2015 mid-season F1 driver rankings part one: 20-13

Driver Rankings

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In the ten years since the F1 Fanatic Driver Rankings began there’s probably never been a trickier season to place the competitors in order.

At the front of the field we have two drivers whose cars are so quick they almost invariably occupy the front row. The team at the back are regularly whole seconds off the pace.

How to compare the efforts of two world champions at a team so far from the pace they’ve managed just four points scores between them? Or a pair of exciting young rookies whose cars seem to break down more often than not?

Rather than just pick a ‘top ten drivers of the year so far’, the F1 Fanatic Driver Rankings attempts to make sense of the complex game that is grand prix racing and filter out the top drivers from the top cars. The usual mass of data has been compiled, and in a first you can find detailed race-by-race notes on each driver in each of the three parts of the overall rankings.

But inevitably the data can only take us so far, and the final ranking is a large part down to my own interpretations and opinions. Whether you agree or disagree, share your views in the comments, and look out for the next two parts over the coming days.

20: Marcus Ericsson

Marcus Ericsson

Beat team mate in qualifying4/10
Beat team mate in race2/8
Races finished9/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate187/520

In his final few races with Caterham last year Ericsson appeared to have raised his game, but so far this year he’s managed to aggravate Sauber’s stagnant development and frequent car problems with mistakes of his own. These have served to undermine what promise he has shown, notably in Malaysia where having reached Q3 he spun the car into a gravel bed on lap three.

Lately the C34 has dropped further from the pace, but Ericsson has tended to lag behind his less experienced team mate and continued to make things hard from himself, such as with his jump start at the Red Bull Ring and too-soon switch to intermediates at Silverstone. He’s managed to collect a few points, but so far the only memorable points of his campaign have been the mistakes.

Marcus Ericsson 2015 form guide

19: Roberto Merhi

Roberto Merhi

Beat team mate in qualifying3/8
Beat team mate in race3/6
Races finished8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate144/418

Merhi was dealt a tough hand with zero time in the car before Australia, no prior grand prix experience, a simultaneous Formula Renault 3.5 campaign, a very uncompetitive chassis and a considerable weight penalty compared to his team mate.

Perhaps inevitably, he lagged well off Stevens’ pace to begin with, and also struggled with some of the more complex aspects of the F1 rule book, particularly regarding Safety Cars. His rate of progress has been impressive, however, and of late has begun to put one over Stevens in qualifying and the race. It’s doubtful he’s going to be able to accomplish much more than that in a Manor, however.

Roberto Merhi 2015 form guide

18: Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado

Beat team mate in qualifying1/10
Beat team mate in race1/3
Races finished4/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate93/375

With a competitive car underneath him for the first time since his breakthrough 2012 season, this should be the year that a mature Maldonado shrugged off his label as a crash-prone liability and started to deliver. Instead he’s continued to be the same exasperating mix of too-frequent incidents and too-rare glimpses of pace.

If anything the latter are now fewer and farther between than earlier in his career. He’s only out-qualified Grosjean once, in Monaco, and had the misfortune to be sidelined by a brake fault early in the race. He took a deserved seventh in Canada on a day when it was the other Lotus driver who messed up.

But far more often we have seen him get on the wrong side of officialdom (he has incurred almost twice as many penalties as any other driver) or get involved in the kind of needless incidents that might have been avoided with a little more circumspection. His contact with Nasr in Australia and Grosjean in Spain showed he still hasn’t learned the value of self-preservation over being uncompromising.

Pastor Maldonado 2015 form guide

17: Will Stevens

Will Stevens

Beat team mate in qualifying5/8
Beat team mate in race3/6
Races finished7/8
Laps spent ahead of team mate274/418

Aside from his off-track excursion during the British Grand Prix, Stevens has usually been the safe pair of hands Manor badly needs. With only a single F1 race to his name before the season began, this is a respectable accomplishment.

He comfortably had the beating of Merhi to begin with, which was a surprise given their relative performances in Formula Renault 3.5 last year. However the pendulum has swung in recent races, which has taken the shine of Stevens’ start to the year.

Will Stevens 2015 form guide

16: Felipe Nasr

Felipe Nasr

Beat team mate in qualifying6/10
Beat team mate in race6/8
Races finished9/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate333/520

Nasr arrived at Melbourne, a totally new circuit to him, missed first practice due to Sauber’s legal wrangles with Giedo van der Garde, yet brought the car home in an excellent fifth place. Given Sauber’s lack of development since then, it’s not entirely surprising Nasr hasn’t come close to recapturing that high, though he was the highest-placed rookie in Monaco.

He has made mistakes of his own, however, such as tangling with Raikkonen in Malaysia. There have been some races where he never seemed to get on top of the car, notably in Canada, where he suffered a bizarre crash in after opening his DRS while warming his tyres during practice. Sauber’s unreliability hasn’t helped: Brake problems blunted his progress in Monaco and Austria.

Hungary might have afforded another Melbourne-like opportunity, but unusually Nasr found himself out-paced by Ericsson, who he has usually shaded so far.

