Formula 1's Driver Power Rankings After 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2016

Formula 1's Driver Power Rankings After 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix

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    Nico Rosberg won his second race of the season with an impressive drive at the 2016 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix. The German took the lead at the start and was never seriously threatened, eventually crossing the line over 10 seconds clear of second-placed Kimi Raikkonen.

    In turn, the Finn had an easy time holding off Lewis Hamilton, who recovered to third in a damaged car following contact at the first corner.

    Daniel Ricciardo drove exceptionally to take fourth for the second consecutive race, just ahead of another of the weekend's top performersHaas' Romain Grosjean. If his fine form continues, it will no longer be a surprise to see him in and around top-six runners.

    Max Verstappen, Daniil Kvyat, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were the next four drivers home, while the final point was taken by impressive McLaren debutant Stoffel Vandoorne. A long and successful career surely awaits the Belgian youngster.

    The Chinese Grand Prix is next up, with practice set to get under way on April 15. As we look forward to the last east Asian race until September, here's how the drivers rank.

    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, each driver's overall performance and how drivers 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.

    For each race weekend, every driver who took part is awarded a score out of 10. The sum of these scores across the previous six racesor fewer, for rankings created before the sixth race of the yearis given on each driver's slide and determines the driver's ranking.

    Races outside the most recent six, and races in previous seasons, have zero impact on the scores. The cumulative total and ranking is therefore based only on recent form.

    Where two drivers have the same cumulative score, they should be considered tied in the rankings.

Honourable Mentions

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    Stoffel Vandoorne only arrived in Bahrain on Friday morning after an overnight flight from Japan, but the lack of preparation didn't stop him having an excellent debut for McLaren.

    The Belgian, 24, grabbed the team's first point of the year after a calm, controlled driveand he outqualified Jenson Button, too.

    Daniil Kvyat's recovery to finish seventh also merits a mention. Unfortunately, it came after he had again failed to get the job done in qualifying.

    And Jenson Button might have made some headlines had his car not broken down. The experienced McLaren racer was running ahead of his team-mate when his MP4-31 expired just seven laps into the racewho knows where he might have ended up.

10. Marcus Ericsson

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    New Entry

    Marcus Ericsson didn't have the machinery to score points in Bahrain, but he still put in a solid performance.

    He qualified 17th on the grid with a time of one minute, 32.840 seconds, a huge 1.5 seconds quicker than the best lap set by team-mate Felipe Nasr, who started 22nd and last.

    When the lights went out, Ericsson got a terrible start and slipped behind Nasr. He stayed behind until the second stint, but he quickly closed up on the Brazilian and was able to overtake on Lap 19.

    Ericsson gradually pulled clear. The Sauber was uncompetitiveit looked like the slowest car of all in Bahrainbut the Swede looked after his tyres in the final stint and defended beautifully against supersoft-shod Pascal Wehrlein in the closing stages.

    He crossed the line in an admirable 12th, as one of the few drivers to make a two-stop strategy work.

    Ericsson is a new entry in 10th.

    Rating: 8

    Cumulative: 15

9. Max Verstappen

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    New Entry

    Max Verstappen got over his difficult race in Melbourne in the best possible way.

    He started 10th on the grid after setting a time of 1:31.772 in Q2, outqualifing team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. for the second time in two races. The Spaniard was less than half a tenth slower, and he started 11th.

    Verstappen had a reasonable opening lap, rose to ninth and spent the early part of his opening stint tucked up behind the rear wing of Esteban Gutierrez; when the Haas driver retired, the 18-year-old was released.

    He spent most of the race from then on in clean air, establishing himself firmly in a points-paying position. Verstappen switched to supersoft tyres for his final stint, and for a time it looked like he would be able to take fifth from Romain Grosjean.

    However, he ran out of laps and had to settle for sixthstill a fine result in what is, according to Mercedes data reported by ESPN, the least-powerful car in the field.

