F1 Miami Grand Prix driver rankings by Ben Anderson

CBS News

Formula 1’s third Miami Grand Prix was by far its most entertaining as first-time winner Lando Norris defeated Max Verstappen.
Here’s the verdict from Ben Anderson (subbing in for Edd Straw this weekend) on which drivers performed best across the whole weekend.
The 20 drivers will be ranked in order of performance from best to worst on each grand prix weekend.
How close each driver got to delivering on the maximum performance potential of the car will be an essential consideration.
Therefore, the ranking will fluctuate significantly from weekend to weekend.
Started: 2nd Finished: 3rd Not a perfect weekend from Leclerc, but a pretty strong one overall.
But Perez let both Ferraris sneak ahead in grand prix qualifying, then decided to go full Mexico 2023 kamikaze-spec into Turn 1 and came within a hair of wiping Verstappen out of the lead.
He made a very respectable job of the first part of the grand prix, getting ahead of Bottas and Magnussen’s Haas and pretty much running at the pace of Alonso’s Aston.


Max Verstappen lost to rookie winner Lando Norris in the third and most exciting Miami Grand Prix of Formula 1.

Was Norris the best performer of the weekend, though, and who else made an impression?

This is Ben Anderson’s assessment of the drivers who fared the best over the entire weekend, filling in for Edd Straw this weekend.

Based on their performances during each grand prix weekend, the 20 drivers will be ranked from best to worst. This will be determined by considering every possible combination of factors, such as racecraft, pace, consistency, and critical error rate. The degree to which each driver was able to utilize the car’s maximum performance potential will be a crucial factor.

Not only does qualifying serve as the race’s “lap 0” and is crucial in setting the stage for the competition, but it also represents performance over the whole weekend and is not a ranking of each driver’s overall abilities. It’s just about what they did over a certain weekend. As a result, from weekend to weekend, the ranking will change dramatically.

Furthermore, this ranking will vary greatly from the overall results because each of the ten cars has essentially different performance potential and because “luck”—that is, outside forces beyond a driver’s control—affects how the weekend unfolds.

13th finished; 6th started.

Piastri’s performance really jumped out for how clean and effective it was on a weekend when almost everyone made mistakes, including his teammate who won the race.

Though Piastri’s McLaren had fewer upgraded parts than Norris’s, the team estimated that he was lagging behind Norris by 0 points per lap during qualifying. Piastri even outperformed Norris in Q2.

Piastri’s opening lap of the race was excellent; he passed Charles Leclerc, controlled Verstappen during the first stint, and later in the race, he also got inside Carlos Sainz’s head.

It’s my opinion that Piastri was the more reliable and marginally better McLaren driver in Miami until the safety car allowed Norris to take the lead.

Conclusion: Despite being very successful, the drive didn’t yield the desired outcome.

2nd Started; 3rd Finished.

Leclerc did not have a flawless weekend, but it was still a pretty good one all around.

He lost a lot of ground in FP1 due to a minor error, but he bounced back admirably, getting the most out of the Ferrari in both the qualifying and sprint races.

If the Ferrari hadn’t benefited from the safety car timing, I don’t think it would have placed on the podium here, so Leclerc’s third place finish is probably a little bit of an overachievement.

Conclusion: Not much to it, but the Ferrari driver is marginally superior.

1st finished, 5th started.

Norris obviously had a fantastic last stint following the safety car restart. Over the last three races, Verstappen hasn’t really been overtaken by anyone very often.

But I believe Norris underperformed in the heavily upgraded McLaren – in both qualifying sessions – and was having to work too hard to extract a podium finish from a car that was obviously fast enough to win, at least until the safety car gave him that vital boost in track position.

Conclusion: An amazing last week, but not a whole weekend.

First started; second finished.

Even on a weekend like this, when he’s uncomfortable in the car and prone to little errors, Verstappen is still essentially controlling everyone, and it’s almost unsettling to think about.

In both qualifying sessions, he was unable to properly balance the two axles, but nobody dared to challenge him. Although Verstappen lost the grand prix to Lewis Hamilton, I firmly believe that the safety car’s intervention, which also gave Norris the advantage of track position, prevented Verstappen from fully utilizing his hard tires. He arrived too late to save the race.

Conclusion: Although not his cleanest or best weekend, it was still sufficient.

Beginning: 10th; Ending: 7th.

As the midfield invaders prepare to strike if any drivers from the top five teams perform poorly or have problems, Tsunoda keeps positioning himself close to the front of the line.

Tsunoda was there to profit from Mercedes and Aston Martin’s mistakes this time around, weaving between the two quicker Mercedes vehicles and actually surpassing George Russell’s during the grand prix’s last lap.

The only real mistake Tsunoda made this weekend was leaving early in SQ2.

