2013 F1 season driver rankings part three: 10-6

2013 F1 season review

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The F1 Fanatic 2013 driver rankings continue with part three.

10. Paul di Resta

Beat team mate in qualifying11/19
Beat team mate in race8/12
Races finished15/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate460/826

Paul di Resta had a reasonable third season with Force India which very easily could have brought so much more.

The Force India was at its best in the first half of the season when Pirelli’s tyres were particularly delicate. But a combination of errors on the part of team and driver which saw Di Resta drop out in wet Q1 sessions in Malaysia, Monaco and Canada particularly compromised his points haul.

In Britain he missed out on a strong qualifying result after falling foul of the minimum weight limit. Nonetheless he recovered to finish ninth – his sixth points score in a row, a run which included a superb fourth in Bahrain.

For a few minutes in Q3 at Spa it looked like Di Resta was going to pull off a shock pole position in another wet qualifying session, before he was bumped back by Mercedes and Red Bull drivers. He started fifth, but was bundled out of the race by Pastor Maldonado.

When the team’s fortunes took a downward turn in the second half of the season Di Resta’s went with them initially. Errors of his own making spoiled his races in Italy, Singapore and Korea. But even in this difficult time he usually had an edge over team mate Adrian Sutil

This was shown again when Di Resta led the team’s late-season resurgence with strong scores in India and Abu Dhabi – keeping Lewis Hamilton at arm’s length in the latter – which helped Force India see off Sauber in the constructors’ championship.

Paul di Resta 2013 form guide

9. Daniel Ricciardo

Beat team mate in qualifying15/19
Beat team mate in race6/11
Races finished16/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate591/893

Daniel Ricciardo’s season had all the hallmarks of a driver who wrung every last tenth out of his equipment on Saturday but couldn’t sustain the same performance over a race distance.

He could rely on a healthy advantage over team mate Jean-Eric Vergne in qualifying and took the Toro Rosso into the final ten more than twice as many times as his team mate. This gives a major clue why Red Bull chose him for 2014 instead of the other potential drivers available to them.

Although his margin over Vergne in the races was less emphatic there were problems along the way – a couple of early-season exhaust failures and his elimination at the hands of Romain Grosjean in Monaco. A very promising run at Silverstone was ruined when the team failed to pit him when the Safety Car came out.

In Belgium he made up nine places to finish a solid tenth. He might have done the same at Suzuka had he been more alert to the probability of getting a penalty for going off-track while overtaking Adrian Sutil.

He faces an enormous task up against a four-times champion next year. On the strength of this season he should be a good match in those all-important qualifying sessions but there are still questions over his race pace.

Daniel Ricciardo 2013 form guide

8. Jenson Button

Beat team mate in qualifying9/19
Beat team mate in race13/19
Races finished19/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate624/1112

For the first time in his McLaren career Jenson Button didn’t have a car that was capable of winning. And based on his efforts you’d have to say it probably wasn’t capable of finishing on the podium, either.

He came closest in Brazil but even by the final race of the season McLaren had only improved the car by enough to come home 20 seconds behind a Ferrari. He had a shot at a podium finish in Malaysia as well before a problem at his pit stop ruined his race.

Unable to compete on sheer pace, McLaren’s best opportunity for success was to reduce their number of pit stops. Button exercised commendable self-discipline in China to take fifth and making one pit stop fewer than his rivals also served him well in Spain.

There were other occasions when he deserved better than he got. The late Safety Car period spoiled his race in Britain, and dithering backmarkers cost him a better finishing position in Germany.

The weakness in his game was, as usual, qualifying. Typically Button had front wing set at maximum but still couldn’t get enough turn-in at the front of the car to suit his driving style.

This indirectly contributed to a spate of first-lap incidents in the second half of the season which spoiled his run of squeezing solid finishing positions out of the MP4-28. His penalty for overtaking under red flags in America was a strange lapse for a driver of Button’s experience.

But he drew a line under a disappointing year with a fine drive in Brazil which was worthy of his status as one of the sport’s champions.

Jenson Button 2013 form guide

7. Romain Grosjean

Beat team mate in qualifying9/19
Beat team mate in race5/13
Races finished15/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate403/888

There can surely be no other driver more deserving of the distinction ‘most improved driver’ than Romain Grosjean.

A truly horrendous weekend in Monaco gave cause to doubt whether Lotus would tolerate his error-strewn ways much longer. But after that he got his act together and was one of the stand-out drivers of the final races.

