One of the craziest Hungarian Grands Prix ever witnessed resulted in feelgood stories aplenty, as Esteban Ocon took his first win for Alpine, and Williams scored more points than they’ve accrued in the last two seasons combined. But which driver most impressed our Aramco F1 Power Rankings judges? The scores are in…
HOW IT WORKS
Our six-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 across the season to create an overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)
Much like Pierre Gasly’s 2020 Italian Grand Prix win, Esteban Ocon’s victory was founded on a Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes error that dropped the seven-time champion to the back of the pack, and allowed Ocon to shine. Once he’d hit the front on Lap 5, though, Ocon put in a deeply impressive drive, withstanding race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel to bring home victory number one of his Formula 1 career.
There’s a good chance Ocon may have had that win snatched away from him by Hamilton, had it not been for a wonderful display of defensive driving from Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard got the rougher deal of the two Alpine drivers at the start, but was up to P4 when Hamilton came up behind him with 15 laps to go. But Alonso fought ‘like a lion’, in Ocon’s words, to ensure a bumper result for Alpine, and demonstrating that the two-time champion’s magic is still in place and firing on all six.
Hamilton’s second straight fastest time in qualifying – although technically his first pole since Spain – was followed up by a fantastically gritty recovery drive following Mercedes’ decision not to pit him ahead of the Lap 4 restart. Scything through the field, having dropped as low as 14th, Hamilton wound up just 2.736s off Ocon’s rear wing by the race end, as he swept into the lead of the drivers’ standings.
Sebastian Vettel may have had his second podium of the year taken away from him after a fuel infringement. But that takes nothing away from the kind of performance that backed up Aston Martin’s faith in hiring the four-time champion in the first place. Vettel hounded Ocon throughout the Grand Prix, but blamed how tough it was to follow for not being able to launch a serious challenge for the lead – and what would have been his own 54th career win. Aston are set to appeal the disqualification, meanwhile.
Carlos Sainz felt that, had the cards fallen differently, it could have been him, rather than Ocon, celebrating his first victory in Hungary. After his Q2 crash left him P15 on the grid, Sainz had a splendid start to the race, climbing to P4 when the red flag was pulled. However, he then lost out to Nicholas Latifi and Yuki Tsunoda in the frantic formation lap pit stops, only climbing back to P3 after overcutting those two on Lap 32.
Sainz then succumbed to Lewis Hamilton three laps from the end, taking P4 on the road before inheriting P3 from Vettel’s disqualification – the second of his four podiums that he didn’t actually appear on the podium for.
With Pierre Gasly having done an outstanding job to take P5 on the grid, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, those two drivers getting wiped out at Turn 1 on a normal day might have cleared the way for Gasly to take a podium – or perhaps something more. Alas, it wasn’t to be, Gasly getting caught up in the Turn 1 snafu and dropping as low as 13th, before a very decent fightback to P5, aided by AlphaTauri moving team mate Yuki Tsunoda aside.
Take a bow Nicholas Latifi. The Canadian enjoyed the sort of first lap you only get “once in your career”, in his words, jumping from 18th on the grid to third when the race was red flagged. His descent from those lofty heights was perhaps inevitable, but Latifi drove a strong race to limit the fall to P7, for his first points in F1, as he led Williams to their first points in two years.
We haven’t had much of a chance to evaluate Mick Schumacher’s wheel-to-wheel nous so far in 2021. But by the evidence of Hungary, the young German looks to be made of the right stuff, with Schumacher giving a great account of himself in courageous scraps with Verstappen, Hamilton and George Russell en route to P12.
If there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Williams scored their first double points since Monza 2018, the most moistened were those of George Russell, who couldn’t hold back the tears after scoring his first ever points for the team – having magnanimously ordered Williams to prioritise team mate Latifi for the result. Russell may have his sights set on bigger things currently than taking P8s for Williams – but it’s clear that he’s got a lot of love for the Grove team that gave him his F1 break.
And then there was Max. If the wind was in the Dutchman’s sails across his swashbuckling three-victory run in France and the two Austria races, it’s well and truly gone out of them now, with Verstappen having netted just two points in the last two races. Whatever the arguments from Silverstone, though, here there was no doubt that the Red Bull driver was an innocent bystander in the carnage at the start in Hungary, before doing well to drive an RB16B that was decidedly not in showroom condition to P9.
What with the chaotic race start, many drivers didn’t have a chance to convert impressive qualifying performances to decent race results. One of those was Lando Norris, who sits on the fringes this week, ahead of another hobbled driver, namely Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
2021 Hungarian Grand Prix: Bottas sparks multiple crashes in dramatic race start
THE OVERALL STANDINGS
It’s taken him 11 races, but Sebastian Vettel has finally made the Power Rankings leaderboard, carried there after taking his third-best score of the year (behind Azerbaijan and Monaco). Esteban Ocon climbs back into the top 10, meanwhile, after what was most definitely his best score of the year, as Verstappen remains at the head.