F1 POWER RANKINGS: Who impressed our judges most across the rain-hit weekend at Spa?
We may not have got the Belgian Grand Prix we were all hoping for after the atrocious weather on race day, but F1 fans were still treated to some fine performances across the weekend. Here’s who impressed our Aramco F1 Power Rankings judges the most at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit...
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)
The greats of F1 are often marked by seismic underdog performances early on in their career – and Spa 2021 may well turn out to be Russell’s. Yes, Williams’ laudable pit wall and set-up nous was part of the equation. But Russell well and truly delivered when it counted in Q3 to pip Lewis Hamilton – the factory Mercedes-wielding greatest qualifier of all time – by 0.013s to take P2 on the grid.
How Russell may have fared had the race run to full distance is a moot point – but no one, not least our judges, could begrudge the Englishman his first ever F1 podium.
Russell’s performance was a great one. But let’s take nothing away from Max Verstappen, who managed to lap a sopping Spa-Francorchamps over three-tenths faster than any other driver in Q3 to take his sixth pole of the season – with a half points victory on Sunday his reward, as he reduced the gap to Hamilton in the drivers’ standings to just three points.
Three-time Spa winner Sebastian Vettel looked very much up for the fight this weekend. The Aston Martin driver was top 10 material throughout practice and qualifying, taking P5 on the grid – his best slot of the year so far – and keeping the position for the race.
Pierre Gasly was another driver who looked in their element at Spa this weekend, ranking as high as P3 in Free Practice 1 – while with Yuki Tsunoda failing to make it out of Q1, Gasly was the sole AlphaTauri interest in Q3, as he claimed P6 on the grid and in the race, to maintain the team’s 100% points scoring run this season.
F1 fans may well have been denied the chance to witness another Verstappen vs Hamilton ruckus in the Belgian Grand Prix. But elsewhere, our judges took a measured views of Hamilton’s performance at Spa, with the seven-time champion failing to match the high-flying exploits of Verstappen or Russell – but still much the stronger of the two Mercedes drivers on Saturday (Valtteri Bottas could only claim eighth on the grid) as Hamilton took P3 for qualifying and the race.
For a long time in qualifying, it had looked very much as though Lando Norris, rather than Russell, was the driver set to cause the upset at Spa, with Norris going fastest in both Q1 and Q2 – and by over two-tenths each time.
Then he got loose going through Eau Rouge/Raidillon in Q3, spinning into a violent crash that the whole F1 community was relieved to see him walk away from – with P15 on the grid (after a gearbox change) the result. Still, Norris’ impressive efforts get him into our top 10.
George Russell may have been the star of the show on Saturday – but team mate Nicholas Latifi did a commendable job in the other Williams, in wet conditions that he admitted he wasn’t particularly comfortable in.
He was comfortable enough, though, to beat Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and Fernando Alonso’s Alpine to take 10th on the grid, after his best ever qualifying – while Sergio Perez’s pre-race crash then promoted the Canadian to his second points finish on the trot.
On paper, this was Daniel Ricciardo’s best weekend of the season with McLaren. But he gave his fans a few heart-stopping moments in qualifying, taking just P12 in Q1 – some 3.2s slower than team mate Norris – before eventually posting a strong lap in Q3 to take fourth on the grid, which he held onto for the race.
Ricciardo’s P4 at Spa 12 months ago set off an incredible run of form for the Australian – and he’ll be hoping the same scenario manifests itself in 2021.
Esteban Ocon may not have shone in the wet Spa qualifying in the same way he did three years ago, when he took a shock P3 on the grid for Racing Point. But the Hungary winner was once again Alpine’s leading light, as Alonso failed to make it out of Q2, while Ocon claimed P8 on the grid, before getting bumped up to P7 in the race after Perez’s crash.
Not the greatest weekend from Leclerc, who was puzzled as to why Ferrari weren’t able to replicate their Imola wet weather performance from earlier this year at Spa. Leclerc was left furious with his team after his Q2 exit, but like Ocon benefitted from drivers ahead of him dropping down the order to claim points for P8.
In a relatively low-scoring weekend, Carlos Sainz and Mick Schumacher were the drivers who found themselves on the cusp – although they were perhaps beneficiaries of particularly low scores for some drivers who our judges felt should have performed better given the equipment at their disposal this weekend.
THE OVERALL STANDINGS
Russell is the big mover after his first perfect score of the season, jumping up from P7 to P5 as Sainz goes the other way – with Verstappen continuing to reign at the top of the standings with his impressive 9.0 average from the year so far.