RACE DEBRIEF

    After arguably the most dramatic weekend of the 2021 season so far, our Aramco F1 Power Rankings judges score the drivers in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s eighth British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone, earned after contact with title rival Max Verstappen.

    HOW IT WORKS

    • Our six-judge panel assesses each driver after every Grand Prix and scores them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation

    • Our experts’ scores are then averaged out across the season to create an overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)

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    Charles Leclerc always seems to relish the challenge of Silverstone – and after finishing both qualifying and the inaugural F1 Sprint in P4, Leclerc’s British Grand Prix display was then absolutely sublime. Opportunistic in passing first Valtteri Bottas, then Lewis Hamilton after his contact with Max Verstappen, Leclerc went on to lead 49 of the 52 laps in a sputtering Ferrari, only to lose out to Hamilton three laps from the end. An exceptional performance that earned him our third perfect score of the year.

    READ MORE: Leclerc ‘50% happy, 50% frustrated’ after narrowly missing out on first Ferrari win since 2019

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    Despite candidly revealing that he was still suffering the effects of a mugging incident, you wouldn’t have known it from the way Lando Norris drove his McLaren this weekend. Norris lost out initially in the F1 Sprint to Fernando Alonso before repassing the Spaniard to wind up P5 – while after passing Bottas in a searing red flag restart in the Grand Prix, Norris may well have added to his podium tally had he not suffered a slow pit stop that allowed Bottas back past.

    READ MORE: ‘I wanted that little bit more’ – Norris disappointed after slow pit stop costs him shot at British GP podium

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    Alpine Executive Director Marcin Budkowski told the media at Silverstone that Alonso was back to being "as fast as ever". And the wily Spaniard demonstrated that brilliantly by producing an absolutely starring turn in the Sprint that saw him jump from P11 on the grid to P5 at the end of the first lap, while he was then able to race to a more sedate P7 in the British Grand Prix for his fifth straight points finish.

    READ MORE: Alonso says British GP was Alpine's 'strongest weekend on race pace' as he nets fifth straight points finish

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    What a rollercoaster of a weekend for Verstappen, who missed out on going fastest in qualifying by just 0.075s, before a phenomenal start in F1 Sprint gave him pole position for Sunday’s race. That race, though, would last just nine corners, as he tangled with Hamilton (having already sparred with him twice earlier in the lap) and hit the barriers at Copse. Despite the costly DNF, our judges nevertheless awarded Verstappen an 8.5 for his efforts across the weekend.

    PALMER: The Hamilton-Verstappen clash polarised opinion, but I believe it was a racing incident – here’s why

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    It was Hamilton who was deemed by the stewards to have been ‘predominantly’ at fault in the Verstappen incident (not ‘wholly’, crucially). That aside, though, this was a British Grand Prix weekend where F1 fans got to see Lewis Hamilton at his very best, going fastest in qualifying for the first time since Barcelona, while Hamilton’s recovery from his 10-second penalty for clashing with Verstappen, passing Leclerc on Lap 50 of 52 for his eighth British GP victory, sent the home crowd into a frenzy.

    READ MORE: Hamilton says Verstappen clash ‘not the way he wants to win’ – but insists it doesn’t take shine off victory

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    While his fellow countryman Lewis Hamilton was going quickest in qualifying, George Russell produced a performance that was every bit as exciting, Russell making Q3 for the second straight race, before claiming a rousing P8 for the F1 Sprint that brought the house down. Russell then did well to hold a top-10 placing in that encounter, but fell to 12th on the British GP grid after being judged to have been responsible for first-lap contact with Carlos Sainz – while Russell was unable to climb any higher than that on Sunday.

    READ MORE: ‘Outqualifying true pace of the car’ means we’re always likely to go backwards on race day, says Russell

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    While Sainz couldn’t quite manage the heroics of team mate Leclerc this weekend, this was yet another punchy showing from the Spaniard, the highlight being his fightback after connecting with Russell in the Sprint, Sainz dropping to P19 before swashbuckling his way back up the order to 11th. A 12s pit stop in Sunday’s race ultimately prevented him from passing Daniel Ricciardo for P5 – but considering that, and his Sprint tribulations, sixth was still a decent result, even if Sainz felt he should have been joining Leclerc on the podium.

    READ MORE: Sainz says his Ferrari ‘belonged’ in the top three at Silverstone, after slow pit stop hampered his race

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    This was exactly the sort of weekend Daniel Ricciardo needed: a decent qualifying, a decent F1 Sprint and a decent British Grand Prix. Not much in the way of fireworks, but after the rocky run at the Red Bull Ring, Ricciardo taking his best McLaren finish for P5, and withstanding Sainz’s pressure for almost the entire latter half of the race, was timely. He duly earned a 7.5 for his efforts, while if he can follow it up with a strong showing at the Hungaroring track he won at in 2014, that will set him up nicely for the summer break.

    READ MORE: Ricciardo relieved to hold off Sainz at Silverstone to register first top-five finish with McLaren

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    Like Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon was in need of a restorative weekend at a Silverstone track that has traditionally been one of the strongest on the calendar for the Frenchman. Ocon duly managed his trick of finishing every Silverstone race he’s started in the points, ending up four seconds off team mate Alonso’s tail in P9, having done well in the Sprint to climb from 13th to P10 – Ocon taking his first points since Monaco.

    LISTEN: Whose fault was it and was the penalty fair? The F1 Nation gang on the British GP, and THAT Lap 1 clash

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    After a weekend where AlphaTauri struggled to unlock the potential of the AT02, Pierre Gasly was just six laps from grinding out some well-deserved points from the British Grand Prix when a puncture struck, dropping the Frenchman from P9 down to P11 at the chequered flag as he was forced to pit. Gasly actually emerged from his pit box after that stop P14, though, so did well in the circumstances to climb back as high as he did.

    READ MORE: ‘We deserved better' says frustrated Gasly as he misses out on British GP point to late puncture

    MISSING OUT

    It was Valtteri Bottas who found himself down in P11 this week. Harsh, you might say, considering he made his third straight podium at Silverstone. But given the performance deficit to Hamilton across the weekend, our judges deemed that Bottas wasn’t quite top-10 material this time around.

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    Bottas was outside the top 10 despite his podium finish

    THE OVERALL STANDINGS

    Lance Stroll finds himself back in the standings after Silverstone following his eighth-placed finish, while Hamilton’s 8.3 score sees him drop a spot, falling to fourth having been tied with Leclerc for P3 after the Austrian Grand Prix. Speaking of being tied, check out Sainz, Gasly and Russell, all matched on 7.6 in P5.

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