2012 half-term driver rankings part one: 24-11

2012 F1 season

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Which drivers have excelled so far in 2012? The F1 Fanatic half-term driver rankings start here.

This is my rating of how each of the drivers have performed this year.

F1 Fanatic readers were invited to share their own views on each of the drivers and a selection of those appear below.

24. Narain Karthikeyan

Beat team mate in qualifying0/11
Beat team mate in race0/6
Races finished7/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate67/437

The statistics speak for themselves: Karthikeyan has been consistently beaten by team mate de la Rosa.

He did finish ahead on the road in Malaysia, after de la Rosa had picked up a drive-through penalty, but Karthikeyan later received a penalty of his own and dropped back behind in the final classification.

He’s qualified eight-tenths of a second slower than de la Rosa on average. It’s reasonable to question whether HRT are equipped to provide two cars of similar performance – only Karthikeyan’s had to have extra cooling holes cut in it in Hungary. But this is about the most that can be said to explain away the substantial gap in performance between the two.

Not one of the best 24 drivers in the world. Probably not one of the best 100. I don’t expect much.

Narain Karthikeyan 2012 form guide

23. Vitaly Petrov

Beat team mate in qualifying2/11
Beat team mate in race5/8
Races finished8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate229/536

Petrov’s switch to Caterham was confirmed so late the team had already run Jarno Trulli during testing. He’s settled into the team since then and has fared better against Kovalainen then Trulli did, though that isn’t saying much.

Petrov has placed ahead of Kovalainen in races where both have finished, but Kovalainen seems to have bore the brunt of the team’s reliability problems. In qualifying, Petrov has been no match for him.

Anonymous in the Caterham, has done little to trouble Kovalainen, but could have got a point in Valencia.

Vitaly Petrov 2012 form guide

22. Felipe Massa

Beat team mate in qualifying0/11
Beat team mate in race0/10
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate15/672

At his best, Massa does an acceptable job as a number two driver, finishing within seven seconds of Alonso in Bahrain, Britain and Monaco. But these days are becoming all too rare.

He spun away a chance of a good result in Canada, and in both Spanish races the only cars behind him belonged to Caterham, HRT and Marussia. It was hoped a change of chassis would improve his performance in Malaysia – he finished a minute and a half behind his team mate.

With a dismal 15% of Alonso’s points haul so far, the question should not be whether Ferrari will replace Massa, but why they haven’t already.

The form is slowly coming back but he is being decimated by Alonso. If he doesn’t lose his seat at the end of the year I’ll eat my hat.

Felipe Massa 2012 form guide

21. Jean-Eric Vergne

Beat team mate in qualifying2/11
Beat team mate in race4/9
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate321/638

Vergne gave Ricciardo a run for his money in the opening races of the year. His sole points finish came in Malaysia, where he bravely stay on intermediates until the rain fell hard enough to bring the safety car out.

But he’s struggled in qualifying, often not making it out of Q3, and was beaten by both Caterhams in Canada. His collision with Kovalainen during the European Grand Prix was completely unnecessary.

Can’t seem to qualify well at all. Granted this year’s Toro Rosso is a dog of a car, but the difference between him and Ricciardo in qualifying are night and day. Vergne typically does better on race day, but hasn’t shown much potential beyond gaining a few places from a miserable start. Maybe with more Malaysia-like conditions he’ll achieve more, but probably not.
Matt (@AgentMulder)

Jean-Eric Vergne 2012 form guide

20. Charles Pic

Beat team mate in qualifying4/10
Beat team mate in race2/6
Races finished8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate214/522

Given his lack of pre-season testing, Pic has driven very well in his first season of F1 so far. He’s out-qualified and out-raced Glock in the last two races.

The two rookies who occupied his seat before him both lost their drives after a single season. So far Pic looks capable of bucking that trend.

Doing rather well, has been outperforming Glock lately and seems to be a rather quick, reliable newcomer. The Marussia makes it somewhat harder to judge, but I think the guy has potential.
Nick (@Npf1)

Charles Pic 2012 form guide

19. Timo Glock

Beat team mate in qualifying6/10
Beat team mate in race4/6
Races finished9/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate308/522

Is the grind of being at the back of the grid finally starting to wear Glock down after two-and-a-half years of it?

Glock has jumped at his rare chances to impress – holding off Kovalainen in Malaysia and almost dragging the Marussia into Q2 in the wet qualifying session at Silverstone.

But the rest of the time he seems increasingly frustrated by his car and his situation.

For someone who has been in F1 for as long as he has, he barely betters his younger and inexperienced teammate and has struggled to take the fight to the Caterhams, let alone take the Marussia up the grid.

Timo Glock 2012 form guide

18. Pedro de la Rosa

Beat team mate in qualifying11/11
Beat team mate in race6/6
Races finished8/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate370/437

De la Rosa went into the first qualifying session the year having completed a total of 13 laps in the F112. Nonetheless he out-qualified his team mate and has continued to since then.

He’s taken the fight to Marussia when the opportunity has presented itself. It’s hard to ask much more of a driver in the worst car in the field.

Doing what is expected of him, seems to be carrying HRT and is dominating Narain as expected. Solid but unspectacular.

Pedro de la Rosa 2012 form guide

17. Daniel Ricciardo

Beat team mate in qualifying9/11
Beat team mate in race5/9
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate317/638

A great final lap in Australia saw Ricciardo pick off two cars for what so far have been his only points of the season.

He’s consistently beaten Vergne in qualifying and took a superb sixth on the grid in Bahrain – this was unfortunately followed by a less than stellar start.

Of late he’s tended to hold the upper hand in the races, but there were close battles between him and Vergne at Silverstone and Hockenheim. Neither has stood out as an obvious candidate for Red Bull, but it’s still early days.

Slightly better than Vergne, mostly due to super qualifying performances. Sixth in Bahrain was mega but blew it on lap one. Toro Rosso need to find more pace for him and Vergne to shine.

Daniel Ricciardo 2012 form guide

16. Bruno Senna

Beat team mate in qualifying3/11
Beat team mate in race5/8
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate218/511

Neither Williams driver has scored as much as they should have done with the FW34 so far this year. Senna’s problems have usually started in qualifying, where he has been almost six-tenths of a second slower than Maldonado on average. In Spain he put the car in the gravel in Q1.

Starting in the midfield has sometimes led him into trouble – he was hit from behind in both Spanish races while running long in an effort to regain lost ground.

But on other occasions he’s got his head down and brought the car home and has finished in the points six times to Maldonado’s two. He finally reached Q3 for the first time in Hungary, which he will hope is a sign of things to come.

Significantly slower than Maldonado in qualifying but not much difference in race pace. Needs to improve qualifying to get consistently into points. I was honestly expecting more from him but it needs to be noted he is driving his first year at Williams compared to Maldonado.

Bruno Senna 2012 form guide

15. Pastor Maldonado

Beat team mate in qualifying8/11
Beat team mate in race3/8
Races finished9/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate293/511

No-one can seriously call Maldonado a second-rate pay-driver any more – his consummate victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, withstanding pressure from no less a driver than Fernando Alonso, blew that label away.

Instead his detractors now call him a crash-prone liability. And on the strength of the year so far it’s been hard to argue with that.

It beggars belief that the same driver who dazzled in Spain could commit some of the monumental blunders in the races that followed and fail to score any further points since then. His collisions with Perez at Silverstone and Hamilton in Valencia were careless at best, cynical at worst.

But his clash with Perez during practice in Monaco is the most troubling incident so far. As with his incident with Hamilton at Spa last year it looked very much like a piece of retribution, and that sort of thing simply must not be tolerated on a race track.

A win is a win is a win, and I have given him full credit for it. But was it his twin brother driving in Barcelona? Because he has practically nothing to show for us outside of that weekend, wasting dozens of points for Williams. His (quite frankly) ridiculous driving has knocked him down a few notches for me as well.

Pastor Maldonado 2012 form guide

14. Kamui Kobayashi

Beat team mate in qualifying5/10
Beat team mate in race3/6
Races finished8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate194/507

Kobayashi has had a fair start to the season but has not been able to hit the same heights as his team mate. However fourth place in Germany (following his promotion due to Vettel’s penalty) was a new personal best for him.

He looked set to do even better when he lined up third on the grid in China, but went backwards at the start and only just came home in the points. He had a scrappy race in Valencia too, tangling with Senna and Massa.

Poor results and not showing the speed of Perez. Some sparks of the Kamui that thrilled people in 09 and 10 but he doesn’t seem like the same driver.

Kamui Kobayashi 2012 form guide

13. Nico Hulkenberg

Beat team mate in qualifying5/11
Beat team mate in race4/9
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate264/576

There has been very little to separate the Force India drivers as the race and qualifying scorelines show.

