RACE DEBRIEF

    The results are in – find out which drivers are currently carrying favour with our crack panel of judges following Sebastian Vettel’s commanding victory in the Belgian Grand Prix…

    How it’s done

    • Our team of experts assess each driver after every Grand Prix and score them according to their performance across the weekend - taking machinery out of the equation

    • Our experts' scores are then combined to produce an ongoing overall ranking which reflects driver form - taking only the three most recent races into account

    This week’s Top 10

    1 HAM BEL.jpg
    1 HAM BEL.jpg

    When it comes to getting the most from his equipment, Lewis Hamilton has been on inspirational form this season. His performances in Germany and Hungary meant it was always going to be hard to topple him from the top of the post-Belgium Power Rankings, but his mastery of the treacherous conditions that confronted the drivers in Q3 at Spa, and which saw him grab an unexpected pole away from the hitherto dominant Ferraris, ramped up his score even higher. That he couldn’t match their pace in the race itself was no great shock, with the world championship leader admitting on Sunday afternoon that Mercedes could no longer maintain their bluff of having the fastest car in the sport. He did everything right again on a weekend when he just didn’t have the car to compete.

    2 VER BEL.jpg
    2 VER BEL.jpg

    Max Verstappen returned from the summer break in fine form, continuing the run of impressive pace and consistency that has seen him outqualify and outperform his now-departing team mate Daniel Ricciardo at every race since Monaco. Both Red Bull drivers found themselves on track at the wrong time in qualifying and so couldn’t make the push for pole that the inclement weather might have presented to them, but come Sunday the RB14 was only ever a distant third best. Verstappen made easy work of the Force Indias to take a deserved podium and continue his excellent ascent.

    3 GAS BEL.jpg
    3 GAS BEL.jpg

    With a new Red Bull contract in his pocket for 2019, Belgium was always going to see a broad grin plastered across Pierre Gasly’s face, but in starting 10th and bringing the car home ninth on a power circuit traditionally unsuited to the Honda engine in the back of his Toro Rosso, he more than outperformed expectation. He admitted post race that the gains had come from both the car and power unit, providing some hints of positivity for Red Bull’s 2019 chances, but Gasly’s performance again impressed the paddock. Following his sixth place in Hungary, his difficult afternoon in Germany now seems a distant memory and the scores he’s accumulated over the past two races have proved so good that even when combined with the low score he set in Germany, he’s broken into the top three in the Power Rankings.

    4 VET BEL.jpg
    4 VET BEL.jpg

    No move in position for Vettel this week, yet he might easily have found himself top three were it not for the outstanding drive put in by Gasly and the small-but-costly error that robbed him of a German Grand Prix victory still affecting his three-race score. Belgium was an ominous display from Ferrari, but in particular from Vettel. He was serene. And, crucially, crushingly quick on a track that has been a Mercedes playground for many years. There seems little question now that Ferrari have the horsepower not just to compete but to be the target team at engine tracks, and the car to beat on the more technical layouts. With Vettel arguably at his best level in years, it may yet prove an unbeatable combination.

    5 BOT BEL.jpg
    5 BOT BEL.jpg

    Another non mover, Valtteri Bottas had a storming race from the back of the field in Spa. Clinical and bold in his moves, he leapt up the field to score strongly with our panel, helping to stem the leak of points which resulted from his scrappy afternoon in Hungary. That said, the Finn picked up a second post-race time penalty in a row and more penalty points following his contact with Sergey Sirotkin on the opening lap in Belgium. He’s got to make sure this doesn’t become a regular occurrence lest he cost himself more opportunities for greater results, as despite what is widely being seen as an impressive year, he’s yet to take a race win.

    6 PER BEL.jpg
    6 PER BEL.jpg

    After a lacklustre race in Hungary, Sergio Perez bounces back into the Power Rankings after a Belgian Grand Prix weekend in which he led his Force India team back from the brink. Arriving as a technically new outfit with zero points and last in the constructors’ championship, he qualified fourth and followed that up with fifth in the race to help his team take the team to within a point of Sauber in eighth place in the constructors' championship. Perez spoke after Hungary about how much the weight of putting the team into administration had affected him, and so it was good to see him racing once again with the freedom that has allowed him to become so often the sport’s giant-killer. A strong weekend.

    7 RAI BEL.jpg
    7 RAI BEL.jpg

    Raikkonen only loses places due to the ascent of Perez and Gasly. Being leapfrogged by two drivers and only dropping one spot reflects that, ordinarily, he’d likely have risen at least one place this week. Spa has always been a Raikkonen track and again it proved to be so. The Finn looked in total control and was clearly enjoying himself. Right up to qualifying, that is. The confusion around how and why he didn’t get to complete a second run has been widely debated, but Kimi was far from happy. An innocent victim of the melee at the start, it seems highly likely he’d have avoided the mess if he’d been able to qualify properly and start the race from the front where he should, by rights, have been. Not his weekend, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t driving brilliantly.

    8 GRO BEL.jpg
    8 GRO BEL.jpg

    Romain Grosjean climbs two places in the Power Rankings, having finished all three of the races taken into consideration in the points. He qualified a brilliant fifth in Belgium, and come race day did everything right to lead his team’s charge towards fourth in the constructors’ championship. Coming on a day when Renault tripped up, it was imperative for the Haas boys to keep it all together, and Grosjean led home their double points scoring effort. With his early season woes long behind him, the Frenchman looks set to hold onto his place in the Power Rankings after a run of excellent weekends.

    9 OCO BEL.jpg
    9 OCO BEL.jpg

    Hold on, a Perez re-entry and Ocon dropping positions after qualifying third? How does that work? Sadly for the Frenchman, his score from Hungary will be hurting him until the Singapore results come in. But if ever there was a way to bounce back and establish the foundation for a charge up the table, his performance in Belgium was it. He scored almost identically to his team mate in Spa with our panel (marginally higher actually, due to his outstanding qualifying performance), but with others climbing around him, that savage afternoon in Budapest has hit the immediate impact the Belgian Grand Prix result might have made. He came so close to taking the lead on the opening lap at the weekend, but even if he had, he’d likely still have dropped in the order. Nature of the beast.

    10 MAG BEL.jpg
    10 MAG BEL.jpg

    It was a high-scoring week for the Force India and Haas drivers as they locked out double points finishes in a crucial race. Magnussen wasn’t quite on the pace of his team mate in Spa, but he maintained his impressive 2018 run. He’d dropped out after Hungary, even with an excellent drive to seventh, but the accumulated scores see him pop back in this week despite a keen battle behind him over the last spot in the top 10.

    Dropping out

    Nico Hulkenberg – from P2 last week, it really is a case of hero to zero for the German. His first corner mistake could have had far graver consequences than it did, and his score this week took an absolute hammering. He’ll unlikely feature again until his Spa score no longer counts towards his total.

    On the bubble

    Marcus Ericcson and Brendon Hartley had an enjoyable tussle in Spa, and their battle continues on the periphery of the Power Rankings top 10 as they narrowly miss out this week, along with Daniel Ricciardo.

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