2011 half season driver rankings part 3: 5-1

2011 F1 season

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Here are the top five drivers of the year so far.

Agree? Disagree? Share your verdict in the comments.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Valencia, 2011

5. Nico Rosberg

Beat team mate in qualifying8/9
Beat team mate in race4/7
Races finished8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate292/463

Rosberg continues to impress at Mercedes. He’s the only driver outside of the top three teams to have made it into Q3 at every race this year.

His biggest weakness this year has been starts, which has left him dropping behind his team mate on more than one occasion.

Despite that regular points finishes have put him seventh in the championship, just 12 points behind Felipe Massa. Two races away from his 100th Grand Prix, and still without a win to his name, he must be wondering what he could do with a better car underneath him.

A shame to see him in an uncompetitive car, and has had some impressive pace (e.g. China) and tried some brave laps (Qualifying 3, Britain). I’d like to see him in a more competitive car, be that a Mercedes or not.

Nico Rosberg 2011 form guide

Jenson Button, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

4. Jenson Button

Beat team mate in qualifying3/9
Beat team mate in race2/7
Races finished8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate176/475

Now in his second year at McLaren, Button has been closer to Hamilton on raw pace this year but is still typically a couple of tenths behind in qualifying.

He demonstrated his sensitive touch for slick tyres on a damp track in brilliant style in Montreal, where he chased down Vettel to snatch a sensational last-lap victory.

Button has often been able to make his tyres last longer than his rivals, allowing him to make fewer pit stops, which paid off handsomely in Malaysia where he took second place.

Holding second place in the championship until his Silverstone retirement, his aim at the start of the year was to improve his qualification performances. He has done, slightly, but his racecraft is good as ever. Has kept his head down, brought in the points and the best win a lot of us have seen in a very long time.

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

3. Lewis Hamilton

Beat team mate in qualifying6/9
Beat team mate in race5/7
Races finished8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate299/475

Hamilton’s driving this year leaves you in little doubt that he is a driver who operates so close to the limit he is prone to exceeding it.

In Monaco and Canada he was aggressive to the point of wild. In the latter, a mis-judged passing move on his own team mate ended his participation in a race he might have won.

Properly restrained, his take-no-prisoners approach to racing combined with his raw speed make him one of the most formidable drivers in F1. He was simply unstoppable in China, rising above an early strategic setback in a manner that seemed to be beyond him in Monte-Carlo.

At Silverstone his early-stint performance in the wet part of the race – first on intermediates, then on slicks – showcased Hamilton’s driving at its very best.

Still quite fast, but needs to learn when to be aggressive and when to bide his time. I think the hype’s gone to his head.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2011

2. Fernando Alonso

Beat team mate in qualifying9/9
Beat team mate in race4/6
Races finished8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate347/463

At Valencia Alonso said he’d driven the best seven races of his career up to that point. His two since then have been pretty impressive as well – splitting the Red Bulls for second at Valencia, and beating the pair of them at Silverstone.

Choosing between him and Vettel for driver of the year so far is not easy. Alonso’s made a couple of errors here and there, including brushes with the McLaren drivers in Malaysia and Canada. Aside from that, and a lacklustre performance at Shanghai, he’s been in excellent form.

These may not have been his greatest nine drives ever – there are plenty more great Alonso performances in his back catalogue. But he has begun 2011 as he ended 2010, back at the peak of his powers as he was when he won his world championships.

Amazing as always and he’s really having an awesome season, taking everything out of the car. The championship seems to be more or less decided, but if anything goes wrong for Vettel it’s probably Alonso who would take advantage of it.

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011

1. Sebastian Vettel

Beat team mate in qualifying7/9
Beat team mate in race9/9
Races finished9/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate545/551

It’s easy to write off Vettel’s achievements this year as being simply the product of having the best car. But no-one can doubt he has made the best use of it.

His margin over his team mate has been simply crushing – a fact which makes Red Bull’s attempt to impose team orders at Silverstone all the more unnecessary.

Such has been the scale of Vettel’s dominance that he hasn’t had to do much in the way of battling for position, other than occasionally passing drivers who pitted after him. While he’s led an incredible 78.9% of laps so far this year, his team mate is yet to hit the front, and it’s not as if Webber’s doing a particularly bad job.

Perhaps this flatters him – after all we saw two disastrous attempts at overtaking by Vettel last year. But it’s not as if he’s going to pull over and give the others a chance to lead, is it?

At Spain and Monaco he withstood a barrage of pressure from quicker cars without flinching. His only significant mistake of the year came in Canada, as he strove to keep Button far enough behind that he couldn’t zap past him with DRS.

And even then he was able to maintain his record of starting and finishing every race in the top two places.

Almost totally flawless. his Prost-like cruise to victory in Valencia was for me his most impressive win. Utter domination and control from start to finish, a truly perfect race. Has the car, knows the tyres, confident and if that wasn’t annoying enough for everyone else, he’s so damn likeable. Making hay whilst the sun shines is a prerequisite of a champion and it’s been a long summer for Vettel, but still he works hard.

Sebastian Vettel 2011 form guide

2011 F1 season

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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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141 comments on “2011 half season driver rankings part 3: 5-1”

  1. Well it was obvious who was going to be first, great to see Fernando in 2nd though. I firmly believe he has, like last year been the best driver on the grid. Before Silverstone he was sticking that Ferrari in places it had no right to be in. God help Vettel if the Ferrari turns out to be a consistent race winning car from now on otherwise the lead of his may be cut down fairly quickly.

    1. I’d like to quote the spanish fans here: Fernaaaaaaannddoooooo Aaaalooooonsooooo!!!

      Just kidding, but I have to agree and I think Keith could have put him in first place if it wasn’t for hitting Hamilton this one time. Could have won in Monaco and was going for a result in Canada and even in China he was driving just fine, just nothing really worked out for him there. If he qualifies in front of Massa again then he already wins the teammate comparison for the season in that category.

      After all it is ok to see Vettel first but I hope from now on the Ferrari will allow Alonso to take that position off him.

    2. Don’t count on it. Even if Fernando won every single race for the rest of the season as long as Vettel finished behind him every time he would still win the championship with a margin of 22 points.

