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

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2015

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

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    Lewis Hamilton took his sixth victory of the season in the 2015 Formula One Belgian Grand Prix to extend his championship lead to 28 points. Team-mate Nico Rosberg finished second, completing an all too predictable one-two finish for Mercedesbut few would have correctly guessed a Lotus would finish third.

    Romain Grosjean drove a superb race to claim his and the team's first podium since 2013. The Frenchman started ninth after a grid penalty for changing his gearbox and, though he had to rely on a small slice of luck, he more than deserved his trophy.

    Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo also put in fine displays.

    Poor performances were few and far betweenthe only driver to exit the race by his own hand was Pastor Maldonado. But it's likely Nico Rosberg will be disappointed by the way his weekend went, especially after having the upper hand on Friday.

    The drivers have a little over a week off to prepare for the unique challenges of the high-speed Monza circuit.

    Here's how they rank after the Belgian Grand Prix.

    Note on 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 Hungarian Grand Prix and available here.

Honourable Mentions

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    Marcus Ericsson benefited from Sebastian Vettel's puncture to sneak into the points. He easily outqualified team-mate Felipe Nasr and is starting to look more comfortable and competitive in the C34.

    Jenson Button also qualified wellor at least, as well as anyone could in a McLarenbut struggled in the race due to issues with his MP4-30's power deployment. He's one of two men tied on points with the 10th-placed driver in the rankings. The other is Felipe Massa.

    And life really isn't being fair to Carlos Sainz Jr. He qualified in the top 10 but was once again unable to finish due to problems with his unreliable Toro Rosso.

10. Fernando Alonso

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    Down Five

    Fernando Alonso had a tough weekend in the horribly uncompetitive McLaren.

    He didn't get much running in practice, doing no representative laps in FP3, and qualified 18thsix-tenths slower than team-mate Jenson Button. A ridiculous 55-place grid penalty for two new power units dropped him to 20thbut he wasn't there for long.

    The poor qualifying display was forgotten as Alonso powered past six cars before the braking zone for Turn 1. He ended the first lap in 14th.

    Alonso had a couple of tussles with the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, once before and once after the first round of stops, but neither lasted long. The two-time world champion was forced to watch the rookie disappear into the distance before settling in for a lonely race.

    He crossed the line in 13th, more than two minutes down on the race winner.

    Alonso falls five spots to 10th.

    Rating: 7

    Cumulative: 45

9. Valtteri Bottas

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    Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

    Down Five

    Valtteri Bottas qualified well but was let down by a poor start and an error by his team.

    The Finn's lap of one minute, 48.537 seconds was good enough for third, his best Saturday result of the season to date. Team-mate Felipe Massa was sixth-fastest, a little over a tenth of a second slower.

    The awesome starts made by both Williams at Silverstone remain fresh in the mind, but there was no repeat when the lights went out in Spa. Bottas dropped to fourth on the run down to Turn 1 and was fifth at the end of the opening lap.

    Bottas didn't have good pace in the opening stint, dropping off from the cars ahead at more than a second per lapa problem shared by team-mate Massa. He stopped on Lap 8 for fresh softsor at least, that was the idea.

    Somehow, a medium tyre found its way into the set Williams had ready, and in the blur of activity surrounding the car, no one seemed to notice. Bottas was sent on his way with three yellow-marked softs and one white-marked medium.

    Sadly for him, compound-mixing isn't permitted. Bottas received a drive-through penalty and slipped out of contention.

    From then on it was a case of recovering to the best possible position, and after switching to a full set of mediums for his final stint, he was quicker than anyone bar the three-stoppers and the two Mercedes.

    But he was too far back to make up enough ground and crossed the line in eighth.

    Bottas falls five spots to ninth due to the closeness of the field.

    Rating: 8

    Cumulative: 45

8. Romain Grosjean

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    New Entry

    Romain Grosjean made a well-earned return to the podium after a great weekend.

    The Frenchman qualified on the second row with a lap of 1:48.561, but a five-place grid penalty relegated him from fourth to ninth. Team-mate Pastor Maldonado set the eighth-fastest time, two-tenths slower than Grosjean.

    When the lights went out, Grosjean made up a single place at Turn 1 and ended the first lap in eighth. He rose to seventh when Maldonado's engine cut out and got ahead of Valtteri Bottas at the opening round of stops.