Hulkenberg has achieved the team’s best result so far, fifth in Valencia, and it might have been even better had his KERS been working – as it was he was defenceless against Schumacher and Webber in the DRS zone late in the race.

He impressed in the wet qualifying session in Germany, setting the fifth-fastest time. But a mistake while defending from Senna at Silverstone cost him a points score – something the team are finding it increasingly hard to come by.

Has also been consistent for Force India with a stand out result in Valencia and some strong qualifying sessions. Appears to have caught up to speed and is matching his teammate. A strong and intriguing battle of the Teammates at Force India. Both Hulkenberg and di Resta have kept Force India in touch with the fundamentally faster Williams in the constructors’ championship.

Nico Hulkenberg 2012 form guide

12. Heikki Kovalainen

Beat team mate in qualifying9/11
Beat team mate in race3/8
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate307/536

Caterham remain slightly too far behind the midfield to be regular contenders, but whenever the opportunity to join the battle has presented itself, Kovalainen has usually been the one to take advantage.

Although his race finishing rate is strong, a series of technical problems have prevented him from finishing higher. He remains the best prospect among the not-so-new teams for a points finish if the cards fall their way.

Kovalainen has been his consistent yet unlucky self. His performance in Monaco was a good reflection of why he probably belongs in a better car

Heikki Kovalainen 2012 form guide

11. Paul di Resta

Beat team mate in qualifying6/11
Beat team mate in race5/9
Races finished10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate312/576

Di Resta has been slightly more consistent than Hulkenberg, leading him home by small margins in Malaysia and Monaco.

He has also grabbed points with some shrewd last-lap tactics. A burst of KERS helped him snatch tenth place in Australia, and he resisted fierce pressure from Alonso to take a season-best sixth at Bahrain.

Although I’ve been increasingly impressed with Nico Hulkenberg, di Resta has to rank above him for his consistent points-scoring over the first eight races of the season. His car is not as high up the pecking order as it was last year, but he’s done a respectable job of hauling it into the top ten on multiple occasions nonetheless.

Paul di Resta 2012 form guide

The F1 Fanatic half-term driver rankings will continue next week. Have your say on the drivers so far in the comments.

You can also read what other F1 Fanatics had to say about the drivers in the forum.

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Images © HRT F1 Team, Caterham/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Toro Rosso/Getty images, Marussia, Marussia, HRT F1 Team, Toro Rosso/Getty images, Williams/LAT, Williams/LAT, Sauber F1 Team, Sahara Force India F1 Team, Caterham/LAT, Sahara Force India F1 Team

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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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146 comments on “2012 half-term driver rankings part one: 24-11”

  1. Has anyone considered that Ricciardo could be absolutely stellar in qualifying? JEV was considered very fast, nearly won the FR3.5, won the British Formula 3, and Ricciardo has absolutely whiped the floor with him, on average Ricciardo is faster than Vergne by 0.450 of a second.

    Then you look back at things like the fact Ricciardo was faster than Vettel’s pole laps during the young driver test (obviously different track conditions, which is was written down too) and you have to wonder if this guy is just incredibly fast?

    His main problem so far is that he is super conservative at the start of the race, obviously not wanting to get in a colision, but his race pace is good, his qualifying pace is absurd and he has shown a strong ability to overtake. I think if RBR wants a driver who can put it on pole and race off to a win like Vettel, he is their man. I wouldn’t even necessarily bet against him on one lap pace against Vettel either.

    1. Then you look back at things like the fact Ricciardo was faster than Vettel’s pole laps during the young driver test (obviously different track conditions, which is was written down too) and you have to wonder if this guy is just incredibly fast?

      Actually, having checked, it was slower than Vettel’s 2010 pole time (but faster than Webber’s 2010 qualifying time), and he set his time during the day with hotter track conditions. Vergne in 2011 was also slower than both RBR drivers at Abu Dhabi.

      1. In fact Vettel’s Q3 time in 2010 was 1:39.394 and Ricciardo’s time on day 2 of the young drivers test was 1:38.102 , also Jérôme d’Ambrosio and Sam Bird also beat Seb’s time. But as you said this was with hotter track conditions and a track that had just had a grand prix weekend on it and had lots of grip.

        1. Oh, I must have checked day 1 or something. I guess that given how much faster all of the times were, it was a pretty useless fact from the poster above.

          1. @david-a

            I can’t respond to your post down below as there is no reply Button on it. All I can say is that we havn’t seen any evidence of such greatness from Vettel. He has beaten Webber yes, often by not a substantial margin. Certainly not like Lewis beat Heikki and on many many ocassions Mark has looked the stronger driver, although not consistently.

            But until he takes on a WDC in the same car, or wins a championship in a car that at very best can be considered equal best we certainly don’t know enough to rate him as one of the greats.

            Remember, Jaques Villeneuve was a champion in a Newey car, for all we know Vettel is just another one of those ‘random newey results’. Ultimately time will tell.

          2. @infi24r – Lewis did beat Heikki by a substantial margin, but at quite a lot of times, Vettel has as well. He does after all have over double the wins (despite losing quite a few in 2010 and another this year with unreliability) and three times the poles of Mark.

            Villeneuve did win a title with a fast Newey car. But he only did it by the skin of his teeth, even inheriting wins from other drivers (like Hakkinen at Silverstone, or Hill at Hunagry). When have we seen a non-great driver simply get plugged into a great car and dominate an F1 season like in 2011? He’s the same driver that ranked 5th on this list four years ago, when he wasn’t in a frontrunning car.

            He is one of the top drivers of the last few years, no doubt about that. It certainly isn’t a “joke” to suggest that as you said earlier. If time will tell us anything, it’s where he will rank all-time.

          3. Actually in many ways Villeneuve mimicked Vettel.

            He nearly won it in 1996, but Damon Hill beat him (Vettel 2009). He won it by the skin of his teeth in 1997 (Vettel 2010) the key difference is that following this Villeneuve didn’t have a dominant car as Williams fell of. I feel if he had he would have dominated 1997 in a similar fashion.

            And yes, Vettel does sometimes beat Mark by substantial margins, but Mark also sometimes beats Vettel by the same. And you have to consider above it all it is Vettels team we are talking about here. They want Seb to win so they push car development preference towards him. We saw earlier this year how far behind Seb can be when the car doesn’t suit him. If in some alternate universe the team was 100% behind Mark and Seb was the ‘also ran’ at RBR, I think the shoes would completely reverse.

            I agree Vettel is certainly one of the best drivers of the last few years. 100% agree. The difference is I think he’s a good to great driver, but not this all time great, mentioned in the same breath as Hamilton and Alonso driver that people seem to market him as. If I was asked is he great, i’d say yes. All time great? Well he could go on to alot of success in Adrian Newey built cars i’ll tell you that.

          4. As i pointed out, one of the key differences was that Villeneuve was inheriting wins from other driver’s misfortunes in 1997, Vettel had lost several through mechanical issues that he wasn’t to blame for in 2010 (even if he did make errors). Also, Villeneuve didn’t really do anything impressive with the cars he had outside of those 2 years- Vettel had established himself as a prospect with his performances in 07-08.

            Otherwise, there’re things you said that I agree with, and others that I’ll agree to disagree. For instance Mark would actually have to beat his teammate consistently in order to get the team behind him, like at other teams that have favoured a lead river.

    2. Hard to say with STR because I feel the car, whist being nearly a second faster than Caterham, is half a second shy of Force India, so for all we know, JEV might be doing well in qualy and DR amazingly well (or what we think now with JEV underperforming and DR doing a solid job, no more).
      Looks like JEV will win the points battle, as unless there’s a bit of attrition, I can’t see STR getting in the points. They’re always around 12/13/14/15 on a typical race, so would probably need 4 or 5 ‘faster cars’ to retire to get a point.
      As for the RB development programme, has Vettel’s career now raised the bar too high for future RB drivers? Is the Vettel discovery a one off (or I seem to think, very rare) or do the RB management think all their drivers should be like Vettel- ie SV is a ‘par driver’?

      1. Just to add briefly, is it a bit harsh that potential RB drivers are judged against someone who may end up being mentioned as one of the best of his generation.

        1. What a joke. All anyone can say with any certainty is that “Vettel is better than Mark Webber”. Mentioning him as the best of a generation is ridiculous. We have no idea how fast the Red Bull is, and the two RBR drivers seem fairly evenly matched alot of the time.

          If Vettel was 3 seconds faster per lap than Webber ok maybe you could rate him. But for them to be fairly even with the clear RBR bias towards Vettel doesn’t really speak that highly of him.

          For all we know he’s just a good driver who happens to be in the best car.

