POWER RANKINGS: Who's on top after the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix?
The electrifying 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix kicked off the season, and now it's time to tally up the scores and see which driver is top of our Power Rankings leaderboard heading to Saudi Arabia.
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)
Ferrari's race winner Charles Leclerc took pole position on Saturday, led 55 of 57 laps, and took the fastest lap bonus point to boot. So it's little surprise that he's top of the Power Rankings after Bahrain with a perfect score. The Monegasque driver did not put a foot wrong, battling with reigning champion Max Verstappen for three nailbiting laps, on his way to the top of the standings.
PALMER: Why Leclerc and Verstappen’s Bahrain battle heralded a new era of wheel-to-wheel racing
"That was some ******* Viking comeback", said Team Principal Guenther Steiner over the radio as Kevin Magnussen crossed the line for P5 on his return to Haas. An absolutely momentous drive from the Dane resulted in Haas's first points score since Round 11 of the 2020 season. There's little question that Magnussen deserves this score, after only stepping into the car midway through the Official Pre-Season Test, and then pulling out a stunning performance at Sakhir.
SAY WHAT? Verstappen, Gasly and Magnussen all feature in the best team radio from Bahrain
Sunday was a dire day for Red Bull but it shouldn't overshadow reigning champion Verstappen's brilliant drive, which would likely have resulted in P2. He kept Leclerc under pressure throughout, only bowing out when his RB18 sprung an engine issue. There's more to come from the flying Dutchman, that's for sure.
READ MORE: Why Bahrain's unique layout was always going to make it hard for Verstappen to topple Leclerc
Third at the chequered flag, Lewis Hamilton has the fourth-highest Power Rankings score after Bahrain having squeezed everything out of his Mercedes W13 – a car that isn't considered a championship-contender just yet – to snatch a podium when the Red Bulls suffered reliability issues.
READ MORE: Wolff admits Mercedes were ‘punching above our weight’ in Bahrain, as he calls 2022 title chances ‘a long shot’
Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu became the 66th Formula 1 driver to score a point on his debut, finishing 10th after anti-stall kicked in and put him at the back of the pack on the opening lap. A brilliant recovery drive and a solid weekend from the rookie, who definitely proved some doubters wrong in Bahrain.
READ MORE: Zhou says scoring point on debut is 'something I would only have dreamed of'
Valtteri Bottas outscored Zhou on the track but ended up a couple of tenths away in our Power Rankings, despite finishing an astonishing sixth in his first foray for Alfa Romeo. After mounting a coup to qualify sixth, the Finn's start was less than ideal but he kept his cool and capitalised on late retirements for some impressive points.
READ MORE: Bottas elated with double-points finish for Alfa Romeo after 'disaster' start in Bahrain
Another driver who impressed on his first race for his new team, Williams' Alex Albon was expected to languish around the back of the pack – his team mate Nicholas Latifi finishing 16th – but ended up P13 by the flag, and ahead of the McLarens to boot.
READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers of the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix – Who shone under the lights in Sakhir?
Ferrari's Carlos Sainz couldn't keep pace with the leaders – his team mate Leclerc and rival Verstappen – but still managed to back up a Ferrari one-two, their first since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix. The Spaniard wasnt happy, however, and said he had much to work on to mount a proper title challenge.
READ MORE: Sainz calls Bahrain his ‘most difficult weekend as a Ferrari driver’ despite podium finish
Despite qualifying a middling ninth on his full-time Mercedes debut, George Russell rescued a brilliant (if slightly lucky) P4 and limited the damage for a Silver Arrows team that are nowhere near their lofty standards. The ex-Williams driver kept his head down and clinched a worthy result on Sunday.
READ MORE: Mercedes’ Bahrain result ‘extraordinary’, says Russell – but team still ‘a long way behind rivals’
Esteban Ocon took P7 with strong pace and some solid passes, beating Alpine team mate Fernando Alonso (P9) plus the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda (P8) to stay towards the top of the midfield.
READ MORE: Ocon pleased to shrug off penalty and lead double-points finish for Alpine
It was Frenchman Pierre Gasly (DNF) who narrowly missed out on the top 10 this time around.
The AlphaTauri driver outscored his team mate Yuki Tsunoda plus Red Bull's Sergio Perez in our first Power Rankings of the season.