Ahead of each race in 2019, ESPN is ranking every driver on the grid in our Formula One Power Rankings.
In compiling these standings, we have taken out the car factor and focused solely on the drivers and how each has been performing. This is not a prediction for how the race will go this weekend. Nor is it a prediction for how things will look at the end of the season. Instead, read this as a gauge for who has the most influence over everything that lies ahead, who’s hot and who’s not ahead of the British Grand Prix.
Previous rankings: Australian GP | Bahrain GP | Chinese GP | Azerbaijan GP | Spanish GP | Monaco GP | Canadian GP | French GP | Austrian GP
Note: Teammate head-to-heads are compiled in qualifying sessions in which both drivers set a representative time and in races in which both drivers were classified as finishing.
1. Max Verstappen
No longer can anyone refer to Verstappen as reckless or immature. The young Dutchman has added composure and patience to the blistering speed he always possessed to become arguably the most talented driver on the grid (backlash in three, two, one…). His consistency in what is the fifth quickest car on the grid is mind-boggling, having taken 18 consecutive top five finishes. Little wonder Red Bull boss Christian Horner thinks he’s the best driver in F1 right now, although the man at No.2 on this list might have something to say about that…
2. Lewis Hamilton
Die-hard Hamilton fans certainly won’t understand their man falling off top spot, but it says more about what Verstappen has been able to consistently produce this season in weaker machinery. Hamilton remains the odds-on favourite to clinch championship number six, is still comfortably winning the Mercedes battle against Valtteri Bottas and heads into his home race looking for what would be a fifth win in six years. Honestly, I’d be shocked if anybody else won this weekend (Verstappen included).
Young Leclerc really could have been a multiple race winner already this season, instead he’s still yet to break his duck. His heartbreak in Bahrain didn’t have a negative effect and I don’t expect the Austrian agony to carry over into Silverstone. He might be 10 years Sebastian Vettel’s junior, but Leclerc is again firming as Ferrari’s number one driver after a string of three straight podiums, something his German teammate has not achieved in 2019.
4. Carlos Sainz
Sainz had every reason to panic and fall in a heap after a horror start to the season, but since Baku the Spaniard has been electric. Helped considerably by the improved performance in the McLaren, Sainz has established himself as the premier midfield driver in 2019 with five top eight finishes from the past six races. At this rate, and given the struggles of Pierre Gasly, he may jump up to sixth in the drivers’ championship before too long.
5. Lando Norris
I think we can now safely say Norris is set for a very bright future in Formula One and he may well be the top rookie in what’s a great 2019 class. Unsurprisingly, McLaren has already confirmed he’s staying around for the 2020 season too. In his short career he has already proven to be a spectacular qualifier, but the biggest difference in recent times is his ability to hold position and not fall backwards during the races. Confidence will be sky-high heading into his home race and, just remember, the last time a British rookie debuted at Silverstone in a McLaren they took pole position and finished third… No pressure, Lando.
6. Kimi Raikkonen
He seemed to fall off the face of the earth for a while there, but Kimi is back with a bang and right now is looming as the main midfield threat to the McLaren drivers. This season, no driver outside of the top three teams has scored more points finishes than Raikkonen and it’s difficult to see him not getting another this weekend at a track he has traditionally enjoyed with seven podiums over the journey. The 39-year-old is proving age is just a number.
7. Daniel Ricciardo
The rise of McLaren, and to a lesser extent Alfa Romeo, has made scoring points more difficult for the Renault drivers. Ricciardo would have been disappointed if you told him he’d score just 16 points through the first nine races, but there’s no doubt he’s got the edge over teammate Nico Hulkenberg right now, particularly in qualifying. Sooner or later it’s all going to click for the Australian in his new machinery and that should really worry the Hulk.
8. Sebastian Vettel
“Almost” – That’s how Vettel summed up his weekend in Austria, but the truth is his whole season has been full of almosts and what-ifs. Early in the year he was given preferential treatment over Leclerc, but with the championship almost certainly out of reach and the 21-year-old impressing more and more each week, I wonder if he’ll soon be reduced to the team’s unofficial number two. The only positive for Vettel is he won in Silverstone this time last year. Sadly, I just don’t see it happening again this year.
He’s been a regular feature in the Power Rankings top 10 this season after consistently getting the better of experienced campaigner Robert Kubica. Russell may only be driving a Williams that barely deserves to be on the grid, but he’s done more than enough to suggest he has a long future in the sport. This weekend he gets a taste of his first home race and I expect him to relish the occasion and really put Kubica — who is still yet to out-qualify him — to the sword.