    Grosjean passed Daniel Ricciardo on the track to gain another place, and after making his second and final stopswitching to the medium tyresthe Lotus man was fourth, five seconds down on third-placed Sebastian Vettel.

    The gap shrunk slowly over the laps that followed, and Grosjean made it into DRS range with six laps to go.

    With superior straight-line speed, Grosjean attempted to attackbut in the end he didn't need to. Vettel's right-rear tyre exploded on the penultimate lap, gifting the position to his rival.

    But Grosjean deserved every drop of champagne after a brilliant recovery from his penalty.

    He's a new entry in eighth.

    Rating: 10

    Cumulative: 45

7. Sergio Perez

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    New Entry

    Sergio Perez briefly led the race, but in the end, his car wasn't quite up to the task.

    He qualified a fine fifth on the grid with a time of 1:48.599. He was under a tenth of a second down on third-placed man Valtteri Bottasa feat all the more impressive because he only did one hot lap in Q3. Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg was 11th-fastest.

    Having been promoted to fourth by Romain Grosjean's penalty, Perez got off the line like a scalded cat. He was up to second at the exit of Turn 1 and, when Lewis Hamilton went a touch wide through Eau Rouge-Raidillon, he was able to attack for the lead.

    Perez drew alongside and was ahead through the Sector 1 timing beam, butprobably wiselydecided against trying to go around the outside at Les Combes.

    Thereafter, his race became one of defence. His Force India didn't have the same pace as the cars behind it; Perez lost some positions during the pit stops but proved a formidable obstacle to anyone trying to pass on the track.

    His VJM08 was so good in a straight line, even Felipe Massadriving a Mercedes-powered Williamswas unable to find a way by.

    Perez came home in fifth, his best result of the season, and is a new entry in seventh.

    Rating: 9

    Cumulative: 46

6. Daniil Kvyat

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    Up Three

    Daniil Kvyat became the top Red Bull driver in the championship after a strong, attacking drive.

    Things weren't looking rosy after qualifying; while his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was setting the sixth-fastest time, Kvyat was watching from the garage, having been eliminated in Q2. He started 12th.

    Kvyat didn't have a brilliant getaway; despite two of the cars ahead dropping out, he only gained one position on the opening lap. But his pace was very good relative to the cars immediately ahead, and by the time he made his first stop on Lap 8, he was running in a net eighth.

    His second stint on the medium tyres was uneventful, but the Russian came alive after switching to the softs with 16 laps to go. Emerging in 10th, Kvyat blitzed past a string of cars including Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez.

    Though too far back to join the battle for third, he did at least move up into fourth after Sebastian Vettel's puncture.

    Where might he have been without that poor qualifying display?

    Kvyat rises three spots to sixth.

    Rating: 8

    Cumulative: 46

5. Max Verstappen

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    New Entry

    Max Verstappen didn't hold back as he recovered well from a qualifying penalty.

    Toro Rosso fitted his car with a new internal combustion engine before qualifyingit was his sixth of the season, so it carried a 10-place grid penalty. Verstappen took part in Q1 but elected to stay in the garage for Q2 rather than waste tyres. After everyone took their penalties, he lined up in 18th.

    He didn't get off the line well, but a good exit out of Turn 1 helped him to 12th by the end of the opening lap. His pass on Fernando Alonsodown the inside of Blanchimontwas especially impressive.

    Verstappen lost time behind Felipe Massa in the first stint, and he emerged from his first stop in a net 12th. Ahead was Felipe Nasr's Sauberhaving been delayed by one Brazilian, he didn't fancy losing out behind another.

    As the pair approached the flat-out Blanchimont corner at the end of Lap 10, Verstappen tried a stunning pass around the outside. It didn't quite come off, but it did at least put him in a position to finish the move a few hundred metres later at the final chicane.

    At the halfway stage, Verstappen looked set for eighth, but the team put him on a three-stop strategy. This gave him a substantial pace advantage over the rest of the field in the final stages, and on the final lap, he attacked Kimi Raikkonen for seventh.

    It looked like he'd got the move done, but he had to take evasive action to avoid Felipe Massa up ahead and went over the run-off area. Raikkonen slid back through.

    Verstappen should really have been seventh, but eighthfrom 18th on the gridis still worthy of praise. He's a new entry in fifth.

    Rating: 9

    Cumulative: 46

4. Daniel Ricciardo

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    Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

    Up Three

    Daniel Ricciardo received no reward for an excellent Spa outing.

