Formula 1's Driver Power Rankings After 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix
Formula One's 2014 season continues to go from strength to strength. The Hungarian Grand Prix was one of the best races in recent memory—and at a circuit renown for producing mediocre races.
At the heart of all great races are great drives.
Lewis Hamilton's blast from last to third will go down as one of his finest races. Fernando Alonso also put in a stellar performance, dragging his Ferrari around the final few laps on tyres which were shot to pieces to claim a fine second.
But it was Daniel Ricciardo who ended the day in the spotlight. The Australian had never finished higher than seventh before the start of the year; now, he has two race wins to his name.
There were good and bad performances all the way through the order.
Having looked at them, here are 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 German Grand Prix, are here. All position changes are relative to the positions in that article.
Sebastian Vettel drops out of the top 10 after a disappointing afternoon, but it was a close-run thing. It was a coin toss between the four-time champion, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez for ninth and 10th.
Felipe Massa is once more knocking on the door after getting past the opening lap. He held off Kimi Raikkonen to finish a fine fifth.
And the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen both put in solid performances. The same can't be said for the team's weather forecaster.
10. Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez's disappointing qualifying form continued. He could only manage to set the 13th-fastest time, again coming in behind team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
He got a good start and, after the first safety car period, slipped ahead of Hulkenberg to take 10th.
But after a poor exit from the penultimate corner on the 14th lap, his German team-mate had a look up the inside into the last turn. Perez was blameless as Hulkenberg slid into him, and he did well to keep the car facing the right way.
He carried on, rising to eighth as the McLarens pitted for slicks. Sat behind Lewis Hamilton, Perez looked set to challenge for some decent points.
But on Lap 22, the damp kerb on the outside of the last corner caught him out. He spun and crashed heavily into the pit wall, putting himself out on the spot.
His only consolation is that a driver of Sebastian Vettel's caliber did almost exactly the same thing shortly after.
Perez drops two spots to 10th.
9. Jean-Eric Vergne
Jean-Eric Vergne got through to Q3 for the seventh time this year. He started ninth but didn't produce his best lap in the final part of qualifying.
An average start saw him lose one place, but when the safety car came out, he was among the drivers who benefited. He jumped to sixth and found himself behind Nico Rosberg a lap after the restart.
Rosberg attempted to pass Kevin Magnussen but instead lost a further place to Vergne. Though the Mercedes was clearly a lot faster, the Frenchman defended robustly and fairly, and held on to his position.
When the blame (or credit) for Mercedes not winning in Hungary is being handed out, Vergne deserves a good chunk of it.
He moved up to second on the road before his second stop and later flexed his elbows to keep Jenson Button behind.
Ninth was a good finish for a car which didn't really have a lot of pace.
Vergne is a new arrival in the top 10.
8. Jules Bianchi
Jules Bianchi claimed a prestigious—and perhaps prophetic—scalp when he booted Kimi Raikkonen out of qualifying in Q1. He qualified 16th, with the Ferrari man one place behind.
Bianchi held his place at the start and was up to 14th after the first safety car.
Then Pastor Maldonado struck.
The Lotus driver went for a rather optimistic move into Turn 1. Bianchi appeared to give him room, but Maldonado couldn't slow the car down on the still-greasy inside of the track. He clumsily slid into the Marussia.
The Frenchman carried on but his car was damaged, affecting its balance and handling. Though he dropped away from the midfield at a rapid rate, he still managed to keep team-mate Max Chilton behind to finish 15th.
A forgettable race, but it wasn't his fault, and others around him had bad ones.
Bianchi rises a place to eighth.
7. Daniil Kvyat
Daniil Kvyat qualified a disappointing 11th after spinning on his final Q2 attempt. Team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne went one-tenth quicker in that session and ended up starting ninth.
As it turned out, Kvyat's grid slot was irrelevant. His car wouldn't move when the formation lap began, and he ended up starting from the pit lane. After the first lap, he was eight seconds down on the field.
He didn't have the pace for a Lewis Hamilton-like run through the pack, but he made up a few places before the safety car came out.
Kvyat made his way up to 11th before stopping for the second and final time. At this point, he may still have scored points, but his strategy choice—to do a marathon 39 laps on the medium compounds—backfired.
He dropped back rapidly as the tyres fell away, ending up a disappointing 14th.
Kvyat stays seventh, mainly because none of the drivers close behind him had especially wonderful races.
6. Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg got his Force India through to Q3 for the seventh time in 2014. He now holds a 9-2 lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the in-team qualifying battle—the joint-best score on the grid.