10. Valtteri Bottas
I don’t think anyone actually expects Bottas to beat Hamilton at his home race, but he should head into this weekend with a mini confidence boost after closing the championship gap for the first time in what seems like forever. Hamilton’s certainly outclassed him, however Bottas could be thrust back into championship calculations if the five-time champion has just one terminal issue. If he can take that approach and stay positive, you never know what might happen.
11. Sergio Perez
He may not have scored a point in the last five races, but that doesn’t quite show where Perez’s form is at. P12, P12, P12 and P11 in his last four race weekends is consistent, if anything, and you always feel he has the edge on teammate Lance Stroll who is struggling enormously on Saturday. This weekend Perez will be looking for his fifth straight points scoring finish at Silverstone, and if he’s successful he can thrust himself back into the top 10 in the championship standings.
12. Nico Hulkenberg
You could argue the Hulk should rank higher given his back-to-back top eight finishes followed by a penalty which snuffed out his chances of points in Austria, but you really feel he’s playing second fiddle at Renault right now. It’s certainly not clear-cut and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hulkenberg finished the season on top, but the deeper we run into the season, the more it favours Ricciardo.
13. Alexander Albon
It’s hard to gauge just how competitive the Toro Rosso is at the moment, but it’s clear both Albon and Daniil Kvyat are struggling. But as things stand, Albon can be pleased with his year so far, having scored seven championship points to Kvyat’s 10. Last year, in Formula 2, Albon won four races and one of them was at Silverstone. He’s not going to win this weekend, but we might see him back in the points for the first time since Monaco.
14th, 17th, 17th and 19th. On paper, Magnussen’s last four races have been horrific, but penalties and a Haas which is horribly off the pace on Sunday should be blamed first. Don’t forget, K-Mag qualified a sensational fifth in Austria and has produced some brilliant results at times this year. It might feel like he’s currently in the biggest slump of his career, but if Haas can find a fraction more pace on race day, Magnussen will certainly back amongst the points.
15. Daniil Kvyat
After a great stretch of races to open the season, Kvyat has slowed down considerably. He hasn’t quite drawn to a halt, but he’d definitely want to turn in a strong performance at Silverstone. With Gasly struggling to keep his seat at Red Bull, this is the time where Kvyat should be putting his hand up for a return to the main team, yet it’s not quite happening. The Russian has a solid record in Great Britain, so he needs to draw on that to help build his case for what would be a remarkable return to Red Bull.
16. Antonio Giovinazzi
Maybe there’s hope for Giovinazzi after all! I’ll be honest, I didn’t see him scoring a single championship point this season, but the fact he’s now been able to tick that objective off could relax him and open some doors. Confidence is important for racing drivers, especially those who have been struggling, and we may now see Giovinazzi attack the upcoming race weekends re-energized and with a new lease on his (racing) life. Who knows? He might be around this time next year. After all, stranger things have happened…
Okay, so a trip to Austria didn’t exactly ignite Grosjean’s season (as hoped and predicted in the last edition of Power Rankings) and the fact he’s failed to take the chequered flag in four of the last six British Grands Prix is real cause for concern for the Frenchman. We can only blame bad luck for so long until we need to step back and ask ourselves whether or not he’s the man to help lead Haas out of their current predicament.
Until this streak is broken I’m just going to continue banging on about it. Stroll has now gone 13 races without progressing out of Q1 and you have to wonder where he’d be without his father’s backing and support. As we approach the mid-point of the season, it’s clear he’s the number two at Racing Point and that’s with Perez not having his most productive season. Stroll’s never out-qualified a teammate at Silverstone so he could be set to slip even further behind.
I think everyone associated with Formula One would love to see Kubica succeed in his return to the sport, but as the year rolls on it’s becoming clear he just isn’t up to scratch anymore. Only once this season has he been able to get the better of rookie teammate George Russell in a competitive session and that isn’t what you’d expect from a former race winner. Kubica is lucky the Williams is so uncompetitive as it’s allowing him to escape the spotlight.
20. Pierre Gasly
(Last week: 20) You can just sense Dr. Helmut Marko is sharpening the axe at Red Bull and getting set to swing it. Gasly had been given a great opportunity to prove himself in Formula One but has failed dramatically. Being lapped by his teammate last time out in Austria, despite not having any mechanical issues, is not only inexcusable but also embarrassing. Speaking of embarrassment, how about the fact Verstappen has outscored him 126-43. Wow.