2021 Russian Grand Prix Star Performers

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Russian Grand Prix. Here’s why.

Stars

Charles Leclerc

  • Joined Verstappen on the back row of the grid after an engine change penalty
  • Made the best start of anyone, gaining seven places on lap one
  • Ran a long opening stint on hard tyres, dropping behind Verstappen but rising to third place
  • Picked off Vettel, Raikkonen, Ocon, Russell and Stroll after pitting for medium tyres, and was taking a second a lap out of Verstappen when the rain fell
  • Didn’t pit for slicks initially as his team mate was already pitting, so decided to stay out, which dropped him to 15th at the flag

Carlos Sainz Jnr

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Sainz claimed another podium for Ferrari
  • Superb qualifying effort netted second on the grid despite being one of the first to finish his lap as rain fell
  • Took the lead from the unfancied second place on the grid at Sochi, fending off a clutch of Mercedes-powered cars with his upgrade-less Ferrari
  • Pitted early after Russell caught and passed him
  • Patiently worked his way back up to third, then committed early to intermediate tyres
  • That called paid off and ensured he finished on the podium

Fernando Alonso

  • Capitalised on rain-hit qualifying session to line up sixth on the grid
  • Crafty turn two tactics helped him briefly move up to fourth
  • Ran a long first stint and passed Verstappen after rejoining on fresh rubber
  • Passed the other Red Bull as rain began to fall
  • Briefly third but necessary stop for intermediates left him a disappointed sixth

Lando Norris

Lando Norris, McLaren, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Norris had a great weekend until the final six laps
  • Wasn’t first onto slicks in Q3 but was a ‘fast follower’ behind Russell, and produced a committed lap to take his first pole position by half a second
  • Lost the lead to Sainz at the start, as he predicted he might, but reeled the Ferrari back in over the first stint and passed it to lead
  • Extended his first stint on mediums to run preferred strategy
  • Had Hamilton at arm’s length when the rain began to fall
  • Was far from the only driver to take the wrong call on tyres when the rain fell, which cost him dearly after an otherwise brilliant weekend
  • Recovered a place from Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap

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Strugglers

Nikita Mazepin

Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Mazepin was far from his team mate’s pace in qualifying
  • Qualified a staggering 3.9 seconds behind his team mate on a wet track, saying he hadn’t been able to get his tyres up to temperature
  • Promoted to 15th on the grid by penalties, he came around 13th at the end of lap one
  • After several quicker cars passed he kept Latifi at bay until he was replaced by Giovinazzi, who got by
  • Was shown the unsporting conduct flag for an overly aggressive move against Tsunoda
  • Fell to last after his team mate passed him

Yuki Tsunoda

  • Made a tentative start and was passed by car after car until Giovinazzi’s move around the outside of turn 13 left him last
  • Having passed Schumacher, an early pit stop for hard tyres left him last again
  • Never rose higher than 17th, where he finished

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And the rest

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Hamilton squandered his shot at pole but made amends on Sunday
  • Threw away a clear chance of pole position by hitting the wall in the pits and spinning on his subsequent lap on cold tyres
  • Started well from fourth but backed out of a risky lunge at the start, falling to seventh
  • Picked off Alonso but couldn’t pass the rapid McLaren of Ricciardo, even when he lost DRS
  • Closed rapidly on leader Norris after getting into free air and pressured him as rain began to fall
  • He delayed it at first, but his eventual decision to switch to intermediates won him the race

Valtteri Bottas

  • Looked good in practice on a track where he always goes well, but qualifying was compromised by his team mate’s error
  • Mercedes fitted fresh engine parts to his car again, dropping him from seventh on the grid to 16th
  • Couldn’t make anything like the kind of progress he was able to at Monza, and left the door open for Verstappen
  • Was stuck in 14th when rain showed offered him a chance to gamble. He took it, and bagged fifth as a result

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Verstappen was slipping back when the rain hit
  • Engine change penalty plus grid drop from Monza meant he started 20th
  • Made a cautious start, taking to the turn two run-off, and was 17th by the end of lap one
  • Worked his way forward patiently from there, passing Bottas and avoiding a collision with Leclerc
  • By lap 22 he was fifth and a series of fastest lap brought him within three seconds of Hamilton
  • But having started on hard tyres he had to make an early switch to mediums which cost him in the second stint. Alonso demoted him to seventh and Leclerc was closing rapidly when the rain arrived
  • Switch to intermediates when the rain fell lifted him to second, limiting the damage Hamilton did to his championship chances

