F1: Pre-Canada Power Rankings

By: Samuel Moores

We’ve now seen eight races in this 2022 Formula 1 season, and with the ninth coming this Sunday, it seems only right to rank each driver’s season so far.

I must clarify before we get into this, that these rankings are based on 

what we’ve seen so far this season, how that compares to the past, and to what I expect. That’s usually how power rankings work. With all that out the way, shall we start?

20th – Nicholas Latifi – Williams

Unfortunately for Nicky, things just aren’t going right for him this season, he seems to have regressed if anything. Abu Dhabi has really affected his confidence, which is sad to see. Alex Albon has come in and resumed the dominance as George Russell left it. 

An average grid position of 18.75 is not great at all. He’s only out-qualified his teammate once this year, in the wet at Imola. The gap between them has been over a second at points this year.

19th – Mick Schumacher – Haas

Mick’s 2nd year in F1 is not going to plan. Like Latifi, he’s really low on confidence, resulting in some mistakes when it really matters. Just when it looks like points could be available or a decent quali position, something stops that from happening.

He trails 6-2 to his teammate, Kevin Magnussen, in qualifying. KMag has outshone him since coming back into the team during pre-season testing, due to Nikita Mazepin’s situation after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Maybe that’s what’s taken him by surprise, who knows, what we do know though is that young Mick hasn’t taken the second-year jump we expected him to.

18th – Lance Stroll – Aston Martin

Sadly for Lance, he’s not taken to the second iteration of this year’s Aston Martin as his teammate has, finishing 15th, 14th, and 16th after a late retirement where he was still classified. Sebastian Vettel on the other hand has achieved an 11th, 10th and 6th place finish. 

It’s hard to compete with a four-time world champion, but it seems like there’s a bigger gap between the two this year than last. Since Seb’s season debut down under, after returning from covid, he leads the Canadian in qualifying. Only being beaten once.

17th – Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren

The Honey Badger’s struggles from last season have continued, leading to quite a bit of public criticism, most notably from his own team. When on form, Daniel is one of the best on the grid, but we’ve barely seen him living up to that during his stint in Orange.

He trails his teammate 7-1 in qualifying, that one occurrence being in Bahrain, with his average grid position being 3 whole positions behind the Brit. That’s a massive gap. We saw him pick it up a little last weekend in Baku, which was awesome, but we need that more often. 

16th – Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo

Zhou has looked like a rookie this season, but that’s no bad thing, it’s what he is, and that’s expected of him. He’s done pretty well in the Alfa Romeo so far in 2022, but particularly recently, luck hasn’t been on his side.

China’s first-ever F1 driver out-qualified his former race-winning teammate for the first time in Baku, being the better driver all weekend and looking destined for the points. Sadly for him, he suffered his third mechanical retirement in a row. Come the end of the season, Zhou could be higher up this list if he carries on the way he’s going.

15th – Carlos Sainz – Ferrari

Carlos had a very strong 2021 season with Ferrari, being on par with Charles Leclerc throughout the entire season, setting up an exciting 22′. Sadly, this year has not gone to plan for the Spaniard.

He had a decent first two races, but two mistake led retirements in a row, in Australia and Imola, started what’s looking like another driver low on confidence. This year’s car is just not agreeing with Carlos, he’s struggling with it, particularly in qualifying, trailing his teammate 8-0. 

14th – Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes

2022 has been tough for Lewis, and like with Carlos, not what anyone expected. That Mercedes is just not working for him, that being paired with him being one of a few drivers that are really not on side with luck, is contributing towards a difficult season for the GOAT.

His new teammate, George Russell, has come in and competed right there with the seven-time world champion from the very start of the season, and seems to be much more at one with his car. They’re pretty close in quali, with the newbie leading 5-3 in their head-to-head battle, but unfortunately for Lewis, he’s finished second-best in their past 7 races, sometimes that not being his fault, other times him being literally beaten up by the porpoising in his car. I hope he can get back to his best soon, he’s doing alright, but so many drivers are having decent seasons.

13th – Pierre Gasly – Alpha Tauri

Gasly’s been an interesting one this year, he’s difficult to rank. From the outside, it looks like he’s having more of a down year than he actually is. By the numbers, he’s having a decent season. But so is his teammate. The reason why Pierre’s this low on the list may not even be his doing, it’s Yuki’s.

Last year the Monza 2020 winner dominated his Japanese teammate, but this year Tsunoda’s right up there with him. They’re very close. But Pierre just about loses out on this list. Showing just how high I rate him.

12th – Yuki Tsunoda – Alpha Tauri

Since these two have been so evenly matched all year, it makes sense that they are one over the other in this power ranking. It’s 5-3 in qualifying to Gasly, but before Yuki’s DRS chaos and Pierre’s strong result in Baku, it was Tsunoda with the most points. 

He’s really surprised me this season, and I don’t think I’m the only one. The growth from him within a year is huge. He’s a different guy, much more dialled in, and most importantly a much better driver. Particularly in race trim. 

11th – Esteban Ocon – Alpine

The next two on this list, are again, difficult to rank. Ocon is ahead of Alonso in the championship, but his teammate has been incredibly unlucky and is driving on another level right now.

