F1 Driver Ratings – Japanese GP 2024

Max Verstappen returned to winning ways in the F1 season, find out the Total-Motorsport driver ratings for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix

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Red Bull recovered from their nightmare race in Australia to secure a 1-2 finish at the Formula 1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix with Max Verstappen leading home team-mate Sergio Perez to stretch their lead in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.

Verstappen is now 13 points clear of Perez in the standings after completing the pole, win and fastest lap hat-trick in Suzuka as Red Bull made it look easy at the front. Carlos Sainz came third to stand on the podium for the third time in as many races to continue his strong start.

With the rain steering clear of the Japanese circuit notorious for its unpredictable weather, there were very few surprises down the grid after the chaos in Melbourne, although the level of drama in Suzuka remained at a high level.

Total-Motorsport.com’s F1 driver ratings for the 2024 Japanese GP assesses all 20 drivers based on their qualifying and race performances at the Suzuka Circuit.

Race winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium after the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Race winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium after the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen 9.5/10

Qualifying: 1st – Race: 1st

Twice held off his team-mate Perez at the start and, as we’ve often seen with these two, it was simply a procession from that moment onwards. With pole, the win and a fastest lap, it was almost a perfect weekend after his frustrating retirement Down Under.

Sergio Perez 8.5/10

Qualifying: 2nd – Race: 2nd

The gap between the Red Bull pair was indeterminable in qualifying as the Mexican missed out by a few hundredths, but it was back to the status quo in the race. Not on Verstappen’s level, though very few are, and the fact Christian Horner was impressed may boost his chances of staying at the team for 2025.

Lando Norris 7/10

Qualifying: 3rd – Race: 5th

After another stellar qualifying, Norris looked a solid bet for a podium when he pulled off a fine move on Lap 29 on Russell. But McLaren’s lack of race pace was evident as he fell back through the order – and finishing behind Leclerc was proof the Woking team botched their strategy.

Carlos Sainz 8/10

Qualifying: 4th – Race: 3rd

What a year he is having. With a race win and a podium finish under his belt in his previous two races, the Spaniard was every bit the ‘smooth operator’ as he sailed past his team-mate Leclerc to put himself onto the podium for the third time this season.

Carlos Sainz during 2024 Japanese GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
Carlos Sainz during 2024 Japanese GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Fernando Alonso 7/10

Qualifying: 5th – Race: 6th

If there is one positive to take from the race for the Spaniard, it is finishing ahead of a McLaren and Mercedes, although losing out to Leclerc in the pit stops will have frustrated the 42-year-old. Another solid drive, but do Aston Martin have a quick enough car to convince him to stay?

Oscar Piastri 6/10

Qualifying: 6th – Race: 8th

Much like Norris, the Australian simply didn’t have the power to compete with his rivals and the birthday boy came unstuck late on after being passed by Russell. Not quite the same joy as his podium from last year.

Lewis Hamilton 5.5/10

Qualifying: 7th – Race: 9th

Played the team-mate role perfectly by unselfishly volunteering to allow Russell through, but for his own fortunes, it was only a detriment. His drop in race form has been mystifying and a haul of 10 points from four races explains why he is off to Ferrari next year – he’s had enough of Mercedes’ terrible cars.

Lewis Hamilton at the 2024 Japanese GP | Mercedes / LAT Images
Lewis Hamilton at the 2024 Japanese GP | Mercedes / LAT Images

Charles Leclerc 8/10

Qualifying: 8th – Race: 4th

Ran wide at Degner 2 and it was a costly mistake as Perez finally got past him. But the Monegasque otherwise maximised his one-stop strategy after putting 27 laps on the medium tyre and that was the best he could have done after his disappointing qualifying session. Named Driver of the Day for the first time this season.

George Russell 7/10

Qualifying: 9th – Race: 7th

Was given the green light to pursue a higher position by Hamilton and looked competitive in racing against the McLarens. A switch to the medium tyre at the end put him in contention as he enjoyed a brilliant battle with Piastri late in the race and pulled off a fine overtake.

Yuki Tsunoda 6.5/10

Qualifying: 10th – Race: 10th

Staying the course from qualifying is no easy feat, but at his home race, Tsunoda finished the weekend on a high again for RB. Once known as a hot-head in the paddock, the Japanese youngster is maturing into a reliable driver as he finished with another impressive point-scoring performance.

Daniel Ricciardo N/A

Qualifying: 11th – Race: DNF

Tangled with Albon at Turn 3 on the first lap and that was the end of his race as he hurtled towards the barrier. Fortunately, he walked away unscathed, but the damage done to his RB career might be terminal.

Nico Hulkenberg 6/10

Qualifying: 12th – Race: 11th

Made two places before the crash at Turn 3 and that allowed him to start further up the grid on the red flag restart. But then had a horrible launch off the line on the second start and dropped seven places. Even after that, he still managed 11th and that’s a credit to the German’s stellar work in the Haas in 2024.

Valtteri Bottas 5/10

Qualifying: 13th – Race: 14th

Finally, after three anonymous displays in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, the Finn showed there is some life in him as a racer. Building on his Q2 appearance in qualifying, Bottas appears to have rediscovered the fire in the belly, although he remains without a point in 2024.

Alex Albon N/A

Qualifying: 14th – Race: DNF

Walked away from a nasty accident with Ricciardo at Turn 3 that brought a premature end to his race. No one was at fault, it just a racing incident in this case, but that’s no consolation to Williams as they face another costly rebuild job when they can’t afford it.

Esteban Ocon 4/10

Qualifying: 15th – Race: 15th

Made two places before the crash at Turn 3 and that allowed him to start further up the grid on the red flag restart. But colliding with his team-mate Gasly when Alpine are already awful is exactly the type of thing that should not be happening.

Lance Stroll 5.5/10

Qualifying: 16th – Race: 12th

His worst qualifying performance of the season meant the Canadian was always going to be playing catch-up making his way through the midfield. His complaints about the lack of straight line speed were perhaps warranted, but the 24-year-old didn’t help himself.

Pierre Gasly 4/10

Qualifying: 17th – Race: 16th

A first-lap racing incident saw him collide with Ocon after being sandwiched, and it just summed up another shocker of an afternoon for the Frenchman. By passed with consummate ease by Tsunoda at the Esses would have only rubbed salt in the wound.

Kevin Magnussen 5.5/10

Qualifying: 18th – Race: 13th

Haas are clearly prioritising race pace over qualifying and it’s working to their advantage. They may have missed out on points after a double haul in Melbourne, but Magnussen’s rise of five places shows their potential.

Logan Sargeant 4/10

Qualifying: 19th – Race: 17th

The American was going fairly well until he went up onto the curb at Degna 1 and skidded off into the gravel. Somehow avoided the barrier and reversed out, but that one error ruined his race.

Zhou Guanyu N/A

Qualifying: 20th – Race: DNF

A miserable race weekend for the Chinese driver, who was slowest in qualifying when Bottas found pace and then retired from the race on Lap 14.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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