Formula 1

Formula One's Driver Power Rankings After 2014 Austrian Grand Prix

Neil JamesFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2014

Formula One's Driver Power Rankings After 2014 Austrian Grand Prix

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    Darko Bandic/Associated Press

    The 2014 Formula One Austrian Grand Prix saw several magnificent drives.

    Sergio Perez used the alternative strategy to slice through the field, coming from 15th on the grid to finish a strong sixth in the race.

    Fernando Alonso's Sunday was a little less spectacular, but no less impressive. He brought his underpowered Ferrari home in fifth, less than 20 seconds behind the race-winning Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.

    Valtteri Bottas scored his first podium, Daniil Kvyat bounced back and Rosberg out-scored Lewis Hamilton for the third race in a row.

    On the other side of the coin, Sebastian Vettel had another stinker and Nico Hulkenberg will be hoping for a better showing at Silverstone.

    Here are my third driver rankings of 2014.

     

    Note on Power Rankings

    These rankings should not be confused with the actual championship table.

    Rather than looking solely at points, they also take into account race results, qualifying, overall performance of each driver and how they stack up against their team-mates. The relative pace of each driver's car is factored in.

    Only performance at the last six races is considered.

    The previous rankings, created after Canada, are here. All position changes are relative to the positions in that article.

10. Sebastian Vettel

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Down Two

    Sebastian Vettel's nightmare continues.

    He was dumped out of qualifying in Q2 for the third time in 2014, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo lined up in fifth.

    It got even worse in the race.

    Vettel lost drive on the second lap, coasting to a halt on the back straight. He got going again as the field came round to lap him, inadvertently getting in Ricciardo's way and allowing Daniil Kvyat to slip past the Australian.

    Later on he lost his front wing on the back of Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber. He escaped a penalty, but retired shortly after.

    Vettel drops two places to 10th after a weekend to forget.

9. Sergio Perez

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    New Entry

    Sergio Perez again put an alternative strategy to good usebut this time, he didn't spoil it all with a silly move on the final lap.

    Starting 15th after a mediocre qualifying and his five-place grid penalty for the last-lap incident in Canada, Perez was 11th after the first lap.

    He stayed out on the soft tyres while the supersoft runners pitted, and found himself in the lead.

    Perez was quick enough even on old tyres to keep the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg at bay for 10 laps. After his first stop, he came out eighth and maintained his excellent pace all the way to the chequered flag, via a short stint on supersofts, to finish an admirable sixth.

    He was less than half a minute behind the winner.

    The Mexican has shown great form at stop-start circuits this year, and is far better at rear tyre management at such tracks than team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

    But he needs to do better in qualifyingit's 6-2 to Hulkenberg so far.

    Perez is a new entry in ninth.

8. Felipe Massa

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    Dom Romney/Getty Images

    Up Two

    Felipe Massa pulled a beautiful lap out of the bag on Saturday to secure his first pole position since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.

    He got a good start and led early on, but it was all downhill from there.

    Massa dropped to third in the first set of stops, despite coming in two laps earlier than his team-mate Valtteri Bottas. He then gifted Lewis Hamilton a position, daydreaming into Turn 2 as the Mercedes man performed a massive late-braking pass.

    As the race progressed, Massa didn't quite have the pace shown by Bottas. He dropped back further towards the end, crossing the line in fourth with Fernando Alonso breathing down his neck.

    It was his best finish of the season and by no means a poor result, but from pole he'll have wanted to do better.

    Massa goes up two places to eighth.

7. Daniil Kvyat

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    Peter Fox/Getty Images

    No Change

    Daniil Kvyat had a poor race in Canada, but bounced back well at the Red Bull Ring.

    The young Russian had the measure of his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne in qualifying. He set the seventh-fastest time, while the Frenchman could only manage 15th.

    After losing places at the start, Kvyat made an opportunistic pass on Daniel Ricciardo and kept the Red Bull driver behind until after the first set of stops.

    Running just behind the Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen battle, he looked on course for a strong points finish.

    But his Toro Rosso's suspension failed on Lap 24, putting him out of the race.

    A disappointing weekend, but Kvyat takes no blame. He holds station in seventh.

6. Nico Hulkenberg

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    Mathias Kniepeiss/Getty Images

    Down Two

    Nico Hulkenberg was significantly out-performed by his team-mate Sergio Perez for the second race in a row.

    He was the quicker man in qualifying, getting through to Q3 for the fourth time in 2014. But his only flying lap in the final part was deleted after he ran marginally wide at Turn 8, so the Force India man started 10th.