Sergio Perez

  • Reached Q3 but only managed ninth on the grid, which became eighth after Bottas’ penalty
  • Kept his position at the start and pursued Hamilton through the opening stint
  • Lost around five seconds with another slow Red Bull pit stop
  • Passed Ricciardo as he regained third place
  • Tried to stay out on slicks but was passed by Alonso, pitted and finished ninth

Daniel Ricciardo

  • Couldn’t match his team mate’s heroics in qualifying but lined up fifth
  • Kept that place at the start after re-passing Alonso
  • Rose to second when others pitted but dropped 12 seconds back from Norris before pitting
  • Decisive switch to intermediates bagged him fourth place at the end

Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
Stroll qualified well but lost it in the race
  • Reached Q3, unlike his team mate, who he was two-tenths of a second quicker than
  • Made a great start to climb three places to fourth
  • Early pit stop paid off in that it got him ahead of Russell, but cost him places to many other drivers
  • Struggled badly when the rain came: Spun off, hit his team mate (twice) and Gasly, copping a penalty for the latter, though it didn’t affect his finishing position of 11th

Sebastian Vettel

  • Missed the cut for Q3 by five-hundredths of a second
  • Was passed by Raikkonen at the start and spent the opening stint behind the Alfa Romeo
  • Pitted later than his team mate and passed Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Ocon
  • Stayed out late on slicks but had to take intermediates eventually, falling to 12th

Esteban Ocon

  • Fitted slicks too late in Q3 to have two runs on softs, leaving him 1.6 seconds slower than his team mate
  • Held his position at the start before an early pit stop which dropped him to 17th
  • Despite his worn tyres, he tried to avoid pitting for intermediates, which cost him badly, leaving him 14th

Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Sochi Autodrom, 2021
It was a weekend of missed opportunities for Gasly
  • Looked very quick in qualifying but lost time behind Russell in Q2, then the team left him out on used tyres and he missed the cut by a tenth of a second
  • Lost three places at the start but regained a position from Mazepin
  • Ran a long first stint, discarding his hard tyres on lap 32
  • Regretted the decision to stay out on slicks which cost him a chance of finishing in the points

Kimi Raikkonen

  • Started 13th on his return and made another of his good starts to claim 10th
  • Was on course to finish well out of the points when it rained, but made a perfectly-timed call for intermediates which put him seventh
  • Norris came by on the final lap, leaving Raikkonen eighth, his best result of the season

Antonio Giovinazzi

  • Crashed in practice
  • After two Q3 appearances in a row he dropped out in Q1 due to a problem with his brakes
  • Dropped to last on the first lap before passing Tsunoda
  • To begin with he could only hear his team on the radio but not speak to them, then communications failed completely
  • Went on to pass Schumacher, Latifi and Mazepin on a 36-lap first stint on hards
  • Radio problems prevented an early change to slicks, so he fell to 16th at the flag

Mick Schumacher

  • Out-qualified Mazepin as usual, though by a huge margin in the wet conditions
  • Fell behind his team mate at the start and was last by lap four
  • Ran a much longer first stint than Mazepin, then overtook him on lap 30 at turn 13
  • Retired on the following lap with a hydraulic problem

George Russell

Russell produced another great qualifying performance
  • Was the first driver to switch to slick tyres on a drying track in qualifying, which paid off as he claimed another remarkable starting position with third
  • Held the place at the start but fell into the pack when he was brought in as a reaction to Stroll pitting behind
  • He was back up to 10th when the rain hit, and finished there after switching to intermediates, leading Stroll home

Nicholas Latifi

  • Took an engine change penalty and therefore didn’t set a time in Q2
  • Couldn’t get past Mazepin at the start, fell behind Giovinazzi and pitted
  • Having jumped ahead of the Haas drivers, he ran ahead of Tsunoda until the rain came, then spun into a barrier and had to retire

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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83 comments on “2021 Russian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Kind of reads like you’re ignoring the last six laps in terms of who counts as a star. Ultimately, Verstappen came out of this weekend arguably best of anyone and Norris had his 11th best result of the season.

    1. By this logic, I’d argue the driver who actually won the race came out the best, but what do I know *shrugs*

      1. @Postreader
        Given the look on both drivers face after finishing 1st and 2nd, it’s pretty clear who came out best….and it wasn’t the winner.

