Formula One

2023 United States GP Sprint driver ratings: Evaluating the drivers after Sprint Saturday in Austin

The field was led by Max Verstappen at the start, as the World Champion went on to win the Sprint.

For the second race weekend in a row, Formula 1 has a Sprint Saturday and that means we will look into the drivers’ performance and grade their efforts twice. As per usual, United States GP Sprint driver ratings reflect their Sprint performances, thus the qualifying session on Friday will not be included.

Max Verstappen – 1st: 8.5

Normal service has resumed for Max Verstappen, after a disappointing Friday which saw him qualify sixth for the Grand Prix. The Dutchman qualified on pole for the Sprint and he maintained the top spot after defending aggressively against Leclerc at the start. He managed the opening few laps and then easily pulled away for the win.

Lewis Hamilton – 2nd: 9

A very steady day for Lewis Hamilton at the Circuit of the Americas. He missed pole position by less than six hundredths of a second, in an effort that was good enough for third for him. At the start, he took advantage of the fight for the lead and he went past Leclerc for second. He stayed with Verstappen for the first few laps, but he could do nothing more.

Charles Leclerc – 3rd: 8

After pole on Friday, Charles Leclerc was just half a tenth from another one on Saturday. Missing it meant his chances for victory in the Sprint took a big hit and the Monegasque had to settle for third, as Verstappen’s aggressive defending on the run to the first corner left him exposed against Hamilton and he did not have the pace to challenge for more.

Lando Norris – 4th: 7.5

An okay day for Lando Norris, who finished where he started, but there was a little more to be desired. He got passed by Sainz on the first lap and was stuck behind him for the first half of the race, as McLaren lacked a bit of top speed. After regaining fourth, he showed he could have challenged Leclerc if he had passed Sainz earlier.

Sergio Perez – 5th: 4.5

Another weekend, another mediocre performance for Sergio Perez, who has recorded his best finish in the last five race (Sprints or Grands Prix). He qualified seventh and finished fifth, as he lost three more points to Hamilton in the fight for second in the championship.

Carlos Sainz – 6th: 7.5

The only driver to risk on the soft tyre was Carlos Sainz and it was a gamble worth taking. He started sixth and utilised the extra grip of his tyres to climb to fourth at the start. He could not hold Norris and Perez behind him, but he managed his tyres well to take the chequered flag in sixth.

Pierre Gasly – 7th: 8.5

Pierre Gasly had a great Sprint Saturday, a day he started by qualifying ninth. He held his place at the start and overtook Piastri for eighth, which became seventh as a result of Russell getting a five-second penalty.

A five-second time penalty left George Russell between Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon
Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

George Russell – 8th: 5

A lackluster performance from George Russell, whose day got off to a bad start as he was penalised for blocking Leclerc in SQ1 and dropped from eighth to eleventh on the grid. A good start saw him up to eighth and then he passed Piastri off the track, which earned him a penalty. He got stuck behind Sainz and couldn’t open a gap to Gasly.

Alexander Albon – 9th: 8

After a bad day yesterday, Williams and Alexander Albon bounced back to get promoted to SQ3 and race in the top ten for the whole Sprint. He barely didn’t make it into the points, losing out by two and a half tenths to Russell, factoring in the Mercedes driver’s time penalty.

Oscar Piastri – 10th: 4

After great form in recent races, including victory in the previous Sprint, at Qatar, Oscar Piastri had a bad day in Austin. He qualified fifth, which was a good effort, but found no pace at all early on, and as a result he dropped like a stone over the first half of the Sprint and could not regain the lost ground.

Esteban Ocon – 11th: 5.5

A very quiet day from Esteban Ocon, whose chances of points in the Sprint took a hit after he qualified thirteenth. He gained a couple of spots early on, but he did not become a factor for the rest of the race and he finished eleventh as a result.

Daniel Ricciardo – 12th: 7

In his first appearance after injuring his hand in Zandvoort, Daniel Ricciardo had a very positive day in Austin. He qualified eleventh, but twelfth was the most he could do, after losing a bit of time battling with the Aston Martin drivers behind him.

Fernando Alonso – 13th: 4

On a weekend Aston Martin is really struggling for pace, as indicated by a double Q1 elimination yesterday, Fernando Alonso had little hopes of a good result in the Circuit of the Americas. Twelfth in the Sprint Shootout and thirteenth in the subsequent race just confirmed the team’s struggles this weekend.

Yuki Tsunoda – 14th: 5.5

Yuki Tsunoda’s hopes of making an impact in the Sprint got ruined very early on, as qualifying down in nineteenth was a very bad outcome. His race performance was good though, as he progressively gained places and almost passed Alonso in the closing few laps.

Nico Hulkenberg – 15th: 5

The Sprint format has really suited Nico Hulkenberg and that, along with Haas bringing updates for its home race, meant that hopes were high, especially for Sprint Saturday. An elimination in SQ1 though meant that the German’s strength in qualifying was annulled and winning the battles against his teammate and the Alfa Romeos was the best he could do.

Valtteri Bottas – 16th: 5

After a strong showing in Qatar, Alfa Romeo’s pace has been nowhere this weekend and the Sprint was no exception. Despite very little chances of getting any points, Valtteri Bottas had a fun day though, battling against Zhou, Hulkenberg and Magnussen, eventually finishing the day in sixteenth.

Zhou Guanyu – 17th: 5

Zhou Guanyu made it into SQ2 on Saturday, but anything more than that would be hard to come today, given the lack of speed for the car. He raced hard with his opponents and even ended up with a five-second penalty for overtaking Kevin Magnussen off the track at Turn 16.

The Haas and Alfa Romeo drivers enjoyed a tight fight in the Sprint at the Circuit of the Americas.
Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

Kevin Magnussen – 18th: 4

Lots of battles, but ultimately little reward for Kevin Magnussen in his Haas today. He qualified in seventeenth and the end of the Sprint found him one position down, as he ended up in eighteenth position, at the tail end of the cars he was battling with for the majority of the Sprint.

Logan Sargeant – 19th: 1

On his second home race of his rookie season, Logan Sargeant would have hoped for more than a pair of last-place finishes (coupled with another one, in qualifying for the Grand Prix). He did not achieve that though and he finished 37 seconds behind his teammate in the end of a tough race.

Lance Stroll – DNF: 4

On a horrible weekend for Aston Martin, the one slightly positive outcome for the team is the fact that Lance Stroll is not miles behind his teammate. Today, he ended a long streak of elimination in the first segment of qualifying and spent the first half of the race ahead of Alonso, but brake issues meant he was left with no other option, but to retire.

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