Power Ranking the Formula 1 Teams After 2015 Singapore Grand Prix
Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel turned the form book on its head at the Singapore Grand Prix to chalk up their third race win of the 2015 Formula One season.
Daniel Ricciardo took second for Red Bull and Kimi Raikkonen filled the final spot on the podium. Only one of the supposedly dominant, near-bulletproof Mercedes cars made it to the end—and it was nearly 25 seconds down on the race winner.
Without the two safety cars, the gap could well have been more than a minute. Many a head will be scratched in the silver camp, and they'll head to Suzuka hoping this was nothing more than a strange, unexplained blip.
We'll find out for sure in less than a week.
McLaren will also be holding an inquest after seeing their top 10 hopes evaporate. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button could and probably would have scored points, but twin gearbox failures saw the team chalk up their fourth double-DNF of the season.
Lotus, too, had a miserable weekend at Marina Bay, but Toro Rosso overcame multiple setbacks to give their beleaguered engine supplier a small psychological boost. For the first time since the V6 turbo era began, Renault had more cars in the points than either Mercedes or Ferrari.
With the Japanese Grand Prix less than a week away, there's no time to head home—all the teams will be flying straight to Suzuka to prepare for what's set to be a race of discovery.
Until then, here's how the teams rank.
Note on Team Power Rankings
F1 team power rankings ignore the points table and instead present a snapshot of where each team stands in relation to their competitors based on the three key factors of reliability and single-lap and long-run pace.
The rankings are based on how they would perform if racing on an "average circuit" that places equal emphasis on each area of the car.
All position changes are relative to those in the previous set of rankings, published after the Italian Grand Prix. You can find them here.
Manor had a new driver, but the result was the same as always.
Their weekend got off to a bad start with both cars needing new gearboxes, but the resulting five-place grid penalties didn't affect where they started. Will Stevens was quickest of the team's two drivers with a lap of one minute, 51.021 seconds, but he could only manage 19th.
Debutant Alexander Rossi, replacing Roberto Merhi, was 20th. The fastest lap set by a Manor was almost four seconds down on the next slowest car.
Once the race got under way, the pair were rapidly dropped by the rest of the field. Despite two safety car periods, both were lapped twice—Rossi finishing 14th with Stevens last of all.
Manor stay at the bottom of the pile.
McLaren's big chance to score points was ruined by reliability.
Fernando Alonso got the most out of the MP4-30 on Saturday, but he could only qualify in 12th with a time of 1:46.328. Jenson Button lined up in 15th.
When the lights went out, Alonso made up a single place due to Max Verstappen's start-line problems and spent the opening stint in 11th. He emerged in the same place after pitting but didn't quite have enough pace to challenge Felipe Nasr up ahead.
Button had a poor getaway and spent the early stages of the race way down the order, quicker than Marcus Ericsson but unable to find a way by.
Safety cars and problems for rivals brought the Brit into play after his second stop, but a run-in with Pastor Maldonado ended any hope of a points finish. Salt was rubbed into Button's wounds when his gearbox also failed, completing McLaren's fourth double-DNF of the year.
And they can't even blame Honda this time—McLaren make their own gearboxes...
They remain ninth.
Sauber salvaged a point from a difficult Singapore Grand Prix.
Felipe Nasr was the team's quickest qualifier for the first time in five races, but beating his team-mate wasn't enough to get him out of Q1. The Brazilian was 16th, a tenth slower than Jenson Button's McLaren. Marcus Ericsson, a further tenth back, started 17th.
An OK start saw Nasr move up to 14th, and that's where he spent the first stint. His pace wasn't good, but a huge stroke of luck in the first round of pit stops elevated the Brazilian to the heady heights of ninth. Lewis Hamilton's retirement bumped him further up the order to eighth.
The second round of stops and the restart behind the safety car were less kind; Nasr was shuffled back down to 11th. But once he'd got his tyres up to temperature, he was able to attack Romain Grosjean, who was struggling on old rubber.
Nasr overtook a few laps from home to snatch a point for 10th.
Ericsson never quite had the same speed as his team-mate and didn't gain the same benefit from the first round of stops. He spent most of the race in the region of 14th or 15th, making up places toward the end as others developed problems.
The Swede finished 11th, and Sauber hold station in eighth.
Lotus had poor pace and rotten luck with the safety cars on their way to a second pointless race in a row.
Romain Grosjean did a good job on Saturday, putting his car 10th on the grid with a Q3 lap of 1:46.413. Team-mate Pastor Maldonado, however, had a horrible session—he ended up 18th, slowest of all bar the two Manors.
