2010 F1 driver rankings part one: 27-18

2010 F1 season review

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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

Sakon Yamamoto, HRT, Hungaroring, 2010

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.

Sakon Yamamoto 2010 form guide

26. Lucas di Grassi

Lucas di Grassi, Virgin, Monza, 2010

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.
Ned Flanders

Lucas di Grassi 2010 form guide

25. Karun Chandhok

Karun Chandhok, HRT, Istanbul, 2010

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.

Karun Chandhok 2010 form guide

24. Bruno Senna

Bruno Senna, HRT, Interlagos, 2010

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!
Guilherme Teixeira

Bruno Senna 2010 form guide

23. Vitaly Petrov

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Korea, 2010

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.

Vitaly Petrov 2010 form guide

22. Christian Klien

Christian Klien, HRT, Interlagos, 2010

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.

Christian Klien 2010 form guide

21. Vitantonio Liuzzi

Vitantontio Liuzzi, Force India, Singapore, 2010

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.

Vitantonio Liuzzi 2010 form guide

20. Sebastien Buemi

Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, Interlagos, 2010

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.
Joe King

Sebastien Buemi 2010 form guide

19. Pedro de la Rosa

Pedro de la Rosa, Sauber, Hungaroring, 2010

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.
David A

Pedro de la Rosa 2010 form guide

18. Jarno Trulli

Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Jerez, 2010

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.

Jarno Trulli 2010 form guide

2010 F1 season review

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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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58 comments on “2010 F1 driver rankings part one: 27-18”

  1. MouseNightshirt
    19th December 2010, 20:18

    Can’t argue too much with these rankings really. I suspect the choice to put Petrov so low will attract a spirited defence, but really at the end of the day, he achieved suprisingly little in a car that we know was capable of much more.

    I think the midfield rankings will be interesting to see!

    1. Petrov would be an interesting character to watch in Nascar. After all, Piquet Jr. already made it there, and imagine Renault’s two disaster-prone protégés stealing the limelight, crashing their way through the field!

      1. Interesting idea. I agree, that Petrov needs more time driving a car (maybe IndyCars with Lotus? or with Virgin or Team Lotus) to mature.
        I would rate him a tad higher in this rating, but not in front of Trulli.

    2. … and on Petrov’s Defence, was he not one of the better placed rookies, second to Hulkenberg if you take in consideration the performance of the cars and with the title of ‘Rookie’ he should be excused of the mistakes he made in Spa and Korea. Yet I concur there is still definitely more evidence suggesting his debut year was not as good as others and more than likely it seems as though he deserves a rank of 23rd among the drivers however there is something in me that believes he deserves a second chance and a ranking of no higher than 19th.

      1. Petrov should not be excused for his mistakes, he may be a rookie but he is in the top tier of motorsport and he should have performed better. Petrov had the best car out of the rookies, he should have at least finished close to Schumacher in the championship.

      2. I dont think he can be excused for Korea, but certainly I wouldnt rank him so low, after all he was running 5th in Hungary.

      3. second to Hulkenberg if you take in consideration the performance of the cars

        Oh come on, the Renault R30 was a faster car almost all season than the FW32.

        1. That is what I was implying,

          1. Oh, my bad, I thought you were saying that Hulkenberg was the rookie who was given the best car.

    3. I wouldn’t attempt too much of a spirited defence, but I would be inclined to say Petrov is misrated here.

      If Liuzzi was considered good enough for 21, then 23 for Petrov seems much too low.

      Eratic and plenty of rough edges, and a garage full of smashed-up cars, but at the same time occasional glimmers and glimpses of something useful would show through; I think he could be quickly refined into something worthwhile, and there is fundamental basic natural speed in there somewhere, and that can’t be coached or learnt from experience, whereas staying of the wet Belgian kerbs can be.

      I’d risk it for a bisuit and would give him at least another half a season irrespective of passport or pocketbook.

  2. I dont think I ever saw Di Grassi in a race. Very invisible throughout the season.

    1. Agree… Very mediocre season by Lucas… He should be happy at least with winning Felipe Massa s karting race…:)

  3. Quote re klien ” …make three stars for HRT.”-Huh???

    1. Fixed, ta!

  4. Not bad rankings I have to say, but despite I like them both – Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher, they should be after this year way down as well, cause they were underperforming their cars… Not impressed by Hulkenberg, too… One P.P. is not enough as he was quite mediocre on many races…

    I would put these drivers in top 10 this year, no matter in which position:


    That s my choice!