      1. unless webber gets bored of vettel and crashes into him. :D

      2. Don’t count on it. There is a very small probability Sebastian (great driver) is going to win or finish second in all of the 10 remaining races. Last year all drivers had 2 or more DNF -or DNF in the points-….
        I am not saying Alonso will win the championship, just saying Vettel will have probably 2 races without any point.. At this stage of the current season only the RBR drivers still have scored points in any single race.

        1. I know i know. He will have a DNF or two, but so will Alonso, so that will even it out. I know that the likelihood of Alonso winning every single race and Vettel being right behind is close to nothing. It was just my way of saying that even if the Ferrari suddenly is the quickest car, it is out of their hands now. Except of cause if Massa can suddenly get back on the horse and start taking a hell of a lot of points off Vettel, but that seems a bit unlikely.

    3. It was a pretty obvious top 5. I was unsure who was going to be put 3rd and 4th with the McLaren’s though.

      I thought it would be hard to split them but seeing the stats are actually 5/7 6/9 in Hamilton’s favour surprised me.

  2. I agree with everything apart from Button, he should be ahead of Lewis. But it’s your choice! Good to see Alonso 2nd though.

    1. I agree, Jenson before Lewis for me to. He has been more consistent in my opinion.

  3. I know all the comments on here are going to be about Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton, but I do want to say how much I agree with Rosberg being in the Top 5.

    He’s beating his 7-time World Champion team mate again and showing that all he needs is the machinery to enable him to fight for victories. He’s clearly got the pace and the skill to take on the established front-runners and I so desperately want to see him take his long overdue first Grand Prix win.

    With the unfortunate loss of Kubica, Nico’s the one guy other than Kobayashi who I’d love to see fight for a Championship. I really hope that happens soon because it’d be a tragic injustice for such an underrated driver to not get the results his ability and his efforts are deserving of.

    1. That was spooky – I hadn’t even seen your comment before I wrote mine!

    2. I have been a big fan of Rosberg since his starting days with Williams. But I have to say that he has made some serious errors while being in contention of a win… The pit lane exit in Singapore(2009?) springs to mind.

    3. I think you may well get your wish next year. I’ve hear rumours that this year’s Merc car was built as a test mule for advanced concepts that are destined for 2012, in a highly refined and advanced state of development of course. Should be interesting.

      1. hope so, but they said that last year…

    4. With the unfortunate loss of Kubica[…]

      Hang on mate, he’s not dead just yet!

  4. Feels as good as a COTD :)

    I would have had Rosberg 6th but fair play to the lad.

    1. Well you would know as you’ve had that many :P Or are COTDs starting to lose their novelty now that you have by far got the most? ;)

      1. Or are COTDs starting to lose their novelty now that you have by far got the most?

        I feel like blurting something about how lucky he is, but I suppose it isn’t luck. It’s skill in its purest form. ;)

        1. His keyboard is surely better than yours, must have found a loophole in the rules…

          1. +11. LMAO

        2. You make your own luck with COTD.

          1. It helps if you are in a time zone that allows you to comment on an article early.

      2. Never.

        bg, I have a magic flexi-keyboard and my computer hot-blows. You can make your own jokes about me spewing hot air ;)

        1. Haha Icthyes! :D

  5. Rosberg to me is the new Button – technically very good if unspectacular, level-headed, doesn’t have any real weaknesses in his driving, and has shown potential to do great things if given a winning car. Also, he has been in a lot races without a win due to being in good but not great teams, just as Button was before Hungary 2006.

    If I was running one of the top three teams I would be looking to maybe replace the second driver with either Rosberg or Kubica (if he can return without losing any of his speed).

    1. I feel like your last sentence sums it up well .. he would be a great number two but he is by far not exciting or spectacular enough to be a number one. On a great day I’d still rate Schumacher as the number one in his team even when Rosberg solidly brings home the points. If he is unlucky people won’t say he is the new Button, but that he is the new (and improved) Heidfeld .. and thats a lot less flattering.

      1. not exciting or spectular enough… maybe not in that car. but rosberg is fast enough, and that matters most. he may not be as exciting, ala button, but he probably has more raw speed, as demonstrating by outqualifying a 7 times world champion 8 to 1 this year in a car more designed around schumacher.

  6. Agree with your rankings. Alonso has been amazing, but you couldn’t possibly put him in front of Vettel, even if Sebastian does have a faster car. Webber hadn’t really threatened him up until Silverstone, but the fact he hasn’t won a race yet people with slower cars than him have reflects poorly on his season.

    But I tend to agree that Alonso has driven many of the best races of his life this year. I actually think Alonso may be at the prime of his F1 career. He’s extremely consistent and seems a lot more laid back this year – or at least he appears to be in his interviews.

    The gap between Red Bull and everyone else is robbing us of what I believe could be (believe it or not) much more exciting races. Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton are in my opinion the top three drivers in the field, with Nico Rosberg waiting patiently to prove his worth. And then there’s Jenson, who doesn’t seem to qualify well, but always makes his strategy work and ends up there or thereabouts by the end of the Grand Prix on Sunday, which is really all that matters in the end – you don’t get points on Saturday. But those aforementioned top three are almost inseparable, even if they have different styles.

    Vettel is a smart driver; he can manage his tyres, yet still drive just fast enough to hold off his rivals, and not even DRS has stopped him this year. But he can also instantly make himself the quickest driver on track if he needs to, as we see in qualifying. Whether that’s down to Red Bull’s pace or his own skill, we don’t yet know, but I’d say it has a lot to do with the cool-headed driver at the wheel. You only have to compare him to his team-mate to come to that conclusion.

    Fernando is a good all-round driver. He seems to excel in race conditions and hasn’t appeared to get into trouble at any stage when it comes to passing people. He’s also a brilliant qualifier, and often puts his car amongst the Red Bulls at tracks where they were expected to be blown away. He also has the ability to pick up the pace almost instantly when he needs to.

    Hamilton, on the other hand, is not as well rounded as the other two, but his fearless driving style and unrelenting pace make him one of the most revered drivers out there. He often gets himself into trouble, but he more than makes up for it with the occasional. His results aren’t consistent, but his pace most certainly is.

    But I should say that this is entirely my own opinion, and none of what I’ve said is fact, just observation.

