F1 driver ratings — July: Who has impressed after Austrian, Styrian and Hungarian GPs?

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Luke Slater
·14 min read
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Race winner Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP, second placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari and third placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren F1 celebrate on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 05, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria. - Dan Istitene - Formula 1
Race winner Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP, second placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari and third placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren F1 celebrate on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 05, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria. - Dan Istitene - Formula 1

The 2020 Formula One season finally got underway in July, seven long months after the end of the previous season. It has been a decent, if predictable, opening three races in three weeks so far, with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes looking the class of the field. 

The driver standings only tell us so much, and we're here to go behind the headline numbers, interrogate the data and hopefully give a little bit more context as to who the best performing drivers have been in the Austrian, Styrian and Hungarian Grands Prix. 

To work out these rankings, we have created a rating system that considers a variety of factors. These include how a driver performs against his team-mate in qualifying and the race, by how much (or not) he out-performs his car on race day as well as a score for overall weekend performance and his final finishing position. 

Those factors above combine to provide the overall performance rating used to determine the ranking order here, but we will also publish their “value added” rating, which shows the drivers who have out-performed their cars the most.  This is based on how he does against his team-mate on Saturday and Sunday and how much he places above or below his expected finish — calculated by taking a car’s pace, grid place and factoring in any retirements above or below. This can be expressed as a positive or minus number, but the higher the better. 

As you can see, it is quite close in the middle after only three rounds, but the bottom and top end are well separated. From the points totals, the top eight are the standouts, with the top two in particular performing at a level above all the others.  

20. Nicholas Latifi – Williams (32 points)

A difficult, but not awful introduction to F1 for the Canadian, who has not looked entirely out of place on the grid. Has struggled relative to Russell but getting into Q2 in Hungary was a big tick for him. Already confirmed for next year, so should be able to relax into the season a little. Needs to be cut some slack as the only rookie. 

Value added points: -16 (20th) 

19. Romain Grosjean – Haas (47 points)

Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France steers his car during the second practice session at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg, Austria, Friday, July 3, 2020. The Austrian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday - Leonhard Foeger/Pool via AP
Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France steers his car during the second practice session at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg, Austria, Friday, July 3, 2020. The Austrian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday - Leonhard Foeger/Pool via AP

Hard to judge Grosjean too much given how poor the Haas looks, adrift at the back along with Williams and Alfa Romeo. Still, he has struggled compared to Magnussen, especially in the most recent two rounds. Could be another long season. 

Value added: -1 (=13th)

18. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari (55 points)

Two DNFs see him rank quite lowly, but he has performed reasonably well and managed to get close to the maximum from a very poor Ferrari in Hungary, where he finished sixth as team-mate Charles Leclerc failed to score. Should be encouraged by his performance at the Hungaroring after another mistake in the opening round. 

Value added: -2 (=16th)

17. Daniil Kvyat – AlphaTauri (55 points)

Has looked comfortably second best to Gasly in the first three races, though has a single 10th place for his troubles. In fairness, the AlphaTauri is in a no man’s land between the midfield leaders and the three teams at the back but it has been a slightly disappointing start for the Russian.

Value added: -1 (=13th)

16. Antonio Giovinazzi – Alfa Romeo (57 points)

His two points in the opening race was a huge bonus for him as well as for the team. Yes, there was a high rate of attrition but the expected placing would have been around 12th, so he was a solid three places above that. Has looked a closer match to Raikkonen than this time last year, though. Does well on added value. 

Value added: 8 (6th) 

15. Alexander Albon – Red Bull (58 points)

Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 and Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 battle for position during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 05, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria - Getty Images Europe
Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 and Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 battle for position during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 05, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria - Getty Images Europe

As poor as the Red Bull looks, Albon is still struggling to get close to the best from it, especially in qualifying, where he has been miles away from team-mate Max Verstappen. This has left him slightly out of position on the grid, but on race days he at least managed fourth and fifth in Styria and Hungary, which isn’t too far off where he should be.

Could have won in Austria but for his collision with Hamilton, though harsh to blame him too much for that. Whatever the case, he needs to improve his performances to justify his place at this team. 

