Carlos Sainz (P5, 10 pts): 9.5/10
Carlos Sainz was in exceptionally fine form in Suzuka, putting in an almost perfect weekend and getting the maximum out of the McLaren. He was 'best of the rest' behind the Big Three team drivers throughout practice and qualifying, and duly started the race from seventh place on the grid alongside his team mate. But while Norris soon went into reverse and hit problem after problem, Sainz' race could hardly have gone any better: narrowly missing out on passing Lewis Hamilton at the start, he nonetheless immediately gained two spots thanks to the Verstappen/Leclerc incident. He peaked as high as third place and never fell below sixth all afternoon, for a couple of laps following his pit stop to change soft tyres for mediums to see him through the remainder of the afternoon on a single stop. After that it was a calm run to the finish in fifth place, the only non-Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull car to finish on the lead lap. The result promotes him to sixth place on the drivers championship ahead of Pierre Gasly, although managing to hold on to it ahead of a charging Alex Albon will be a tough task in the final four races of the season.