Restart, Suzuka, 2024

2024 Japanese Grand Prix weekend F1 driver ratings

Formula 1

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The challenging Suzuka circuit is so popular among drivers because of how thrilling it is to drive and how punishing it is on mistakes.

So last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix produced some excellent performances from the field – as well as a few notably poor ones.

But in another weekend where the top five and bottom five teams were again separated, some of the best performers from the earlier rounds of the season seemed to show up once more. Here are the RaceFans driver ratings for the Japanese Grand Prix weekend…

A guide to RaceFans’ driver ratings system

RaceFans’ driver ratings system assesses driver performance across all three days of a grand prix weekend. Naturally, performances during competitive sessions – qualifying, sprint races and grands prix – will carry the most weight to their rating.

However, practice performance can affect a driver’s weekend rating in the event of a major mistake, such as a crash, consistent errors throughout practice sessions or if a driver shows a notably impressive speed throughout all free practice sessions relative to their team mate.

The system attempts to take into account the relative performance of each driver’s car and the expected results from that, meaning that a driver who wins a race in a car clearly superior to the rest of the field may not necessarily score as highly as a driver who claims a low points finish in a midfield car.

Ratings also attempt to take into account mitigating factors outside of a driver’s control. If a driver is forced to miss considerable track time due to car problems, is the victim of being blocked in qualifying, finishes far lower than expected because of a heavily botched pit stop or suffers any other misfortune they cannot be reasonably expected to control, their rating should not be penalised.

RaceFans rates each driver’s weekend performance on a scale of 0 to 10, where ‘5’ is considered to be a typically average weekend performance from a typically average Formula 1 driver.

Here is a rough guide to each possible score:

N/ANot applicable – No rating is given as the driver did not sufficiently participate in the competitive sessions

0Disqualified – Only in the most extreme instance where a driver’s conduct disqualifies them from participation

1Appalling – An appalling display that brings a driver’s competency under immediate question

2Awful – A very, very poor performance of repeated errors with almost no redeeming qualities

3Very bad – Far more negatives than positives across the weekend which a driver should be very disappointed with

4Underperformance – Driver failed to achieve the base level expected for a Formula 1 driver

5Acceptable – The standard level of performance that should be expected from an F1 driver

6Good – A decent overall performance across the weekend, but not one of the best

7Very good – A strong performance across the weekend that any driver should be very pleased with

8Brilliant – A truly great weekend where the driver stood out as one of the very best of the field

9Exceptional – An outstanding performance that ranks as one of the best, if not the very best, of the entire season

10Legendary – One of the few all-time greatest performances by a driver in the history of Formula 1

Max Verstappen – 8/10

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2024
Verstappen took a comfortable win ahead of an on-form Perez
Qualified: Pole (+1 place ahead of team mate, -0.066s)
Start: Held position
Strategy: Two-stop (M-M-H)
Finished: Winner (+1 place ahead of team mate)
Quickest in every practice session he participated in
Secured pole position despite admitting to imperfect final sector
Retained lead at the start, losing it only after pitting
Controlled pace to win by over 12 seconds from team mate

Another weekend, another dominant victory for the world champion. The only session that car number one was not number one on the time sheets was the second practice session – which he never left the garage for. Despite his seemingly unstoppable performance, he was the first to admit that he did not make the best of his final qualifying lap. As harsh as it may seem, that reality prevents his performance from matching his very best of recent seasons.

Sergio Perez – 7/10

Qualified: 2nd (-1 place behind team mate, +0.066s)
Start: Held position
Strategy: Two-stop (M-M-H)
Finished: 2nd (-1 place behind team mate)
Secured front row start less than a tenth from team mate
Passed both Mercedes through 130R after first stop, then Norris
Overtook Norris a second time and Leclerc to reclaim second place
Finished second, 12 seconds behind team mate

Perez looked like everything Red Bull would want in a driver to partner with Verstappen at Suzuka – and not for the first time in 2024. Although he was never quite on his team mate’s level, Perez put in a strong showing across the three days of running to exorcise the demons of last season’s race here. He pulled off some confident moves to get by rivals after pitting and his only real mistake of note was losing around a second running wide at the exit of the Degners. Overall a weekend to be very pleased with.