From 10th, Grosjean had a poor opening lap and fell to 13th. He managed to undercut several rivals with an early first stop, but coming in so early meant he'd probably be looking at a three-stop race.
The Frenchman came in again with 33 laps to go and emerged in a net 12th. Had the race run normally to the flag, he might have had a shot at some points; unfortunately for him, the safety car came back out.
The other cars pitted, and Grosjean stayed out, rising to eighth, but his tyres were already ageing and his pace was poor. Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Felipe Nasr zipped by to relegate him to 11th. With no chance of points, the team elected to retire the car to protect the gearbox.
Maldonado gained a place at the start and followed the same early stop path as his team-mate—with similar results. He ran as high as 12th in the second stint and was ninth at the restart following the second safety car, but his old tyres left him vulnerable to attack.
Even Jenson Button, in a McLaren, was able to have a go. Maldonado defended vigorously and ran wide at Turn 16. He came back onto the track ahead of Button and seemed extremely slow at the corner exit—so slow, in fact, the surprised McLaren man ran into the back of the E23.
Maldonado's diffuser was damaged, and though he soldiered on, he wasn't quite quick enough and finished 12th after a late third stop.
Lotus drop to seventh after a weekend to forget.
6. Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso overcame adversity to chalk up only their second double points finish of the year.
Max Verstappen got the job done in qualifying, putting his STR10 eighth on the grid with a time of 1:45.798. Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. made a mistake on his Q2 hot lap and found himself down in 14th.
Unfortunately for Verstappen, all his good work on Saturday was undone at the start. He stalled on the grid and, though the team got him going again, he was a lap down on even the Manors before he made it back onto the track.
But his pace was extremely good—better than Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. The lengthy first safety car period gave Verstappen the opportunity to unlap himself, and it was one-way traffic from that point on.
After the second safety car, Verstappen was up to 12th and had a set of supersoft tyres fitted—most of those ahead were on softs. The Dutchman blitzed his way through the pack, moving up to 10th after one lap and into ninth after two.
He eventually finished eighth.
Sainz made a better start and rose to 12th during the first safety car period, but his car put itself into neutral at the restart and he fell to the rear of the field. Opting for a three-stop strategy saw him fall behind Verstappen, but Sainz, too, had good pace and—after the second safety car—supersoft tyres.
He followed Verstappen through the field and came home in ninth to score his first points since Monaco.
Toro Rosso are up a spot to sixth.
5. Force India
Force India had a so-so weekend at a circuit that doesn't really play to their strengths.
Nico Hulkenberg qualified 11th with a lap of 1:46.305, but he was a full half-second shy of a spot in Q3. Sergio Perez was less than a tenth slower and lined up in 13th—the VJM08s split by Fernando Alonso's McLaren.
Both made good starts and Hulkenberg was up to ninth by the end of the opening lap. He was quicker than the cars behind but slightly slower than eighth-placed man Felipe Massa. The team tried the undercut to move their driver ahead—with disastrous consequences.
Massa emerged from the pits half a car length behind Hulkenberg but had the inside line into Turn 3. The German had seen Massa but didn't leave him space; the resulting collision pitched Hulkenberg into the wall and out of the race.
Perez was among the beneficiaries of the crash, gaining two places to run in eighth. He didn't have a lot to do during the second stint and moved up to seventh when Lewis Hamilton was forced out, but after the second safety car, he came under pressure from the flying Toro Rossos.
They had far better grip, but Mercedes power kept the Mexican ahead on the straights. Perez crossed the line in seventh, just six-tenths ahead of Max Verstappen, for his third consecutive points finish.
Force India remain fifth, but it's very tight with the teams behind.
Williams won't be too disappointed with their Singapore pace but failed to match their main rivals.
Valtteri Bottas qualified seventh, his lap of 1:45.676 a little under four-tenths of a second slower than the quickest works Mercedes. Felipe Massa made a small error on his best Q3 lap and could only manage ninth.
A decent getaway off the line saw Bottas edge ahead of Nico Rosberg into the first corner, but the Finn got boxed in behind Lewis Hamilton at Turn 3 and had to settle back into seventh.
He couldn't quite hang onto Rosberg but pulled a small gap over Massa and had a fairly quiet afternoon. The only passing move he had to do was on an ailing Hamilton, and Bottas was comfortably able to hold off whoever ended up behind him—even the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat.
Bottas finished fifth, 34 seconds down on the race winner.
Massa was the only top 10 starter who made up a place off the grid and ran eighth in the first stint. Nico Hulkenberg tried to undercut him at the first round of stops, Williams responded, and as Massa exited the pits, the pair were side-by-side going into Turn 3.