          1. @infi24r

            We have no idea how fast the Red Bull is

            For all we know he’s just a good driver who happens to be in the best car.

            Well, you seem confident about that, don’t you?

            I’m beyond tired of this, but Vettel is considered one of the best driver so fthis generation because of what he has achieved throughout his career (which only Schumacher, Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton are close or ahead) and opinions of many observers (SV’s former engineer Ascanelli compared SV with greats of the past, guys like Lauda, Moss and Stewart believe he is one of the best on today’s grid). The only joke here? Your obsession with dragging down the sport’s youngest champion.

          2. people underrate Webber to put Vettel down, it does my head in to be honest. Look at RB this year, not the best car but 2 drivers consistantly delivering and they’re top of the WCC. Mclaren/Ferrari have 1 driver driving very well and the other doing less well.
            It doesn’t happen that someone hammers all his teammates, sooner he will get given a tough fight or even beaten. Webber is a tough opponent, don’t forget.

          3. @infi42r – your comment is fairly ridiculous. Mark Webber is by no means a world class driver, but he’s no slow coach. The main reason he beats Webber is because he is a great driver. I doubt anyone bar Alonso could have dominated the way he did in 2011.

            If Vettel was 3 seconds faster per lap than Webber ok maybe you could rate him

            What a ridiculous statement. Ayrton Senna, the best qualifier of all time couldn’t out-qualify his team mates by that big a margin. His Monaco ’88 qualifying performance was considered unbelievable, yet that was half the margin you are talking about. May I remind you that an F1 car could easily cover 200m in that space of time…

          4. I’m sure Vettel can drive the car as fast as any other driver out there, but at least to me driving the car the fastest possible and being one of the greats is something very different.
            I’m sure many people don’t consider Vettel one because he is identified with one of the most unsympathetic teams I can remember, because he doesn’t use to show “great” behaviour inside (no respect for drivers in slower cars, sometimes seems to consider himself the only driver on track) or outside the car (remarks towards Webber or for example Karthikeyan, never heard him mention any achievements by his teammate etc.) and a couple of other things that probably only annoy me personally (for example I hope he lives happily ever after in Switzerland, like so many others).

            Notwithstanding, others might see it differently and who am I to judge, but to me there are still others on an entirely different level.

    3. The thing that caught my eye was that Di Resta has less impressive stats than Ricciardo (and others) but is rated higher, obviously the FI is superior to the STR but this is DRIVER rating and is obviously still based on subjective opinions.

      1. I don’t get the Di Resta hype either. If you put Ricciardo in the more competitive Force India he’d be just as good imo.

  2. Massa and Karthikeyan haven’t beaten their teammates in any qualifying session or race. Their teammates coincidentally are Spanish.

    1. I think almost everyone agrees with two things on every half-time list of 2012: 24th- Alonso and 1st-Karthikeyan.

      1. What a mistake-a to make-a!!!!!

  3. 23. Vitaly Petrov (beat team mate 5/8)
    22. Felipe Massa (beat team mate 0/10)

    Has Petrov done something to upset you?

    Other thoughts are that Pic should be ahead of Glock, as Pic has been far more impressive given he has only just started in F1 whereas Glock has been around for ages, he should be owning Pic to be placed above him – and he’s not.

    I expected to see Schumacher in here – hasn’t done anything apart from a faux pole in Monaco – which was so because of his own mistake in Spain.

    Also, Button should be in the bottom half – several very poor weekends and constant moaning while Lewis has just got on with it and delivered.

    It’s very hard to rate the Toro Rosso guys because there’s no benchmark for them.

    1. 23. Vitaly Petrov (beat team mate 5/8)
      22. Felipe Massa (beat team mate 0/10)

      Has Petrov done something to upset you?

      Possibly Alonso is considered a much higher benchmark than Kovalainen. But yeah, that is terrible for Massa.

    2. Petrov is no way the 2nd worst driver, and Pic ought to be a bit higher. Surprised Button makes the top 10 too.
      Aside from them, I pretty much agree with the list so far.

    3. I expected to see Schumacher in here – hasn’t done anything apart from a faux pole in Monaco – which was so because of his own mistake in Spain.

      Looks like Schumi’s done something to upset you as well because I remember him being severely plagued by Mercedes’ poor reliability (on his side) & we don’t know where he would’ve finished in the particular races he retired in. If anything, he’s (questionable) outperformed Rosberg on most occasions even prior to his DNFs (Australia, Spain, Monaco, Valencia, Silverstone, Hockenheim). Only on weekends such as China, Bahrain, Canada & Hungary have I seen Rosberg clearly outperform him.

      Also, Button should be in the bottom half – several very poor weekends and constant moaning while Lewis has just got on with it and delivered.

      Button is a driver that has a driving style based on perfection & finest, Hamilton on the other hand is one that can adapt his around the car’s needs, hence why he’s been ‘moaning’ about equal heat into both front & rear tyres & etc. When he’s satisfied (at least) with the car in weekends particularly Australia, China & Germany he’s delivered & we all knew JB was a much better driver than his blip in form showed from Spain to Canada at least. So we regard him as inconsistent in arguably the fastest car as a result & so I expect him to be no higher than 10th or 9th in part 2.

      P.S. I just really feel for Massa. Wasn’t expected 22nd & I wonder If the rankings are based on opinions of fanatics rather than one set in concrete by Keith.

      1. @younger-hamii

        I wonder If the rankings are based on opinions of fanatics

        No, the ranking is entirely down to how well I think each driver has done.

        1. I thought your opinion qualified as the opinion of a fanatic Keith. Or have you fooled us all this while with the website title? I’m deeply disappointed. :P

          1. @raymondu999 By “opinions” I took it that @younger-hamii meant I took the opinions of other people into account, rather than just my own.

        2. I know you will put Vettel above Hamilton. Surprise me.

    4. @matthewf1

      23. Vitaly Petrov (beat team mate 5/8)
      22. Felipe Massa (beat team mate 0/10)

      Has Petrov done something to upset you?

      I noted the disparity in their finishing positions compared to my rating of them while I was writing this and, because of that, made a point of referring to it in the text.

      But don’t let that stop you jumping to the conclusion that I placed Petrov where I did because I have it in for him or something silly like that. I must have been accused of holding a grudge against (or being biased in favour of) every driver on the grid by now.

      For the record, of the five occasions Petrov has finished in front of Kovalainen, I consider that he did so on merit once, as alluded to above. The notes in this year’s “Driver of the Weekend” articles (search link) explain more.

      Pic should be ahead of Glock, as Pic has been far more impressive given he has only just started in F1

      I don’t agree. This is a ranking based solely on how well the drivers have performed so far this season. It does not attempt to set their achievements within a wider context of how much experience they have. That would add a whole extra level of complexity as it would involve including an opinion of how well each driver should be doing.

      So Pic/Vergne/Ricciardo/Grosjean don’t get bonus places for being rookies, and Schumacher/Button/whoever don’t get docked places for being experienced. Which I think is fair.

      Nor, for that matter, do I care if a driver has been ‘constantly moaning’ – what matters is how they drive.

      1. Nor, for that matter, do I care if a driver has been ‘constantly moaning’ – what matters is how they drive.

        so…useless but still somehow in your top ten

        1. @matthewf1 Obvious I don’t consider a driver with three podium finishes and a win this year “useless”.

          But as you’ve ignored my explanation above and I see you’re now also accusing me in another comment of favouring of Button ‘because he’s English and drives for McLaren’ – despite the fact you haven’t even had chance to read my reasons for placing him where I have – you are obviously not in he least bit interested in what I have to say, you just want to do some trolling.

          1. I’m not trolling at all.. I just believe Button is not worthy of such a high ranking. It’s just my opinion, and you have yours. Surely you know this article generates discussion and debate, unless you expect all the comments to just say they are in complete agreement with your rankings.

          2. @matthewf1 That might be the case if you’d bothered to discover my opinion of Button before jumping in to accuse me of putting him in the top ten because he’s English.

        2. @matthewf1 – Button hasn’t been the best, but he has had some decent drives, and has one of the grid’s best drivers to compete with as a teammate. His run of low scoring finishes between Bahrain-Britain would cost him a top 10 place IMO though, with perhaps Di Resta getting in there, since he has been pretty consistent and solid.

    5. Petrov really deserves a bit higher ranking, because he is not doing very bad. He doesn’t have good qualifying pace, and he is matching Kovalainen on race pace. So I would rank him 20th.

