F1 driver power rankings: Lewis Hamilton reigns supreme as Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel gain places

Reigning world champion delivered one of the most commanding victories of his career to remain top of the rankings

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Monday 17 August 2020 15:30
F1 preview: A lap of the Spanish Grand Prix

Was the Spanish Grand Prix exciting, or was it a snoozefest? Either way, there can be no denying that the race proved one of Lewis Hamilton’s most dominant victories of his career.

The reigning world champion finished a mammoth 24 seconds clear of second-placed Max Verstappen, who along with third-placed Valtteri Bottas were the only drivers not to be lapped by Hamilton on Sunday.

The current championship leader topped the timesheets in practice and qualifying, securing pole position as teammate Bottas failed to make the most of his final fastest lap - he would have been on pole position had it not been for an error in the final sector - and dominated a race in which he simply drove away from the rest of the grid.

Verstappen was pleased with his podium finish, with Red Bull admitting that splitting the Mercedes’ was as good as they could have hoped for with Hamilton in such imperious form, but Bottas was left to handle yet another disappointment after a fourth consecutive race in which he ended up going backwards from his starting position, which is threatening to wreck his faint championship hopes.

Behind him there were mixed fortunes for Ferrari in what was ultimately another disappointing weekend, and a strong showing from Racing Point in which Sergio Perez made a welcome return after missing two races following his positive coronavirus test.

With the sixth race of the season down, here’s how The Independent’s driver power rankings have been affected.

20. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) - no move

A disappointing weekend for Williams saw them go backwards on the grid as Alfa Romeo got the better of them, with Latifi finishing a disappointing 18th out of 19 finishers. He at least was able to take a positive out of showing good pace throughout the weekend when compared to his teammate, but Barcelona was something of a backwards step for the British team.

19. Romain Grosjean (Haas) - down one

Grosjean’s strong work at Silverstone unravelled slightly in Spain as he endured a nightmare weekend, failing to get out of Q1 before falling behind both Williams’ and the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi. Haas still need to work out why their car is so slow this season, as it doesn’t seem to be entirely down to the Ferrari power unit.

18. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) - up one

A poor qualifying session saw him start at the back of the grid, which spelt trouble for Alfa Romeo, but he managed to work his way up through the field and while 16th is nothing to shout about, a strong Sunday drive is never something to knock.

17. George Russell (Williams) - down three

The signs had suggested that Williams’ improvement had hit something of a lull, and the Spanish Grand Prix proved that as Russell was not able to emerge from Q1, leaving him facing a tricky race. Although he was able to make a strong start and move up two positions - something that has been a weakness this season - he ended up dropping back to finish down in 17th place.

16. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) - up one

Another weekend where Raikkonen did more good than bad. The Finn appears to have snapped out of his early-season lull, and after making it out of Q1, Raikkonen gave a solid account to secure 14th in the race that topped the three teams fighting it out at the back of the grid.

15. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) - up one

Magnussen was caught up in the ugly and avoidable practice accident with Ocon on Saturday when the pair were both guilty of taking their eye off the ball, but from there on in it was a fairly forgettable weekend. The Dane failed to get out of Q1, and only moved up a position on race day due to Leclerc’s retirement. Not much to write home about at all.

14. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) - down four

Spain proved a difficult round for Kvyat as he came out second best in his battle with teammate Pierre Gasly, and landed himself an additional time penalty for ignoring blue flags while being lapped. With Gasly up in the points, Kvyat will not want a repeat of Barcelona in two weeks’ time.

13. Esteban Ocon (Renault) - down five

Ocon’s up-and-down season continues with a disappointing showing in Barcelona after two good performances at Silverstone. The tone for the weekend was set on Saturday when he failed to see Magnussen slowing down in front of him and had to take avoiding action that put him straight into the wall during practice, and he struggled in qualifying where he was unable to match the pace of Ricciardo, who he trailed throughout the entire weekend.

Sebastian Vettel managed to extract a points finish from his Ferrari

12. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - up three

It proved a strange weekend for Vettel. Yet another nightmare qualifying performance saw him miss out on Q3 for the second race in a row, but a brave effort to one-stop in the race elevated him up into fifth at one stage, and he managed to hold onto the tyres for just long enough to bring the Ferrari home in seventh and claim a points finish. That said, it revealed further evidence that his relationship with the team is beyond broken.

11. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) - up two

Perez returned to action in impressive fashion after two weeks on the sidelines due to contracting coronavirus. He out-qualified his teammate to slot in behind Max Verstappen on the grid, and although he failed to get off the line as quickly as Lance Stroll, he utilised a superior strategy to move ahead. Had he not failed to acknowledge blue flags as Lewis Hamilton came up to lap him - as subsequent information from the FIA proved - he could well have taken fourth on his comeback, but a fifth-place finish was none too shabby regardless.

10. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) - up two

The home hero looked much more comfortable this weekend after two difficult weekends at Silverstone, qualifying in a commendable seventh place and driving a sensible race to move up a spot to sixth, not to mention attacking frequently as he worked his way up through the pack on the two-stop strategy. The stronger of the two McLaren drivers this weekend by some way.

9. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) - down two

The disappointing weekend for Renault came in front of their new chief executive Luca De Meo, who will not have been best pleased with what he saw as Ricciardo finished outside of the points. The sight of both cars being eliminated from qualifying in Q2 did not make great viewing, and Sunday got no easier as Ricciardo found himself stuck at the back of the midfield battle.

Pierre Gasly is congratulated by Sebastian Vettel after the Spanish Grand Prix

8. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) - up one

The Frenchman remains one of the most impressive drivers of the season so far, with another points finish to add to his collection. With Mercedes, Red Bull, Racing Point and McLaren in front of them in the 2020 pecking order, points are at a premium, which is what made Gasly’s strong drive to ninth from a 10th-place start such a standout drive.

7. Lando Norris (McLaren) - down one

Norris was never going to be able to maintain his flying start to the season, but in the midfield battle he has gone a little bit quiet in recent weeks. Norris did at least get himself involved in the on-track battle of the race with Charles Leclerc and Esteban Ocon early on, and although he was comprehensively out-driven by teammate Sainz, a solid points finish will have pleased the Briton.

6. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) - down two

A poor qualifying session left Leclerc on the back foot on Sunday, but things went from bad to worse when an electrical glitch saw the back end seize on him and spin him off, with retirement quickly following.

5. Alex Albon (Red Bull) - up one

The stats sheet will read a sixth-place start and eighth-place finish, but that wasn’t really through his own doing as Red Bull attempted the alternative strategy by putting him onto the hard tyres, only for it to prove the complete wrong option. Albon is slightly at fault for not looking after his soft tyres at the start of the race - but then neither could Verstappen - but a much better showing on Saturday shows that Albon is still learning and making progress.

4. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) - up seven

It would have been hard for Stroll to do more on Sunday. A good qualifying session set him up nicely in fifth, just behind teammate Perez, but the perfect start gave him the launch to not only pass the Mexican but also Valtteri Bottas, with excellent commitment and well-judged cornering seeing him pass the Mercedes. Stroll ended up behind Perez once again after being made to pit twice to Perez’s once, but did what he needed to to finish comfortably within the five-second margin he had to take fourth thanks to the penalty for ignoring blue flags.

Lance Stroll delivered a strong performance to take fourth in Spain

3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - no move

Is he still in the world championship battle? A retirement or two for Hamilton would put him back into the mix, but it’s hard to see how Bottas can turn this around. Just six races into the season, Bottas finds himself 43 points behind his Mercedes teammate, and for the fourth race in a row he finished lower down than where he started. Another poor showing will see him drop out of the top three.

2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - no move

Verstappen was kept out of range throughout the race, but that does not do him justice in how he managed his race to ensure he never came under attack from Bottas. He may have allowed his emotions to boil over in the heat of battle as he bickered with his team, but at least he displayed a level of maturity that suggested a confidence in his own ability that Red Bull will not mind too much.

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - no move

What more can you say about Hamilton’s performance this weekend? It was as close to perfection as he has come in his career, dominating every session and cruising to victory by more than 24 seconds. With a 37-point buffer in the championship standings, a seventh world title is his to lose.

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