By: Daniel Murray-Smith
If you’ve ever not been able to watch a Grand Prix live then you will know the difficulties of trying to find out who had a good race and who had a poor race. Obviously, by looking at the finishing positions you can gather a vague idea, but so much can happen over the course of a full race that you never quite know the whole story.
As with every race in recent years, there are a plethora of opinions from fans of Formula 1 on social media critiquing the drivers, and it can hard to filter through the ones that are clearly biased towards certain drivers or teams and find the assessments that are actually valid and truthful.
Thankfully Formula One has devised a system that can give you expert opinions at a quick glance, the power rankings. A panel of five judges scores the drivers performance out of ten and an average rating is found.
These rankings do not take the cars into consideration and are solely based around the drivers themselves. This means that finishing position is not the most important factor and many more aspects are taken into account such as qualifying, race pace relative to car speed and lack of mistakes.
The best recent example of this is Max Verstappen at the opening race of the season in Bahrain. The Dutchman put on a stellar display battling Charles Leclerc for the race win before having to retire due to an engine issue. Despite not finishing the race, Verstappen was awarded a rating of 9.2/10.
This allows a quick insight into the best performers over a race weekend and can quickly get you back up to speed with what has happened but it also has another more important benefit. For newer F1 fans it can be difficult to understand why the cars are all at a different standard and the rankings help tackle this.
The goal for every team in F1 is ultimately to win races and championships but for a team like Williams in the past couple of years, the main aim has been to score points (finish inside the top 10) due to how poor their car has been.
This is why the power rankings can be so vital, Alex Albon finished ninth in Miami last week, which to a newer fan doesn’t look like much of an achievement at all. However, he drove brilliantly well in a car which is nowhere near as fast as the others and managed to score Williams valuable points. This is reflected in the scores given to him by the judges as he was awarded a 9/10.
The rankings are brilliant at highlighting the drivers who don’t grab all the headlines, wins, or podiums but still deserve credit for how well they are driving. F1 is a sport that is constantly growing and tools like this help make it easier for people to understand the bigger picture.
As well as ratings for each individual race there is a season average calculated to show which drivers have been performing the best and most consistently over the course of the season. The ranking is currently led by Verstappen closely followed by the championship leader Leclerc in second place, with Albon, George Russell and Valtteri Bottas closing out the top five.