    6. 23. Vitaly Petrov (beat team mate 5/8)

      That should be read: team mate’s car broke 5/8


    7. Personally I don’t think Button is worthy of a top ten spot; sure he has had some good races (Australia & China spring to mind) but besides that he has been mediocre at best. Whilst he was struggling with a car clearly capable of much better things, Hamilton was maximising his performances by consistently fighting for pole position (or battling to a high grid spot when it wasn’t possible) and his misfortunes can be mostly blamed on the teams’ disastrous pit stop blunders.
      And for the record, I am neither a McLaren or a Hamilton fan…in actual fact I am a huge fan of their arch rivals Red Bull.

    8. Please switch Button and Petrov. ;) I think Kovalainen is vastly underestimated because of his poor McLaren seasons, but with Caterham he is doing extremely well. He completely destroyed Trulli, who is by no means a bad driver, so I think Petrov should get a little more credit. Button, on the other side, has come up with some embarrassing performances. Of cource he is a nice guy and he won the season-opener, but I guess he would have been fired for his lack of performances if he had been a Toro Rosso driver. Of course a large part of his misfortune was due to strategic mistakes by his team or badly executed pitstops, but the majority of it was because of poor driving. As he is nearly four victories down on Alonso, he is already out of title contention, so he definitely doesn’t deserve a top 10 spot.
      Pic is doing great this year. Sadly it went by unnoticed at this site.

      1. Pic is doing great this year. Sadly it went by unnoticed at this site.

        No it didn’t. I said he was doing well here and I have mentioned it in the Driver of the Weekend articles as well.

        But it’s hard to justify placing him much higher as his car means he’s rarely racing for position with other drivers.

        1. Alright. I hope he’ll be doing better in the final driver-rankings. ;)

  4. Dimitris 1395 (@)
    10th August 2012, 13:23

    My only argument is that Button shouldn’t be in the top-10. The car is not suited and he he just can’t get away with it. Also, I would like to see Petrov and Pic a bit higher but I understand the reasons why thhey are where they are…

    1. just seen your comment! You and I clearly read off the same hymm sheet! (I expect us to have differences as we get nearer the top though)

    2. I agree entirely, although my only gripe would be who to replace them with (referring to Petrov & Pic). Perhaps Maldonado, as I think his stupidity negates any respect or support I gained for him in Spain. I believe fundamentally that consistency overpowers every other aspect of a drivers performance, and Maldonado has had few good performances. If only he didn’t crash so often…
      Precisely because of that I think Alonso by far has been the best driver, and I don’t think anyone can argue with that. Personally I think Vettel should be second, but that is up for debate.

    3. I completely agree. Button has been hands down the poorest driver on the grid in races such as Monaco, Barcelona, etc. There is no way I would rate him higher than Di Resta, Kovi, Kobayashi.

      Other than his strong performance in Australia and a couple of above average performances in China and Germany, he has been ridiculously bad. Rank 15 in my books

  5. It’s always extremely difficult to decide on these. I personally don’t think Button should be in the top ten and agree that Petrov is too low and Pic should be ahead of Glock.

    Sure Button has a win and has driven some fantastic races, but when comparing his consistency to that of Kovalainen, Hulkenburg and di Resta, he hasn’t been very good at all. Driver’s with the virtue of having a faster car will always rate higher than those with slower cars because their peaks are more noticeable. On the other hand, the reason the higher ranked driver’s are in the faster cars is because they deserve to be their.

    1. I think it depends on the rating system. I follow Autosport’s ratings this year, they rate all the drivers after every race and Button’s average rating so far is 5.91, which puts him in the 21st overall place that he shares with… Karthikeyan.

      This is an obvious exaggeration that doesn’t need to be discussed further but I would say that JB deserves to be ahead of the likes of Kovalainen and di Resta, too. The latter ones have had a lot of decent weekends, while Button has had a few disastrous weekends but also a couple of great ones (morevoer, not all the lost points have been due to JB’s own faults and shortcomings). In other words, I personally rate one win and one complete failure higher than two average performances.

      1. Girts, could you tell me the link of the autosport rankings. Button for 21st! That’s a little harsh. I would like to see their other rankings.

        1. Autosport simply give each driver a mark (0-10) after every GP weekend, like in this article. But these articles are in the features section, that is, available only to those readers, who have subscribed to the premium content :(

          I don’t know if they have calculated the average ratings themselves but I did that, just made a table in MS Excel. Most of the ranks that you get this way make sense but some are a bit crazy, for example, Hulkenberg is 4th (average mark 7.36) and Pic is 7th (7.18). This simply shows that their ranking system isn’t perfect, which is probably why they haven’t published the half-season results and instead made an alternative drivers’ performance review (which is again available only to the subscribers).

      2. But once again, if you read @keithcollantine explanation a bit above, you will see that both ranking are not the same as autosport gives a note on “how they should perform” and here only on “how they perform” and that’s a huge difference …
        But everyone will have his thoughts and it’s what’s great with this article, lots of opinion, lots of talking (no need to say that comments with arguments have more weight because you can justify one way or another the difference in your thinking). And it’s also a great way to underline what has been achieved by each driver this year.

    2. True, though conversely you could also argue that sometimes drivers with the virtue of having a faster car may find themselves rating lower than drivers with slower cars, as their performance deficits are also more noticeable (e.g.: Massa, Button).

      1. @sandlefish I definitely thought about that as I submitted my post, and I think that has definitely been the case with Massa (Though he has been pretty awful)

        @girts I agree that one great performance and one bad performance outwieghs two average performances, the problem is that great performance by fundemantally sow cars are less noticeable. Personally I rate di Resta’s Bahrain, Kovalainen’s Monaco and Hulkenburg’s Valencia the match for Button’s best race, just the result is lower because of a fundemantally slower car, then they’ve not had as many awful performances as Button.

        That’s why I rate them above Button.

  6. How on earth Button is above di Resta and Kovalainen is beyond me. His slump from Bahrain to Britain where he scored a grand total of 7 points was simply embarrassing to watch, probably even worse than Massa last season.

    1. Jenson is above those two because
      a) he is English
      b) he drives for McLaren

      1. Perhaps, but let’s just say for argument’s sake that he’s ahead because he has more points, more wins and more podiums.

        1. and a championship winning car

      2. To be honest, I actually agree with you on that, and there’s no question in my mind Button should be outside of the top 10.

        However, you really shouldn’t have said the English part. You’ll get a lot of backlash for that, even though it’s true.

        1. Perhaps, but let’s just say for argument’s sake that he’s ahead because he has more points, more wins and more podiums.

          Yeah, and look at the car he’s driving, and now look at where his teammate is. Button has been annihilated by Hamilton this season, the only times he’s actually performed to the car’s capacity was Australia, Malaysia, and Germany. For the rest of the season he’s been a huge disappointing. Seriously, Jenson’s sweet spot is far too small, when the car works for him he’s great, when it doesn’t he looks like Karthikeyan in a Mclaren. I’d have rated him slightly higher than Massa.

        2. @kingshark

          you really shouldn’t have said the English part. You’ll get a lot of backlash for that, even though it’s true.

          I’ve been compiling the data for these articles since the season began. I’ve dedicated pages of this site to compiling, comparing and sharing data on driver performances in a way I wasn’t able to find on other sites.

          In writing the articles I’ve referred back to all my original notes, rewatched races and spent a lot of time thinking about how well each driver has done.

          And without even bothering to discuss the facts I’ve presented here, you write off all my efforts as the product of some simple-minded moron who has just ranked the drivers by who was born closest to him.

          Why do people like you find it impossible to accept that other people might form different opinions to you for perfectly valid reasons that are not rooted in something as simplistic (and, to people like me, uninteresting) as nationality?

          1. In writing the articles I’ve referred back to all my original notes, rewatched races and spent a lot of time thinking about how well each driver has done.

            @keithcollantine, what’s much more interesting is, how have you been rewatching races? :)

          2. @victor I’ve got them all recorded!

          3. @keithcollantine your efforts aren’t wasted… there are lot of people who appreciate and love reading each and every article. Don’t let this ruin your day !

          4. If you look at the clouds, you’ll see faces.

            Same with statistics.

          5. I rated some drives quite differently than you did @keithcollantine, but first of all i found it extremely tough as I was rating from a view now, and not with going through notes made all through the season and rewatching the races.

            I do think Petrov might deserve to be a bit higher, and I tend to see it closer between Vergne ad Ricciardo, while I possibly underrated Glocks performances if only because the last couple of races we did not see much of him.
            So thanks for your notes and thorough work to get a good overall view of the first half a season then!

        3. @Kingshark @matthewf1 Sorry guys but those accusations just don’t make any sense. I could name hundreds of articles on this site that prove the opposite is the case. Just a couple of examples: Last year, Button was 3rd in the driver rankings, even though one could as well have put him 2nd. Or, in 2008, Hamilton, the world champion, was rated 2nd (Button was 15th then, behind his team mate Barrichello). There will always be discussions about topics like this, even the wisest experts have different views.