Value added: -2 (=16th) 

14. Esteban Ocon – Renault (59 points)

It has been a tricky start for Ocon, who has looked a little off the pace of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. He performed solidly in the opening two rounds, however, taking eighth place on his return to F1. At present the Renault looks the sixth fastest car in both qualifying and race trim so it is difficult to say that the Frenchman could have got much more from the opening two rounds, but when your team-mate finishes eighth and you 14th — as happened in Hungary — it is a poor performance.

Value added: -2 (=16th)

13. George Russell – Williams (60 points)

Russell’s qualifying performances have been exemplary so far — placing in 12th two races in a row. But as much as he can get out of the FW43 on one lap, it is much more of a struggle to do it over the course of an entire race and that is holding him back. Comfortably has the beating of Latifi at the moment and I cannot see that changing over the season. 

Value added: 0 (12th)

12. Kimi Raikkonen – Alfa Romeo (61 points)

I cannot imagine that Raikkonen is delighted with his team’s lack of progress since 2019, down to the Ferrari engine’s issues though it may be. Alfa Romeo are the slowest team on raw pace and starting on the back row makes contending for points a distant possibility. Still, his 11th place in Styria was the standout result and you can see from his value added total that, after qualifying, he is still getting a decent amount from a very poor car. 

Value added: 17 (4th)

11. Carlos Sainz – McLaren (63 points)

McLaren's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr steers his car during the third practice session for the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit in Mogyorod near Budapest, Hungary, on July 18, 2020 -  MARK THOMPSON/AFP 
McLaren's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr steers his car during the third practice session for the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit in Mogyorod near Budapest, Hungary, on July 18, 2020 - MARK THOMPSON/AFP

A solid but unspectacular first few races for Sainz, whose co-operation and teamwork in Styria allowed Lando Norris to put in a late charge for fifth. Has been second-best to Norris in these opening rounds, which is why his value added rating suffers, but at least picked up a couple of points when the Englishman did not in Hungary. Point scorer in every race and consistency will be rewarded in the long-run. 

Value added:  -3 (19th)

10. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri (64 points)

Gasly had a superb opening race, finishing seventh for AlphaTauri which – even with the retirements around him – is probably a few places ahead of where he really should have finished, Safety Car periods granted. He has out-qualified Kvyat in all three races now and could be a bit higher here but for going backwards in the dry after a superb wet qualifying in Styria. 

Value added:  -1 (=13th)

9. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari (66 points)

Perhaps strange to see Leclerc place so highly here, given that he had poor races in rounds two and three — taking his team-mate out in Styria and then failing to score any points in Hungary whilst Vettel took a decent sixth place. But in our system he was the standout performer in the Austrian GP. 

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He finished second when the middle points positions would have been a good result, out-qualified his team-mate and finished ahead of him by eight places. Take out that race, though, and he comes bottom in the combined scores from Styria and Hungary. There is clearly a lot of work for him to do this season and trying to drive the wheels off it in frustration is perhaps not the best approach. 

Value added: -6 (7th)

8. Kevin Magnussen – Haas (78 points)

Given how poor the Haas is — ahead of only Alfa Romeo on raw pace in Hungary — Magnussen’s 10th place at the Hungaroring should feel like a win for both the driver and team. Indeed, it puts him as the second-top points scorer in our system for that race (after Max Verstappen) and the top scorer on the value added rating overall. 

There was a bit of a gamble in pitting at the end of the formation lap for slick tyres, but he drove well enough to make it pay off in the early stages, when he was running at the front. His 12th place in Styria wasn’t too bad, either, though given the limits of his car he will be lucky to pick up too many more top-10 finishes before the season is out without severe improvement on the VF-20. 

Value added: 21 (1st)

7. Sergio Perez – Racing Point (79 points)

Perez is one of only four drivers to have scored points in all three rounds so far but he should probably have a few more points than his 22. Regardless of his car’s pace in the dry, his charge through the field from 17th on the grid in Styria was very close to bringing him a ninth career podium. 

Solid, but it is Lance Stroll who should be the happier of the two Racing Point drivers after the first triple-header of the year. I would expect more from Perez in the next few rounds. 