A good start saw him run seventh early on, but after the first safety car period he ended up behind Perez. Seeing an opportunity as the Mexican got a poor exit from Turn 13, he went up the inside into the last corner.
But he couldn't stop and ended up giving Perez a rather hefty clout. He lost his front wing and went into the barrier on the outside.
Hulkenberg doesn't really make mistakes like this. His 100 percent point-scoring record for 2014 had come to an end, and he probably felt a little bit silly.
But one poor showing doesn't wreck a season, and no one close behind him had an especially good race.
Hulkenberg stays sixth.
5. Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg qualified on pole by half a second. With team-mate Lewis Hamilton out of the way in last, it was expected the German would cruise to another unopposed victory.
Then Marcus Ericsson hit the wall at Turn 4, changing everything.
Rosberg lost out as the safety car was deployed, dropping down to fourth. When the safety car came in, he was slow to get going and was passed by Jean-Eric Vergne and Fernando Alonso.
Once he got back up to speed, he was clearly quicker than the Frenchman but could not find a way past.
It was this spell behind the Toro Rosso that cost him victory.
He pitted to escape Vergne's rear wing and moved onto a three-stop strategy. He closed up to Hamilton, and the team asked the Brit to move aside—but he refused unless Rosberg could actually catch him. The German could not.
After stopping again, Rosberg had a final shot at victory. He was massively quicker than anyone else in the closing laps.
But again, he couldn't find a way through, and he won't have been happy with fourth.
Rosberg drops two spots to fifth.
4. Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso qualified in fifth for the fourth time in 2014. His best lap was a huge 1.2 seconds slower than Nico Rosberg's pole.
He made a good start and challenged Sebastian Vettel for third on the opening lap before settling into fourth. After losing out a bit in the first safety car period, he was eighth; three aggressive laps later, he was third.
But it was Alonso's driving in the closing laps which really caught the eye.
The Spaniard took the lead with 15 laps to go. Behind him were Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo, closing in fast.
His tyres were shot to pieces, but he kept it on the track (mostly) and defended brilliantly. There was nothing he could do about Ricciardo, but he kept Hamilton behind all the way to the chequered flag to finish second.
It was his best finish since the Singapore Grand Prix last September.
Alonso goes up one spot to fourth.
3. Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton's weekend got off to a dreadful start. His Mercedes developed a fuel leak in the first part of qualifying and caught fire. Hamilton would not only have to start from the pit lane, he'd have to do so in a newly built car he'd never driven before.
It got worse right at the start when he spun and tagged the wall at Turn 2, but he quickly recovered and set about catching the rest of the field.
The early safety car played into his hands and when it came back in, he was 13th and Rosberg fourth. But a brilliant restart from Hamilton and a poor one from Rosberg meant they were eighth and sixth, respectively, just over two laps later.
Rosberg pitted, Vettel spun and Jean-Eric Vergne—the man who probably wrecked Rosberg's afternoon—was dispatched with a stunning move around the outside into Turn 4.
A switch to the medium compound for a long final stint seemed a good idea at the time, but towards the end Hamilton's tyres gave up. He was passed by Ricciardo but managed to hold off a much quicker Rosberg to cap a great recovery drive with third place.
Hamilton rises one place to third.
2. Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas qualified an excellent third, splitting the Red Bulls at a circuit which plays right into their hands. He got round the Hungaroring almost ninth-tenths of a second faster than team-mate Felipe Massa.
A good start saw him almost take the lead, but before long he was under pressure from Sebastian Vettel in third.
When the safety car comes out, for every lucky winner there is an unlucky loser. Bottas pitted for slicks but had a slow stop, and when the queue formed up he'd gone from second to 11th.
He made his way up to eighth before another safety car and another stop dropped him down to 13th. The early nature of this stop forced another near the end, which left him behind Vettel.
Bottas closed up quickly but couldn't get past and came home a disappointing eighth.
There was little he could have done to finish higher up with the strategy he was given, and he hangs on to second.
1. Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo once more put in an exceptional display to claim his second win of the season.
He didn't quite get the job done in qualifying, putting in a lap two-tenths of a second slower than team-mate Sebastian Vettel to line up fourth. A poor start saw him drop to sixth by the end of the first lap.
But he kept his head as the two safety car periods played havoc with the running order. When it came in for the first time, Ricciardo led; he pitted from and lost the lead on the 23rd lap but was back in front by Lap 39.
A late pit stop dropped him behind Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, but two beautiful overtaking moves in the closing laps gave him the lead. He held on to win by just over five seconds.
Was he a little bit lucky? Of course, but he still had to race hard to get the job done.
Ricciardo remains on top.