          It feels kind of surreal: In my country, I don’t dare to admit openly that I don’t always support Latvian sportsmen because nationality doesn’t matter to me, everyone would think that I’m completely insane then. Here, the website does everything possible and more to be objective, yet Keith gets accused of being ‘British’ again and again. Maybe Hamilton, Button & di Resta should be excluded from the rankings at all but, wait, the Brits are actually everywhere, for instance, Ross Brawn, Christian Horner, FI mechanics… I suggest we forget about F1 and rename this site Icehockey Fanatic, that should help.

          1. I’m Indian and even I admit that Karthikeyan and Chandhok have been the drivers who have least deserved their race seats over the past 3 years.

        1. the only times he’s actually performed to the car’s capacity was Australia, Malaysia, and Germany.

          That should be China, not Malaysia!

          Keith, I know you asked fellow F1Fanatics about their opinion on the season rankings, but honestly Button is rated this highly because his fanbase on this website is huge. He has over 1000 followers. Anyone who has a non-biased point of view on him can see how much he’s under-performed and disappointed this season.

          1. @kingshark As I pointed out to @younger-hamii the ranking of the drivers is done entirely by me. This is not based on a vote taken of the sites readers which you can tell because there hasn’t been one.

          2. @kingshark, I am an Australian, my fav driver is Webber but I also rate Button highly, maybe because I have seen his whole career not just the last couple of years. I think you should wait to see his ranking before complaining about it. Me, I don’t get the DiResta thing, he may be excellent but I haven’t seen anything to make me think so, maybe in ten years I’ll get it.

      3. If you’ve been reading this website for the last 5 years like I have, you might understand that Keith is in no way biased towards the English drivers, I know this myself because I’ve engaged in some debates with him over Lewis Hamilton’s antics (me defending him, Keith criticising him). Have a look at his views on Hamilton’s penalties last year and you might understand there is no national favouritism on this site, far from it in fact.

  7. These are more or less how I would have ordered them, though I do believe Kovalainen was deserving of one or two places more, and perhaps I would have had Button outside the top 10. Still, until I see the full list, I can’t really say any more.

    The ‘car-performance’ variable does make between-team comparisons of drivers difficult, even if this season has been rather close in comparison to others. For instance, machinery capabilities limit Marussia, Caterham and HRT (and increasingly, Toro Rosso) to the tail of the order. However, I’m not sure that while not scoring any points, Kovalainen is driving any worse relative to his machinery than some of the bug guns in top cars, or that Button, despite scoring points, deserves to be ahead for the same reason.

    Ultimately the best yardstick for a driver is an inter-team comparison (e.g.: Pic vs Glock – who I think I would have swapped given Glock’s experience), consistency of performance and (inevitably) some personal judgement. My view anyway :P

  8. @keithcollantine

    These are definitely my favourite articles you do each season,

    I cant remember if you have already done this in the past or not but can you set up a poll where we rank our opinions? Then we can see the average opinion, would be interesting to see how it would compare to your own.

    1. @prof-kirk I’m glad someone likes them and is taking it in the spirit it’s intended instead of accusing me of being a petty-minded xenophobe.

      I usually do a poll for people to vote for their top driver at the end of the year. Besides that we have the Driver of the Weekend articles for each race so I think that side of things is well catered for.

      1. @keithcollantine @prof-kirk Love it as well, as well as the opinion sharing as long as there is an argumentation. People saying you wrong because they think so without explaining their point of view is quite killling the reading but can’t do much about it if it’s ignore …

        For a ranking by the Fanatics (for the season or race week end), could it become a list pick rather than a single pick, it would be much more representative I think. Like you rank your 5 best driver for the WE (like for the prediction) and for each list points are given 7,5,3,2,1 for example and that way we could make a mention to a nice drive (for example Kovalainen at Monaco) without killing the best driver of the week end (which was Webber for me). This would probably also help non GP winner to get a nice ranking as too often it’s the winner that gets all and he’s not always the best of the whole WE …

        Just in the suggestion box … Excellent job to entertain us during the break (maybe it’s why so many fanatics are on their nerves and a bit more agressives than usual ^^ )

    2. @prof-kirk Having a good read through the forum post usually gives you a good impression of where people rank the driver’s. It’s really interesting reading what conclusions others have drawn over the season, offering different perpectives :)

      Maybe someone could compile an average from the rankings in the forum post, I would but I’m not very good with that stuff

  9. 1997 French GP – Schumacher wins, Irvine finishes 75 seconds behind, he’s good driver, because that was 3rd place
    2012 Malaysian GP – Alonso wins, Massa finishes 97 seconds behind, he’s useless, because that was 15th place (75 seconds behind was good only for 11th)

    That’s the problem I have with such rankings (not with authors – good joob Keith!). How we should rank drivers? On the basis of their cars? Points? Lost chances? Teammates? Gaps to teammates? Perceived speed of teammates? Because for me for example there is no way Pic in 20th place would have done better job in Ferrari than Massa, who is ranked as 22th. I can’t imagine a rookie finishing 6 times wiithin 10 seconds of one of the greatest drivers in history and that is what Massa achieved this season. In my opinion if Pic or someone else like Glock, Senna or de la Rosa would be in Ferrari, they would be absolutely trashed by Alonso week after week and we would say they need to go from F1. But because their respective teammate is not one of the greatest driver in history in his prime form, can they be classified higher than Massa, who has Mount Everest to climb every single weekend?

    It’s one of the reasons I want to see Massa staying on the grid next year, but with other driver in second Ferrari seat. Not Perez, because I think this guy has that something special, but the likes of Kobayashi or Kovalainen. We would really see how fast these so called “promising drivers deserving better car” are in relation to Alonso and that would help to create more realistic rankings.

    1. @armchairexpert The Pic/Massa comparison is a very interesting one. In my defence, there are only two places between them!

      It’s partly a question of consistency, though. Would I have expected Pic to have got as close to Alonso as Massa did in his best races? Not necessarily.

      Would I expect any driver capable of being in F1 to have done better than Massa has done in his worst races? Probably.

      1. Yeah, it’s really tricky. Webber twice finished 40 seconds behind Vettel with no excuse to explain such difference and we know Button and his snal pace in several races (with most visible examples in Canada and Monaco). Massa had 5 horrible races, but looking at issues Webber and Button had, maybe it is really difficult to partner world class teammate and not necessarily new guy would be much better than Massa?

        All in all as I said before, I hope Ferrari (and Mercedes) will have new driver next season. It’s never bad to see new face in factory team with big budget and how he compares with teammate, that’s why 2010 was so exciting.

      2. From above:

        This is a ranking based solely on how well the drivers have performed so far this season. It does not attempt to set their achievements within a wider context of how much experience they have. That would add a whole extra level of complexity as it would involve including an opinion of how well each driver should be doing.

        So Pic/Vergne/Ricciardo/Grosjean don’t get bonus places for being rookies, and Schumacher/Button/whoever don’t get docked places for being experienced. Which I think is fair.

        @keithcollantine I thought you said that expectations don’t matter, only the actual performance? I think you’ve contradicted yourself.

    2. While I find the Irvine/Massa comparison an interesting statistic, you have to consider F1 has changed a lot in the 15 years in between them. This season especially, it’s very close and I can remember races where the winner’s advantage over a 3rd placed man was a lap, which is basically unthinkable in 2012. If Schumacher finished 25 seconds behind Villeneuve, that would have been bad, but not too troubling. If Vettel finished 25 seconds behind Alonso, people start asking questions and he might not even be in the points.

      I still have some hope left for Massa, but honestly, he’s had his chances. Were he not injured in a Ferrari during a race meeting, I cannot imagine Ferrari going so lightly on him. I also hope Ferrari and Mercedes get different drivers, as I have to admit I also enjoy some changes to the grid every now and then.

      1. I agree with you, but where do we draw a line? Last year I think Massa was only 2 times with Alonso at the end of the race, finishing remaining races from 30 seconds up to over 1 minute behind and I somehow don’t remember as fierce witchhunt as it is now. In hypothetical scenario, if there is a car 2 seconds faster than the rest, one driver extracts everything from it, but 2nd driver is consistently 1.5 sec off the pace still getting 2nd places, should this driver be fired or kept? And how we would rate him?

    3. they would be absolutely trashed by Alonso

      Sorry, but that seems to me a false argument. The problem with Massa is not that he’s regularly getting trashed by Alonso, but that he is usually beaten by 6-10 other drivers, too.

      That’s why the Irvine/Massa comparison makes no sense: F1 is not a time trial, but a competition between 20-24 drivers. If you come second 5 minutes down, you actually did better (by beating 22 top professionals) than when you come 24th (thus beating nobody) 30 seconds down.

