Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014

2014 F1 Driver Rankings #1: Daniel Ricciardo

2014 F1 season review

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Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014

Key stat: The only driver besides Rosberg to reach Q3 at every round

Daniel Ricciardo

Beat team mate in qualifying12/19
Beat team mate in race11/14
Races finished16/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate483/931
Points238
Daniel Ricciardo 2014 form guide

In his first season with Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo defied the expectations many had of him before the year began. But that’s not why he’s F1 Fanatic’s top driver of 2014.

Ricciardo was the best driver of the year because he consistently qualified strongly, raced even better, and made very few mistakes. And, of course, because he emphatically beat his four-times world champion team mate.

Behind the runaway Mercedes the field was closely packed, yet Ricciardo broke free and sealed third place in the championship before the final race. And that was despite the last race being worth double points, and Ricciardo having lost 18 due to a technical infringement by the team in Australia.

The transition from a midfield team to a top outfit is one many drivers have struggled with before – just look at Sergio Perez last year. For Ricciardo it initially seemed that, like Perez before him, he had made a mis-timed move to a team which produced the quickest car the year before only to find their new model was out of contention for victories.

That later proved not to be the case. But only in Ricciardo’s hands did the RB10 become a race winner – and on no fewer than three occasions. Of course those opportunities all arose because of misfortune or mistakes on the part of Mercedes. But it was never going to happen any other way for Ricciardo or any of his rivals in 2014.

Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, Circuit of the Americas, 2014What was significant was that Ricciardo monopolised those opportunities. In Canada he jumped Vettel by pitting a lap later than him and unleashing his pace, then sprang a superb pass on Perez for second place before picking off the struggling Nico Rosberg.

An error-free run in Belgium, while Vettel went off twice of his own accord, allowed him to win after the Mercedes pair tangled. His Hungary win owed something to good fortune when the Safety Car came out, but he still had to make it happen and a brilliant around-the outside pass on Hamilton put him on course for another victory.

All of Ricciardo’s top rivals fell prey to his attacks at one time or another this year. His feint-and-lunge move on Vettel at Monza was another highlight, as was his disciplined duel with Fernando Alonso at the Hockenheimring. No other driver consistently impressed in wheel-to-wheel combat the way Ricciardo did.

Following the disappointment of Australia it took a couple of races for Ricciardo’s season to get back on track. An error by the team in the pits compromised his race in Malaysia and had a knock-on effect in Bahrain, where he had a grid penalty. Next time out in Spain he made his first of eight official podium appearances, during which time he also racked up 15 consecutive points finishes.

There are still areas of Ricciardo’s game where improvements can be made. His starts were a particular weakness, though he often managed to get the car back where it belonged by the end of the race, such as at the Circuit of the Americas.

Similarly in Germany he was delayed by the a collision involving some of his rivals at the start, but having fallen to fifteenth he made his way back up to fifth by the flag. The RB10 may have been a bit gutless on the straights, but time and again Ricciardo made passes work by using its downforce to exploit parts of the track his rivals could touch, and being very bold on the brakes.

The season ended with both Red Bull drivers starting from the pits in Abu Dhabi. Vettel came home eighth, while Ricciardo finished four places higher and well over half a minute ahead. It was the latest in a series of occasions in which an uninformed observer might have mistaken Ricciardo for Red Bull’s four-times champion. Given suitable equipment in the future, Ricciardo is certainly capable of winning titles of his own.

Reader’s view

Such amazing performances against a four-time champion team mate, some heroic battles and some great qualifying performances.

I wish I had something sensible to say, but I’ve never been as wrong about a driver as I’ve been about Ricciardo; I rated him considerably lower than Vergne and didn’t expect much of him at all.
Nick (@Npf1)

How the rankings are produced

All the data I refer to while producing the rankings can be found on the site. They include 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.

2014 F1 season review

Browse all 2014 F1 season review articles

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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86 comments on “2014 F1 Driver Rankings #1: Daniel Ricciardo”

  1. Given some of the comments yesterday i thought i’d get in there early before people start objecting again (hopefully they won’t). Driver rankings are an opinion, so please don’t say “they’re wrong” followed by a torrent of critisism and abuse. A debate is fine, accusations of bias and ‘bad journalism’ without foundation are not. Here’s just a few questions off the top of my head that affect how people rate drivers:

    1) Who was the best driver in qualifying?
    2) who was the best driver in the race?
    3) who got closest to the maximum potential from the car?
    4) Who made the fewest mistakes?
    5) who made the most overtakes?
    6) who made the best overtakes?
    7) who was the strongest mentally?
    8) who dealt best with the pressure?
    9) who had the most pressure to deal with?
    10) who beat their teammate most convincingly?
    11) who had the toughest teammate to compete against?
    12) who needed the most ‘driver coaching’?
    13) who gave the best technical feedback?
    14) who was best at setting up their car each race weekend?
    15) who helped their team develop their car the best?
    16) who dealt best with their inter-team politics?