It’s true that Grosjean found the long wheelbase E21 and the revised tyres more to his taste than Raikkonen did. But Grosjean did miss out on some upgrades at the beginning of the year while Kimi Raikkonen made a winning start to his campaign.

Indications of Grosjean’s improved form were visible at Silverstone, then in Germany he produced his first eye-catching performance of the season. It was a shame the Safety Car period deprived us of seeing a proper battle between him and Sebastian Vettel.

By Japan Grosjean looked a true front runner and there he took the fight to the Red Bulls in superb style, bursting through from the second row to lead the race, only losing out to his rivals in the final stint.

In America he successfully split the pair of them to equal his best career result. It’s taken time but Eric Boullier’s faith in his driver has finally been vindicated.

Romain Grosjean 2013 form guide

6. Nico Rosberg

Beat team mate in qualifying8/19
Beat team mate in race8/16
Races finished17/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate495/1011

If three seasons of beating a somewhat faded Michael Schumacher hadn’t been enough to convince some of Nico Rosberg’s abilities, his 2013 campaign should have won over a few more of his doubters.

Lewis Hamilton is a long way from being past his prime yet Rosberg gave his new team mate a close run on almost every metric.

Indeed Rosberg won more races, two to Hamilton’s one, though he was aided somewhat by their contrasting fortunes at Silverstone. Still it was Rosberg who suffered the brunt of the team’s reliability problems (electrical failure in Australia, anti-roll bar in China, front wing in Korea), without which he might very easily have beaten Hamilton on points

The same goes for his order to finish behind Hamilton in Malaysia, which Rosberg obeyed. Events in the same race showed other drivers would not have been so biddable.

There were some tough races in the early part of the season where Mercedes were completely flummoxed by the tyres: Rosberg slumped from pole position to ninth in Bahrain.

However in Monaco he converted pole position into his first win of the year. This exercise in driving as slowly as he dared may rank as one of the least exciting victories Formula One has ever seen, but you can’t blame Rosberg for playing the game the way it’s meant to be at the moment.

His run of three pole positions in a row ended in Canada, partly due to a problem with his radio. But he had no excuses for being eliminated in Q2 at his home race – this was a clear tactical oversight.

Late in the season Rosberg retaliated to his team mate’s resurgence, qualifying ahead in three of the last four races. He started alongside Vettel in Singapore and Brazil and beat Vettel to turn one on both occasions – only to be passed by the end of the first lap.

Realistically, neither of these were missed opportunities to win races, though his slump to fifth in the season finale must have been a disappointing reminder of how the season began for Mercedes.

Nico Rosberg 2013 form guide

How the rankings are produced

This is a ranking of how drivers have performed in the 2013 season, irrespective of their form in previous years. Among the data referred to in producing the rankings are notes on each driver’s performance at each race weekend, compiled data on car performance, direct comparisons between team mates and each driver’s form guide.

Over to you

How highly do you rate the drivers who’ve appeared so far in the rankings? Give your views on them in the comments.

Images © Red Bull/Getty, Pirelli/LAT, Daimler/Hoch Zwei

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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40 comments on “2013 F1 season driver rankings part three: 10-6”

  1. Great rankings as always.

    Good to see you don’t suffer from short memory syndrome like most people in F1. I’ve seen Grosjean as high as second on some lists, just because he had a good run at the end of the season, but you didn’t forget that after Monaco people were calling for him to be fired.

    1. Same thoughts here, I was most surprised at Autosport’s rankings, they put GRO in 6th just ahead of RAI!

      1. Yeah I was very surprised Grosjean got put ahead of Raikkonen in the Autosport list and both of them behind the solid but rarely special Rosberg. If anyone’s interested, Autosport rated the top ten as follows: 1st Vettel, 2nd Alonso, 3rd Hamilton, 4th Hulkenburg, 5th Rosberg, 6th Grosjean, 7th Raikkonen, 8th Webber, 9th Button, 10th Bottas.

        Must say I’ve found myself agreeing with Keith’s list a lot more!

    2. I always thought Grosjean had what it takes, even last year, but I thought he should be fired after Monaco too! Great to see him turn things around in any case.

    3. Yep, I think I’ve even seen some people put Grosjean top of their rankings! Could be worse though, was it the Independent who put Chilton ahead of Alonso?