Felipe Nasr 2015 form guide

15: Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

Beat team mate in qualifying2/10
Beat team mate in race4/8
Races finished9/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate192/551

If Perez produced more drives of the quality he showed at Monaco he would be a lot further up this list. Seventh on the grid and seventh in the race was undoubtedly the limit of what the Force India was capable of at that point. He impressed in Bahrain too, defying the team’s belief that they couldn’t make a two-stop strategy work, and recovered to ninth in Austria after being knocked out in Q1.

However team mate Nico Hulkenberg has tended to show him the way this year, particularly in qualifying. Perez has also made life difficult for himself with some unnecessary errors – colliding with Grosjean in Malaysia and passing Ericsson under the Safety Car in Australia – but has usually been dependable enough and has contributed a substantial chunk of Force India’s points tally.

Sergio Perez 2015 form guide

14: Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen

Beat team mate in qualifying2/10
Beat team mate in race2/7
Races finished7/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate150/529

Last year Raikkonen’s difficulties at Ferrari were explained away by him being unhappy with the car. That’s no longer the case, but repeated technical niggles have taken their toll, never more clearly than in the most recent race where he suffered a breakdown on each of the three days of running.

Notwithstanding this and other mitigating factors – dodgy pit stops in Australia, being hit by Nasr in Malaysia, using old-specification bodywork in Spain – it’s clear he is being out-paced by new team mate Sebastian Vettel. Raikkonen has only qualified ahead twice, and one of those times was due to Vettel having a problem with his car. This has usually left him playing catch-up in the races, and while he has done so successfully on some occasions – notably Bahrain, his best drive of the year – on others he has disappointed – such as his podium-losing spin in Canada and lap one crash in Austria.

He let himself down badly at Silverstone as well, where Vettel blew him away once the rain fell, leaving Raikkonen to make a hasty switch to intermediate tyres which ruined his race. Now with less than half of Vettel’s points tally, Ferrari have all the reason they need to look elsewhere next year.

Kimi Raikkonen 2015 form guide

13: Jenson Button

Jenson Button

Beat team mate in qualifying4/8
Beat team mate in race0/1
Races finished5/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate46/180

Despite his solid 2014 campaign McLaren dithered over whether to keep Button on board. He avoided the axe, but his reward was half a season in arguably the worst car to carry the designation ‘MP4’.

Button’s done what he can with the slow and unreliable Honda-powered machine, which included the team’s first points of the season with eighth in Monaco. Indeed, he probably would have got the car in Q3 had Nico Rosberg not brought out the yellow flags. But he made a very un-Button-like error in China, tangling with Maldonado, and of the two McLaren drivers it’s usually Button who is most at odds with the car’s handling.

Jenson Button 2015 form guide

Extended notes on each driver

Click below to read more about each driver’s performance in every round so far this year:

Marcus Ericsson

Australia – Took the first points of his career on a difficult weekend for Sauber as neither driver was able to run in first practice due to their ongoing legal problems. However he was unhappy with his car’s braking and consequently rarely looked like the more experienced Sauber driver. It was Ericsson who failed to get through Q1, and at the end of the race he was over a minute behind Nasr.

Malaysia – Made it into Q3 at Raikkonen’s expense but threw away a chance of another points finish by spinning into the gravel on lap three.

China – Decent qualifying performance saw him into Q3 and ultimately line up tenth – just less than a tenth of a second off his team mate. Spent a lot of the race battling for position but was passed more often than he passed others. Struggled with front tyre wear and inherited the last points position after Verstappen’s late retirement.

Bahrain – Gained four places on the first lap to run ninth but his progress was stymied by a problem with his front left wheel nut which dropped him back to 17th and ended his pursuit of a points finish.

Spain – Raffaele Marciello drove his car in the first practice session, and his lack of running perhaps told in Q1 where he failed to make the cut. He struggled to make progress in the race and was unimpressed at being held up by his team mate at one stage.

Monaco – An ERS problem confined him to the garage during second practice, but rain meant he wouldn’t have run much anyway. Dropped out in Q1 with his worst qualifying result yet, and made little impression in the race.

Canada – Sauber did not have the benefit of Ferrari’s engine upgrade in Canada. Ericsson blamed traffic for not qualifying better but still came out ahead of his team mate. He ran to a lowly 14th, then had to park up immediately after the chequered flag with a fuel system problem.

Austria – Failed to make the cut in Q2, where Nasr beat him by over seven tenths of a second. Jumped the start, collecting a penalty, and was further hampered by intermittent power cut-outs on his car.

Britain – Missed first practice as Raffaele Marciello was in his car. Got through into Q2 but only ended up one place in front of his team mate, suggesting this was the Sauber’s level. Points were possible in the race but he got his tyre strategy badly wrong when the rain fell: pitting too soon for intermediates then compounding his error by switching to slicks just before the rain returned.

Hungary – Both Sauber drivers received the confidence-boosting news that they’d been retained for 2016 ahead of the race weekend. Ericsson out-qualified his team mate but the pair had only the Manors behind them. A race of attrition presented the opportunity to pick up a point and Ericsson was the one who capitalised, leading Nasr home.