    1. Apart from Sutil, Webber deserves to replace him and Button instead of Kovalainen.

      1. Not really, as they were beaten by teammates and Webber finished even 3rd with a BEST/FASTEST CAR!

        1. I think you’re being a bit harsh on Webber and Button there.

          Remember Webber was leading the championship with 3 races to go. He also won convincingly at places like Monaco where he was on another level to even Vettel.

          Button had two great wins and a solid steady points scoring season. Yes he didn’t look too pacey in comparison to Hamilton but he kept the boy honest for longer than most expected.

          They will both be in the top ten of this list, they deserve it, and you know it. :P

          1. Its certainly interesting with Webber. The way that Brits view Webber (overrated, bland, there on machinery not skill) is the way a lot of people outside of the UK view Button.

        2. Craig Woollard
          19th December 2010, 21:44

          An unreliable best/fastest car, which wasn’t even the best at a good handful of races, only Seb’s quali pace got them ahead of McLaren and Ferrari in some places…

          1. webber outqualified vettel quite a few times throughout 2010.
            Vettel = 11 = Ba, Aus, Chi, Eu, Ger, Hun, Sing, Jap, Kor, Br, Ab
            Webber = 7 = Mal, Sp, Mon, Turk, Can, Bel, Mo,

            GB a toss up given vettel had the better wing…

            Aded to that many of them, Aus, Chi, etc.. were all tossups between them with vettel barely coming out on top.

            Added to that, it doesn’t matter if the rb6 was was blisteringly fast or only slightly faster than the competition. You still get 25 for a win and 18 for 2nd.

            WE know Webber is fast than atlest Rosberg on that list and is comparable with Vettel yet he couldn’t get anywhere near on that list. Something si wrong.

    2. Top 10

      10.Sutil – Nothing special, but had to put someone here.
      9. Barrichello – Noone else to put here as well.
      8. Button – Did well at the start, but was disappointing later on. But I still think that he has been underrated.
      7. Hamilton – Showed pace but was unable to make a memorable impact.
      6. Kobayashi – Easily the best and most exciting rookie of the year. One of the best overtakers this year.
      5. Webber – Did well actually. People shouldn’t forget his achievements (Monaco, Silverstone especially). He also led the championship for the most amount of time.
      4. Rosberg – Trashed a 7 time world champion!
      3. Alonso – Trashed his teammate and gave a inspirational comeback to fight for the title (except right at the end).
      2. Vettel – Was unlucky a few times but was consistently the fastest driver. Inability to overtake lost him first place.
      1. Kubica – Overall, the most consistent driver. Showed speed, precision and brilliant overtaking. Was able to showcase his overtaking skills on tracks that were hardest to overtake, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. After playing the F1 2010 game, I valued his performance in Monaco even more!

      1. I’m not a fan of his, but Hamilton made only a couple of errors (Monza, maybe Singapore) all year and certainly did leave a memorable impact, keeping himself in title contention at Abu Dhabi when the development pretty much fell apart after Silverstone. He won three races and established himself as faster than the reigning world champion throughout the season.

        Kobayashi did impress us all with his overtaking and bravery, but often wasn’t good in qualifying.

        Webber did brilliantly at Spain, Monaco and Silverstone, but didn’t show this inspired form anywhere near often enough. He ate Vettel’s dust in Malaysia, Japan and Brazil, ate barrier in Korea and didn’t turn up in Bahrain, China, Germany or Abu Dhabi. Then there’s his flying lesson in Valencia, ramming LH twice in Australia, once in Singapore and his shocking starts in Europe, Spa and Monza.

        Neither should be ahead of LH.

        1. Kobayashi was good, but not better in overtaking then 8 other drivers… I am not based on fairytales about the “master overtaker”, when seeing his huge tyre advantage and still other drivers managed to overtake more…

        2. Agree with David A. I’m no fan of Lewis either.. but to put him out of the top 4 is just ridiculous. Webber and Kobayashi were definitely not as good as Lewis.

      2. MouseNightshirt
        20th December 2010, 7:20

        Hamilton did make a memorable impact. Infact he made quite a few during the season, either into walls or other cars! :D

  5. I think Buemi is ranked a bit low, the second half of his season wasn’t great, but he often qualified well and he looked really good in the first half of the season. I think he should be ahead of Alguersuari.

    1. No way… He was beaten by Alg in 7 from last 9 qualifings and even 5 times in a row… During the season Jaime improved massively in terms of pace on supersoft and soft tyres… Not even mentioned he was much more consistent then Buemi, very reliable as a driver and had some bad luck in Singapore, Korea and Spain, where he lost 11 points!

      1. And had points taken from him at Spa.

  6. Senna beat Klien in the race results 2/3 races. Klien did however qualify faster 2/3 times.
    However,as drivers tend to say. No points for qualifying.