Value added: 3 (10th)

6. Lando Norris – McLaren (81 points)

Third place Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren F1 celebrates on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 05, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria. - Mario Renzi - Formula 1
Third place Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren F1 celebrates on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 05, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria. - Mario Renzi - Formula 1

Using our system, Norris was leading these standings before Hungary, after two brilliant performances where he out-qualified and out-raced his team-mate to bring home a massive 26 points. His two dramatic final laps at the Red Bull Ring will be remembered for a while. 

It was a poor performance in Hungary, whichever way you look at it. Out-qualified and out-raced by his team-mate, who got a bit more from a McLaren which struggled around the Hungaroring. For that reason, he slips behind the more consistent performers in our rankings. Make no mistake, he has started 2020 in fantastic form. 

Value added: 4 (=8th)

5. Daniel Ricciardo – Renault (87 points)

The Australian has had a quietly efficient start to his second season with Renault, following up a disappointing DNF in the first round with two eighth place finishes. But this is actually a lot better than it looks and puts Ricciardo as one of the best performers in rounds two and three. 

In Hungary, the Renault was the eighth quickest car on raw pace, even behind Williams, so to bring home four points for the team when Ocon finished in 14th,  is an excellent result. When it comes to adding value, he ranks second only to Magnussen. 

Value added: 18 (=2nd)

4. Lance Stroll – Racing Point (88 points)

Could 2020 be the season that we see Stroll’s true potential? The signs are there. Early on he seems to have improved on his biggest weakness — qualifying. After failing to finish in round one he has delivered one decent (seventh) and one excellent result (fourth) for Racing Point. 

When your dad owns the team there will always be questions about how deserving of your seat you are, but with a team that is challenging Red Bull on current form, he has the chance to prove his worth and value as a driver, especially with Perez as a team-mate. So far he seems to be doing that. 

Value added: 14 (5th)

3. Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes (90 points)

Mercedes' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas steers his car during the second practice session for the Formula One Styrian Grand Prix on July 10, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria - JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images
Mercedes' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas steers his car during the second practice session for the Formula One Styrian Grand Prix on July 10, 2020 in Spielberg, Austria - JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images

Bottas was good for his win in the Austrian GP, though he did spin on his second hot lap in qualifying and looked beaten for race pace to Hamilton, who was shunted three places down the grid. In the wet in Styria he really failed to match the supreme Hamilton in qualifying but came back well enough to finish second. 

In Hungary, though, a poor start after only being a tenth behind Hamilton in qualifying cost him. With the Mercedes’ all-round pace, it was never going to be much of a battle to finish on the podium, but without it he would have finished second instead of third and could have still been leading the championship after three rounds. Those are the kinds of errors that need to disappear if he wants to challenge Hamilton this year. So far, so Bottas. Close enough to Hamilton for Mercedes’ liking, but not quite close enough for his own. 

Value added: 2 (11th)

2. Max Verstappen – Red Bull (102 points)

I do not think there should be any doubt that Verstappen and Hamilton are the two best drivers on the grid. The difference is one can show how good he is in the best car, whilst the other has to battle to stay in the same camera shot.

Had Verstappen not retired on lap 11 of the Austrian Grand Prix, another podium finish would have been likely, and he may have been leading our standings. He owes a lot to the heroics performed by his mechanics after crashing on the way to the grid in Hungary, but he more than did them justice with his drive to second. 

He has got absolutely everything out of the problematic RB16 — as his high value added rating shows. It is a travesty that he is not in a more competitive car because he is driving as well as ever.

Value added: 18 (=2nd)

1. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes (104 points)

Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary - July 19, 2020 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium with the trophy Mark Thompso - Mark Thompson/Pool via REUTERS
Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary - July 19, 2020 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium with the trophy Mark Thompso - Mark Thompson/Pool via REUTERS

What can you say about Lewis Hamilton? Whether or not he matches Schumacher’s seven titles and 91 Grand Prix victories this year, he is putting in a strong claim to be the most complete F1 driver of all time. 

After a slightly troublesome opening round where he lost out to Bottas for pole position, ignored yellow flags in qualifying and had a shunt with Alex Albon, he has looked unbeatable. His qualifying lap in the rain in round two was on another planet to what anyone else could achieve and from lap one in Hungary victory was never in doubt. Doubt is already starting to disappear from his world championship attempt. Hamilton and the Mercedes W11 is a deadly combination. 

Value added: 4 (=8th)