With the 2020 Formula One season underway and the first race weekend in the bag, Valtteri Bottas holds an early advantage over the rest of the grid as he attempts to win a first world championship of his career.
This season, The Independent will be updating a list of power rankings after every race, ranking who the pound-for-pound best performing drivers are in F1 when taking all aspects of weekend performance into account.
For example, while a bad race performance will heavily weight a negative rating for a driver, a strong qualifying display as well as showing promise and potential, as well as how they perform to expectation and in comparison to their teammate, will be taken into account.
With the first race in the record book, strong displays for race-winner Bottas and maiden podium finisher Lando Norris put them in good stead ahead of next weekend’s second Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.
In reverse order, here are the F1 power rankings after round one in Austria.
20. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
A nightmare weekend for Vettel, and possibly the worst of his career. Any pace that he had in practice deserted the German in qualifying as he failed to make it out of Q2 for the first time with Ferrari, but worse was to come in the race as he made an amateur mistake to spin after the first safety car restart. A 10th-placed finish and an afternoon completely off the pace provided a firm reminder of why Ferrari have cut ties next season.
19. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
If it hadn’t been for Vettel, Grosjean would be bottom of the pile. The Frenchman also made a rookie error by running too wide at Turn Four and spinning on the dirt that ruined his race early on, and a brake failure that plagued both Haas cars eventually ended his Grand Prix.
18. Nicolas Latifi (Williams)
Latifi can be proud of finishing 11th on his F1 debut, but it’s worth remembering there were only 11 finishers and the three safety car periods went a long way to keeping him in touch with the pack.
17. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
For a driver of Raikkonen’s experience and success, this was a disappointing weekend from start to finish. Raikkonen qualified behind the Williams of George Russell and teammate Antonio Giovinazzi on the back row of the grid, and the wheels literally came off in the race when his right-front tyre unattached itself from his car at high speed on the second safety car restart.
16. George Russell (Williams)
Russell impressed in qualifying, missing out on a first appearance in Q2 by the slimmest of margins, but race day did not work out as he would have hoped. A poor start saw him lose two positions, before reliability forced him to retire, and it meant the former F2 champion missed out on his best chance to score his first points of his career.
15. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
Magnussen was out-qualified by his teammate but showed a better racecraft to work his way up the order, only for brake failure to take him out of the race at the high-speed Turn 3 in what was a scary moment.
14. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
Pre-qualifying hopes of a strong performance failed to materialise for Stroll, who only qualified ninth despite hopes of a top-six position. His race didn’t go any better, with a gearbox sensor failure forcing him to retire after 20 laps.
13. Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri)
Kvyat was enjoying a relatively strong performance until contact with Ocon left him with damage, and a possible points finish was snatched from his grasp when his left-rear suspension failed to send him straight on at Turn One and into retirement late in the race. He does however lose marks for being outperformed by teammate Gasly.
12. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
Ricciardo was by far and away the faster of the two Renault drivers this weekend, which is why it will be all the more painful to have seen Esteban Ocon claim points after he was forced to retire with an overheating engine. The longer the season goes, the stronger Ocon will get as he reacquaints himself with driving an F1 car, meaning Ricciardo can’t afford to give up points early on.
11. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
A disappointing qualifying was well and truly put behind him with a strong drive on race day, earning himself a couple of points that will go down well in the Alfa Romeo garage.
10. Esteban Ocon (Renault)
A welcome return to the grid for a very talented young driver, Ocon really struggled with the pace at first, but soon found his rhythm and managed to pick off a few of those in front of him to prevail in his battle with Kvyat and come home with a solid top 10 finish.
9. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
On the one hand, the Racing Point proved it has considerable pace this season. But on the other, both drivers failed to utilise this to its maximum potential in Austria, with Perez suffering from the decision not to pit a second time for tyres as he plummeted from third to sixth place.
8. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
With his Brazil podium still fresh in the memory, Gasly once again drove under the radar to an impressive seventh place and a healthy collection of points to remind us all that he remains a bright young talent on the grid.
7. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
That he was beaten to the podium by his younger teammate should not take the shine off a very strong performance, having made up three positions of his starting spot and coming close to matching Norris in an entertaining mid-race battle.
6. Alex Albon (Red Bull)
The positives were very evident in that he strategically outsmarted Mercedes to the point he had a shot at winning the Grand Prix, and also showed the guts, determination and talent to take on Hamilton on the outside that few drivers would. The negatives were that that bravery ultimately cost him dear, before eventual retirement, and the fact that before the second safety car he had fallen more than 10 seconds behind the cruising Mercedes’.
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
Talk about a performance vastly outweighing the potential of the car. Leclerc somehow converted a seventh-placed start to the second-placed finish through a combination of skill, calmness and luck. His overtake on Sergio Perez takes the early accolade of overtake of the season, and while harder times may be ahead, this was a welcome morale boost for Ferrari.
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
He may have only completed 11 laps, but Verstappen had a real shot at victory in Austria with an alternative strategy that would have caused all sorts of problems for Mercedes. If Red Bull can improve the reliability of their car, they can give Mercedes plenty of headaches this season.
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
By his regular standards this weekend was well below par, with penalties picked up in both qualifying and the race and coming off second best to teammate Valtteri Bottas. The five-second time penalty in the race cost him a place on the podium, but it must be remembered that had Mercedes allowed him and Bottas to race without the concerns over their gearbox sensors, Hamilton looked to have enough to launch an attack on Bottas, and you’d have backed him to win that battle.
2. Lando Norris (McLaren)
The most mature race so far from the 20-year-old, who stunned everyone with fourth place in qualifying that became third following Hamilton’s penalty, and who did not allow setbacks during his Sunday drive to keep him down. Having been passed by Leclerc and Perez after the third restart, Norris held off Sainz before repassing Perez to move up to fourth, and turned in a stunning final lap – the fastest of the race – to snatch the final podium position away from Hamilton by fewer than two-tenths of a second.
1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
Pole position and race victory at a track where he regularly outclasses teammate Hamilton, the weekend could not have gone much better for the Finn. His championship hopes also received an unexpected boost through Hamilton’s struggles, meaning that while he leads Leclerc by seven points in the driver standings, he has a 13-point gap to likely challenger Hamilton.