    1. Well, that was a bit like comparing Chandhok and Senna in the races. Senna went out with various problems more often than not.
      Does it mean Chandhok was definitely better?

      When they raced together, Klien had gremlins with the car as well.

      1. Senna was only outqualified by Klein because of snap oversteer in Singapore and the team only pitting Klein for new tyres during quali in Brazil, leaving Senna out on old tyres. Plus it has to remembered than Senna was driving a car that was worse than not only the entire grid but also his team mate.

        1. And what evidence do you have that the number two car was faster?

          Also I’m quite sure that if Senna had snap oversteer, Klien and his engineers were grappling with the same problems. Seeing as their cars would have been rather similar.

          1. Senna’s HRT had a heavier chassis and a slower gearbox. Why would Klein’s car develop snap oversteer just because Senna’s had? You think drivers run identical set-ups?

  7. Buemi’s half-term ranking – 10, and his ranking now – 20 sum up his story perfectly.

    Petrov’s ranking seems a little harsh – but only a little. I would have rated him only 1 place above – Klien.

    It is interesting to note that this will be a four-part series. I was fully confident that the last part of this article would have the top 7 drivers (who are definitely gonna be) – the 5 title contenders, Rosberg and Kubica.
    But if the first part has covered till rank 18, then there should be only 11 drivers in the next 2 parts. Now that doesn’t seem right.

    Looking forward to part 2. I hope I don’t see Sutil’s and Kobayashi’s names in it though.

  8. Finally – my favourite part of the site! :)

    Can’t really argue with the lowest rankings. Expect PM to come up with a looong defence of Petrov, though ;).

    By the way, there is a typo in the paragraph about Liuzzi – I for one don’t blame the man for failing to get into Q3 with the Force India!

    1. Eh, I can’t be bothered. Not unles Nico Hulkenberg winds up in the top ten because of one pole position that he lost in the space of fifteen metres.

  9. Not sure I agree much at all. Pedro did a lot worse than petrov, who had 0 highlights with the possible exception of china.

    1. But then again, Pedro had the grunt of the engine and other technical problems. And he was pretty solid at least in Qualifying.

      Petrov did show some promising drives. He is a good defender and i liked his fight with Hamilton.
      But he did make a lot of mistakes even late in the season, comparable to Piquet Jr. in 2008 (except for Singapore of course)

  10. Its all about that lasting impression. Most will come down to the races people remember most, in other words, the final few, especially for those in the lower points paying positions, but even I struggle to remember how poorly Alguersuari started the season. Therefore, I see Hülkenberg ranked higher in these ranking than he rightfully deserves.

    1. Poorly only in qualifying… He was ahead of Buemi in Bahrain race, when the Swiss retired… Race pace wasn t the problem for Jaime it was qualifying… But he adapted and improved… As I espected from him…

  11. I think that’s a pretty fair list so far. I couldn’t really argue with anything on there.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of the list, should keep us coming back for a few more off-season days. :D

  12. Alguersuari had his worst events around mid-season I say. His start was pretty good, scored couple of points early on but then had long non-scoring streak.

    I made my own ranking elsewhere and had Alg 12th and Buemi 18th. Left Heidfeld and Klien out due to too few events, so there was 25 drivers ranked.

    How is the rest of the split? 17-12/11 maybe?

    1. Jaime had three or four not very good events and indeed, they were in the middle … He had a solid start and an excelent final part of the season (from Belgium)…

  13. HounslowBusGarage
    19th December 2010, 21:50

    I’m surprised that you do not appear to have valued Petrov’s spirited defence against Alonso and marked Petrov higher as a result.
    Conversely, I was half expecting to see Sutil, Hulkenburg and possibly even Massa at this end of the list.
    But perhaps I’m looking at this incorrectly. I would have thought that the ‘driver rankings’ would represent the performance of the driver in relation to the car and the team. That is to say, a poor driver would be marked down if he failed to take advantage of an excellent car and team, and that conversely a driver would be judged higher if he made the best of a lower performance car and team. Isn’t that the way this was assessed?

    1. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. Of course, Petrov probably had three swallows if you include Shanghai and Budapest.

      But I don’t think even three swallows makes a summer when you’re driving a half decent car like a Renault. I think you’d need a good eight or nine swallows for it to be classed as a proper summer. Or at least he should have matched his brother swallow from Poland a bit more often.