      1. @craig-o I think you are talking about the same ranking as @tommyb89 – it was done by Guardian. I don’t know the journalist who wrote it but he must be a blithering idiot.

  2. Didn’t expect Hulkenberg would be in your top 5, but I’m very happy to see he is :)

    1. I am now curious how far up did Hamilton make it. I think he is 5th, because he did do a great job in a new team, but on the other hand he wasn’t on top level all year.

    2. I think the fact that Keith has put Button 8th, and he still thinks he’s a world class driver, just goes to show how many brilliant drivers we have on the grid at the moment. We have Button, Grosjean, Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen, Vettel and Hulkenberg who all have the talent and the skill to be able to run right at the front in a car that is there or thereabouts. I’m really excited for 2014 if the drivers in those teams all have cars that are not far off each other in terms of pace!

      I’ve seen Hulkenberg in a lot of people’s top 5, and I can see why, really pulled out some stunning performances in a car which was clearly not capable of doing so…

  3. I have expressed how amazed Iam not to see JB on the 2nd part of the rankings but as far as it goes for the middle I think it does portrait the true level between this drivers and teams.

  4. Grosjean should have been rated higher.

    1. I don’t think that would reflect his whole year. A bit like we saw VdGarde do pretty well in the second half, but his first half of the season was not great. Grosjean rarely showed he belonged in the car in many races in the first half and improved only after a low was reached in Monaco, while his second half of the year was definitely impressive. We rate the whole season here, that is why he is not further up.

      1. If it’s second half of the season, Grosjean would be behind Vettel and ahead of Hulk. Grosjean’s points were number 2 in the final half of the season I think..

      2. Yes, i agree. But in the end, he was the only one who could challenge the Bulls. Maybe the fact that he finished the year on a high is why i am leaning towards him a bit. From being the naughty boy to producing one of the best drives of the season, he has surely come a long way. And the fact that he won the ROC last year establishes his prowess as a driver, even over Vettel! I believe he ll be one of the drivers to watch out for next year, provided Lotus gives him a competetive car. Hope Maldonado’s oil money helps Lotus to develop their 2014 car and benefit Grosjean too.

    2. @bascb @debjit I’d agree. In the first half of the season he was not much improved, too erratic in terms of speed with far too many ridiculous and brainless errors. He was a standout driver in the second half, but like Massa, if he had been in a different team, he wouldn’t have stayed in the car after Monaco.

  5. Rankings look sensible to me so far. So I guess 5. HAM 4. HUL 3. RAI 2. ALO 1. VET?

    1. Looks like that to me.

    2. That’s my top 5 as well..

  6. Great rankings as usual :)
    However, according to me JB was better than Romain, year-round. He had way too many problems, without which he would have got a lot more points. RoGro only impoved in the final few races, when Lotus didn’t want Kimi to be thier lead (50,000 per point remember?). Also, considering the fact that JEV matched Ricciardo in races (6-5) despite starting way behind him. The “average 1 sec qualifying gap is skewed, drivers lap much quicker in the latter Q3/Q2 sessions…Too much of a gap between them.
    But I don’t think it matters, opinions always differ when you dont have concrete statistics.

  7. Great rankings! I love reading these articles.

    On a slightly unrelated note the picture used for Rosberg is exactly the same as the one used for Rosberg in the mid-season rankings, only that it was taken a few tenths of a second later!

    1. Well spotted, but I think it was taken less than a tenth later. It looks like Rosberg is around a car length further ahead, i.e. around 5 metres. At 200 km/h, my random guess for the speed at the finish line, this would take a mere 0.09 seconds.

  8. Rosberg not in the top 5? Understandable, I guess, with Hulk’s second half of the season.

    1. Yeah, it’s a shame Nico got pushed down due to Nico’s great second-half :P

    2. W (@yesyesyesandyesagain)
      15th December 2013, 17:41

      I’m surprised Rosberg wasn’t rated above Hamilton, if he had taken Hamilton in Malaysia (which would have been easy) he would have a better finishing record and he finished with two wins to Hamilton’s one. Seems pretty cut and dry to me. He should also get bonus points for not whining and moping as much as Hamilton.

      1. It goes both ways though, one of Rosberg’s two wins came at Silverstone where Hamilton was leading the race before his tire exploded. All in all I think they were really pretty evenly matched throughout the year though each had their ups and downs.