    There are any number of other questions you could ask to try and decide who was the best. Nobody in the world can quantatively answer all these questions and even if you could, depending on how much weight you give to each you would still end up with different results. There are no right or wrong ratings, just different opinions based on how we view what happens in the sport. I doubt there is one person reading these articles that has their personal driver rankings in exactly the same order as Keith Collantine, because in the end it is a subjective list.

    Have to say that i was a bit dissappointed by the number of poorly thought out comments yesterday. This is my favourite F1 site not just because of the very good articles, fast updates, and accurate info but also because in general the comments from readers are of a higher standard than many other sites. I hope we can keep the debate civil and constructive from now on.

    (for reference i think that Alonso, Ricciardo and Hamilton were a level above the other drivers this year and you could justifiably rank those top 3 in any order – their cars were too different in performance to say any more than that with certainty)

    1. I agree with all of this. Very well put, sir.

    2. Well put, i was a bit upset with the tosh i saw yesterday.

      1. This is a great template, pretty much covers all the bases and just going through it I can place a name next to each of the questions. And yeah, the Hamilton article yesterday received by far and away the most amount of comments regarding a 2014 review on this site, and most of it was from people I’ve never seen on this site before, attacking Keith. Which is bad, some blind, spiteful bias, I didn’t really agree with the smaller part of these rankings (Kimi should have been lower, Vergne higher etc) but I agree with this and Daniel is my driver of the year.

    3. Well put, I seem a little bit gone far away yesterday about Hamilton ranking

    4. I don’t think you need to be so concerned by inevitable Hamilton biases on a UK-centric blog, @keithedin. True impartiality only really occurs in F1 unless you are, like me, paid to be impartial, or, also like me, watched F1 for so long and seen so many driver that you only really identify with excellence. Also, measuring racing driver performances and filtering out factors like experience discrepancies, car performance, bad/good luck and the strength of the reference in the other car.

      What makes the greatest racing driver in the world the greatest racing driver in the world? Is it the driver that is performing the best right now (i.e. Ricciardo in this analysis)? Or is it the driver with the highest average performance level over their career so far (i.e. Alonso in my opinion)? Twelve months ago I wrote an article for a F1 website refuting claims Ecclestone made in the foreward of last year’s F1 season review book about Fernando’s motivation, and argued that Alonso was probably still the best on the grid…the comment thread promptly turned blue with reference to nine in a row for Vettel…

    5. Given that its driver of the year, I feel its better to rank them on a race by race basis and total or average it out. That way bad performances are not forgotten :)

    6. @keithedin

      Excellent comment. This is also my favorite website for the same reasons you gave, and it’s a shame but inevitable that as F1 Fanatic gets more popular more of the ‘poor’ comment makers will get involved. If its a bad day for it I just start to filter the BS out and skip to the next comment ;)

    7. Well said. Never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t know the difference between opinion and fact. Or how vitriolic they become when someone else’s opinion does not gel with theirs. Personally, I think Keith’s assessment of the top 5 is spot on (with my own opinions of course) but objectively speaking, it’s a very fair assessment.

  2. Hard to argue with this, imo. Ricciardo was certainly a standout performer this year, I don’t remember him making any mistakes really.

    In my mind the top 3 are all very close, but I would swap Lewis and Fernando around. Otherwise I’ve largely agreed with all 22 rankings.

    1. What an odd sensation – I was thinking almost exactly the same thing, then I read your comment.

      qazuhb said it all with +1 really

    2. @iamjamm the only mistakes I recall from him was numerous poor starts. Other than that, I think he was stellar this season.

    3. He did lose a lot of positions on L1. Other than that, Positions 1-3 are really a matter of personal taste.

    4. I personally found Vergne’s ranking very odd. I rate the geezer highly, and it’s sad to see what’s happening to him. I’d probably even employ him ahead of Vettel at Ferrari, although admittedly that would be a bit risky!

  3. Magnificent year for Dan, well deserved.

  4. As far as I’m concerned this is well-deserved. I haven’t been able to catch him on errors, he was fast and consistent, and his overtaking skills were incredible. Several of the candidates for “pass of the year” came are his – what more to say?

    Congratulations for Ricciardo on such a year. Those that booed RBR one year ago for “attracting a number two again instead of a champion like Raikkonen” have surely had to eat those words.

    1. Wouldn’t the numerous bad starts count as errors/mistakes.

  5. Unbelievable.

    Ricciardo was fantastic this year. But he wasn’t handling the pressure of trying to attain a WDC against a competitive team mate in equal machinery. Neither did he have to fight back three times to finally take the crown.

    Lewis Hamilton was the stand out performer this year and I can’t help feeling there’s something between the lines in this decision to put Ricciardo at the top.

    1. I would guess a matter of personal preference mostly, pretty sure that a very large proportion of avid F1 watchers have Hamilton, Alonso and Ricciardo as their top 3 performers this year (in whatever order, it’s very hard to separate between them tbh).

      1. What separates them for me at least is how Hamilton handled the pressure and the fact that both Alonso & Ricciardo were just making up the numbers.

        Hamilton is being marked down because of W05 dominance and I think this denies what I think should be a more balanced ranking.

        Keith cites no bias, which of course he is entitled to do. But personal preference is of course bias.