    He qualified sixth on the grid, just one-tenth of a second shy of third-placed man Felipe Massa. Team-mate Daniil Kvyat failed to get the job done in Q2 and could only manage 12th.

    Starting from fifth after Romain Grosjean's grid penalty, Ricciardo made a good start and rose to third by the end of the opening lap. Smart pit work from Red Bull saw him leapfrog Sergio Perez at the opening pit-stop round.

    However, Ricciardo was on the slower, white-marked medium compound tyres. This, and a short delay behind Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, allowed the soft tyre-shod Mexican to strike back, pushing Ricciardo down to fourth.

    Romain Grosjean, also on the quicker softs, slipped by a few laps later, but Ricciardo would be able to switch to the faster tyre later.

    Unfortunately, he never got a chance. His Red Bull slowed suddenly in the final chicane on Lap 19 before coming to a halt on the pit straight. The problem was a total loss of power; the result was Ricciardo's second DNF of the year.

    Had he been able to continue, the fight for third in the closing laps would have been a three-way scrap. Ricciardo rises three places to fourth.

    Rating: 9

    Cumulative: 46

3. Lewis Hamilton

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    No Change

    Lewis Hamilton returned to form with his sixth win of 2015.

    He qualified on pole with a lap of 1:47.197, 0.458 seconds quicker than team-mate Nico Rosberg's best. Both Hamilton's Q3 hot laps were good enough for poleanother dominant Saturday outing.

    The defending champion had an average getaway, but it was good enough for him to retain the race lead into Turn 1. Fast-starting Sergio Perez slotted in behind and, after Hamilton went a touch wide through Raidillon, was able to pull alongside.

    But the Mexicanprobably wisely, as he wasn't in a great positionopted to back out of the move. Hamilton was never challenged thereafter, seeming to easily control the gap back to Rosberg all the way to the line.

    This was exactly what Hamilton needed after his dismal performance in Hungary.

    He remains in third spot.

    Rating: 10

    Cumulative: 49

2. Nico Hulkenberg

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    No Change

    Nico Hulkenberg didn't even get off the line in Spa.

    He qualified 11th, missing out on a spot in Q3 by just half-a-tenth of a second. Team-mate Sergio Perez set the fifth-fastest time and very nearly edged onto the front rowoutqualifying Hulkenberg for the first time in five races.

    The German's problems began on his out-lap to the grid when he experienced a loss of power. Hulkenberg later told the team website the power returned briefly, and he thought he might be able to start, but the issue came back on the formation lap and he was unable to get off the grid.

    A disappointing end to what could have been a good race. Hulkenberg hangs on in second.

    Rating: 6

    Cumulative: 50

1. Sebastian Vettel

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    No Change

    Sebastian Vettel very nearly completed a fine recovery after a poor Saturday.

    The Ferrari man qualified a disappointing ninth after an error on his hot lap. His time of 1:48.825 was just three-tenths shy of third-placed Valtteri Bottas in one of the tightest Q3 scraps of recent years. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen failed to set a representative time after his SF15-T broke down in Q2.

    Vettel started eighth after Romain Grosjean's penalty and had a good getaway off the grid. He then cut across the track to the inside and was fifth at the apex of Turn 1, but he got a poor exit and was sixth at the end of the opening lap.

    He made up places as others pitted earlierand passed Bottas on the trackbut after his own visit to the pits, Vettel emerged back in sixth.

    The one-stop strategy Ferrari were employing was something of a risk; though Vettel moved up to third when his rivals made their second stops, his pace on the increasingly old tyres wasn't fantastic, and Romain Grosjean began to close.

    Though the Frenchman pushed hard with the aid of DRS in the closing laps, Vettel looked like he was doing enough to keep the Lotus behind. But on the second-to-last lap, the German's right-rear tyre failed as he entered the Kemmel Straight.

    Pirelli motorsport chief Paul Hembery was later quoted by ESPN saying the tyre had reached "the end of its wear life," but speaking to BBC Sport, Vettel was not convinced.

    Regardless of where the blame for the failure lies, it cost Vettel dear. He finished down in 11th, failing to score for the first time in 2015.

    He holds on to the top spot for now.

    Rating: 8

    Cumulative: 52

    All timing, penalty and race data used throughout sourced from the official F1 website, the FIA and F1Fanatic's lap charts.