    He was eighth after the first lap. After a race which saw positions change constantly, as drivers on different strategies pitted at different times, Hulkenberg went into the final lap in the same position.

    But Daniel Ricciardo, who'd spent the last 20 laps staring at the Force India's rear wing, muscled his way past around the outside of Turn 5.

    Hulkenberg kept up his 100 percent scoring record in 2014, but he's losing momentum and desperately needs to outshine Perez at the next race.

    He drops two places to sixth.

5. Valtteri Bottas

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Up One

    Valtteri Bottas was pipped to pole by team-mate Felipe Massa, and dropped to third off the grid.

    The re-pass he made on Nico Rosberg into Turn 2 probably saved his race.

    Bottas pressured Massa until the first round of stops. Though he lost a place to Rosberg, he came out ahead of his team-mate and the other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

    Once Sergio Perez pitted from the lead it was expected Rosberg would pull away in clean air, but Bottas lost only a few tenths per lap.

    He dropped to third after the final round of stops, and held the position all the way to the end to record his first-ever podium finish.

    Bottas rises a place to fifth after one of his best races.

4. Fernando Alonso

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    Dan Istitene/Getty Images

    Up One

    Fernando Alonso put in one of the best drives of the season at the Austrian Grand Prix.

    Sadly for him, it was to finish fifth.

    Alonso qualified a season-best fourth, dragging his Ferrari around to set a lap only half-a-second shy of pole. He followed it up by running close to the leaders all race, finishing on the tail of polesitter Felipe Massa.

    At such a Mercedes-friendly circuit, it was an incredible performance, but Alonso wasn't in the mood to celebrate. Asked if he took any satisfaction from the race, he was quoted by Autosport as saying:

    Not much, to be honest. It's been five years like this.

    There is always the satisfaction that everyone believes that you are performing at your best. There's the respect from the drivers, team principals and fans for the job that you do. But I'd prefer to have no respect and win more trophies.

    Despite his lack of enthusiasm, Alonso goes up one spot to fourth.

3. Lewis Hamilton

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Down One

    We saw the best and worst of Lewis Hamilton at the Red Bull Ring.

    It was clear from practice that he was the quickest man there by some margin, but the Brit messed up both his qualifying runs.

    The first was lost to a driver error, while the second was part-driver and part-circuithe braked later than he had before and was unfortunate enough to hit a bump at just the wrong moment.

    He ended up ninth, but put himself into contention as soon as the race began on Sunday.

    Best car or not, his first lap was a thing of beauty. Two cars were dispatched off the grid, and when Daniel Ricciardo was pushed wide at Turn 1, Hamilton was sixth. He then overtook Kevin Magnussen into Turn 2 for fifth.

    Later in the lap, Fernando Alonso didn't get a great run through Turns 6 and 7, and Hamilton dived past into Turn 8 to end the lap in fourth, right on team-mate Nico Rosberg's tail.

    An audacious late-braking move got him past Felipe Massa, and an earlier second stop lifted him past Bottas into second.

    But there was no way he was going to be able to pass Rosberg in an identical car.

    Hamilton drops one spot to third.

2. Nico Rosberg

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    Mathias Kniepeiss/Getty Images

    Up One

    While his team-mate Lewis Hamilton is faltering, Nico Rosberg is doing the opposite.

    He started third after having his final flying lap ruined by Hamilton's spin, but jumped both the Williams' in the opening round of pit stops. When the late-stopping Sergio Perez came in, Rosberg led.

    He was pressured first by Valtteri Bottas and later by Hamilton, but aside from a single off-track excursion, the German held it together and was largely untroubled by the men behind.

    Rosberg took the chequered flag to claim his third win of the season.

    More importantly, he outscored Hamilton for the third race in a row.

    His championship lead is now 29 points, and Rosberg goes up one place to second.

1. Daniel Ricciardo

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Another team-mate doing the business while the man on the other side of the garage struggles is Daniel Ricciardo.

    The Red Bull Ring was never going to suit the RB10, but Ricciardo qualified an admirable fifth.

    He was pushed wide at Turn 1 and lost several places to run ninth at the end of the opening lap, losing a further place when he was caught out lapping team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

    From then on, there was little Ricciardo could do to improve his position. Even Mercedes-powered cars couldn't really overtake each other, so the Australian was resigned to a watching brief in his Renault-powered Red Bull.

    But late on he took advantage of Nico Hulkenberg's tyre wear problems to pass the Force India around the outside of Turn 5. It was a beautiful move, but only moved him up to eighth.

    That was about as much as anyone could have expected from a Red Bull in Austria.

    Ricciardo remains on top.

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