        1. Hamilton is being marked down because of W05 dominance

          Where do you get that idea? He’s being marked down because of some qualifying and racing errors.

          Why is this such an issue? You disagree, fine, but why call bias into it? I might as well say you’re letting your personal preference do the talking as well. I think a lot of people have Ricciardo as their #1 (as there will be a lot of them who have Hamilton as their #1 as well). All bias, then?

    2. But he wasn’t handling the pressure of trying to attain a WDC against a competitive team mate in equal machinery.

      No, but he fought against 17 other drivers and even beat those two he wasn’t fighting on occasion while Hamilton had exactly one opponent.

    3. You mean beating a 4 times WDC in his home team vs. driving Rosberg who has no WDC’s to his name? Hamilton had only Rosberg to keep track of, the car was utter dominant. And don’t forget, Hamilton had some spins in the race that would have finished his race in the past. Rosberg also chocked in race trim while he was on top in qualifying.

      No, beating your highly regarded and then ruling WDC teammate on his home turf is one of the best things you can do.

    4. I totally disagree. As quick as Hamilton is, this season has been prove yet again that he cannot dispatch team mates like Alonso does. He almost lost the title, to some extent due to bad fortune and what not, but he really shouldn’t have been in such a vulnerable position to begin with.

  6. I think it is valid to question the extent to which the new formula impairs the comparison between Ricciardo and Vettel. Whilst Ricciardo has obviously leaped into the upper rankings of the pinnacle of motorsport, we need only look at the way Vettel was driving the RB9 in 2013, arriving at the apex with a neutral car and using the throttle aid rotation (but with the immense rear grip meaning that this resulted in forward momentum rather than a spin), and note the incompatibilty this technique has with reduced rear downforce, immense torque and especially the brake-by-wire system. Inversely Ricciardo’s ease with inconsistencies and movement under braking gave him an immense edge on corner entry, something that is visible to a lesser extent with Hamilton.

    I raise this theory not because I don’t think Ricciardo has championship potential or to belittle a year of driving excellence, but simply to point out the fact that there are satellite factors in play when a driver without the junior prestige of a driver like Hulkenberg struggles to beat his now exiled teammate in races in the first two years of his career, before seemingly having an easier time against a four-time champion.

    1. What can be more valid than two drivers in the same car?

      And why bring up 2013? This is best driver of 2014! Vettel had the car designed around him as it possibly could be and Ricciardo stepped in as a newbie and made him look ordinary.

      I don’t agree that Ricciardo was the best of 2014, but it can be argued that he deserves to be. He made mistakes which the rosey spec’d didn’t see but yeah he did enough to dominate Vettel.

      1. Davidnotcoulthard2 (if you want to send a PM please do so to the @davidnotcoulthard account instead as this one's intended to be temporary) (@)
        18th December 2014, 15:21

        @david-beau

        What can be more valid than two drivers in the same car?

        That neither is suited more to the car than the other, in which case Vettel would’ve beaten Ricciardo in an RB9? (This is a bit less about the best driver of this year and more about how good they are “in general”, if such a thing exists)

        And @countrygent is simply pointing out the possibility that this may be the case.

      2. @david-beau Why must my analysis by constrained by the title of the article? I want, as most fans do, to debate the overall notion of racing competence (the “in general” paradigm @davidnotcoulthard2 speaks of) with reference to Vettel and Ricciardo, so why restrict my lens to the past twelve months? Forgetting Daniel’s mediocre junior career, struggles against Vergne and the imperiousness of the Vettel-RB9 relationship is as much looking through rose-tinted specs as forgetting the mistakes Daniel made this year. You are never comparing apples with apples in F1, even between teammates, when there are distorting factors like experience of the team, status in the team and ability to cope with the current batch of regulations.

        And did Vettel have the car designed around him? I would argue that at this premature stage in the new era of F1, and especially with the 2014 programmes of so many teams, including Red Bull, so behind schedule prior to the season that the knowledge base simply didn’t exist sufficiently to tailor a car to a driver’s preferences. And is this a priority for a team racing against the clock to get cars on the grid come Melbourne?

        1. I think it is apples to apples. The teams design the cars to go around the track in the shortest time possible and hire a driver to drive and give constructive feedback on their creation. That is why they are called formula 1 drivers – not formula 1 divas. Driver’s can’t have it their way all the time. Imagine RedBull slowing the RB10 down by 4 tenths just so Vettel have an easier job driving it. Pah. Even if he managed to beat Dan after that, one wins in that situation!

          As per the car being designed around Vettel, I denoted “as much as it could be.” I am aware of the new regulations. They are here to stay. It would be very interesting to see Vettel up against Dan in another year or two, but Vettel chickened out of the challenge.

