Formula 1's Driver Power Rankings After 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2015

Formula 1's Driver Power Rankings After 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix

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    Formula One is in genuine danger of being considered exciting again after a second thrilling race in a row.

    The 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix was a lights-to-flag exhibition of the best the beloved sport has to offer. Drivers like Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso proved why they are considered among the finest in the field with top-class drives to first, third and fifth, respectively.

    Max Verstappen recovered well from a difficult start to secure a career-best fourth, Daniil Kvyat kept his cool to score his first-ever F1 podium and, until his car let him down, Kimi Raikkonen looked like a man who deserves to keep his Ferrari seat.

    But the race also featured some sub-par displays, with the title-chasing Mercedes duo among the worst offenders. Two clumsy mistakes cost Lewis Hamilton a race he should have won, while team-mate Nico Rosberg suffered from a baffling, weekend-long lack of speed.

    An early penalty marked the start of a tough afternoon for Felipe Massa, and the less said about Pastor Maldonado's penalty-collecting spree, the better.

    Mentally, this will have been a difficult race for all concerned following the death of Jules Bianchi; the four-week summer break, frustrating as it can be for fans, has probably come along at just the right time.

    F1 will be back in action on August 21 at Spa-Francorchamps for the start of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

    Here's how the drivers rank as we enter the second half of the season.

    Note on F1 Driver Power Rankings

    These rankings should not be confused with the championship table.

    Rather than looking solely at how many points each driver has, these rankings take into account race results, qualifying, the overall performance of each driver and how drivers stack up against their team-mates. The relative pace of each driver's car is factored in, as is the identity and ability of his team-mate.

    For each race, every driver who took part is awarded a score out of 10. The sum of these scores across the previous six races is given on each driver's slide and determines the driver's ranking.

    As we're more than six races into the season, drivers will start dropping points from races earlier in the year; this, coupled with a very tight field, may result in large fluctuations.

    All position changes are relative to where the driver was in the previous set of rankings, published after the British Grand Prix and available here.

Honourable Mentions

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    Marcus Ericsson put in a solid performance to beat his team-mate in both qualifying and the race. A solitary and unlikely point for 10th was his reward.

    Kimi Raikkonen was another driver who had his best weekend for a while. The Iceman was clinical and aggressive on the opening lap, and only an MGU-K failure robbed him of his second podium of the season.

    And we can't forget Max Verstappen. The youngster qualified well and recovered from a poor start to finish fourthhis team's best-ever finishing position in a car of their own design.

10. Felipe Massa

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    Down Five

    Felipe Massa received a penalty for a strange starting-grid incident and finished outside the points.

    He qualified eighth on the grid, two places behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas. The Brazilian has had the edge in qualifying so far in 2015, but on this occasion he was three-tenths of a second slower.

    When the cars arrived back at the grid from the formation lap, Massa encountered a highly unusual problemhe couldn't see the yellow line that indicates where the driver should park his front wheel and stopped short of his box. The start was abortedfortunately, he got it right the second time.

    Massa lost a place at the start to end the first lap in ninth, and after a couple of laps of good defending, he lost another to the recovering Lewis Hamilton.

    At his first stop, he had to serve a five-second time penalty for the starting grid incidentthis resulted in him falling to a net 15th. Slow on the medium tyres, Massa never really got going and remained close to the rear of the field.

    He finished down in 12th, failing to score for the first time since Monaco.

    Massa will be aiming to bounce back from his worst weekend for a long time. He falls five places to 10th.

    Rating: 5

    Cumulative: 45

9. Daniil Kvyat

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    New Entry

    Daniil Kvyat wasn't on top form in Hungary but still managed to secure his first F1 podium.

    Qualifying was tough for the young Russian; he ended up seventh on the grid, three places and more than half a second behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. He later admitted on the team website that he'd failed to get into a good rhythm.

    Kvyat got off the line well and maintained his position into the first corner. When Ricciardo tangled with Valtteri Bottas at the exit, Kvyat was first in line to take advantage and slipped through into sixth.

    But a vibration from the huge lock-up into the first corner affected his lap times, and the team ordered him to let the faster Ricciardo back past. Kvyat was among the first drivers to pit for fresh rubber, but his pace relative to key rivals failed to improve.

