With 12 races behind us Formula One has reached the midway point of the season. While the drivers and teams have taken a well-earned two week break we here at RealSport don’t know the meaning of “holiday”. We start our summer coverage with the drivers power rankings and next week our mid-season team reports will start hitting the site. Also keep your eye out for exclusive behind the scenes looks at life as a Formula One mechanic & pit stop team member.
Voting Panel: Toby Durant, Gur Samuel, Jonathan Homer, Nick Brown, Chris Goodman, Killiamn McClatchey
22. Rio Haryanto, Manor
Previous Ranking: 22
(TD: 22, GS: 22, JH: 21, NB: 22, CG: 22, KM: 22)
Haryanto stays firmly at the bottom of our rankings, and worse he might slide off them by the next time. His funding has officially run out, and while Manor were able to make an agreement for him to race in Germany he needs around €7 million to finish the season. Manor may find that McLaren are willing to pay that to get Stoffel Vandoorne into a race seat this year.
21. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
Previous Ranking: 16
(TD: 20, GS: 20, JH: 22, NB: 21, CG: 20, KM: 21)
Daniil Kvyat’s slide down the rankings has been epic and potentially career ending. The blow to his psyche that came from his demotion back to Toro Rosso has affected his racing more deeply and for longer than anyone anticipated. Red Bull’s Young Driver Programme is ruthless, and their GP2 driver Pierre Gasly could well find himself in this seat either next year or potentially even in Spa.
20. Jolyon Palmer, Renault
Previous Ranking: 20
(TD: 21, GS: 21, JH: 19, NB: 20, CG: 21, KM: 20)
12th & 19th place finishes in Hungary and Germany leave Palmer down at the foot of our rankings once again and has people worried for his future in F1. While he has out qualified team-mate Kevin Magnussen at the last two races he is typically behind him both on the grid and in the race. With potentially huge changes coming for 2017 Renault may look to a more established driver to help push them forward.
19. Felipe Nasr, Sauber
Previous Ranking: 19
(TD: 17, GS: 18, JH: 20, NB: 18, CG: 18, KM: 18)
18. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
Previous Ranking: 21
(TD: 18, GS: 17, JH: 15, NB: 19, CG: 19, KM: 19)
Let’s tackle both Sauber drivers at once. They have had an incredibly hard season so far as financial struggles at the team have left them with an uncompetitive, and at times undriveable, car. Ericsson’s crashes both in Silverstone & Hungary hurt him but his early season success against his team-mate and slight edge in qualifying keeps him above Nasr. With Sauber getting new ownership just before the Hungarian Grand Prix there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, but it is very distant and both Nasr & Ericsson will have to toil away a bit more in 2016.
17. Kevin Magnussen, Renault
Previous Ranking: 17
(TD: 16, GS: 19, JH: 17, NB: 17, CG: 17, KM: 15)
Magnussen stays at 17 despite being a little disappointing in the last two races. What is keeping him afloat is his 8-4 advantage over his team-mate in qualifying and 4 trips into Q2. He has shown the one lap pace, as well as some good fighting in races, to thing he will have a future in Formula One beyond this season.
16. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas
Previous Ranking: 18
(TD: 19, GS: 16, JH: 18, NB: 14, CG: 16, KM: 17)
A little rise for Gutierrez after out qualifying his team-mate in Germany and beating him on track in the last 2 races. Gutierrez has had some rotten luck in 2016. While his team mate has had four points finishes Gutierrez has had to make do with four 11th place finishes. He is quietly showing enough pace to be in consideration for a 2017 driver but he will need some points somewhere in the second half of the season.
15. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor
Previous Ranking: 15
(TD: 13, GS: 15, JH: 14, NB: 15, CG: 15, KM: 16)
Wehrlein holds firm at 15 after what has been a very impressive first 12 races in Formula One. It is hard to stand out in the slowest car on the grid but that 13th place in Bahrain and the 10th in Austria have done it. Wehrlein hasn’t been perfect but he is showing good development in Manor and on average is out-qualifying both the Saubers.
14. Felipe Massa, Williams
Previous Ranking: 14
(TD: 14, GS: 13, JH: 16, NB: 16, CG: 13, KM: 13)
Massa’s star continues to fade as we reach what is likely to be his final summer break in Formula One. He started the season with six straight points finishes but since then has two retirements, a 20th place and a 18th place to his name. Not all of it is his fault but Massa’s lack of performance has been highlighted by his team-mate’s strong results in recent races. The veteran Brazilian has stated his interest in racing again in 2017 but it’s hard to see a competitive team finding room for him.
13. Romain Grosjean, Haas
Previous Ranking: 13
(TD: 12, GS: 14, JH: 10, NB: 13, CG: 12, KM: 14)
Grosjean’s season has faded from that superb start. Just one points finish in the last 8 races but the Frenchman’s pace has been enough to turn the heads of bigger teams, at least for a moment anyway. Haas’ first year in F1 was always going to be tricky and reliability issues coupled with minimal development have begun to blunt Grosjean’s pace somewhat. The second half of the season is likely to be a continuation of the struggles as we visit the challenges of Spa, Monza and Signapore in a short space of time.
12. Jenson Button, McLaren
Previous Ranking: 12
(TD: 15, GS: 10, JH: 9, NB: 11, CG: 14, KM: 12)
Qualifying 5th in Austria and 8th in Hungary reminded everyone just how good Jenson Button can be. While the McLaren’s pace has improved over the season it’s reliability has still been an issue and has stopped Button scoring points at a number of races so far. The 2009 World Champion is yet to decide where he will drive next season, but I suspect this will be his last with McLaren.
11. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso
Previous Ranking: 8
(TD: 10, GS: 12, JH: 13, NB: 8, CG: 9, KM: 11)
A disappointing German Grand Prix ended a three-race run of 8th place finishes for Sainz, who has scored in an impressive eight of the 12 Grand Prix so far. Sainz is ruling Toro Rosso now without Max Verstappen but that drive from a competitive team-mate may have blunted his performance a touch. Sainz is locked into a Toro Rosso seat for next year but you suspect his future will be bright and away from Red Bull.
10. Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Previous Ranking: 9
(TD: 8, GS: 9, JH: 6, NB: 12, CG: 11, KM: 10)
The great Alonso has struggled a little recently, especially with reliability. The thirsty Honda engine has also forced longer fuel saving periods for him which has dulled his usually sharp racing. Alonso’s recent career is one of what-if, and you still feel he could compete at the front of the grid but the competitive juices of the Spaniard seems to have dried up with McLaren’s struggles.
9. Sergio Perez, Force India
Previous Ranking: 7
(TD: 17, GS: 11, JH: 8, NB: 9, CG: 10, KM: 8)
8. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
Previous Ranking: 11
(TD: 11, GS: 8, JH: 12, NB: 7, CG: 8, KM: 7)
It was a dead-heat between the Force India drivers, with only Hulkenberg’s two seventh place votes giving him the edge. Despite Perez’s pair of third places in Monaco and Baku and general buzz around his future lying elsewhere, Hulkenberg’s recent strong performances – finishing in the points and ahead of Perez in the last three races – as well as his 7-5 qualifying edge have him just nose out his team-mate. Both drivers have been very good this year, and pulled a decent car up the rankings far. Force India has a bright future if it can build on this season and keep these two drivers.
7. Valtteri Bottas, Williams
Previous Ranking: 10
(TD: 9, GS: 6, JH: 11, NB: 10, CG: 7, KM: 9)
It’s no surprise to see Bottas here. He’s been hovering in the top 10 all season and is seemingly just waiting for his shot with a big team. He is one of two drivers (along with Daniel Ricciardo) to have finished every Grand Prix this year and he’s scored points in all but two of them. Williams have found themselves being challenged by Force India and even Toro Rosso this season but Bottas has remained the ace up their sleeve in that fight.
6. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
Previous Ranking: 6
(TD: 5, GS: 5, JH: 7, NB: 6, CG: 5, KM: 6)
Four races without a podium and another 42 shouts down the radio at backmarkers sees Vettel sitting behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in both our power rankings and the Drivers Championship. It has been a tough run for Vettel but his quality remains, waiting for the car to catch up to the others.
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
Previous Ranking: 5
(TD: 6, GS: 7, JH: 5, NB: 4, CG: 3, KM: 5)
The Flying Finn seems to have been reinvigorated by his new contract with Ferrari for next season and a blossoming rivalry with Max Verstappen. Barring a pair of retirements Raikkonen has scored in the top 6 of every race. While some malign his seeming disinterested attitude and suggest he has a lack of pace, Kimi has been amazingly consistent this season.
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
Previous Ranking: 4
(TD: 4, GS: 4, JH: 3, NB: 5, CG: 6, KM: 4)
Oh dear. After a commanding start to the season Nico Rosberg has won just once in the last 8 races, and that was after a qualifying mistake from his team-mate. In head to head racing Rosberg is once again being shown up by Lewis Hamilton and it is starting to put pressure on him. The clash with Hamilton in Austria followed last weekend by driving Max Verstappen off the road shows how desperate Rosberg is becoming. He goes into the summer break 19 points down on Hamilton but with a better engine situation. It’s still all to play for, but unless he can get a clean win over Hamilton you feel his best chance at the championship is going to slip away.
3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Previous Ranking: 2
(TD: 3, GS: 2, JH: 4, NB: 3, CG: 4, KM: 3)
Verstappen has been magnificent since coming into the Red Bull team. 4 podiums including that win in Spain, potentially the overtake of the year when he passed Rosberg around the outside of Becketts and a race pace that has pushed Daniel Ricciardo to the limits. There is no ceiling on Verstappen’s potential and we are almost certainly looking at a multiple world champion in the making, but…
2. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
Previous Ranking: 3
(TD: 2, GS: 3, JH: 2, NB: 2, CG: 2, KM: 2)
Daniel Ricciardo may stand in the way. There is a chance that the Australian is the fastest man in F1 at the moment. He has pulled truly incredible laps out of the Red Bull in qualifying, pushing the gap to Mercedes down to just two tenths in Germany and getting results on tracks that are far from ideal for the setup of the Red Bull. He has only been out-qualified by his team-mate once this season and looks for all the world like in a Mercedes he would be far more of a threat to Hamilton than anyone else currently racing.
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Previous Ranking: 1
(TD: 1, GS: 1, JH: 1, NB: 1, CG: 1, KM: 1)
The current World Champion and the leader in this years standings is the unquestioned number one. Six wins from the last seven races has seen Hamilton turn a 43 point deficit into a 19 point lead going into the summer break and seemingly break the will of his team-mate. The only bump in the road is Hamilton’s engine situation – His early reliability problems mean he will have to take some grid penalties soon that will allow Rosberg back into the hunt, but Hamilton can take some comfort from the fact that the Red Bull’s are starting to really compete with Rosberg on race day.