  7. Disagree with Keith’s comments on Rosberg. Schumi has been on par with Rosberg on race pace. Even if you look at the last race Schumi’s pace was a little faster than Rosberg (both on more or less similar strategy) during the race (even though Schumi was relatively stuck behind Heidfeld for the second half of the race) and Rosberg in clear air. The problem with Schumi has been qualifying where he seems to not get the single lap together without error. Mind you in the earlier races Schumacher was hampered by one or more issues(DRS) in qualifying whereas Rosberg did not seem to have those problems. Schumi has definitely improved from last year

    1. I rather think the problem for Schumi has been not just qualifying, but also misjudgements due to possibly overdriving the car in the races.

    2. Schumacher s pace in Silverstone wasn t that good in later stages of race, cause Heidfeld moved on and Alguersuari closed the gap to him… And starts are difficult for Nico not just this year as its written in the article, he struggled in that area also last year… This is probably his biggest problem… True, that he has very often a quiet and anonymous race, but overall he is delivering and that s what counts at most…

      1. The issue is how can Rosberg be ranked so high compared to Schumacher, when Schumacher has beaten him in nearly half the races?

        I thought Schumacher’s ranking was about right, but Rosberg is too high.

        1. However, to me the issue is when was the last time one could say MS’s teammate has beaten him in over half the races, aside from last year that is?

          Obviously for NR the comparisons are to a 7-time WDC, and the fact that MS has only just now started to match NR’s race pace bodes well for NR…NR has outqualified him strongly, and leads him in points still after a season and a half of MS’s return…not good enough for a 7-time WDC, but even without the comparison to MS, NR still stands best of the rest just 12 points behind a Ferrari.

          So I agree completely that NR would at this point be fun to watch in a competitive car, and even though I am tempted to say he has everything to prove yet in terms of holding it together in the mental game once he is truly fighting for wins with a capable car, the fact that he is handling MS quite well might be such a confidence boost for him that he is growing into the position of ‘win-fighter’ as we speak.

          1. I was ready to argue, but I like your explanation.

  8. As good as Vettel has been, I hope some of the other drivers can start to pile on some pressure. I’d like to see him pushed to make mistakes such as the one in Canada when pressured by Button. The only man that’s close to doing that at the moment seems to be Alonso as Ferrari start to get their act together.

    I wish McLaren would pull their finger out. I’m a Lewis fan and I’m finding them very frustrating at the moment, even with Button they’re making silly mistakes. It was good to see Lewis race with a good head in Silverstone, showing some quality driving at the start, quite annoying he was running out of fuel though – but he did handle it well.

    I just want things to start going wrong for Redbull, like silly gearbox failures or bad sets of tyres. Unlikely to happen though, I can dream.

    1. do not despair my friend, RBR dominating part of the season is about to be over…wait and see, or watch more conveniently:)

  9. I think Keith seperated the top 2 very well. Both have been very consistant but Vettel hasn’t had a ‘lacklustre’ race yet and hasn’t had race damaging collisions with any other cars. On metronomic consistency, I’d give to Vettel too.
    I think you could’ve tossed a coin between Button and Hamilton too, but Hamilton tends to be ahead when both are running so I see the logic in that one.
    And Rosberg quietly going about his business again this year, often being best of the rest. Schumi has upped his game but Rosberg is responidng.

  10. I agree with the first 2.

    Vettel, without a doubt, he has been absolutely brilliant. His slip in Montreal was probably a sign of pushing too hard to keep Button behind, I doubt it was the pressure. He withstood Alonso in Monaco for so many laps while his tyres were clear off the cliff.

    Alonso is driving as well as he ever has. He has comprehensively thrashed his teamate. He has extracted every ounce of performance out his car for over 4 seasons now. Forgetting is of track shenanigans, he is the best out there just now, no doubt, pure class. Hopefully he will pick up a few more wins this year. The title is completely out of reach unless Vettel and Red Bull suffer some kind of catastrophe.

    I would have put Rosberg in 3rd. He has been top notch all year, pushing hard in a car thats very clearly off the pace. His starts have been the weakness, and has made life rather difficult for him. He’s kept Michael in the shadow an put on some great races. Would like to see him in a Ferrari!!

    I dont think Lewis has a good season so far. He doesnt seem right in the head, way to emotional behind the wheel. I would rank Jenson ahead of him. Being aggressive is great entertainment, but it doesnt necessarily win you race give the current set of rules. He’s not a kid anymore and if he doesnt get his head screwed on straight, I wont be surprised if he remains with his single WDC title.

    Jenson has class all year. He has driven to the strengths of the car and his style, scores some great results and has made great progress in bringing the car closer to his liking. Still a few tenths off Lewis in qualy, but he’s driven some very good races.

    1. Vettel
    2. Alonso
    3. Rosberg
    4. Jenson
    5. Hamilton

    1. His slip in Montreal was probably a sign of pushing too hard to keep Button behind, I doubt it was the pressure.

      But isn’t that exactly how the pressure manifests itself? He isn’t just going to say “I can’t handle this anymore!” and just park it at the side of the track. If he had dealt with the pressure better he wouldn’t have pushed too hard to keep Button behind, he would have pushed just hard enough.

      I agree with everything else in your post, I’m just interested in how you define ‘not dealing with pressure”?

    2. I doubt it was the pressure

      Vettel had to push because if Button had been within one second come the hairpin, it was game over for Vettel as Button would have just flown by.

      Judging by the rate Button was catching him and how Button most likely would have been within that one second, I’m quite sure it’s safe to say it was a mistake under pressure.

      1. Vettel had to push because if Button had been within one second come the hairpin, it was game over for Vettel as Button would have just flown by.

        That’s the interesting thing about Vettel this season – he didn’t have to push on the last lap at all. His WDC lead was and is large enough that he doesn’t have to take unnecessary risks to win races at all costs.

        The safe (i.e. boring) option would have been to simply let Button past, accept a safe second place and maintain a huge points lead. Instead, Vettel pushed as hard as he could and lost control – he was actually very fortunate to recover the car and could have easily found himself out of the race.

        A minor point I know, but how often have fans complained about the “cruise and collect” mentality of some previous champions?

        1. The clever thing to do would be to let Button pass, and just stay within a second, then win! Not that I want that to happen..

