Power Ranking the Formula 1 Teams After 2015 Mexican Grand Prix
After all the excitement and hype, Formula One's 2015 Mexican Grand Prix was a bit of a letdown. The eagerly anticipated duel between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton never materialised as Mercedes cruised to their 10th one-two finish of the season.
Behind them, Valtteri Bottas of Williams took advantage of a late safety car to pip Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat to the final spot on the podium. Daniel Ricciardo ensured two RB11s finished in the top five, with Felipe Massa coming home in sixth.
Force India will have been pleased with their points haul after securing seventh and eighth, but Ferrari had by far their worst race of the season. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel failed to reach the chequered flag—the first Ferrari double-DNF since the 2009 Australian Grand Prix.
McLaren and Sauber also had difficult weekends, and Toro Rosso might have hoped for more than two points after appearing strong early in the race. But the Italian team did at least edge a little closer to Lotus in the battle for sixth in the constructors' championship.
The eyes of the F1 world now shift to the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, which will host the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 15.
Until then, here's how the teams rank.
Note on 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, 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 United States Grand Prix. You can find them here.
Manor remained in their usual spot but did at least get two cars to the end.
Alexander Rossi came out on top in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon. He set the 18th-fastest lap—one minute, 24.136 seconds—to beat Will Stevens by nearly three-tenths of a second. Both gained places as a result of others receiving penalties; Rossi started 16th, Stevens 17th.
Both were rapidly dropped to the rear of the field as soon as the race was under way, and the two drivers spent the race in a private battle with themselves. Rossi led at first, but Stevens got ahead on Lap 15.
The safety-car period late in the race closed the pair back up. Rossi got ahead again on Lap 61 to take 15th place, and that's where he finished with Stevens following close behind.
Manor remain 10th.
McLaren returned to earth with a bump after their competitive display at the last race.
Fernando Alonso was the only McLaren driver to take part in qualifying, and he exited in Q1 after setting the 16th-fastest time. He did at least beat one Sauber, but grid penalties dropped him to 19th. Jenson Button, whose Saturday was ruined by a power-unit issue, was permitted to start the race from last.
Button got an average start but managed to pass both Manors by the end of Lap 2. Having started on the slower, more durable medium tyres, he made up a number of places as many rivals made early pit stops.
However, his weak power unit left him with no chance of defending on the long main straight, and after making his own first stop on Lap 30, he was back down to 16th—ahead of only the two Manors.
Switching to softs didn't aid his progress, nor did the late safety car; he finished last of the "midfield" runners, 50 seconds down on the race winner.
Alonso's race was effectively over before it had even begun. He and the team knew he had an MGU-H problem before the start but took to the grid anyway. After just three corners, he lost power and retired at the end of the first lap.
McLaren fall to ninth after a truly poor outing.
Sauber never really looked like scoring points, and it was no surprise they didn't.
Marcus Ericsson made an appearance in Q2 for the first time in five races. His time of 1:21.544 placed him 14th on the grid, while team-mate Felipe Nasr could only manage 17th. However, Nasr gained two places due to penalties for other drivers—he started 15th.
Ericsson made an average start but gained one position on the opening lap due to Sebastian Vettel's puncture. Kimi Raikkonen dropped him back down to 14th, and after making his first stop, the Swede ended up in a net 15th.
Lacking the pace to challenge the genuine points contenders, Ericsson slowly fell away from the main pack as the race went on. He picked up two places after the Ferraris retired and was able to overtake the ailing Carlos Sainz Jr. late on to move up to 12th at the flag.
Nasr spent most of his race staring at the rear of his team-mate's car. He was close behind in the first stint, but the gap widened throughout the second.
The safety car put him back on Ericsson's tail, but a brake failure ended the Brazilian's race on Lap 58.
Sauber missed out on points for only the second time in eight races, but they rise a spot to eighth because McLaren were even slower.
Lotus continue to limp toward the end of the season and were again disappointing in Mexico.
Romain Grosjean continued his dominance over his team-mate, qualifying 12th with a lap of 1:21.038. Pastor Maldonado was 13th, a shade over two-tenths of a second slower.
The Frenchman got an unusually poor start and lost a place to his team-mate on the opening lap. Throughout the first stint, the two E23s were not too far off the pace of the cars in front, running line astern in 11th and 12th.
