Power Rankings: Mighty Lewis stays No.1, Gasly plummets to new low

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 Austrian Grand Prix.

Previous rankings: Australian GP | Bahrain GP | Chinese GP | Azerbaijan GP | Spanish GP | Monaco GP | Canadian GP | French 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.

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

We're not yet halfway through the season, but you can already tell that it's going to take something remarkable to stop Hamilton winning a sixth world championship. It's hard to know whether the early-season Valtteri Bottas charge has slowed down or Hamilton has simply upped his game, but either way he finds himself 36 points clear at the top. He heads to Austria looking for a fifth consecutive win, a streak he has achieved only once before in his career (2014), and you'd be brave to bet against him.

2.Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

You only need to look at what teammate Pierre Gasly managed in France to realise just how special Verstappen is. His incredible streak of top-five finishes -- which stands at 17 races -- continued at Paul Ricard despite Red Bull's serious lack of pace, something that left the Dutchman rather ticked off. But the beauty of a back-to-back means he can quickly turn things around in Spielberg and will certainly be eyeing a podium finish at the team's home race. Don't forget he won this grand prix 12 months ago...

3. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)

The season just keeps on getting better for Sainz, who has established himself as the midfield's most in-form driver, bar none, with four top-eight finishes in the past five outings -- three of which saw him take best-of-the-rest honours. Amazingly, in that stretch of races, he has even outscored Gasly in the Red Bull! One small criticism would be his qualifying work, but his race craft on Sundays is more than making up for it.

4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

After what he and Ferrari produced in Bahrain, I'll admit that I'm a bit surprised Leclerc has gone eight races without a top-two finish. However, the 21-year-old is starting to find form yet again, with back-to-back podiums in Canada and France. As Mercedes streak clear at the front, the pressure is being ratcheted up on four-time world-championship-winning teammate Sebastian Vettel, which is allowing Leclerc to fly under the radar. With someone of his class and quality, that's dangerous for the rest of the field.

5. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)

The championship standings won't really reflect it, but there's absolutely no doubt who the top dog is at Renault right now. Ricciardo is well and truly on top of the experienced Nico Hulkenberg, who hasn't been able to out-qualify the Australian since the season-opening race in Melbourne. Postrace time penalties cost him valuable points in France, but if there's one man who will fire up and respond in Austria, it's Ricciardo.

6. Lando Norris (McLaren)

Watching Norris in qualifying is a thing of beauty, and it can be hard to believe he's still in his rookie season. Confidence does wonders for young drivers, and Norris' has to be at an all-time high after taking P5 in qualifying at Le Castellet last weekend. If he can take a slice of that confidence and work on his race craft, he could be in for a mega stretch and I wouldn't rule out him mounting a serious challenge to teammate Sainz.

7. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

Ahead of the season, if you had told Vettel he'd be trailing Hamilton by 76 points after just eight rounds, he probably would have been sick. 2019 has been a disappointing one for Vettel and Ferrari, and the fact there was no response in France after what happened in Montreal a fortnight earlier is a worrying sign. He's had the edge on Leclerc this year, but you're not alone if you get the feeling the tables are about to turn in favour of the youngster who is getting more and more comfortable in the Ferrari.

8. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)

All right, I know what you're thinking. Kvyat didn't have a sniff of a top-10 in France, so how does he come in at eighth in this edition of Power Rankings? Well, for a guy who was dumped from the sport and then recalled, his season has been highly impressive. He and Sainz are the only two drivers outside of the top three teams to finish in the points in three of the past four races. Not only that but he's already managed to establish himself as Toro Rosso's No. 1, ahead of the highly talented Alexander Albon.

9. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

Raikkonen's season has been similar to that of compatriot Bottas: a fast start and then a really disappointing lull. However, unlike Bottas, Kimi has managed to get things back on track and trails only Sainz in the race to unofficially be crowned best of the rest. His teammate Antonio Giovinazzi might not be the biggest name, but I really liked seeing Raikkonen quickly putting him in his place after the Italian turned in a couple of stronger than usual sessions.

10. George Russell (Williams)

Last weekend we saw Robert Kubica finally edge Russell in a race, but I don't expect it to negatively affect the young Brit too much. After all, he's been driving brilliantly in his rookie season and doing more than what's expected of him in a Williams that's consistently been at the back of the grid. Last year, in Formula 2, Russell was lightning quick at the Red Bull Ring, so he shouldn't have to wait long to get back on top of his teammate.

11. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)

On paper, Hulkenberg's season looks pretty decent. He has matched teammate Ricciardo 16-16 in championship points and finished seventh on two occasions, all while having to deal with Renault's fragile engine. However, the numbers don't quite tell the full story. The Hulk has not really been in the same league as Ricciardo, particularly in qualifying, where he's been comprehensively outclassed. Austria hasn't been a happy hunting ground for him, either, with no points finishes since 2015.

12. Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso)

As with Leclerc at Ferrari, I feel like Albon has been flying under the radar a little. All of the rookie talk has been about Norris and his sensational efforts, but Albon's season stacks up quite nicely despite not having as many championship points to his name. The fact he has been able to match Kvyat -- who after a year off has returned and is performing well -- more often than not is a great sign not only for the remainder of the year but for his career.

13. Romain Grosjean (Haas)

When the Haas is looking strong, Grosjean seems to get unlucky, and when the car performance dips, he just can't compete. It's been a really frustrating first eight races for the Frenchman, but this weekend could be where it all turns around. Grosjean is looking for a fourth straight top-seven finish at the Red Bull Ring, easily his most successful circuit since joining Haas in 2016. Last year, P4 in Austria ignited a highly impressive five-race stretch in which he tallied 27 championship points.

14. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

I think we've gone as far as we can with Bottas 2.0. Any chance of Bottas 3.0? The early-season feeling that Bottas could challenge Hamilton for the title has quickly disappeared with the Finn simply unable to match his teammate in recent rounds. In France he finished over 18 seconds adrift and almost lost out to a slower Ferrari in the dying laps. Since the Spanish Grand Prix, Hamilton has outscored Bottas 101-64, and it's becoming clear the latter doesn't have the mettle to challenge season-long for a title.

15. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)

I know the Racing Point hasn't exactly been lightning around the tarmac in recent times, but I've been a bit disappointed with Perez, who joins Giovinazzi and the Williams pair as the only drivers not to have scored a single point in the past four rounds. Still, he's given teammate Lance Stroll no chance of taking the No. 1 spot since his arrival and heads into the Austrian Grand Prix weekend as the most likely of the Racing Point drivers to score points.

16. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

Gunther Steiner's radio intervention in Canada was the right thing to do after Magnussen sounded off about running so far off the pace, but it seems to have rocked him more than expected. His struggles continued in France, and he has now essentially finished last in back-to-back races -- if you take out the uncompetitive Williams cars, that is. Right now, his heroics in Melbourne and Barcelona seem like an eternity ago.

17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

I still don't like his chances of retaining a seat in Formula One beyond 2019, but there's no doubt Giovinazzi has upped his game in recent race weekends. He's now had a couple of sessions when he has managed to edge world-title-winning teammate Raikkonen, but the biggest concern for him is that he still has yet to score a single championship point. That's something you can say only about Giovinazzi and the Williams drivers.

18. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)

The fact that Stroll has failed to progress from Q1 in the past 12 races really says it all. There's no doubt that on his day he can be a crafty racer and nab a few points, but right now his horrible Saturdays are killing him. In France's Q1, he was nearly a full second slower than teammate Perez! He seriously needs to spend extra hours in the simulator working on this glaring weakness, or it could end up costing him his career. Ah, but then again, his father, Lawrence, will likely bail him out.

19. Robert Kubica (Williams)

Now breathe! Kubica finally got his name off the bottom of the timesheets, getting the better of teammate Russell in France for the first time this season, albeit after the rookie took a grid drop. What does that do for his confidence? Well, we could see a shift in power, but I get the feeling that it was more of a one-off and that business as usual will be restored this weekend with the pendulum swinging back in favour of the British driver.

20. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull)

This is getting really dangerous now. If I were assigning a letter grade to Gasly after eight races at Red Bull, he would be getting an F. No question about it. The Frenchman has been absolutely smashed by Verstappen, and if it weren't for a lack of obvious replacements, I don't think he'd be in Red Bull colours for much longer. If he couldn't discover something in his home race, I really worry for him this weekend when he heads to a track where Verstappen won this time last year.