          1. anyways, with the DRS it would’ve been easy for button to overtake vettel or vettel to overtake button

  11. Congratulations…Hamilton only on 3rd position behind Alonso. I’m impressed to see that ;)

    1. I am amazed too! Aparently crashing into other drivers isn’t a weakness for Hamilton, infact its a strength (

      he is a driver who operates so close to the limit he is prone to exceeding it.


      I mean really? I’m not a Button fan, but Button if he didn’t have the pit crew screw up on him, would be AHEAD of Hamilton in the standings, yet Hamilton as done better?

      Dear goodness, if any other driver crashed, say Petrov, Maldo etc.. even in their first year it’s a sign of struggling and not producing results. When it’s Hamilton it’s because he is so good that the laws of physics aren’t leneant enough for him.!!!

      1. + a million :). My sentiments exactly.

      2. Thats a lot of if, IF Hamilton hadnt retired in canada he would have won.

        Look at the stats, when both are running hamilton is ahead in the race, and ahead on qualy. Only a mistake in monaco/silverstone from McLaren prevented him from qualifying better at all the races

        1. Anthony. not a lot of if, it’s one. IF the pit crew did their job then he wouldn’t have DNFed.

          Canada was a racing incident (I think Buttons more at fault), but a racing incident non the less.

          Hamilton is faster than Button when they are both running normally. That has been proved in many races in their short time together, but this year Hamilton has spent nearly half the GP’s mucking around and not under normal circumstances.

          It’s one thing to be faster than your teammate on pure pace, it’s another thing to use it.

          Fact is, after 9 GP’s
          Hamilton 109 points
          Button 109 points

          Hamilton has been fast but very patchy.
          Button has been slightly slower (3rd to Hamiltons 2nd in Spain), but consistant.

          Cancelling out the results they have the same, the left over is:
          Hamilton 2 4 4 8
          Button 3 3 6 6

          (Both 1 2 4 6)

          Hamilton is faster when consistant as shown by the spread of results. Button is far more consistant, all between 3 and 6. Hamilton’s are between 2 and 8. Both have one 1 so it’s relaly 1 and 6 for Button vs 1 to 8 for Hamilton.

          Hamilton’s DNF was 50/50 share of blame
          Button’s was 0% share of blame

          2007 season
          109 Hamilton
          109 Alonso

          ./…. 110 Raikkonen ;)

          1. I was kind of surprised to see Hamilton at 3rd since I put him on 5th on my list without feeling harsh about it. The amount of crashes he has had this year just doesnt deserve 3rd in my book. His crying about the stewards does not help either, he seems to forget that almost every contact results in a visit to the stewards yet he just wants to walk away from every incident like its no problem.

          2. Couldn’t have said it better. And thank you for taking the time to do it well.

  12. I am supprised you cll it that close between Vettel and Alonso actually. Sure in the last 3-5 races it might have been close between them, with Vettel having the advantage of the better car.

    But if we take the first half of the season, Vettel made hardly any mistakes when it mattered and got amazing qualifying laps out of the car despite some setbacks, where Alonso did have some glitches. He is very clearly ahead of all the others though.

    I feel Button and Hamilton are really close, almost died in 3rd. Sure Button is a bit slower, but he used what was available better, and could have finished on the podium in Silverstone as well, staying 2nd in the championship. Hamilton had a very strong start, then got in a run of probably mind trouble from wanting it all right now. But Silverstone showed he is close enough to get back in league with Alonso and Vettel.

    I agree with the great job Rosberg is doing, shame Ross did not manage to do a better job with the car.

    1. I am supprised you cll it that close between Vettel and Alonso actually. Sure in the last 3-5 races it might have been close between them, with Vettel having the advantage of the better car.

      I’m not. Alonso has been great in every race so far this year. Only his car let him down at the start of the year.

      1. No he hasn’t.
        Do you remember when he buried his front wing in the back of Lewis’ McLaren? That surely wasn’t great. Or his bad starts compared to Massa at the beginning of the season. Alonso has been really good, but he has occasionally been beaten by his team mate. Vettel hasn’t when the points are handed out, and i will eat my own shoes if Webber isn’t a better driver then Massa. Based on that i think it is quite easy to call which driver has had the better season so far.

    2. @ BasCB

      So d’you reckon Hamilton or Vettel would do better in a Mercedes?

      1. I think Hamilton would. Vettel would maybe get a great qualifying position, and get all the speed out of it but Hamilton would be able to take the car to places that amaze in the race. A bit like some of Kubica’s races (and perhaps Rosbergs podium runs?) last year, I think.

      2. Not consistently, but I’m convinced they would occasionally stun us with some brilliance. The Schumacher of 15 years ago would have also and even the Schumacher of today has done more memorable things in that car than Rosberg (and obviously more things to forget aswell). I’ve been a “fan” of Rosbergs for a long time and I think he is one of the best drivers and probably even 5th but some just have this tiny little bit more .. something special. But I sure hope he can prove me wrong in the future :-)

      3. Not sure. I think Hamilton might get it in places it doesn’t belong during the races right from the start and be first to win in it.
        But I thing Vettel would work quitly away at getting the car better and getting ahead in Qualifying to eventually get pretty impressive results more often and end up on top in the end.

    3. I agree with the rankings.
      Vettel finished ahead of Webber in every race, and his only mistake was on a drying track in Canada.
      Alonso excelled with the car he has, but he has been beaten two times by Massa and crashed into Hamilton in Malaysia.
      Hamilton is still the fastest of all the others, so third place is deserved even if he has had two “bad” races.
      Button is very close to Hamilton but he is generally slower on pure pace.
      Rosberg is very good as he is consistently the fastest of “the rest” and deserves 5th place.

  13. I know comments for the guy are either hot or cold, but I struggle to see how Hamilton can get third when he has displayed two performances this year that border on idiotic.

    1. In Hamilton’s defence, he was pretty spectacular in China, Barcelona and Britain. I dont think you can place Jenson at #3, he has been really poor at qualifying, and other than Canada, has done nothing out of the ordinary this season.

  14. I agree with this top 5. But I think that people sometimes overrate Rosberg. He is quite strong driver in many areas, but doesn’t have champoion’s mentality, he lacks that spark, that Hamilton, Vettel or Alonso has. Yes, he is beating Schumacher, but maybe Schumi is not that strong as others consider.