      Comprende? :)

    2. I guess Keith erred on the side of caution with drivers whose performance is difficult to judge given their cars. No system is perfect, but I don’t mind this one. Basically you’re ranking the drivers within the three tiers of car performance, with the exceptions being significantly higher or lower than car performance. It’s pretty fair I think – and anyways, any rankings will get us talking one way or another!

      I have to agree with Petrov’s very low ranking – at the same time I have a feeling he may have a much, much better second season now that he’s shaken off the performance anxiety.

    3. But then why Sutil? Adrian had a great season battling with Rubens and Schumi almost all the time while driving generally a 7th best car…

  14. I think Alonso will be number 1,
    Followed by Webber – who has the excuse of faltering due to broken bones.
    Better qualifier than his teammate, Hamilton was strong but the two failled overtaking manuevers in Monza and Singapore spoilled a decent season.
    Top 4 completed by Vettel – he made more critical mistakes than Hamilton but the sheer quality of the RB6 meant he could afford to make those errors. If the front runners are more even in qualifying next year – it will be easier to judge Vettel – I still feel Hamilton and Alonso are faster than the young German. It’s unfaor to say his season was a disaster however!! ;)

    1. Top 4 completed by Vettel – he made more critical mistakes than Hamilton but the sheer quality of the RB6 meant he could afford to make those errors.

      True, but Vettel was also denied more wins by mechanical errors, which Mark “gone-right-up-there” Webber didn’t have to put up with. It’ll be Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel ahead of Webber, but it will be interesting to see where Kubica and Rosberg are thrown in.

    2. Webber claimed his broken bone didn’t affect him himself, so there’s no need to take that into consideration. Hamilton deserves number 1 if you take out His 3 race slump, as you mentioned. Alonso made critical errors, like in Spa. Hmm, I agree Vettel doesn’t deserve number 1. The top three should be shared between Alonso, Hamilton and Kubica, with Vettel 4th.

  15. I totaly agree in placing Petrov so low – he fully deserves it. He scored in only 5 races, and got 109 points less than his team partner. I understand he’s a rookie, but a F1 driver must show something more than russian money and ambition. Maybe he deserves another chance – but surely not in a team that will try to compete with the best. I hope he will be replaced in 2011, otherwise no chances for better team standings for Lotus-Renault. Sorry Vitaly, maybe Demolition Derby?

  16. At the risk of stirring up mass hatred, I’m afraid to say that I think Massa should be in the bottom nine. I certainly think he performed worse this season than Trulli. He started off with a spring in his step but after the Germany incident he failed to show anything special, benefiting only through the misfortune of others. Don’t get me wrong I like Massa a lot and he think he is still WDC material, but this season was a real stinker for him.

    1. I totally agree… I also like Felipe, but he clearly should be in this last group as it was a very bad season for him… Schumi also maybe somewhere near 16th place?

    2. Compared to Fernando he wasn’t brilliant after Germany, but he wasn’t THAT bad.

      4, 4, 3, 8, DNF, 3, 15, 10

      And three of the worst results were due to team mistakes: mechanical failure in Singapore qualifying, bad pitstop in Brazil (was on track for 5th before that) and bad strategy in Abu Dhabi.

  17. i think the rankings should also take into account the car performance difference. in my ratings Liuzzi & Pedro will come after Sakon Yamamoto.

    27. Sakon Yamamoto
    26. Vitantonio Liuzzi
    25. Pedro de la Rosa
    24. Lucas di Grassi
    23. Karun Chandhok
    22. Bruno Senna
    21. Vitaly Petrov
    20. Sebastien Buemi
    19. Christian Klien
    18. Jarno Trulli

    I feel in limited time & despite being rusty Klien did enuff to be ranked better than Petrov & Buemi.

  18. Top 7 should be :

    Vettel, Alonso, Kubica, Rosberg, Hamilton, Webber, Button

  19. I’m going to stick up for Yamamoto.

    Firstly, Germany was awful, I have no idea what race Daykind was watching. He was outqualified by 1.3s. Then, he started the race with the pit limiter on, and then retired because he activated the in-car fire extinguisher.

    But after that, he wasn’t too bad, much to my surprise. He was never more than 0.35s behind Senna in qualifying, was within 0.1s twice, and outqualified Senna once.

    At Monza, his fastest lap was only 7 tenths slower than Di Grassi, and just over 1 second slower than Kovalainen and Glock, despite the HRT being in Monaco-spec trim.

    At Japan and Korea, two of the only three in this period where both HRT drivers made it to the end, Yamamoto had a better fastest lap than Senna – and with a gap of 1s and 0.5s respectively, to his team-mate.

    I’m not arguing for him to be in the Top 20, but I think he should be above Di Grassi at least, and maybe even Senna as well.

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