Divebomb February Power Rankings
Written by Olly Radley, Danny Jones, and Morgan Holiday
10. Colton Herta - Race of Champions
During the first weekend in February Herta was one of 20 drivers to make an appearance at the Race of Champions. He was added to the roster at the last minute to replace the injured Travis Pastrana for Team United States, alongside fellow Californian Jimmie Johnson. As the Race of Champions was taking place on a snow course in Sweden, and neither of the drivers on Team USA had any experience on snow or ice, they were simply aiming to get past the preliminary round. Not only did they beat Team Latin America to advance to the quarterfinals, they also beat Team Germany and Team Finland to get a spot in the finals. While Herta and his teammate were no match for Team Norway and missed out on winning the Nation’s Cup, his performance against more experienced drivers in equal machinery, and on surface he had no previous experience racing on, warrants Colton Herta a spot in the power rankings for this month.
9. Oliver Solberg - Race of Champions
Solberg was another driver to compete in the Race of Champions this month, competing for team Norway alongside his father Petter Solberg for the Nation’s Cup, and winning. They beat Team Sweden and Team Nordic before beating Team USA to take the Cup. The following day Solberg raced under the Swedish flag (due to his dual nationality), and made it to the quarterfinals against fellow WRC driver Sebastien Loeb. Paired up against a nine time rally champion, Solberg lost the first heat, but then the two set an identical lap time of 1:37.505 for the second heat. Although the 20 year old driver didn’t make it through to the semifinals, his performance was one of the most memorable of the weekend, and is surely indicative of more impressive performances to come.
8. Arthur Leclerc - Formula Regional Asian Championship
Having narrowly missed out on the list in January, Arthur Leclerc makes his first appearance on the power rankings having wrapped up the 2022 FRAC championship last weekend. In the first of three rounds last month, Leclerc achieved a triple podium in the 3 races, a first, second, and third hat trick! Another win at Dubai teed up Leclerc’s title winning round at the Yas Marina circuit, where a pole was converted into a win to seal the deal for Leclerc heading into a highly anticipated second F3 campaign this year.
7. Jean-Eric Vergne - Formula E
After an okay start to the Formula E season, Mexico City witnessed JEV’s bounce back to the front, converting a good qualifying into an even better podium finish. P4 on the grid is never a bad place to be in racing, having been knocked out by eventual polesitter, Pascal Wehrlein in the semi-finals of qualifying. Throughout the race, the leaders exchanged the top 5 positions numerous times as Vergne battled the Porsches and Mortara for the podium from lights to flag with the Frenchman profiting from some well executed moves by Techeetah. The late pace of the Porsches proved unmatchable for Vergne but a podium is definitely nothing to complain about, making our list at number 7.
6. Andre Lotterer - Formula E
Another man consistently found in the aforementioned top 5 fight was Porsche veteran, Andre Lotterer, who, after a topsy turvy Diriyah weekend, redeemed himself with a brilliant performance in Mexico. Qualifying set the German up on the 2nd row of the grid, just ahead of Vergne but behind Edo Mortara. During the middle of the race, Andre and Porsche as a whole seemed to lose a lot of their pace; Andre even slipped down to 5th at one point. Lotterer kept his cool, though, as he and his teammate Pascal Wehrlein retook their spot at the front of the pack, taking home a 1-2 finish after a cool, calm and collected race from Lotterer.
5. Alex Palou - IndyCar
After an epic title win in 2021, Alex Palou will need a strong 2022 to retain his title. And his performance in St. Petersburg could be a sign of what is to come. After qualifying a fairly lacklustre 10th, Palou’s ability of tyre management helped support his two-stop strategy, which would prove to be the winning formula toward the end of the race. He found himself in a battle with Scott McLaughlin toward the closing laps, but Palou was unable to find a way past. However, a driver who many don’t fancy to retain his title, proved that he cannot be ruled out of the mix after a calm and collected drive, to gain a fantastic 2nd at a circuit which is difficult to overtake, meaning he claims P5 for February.
4. Austin Cindric - NASCAR
The Penske driver took his first NASCAR Cup Series this month, an impressive feat for a rookie for sure. But not only that, he did it at the most prestigious NASCAR race of the year: The Daytona 500. He qualified 21st out of the 42 cars, but made his way up to finish second in the first duel, and ended up starting fifth overall. For the most part Cindric did well to stay out of trouble (barring spinning Chase Briscoe during the first stage of the race). He was outside the top ten by the end of stage 1, but finished stage 2 of the race in sixth, and climbed his way up to battle with the frontrunners. He fought for the win with several drivers, and took the lead for the final time with two laps to go. He held off Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney (Penske teammate) to eventually win both his first NASCAR race and his first Daytona 500.
3. Kalle Rovanpera - World Rally Championship
With neither Sebastien Loeb or Ogier taking part in the WRC this year, the door was open for a new champion to emerge, and that champion may come in the form of Rally Sweden winner Kalle Rovanpera. The Toyota Gazoo driver is only 21 years old but conducts himself like a seasoned veteran, claiming his third ever career win and his first of the year. On Friday, the lead was held by 5 different drivers across 7 stages, including Rovanpera himself. Come Saturday, though, Rovanpera ran away with it, leading the whole day and turning a 0.7s lead into an 8.3s lead by the end of the 15th stage of the weekend. The only man who could stop the flying Finn seemed to be Elfyn Evans who crashed out of the Rally on Sunday morning as Rovanpera took the rally win with ease, also promoting himself to the top of the championship, the class of the field in the WRC last weekend.
2. Pascal Wehrlein - Formula E
Pascal Wehrlein’s found himself riddled with bad luck in the past, but a change of fortune at the Mexico City E-Prix saw the German take the first win he’s been so close to taking so many times. Having taken pole in emphatic fashion over championship leader Edoardo Mortara, Wehrlein was in high spirits for the race which he lost on the line 3 years prior. Doubts must have flooded the German’s mind as Porsche’s pace seemed to disappear halfway into the race, falling to the back end of the podium, and almost out of contention. This didn’t last, though, with Pascal digging his teeth in and fighting his way back through the front of the pack to reclaim the lead and run away with it at the front, taking his first win in a bold way. While Pascal’s performances in Mexico didn’t net him the top spot this month, I’m sure he’ll be happy with second and a maiden Formula E win.
1. Scott McLaughlin - IndyCar
To say that Scott McLaughlin’s win in St. Petersburg was a surprise would be an understatement. After a mediocre debut season, many didn’t expect the Kiwi to come strong in 2022, but his performance in Florida proved he was a man on a mission. After looking strong in practice, he claimed an unexpected pole position, after becoming the first driver to lap the streets in less than a minute that morning. Many didn’t fancy McLaughlin to hold on during the race, but a calm and composed drive, well beyond his experience, meant that McLaughlin was able to hold off attacks from Colton Herta, Will Power and Alex Palou, to claim a stunning first IndyCar win, and start his 2022 season off in almost perfect fashion.
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