Roberto Merhi

Malaysia – Did 23 laps in practice – three fewer than Stevens – and his best lap in third practice was 6.98% slower than than fastest time. He wasn’t able to get within the 107% mark in qualifying but the stewards allowed him to start on the strength of his practice performance. Surprisingly the car ran reliably to the end, and Merhi finished a thrice-lapped 15th, albeit after holding up Button due to his hesitation behind the Safety Car.

China – Went into qualifying on the back foot after electrical problems in final practice kept him from doing a run on the soft tyres. Passed Stevens at the start, but was re-passed during the opening stint. Ran last for the vast majority of the race and was around 15 seconds behind his team mate at the time of the Safety Car, later receiving a five second time penalty after failing to adhere to the Safety Car time delta.

Bahrain – Slipped up at turn four on his final run in qualifying and ended up over a second off his team mate as a result. He got ahead of Stevens at the start but felt he took too much out of his tyres trying to keep his team mate behind at the start.

Spain – Merhi is 12 kilos heavier than his team mate, which goes some way towards explaining the performance gap between them. He was unable to do his second run in qualifying when his car developed an ERS fault after he’d been called to the weigh bridge, and in the race he finished a good 40 seconds behind his team mate. It remains to be seen if he’ll be in the car for the next race.

Monaco – Crashed during practice but brought his car home ahead of his team mate for the first time, while avoiding a penalty for crossing the pit lane exit line.

Canada – Beat Stevens in qualifying for the first time this year by little more than two-hundredths of a second, and was on course to lead him home in the race until a driveshaft fault put him out.

Austria – Technical trouble limited his running on Friday but despite that and not having run the super-soft tyre he comfortably beat his team mate – and was faster through sector one than Raikkonen’s Ferrari! Unsurprisingly he was the last driver running at the flag, though 14th is Manor’s best result so far.

Britain – Had a spin at Luffield during second practice but managed to get going again just as the red flags came out. Was one of many drivers to have a time deleted in qualifying, but even so was a long was off his team mate’s pace. Nonetheless he avoided the major pitfalls in the race to take a best-yet finish of 12th.

Hungary – Having already raced at the Hungaroring this year, Merhi sat out the first practice session while Fabio Leimer had his first run in the car. Nonetheless he out-qualified Stevens and briefly got ahead of the Saubers at the start, but had to pit to have a loose headrest seen to. He was running ahead of Stevens when his team mate dropped out.

Pastor Maldonado

Australia – Had he given Nasr’s Sauber a little more room in turn two, a top five finish would have been possible. “It’s disappointing because it was a great chance for us to have a great race,” he said.

Malaysia – Was near the end of the queue in Q2 and missed the cut for the top ten. In the race he suffered and puncture at the start and was penalised for driving too quickly during the Safety Car period, then retired with a brake problem while running behind Grosjean.

China – Missed out on Q3 by three hundredths of a second. Blamed a braking issue for his pit entry lock-up, had no one else to blame for his spin a few laps later but was blameless in the collision with Button that forced him into retirement for the third consecutive race.

Bahrain – In Q1 his front brakes were continuing to apply pressure even when he wasn’t using them, causing a loss of a straightline speed, meaning he was unable to progress to the next stage. He also picked up a five-second penalty for failing to take his place properly on the grid. But with plenty of soft tyres he was able to make rapid progress on a three-stop strategy and probably would have finished in the points had his engine not stopped during his final pit stop.

Spain – Gearbox trouble limited his running in first practice. Having qualified behind Grosjean he passed his team mate early in the race but picked up rear wing damage as he did, which cost him time at his first pit stop as the broken end plate was removed. This put him back down the order, and the team later decided the limited potential for points scoring was not worth the risk of incurring further damage.

Monaco – Produced his best qualifying performance so far at a track where he usually excels, but retired early on with a braking problem.

Canada – Backed up Grosjean in sixth despite a spin early in qualifying. Having lost a place to Hulkenberg at the start he pitted early and ran the longest stint of any driver – 53 laps on the soft rubber – to take his first points of the season for seventh.

Austria – Demonstrated Lotus’s potential with the fourth-fastest time on Friday, ahead of Hamilton, but blamed traffic for failing to accompany his team mate into Q3. He seemed to be distracted by Ericsson’s jump start and lost two places on the first lap, but recovered to finish seventh. On his way he jumped past Perez in the pits, and held on to some increasingly lurid slides as he found a way past Verstappen.

Britain – Like Grosjean, Maldonado also dropped out in Q2, and was also eliminated in the first-lap collision at Village.

Hungary – Lotus missed the beginning of final practice as Pirelli had withheld their tyres due to a payment dispute. The timing of the red flag in Q2 was unfortunate for him, though it was for several other drivers too, and he ended up missing the cut. His race was a depressing litany of mistakes which a driver in his fifth year of F1 should not be making: contact with Perez, speeding in the pits and overtaking under the Safety Car. And yet somehow his penalty points total only increased by two.

Will Stevens

Malaysia – Only participated in practice as a fuel system problem kept him from qualifying or starting the race.

China – Out-qualified Merhi in his first qualifying run of the season. Was finally able to take to the start of a race this season but was passed by his team mate on the opening lap. Stevens overtook Merhi on lap nine and then concentrated on reaching the chequered flag, which he ultimately did, two laps down in 15th.

