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15 September 2021
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Monza maintained its reputation for delivering thrilling racing, with Daniel Ricciardo producing an astounding performance in the Italian Grand Prix to claim McLaren’s first victory since Interlagos 2012. But was it Ricciardo, or one of his rivals, who impressed our Aramco F1 Power Rankings judges most at the Temple of Speed? Their scores are in…
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)
It would be doing Daniel Ricciardo a disservice to say he only won the Italian Grand Prix because of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s crash. Ricciardo performed brilliantly in the Sprint to finish P3, and then continued that brilliance into Sunday’s race to take the eighth win of his career, having impressively led into Turn 1.
It was a joy to see that electric smile and the shoey back post-race, as the judges handed him a near-perfect 9.8.
READ MORE: Ricciardo set for drive in Earnhardt’s NASCAR Chevrolet after winning bet with Zak Brown
Had things gone a little differently, it could very well have been Lando Norris ‘doing a Gasly’ and celebrating his first victory at Monza. That it wasn’t was partly down to Norris’ own maturity in opting not to attack team mate Ricciardo in the latter stages of the race – while he did himself credit with his delighted response to finishing second in McLaren’s first one-two since 2010.
READ MORE: Norris admits he ‘would have loved to go for the win’ at Monza but feared Hamilton/Verstappen-style crash
Much like his fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen at Austin three years ago, Valtteri Bottas’ release from Mercedes seemed to release something in him too, as he produced by far his strongest performance of the season so far.
P1 on Friday was followed up with the Sprint win on Saturday – while he may very well have taken his first Grand Prix victory since Sochi 2020 had he not been forced to start P19 after power unit penalties, before recovering brilliantly to third by the race end.
READ MORE: P3 was the ‘the maximum we could reach’ says Bottas after recovery from back of the grid at Monza
On a weekend where he was a little green behind the gills, and in a Ferrari SF21 not best suited to the demands of its home circuit, Charles Leclerc rated his Italian Grand Prix performance as one of his top five in Formula 1. Leclerc may have come off second best in his fights with Norris, Bottas and Sergio Perez, but he battled like a lion throughout, to claim an excellent P4.
READ MORE: Leclerc calls battling P4 at Monza ‘one of my top five performances in F1’
Remember when Williams scoring points was a big deal? Now, it barely goes noticed, with George Russell taking his third points finish in four races after claiming P9 (and following 47 races of never having scored for the team).
True, the removal of Verstappen and future Mercedes team mate Hamilton helped that, but this was another good Sunday performance from Russell, who helped Williams move 19 points clear of Alfa Romeo in P8 in the constructors’.
READ MORE: Russell ‘capitalising on other people’s mishaps’ is key to Williams points scoring run
A slow burner of a weekend from Alonso, who missed out on Q3 on Friday, moved three places up the Grand Prix grid after the Sprint result and various penalties had been totted up, before claiming P8 for his eighth points finish in the past nine races, at a circuit he admitted wasn’t a competitive one for Alpine.
READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from the Italian Grand Prix – Who finished the triple header on a high?
It was interesting to see how our judges scored Verstappen and Hamilton, some clearly feeling that one, or the other, was more at fault in their Lap 26 coming together – and that outcome then affecting their resultant score. The upshot is that Verstappen claims P7 this week, the Dutchman having lost out to both Bottas in the Sprint and Ricciardo in the Grand Prix before the Hamilton crash.
PALMER: Were the stewards right to punish Verstappen for his Monza clash with Hamilton?
Hot on the heels of his confirmation at Williams for a third season in 2022 – where he’ll partner Alex Albon – Monza was yet another indication that Nicholas Latifi is moving the dial in the right direction.
The Canadian out-raced team mate Russell in the Sprint to finish P14, and ran in the top 10 at points only to get unlucky with the timing of the Safety Car, which allowed the fresher-tyred Esteban Ocon to pass him for P10 as Latifi finished just outside the points.
READ MORE: Ross Brawn on McLaren’s Monza magic, and what the Verstappen-Hamilton crash means for the title battle
And so to the other protagonist in the crash that set tongues wagging throughout the paddock.
In truth, even discounting the incident with Verstappen, this was not Hamilton’s finest weekend at a Monza track he’s thrived at in recent years, Bottas beating him in qualifying here for the first time in his Mercedes career, while Hamilton was forced to follow the McLaren of Norris in both the Sprint and the Grand Prix, before that shunt with his title rival.
READ MORE: Hamilton says halo ‘saved my neck’ in Monza, and gives his take on Verstappen’s penalty
That’s now three significant crashes from Carlos Sainz in four Grand Prix weekends, as the Spaniard continues to explore to outer limits of his Ferrari SF21. The FP2 crash at Monza particularly spooked Sainz, however, with his confidence forced to play catch-up in the Sprint and the Grand Prix, as he vowed to analyse a “difficult weekend” in Italy and come back stronger in Sochi.
READ MORE: Sainz says Ferrari ‘never had the pace or tools’ to fight for home victory at Monza
Lance Stroll came within a whisker of making the cut this week, the Canadian enduring a yo-yo weekend that saw him finish FP1 in P4, only to fail to make Q3, only to race to P7, having maintained his record of always starting the Italian Grand Prix in the top 10.
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The big change this week is the re-entry of Monza winner Ricciardo, who climbs back in for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix in May. Leclerc, meanwhile, joins Hamilton on a joint P3, the Monegasque having averaged 8.6 in the past two races.
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