2011 F1 driver rankings no.5: Lewis Hamilton

2011 F1 season review

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No celebration for Hamilton after taking pole in Korea

“The personal life, the way things have gone have not been as smooth and as happy as they could have been in the past and to do what I do is a combination of many, many things that are surrounding you”

Lewis Hamilton explaining his troubles in 2011? No – this quote is from last December. This is Hamilton describing what went wrong last year.

Twelve months on the explanation hasn’t changed but Hamilton’s form has clearly suffered.

Hamilton has always been a error-prone driver. This was true when he won the F3 Euroseries in 2005, the GP2 championship in 2006, and the world championship three years ago. This makes ranking him among his peers a case of weighing up the brilliant drives against the mistakes.

Previously the moments of genius have vastly outweighed the gaffes. But this was not the case in 2011.

During a fraught season he collided with his team mate Jenson Button, Pastor Maldonado and – on several occasions – Felipe Massa.

Beat team mate in qualifying13/19
Beat team mate in race7/14
Races finished16/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate530/975

At times he paid the price of putting himself at the mercy of another driver during an overtaking move. This worked brilliantly when he forced his way past Button in China – not so much when applied to Maldonado and Massa in Monaco.

This was not the case of a few minor racing incidents. Hamilton committed the kind of baffling blunders not worthy of a driver of his calibre. Such as carelessly driving into the back of Massa in Singapore. Or repeating almost move-for-move the same driving he’d been warned about in Sepang last year, leading inevitably to a penalty.

Rare were the weekends when Hamilton did not make at least one appearance before the stewards. This prompted his notorious outburst in Monaco where he claimed the stewards singled him out more often than other drivers. But looking at the record over his five years in F1, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that, one or two incidents aside, Hamilton’s treatment from the stewards has been entirely fair.

It’s easy to play up the desperate moments of Hamilton’s 2011 campaign and overlook the moments of genuine inspiration. His victories in China and Germany were from the top drawer, blending speed and Hamilton’s characteristic aggression and verve racing for position against the best drivers in the world. I simply couldn’t bring myself to place a driver capable of those performances outside the top five.

He began the season strongly in Australia after a torrid off-season for McLaren, hounded Sebastian Vettel in Spain, and was the only driver to beat Red Bull to pole position all year.

Happier times: Winning in Germany

What really lies at the root of Hamilton’s unsettled year is the cause of considerable speculation. Much has been made of his decision to appoint managers who are more concerned with Lewis Hamilton the brand rather than the racing driver.

It’s also true that he came under greater pressure within his team than ever before, ending the season behind his team mate for the first time in F1. Hamilton was usually quicker than Button in qualifying but on race day Button often got more life and performance from the new specification tyres.

Come the end of the season there were some signs Hamilton had begun to find his form again. He took a third win in Abu Dhabi, gifted by Vettel’s first-lap retirement. But he ended the year with an anonymous performance in Brazil which ended with a rare gearbox failure.

It was a suitably unsatisfactory end to a season which Hamilton would probably sooner forget.

F1 Fanatics on Lewis Hamilton

Much has been said about his issues so I won’t go into detail, but it’s been a poor season for him. Even so, his wins in China and Germany were of the highest class – his driving skills have never been in doubt, only his mentality.

It’s good for the sport that he seems to have got on top of whatever issues he had, because Formula 1 without an on-form Lewis is lacking.
Dan Thorn

Occasional flashes of brilliance in China and Germany were marred by silly mistakes and unusual muted performances. He seemed to be constantly involved in needless incidents that took valuable points from him. Outclassed by Button this year in and out of the cockpit.
Colossal Squid

Second in Melbourne felt like win after testing trouble

Hamilton is an excellent qualifier and a daring overtaker. But this year, his judgement has been poor and he has attempted many moves which were neither sensible, nor necessary. With DRS and disintegrating tyres, many moves which were once ‘brave’ and now ‘foolish’ – and Hamilton hasn’t had the nous to adjust his strategy.

Behind all that Hamilton remains fast, and won three races (albeit Abu Dhabi was almost uncontested). Almost any team on the grid would love to have him.

Some races he was just off the pace (Valencia, India and Brazil although he had a problem at Brazil) and others he was just reckless/unfortunate. He may have been stellar in Germany and China but apart from that it was like someone else was driving the car.

I never expected Lewis to have a season like this and I’m sure he’ll bounce back but few greats have such a woeful and distracted season when in good cars. He can’t afford another year like this.

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

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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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112 comments on “2011 F1 driver rankings no.5: Lewis Hamilton”

  1. Are the top 4 getting individual articles Keith?

    1. Hopefully, Yes. Hamilton being placed 5th in itself is going to bring out the wrath of his legion, even if the view is balanced. Remember the number of comments Monaco GP article got? Even if all the other 4 are clubbed in as a single review it won’t get that many comments.

    2. @david-a Yep, and the vote at the end as usual.

      1. An interesting format, it’s a pity only that this year’s driver’s performances do not lend themselves to wild speculation about the order of the drivers in places 4 to 1 (4. Rosberg, 1. Vettel, with Button and Alonso playing a tiebreak for second place).

        1. I’m guessing Button will be number one, since after all trying rank everyone is an inherently stupid and impossible idea and this is more about eyeballs, clicks and discussion than anything else.