Bahrain – Was compromised at the start by Pastor Maldonado lining up in the wrong grid position, which meant he fell behind Merhi for the first five laps. After finding a way by he led his team mate home and his better race pace meant he was lapped once fewer.

Spain – Came out on top of the two Manor drivers as usual, despite falling behind Merhi at the start of the race.

Monaco – Damaged his car at the start and had to cope with it until the end. Fell behind Merhi and couldn’t get back ahead.

Canada – Said he was a little less comfortable with his car than usual after being pipped by Merhi in qualifying. Was running behind his team mate at the time of his collision with Grosjean. “I left him so much room,” said Stevens. “It was an unnecessary accident.”

Austria – Spun in qualifying and was over a second slower than his team mate, though he said traffic was to blame. His race was over quickly after debris damaged his radiator on the first lap.

Britain – Was more comfortable with the car balance on Friday as the pair evaluated the team’s upgrade package. He out-qualified Merhi by a whopping two seconds but lost time in the pits when his team weren’t ready for him. An early switch to intermediates also made life difficult – he spun off on worn tyres late in the race, losing his front wing.

Hungary – Admitted to a mistake on his first qualifying run, then struggled to improve on it on his second. Scrapped with Merhi over the final two places before retiring with a vibration.

Felipe Nasr

Australia – Given that he hadn’t driven around the Albert Park circuit before, that Sauber don’t have a simulator for him to use and the team didn’t run in first practice, Nasr did a first-rate job to get his car into Q3 and bring it home in fifth place. He navigated the turn one trouble spot well and withstood race-long pressure from Ricciardo.

Malaysia – Never looked happy with his car’s set-up all weekend, though missing the first practice session while Raffaele Marciello drove didn’t help. Damaged his front wing in contact with Raikkonen at the end of lap one and so made the first of four pit stops on lap two. He did set the fourth-fastest lap of the race, however.

China – Performed well in qualifying to secure his best grid slot of the season so far with ninth. Passed by Verstappen in the first stint and then struggled to catch the Toro Rosso back in the final section of the race. Gained eighth from Verstappen after the Toro Rosso stopped, but will likely be satisfied with his afternoon’s work.

Bahrain – Qualified ahead of Ericsson but fell behind him at the start. A problem with his power unit meant he was out-gunned on the straights, and he finished the race stuck behind Alonso’s McLaren.

Spain – Blamed the Sauber’s lack of downforce for an inability to get the most from either the medium or the hard tyre, and said his finishing position of 12th was the best his car was capable of.

Monaco – Having also gone out in Q1, Nasr did well to salvage points in a car which plainly lacks downforce and development.

Canada – A nasty-looking crash in final practice was blamed on Nasr hitting the DRS button while he was weaving to warm his tyres up. Mercifully only his pride and car were damaged. Suffered a lack of power from the start of the race and had to cope with overheating brakes as well.

Austria – Fifth-quickest in first practice and was satisfied to reach Q3, although he was another driver who was hampered by the yellow flags Mercedes caused. Might have been able to hang on for the final point had his brakes not overheated – a problem which delayed him in Canada as well.

Britain – Didn’t get his tyres in the right temperature range in Q1 and was eliminated. A gearbox fault on his reconnaissance lap meant he was a non-starter.

Hungary – Struggled with overheating tyres in qualifying and lined up 18th. An anonymous weekend continued into the race, where he complained of being stuck in traffic and was 11th behind Ericsson at the flag.

Sergio Perez

Australia – Interestingly, when the FIA discovered Perez had overtaken Ericsson under the Safety Car they chose to tell him to hand the position back instead of dishing out a penalty as they did to Heikki Kovalainen in similar circumstances three years ago. He had to let Button past while doing that, and later spun while trying to pass the McLaren. He got past in the end, however, and collected the final point.

Malaysia – For the second weekend in a row Perez had a disappointing race. He lost a lot of ground after the Safety Car period as his medium tyres began to fade, then an unnecessary collision with Grosjean meant he also received a ten-second penalty.

China – The first car to be eliminated in Q2, Perez was one of the few drivers to opt for an aggressive three stop strategy to try and make places through the field. Was catching Ericsson’s tenth placed Sauber in the final stint, but was unlikely to have ever challenged him even without the Safety Car.

Bahrain – Force India’s simulations showed the downforce deficient VJM08 would not be able to use the same two-stop strategy as many of the team’s rivals. But Perez made it work and brought the car home in eighth place, a result the four-time podium finisher called “one of my best races”.

Spain – A long final stint on medium tyres allowed him to hold off Ericsson for 13th place, but any repeat of his Bahrain heroics was out of the question on a track where the VJM08’s shortcomings were so clearly exposed.

Monaco – It’s hard to see how he might have improved on seventh in qualifying and the race given that he had three pairs of faster cars – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – ahead of him each time.

Canada – If he’d been able to replicate his Q2 lap time in Q3 he’d have started eighth on the grid behind his team mate, but struggled to generate tyre temperature on his out lap. Tyre, brake and fuel-saving was the story of the latter part of Perez’s race. He finished eleventh, and Force India’s effort to get another penalty for Grosjean so their man would inherit tenth came to naught.

