Formula 1's Driver Power Rankings After 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2014

Formula 1's Driver Power Rankings After 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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    Nico Rosberg started on pole for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but Lewis Hamilton took the lead at the start. The Brit stayed there to win not only the race, but his second Formula One World Championship.

    His team-mate and title rival, struggling with a cruel mechanical failure, trailed home in 14th. It wasn't the way anyone wanted the season-long battle to end, but even Rosberg admitted the better man had won.

    And just as importantly, double points had no impact at all on where the crown ended up.

    Felipe Massa joined Hamilton on the podium, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas in third. Daniel Ricciardo capped a beautiful recovery drive with fourth, while Jenson Button again delivered the goods for McLaren.

    The season is now over, and the long, painful wait for the start of the next begins.

    But until then, here's how the drivers ranked for the final six races of the 2014 season.

    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, as is the identity of his team-mate.

    Only performances at the last six races are considered.

    The previous rankings, based on the six races up to and including the Brazilian Grand Prix, are here. All position changes are relative to positions in that article.

10. Sergio Perez

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    No Change

    Sergio Perez out-qualified team-mate Nico Hulkenberg for the seventh time in 2014, but his was only the 13th-quickest lap. He was promoted to 11th when the Red Bulls were kicked out of qualifying.

    He was passed by Hulkenberg at the start, with both getting past Kevin Magnussen and Jean-Eric Vergne. It was the start of a race-long tussle with his team-mate.

    The two Force Indias looked ideally placed to make the most of starting on the soft compound tyres, and Perez found himself in fifth when all the supersoft runners had made their early first stops.

    Perez stopped one lap earlier than his team-mate and emerged ahead due to Hulkenberg's five-second penalty. But his pace wasn't as good as it might have been.

    The Mexican lost a place to Hulkenberg and fell to 12th at the second round of stops. However, having fitted the quicker supersoft tyres he was able to easily cut through the soft-shod midfield.

    Perez held off Sebastian Vettel in the closing laps for a strong seventh-place finish.

    He remains 10th.

9. Daniil Kvyat

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    No Change

    Daniil Kvyat put in a great Q3 lap to qualify seventh. He was promoted to fifth at the start when the two Red Bulls were disqualified.

    He didn't make the most of it, being passed by both Ferraris and Jenson Button on the opening lap, wiping out the single place he gained by overtaking Valtteri Bottas off the line. He was back in seventh.

    The Russian stayed out a few extra laps and managed to get ahead of Kimi Raikkonen during the opening round of stops.

    But sadly for him, as has been the case on far too many occasions in recent years, his Toro Rosso decided it didn't fancy doing 300 kilometres.

    He was between the Ferraris when a power unit issue ended his challenge on the 15th lap, and he looked likely toat worststay there.

    He remains ninth.

8. Sebastian Vettel

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    Down One

    Sebastian Vettel qualified sixth, but was 0.626 seconds shy of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Unfortunately for him, both Red Bulls were booted out of qualifying due to an illegal front wing. BBC Sport's Andrew Benson reports it was deemed to be a deliberate attempt to circumvent the rules.

    Starting on the soft tyres from the pit lane, Vettel made progress as the supersoft runners pitted, then he came up behind Kevin Magnussen, also on the softs. Ricciardo got by, but Vettel did not.

    Stuck behind the Dane, he lost around a second a lap to his team-mate, who was able to run seven laps longer on his first set of tyres.

    Even after passing the McLaren, Vettel never really looked like matching Ricciardo's drive through the field. His pace tailed off toward the end of his second stint, and his planned final charge on the supersofts was ruined when he came out behind Sergio Perez.

    Eighth was his reward for a frustrating race, but at least he stayed ahead of Fernando Alonso in the drivers' championship.

    Vettel is down a spot to eighth.

7. Felipe Massa

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    Up One

    Felipe Massa was out-qualified by Valtteri Bottas for the 13th time in 2014, but still lined up a decent fourth.

    At the start he rose to third, briefly challenging Nico Rosberg at Turn 1 before sensibly backing off and living to fight another day.

    Throughout the opening stint on the supersoft tyres, Massa kept the two Mercedes' ahead honest. After nine laps he was just six seconds behind and lapping within a few tenths of race leader Lewis Hamilton.

    Massa lost a bit more time during a long middle stint, but as Rosberg fell away and Hamilton began to cruise, the Brazilian smelled a possible race win.

    Running the longer stint allowed him to put on the supersoft tyres for an 11-lap charge. Though he cut Hamilton's lead from 11 seconds to less than three, he couldn't quite make it.

    But he could still be proud of a fine second place.

    Massa is up one to seventh.

6. Valtteri Bottas

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    Down Two

    Valtteri Bottas qualified in third place, less than two tenths of a second slower than second-placed Lewis Hamilton.

    He looked set for a good race but bogged down badly at the start. He was eighth by the first corner, and if not a mountain, he had a small hill to climb.

    Bottas stayed out longer than the cars he was racing before making his first stop, and his pace over the four extra laps was sufficient to jump all four of them.

    He moved back up to fourth when the long-running Daniel Ricciardo stopped, but the time in traffic had cost him almost 20 seconds to team-mate Massa.

