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Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2021

Azerbaijan GP 2021 F1 Driver Ratings: Vettel stars, shocks for Hamilton and Bottas

A thrilling Azerbaijan GP saw Sergio Perez claim his first win for Red Bull after heartbreak for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton who scored no points. RacingNews365.com rates the whole field and how they performed in Baku

Column
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

A chaotic sixth round of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship saw Sergio Perez win the second race of his F1 career amid the drama involving Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel was a remarkable second to give Aston Martin their maiden F1 podium. Pierre Gasly claimed his third podium after holding off Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to round out a crazy top three from a spectacular Azerbaijan GP.

We have rated all 20 drivers based on their qualifying and race performances. Team errors such as a slow pitstop or a sub-optimal strategy do not affect our ratings as they are no fault of the drivers.

Our ratings solely look at how well the drivers got on at the Azerbaijan GP including their pace against their teammates and rivals, mistakes and any other standout moments from their weekend.

Sergio Perez 8.5/10

Started: 7th - Finished: 1st

Perez did not have the best of Saturdays once again but he made up for it with a brilliant start to crucially put himself on the tail of teammate Verstappen.

From there, Perez managed his tyres superbly and would have been neck on neck with Verstappen if he did not have a slow pitstop.

To have Hamilton behind you for most of the race should not be underestimated too and Perez used all of his experience to keep him at bay and did not put a foot wrong.

If Perez can sort out his qualifying, he will be standing on the top step of the podium on multiple occasions this year.

Sebastian Vettel 9/10

Started: 11th - Finished: 2nd

Vettel was unlucky not to make the final part of qualifying due to Daniel Ricciardo's crash. But, he drove an outstanding race to go long during the first stint to put himself in the mix for when the leading contenders dropped out of the Grand Prix.

He made two great overtakes on Leclerc and Gasly and kept a calm head on the final two laps. It's two very strong weekends for Vettel and he will only grow in confidence.

An exceptional effort on Sunday from the Aston Martin driver who is currently driving like a four-time world champion.

Pierre Gasly 8.5/10

Started: 4th - Finished: 3rd

Gasly was on top form in Baku. A fantastic effort in Q3 saw Gasly go fastest in the first sector and at one point it looked like he could steal pole position.

Nevertheless, he started on the second row of the grid and drove a great race. Despite an engine problem at the midway stage of the Grand Prix, Gasly fought brilliantly against Charles Leclerc following the red flag.

He lost out to Leclerc initially but got back into his slipstream and braked very late to get back ahead of the Ferrari driver on the final lap. A superb performance from the AlphaTauri man.

Charles Leclerc 8/10

Started: 1st - Finished: 4th

Leclerc put in a mighty lap to take a shock pole position even though he thought his Q3 run was "quite sh*t". There was nothing he could do about Hamilton and the Red Bull drivers and he got the most out of his Ferrari machine.

Perhaps he positioned himself wrongly when he momentarily took third place on the final lap in his battle with Gasly. Apart from that, it was a faultless drive from Leclerc in a car which did not have the race pace.

Lando Norris 7.5/10

Started: 9th - Finished: 5th

McLaren did not have the pace which they have showed at other circuits in Azerbaijan so Lando Norris' fifth place was a good result.

Norris harshly but fairly received a three-grid place penalty for not immediately pitting under the red flag in qualifying and did not have the best of starts.

However, he managed to keep Valtteri Bottas behind and had a storming restart to make his way into the top five after the red flag. Perhaps not his best drive of 2021, but a solid Sunday performance.

Fernando Alonso 8.5/10

Started: 8th - Finished: 6th

Fernando Alonso rescued Alpine's weekend because their race pace was pretty dismal. A strong qualifying saw Alonso make Q3 and he was at his best on the restarts, making up places every time.

Alpine opted to pit Alonso onto the soft tyres after the first safety car and he made the most of it to go from 14th to 11th.

In the final two laps, he went from 10th to sixth so it was a great showing of skill and class from the two-time world champion which went under the radar.

Yuki Tsunoda 7/10

Started: 7th - Finished: 7th

The last two months have been a struggle for Yuki Tsunoda but considering that he'd never driven in Azerbaijan before, his pace was very good.

He crashed in qualifying which was a shame but he did not it faze him on Sunday and he kept it clean amid the mayhem to score his best result in F1.

Baku could be a big confidence boost for the Japanese driver.

Carlos Sainz 5/10

Started: 5th - Finished: 8th

Sainz was one of just a few drivers to make a major error in the race as he locked up going into Turn 8 and lost a bundle of time as he reversed his Ferrari out of the run-off zone.

Qualifying was far from ideal too as he was caught out by Tsunoda. Nevertheless, his recovery was solid but it could have been so much more for Sainz given the chaos that happened at the head of the race.

Daniel Ricciardo 5/10

Started: 13th - Finished: 9th

It was yet another difficult weekend for Daniel Ricciardo who looked like he was hanging onto his McLaren as he was off the pace compared to Norris for much of the event.