Austria – Stuck behind Alonso in Q1, with Raikkonen close behind, and failed to make the cut on the drying track. However he started well, despite being on the harder tyres, and nabbed a place off Grosjean at the restart. After switching to super-softs for the second stint, he was able to pass Kvyat and Nasr for ninth place.

Britain – Narrowly missed out on joining his team mate in the top ten shoot-out but said the updated VJM08 still has much untapped potential. Scrapped with both the Ferrari drivers during the race but finished behind both of them, saying he waited too long to put on intermediates at the end.

Hungary – A right-rear suspension failure cause a substantial crash in first practice, and Perez admitted afterwards he’d been scared when his car flipped over. He bounced back to take 13th on the grid and mimicked his team mate by making up five places at the start. However he was turfed off the track by Maldonado while passing the Lotus, and with a damaged car and a lengthening brake pedal Force India later opted to retire him.

Kimi Raikkonen

Australia – Narrowly out-qualified by Vettel, Raikkonen was squeezed by his team mate in the first corner, then hit from behind by Sainz. That knocked the car into anti-stall mode and dropped him back to eighth. He later passed Sainz but a slow first pit stop dropped him further back, and more problems at the second stop forced him out. A luckless start to 2015, but there was much comfort to be drawn from his and the team’s promising performance.

Malaysia – Missed the cut for Q3 after getting stuck behind Ericsson – “he was there trying to do his job”, Raikkonen conceded – and his weekend got worse when the race started. Nasr tagged the back of his Ferrari, puncturing a tyre, and after it was replaced Raikkonen had fallen to 18th place. The Safety Car played into his hands, however, and a three-stop strategy allowed him to spend more time on medium tyres so he could make up places. His recovery to a comfortable fourth underlined Ferrari’s pace.

China – Failed to beat the Williams in qualifying after complaining of balance problems during his final run. Leapt into fourth at the start with an aggressive move on Bottas into Turn Three and spent the first two stints behind Vettel. Had an opportunity to challenge for the podium with fresher tyres in the last stint, but the late Safety Car robbed him of a chance to challenge.

Bahrain – Despite being out-qualified by his team mate again it was Raikkonen who took the fight to Mercedes in the race by running an alternative strategy, saving his soft tyres for the final stint. He was catching the Mercedes at over a second per lap in the closing stages, and he was poised to strike at Rosberg when the Mercedes’ braking problem handed him second place.

Spain – Mystified by his car’s handling on Friday and repeatedly complained about a lack of grip during the afternoon session. For Saturday the decision was taken for Raikkonen not to use all of the team’s newest parts, and having been compromised further by an unusual problem with a tyre warmer he could only manage seventh on the grid. A combative first lap got him past both the Toro Rossos, but the extra step needed to get him ahead of Bottas wasn’t there – he spent the last ten laps pressuring the Williams driver.

Monaco – Hit the barrier in practice, then had another sub-par qualifying session and lined up sixth behind the two Red Bulls. He jumped Ricciardo at the pit stops but was passed by the Red bull after the restart – a move he took serious exception to.

Canada – With Vettel sidelined, Ferrari needed Raikkonen to deliver in qualifying and this time he did, netting a useful third. However a spin after his pit stop allowed Bottas to jump him for third place, and after aggressively spinning his tyres up he had to pit for a new set. Fortunately no one else was close enough to take advantage. He pitted for a fresh set of tyres but couldn’t catch the Williams – afterwards Maurizio Arrivabene suggested Raikkonen was managing some other problem at this stage.

Austria – Wasn’t able to do a long run on the super-soft tyres on Friday after locking up and damaging them. Dropped out in Q1, blaming the team for not getting him out in time to do three flying laps, though his team mate didn’t need that many to get the job done. Crashed out on the first lap of the race, taking Alonso with him, and couldn’t explain why afterwards. Not his best weekend.

Britain – Looked quick from the word go in practice and deserved to line up in front of Vettel. He was passed by Hulkenberg at the start, but pit strategy got him back ahead. But it all went wrong when the rain arrived and Vettel shot past him. Raikkonen made the call for intermediates but sooner regretted it as the track started to dry, ruining his tyres. He spun, made another stop for fresh rubber and was lapped before finishing eighth.

Hungary – The Hungarian Grand Prix was a depressing litany of misfortune for Raikkonen. First his front wing failed on Friday, then a water leak sidelined him on Saturday. The latter kept him from doing a run on the soft tyres ahead of qualifying, and he ended up fifth on the grid. He followed Vettel through at the start, passing Rosberg for second in turn two, and though he didn’t have his team mate’s pace he was on for a solid second place when his MGU-K packed up. Even then a points finish might have been possible had the Safety Car not wiped out the buffer he’d built over his pursuers.

Jenson Button

Australia – Got within a five-hundredths of a second of Ericsson’s Sauber in qualifying. Using conservative engine settings he got the McLaren to the end of the race, and even managed a brief scrap with Perez. He found quite a bit more pace on his final lap too.

