RACE DEBRIEF

    Phew, what a Canadian Grand Prix that was! Fantastic action on the track and plenty of intrigue off it – what more could you want? But who on the grid impressed our judges the most at the Ile Notre-Dame? And which driver has finally, finally made an appearance in the Power Rankings this year? Read on to find out…

    HOW IT WORKS

    - Our five-man 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 combined to produce a race score. As the season progresses, these race scores are then averaged to produce a ranking which reflects driver performance

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    He’s been on the top perch since Bahrain – and it seems there’s no shifting Max Verstappen from it this year, with the Dutchman maintaining his position at the head of the Power Rankings for the sixth race in a row, as the only driver this year to have been awarded a race score of 40 or higher by our judges at every Grand Prix. That he missed out on a spot in Q3 in Canada was hardly his fault, after Kevin Magnussen smeared his Haas down the Wall of Champions and prevented Verstappen improving. Then in the race, Verstappen was his (now) usual calm self, efficiently buzzing his way from ninth to fifth by the flag – which he reckoned, given Red Bull’s pace in Montreal, was about as much as he could have hoped for.

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    Like Verstappen, Hamilton too retains his place in the Power Rankings – second, a position he took over after the Spanish Grand Prix. You’ll have your own view on the now-infamous penalty awarded to Sebastian Vettel, and whether or not the German deserved it. But the fact is that Hamilton did exactly what he had to do in the race to force Vettel into an error, with his fifth win in seven races – his best start to a season ever – and his seventh win in Canada his reward. His wall-banging in FP2, however, doubtless led to a few docked points from our judges…

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    Valtteri Bottas also holds onto the third place in the Power Rankings that he inherited in Spain. But alas, the Finn’s season-long average is slowly creeping southwards, after our judges awarded Bottas his worst score of the year to date in Canada. Bottas’s Q3 performance was wild, as he pirouetted across the track out of Turn 2 on his first push lap – the only driver to manage that this weekend – before a perplexing final effort that ultimately put him sixth on the grid, behind even the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo (incidentally, the highest scorer in Canada with 46, but not enough to bump him into the top 10). In the race, Bottas drove solidly to make his way back to P4 at the flag – but this was hardly vintage Bottas 2.0 material.

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    He may have sunk like a stone in the final laps of the race, but Sainz’s overall weekend performance was enough to see him move up the order in the Power Rankings, something he’s done every race weekend since he first entered them post-Azerbaijan. The Spaniard produced a fine lap in qualifying to go eighth for McLaren before being hobbled to 11th for a fairly clear-cut penalty for impeding Alex Albon (whose fourth spot he also purloined in the Power Rankings). That meant Sainz got all the bad bits of starting outside of the top 10 with none of the free tyre choice benefits. Add a tear-off visor getting stuck in his brakes and forcing a Lap 4 stop (and a resultant 67-lap stint on hards) and you have the makings of Sainz’s difficult race – but a not-unpositive weekend.

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    Albon falls from fourth to fifth in the Power Rankings after the first weekend where he’s really looked like an F1 rookie this year – and there’s very little shame in that, given that he only drove a Formula 1 car for the first time in February, and was making his first ever appearance in Montreal. Having struggled to get dialled into the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, problems on the weighbridge then hampered Albon’s qualifying, while his race was then effectively run by Turn 1, Lap 1, when he was the meat in a Sergio Perez/Antonio Giovinazzi sandwich, losing his front wing and struggling for pace thereafter. That made for Albon’s lowest score of the year so far – but his average remains buoyed by his strong performances earlier in the year, while F1 now returns to circuits that he has previous on, which should help.

    6 KVY CAN.jpg

    Only Ricciardo scored higher than Daniil Kvyat in Canada (while Lance Stroll equalled the Russian’s score), with the Toro Rosso man in fantastic form around the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, as he climbed from his eighth place in the Power Rankings post-Monaco to sixth, after a four-race absence from the top 10. He lacked the pace to make it into Q3, but drove solidly throughout the race before unleashing a beautiful overtake on the struggling Sainz to claim the final point on offer with two laps left to run – and remind people just why he was worth a call back to the F1 fold.

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    Still the only driver outside of Verstappen, Hamilton and Bottas to have been a constant feature in the Power Rankings in 2019, George Russell maintains his seventh place in the order that he climbed to after Monaco. Around the rapid Montreal track, Williams never had the pace to qualify anywhere but the back of the grid, but Russell was nonetheless 0.776s faster than his team mate – and 2008 winner here – Robert Kubica in Q1, before managing to finish ahead of both him and the struggling Haas of Kevin Magnussen in the race. Continues to impress.

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    That’s right – Sebastian Vettel arrives in the top 10 for the first time this year, despite having appeared three times on the podium ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal was a classic Vettel performance, with a flawless pole lap nearly seven-tenths faster than team mate Charles Leclerc, before a race that saw him enjoy the net lead for every lap and cross the finish line first. Yes, he’ll be frustrated that the win was taken from him by the penalty for his rallycross moment on Lap 48 – but, bigger picture, Vettel should be cheered by a performance that was, finally, on the level we’ve come to expect from him over the years. And by the fact that he’s now in the Power Rankings, of course.

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    Having entered the Power Rankings in a stunning equal-second after Bahrain, Lando Norris’ standing in the top 10 has been gradually cooling off since, as the Briton holds onto ninth place for the second weekend in a row. Norris’ Canadian Grand Prix lasted just nine laps before his McLaren MCL34 toasted itself, but there were still positives to take for the rookie, most notably his overcoming of his Friday pace deficit – that saw him commendably own up to “not doing a very good job” behind the wheel – while his audacious re-passing of Max Verstappen on Lap 1 was enjoyable for all (apart from Max Verstappen).

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    Another driver who’s been cooling off in recent races, Sergio Perez has fallen from fourth after Baku to sixth after Spain to 10th now – and with other drivers snapping at his heels, Perez will be hoping for a turnaround PDQ if he’s to maintain his Power Rankings status. Both he and Stroll endured the ignominy of failing to make it out of Q1 at what now constitutes ‘home turf’ for Racing Point. But then Stroll was given the better of the two strategies, using it to surge from 17th to ninth at the flag, while Perez could only lumber from 15th to 12th to cap off a weekend that, in his own words, “wasn’t great”.

    Dropping out and on the bubble

    Vettel’s inclusion in the Power Rankings this week meant that somebody had to go. And just as he booted him out of the chance of a Q2 appearance in Monaco two weeks ago, so too does Vettel take over Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc’s spot in the Power Rankings.

    The Monegasque thus falls out of the top 10 for the first time since Australia – but he’s only 0.2 points behind Perez, meaning a strong race in Paul Ricard could see him claw his way back in.