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Formula One's Driver Power Rankings After 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

Neil JamesFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2014

Formula One's Driver Power Rankings After 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

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    Rob Griffith/Associated Press

    The 2014 Formula One season is now six races old, and we've got a reasonable idea of which drivers are doing well, which teams have the best cars and where everyone stands relative to their rivals.

    Mercedes are, of course, the class of the field, with Red Bull and Ferrari fighting to be best of the rest.

    On the driver side, Lewis Hamilton has mostly had the upper hand over Nico Rosberg, while further down the field men like Daniil Kvyat, Romain Grosjean and Valtteri Bottas have been putting in impressive displays.

    Taking into account race results, qualifying, overall performance and how they stack up against their team-matesand taking into account the relative pace of their carshere are my first 2014 driver rankings.

     

    Detailed statistics including laps led were sourced from F1Fanatic. Sincere thanks and kudos to Keith Collantine and his team for maintaining such a great database.

10. Sebastian Vettel

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    Andrew Hone/Getty Images

    Australia: Retired (mechanical). Malaysia: Third. Bahrain: Sixth. China: Fifth. Spain: Fourth. Monaco: Retired (mechanical).

    If we plot Sebastian Vettel's season against what we expected him to do, it looks horrific.

    But considered independent of history, he hasn't done all that badly.

    Two mechanical failures robbed him of likely points finishes in Australia (a few points) and Monaco (a probable podium), and while Ricciardo has been taking most of the plaudits, the difference in laps led is very small. Vettel has been ahead for 113 laps to his team-mate's 121.

    His drive in Malaysia, where he harried Nico Rosberg for a time, was of the highest order.

    The four-time world champion holds the distinction of being the only non-Mercedes to set a "genuine" fastest lap, in Spain (Kimi Raikkonen was on fresh supersofts which only had to do four laps at the end of Monaco).

    Once he's got to grips with the RB10, Vettel should quickly rise up these rankings and the championship table.

9. Jules Bianchi

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Australia: Not Classified (mechanical). Malaysia: Retired (mechanical). Bahrain: 16th. China: 17th. Spain: 18th. Monaco: Ninth.

    Jules Bianchi had a rotten start to the season. His car stalled at the start of the Australian Grand Prix, and by the time it got going again he was several laps down. In Malaysia, a brake problem ended his race.

    He finished the next three, easily outpacing team-mate Max Chilton in two of them. But in Bahrain he damaged his car in a somewhat speculative lunge down the inside on Adrian Sutil and trailed home a long way behind.

    Then came probably the most significant result of the season so far. A combination of calm and controlled driving, aggressive overtaking and a little bit of luck saw Bianchi come home in eighth at the Monaco Grand Prix.

    A five-second time penalty demoted him to ninth, but it didn't really matter. F1's smallest team are the proud owners of two world championship points.

8. Romain Grosjean

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Australia: Retired (mechanical). Malaysia: 11th. Bahrain: 12th. China: Retired (mechanical). Spain: Eighth. Monaco: Eighth.

    Lotus are still a little bit behind the rest of the midfield, but Romain Grosjean has been doing his best to help them catch up.

    The first four races were disappointing, but the Frenchman did as well as anyone could have hoped with the car he was driving. Then in Spain he brilliantly nursed home a sick E22 to claim his and the team's first points of the year.

    Monaco didn't suit the Lotus, and his eighth place here was more down to attrition than raw pace after an early stop dropped him to rear of the field.

    But he still out-qualified his team-mate Pastor Maldonado, considered not only a Monaco specialist but a very good qualifier as well.

    After a storming end to the 2013 season, Grosjean continues to impress.

7. Valtteri Bottas

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Australia: Fifth. Malaysia: Eighth. Bahrain: Eighth. China: Seventh. Spain: Fifth. Monaco: Retired (mechanical).

    Valtteri Bottas showed in 2013 that he has a great deal of talent, and this year Williams have provided him with a car which allows him to show it off to a wider audience.

    Up against a reinvigorated Felipe Massa, the Finn has scored 34 points from five top 10s. Only in Monaco, where his engine expired while running eighth, did he fail to register a point.

    It would be wrong to say Bottas has blown Massa awaythey're 3-3 in qualifying and two-all in the races.

    But he certainly has the upper hand at this stage.

6. Daniil Kvyat

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Australia: Ninth. Malaysia: 10th. Bahrain: 11th. China: 10th. Spain: 14th. Monaco: Retired (mechanical).

    Daniil Kvyat has been the revelation of the 2014 season.