          1. Vettel preformed the best by far, especially against his team mate.

          2. This is the seventh year I’ve done this series of articles, which includes the halfway rankings. It has always been an effort to legitimately rank all the drivers.

            It’s not easy and it does throw up some tricky questions, but this is what I’ve chosen to do and every year I try to do it better – whether that’s by changing how I record the races during the year, analyse the drivers’ form and statistics, or in this case how the finished rankings are presented.

            The change in format this year is because the old way meant the last article in the series, which usually featured the top three drivers, was rather too long.

            Not that I suppose my explanation will convince you or even be read by you as you’ve already made up your mind I’m only doing this for the most cynical of reasons.

        2. It’s gonna be Vet-But-Alo-Ros. Vettel cannot not be first and Button cannot not be the following.

      2. I can’t decide between Kovalainen and Vettel

        1. Kovalainen has already been. he was in the last article.

  2. Hamilton 5th? I ranked him 24th, between Chandhok and Schumacher.

    1. I don’t think the fact that he made a few (admittedly terrible) mistakes completely eradicates the many far better aspects of his season.

      Not that you’ve bothered to explain your point of view, I’m just guessing.

      1. Well, 24th is maybe a little harsh, but I think he performed way below his normal level, which is reflected in a low score. Of course he did have some good races, but championships are not won because of a few great results. Championships are won by consistency and well, that was not Hamilton’s strongest point this year. Somehow he managed to find himself in trouble in most of the races, usually becoming impatient and causing various collisions. In my analysis I substracted all these errors from his good showings and I ended up negative. So that’s why I think his 2011-performance was bad. After his promising rookie-season his driving has become much more erratic. That trend has to reverse.

        1. Just because any driver has one bad season doesn’t automatically mean they’re rubbish. Two to three seasons of really bad form is more like it. You’re just being overly harsh.

          1. I never said Hamilton was rubbish. I only said his 2011-performance was bad.

          2. This is specifically 2011 performance.

        2. Sure, Hamilton did underperform Mr. Draw. But we are not ranking how much of his potential did the drivers achieve this year.

          And even if we would do that, you seem to weight only how big the gaffes were that he was able to manage, and Hamiltons really managed to be pretty big.

          But Liuzzi’s bowling alley driving in Monza, Chandhok’s numerous spins in his one race and Maldonado almost purposely driving into Hamilton, were all quite high on that list as well. And not off-set by as big highlights as winning in China and Germany, keeping Vettel honest in Spain and beating him to pole.

          1. @BasCB Agreed. Even when Hamilton underperforms, he’s still better than a lot of drivers. And even in a season full of errors, he wasn’t far behind Button.

          2. In F1 the performance of a driver-car combination is greatly determined by the car’s performance. So in my opinion it’s unfair to judge drivers by their performances alone. Yes, Hamilton did win on three occasions, when Vettel ran into trouble, but his car was capable of doing that (combined with the fact hat the second Red Bull driver was hugely underperforming). Still, until Monte Carlo, he was close to (or even ahead of) Vettel in terms of “relative performance”. We pinned our hopes on him for the championship-battle, but it turned out that race in Monaco was the beginning of his mid-season slump. His 5th position in the final rankings, behind Alonso’s Ferrari, speaks volumes. So that’s why I can’t see why he should be ranked higher that – at least – the likes of Kovalainen, Kobayashi or Alguersuari, who also did some stunning performances in crappier cars.

          3. MR. Draw, the fact you yourself say that Hamilton

            was close to (or even ahead of) Vettel in terms of “relative performance”

            shows why he deserves to be at the top of the pile.

          4. MR. Draw, the fact you yourself say that Hamilton

            was close to (or even ahead of) Vettel in terms of “relative performance”

            shows why he deserves to be at the top of the pile.

            I think you misquoted me, as I said his performance was fine until Monte Carlo. I don’t think he could have done much worse in the second half of the season, so his overall score was pretty bad in my opinion.

        3. You are rating Hamilton 24th because he didn’t drive in a way championships are won? There are 27 drivers who didn’t.

        4. how come 24th and not 28th? Even 28th out ot 28 is too good for it

  3. I think Hamilton is too high up the order, and I will now expand on my point that I made in the 15-6 article.

    To rank a driver, I think we must consider how close they have got to reaching their potential. In my opinion, Hamilton was probably further away from his potential than any other driver on the grid over the course of the year. With his raw speed and the strong car, he should’ve been easily 2nd, but threw great opportunities away with an abundance of silly mistakes, an often poor attitude and inconsistency. While he did have some great drives, and got some excellent wins, he really should’ve done more throughout the year, in my opinion, which is why I can’t consider him in all fairness as a Top 5 driver.

    However, this is a very rare year in that there were only three real stand-out drivers, and it’s very hard to make a conclusive argument for anyone below 4th. Therefore, while I feel Hamilton should be much lower, there aren’t too many drivers that shout out to be above him.

    1. I agree on your opinion of how a driver should be ranked, and Hamilton certainly didn’t live up to his potential this year. It almost seems unfair to rank Hamilton with his many mistakes ahead of, say, Kovalainen who has been consistently performing all year.

      Still, his standout drives were exactly that. It would be unusual to have a driver who won 3 races not considered in the top 5.