          1. @david-beau Unfortunately motorsport just isn’t as simple as that. Yes, Red Bull wasn’t slowing Vettel’s RB10 down, and yes, Ricciardo did substantively extract more performance from the RB10 than Vettel, but you ask “why?” it immediately becomes clear that being four tenth behind doesn’t mean you are a worse racing driver by four tenths. There are stylistic and circumstantial nuances to every comparison in motorsport. Take a below par 2008 season for Kimi Raikkonen as an example, and an aversion, versus Massa, to the numbness of the F2008 on entry (a trait that the F60 also suffered). In 2012 however, Raikkonen gets a Lotus with all the front grip he could ever want and was quite outstanding. So who is the better racing driver: Raikkonen or Massa? Measuring driver performance between teammates in a single season is simple, look at the points table, but if you try, as I do in the features I write professionally, to track performance trends over time, i.e. several seasons or even a career, the situation becomes exponentially more complex

            Put simply, since motorsport deals with smaller margins than any other sport, the optimization needed is far greater, and as for Vettel this year, a single misplaced piece in the puzzle can have profound effects on performance.

            A final point: there are always secondary intentions and plans behind the hiring of a driver. In Ricciardo’s case he arguably wasn’t the best driver, with reference to 2013 paddock opinion, on offer in 2013, Raikkonen was, so the plan was to allow for a “ripening period” with the hope that Daniel a) became an established front-runner and b) to remove the backlog in the Red Bull Young Driver Programme. Add to that the opinions of sponsors (Button’s marketability saved his McLaren drive), the driver’s ability to develop, the presence versus absence of a budget and the intended dynamics with the incumbent teammate, and in reality drivers are seldom hired simply because they offer the best performance package from the second they enter the car.

          2. Interesting you bring up the 2013 and 2013 Lotus. Did you know that there were two Fomula 1 drivers that came out and said they think the 2013 Lotus was the fastest car that year? One of the driver’s is Jacques Villeneuve the other one is a current driver. That car was making Kimi and Grosjean look better than they really are. You don’t have to take my word for it though.

        2. @countrygent Ricciardo’s ‘mediocre’ junior career? Sure, at first glance, it doesn’t stand out like Hulkenberg’s, but I reckon him, Vergne and Vettel were all roughly similar in the junior levels, and thus it is similar in F1.

          PS. Going off junior careers, I really hope Audi join F1 and hire Hulkenberg and Kirchhoefer. That would be a brilliant line-up! Also, I hope Mateo Tuscher can get a chance to progress further, something that never happened for someone like Scott Malvern, for example, who ironically ended up as a driver coach for Ryan Cullen.

    2. @countrygent, I was thinking about the same thing, you just put it a lot more eloquently than I probably could have. This entire season I’ve wondered if the shortage of pre and in season testing hurt some drivers more than others…Vettel and Raikkonen in particular. While I would say that a drivers’ ability to adapt quickly is always of paramount importance, would a few thousand extra kilometers in testing evened out the differences between the two Red Bull drivers a bit? We’ll never know, but I think it is worth consideration. Similarly, how much is a drivers’ “style” unchanging? There is so much that goes into car development that no outside observer could accurately weed out the bias, so all we have to go on essentially is results, in which respect Ricciardo is without doubt the better driver.
      Time will tell, but I’m very much looking forward to next season to see how both drivers gel with their new circumstances and teammates.

      1. @sethd I’m not sure it is about track time rather than the fact that the sensation of driving a 2014 F1 car has no resemblance to the sensation of driving a 2013 F1 car: Raikkonen you will remember did the lion’s share of Ferrari’s preseason testing in a F14 T that was more reliable than most. F1 drivers have been presented with an entirely new sport, and whilst some made the change with ease since their preexisting styles suits these new cars (Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Ricciardo, Bottas), others, such as Vettel, Raikkonen and maybe even Hulkenberg have been presented with the hardest task in motorsport: the need to change their driving styles.

        1. I think some drivers are more adaptable than others. Vet, Rai, Button seem to have a large handling bias, suffering compared with others if certain attributes are not to their liking. Alo and Ham I think not so much. I believe if the car has the potential to be quick, those two will find a way to make it so, rather than it being related to preexisting styles. I.E. If either of those two were Vettels team mate, I don’t think he would have had all those titles.

          Bottas and Riccardo have not seen enough regulation changes yet to make that call for me but maybe they can also drive the hell out of anything they’re given.

          Any thoughts on this @CountryGent?

  7. Ricciardo is not the best driver of the year, sure he drove well but he made a poor start at almost every race so there’s where he loses the top step for me.

  8. Yep after yesterdays “ay?” I cant argue against Ricciardo but you could argue that any of the top 3 could be in any order. It does depend to a degree what you value most. For me Lewis’ bravery and willingness to test the limits/get it sideways puts him marginally ahead but Ricciardo’s brilliant, intelligent well judged and down right impudent (in a good way) moves on his “betters” was a breath of fresh air.

    But so was Lewis, pressure is when he’s expected to win. We will see if he can handle it. No one knows that, not even him.

  9. We are not Sun readers ,we are knowlegeble f1 fans,and while we all agree that Ricardo had an eye catching year waxing lyrics about passing Lewis and Seb on fresh tires is hardly mind blowing and impressive.plus Lewis had a championship to think about and didnt fight him. a bit of honesty and context man

    so your entire ranking is based on being good on 5 out of 17 races and making a few passes with fresh tires.