    It didn't look like being a good race for the Red Bull manbut when Nico Hulkenberg's front wing failed, it all fell into place.

    The resulting safety car let Kvyat switch to another set of softs, and when the racing resumed he was seventh. Valtteri Bottas fell to an opportunistic pass coming out of Turn 3, and struggling Lewis Hamilton was dispatchedillegallyaround the outside of the Turn 4 run-off area.

    Ailing Kimi Raikkonen was easy pickings, and when Ricciardo and Nico Rosberg collided, Kvyat was through into second. He had a 10-second time penalty for the pass on Hamilton but finished far enough ahead of Ricciardo that it didn't matter.

    Kvyat is growing into his Red Bull seat after a shaky start to the year. He's a new entry in ninth.

    Rating: 7

    Cumulative: 45

8. Carlos Sainz Jr.

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    Down One

    Carlos Sainz drove well but was undone once more by poor reliability.

    He didn't have the best of Saturdays, qualifying 12th with a Q2 lap of one minute, 23.869 seconds. His time was less than a tenth slower than team-mate Max Verstappen—who eventually qualified ninth—managed at the same stage.

    The pair swapped places at the start, Sainz moving up to 11th. He looked quicker than Felipe Massa in 10th, but he lacked the straight-line speed to challenge and was more concerned with keeping Verstappen behind.

    Toro Rosso made the curious decision to bring Verstappen in first for his stoppriority is usually given to the car that is running first on the road. Stopping a lap later, Sainz lost places to both Verstappen and Fernando Alonso.

    He remained behind his fellow Spaniard through the second set of stops, but when Alonso pitted again behind the safety car, Sainz stayed out and gained the place. However, Sainz was stuck on the slower, medium-compound tyresmost of the cars behind him had pitted for fresh softs.

    Alonso overtook 14 laps from the end, relegating Sainz to what would have become sixth. He probably would have been able to stay there to the chequered flag, but his car had other ideas.

    Sainz began to slow as he lost power, eventually retiring on the 61st lap.

    It wasn't his best race, but at the very least he deserved some points. Sainz falls a spot to eighth.

    Rating: 7

    Cumulative: 45

7. Daniel Ricciardo

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    Up Three

    Daniel Ricciardo stood on the podium for the first time in 2015 after a strong, attacking drive.

    He qualified an excellent fourth on the grid, his time of 1:22.774 less than two-tenths of a second shy of a front-row berth. Team-mate Daniil Kvyat was more than half a second slower and started seventh.

    Unfortunately for the Australian, he didn't make the best of starts, and contact with Valtteri Bottas in Turn 1 saw him down to eighth at the end of the opening lap.

    Ricciardo's recovery began when he was waved past slower team-mate Kvyat, and he dispatched Nico Hulkenberg two laps later. By mid-race, Ricciardowho ran the slower, medium-compound tyres for his second stintwas fifth.

    Without the safety car that's probably where he would have finished, but Nico Hulkenberg's accidentand the fact Ricciardo switched to the soft tyres, with his rivals now on mediumsput him into contention for the win.

    He suffered some bodywork damage passing Hamilton at the restart, but it didn't slow him down; six laps later he had caught second-placed Rosberg. For lap after lap Ricciardo tried and failed to get close enough to overtake, then on Lap 64 he threw caution to the wind.

    Coming from a long way back, he surprised Rosberg with a daring, late-braking attack into Turn 1. Ricciardo was ahead at the corner apex but went too deep; Rosberg attempted to cut in ahead and the pair made contact.

    The German got a puncture while Ricciardo needed a new front wing. The visit to the pits dropped the Red Bull man behind team-mate Kvyat, but he was far enough ahead of the rest to rejoin and claim the final podium position.

    Ricciardo may have finished behind his team-mate, but he thoroughly outperformed him all weekend and showed a willingness to go on the offensive. He's up three spots to seventh.

    Rating: 9

    Cumulative: 45

6. Nico Rosberg

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    Down Three

    Nico Rosberg blew a golden chance to take the championship lead in Hungary.

    He qualified second on the grid but was a whopping 0.575 seconds slower than Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg only narrowly avoided falling onto the second rowthird-placed Sebastian Vettel was just a tenth-and-a-half slower.