    Driving a Toro Rosso which isn't, on raw pace alone, a regular points-scoring car, Kvyat has recorded three top 10 finishes.

    The first, in Australia, made him the youngest points-scorer in F1 history.

    It's curious that Kvyat is currently trailing 4-2 to Jean-Eric Vergne in the team-qualifying battlethe Frenchman isn't known as a top qualifier.

    But perhaps the figure is skewed because Vergne is more familiar with driving an F1 car in the wet. In the dry, it's 2-1 to Kvyat.

    In the races, the young Russian has really impressed. Where both drivers have been running, Kvyat has been ahead for 112 lapsVergne, only 58.

5. Fernando Alonso

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Australia: Fourth. Malaysia: Fourth. Bahrain: Ninth. China: Third. Spain: Sixth. Monaco: Fourth.

    Fernando Alonso is, by and large, doing about as much as anyone could with his Ferrari, which seems to be the third-best car on the grid.

    He has made it through to Q3 at every grand prix so far, and in the team-qualifying battle he holds a 4-2 lead over Kimi Raikkonen.

    Helped by the reliability of the F14 T, Alonso has scored points at every race with a third and three fourths being the highlights. But more importantlythrough speed, strategy or good fortunehe has finished ahead of Raikkonen every single time.

    Keeping out of trouble and relentlessly scoring points is what Alonso does best.

    But if a criticism can be found, he doesn't seem to be outperforming the car in 2014 as he has in years gone by.

4. Nico Rosberg

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Australia: First. Malaysia: Second. Bahrain: Second. China: Second. Spain: Second. Monaco: First.

    Nico Rosberg is the current championship leader with a four-point lead over Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

    Unopposed victory in Australia was followed by four second places. Rosberg ran Hamilton close in Bahrain and Spain but couldn't find a way past.

    After five races, he had spent only 10 laps ahead of his team-mate (where both were running). It was looking like a pattern, and Nico had to break it.

    Some fans will debate forever whether Rosberg's qualifying error in Monaco was deliberate or not. But no one will question that on the following day he drove an excellent race to record a lights-to-flag win.

    Though he has been second-best most of the year, the momentum is now on Rosberg's side of the garage.

    He needs to keep it that way in Canada.

3. Nico Hulkenberg

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Australia: Sixth. Malaysia: Fifth. Bahrain: Fifth. China: Sixth. Spain: 10th. Monaco: Fifth.

    Only three men have scored points at every race of the year so far. Nico Hulkenberg is one of them.

    Back with Force India, the talented young German has picked up where he left off in 2013. He knows he should be in a better car, but like a certain Spaniard, he just gets on with the job at hand and nearly always extracts the maximum from his package.

    Up 4-2 in the team-qualifying battle, Hulkenberg has led 168 laps to Sergio Perez's 65and Perez is no slouch.

    It'll be a miracle if he can hang on to fifth in the championship, but seventh, best of the rest after the leading three teams, looks well within his reach.

2. Daniel Ricciardo

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    Andrew Hone/Getty Images

    Australia: Disqualified. Malaysia: Retired (mechanical). Bahrain: Fourth. China: Fourth. Spain: Third. Monaco: Third.

    No one really expected Daniel Ricciardo to emerge as the No. 1 contender to the Mercedes drivers, but that is exactly what has happened.

    In the six races to date, he has out-qualified four-time world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel 5-1. The same Sebastian Vettel with 45 pole positions to his name.

    Ricciardo has impressed in the races too. He started the year with a disqualification and a retirement, but since then has finished fourth twice and third twice. In the three races which he and Vettel have both finished, Ricciardo has come home ahead every time.

    Vettel would probably have beaten him in Monaco, and he was ahead in Malaysia when Ricciardo went out, so it's not the whitewash it may appear to be.

    But the young Australian still has the upper hand.

1. Lewis Hamilton

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    Claude Paris/Associated Press

    Australia: Retired (mechanical). Malaysia: First. Bahrain: First. China: First. Spain: First. Monaco: Second.

    Lewis Hamilton has out-qualified Nico Rosberg 4-2, started on the front row at every race and has won four out of the five races he has finished.

    The one he didn't finish was Australia, where he started on pole but suffered a power unit issue as soon as the lights went out.

    He has the best car, but when that is the case all you can do is beat the guy across from you in the garage. Hamilton has done that.

    The only race he didn't beat Rosberg at was Monaco, and had the famous qualifying incident not occurred, who knows what might have happened?

    His temperament has come under scrutiny and could well be his undoing as the season wears on, but on the track, Hamilton is the performer of the year so far.

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