        1. I suppose one could argue that since NR’s tire didn’t explode, he did a better job of tire conservation and therefore deserved the win from that aspect. Of course we know the tires were a huge problem so it’s probably not entirely fair to say that…however, the conditions were the same for everyone…

          All in all I continue to be impressed with how NR has handled having WDC(s) as teammates. He is not phased by it whatsoever and in fact seems invigorated by it, and all with a great demeanor.

  9. In my personal ranking Hulk should be in top 3. But i am not sure where exactly. Every driver underperformed in the course of the season, except Nico and Seb. Well thats what i remember, but since i am big fan of both of them i might be based here :)

    1. That’s what I think too. Hamilton, Räikkönen & Alonso all had their bad moments, but I can’t remember any from Seb or Nico.

      1. (@vasschu (@diceman
        Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen had bad luck in their season. During the 1st half, Raikkonen and Hamilton were better than Fernando. *Hands down*. However, in the 2nd half they all slumped a little bit. Put in mind that Kimi performed brilliantly in Singapore even though with a back injury. Alonso hasn’t had bad luck during the 2nd half of the season. It’s actually both Mercedes drivers who suffered from bad luck during the 2nd half of the season.

  10. The top five is same as mine. I predict that Keith’s top 5 ranking will be 1 VET 2 ALO 3 RAI 4 HUL 5 HAM, but I’m not sure about mine.

    I think Vettel was (obviously) the best driver of the season and Hamilton the fifth best. Alonso, Räikkönen and Hülkenberg are hard to rank in my opinion and I could put them in any order.

    Räikkönen’s season until Singapore was probably the best he’s ever had, but unfortunately after that he had a couple of bad races and it’s easy to forget how good he was during the first half of the season. Hülkenberg was very, very good but of course it’s hard to say how good actually, since he was driving a Sauber and his team mate was Gutierrez. Alonso was again overall good and consistent.

  11. I would guess 1-VET, 2-HUL, 3-ALO, 4-RAI, 5-HAM.

    Alonso allowed Massa to get too close on pace too often to be #2. Hulkenberg was essentially flawless all season and dragged the car further than it deserved to be.

    1. You forget that till Monza, Massa wasn’t racing ALonso. As a #2 driver, you have to do longer runs with new parts and use up your tires. Since then, he was free to attack Alonso, which he did, but we saw the real Massa from there who was matching Alonso onlyin Abu Dhabi. India wasm’t comparable, with bad luck and total damage to strategy for him.

  12. Lotus’ handling of Grosjean is a great example of how just important (and too often forgotten) patience is in developing young talent.

    1. It’s also cost them places in the championship, and lost revenue as a result.

      Grosjean came good in the end of this season , but at what cost? Tens of millions in prize money which could have kept maldonado from the door. Yes he scored points but he lost even more over the course of his career…

      1. Over the course of his ‘career’ is overstating it and that’s pretty much exactly my point – they’ve stuck with him because they believe he’ll come good on the risk they took. Rather than do a Toro Rosso and demand immediate results, they believe in his potential and I think he’s just begun to prove them right. Much rather see that than a revolving door – which is precisely how the Maldonados get into F1 in the first place.

        1. @maciek @hairs I can see the merits in both points of view, however, the argument will be settled in the coming years to see if Grosjean can step up another notch and play the lead, or if he goes back into bad habits?
          The one other thing I might tip in with, is that Lotus have spent millions on Grosjean, but they spent more on Kimi, and I’m not entirely sure they got a better return, yes they won a couple of races, but overall they’re still not quite there.
          Lets hope Lotus have the budget to field a competitive car next year and we’ll see this dispute settled.

        2. Toro Rosso actually give their drivers quite a while; Buemi was in the car for 3 seasons, and Alguersuari for 2.5…

  13. I would actually agree with Keith’s rating while Hamilton has shown his talent and ability through out the season in a new team. However it wasn’t a consistent performance from him, rather we might expect more from a driver of his caliber. Hopefully he is here to show what he really got in 2014.

    1. In defense of LH, in fact all of the drivers really, the problematic tires made it extremely hard for any of them to show consistency, other than SV, and even he had his moments. And I think we already know what LH has got…he ‘just’ needs, as all drivers do, a WCC winning car.

      I agree that LH did very well for his first year on a new team, and for me especially right out of the box. I thought NR would have the upper hand initially but that wasn’t the case. All in all they were quite evenly matched and were equally limited by the car/tires.

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