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Lewis Hamilton – 5/10

Qualified: 7th (+2 places ahead of team mate, -0.242s)
Start: Held position
Strategy: Three-stop (M-H-H-M)
Finished: 9th (-2 places behind team mate)
Out-qualified team mate for first time all season to line up seventh
Suffered minor front wing endplate damage from contact with Leclerc at restart
Allowed team mate through early on while suffering with understeer
Finished less than three seconds behind team mate in ninth

Hamilton endured another frustrating weekend in Japan where he just could not seem to wring any more performance out of his Mercedes than he was able to. He out-qualified Russell on Saturday and had some excuse for his pace on Sunday after contact with Leclerc, but this was truly minor damage. In no way a bad performance from Hamilton, just not overly impressive either.

George Russell – 6/10

Russell started behind Hamilton but beat him
Qualified: 9th (-2 places behind team mate, +0.242s)
Start: Held position
Strategy: Three-stop (M-H-H-M)
Finished: 7th (+2 places ahead of team mate)
Out-qualified by team mate to line up ninth after mistake on final lap
Ran wide at turn two at restart, losing a place to Tsunoda
Allowed through by team mate during long opening stint on hards
Made late final stop for mediums, catching and passing Piastri on final lap for seventh
Cleared by stewards of forcing Piastri off track in post-race investigation

Russell’s Sunday was pretty decent, all considered. He gained two places from his starting position to finish in seventh – by no means great for Mercedes’ standards, but probably a fair reflection of his team’s performance at Suzuka. His Saturday showing was not his best, but he at least did better on Sunday. He made his team’s strategy work by chasing down and passing Piastri on the last lap, which he earns credit for.

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Charles Leclerc – 6/10

Qualified: 8th (-4 places behind team mate, +0.104s)
Start: Held position
Strategy: Two-stop (M-M-H)
Finished: 4th (-1 place behind team mate)
Qualified only eighth after admitting his final lap was as good as he could do
Showed good pace to make a long early stint on mediums last
Lost a place to Perez running wide at Degner-2
Allowed his team mate through for third late on, finishing fourth

Leclerc was the first to admit that he was not satisfied with his Japanese Grand Prix weekend. He never looked as comfortable as his team mate and lacking just a little bit of pace on Saturday cost him several places on the grid. But on Sunday, he did a pretty good job of making just a single stop after the restart work out for him to take fourth by the finish. But anything below fourth would have been a disappointment given Ferrari’s pace.

Carlos Sainz Jnr – 7/10

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2024
Sainz was Red Bull’s biggest threat again
Qualified: 4th (+4 places ahead of team mate, -0.104s)
Start: Held position
Strategy: Three-stop (M-M-M-H)
Finished: 3rd (+1 place ahead of team mate)
Out-qualified team mate to take fourth on grid
Used late final stop to have pace advantage in closing laps
Overtook Norris and team mate to take final podium position in third

After taking victory in the previous round in Melbourne, Sainz backed that up with another strong showing in Japan. He was once again the best performing of the two Ferrari drivers and did not allow the Red Bulls to simply disappear into the distance. After a long middle stint, he was aggressive in the closing laps and able to pass Norris before being allowed by Leclerc to secure podium number three of the year.

Lando Norris – 7/10

Lando Norris, McLaren, Suzuka, 2024
Unlike last year, Norris couldn’t keep the Ferraris behind
Qualified: 3rd (+3 places ahead of team mate, -0.271s)
Start: Held position
Strategy: Two-stop (M-H-H)
Finished: 5th (+3 places ahead of team mate)
Highest non-Red Bull qualifier in third
Ran third until losing place to two-stopping Leclerc
Minor off at second Degner on lap 37
Unable to keep Sainz behind, finishing fifth, three seconds behind Leclerc

It’s difficult to see how Norris could have finished any higher than he did in Suzuka. Behind both Red Bulls and both Ferraris, everyone else was effectively fighting over fifth and that is what Norris achieved. His qualifying performance was excellent and he was easily the best of the McLaren drivers over the weekend, but if he had just managed to find a way to beat one of the Ferraris, that would have elevated his score.