    Vettel is doing a fantastic job this year. Remmember, how many mistakes he made last year? This year he shook off ‘crash kid” nickname, that Whitmarsh gave him. Would be interesting to see Alonso or Hamilton as his team mate.

  15. BaronVonAwesome
    19th July 2011, 10:15

    Hamilton no.3???

      1. Indeed, he is having a great season. His mistakes in Monaco and Canada don’t suddenly mean he hasn’t been.

        1. Sure, but how is this any different to how Mark Webber was doing this time last year, and from memory he was getting a bit of a hammering on here.

          1. I think it was Vettel getting a hammering on here, due to Turkey, Hungary and Belgium.

        2. Sure they do. It’s not about being fast, it’s about finishing ahead, and if you’re driving like a tool every second race then you won’t finish ahead often enough.

          I’d have had Hamilton back 5 or 6 places. Quite simply, he is over driving. He’s faster than Button. Button knows it, you can tell that Button doesn’t expect to beat Hamilton in a straight fight by the way he’s always looking for the ‘alternative strategy.’ But Button is ahead in the Championship, because hamilton keeps binning it and getting in trouble with the stewards for driving recklessly. That’s all you need to know.

  16. The perpetual F1 ranking problem: Whether to say that a quality driver in a car which is miles faster than the rest is doing the best job out there. In 2009 when Button did the same thing Vettel is doing now, we all said it was down to the car, in 2011, its down to Vettel. I’m confused.

    While Vettel has been mighty, I’m still far more impressed with Alonso who is dragging everything he can and more out of the 150 (silly symbol) Italia.

    1. Honestly, I think it’s the other way round. People were praising Button’s “smooth driving style” when he won it in ’09 but now a lot people don’t give Vettel the credit he deserves because they think that it’s solely down to the car. The reality is that the RB7 is much more dominant than the Brawn ever was but when you compare his efforts to his team-mate’s, you really can’t discount Vettel’s achievements.

  17. Id have given Button over Lewis actually.

    1. I think if you take say, just the last few races, then for sure. And generally I’d agree. But it is so close to call and Hamilton, mistake prone as he has been, has done some massive laps.

    2. I agree. Jenson’s consistency more than made up for Lewis’ speed this year. In fact, I believe that (to this date) this is Hamilton’s worst season ever. He was more “mature” in 2007!
      He clearly has the potential to be on top (not as 2011’s champion anymore, but as the top driver), were not for that bitter foe he has on the track with the initials LH.

  18. Keith sorry to ask maybe I’m just not paying attention or understanding but why do most drivers have #/7 (ex. Hamilton Beat team mate in race 5/7) but Vettle is the only one 9/9…?

    1. because it compares only races were both teammates finished. And the Red Bulls are the only ones to do so in all races so far this year.

  19. id have rosberg above hamilton and button. he gets more out of his car then the mclaren drivers do out of theirs.

  20. It’s funny to see the Hamilton and Button comparisons because i think despite the fact Lewis has out performed Jens in most races it’s Button who most people would say is having the better season so far.

    1. Yeah, people only remember bad races, and LH has had monaco/canada one after the other, followed by the slump in performance by the McLaren.

      When the year is over, we will all see who’s the better driver year-round (as last year).

  21. I see an error in Keith’s statistics. Button has 3 races on Hamilton (Monaco, Montreal, and Malaysa), not 2. Given that Hamilton’s retirement in Montreal was due to his own actions and Button’s retirement was due to his team, I would give the edge to Button this season. He had the pace at the end of Silverstone to catch and pass Hamilton, and then would have had 4 out of 9 races on Hamilton with more points. Just my 2 cents from America.

    1. Andy G (@toothpickbandit)
      19th July 2011, 12:45

      But then at Silverstone you could equally say it was the team’s fault not to fuel Hamilton up properly.

      All I remember is Hamilton easily passing and racing away from Button when he wasn’t having so save fuel. 6-3 is good enough for me to say that Hamilton has done a better job this season than Button.

      1. The fact that he was shortfilled with fuel would mean he’s lighter, and faster too.

        1. Martin Whitmarsh said they were within 1kg of fuel… we never got to see Button fuel-saving

    2. That’s not an error, you’re just handling the data differently. I’ve only counted races where both drivers finished, for obvious reasons.

  22. It would be impossible to do such a list and satisfy everyone. We can argue because this of that but in the end this is Keith’s opinion, and we all know that Keith is very, very serious with his statistics and race analysis. In general terms, I agree with this “ranking”, except one or two names and places.
    But to me, I have to say, the ONLY real way to do such a ranking is to follow… the championship standings. Anything besides or beyond that is subjective or personal preferences. I, for one, can’t see Nico among the top five, but this is just my opinion. The truth is that Webber (second) and Massa (seventh) managed to grab more points than him, and it’s difficult to argue against that.
    In any case, thanks Keith for the hard work compiling this list.

  23. In the middle of the season is still all to be determined. Right now will appreciate that there has been a change in Ferrari, and pending the decision on blowing exhaust from Red Bull. We’ll see how everything ends …

    You know this competition for the GP of Abu Dhabi? Giving away 2 tickets … Now I look at what are the conditions for the video http://www.youtube.com/formulasantander

  24. I had the same problem as Damon,

    “Keith, could you fix the “26-16″ article, please?
    The article cuts off at no. 20:”

    Agree with the ranking except, Count me in the lot that has Button over Hamilton at this point.

  25. I’d have put Button ahead of Hamilton at this point too.

    Although, Hamilton will out perform Jenson over the entire season, I have no doubt of that.

  26. TheVillainF1
    19th July 2011, 16:38

    I’d put Alonso first, Vettel 2nd. Vettel has had 2 car crunching crashes – allbeit in FP-1 – and has undisputed n0.1 status within the most dominant F1 car in recent history. He also threw away the win in Canada, and got saved by the bell in Monaco, saved by the team in Silverstone. That said he has had many great performances to dominate as he has been doing and would be deserving of a high spot in this ranking, but I qualify Alonso’s ability to squeeze every last bit of performance out of the ferrari -which has been quite a handful on most tracks- in every race and quali this season more impressive. His Spain quali lap the best illustration of this imo. And I really don’t like Nando so that’s something for me to admit lol.