    1. Davidnotcoulthard2 (if you want to send a PM please do so to the @davidnotcoulthard account instead as this one's intended to be temporary) (@)
      18th December 2014, 15:27

      @spactus

      so your entire ranking is based on being good on 5 out of 17 races and making a few passes with fresh tires.

      No, it’s about a whole race, multiplied by 20 (or 19?), in (by far) most of which he beat a 4X champion (who failed to win a race), and won 3 races, with a car not quite as good as Team Brackley’s. It’s got nothing to do with having fresher tyres (as much as I feel VET got strategically shafted many times – maybe he eats through his tyres faster).

      Perhaps you’re a Daily Mail reader who a few decades ago was a peasant under Mao Zedong.

  10. Ricciardo was the best driver of the year because he consistently qualified strongly, raced even better, and made very few mistakes. And, of course, because he emphatically beat his four-times world champion team mate.

    That sums it up entirely for me. The only thing I would add is that he won three races in a car which was not three-quarters of a second quicker than anything else. And that is despite the Williams being the second quickest car. Ricciardo simply produced a lot of unbelievable results. He was consistently there or thereabouts in qualifying and he was absolutely fearsome from the second corner of a race until the flag.

    1. Actually the RBR was the 2nd best car on the grid, the constructor championship proves that, Williams was never a threat to them, also the 3 races he won wasn’t a straight fight with the Merc, more to do with being at the right place at the right time.

      1. Actually Williams was the second best car, looking at the WCC is a cheap way to looking at it. Williams and their drivers both botched the chance to get second in WCC.

        Examples:

        – They had a faster car in Australia, Bottas put it in the wall when they should have easily made the podium (Massa got taken out)
        – They had the faster car in Bahrain, Williams stupidly relied on their data from preseason testing to conserve when they misjudged tire wear because of the night temps
        – Massa should have won Canada, he was way quicker than the pack in front (Vet/Perez/DR) with much fresher tires and a quick car on the straight but couldn’t make it work
        – From Silverstone onwards you look at the qualifying gap (and the race gaps) and Williams were 0.5/sec quicker if not more on some circuits. 0.5/sec is a lot in F1. Only the high downforce circuits were RB able to get closer.
        – Look at Austria, Williams were on pole on merit, almost a second quicker than the Red Bulls and a genuine chance on victory. When had RB ever had that?

        1. @craig-o and @popeye pete
          Not at all, Red Bull were, on balance, everything considered the 2nd best car of 2014.

          Australia: Williams
          Malaysia: Red Bull
          Bahrain: Red Bull
          China: Red Bull
          Spain: Red Bull
          Monaco: Red Bull
          Canada: Too close to call
          Austria: Williams
          Britain: Williams
          Germany: Williams
          Hungary: Red Bull
          Belgium: Red Bull
          Monza: Williams
          Singapore: Red Bull
          Japan: Red Bull (wet)
          Russia: Williams
          USA: Williams
          Brazil: Williams
          Abu Dhabi: Williams

          That’s 8 for Williams and 10 for Red Bull.

          1. You are pretty much confirming my response to @sceptre where he says Williams was never a threat to them, when given what you listed pretty much tells you how close Williams were and really should have done a lot better than what they achieved.

            While I agree with most of those that you listed I still think Williams should have done a lot better with the car underneath them. Their trackside operations were never as good as RBs or their drivers.

            Trackside operations – An example would be Japan where Williams was a fair bit quicker than RB in qualifying in the dry but went for a drier setup even they knew it was going to rain because of the typhoon. Where is the logic in that to not go more towards a wet setup? Another one as mentioned previously, Williams not going out in Bahrain practice and relying on data from pre-season testing not taking into account the changes in track environment.

            You look at Spa for e.g. and I’d still say Williams was still the better car there. When Bottas was reeling in Vettel, he was also quicker than Ricciardo until he got stuck behind Vettel which allowed Ricciardo to create a bigger gap.

            Bottas threw away points in Oz, Massa taken out in Oz, Massa colliding with Perez in Canada. Lots of points IMO thrown away by Williams where RB maximized most of theirs either through good strategy or their drivers. RB were definitely the second best car in the first half of the yr but once Canada came around Williams started to make use of the potential the car had since pre-season testing.

  11. I still can’t understand if either RIC is cut from a very special cloth or Vettel is just a “good” driver and not the “great” driver like his numbers suggest…

    Great season for Ricciardo. IMHO, he was the only driver better than Lewis in 2014 and it was for a tiny margin.

    1. Quite simply: Vettel was a great driver with the 2009-2013 technical rules with high downforce at the back. Few if any would probably have matched him in the same car. The 2014 car doesn’t suit his driving style that he he has perfected over the last five years. So he will have to change and relearn again, and hope that Ferrari give him a decent car.

      Last year’s Toro Rosso had relatively poor downforce at the back already, so the change was less severe for Ricciardo. Plus he is an excellent driver as well.

    2. What @mike-dee said. Vettel was a great driver with those regulations, in much the same fashion Webber wasn’t as good (Webber suited the refuelling/Bridgestone era with his driving style).