Oscar Piastri – 6/10

Qualified: 6th (-3 places behind team mate, +0.271s)
Start: Held position
Strategy: Two-stop (M-H-H)
Finished: 8th (-3 places behind team mate)
Out-qualified by team mate to line up sixth on grid
Ran behind Alonso for majority of the race
Largely matched team mate’s pace after second stint
Lost seventh to Russell on final lap after error into chicane

At the site of his first Formula 1 podium last September, Piastri was unable to match that same performance this time around. He performed decently enough, but not at the same level of his team mate. He probably should have been ahead of Alonso based on car performance and was close to keeping Russell at bay until an unfortunate mistake left him vulnerable, but he was still probably above average.

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Fernando Alonso – 8/10

Qualified: 5th (+11 places ahead of team mate, -0.77s)
Start: Held position
Strategy: Two-stop (S-M-H)
Finished: 6th (+6 places ahead of team mate)
Secured fifth on the grid after running top five in every qualifying phase
Took both starts on soft tyres and retained position
Ran ahead of Piastri for majority of race
Tried to help Piastri stay in DRS range to defend against Russell, finishing ahead of him

Alonso was one of the best drivers in the field at Suzuka. His qualifying performance, out-qualifying a McLaren and a Ferrari, was very strong and his race pace on Sunday was equally so. He didn’t have the car to realistically challenge those ahead of him and his team agreed that sixth was the best possible result in the circumstances. He, of course, looked like he was in a different car than his team mate, but that goes without saying these days.

Lance Stroll – 4/10

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Suzuka, 2024
Poor qualifying left Stroll with too much to do
Qualified: 16th (-11 places behind team mate, +0.77s)
Start: +1 place
Strategy: Four-stop (S-S-M-H-S)
Finished: 12th (-6 places behind team mate)
Fined for exceeding pit lane speed limit in practice by 0.9kph
Eliminated from Q1 to start 16th
Made several passes around the outside of turn six
Passed Bottas and Magnussen for 11th late, but overtaken by Hulkenberg on final lap

Lance Stroll may not have wrecked his Aston Martin or earned any penalty points over the Japanese Grand Prix weekend – but he was simply too slow. In a race where every car of the top five teams finished, tenth should have been the minimum result for Stroll. Instead, in a race with no damage or major setbacks, he finished a minute behind his team mate after being caught in a DRS train. He did, however, make several strong passes through the esses, which helped to prevent his rating dropping further.

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Pierre Gasly – 5/10

Qualified: 17th (-2 places behind team mate, +0.308s)
Start: +3 places
Strategy: Three-stop (S-H-M-H)
Finished: 16th (-1 place behind team mate)
Knocked out of Q1, three tenths behind team mate
Picked up damage in inadvertent clash with team mate at restart
Ran at the back for most of the race to finish 16th, behind team mate

Gasly did not have a poor weekend in Japan by any means, but he also didn’t do anything despite his car’s performance to particular stand out either. He admitted he didn’t get a “completely clean lap” in during qualifying and while he technically moved into his team mate at the restart to cause the damage that ruined both their races, it was by no means an egregious move. But again, he was generally out-performed by his team mate.

Esteban Ocon – 6/10

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Suzuka, 2024
The Alpine pair clashed at the restart
Qualified: 15th (+2 places ahead of team mate, -0.308s)
Start: +2 places
Strategy: Three-stop (S-H-H-M)
Finished: 15th (+1 place ahead of team mate)
Escaped into Q2 to qualify 15th
Suffered damage in clash with team mate at the restart, dropping from field ahead
Finished 14 seconds ahead of team mate in 15th

As Alpine continue to languish at the bottom of the standings, Ocon also continues to look like the stronger of the team’s two drivers. He continues to put in some strong laps in qualifying and was again faster than team mate Gasly for most of the weekend, but after the damage sustained in the restart, there was little he could do to keep up with those ahead.

