United States GP Driver Ratings

Valtteri Bottas
Qualified 1st, Finished 1st

Undoubtedly one of Valtteri Bottas’ best performances of the season. Just a shame for the Finn, then, that it came on the weekend when his team-mate wrapped up the championship.

He took pole by the slimmest of margins but, although strategy meant it was close at the end, was pretty dominant in the race and never really looked under threat from his main two-stopping rival Max Verstappen. It was only when Lewis Hamilton had the lead in the closing stages that it looked like Bottas might lose this race win, but even then he cooly and confidently chased the soon-to-be champion down for the victory.

Bottas believes he’s made big progress this season in getting closer to Hamilton and while he has been his main title rival, that has a lot to do with Mercedes’ package and their start to the campaign. We hadn’t really seen these kind of weekends since the start of the season from Bottas – but he’ll hope to kick-on now and admitted he “can’t wait” for F1 2020 to start.
Rating out of 10: 9.5

Lewis Hamilton
Qualified 5th, Finished 2nd

Starting fifth after an uncharacteristically poor qualifying – his worst of the season – nobody would have blamed Hamilton, needing to only finish eighth to clinch the title, if he took it easy on the first lap and coasted to an early coronation. But that just isn’t him. Filled with the desire he says he’s had since battling against the odds at go-kart tracks as an eight-year-old, Hamilton overtook two Ferraris on the first lap and then took on a riskier one-stop strategy in an attempt to seal his sixth crown in style. At one stage, Hamilton even started choosing his own strategy as he looked to save his tyres for the end of the race.

“You’ve got to admire Lewis,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle as Hamilton took a contrasting US GP route to main rivals Bottas and Verstappen. “Third is just fine for this sixth title. He could put his feet up and read the paper, coast in, but he just doesn’t want to.”

In the end, he was a sitting duck when Bottas came charging on Lap 52, but he can still be proud of this drive – particularly after that disappointing Saturday. Hamilton hasn’t been his best in qualifying this year – by his standards – but has been all-but-perfect on Sundays and he didn’t really put a foot wrong in the Austin race.
Rating out of 10: 8.5

Max Verstappen
Qualified 3rd, Finished 3rd

Trust Max Verstappen to get the absolute maximum out of the Red Bull. Although he never really looked to be in contention for victory, this was another complete weekend from the Dutchman. He was within a tenth of pole – and half a second ahead of his team-mate – while he did well just to stick with the Mercedes and was unlucky not to catch Hamilton in the end – yellow flags on the straight perhaps costing him second. And all that with a damaged Red Bull. Without that, who knows where Verstappen could have ended.

What Verstappen really needs is for Red Bull to be this competitive – particularly in qualifying – at every race. For in Verstappen, Red Bull have one of the quickest, and most consistent, drivers on the grid who they can trust to deliver week in, week out.
Rating out of 10: 9.5

Charles Leclerc
Qualified 4th, Finished 4th

We knew Ferrari were better in qualifying than the race, but nobody expected them to be this bad on Sunday. Especially Charles Leclerc.

While Vettel’s afternoon was undoubtedly worse, Leclerc just didn’t have the pace from the beginning and finished 41 seconds down on race-winner Bottas – albeit with a fastest lap bonus point.

By the standards he is set in a sparkling Scuderia rookie year, Leclerc wasn’t quite at his best this weekend. Although his narrow qualifying margin to Vettel, and indeed pole, could be justified by the fact he had to revert back to an older engine on Saturday morning.
Rating out of 10: 7

Alex Albon
Qualified 6th, Finished 5th

Let’s start with the positives. Alex Albon has been superb coming through the field in recent races and the way he picked off his prey in Sunday’s race proved he has the makings of a top driver. That recovery even saw him voted Driver Of The Day, while the Thai certainly seems to be much more comfortable overtaking than the man he replaced at Red Bull, Pierre Gasly.

But while fifth was impressive in the circumstances, this was another weekend where Albon made a few mistakes. In qualifying, for example, he was well off the pace on his first lap – and then his second lap was deleted for exceeding track limits. That meant he started sixth, and he then made race-altering contact with Carlos Sainz after being squeezed by a Ferrari. Sure, Albon didn’t make a big error this weekend – not by a long shot – but he has to start nailing complete weekends if he is going to have a chance of consistently competing with Max.
Rating out of 10: 8

Daniel Ricciardo
Qualified 9th, Finished 6th

It’s a shame not to see Daniel Ricciardo fighting for race victories and podiums, but the Australian has, rather quietly, been one of the drivers of F1 2019. Although he did extremely well to qualify ninth, he’s always been better in the race and Austin was another example of that as he beat both McLarens – even though he admitted it was a “bit nervy” at the end as he hung on with a one-stop strategy.