      The problem is that most fans don’t notice the midfield drivers or follow them closely and it is much harder to judge but there have been plenty of times where Ricciardo’s speed showed up in the TR. I still think Ricciardo would have given Vettel a run for his money even if the regs were still in 2009-2013.

      I’d say Vettel is somewhere in between the good and the great. Hamilton/Alonso are greats IMO as Alonso is up there regardless of what changes there are in the regs. Same with Hamilton. Time will tell with Ricciardo where he ends up.

  12. What a disgrace, McIlroy should’ve been #1.

  13. I can agree with this. Ricciardo was almost faultless and beat his team mate. Alonso was almost as effective but less eye-catching, and certainly had all the reasons to do well, having a new team mate in a team he knew for years, and a car built for him. Ricciardo had none of these. However I can’t actually recall mistakes from Rosberg’s part, and while Hamilton made some he nonetheless managed to be always up in front. I think the Mercedes drivers, plus Ricciardo and Alonso would have battled very closely had they had the same car, though the outcome would be unsure. Vettel and Bottas would be slightly behind, not by much, then Button and Massa.

    1. Rosberg mistakes:

      Going off while leading in Canada (floored it over the chicane to avoid hamilton passing him, buckled under pressure basically)
      Monaco qualifying, either made a mistake or intentionally went off
      Monza – went off twice while leading the 2nd time when Hamilton was catching him (buckling under pressure)
      Russia – went off at first corner after a desperate lunge up the inside

      so yeah Rosberg made no mistakes all year..

      1. You forgot flat spotting his tires in Spa and Shoci, spinning in Q3 at china, and running wide in Austria and Hungary.

      2. Lets compare to Hamilton mistake
        Austria – Qualifying error, cost the win
        Britain – another Qualy error, but Rosberg retire in the race so it gave no effect
        Germany – broke his front wing and should’ve been 2nd
        Hungary – spinning out in the race might cost him a win
        Brazil – spinning out in the race again and fortunately its not gravel trap anymore.

        1. We were highlighting that the OP didn’t recall Rosberg making any mistake though the year, when in fact he made a lot. I doubt the broken wing in Germany had any bearing on the outcome, the Williams would have been extremely difficult to overtake wing or no wing.

  14. I think a lot of us are taking this in the wrong way. Just because we disagree with Keith’s assessment shouldn’t be cause for outrage. I would have ordered these drivers differently, but lacking the opportunity to sit in a pub with a truly knowledgable F1Fanatic and argue the merits, I’m happy for the chance to understand how he sees it.

    My guy has the WDC trophy, he’ll survive without this particular accolade. Ricciardo was wonderful this year, slow starts and all. He deserves our thanks and arguably, this honor.

    So cheers, everyone. Hope the fighting at the front is closer next year.

  15. I’d have had three joint No1’s myself but I don’t mind Ricciardo being some people’s top pick. He was a revelation, and so great to see another driver who’s both ruthless and fair in traffic.

  16. For me, Hamliton, Alonso and Ricciardo are the drivers of the year. The order, it depends… I am very biased with Fernando (since I am Spanish, and high fan of him), but he was strong as usual. But, then, you have Ricciardo, who won 3 races, well deserved (who else was there to get advantage of the Merc’s issues? Just Ricc). Hamilton, in the other hand, was driving THE CAR, ad the fact he couildn’t seize the WDC earlier is a minus point.

    I wish I could have seen Alonso in the Red Bull or the Williams (F1-Fiction, I know): take Massa for instance, and imagine what Alonso could ave accomplish with it. Then, he woud be the DOTY this season, no discussion.

    But, aye, Ricciardo is a deserved Driver of the Year.

    1. “take MAssa” I mean: Take the example of Massa, the previous year with Ferrari, and this one, he seemed a different driver. Imagine Alonso there: Williams could have been a winner this season, IMO.

    2. Davidnotcoulthard2 (if you want to send a PM please do so to the @davidnotcoulthard account instead as this one's intended to be temporary) (@)
      18th December 2014, 15:32

      Hamilton, in the other hand, was driving THE CAR, ad the fact he couildn’t seize the WDC earlier is a minus point.

      I’d disagree with that since the other guy fighting for the title was driving the same car. Which means that what made it (perhaps in the opinion of some, but not me) disappointing that HAM couldn’t take the title earlier was not because he was driving a dominant car.

      But the fact that last year ROS was not really a top-rated driver would rightly worsen his rankings (as it did in @keithcollantine ‘s).

      1. Mmmm you’re right. In fact, Hamilton had to reassemble from a poor start of the season, and the season would have finish earlier due to the Abu Dhabi points regulation.

        But Rosberg is not a WDC, nor a 4 times one, so beating him could be seen “easier” than for Ric defeat Vettel, or Alonso beating Raikkonen. C’mon, Ricciardo appeared and he won 3 times (the only winner apartr the mercs), and blasted his team mate…

        As I said, a tough choice, and as it has to be subjetiv, it will be wrong for a different point of view. One thing sure: all top-3 have reasons to be awarded.