Malaysia – Few of Alonso’s recent team mates have kept him in sight as successfully as Button did during the brief amount of time both were on track during the Malaysian Grand Prix. Like Alonso, Button also failed to finish, in his case due to a turbo failure.

China – An encouraging tenth in second practice, but the pace was not there for the team in qualifying and 17th on the grid was likely the best he could achieve. Button lost out to Alonso at the start and ran the Medium tyre in his last stint. Button admitted the collision with Pastor Maldonado was a misjudgement and he received a five second time penalty and points on his superlicense as a result.

Bahrain – A wasted weekend – electrical problems kept him from setting a lap in qualifying and despite being given a dispensation to start the race he was unable to do that either due to further technical trouble.

Spain – Set the eighth-quickest time on Friday and accompanied Alonso into Q2 – a first for the team this year. However he was disturbed by his car’s handling in the first half of the race, and though it improved later on he could only manage 16th in front of the two Manors.

Monaco – Was certain he would have reached Q3 had he not lost time due to yellow flags brought out by Rosberg spinning. He inherited two places to start tenth, and capitalised on retirements ahead of him to finish eighth and deliver McLaren’s first points of the season.

Canada – A power unit failure at the end of final practice meant Button was a spectator in qualifying, much as he was in Bahrain. He also had to serve a drive-through penalty after changing power unit components, and just as he was relishing the prospect of bolting on super-softs for a late push, his car broke down too. An abject weekend for McLaren.

Austria – Eliminated in Q1 having been one of the first drivers across the line after the chequered flag came out on a drying track. That meant his 25-place penalty became a stop-and-go penalty for the race. Button was all in favour of getting his mandatory pit stop out of the way behind the Safety Car, meaning he could run to the end of the race after taking his penalty. But we’ll never know how that would have worked out, as his car developed a problem and his team elected to stop rather than risk losing another power unit.

Britain – Sounded very unhappy with his car’s balance throughout practice, so it was no surprise to see him line up with just the Manors in his mirrors. The melee at turn one brought an early end to his 16th home race.

Hungary – Baffled by his car’s behaviour in final practice, but would have made the cut for Q2 had it not been for a power unit problem which robbed him of ERS delivery on the straight. Unlike Alonso, Button did not pit to change tyres under the Safety Car, and he was powerless to prevent his rivals demoting him to ninth. Nonetheless, this was McLaren’s first double points score of 2015.

How the rankings are produced

Among the data referred to in producing the ranks are notes on each driver’s performance at each race weekend, direct comparisons between team mates and each driver’s form guide.

Over to you

How do you think these eight drivers have performed so far in 2015?

Have your say in the comments.

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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121 comments on “2015 mid-season F1 driver rankings part one: 20-13”

  1. Merhi 19º? Button 13º? Absurd!

    1. @Juanj Merhi has been firmly beaten on a number of occasions by Stevens, but for me Nasr is a little too low, surely he should be ahead of Perez?

      1. Merhi has had worst car that Steven sometimes. Stevens is a pay driver, Merhi runs free= worst equipment

        1. On what evidence is this based on? Perhaps you could elaborate…

    2. Based on that comment there’s no why of telling whether you think they should be higher or lower, let alone why.

      1. @keithcollantine It perhaps is a little harsh on JB, since he has looked to have a pace advantage on Fernando on some tracks this year, most notably Monaco. On this basis I am expecting to see Alonso outside of the top ten, although if deficit to teammate is a reference, Rosberg should perhaps also not be in the top ten. Then again, how much competing is really going on at McLaren at the moment? It is almost erroneous to include a test team who are not exactly doing any comparative driver development in these rankings.

        Merhi is a different story. See my thoughts in full.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          5th August 2015, 16:16

          @countrygent, agree! It is difficult to judge the McLaren drivers against the rest. Not just for the low number of laps completed, but also because we do not know how hard the guys had to fight in a very difficult car and potentially ‘over-delivered’.
          Maybe this should have been a top18 and separate top2!

          1. @coldfly I actually think the few glimpses of genuine comparison have actually been quite flattering for Jenson; particularly when he outqualified an absolute Monaco-master on the streets of the principality. I doubt many would have given JB (who was outpaced on a number of occasions by KMag in 2014, and outqualified over the season by Checo in 2013) a chance against the man that many, including myself, regard to be the most complete competitor on the grid.

            Equally though, off the racetrack the exasperated tone he has been using when he is being honest, and the grimace he pulls whilst regurgitating pre-prepared lines increasingly look like the hallmarks of a man tired with F1. McLaren have two older drivers and three young chargers desperate for a chance (Magnussen, Vandoorne, De Vries): the equation is one of inevitability, and JB knows it. Vandoorne is a possible future champion and team leader for McLaren, they need not make him wait any longer.

          2. @countrygent fernando’s could not complete monaco q2 session coz of reliability issue, his car stopped, he was not out qualified on track.

