F1i's Driver Ratings for the 2021 Bahrain GP

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There were very high expectations for the first race of 2021, with many hoping that changes to rules and regulations over the winter might be just the thing to add some sparkle to Formula 1. And judging from the nail-biting, knife-edge thriller we got on Sunday it seems as though that is indeed exactly what we got! So which drivers shone in the desert night, and who ended up all at sea?

Nikita Mazepin (Retired, Lap 1): 3/10
We have absolutely no desire to join the pile-on surrounding Haas' new rookie recruit, but Nikita Mazepin really doesn't make it easy. His maiden Grand Prix proved to be a nightmare catalogue of problems and incidents, although to be fair not all these are entirely his fault. The multiple spins he had in practice and qualifying were blamed on a problem with his brake-by-wire system and with the VF-21's difficult rear end, and the fact that his team mate Mick Schumacher had a few similar problems supports that. As for that lunge through the final corner at the end of Q1, he says the team told him to do it - which seems a strange rush of blood to the assembled heads on the Haas pit wall, and in any case Mazepin can't avoid some of the blame as you'd expect a professional driver to be aware of the niceties and conventions of any new series he's joining. His actual race was mercifully brief and perhaps it's just as well he has three weeks to go away, clear his head and learn the lessons of Bahrain so he can make a better impression next time out when he can show what he's truly capable of. It's surely better than this.

Fernando Alonso (Retired, Lap 33): 7.5/10
Fernando Alonso's legion of fans were doubtless hoping that the two-time world champion would make a triumphant return to Formula 1 after two years away, with at least a podium to mark the occasion. Instead it proved to be more of a solid if rather unspectacular weekend as he worked on finding his feet at Alpine, which itself has been going through a lot of changes in recent weeks. The car didn't seem as strong as hoped for given Renault's encouraging progress in 2020, but there's still time for that to come as the new season progresses. Alonso was visibly enjoying the challenge - a major contrast to his disenchantment with F1 during his final days at McLaren - and it was perfectly possible that he might have finished in the points if not for the rear brake issue that forced the team to retire the car prematurely just over halfway through the race.