Esteban’s having a great season, like his last, and is right there with the 05′ and 06′ champion of the world. An average race finish position of 8.88 is great in the Alpine. We wouldn’t have expected that after pre-season testing. 

10th – Fernando Alonso – Alpine

Fernando is driving like he’s in his early 30’s, rather than his early 40’s. Had it not been for two unfortunate retirements in Jeddah and Imola, as well as being caught out by the safety car in Melbourne, he’d be a lot higher on the list.

He’s starting to get luckier, accumulating the points he deserves. In his past two races, he’s beaten his teammate, adding to beating him in quali 5-3 over the season, achieving back-to-back 7th place finishes.

9th – Kevin Magnussen – Haas

K Mag came back into the F1 paddock with nothing to lose and started with a bang, achieving 3 points finishes in 4 races in the Haas. Although he’s come back down to earth recently, he was on one at the start of the season.

The Dane is showing exactly why Haas shouldn’t have gotten rid of him in the first place, but unfortunately, money talks. I’ve been most impressed by his qualifying pace, beating Mick six out of eight times on a Saturday.

8th – Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin

Seb is having an outstanding season for a driver that many thought was finished after 2019. He missed the first two races of the season with covid but returned from the virus excellently.

Bar his mistake in Australia, and the Schumacher incident in Miami, he’s beaten Lance Stroll in every single race. He has taken to the new car like clockwork, only being out-qualified by Lance once. I hope he carries on for a couple more years, but if this is it for Seb, at least he’s going out in style.

7th – Valterri Bottas – Alfa Romeo

The ten-time race winner has had an excellent season for Alfa Romeo, there’s obviously been a change in mentality for the Finn, they’re a much smaller team, but one that he needed. He’s been ace this year. Valterri’s the perfect guy to assist the development of Zhou Guanyu.

While his race craft isn’t the best, his one-lap pace is up there, it always has been, and it’s got him in the position to pick up 40 points in an Alfa Romeo this season. Most importantly, his car has been reliable, putting up an average race finish position of 7.43!

6th – Alex Albon – Williams

Alex has been the driver we thought he was when he joined Red Bull midway through 2019. He’s been unlucky when compared to his fellow class of 19′ rookies but was considered just as good as the other two at the time. And look, they’re all in my top 6!

He’s taken over exactly where George Russell left off, the clear number one driver at Williams, achieving four top twelve finishes in eight races. In a Williams. The slowest car on the grid. What a season from Mr. Albon, who’s back in F1, where he belongs.

5th – Lando Norris – McLaren

Driver number 4 is exactly the same guy he was last season, consistent and quick. Who would’ve thought Lando would have six top-ten finishes after what we saw in Bahrain from Mclaren. If it wasn’t for Gasly in Miami it would be seven in seven.

50 points and a podium after the first race didn’t seem anywhere near possible, but it’s happened. In that time he’s out-qualified Daniel in every race, bar Spain. Lando, like the rest of the top 5, is on fire right now.

4th – George Russell – Mercedes

These top 4 drivers have been absolutely on point all season, Russell especially. He’s finished in the top 5 in every single race this season, which is incredible when you think how difficult that Merc is to drive at the minute.

George is capitalising on other drivers’ failings and disappointments each and every week, avoiding any trouble. Most impressively for George, he’s done better than we all expected him to against Lewis. I can’t wait to see how he compares to the seven-time champ when he’s back to his best.

3rd – Sergio Perez – Red Bull

Checo’s been excellent this year, I thought Sainz would be the driver in the front pack to be challenging his teammate this year, as I expect did many others. But the Mexican is going so well at the moment! He’s taken to the 2022 car better than his teammate, and better than many others in fact, being much closer to, and sometimes better than Max this season. 

Sergio has the one win this season (Monaco), with the top two sharing the other seven, but it’s been his qualifying pace that’s been the highlight. His Jeddah pole was a sight to behold, one of three times he’s out-qualified the Dutchman. We all know how difficult it is to beat the reigning world champion, but right now it’s Checo who’s his closest title rival

2nd – Charles Leclerc – Ferrari

I mentioned just then that Perez is Max Verstappen’s closest title rival, which right now is the unfortunate truth. And that’s more Ferrari’s fault, rather than their driver’s. He’s been mostly mistake-free. He’s had more than Max, but he’s been an absolute machine. A machine with only one pole position all season. One. Charles has six. Six of eight pole positions. 

These two are both in their own right in the form of their life. Sadly for Charles, he’s only won two of those races where he’s started on pole, three were by Verstappen and one by Perez. Red Bull’s race pace paired with the unfortunate timing of two DNFs and the Monaco bottle from the Scuderia in the past three races has derailed Charles’ championship fight.

1st – Max Verstappen – Red Bull

That all means that Mr Max Verstappen leads my power rankings after eight races. He’s the driver to beat right now and has been over the past two years, looking set for a second world drivers championship in a row.

He’s doing all this whilst struggling with the new regulations, this car doesn’t suit him. Since the Bahrain retirement, where he was still classified, Max has been on the podium for every single race he’s finished. Winning five of those six.

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