Ahead of each race in 2019, ESPN is ranking every driver on the grid in our new Formula One Power Rankings.
In compiling these standings, we have taken out the car factor and focused solely on each driver and how they have 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 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Previous rankings: Aus GP
Note: Teammate head-to-heads are compiled in qualifying sessions in which both drivers set a representative time and in races in which both drivers were classified as finishing.
After narrowly missing out on pole position, Bottas produced what he described as his greatest race in Formula One, winning the Australian Grand Prix by a mammoth 20-second margin to teammate Lewis Hamilton. He was in complete command in Melbourne, even setting the fastest lap to earn a bonus world championship point, and proved he is up for the title fight in 2019. Literally a perfect start for the Finn.
With all the talk surrounding Ferrari's drop-off and Mercedes' newfound pace, it's easy to forget what Verstappen achieved Down Under. The Dutchman was on the limit in qualifying and delivered a surprise P4 for Red Bull before making up a place on Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the race to land Honda's first podium in 11 years and extend his own podium streak to six.
Magnussen claimed best-of-the-rest honours in Melbourne and was the only non-Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari driver to finish on the lead lap of the race. Starting P7, he made up a place on teammate Romain Grosjean going into the first corner, but his highlight of the race came on Lap 15, when he sensationally defended his sixth place from Nico Hulkenberg after Renault had attempted the undercut. Magnussen eventually finished almost seven seconds ahead of the German.
He may have left Melbourne with zero points after yet another issue with a tyre change, but Grosjean was one of the standout drivers of the weekend. He qualified an impressive P6, ahead of Magnussen and only 0.384s behind a Ferrari. He was able to match Magnussen's pace in the first stint before his lengthy pit stop dropped him back to P14. His Lap 32 retirement was out of his hands.
After topping every practice session and claiming a record sixth straight pole position at Albert Park, you'd think Hamilton was cruising to the No. 1 rank. But his race, although finishing second, was one to forget. The five-time world champion failed to unlock the same pace as Bottas out front (it should be noted that he sustained damage to the floor of his car), complained of grip loss on his rear tyres and only ended up holding off Verstappen's Red Bull by 1.5 seconds.
If you were told before the Australian Grand Prix that only one of the Racing Point cars would finish in the points, I bet you'd expect that to be Sergio Perez. Right? But Stroll completely overshadowed the Mexican with a superb drive from P16 on the grid to ninth at the flag. Running long was the key to Stroll's race, but he also managed his tyres to perfection, allowing him to remain competitive at the end of his first stint.
It wasn't quite a Ferrari debut for the ages, but Leclerc showed at Albert Park that he is already a match for teammate Vettel. Starting fifth, he was run wide at the first corner by the German, but benefited by stopping later in the race than his teammate. He managed to close up to Vettel's gearbox in the second stint and looked the much quicker of the two. Had Ferrari not implemented team orders, he very may well have found a way past.
Other than the top three teams, only Magnussen and Raikkonen qualified and finished the race inside the top 10. The Finn didn't put a foot wrong all weekend in the Alfa Romeo, eventually claiming P8 and four world championship points.
If we had based these rankings solely on qualifying in Australia, Norris would just about be top of the pile. The rookie put his McLaren into Q3 and qualified eighth, while more experienced teammate Carlos Sainz was way back in P18. He dropped two places on the opening lap, but the time he lost trying to find a way past Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo, after making an early stop, cost him a chance of fighting for points. Still, a very decent first weekend in Formula One.
Hulkenberg's rather disappointing weekend in Australia all turned around on the opening lap of the race when he went from P11 up to eighth for Renault. The German then made up another place after Grosjean's retirement to finish in seventh. Overall it wasn't his most memorable weekend, but certainly a solid start to 2019.
Kvyat said his P10 in Australia was the hardest point he's ever earned in Formula One. Like Stroll, Kvyat benefited from a long first stint and found himself in the points once everyone had pitted, a gain of five positions from his starting slot. He also finished ahead of a Red Bull, which would have given him plenty of satisfaction.
Vettel was the odds-on favourite to win the season opener in Melbourne, but as soon as his Ferrari hit the track it became clear they had a serious pace issue. He qualified ahead of Leclerc, but struggled in the race, eventually passed by Verstappen's Red Bull to relegate him to fourth at the flag. Had Ferrari not implemented team orders, it is very likely he would have been fifth.
The Frenchman wasn't to blame for Red Bull's track evolution misjudgment that saw him knocked out in Q1 and starting the race in P17. However, he struggled to make gains at Albert Park, a track which is notoriously difficult for overtaking. Still, he finished 11th and showed glimpses of decent pace.
The Toro Rossos looked particularly quick in Australia, and Albon, while unable to match his teammate with a points finish, was still competitive on debut. Albon even managed to out-qualify Kvyat by 0.138 seconds. He did have one moment that he would like to forget, crashing during FP1 and bringing out the red flag.
Norris will get more praise for his Formula One debut, but Russell far from disgraced himself in the Williams. The reigning Formula 2 champion was consistently quicker than teammate Robert Kubica, out-qualifying him by 1.707 seconds and during the race managed to be lapped one fewer time.
The Italian spent a fair chunk of Sunday in Melbourne trying to hold up teammate Raikkonen's rivals and thus compromising his own race. But he succeeded in his mission and allowed the Finn to take a respectable P8. It was hard to read too much into Giovinazzi's lap times given his ultra-long stint and damage to his car.
If you were told only one of the Racing Point cars would score points in Melbourne, the vast majority of people would assume they have come from Perez. However, the Mexican seemed completely out of sorts Down Under, particularly in the race, where he just went backwards. However, as the season progresses, his battle with Stroll could be one of the highlights.
The Australian's race was over in the first five seconds after taking to the grass on the run to Turn 1 and losing his front wing. Ricciardo fell to the back before eventually retiring on Lap 31. All weekend he was a fraction off the pace of teammate Hulkenberg and will be hoping for a far stronger weekend in Bahrain.
He was shown up in qualifying by rookie teammate Norris, who set a lap which was 0.382 seconds quicker in Q1 before going on to qualify P8. Meanwhile, Sainz started 10 places farther down the grid, and although he made up a couple of places, his race came to end on Lap 11, when smoke started pillowing from the Renault engine inside his McLaren.
It was always going to be hard to remain competitive in a Williams, but Kubica was off the pace all weekend. He twice made contact with the Albert Park barriers, qualified at the back of the grid (almost a full two seconds behind rookie teammate Russell) and was the only driver in the race to be lapped three times by winner Bottas.