April 15, 2021, 22:52

Brazilian GP driver ratings

Brazilian GP driver ratings

The world championship may have evaded him but this was a statement of intent for 2018 from Sebastian Vettel as he controlled the race from start to finish.

The German was angry with himself after “chickening out” at Turn One on his final Qualifying lap, a mistake which cost him a fifth pole position of the season. But he immediately made amends on Sunday, using the same piece of tarmac to squeeze past Valtteri Bottas at the start in the race’s decisive move.

With little to split Ferrari and Mercedes on pace, Vettel managed to stretch out his lead over Bottas at crucial moments to ensure he was never really threatened, despite rarely being more than two seconds ahead. A first win in seven was a welcome fillip for Vettel and Ferrari heading into the winter break.

But this was also a painful reminder of what might have been for Vettel. For the first time in many a season, Ferrari have produced a car that is competitive all year. But for his errors in Baku and Singapore, and Ferrari’s unreliability in Malaysia and Japan, the title race may still have been alive.
Rating out of ten: 9.5

Second place but a difficult afternoon for Valtteri Bottas. While the Finn, who started from pole position after an excellent lap in qualifying, argued he “lost the race in the first corner”, he never really appeared to have as much pace as Vettel, who ran in cruise control out front.

More remarkable was that Bottas finished the race just three seconds ahead of Hamilton despite 20 places separating the Mercedes pair at the start of the race and what appeared to be a revival in form on Saturday. Remarkable and, for Bottas fans, somewhat concerning.
Rating out of ten: 8

Not for the first time this season, Kimi Raikkonen matched Vettel’s pace for much of the Brazilian GP weekend. Right up until Q3 and the race, that is.

For all of Raikkonen’s best efforts, and he is still consistent at the age of 38, his team-mate always seems to be the quicker Ferrari when it matters.

Raikkonen was 0.168seconds adrift of Vettel in qualifying despite the German’s sloppy final lap, and he was never truly challenging Bottas for second place come race day. He did at least hold his nerve to keep third after Hamilton’s late charge, the first time he has secured three successive podiums since 2013, but Raikkonen will hope for improvement next season.

Not a single victory in a perfectly capable and evidently quick Ferrari doesn’t reflect too well on the 2007 world champion.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

It was a sublime comeback drive from Lewis Hamilton, and the world champion probably enjoyed the Brazilian GP more than most 2017 races as he carved his way through the field after a pitlane start.

But make no mistake, a Vettel victory – title wrapped up or not – will anger Hamilton and he will be ruing his uncharacteristic qualifying error.

Without that shunt into the barriers, the Mercedes driver would surely have been toasting his first Grand Prix as a four-time world champion with another victory – such was his race pace. He finished just five seconds behind Vettel, and was consistently faster than his rivals on both the soft and supersoft tyre.

Still, it’s clear that Hamilton embraced a different kind of Sunday, and was proud to prove “I still have a lot of fire in my heart” with a persistent and dogged display. Driver of the Day, but not quite the Driver of the Weekend.
Rating out of ten: 9

After the recent heroics and highlights, Max Verstappen’s Brazilian GP was a relatively dour affair.

His qualifying defeat of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was a formality once the Australian’s grid demotion was confirmed on Friday night and the Dutchman’s fifth-place finish was no more and no less than could have been expected once the Safety Car brought Hamilton back into play.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

Daniel Ricciardo may have been fearing a third consecutive retirement when he was tipped into a spin through the Senna Esses on the opening lap. But fortunately for the Australian his Red Bull avoided major damage and he was able to once again display his overtaking skills to come from last to sixth.

Turn One was often the honey badger’s hunting ground and his late lunge on Lance Stroll, which was swiftly followed by a Turn Four pass on Marcus Ericsson, was arguably the overtake of the race.

However being out-qualified by team-mate Verstappen for an eighth time in 10 races, and by over four tenths of a second, will be of a concern.
Rating out of ten: 8.5

Felipe Massa delivered the perfect send-off in his final Brazilian GP with the Williams veteran describing his seventh-place finish as being “like a victory”. While last year’s tearful pitlane walk may have been the emotional goodbye, this was the performance Massa wanted to sign off from Interlagos with.

The 36-year-old was on song all weekend and while he was upset to only qualify 10th, accusing Carlos Sainz of deliberately blocking him, Massa quickly made amends in Sunday’s race. He made a brilliant start to be running sixth by Turn Four and quickly passed Fernando Alonso for fifth after the Safety Car restart.

While he could do nothing to stop the charging Hamilton and Ricciardo, he managed to keep his old rival Alonso at bay despite his former Ferrari team-mate regularly being within DRS range. “A race that I will never forget,” an emotional Massa said afterwards, while his son’s radio message certainly pulled on the heartstrings.
Rating out of ten: 9.5

One suspects Fernando Alonso will leave Brazil with mixed emotions.

It was a sublime qualifying lap and sixth on the grid was his highest start for McLaren-Honda, while an eighth-place finish in the race was a considerable achievement. But it could have been so, so much more for the Spaniard if he was armed with a different engine.

Alonso was a sitting duck for Massa’s Mercedes-powered Williams on Lap Six but remained in DRS range for most of the afternoon. However, he was losing around 15mph to his former team-mate on the straights – the only realistic place to pass at Interlagos – and so could only stay in touch with the Williams with DRS rather than overtake it.