Alexander Albon – 6/10

Qualified: 14th (+5 places ahead of team mate, -0.176s)
Finished: Retired (Crash – L1)
Reached Q2 despite admitting not being comfortable with car
Crashed out on opening lap after contact with Ricciardo

Albon was open about his struggles with his car all weekend, but with that being the case, he still did well to escape Q1 and likely would have been a factor in the intense battle over the final point – if only he hadn’t crashed out at the start. However, it was fair to say that Albon was not to blame for the accident and he shouldn’t be punished for it.

Logan Sargeant – 3/10

Logan Sargeant, Williams, Suzuka, 2024
Friday crash left Sargeant without Williams’ upgrade
Qualified: 19th (-5 places behind team mate, +0.176s)
Start: +2 places
Strategy: Four-stop (S-H-H-M-S)
Finished: 17th (+3 places ahead of team mate)
Crashed in first practice, missed second practice and lost upgraded parts
Eliminated from Q1 in 19th
Decent opening stint on hard tyres but caught out by rivals ahead pitting
Lost over 20s with mistake at second Degner, finishing last

After missing out on the Australian Grand Prix in extremely controversial circumstances, Sargeant had an opportunity to show in Japan that Williams were wrong to sit him in Melbourne. But instead, Sargeant showed why he is considered to be the weakest driver on the modern grid. He wrecked his updated car in first practice with a silly mistake and failed to follow his team mate through into Q2. He was running well enough in the grand prix and was unlucky with the pit cycle, but he compounded his problems with an unforced error. Another poor weekend.

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Yuki Tsunoda – 7/10

Yuki Tsunoda, RB, Suzuka, 2024
Tsunoda bagged a popular point at home
Qualified: 10th (+1 place ahead of team mate, -0.055s)
Start: -2 places
Strategy: Three-stop (M-S-H-H)
Finished: 10th (+9 places ahead of team mate)
Beat team mate to take final spot in Q3
Lost places at the start but regained many at the restart
Gained three places in pits thanks to rapid stop
Resisted pressure from Stroll for several laps before pulling clear
Ran strong in final stint to secure first home GP point in tenth

For the second consecutive race, Tsunoda was the most outstanding driver from the lower five teams in the field. He was quicker than team mate Ricciardo again, but benefitted from actual practice time on Friday. He had his team to thank for getting him ahead of many of his rivals in the pits, but once he was in that tenth position he never looked like giving it up.

Daniel Ricciardo – 5/10

Qualified: 11th (-1 place behind team mate, +0.055s)
Finished: Retired (Crash – L1)
Sat out first practice for Ayumu Iwasa, then had no dry laps in second practice
Missed out on Q3 by just over half a tenth to qualify 11th
Crashed out on opening lap after contact with Albon

Once again, Ricciardo was not the outstanding RB driver over the weekend. However, while he failed to follow team mate Tsunoda into Q3, it was perhaps a decent result for him to be as close as he was despite no meaningful running on Friday. Although he technically held more blame for the race-ending clash on lap one than Albon did, the stewards correctly deemed it as one of those lap-one incidents that is so easy to happen.

Valtteri Bottas – 6/10

Qualified: 13th (+7 places ahead of team mate, -0.541s)
Start: +2 places
Strategy: Two-stop (S-H-H)
Finished: 14th (+4 places ahead of team mate)
Equalled best qualifying of season in 13th
Made several overtakes after early stop but lost two during third stop
Passed by Hulkenberg late to drop to 14th where he would finish

Bottas was one of the outstanding performers on Saturday and was pretty confident that he would be able to fight for points on Sunday. However, despite his race pace looking decent throughout the grand prix, he lost places in the pit lane rush during his final stop and was unable to get by Magnussen despite almost 20 consecutive laps within DRS range. A decent performance over the weekend, but perhaps could have been better when it was needed most.

Zhou Guanyu – 5/10

Zhou Guanyu, Sauber, Suzuka, 2024
Technical trouble hampered Zhou’s weekend
Qualified: 20th (-7 places behind team mate, +0.541s)
Start: +2 places
Strategy: Two-stop (M-S-H)
Finished: Retired (Gearbox – L12)
Missed the final part of final practice with a problem
Eliminated slowest in Q1
Forced to retire early with a gearbox problem

Zhou will head to his first ever home grand prix looking to forget about a fruitless weekend in Japan. But while he was not on the level of team mate Bottas, he at least could use multiple technical problems over Saturday and Sunday as an excuse.

