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 Belgian Grand Prix.
• 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.
• Following the Red Bull-Toro Rosso driver switch, each of these head-to-heads have been reset to 0-0.
1. Max Verstappen
Nobody has scored more points than Verstappen since the Austrian Grand Prix, and although he had a little disappointment before the summer break, he's still the hottest driver in Formula One. What the Dutchman is doing in a Red Bull, which is clearly not on the same level as the Mercedes, is remarkable. You only have to look at what Verstappen's mighty form has done to Pierre Gasly, who starts this half of the season with a demotion to Toro Rosso, to understand the level he is operating at currently. He left Gasly in his wake -- Red Bull will hope he doesn't do the same to Alexander Albon, but right now you wouldn't bet against it happening again.
2. Lewis Hamilton
Both Verstappen and Hamilton could quite easily share top billing heading into the second half of the season, but someone has to rank second and to me it's Hamilton. Still, the Mercedes driver has scored eight wins, established a 62-point championship lead and might just be driving as well as we've ever seen. Put his name on the drivers' championship trophy now, nobody is going to catch him. Not even Max.
3. Carlos Sainz
It has been an extraordinary season for Sainz who in the past nine races has actually outscored Pierre Gasly in the Red Bull. Just think about that for a second. On five occasions this year, Sainz has finished in the top seven, something which is ultra impressive given there's at least six cars on the grid that are quicker on any given day. The Spaniard heads to Belgium riding a five-race points scoring streak and is the no-brainer driver of the midfield in 2019.
4. Alexander Albon
This man is rising fast. Gasly's demotion from Red Bull has paved the way for an unexpected opportunity for Albon to show just what he can do in a competitive Formula One car. After all, not a whole lot of first-year drivers score a top drive midway through the season. Albon's first 12 races at Toro Rosso have been impressive, and although the benchmark has just been raised with Verstappen his new teammate (no offence, Daniil), I'm backing him to be stronger than the out of luck Gasly.
5. Sebastian Vettel
A midseason reset could be exactly what Vettel needs. His first half of the year certainly hasn't been great, but it probably hasn't been as poor as many have made it out to be. The four-time world champion has finished outside the top five only once and has featured on the podium six times -- more than teammate Charles Leclerc who is getting truckloads more praise. If Vettel has recomposed himself in the summer break, it will be a good thing for Formula One. Don't forget, he won in Belgium this time last year.
6. Kimi Raikkonen
What I've loved most about Kimi's season has been his consistency. The Alfa Romeo has been a little fragile at times, but the Finn just seems to know how to get the most out of it race after race. The same can't be said for teammate Antonio Giovinazzi who has scored only one point all season to trail Raikkonen by 30. At 39, the 2007 world champion is proving he still has plenty of years left in his racing life, even if Ferrari didn't think so.
7. Lando Norris
He may not have the Red Bull drive, but Norris has no doubt been the rookie of the season. From sensational qualifying performances to demonstrating cunning race craft, the young Brit is showing he has a bright future in the sport. Not many would have expected him to outscore both Renault and Haas drivers in the first half of the season, but that's exactly what he's done. In his five previous races at Spa (in Formula 2 and Formula 3), Norris finished on the podium three times. Expect yet another strong showing.
8. Charles Leclerc
There was a time when Vettel was the only Ferrari driver making errors, but things have changed quite a bit. After a solid patch of form, Leclerc endured a difficult run into the summer break with a slew of errors in Germany and Hungary costing him a chunk of points. The midseason break is going to help Vettel reset, and if he comes back stronger, the second half of the year could be difficult for Leclerc who at one point was looking so close to being the Scuderia's No. 1.
9. Daniil Kvyat
There's no doubt Kvyat's has to be left feeling a little frustrated he didn't get the Red Bull call up. He was the driver who claimed a stunning podium in Germany (not Albon) and he was the one to lead Toro Rosso in 2019 (not Albon). He would never admit it, but you could understand if he has lost even one percent of motivation, which in this sport can be the difference between top 10s and DNFs. Show us what you're made of, Daniil, and prove the Red Bull bosses wrong.