Ricciardo appeared to be looking good in practice but could not turn his practice pace into a strong race. His Q2 crash may have knocked his confidence a little and could be seen as a setback that hurt the Australian more than he thought.

Kimi Raikkonen 7/10

Started: 14th - Finished: 10th

It was a great effort from Kimi Raikkonen to score his first point of the season. He made the most of the restarts to move up the order, using all of his experience in a race of attrition.

Raikkonen has had better drivers this season and he finally gets a point for his hard work after a lot of misfortune.

Antonio Giovinazzi 5.5/10

Started: 20th - Finished: 11th

Antonio Giovinazzi was the second Turn 15 victim in qualifying but he recovered well on Sunday to finish just behind teammate Raikkonen.

On the restart, he collected the back of Ricciardo and almost took out Raikkonen so he was lucky to get away with a small misjudgement.

Giovinazzi, similarly to Ricciardo, looked strong in practice but his crash made it difficult to score points.

Valtteri Bottas 3/10

Started: 10th - Finished: 12th

Where was the pace for Valtteri Bottas is the question everyone will be asking. At no point in the weekend did Bottas look like he was comfortable in the car.

Bottas could not get the tyres to switch on but he still seems to have a problem of following other drivers closely, even if he has a pace advnatage.

This has been a weakness for Bottas for a few years and it's continued into 2021. Imola and Sunday's Azerbaijan GP confirmed that. A weekend to forget.

Mick Schumacher 5.5/10

Started: 17th - Finished: 13th

Schumacher had a clean weekend after his Monaco crash although his gap to teammate Nikita Mazepin was not as big compared to normal.

His pace was not too far away from Williams' George Russell so it was a good weekend for Schumacher who had limited experience the Baku street circuit before Friday and tends to go better on the 'normal' more open tracks.

Nikita Mazepin 3.5/10

Started: 18th - Finished: 14th

Mazepin kept the car out of the wall but it was still far from a clean weekend. In the race, he locked up at Turn 4 which cost him a lot of time and he was very aggressive on teammate Schumacher on the final lap.

Schumacher had a run on Mazepin and went to the right of him but was forced to avoid hitting the Russian as Mazepin swerved towards him.

There was no need for that, especially on your teammate and Mazepin was lucky that he did not cause a massive accident just 100 metres from the finish line.

Lewis Hamilton 5/10

Started: 2nd - Finished: 15th

It's incredibly difficult to rate Hamilton because the way he and Mercedes turned things around to start on the front row of the grid was remarkable.

He was driving very well in the race too against Verstappen and Perez who looked to have better cars. However, Hamilton had a golden opportunity to take a relatively big lead in the championship but threw it all away by knocking his 'magic' setting which caused him to lock up on the standing start restart.

The seven-time world champion had the move all sown up and it was a simple driver error which has massive implications for the championship. In that sense, it's similar to his Imola error except this time he had no more laps to storm through the field.

Nicholas Latifi 4.5/10

Started: 16th - Finished: 16th

It was a relatively uneventful weekend for Latifi until he failed to pit when the drivers were instructed to enter the pitlane following Verstappen's accident.

He was handed a 10 second stop and go penalty which did not make a difference to his position as he was the last of the finishers in Azerbaijan.

George Russell 6/10

Started: 15th - Finished: DNF

Williams were further adrift from the midfield so George Russell was unable to battle with many drivers. He maintained his impressive Williams qualifying streak and crucially he lost drive so could not take to the grid for the restart.

This reliability issue meant Haas leapfrogged Williams to go into ninth in the Constructors' Championship. A disappointing day for Russell and Latifi.

Max Verstappen 8.5/10

Started: 1st - Finished: DNF

Baku will be seen as a huge moment in this year's championship as Verstappen's left-rear tyre blew up when he was on for a certain win.

Verstappen did everything right on Sunday after an average qualifying as Red Bull nailed his strategy to jump Hamilton in the pitstop phase.

The great thing about Verstappen is that he bounces back from setbacks but his Baku crash will be the toughest thing he has to deal with in his Formula 1 career so far.

But, it will have been helped by Hamilton's mistake which means Verstappen remains in the lead of the championship.

Lance Stroll 4.5/10

Started: 20th - Finished: DNF

Stroll was having a strong race, making the most of his alternate strategy to use the hard tyres during the first stint. It was a carbon copy of his Monaco drive, except this time Stroll was the first victim of a scary tyre blowout which will be a major talking point over the next two weeks.

The Aston Martin driver did make a key error in qualifying, causing the first red flag of the day which is why his rating is not great.

Esteban Ocon 5/10

Started: 12th - Finished: DNF

Ocon was unable to continue the great form he had in April and May as he missed out in Q3 for the first time since the season-opener in Bahrain.

A loss of power ended the Alpine driver's chances of scoring any points as he was the first retiree of the race.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The latest news about the Azerbaijan Grand Prix straight from the Baku City Circuit.

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