2008 F1 drivers rankings part 1

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Who was the top F1 driver in 2008?
Who was the top F1 driver in 2008?

Who was the best driver of 2008? Who failed to perform? Did the best man win the world championship?

Over the next three days I’m going to be rating and ranking the drivers of 2008, using your suggestions and ideas from the thread on the F1 Fanatic forum (which is still open for last-minute submissions).

We start today with the bottom ten, and end on Friday with your votes for the best F1 driver of 2008.

Not ranked

Takuma Sato ?ǣ There was little for him to achieve with the Super Aguri early in the season, but he hardly helped matters by crashing in qualifying at Bahrain.

Anthony Davidson ?ǣ The collapse of Super Aguri robbed of us of an intriguing inter-team battle that Davidson looked to be gaining the upper hand in.

20. Nelson Piquet Jnr

Mid-season rank: 22 (out of 22)

Really should have delivered more. Of course he’s a rookie, but he really got trashed by Alonso. Nice second place at Hockenheim, but that was obviously extremely lucky.
– Patrickl

Piquet?s debut was always going to be tough, with his father?s legacy to live up to and an ill-handling car to drive. On top of that his team mate was Fernando Alonso, probably the best all-round F1 driver of recent years.

But even so Piquet posted more non-mechanical DNFs than any other driver and the gap between his average starting position and his team mate?s was the widest of any pairing on the grid. Germany was a shining moment ?ǣ although he lucked into the lead he kept his cool and scored a fine second.

The team insisted he showed great promise in testing but struggled to translate it into race performance. His detractors say he?s only there because Fernando Alonso won?t tolerate a competitive team mate.

19. David Coulthard

David Coulthard\'s final F1 season was also his worst
David Coulthard's final F1 season was also his worst

Mid-season rank: 12

Very sad final season. A friend put it well “last year Dc only start to race when it looks he might score some points, this year he only show up on sunday the two times when it looked he could score a podium
– Filipe

Coulthard?s F1 career came to an end with his worst ever performance in the championship. A depressing fact, allied to his heart-breaking exit from his final race, when he was tapped into a spin by Nico Rosberg.

It had been a year of incidents for Coulthard ?ǣ some his fault, others not. Only a canny third place at Montreal afforded him some respite in a gloomy year.

18. Kazuki Nakajima

Mid-season rank: 14

Benefits a lot for low expectations and did much less rookies mistakes than Piquet. He also almost never did more than bring the awful Williams car home till the end while hoping other have problems.
– Filipe

Williams praised Kazuki Nakajima?s progress throughout 2008, though it was sometimes difficult to see exactly why. He did score some useful points early in the season, but was usually a long way off team mate Nico Rosberg?s pace.

17. Giancarlo Fisichella

Mid-season rank: 19

The VJM01 was not a car with which Fisichella could expect to make a case for his return to a top-line team. But it often seemed it wasn?t just the car that left something to be desired. The value of the team having such an experienced driver might have seemed hard to appreciate when Fisichella made the sort of mistake he made at Istanbul ?ǣ the kind of thing Lewis Hamilton would have been pilloried for.

16. Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil out-qualified Kazuki Nakajima\'s Williams at Spa
Adrian Sutil out-qualified Kazuki Nakajima's Williams at Spa

Mid-season rank: 20

There wasn?t much to separate the Force India drivers over the course of the season, but it was Sutil he gave the team their strongest performance of the year, running an excellent fourth at Monaco. Of course, we all know what happened next. On top of such misfortune, Sutil also had more mechanical DNFs than any other driver.

15. Jenson Button

Mid-season rank: 15

The Honda pair led lives of quiet desperation in 2008. Button, though, might have had more to smile about had he not clipped Nick Heidfeld?s BMW early in the running at Monaco. Team mate Rubens Barrichello firmly put one over him at Button?s home track as well. There were times when the two fought tooth and nail in an exclusive battle over some obscure position the television cameras don?t see, like at Fuji, where Barrichello again had a narrow win.

14. Sebastien Bourdais

Mid-season rank: 17

Poor Sebastien Bourdais. When he achieved his best qualifying position of the year at Monza, his car wouldn?t start. When he got the better of his flavour-of-the-month team mate at Fuji, he received a dubious penalty from the stewards.

On other occasions he was the architect of his own demise – like that careless crash with Trulli at Shanghai. There were clear signs of progress from Bourdais through the season and I hope he gets another chance in 2009.