    2. Where would you rank a driver whose potential stretched only to finishing last in each race (not crashing out), which is exactly what they did for the whole season?

      1. I think there is a clear order on teams classification RBR, McLaren, Ferrari, Merc, etc… therefore we can say the theoretically best possible position of a driver according to his team. Vettel and Webber -> #1, Button and Hamilton -> #3, etc… and we can compare those positions with the WDC 2011, that’s another way to judge performances, at least another variable to add to the equation.

        1. That would be one way of ranking, which would imply that Button and Alonso both “outperformed” their car (as much as I loath that term). That is probably true, but I certainly wouldn’t say that either of them performed better than Vettel, who truly maximized his potential, or got as close as humanly possible. By your ranking then, Webber and Hamilton would both have underperformed compared to their potential, which is fair, but Massa would be placed in the championship right where he should be, and I would argue that he certainly underperformed to a far greater extent than either Hamilton or Webber, both of whom won races this year, whereas Massa wasn’t even able to place 4th, and most of his 5th place finishes were only because one of the top 5 had a problem (i.e. out of luck, not on merit).

    3. To rank a driver, I think we must consider how close they have got to reaching their potential.

      I disagree. In ranking drivers one should consider how well they have done compared to other drivers. Why should one’s potential act as a disadvantage? Hamilton not being at his best still makes him a damn better driver than Karthikeyan at his peak.

      Overall I see where Keith is coming from: it seems wrong to place a driver who might have achieved his greatest GP victory (Germany) outside the highest ranked drivers. However, what is more relevant in my opinion is that up to Monaco, Hamilton’s season was rather good – no worse than his 2010 form (Malaysia was not that much of a blunder). After that he started to make mistakes, but the fact that in a dismal season he has not been completely annihilated by Button, who is considered to be at his prime, speaks volumes about Hamilton’s abilities.

      So, yes, Hamilton has not had a good season, but when one actually thinks about it, it was not all that terrible.

      1. Well said @Victor on all points. The fact that in a terrible season after the first 1/3 of it, he still comes relatively close to Button, and thus does a lot better than either Massa or Webber, is why he a top-5 ranking seems deserved.

        I had avoided really placing Hamilton anywhere in my own private ranking, because he, together with Rosberg, and Webber, Kobayashi, Schumacher, and Massa too, seemed to have some good things to recommend them, but there were others who did better.

        Will be interesting to see how the others are ranked exactly over the coming days, though I’d expect Rosberg up next. Button vs. Alonso is a bit of a coin-toss for me, the winner seems clear though.

      2. In ranking drivers one should consider how well they have done compared to other drivers.

        @Vicotr Well why not just put down the championship standings as the rankings? I think we must consider some element of potential, whether it be the car or the driver.

        I guess it depends on what we are ranking – their driving or their overall performance.

    4. @ed24f1:

      Potential is purely subjective. It is impossible to rank based on subjective criteria vs actual.

      You or I may think best potential ever, but Fred down the road or that bloke in the pub may think no potential at all. So which measure do we use?

      1. @psynrg Of course, but this whole process is almost completely subjective, all rankings of this kind are! Everyone has a different opinion, there’s no right answer.

  4. Beat team mate in qualifying 13/19
    Beat team mate in race 7/14
    Races finished 16/19
    Laps spent ahead of team mate 530/975
    With this numbers, I don’t think his season was so terrible as people say. The guy won 3 races, was the only one to score a pole position other than the Red Bull drivers. Maybe the high criticims is a reflection of what was expected of him. About his colisions 3 were enterily his fault: Kobayashi in Spa, Massa in Singapore, and Maldonado in Monaco (maybe I’m forgetting some hahaha). The one with Button was a race incident where he tried to overtake and Button didn’t see him. The others with Massa seemed race incidents also. He had a routh time and despite all that had 3 wins, the same number of Button. Despite this stones were throw at him the whole season, wich I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think he should be behind Rosberg.

    1. Looking at it that way it seems to be a reflection of ‘potential’ versus ‘attainment’ in the ranking of a driver over a season.

      See Webber: he attained consistent, yet unconvincing, results throughout the year, overall qualifying it as a success, but do we judge it as awful compared to his teammate? Or just reduce the ‘potential’, thereby in a way devaluing him even further?

      Lewis beat his teammate convincingly on several occasions, obviously showing the potential was there, but the consistent attainment was poor. It seems like basing a driver rank on his consistency vs. attainment of potential is a very subjective question, as forums across the net will attest…

    2. The numbers flatter him somewhat as a comparison to Button, simply because when Hamilton beat Button the cars were generally fairly close together whereas when Button beat Hamilton that wasn’t the case. On average, Lewis finished (when he finished) in 3.53rd place whereas Jenson finished in 2.89th place.

      1. and because hamilton may have led at the start of races over button, but didnt lead where it counted most, at the end of the race, due to overusing tyres or crashing.

      2. Look at your statement “when he finished”. He finished 16 of 19 races. For me that’s over criticims. He season wasn’t great but it wasn’t a disaster also. Of course Button outrdriven Hamilton this year and it was more consistent , but this consistency produced the same number of wins of his teammate. I think Button or Hamilton would be more happier with a 4th win than the second position on the drivers table.

    3. He’s had appalling performances at times – but he’s also had some of the best this season. He wasn’t at his best this year but he did quite well.

