Who was the best F1 driver of 2010?
The annual F1 Fanatic driver rankings are upon us and all 27 drivers who started a race in 2010 will be ranked in this series of four articles.
Read the rankings here and have your say on who was the best driver of the year.
While writing the final driver rankings for 2010 I consulted the F1 Fanatic driver form guides and statistics, re-watched the races and qualifying sessions and read your remarks in the 2010 driver rankings forum thread.
A selection of your comments from the thread are included below.
27. Sakon Yamamoto
Half-term ranking: n/a
Did better than many people expected him to after being parachuted in at HRT mid-season, but that isn’t saying very much.
Tellingly, Yamamoto has never started a season with a team. Nor did he see this one out, getting the boot shortly after his home race.
Didn’t bring anything to a team already in trouble. Not bad in Spa or Hockenheim, but got his seat because of his money.
26. Lucas di Grassi
Half-term ranking: 23
With testing opportunities as limited as they are, it’s never been tougher for new drivers in Formula 1. That goes for all of them, including di Grassi.
It wasn’t until Istanbul that he got an updated VR-01 with a larger fuel tank enabling him to reach the end of races without having to slow down to save fuel.
Even so, he lagged some way off team mate Timo Glock’s pace. Then late in the season he had to hand over his first practice running to Jerome d’Ambrosio, suggesting the team had already made a decision about whether di Grassi would be driving for them next year.
Crashes at Suzuka (on the way to the grid, missing the race) and Korea late in the season underlined a very tough first season for di Grassi.
His bizarre Suzuka warm up lap shunt was the icing on the cake of a pretty mediocre season. He never looked capable of consistently matching his team mate all year.
Of course, it didn’t help that he was driving a dog of a car, and that his team undermined him somewhat by bringing in Jerome d’Ambrosio as a Friday driver.
25. Karun Chandhok
Half-term ranking: 24
The likeable Chandhok won over legions of fans. But that didn’t help him much in a team so under-resourced he hadn’t even driven the car before qualifying began in Bahrain.
Out-qualified Yamamoto in their one race together as team mates, but was still dropped in favour of the Japanese driver.
Nice guy, but people overlook he was beaten by Senna more often than not, and only placed highest from races of attrition.
24. Bruno Senna
Half-term ranking: 22
Usually – though by no means always – beat Chandhok in qualifying, but was held back by dreadful unreliability, especially in the first half of the season.
Yamamoto rarely troubled him but Christian Klien proved a trickier proposition and the more experienced driver usually came out on top.
It’s hard to draw meaningful conclusions about any of these drivers who spent their rookie seasons driving such uncompetitive cars. But there was little about Senna’s maiden campaign that really stood out.
He looked like a good driver when he was racing Chandok and Yamamoto. But then came Klien (who is average at best and hadn’t raced an F1 car since the 2006 Italian Grand Prix) and outqualifies him by 1.228 seconds!
23. Vitaly Petrov
Half-term ranking: 20
There were too few highlights in a season where Petrov had ample opportunity to impress. Those that stood out were his spirited defence from Lewis Hamilton in Malaysia and the two occasions when he beat Robert Kubica in qualifying.
Otherwise 2010 saw far too many crashes and spins for Petrov and the gap between him and Kubica in qualifying was often over a second.
Would be out of a seat if he came with fewer dollars or a different passport. Showed improvement throughout the year, but still dropped it too many times to really impress.
Perhaps a year or two at a lower midfield team would help him to develop further, but I don’t see him on the grid at the first Russian Grand Prix in four years time.
22. Christian Klien
Half-term ranking: n/a
A surprise comeback for Klien late in the year saw the Austrian make three stars for HRT.
Inevitably, given the team he was driving for, there was little to show for it, though he proved a safe pair of hands that was as least as quick as any of their other drivers.
Not many chances to prove himself, his performance in Singapore showed us that he was the one that deserved the seat more then Yamamoto.
21. Vitantonio Liuzzi
Half-term ranking: 21
Started the season worryingly far off team mate Adrian Sutil’s pace. The gap came down in the second half of the season but by this time the VJM03 had dropped further off the pace and Liuzzi sometimes failed to make it through Q1.
There were a couple of good days – at Canada (despite his first-lap tangle with Felipe Massa) and Korea – but they were few and far between.
Last year I defended Liuzzi. His performances this year however cannot be excused. His incredible pre F1 record, like Hulkenberg’s just shows that F1 is a whole new ball game when it comes to talent.
20. Sebastien Buemi
Half-term ranking: 10
Buemi had a strange second season in Formula 1. He showed a lot of promise in the early races, leading at Montreal and putting an excellent pass on Michael Schumacher.
What held him back more than anything was an unfortunate propensity for getting caught up in first-lap accidents. Often he was utterly blameless – as at Melbourne, Shanghai and Hockenheim, for example.
In the second half of the season the balance of power at Toro Rosso shifted decisively in favour of Jaime Alguersuari. Buemi slipped further behind his team mate and even in the rain at Korea – conditions in which he has excelled in the past – he crashed out.
The car can’t be that flattering but I feel his team mate had more pace over the course of the year and, despite many rookie mistakes at the start of the year, was actually more consistent, despite Buemi scoring more points.
19. Pedro de la Rosa
Half-term ranking: 18
De la Rosa was hard done by on his return to F1 after a three-year absence.
He bore the brunt of Sauber’s early-season unreliability with four mechanical failures in the first six races. He was on course for a significant points haul in China when his engine let go.
At Hungary he qualified ninth and finished seventh. But two races later he was dropped for Nick Heidfeld, the team saying they wanted a driver they were familiar with for comparison.
Suffered with unreliable machinery, but still could have done better.
18. Jarno Trulli
Half-term ranking: 17
You couldn’t blame Jarno Trulli for looking disinterested at times in a season when he wasn’t classified because his car broke down seven times – as many as anyone else. On top of that, several times the T127 failed him and he still made it to the flag.
He usually qualified quickest of the new teams’ drivers but tended to fall behind his team mate in the races.
In the twilight of his career. Solidly out-qualified his team mate for the first half of the season, then they have been very evenly matched through the second half.
He is an OK driver, and can perform. But I can’t see him staying in F1 for much longer, if at all.
2010 F1 season review
- The complete F1 Fanatic 2010 season review
- Lewis Hamilton voted best driver of 2010
- The best guest contributions of 2010
- F1 Fanatic’s 50 best articles of 2010
- The 2010 F1 season in 100 pictures
- 2010 F1 driver rankings part four: the top three
- Vote for the best F1 driver of 2010
- 2010 F1 driver rankings part three: 8-4
- 2010 F1 driver rankings part two: 17-9
- 2010 F1 driver rankings part one: 27-18
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