      1. The Irvine/Massa comment is actually the best comment on here because in truth there is only one way to measure a driver, and that’s not actually against his teammate, but against his car. Sadly this isn’t actualy possible, since it is impossible to baseline a car’s performance, and so instead we have to use our imaginations, statistics and compare team mates to get an idea, but the theory goes like this:

        A car operates at 1:00:00 lap time as a base-line.

        An average driver will get that lap time.
        A poorer driver will get less, say, 1:01:10
        A better driver will get more, say 0:58:50

        Depending on the baseline of all of the cars on the grid then the difference between drivers abilities to maximise the car could end up meaning a poorer teammate comes second, or a poorer teammate comes 10th simply by virtue of how close the field is. Using the example of being 30 seconds down over a race distance compared to 5 minutes down is simply crazy. 5 minutes? Over the course of a GP? That would be what, six seconds a lap under race conditions, in the same team on the same tyres? This, of course is why comparing to team-mates also does not allow a full ranking to be created, because there are times when some drivers will simply “own” the car and extract much more performance than it than is normal, although these can never be proven, because again, it is impossible to generate a baseline performance for a car. That’s why all of these lists will always be subjective no matter what mechanism is used, but by understanding that the drivers should be measured against the car, and that is why the team mate is used as a comparison, we can understand that being beaten by other drivers as well as your team mate does not intrinsically make you a worse driver than just finishing behind your team mate.

    4. Very interesting point about Massa/Pic. I suspect a similar thing is influencing people’s opinions of Button’s performance this year. I think last year’s Hamilton hasn’t been forgotten by many, and people are comparing Button’s performance vs Hamilton this year as Button vs last years Hamilton. But this years Hamilton is the 2007/2009/2010 Hamilton, arguably the best driver on the grid. Would any of the drivers on the list so far have done a better job against this years Hamilton… I personally doubt it.

  10. I find it difficult to disagree with this for the most part. Looking forward to seeing where the likes of Perez and Grosjean will line up!

    I can understand why Button’s slump may tempt people to keep him out of the top ten. For instance, Button has finished below Paul Di Resta’s worst finish 3 times, and has only scored in the points once more than Senna.

    I have to agree with Vergne’s placement – he has grossly underwhelmed. But that is coming from an Alguersuari fan…

  11. Perez ahead of Kobayashi!?

    1. @craig-o Yes. Why do you think Kobayashi has been better?

      1. Perez had some great drives in Malaysia and Canada, don’t get me wrong, but like with Senna, needs to improve his qualifying. Kobayashi has also found himself a little bit unlucky. He was taken out in Valencia if I remember correctly being one. Perez was unlucky to have been taken out at Silverstone too in all fairness. The banzai moves we all know and love are still there, and his qualifying has been very strong in comparison to his teammate.

        1. We all love Kobayashi, but he’s easily been outshined by Perez this year. Maybe not so much the last couple of races, but certainly up until then.

          1. I don’t think Perez has easily outshone Kobayashi. I think their seasons have been fairly similar, just with Perez’s best moments being better than Kobayashi’s. Both drivers have had inconsistent results with bad luck and anonymous performances, so I don’t think the gap between the Sauber drivers is as big as some people suggest.

          2. I think the excitement around Perez is understandable; he has had some great races and some podium finishes. I agree with many that it would be nice to see him in a top car.
            That said, the gap between PER and KOB is not as dramatic as it may seem. Even with Perez’s two podiums, only 14 points currently separate them.

        2. Kobayashi is a little bit unlucky? Then Perez is highly unlucky:

          Australia – gearbox failure in Q2, started from last place, P22
          Spain – puncture caused by Grosjean from P4, retired after powertrain failure
          Monaco – suspension failure in Q1, started from P23 on this very overtaking friendly track
          Great Britain – Maldonado, ’nuff said

          Not to mention dozen wrong strategy calls (which affected both drivers, though).

          Checo had 2 bad qualifying sessions, which he can only blame on himself and his set-up of inconsistent brakes. Before Silverstone he said together with the team they solved this particular problem and as the first dry quali session since then at Hungaroring showed (4 tenths on Kobayashi), maybe that is the case. On the other hand Kobayashi had also 2 disappointing qualis in relation to Sauber’s pace, in Australia and Monaco. Overall I woukd say:

          Australia – no comparison, Kobayshi did badly in Q2, Perez had gearbox failure
          Malaysia – no comparison, Perez 6 tenths faster, but Kobayashi had suspected suspension problem
          China – Kobayashi, Perez quicker in Q2 but with awful lap in Q3
          Bahrain – Perez
          Spain – Perez, Kobayashi had fuel pressure problem after the end of Q2, where he was 1 tenth slower
          Monaco – no comparison, Kobayashi was horrible in Q2, Perez had suspension failure in Q1, team hoped for Top 5 position, not P12 what Kobayashi did
          Canada – Kobayashi, 5 tenths faster over Perez with brake set-up issue
          Valencia – Kobayashi, 6 tenths faster over Perez with brake set-up issue
          Great Britain – no comparison, Kobayashi on wets, Perez on inters, in Q1 Perez was 2 tenths faster when both were on the same tyres
          Germany – Perez, slightly faster than Kobayashi, but should be much faster without off track excursion in S3 on a lap easily good enough for Q3
          Hungary – Perez, 4 tenths faster

          When there is any meaningful comparison it is 4:3 for Perez, so it’s quite a stretch to call Kobayashi’s qualifying form as “very strong”.

          Also you somehow forget how Kobayashi rammed Massa in Valencia and how he crashed into mechanics at Silverstone, on both occasions losing valuable points with no fault than his own. That’s not very unlucky, isn’t it?

        3. @craig-o, we all love those “banzai moves” but unfortunately they are not a good match with this years tyres.

  12. There seems to be some confusion over how the rankings are produced so let me just clear this up for avoidance of doubt.

    To make it clear, this is my rating of how the drivers have performed so far this year – no-one else has had a say in who ranks where.

    I invited readers to give their views on the drivers so far this year and some of those quotes have been used within the article.

    I’ve added a couple of lines to the top of the article to clear up any confusion.

    1. Good article like every year . I’ m not english but this website is the best for a F1 fan. Keith and readers should be very objective with all drivers Even if he is english.
      But a very good part of this article is the controversial and people explainning why they are not agree Even if is keith personal rating. We are boring during the break because we read everyday your website and we need some controversial.
      Waiting for second part….

    2. I’m all for the debating of the rankings, but only if there is reason behind the argument. Just simply saying “Button should be in last because he’s rubbish” won’t suffice. This is a good article with some very worthy points, and I doubt you’d be biased towards a British driver “because he’s British”.

  13. So, the top 10 includes the 2 Mercedes, 2 Mclaren, 2 Red Bull, 2 Lotus and 2 Ferrari drivers (From now on, I consider Perez to be a Ferrari driver :) ).

    I am interested to know who will be placed above, Kimi or Romain. I think Kimi has done a better job. But he seems to be near his potential whereas there is a lot more to come from Romain. Keith, you have placed Pastor ahead of Bruno because Pastor has had more potential, so probably Romain will get the nod ahead of Kimi. But I will wait and watch!

  14. Pastor too low, Senna too high, Riccardo could be a bit higher and Heiki should be just behind Hulk.

    1. I’d say Maldonado is too high. One great performance from 11 starts isn’t very good overall, particularly when many of the other performances haven’t so much been terrible but actually dangerous.

  15. Don’t fully agree with these rankings. I would rank Massa higher.
    While, he undoubtedly has not reached his pre-crash levels of performance, he has certainly bettered Glock, Senna, Pastor, Pic, the STR drivers. Let us not forget that he is in a team which is completely behind his team-mate, he is in a car which suits his team-mate’s style and he is having a team-mate who is arguably in his best form. (Probably the best form any driver of any era has ever experienced).

  16. How can hamilton be in the top 10..ridiculous;) ;)

    1. wait, wait, wait, he might not be in the top ten either… let’s not anticipate

  17. Pastor should be higher than Kobyashi and Hulk. He is a race winner. Considering a racer winner gets 25 points and Both kobyashi and Hulk dont have any podiums, Maldanado should be higher than both of them.

    1. …and Pastor has also had some of the clumsiest overtaking and defensive moves we’ve seen in the last few seasons. Yes he got 25 points in Barcelona, but he’s thrown away more than that since then. Consider that he is a race winner, and yet only 5 points ahead of his team mate, and he only really has himself to blame for it.

