F1 Driver Ratings: Hamilton and Vettel reunited

Last Updated: 17/11/20 2:42pm Time and time again, Lewis Hamilton has shown why he is special in the toughest of conditions. This was by far the greatest of his title-clinching drives, one that was a

F1 Driver Ratings: Hamilton and Vettel reunited

Reviewing and rating each driver's performance in the incredibly challenging conditions thrown up in Istanbul as Hamilton brilliantly closed out his seventh title and Vettel's 2020 finally came to life

Last Updated: 17/11/20 2:42pm

Qualified 6th, Finished 1st

Time and time again, Lewis Hamilton has shown why he is special in the toughest of conditions. This was by far the greatest of his title-clinching drives, one that was a reminder - if we ever needed one - of just how complete he now is.

Even on his relentless ascent to Formula 1 records, Hamilton has had his doubters. He's only the best because he has the best car, some might say. But Mercedes, for most of the weekend anyway, did not have the best car at a uniquely wet and slippery Istanbul Park - not by a long shot. And Hamilton, a hard-to-believe five seconds off pole position in qualifying, won the race by more than half a minute, displaying immense pace even on worn tyres at the end of the race and barely making a mistake as other drivers around him spun and struggled. He was patient when he needed to be, and fast when he needed to be.

"Of course you have to have a good team and of course you have to have a great car," admitted Hamilton, who even lapped team-mate Valtteri Bottas to put an exclamation mark on his 94th win. "There is no driver that's ever won - really won - the championship in the past without it. But then it's also what you do with it that really also counts."

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Lewis Hamilton delivered an emotional message to his team and his fans after securing a record-equalling seventh world title.
Lewis Hamilton delivered an emotional message to his team and his fans after securing a record-equalling seventh world title.

It was a remarkable performance given the circumstances, and he added: "I want more of these weekends. More tricky conditions like this. The more opportunities like this, the more I'm able to show what I'm able to do. And I think today hopefully you can see… I think I deserve my respect."

Most wins. Most poles. Most podiums. F1's second seven-time champion, whose Mercedes contract will surely be signed soon, is showing no signs that he's fading. Expect him to keep raising the bar.
Rating out of 10: 9.5

Qualified 3rd, Finished 2nd

In a year when over half the grid have finished on the podium, it was overdue that Sergio Perez added his name to that list. The Mexican's consistency is only rivalled by Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in F1 and, on a weekend that Racing Point found their car and drivers stunningly suited to the treacherous combination of rain on an inherently low-grip Istanbul Park surface, Perez matched his career-best result of second place, eight years on.

So nearly aced qualifying for his first F1 pole position too after calling it correctly at the start Q3 to use the intermediate tyres, although it ended up being the head of the second row instead that Perez claimed when he got caught up with Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo on his final attempt.

A maiden career pole instead instead went to Racing Point team-mate Lance Stroll but, no matter, Perez was in sharp form once more on Sunday. Into second almost instantly when the lights went, Perez bided his time and his famed tyre-management came into its own the longer the race went on as he joined Hamilton in one-stopping all the way to what was a very slippery and, as Leclerc attacked, frenetic finish. A great drive. No wonder Ross Brawn reckons it would be a "tragedy" if Perez, still without a seat for 2021, isn't on next season's grid.
Rating out of 10: 9

Qualified 12th (Started 11th), Finished 3rd

Sebastian Vettel's wait for a podium wasn't as long as Perez's - the German last finished in top three at the 2019 Mexican GP - but it was much more out of the blue considering his 2020 form. This was a great drive from the four-time champion, and a welcome one on the day Hamilton both matched his idol Michael Schumacher's record, and moved one more title away from him.

Key to Vettel's result was a sensational opening lap as, after outqualifying Charles Leclerc for the first time since early August, Vettel rose eight places from 11th to third as he shone while others faltered. You might have suspected Vettel would slip back after that, but he barely put a wheel out of place and kept Hamilton behind him for 32 laps. Vettel wasn't as happy with his pace after that - he was overtaken by Leclerc - but found his feet again at the end and smoothly capitalised on his team-mate's late error.

"It has been a difficult year, and there have been moments where certainly I haven't been at the top of my game," said Vettel, who almost doubled his points tally for the season on Sunday. "But I don't doubt that I can do a good job in the car." Three races remain for Seb at Ferrari.
Rating out of 10: 9.5

Qualified 14th (Started 12th), Finished 4th

We already knew from last year that there's no harsher critic of Charles Leclerc than Charles Leclerc and so it was no real surprise that the Monegasque admonished himself for the mistake which shuffled him off the podium three corners from the race's end.

