Ahead of each race in 2019, ESPN is ranking every driver on the grid in our Formula One Power Rankings.
In compiling these standings, we have taken out the car factor and focused solely on the drivers and how each has been performing. This is not a prediction for how the race will go this weekend. Nor is it a prediction for how things will look at the end of the season. Instead, read this as a gauge for who has the most influence over everything that lies ahead, who's hot and who's not ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
1. Max Verstappen
Believe it or not, there are still some people who try to tell me Verstappen is overrated. Yes, really! Two epic wins from the past three races and a top-five finish streak that dates back a staggering 12 months show just how much talent the young Dutchman has. Think about this: He has already scored 107 points more than teammate Pierre Gasly! I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it: If Verstappen were in a Mercedes, he would be the world champion.
2. Lewis Hamilton
As great as Hamilton is, even Hamilton can have his struggles when the rain falls, and we saw that in Germany. But so dominant has he been throughout this season that he can extend his championship lead even when he endures a horror race. If you're big on stats, this one might interest you: six of the past seven times Hamilton failed to win a race, he came back and won the following grand prix. Look out, Hungary, you've been warned.
3. Carlos Sainz
You can learn plenty about a driver's skill and mentality by how he performs after making a mistake. Early in the race at Hockenheim, Sainz put his McLaren into the gravel, but he managed to keep his race alive and take fifth place -- his seventh top-eight finish in the past eight races. That's an incredible run of form for a midfield driver. Verstappen and Hamilton might be out front fighting for wins, but right now, Sainz is the clear standout outside the top three teams, having banked almost double the points as the next best.
4. Daniil Kvyat
10/10. Perfect. There's no other way to sum up Kvyat's drive to an unexpected podium at Hockenheim. Since returning to Formula One, Kvyat has looked a much more capable driver than the one who was labelled "torpedo" and dumped a few years back. He will know more than anyone that if he can produce another strong performance in Hungary, he could return from the summer break as Gasly's replacement at Red Bull. What a story that would be.
5. Charles Leclerc
It seems like Leclerc should have two or three wins to his name by now, but it just isn't working out for him. We've seen him return calculated and composed after previous disappointments, and there's no reason to think anything will be different this weekend in Budapest. Don't forget that before last weekend's race, Leclerc had taken four straight podiums and was looking like the man who would give Ferrari their first win of 2019. Perhaps it will happen this weekend.
6. Kimi Raikkonen
I wonder how Raikkonen would have done in the Ferrari this season. Just like at the beginning of the season, we're starting to see vintage Kimi on a race-by-race basis. After Sainz, Raikkonen has been the man to beat in the midfield, and only a penalty last weekend stopped him from earning an eighth points finish in 2019. Raikkonen's also crushing teammate Antonio Giovinazzi (25-1 in points scored) and has certainly put any retirement thoughts to rest.
7. Sebastian Vettel
Maybe, just maybe, Germany was the race to get Vettel out of what has been a 12-month form slump. If we've been quick to criticize Vettel (and we certainly have), then we need to give him some serious credit after a monster drive from last to second at his home grand prix. With rain falling, it would have been easy for him to start thinking about last year's incident, but Vettel proved that he has a better temperament than many of us give him credit for. Bravo.
8. Lando Norris
The great thing about having a poor first race of a back-to-back is that you have to wait only five days before hitting the track again and attempting to make amends. Norris had his worst qualifying performance of the year at Hockenheim and was unlucky to suffer an engine failure during the race. Who knows where he might have ended up without that. Nevertheless, he has managed to out-score both Renaults and both Haas drivers, which is a mighty impressive achievement for a rookie.
9. Alexander Albon
With teammate Kvyat getting all of the attention and praise after a mega drive in Germany, I think Albon might just slip under the radar in Budapest. Albon's rookie numbers stack up very, very well against a driver many think should be back in the Red Bull seat, and the Hungaroring has been a happy hunting ground for him in the past few years. In 2016, he won the GP3 race there, and last year he was victorious in Formula 2.
