnerable to being blocked, seeing as Stroll didn’t qualify much higher.
      As for the spin, that was clearly not a star move. But as far as I’m concerned, that was the only negative of the weekend he was to blame for. But even with that unhelpful spin, he finished right behind his team mate, who had a completely trouble-free weekend. He came extremely close to overtaking him on the penultimate lap, even. So I don’t really see the justification for calling him a struggler.
      Pérez would make more sense. He generated positiv press by overtaking a lot of cars, true. But he also had the best car available to him, whereas most of the cars he raced had a built-in deficit of 2-3 seconds per lap. And then there’s the fact that he missed Q2 more or less on merit, driving a car that was demonstrably capable of taking pole. And he managed to ruin a brand new set of tyres early in the race. Finishing 8th is hardly a redeeming factor, I’d say.

      1. Hi, I strongly agree with your opinion on VET. The live timing even showed a gap of 0.014s with his team mate in the last but one lap (I think, or maybe the last lap; so there was probably a try at overtaking and it was pretty close).
        Regarding the spin, it’s somewhat obvious that he tried to push like crazy to finally get past the Alfa of KUB on a track where overtaking is clearly pretty hard, having been stuck behind for a lot of laps. After that he showed a very strong pace again overtook all the lost positions & more to end just behind his team mate.
        In what STR staying stuck behind the guy in front the whole race and not making a single pass is better? For sure in this way you do not risk to spin!

      2. You know what? You’re right on both counts I think, vettel after your comment is probably not deserving of struggler, AND what if perez simply qualified 8th and ended 8th? Struggler, so it’s not fair to redeem people just cause they recover with a super-car, he still got demolished by bottas this weekend.

    8. Not d’accord with either Giovinnazi beeing a star or Vettel beeing a struggler.
      I would rather have Hamilton, Leclerc or even Alonso as a star.

      Hamilton, as other commentators already have stated gave everything he had and somehow managed to stay in contention for the win the whole race. And despite limited running he comfortably outraced his teammate.
      Leclerc maybe could have started in 4th but otherwise was rock solid and only Ferraris’ suboptimal tyre strategy prevented him from fighting with Gasly for longer.
      Alonso did his usual Alonso things and miraculously placed his car exactly where it needs to be on the first lap. His racer’s instinct is still second to none.
      Then he drove a well calculated race which meant he was fast at the end of the stints and beat a Ferrari.

      Having Giovinnazi in the stars section feels almost as wrong as the appearance of Norris last week. Yes his qualifying was great but when you lose all the positions immediately on lap one (or crash in q3) it’s not enough to classify as a star. And it can’t all be down to luck because it’s so often the same drivers who gain or lose on lap one.

      Vettel on the other hand is harsh because he never really got going. Not a lot of running in practice, stalled in q1 and always on recovery mode in the race. The only thing he did wrong was the one harmless half spin. His pace was not to shabby though, so although he had a weekend to forget his performance wasn’t that bad.

      Others did worse imho. Sainz was nowhere in the race. Schumacher didn’t cover himself with glory and there was Perez who was slow (compared to Verstappen), failed to reach q2 and locked up badly in the race…

    9. The mazepin section just shows how disliked he is imo. He AND his team mate were investigated in qualifying, but neither deemed at fault. So this should not be against him. Then a defence that was not even investigated, so just another thing to try to find against him for the sake of it… think, if russell was him, he could have been a struggler. …caused red flag by crashing in qualifying. ….collected a penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

      Perez should replace mazepin imo. He “struggled” which is seems pretty common for drivers that are not in the strugglers list… He didn’t make the most of his recovery drive at all. He locked up badly and ruined his strategy. Did a poor job in qualifying and despite having the best car, even starting from the pit lane shouldn’t mean you finish pretty much 100 seconds behind your team mate…

      1. @thegianthogweed I think both Haas drivers should have been in the strugglers’ section. They really made fools of themselves with those qualifying antics. And they were just fighting for p19, as they got out-qualified by Kubica as well. Then in the race they again almost ran into one another. It really was an extremely poor weekend for the whole “team”.

      2. 100 seconds? Wow, that’s horrible.

    10. Seb actually had a pretty good race with quite a few overtakes and great pace. His first early pit stop strategy was really working well until blue flags created a gap for the other drivers to come back in front of him, which was a pity. At one point, he was looking at a clear points finish due to that strategy. Then, trying to get back into the fight for points, he tried the inside of turn 3, one of the few to do so, and spun; that was of course not ideal, but he still managed to keep the car out of the barriers. At the end, he closed an almost 20s gap to his team mate after making some more passing moves, albeit on soft tires. Still, all in all an ok race after a disappointing quali.

    11. As an Alonso fan, he did not disappoint. Always looking for that edge and opportunity. He always seem to get the max out of the car and for me makes F1 better.

      1. Absolutely, and definitely a star contender here.

    12. Giovinazzi put on a good weekedn to show that he deserves to stay in F1

      Pretty harsh on mazepin. The quali incident wasn’t exactly his fault and he seemed to have pace over shumi this weekend

      1. While because of the start, he’d probably deserve to lose the star rating, I also think he’d deserve to stay, he semed far superior in quali compared to raikkonen, so maybe considering bottas, a younger and known quantity is coming (raikkonen is also known but is very old), would make sense to give him another year and see if he can do better in the races, however with de vries and albon looming I’m not sure he’ll make it.

    13. Am I the only one who thought Ocon’s statement during the race was quite impolite and lacking gratitude towards Alonso especially given the fact that Alonso helped Ocon win his first and probably only F1 race?

      1. @freelittlebirds
        I’d just say: let the boy learn on track. Alonso gave him a lesson fair and square last race.

      2. someone or something
        8th September 2021, 13:52

        Yeah, you might be the only one.
        There was nothing disrespectful about that radio message, just a healthy dose of selfishness, which all drivers have.
        And it’s not like he was completely wrong. Alonso was indeed holding him up, so Ocon had every right to insinuate that it might be better if they swapped places. There was no way for him to know that Alonso wasn’t just struggling for pace, but playing the long game.
        I’d be more worried if he were stuck behind Alonso and quietly accepted his fate, just because Alonso helped him out that one time. There may come a day when Ocon gets a chance to return the favour, but not like this.

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