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Bahrain Grand Prix 2021

Bahrain GP F1 Driver Ratings: Hamilton, Verstappen and Norris star

A thrilling Formula 1 season-opener saw Lewis Hamilton come out on top against Max Verstappen in an almighty battle. Further down the field, Lando Norris performed strongly whilst Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin nightmare continued. RacingNews365.com rates the whole field and how they performed at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Bahrein 2021 start
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton won the opening race of the 2021 Formula 1 season after an extraordinary Bahrain Grand Prix. Max Verstappen was forced to settle for second having took the lead with four laps remaining but handed the position back due to overtaking Hamilton off the track. Valtteri Bottas

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 Bahrain Grand Prix including their pace against their teammates and rivals, mistakes and any other standout moments from their weekend.

Lewis Hamilton 9/10

Started: 2nd Finished: 1st

Hamilton's victory in Sakhir was one of those races which only he could pull off. To do half the race on a set of hard tyres whilst keeping a strong pace is a drive very few drivers can execute.

A small error when the pressure was really on towards the end of the Grand Prix did not matter in the end as Verstappen failed to make a clean overtake stick.

The 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix will go down as one of Hamilton's best victories in F1.

Max Verstappen 9/10

Started: 1st Finished: 2nd

Everything pointed towards a Verstappen clean sweep in Bahrain and he had the chance of overtaking his great rival Hamilton in the final stages of the race.

Hamilton says Verstappen should have been more patient and hindsight suggests the seven-time world champion is correct.

Nevertheless, Hamilton and Verstappen were in a league of their own for most of the weekend and the Red Bull driver's pole position lap was very impressive.

			© Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images
	© Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Valtteri Bottas 6.5/10

Started: 3rd Finished: 3rd

Bottas was always chasing Hamilton throughout practice and qualifying. He never looked like he would threaten his Mercedes teammate but a good middle stint brought him into play for the race win.

A slow 10 second pitstop for Mercedes ended any hopes Bottas had of victory although he did salvage an extra point for the fastest lap of the Grand Prix.

Lando Norris 8.5/10

Started: 7th Finished: 4th

Norris matched teammate Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying but made the difference when it mattered most during the race.

An aggressive opening lap saw Norris come out on top against his teammate after an early wheel to wheel battle. From there, he was able to overtake Charles Leclerc and managed his tyres perfectly to keep Leclerc at bay for the remainder of the race.

It's a great start to a big year for young Norris in his F1 career.

			© McLaren
	© McLaren

Sergio Perez 7/10

Started: Pit Lane Finished: 5th

A team error meant Perez missed out on Q3 by the slimmest of margins although he admits it was not a good performance on his side.

It looked like he would not even make the start after the car shut down on the formation lap. Perez recovered well and managed to come through the field efficiently to salvage fifth place by overtaking Leclerc in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.

Without doubt, Perez would have played a role at the battle at the front of the field had the team not misjudged their qualifying gamble and that bodes well for Red Bull in 2021.

Charles Leclerc 8.5/10

Started: 5th Finished: 6th

We saw another one of Leclerc's classic one lap performances in Q3 which got him onto the second row following a tricky Friday.

Considering McLaren appear to have a slight edge on Ferrari, Leclerc did well to hold off Ricciardo and he will be happy that on a circuit which is reliant on a strong power unit, he had a chance of battling for a top five result.

			© Ferrari
	© Ferrari

Daniel Ricciardo 7.5/10

Started: 6th Finished: 7th

It was a great performance from Ricciardo to just outqualify teammate Norris on Saturday but he lost out in the short wheel to wheel battle between the McLaren drivers.

Ricciardo did not quite have the same pace as Norris but it was a solid race for his McLaren debut. The Australian will only improve and is in a good position for the rest of the year.

Carlos Sainz 7.5/10

Started: 8th Finished: 8th

A mistake in Q3 cost Sainz the chance of joining Leclerc on the second row of the grid but he bounced back strongly.

Despite facing more traffic, Sainz finished just eight seconds behind Leclerc and pulled off some great overtakes including a move around the outside of his hero Fernando Alonso.

Ferrari arguably have the strongest driver pairing on the grid in 2021 and Sainz has shown he will push Leclerc hard throughout the season.

			© Scuderia Ferrari S.p.A.
	© Scuderia Ferrari S.p.A.

Yuki Tsunoda 7.5/10

Started: 13th Finished: 9th

It's difficult to rate Tsunoda's Bahrain performance because his elimination from Q2 was not entirely his fault as AlphaTauri tried to progress to the final part of qualifying on the medium tyres.