10. Lance Stroll
Are we about to see the new and improved Stroll? Stroll 2.0, if you like. He has had some good ones, but last weekend might just have been his best weekend in Formula One. He snapped that wretched 14-race streak without a Q2 appearance before driving an excellent race, one that ended with him battling Kvyat for what would have been the unlikeliest of podiums. I probably would have laughed you out of the room if you had told me Stroll would finish fourth in Germany, but all of a sudden, he looks the more dangerous of the Racing Point drivers.
11. Romain Grosjean
After 11 races, Grosjean has the edge over teammate Kevin Magnussen in qualifying and has finished ahead of the Dane in every race in which he has made it to the chequered flag. Like Vettel, I've been critical of the Frenchman's underwhelming season, but it probably hasn't been as catastrophic as it seems at first glance. After a supreme outing in Hockenheim, which resulted in a season-best P7, his best form might be around the corner.
12. Daniel Ricciardo
Just when you think Ricciardo is starting to get a handle on his Renault, he endures a difficult weekend and falls backward in the Power Rankings. Engine issues, which were out of his control, ended his race abruptly, but it was far from a strong Saturday. Like a few others, Ricciardo will be desperate for the second race of a back-to-back as he looks to prove that Germany was a one-off and not something that is going to be a recurring theme.
13. Valtteri Bottas
We might just have seen Bottas' slim championship hopes fizzle out completely in Germany. With teammate and championship leader Hamilton crashing, the Finn had a massive opportunity to halve the points deficit, but he failed to take it and cracked under the pressure. The past three races have been one body blow after another for Bottas, who is looking more and more like a number two driver as the season rolls on to what's becoming an inevitable conclusion.
14. Nico Hulkenberg
As sad as it sounds, it seems like Hulkenberg just isn't destined to finish on a Formula One podium. The German drove a great home race before becoming one of many to put his car into the barriers, all the while confirming he's a guy who just can't get a job done. Unfortunately for him, he's now heading to a race at which he has scored just one point in the past eight seasons. Things could be set to get worse before they improve.
15. Kevin Magnussen
He has had three top-eight finishes and eight bottom-13 finishes. It's fair to say that grading Magnussen's season has been difficult, but there have been some positive signs in recent times. Morale will be high with Haas coming into this weekend off the back of its best team result of the season, and Magnussen is the sort of driver who can thrive in that situation. Let's hope for his sake that he does.
16. Robert Kubica
I'm not buying any Kubica stock just yet, but his championship point in Germany with P10 is enough to lift him off the bottom of these Power Rankings. We talk about the importance of confidence a lot, and that result has to do his a world of good as we near the summer break. If Kubica starts to feel like he belongs in Formula One, it could spell trouble for teammate George Russell. But let's see what happens this weekend before we get too carried away.
17. George Russell
I can't even begin to imagine how frustrated Russell is after Kubica scored Williams' first championship point last weekend. The young Brit has outclassed his teammate in just about every session this season, yet he now trails him in the standings and is unlikely to have another opportunity this season to finish in the top 10. No matter how mentally strong you are, seeing your name at the bottom of the drivers' standings after being so impressive has to make you feel pretty average.
18. Antonio Giovinazzi
Speaking of feeling pretty average ... Giovinazzi can't be feeling too flash after being matched by a Williams driver for championship points scored. Raikkonen is responsible for 96% of Alfa Romeo's points this year, and after a solid patch of form, the pressure is back on Giovinazzi to deliver. If he can't, it might be the beginning of the end for him.
19. Sergio Perez
With two laps to go in the German Grand Prix, the Formula One cameras were on Perez. Unfortunately for the Mexican, he was on the pitwall and watching teammate Stroll scrap away for what would have been a shock podium. With his early crash, Perez knows he let a huge opportunity slip by, and perhaps the tables could be about to turn at Racing Point. Remember, he has not scored a single championship point in the past seven races. Ouch!
20. Pierre Gasly
I'm sorry, Pierre, but you're just not cut out for life at a top Formula One team. If scrapping with the midfield teams for the lower points positions isn't painful enough, watching as your teammate wins his second race in three starts has to make you feel like you just don't belong in the sport. There have been far too many mistakes, and with Kvyat producing one of the drives of the season in Germany, it might not be long before Red Bull opts for a driver switch.