        Reply moderated
        1. Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
          29th September 2021, 2:56

          I thought LH was pretty happy at end of the race. Maybe it was because he hadn’t won in such a long time or maybe it’s because he was finally a centurion after a long wait from 99 to 100

          1. I thought he was only a Knight Bachelor in the British Empire. So, kudos to him for also commanding a unit of Roman legionnaires!

    2. Indeed. You can’t see Leclerc as star while in the end making the wrong decision. Even so did Norris who was the star of Saturday, but failed on Sunday. It itsn’t uncommon to stick it out on slicks in the last couple of laps, but he lost that gamble. I think if he pitted, Lewis would have continued and he would end up 7th.

      1. Your final line hits the nail on the head, but for the other side of the argument. If Norris had pitted, Lewis would probably stayed out and have been 7th. Ergo, his call wasn’t talent or stardom but simply a hand correctly played in the circumstances.

        As was Lando’s. As was Charles’. This is why it’s not fair to judge on the decision to box or not alone.

        1. I’m not so sure. I think Mercedes were coveringMax. They knew their fight was with Max not Lando

          1. I think your right Max was already third and would overtake both cars the next lap that triggered Mercedes to pit Lewis even he didn’t want to pit.

      2. As you mentioned, staying on slicks was a ‘gamble’ . I don’t understand how you can say a driver was a star or not based on the roll of a dice.

    3. Verstappen didn’t run in his last set of tyres, but went blasting out and was subesquently passed by an Alpine. As for the last wet part, it was just which gamble payed off and which didn’t, and he got lucky with his.

      1. I don’t feel that is true. I completely agree Verstappen needed the rain to gain any more places. That rain was luck entirely. But when it fell he overtook Ricciardo and Sainz on the slicks. That was not luck, that was skill (Leclerc was also good here). Next was the decision. I heard the radio communications with the pit wall. RB literally said it was his decision to make. So it appears now that his decision was well judged. I’ll give credit for that as well. So I’d say lucky? Yes. Did he luck into 2nd place? Definitely not

        1. Absolutely, verstappen, leclerc, alonso overtook drivers on slicks.

    4. @ilanin

      Your discrediting Lando’s effort way too much by saying it was his 11th best race. This far from accurate and disingenuous.

      Lets account for Lando’s Quali and management throughout the race. His tire deg. management was better than anyone else and was destined to win the race before the rain came. That is racing and the last laps count just as much as the earlier ones but I put blame on the McLaren team and not Lando for not coming to change tires. Yes, Lando made the wrong call but then didn’t have all the info that the team had and they did not give Lando that info nor override him when knowing more than him.

      Also, being in first with a lot to lose is infinitely much harder to call compared to the many other drivers in worst position had less to lose that are all trying to pass him and their call was waaaay simpler.

      1. He’s probably one of those people who only look at result (oh, hamilton won, has to be a star, bottas is 5th, he drove a good race, russell drove a bad race in his only merc race), you know those.

    5. Ilanin “Kind of reads like you’re ignoring the last six laps in terms of who counts as a star…” – and then you conclude Max is the star; but didn’t Max go from being a few seconds behind Lewis to nigh on a minute? Star performance?

      Reply moderated
    6. Yeah, neither Leclerc or Norris should be stars.
      Note they did not missed by 1 turn. In case of Norris he went 3 laps more in wet than Ricciardo, Leclerc also stayed out a couple laps.

  2. Lol “crafty turn 2 tactics”. What a legend

    1. Also he was the only driver who finished where he qualified.

    2. @f1fan-2000 +1
      Alonso should get the “Innovation award” for that move.

      Also, it seemed like from his radio message after qualifying (something like: “not great but maybe we can improve at the start tomorrow”) maybe he had been planning this since the practice sessions?
      Great to have him back in the sport!

      1. Ahaha, indeed, looks like it.

  3. Nice to see some recognition of Leclerc’s performance. Had the rain not come, he would probably have beaten Verstappen having both started on the back row, despite Ferrari’s best efforts. He was left out 2 laps longer than necessary on his first stop (until after he was passed by Norris and Hamilton instead of just before), as well as having a slow stop, meaning he had to pick off 4 extra drivers than had he come in 2 laps earlier and had a decent pit stop.

