Formula 1's Driver Power Rankings After 2014 German Grand Prix
Formula One produced another great spectacle on Sunday; the German Grand Prix was filled with action and drama all the way from the opening lap to the last.
And to think, a few months ago some people were calling the sport dull.
Valtteri Bottas confirmed his status as F1's brightest rising star with another faultless drive to second. The Finn, who has yet to compete in 30 grands prix, will surely stand on the top step sooner rather than later.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had very different races. One cruised to an unopposed victory, while the other fought through from 20th to claim a podium; but both deserve only credit for their performances.
Others putting in top drives included Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen.
Having assessed performances all the way up and down the field, here is my latest set of driver power rankings.
Note on Power Rankings
These rankings should not be confused with the actual championship table.
Rather than looking solely at points, they also take into account race results, qualifying, overall performance of each driver and how they stack up against their team-mates. The relative pace of each driver's car is factored in.
Only performance at the last six races is considered.
The previous rankings, created after the British Grand Prix, are here. All position changes are relative to the positions in that article.
Felipe Massa again misses out. He qualified well but was out of the race at the first corner.
Also worthy of mention is Kevin Magnussen, who had an excellent weekend marred by the first-lap collision with Massa. He was last by the end of the first lap but drove a beautiful race to finish ninth, within sight of team-mate Jenson Button.
10. Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel would have been hoping for a strong weekend in front of his home fans, but things got off on the wrong foot in qualifying.
Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo beat him again—the qualifying battle is now 7-3 in the Australian's favour. Vettel started sixth, his best lap a full second slower than pole-sitter Nico Rosberg's.
He made up places at the start as Felipe Massa and Kevin Magnussen tripped over each other, forcing Ricciardo wide, and by the end of the first lap he was up to third.
Vettel fought off the attentions of Fernando Alonso after another lengthy scrap, but he didn't have the pace to hold on to the front two. He lost a further place to Lewis Hamilton late on.
He finished fourth, which was as high as a Red Bull was ever going to finish. But Ricciardo was only eight seconds further back, despite dropping to 15th on the opening lap.
A good showing, but he's still not at his best.
Vettel drops a spot to 10th.
9. Jules Bianchi
Jules Bianchi set the 18th-quickest time in qualifying, beating team-mate Max Chilton by eight-tenths of a second. He started 17th after Lewis Hamilton's grid-drop penalty.
An issue with the car meant he made a very poor start, and Chilton did well to avoid him off the grid. Bianchi was 19th after the first lap.
When the safety car came in he immediately overtook Kamui Kobayashi's Caterham. Chilton fell to the Frenchman the following lap; from then on Bianchi was in a race by himself.
The midfield cars were too quick, the other back-markers too slow.
He ended up 15th, 35 seconds shy of 14th-placed Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber and 41 seconds clear of Kobayashi in 16th.
In a Marussia he was never going to score points, but it was nonetheless a fine display from Bianchi.
He goes up one place to ninth.
8. Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez hasn't been much of a qualifier in 2014, but he made it into the Top 10 at Hockenheim. His best lap was just 0.021 seconds slower than team-mate Nico Hulkenberg's.
He made up places at the start and got past Daniil Kvyat when the safety car came in. A few laps later, he had a lucky escape when Kvyat's clumsy attempt to re-pass resulted in a collision.
But—as the fact Kvyat was able to have a go at all showed—he just didn't have a lot of pace. Struggling to manage the tyres and unhappy with how the car felt, he lost out badly during the first set of stops and never really recovered.
Tenth place was his reward for a tough afternoon.
Perez remains eighth.
7. Daniil Kvyat
Daniil Kvyat put in another top display in qualifying to start eighth. His best lap was just four-tenths of a second slower than Sebastian Vettel's quickest in the Red Bull.
He got off the line poorly and lost places to Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg, finishing the opening lap in seventh. Sergio Perez got through just after the safety car came in, and Kvyat set about trying to get back past.
And he did—for around a second.
The Russian got his nose ahead going around the outside into Turn 8, but turned in far too sharply, leaving Perez with nowhere to go. The resulting collision and pit stop dropped Kvyat to the rear of the field, seemingly ending any hope of points—and he had no one to blame but himself.
But he managed to drag himself back into contention.
With around a third of the race to go, he was back ahead of team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne and might have had a sniff at 10th. Unfortunately, his race was ended when his car caught fire on the 44th lap, forcing him to retire.