Nico Hulkenberg – 6/10

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Suzuka, 2024
Hulkenberg made one good start and one poor one
Qualified: 12th (+6 places ahead of team mate, -0.31s)
Start: +2 places
Strategy: Two-stop (S-H-H)
Finished: 11th (+2 places ahead of team mate)
Easily reached Q2 to take 12th on the grid
Lost seven places at restart after falling into anti-stall
Pitted early for hards and passed several cars before second stop for hards
Overtook Bottas, Magnussen and Stroll in final stint to finish 5s away from points

Hulkenberg should have probably scored a top ten finish in Japan after a weekend where he was consistently impressive across the weekend and certainly out-performed his team mate Magnussen in qualifying. However, he undid so much good by getting his starting procedure wrong at the restart, dropping several places and having to spend the rest of the race making up time. But in fairness to him, he did a pretty great job of doing just that and was just outside of the points at the chequered flag.

Kevin Magnussen – 6/10

Qualified: 18th (-6 places behind team mate, +0.31s)
Start: +2 places
Strategy: Two-stop (M-M-H)
Finished: 13th (-2 places behind team mate)
Failed to follow team mate into Q2
Passed damaged Gasly and Ocon before first stop
Long final stint on hard tyres, passed by team mate in later laps to finish 11s behind

Magnussen’s race engineer Mark Slade congratulated his driver on his performance after the chequered flag following a gusty performance where he ran a long final stint on the hard tyres to run on the cusp of points over the final part of the race. Despite a disappointing qualifying performance, he was ahead of his team mate on merit for most of the grand prix and had to surrender to Hulkenberg late on with much older tyres. Not his best performance of the season, but also not a bad one.

Over to you

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

2024 Japanese Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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50 comments on “2024 Japanese Grand Prix weekend F1 driver ratings”

  1. I love most things about the racefans website and have been reading it for years.

    But I think this feature needs a major revamp. I’ve read the notes about the marking system but can’t remember seeing a 9, let alone a 10. (1 and 2 is also pretty rare).

    So we are left with loads of drivers getting 5,6,7 and 8s. It doesn’t make for an interesting read in my view.

    If you are determined to save 9&10 for exceptional drives then how about using decimals or switching to a % system. It’s hard to get excited about an 8/10 weekend and it makes it hard to compare drivers.

    Any thoughts Keith, Will and readers?

    BTW – I do love the site and its independent journalism. I’d give it 9.5/10 (Not an 8!)

    1. “So we are left with loads of drivers getting 5,6,7 and 8s. It doesn’t make for an interesting read in my view.”
      – So you want fake scores just for better entertainment?? Nah, no thanks.

      F1 is a professional racing series, you shouldn’t expect drivers to expect as poorly as 1 or 2. Also, F1 cars run on rails and races are very sterile, so they don’t offer or require performances beyond 8 points. That’s what it is.

      1. it’s not a matter of fake scores. Having half the field scoring 6s makes it impossible to compare them. You either need to widen the range between awful and absolutely brilliant or use decimals or something.

        1. Ah, ok, now I get it. You mean to have a larger resolution of scores so that distinctively different performances don’t fall into the same number between 1 and 10 when they are not different enough for that scale.

          Honestly, I think it would be difficult to score. And I don’t think it would really make the scores more interesting or agreable.

          1. I think they would. A 5.51 and a 6.49 all fall in a 6 right now when there’s almost a whole point of difference.

          2. Considering that the scores are somewhat arbitrary and certainly subjective, I don’t believe a higher resolution would help.

    2. We know how the drivers did. Does anyone really need someone else to tell them?

      1. notagrumpyfan
        9th April 2024, 8:35

        But it’s a great opportunity to share your opinion and vent at the author and other commenters who ‘know’ it differently :P

        PS I agree with Depailler; just widen the range and get some more differentiation.

        1. You’re 100% right. The main appeal of driver ratings is bashing the guy who wrote them. lol RF ratings are usually pretty fair for the most part.