  5. Great read…… But I do hate you for taunting us like this :D

    I think… His drives, when they were good. Were easily some of the best all year. So I think 5th is right. Even if he did mess things up more often than getting them right.

  6. I’m just hoping to see a more focused Hamilton next season, along with a back-on-form Massa. F1 needs its superstars, the more the merrier.

    1. themagicofspeed (@)
      13th December 2011, 15:13

      Yeah, as much as i don’t like the guy, he is exciting to watch, which is more than can be said of the other top drivers. He swings out the back end and just when you think he’s going to lose it, he gathers it up. Vettel’s car control is far inferior to both of the McLaren drivers; LH is a master of control, as proved at Silverstone and Monaco in 2008, but Button is the true genius of control. In terms of pure skill, he pastes the entire field. F1’s top drivers need to be on it next year, to produce one hell of an exciting year.

      1. I disagree; Alonso and Vettel’s car control is up there with the Mclaren drivers.

        1. Oh, like when Alonso beached his car precisely on the center of the kerb in Canada?


          Kidding aside… I agree they are all complete drivers.

          1. That was after contact with Button to be fair.

      2. ‘Vettel’s car control is far inferior to both of the McLaren drivers; LH is a master of control’

        What a load of drivel!

      3. Did you not see Vettel in qualifying at Monza? He was power sliding through Variante Ascari, great car control and it looked incredible.

        You might not like Vettel, I don’t especially but saying his car control is poor is just plain incorrect.

      4. @themagicofspeed, Ah I see another Button fan here :)

    2. Very true, it seems that a lot of the narrative this season was of drivers/teams not living up to their potential (in particular Hamilton, Webber, Massa, and Renault). It would be great to have a season (particularly with 6 world champions) of everyone performing their best.

      1. It would be great to have a season (particularly with 6 world champions) of everyone performing their best.

        @SimBri: Sounds as delectable as the 2010 Season, though troubling for the rookies :)

  7. I would’ve put him nearer the cusp of top 10 than top 5- just too many dumb crashes and needless slip-ups outweighing the masterclass in China and especially Germany. After a strong start when he appeared the only man capable of putting Vettel under any pressure, he then came into contact with cars more often than trophies, but he’ll bounce back

  8. I think it says a lot that when Hamilton has a bad year, by his standards, he is still the fifth best on the grid

  9. Well, I don’t disagree that this has been a disappointing year for Hamilton, but my problem with him at no. 5 is that means Rosberg is no. 4. This doesn’t make sense to me. Hamilton’s had a load of screw-ups, but he still won three races (i.e. the joint second highest number), and was the only non Red Bull to get on pole, whereas the pinnacle of Rosberg’s year of glory has been, er, three fifth place finishes.

    And before anyone says ‘yes but Hamilton’s had a better car and Rosberg’s was rubbish’, just stop and think. By that logic Kovalienen should be no. 1 and Vettel about 8th, because ‘it was only the car’. It seems very strange to prioritise Rosberg’s slightly pedestrian consistency over things that matter, like race wins and poles.

    1. Here’s what I had written before I spotted this comment, which makes the same point:

      Hamilton had a mixed season, but he still won three races and was the only non-Red Bull driver to take a pole position all season. Did Nico Rosberg really have a better year than that? In my opinion, he did not. Fourth in these rankings might have seemed too high for Hamilton, but there weren’t actually many drivers who performed better. I look forward to reading Rosberg’s ranking article for more explanation.

      1. I’m thrilled to see NR placed so high after reading most of the comments throughout the season to the effect that he just quietly and unobtrusively went about his business but didn’t thrill anybody or make driver of the weekend, not even top 3.

        But to me the big deal about NR is that he has done what he has done with MS as his teammate. Given the huge accolades MS gets, including driver of the weekend nominations for passing cars he should have put behind him on Saturday, that just tells me that NR’s achievement should carry some weight. ie. If MS is such a force still, then NR has done something huge (for him if nobody else) and something unprecedented in MS’s tenure in F1…beaten him two seasons in a row. But obviously in the end his achievement has not gone unnoticed given his high standing, so that’s great imho.

        Of course NR did also lead a race at the start, and he made some excellent passes and repasses throughout the season. Should be so fun to watch Merc, MS and NR and how they sit amongst the grid next season.

        1. But what exactly is Rosberg’s ‘massive achievement’? He has driven an average car reliably, has made no real mistakes but has done nothing spectacular either, and has consistently finished about fifth sixth or seventh.

          Now this is pretty good, but it doesn’t make him the fourth best driver on the grid. I just don’t understand why everyone rates Rosberg so highly: what is it actually based on? Hamilton won more races in his supposed worst year ever than Rosberg has in his entire F1 career and people are falling over themselves to give Rosberg the ‘huge accolades’. It doesn’t make logical sense.

          1. Now this is pretty good, but it doesn’t make him the fourth best driver on the grid. I just don’t understand why everyone rates Rosberg so highly: what is it actually based on? Hamilton won more races in his supposed worst year ever than Rosberg has in his entire F1 career and people are falling over themselves to give Rosberg the ‘huge accolades’. It doesn’t make logical sense.

