Power Ranking the Formula 1 Teams After 2014 Belgian Grand Prix

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

Power Ranking the Formula 1 Teams After 2014 Belgian Grand Prix

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Mercedes again dropped the ball at the 2014 Formula One Belgian Grand Prix. Despite having more than enough pace to secure an easy one-two finish, they were beaten by Red Bull for the third time this year.

    Nico Rosberg said sorry on August 29 via his Facebook page, but sorry won't bring back the lost points.

    Further back, Williams will be disappointed not to have been challenging for the win. Pre-race expectation had been that they would be Mercedes' biggest challengers, but Valtteri Bottas could only manage a distant third.

    McLaren edged closer to Ferrari, Force India fell back a little and Lotus recorded their third double-DNF of the year.

    Looking at reliability, qualifying and race pace, here's how the teams currently rank. Positions are relative to those in the previous rankings, published after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

11. Caterham

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    Yves Logghe/Associated Press

    No Change

    Caterham are proving great at selling drives, but not so good at making their car perform well.

    Andre Lotterer stepped into Kamui Kobayashi's seat for Spa, and he performed more than adequately. He qualified 21st but was a second quicker than team-mate Marcus Ericsson.

    Sadly, he only managed one racing lap before his CT03 lost power. At the time he was 18th.

    Ericsson made it to the chequered flag after a race-long duel with Max Chilton's Marussia. He lost, and was the final classified finisher.

    They're still last, but doesn't the nose look better?

10. Marussia

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    No Change

    Marussia went into the weekend in a rather chaotic manner. Alexander Rossi was supposed to be taking over Max Chilton's seat for the race, but something changed during first practice and Chilton was back from FP2 onwards.

    Almost losing his drive didn't spur him on to greatnessthe Brit lined up 19th in qualifying.

    But team-mate Jules Bianchi put in a beautiful lap, again getting through to Q2. He started 16th.

    Unfortunately, Bianchi's race was effectively over on the opening lap. Contact with Romain Grosjean gave him a puncture, and by the time he rejoined he'd lost 50 seconds. He lapped quicker than Chilton and Marcus Ericsson's Caterham but was too far behind to catch up and retired five laps from the end.

    Chilton had a race-long fight with Ericsson, spending nearly every lap within a second or two of the Caterham. Eventually he prevailed and came home in 16th.

9. Lotus

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    No Change

    Lotus had a dreadful time in Belgium.

    Romain Grosjean was again quickest in qualifying, but he could only manage to set the 15th-fastest time. Pastor Maldonado was dumped out of Q1 for the ninth time in 2014.

    Only the two Caterhams and Max Chilton have missed the cut more times.

    Grosjean collided with Bianchi on the opening lap and had to pit for a new nose. He lost 25 seconds to the main field, and though he passed the backmarkers he could make no impression on the quicker cars.

    He retired after sustaining damage after his final pit stop.

    Maldonado vanished from the race after just one lap with an exhaust failure, capping a hugely disappointing weekend.

8. Sauber

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    No Change

    Sauber performed well at a circuit that didn't suit their weak Ferrari engine.

    Their weekend didn't start well. In the wet Saturday session Adrian Sutil qualified 14th, with Esteban Gutierrez down in 20th.

    But when the lights went out on Sunday, they showed slightly better form. Sutil was able to fight with Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso but encountering Felipe Massa's debris-afflicted Williams held him up.

    He switched to a three-stop strategy and came home 14thbut was less than 20 seconds behind the Force Indias.

    Gutierrez remained on a two-stopper and finished 15th, eight seconds behind Sutil.

7. Toro Rosso

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    No Change

    Like Sauber, Toro Rosso did well despite being lumbered with a poor engine, pushing Force India all the way.

    On Saturday, Daniil Kvyat qualified 11th, with Jean-Eric Vergne one place behind in 12th.

    Kvyat looked the quicker in the race too, but a lack of straight-line speed hampered his progress. He lost a place to Sergio Perez at the start and was still behind after his first stop.

    He quickly closed up, but even with DRS wasn't quick enough on the straights to get by. The Russian remained behind Perez all the way to the chequered flag, finishing ninth.

    Vergne stayed out longer on his first stint and lost a lot of time. He never quite recovered, coming home 11th.

6. Force India

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    No Change

    Force India seem to be losing the development race with McLaren.

    Qualifying was a disaster. The usually reliable Nico Hulkenberg was knocked out in Q1 for the first time since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix (where he had a car failure), while Sergio Perez could only manage 13th.

    Hulkenberg made up places at the start to run 12th by the end of Lap 2, with Perez also making progress up to 10th.

