POWER RANKINGS: Did any driver outshine seven-time champ Hamilton in the Turkish GP?
A seventh championship for Lewis Hamilton was earned with a true champion’s drive in the Turkish Grand Prix. Enough to put him top of this week’s Power Rankings? The judges scores are in…
HOW IT WORKS
Our five-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 to produce a race score – with those scores then tallied up across the season on our overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)
It was a measure of the madness of the Turkish Grand Prix weekend that Lewis Hamilton found himself outqualified in the wet by the Racing Point of Lance Stroll… by 4.795s. As we’ve seen so often in 2020, though, Hamilton turned his weekend around spectacularly, rising from being sixth at the end of Lap 1 to eventually win by over 30s from Sergio Perez, in a drive that will surely go down as one of his best ever. That it earned him a seventh title seemed fitting – while Hamilton also receives a perfect score from our judges.
It must have hurt Sergio Perez to have been outgunned for pole position by his team mate Lance Stroll (and Max Verstappen) on Saturday. But Perez demonstrated once again what a classy operator he is in the race, as he aped Hamilton’s decision to change tyres just once to come home second, matching his career-best finish with his first podium of the campaign. Surely that’s worthy of a drive for 2021, no?
It’s fair to say that Carlos Sainz was mystified as to why he’d been unable to tap into his noted wet-weather ability in Saturday’s qualifying, as he ended up 13th on the grid – which became 15th after a grid penalty. From there, though, the hours spent pounding around his family farm’s rally track came to the fore, Sainz jumping six places at the start, and then another four after that, to end up fifth at the flag, and within sight of second-placed Perez.
It would be hard to imagine writing in 2013 of being pleased to see Sebastian Vettel finally getting back on a podium, but there we are. Vettel was mighty in the early part of the race, leaping from P11 to hold third by the end of the first lap. But while his pace dropped off to the point that Charles Leclerc was able to pass him on Lap 40, Vettel then used all his experience to shadow his team mate until the last lap and pounce on the Monegasque’s mistake to claim his first podium since Mexico 2019 – and his highest Power Rankings score of the year.
The Turkish Grand Prix was the first time this year that Vettel has finished a race in front of Leclerc, and only the third time the German has outqualified him. That doesn’t quite tell the whole story, though, with Leclerc having been mighty at many points over the weekend, while in the race, he did brilliantly to vault into the pack chasing Hamilton, having been over 50s behind Sergio Perez after the first pit stops. He was arguably a touch rash in going for the move on Perez in the final moments of the race and turning a potential P2 into P4 – but judging by his post-race berating of himself, he already knew that…
Lando Norris’ Turkish Grand Prix lacked the fireworks of his team mate’s effort – but it was an incredibly solid drive nonetheless. As with Sainz, Norris’ McLaren appeared to come alive in the latter two-thirds of the race, as he picked his way through the opposition – slightly rudely in the case of his pass on buddy George Russell for P11, slightly fortuitously when Daniel Ricciardo spun his way out of P10 – snatched P8 from Lance Stroll with two laps to go and crossed the line in that position. A decent birthday present for the Briton, who’d turned 21 on Friday.
K-Mag used changeable conditions to snatch his only point of the year so far at the Hungarian Grand Prix – and the Dane was brilliant again at Istanbul in a Haas car that’s been a struggle all year. Left furious after qualifying by what he perceived as his rivals’ ignoring of yellow flags in the final part of Q1, Magnussen then spent large parts of the race running in the points – a big achievement for Haas in 2020 – only for a bungled pit stop to undo all his hard work, as he ended up classified a withdrawn 17th.
If we’d, er, stopped the count for Power Rankings after qualifying, there’s no doubt that Stroll would have topped the list, after a sensational performance from the Canadian to take a well-deserved maiden pole position in the filthy conditions on Saturday. He even looked terrific in the early part of the race, building a 10s lead over Perez before excessive graining on his intermediate tyres – earned, according to his team, by unseen damage to his front wing – saw his lap times plummet, as he eventually came home a confused ninth.
As he’d admit after the race, Daniel Ricciardo’s Turkish Grand Prix went decidedly downhill after the first 500 metres, with the Australian tapping his team mate Esteban Ocon into a spin at Turn 1 after taking avoiding action from a charging Hamilton. Ricciardo actually showed strong pace in parts of the race, spending much of it heading a group made up of Leclerc and Sainz. But unfortunately, he went backwards as those two drivers went the other way when his tyres fell off a cliff, with Ricciardo eventually finishing P10 – although that did extend his points-scoring streak to eight races, the third highest behind Hamilton and Perez currently.
"We want Alex to claim that seat and basically justify that there is no need to look at any other alternative,” said Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner recently. And while Albon’s Turkish Grand Prix was far from perfect, there were flashes that things were starting to come together for the Thai driver, with Albon at one point looking like he was about to pounce for the lead, before his tyres appeared to give up on him. Following a spin, Albon would ultimately come home P7, but at least he was right on Verstappen’s gearbox. Let’s see what he can manage in the final three races of the season.
Daniil Kvyat and Kimi Raikkonen were the two drivers tied together on 11th place this week, Kvyat satisfied after a solid run to 12th place, while Raikkonen starred in qualifying to take P8 on the grid, but then had a race to forget.
Perhaps more surprising was that Red Bull’s Verstappen didn’t feature in the top 10, with several judges marking him down for his failed attempt to pass Perez, which saw him spinning out of contention for a possible victory and ending up P6 – although it later transpired that he hadn’t been help by a set-up issue on his front wing.
THE OVERALL STANDINGS
A ripple of movement through the middle of the leaderboard this week, with Leclerc and Ricciardo swapping places – Leclerc having now scored 8.0 or higher since Mugello – while Sainz’s strong Istanbul race was enough to lift him above Norris for P6, with the McLaren pair separated by just 0.4 points in the Power Rankings standings – and one point in the drivers’ championship.
Owing to a database error, the overall scores shown in the last article were marginally incorrect. These have now been corrected. They had no impact on the overall standings.