    When the lights went out on Sunday, Rosberg got a slightly better start than Hamilton but was overtaken by Vettel into Turn 1. Kimi Raikkonen then got his nose down the inside of Rosberg into Turn 2, relegating the German to third.

    But the title-challenger was able to easily repel Hamilton's overly optimistic attack into the chicane and saw his team-mate fall to 10th.

    Though the two Ferraris were ahead on the track, Rosberg had a huge advantagehe was driving a Mercedes. But it soon became apparent that, even in the W06, he couldn't keep up with either Vettel or Raikkonen.

    And any thoughts the car just wasn't performing well went up in smoke when Hamilton finally found some clean air and instantly set the fastest lap.

    Rosberg took the medium tyres for the middle stint and showed no pace improvement, falling a huge 27 seconds behind Vettel. The safety car brought him back onto the Ferrari's tail, but instead of going on the offensive, he found himself looking in his mirrors, defending from Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull.

    The Australian sat behind for a few laps before sending an optimistic lunge down the inside of Turn 1 at the start of Lap 64. He went too deep, Rosberg cut across to retake the racing line and the front of the Red Bull touched the rear of the Mercedes, puncturing Rosberg's tyre.

    Returning to the pits cost Rosberg more than a minute, and he could recover no higher than eighth.

    Rosberg can't be blamed for the Ricciardo collision, but he was inexcusably slow all weekend long. He's down three places to sixth.

    Rating: 5

    Cumulative: 45

5. Fernando Alonso

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    Up Three

    Fernando Alonso drove an excellent race to grab a shock fifth place for McLaren.

    He made it through the first part of qualifying, but his car ground to a halt before he could set a lap in Q2. Alonso hopped out and got help from the marshals to push it back to the pitssuggesting he was optimistic of a reasonable grid slot. But the rules say the car must return to the pits unaided, and, unable to go back out, he qualified 15th.

    The Spaniard went some way to making up for his Saturday disappointment with a good opening lap, rising to 12th. Max Verstappen shunted him back a spot, but good pit work saw Alonso emerge from the first round of stops in 10th.

    His pace was good throughout the second stint, almost identical to that of Valtteri Bottas in the Williams. He held 10th at the second round of stops—when he switched to the medium tyres—then returned to the pits for a fresh set of softs seven laps later when the safety car came out.

    When the racing resumed, Alonso quickly passed the ailing Carlos Sainz and made up further places as cars ahead ran into trouble. Nico Rosberg's puncture moved him up to fifth, and that's where he finished.

    McLaren needed a good result here; Alonso's excellent drive gave them it.

    He's up three places to fifth.

    Rating: 9

    Cumulative: 46

4. Valtteri Bottas

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    Up Two

    Valtteri Bottas missed out on a potential podium through no fault of his own.

    He qualified a strong sixth, his lap of 1:23.222 three-tenths quicker than team-mate Felipe Massa's best. The Hungaroring isn't a Williams-friendly circuit, and Bottas later said that he couldn't have got more out of the car, via the team website.

    A good opening lap moved Bottas up to fourth, but there were quicker cars behind. He was down to sixth after the pit-stop phase as both Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton recovered toward the front of the field.

    Bottas couldn't keep up with them but looked secure in sixth throughout the second stint, keeping clear of seventh-placed Nico Hulkenberg until the Force India man's front wing failed. The VJM08 missed Bottas by little more than a metre as it speared off the circuit into the barriers.

    It was a very fortunate escape for the Finn, but his luck was about to run out.

    Following the safety car, Bottas got caught up trying to avoid the messy duel between Hamilton and Daniil Kvyat. He was forced to slow in Turn 5, and Max Verstappen's front wing gave his right-rear tyre the tiniest of taps.

    The contact was enough to give Bottas a puncture, ending his hopes of a points finish, and he finished the race in 14th.

    Bottas rises two places to fourth.

    Rating: 8

    Cumulative: 46

3. Lewis Hamilton

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    Down Two

    Lewis Hamilton was the quickest man all weekend but struggled when it mattered the most.

    He continued his Saturday dominance over the field, qualifying on pole with a lap of 1:22.020more than half a second faster than team-mate Nico Rosberg. It was his ninth pole from 10 races and came on the back of being fastest in all three practice sessions and the first two parts of qualifying.

    A rare 100 per cent weekend looked on the cardsbut it all went wrong at the start of the race.