      1. Exactly. Maldonado fans act as if we’re all supposed to place the most emphasis on his single win, but ignore the umpteen times he’s clumsily taken himself and others out of races & thrown away valuable points. I can’t imagine any team principal weighing up driver options & picking the driver who might win one race but consistently throw away points (due to driving that can only he described as utterly ridiculous, IMO) over another who’s more likely to score points regularly & SHOW THAT THEY ARE ABLE TO IMPROVE ON THEIR PERFORMANCES. The only thing Maldonado has proven definitively is that he’s hot headed, prone to crashing & is so versed at throwing away points finishes, he may as well be driving backwards.

    2. May I ask the obvious question? How does being a race winner automatically rank a driver higher than others when:

      A) Said driver hasn’t scored a single point since, and not because of mechanical failure, bungled strategy, or pit crew errors.

      B) Said driver constantly takes someone out of the race, or at the very least severly impairs it.

      C) Said driver has twice used his car as a means to “get back at” a competitor who, in his mind, wronged him in some way.

      Nobody can take away the fact that Maldonado won. He had a solid race, held off Alonso of all people, and afterward turned impromptu rescue worker when the Barcelona fire squad went into fail-mode. Since then however, his performance has gotten worse with each passing GP.

      1. I agree with all the comments. But I am not asking you to put him ahead of perez or grosjean not even di resta or Heikki. But he certainly deserves a place higher than Kobyashi and Hulk. Both kobyashi and Hulk havent shown any pace as compared to their teammates especially Kobyashi. He looks ordinary. Whereas Maldanado may be hot headed but he has shown he can drive the wheels off the car and can resist the pressure from top drivers. One thing to mention he has only crashed when he was behind i.e chasing the driver. It means he has been over-aggressive. He clearly has pace but he is just hot headed. not prone to error. there is a difference.

  18. So Button in the top 10??? Don’t know about that.

  19. I think it’s starting to get to Glock now. It’s sad to see, as a Glock fan, because I believe he is a genuinely great driver that has been at the wrong place at the wrong time. He did fantastic things at Toyota and for some reason has been overlooked by the top teams. Virtually no one has talked about him taking the Ferrari seat, but I think he would be a perfect candidate if they are not going to go for a young Perez type.

  20. Whoa, a bit of my post was quoted! Thank you, Keith!

    As far as people phoning in accusations of favoritism, I’d imagine we each have our own rating ‘system’. These kind of things are all about perception and are personal. I as a Dutchman will tell you Verstappen was an unlucky fellow, while a Colombian might tell you he’s the guy who ruined JPM’s first possible win. As much as we’d like, you can’t really fully suppress irrational thoughts in judgment.

  21. No-one can seriously call Maldonado a second-rate pay-driver any more

    Actually, they can – and I’m one of them. On the day he got on top of the tyres, optimised his strategy and kept his head cool. How many times has he done that in his entire F1 career? Yup, once. Countless stupid, ridiculous and, worst of all, dangerous manouveres are tainting his racing career. He has had two points finishes, one more siginificant than the other.

    Of course, people dont win races by accident, but he is given far too much credit. I would say Maldonado is a good driver on the day, but not a great. He’s a dangerous person who needs to use this break to take a good look at himself and his attitidue. You can see when he’s going to make a completely moronic manouvere before it happens, ruining the race of others, his own and the team’s (who need all the points they can get in this championship).

    My criticism of him on this website is well documented, I’ve made several posts disgusted with his lack of respect for others.

    Otherwise, I agree with all of the comments of the drivers and largely agree with the positions assigned to them. Good article.

  22. Interesting. On the podcast I do we constantly criticize Massa for his lackluster driving, but in the end Keith rated him even lower than myself.

    Either way, it goes to show you the longer Ferrari keep him, the more harm they do to their WCC standings. At this point, they’d lose nothing sticking their reserve driver in for the rest of the season.

  23. One thing on the maldonado front that isn’t entirely related to f1, and has nothing to do with his form this year):
    I heard, a few years ago that he almost killed a marshall at Monaco, in a yellow flag zone.
    I only heard this on an internet forum, so it may not be entirely accurate, but if anyone can verify it, then that would be helpful.
    Additionally, could the person who does post a link to the website for a ‘report’ or something like that?

    1. @jamesf1 @xjr15aaag Here is a quote from an unknown source… on a forum, I know :P


      In addition to “proof” that Autosport edited their original report on the matter after, allegedly, Pastor’s father rained money from the sky like manna:


      And the article that those first three posters reference, where it is clear that the article had at one point stated, “lifetime ban” :


      Maybe it sounds like I have an axe to grind, and I understand that it’s also reasonable to say, “No, Autosport published a rumor before getting facts.” But I am more inclined to believe that money did the talking in this case.

      1. If it were any other driver, the decision to personally pay for the marshall’s rehabilitation would have been seen as a great humanitarian effort. But because Maldonado is unpopular, people interpret it as a hurried bribe to unjustly allow Maldonado to continue racing.

        1. Well, it sort of was; according to the forums, one of the marshalls said that his colleague was severely injured, and that he was given a lifetime ban, until Hugo Chavez agreed to compensate the marshall.

    2. I read about this as well. Pastor was suspended for 8 races after that, and he was allowed to race at Monaco the other years because his father agreed to pay for the treatment of the marshall. I read the history here http://bandeiraverde.com.br/2012/08/07/o-mal-do-lado/ (it’s in portuguese). But the history was told by the german newspapper Bild this year around the time of the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix. (i found these also http://www.yallaf1.com/2012/05/23/maldonado-lucky-to-be-in-monaco-after-nearly-killing-marshal/). His suspension is clear here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Formula_Renault_3.5_Series_season. So i believe that the history is true.

  24. I’d like to point to those that complain because their favorite driver is lower thant they think should be (or think n°21 should be n°22 and so on) and feel obliged to attack Keith personaly, I find it amusing that Keith’s analysis is close to the average F1Fanatic forum user analysis as beautifully calculated by magon4 https://www.racefans.net/groups/f1/forum/topic/2012-driver-rankings-half-season/?topic_page=5&num=15#post-70986

    So really, no hugely controversial stuff here. Just glad to read the judgement of a far more knowledgeable F1 fan than I am. (short : take a break people)

  25. I think Vitaly Petrov deserves to be higher than twenty-third. Heikki Kovalainen might be out-qualifying him, but he is much closer to Kovalainen in the races than Jarno Trulli ever was, and he has beaten Kovalainen on occasion – but he did have a slow start to the season, and a few mechanical retirements early on handed good results to the Marussias and the HRTs, so his results have been slightly skewed.

  26. My Prediction for Keith’s top 10
    1. Alonso
    2. Webber
    3. Vettel
    4. Hamilton
    5. Kimi
    6. Grosjean
    7. Rosberg
    8. Button
    9. Perez
    10. Schumacher

    1. Oops.. small mistake.. revised one:
      1. Alonso
      2. Webber
      3. Vettel
      4. Hamilton
      5. Kimi
      6. Grosjean
      7. Button
      8. Rosberg
      9. Perez
      10. Schumacher

    2. Exactly how it should be.

    3. I think Vettel and Hamilton have driven better overall than Webber, and quite honestly Button should be way down the pecking order for those horrible results he had, for which there was no excuse (Hamilton won a race in that period).

  27. Great Analysis Keith !

  28. Massa, Laps spent ahead of team mate 15/672

    That is an amazing stat ! Massa really has no right to be in F1.

  29. How can Maldonado be behind hulk, do resta, kob and, my lord, even Kovalainen? The hate this guy gets from the British press and fans in general is just astonishing. If a guy don’t fit into the mould they think a good driver should be or behave they can’t help themselves but hate on the guy. It’s just unbelievable!!!

    1. For the record I am not British, and so by you’re assertion my views on Maldonado are 100% objective.

      I am a bit confused by your statement. You say “If a guy [doesn’t] fit into the [mold] they think a good driver should be or behave they can’t help themselves but hate on the guy.” The “mold” of a good driver isn’t some subjective thing. A good driver does not hit people every race. A good driver doesn’t ignore yellow flags and seriously injure a marshal. A good driver doesn’t need to buy his way into a seat.

      Nico and Di Resta have brought home solid points in a lackluster car, Kobayashi had a collision-filled race in Valencia, but other than that has kept his nose clean, and Hekki continues to wring the car by it’s neck. What has Maldonado done? He won a race, full credit where it is due, but beyond that he has wasted points opportunity after points opportunity. Not only that, but he is wasting these opportunities in a car that could do much more, and for a team which is trying to come back from a dismal 2011.

      Beyond all that, this is Formula 1. We watch to see the best drivers in the world (in your words, those who fit the mold of good drivers) compete in some of the most sophisticated cars on the planet. If I wanted to watch dangerous driving and racers bashing their way to victory I would watch NASCAR.

