RACE DEBRIEF

    The second race in succession at the Red Bull Ring featured a Lewis Hamilton masterclass, along with some starring performances lower down the order. But with Hamilton not having made it onto our leaderboard after the opening race of 2020, has he made amends after the Styrian Grand Prix? Our 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)

    OUR STYRIAN GP TOP 10

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    Lewis Hamilton didn't feature at all in our Power Rankings top 10 after the Austrian Grand Prix, but he fought back at the Styrian Grand Prix in devastating style. Utterly untouchable in qualifying, where he produced a lap that’s probably already entered the annals of F1 Greatness, there was then no question of anyone else winning Sunday’s encounter. Scary good – hence a perfect score from the judges.

    READ MORE: Styrian GP victory ‘a great way to bounce back’ after opening weekend struggles, says Hamilton

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    Verstappen was the only other driver operating in the same realm as Hamilton in qualifying, but scuppered an attempt to challenge for pole with a Turn 9 spin – although given the conditions, it was hardly a huge black mark against him. In the race, there was little more that he could have squeezed from his RB16 package, the Dutchman finishing third, 11 seconds ahead of team mate Alex Albon in fourth, despite Verstappen making an additional late-race pit stop.

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    Another scintillating race performance from Lando Norris, whose rise from eighth to fifth in the final two laps made for fantastic viewing. Trailed team mate Sainz in qualifying, not helped by him nursing chest pains across the weekend, and made his life harder with an amateurish grid penalty earned in the very first session of the weekend. But the 20-year-old Briton made up for it with aplomb on race day, leaving Austria at the top of the overall Power Rankings Leaderboard.

    READ MORE: Norris hails 'best race in F1' after passing both Racing Points on final lap for P5

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    It was an up and down weekend for Sergio Perez – albeit with some properly big ups. His searing Friday pace counted for little in Saturday’s wet qualifying, as he ended up 17th on the grid – admittedly not helped by the red flag in Q1. He'd made up for it in the race with a scything drive through the field, which saw him genuinely challenging the Red Bull of Alex Albon for fourth – but then undid the hard work by making contact with the Thai driver, causing the front wing damage that allowed Norris to pip him for P5.

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    After his barnstorming opening weekend in Austria, Bottas had a slightly tougher time of it at the second Red Bull Ring race, failing to put a lap together in qualifying and being hurt by brake glazing, which caused him to start from fourth – while with Hamilton having bolted out at the front on race day, second was realistically as high as Bottas could have climbed after that qualifying performance. Still, hardly a disaster from the Finn, who still heads the drivers’ standings.

    READ MORE: 'It was pretty shocking' – Bottas blasts blue flag-ignoring backmarkers in Styrian GP

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    After being shaded by team mate Norris’ performance in the opening weekend of 2020, Saturday in Styria was a reminder of Sainz’s quality, as he claimed a sensational P3 in qualifying. Was doing an excellent job in the early part of the race, before a slow pit stop released him into traffic and it all started to unravel – with Sainz, on worn out tyres, gentlemanly letting Norris through 10 laps from the end to go for P5, as the Spaniard settled for ninth.

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    In a qualifying that was studded with star performances – see above – George Russell’s efforts in a Williams FW43 was one of the most outstanding, as he hauled the car out of Q3 to secure Williams’ first Q2 appearance since Brazil 2018, eventually earning a starting position of 11th. But a rare mistake from the Briton at the Lap 4 Safety Car restart saw him get on the marbles at Turn 6 while fighting the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, running into the gravel and dropping him to last place – and making the rest of his Sunday a recovery mission. A pity.

    READ MORE: 'I messed up' admits Russell after Lap 4 off in Styrian GP – but says ‘slow’ car was bigger problem

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    Having been outclassed by Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying for the season opener, Esteban Ocon had his revenge at the Styrian Grand Prix, taking a brilliant P5 in the wet, as Ricciardo could only manage P9. In the race, though, it failed to happen for the Frenchman, as he robustly battled with his faster team mate before a cooling issue forced him into retirement.

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    A strong race day performance from Kvyat, who was king of the lower midfield after winning out in a hotly-fought battle with the Haas and Alfa Romeo cars, and his own two-stopping team mate Pierre Gasly, to grab the precious final point. And with points seemingly harder to come by for these teams in 2020 given the steps in performance by Renault, McLaren and Racing Point, every little will help for AlphaTauri this season.

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    A rare out-qualification of team mate Perez on Saturday – it only happened twice last year – was a decent effort from Stroll, who once more demonstrated his ability in slippery conditions. But he was unable to match the Mexican in the dry race, with Perez set to have finished at least fifth after his P17 start until his contact with Albon, while Stroll’s opportunistic lunge on Ricciardo was still only enough for seventh by the flag, after starting 12th.

    MISSING OUT

    Daniel Ricciardo and Nicholas Latifi narrowly failed to make the top 10 from the Styrian Grand Prix, Ricciardo enjoying a reasonably solid weekend bar his FP2 shunt to finally get some points on the board (even if he admitted he should have defended harder in the latter stages), while Latifi showed up well in only his second Grand Prix weekend on the front line, appearing comfortable in the sodden qualifying conditions before following his team mate home in the race.

    No Ferrari driver was threatening however, with Charles Leclerc receiving a lowly 3.8 race score from our judges – hardly surprising after he failed to make Q3 before accepting blame for wiping both him and his team mate out on Lap 1 of the race – while Vettel fared better, with a score of 6.6. Neither of them feature on our overall leaderboard after two races, however.

    THE OVERALL STANDINGS

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