    But from there, everything ground to a halt. Unable to live with the pace of the quickest five teams, the Force Indias spent most of the race in a three-way fight with Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso.

    They came home ninth and 11th, elevated to eighth and 10th after Kevin Magnussen's penalty.

5. McLaren

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    No Change

    McLaren are showing genuine signs of progress and were clearly quicker than rivals Force India at Spa.

    Both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen made it through to Q3only the fifth time in 2014 that both McLarens have qualified in the Top 10. Magnussen did a better job in the wet conditions, lining up seventh; Button was 10th.

    Magnussen lost a place to Kimi Raikkonen at the start but rose to sixth after the opening round of stops. He held Fernando Alonso behind though his second stint and emerged ahead after both pitted for the second and final time.

    Alonso attacked hard, and the young Dane defended harder. He pushed the former world champion off the track on two occasionsonce fairly and once unfairly.

    Though he came home sixth on the track, a penalty for the overly robust manoeuvre dropped him out of the points.

    Button was probably the quicker McLaren driver in the race, but traffic wasn't kind. He and Sebastian Vettel joined the Alonso-Magnussen battle late on, and after an exciting scrap, Button crossed the line in seventh.

    Magnussen's penalty elevated him to sixth.

4. Ferrari

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    No Change

    Ferrari won't be confident as they head to their home grand prix at Monza.

    The wet qualifying session saw Fernando Alonso qualify in fourth, with Kimi Raikkonen eighth.

    But a car problem for the Spaniard meant his mechanics failed to clear the grid in time, earning him a five-second stop-go penalty. He served it at his first pit stop, losing three places as a result.

    The F14 T lacks straight-line speed, and Alonso was badly held up behind the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen. Towards the end of the race, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button caught the pair, and a titanic four-car battle ensued.

    Alonso was shuffled back, then lost most of his front wing after a final-lap attempt at passing Vettel. He cruised home eighth.

    Raikkonen was one of the beneficiaries of Alonso's problems. An early first stop saw him jump from sixth to second.

    Though he couldn't hold back Nico Rosberg or Valtteri Bottas, he was easily quick enough to finish fourth, his best result of the year.

3. Williams

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    No Change

    Many expected Williams to be Mercedes' biggest challengers at Spa, but it was evident as early as practice that they didn't have the necessary speed.

    Hampered a little by the wet qualifying, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa lined up sixth and ninth, respectively.

    Bottas gradually made up places early on, never quite having the pace to challenge Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo but looking the best of the rest.

    A late pass on Kimi Raikkonen was rewarded with a podium.

    Felipe Massa's race was compromised after a few laps, when debris from Lewis Hamilton's puncture got lodged under his car. It was cleared at his second stop but he'd already lost too much time, and he finished a disappointing 13th.

2. Red Bull

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    No Change

    Spa was supposed to be one of the weakest circuits for Red Bull, but their low-downforce set-up was clearly a lot better than anyone expected.

    Sebastian Vettel put in a storming lap to qualify third despite missing one-and-a-half practice sessions, while Daniel Ricciardo lined up fifth.

    At the start, Vettel got past Nico Rosberg but made a mistake into Les Combes as he challenged Lewis Hamilton for the lead, dropping back to third. A further mistake dropped him behind Ricciardo.

    Eventually he came home fifth after passing three cars in the closing laps.

    Ricciardo benefited from the collision between Hamilton and Rosberg, taking the lead when the latter stopped for a new nose.

    Stopping two times to Rosberg's three, he held off the charging German to record his third win of the year.

1. Mercedes

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    No Change

    Mercedes should have had an easy one-two in Belgium, but once again they didn't.

    Nico Rosberg took pole, a little over two-tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton. The closest non-Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull, was over two seconds shy of Rosberg's time.

    At the start of Lap 2, Rosberg appeared much quicker down the Kemmel Straight and challenged Hamilton around the outside into Les Combes.

    It's unclear exactly what he was thinking, but having failed to get by, he turned into the rear of Hamilton's car, puncturing the Brit's tyre and damaging his own front wing.

    Hamilton was immediately out of contention, while Rosberg faced a lengthy first stop to replace the broken wing.

    His progress back through the field was further hampered by an early second stop to change a tyre ruined by a heavy lock-up. Though he was clearly the fastest man on the track, his three-stop strategy wasn't quite enough to beat Daniel Ricciardo's two.

    He ended up second, while Hamilton retired a few laps from the end.

    You may have noticed there were no changes. This is the first time all season there hasn't been at least one mover, so all the teams deserve a round of applause for standing perfectly still during the summer break.