A very slow first stop for Maldonado let Grosjean back ahead, leaving the Venezuelan to fend off the recovering Sebastian Vettel. In one of the best battles of the race—which says more for the race than it does the battle—Maldonado was able to hold off the four-time world champion.
The Ferrari man ended up pitting, leaving Maldonado free to chase down his team-mate.
The safety car bunched the pack up late on and the Lotuses continued their race-long duel. Maldonado perhaps looked the quicker of the two, but he was unable to overtake. Grosjean crossed the line in 10th to take the final point with Maldonado just six-tenths back in 11th.
Lotus remain seventh.
6. Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso will have been disappointed with their points haul after starting so well.
Max Verstappen made his third Q3 appearance in a row and qualified eighth on the grid. His time of 1:20.710 was just six-thousandths of a second quicker than ninth-placed Sergio Perez. Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified 11th, missing out on Q3 by a similarly small margin of seven-thousandths.
The start saw Verstappen benefit from a brief traffic jam created by a slow Sebastian Vettel to move up to sixth by the end of the opening lap. However, he stayed out later than some rivals before making his first stop and emerged in eighth.
Shortly after stopping, he came under pressure from home favourite Sergio Perez, and though he was able to hold him off for a number of laps, a mistake entering the stadium section allowed the Mexican through.
Verstappen made a second stop when the safety car emerged, but he was unable to strike back at Perez and crossed the line in ninth.
Sainz didn't get off the line well but held his position into Turn 1. Committing very early to a two-stop race, he emerged from his first visit to the pits in a net ninth and looked to have sufficient pace to hold off the two Lotus cars behind.
However, the safety car didn't fall in his favour. A third stop to match the rivals who stopped when it emerged saw him drop to 13th, and a curious lack of pace—which the team put down to unspecified vibrations—left him to trail home behind even the Saubers.
Toro Rosso closed to within six points of Lotus in the constructors' championship and remain in sixth.
5. Force India
Force India strengthened their hold on fifth in the constructors' championship with another solid outing.
Sergio Perez qualified ninth in front of his home crowd, but he and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg—who started 10th—could perhaps have been higher up the grid. The team only did one Q3 run, and both drivers missed the best of the track conditions.
Hulkenberg made an average start and gained a single place on the opening lap, but Carlos Sainz Jr. relegated him back down to 10th two laps later. However, an early stop to swap his soft tyres for mediums saw the German undercut his way up to a net seventh.
His second-stint pace was very good, almost on a par with the Williams and Red Bull cars up ahead. The safety car worked perfectly for his strategy, and he held seventh at the restart, a position in which he remained all the way to the chequered flag.
Perez rose to eighth on the opening lap and looked well-placed in the early stages. He went for a one-stop race, coming in for fresh medium tyres on Lap 19 and falling down the order to 10th.
The Mexican moved up to ninth by passing Sainz and was lapping at a broadly similar speed to his team-mate. After also passing Max Verstappen, his strategy looked set to pay off—but then the safety car came out.
The two-stop runners benefited from an almost-free stop, while Perez and the team decided against making a second pit visit themselves. But having kept his ageing rubber alive—the tyres did a whopping 53 laps—Perez was able to hold off the cars behind and crossed the line in eighth.
Force India remain fifth.
Williams needed a bit of luck to snatch a podium, but they more or less deserved their success.
Valtteri Bottas came out on top in the battle of the team-mates at Williams. He started sixth on the grid with a lap of 1:20.448, half-a-tenth down on the Red Bulls. Felipe Massa was seventh, a further tenth behind.
When the lights went out, Bottas got a reasonable start, but he was passed by his team-mate around the outside of Turn 1. The Finn took the position back after Massa was hampered at the exit of Turn 3 and ended the opening lap in fifth.
Bottas was the first driver to make a scheduled stop, coming in at the end of Lap 8. This allowed him to undercut Daniel Ricciardo to take fourth after the Red Bull man made his own stop.
However, he didn't quite have sufficient pace to keep up with Daniil Kvyat and, with ageing tyres, Bottas looked set to fall out of podium contention—until the safety car intervened.
Armed with fresh rubber, he flew past Kvyat at the restart and pulled out enough of a gap to secure third place.
Massa had a strong start and was able to challenge Ricciardo for fifth through the opening corner sequence, but he lost out when he was pushed wide at the exit of Turn 3 and fell back to seventh.