Tsunoda may be a rookie but he looked like a driver with years of Formula 1 experience on the track. A bad start did not phase him (although it is something he can't afford to do) and he climbed up the order to score his first points in F1.

In clean air, he was able to match the times of the McLaren and Ferrari drivers. An impressive debut weekend but the result could have been better.

Lance Stroll 7/10

Started: 10th Finished: 10th

Aston Martin had a tough season-opener but Stroll was without doubt their number one driver in Bahrain, a surprise to many.

To get into Q3 was a good performance from Stroll and he had a solid race to pick up a potentially crucial point.

Stroll still seems to struggle when following cars which is an important skill in the midfield although it's hard to read how good the pace of the Aston Martin is.

			© Aston Martin
	© Aston Martin

Kimi Raikkonen 7/10

Started: 14th Finished: 11th

Raikkonen's race went under the radar and he did a superb job despite a strategy error from Alfa Romeo which likely cost them some points.

Alfa Romeo opted to pit Raikkonen early for his final stint, with hindsight it was a mistake. Raikkonen had the upper hand on Giovinazzi on race pace, a similar pattern to 2020.

Antonio Giovinazzi 6.5/10

Started: 12th Finished: 12th

A slow pitstop ended any hopes of Giovinazzi to score points in Bahrain but he was the slower of the two Alfa Romeo drivers on Sunday anyway.

Qualifying indicated Giovinazzi was on track to turn things around from last year. It was short-lived, and he'll be disappointed he was not able to make more of his good starting position.

Esteban Ocon 5.5/10

Started: 16th Finished: 13th

Ocon never showed any glimpses of speed at the Bahrain International Circuit. Alongside Vettel, he was caught out by yellow flags in qualifying but it doesn't justify his race performance.

Part of his lack of pace can be put down to the car, however he was not a match for the returning Fernando Alonso. It's not the start to 2021 that Ocon needed.

			© Alpine
	© Alpine

George Russell 7.5/10

Started: 15th Finished: 14th

Another brilliant lap in qualifying got Russell into the second phase of qualifying. Similarly to 2020, he could not keep up with the midfield runners despite his talent.

A bizarre strategy in the middle of the Grand Prix saw Russell lose precious time to his rivals. Yet again, he was comfortably quicker than teammate Nicholas Latifi in every session.

Sebastian Vettel 3/10

Started: 20th Finished: 15th

Vettel's Aston Martin nightmare continued from testing into the opening race of the year and he will want to quickly forget the last three weeks in Bahrain.

The four-time world champion was unfortunate in qualifying to get caught up with yellow flags for Nikita Mazepin's stricken Haas and Sainz's slow Ferrari although you could argue he should never have put himself on that position.

Vettel was having a solid race and tried to go long in the first stint. It paid off to an extent but he made another racecraft mistake when racing Ocon in the middle of the race.

It was clearly Vettel's fault as he ran straight into the back of the Alpine driver at turn one and he picked up five penalty points to his licence on Sunday alone. A disastrous weekend.

			© Aston Martin
	© Aston Martin

Mick Schumacher 6/10

Started: 18th Finished: 16th

Schumacher did all he could considering the circumstances he faces at Haas. He was much quicker than teammate Mazepin throughout practice and qualifying.

A spin on the safety car restart was the only obvious error from Schumacher and he will take confidence from his final stint of the race when he consistently outpaced Latifi in the Williams.

Pierre Gasly 5.5/10

Started: 5th Finished: 17th

Gasly can only blame himself for his mistake when he ran into the back of Ricciardo which broke his front wing.

The Frenchman never recovered from this error which put him down the order and will be frustrated to miss out on some big points, having started in the top five following a mighty qualifying effort.

Nicholas Latifi 4/10

Started: 17th Finished: 18th

A boost pressure problem prevented Latifi from finishing the race. A six tenth deficit to teammate Russell in qualifying is still a substantial margin and his race pace before he retired was still not a match for Russell.

			© Alpine
	© Alpine

Fernando Alonso 7.5/10

Started: 9th Finished: DNF

There were no signs of rustiness for Alonso as he made his return to Formula 1. He surprised himself to qualify ninth and was running well to pick up some valuable points.

However, his race came to an end when the brakes on his Alpine overheated. It could be a long year for Alpine but at least they know Alonso will get the most from the car.

Nikita Mazepin 2/10

Started: 20th Finished: DNF

It could not have gone much worse for Mazepin on his debut weekend. Four spins in practice and qualifying, including a big mistake in qualifying which prevented other drivers from going faster, was just some of his troubles.

A typical rookie error followed in the race and he found his Grand Prix debut ended very early as he simply lit up the rear tyres and crashed into the turn three barrier. It can only get better for the Russian.

F1 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix RN365 News dossier