    When the rain came, he was multiple seconds faster than anyone ahead, passing Ricciardo, Sainz, Verstappen and Perez before they pitted. Ironically, it was probably this incredible pace in the damp that led him to make the call to stay out too long!

    1. @j4k3 I don’t think Leclerc Passed Verstappen before he pitted to intermediates. Verstappen passed Ricciardo and Sainz before the pit stops and Leclerc was still behind him.
      Do you have a source on the laptimes? I’ve seen a video on YouTube with all the onboards but the last laps so many things happened. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K24XUQ_h8VM credit to @miltosgreekfan

      1. @grapmg you are correct, my mistake. He was within half a second, and then passed him as Verstappen entered the pits. Would almost certainly have got him down the main straight had he not pitted.

        1. Would almost certainly have got him

          That’s not how it works.
          Ifs do not deliver points.
          Possible? Perhaps, but the needed delta required was more then a second and that was not on the table.
          Look at the way faster Hamilton unable to pass Norris.

    2. @j4k3 Indeed, Leclerc was the unsung hero. It was just a matter of a few corners and he would have been ahead of Sainz to get the tyre change and podium.

      1. Except they were waiting for Sainz. So he either had to overtake him sooner to get first service or Ferrari should have gone for the double stack. But that is with hindsight. At the time they pulled Sainz in. Rightly so, he was ahead anyway and he was struggling massively. I feel it is fair to say Leclerc got stuffed because of his own success. He was doing great on the slicks gaining positions on Ricciardo and Sainz. When it is tough out there but you see others are struggling more. .. you feel you have an edge. You naturally don’t want to give that up. He sure had a lot less incentive to pit than Sainz at that time

      2. @balue as baasbas says, the issue was that they had Sainz’s tyres ready. He was actually ahead of Sainz and Ricciardo when they got to the pitlane, and just 1 tenth back from Verstapen.

        1. Just checked now and indeed he was @j4k3

          Agree, baasbas, he was flying so wouldn’t see the need to come in when his engineer told him the rain was to stay light.

  4. I’m surprised by these. My stars are Verstappen and Sainz.

    Hamilton won despite a scruffy weekend. Norris and Leclerc tossed great weekends with poor calls on wet tire strategy. Russel continued to cause confusion about how good the Williams really is.

    1. I honestly can’t see how people continue to bemoan Norris “tossing away a great weekend” when he made the decision without up-to-date or full information from the team.

      How is this any different from a driver in the pits driving away when the green light is shown only to see that a tyre isn’t fitted fully, causing it to fall off?
      From the information the driver was given (green light vs. rain quantity), the driver made the right action call (driving off vs. not pitting for inters).

      No one would say that the driver was at fault for the pit lane incident, so why is it their fault in this situation?

      1. Absolutely agree, let’s not forget norris won the driver of the weekend poll, there’ll be a reason.

      2. “I honestly can’t see how people continue to bemoan Norris “tossing away a great weekend” when he made the decision without up-to-date or full information from the team.”

        What “update or full information” Ricciardo got from the team?
        Norris stayed out for 3 more laps. He should even have been penalised and was not for biased FIA.

  5. Never thought I’d live to see this, Alonso as a star. Now, if somewhen you-know-who is a struggler. I’ll eat my hat. Even if I have to buy it first

    1. Hamilton ofc, but I think only really monaco qualifies this year.

  6. Stars: HAM, VER, & SAI
    Strugglers: BOT, OCO, GIO, & TSU

    1. How can HAM be a star?! He really looked like a ”spent force” in F1 by racing the best car yet being behind slower cars like McLaren, Ferrari… and Williams!!! I’m pretty sure Mercedes signed RUS not because BOT is not delivering enough, but because HAM doesn’t really seem to be the best anymore and they needed to secure a new future no.1.

      1. Lol, you guys never give up on this amusing take on things. “spent force”

        Ham went up the inside at the end of the straight, but got boxed in and backed off because he realised that he wasn’t racing those guys for the championship and it wasn’t worth risking contact when the reality is he’s just trying to beat Ver who was 14 places back or something. And he was proven correct; fast forward to a few laps from the end and there he is breathing down Norris’ neck in P2 having sensibly avoided that first corner risk with a bunch of eager drivers with little to lose in an elbows out duel.

