POWER RANKINGS: Team mates share the top spot as the judges' scores come in from a dramatic Australian GP
There were a number of superb performances this weekend, as Max Verstappen took his second victory of the year at an action-packed Australian Grand Prix. He makes it into the Power Rankings this week – but who else joins him? Here are the scores from Melbourne.
How it works
• Our five-judge panel assess each driver after every Grand Prix and score 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 first podium of the year for the seven-time world champion, who even briefly led Down Under. Hamilton had an accomplished weekend, qualifying in a season-high P3, before getting up to second, ahead of Max Verstappen, thanks to fast start.
Verstappen later overtook him, although there was not much Hamilton could do about that. But he displayed his racecraft to manage his tyres while keeping the cunning Fernando Alonso behind – with his staunch defence drawing some positive post-race reviews from the Spaniard.
George Russell will no doubt return home from Melbourne with his head held high, despite taking part in just 17 laps on Sunday. He led the first seven laps of the race, after getting his elbows out and jumping ahead of Verstappen at the start.
However, through no fault of his own, his day would then turn sour, as he lost out under the Safety Car that turned to a red flag, before a suspected engine issue forced him to stop on track. If things had gone differently, who knows what he could have achieved this weekend, but it was still another terrific drive from the Mercedes racer.
Norris scored his first points of the year in Melbourne, earning him some punchy marks from the judges. On display this Sunday was his incredible pace, as he at times matched the speed of the cars ahead; his robust defence, to hold up the faster Red Bull of Sergio Perez for many laps; and his impressive overtaking prowess, to get past Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas. It was the first-class showing that we have come to expect from the McLaren driver.
Like Norris, Hulkenberg also makes this list for the first time this year, after the Haas driver took the chequered flag in seventh this weekend – although he did have to stop his car at the side of the track when the race was over with a suspected engine issue.
The German has hit the ground running so far this year, especially in qualifying, having made it into Q3 in both Bahrain and Australia – while he was 11th in Jeddah. He finally had the Sunday to match his qualifying speed in Melbourne, in what was quite the convincing outing for Hulk and his team.
Even though he dropped down to third on the first lap, such is the speed of both Verstappen and the Red Bull RB19, it was hard to find anybody in the paddock who still did not believe he was going to win. And in quite dominating style, he did just that.
The Dutch driver was his usual composed self, as he handled the restarts perfectly, avoiding the chaos and staying ahead of his rivals, in what in the end was another perfectly executed race weekend from him and his Red Bull squad.
That is now three consecutive third place finishes to start the year for Alonso, but it may have been his most challenging one yet. It was not a great start from the Spaniard, as he lost a place to Carlos Sainz, dropping him down to fifth.
But after benefitting from his compatriot and Russell pitting, he took full advantage to move up to third. He looked to push Hamilton for second, but could never quite get close enough, but it was another well-earned podium to start the year.
It was a home debut to remember for the Melbourne native, who came through the field to achieve his first points finish as a Formula 1 driver. An early Q1 exit put him on the back foot, but thanks to some robust overtaking – and with a little help from the chaotic restarts – he was able to finish eighth. A nice end to what was a memorable weekend for the rookie.
The Mexican will count himself as unlucky, as a persistent technical issue caused him to end up in the gravel in Q1 – having spent much of FP3 rallying too! After starting in the pit lane, he put the speed of the RB19 to use, pulling off some impressive overtakes on his way to finishing fifth.
After winning in Jeddah, this would not have been the result Perez would have had in mind coming into the weekend, but from where he was on Saturday evening, it was a terrific rescue act.
A late crash with his team mate does not mean we should forget all the good Gasly did in Melbourne. After qualifying in ninth, it was an admirable drive from Gasly that saw him not only up in fifth, but also keeping pace with the faster cars of Alonso and Sainz ahead.
Gasly also showcased his strong defensive skills, as he kept the pacy Sainz behind for multiple laps. It was not the ending he or his team would have wanted, but the judges were more than impressed by what they saw from Gasly over 57 of the 58 laps.
Tsunoda has been driving well all year and finally scored his first points of the season. At one stage, he was struggling with his tyres and was dropping down the order, but he made use of the late Safety Car and Sainz’s five-second penalty to find his way into the top 10 – although he felt it could have been more.
Zhou Guanyu was another driver happy to score his first points of the year. He qualified 17th, but the Chinese racer made steady progress all day, overtaking when he needed to, while taking advantage of the Safety Cars and restarts to find himself crossing the line in 10th – before Sainz’s penalty also allowed him to gain a place.
Narrowly missing out on a place in the top 10 are Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll. Ocon looked set for points, but crashed out with Gasly, while Stroll finished in a season-high fourth position in Melbourne.