      1. EDIT:

        *your, not you’re

        1. Carlito's way
          12th August 2012, 0:52

          Jeez this guy so dramatic! Injure a marshal, Ignore yellow flags, what are you on about? Someone get this guy his medicine. Maldonado just can’t be below any of those guys, if anything his drive alone in Barcelona would put him above all of those clowns I mentioned earlier. Remember we are judging performance on the first half of the season. He has demonstrated good qualifying performances and taken his chance for a W when it presented itself. Kob shoul be above Mald just for keeping his nose clean? Like I said, people just let the hate cloud their judgement And focus on the negatives and ignore the positives. By the way, making a passing comment ‘yeah sure he won a race’ it’s not acknowledging the positives. As if winning a race in f1 was the most trivial thing in the world. Whatever way u spin it, Maldonado just deserves more credit than people give him, and definitely deserves on the strength of the first half of the season performance to be above di resta, hulk, kob and kov. One last thing, theres a reason kob is at the back of the grid. Nice guy and all, he just couldn’t cut it among the big boys, as far as I am concerned he deserves to be where he is. @agentmulder

          1. Carlito's way
            12th August 2012, 0:54

            Edit: Kovalainen deserves to be st the back of the grid, not kobayashi

          2. Maldonado has been choatic, inconstant, dangerous and stupid this season. He has thrown away truck loads of points through silly, unecessary collisions (Australia, Valencia, Silverstone) and apart from some strong qualifyings and his race win definately not maximised the potential of what is a very good car.
            The last part of my statement can’t be said for some of the other drivers you have mentioned (Di Resta & Hulkenburg for example). They have been performing very solidly throughout the season and maximising their opportunities (something Maldonado has failed miserably at). And attempting to insult @agentmudler for his quite rifghtful opinion & factual evidence (regarding his hitting a marshal incident). Lastly, calling professional racing drivers – who are definitely worthy of being on the F1 grid – “clowns” is just disrespectful.

          3. Hey here we go, another self righteous, high horse rider, over zealous Internet basher. Dude the only thing failing miserably is your ‘argument’ making sense. Digging out mistakes from lower categories to justify yourself is just sad. Nick heidfeld crashed into a medical car, alonso ignored yellow flags in brazil causing a huge pile up in his Renault days, kobayashi run over his mechanics, so what? These guys are no lesser drivers for those mistakes. It’s part and parcel of learning. Have some perspective and please realise that you contradict yourself when you say he has failed to maximise his opportunities, the guys hit a racing win with a less than great car. Yes he has been involved in lots of incidents, but there’s something to be said for that as well. The guy is fighter, and that my friend you can’t teach. Don’t even know why I waste my time with someone who manages to contradict himself in the space of ten lines, but there you go.

          4. Yes he has been involved in lots of incidents, but there’s something to be said for that as well.

            I would love to find out if you’d still feel that way if you ever end up financing your child’s karting career or so, and he wrecks his karts, while he could have scored some decent points. There’s a fine line between being a fighter and being a wrecker, and Maldonado is currently leaning on the wrong side of it.

            I think one of the reasons people say he has thrown away a lot of points, is because he’s quick. It’s also plain obvious that with all the incidents, he’s not using the potential of his car, nor his own abilities.

            I’m also not sure why you’re moving back and forth between regular and meta-communication, or arguing, but ‘you’re wrong, but why am I even arguing with you’ is not exactly what people would call a level-headed argument either.

          5. @npf1
            As you said it yourself, Maldonado is quick, and he fights for his positions. I would take that kind of driver any time of the day over a safe, steady pair of hands. A quick fighter driver has more potential to achieve more over the long term. Think James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, Keke Rosberg. All quick and fighters on the track, with a fair bit of mistakes and incidents too. But thats just part of make them good. Now think for instance, David Coulthard: safe pair of hands, quick (ish) scored wins when the car allowed to but ultimately just not good enough for WC. A lot of people on this website seems to prefer the latter kind of driver. Not me.
            People are not giving Maldonado the credit because they are focusing on his incidents this year, They are failing to see great qualifying performances and a race win in a midfield car, just for the sake of jumping on the hate bandwagon, which I steadfastly refuse to. Let me ask you this: imagine for a second Pastor, was called Paul. Did not have a major financial backing, and scored a totally deserved racing win in a midfield car holding back the best driver on the grid today (Alonso). Now imagine he was British. Do you honestly think he would be sitting in 15 on the mid year drivers reports, behind the likes of Heiikki Kovalainen?

          6. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

            They are failing to see great qualifying performances and a race win in a midfield car,

            Both his strong qualifying performances and his win are mentioned in the article.

            Now imagine he was British.

            Oh please spare me the endless whingeing about nationality.

        2. @keithcollantine
          Yes the strong qualifying performances are mentioned in the article, but completely ignored by everyone else.
          As far as nationality goes, its the first time I mention it, so i don’t get the ‘endless whingeing’ comment. Its not just nationality though, the fact the kid has financial backing just rubs people up the wrong way. Whatever way you say it, I am sure you will come to recognize that Pastor deserves better than 15.
          Lastly picking out a line of a comment is not representative of what a person is trying to convey, and therefore unfair to comment on.

          1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend If you don’t like how you’ve been quoted I’m afraid it’s only because it’s unclear from your comment whether you are complaining about how I’ve rated the drivers or other people’s responses to them.

            Suffice it to say that I believe I’ve justified placing him 15th and it seems you have choose to ignore the reasons I’ve given and claim I’ve only put him there because he’s not British, which I obviously do not think very much of.

            I am sick of the “endless whingeing” about nationality which you have added to and are part of. See the first page of comments for other examples.

            I am sure you will come to recognize that Pastor deserves better than 15.

            No I won’t or I would have placed him higher. Perhaps he will do better in the second half of the season and deserve a higher rating then, but not now.

          2. I would take that kind of driver any time of the day over a safe, steady pair of hands.

            As I’ve said, there’s a line between a fighter and a wrecker, and he’s on the wrong side of it now. He’s been compared to JPM in the Dutch F1 media, but right now, he’s looking more like NASCAR JPM, than ‘why is this guy beating Schumacher in his prime’ JPM. The drivers you listed were not known for failing to score for 6 races in a row, while easily being able and having the car, to score.

            People are not giving Maldonado the credit because they are focusing on his incidents this year, They are failing to see great qualifying performances and a race win in a midfield car

            In my view, because those incidents have cost him more points than his qualifying performance or his win has got him.

            Let me ask you this: ‘…’

            I don’t care. Even if he’d pay my rent, I’d still think he needs to get his act together, stop being in incidents too often and be in the points and be a fighter. Nobody is telling him to become the next DC or Olivier Panis.

            strong qualifying performances

            Do not get you any points. How many drivers have we had in the past 10-15 years who were great in qualifying, but couldn’t keep their car in the points?

            It’s also easy to proclaim band-wagoning, ‘h8ers’ and what not, but in reality, ‘pay driver’ or not, I was impressed by his win and started to reconsider my views on him. Then he went on and made a mess. I wasn’t a fan of JPM at the time, but if he manages to impress some more, South American fans will consider him the new JPM, who was at some point more popular in Brazil than Barrichello.

  30. The thing that I disagree with most is the placing of Caterham team-mates. 12-23 seriously? maybe 14-19 would be a fair assessment of their relative performances.

    Also even if Perez is ranked 10th, the gap between Perez and Kobayashi is too big. And that’s without mentioning the comment by @hairs which, I am sorry to say, is as far from reality as the pole from the equator. Poor results?! Give me a break

    That said, I don’t dispute that those are the drivers who don’t deserve to be in the top 10. My rankings would be:
    11)Di Resta
    21) Vergne
    22) Glock
    23) Massa
    24) Narain

  31. Should just promote the idea that most of articles are the authors opinion to avoid all this nonsense. Cause in the end no matter how informative your decision was, it is still an opinion.

  32. second part please!

  33. People have to realise their will always be discretions over ranking drivers and in reality you can only rank team mates in the same car for an accurate result

    I’m sure Keith is stating his validated opinion and has foreseen the debate this would cause anyway

    Of the 24-11 drivers without going through all of them all I can mention is the drivers I think that would be good in a top 4 car:

    Ricciardo, Perez, Di Resta and possibly Kobayashi and Hulk

    1. I really don’t see Ricciardo doing anything stellar, people really buy into what the media feeds them. Guy has shown decent performance, but needs more time. Actually there’s no evidence so far that he’s any better than buemi or alguersuari ever was. The jury is still out as far as I’m concerned.

  34. I think my only grievance is with having Massa so low down the list. I think he’s been better than he was last year and recently he’s been much better. Other that that this is a good snap-shop of the season so far.

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