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 Mexican Grand Prix.
Previous rankings: Australian GP | Bahrain GP | Chinese GP | Azerbaijan GP | Spanish GP | Monaco GP | Canadian GP | French GP | Austrian GP | British GP | German GP | Hungarian GP | Belgian GP | Italian GP | Singapore GP | Russian GP | Japanese GP
Power Rankings podium
1. Lewis Hamilton (Last week: 2)
2. Carlos Sainz (Last week: 5)
3. Max Verstappen (Last week: 3)
Barring something remarkable, Lewis Hamilton is going to win a sixth world championship this year. Love him or loathe him, Hamilton is the premier driver of his generation and may well go down as the greatest of all time when he eventually decides to hang up the gloves. While others have faulted around him, Hamilton continues to remain rock solid and deliver unheard of consistency.
If Carlos Sainz was driving for one of the top three teams, I'm sure he would have won a race in 2019. The Spaniard has crushed the midfield and is proving to be the most underrated driver in Formula One (remember, he really wasn't all that far off Max Verstappen when they were Toro Rosso teammates). His six top six finishes in the last 10 races is an extraordinary achievement given the fact there's clearly six quicker cars on track every weekend.
Things have unraveled a fraction for Verstappen since his blistering start to the season, but most of it was not from his own doing. Charles Leclerc ruined what could have been a great result for the Dutchman in Suzuka, but he can turn it all around this weekend in Mexico City where the Red Bull is sure to be quick. Oh, and just contemplate this, Verstappen has outscored his teammates by 101 points in 2019.
On the slide
4. Charles Leclerc (Last week: 1 )
After watching his brilliance for four straight races, we saw the young and perhaps inexperienced side of Leclerc last time out in Japan.
It wasn't really a big deal that he was out-qualified by Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel -- after all, he had bested him in nine straight qualifying sessions up until that point -- but his clumsy Turn 1 collision with Verstappen was disappointing. Not only that, but he refused to pit his damaged car and drove around with bits of his front wing flying into the face of Hamilton!
Two post-race time penalties humbled Leclerc who will need to learn the value of damage limitation if he's to become the great Formula One driver many think he can be.
5. Alex Albon (Last week: 12)
Anyone who can set an identical qualifying lap time as Verstappen, in the same car, is definitely turning heads. Albon's chances of retaining his Red Bull seat for 2020 have been given a major boost with a great stretch of races. In fact, only Albon and Hamilton have scored points in every race since the German Grand Prix.
6. Valtteri Bottas (Last week: 14)
Boy, did Bottas need that victory in Japan! He had fallen back into his old wing-man role in recent races, but reminded everyone he is still capable of winning. Now, can he back it up?
7. Sergio Perez (Last week: 7 )
Perez's luck has turned and it was evident in Suzuka where he was punted off the circuit on the last lap, but STILL managed to hold onto P9. Even in the early part of the year he had Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll covered, now it's just getting silly.
The Power Rankings midfield
8. Daniel Ricciardo (Last week: 8 )
He showed in Singapore that he hasn't lost any of his overtaking class and in Japan he produced another scintillating drive to come from 16th to sixth at the chequered flag. Ricciardo can be streaky, but you sense that on his day he's the most likely of the midfield drivers to snatch a podium. Now, about those Renault engines...
9. Sebastian Vettel (Last week: 6 )
Things were really starting to look up for Vettel after lucking his way to victory at Marina Bay, but the two races which have followed haven't really gone to plan. He defied team orders in Russia and then absolutely botched his start (from pole position, mind you) in Japan. Those mistakes are still there and appearing far too regularly for someone who began the season as the favourite to win the drivers' championship.
10. Lando Norris (Last week: 4 )
With Sainz possibly the form driver of the grid and fellow rookie Albon impressing at Red Bull, Norris is starting to get overlooked (maybe just a little). However he's certainly done enough to hold his place inside the top 10.
11. Antonio Giovinazzi (Last week: 13)
He was a whisker away from what would have been a sensational Q3 berth in Japan, as it were he managed to out-qualify Kimi Raikkonen in the second Alfa Romeo. His race wasn't perfect, but Giovinazzi's resurgence since the summer break has given him a new lease on his racing life.
12. George Russell (Last week: 16)
If we were purely judging drivers on how they are faring against their teammates, Russell has a claim for holding top spot. However, I think finishing 86 seconds ahead of his teammate in Japan says more about Robert Kubica then it does Russell...
13. Pierre Gasly (Last week: 9 )
Uh oh! Sorry, Pierre, had a feeling your Power Rankings position was too good to be true. You can't punt another driver off the track, on what should have been the last lap, and get away with it.
14. Romain Grosjean (Last week: 17)
Maybe spend less time building model cars and help the team fix the one you're driving! No, in all seriousness, Grosjean isn't responsible for Haas' 2019 nosedive, but I wouldn't say he's performing overly well, either.
15. Lance Stroll (Last week: 18)
Failing to impress for yet another year and can probably consider himself lucky to rank this high so deep into a season. He only does as others fall.
A bad report card
16. Kevin Magnussen (Last week: 15 )
Penalties and accidents have marred the last few weeks for K-Mag, not that it means a great deal given Haas' ongoing struggles in 2019. Come to think of it, we're probably due a Magnussen special sometime soon...
17. Kimi Raikkonen (Last week: 18)
I'm really not sure what's happened to the Iceman, but he's a mile away from the driver that began the season in red-hot form. All of a sudden Giovinazzi is looking the more competent of the Alfa Romeo pair.
18. Nico Hulkenberg (Last week: 11 )
The more promise Giovinazzi shows, the less chance Hulk has of staying in Formula One. It also doesn't help that Renault teammate Ricciardo is still outclassing him.
19. Daniil Kvyat (Last week: 19)
His prospects of a return to Red Bull have disappeared and so to, it seems, has Kvyat's energy and spirit. His last few races have been mighty disappointing.
20. Robert Kubica (Last week: 20)
Can we just end this comeback now? A crash in Japan followed by a race in which he finished last, almost being lapped by second-last finisher and Williams teammate Russell, is grounds for another week anchored to the bottom of the Power Rankings.