      2. Nick, no, you don’t know how the drivers did – compared to one other – until you perform a comprehensive comparison. A “gut feeling” and/or “being under the impression that…” are not good assessments.
        And you certainly can’t accurately know how they did during an entire season, because simply you won’t remember accurately, you will have recency bias and all kinds of those. And this series provides quite a good assessment for comparison at the end of the long season.

        1. lol, your consistent vitriol or assumption I am operating on my gut is tiresome. I don’t really want to interact with you.

    3. Reader have been claaling for this for year, please please please listen to your community……

      1. I also think it’d be better to have a wider scale of marks, however it’s their website, we can use it for free and they can do the marks as they wish, we’re free to disagree ofc.

  2. Agree with most of the driver didn’t put a foot wrong, so he’d be up there. Alonso was mega in qualifying and executed the race perfectly to keep Piastri behind. I don’t think the Aston could have managed a better result.

    I would agree that Sainz wasn’t quite on Max’s or Alonso’s level as he could have out qualified Norris in a Ferrari. Tsonuda was great as well.. but realistically, he had the car to finish p11… and the only driver he had to beat for a point was Stroll… who pretty much beat himself up again.

    I agree with Depallier on the rating system though. Max and Alonso should have had 9, Sainz, Norris and Tsonuda 8. Sargeant should have had a 2 and stroll, ricciardo a 3

    1. The Race, who absolutely hate Alonso’s guts, ranked him #1 of the weekend. While I didn’t need them to tell me he maximized every single session and every single lap, it’s just double confirmation for me. For me, Yuki was the next driver to deliver the most from his package.

      The RBRs, Ferraris and Lando ended up where their cars should have. OP, GR and LH all under delivered.

      1. The Race hate Alonso? I think a lot of them love him… Mark Hughes specially.

        1. Not every single one of them, but yes they loath him. MH has more of an ability to not take himself too seriously, which is why he’s one of the few TR members who I can take seriously. The thing which shows what TR thinks is worthy of coverage is the fact that 80% of their coverage is about Merc, McLaren, George, Lewis and Lando (heavily toward Merc though), 15% RBR and Ferrari related because it is unavoidable and 5% other. Just do a quick scan of their articles over the past month. The only break in that was a dreadful period where every single article was either about Checo’s struggles or Daniel’s come back.

    2. Agree with what yourself and Will are saying. I feel inclined to mark Alonso and Lando down a little because I think seven is pretty mega and six is pretty good, but that’s just me.

      Definitely agree on Yuki and Stroll. They were having a laugh overtaking cars in the first sector… but why were they behind them in the first place? Stroll’s moves weren’t nothing, but, while his car may have been a smidge below the pace of the rest of the top ten, it was in a category above those he was competing with for the last points position.

      1. For Yuki, it was primarily because those cars hadn’t pitted and were trying to stretch out stops. Stroll too, but he should have never qualified so low in the first place. Yuki got some assistance from Sauber’s horrible stops though.

  3. Max should have a 9. Did everything perfect.

    1. I’d say almost perfect, his quali got a bit messy and almost lost pole to Checo. Then, racing from pole he had it a bit too easy, after T1 nobody was challenging him, and challenge is the mother of most mistakes. I would add to it (not his fault) that between T1 and the flags we almost didn’t get to see him (AFAIR only the pitstops and the highway-like overtakes to recover P1 after the pitstops).
      Anyway if 9 is for exceptional drives, this was not one of them for me. Maybe with Max we have set the bar too high. But I find an 8 is fair enough. I would add that if anybody deserved 9 last Sunday it was Alonso, not Max.

    2. No, Max didn’t do everything perfect. He didn’t perform perfect overtaking maneuvers for the lead. He didn’t handle the pressure of the guy behind him trying to overtake him perfectly. He didn’t showcase fantastic offensive or defensive driving.
      He didn’t do those things perfectly, because he didn’t do them at all, obviously. His “everything” consisted of very few things and that’s why it’s an 8, and not a 9.

      1. I don’t agree. Max drove perfect. Took the corners brilliantly and accelerated at the perfect moment so he was gentle for his tyres and still drove fast laps. Because of that brilliance he had no pressure from the guy behind.