He had certainly done the hard work to win a podium place. After a rare, and large, qualifying defeat to Vettel this year, Leclerc lost two further places from 12th on the first lap but made impressive progress after pitting for intermediates on lap six. He was ninth when pitting again on lap 30 for another set of inters, pushing others ahead to follow suit, and then overtook Albon, Stroll and Vettel to put him in position to set about Perez. A last-lap error from the Mexican appeared to gift him second only for Leclerc to outbrake himself at the end of the backstraight to not only lose that position he'd just gained, but third to his team-mate too.
Rating out of 10: 8

Qualified 13th (Started 15th), Finished 5th

Things couldn't have gone much worse for Carlos Sainz on Saturday - he qualified only 13th and was then handed a grid penalty - but the Spaniard more than made up for it in the race. Sainz, who has a multiple rally champion for a father and so perhaps was more comfortable drifting around corners than most, made up six places on the opening lap before dispatching Daniel Ricciardo on lap 31. From there, Sainz was one of the quickest drivers on track in a McLaren that continued to improve as the race went on.

"I definitely rate this race as one of the hardest I've done in F1 so far and I'm very happy to have recovered 10 positions in these conditions," said Sainz, who is now ahead of Lando Norris in the drivers' standings and whose points helped McLaren not lose too much ground to Racing Point in the constructors' battle for third.
Rating out of 10: 9

Qualified 2nd, Finished 6th

Ultimately this just wasn't Max Verstappen and Red Bull's weekend. Sixth place was a shame for the both the Dutchman and Red Bull given he had set the pace in the dry and the wet up to Saturday's pole shootout, when his shot at P1 on a day Mercedes were nowhere slipped away on the intermediate tyres. Still, a front-row start meant he stayed right in the picture although, as it turned out, starting on the other side of the grid in third would have been more beneficial.

Was swamped at the lights, but recovered some of the lost ground further around the first lap to run fourth behind Vettel, where he stayed until running three laps longer on his full wets compared to the Ferrari's fresh intermediates. Six laps later and it was all looking rather promising. Verstappen was right on Perez's trail for second and within 10s of Stroll's lead with more than a third of the race to go. But then the front of his Red Bull washed out following the second-placed Racing Point and sent the Red Bull into a lurid spin. Game over for the victory, with an emergency stop for new tyres required. Verstappen had a later spin en-route to that sixth-place finish.
Rating out of 10: 7.5

Qualified 4th, Finished 7th

"Mixed," was how Alex Albon described his Turkish GP, which was a big, big improvement on his recent races - Albon was quicker than his team-mate at times, and made fewer glaring errors - but it also contained another costly mistake of his own. And that's the last thing he needed as he looks to secure his Red Bull future.

Albon was over two seconds slower than Verstappen in qualifying but stuck with him nicely in the early portions of the race and after Max's spin, was the fastest driver on track as he chased down the Racing Points. "I thought we were on for a win," admitted the 23-year-old. Unfortunately, Albon then spun himself and never really recovered from there, overtaken by Leclerc, Sainz and Verstappen in the last 20 laps after a second stop.

Did the Turkish GP help or hinder Albon's chances of remaining at Red Bull for 2021? You'd lean towards the former, but it's hard to call. Albon enjoyed his best weekend since a Mugello podium, but was still comfortably outperformed by Perez, a free agent and big contender for the seat.
Rating out of 10: 7

Qualified 11th (Started 14th), Finished 8th

Starting 14th after being penalised for a yellow-flags infringement in qualifying, Lando Norris was one of many on the left-hand side of the grid to lose a bunch of places at the very-wet start. But the McLaren driver, who celebrated his 21st birthday on the Friday, did well to quickly stabilise his race and steadily work his way up the order from there to an eighth-place finish - nabbing the bonus point for the fastest lap too. "When we were in clean air, we had really good pace all the time," said Norris, who said it was difficult to overtake with only one line essentially available in the wet.

"I think we did the best job we could during the race - and I had the fastest lap, so that showed the car was genuinely quick." Drops behind Sainz in the championship for the first time in 2020, but there's only one point in it with three races to go in their friendly yet competitive team-mate partnership at McLaren.
Rating out of 10: 7.5

Qualified 1st, Finished 9th

From dominant to despair. From pole, and a comfortable race lead, to ninth.

You've got to feel for Lance Stroll after the Turkish GP, where he was silencing his doubters with an immense performance before mysteriously dropping back through the field - which Racing Point later revealed was due to significant, and seemingly unavoidable, car damage. Ouch.

Stroll became F1's fifth youngest pole-sitter on Saturday and any concerns that he might struggle to fend off Verstappen were quickly dispelled with a storming start - he was 10s clear of the field before his first stop. But his advantage dropped with every lap after that - Stroll was complaining of tyre graining - and after pitting again from the lead he just didn't have any pace, a sitting duck as he was passed five drivers.