This is only the second time this year that Ricciardo has scored points in back-to-back races. Some much-needed momentum ahead of what you feel is a massive 2020 campaign for himself and the Renault team.
Rating out of 10: 9

Lando Norris
Qualified 8th, Finished 7th

Not quite ‘best of the rest’ but a strong display nonetheless from Lando Norris. He rose up to fifth on the opening lap, but unfortunately lost life in his tyres a bit quicker than Ricciardo – which led to the Renault passing him – and Norris then switched onto a two-stop which helped him overtake a number of cars, including his team-mate’s, in the closing stages. Norris has often either been outshone by Carlos Sainz, or had more bad luck, on a Sunday this year – so Texas provided a welcome boost. As did topping Q1 in qualifying!
Rating out of 10: 8.5

Carlos Sainz
Qualified 7th, Finished 8th

Carlos Sainz deserved more from his weekend. He looked to be the midfield frontrunner leading up to qualifying and then smashed in a great Q3 lap, finishing just 0.8s down on pole. But Sainz then found himself on the outside of Turn One on the first lap and was shunted into by Albon. In the circumstances, Sainz did well to fight back for eighth, and was only overtaken by Norris, on fresher tyres, with five laps remaining.
Rating out of 10: 8

Nico Hulkenberg
Qualified 11th, Finished 9th

Considering Nico Hulkenberg qualified 11th, and then dropped back to 13th after a poor start, ninth represents a solid return for the German. A two-stop strategy helped him, and he said he had a “lot of fun” in the second half of the race. It does, however, look like Hulkenberg will be off the F1 grid next year after Alfa Romeo confirmed Antonio GIovinazzi’s renewal.
Rating out of 10: 7

Sergio Perez
Qualified 19th (Started pit-lane), Finished 10th

Make that four points-scoring races in a row for Sergio Perez – his best streak of the season. But he certainly got to 10th the hard way in Austin. After a harsh penalty for missing the weighbridge in practice left him with a pit-lane start, Perez superbly battled through the field, stopping only once. Perez, after passing Pierre Gasly, may have feared that he had lost his point after being taken out by Daniil Kvyat on the last lap, but Kvyat’s post-race penalty meant he rose back into the top-10.
Rating out of 10: 9

Out of the points

Two points-costing penalties for late-race collisions in a row for Daniil Kvyat, and the Russian was not happy about it. “I’m very disappointed about this and it’s a shame,” he said after the stewards’ verdict. “I’m a hard racing driver and every time I try to put myself out there they just take it away from me.”
Rating out of 10: 6

Given Alfa Romeo seem to be one of F1’s least competitive teams right now – perhaps only ahead of Haas and Williams – Kimi Raikkonen made a good fist of it at COTA. He rose from 17th on the grid to ninth after an impressive first stint, and then only finished a second off the top-10 after making ground following his second stop.
Rating out of 10: 7

“It was a long afternoon and for sure I’ve had better days,” said Lance Stroll after a disappointing Sunday. Considering Perez’s pace, and the fact Stroll started 14th rather than his team-mate in the pit-lane, the Canadian would have wanted a lot more from the US GP but a poor start dropped him back, while he failed to find any pace on soft tyres following his second stop.
Rating out of 10: 6

Antonio Giovinazzi deserves credit for beating Raikkonen in qualifying, but his race day wasn’t nearly as competitive as the Finn, whose decision to start on the hard tyre helped him. Giovinazzi struggled on mediums, and then couldn’t make up ground on softs after switching to a two-stop strategy.
Rating out of 10: 6

2020 can’t come soon enough for Haas. Romain Grosjean, while out-qualified by Kevin Magnussen, was their lead car but was never in contention for points. “Everyone was passing me,” said Grosjean about the end of his first stint. That quote could apply to many of Haas’ races this year.
Rating out of 10: 6

Pierre Gasly was on course for points before sustaining damage when battling Sergio Perez in the closing stages. Maybe Kvyat’s clash was revenge for his team-mate…
Rating out of 10: 7

George Russell maintained his qualifying streak over Robert Kubica – and that’s about all the rookie can target at the moment. He finished two laps down, and didn’t really get to battle with anyone in the race after his team-mate’s DNF.
Rating out of 10: 6.5

Did Not Finish

Kevin Magnussen did well to qualify in 12th but like Grosjean, didn’t have the pace in the race. He was running just ahead of the Frenchman before a brake issue led to him retiring. “It was a tough day in the office.” Too right.
Rating out of 10: 6.5

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