Kvyat remains seventh.
6. Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg needed to put in a good performance after a few less-than-stellar races, and he did it in Germany.
He out-qualified team-mate Sergio Perez by the narrowest of margins to start ninth. It was his third Q3 appearance in a row, and he now leads the team qualifying battle 8-2. The first corner melee bumped The Hulk up to fifth.
He was heard complaining about the car's balance on the team radio during Sky Sports' live coverage, and it's clear the VJM07 still isn't to his liking.
But he did a good job to keep in touch with the quicker cars ahead.
He finished a fine seventh and maintained his 100 percent scoring record for the season—a feat matched only by Fernando Alonso.
Hulkenberg holds station in sixth.
5. Fernando Alonso
The top five drivers in these rankings are incredibly close together, and a fair distance clear of anyone else. After Germany it seems entirely wrong for Fernando Alonso to move down—but someone else did an even better job, so that's what happens.
Alonso qualified seventh, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen down in 12th.
The Spaniard had a great battle with Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone, and he was involved in some great close action at Hockenheim too.
Most memorable was the duel with Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull in the closing stages, the two swapping places several times before Alonso eventually prevailed.
He managed to keep Ricciardo behind all the way to the flag as his tyres began to give up, to come home in an excellent fifth.
And that is, sadly, where he drops to.
4. Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton once more had a difficult qualifying session, but on this occasion he was without blame.
Brake failure in Q1 led to a heavy crash, and he was unable to take any further part in the session. He'd set a time good enough to reach Q2, and he would have been starting 15th.
However, his gearbox was damaged in the crash, so after a five-place penalty he lined up 20th.
Once the race got started, he quickly began to scythe through the field but was perhaps guilty of taking too many unnecessary risks. He got away with it passing Kimi Raikkonen but misjudged Jenson Button's line through the hairpin and lost part of his front wing.
It would prove costly. The loss of downforce caused excessive tyre wear, forcing him to switch from two stops to three and costing him a probable second place.
But overall it was a first-rate performance, and as with Alonso it seems wrong to move him down.
Hamilton drops one spot to fourth.
3. Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg cruised to an unopposed home win, extending his championship lead to 14 points. He just keeps getting the job done.
The fight in qualifying was closer than Mercedes may have wanted, and Rosberg was only a few tenths clear of second-placed Valtteri Bottas.
But the gulf in race pace between the Silver Arrows and the rest of the field remains. With team-mate Lewis Hamilton starting down in 20th, after Turn 1 there was never going to be a battle for the lead.
The German drove a mature race, managed his tyres well and controlled the show from start to finish. His fastest race lap was 1.3 seconds slower than Hamilton's—but it didn't matter, because Rosberg didn't need to push.
Like Hamilton and Alonso he did nothing wrong, but he drops one place to third.
2. Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas drove yet another flawless race to record his third podium in a row.
He qualified on the front row for the second time in his career, and despite a slightly difficult start he managed to hold the place into Turn 1.
His Williams never had the pace to live with Nico Rosberg up ahead, and Bottas settled in to a comfortable second. But he still had to push because the man he was ultimately racing—Lewis Hamilton—was closing in fast.
After everyone had stopped for the final time, Hamilton caught Bottas, but the Finn defended his position with a calmness that belied his inexperience.
It's easy to forget his F1 career is only 29 races old.
Bottas is looking more and more like a champion of the future, and no one has done a better job in the last three grands prix. If the Mercs falter at a circuit like Monza or Spa, he'll surely be the man to pick up the pieces.
It would be nice if Massa could finish a race, though, so we'd have someone to compare him to.
He jumps up three places to second.
1. Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo once more beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying to line up fifth, but he was pushed out wide in Turn 1 as he avoided the Felipe Massa-Kevin Magnussen collision.
After one lap he was 15th, and the podium he might have been aiming for was gone.
But Ricciardo put his head down and, despite his Red Bull lacking straight-line speed, began to force his way back up the order. He was in the points by Lap 9 and came out a net eighth after the first round of stops.
Later on, he took over from Vettel as Fernando Alonso's battle-buddy.
The fight was eventually decided in Alonso's favour, and Ricciardo ended up sixth. But impressively, he was just eight seconds behind Vettel—a fine recovery drive.
Ricciardo hangs on to the top spot.