    As for Hamilton-Button, I also believe Button should be ahead. Hamilton may have the raw pace edge over him, but Button’s incredible racecraft and maturity makes him pip Hamilton in my book.

    1. I’d put Alonso first, Vettel 2nd. Vettel has had 2 car crunching crashes – allbeit in FP-1 – and has undisputed n0.1 status within the most dominant F1 car in recent history. He also threw away the win in Canada, and got saved by the bell in Monaco, saved by the team in Silverstone.

      1. Neither of those crashes mattered as much as Alonso’s contact with Hamilton at Sepang.

      2. Vettel earned the number 1 status by dominating his teammate (like Alonso did to Massa last year, and is doing this year).

      3. In Monaco, you could argue that Vettel was lucky, but he made his own luck- by making no errors on the most unforgiving circuit on 50 lap old tyres. All while being chased by two world champions in equal or faster cars in those conditions.

      4. Although Alonso has often performed well in the Ferrari, I just can’t put those above someone who has been so dominant this year, so it’s 1. Vettel, 2. Alonso for me.

      5. I do agree with Button ahead of Hamilton.

  27. The hamilton vs Button debate is nonsense.

    Lets look at the facts:

    2011 season for button has been labelled as a sucess by some – and this is for a mediocre performance consistantly finishing and qualifying a couple of places behind Lewis in most races. The only times button does well is when his team mate takes himself out of the way. Lewis always takes places away from button If and when Lewis starts behind jenson. Jenson hardly has ever taken any places from Lewis unless Lewis either takes himself out or if Lewis has a gearbox issue like in Suzuka 2010 and lets jenson past.

    Lets face it…..at this stage in the season…Lewis’ season is unfairly described by some as ‘a failure’ and he is currently equal on points with his team mate who’s 2011 season so far by the deluded has been labelled as ‘great’.
    -This in itself alone tells you that jenson is equal to Lewis only when Lewis makes mistakes and is not on top form.

    Also if Lewis is so bad..then even when losing such a big deficit in canada when Lewis scored NO points & where jenson scored FULL points..the maximum – At this current stage they are on equal points!

    Bottom line is…jenson is only so close to Lewis (in terms of points) ONLY because Lewis has had more incidents which have held him back – Its not because jenson has beaten Lewis in a straight fight. If it was judged in a straight fight then Lewis wins hands down which has been proven endlessly.

    NOW also remember that the likes of jenson and fernando have around 7 years more experience than Lewis – jenson managed to alienate the whole F1 paddock for being a playboy way before he even achieved anything in F1…to the point where other team inc the backmarkers wanted him at the end of 2008.
    Alonso too has had his fair share of silly imature moments.

    Basically the likes of these 2 experienced drivers who are at their peak are being compared to a younger guy who has 7 years less experience then them and is currently in the phase of his f1 career where hes learning & on the journey of maturing…..just like they were! And dont forget that Lewis has beaten them both as they both have been team mates! Lewis has also consistantly beaten Vettel during thier junior days of close racing.

    The point is…by the time Lewis has as much F1 experience as the webbers…buttons & alonsos – Lewis WILL simply be a true phenomenon – Thats when he will prove that the hype around him was underated.

    BTW..I think its disgusting seeing some of the resentment thats aimed at Lewis by the critics inc by the british media too – which seems on a daily basis. But all this attention (good & bad) does also cement the fact that Lewis Hamilton WILL be a real sporting GREAT…a true sporting legend of our time.
    -The fact that people trip over themselves just to comment on the guy….the attention he gets just by coughing…cements his status in the books of the ‘greats’.

    ….and hes still got another 10 plus years left of his career!!!

    1. Well said.
      You’d think beating a world champion as consistently as Lewis has done would at least put him on par with Alonso who numerically has the upper hand in beating his team-mate. Even Button would have had a perfect score against a mediocre Massa.

      1. The mediocre Massa who was only a fuel rig away from taking the crown from your golden boy?

    2. Yes,yes he is,blah blah bloody blah.

  28. No one is saying Lewis does not have more raw talent then Button. But his misques, in my opinion have put him up till this point, behind Button. This is a report card on the first half only of THIS season.

  29. I like these rankings..

    However you come to expect bias towards Hamilton on this site.. There’s just no way he could rank 3rd. I suppose that’s unavoidable with sport, you support your countrymen in so many other sports, why not this?

    Hamilton at this point is like that mate you used to have a great laugh with when you went out, always entertaining…

    but these days he only shows the odd flash of his former self and generally gets “fueled up” and does stupid stuff. You still say he’s a great guy just beacause he’s your mate…

    I’d have Hamilton back in 11th or 12th and I’m probably biased because I think he’s great to watch!

    1. I totally refute the accusation of bias, which I’ve come to regard as tedious and predictable.

      I’ve explained why I think Hamilton belongs where he is, and the best you can come up with as an argument for why he should place lower is essentially: ‘You’re only saying that because he was born on the same land mass as you’. I assure you, I really don’t care about that.

      1. Oh,i dont think so. I would care to rate my countrymen a little higher than most(even if unfairly). Its a human emotion,we arent accusing you of anything other than being human.

        1. Just because you (and MW) would do so doesn’t mean everyone else automatically would. I’m German and would personally rank Alonso ahead of Vettel, Glock lower, and Schumacher not a place higher than he is. I’d be tempted to rate my favorite drivers a little higher, sure, but not everyone chooses their favorites by nationality, so that criteria may have no meaning whatsoever to some fans while it’s majorly important to others.

          Accusing Keith of bias is really just a handy excuse for not agreeing with his choice. If you disagree, fine, so do I sometimes, but all these “of course you prefer Hamilton/Button/DiResta, they’re British” comments are really just repetitive and annoying. Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to support a driver fopr reasons other than nationality!

        2. Its a human emotion

          Not everyone is patriotic and those who are don’t always let it cloud their judgement. I’ve been reading this site for literally years now and I honestly couldn’t tell you who Keith supports (if anyone) because he has always been so balanced. I’ve read criticisms and praise on Fernando, Lewis, Ferrari, Mclaren and every time he argues his reasoning thoroughly and backs it up. Even when I don’t agree with his conclusions Keith still makes his point in a way that I can see where he’s coming from.

          I apologise for rising to yet another accusation of bias as normally they just wash over me but I really feel for Keith getting the same stick every day and I’ve yet to see anyone back it up with any evidence.