10. Daniel Ricciardo
If history is anything to go by, this weekend in Belgium will either be great or terrible for Ricciardo. In the past five races at Spa, he has finished on the podium three times, including his win in 2014, but suffered a DNF in the other two. Therefore, it makes sense for him to rank smack bang in the middle of this Power Rankings edition as we aren't sure what we're going to get. In theory, the second half of the season should be stronger than the first for Ricciardo who now has valuable track experience in the Renault.
11. Valtteri Bottas
As disappointing as it may be, Bottas has proven in the first 13 races that he is not a championship-caliber driver. Sure, there have been some real highs (remember Australia and Azerbaijan?) but overall he just doesn't have what it takes to consistently fight with teammate Hamilton, or Verstappen for that matter. Right now, Bottas has hit his low point of the season and noise is growing as to whether or not he'll be in a Silver Arrow next year. Right now it's basically a coin flip.
12. Nico Hulkenberg
Like teammate Ricciardo, season 2019 hasn't been great for the Hulk. Just four points scoring finishes in the first 12 races is very un-Hulkenberg-like, but the good news for the German is that he's only five points adrift of Ricciardo. He'll know that if he can string a decent patch of form together in the back half of the year, a drive with a top team starts to look realistic. If not, then he may be destined to be a midfield driver for his entire career.
13. Kevin Magnussen
After so much preseason hype and expectation, this year has been a roller-coaster ride for Magnussen. There has been some great highs but for every one there seems to be two or three shocking lows. Take out his three highs and K-Mag's best result is just P13. That's simply not good enough. Having said that, you feel he's due for a strong outing and like Vettel and the Renault drivers, the midyear break might just have come at a perfect time.
14. Lance Stroll
Let's give credit where it's due, his fourth-place finish in Germany was exceptional, if a tad fortunate, but there hasn't been much either side of that weekend to suggest Stroll can be a force in the back half of season 2019. He's undoubtedly Formula One's worst qualifier and I'm not sure where his future would be if not for father Lawrence owning Racing Point. Something has to change if Stroll wants to be a driver people take seriously.
15. Romain Grosjean
When you consider Grosjean has had six retirements in 12 races, it's little wonder his season never really took off. Amazingly, Grosjean has more DNFs by himself than every team, except Haas. Like teammate Magnussen, 2019 has been utterly disappointing and there's not a whole lot to suggest thing will change this weekend in Spa, even though he has finished seventh there in each of the past two seasons.
16. George Russell
As great as Russell has been in an uncompetitive Williams, he's not going to be considered or remembered as the rookie of 2019. With Norris impressing at McLaren and Albon now in the Red Bull, Russell can easily get overlooked, but on paper his first half of the season reads very strongly. Only once has experienced teammate Robert Kubica been able to get the better of him in a competitive session and that sort of form bodes well for his future.
17. Sergio Perez
This might just be Perez's worst year in Formula One. Just three top-10 finishes in the first 12 races, and none since Azerbaijan, has him ranked a lowly 16th in the drivers' championship and also trailing much-maligned teammate Stroll. In fact, if the championship began in Spain, he'd actually be tied last in the standings. Consistency used to be one of Perez's greatest assets, but right now you're not sure what you're going to get.
18. Robert Kubica
That championship point Kubica scored in Germany is already starting to feel like a long time ago. Let's be honest, season 2019 has been a bit of a horror show for the racing veteran who is unlikely to retain his seat or land another for next year. The only thing saving Kubica from serious embarrassment is the fact Williams has been so far off the pace it's not even funny. If the team was realistically battling for points, who knows if he'd still be there.
19. Antonio Giovinazzi
I had somewhat high hopes for Giovinazzi after a decent patch of form earlier in the year, a stretch that culminated in his first championship point. However, things haven't been so smooth since then. Just a solitary point is nowhere near good enough when your teammate has already banked 31. At this rate, the Italian is going to need a barnstorming finish to the season if he wants to secure a seat beyond Abu Dhabi.
20. Pierre Gasly
What more can you really say? From the minute Gasly arrived at Red Bull you always felt as if it was a premature promotion and one that was destined to fail. Now that he has been discarded and pushed back to Toro Rosso, his confidence has to have been shattered. We all know he couldn't compete with Verstappen, but if he can't find a way to be competitive against Kvyat, there might not be much of a future for him.