        The only downside for Ham is that the rain while making it easy to jump Norris on strategy also gave Ver a chance to do the same and end up in P2. In retrospect if the rain hadn’t come Ham would have finished P2 with maybe a shot at P1, and Ver wold have been much further back

        Reply moderated
        1. Boxed in…
          So he made a positioning error and accepted the consequences. Now his fans need the same approach.
          It was a mediocre start and as a result he lost 4 places, gained one.
          It’s by far the fastest car in sochi, so he did not do well.

          1. erikje
            For sure, complaints of being “boxed in”, specially after a mediocre launch like that, is a typical thing of whiner incompetent race starters.

      2. Mercedes plays the long game every race. The fact that Ham was behind RIC sometime in the middle of the race is irrelevant. Fuel consumption, brake wear, and tire wear need to be considered to finish.

      3. Absolutely, there’s no way hamilton can be a star, this is a 7\10 weekend from him, but, before I get accused of favouritism, same goes for verstappen, he can’t be a star, think he was barely better than hamilton on average, I agree with f1 fanatic rankings, except bottas should’ve been in the strugglers.

        1. But why didn’t Max derserve a star? He was splendid Saterday drove 1 lap and pitted… 100% motor safe and on Sunday he went from 20th to second ….. I would say the best possible result for Max and remember the best possible result they were aiming was 5th maximal.

  7. These would not my choice of Stars, maybe a bit more losers then here.
    I think Sainz, Alonso, Daniel, Max and Kimi were more entitled for a star and the rest as struggles…

  8. I fine it odd that Norris was a star both here and Spa.

    In Spa, all he did was look to be qualifying well, then he crashed…..

    Here, he was obviously very good all of the weekend up until the point he angrily went against his team suggestion, and then he slipped right back to nearly a lap behind where he could have finished. To add to that, he for some reason didn’t get given a penalty for the same mistake that Tsunoda got given 2 for earlier this year. He should in reality have finished 9th.

    All this said, he likely would have won if not for the rain. But he didn’t handle this well and while it was partly the team, it was mostly his fault that he finished so far down the order, behind the likes of Bottas who certainly wasn’t very good this race. I really don’t see how he can be a star performer.

    1. It could’ve easily have gone the other way, how often a few drops of rain come and the track dries up after a couple laps? Then he’d have looked like a hero, you can’t dock points for luck on weather.

      1. When the track was that wet in places, it simply wouldn’t have dried up over the next 2 laps.

  9. Lol. Bottas was the biggest struggler by some margin.

    Stuck in 14th while starting 3 places ahead of Verstappen. Only the rain saved him because the team made the right call for him.

    1. @trib4udi
      Bottas was on the radio saying he wanted to pit for inters a lap before the team had were ready for him. This was before vertually every other driver. It in this case was somewhat down to him that he made this decision. And for once, he was right and actually performed well in the wet.

      1. Correct, he asked if they should box one lap earlier, and immediately said it was a mistake not to. Still pitted before others. @trib4udi @thegianthogweed

      2. But he had nothing to lose at all, easy to take that decision then.

      3. @thegianthogweed

        I attribute that to him being so poor in the wet, which is not really to his credit.

        1. He usually is, but this time, he did well when the rain came

  10. The reading is like a star driver to me!!!!

    MAX Verstappen:
    Engine change penalty plus grid drop from Monza meant he started 20th
    Made a cautious start, taking to the turn two run-off, and was 17th by the end of lap one
    Worked his way forward patiently from there, passing Bottas and avoiding a collision with Leclerc
    By lap 22 he was fifth and a series of fastest lap brought him within three seconds of Hamilton
    But having started on hard tyres he had to make an early switch to mediums which cost him in the second stint. Alonso demoted him to seventh and Leclerc was closing rapidly when the rain arrived
    Switch to intermediates when the rain fell lifted him to second, limiting the damage Hamilton did to his championship chances.

    1. Indeed. Max did nothing wrong that I know of and quite a lot right, especially in the first 20 laps and at the end.
      His only problem was Fernando, who also started on hard tires and had kept them in condition well enough to fend Max off. That prompted the early switch to mediums in an attempt to make the undercut, and it worked except that Fernando could stretch his run on the hards so long that when he finally had the mediums they were so much newer than Max’s that he was able to pass him again.
      In hindsight the Hard tires were better than the Medium tires and Max should have extended his run on them as well, but hindsight is so 2020…

    2. There is more. He did enter the graining phase on the mediums which looked to end his race seventh. I don’t buy that Leclerc would have got him. (Hamilton would also not have gotten by Norris if it stayed dry)

      But if you look at the on boards, when the conditions became tricky he passed Alonso, Ricciardo and Sainz before pitting. Al the reports saying he jumped to second because of the inters are plain wrong. He did that on the slicks and he made the perfect call for the inters. And merc pulled Hamilton in to counter Verstappen. Leclerc can’t be a star if Verstappen isn’t.

