F1 POWER RANKINGS: Did Hamilton do enough to earn top spot with victory in Portugal?
A masterclass performance from Lewis Hamilton on race day of the Portuguese Grand Prix secured his second win of the season, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. But was it enough to secure Hamilton the top marks from the judges in this week's Aramco F1 Power Rankings? The scores are in…
HOW IT WORKS
Our six-judge panel assesses each driver after every Grand Prix and scores them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation
Our experts’ scores are then averaged out across the season to create an overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)
When Max Verstappen steamed past Lewis Hamilton at the Lap 7 Safety Car restart to demote the Mercedes driver to P3, that could have been the end of the story. But Lewis Hamilton simply isn’t built like that. Back past Verstappen four laps later and in the lead in a further nine laps, Hamilton then checked out for his 97th win, after one of those afternoons where the seven-time champ had looked borderline untouchable after he'd hit the front.
The McLaren renaissance might not yet be yielding consistent podium results for the team. But with the level of performance at their disposal, Lando Norris is doing a hell of a job currently, coming home as the leading ‘midfield’ driver for the third race in succession with P5 at Portimao, and once again putting his highly-regarded team mate Daniel Ricciardo in the shade.
It’s a sign of the Briton’s consistency this season that he’s now tied with fellow countryman Hamilton at the top of the overall leaderboard too.
A solid weekend for Esteban Ocon at Imola was followed up by an absolute humdinger in Portugal, Ocon qualifying sixth and finishing seventh following an unexpected leap by the Alpine squad into the upper reaches of the midfield battle. Crucially, though, it was once again Ocon, rather than team mate Fernando Alonso, leading the way for the team, as he did at Imola too – perhaps a sign that, after an up and down 2020, the Frenchman is starting to re-find his feet in F1.
‘Mardy’ is probably the best way to describe Max Verstappen’s mood over the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend. Verstappen wasn’t enjoying himself around the low-grip Portimao circuit, while off-track moments cost him both pole position and a bonus point for fastest lap. Ultimately, he called finishing P2 “decent” – but with Hamilton looking dangerously like he’s beginning to get into his stride, Verstappen will be keen to hit back quickly in Barcelona.
It’s fair to say that it’s been a quiet start in F1 for Mick Schumacher, the Haas team largely without the pace to allow the German to show what he can do. We got a little glimpse at Portimao, though, with Schumacher impressive across the weekend, not least his 15th in Free Practice 3 (ahead of both Aston Martins and Williams) while in the race, the reigning F2 champion did well to pressure Nicholas Latifi into a late mistake to claim P17.
“I cannot be satisfied with P6,” said Charles Leclerc after the Portuguese Grand Prix. Well Charles, you’re going to have to make do with it here in Power Rankings as well. Leclerc admitted he was a touch out of sorts around Portimao, citing his own poor driving as the cause.
But much like pizza, even when Leclerc’s bad, he’s still pretty good, going through Q2 on the mediums (the only non-Mercedes or Red Bull runner to do so) – while a failure to then get that tyre working in the race ultimately prevented him doing much about Norris ahead, as he came home in that unsatisfying sixth place.
The latter stages of the Portuguese Grand Prix, you could argue, are the first time we’ve really seen Fernando Alonso properly back to his old, swashbuckling best. After another lacklustre qualifying from the two-time champion (P13 to Ocon’s P6, after his P15 at Imola) Alonso channelled his anger into a brilliant late-race surge up the order, passing Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz in quick succession to take a season-best P8.
On the one hand, you could say that Perez taking his own season-best P4 was exactly the result Red Bull need from the Mexican at this stage of his career with the team. On the other hand, Red Bull could probably have used a bit more speed from Perez to get in amongst the Mercedes – rather than battling his way out of the clutches of Lando Norris’ McLaren – to give their rivals a bit of a strategy headache.
Perez said after the Portimao race that he’s understanding the RB16B “more and more”. But nonetheless, he’ll probably appreciate the chance to properly benchmark his performance this weekend around the more known quantity of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – a very happy hunting ground for Perez in recent years.
Valtteri Bottas had looked in good nick in both qualifying (where he beat Hamilton to pole) and the early part of the Portuguese Grand Prix. The Finn was great off the line, and brilliant at the Safety Car restart. But when Hamilton was able to get past on Lap 20, Bottas’ afternoon suddenly looked far less rosy, as he and Verstappen set to their 2020 game of jousting with each other, as Hamilton cleared off at the front – although in mitigation, an exhaust sensor failure did eventually hobble Bottas’ performance.
This was AlphaTauri’s poorest showing of 2021 so far, the AT02 not looking particularly well hooked up around the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. But Gasly set about making the best of it, reaching Q3 as he has done all year before claiming P9 on the grid (as team mate Yuki Tsunoda, perhaps chastened by his difficult Imola weekend, qualified in P14) while the Frenchman then salvaged a point with a pass on Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz two laps from the end.
Sainz and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi are the two drivers on the fringes after Portimao. Sainz actually did a fine job to put his Ferrari P5 on the grid, but then sunk like a stone in the race due to graining on his medium tyres.
Giovinazzi, meanwhile, survived getting hit up the backside by team mate Kimi Raikkonen to come home P12, helped by a late pass on Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who was the next highest scorer after his first Q3 appearance in 15 races.
THE OVERALL STANDINGS
A couple of re-entries on the leaderboard this week, with Alonso and Perez pulled back into the top 10. The big change is at the top, however, with Hamilton climbing two places to join Norris in P1, as Verstappen sits poised in P3, just 0.2 points adrift.