(Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool)
By: Sam Donsig
Wow, what an opening race to start the season, hopefully we get 22 more races like that. It’s now time to rank each driver by giving them a specific rating out of 10 based on their performance compared to their teammates and rivals. The driver closest to the maximum rating out of 10 will place the highest on the order. The rating from each race performance will count towards their overall rating for the season. Here are my 2021 Formula 1 driver power rankings after the Bahrain Grand Prix.
1. Sergio Perez - 9.2/10
From starting in the pitlane to finishing fifth in the race, Sergio Perez had an incredible drive in his first race with Red Bull. Throughout the race, Perez made some nice overtakes to make his way up the grid. However, he is still getting used to the Red Bull car. It will be exciting to see if he can keep up with Max Verstappen to help support him, as Red Bull hopes to take the fight to Mercedes.
2. Sir Lewis Hamilton - 9.0/10
You would think just on the basis that Sir Lewis Hamilton won the race, and he would be number one. However, he still had a superb race from start to finish. Plus, after an exciting battle with Max Verstappen, he held onto the race win. It just shows you the brilliance of Sir Lewis and how he can out race Verstappen. However, he did turn wide at turn 10 and nearly cost him the race win, hence the rating of 9.0/10.
3. Lando Norris - 8.7/10
Lando Norris had a nice clean, and straightforward race. As well, he had a good strategy throughout the race. He was able to beat his teammate Daniel Ricciardo and fellow rival Sergio Perez. Norris is starting to mature as a racer and develop instincts for himself, where he can consistently go out and score points for the team. The rating of 8.7/10 is purely based on where he finished compared to Perez and Hamilton.
4. Max Verstappen - 8.5/10
Max Verstappen started on pole position and couldn’t get it done. That is the bottom line the rating of 8.2/10 is warranted, as he started in the best position to win the race and couldn’t pull it off. However, he still drove a fantastic race and finished second behind Lewis Hamilton in an exciting opening race to start the 2021 season. Regardless, Verstappen blew his chances not because of himself but because of the pure talent that Sir Lewis has, and that is why he is a seven-time world champion. This tight battle between the two does set up what looks to be an exciting 2021 title fight between the two.
5. Charles Leclerc - 8.0/10
After a disastrous 2020 season, 2021 isn't starting too bad as Charles Leclerc had an overall good race from start to finish. However, he could never bounce back after a solid dogfight with Lando Norris in the Mclaren for a few laps early on in the race. However, he was able to keep Daniel Ricciardo off his back and finish a solid 6th place and take home some decent points for the Scuderia Ferrari in the season opener.
6. Valtteri Bottas - 7.7/10
Even though Valtteri Bottas finished third in the race, I have him ranked sixth in the power rankings simply because he couldn't keep pace with Max Verstappen and his teammate Sir Lewis Hamilton. One thing for sure is that his one pit stop that lasted 10 seconds didn't help him. Regardless, it was a disappointing performance from the Finn, who usually comes out flying out the gates in the opening race of each year. Plus, Valtteri Bottas had his chances to catch up with Verstappen and Hamilton to take the lead of the Grand Prix. He wasn't able to, hence the 7.7/10 rating for the Finn.
7. Yuki Tsunoda - 7.5/10
What an opening race by Yuki Tsunoda in his Formula 1 debut for AlphaTauri racing, finishing ninth in the race. Tsunoda is the first Japanese driver to score points in his debut, and the first Japanese driver to score points since Kamui Kobayashi did it in 2012 at the Brazil Grand Prix. Despite the fantastic debut performance, Tsunoda still has lots to improve on for the future. He was aware of that after the race. Overall, an excellent debut performance will be an exciting talent to watch over the next 10 years.
8. Daniel Ricciardo - 7.2/10
Daniel Ricciardo had an okay debut for Mclaren compared to his teammate Lando Norris who finished up in fourth place. Regardless, the Australian still put up a good fight and was able to walk away with six points for the team. Ricciardo is still getting used to the car, so it might be a few races until we see the full potential of Daniel Ricciardo at Mclaren. Overall, still, a solid race and a 7.2/10 rating is warranted.