    Verstappen is a new entry in ninth.

    Rating: 9

    Cumulative: 15

8. Kimi Raikkonen

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    New Entry

    Kimi Raikkonen scored his first points of the year with a fine drive in Sakhir.

    He could only manage fourth on the gridthe lowest a Ferrari realistically should bewith a best Q3 time of 1:30.244. Team-mate Sebastian Vettel was two-tenths of a second quicker; he lined up third.

    Raikkonen got off the line badly, dropping down to fifth by the end of the opening lap, but he quickly passed Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa to take second. His move on Bottas, around the outside of Turn 1, was especially worthy of note.

    After a combative opening few laps, what followed was a very lonely race. Though Raikkonen kept Nico Rosberg honest with a string of earlier pit stops, he never realistically had a hope of catching the race leader.

    Raikkonen crossed the line 10 seconds down on the Mercedes to finish second in Bahrain for the fourth time in five years.

    He's a new entry in eighth.

    Rating: 8

    Cumulative: 15

7. Sebastian Vettel

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    Down Two

    Sebastian Vettel's Bahrain Grand Prix was over before it had even begun.

    He qualified third on the grid with a time of 1:30.012, beating team-mate Kimi Raikkonen's best by around two-tenths of a second. Polesitter Lewis Hamilton was half a second faster.

    After Ferrari's quick starts in Australia, it looked like we might be set for a great battle down into Turn 1but Vettel didn't even get that far. As he was approaching Turn 11 on the formation lap, smoke began to billow from the rear of his SF16-H.

    Vettel was forced to park up by the side of the track, and he spent the whole race as a mere spectator.

    He's down two spots to seventh.

    Rating: 7

    Cumulative: 15

6. Pascal Wehrlein

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    New Entry

    Pascal Wehrlein showed why Mercedes have such faith in his abilities with a top-drawer outing in the desert.

    He put in a blistering lap to haul his Manor up to 16th on the grid, beating both Saubers, both Renaults and a Force India. The German also beat team-mate Rio Haryanto, the gap between the two a whopping 1.4 seconds.

    Wehrlein didn't get a great launch, but a mixture of good positioning and luck saw him end the opening lap in 13th. Normally we would expect a Manor to fall back, but the German held his position and, though he lost out to the two Saubers during the first round of stops, he kept in touch and did not look out of place.

    As the race neared its conclusion, Wehrlein made a late third stop and had excellent pace on the supersoft tyres and rocketed up behind Marcus Ericsson's Sauber. However, the Swede's greater experience showed, and Wehrlein had to settle for 13th.

    But 13th in a Manor, in a race with 17 finishers, is still quite an achievement.

    He's a new entry in sixth.

    Rating: 9

    Cumulative: 15

5. Kevin Magnussen

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    Up Three

    Kevin Magnussen's incredible run of pre-race misfortune continued, only this time he has to shoulder some of the blame.

    The Dane missed a weighbridge check during practice and was punished by being effectively kicked out of qualifyingwhatever time he set, he would be forced to start from the pit lane. However, he went out anyway and set the 19th-fastest time, beating team-mate Jolyon Palmer by more than two-tenths of a second.

    Magnussen avoided being caught up in the opening-lap chaos, but having started on the slower, soft-compound tyres, he made little progress early on and was caught behind Pascal Wehrlein's Manor in the second stint.

    In one of the few team radio messages we heard during the live television broadcast, Magnussen said the Manor was "like a rocket" on the straightsgiving us a hint that Renault still lag significantly behind Mercedes.

    But as the race wore on, Magnussen used well-timed stops and quick driving in clean air to progress. He passed both Saubers in the final stint to climb to 11tha fine recovery after starting at the back.

    He's up three places to fifth.

    Rating: 8

    Cumulative: 16

4. Lewis Hamilton

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    Up Two

    Lewis Hamilton did well to recover to the podium after contact at Turn 1.