        1. Quali was perfect too, or just good enough?

          1. I’d say it was good enough, barely beating a mediocre qualifier is good enough, not perfect.

        2. Wood has made it clear 9s and 10s are for doing something remarkable. Simply getting pole and delivering a win with what is clearly the fastest car is not remarkable. It’s simply very good. Had he been .6+ ahead of Checo in quali or finished 30 seconds ahead of him, I’d be more inclined to say he did something remarkable.

    3. In weekends 1, 2 and 3, Max was basically flawless. In at least 1, probably 2 of those weekends, he won qualifying without the fastest car, which is outstanding.

      This weekend, he drove very well and was probably in the top 3 drives of the day, but he wasn’t up to his usual standards. His qualifying had noticeable mistakes, but this time he had the fastest car, which was enough to make up for them. In the race, his advantage over Checo was smaller than it has been previously.

      In other words, it was a very good drive, but probably his least exceptional of the season so far.

      A rating of 9 is by definition “one of the best, if not the very best, performances of the entire season”. This wasn’t even in Max’s own top 3 out of 4. So I don’t think it merits that rating.

  4. Most impressed: VER, SAI, & TSU
    Most disappointing: HAM, STR, & SAR

    1. Anthony H. Tellier
      9th April 2024, 14:53

      Agree … and add “DR”. Will he last the season? Will SAR?!

      1. I think jere’s choices here all made sense, though I’d have maybe removed hamilton since he beat russell in quali and had a problem during the race; as for ricciardo he’s probably not in the strugglers here cause he had a decent quali and wasn’t considered fully to blame for the crash, so he didn’t have the chance to show if he had improved his race pace or not.

        In a fair world, neither of the 2 should last the season with how they’re performing.

  5. I do think both Mercedes drivers were hampered by their terrible one-stop strategy that they committed to and feel like their strategists should have realized much sooner that it wasn’t going to work.

  6. Ricciardo’s hype: out-qualified by teammate, loses 5 spots at the start, crashes at turn 3 of lap 1 and creates a red flag situation but has a 5/10.

    Baffling or suucking?

    1. Ricciardo’s hype: out-qualified by teammate 0.055sec after only driving in FP3 while his team mate has done over 10,000 laps at Suzuka, his home track,
      loses 5 spots at the start Team mate initially lost more, also to Ricciardo,
      crashes at turn 3 of lap 1 Racing incident, you could argue Albon was on a path to nowhere, just unlucky for both really
      creates a red flag situation but has a 5/10. 4 or 5 is probably fair, he didn’t really make a big enough mistake or a big enough surprise to be better or worse.

      1. Your 2 comments are the exact definition of seeing the bottle half empty or half full!

        1. Ricciardo’s bottle is empty

      2. No Yuki dropped 2 places. Both RBs were struggling on mediums. Yuki was on the inside, Danny wasn’t ahead. Still Danny was more at fault for his crash with Albon

  7. 5 for Hamilton is very generous. Another weekend to forget for him. it’s becoming rather sad to watch, it’s like him and Ricciardo have just forgotten how to drive an F1 car.

    1. It rather shows how certain drivers simply lose it when they are not driving comfortably. Even if adverse situations, ALO was always in the fight for something, but you see HAM and RIC lost, fighting for nothing. Is this lack of motivation, age, or simply that they are not as great drivers as they used to be in cars that suit them?

  8. I like how Leclerc, who successfully made a more difficult one-stop strategy to actually work out well, and Albon, who ended in the barriers on the first lap, both got the same rating.

    1. I think Albon should have been a textbook 5 = average.

      As the author says, he struggled a bit with the car through practice, but when it matter he managed to produce an average performance in qualifying – making Q2 but not Q3, just like the lead drivers from the other lower half teams.

      Having performed averagely in qualifying, he was taken out in the race through no fault of his own.

      Conclusion: an average performance, unlucky to be taken out; nothing special, nothing wrong. Should be a 5 = Average.

      Leclerc’s race was mighty: just mighty enough to make up for a disappointing qualifying. In the end he put the car where it should have been, but couldn’t match his teammate. 6 = Good seems appropriate.