Still, this was an outstanding drive from Alonso and in this form, he is certainly one to fear in 2018 with Renault power.
Rating out of ten: 9

Although Sergio Perez left Brazil with only two points to show for his efforts, the Mexican departed with a more valuable point proved.

After four successive qualifying defeats to his team-mate, Perez put five starting places between himself and Esteban Ocon at Interlagos and, while modest, his ninth-place finish may still come in useful in the end-of-season reckoning with Perez now holding an eleven-point buffer over Ocon in the standings. Perez very arguably hasn’t received the recognition he deserves for the consistency of his performances this season.
Rating out of ten: 8

Nico Hulkenberg returned to the points for the first time since the Belgian GP at Interlagos, but the Renault driver may have expected more from a decent opportunity.

The German started up in seventh after impressing in qualifying, but lost places at the start and just didn’t have the pace to trouble those ahead of him after that.

“I was pushing flat out, so it’s a shame we couldn’t do more,” admitted Hulkenberg.
Rating out of ten: 7

A tough weekend for Carlos Sainz as he was compromised by Renault’s general lack of pace and fears over reliability.

For the second consecutive race he was out-qualified by Nico Hulkenberg, while he dropped from eighth on the grid to finish 11th, over six seconds off his team-mate in the final point-scoring position.
Rating out of ten: 6

It’s been a baptism of fire for Pierre Gasly in Formula 1. Another engine penalty meant the Frenchman started the race from 19th, though he will have been disappointed to have been out-qualified by Toro Rosso team-mate Hartley.

After that it was a solid race for the Frenchman, who made a fine start and avoided the carnage at the Senna Esses. Twelfth place was probably his maximum in the end, eager to avoid another DNF.

“I think it’s definitely our best race and best performance since I arrived in Malaysia,” he said. “We extracted everything we could.”
Rating out of ten: 7

After three impressive weekends, this was a return to the tough days for Marcus Ericsson. The Swede underwhelmed on Saturday, out-qualified by team-mate Pascal Wehrlein by over two tenths and posting the slowest of the times set.

Following the first-lap chaos, Ericsson found himself up in 11th following the Safety Car restart, but he struggled on his first stint on the soft tyre and fell down the field. A better run on the supersoft helped him get past Lance Stroll, before Wehrlein moved aside in the closing stages to hand him 13th.
Rating out of ten: 6

At least the run of qualifying losses to Ericsson is over for Pascal Wehrlein.

But the more significant news for the young German this weekend, especially in light of 14th-place finish behind Ericsson on race day, is that he doesn’t appear to be on Williams’ shortlist for 2018 drivers. At least in its current spell, Wehrlein’s F1 career may only have one race left.
Rating out of ten: 6

Romain Grosjean felt justifiably aggrieved at being punished with a ten-second time penalty for causing his collision with Esteban Ocon in the type of first-lap incident which usually goes noted by the stewards but ultimately ignored.

The Frenchman made his unhappiness with the decision clear during the grand prix, and then afterwards on social media, but the fact that he finished two laps down on the leader underlined it was ultimately irrelevant.

In the midfield and off the pace, 2017 is bowing out with a whimper for Haas.
Rating out of ten: 5.5

Not Lance Stroll’s finest weekend. The teenager certainly wasn’t helped by a gearbox malfunction in P3 – failing to make it out of Q1 as a result – but Massa’s race pace in the sister Williams suggested a better result was possible.

Stroll toiled behind Romain Grosjean’s Haas, making an error and locking up when attempting a DRS-assisted overtake into Turn One, and was eventually the last-placed car after his tyre disintegrated towards the end of the race.
Rating out of ten: 5

Did not finish…

Esteban Ocon suffered his first retirement in Formula 1 as he was taken out on the first lap by Romain Grosjean. It was the Frenchman’s first single-seater retirement since racing in European Formula 3 in 2014 and ended a run of 27-consecutive finishes in F1.
Rating out of ten: N/A

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Brazilian GP didn’t last long.

Squeezed through the second corner, the Belgian was nudged into Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull by Kevin Magnussen with the impact sufficiently damaging to end his race by the third corner.

The only relief was that he was allowed to cross the track by race marshals rather than spend the rest of the afternoon watching proceedings from the infield.
Rating out of ten: N/A

Blink and you would have missed Kevin Magnussen’s Brazilian GP.

The Dane was squeezing Vandoorne toward the kerb as he moved down the inside of Turn Three, but didn’t realise Ricciardo was the other side of the McLaren.

What followed was heavy contact and a broken suspension for Magnussen, ending his race immediately.
Rating out of ten: N/A

A second consecutive race retirement for Brendon Hartley as his Toro Rosso was hit by yet more unreliability.

The Kiwi could take heart from out-qualifying team-mate Pierre Gasly to squeeze into Q2 but he once again found himself at the back of the field following grid penalties. Loss of radio contact did not help his cause on Sunday before high oil consumption forced him to retire on lap 41.
Rating out of ten: 6.5

Don’t miss the F1 Report on Wednesday at 8.30pm on Sky F1 as Williams co-founder Sir Patrick Head joins Marc Priestley and Natalie Pinkham to review the Brazilian GP.

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Source: skysports.com

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