Hulkenberg took his normal line but found Massa in the way, knocking himself out of the race. Massa continued but had to make an unscheduled stop due to a slow puncture.
It dropped him down the order, but his efforts to recover were cut short by a gearbox problem. He was forced to retire after 30 laps—his first DNF of the season.
Williams fall one place to fourth.
3. Red Bull
Red Bull had their most competitive outing of 2015—but not their best result.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified a season-high second on the grid with a lap of 1:44.428, but he was more than half a second down on polesitter Sebastian Vettel. Daniil Kvyat started fourth, his best-ever grid slot.
Both the Red Bulls got decent starts, and Ricciardo slotted in behind Vettel. The Australian could only watch as the Ferrari man built a comfortable lead, but as the stint wore on and the tyres took more punishment, Ricciardo began to close.
The appearance of the virtual, then full safety car following Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa's collision meant we never got to find out if he could have caught up. Vettel and Ricciardo both pitted and rejoined, remaining first and second, respectively.
The second stint told a similar story. Vettel was clearly the quicker of the two, but Ricciardo looked like he was managing his tyres better. The game of cat-and-mouse continued throughout another safety car period and all the way to the chequered flag, Ricciardo coming home just 1.478 seconds behind his former team-mate.
Kvyat had a good getaway and was able to stick his nose down the inside of Kimi Raikkonen at the entry to Turn 1. However, the Finn had the racing line and Kvyat was forced to back out, settling in to fourth.
Though he didn't look as fast as Ricciardo, on pure pace alone he had the beating of the two Mercedes behind. But an unfortunately timed virtual safety car saw him slip behind both W06s early on—and more bad luck for Kvyat at the second round of stops left him staring at the rear of Valtteri Bottas' Williams.
He stayed behind it all the way to the end and finished a disappointing sixth.
Red Bull move ahead of Williams after a quick—and more importantly, reliable—weekend.
Ferrari turned the tables on Mercedes and had the quickest car for the first time since the V6 turbo era began.
Sebastian Vettel took on Lewis Hamilton's usual role in qualifying, annihilating the rest of the field to take his first pole of the season by 0.543 seconds. Kimi Raikkonen was third.
A good start and blistering first lap saw Vettel a full three seconds clear of Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull after just a single tour of Marina Bay. The German built a small lead over his former team-mate, but Ricciardo started to close as tyre wear began to play its part.
The first safety car fell at just the right time, and after both pitted, Vettel emerged ahead. He managed his tyres for the first half of the stint before putting the hammer down on Lap 27. Again he built a small gap over Ricciardo and again the Australian looked like he might close up as the stint wore on—but again, the safety car stepped in.
Vettel built a small lead for the third time in the final stint. Ricciardo pushed late on but had no chance of catching up, leaving Vettel—who led every lap—to take his third win of the season.
Raikkonen was never quite as quick as his team-mate, but he always had something in reserve to hold off those behind. He crossed the line in third to secure Ferrari's first double podium since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
An optimistic tifoso might see this as a turning point. Maybe it really was—but probability suggests it won't be a red car leading the field at Suzuka.
They remain second for now.
Mercedes were left scratching their heads after their worst race since 2013.
Lewis Hamilton was quickest of the two W05s in qualifying, but the man who had been on pole 11 times in the 12 races before Singapore could only manage fifth—a whopping 1.4 seconds slower than polesitter Sebastian Vettel. Nico Rosberg was sixth, a further tenth behind.
Both Mercedes' got reasonable starts and, after Rosberg had fended off the advances of Valtteri Bottas, settled in to run fifth and sixth. They didn't look capable of keeping up with the Ferraris and Red Bulls up ahead, but the virtual safety car worked in their favour.
Hamilton moved up to fourth, Rosberg to fifth, with Daniil Kvyat the unfortunate victim.
When the safety car came in, they continued to run line astern. Hamilton was again the quicker of the two and, on the slower, soft compound tyres, he managed to hang on to the front three. But, realistically, he was nowhere near as quick as them—Vettel was running up to two seconds off his "true" pace.
He began to show this just as things went wrong for the world championship leader. Hamilton reported a loss of power and rapidly fell back through the field, eventually retiring after he was passed by both Manors.
Rosberg inherited fourth and, though he escaped Kvyat's attentions, he couldn't hope to stay with the leading three. A full second-per-lap slower than Vettel and Ricciardo in the final stint, he trailed home almost 25 seconds down on the race winner.
The Singapore race was likely nothing more than a blip; Mercedes should be back on top at Suzuka.
They remain in first place.