            Hamilton had a front running, extremely competitive car to win those 3 races, but squandered more wins, podiums and pole positions. Don’t get me wrong, Hamilton did have some excellent drives, and I agree with the 5th place ranking, but Rosberg didn’t squander anything. He did what the car was capable of in qualifying and the races more consistently.

          2. Please rewind back to first half of 2009 and let all of us know how many races hamilton won. (I lost track of the times he was lapped by button to be honest). Am not suggesting that hamilton is bad at all. He is one of the best. But thats precisely the point. Hamilton in Williams/Merc in the 5 years rosberg was there wouldn’t have achieved significantly more.

    2. themagicofspeed (@)
      13th December 2011, 15:17

      I agree, Rosberg is the most overrated driver in F1, along with Glock, Kovalainen and Sutil.

      Since his debut, he has:
      Set FL at Bahrain 2006
      Finished 2nd at Singapore 2008, which we now know was a fixed race.
      Finished in front of an ageing Michael Schumacher, who just doesnt have it in him anymore to keep up with younger, fitter drivers.
      Nothing to write home about, imo.

      1. Just another thought given that my last comment didn’t even contain the name Lewis Hamilton…methinks LH is where he is because he squandered a top 3 car too often, whereas NR in a distant 4th place car (in the Constructor’s chase) maximized what he had with incredible consistancy, and again, with MS as a teammate, the one that Brawn starting things off at the beginning of 2010 touting MS as 2010 WDC…that could have been a daunting thing for NR to live with, but it didn’t phaze him a bit…seems to have inspired him.

        1. I’m sorry, but you’re talking with blinkers on. Schumacher and Rosberg ended the season with a very similar number of points from an identical car. So, if you’re saying that Rosberg has been an amazing revelation, then obviously that should also apply to Schumacher’s season. Similarly, if Schumacher is supposedly a huge disappointment, that must also apply to Rosberg who performed only marginally better. The case you are making – that Rosberg desrves ‘huge accolades’ while his terrible teammate scrapes the barrel of indignation – doesn’t hold up to neutral scrutiny (or a glance at the points table).

          You are also making too much of the Brawn 2010 WDC comment. Of course Ross Brawn said that: he’s the team principal and it’s called publicity and promotion. If he’d said ‘Michael’s 41 and he’s been out for three years, so he may struggle a bit’ – i.e. told the truth – that would have been bad PR skills and bad leadership.

      2. I agree with all of you. Rosberg ha not earned in my opinion a place in the top five, and certanly not about Hamilton.

        In my opinion right now he is overrated. Maybe in the future Rosberg will do something to chance my opinion…

    3. I feel that Lewis drove to his limit, and because of that, he made a ton of mistakes. Other drivers like Alonso can avoid mistakes while going even quicker because they have more capacity as drivers.

      To say Lewis had other issues which held him back etc is really just excuses made to cover up his poor performance limits.

      No doubt he is an excellent F1 racer, but to think that he is not driving his best is false.

      1. Agree with Robbie here, Rosberg deserves to be 4 and above Hamilton. Rosberg has had a Vettel season in a rubbish car by not putting a foot wrong all year.

        Sure Schumacher isn’t back at his best but with his achievements he could be 90 years old and it would stil be impressive for anyone to beat him in nearly every qualifying. (exaggerating for effect!)

        The races were certainly a lot closer with the old boy but at end of season Rosberg was ahead. It could be said on Schumacher’s best days and Hamilton’s best days this year they would be better than Rosberg’s best but consistency is the key.

        1. @Jim Bob James…it’s just that especially after Brawn’s comment at the start of 2010 about him being WDC for that year, that could have made the task of being MS’s teammate even more daunting than it should have been, given the history of MS and his teammates. But instead NR rose to the occasion. I agree he wasn’t that much more special than MS, but looking at the quali effort, the race consistancy, and the outpointing of MS two years in a row makes it huge FOR NR and his own personal psyche if for no-one else…That is more to the point of what I mean. A lesser driver may have willowed under the threat of MS as a teammate…NR seems inspired by it…and then considering the last two races after his contract was extended, he seems even more stoked.

  10. Keith seems to rating a driver by their expected standards more than anything else. Perhaps that’s why Massa was so high up the list.

    1. to be*

    2. True, this can explain Webber position : nobody expected he wil be good, then he wasn’t, then he is 6, whereas he should have been 15. Rosberg is not expected to climb to the podium, he didn’t, then he is in front of Hamilton, who is punished to not be world champion despite his 3 victories in a context where RB is like the Ferrari 2004. Schumi is expected to win, he didn’t then he is behind Webber. Very very very strange classification, against all stats and all the behaviour of the driver on race. Disapointing.

    3. @Broxter

      by their expected standards

      Not sure what you mean by that.

      1. i think what he means is that you take into account previous reputations and expectations of the drivers (not necessarily a bad thing).

        If you don’t do this however, and you look at the drivers seasons as if they were just driver X, there is a strong argument to put Hamilton above Button.
        Hamilton was quicker than Button this season, there’s no doubting that other than at a few tracks (e.g Brazil – although he had good pace in the race despite in issue). He matched Button for wins but just got caught up in a lot of incidents. If you look at the crashes though, it could be convincingly argued that only one was his fault (Massa in Singapore).