        3. Sure Soumya, you can do so. But that does not mean others do the same.

          I for one would maybe be even more critical of my fellow countrymen than of foreigners, and Keith has shown often enough, that he does not base his judgements on this kind of thing.

        4. @Soumya –
          Yeah, but the point is that Keith is NOT human.
          Surely, no being, made of flesh and blood is capable of the effort it requires to make this blog as exciting and informative for F1 fans worldwide.
          I mean, interactive graphs, driver form guides, driver rankings, race breakdowns, paddock gossip, F1 trivia, insider info, technical reviews, pictures, etc. Keith is surely some intergalactic humanoid being, sent to Earth to do us all a massive favour.
          All will be surely revealed in time, no doubt!

      2. Keith, nevermind. If you were really biased you would put LH in front of Alonso, and you didnt. He certainly had a better start of the year and the first non red bull winner.

        But you’re being fair, wich is great to see.

      3. Well thats incorrect Keith. No one has to go into great detail why Hamilton should not be in 3rd as it is very evident that hes had some shockers.

        Going by what you’ve said you’ve basically based it on the machinery that he is in, and as so have defeated the whole point of your article.

      4. Isn’t this particular argument even more tedious since Button and Hamilton and Keith are all from the “same land mass”?

        1. Greetings Earthlings

      5. I know that efforts are made on this site to be non-biased and it is tedious to bring it up as it’s an obvious argument.
        However in this case though, there actually isn’t another driver in F1 who has had the machinery under them and thrown away results in so many races due to driver error.
        That’s why I think Hamilton deserves to slot in behind the likes of Heiki, Glock and Kobayashi who are generally putting in solid drives and outperforming their machinery.
        Appologies, I enjoyed the article and then go and complain about how it was written, so ungrateful!!

    2. Yeah, sure put Hamilon in 11th or 12th. Right behind Massa and Webber and others who managed to win a race this year as well.

      1. BasCB:

        1) This has nothing to do with Massa or Webber, only has since you mentioned it.
        2) These are rankings based on the first half season and as a result the whole half season is factored. Olivier Panis was one of 4 race winners in 1996, yet finished 9th in the WCD. Im assuming he would therefore be in your top 4 for the season?

        1. Not tru Hamish.
          It is about them. They are surely doing less of a good job then Hamilton is so far in a car only a little worse (Massa) or a lot better (Webber).
          If MW rates Hamilton below 10th, he is saying he did worse than these two.

          And Yes, I would definitely have rated Panis pretty high, maybe in the top 4, because while being lucky in Monaco he also did a really good job in an under par car that year.
          But to give a more accurate answer I would have to look closer at that season, as it has been a while ago so I do not remember the whole season that well.

        2. I personally would have had Hamilton 4th, not 3rd, but suggesting he should be outside of the top 10 is ridiculous. He’s made mistakes and lost points through his own doing, but is still level on points with his teammate. Unless you really think Button is worthy of a place outside the top 10 too.

  30. This listing, once again, goes by machinery and not by man: RBR, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes. You must judge the driver by his machinery; i.e., relative to his teammate. Massa and Webber, who are awful this year (every year), are simply making their teammates look better than they actually are.

    Whereas, Lewis has a good teammate and so he cant thrash him as the others can thrash their teammates; and he has a poor car with terrible strategy and so doesn’t win very often…

    Lewis should be no: 1. This year and every other.

    1. On the flip side, perhaps Alonso and Vettel are so good, they are making decent drivers like Massa and Webber look awful? We can never truly know. I disagree with Hamilton being number 1 so far this year.

      1. Come on Alistair, I appreciate the fact that you’re a fan of Hamilton – and fair play to you – but that last commment was pure fawning and totally discredits you.

    2. Surely you’re a troll.

    3. We can’t rank by ‘If Lewis was in a RBR this year’ or ‘If Glock and Kovaleinen had the best car’ because, quite simply, they haven’t, and we can’t guess they’d be winning if they were.

      The guys who are driving the best machinery are doing so because they’ve earnt it and their respective teams put them there.

      It’s not like all the drivers’ names were put in a hat and it was like ‘here you go, worst team on the grid I’m afraid, bad luck…’

      1. That sounds like a weighting system to me electrolite. It does make sense to do that because it’s near impossible to assess a drivers pure ability when not combined with his machinery.
        It should be stated from the outset that this system is being used.
        Actually taking Hamiltons previous achievements into account is the only reason you could logically put him in 3rd position IMO.

      2. Shhh! Bernie might hear you! I can just imagine him keen to sell the ‘F1 Driver Lottery – Live!” to television channels.

        Presented by Nigel Mansell with his glamourous co-host, Nelson Piquet.

        1. Noo! What have I done??

  31. themagicofspeed (@)
    19th July 2011, 20:00

    my top 5 is:

    1. ALONSO – he’s kept his head down and got the maximum out of what is, all in all, a 2nd rate car. His Silverstone win proved that this approach seems to be paying off.
    2. BUTTON – primarily for his performance in Canada.
    3. ROSBERG – he’s blown MSC into the weeds consistently since the word go in 2010. Admittedly less so this year.
    4. VETTEL – generally speaking, hes not had to do anything to get in the position hes currently in – he has Adrian Newey to thank for RBR’s depressingly dominant car. I dont recall seeing him fight hard for a place, or make an important overtake. He had to fight to stay ahead in Canada, which of course he didnt because he cracked. Very overrated driver imo.
    5. HAMILTON – up until recently has had no respect for other drivers, and total disregard for the rules.

    Thats only my opinion but anyway.

    1. 4. VETTEL – generally speaking, hes not had to do anything to get in the position hes currently in – he has Adrian Newey to thank for RBR’s depressingly dominant car. I dont recall seeing him fight hard for a place, or make an important overtake. He had to fight to stay ahead in Canada, which of course he didnt because he cracked. Very overrated driver imo.

      He had to overtake to take the win in Spain, where he was chased by Hamilton all race long. He also passed people in the first 2 races, China and Britain. He cracked in one case where he was being chased, out of three (Canada, Monaco, Spain).

      4th for the guy who is 1st by such a long distance is a treavesty. He’s UNDERrated.