He stopped one lap after Bottas and rose to a net fifth as a result. Ricciardo behind looked quicker toward the end of Massa's second stint, and a late-braking move on Lap 51 relegated the Brazilian to sixth.
That's where he remained through the safety-car period and all the way to the chequered flag.
Williams remain fourth.
3. Red Bull
Red Bull lost out on a probable podium after a late safety car.
Daniil Kvyat occupied fourth on the grid for the third time in five races. His lap of 1:20.398 was just one-thousandth of a second quicker than team-mate Daniel Ricciardo's best, but more than a half-second down on third.
The start saw Kvyat get off the line well and jump ahead of Sebastian Vettel after just a few hundred metres. He held the position into Turn 1 and pulled out a good gap over team-mate Ricciardo throughout the opening stint.
Red Bull looked to be one-stopping, so when Kvyat emerged from the pits ahead of Valtteri Bottas' Williams—which appeared to be two-stopping—he looked a sure bet for the third spot on the podium.
But the late safety car changed everything.
Kvyat pitted for fresh rubber, but Bottas did the same, and at the restart, the Mercedes-powered Williams blasted by down the long pit straight. The Russian was unable to mount a counter-attack, and he crossed the line in a disappointing fourth.
Ricciardo had a decent start and was able to attack Vettel down the inside into Turn 1. The Ferrari man turned in from the outside to claim the apex, hitting his former team-mate and giving himself a puncture. Ricciardo somehow escaped damage and continued in fourth.
A late stop—planned as his only visit to the pits—saw Ricciardo fall behind both Williams drivers, but as their tyres began to fade, the Australian was able to attack. He overtook Massa with a lovely move into Turn 1 and set off in pursuit of Bottas, but the safety car effectively ended his charge.
Having made a second pit stop for new rubber, Ricciardo briefly put Kvyat under pressure before ending the race in fifth.
Red Bull looked a touch quicker than Williams but didn't get the rub of the green. They hang on to third.
Ferrari had a dreadful race and left Mexico without a point to their name.
Sebastian Vettel qualified third on the grid for the seventh time in 2015—his best lap a little under four-tenths shy of pole. Kimi Raikkonen suffered a braking issue and could only manage the 15th-fastest time; grid penalties dropped him to 18th.
Things started to wrong right at the start. Vettel didn't have a great getaway from third, was passed by Daniil Kvyat and came under pressure from Daniel Ricciardo into Turn 1. The Australian went for the inside line, but Vettel turned in from the outside to claim the apex.
Two into one doesn't go, and the resulting collision left Vettel with a puncture; pitting for new tyres dropped him to the rear of the field.
He started to make inroads and moved up the order a bit, but on Lap 17, his progress was hampered by a spin at Turn 7. His pace suffered on the flat-spotted tyres, and after finding himself unable to overtake Pastor Maldonado for 12th, Vettel made his second stop.
But his race was over for good on Lap 50; another mistake at Turn 7 saw Vettel lose control at the entry and plough into the barriers on the outside.
Raikkonen had a good opening lap and was up to 15th by the end of the second tour. He made rapid progress through the field as other cars made early pit stops, and by Lap 19, he was into fifth.
However, Valtteri Bottas was closing fast on much fresher tyres. The younger Finn attacked around the outside of Turn 4, hoping for the inside line into Turn 5. Raikkonen gave him room initially but then turned in too hard.
The resulting collision broke Raikkonen's suspension and sent him into retirement.
Ferrari failed to score, but their pace was always good, so they remain second.
Mercedes again blitzed the field with a crushing performance in Mexico City.
Nico Rosberg was again on top in qualifying, claiming his fourth consecutive pole position with a time of 1:19.480. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton completed yet another front-row lockout.
The two W06s held their positions at the start without even a hint of a squabble into the braking zone of Turn 1. The Mercedes pit wall let out a sigh of relief, and the two drivers settled into a long and—disappointingly—uneventful race.
Rosberg's lead never really looked threatened; Hamilton occasionally set quicker laps, but the German always had an answer.
They were so far ahead of the rest of the field that the team could afford to give each a precautionary pit stop. Hamilton didn't seem to want his, but after a bit of an exchange on the team radio, he eventually took it.
A safety-car period bunched up the pack toward the end, but even this couldn't spoil their day. Rosberg crossed the line to win his fourth race of the year, with Hamilton a few seconds behind.
Mercedes remain on top after their 10th one-two finish of the year.