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30 March 2022
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Max Verstappen won a brilliant bout under the lights in the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but is he top of our Power Rankings leaderboard? Our judges have had their say.
Our five-judge panel assess each driver after every Grand Prix and score them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation
Our experts’ scores are then averaged out to produce a race score – with those scores then tallied up across the season on our overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)
Charles Leclerc was the highest-rated driver by our judges, scoring marginally more than Max Verstappen despite finishing behind his Red Bull rival. Leclerc, who qualified second, led 30 of 50 laps but lost out in a late-race battle under the lights at Jeddah. He came close – finishing just 0.549s behind the reigning champion’s Red Bull.
READ MORE: Leclerc says ‘every race should be like this’ despite losing stunning Saudi Arabian GP to Verstappen
Verstappen put in a stunning display on Sunday to win the Saudi Arabian GP but qualified a disappointing fourth – behind both Ferraris – on the grid. The Dutchman pounced on the Lap 16 Safety Car, as Leclerc did, and managed to stay right on the pace delta under the later VSC to close in on Leclerc. Ultimately, he and the RB18 proved too hot to handle.
READ MORE: Horner says it feels ‘great to rebound’ with Saudi Arabian win – but Perez ‘desperately unlucky’
Mercedes’ George Russell took home the third-highest Power Rankings score from Saudi Arabia. Having out-qualified team mate Lewis Hamilton (who was eliminated in Q1) as he made it to P6 on the grid, Russell finished ‘best of the rest’ in a lonely P5 – Esteban Ocon 24 seconds behind – on Sunday.
READ MORE: ‘We’ve got a lot work to do’ says Hamilton after scraping solitary point in Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Pole-sitter Sergio Perez was, by many counts, unfortunate not to have finished better than fourth in the race. The Mexican put in a blistering lap on Saturday while Verstappen only managed P4, but the pair swapped positions on Sunday as Perez pitted just before the Lap 16 Safety Car, and was instructed to give up another position to Carlos Sainz on the restart.
READ MORE: Perez says Safety Car ‘ruined’ his chance of victory from pole position at Jeddah
Lando Norris managed P7 as he capitalised on a race of attrition. The McLaren driver qualified a solid P11 ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo, and beat AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly – plus the hard-tyred starters Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton – on race day. Norris couldn’t quite overhaul the pacey Alpine of Esteban Ocon, however, finishing a tenth behind him.
READ MORE: Norris loses P6 by 0.1s at Jeddah, but praises improved showing from McLaren
Sainz qualified and finished a solid P3 for Ferrari, having capitalised on the Lap 16 Safety Car, and as the Spaniard was deemed to have emerged ahead of Perez when he exited the pits, he was given the podium place back for the race restart. He just managed to fend Perez off for third place, under three seconds splitting them at the line.
READ MORE: Sainz encouraged by ‘important’ Saudi Arabian podium despite ‘unlucky’ start
Fernando Alonso was clearly eager to finish better than the P7 grid slot he took on Saturday, taking on team mate Ocon almost as soon as the lights went out. The Alpine pair put on a stunning show under the lights, and kept it clean. While the two-time champion was two places ahead of his team mate by Lap 35, he was forced to stop and extricate himself after an engine problem.
READ MORE: Alpine drivers leave Saudi with contrasting fortunes after ‘intense’ wheel-to-wheel battle
Ocon scored the same as Alonso but made the chequered flag with a narrow P6 finish on Sunday. The Frenchman, as mentioned above, lost out to the Spaniard in an early-race battle, but managed to fend off Norris in a last-lap scrap.
READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Who left Jeddah on a high?
Another great performance from Haas’s Magnussen, the Danish driver having made his mark instantly on his return to F1. Qualifying 10th – that’s consecutive Q3 appearances now – Magnussen’s strategy failed to pan out after he elected to start on hard tyres. Despite that, he finished ahead of Hamilton and nursed a painful neck to bring more useful points home in P9.
READ MORE: Magnussen says Haas was ‘phenomenal’ after taking P9 in Jeddah – but admits neck strength was ‘nowhere’
Ricciardo scored the same as Gasly and Valtteri Bottas in our Power Rankings, the Australian having had an eventful weekend. Qualifying 12th for McLaren, Ricciardo was demoted to P14, having impeded Ocon in qualifying. The Australian, however, made it up to P11 and, given other retirements, could well have made it into the points had his McLaren not come a cropper on Lap 35.
READ MORE: Ricciardo pleased by McLaren pace ahead of home race, despite DNF in Jeddah
Missing out on the top 10 behind Ricciardo, Gasly and Bottas this weekend was Hamilton, who qualified a disappointing 15th but made it as high as P6. Let down by a hard-tyred strategy, the Briton could only manage P10 on a rough Sunday.
Perez and Gasly are the new additions to the top 10 after Race 2 of the season, at the expense of Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and Williams’ Alex Albon. Russell is the biggest mover, up four places, while Leclerc is at the top of the Power Rankings leaderboard before April 10’s Australian Grand Prix.
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