      1. Putting Vettel in any position other than 1st is kind of tough to justify. I somewhat agree that he hasnt really had to fight for position or make important overtakes. Many people have brought up Spain (like David A) but I remember when Kubica overtook many drivers (Singapore) and was somewhat discredited because he had “fresh” tires yet when Vettel does the same he is praised. Leaving that aside I think he well deserves first right now but I will wait until the end of the season to call him a worthy Driver Champion of 2011 if he does win it.

    2. WUM
      by your logic, you’re doing well top put Vettel in your top 4!

      There’s been a few drivers in the past with a car advantage like Vettels but really only Schumacher achieved the set of results he has had over the last 10-15 races. He may never go on such a run again or, if he is still far from the finished article (as a few people mention), what will he be like if he gets there?
      He has a nack of winning in the best car. Thats not a bad habit to get into.

    3. You are very wrong about Vettel ‘themagicofsleep’. Either you are watchign another season or just slept through it

  32. Michael Griffin
    19th July 2011, 21:19

    Goodness me, the whole “British bias” story keeps coming along doesn’t it! This despite the site having something you don’t see very often, an unbiased and VERY fair author.

    Fact is, Hamilton has been AWESOME in 2011. Granted, he drove like a numpty in Canada and Monaco, but nobody has been flawless this season, not even Vettel. Everybody makes errors, some worse than Hamilton ever could dream of making.

    Third place is fair I feel. Button has been doing a fine job this year but he’s still getting his a*se handed to him on a regular basis in qualifying. He can’t rely on Canada-esque recoveries and changeable conditions at every venue…fourth is the best he could do.

    Alonso has been on fire recently, and beating Massa comfortably in qualifying again.

    Vettel? Well, he’s Vettel isn’t he. Need I say any more….

    P.S – Guys, stop with the “British bias” angle, its old, tired, boring and more importantly, slanderous and totally untrue.

  33. Like others, I also believe Button should be ahead of Hamilton. However there are valid arguments to suggest otherwise and as such shows it’s pretty close between them this year.

    My main objection to the top five rankings is the tenor of Hamilton’s blurb – far too positive! e.g..’most formidable drivers in F1’….’showcased Hamilton’s driving at its very best’. Whilst these comments are not necessarily untrue, I don’t think he deserves to have this much praise lavished on him by anyone this season. Whereas both Alonso and Vettel do, but their blurbs were pretty uninspiring.

  34. the reason why alonso & vettel in top 2 is because they have team order privilage in the top team.

    1. They’re favoured because they’ve thrashed their teammates. End of.

      1. they’ve thrashed their teammates because of radio button on their wheel.

        1. No, Vettel and Alonso have thrashed their teammates on the race track by finishing ahead, often by large margins. That’s why they’re seen as the best on the grid, and are ranked 1 and 2 on this article.

        2. Good point. I can’t ignore the qualifying though.

        3. MW hasn’t finished ahead of SV since Belgium 2010. That is waht we call thrashing. Now tell me about the magic button

  35. Even thought I know I will get Boo’d for being a Webber/Vettel fan, Button was absolutely fantastic in Canada !! I hope he gets a better drive soon !

    1. Even if JB was in RBR right now he won’t because there is a SV there and not a RB

  36. themagicofspeed (@)
    20th July 2011, 14:18

    im not saying that vettel is not a good driver, or anything like that – he is – i just think that, his success has a hell of a lot to do with the red bull car than anything else. if he was driving say, the mercedes of schumacher, he wouldnt be able to do much better with it – but again thats just my opinion.

    looking back, i was indeed wrong about spain and china, however the tyre change with 6-7 laps to go in monaco left a very bitter taste in my mouth – i felt that the race result was a total farce as we never got to see what would have happened if his tyres had not lasted.

    1. his success has a hell of a lot to do with the red bull car than anything else.

      I’m not denying his car is good but Webber mostly has been nowhere near him. It isn’t just that the Red Bull is good it’s that Vettel is so good in it.

      1. Weber is so bad he is 2nd in the points….that arguement holds no water

    2. Despite being a big Schumacher fan (who feels he isn’t as good as he was in his prime), I feel that Vettel has proven himself in midfield machinery. Look at how he did in 2007 and 2008 for further reference.

      1. themagicofspeed (@)
        21st July 2011, 19:30

        i agree, Schumacher is nowhere even close to the amazing speed he was naturally capable of in his prime. I was a Schumacher fan until he signed for Mercedes.

  37. Agree with everything, again. Rosberg’s likelihood to keep his head down can be to his detriment at times but invariably he gets the job dne. Such a shame he’s yet to stick it on the podium.

    Vettel couldn’t be less than number 1 right now.

  38. Hamilton is the best driver in the field with the 3rd best car.
    If Vettel is so much better than why does he struggle to pass Lewis in a faster car?

    Driving ability isnt just about how fast you can go but how fast you are when interacting with other drivers. Without a doubt Lewis is the best, with Alonso a close second.
    If we are trying to make a judgement on how well each driver and team uses their equipment, well thats what the point standings are for.

    I would much rather see a driver make a mistake and hit someone going for it than a parade and resorting to pit early and pass someone in the pits because you cant get them on the track(looking at you Seb)

    You praise Senna for his skill and aggressiveness and criticize Lewis for his.

    1. themagicofspeed (@)
      21st July 2011, 19:38

      If Lewis was so progidosly good, he would be further up the standings than he is now. I agree that he is very quick, and undoubtedly talented, but his judgements in crucial situations are his greatest flaw, and what let him down as a driver time and time again. For example, in Monaco, where he drove straight into Felipe in the middle of the hairpin, which was pretty daft. Following this, in Canada, going for a gap which was always going to dissapear, and nearly taking his team mate out with him.

      Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton are in a different league altogether. I cannot comprehend any of the current drivers being likened to Ayrton. He might have copied his helmet colours but Ayrton was 5x the man Lewis will ever be – in my opinion anyway.

    2. Is this the same Hamilton who couldn’t overtake Vettel in the Spanish GP when McLaren was the faster car?

      Hamilton’s interaction with other drivers has been poor this season. Thats why in two races where McLaren has been the fastest car Monaco and China, Hamilton got P6 and a DNF.

      I agree, attacking drivers are better than strategic ones but there is a reason why Button despite not being as quick has the same number of points as Hamilton.

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