    2. It’s hard to rate someone who crashed out of a race, especially if it was early. This is more down to what they didn’t get a chance to prove than doing anything wrong. It’s important to qualify well, or not poorly, at least. If you can make up for errors in the race like Alonso did in Melbourne then I wouldn’t count qualifying too much. When there’s only qualifying to rate, then… it would be tempting to give them no rating and describe their qualifying performance in the text. A 5 should be enough unless they messed up qualifying or were in some way responsible for their fate in the race.

      In the case of the red flag crash, Ricciardo did come across and wasn’t aware Albon was there. It’s a good example of a first lap incident as there’s so much going on it’s hard to say anyone did anything badly wrong. Ricciardo has punished himself enough by crashing out; Albon might wonder what he was doing there in the first place. Was he trying to go around the outside of turn 3 in a bunch of cars?!?

      There have been some first lap incidents that should not have been regarded as such by the stewards. Ones where the driver was at fault and there wasn’t much going on other than him driving into someone. He had a poor weekend this time around and it was sad to see. Hopefully he’ll have more fire in his belly next time.

      Albon, Lando and Alonso are magnets for praise, often understandably so. Albon did some good work last year making the best use of his car’s straight line speed to hang on for dear life under a lot of pressure. I’m not sure he he’ll have such a chance to shine this year and he might just be in a weak car with no strengths. He’s also looking a little (emphasis on the little) flustered and out of sorts. What can he do in the races now? As Sainz said, when your car is poor you have less scope to try anything!

      Alonso did very well, and had to put the laps in, but it’s very hard to overtake at Suzuka. Someone like him won’t mess up the chicane to allow someone to get a chance on the straight, or make a mistake elsewhere and gift the place to his pursuers. His Melbourne performance was more “mega”. This one was just great. Sorry, Alonso!

      A classic example of how difficult it is to pass in Suzuka is 1989. Prost built the gap, kept it over the pit stops and the traffic helped him a bit. Towards the end of the race, Senna was catching him hand over fist. In the closing laps it was clear that all was lost. Prost was not going to make a mistake to let Senna in at the chicane or get close on the straight. Desperation took over as Senna could not accept that the day was lost. He’d driven a super last stint up to then, and was way faster than Prost, but the damage had been done at the start of the race and when he couldn’t catch up with Prost before the pit stops. If there wasn’t a crash, Senna would be universally praised for his heroic efforts. It really was something to behold, but it had to happen before the pit stops. I’m sure Prost knew this, and had been fast when he needed to be. Once he was ahead after the pits he wasn’t going to push the car to the edge of error or mechanical failure. If I come around to Senna’s mystic way of thinking for a moment, perhaps this version of the race, with a handshake on the podium would be one he would have liked to have seen given the eventual reconciliation he instigated.

      1. Lando… I can’t remember much from him other than he had one of his good qualifying days this time. I think he gets the high scores because he’s a likeable guy!

        1. I don’t think it’s just likeability: now that hamilton and leclerc are disappointing this year, which driver do we have that can be considered really strong apart from verstappen? Norris would be first in line.

        2. And sainz would be 2nd, he’s really impressing this year.

        3. Obviously can’t forget alonso though, he’s probably stronger than norris despite his age, and was the best in this race I’d say.

          1. Definitely not just likeability. Hopefully these three get a lot more car soon so we can see what they can really do!

  9. I’m not sure I would go as far as using the term ‘inconsistent’, but certain rationales seem at odds.

    For example, Lando with a 7 being deemed to have done pretty much as much as he could with his car. Yet Max with an 8 who arguably did the same. More tellingly – if we assume finishing position is what elevated Max’s score by a point – how does Perez also get a seven. Yes, his finishing position was higher than Lando, but clearly he did not do all that he could with the car else he’d be right up next to Max at the end, nor was he really close enough to warrant a 6 + 1 for finishing position?

    1. I guess expectations come into play here, perez was incredibly close to verstappen in quali and managed to keep the others behind with the best car, not even the authors are expecting perez to beat verstappen and since it was a pretty good race by him gave him a bonus point.

  10. How Leclerc get a 6 , Piastri gets a 6 and Albon gets a 6? Makes no sense.

  11. There’s only one rating system in which Ricciardo outscores Stroll: This one.

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