        Now if you look at these as driver X and driver Y, with no preconceptions, and had to choose one driver to keep for next season, I would choose Hamilton every time. And judging from your comment re. Grosjean and Petrov along the lines of “it’s easier stop a quick driver crashing than it is to turn a slow driver quick”, I think you would do the same.

        I don’t necessarily think this is how rankings should be done but it makes an interesting point.

  11. This is by far the most correct position for any of the driver rankings so far.. Hamilton is a brilliant driver (I seem to remember he was no1 at the 2010 halfway rankings) and has had some brilliant results (China, Germany, most of Hungary) but 7 penalties and far superior performances by 4 other drivers (everyone would agree 3, Rosberg I think has done a good job this year aswell) meant that 5th was the logical position for him this year.

    As I’ve said before, I really hope Hamilton can find his form again for 2012 and give us an exciting championship again.

    There, that’s my attempt at COTD.. I’m getting desperate now!

    1. Go for the funny, it helps a lot to get COTD :D

    2. he was no.1 for the final 2010 rankings and rightly so. People easily forget and never really appreciated what a brilliant season he had last year

    3. Why does it matter whether or not you get COTD?

      1. As a lifetime achievement of almost every F1Fanatic member, of course we’ll be aiming (at some point) to get a COTD! :P

  12. I agree with Keith here, actually I would have put Hamilton in front of Rosberg this year. Hamilton had more brilliant weekends than poor ones and numerically was slightly better than Button, all things considered. I still agree with placing him behind Button this year, that is fair.
    By the way, Alonso will be number 2 on Keith’s list… even Button’s best ever season is not better than another one of Alonso’s great ones…

  13. The way I see it this means the top four are as follows:-
    4 – Rosberg
    3 – Alonso
    2 – Button
    1 – Vettel (Though I hate the guy he has been supreme this season)

  14. Sorry Keith, but I really don’t see how you can blame Hamilton for collisions with Maldonaldo. Especially when other drivers were giving room to each other at Monaco, plus MAL’s deliberate collision after the session had ended.

    The collision with Button is very contentious too what with the extreme bad weather in Canada, although Jenson HAD to know that Hamilton would be trying to make a pass sooner or later. He might not have seen him in all that spray but he would have heard him.

    We’ll leave out collisions with Massa where Hamilton doesn’t appear to have learned from prior experience, and Massa then behaved like a spoilt petulant child afterwards. No-one’s coming out clean from those incidents.

    1. other drivers were giving room to each other at Monaco

      Which I alluded to in the article. You seem to have misread my point of view as simply being “Hamilton was entirely to blame for every crash”, which isn’t what I wrote.

      1. I thought your words on that were very well put @keithcollantine:

        At times he paid the price of putting himself at the mercy of another driver during an overtaking move. This worked brilliantly when he forced his way past Button in China – not so much when applied to Maldonado and Massa in Monaco.

        A driver has to know when/with who, and when not to do that, and Hamilton didn’t manage it well during the year. Added to the outright mistakes, well, that’s three wins and fourth in the WDC, seems like a good evaluation.

      2. You implied it with your further statement:

        “This was not the case of a few minor racing incidents. Hamilton committed the kind of baffling blunders not worthy of a driver of his calibre …”

        1. Which is after the part you’re objecting to. Do we really have to turn the comments section into a lesson on basic English comprehension?

    2. Re: Button
      I think this incident’s interpretation depends on your framework. If you are trying to assign blame, then yes, it is IMHO a racing accident, not a clear-cut Hamilton’s fault.

      But now we are judging Hamilton as a driver. I am convinced that if a truly great driver – Lauda, Prost,… fill in your favourite – were in that position, they would have thought: “Well, it’s raiing dogs and cats and you can hardly see your own front tires. Button is on a path that takes him to the left edge of the track. If I stick my nose in and he does not notice, I am in big trouble.” And they would have waited for a better opportunity and pass later. So in this way I would say that this incident weighs against him at this particular discussion. It was not a wrong move, but it was an unwise move.

      While his driving has been stellar this year as well, he seems to lack racecraft. This is nothing new, it cost him the title in his first year (and I felt really sorry, not that I would particularly care for LH, but it would have made a great stat), but when you do not race smartly, you depend on a chance more. Sometimes you get more lucky, therefore the lack of racecraft does not show so much, and sometimes you get less lucky, which basically sums up this year for Hamilton.

  15. @KoolKieren just out of curiosity, is it the finger? Or why do you hate him? Such a nice lad…

    1. shoud’ve used the reply button! :/

      1. Im with KoolKieren with a dislike of Vettel:

        He fast, consistent, has solved a previous tendancy to crash, a nice chap, who engages with the media/ public, and is down to earth…All admirable qualities admitedly.

        BUT, what I really desire as a fan…is a contest, that is what F1 has given me in recent previous years, and with only One dominant Red Bull and no significant rule changes/ driver changes, i can see Vettel walking next year, unfortunately, and i will find that boring.

        My fantasy 2011 Christmas wish list in no particular order:

        Competition for pole & race win each race
        A competitve Williams
        A resurgent Mark Webber
        Di Resta in a Mercedes with Rosberg
        Kubica in the 2nd Ferrari

        1. Yeah, but the fact that this season wasn´t a close one is hardly Vette´s fault. If only he did what he is pay for in the best way he could. Other teams and drivers are to blame because the season wasn´t a close one, not Vettel.