9. Carlos Sainz - 7.0/10
Carlos Sainz's debut for Ferrari wasn't too bad. However, he didn't have the pace to keep up with Charles Leclerc and former teammate Lando Norris, thus the 7.0/10 rating. However, the Spaniard did show some promise and excitement for Ferrari fans when he made an excellent double overtake in turns one and two on two multiple world champions in Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
10. Lance Stroll - 6.8/10
Lance Stroll had an okay first race of the season for Aston Martin, but it was apparent that the Aston Martin was struggling for pace because of the new regulations in place for this season. As well, Stroll, despite having an excellent start to the race he slowly started to trickle his way down the grid and slid down to 10th place. Overall, not a great race for the Canadian, but it's a long season ahead and still lots of points up for grabs.
11. Kimi Räikkönen - 6.5/10
Kimi Räikkönen, also known as "The Ice Man," was as cool as ever in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Despite finishing just outside the points in eleventh, the Finn was able to maintain a nice clean race and finish above his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi. He's been racing for 20 years, and it seems the past few years, racing has turned into a hobby. It wasn't a great race overall, as he didn't find much pace or take it to the other midfield cars.
12. George Russell - 6.3/10
Despite finishing in 14th place, I still value George Russell's performance a little higher than others based on two things, his car and his strategy team. As we must remember, he is driving a Williams car that isn't much better than the Haas or Alfa Romeo car. However, he still put in a good performance and moved up one position from where he started on the grid, thus the reasoning behind the 6.3/10 rating.
13. Antonio Giovinazzi - 6.1/10
Antonio Giovinazzi wasn't given much screen time during the Bahrain Grand Prix. That was because he had a nice quiet race in 12th place. Plus, the fact that there was much more exciting racing going on. Giovinazzi struggled throughout the race to find any pace in the Alfa Romeo, resulting in a weak finish. Things aren't going to get much better for him as the season progresses, and it may seem that he might spend his entire career at Alfa Romeo.
14. Esteban Ocon - 5.9/10
Esteban Ocon had a disappointing race to start the season. It didn't help that he was starting 16th on the grid. Now, that is never an excuse not to push your most challenging to try and achieve the highest result. But based on the car he was in, it wasn't easy to overtake. Not making much noise, and getting barely any screentime.
15. Sebastian Vettel - 5.7/10
Sebastian Vettel wasn't gunning for much to happen during the race after receiving a five-place grid penalty for failing to yield to a double yellow flag in qualifying. However, he was able to finish 15th in the race. Regardless, it was disappointing as he struggled to move up the grid and into a points-scoring position. The German driver who thought moving to a new team would equate to better performance may regretting not re-signing with Ferrari. There are still 22 races left on the calendar and lots of points up for grabs.
16. Mick Schumacher - 5.5/10
For Mick Schumacher, his debut in Formula 1 went as expected. A rookie driver in a slow car and he finishes in 16th. However, there's a lot of promise for Schumacher, who in some time could be racing for Ferrari just like his father. For now, he will be struggling to score points in a car that Haas didn't even develop for this season. Not much else to say.
17. Pierre Gasly - 5.3/10
Despite qualifying fifth and expected to have an exciting race in which he might've very well score some significant points. His race was bombarded after he made contact with Daniel Ricciardo, thus damaging his front wing and pushing him to the back of the grid. He didn't do much to push back and try to climb back up the order from thereon. This is why I gave him a low rating of 5.3/10.
18. Fernando Alonso - 5.1/10
Like Pierre Gasly, Fernando Alonso started high on the grid to score some points for Alpine. However, he had to retire early on in the race due to brake issues with his car. Thus resulting in a DNF in his first race back to Formula 1 in three years. However, even though he did not finish the race, Alonso proved to doubters that he still has some racing juice left in him.
19. Nicholas Latifi - 4.9/10
Compared to his teammate George Russell, Nicholas Latifi did not have a great race. It shows that Latifi is still adjusting to driving in Formula 1 and getting comfortable with the speed of the cars as he struggled throughout the weekend and in the race to make up any positions. Now it's not all his fault because he is driving a Williams. However, if you look at what Russell was able to do, It makes you think of what Latifi's potential could be in Formula 1.
20. Nikita Mazepin - 4.5/10
Nikita Mazepin's first race in Formula 1 lasted about three corners before losing control of his car and spun off into the barrier. Resulting in a DNF on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Many have questioned why he is in Formula 1, including myself, which further proves my point. I think he will disappoint this season, and his teammate Mick Schumacher will outscore him in the points head to head.