Conclusion: A superb performance that outperforms cars with higher base speeds.

Eighth started, sixth finished.

This weekend, Hamilton showed off his incredible strength on a few occasions when the Mercedes W15 managed to get the tricky Pirelli tires into the proper operating temperature range.

His Q2 time was so fast that he finished the race two tenths ahead of Verstappen and Leclerc. Hamilton also had an outstanding final race stint following the safety car restart, as he fired up the medium compound, passed Tsunoda, and threatened Sergio Perez’s Red Bull.

He was unlucky not to lose a point for speeding in that race, slightly underperformed in qualifying compared to Russell, and performed exceptionally well in the grand prix itself.

Conclusion: Probably the best Sunday of the season so far for him.

Started: 13th; Completed: 10th.

This season, Ocon is driving well, and at the end of the race this weekend, there wasn’t much to separate him from Gasly.

Despite losing that battle, Ocon did emerge victorious in on-track encounters with Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas and Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin. It was impressive to watch him go wheel-to-wheel with his teammate for nearly half of the first lap of the grand prix without colliding.

Regretfully, Ocon’s speed waned slightly during the last lap and he was unable to overcome the Aston again.

Conclusion: A really good race despite a somewhat lackluster qualifying round.

12th began; 12th ended.

After gaining first dibs on the lighter, upgraded Alpine chassis and floor in China, Gasly eventually obtained them and used them largely to his advantage.

In spite of his lack of track time on a sprint weekend and his relative inexperience with the updated car, Gasly managed to outperform Ocon in grand prix qualifying and drive a strong race in the sprint.

Due to his poor pitting strategy, Gasly lost the opportunity to be in the running for that last point when he got caught up in the Hulkenberg DRS train.

Judgement: Impressive underlying pace, but couldn’t make things happen in the race.

Third person started; fifth person finished.

Had Sainz not fallen apart in that crucial late-race battle with Piastri, he would have been ranked higher on this list. Sainz was looking strong and could have finished on the podium, depending on how the strategies worked out, until the safety car reset things.

Sainz’s underlying pace was only a tenth of Leclerc’s, and he was unlucky not to gain track position after outpacing his teammate at the beginning and nearly getting caught by Perez’s errant Red Bull at Turn 1.

Even though Sainz is usually so cool under pressure, he appeared to lose his mind after Piastri’s fair defense of position into Turn 11 in accordance with the new racing regulations for 2024, according to the stewards.

Sainz’s reckless and somewhat desperate move at Turn 17 wrecked Piastri’s race.

Conclusion: Pick up the pace once more, but allow Piastri to settle in.

Fourth started; fourth completed.

It was really not Perez’s best weekend. Making sure Daniel Ricciardo didn’t humiliate him by defeating the Red Bull to third place in the sprint race was probably the best thing he did. Sainz was unable to match Perez’s decisive and crucial move there.

Nevertheless, Perez allowed both Ferraris to pass him in grand prix qualifying before deciding to enter Turn 1 fully outfitted in the Mexico 2023 kamikaze style, almost eliminating Verstappen from the lead.

After that, Perez was unable to settle into a rhythm, and his performance in the last stint left much to be desired. He was forced to chase after Hamilton’s Mercedes and lost contact with the leading vehicles.

Conclusion: An ok outcome, but a forced performance.

9th started; 11th finished.

Hulkenberg was a strong contender for the top two or three spots in this ranking up until the end of the first six or so laps of the grand prix.

Throughout the weekend, he demonstrated his speed and consistency, finishing well in the sprint race, securing a great qualifying position for the grand prix, and maneuvering past Hamilton’s Mercedes.

However, everything fell apart after that. Hulkenberg’s second stint was a failure as a result of his relatively early pit stop, which was intended to switch from the medium to the hard tyre.

Though two stops was one too many, and by the time Hulkenberg found his rhythm again, the damage had already been done, he was only slightly better once the mediums were switched back on for the last portion of the race.

Conclusion: A disappointing race with an excellent underlying pace.

15th started; 9th finished.

The extraordinary, overachieving Alonso seemed to have left the paddock for the most of this weekend. In both qualifying sessions, he was slower than Lance Stroll, starting only fifteenth, and bemoaned some foolish setup adjustments.

However, Alonso performed a whole lot better in the race, utilizing Hamilton’s same one-stop strategy (hard/medium) and saving two points by pushing past Ocon in the last stint.

Conclusion: Although this was his least active weekend of 2024, you can never write him off.

7th started; 8th finished.

A challenging weekend marked by losing significant ground at the beginning of races and failing to get any useful grip out of the tires during a stint.

In the sprint race, Russell was caught up by Zhou Guanyu’s Sauber and Logan Sargeant’s Williams after the first corner split the Astons and Hamilton. In the grand prix, Russell was only able to keep up with Hamilton during the first stint (despite starting on the faster tyre) before losing ground to Tsunoda’s RB on the hard tyre in the end.