          1. That in itself can be grating to some though @celeste.

            Personally, I wish he didn’t have such a fast car this year, since he and the team did so great that it made it a one sided competition. But I also enjoyed (especially when looking back, and not hoping for a closer fight any more) some of his great drives, and they did such a great job that maybe they deserved that fast car, and the pitstops too, after last years troubles.

            And Vettel also seem to be a fun guy, with a team that lets him be thus, so in effect we now have a great champion to cheer. Guess I’ll have to change mindset and enjoy it.

  16. themagicofspeed (@)
    13th December 2011, 15:06

    I would agree with this placing. He has been too distracted once again this year by external troubles (which we probably arent well placed to speculate on), but when he did pull it all together he delivered perfectly, like in China, passing Vettel for the win – that was the first glimpse of the 2008 spec Hamilton we’ve seen since..well, 2008. He was on it. Germany also was a race where it all came together, it was just after his well-documented split with Nicole Sherzinger (or however its spelt) and i think that performance was his emotional fightback, a reaction to that.

    However, in contrast he has made too many stupid errors, such as in Hungary where he could have won but for his mid-race spin and resulting penalty, and his seemingly magnetic attraction to Felipe Massa often resulting in yet another clash, sometimes his fault, sometimes Felipe’s. His driving seems at times to be fuelled by anger, and this might account for the number of penalties he continues to receive.

    On account of his 3 wins, he has had a respectable year, as only him and Button have been able to take the fight somewhere close to Vettel. Drives like Hungary and Canada though, let him down so badly and on both occasions his cooler-headed team mate won.

    All in all, a mixed but troubled year which he will want to improve on – if he can rediscover the Hamilton of old, Vettel will have a fight on his hands next year.

  17. Very good round up Keith. Very balanced and good view.

    Hope he gets through his problems next year!!! Whatever they are to which only he can have the answer. !!!

    Looks like Vettel does the opposite end. No Manager. No parents, Friends or relatives at the race weekend. Could be that it simplifies matter !!! Just like going to work. You don’t carry your entire family and loved ones there :)

    1. Good point.

      But it seems to work for JB.

    2. I think Seb´s dad is at almost every race, so does his little brother.

      But they are in a private room with no camaras.

      1. Whereas JB’s family and friends seem very comfortable around the camera, thus is not being a distraction for him. I think Lewis needs a decent support network in place in the near future.

  18. It was a suitably unsatisfactory end to a season which Hamilton would probably sooner forget.

    I slightly disagree with that Keith and this is why…

    Of course we dont want to ‘dwell’ in the past(neither does Hamilton) and we all want to move on from bad experiences in Life but what’s very important for Lewis now is to reflect on this season as a whole for a little while,gather his family & close friends around him for support & then move on & grow stronger & im pretty sure in 2012 we’re gonna witness a different Lewis Hamilton; Mark my words all F1 Fanatics

  19. Are there any F1 fanatics working in the betting industry?

    I bet that Hamilton will never get another WDC title in a McLaren.

    Can you give some odds for this bet?

  20. I have to say, I disagree with Hamilton having such a high ranking. People point to his victories and pole position in Korea as evidence of him overcoming his problems in 2011 – but wins and poles are what we have come to expect from Lewis Hamilton. This year, he’s set a new record for the number of penalties received, been involved in a dozen on-track incidents, shown a general lack of respect for other drivers (for example, accusing Kobayashi of being in the wrong in Belgium before he even watched a replay of the accident), and been distracted by personal problems. Winning races does not somehow make his recovery sweeter. Winning races only highlights just how embarrassing his on- and off-track shenanigans were simply because we all know he was capable of more.

  21. If he could afford to do it, I genuinely think Hamilton would benefit from a season away from the sport – I honestly think the constant F1 roller-coaster is wearing on him a bit, and given that he’s either been in F1 or on the F1 ladder since he was 13 it’s not hard to see why.

    Unfortunately, the industry doesn’t allow that of the drivers. Even if Mclaren allowed him some kind of leave, what’s the likelihood he’d have a seat waiting when he came back?

    I just hope he doesn’t become like Kimi did, and fall out of love with the sport, and be semi-forced out.

    1. And with good reason it doesn’t normally do it. Look how Schumacher has hardly set F1 on fire since coming back. Time will only tell if Raikonnen will do any better.

      Taking a time out in such a fast paced sport is normally career suicide.

  22. I’m glad Hamilton wasn’t any higher than this and the top 4 drivers are right.

    Hamilton hasn’t just made mistakes this year he also been out paced by Button in the races on a few occasions. His wins however were second to none. Germany was just genius.

  23. I’m guessing that Rosberg will be at #4, Alonso at #3, Jenson at #2 and Vettel will be #1

    1. That sounds about right to me.

  24. hamilton excuses are rubbish, as a pro driver he should be able to put his personal stuff to aside and focus do his job. somehow other drivers dont bring girlfriends and whoever else to support then and help them to do their job. its sad 2 c that ham needs a baby sitter and bubble of happiness to bne able to drive car as he is expected to do. compared to let say alonso he is nowhere near him, alonso makes no stupid mistakes, always 110% car performance. hearing PR crap from Ham is really tiredful.