  17. My top pick was Alonso but Ricciardo came very close by, so no big problem.
    I think Ricciardo seriously needs to improve his starts, he was really good at everything else.
    Also Ricciardo had two or three things going for him which maybe a bit unfair (I mean they should not count but for many people they do)
    -He is seemingly a real nice guy
    -He is perceived as a near-rookie
    -He has performed much above expectations

  18. @keithcollantine you just proved that your rankings are absurd. You rank Vergne as #16 and Ricciardo #1???
    That proves that you are not ranking the performance of the driver, but the performance of the driver AND the car… this rankings are useless.

    Vergne was always close to Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso, not doubt Ricciardo would’ve beaten him in the Red Bull, but there’s NO WAY these two talented drivers are THAT far in the rankings! Nonsense!!!!
    Same thing for BOTTAS IN FOURTH PLACE???? He was slightly better than MASSA, the guy who didn’t manage to win a race in a WDC fighting car. Vergne was on the same level than him in 2014, they would’ve been closely matched in 2014.

    Think about it, because I really think your rankings don’t make any sense. Are you rating driver or car performance?

    1. Because what happens in any other season is sort of redundant to this year’s rankings. @francorchamps17

  19. Keisoglou Alexandros (@)
    18th December 2014, 15:48

    “The transition from a midfield team to a top outfit is one many drivers have struggled with before – just look at Sergio Perez last year”.

    But, when Perez joined McLaren, they had droped from the top(2012) to the midfield(2013).

    Otherwise, great article, as always, Keith.
    Keep up the great work!!!

    1. True, but did Perez consistently out drive Button over the whole year? No. Saying that he did better in comparison than Magnussen did in 2014. But out of Perez 2013 and Danny 2014 who performed better against WDC-winning team mates? The answer is clear.

      1. @clay but just in case you didn’t observe well enough, Perez was riddled was misfortunes and poorly timed overtakes (some of which he weren’t his fault at all). For example, tyre explosions in Britian and Korea yet he still scored in Korea (DNF in Britian though), contact with Kimi Raikkonen at Monaco which lead to a brake or suspension failure if I’m not mistaken as well as accident damage on top of that. Brazil he had a big hit on the wall coming out of turn five which place him in 19th on the grid (including a gearbox penalty) and still finished in a strong 6th place. Perez gave Button a run for his money in Bahrain, Canada, India (Checo’s best race of the year), Abu Dhabi and the USA and was also a competitive match against Button in qualifying. The majority of the time luck was not on Checo’s side but when it was, he matched Button and beat Button on most of those occasions. I still wonder what he could’ve done against Button this year cause Magnussen proved to be a awful match. Even though he was only a rookie, he still should’ve done a lot better because he had much better luck compared to Checo

  20. ‘Ricciardo was the best driver of the year because he consistently qualified strongly, raced even better, and made very few mistakes. And, of course, because he emphatically beat his four-times world champion team mate.’

    By that logic, Rosberg should have been ranked no: 1 driver in 2012. After all, he emphatically beat his seven-times world champion team mate!

    Ricciardo made very few mistakes because he had very little pressure. Max Chilton, Mr Consistent himself, hardly made any mistakes for the same reason. Ricciardo and Alonso did not have the pressure of competing for a world championship. (Incidentally, Ricciardo has no experience of competing for an F1 title and this should be factored into whether he would have done a better job than Hamilton.) In fact, neither driver had any pressure, because their teammates were so poor.

    Vettel either had an off-year in 2014 or has been exposed: Newey has a history of making decent drivers look phenomenal c.f. Hill and Villeneuve. Either way, we should be very wary of drawing too many positive conclusions regarding Ricciardo’s ability.

    I don’t see how any serious commentator could hold the view that Ricciardo was the best driver of 2014. I can think of no-one else who holds this view. The team bosses’ poll is the most important and Hamilton topped that…

  21. I still feel that Ricciardo is not that special at all. I expect Kvyat to give Ricciardo a run for his money next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ricciardo was beaten by Kvyat next year. However, I agree with the fair assessment from Keith.

    1. @eclairstone Ricciardo was slightly better than Vergne. Vergne destroyed Kvyat.
      Ricciardo > Vergne >>> Kvyat.
      The RIC/KVY points ratio will be the same than the ALO/RAI this year.

      1. During Vergne and Ricciardo’s time together at STR, Ricciardo almost doubled the number of top 10 finishes of Vergne (13 to 7), and in dry race weekends the points score was 29 to 8. ricciardo also out qualified Vergne by an average 7 tenths looking at only the qualifying session the both set a time in.

        So many would say Vergne didn’t hold a candle to Ricciardo but for a few good wet races where he claimed bags of points.

    2. @eclairstone so you’re saying that Vettel is not that special if Ricciardo practically destroyed him in his first full season at Red Bull racking up 3 wins and many other podium places whereas Vettel’s best placing all year was 3rd despite taking his 4th WDC in a row. Try and understand that logic mate

  22. Thanks for the rankings, Keith! I appreciate your objectivity. Even if I don’t 100% agree with everything, it’s a pretty good list. I think Vergne should have been a bit higher, but I agree with the top 3.