13. Rubens Barrichello

Mid-season rank: 11

Much better than Button. A class drive on Silverstone and overall his best Honda season. Too bad Honda’s car was just impossible.
– Filipe

After two years at Honda spent largely in Button?s wheel tracks, Barrichello came out on top in 2008. He grabbed an excellent, opportunistic podium at Silverstone in dreadful conditions. F1?s most experienced driver is surely not ready to be pensioned off just yet.

12. Timo Glock

Timo Glock scored an excellent podium finish at the Hungaroring
Timo Glock scored an excellent podium finish at the Hungaroring

Mid-season rank: 16

Impressive rookie. Especially the second half of the season he showed his talent. Someone to look out for in the future
– Patrickl

I thought Glock’s second place at the Hungaroring was the under-rated drive of the season, especially as it came so soon after his bruising crash at Hockenheim. That marked the turning point in a season that seemed sharply divided between haphazard rookie performances (including another crash at Melbourne) and some more mature drives later in the year. He didn’t set the world on fire Sebastian Vettel-style, but he showed sincere promise, particularly with his disciplined drive to sixth at Interlagos, tip-toeing around a sodden track on dry weather tyres.

11. Nico Rosberg

Mid-season rank: 13

The awful car often didn’t help, but Rosberg did a little too much mistakes in races where Williams look competitive. But he still looked very fast whatever he got a chance.
– Filipe

Rosberg seized points-scoring opportunities at Melbourne and Singapore to grab a pair of podiums. There were still a few impetuous moments, particularly in wet races, but he gave the impression that he could do very well with a better car at his disposal. But can he get one at Williams?

Here are the rankings from the half-way point in 2008:

The next six drivers will be named tomorrow, ahead of the final top four on Friday and a poll on who you thought was the best driver of 2008.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “2008 F1 drivers rankings part 1”

  1. Nice article, Keith, I agreed with most of the positions except the order of the Force India drivers. I thought if Sutil’s drive in Monaco edged him ahead then Fisi’s qualifying and early race effort at Monza might have brought him level again. From there on I think Fisi had the better season given some of the howlers Sutil had such as Barcelona… poor DC!

    Speaking of which you mistakenly/kindly gave him 2nd at Montreal!

  2. Seedy – thanks, fixed it.

    I spent a while trying to separate the Force India drivers. Fisichella was in fine form at Monza and Interlagos, and perhaps there’s an element of the sympathy vote in putting Sutil ahead…

  3. I always look forward to this part. Excellent analysis Keith; as usual.

    Although; Button being ahead of the Force India Drivers seems a little too harsh on the pair of them. Since; all 3 of them scored the same number of points in the second half of the season : 0

    Also; I have a hunch that the number 1 driver and number 20 driver will be from the same team :) Are you willing to spill the beans just yet?

  4. I think Adrian Sutil gets the nod over Giancarlo Fisichella purely because he was able to be so close or ahead of a much more experienced team mate.

    After all, until he was paired with Fernando Alonso Fisichella used to have a reputation for blowing away highly rated team mates – including Alex Wurz and Jenson Button. Sutil was usually close to Fisichella or ahead of him, which will have done him no harm whatsoever.

    Kazuki Nakajima did better than he was expected to, but that doesn’t say much about pre-season expectations! Fast but a bit wild – as he was in GP2.

    Sebastien Bourdais had a difficult season alongside Sebastian Vettel, but he seemed to get more comfortable with F1 as the year went along. I reckon he deserves another shot.

    Nelson Piquet made too many mistakes but then F1 rookies tend to do so, especially in ill-sorted cars. He was lucky to gain track position in Germany but surprisingly calm and resistant to pressure once there. Again,he needs another year in F1 to see whether he deserves it.

  5. Sumedh –

    Are you willing to spill the beans just yet?

    Nope – but it was much harder sorting out the top three than last year, or halfway through this year

  6. Keith, rosberg’s other podium was at Singapore not Sepang.

  7. Sassan – clumsy fingers! Fixed.

  8. For me, Piquet and Glock are both placed too low.

    I’d rate Glock’s season above Rosberg’s, which had a couple of great drives but was pretty erratic, or Kovalainen’s which, for whatever reason, slumped badly (I think Rosberg and Heikki are very good, by the way. I just don’t think their season’s were very good).

    And I wouldn’t rate Piquet behind Button, Sutil, Fisichella or Coulthard. Maybe Nakajima. It was the pace of his team-mate which made him look worse than he was.