    Hamilton didn't get off the line well and found Sebastian Vettel alongside him on the run down to Turn 1. The Ferrari man edged his rival across the track, putting Hamilton into an even worse position entering the braking zone. He emerged from the corner in fourth.

    Even then things didn't look so bad, but a clumsy and poorly executed attempt at passing Rosberg at the chicane dumped Hamilton further down the orderhe was 10th at the end of the first lap.

    After fighting back past a few rivalsthe move on Felipe Massa was especially good to watchhe got some clean air, instantly becoming the fastest man on the track. By mid-race he was still quicker than anyone else and looked set for a fight with Rosberg over the final podium spot.

    But then came the next mistake. The safety car emerged after Nico Hulkenberg's accident, and when it returned to the pits he was fourth and on the medium tyres. Daniel Ricciardo was fifth and on the softs.

    The Australian got a better exit out of the final corner and attempted to go around the outside into Turn 1. Hamilton tried to defend on the inside, locked his wheel and slid into the side of the Red Bull.

    A trip to the pits for a new front wing followed by a drive-through penalty for causing the collision left the championship leader in 13th. He did well to recover to take sixth but made two very silly errors in a race he should have dominated.

    Hamilton was the standout performer in the first part of the season but hasn't been on fire of late. He falls two places to third.

    Rating: 5

    Cumulative: 46

2. Nico Hulkenberg

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    Up Two

    Nico Hulkenberg will be left to ponder what might have been after a front wing failure ended his race.

    He qualified 11th on the grid, missing out on a spot in Q3 by just 21 thousandths of a second. Team-mate Sergio Perez was more than six-tenths slower and started 13th.

    Hulkenberg had a blinding start at Silverstone, and his getaway at the Hungaroring was just as good. He was up to sixth at the end of the first lap, and then he passed Daniil Kvyat's Red Bull to take fifth. Daniel Ricciardo and a recovering Lewis Hamilton dropped him to seventh.

    Kvyat's attempted undercut forced Hulkenberg to stop a little earlier than he might have liked, but he emerged ahead of the Red Bull. Kvyat would probably have got by in the end as he was on the quicker soft tyres, but eighth would have been a fine result for a Force India.

    Sadly, it wasn't to be.

    Hulkenberg's front wing failed at the end of the pit straight on Lap 42. Unable to slow the car, he speared off the circuit and into the tyres, narrowly missing Valtteri Bottas' Williams.

    The man behind Hulkenberg at the time of his retirement, Daniil Kvyat, eventually finished second. Where might the German have finished had someone else caused the safety car?

    Another fine performance, and one that is all the more impressive given he had almost no Friday running. Hulkenberg is up two spots to second.

    Rating: 9

    Cumulative: 50

1. Sebastian Vettel

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    Up One

    Sebastian Vettel ignored the chaos in his mirrors to claim his second Ferrari win.

    He qualified third on the grid, less than two-tenths of a second down on second-placed Nico Rosberg. It was the seventh time from 10 races he has been the best non-Mercedes, and he now leads team-mate Kimi Raikkonenwho started fifth8-2 in qualifying.

    A great start saw Vettel move alongside pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton on the long run down to the Turn 1. Realising he didn't have an ideal line, Vettel squeezed Hamilton across toward the inside of the track, giving himself space to brake on an optimal line.

    Had Hamilton not moved over, they'd have collidedbut the world championship leader couldn't risk a crash. Maybe Vettel knew that.

    The German emerged from Turn 1 in the lead and will have been happy to see team-mate Raikkonen slot in behind. Throughout the first stint, Vettel pulled away from third-placed Rosberg, and the advantage was extended in the second stint.

    Vettel's gap back to Rosberg was 27 seconds when the safety car neutralised the race; as it returned to the pits seven laps later, they were barely a second apart and on the same tyres. But the four-time world champion comfortably held off his rival, giving him just a single sniff of DRS.

    The pressure was lifted when Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo collided six laps from the end, and Vettel cruised to the chequered flag.

    Even his biggest critic would struggle to find a flaw in this performance.

    Vettel takes over the top spot in the rankings.

    Rating: 10

    Cumulative: 52

    Penalty information throughout sourced from the FIA. Race and qualifying data sourced from the official F1 website, the FIA and F1 Fanatic's lap charts.