    I’d be interested to see articles where you ranked certain previous seasons, such as 1992. Was Nigel really the best that year? Was Prost better in 1984? Etc.

  23. With all this talk about his bad starts (it seems to be the only thing his detractors can think of), it’s made me wonder how much is due to the engineers on that side of the garage, considering Webber’s reputation.

    Frankly I put very little weight in drivers’ starting ability, you can see one driver smash it out of the park one week then completely fluff it the next, the margins are tiny. If you take the starts as a random factor then Ricciardo’s consistency of results is even more impressive.

    1. It also doesn’t help when you qualify a Renault engined car among Mercedes engines.

  24. Michael Counsell
    18th December 2014, 20:32

    I would have said Ricciardo was the best driver but after reading the writeups, I would now probably go with Alonso now. More often than not Ricciardo edged out Vettel whereas Alonso destroyed Raikkonen on almost every occasion (I hadn’t really quite comprehended how one sided their inter team battle was). Ricciardo’s overtaking was brilliant but Alonso was also very impressive particularly in the opening laps. Ricciardo’s poor starts also left him with more to do however he always did what he needed to do in some style. Hamilton had it a bit too easy (not his fault) to be really tested as often as anyone else who was not in a Mercedes to really stand out as the best however I can’t argue with him being number 3.

  25. Ricacardo lost more places on lap 1 than any other driver. Apart form that he was the 2nd best driver on the grid

    1. Agree with you 100%. But the Ricciardo faithful wont listen to you. If he doesnt sort it out soon, Kvyat would take advantage of this and dent DR’s Rep. Its gonna be a fascinating battle between these two but i still expect DR to come out on top, but expect Kyvat to show up Ricciardos bad starts

  26. As an american, I’m shocked Hammy wasn’t chosen as the top driver on considering this is a Euro website (well, they aren’t any american F1 sites LOL). I’m an Alonso fan myself FYI.

    I agree with Keith to an extent but regardless, for those you are upset…. you do realize its simply one person’s opinion right ? LMAO Yeah, Hammy is WDC but in all honesty, the question you could ask yourselves is “How would Ricciardo or Alonso fared against Rosberg if they were in the sister car?”

  27. http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/statistics/2014-f1-statistics/race-data/#positionchangeonlapone

    I do agree with Keith on this one, but just thought I’d throw that link out there as an interesting observation. Makes you think how much longer he could stayed within touching distance of the title fight, had his starts been better.

  28. I’m just thinking back to this time last year, when Webber claimed that Danny would blitz Vettel. As an Aussie (and from Danny’s home town) I was hopeful that Danny would do well, but I thought Webber’s comments were probably sour grapes to some extent. Clearly he knew something we didn’t.

    And fellow F1 Fanatics, I think the immature rantings of some of us who disagree with the rankings, especially the top 3, is a bit, well, stupid. They are based on opinion, informed observation and statistics. Everyone’s opinion will be different, and in a sport where the car makes such a difference in performance a degree of guesswork has to come into play dependent on what car each driver has in their hands. So if you disagree, that’s fine (i do too with some of them). But if you so vehemently disagree with the rankings that it really, REALLY upsets you, don’t comment or don’t visit the site in protest. But get a grip seriously, it’s an end of year ranking article for crying out loud…

  29. @keithcollantine that is exactly how Ricciardo’s season went when put into words. From an Australian point of view, I thought from the moment Red Bull signed Ricciardo over Vergne and Raikkonen was the best decision that Red Bull could’ve made. Red Bull obviously saw something special in Dan because I never saw Red Bull give any other driver but Dan every Friday FP session for the first half of a season with Toro Rosso and then make arrangements with a backmarker team (in this case, HRT) and then give that driver a guaranteed seat at Toro Rosso. I’m hoping (and I doubt this WON’T happen) that Daniel Ricciardo will carve his name in F1’s history as one of the greats and up there with Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones as Australia’s Formula 1 success stories

  30. This ranking is sort of head scratching… While I’m a HUGE Daniel Ricciardo fan and find him a top 5 driver on the grid, this is sort of puzzling. You’re giving more credence to him out-(qualifying/racing/performing) his teammate than any other criteria. Both Vettel and Ricciardo had 3 DNF’s or DSQ’s so they cancel each other out. Two of Daniel’s 3 wins came by way of Mercedes reliability issues. Vettel finished qualifying on the podium 6 times compared to his 5. However, Vettel’s avg starting position is calculated at 6.94 or for sake of argument 7. You say Ricciardo qualified strong yet his avg starting position is 6.26 just a shade in front of his teammate. His avg finish is 3.1. Vettel’s avg finish is 4.3. Again, Ricciardo is a shade in front of his teammate. Based on those numbers how does he finished as the #1 driver of 2014?

    1. well, I don’t think this is based on THOSE numbers.

  31. I think it couldn’t be more obvious than Daniel Ricciardo. I think over the past 5 seasons it couldn’t be more obvious that RBR as a team and all it’s individuals are capable of extracting the most be more efficient on track than anyone else.

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