Lewis Hamilton’s championship victory has prompted us to look at the Power Rankings a little differently this week ahead of the penultimate round of 2019, the Brazilian Grand Prix.
With Hamilton celebrating a sixth title and the talk naturally shifting to whether he can match Michael Schumacher’s records, it is also worth wondering which driver will finally end this run.
Previous rankings: Australian GP | Bahrain GP | Chinese GP | Azerbaijan GP | Spanish GP | Monaco GP | Canadian GP | French GP | Austrian GP | British GP | German GP | Hungarian GP | Belgian GP | Italian GP | Singapore GP | Russian GP | Japanese GP | Mexican GP | United States GP
1. Lewis Hamilton (Last week: 1)
It’s hard to deny Lewis Hamilton’s position at the top of this ranking. The Mercedes driver has been sublime for much of this season. Regardless of the car Mercedes produces in 2020, it would be brave to bet against Hamilton being in the hunt for a championship. But there are plenty of drivers on his tail.
The pretenders to the throne
2. Max Verstappen (Last week: 6)
It’s been a strange couple of races for Verstappen, following the bizarre sequence of events which saw him stripped of pole in Mexico, but a strong drive to third position at the U.S. Grand Prix was a reminder of the Dutchman at his best. Give him the car, and get someone to work on his temperament a bit, and one day we could be writing about Verstappen breaking the records Hamilton is staring down.
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Last week: 8)
Daniel Ricciardo looked to be a man rejuvenated in Austin, emerging on top after a race-long tussle with Lando Norris for sixth position. Renault might be in dire straits right now but when given the opportunity Ricciardo continues to show his pedigree — the driver market next year will be key for the Australian to get himself into title winning machinery.
4. Alexander Albon (Last week: 3)
Albon ranks above the two Ferrari drivers after confirmation he will keep the Red Bull drive for 2020, which is a massive moment in his career. The Thai has been solid since stepping up to the team in August and, now he knows the seat is his for keeps, he can focus on cutting the gap to Verstappen. There is a growing amount of people at Red Bull and Toro Rosso who think Albon is something special and if Red Bull’s Honda package continues to improve he could be set for a breakout year in 2020.
5. Charles Leclerc (Last week: 4)
Don’t be fooled by the fact Leclerc is “only” fifth on this list. The Monaco native still looks every bit the man to end Ferrari’s long championship drought. Ferrari’s apparent downturn in form prevents him from climbing any higher.
Close, but still lacking something
6. Sebastian Vettel (Last week: 9)
Sebastian Vettel has shown signs of his former self since Leclerc’s back-to-back wins in Belgium and Italy. He is set for his 100th race start in Ferrari red at the Brazilian Grand Prix but its hard not to dwell on what might (and should) have been in his stint with the team so far.
7. Valtteri Bottas (Last week: 7)
It was ironic that Bottas’ finest weekend display of 2019 was overshadowed by Hamilton beating him to the title, with two races to spare. Bottas has shown he can produce the goods on occasion but appears to be a long way off the consistency required to match Hamilton across a season in the same car.
8. Carlos Sainz (Last week: 6)
Sainz remains the midfield’s premier driver. McLaren won’t be in a position to compete for a title next year but the 2021 regulations present a big opportunity for the likes of Sainz to force their way to the front of the pack.
9. Lando Norris (Last week: 11)
You can copy-and-paste the 2021 comment above for Norris here. Unless you want to nit-pick about the fact he is still marginally behind Sainz in qualifying every week, its hard to find much fault with Norris’ season. At 19 he already looks like he belongs.
Here for another year
10. Sergio Perez (Last week: 6)
Perez continues to be solid and is a known quantity when he has a competitive car at his disposal. Whether that happens sooner or later remains to be seen.
11. George Russell (Last week: 15)
George Russell is the next man in line for Mercedes and is doing a good job of enhancing his reputation in the worst car on the grid.
12. Pierre Gasly (Last week: 10)
Another year at Toro Rosso awaits, but Gasly deserves praise for how he has stabalised his form since that dismal tenure at Red Bull.
13. Antonio Giovinazzi (Last week: 13)
The new contract handed to Giovinazzi after the U.S. Grand Prix was just reward for a rejuvenated run of form after the summer break. He still heads into the final race of 2019 and a full year in 2020 needing to prove he belongs long-term.
14. Lance Stroll (Last week: 12)
Stroll continues to be a hard driver to assess: his starts are mega, but he still has a lot to improve to match Sergio Perez consistently.
15. Daniil Kvyat (Last week: 16)
Kvyat stays at Toro Rosso for 2020, but its hard to see Kvyat doing anything other than disappearing into the midfield in the next few years.
16. Kevin Magnussen (Last week: 17)
I’m a huge fan of K-Mag, but this year has been hard to watch. He was in the ‘Carlos Sainz role’ for much of last year but this season has been a completely different story. He deserves a more competitive car, but he might be waiting a while to get one.
17. Kimi Raikkonen (Last week: 19)
Raikkonen’s form has gone the opposite way to teammate Anotnio Giovinazzi since the summer break. But, when you’ve won a world title and you’re in your 17th year of F1 with an 18th on the horizon, does it really matter?
18. Romain Grosjean (Last week: 18)
The Frenchman is lucky to have retained his seat for 2020. It’s hard to be excited about Grosjean or Haas’ short-term prospects at the moment.
On the way out
19. Robert Kubica (Last week: 20)
You know the story here. Fairytale comeback gone bad. It was fun (I think, at some point) while it lasted.
20. Nico Hulkenberg (Last week: 14)
Hulkenberg’s current form seems pretty insignificant at this point, as he counts down the time remaining on his F1 career. Hanging over everything is the feeling that this was a career which fell well short of what it should have been — given the theme of this list, its worth ending on that note. At the opposite end of this decade many would have touted Hulkenberg a future world champion, yet — barring something remarkable at the final two races — he will leave as the greatest driver to never claim a podium finish.