POWER RANKINGS: Which driver gave Hamilton a surprising run for his money in Hungary?
Following his eighth victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, it’s no surprise to see Lewis Hamilton heading the Power Rankings pack this week. But there were some surprises further down the order, including a first-time appearance in 2020 for a certain four-time world champion...
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)
Second race week, second perfect score for Lewis Hamilton. Well, what other score could you give? Pole (his 90th)? Check. Outstanding getaway that saw him quickly open a near-10s lead over the pack? Check. Fastest lap of the race? Check. Michael Schumacher record-equalling eighth win at the same track? Check. Inheriting the lead of the championship? Check.
Lewis Hamilton’s Hungarian Grand Prix was almost so perfect as to be unremarkable – which when you think about it, is pretty remarkable. He also moves to the head of our Power Rankings leaderboard, having not featured at all after the Austrian Grand Prix season opener.
Wasn’t it nice to see Haas, after all the negative headlines and Netflix-captured Guenther Steiner explosions they’ve had to deal with in the past year and a half, running third and fourth in the race for a spell? It was down to clever pit calls on the formation lap – which ironically cost both Magnussen and Romain Grosjean a position each after the race – and they knew it couldn’t last, but Magnussen did an excellent job to hold on to ninth at the flag (before his penalty), with a McLaren, a Ferrari and a Renault behind him.
We’re pretty sure that, had Max Verstappen not had to extricate himself from the Turn 12 wall half an hour before the race start, his score might have been even higher than 8.8. True, everything leading up to Sunday’s race was nightmarish, Red Bull woefully off the pace in qualifying at a track where they were expected to shine. But some Verstappen brilliance married to a better race car hauled him up to P2 early on in the Grand Prix, and he never looked back from there.
Lance Stroll enjoyed the joint second-best race finish of his career in Hungary – but unlike his third place in Baku in 2017, or his P4 in Germany last year, this was a straight run to the chequered flag – no Safety Cars, no rivals spinning off left, right and centre, no nothing. Should Stroll have finished higher, given the contentious speed in that Racing Point RP20 package? That’s a moot point. But outpacing team mate Sergio Perez across both qualifying and the race was a significant step for Stroll, earning him an equal third placing this week alongside Verstappen.
Hungary was a stealthily effective race for Daniel Ricciardo, who after eking out the tyre life of the used mediums he put on on Lap 4 for 39 laps – tyre preservation an underrated quality in the Australian’s arsenal in our opinion – worked his way up to eighth by the flag, the position Renault have finished in every time they’ve scored points this year. Ricciardo feels there’s potential for greater things in the R.S.20 package, and that Renault’s pace is not far away from Racing Point’s. Let’s hope he gets to prove that in the next couple of races.
After a blistering 2019, Carlos Sainz has found it slightly harder going in 2020 – and Hungary appeared to be the Spaniard’s most difficult weekend of all, his MCL35 looking all over the shop in the Hungaroring's third sector in qualifying, as he wrestled it to P9 on the grid, behind team mate Lando Norris. Sainz got his head down in the race, though, and despite a number of setbacks, a great fight with the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc gave him the final point – which became two after Magnussen’s penalty.
A fine effort from Sebastian Vettel is rewarded with his first Power Rankings appearance of 2020, as he maintained his record of starting in the top five in Hungary that stretches back to 2009, while sixth at the race-end is the German’s best finish of the year so far. He also comfortably outperformed Charles Leclerc on Sunday, having shown his experience by refusing to run the soft tyres early in the race. Vettel knows Ferrari are not where they want to be – but they had the out-going German to thank in Hungary for at least a dab of positivity.
That Pierre Gasly earned the eighth highest score from our judges despite driving just 56 laps across the WHOLE WEEKEND at the Hungaroring was a testament to how well the Frenchman showed in those 56 laps. He overcame an incessant raft of issues on his AlphaTauri AT01 to make his way up into Q3 – ahead of the likes of Red Bull’s Alex Albon and the two Renaults of Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon – before more issues then meant his race was run by Lap 15.
A storming Bottas win in the season opener followed by two Lewis Hamilton victories… 2020 is beginning to feel a little familiar. In truth, were it not for his terrible race start, there were plenty of positives for Bottas to take away from the weekend at a track that hasn’t been his best over the years. The Finn was just over a tenth off now-seven-time Hungarian GP polesitter Hamilton in qualifying, while without that start, he might have made a race of it with his team mate too.
At the scene of George Russell’s small victory from 2019 – where he finished 16th, and ahead of Lance Stroll’s Racing Point (what a difference a year makes) and Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo – the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix was a mixed affair for Russell, who enjoyed a second consecutive storming run into Q2, but then struggled, along with team mate Nicholas Latifi, in the race. But if Williams can get on top of those race pace issues and allow Russell to start converting his qualifying positions into finishing ones, they’ll be onto a winner. Well, perhaps not a winner, but you know what we mean.
Alex Albon was right on the cusp this week, after enjoying a similar strong recovery to his Red Bull team mate Verstappen to climb from his disastrous P13 grid slot to fifth at the flag. He sits on 7.2 for the race, while behind, Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez share a 6.8, Kvyat with another solid run in the race, while Perez found himself outgunned by team mate Lance Stroll in qualifying, before then losing out at the start and eventually ending up P7.
THE OVERALL STANDINGS
Having not featured in the top 10 of our leaderboard after the Austrian Grand Prix season opener, Hamilton entered at #4 after the Styrian Grand Prix, but has now displaced Lando Norris from the top spot after Hungary. Meanwhile, following his strong performance at the Hungaroring, Kevin Magnussen is in at #10, as he pushes out Alex Albon.