    The Finn had a lonely race, looking a touch slower than Massa but never truly challenged by the cars behind. Ricciardo closed to within nine seconds at the end, but that was as tight as it got.

    After a third consecutive race in which he has been out-performed by Massa, Bottas falls two spots to sixth.

5. Nico Rosberg

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    No Change

    Nico Rosberg made the start to the weekend he needed, out-qualifying Lewis Hamilton by 0.386 seconds.

    But he didn't make the start he needed to the race.

    The two Mercedes have tended to get off the line at a similar pace all year, but Rosberg got a little bit bogged down and had to watch Hamilton go flying past before Turn 1. The German did at least manage to defend from Felipe Massa and slotted into second.

    In the early stages he lost a few seconds to his team-mate, then pegged the gap just over two seconds. Rosberg and Hamilton maintained position through the opening round of stopsthen disaster struck.

    Rosberg lost all ERS power and began to fall back through the field. His championship hopes were now pinned on scraping home in fifth if Hamilton retiredbut even that was out of his reach.

    He was told to pit and retire the car but said he'd rather stay out and take the flag. He finished 14th, a lap down.

    Much has been said of Rosberg's two "questionable" acts (Monaco and Spa), but his magnanimity in defeat was admirable. He didn't need to visit Hamilton before the podium ceremony but he did, and in interviews afterwards he admitted the best driver over the season had won.

    He remains fifth.

4. Jenson Button

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    Up Two

    Jenson Button could well have driven in his final race, and if he has it's a great loss to F1.

    He set the eighth-quickest time to take the McLaren qualifying battle by the narrowest of margins10-9 over Kevin Magnussen. He started sixth after the Red Bulls and their bendy wings were disqualified.

    He jumped up to fourth at the start but fell to a net fifth at his first stop. Time spent stuck in traffic cost him a bit of time, and as the race wore on and Daniel Ricciardo continued to go faster, his position became a net sixth by the time of his second and final stop.

    Released into clean air, Button put in the lap times he needed to in order to cover off the cars which would later switch to the supersofts for a final charge.

    Nico Rosberg's ERS failure returned him to fifth, and that's where he finishedensuring fifth in the constructors' championship for McLaren.

    If it was his last race, at least he went out in style.

    Button rises two spots to fourth.

3. Fernando Alonso

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    At least he won the Beard of the Year title.
    At least he won the Beard of the Year title.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    No Change

    Fernando Alonso qualified in a lowly 10th place, behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for only the third time in 2014. He was elevated to eighth when the Red Bulls were demoted.

    Starting on the supersoft tyres, Alonso was one of the first to pit. He came out behind the Caterham of Will Stevens, and what happened next summed up his entire afternoon. That it was broadcast live from Alonso's roll-hoop camera was an added bonus.

    Clearly far quicker, he got a better exit from the Turn 7 hairpin, pulled alongside the Caterham on the main straight and seemed to be past. But suddenly, Stevens came back down the outside, noticeably quicker in a straight line.

    Alonso had to out-brake the debutant into the first chicane, and spent almost the entirety of the race stuck behind slower cars.

    Whatever kind of power unit Honda produce for next season's McLaren, it surely can't be any worse than the heap in the back of the 2014 Ferrari.

    A long final stint saw Jenson Button, both Force Indias and Sebastian Vettel go sailing by the sluggish F14 T. One wondered, if only for a brief moment, whether Alonso would be able to pass Nico Rosberg's ailing Mercedes.

    He did, of course, but could only manage ninth85 seconds down on race winner Lewis Hamilton.

    Alonso remains third.

2. Daniel Ricciardo

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    No Change

    Daniel Ricciardo set the fifth-fastest time on Saturday, out-qualifying Sebastian Vettel by 0.626 seconds.

    The position only lasted a few hours. An illegal front wing on the Red Bull saw both drivers excluded from qualifying and sent to the rear of the field. Both started from the pit lane, Ricciardo ahead of Vettel.

    The Australian started on the soft compound tyres and moved up through the field as the supersoft runners pitted. Running long, his pace was strong and he was a comfortable fifth when he made his first stop, only dropping to seventh.

    He gained one lost place when Jenson Button pitted and passed Sergio Perez within a few laps to re-take fifth.

    Nico Rosberg's car problems saw Ricciardo up to fourth, which is where he finished after a brief duel with Valtteri Bottas and a late switch to the supersofts.

    From 19th to fourth, just 37 seconds down on the race winner. Outstanding, and all done without an illegal front wing.

    Ricciardo remains second.

1. Lewis Hamilton

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    No Change

    In the end, double points counted for nothing andwith respect to Nico Rosbergthe best man won.

    Lewis Hamilton qualified second, a significant 0.386 seconds shy of Rosberg after errors on both his Q3 laps.

    But he took the lead at the start, and from that moment on, it never really looked in doubt. The Briton built a comfortable advantage over Rosberg after a couple of laps, and even without the ERS failure it's unlikely he would have challenged.

    Mercedes turned the engine right down when Rosberg dropped out of contention, allowing Felipe Massa a sniff of victory, but Hamilton seemed in control of the gap even as it dropped from 11 to three seconds.

    The new world champion crossed the line first to win his sixth race in seven, his 11th of the season and the 33rd of his career.

    Hamilton remains first.