    3. I think there’s only one blunder in this ranking, and that’s Ericsson, the stats justify the 20th position but a careful look at his form reveals that he has been beating Nasr lately not just in Hungary, Marcus and the team have made some mistakes and have had some reliability issues 17th would be fairer. On his second season it’s clear Ericsson has no place in F1 but worryingly for Sauber the same applies for the rookie Nasr, Melbourne was a great opener and the start of a series of solid performances but the speed isn’t there as in the end some reliability issues and Ericsson beating Nasr prove that.
      Apart from Ericsson. I largely agree, I would tweak some positions but the reality is the same. I’d put Perez in front of Button, Button has become the old 2000-2008 version. Mehri alongside Stevens, anyway both are not F1 spec; we can’t forget that Mehri is 10kg heavier and 10cm taller than Stevens, in spite of this Merhi has improved on the 2nd quarter of the season.

      1. @peartree I see where you’re coming from but both Sauber drivers have had car trouble and Nasr’s managed to impress on at least one occasion when his car ran well. I don’t think you can say the same for Ericsson.

        1. @keithcollantine I can’t help but feel as if you have overlooked the Bahrain GP where Ericsson was running well inside the points until a horrible 25-second-losing pitstop brought him out even behind Nasr. That was, to me at least, a standout performace.

        2. @keithcollantine I agree, I just saw it in terms of promise rather than results. I can’t see any in the 2 Sauber drivers, 2 safe drivers.

      2. I don’t think we can really make a good judgment about Button’s (or indeed Alonso’s) form given the car has been so poor. I think both of them are driving perfectly well, but with such a poor car how can we really know. I might have been tempted to omit both of them from the rankings because of that, but fair play to Keith for trying to rank them.

        I feel all the drivers are somewhat difficult to rank this season. Vettel will probably be number 1 having had only one real poor race in Bahrain (well there was also ignoring the red flag in Canada but he fought back well in the race) but outside of that there’s been some poor performances and inconsistency from nearly everyone.

        1. Very well said +1

        2. @debaser91

          Even in Bahrain, it was really one poor corner and bad luck losing the wing coming back on track and at the start of a new lap.

          Hamilton’s Hungary was all kinds of ugly compared to Vettel in Bahrain. It’s like Rosberg’s Hungary was worse for the timing and place on track of his puncture. He wasn’t having stellar race, but very solid.

          I wonder if Silverstone will be held against Vettel, with both Ferrari’s pretty average until the rain came, but that was more the car than the drivers.

          I think Rosberg might be in the top 5, barely. He was good in Spain. He’s just been out qualified too often, otherwise he’s been on similar pace as Hamilton.

          I’d say, Vettel 1 and Hamilton 2. Merc’s lucky they’ve improved their reliability from last year, or Vettel might be leading the WDC right now lol.

          Hulkenberg’s been good and so has Verstappen. I’d put both Red Bull drivers and Sainz in the top 10 as well. Massa slightly ahead of Bottas in my opinion, and also both in the top 10. I’d say Grojean is 12 and the wild card is Alonso. Hungary was more fluke than driving, where Ham/Ros and Hulk should have finished ahead of him, and possibly Sainz as well.

          1. Merc are LUCKY they have improved their reliability?? That is all sorts of backwards! Havent Merc expressed for the last 18 Months that they needed to improve reliability? Low and behold, they have done it. Just lucky though.

  2. Nasr 16th? I stopped reading there!

    1. @edu2703 Again, I have no way of telling whether you think that’s too high or too low, never mind why you think so.

      1. Nasr is doing an excellent job, if we consider the car he has. It’s such a talented driver as well as Verstappen and Sainz Jr. He should be in the Top 10, behind Versappen. I really can not understand the evaluation criteria that F1Fanatic uses to evaluate drivers.

        1. @edu2703

          if we consider the car he has

          Which I have, as mentioned in the article.

        2. @edu2703

          He should be in the Top 10

          I follow quite a few rankings (Autosport, AMuS, among others) and none say that. That doesn’t mean your opinion is wrong, just something to think about.

    2. Nasr hasn’t been better than any other drivers ahead of him since Melbourne!

    3. @edu2703 Nasr is no Brazilian saviour. He’s been beaten by Ericsson lately, Ericsson… That Montréal crash is the most ridiculous bit of F1 incompetence I’ve seen since Sakon Yamamoto.

      1. @peartree Does your network provider censor Maldonado?

        1. @countrygent Incompetence is the wrong word, you are right, that title is Maldonado’s. I truly think that Pastor is just overwhelmed in the cockpit. I think his recklessness is foreseeable. Nasr is just slow, considering his long junior career he shouldn’t have failed to grasp such a simple physics rule. What he did is the equivalent of pulling the safety off a gun, and then point it at your face.

          1. I think you are exaggerating the incident a bit, but somehow the example makes a lot of sense :D

  3. Pretty damning for Kimi …

  4. Jenson Button 13th? What on earth is that? He’s done better than Rosberg, who is being beaten convincingly by Hamilton. I think he’s done better that Grosjean too.
    What has he done wrong, really? An accident with Maldonado the only one I can think of.
    He should be at least 10th, any higher may be hard to say because of a high number of mechanical retirements though. Thirteenth makes it seem he has done an average job, and he hasn’t. Keeping Alonso in check is ruddy well done!
    I just don’t think it’s quite justified, only my two cents.