    He qualified on pole to maintain his 100 per cent record for the season so far, beating team-mate Nico Rosberg by just 0.077 seconds. The reigning world champion's lap was the quickest set around the Bahrain International Circuitfaster even than the cars of V10 era.

    Unfortunately for Hamilton, his start was poor. Fast-launching Valtteri Bottas sniffed an opportunity into Turn 1 but came in a little too hot, slamming into the side of the Briton's Mercedes. The front wing, floor and side bodywork were damaged and, after falling to ninth at one stage, he ended the opening lap in seventh.

    Despite the damagewhich, per the official F1 website, Mercedes estimated cost him almost a second per lap in paceHamilton was still quick enough to pass a string of cars to run in third.

    But Rosberg and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen were too quick, and they remained well out of reach.

    For the second weekend in a row, Hamilton was probably the quickest man on the trackbut he again failed to get it right at the start.

    He's up two spots to fourth.

    Rating: 8

    Cumulative: 16

3. Nico Rosberg

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    Up One

    Nico Rosberg chalked up his fifth-successive victory after winning the most important duel of the weekend.

    He missed out on pole by a small margin after setting a Q3 lap of 1:29.570. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton was less than a tenth of a second quicker, snatching a vital psychological edge.

    However, it was Rosberg who got off the line quickest. The German flew past Hamilton well before the first corner and had clean air to pick his braking point. He was very cautious, and this might have contributed to the Bottas/Hamilton collisionbut it caused Rosberg no problems at all.

    With his team-mate out of the way and Kimi Raikkonen unable to mount a serious challenge in his Ferrari, Rosberg spent the afternoon in cruise control. He crossed the line 10 seconds clear of the Finn and half a minute ahead of Hamilton to take his first-ever win in Bahrain.

    Maybe we'll get a real championship fight, after all.

    Rosberg is up one spot to third.

    Rating: 9

    Cumulative: 17

2. Daniel Ricciardo

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    No Change

    Daniel Ricciardo again spared Red Bull's blushes by getting the most out of the RB12.

    The Australian qualified fifth on the grid with a best Q3 lap of 1:30.854. The time was almost 1.4 seconds down on polesitter Lewis Hamilton, but Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat was way down the field in 15th place.

    Ricciardo had a reasonable getaway off the grid and was looking good heading into the first corner. However, the 26-year-old had nowhere to go as he came upon the scene of the collision between Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and he emerged from Turn 1 with a damaged front wing.

    He made an early first stop, but the team elected to not waste time changing the wing. Ricciardo ended up in fourth, behind the two Mercedes and Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari.

    The compromised Red Bull wasn't quick enough to bother them, but it had sufficient pace to keep the cars behind at a comfortable distance. Ricciardo crossed the line in fourth.

    It's difficult to think of anything he could have done better.

    He remains second.

    Rating: 10

    Cumulative: 19

1. Romain Grosjean

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    No Change

    Romain Grosjean ensured the fairytale start continued for Haas.

    He qualified ninth on the grid with a time of 1:31.756, the quickest driver to be kicked out in Q2. Team-mate Esteban Gutierrez was just over two-tenths slower, but the closeness of the midfield meant the Mexican started 13th.

    When the red lights went out, Grosjean made a fine start and was challenging Kimi Raikkonen on the approach to Turn 1. He ended the first lap in sixth, but he fell to a net seventh when Lewis Hamilton overtook soon after.

    It soon became clear that he wasn't there by chance; once again, the Haas/Grosjean combination had sufficient pace to mix it at the front of the midfield.

    The team's decision to run the supersoft tyres for the first three stints very much paid off, and Grosjean held off the late challenge of Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen to claim a shock fifth place.

    Grosjean and Haas now lie fifth in the drivers' and constructors' championships, respectively.

    The Frenchman remains in the top spot of our rankings.

    Rating: 10

    Cumulative: 19

    Session, timing and lap data used throughout sourced from the FIA, the official F1 website and F1 Fanatic's lap charts.


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