F1 POWER RANKINGS: Ricciardo storms up the charts
Lewis Hamilton moves into top spot in our index of driver form for the first time this season, but Daniel Ricciardo is hot on his heels after a stunning drive to victory in Monaco…
How it’s done
In a new feature for 2018, 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
It’s been coming. Hamilton has been in impressive form since winning in Baku. The championship leader made it two from two with victory in Spain, then followed it up with a podium last time out in Monaco. Mercedes expected to struggle on the Principality’s unique layout. But Hamilton sprinkled a bit of that magic that he so often does when things get difficult. He just missed out on a front row spot to Sebastian Vettel, but out-qualifying both the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and his team mate Valtteri Bottas was a good bit of damage limitation. And while he complained about the tyres for most of the race, the Briton converted his grid slot into third place to retain the championship lead. A rise of two places to reach the summit of our index was the least he deserved…
Daniel Ricciardo was clinging on to his position in our rankings after a lacklustre couple of races. But his performance in Monaco was close to absolute perfection. He was fastest across all three practice sessions. Then fastest in all three segments of qualifying. And to complete the set, he converted pole position into a first Monaco Grand Prix victory, even after his MGU-K system failed. The engine problem was so concerning, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said he was told by his team that they might have to retire the car. But they and Ricciardo found a way. It was arguably his greatest drive and just the kind of performance that is deserving of moving him to within touching distance of our top spot.
Charles Leclerc has been on quite some run of late. His first F1 points in Baku were followed up by another top 10 finish in Spain. Continuing that run on his doorstep was always going to be tall order, given Sauber’s weakness is a lack of downforce. But the Monegasque gave it a good go. He made it into Q2 for the third successive race and finished ahead of team mate Marcus Ericsson in every single session. A brake problem led to him crashing into Brendon Hartley, but it was a decent performance all round and his recent run, combined with the lacklustre results of others, boosts him one place.
All good things eventually come to an end. After two weeks on top of the pile, Valtteri Bottas drops three places. Mercedes had expected a tough weekend – and so it proved. They were third-best. But the Finn’s team mate did a better job of damage limitation. Hamilton was ahead in every single session, with Bottas finishing two places down in fifth in the race. The damage was done in qualifying, given the lack of overtaking opportunities, but it was still a reasonable haul of points all things considered.
Like Bottas, Fernando Alonso has slipped down three places this week after his first retirement of the season. It’s a shame considering the double world champion felt he was “cruising around” in seventh before transmission problems struck. That would have been his sixth successive top-8 finish of the season. Even so, it was yet another impressive drive and there are plenty of positives to take to Montreal.
Second is nothing to be ashamed of for Sebastian Vettel. He also trimmed Hamilton’s championship lead by three points. But based on the pace the Prancing Horse showed in Monaco last year, when they took a dominant one-two, and combine that with the track being one of Mercedes’ weakest, Vettel will have hoped for more. Despite ending a run of three Grands Prix without a podium, such was the strength of performances from others around him, the German still drops a place in our index.
Pierre Gasly is no stranger to our Power Rankings, having made a wave as early as race two with a spectacular drive to fourth. However, he was absent in our last edition having been wiped out on lap one in Spain when Romain Grosjean spun across the track in a plume of smoke. Toro Rosso found some pace between Thursday practice and Saturday in Monaco – and it was Gasly who made the most of it. A brilliant lap saw him make Q3. He then ran longer than anyone else on the hypersoft tyres, which ultimately boosted his track position. Seventh was a fine reward for a stunning drive on his Monaco F1 debut.
This has not been a vintage start to the season for Esteban Ocon. Already, he’s clocked up more retirements than he had in total last year. Before Monaco, he only had a single point to his name. His team mate had 17, including a stunning podium in Baku. But Ocon has not let his head drop. Perez had the upper hand at the start of the Monte Carlo weekend, but his French team mate closed the gap quickly, surpassed him on outright pace and then never looked back. His race pace was strong throughout. In fact, at times, he was the fastest car on track. The result was sixth place and our second new entry this week.
This was Carlos Sainz’s fourth successive points finish, but the fact he was disappointed shows just how much higher the Spaniard has pushed his personal targets. He was quick on the hypersofts, but struggled to get the ultrasofts to work and ended up behind team mate Nico Hulkenberg, despite generally having better pace throughout the weekend. Tenth place was something, but not enough to stop a three-place drop in our index.
Kimi Raikkonen got back on the board in Monaco after his second retirement of the year last time out in Spain. It was a solid, but not spectacular performance from the Finn, who could not replicate the mesmerising pace he showed, particularly in qualifying, last year. All weekend, he was just a few tenths off his team mate, but he kept his nose clean and picked up a good haul of points, which could be crucial for Ferrari in the constructors’ championship. And that was just enough to cling on to the final place in rankings.
Disagree with our ranking? Tweet us your Top 10 using the hashtag #F1PowerRankings