  25. There has been so much talk about “Hamiltons worst season”. I will admit that it could have been a lot better. But for a guy having quotted “his worst season ever” and still winning three Grand prix against the best field in years. That speaks volume about Hamiltons Talent and drive.
    Just compare to Alonso who has not recieved as many wins, but does not get the same banter. I think that all this talk about Hamilton is because he is worth talking about, meaning that he always is the guy in focus in the race.. Good or bad.

    1. Just compare to Alonso who has not recieved as many wins, but does not get the same banter.

      Because he didn’t make as many mistakes, beat him in the standings, beat his teammate, took more podiums, etc.

      LH won less races in 2009, but was seen as having a good year because his car wasn’t always as good as it was this year.

  26. It seems to me that Lewis has always struggled to handle the pressure put on him by his debut season back in 2007. Yes it is true that he won the championship the following year, but only just! Even in 2008, Hamilton made several high profile errors including running into the back of Raikkonen’s Ferrari in Canada. And of all places, in the pitlane.
    2009 through to this past season have all been tough years for Lewis, and he has made plenty of mistakes, but this is largely down to the high level the fans and media expect of him.
    Before everybody starts complaining, I know its the same for all the drivers, but Hamilton is slightly different. Too many people have forgotten that nobody except Raikkonen was supposed to challenge Fernando Alonso to the 2007 world championship. Hamilton was a rookie that not many people thought would prove too much of a nuisance to the double champion, even David Coulthard questioned McLaren’s decision to give Lewis a drive. Well, we all know what happened next, and rightly or wrongly, the British media especially put Hamilton onto the worlds biggest pedastal.
    The same thing happened to Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill. To vast tracks of the British press, they were Formula One and Britain’s best hope of motorsports glory in their respective eras. Hamilton was no different, and with all of our sporting stars, has been built up and just as quickly knocked down.
    With Button and Vettel both winning championships in recent years the medias eyes have been averted elsewhere. Since joining McLaren, Jenson Button especially has been getting better and better every year, an ever increasing threat to Hamilton. Lewis may appear faster over a single lap, but Jenson has been alot better during the grands prix themselves.
    Its quite ironic that Hamilton has now found himself in a simular situation to what Fernando Alonso found himself in four years ago. Beaten by a driver no one thought would give him much trouble, in a team everybody assumed was ‘his’. Ill concieved comments like Hamilton’s Ali G joke in Monaco have only proved perfect tabloid fodder, and have made Lewis appear thin skinned and immature. Now, he hasn’t threatened to go to the FIA nor has he blocked his team mates pitstop during qualifying, but however you look at it, Hamilton has not had the best of years.
    He only has to look at his team mates career to see that the road to success is seldom a smooth one. After a great year with Williams in 2000, Button was dropped by Renault to spend many a season driving slow and extremely unreliable Honda racing cars. He became, especially in 2007 and 2008, an alsoran. He never complained, never through any tantrums, and was richly rewarded by winning the 2009 title and joining McLaren. Therein lies the lesson. Hamilton’s career started at a top team in a car that was to begin with championship worthy. Lewis had never experienced being at the back of the field in F1, had never had to watch as others grabbed all the kudos and the glory. That, this year, changed!
    Button, and many drivers like him, attained their glory the hard way by driving doggy race cars for teams that, in some cases, don’t exist anymore.
    Alonso’s debut year in 2001 was at Minardi, one of the sports least successfull teams. Enough said..

    1. It’s quite ironic that Hamilton has now found himself in a simular situation to what Fernando Alonso found himself in four years ago. Beaten by a driver no-one thought would give him much trouble, in a team everybody assumed was ‘his’.

      Interesting comparison! I never linked the Alonso-Hamilton relationship to the Hamilton-Button relationship this year, because things are quite different (Alonso moved to McLaren, Hamilton was just a rookie), but the similarities are striking.

      Seems like Alonso (almost) did a good job back in 2007. ;)

  27. I think he sits at the right ranking. Yes he made some hazardous mistakes, but his best performances do make up quite alot for that. In the beginning of the season he drove up to Monaco solid races, at times able to challenge Vettel who was possessing a way faster car.
    IMO, those few, but huge, mistakes taint alot of people their opinions. If you look at his season in a neutral and objective way, you’ll see his position is just right on the ranking.

    Besides that, I think Hamilton does give some colour to F1with all his mistakes. Most of the time the drivers just run around like robots, without emotions except if they end up on the podium. Not with Hamilton, his pathos really has something poetic, ideologic and dramatic to it. It almost reads like a good book, a man starting off right but later on fights with himself and really starts to struggle on the racetrack. I’d like to see if this book gets a good or bad ending, next season.

  28. Ranking the drivers is something I always have trouble with. This year the top three has been easier to choose than most years, Vettel, Button and Alosno although I debated about the order of Button and Alonso.

    As for Hamilton, his best drives this year have been the equal of anyone else but with all his mistakes and incidents I instinctively want to put him low down the rankings outside the top ten, but then I have to think which drivers to rank higher than him and that is the hard part as I can’t say that enough drivers have impressed me in 2011 to push Hamilton out of the top ten.

    Personally I think overall fifth is probably too high and would place him lower in the top ten, but I can see the arguments for placing him there.

  29. Stewarts were not fair to hamilton. It was obvious.

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