F1i's Driver Ratings for the 2021 Italian Grand Prix

Lando Norris (P2, 18 pts): 9/10
Just a few tenths if not thousandths of a second here or there likely made the difference between Lando Norris picking up his long-awaited maiden F1 victory this weekend, or having to grin and looked delighted about playing the supporting role in McLaren's outstanding 1-2 success. Norris had been slower than Daniel Ricciardo in first practice but qualified ahead of the Australian on Friday, only for their order on the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix to be reversed by the outcome of the sprint race. When the lights went out, Ricciardo was successfully challenging Max Verstappen for the lead of the race while in contrast Norris initially lost out to Hamilton. Fortunately Norris quickly recovered the dropped spot and he settled into third for the opening 22 laps, during which time Ricciardo and Verstappen opened out a big lead while Norris bottled up Hamilton and the rest of the field and prevented them from staying in touch. Norris had already made his pit stop by the time Verstappen and Hamilton clashed, allowing Charles Leclerc to get the advantage of coming in during the safety car which put the Ferrari into second place for the restart. However the McLaren had superior pace and Norris was soon ahead, although still vulnerable of being pushed back into the clutches of the cars behind if Ricciardo didn't pick up the pace at the front. Norris made that point to the McLaren pit wall with a hint of "... unless you tell Daniel to let me though", but the team didn't want to risk their prized 1-2, and Norris - ever the team player - duly tucked in behind the Aussie for the rest of the race. A slight disappointment perhaps, but Norris took it as well as possible: "I will get my chance in the future, so it's all good."

Daniel Ricciardo (P1, Fastest lap, 27 pts): 9.5/10
Welcome back, Daniel Ricciardo! We'd add that we've been expecting to see you back on the top step of the podium for the first time since Monaco 2018, but the truth is that we really didn't expect it to happen this soon, nor quite so triumphantly as part of the first McLaren 1-2 in 11 years. It had been a bumpy transition from Renault for the Australian over the first half of the season, but the last few outings have seen a steady incremental improvement in his results hinting that he had found his feet and was back to the sort of form he displayed back in his Red Bull glory days. A subdued FP1 for both Ricciardo and his team mate Lando Norris suggested that Monza might not prove to be the best circuit for the MCL35M, but both cars performed strongly in qualifying and Ricciardo was then able to use the sprint race to move ahead of Norris on the grid for the start of the Grand Prix. Nothing was going to stop him throwing everything he had into getting ahead of pole sitter Max Verstappen when the lights went out, and the surprise was that it ended up being pretty easy for him with Verstappen diverted by having to defend against Lewis Hamilton. Once established in the lead, Ricciardo had no problem staying there until the developing threat of Valtteri Bottas' recovery drive from the back of the grid persuaded McLaren to call in their man early on lap 22. Verstappen pitted on the next lap, then Norris, and Hamilton on lap 25. The outcome was to put the two title contenders back out on the same piece of track with the violent outcome that we all witnessed. Meanwhile Ricciardo calmly took back the lead of the race for the restart after the safety car, with Norris soon picking off Leclerc for second. And that was all they needed to do: Ricciardo managed the rest of the race to perfection and stepped out of the car with the look of a driver who has absolutely no words to describe what has just happened, mixed with the dawning realisation that he would have to man up and face an impending disgusting 'shoey'. And he absolutely couldn't be any happier.