At the very least, he kept it clean, and this weekend, Russell held the slightest advantage in terms of absolute qualifying pace over Hamilton.

Conclusion: Not the most successful weekend he’s had in 2024.

20th started; 15th finished.

With all due disclaimer, Ricciardo’s incredible sprint performance—in which he qualified and placed inside the top four—is the only thing keeping him from finishing lower on this list. He also scored his first points of the season and appeared to be the Mexico 2023 representative who should be challenging Perez for the Red Bull seat.

Ricciardo had a bad rest of his weekend. His Q1 exit had left him so perplexed that, despite acknowledging he lacked supporting evidence, he blamed a defective pair of Pirellis.

Whereas Ricciardo made virtually no progress at all aside from the incidents in front of him, Alonso and Hamilton successfully employed a hard/medium one-stop strategy.

Judgment: Let’s not forget how impressive that sprint was, Ricciardo supporters.

11th began; 17th completed.

Stroll rarely puts Alonso in the shade, so his performance in Saturday’s qualifying session was all the more remarkable given that he had to go back to the pre-Japan car specification because of the damage from the first-lap sprint collision, which, let’s face it, Stroll was at least partially to blame for.

His grand prix went well, but he made a mistake early in the race, got stuck behind Gasly, made another one, got stuck behind Ricciardo for a while, and then ruined his result by passing Alex Albon’s Williams without permission.

Conclusion: Good underlying performance that was unable to translate.

Started: 17th Finished: DNF.

On this particular weekend, Sargeant’s underlying pace was on par with Albon’s, which is an uncommon occurrence. Moreover, Sargeant drove with greater cleanliness and made fewer mistakes than his teammate.

Sargeant finished the grand prix comfortably within two or three seconds of Albon after a quiet, effective, but ultimately unrewarded drive to tenth place in the sprint. Magnussen then chose to stick his nose where it didn’t really belong.

Conclusion: Not much of a reward, but one of his better weekends.

Commenced: 19th; Completed: 14th.

Despite defeating teammate Valtteri Bottas in both sprint qualifying and the race, Zhou struggled in grand prix qualifying; he was nearly three tenths slower than Bottas even before he missed the cutoff to finish his final run.

He did a very good job leading the first lap of the grand prix, overtaking Bottas and Magnussen’s Haas and essentially keeping up with Alonso’s Aston.

Nevertheless, Zhou’s last ride on the soft tire didn’t go well; he was passed by Hulkenberg and Stroll and lost ground overall.

Conclusion: Considering that the Sauber wasn’t very good in this instance, not too bad.

Finished: 18th; Started: 14th.

You could feel the subtle frustration rising in Albon as his chances of pulling off a miraculous result were severely limited by the combination of the challenging and hot track surface, the tyres not quite firing up consistently, and the Williams no longer being the relatively efficient weapon in a straight line that it once was.

RB and Haas, along with Alpine more and more, are now the ones looking to take advantage of top 10 qualifying spots, instead of Albon’s Williams. Albon’s efforts were evident, but the sort of miraculous offset stint that managed to halt a convoy of cars and gain points now appears to be well beyond the vehicle. This most recent attempt ended in a cloud of brake smoke, and the points were already well out of reach.

Verdict: A difficult weekend spent confined to a car.

16th was the start; 16th was the end.

In the early going of the season, Bottas has been doing fairly well; however, this was a more muted performance than we’ve seen recently. This may have been caused by the perception that Audi is easing Bottas’ departure with their recent move to sign Hulkenberg and their abrupt reorganization of the engineering staff.

Bottas was dominant in the Sauber intra-team battle only once, during the grand prix qualifying, and that was when he narrowly lost to Sargeant’s Williams and missed the opportunity to overtake Alonso’s struggling Aston for a Q2 spot.

Bottas started the grand prix on the soft tire, which gave him no advantage. In fact, he regressed in his first stint before having to switch to a two-stop strategy because of his appallingly poor pace on the hard tire following his early first pitstop.

Conclusion: It was a forgettable and forward-looking weekend.

18th began; 19th concluded.

It almost seemed as though Pastor Maldonado had returned to the grid in spirit form after Magnussen picked up so many penalties this past weekend.

Magnussen had a very tough weekend overall because, aside from SQ1 on Friday, he couldn’t consistently get the Haas to run as quickly as Hulkenberg did in one lap.

The stewards did not share Hamilton’s impression of Magnussen’s candor in acknowledging that he had used unethical tactics during the sprint race. Magnussen is now facing a race ban, which McLaren believes he ought to be serving already, as a result of another penalty that he deservedly received for deliberately removing Sargeant’s Williams from the grand prix.

scroll to top