"He was flawless," said Otmar Szafnauer, who insisted Stroll would have been at least on the podium if not for the front-wing issue. Lance isn't having the best of luck at the moment.
Rating out of 10: 8.5

Qualified 5th, Finished 10th

"I saw him [Hamilton] for the first few laps and I was like 'maybe we'll be ok today' - but then he nearly lapped me!" Daniel Ricciardo can often still pluck a memorable line out a disappointing day and this was certainly one after an Istanbul Park Sunday that certainly didn't go to plan.

Tenth from what had been an impressive fifth on the grid was disappointing. He had little chance of avoiding tapped team-mate Esteban Ocon into a spin at the first corner when Hamilton thrust his Mercedes up the inside of his Renault and, once pitting for inters on lap 10, the RS20 was inconsistent to handle.
Rating out of 10: 7

Out of the points

Esteban Ocon's race was effectively ruined on lap one, despite his "best start of the year". Ocon was challenging for third after a great getaway, but then spun after Hamilton and Ricciardo got a bit too close - while he was then hit by Bottas at Turn Nine on the same lap which gave him a puncture, and dropped him well down the field. He did pretty well to recover from 11th from there, in truth.
Rating out of 10: 6

The highest-placed AlphaTauri in a race this season would often mean a decent-points finish, but not on this particular Sunday for Daniil Kvyat. The AT01 just wasn't happy in the wet and Kvyat spun at the end of Q1, condemning him to an early exit. A steady drive in the wet, one further off-course moment aside, but 12th was as good as it got. "I'm a bit frustrated because there are no points for us today, it's not pleasant to fight the car all race and finish with no reward," rued the Russian, who'd have been hoping to follow up his brilliant run to fourth at Imola with rather more here.
Rating out of 10: 6

"It's a bit embarrassing," said Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri's pace in the wet conditions, but he could easily have been speaking about a grid penalty - handed to him after the team decided to change the engine before changing their mind, but too late - that saw him start 19th.

Gasly was only really battling with slower midfield cars from there despite a decent opening lap. "The whole weekend was really bad for us," added Gasly. "We had very poor performance."
Rating out of 10: 6

He knew it was coming, but this was certainly not the way that Valtteri Bottas wanted his championship challenge to end. Ninth on the grid as Mercedes struggled in qualifying, he actually made a very decent start - but that's where the positives of his day started and ended. The first corner, when he spun avoiding Ocon's spinning Renault, was the first of six times he lost control of his W11 through a torrid race.

Damage sustained when he collected Ocon later around that opening tour put his day compromised any chance of a comeback and Bottas was ultimately lapped by his title-winning team-mate. Fourteenth place? A "disaster" indeed.
Rating out of 10: 4

Alfa Romeo were one of Saturday's surprise packages after getting both cars in Q3 for the first time this season - with Kimi Raikkonen starring up in eighth in wet conditions. But, as the Iceman, on the ice rink, admitted: "The race was far from fun."

Raikkonen, who said Alfa would have much preferred more rain on Sunday than a drying track, spun many times on his way to 15th.
Rating out of 10: 6.5

George Russell probably knew his Turkish GP was going to be pretty miserable after crashing on his way to the pit-lane from the grid, and indeed it was. An intermediate tyre start offered initial promise, with Russell rising to 11th from the pit lane, but things got rather trickier from there.

"I'm sure I would have loved it from the sofa," said Russell, who at least maintained his unbeaten qualifying record compared to his team-mate.
Rating out of 10: 6

A frustrating weekend for Kevin Magnussen considering his impressive pace. On Saturday, Magnussen felt he was en route to Q2 before slowing for yellow flags, while on Sunday, the Haas driver was running behind Norris in the McLaren before a dreadful pit-stop cost him two laps. Game over after that. "It's very sad that we've missed a points opportunity," said K-Mag.
Rating out of 10: 7.5

Did Not Finish

One of the drivers who seemed to struggle with the low-grip surface more than most, Romain Grosjean just couldn't get a handle on tyre temperatures all weekend and duly failed to make an impact as a result. His race was ended by a tangle with a lapped Nicholas Latifi at Turn Nine, which did damage to his Haas car. Spinning on his own as he returned to the track, Grosjean has certainly had better weekends.
Rating out of 10: 5.5

"It was a weekend to forget." You can say that again, Nicholas Latifi - who was lapped on lap 7(!) and was two laps down when he sustained race-ending damage in a crash with Grosjean.
Rating out of 10: 4

After such a good Saturday - Antonio Giovinazzi qualified 10th, his best of the season - the Italian couldn't really have had a worse Sunday. He crashed on the way to the grid, and although his Alfa engineers admirably fixed the damage for lights out, his race only lasted 11 laps due to a gearbox issue.
Rating out of 10: 6