      1. Oops not Alonso of course because he stayed out

      2. True, agree with that actually.

  11. Not Leclerc, and certainly not as first mentioned (normally the ‘brightest star’).
    Besides his stellar first corners I don’t recall that he overtook anybody who didn’t pit that same lap.

    Also “and was taking a second a lap out of Verstappen (before) the rain fell” is giving him a bit too much credit.
    Verstappen pitted too early (same lap as Hamilton for strategic reasons) and had to manage his medium tyres for much longer.

    1. Yes, that was a bad strategy by red bull, verstappen wasn’t racing hamilton this time.

      1. Especially since Perez had one of his better days and was on Hamilton’s tail. He could’ve covered him off, and Verstappen should have used the same strategy as Leclerc (but come in for inters when he did).

  12. I think all 3 “stars” had amazing moment but let down by crucial bad decisions. Norris and Leclerc simply didn’t come in when the should have done and threw away all of their hard work. Alonso’s start was crafty but unsporting and potentially dangerous, particualrly if he’d rejoined amongst cars running side by side. His tactics were similar to the front runners of the 2019 F2 race at Sochi. If more than one driver does it, it risks a big accident.

    The stars for me were Sainz (2nd on the grid and 3rd in the race in the 4th best car), Verstappen (last to 2nd although even last to 7th was a decent achievement given how many competitive cars there were) and Raikkonen (best Alfa Romeo result since Brazil 2019). Hamilton only misses out because of his calamitous Q3 but otherwise a mature and well judged race.

    1. I agree overall with this.

    2. I completely disagree. Norris drove outstanding all weekend.. and when the rain fell, he didn’t have the right information to make the switch to inters… and he had more to lose than anyone else on the grid. This wasn’t even a driver decision as much as it is a team decision, so I don’t know how that not switching to inters takes away from anything he achieved all weekend. He was hands down the best driver on Saturday and Sunday.

  13. Well, that’s interesting this time. Bottas not a struggler? Maybe vs what we’ve come to expect from him? Don’t see the logic here. Leclerc a star, but Verstappen isn’t? That’s also bit weird. Basically that must then all be mirrored against his second stint? Ignoring the stellar first stint to actually having Lewis in line of sight. And ignoring a rather pivotal call for inters and working further up all the way to 2nd, doing the maximum he could have done for his chances in the WDC. Showed patience, drove with heart and head and didn’t put a foot wrong. Seems kind of star-like to me. I think this time even Lewis would agree.

    1. Well the superlative he used was mega, so I think Hamilton does agree.

    2. True, there’s some grounds to give star to verstappen, especially considering both him and leclerc were starting from the back.

  14. I’d put Hamilton as a star – it was a complicated race and he managed to survive it especially Lap 1. Norris was naughty there and risked another Bottas-like carambolage but Lewis was able to stop and fall way back unfortunately. I wonder if Lando was surprised that he didn’t get hit…

    Lewis does seem to have trouble breaking records, as expected especially when you have 2 hours to screw the record up :-) It’d be better if it were a 10 second sprint.

    Norris gave up the lead on Lap 1 to cover Lewis and while I don’t blame him for losing, I think there was room for improvement there. I was very surprised by the move not to cover Sainz. Definitely a star though.

    Verstappen did great and the call to pit worked out phenomenally well. However, his championship may have been over had he not had an angel over him when he tried to squeeze past Leclerc. That was very close and he gambled everything for almost nothing in return.