  9. my bottom ten (from 20 to 11) were Sutil, Fisichella, Piquet, Button, Kovalainen, Coulthard, Bourdais, Barrichello, Nakajima, Rosberg

    I would not even think about placing Kovalainen to top ten. He was big disappointment for me … His team mate won the title, all Kovi managed is one lucky win and 7th place in the championship.

    He had some bad luck, yes, but so had Hamilton and Massa. He probably learned a lesson from Alonso and knowing there is not really anywhere else for him to go he quietly accepted the no 2 role. perhaps not happily, but it looks like he prefers to keep happy face and the race seat with it. disappointing. really missing him in your bottom 10 …

  10. For me, Piquet and Glock are both placed too low.

    I’d rate Glock’s season above Rosberg’s, which had a couple of great drives but was pretty erratic, or Kovalainen’s which, for whatever reason, slumped badly (I think Rosberg and Heikki are very good, by the way. I just don’t think their season’s were very good).

    And I wouldn’t rate Piquet behind Button, Sutil, Fisichella or Coulthard. Maybe Nakajima. It was the pace of his team-mate which made him look worse than he was.

    I totally agree. Piquet Jr. is way too low, why should Button, who did absolutely nothing along the year, be ahead of him? Ans Nico ahed of Glock? No way! What Nico did? A luckly second place? The same as Piquet…

  11. Let me guess; the top 6 would be Vettel, Alonso, Massa, Kimi, Lewis, and Kubika. Not in any particular order. All of them performed admirably. You said you will mention the top 4 in part 3.

    So the 2 drivers whose name would come in part 2; I guess; would be Vettel and Kimi. Kimi should be behind Vettel in my book.

    Trulli, Webber, Bourdias, Heikki should be 7-10. Of these; I think Trulli performed best.

  12. Nick Heidfeld not Bourdias; my bad..

  13. I think glock should have come higher up his season was good, yet not fantastic.

    BBC F1 next year not for foreign users why? I live in spain damn.

  14. It’s a hard job – ranking the twenty best drivers on the planet, but I pretty much agree with your list Keith, although I’d swap Trulli for Glock, and shuffle the order around a bit. Here is my bottom twenty:

    20. Button (I know the car was a dog, but Rubens managed to do something with it ! Someone who has been with the team for more years than I can remember now really should have fared better in even the worst car)
    19. Fisi (again the car was not great but seasoned driver should have been able to do more with it)
    18. Sutil (yet to see what all the fuss is about. Pretty much anyone could have achieved the results – or lack of – he did this season. Monaco was the exception, but one swallow does not a summer make.)
    17. DC (should have retired one year earlier. A good driver in his day, but this year was not his day)
    16. Nakajima (stayed out of trouble. Mostly. About the best that can be said for his season)
    15. Trulli (looked increasingly desperate with some moves, and the dreaded Trulli Train featured at way too many GP’s for my liking. Close to being beaten by a rookie.)
    14. Rosberg (Again the car was a bit of a handful, but a driver of this calibre – and I do think he is very good – really should have done more with it. Made quite a few rookie errors as well, and he should be past that by now)
    13. Piquet (It was always going to be hard to shine in that car, and being paired with the best driver in F1 currently was always going to be a challenge. Was probably not as bad as Fernando made him look).
    12.Barichello (Flattered that car & managed to extract a little something from it on occaison. The most experienced man in F1 deserved better from Honda)
    11. Bourdais (shone at times, had pretty bad luck at others. Took awhile to adapt to the STR3, which counted against him. Better luck next year)

  15. Actually, I think I was a bit generous to Piquet Jnr. Swap him with Nakajima.

  16. Timo Glock has really impressed me this year. He’d be up there with Massa for most improved driver throughout the year in my line-up.

  17. michael counsell
    20th November 2008, 18:04

    Glock 12th!!! What he was probably top 6 or 7 in the second part of the season, ahead of Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Heidfeld given the cars at their disposal and Trulli given his experience and definitely better than Rosberg.

  18. michael counsell
    20th November 2008, 18:07

    I forgot about Webber but I’ve changed my mind about Raikkonen. Glock should be 7th between Raikkonen and Heidfeld (also ahead of Kovalainen).

    Other than that pretty much spot on, although I would probably rate Sutil and Fisichella behind Piquet to be honest.

  19. Glock behind Webber boggles the mind

Comments are closed.