    1. @freelittlebirds

      I’d put Hamilton as a star – it was a complicated race and he managed to survive it especially Lap 1. Norris was naughty there and risked another Bottas-like carambolage but Lewis was able to stop and fall way back unfortunately. I wonder if Lando was surprised that he didn’t get hit…

      When did Hamilton not be a star in your books? Better give it to him by default and spare us of your cheap justifications. Blunder in the pit lane and you even didn’t mention. Now suddently quali doesn’t matter that much like before, why? Pure convenience, because he qualified poorly this time and even delayed Bottas’ lap attempt.
      You euphemistically say he “managed to survive” the start, always putting the blame on others for your idol’s lack of racing awereness (a quality for which Verstappen also is not the best), in this case during the start, so again, rose-tinted glasses. He only did stuff worth of a star distinction in the second half of the race.
      And before you start with your usual mirroring of zealotry on the other commentator, I agree Verstappen also didn’t do something special enough all-round to be a star performer, at least in some parts of the race, he had poor tyre management. His result will come handily to his title challenge, but he had luck’s help on it (nevertheless still deserves lots of praise on the timely call for the inters).

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    2. Quali counts too towards these rankings.

  15. Everybody who thinks Verstappen was only lucky (from 7th to 2nd) should rewind the race. He passed both Sainz and Ricciardo before the pitstop on slicks. Norris and Alonso made the wrong call so he passed them both on intermediates. Perez also made the wrong call but if not would have let him pass anyway. So compared to Hamilton and the WDC he didn’t have more luck than Lewis. For me Verstappen is one of the star performers.

    1. @grapmg

      For me Verstappen is one of the star performers.

      You’re right, he wasn’t just lucky in the rain, even though we have to consider that he had less to lose than some others as the chasing driver. His final result was nearly the most ideal possible for the title fight. However, one point that could make him not deserving of a star distinction is that, after a brilliant first half of his race charging through the field, he stalled and even was going backwards. Being overtaken by Alonso’s Alpine was nearly as gulling as Hamilton throwing away the win in the Hungarian GP by losing too much time stuck behind the same car. Verstappen had poor tyre management in certain stages of the race, otherwise he wouldn’t be struggling for pace before the rain changed so many race variables. Depending on the importance you’d attribute to this factor, it could easily make him not deserving of Star Performer, but I wouldn’t strongly disagree if you see that other way.

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    2. Yes, I saw, a few drivers did great on slicks with light rain, such as verstappen, alonso and leclerc.

  16. How is Leclerc a star when Verstappen isn’t?

    He did well don’t get me wrong, but comparatively he did not do as well as Verstappen; Leclerc started ahead of Verstappen, was behind him when the rain started, and did not make the crucial call to switch to intermediates that Verstappen did (one of the few drivers – not teams – to make the call).

    Also Bottas not a struggler? Please.

    1. Yes, that’s an inconsistency cause leclerc and verstappen drove pretty similar races until the tyre decision, maybe ferrari is rated a far worse car than red bull.

      Bottas indeed, has to be a struggler.

  17. Lap fell on lap 47 of a 53 lap race I believe which means there was still a 10% or the race still to go. It was a huge blunder and McLaren got greedy when they should he looking at ferraris not Mercedes cars. Norris drove great until that point but he nor Leclerc can be a star when reading the conditions that wrong.

  18. “Crafty” Alonso as a star performer.
    Oh well… “Crafty” is the new name for… what, exactly?

    In the last six, seven laps of the race several drivers where in radio contact with the boxes about swapping to inters and they failed to read the real situation on track, opting for staying on slicks. Others (like Bottas and Sainz) immediately realized the conditions and made the most of it.
    Lando was incredibly brilliant all weekend, and then in the last five laps he ruined everything, and from all this he will remember those four or five laps and not the previous 45.

    1. Lando was incredibly brilliant all weekend, and then in the last five laps he ruined everything, and from all this he will remember those four or five laps and not the previous 45.

      We could always award him a four-pointed star ;)

    2. Horacio

      “Crafty” Alonso as a star performer.
      Oh well… “Crafty” is the new name for… what, exactly?

      For smart without breaking the rules. Now go make a petition for rules change or get over it.

      Reply moderated
  19. Maybe they didn’t get a star because they dominate the season, but I think both Lewis and Max showed why they are the stars of F1 now. Max had the whole field in front of him, drove a mature and patient race (something he’s often accused of not being able to), stayed out of trouble and made the right calls during the race on overtaking and pitting. Lewis showed just how big of a star he is by driving a perfect race. Given his equipment he could afford to be patient at the start which cost him a few places he knew he could get back when the mayhem of the first lap had passed, and he managed the race beautifully after that to be able to put pressure on Lando at the end.
    If these two were in different teams it would be a no-brainer, but I think these performances are not something you should get used to.

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