    1. To be fair the first sentence of the article summed it up perfectly – pretty hard to judge the drivers this season. I would even be tempted to put a big N/A next to Button and Alonso since they’ve hardly had a chance to run (let alone compete meaningfully). Agree 13th is harsh but it’s equally hard to justify placing him any higher (other than based on previous years’ performances, and if you base it on that there’s not much point writing the article).

    2. In the early stages of the season, Button seemed to get the better of Alonso in qualifying especially but since then he has lagged behind Alonso. Alonso sees to be the quicker each weekend now in qualifying, if his session isn’t hit by gremlins. It’s difficult to tell really as McLaren can’t hardly finish a race.

      1. That’s because when Button has problems in quali no one seems to pay attention, unlike what happens with Alonso…

    3. Alonso pushed his car more… so he’s higher.

      1. @ivan-vinitskyy you mean to the pitlane? ;)

    4. I think Button has been curiously absent in some races/sessions. I’d be surprised if Alonso makes the top 10, but some of his starts/first laps have been astonishing – there strides a colossus of a racing driver. button hasn’t really done anything of note that i can recall.

      i could see perez higher (his highlights have been particularly good) and raikkonen lower (really disappointing with the exception of bahrain)

  5. I agree more or less. I would have put Button a couple of places higher, though as stated is really hard to judge the McLaren drivers.

    For the fun of it, my top 5 is:
    1. Vettel
    2. Hamilton
    3. Hulkenberg
    4. Bottas
    5. Alonso

    1. So the guy in the 2nd best on the grid is the best so far, really?

      1. Are you saying that drivers in the best car should be best-ranked? Please, do explain.

      2. @Kgn11

        So the guy in the 2nd best on the grid is the best so far, really?

        “In the second best” what? Car? I’m not sure where the “really?” comes from, related to the car.
        You either mean that a driver in the second best car can’t be the best performer just because he has the second best car, or that we should simply rank performances in the exact order of the speed of the car.
        Both of which are nonsensical options.

      3. Kgn11

        Last year Keith had Hamilton 3rd at the break, with Ric 1st and Alonso 2nd.

        Vettel is within 21 of Rosberg and 41 of the Hamilton with 2 race wins on merit in a car that is nowhere the class of the field. His one bad race, Bahrain, really amounted to one bad corner and an unlucky broken wing. He also lost another podium in Austria through a bad pit stop. He may have snatched 4th in Canada except for another bad pit stop.

        Hamilton had a horrible race in Hungary, and Monaco, while not entirely his fault, his insecurity and lack of awareness of how the race was unfolding contributed to the bad pit call. His thought process certainly wasn’t that of a champion on that day. He’s been outstanding in qualifying, and a bit less so in races.

        I think if you put Vettel in that Merc, he runs the board. It’s funny, folks always used to say what Hamilton or Alonso would do in a dominant car like the RB. Vettel reeled off 9 wins in a row. Hamilton in an even more dominant car and getting pole 9 times out 10, and he only has 5 race wins with no DNFs or reliability issues? I’m not saying, I’m just saying ;)

    2. That’s a good top 5.

    3. I’d say:

      1. Vettel
      2. Hulkenberg
      3. Hamilton
      4. Bottas
      5. Ricciardo

      1. @Albert & @rm: Can I ask: why do you rate Bottas so highly. I must say I am a bit disappointed with the difference between him and Massa.

        I have to conclude from that that either Masse got really good after leaving Ferrari, or Bottas is not as good as I though or the hype he has.

    4. My top ten:

      1. Vettel (the champ is back)
      2. Hamilton
      3. Hulkenberg
      4. Verstappen (the guy STARTED racing cars 18 months ago!!!)
      5. Rosberg (his race pace has been much more impressive in 2015)
      6. Sainz
      7. Alonso
      8. Kvyat (very impressive of late given what his teammate achieved in 2014)
      9. Bottas (has under-delivered in qualifying and his starts are still a weakness)
      10. Massa

      1. @countrygen I think Verstappen is a mega prospect but I don’t understand how you can rank someone who has crashed out twice due to driver errors as the fourth best of the season so far.

        1. I agree with that. You cannot put him over Rosberg.

        2. Probably you know something we dont…..get Verstappen in a Mercedes and Lewis will retire next year.

      2. Its not that hard really. I look further then only race wins…i also look at the performances with lesser material then the Mercedes or Ferrari

        1. Hamilton (steady)
        2. Vettel (very close behind Lewis)
        3. Verstappen (19 months ago this guys was 16 and still karting) unbelievable talent
        4. Hulkenberg (showing some great things with his FI)
        5. Rosberg (He isnt just that….)
        6. Bottas (steady and strong)
        7. Sainz (very impressive rookie – only 2nd behind Max)
        8. Kvyat (becoming stronger and stronger. Gives Ricciardo a race for his money)
        9. Massa (Some very good races)
        10. Ricciardo (He will get there :))

    5. I only have top 3 as the rest didn’t make a big enough impression on me to claim any one of them has been clearly the 4th best.
      1. Vettel
      2. Hulkenberg
      3. Hamilton

    6. Bottas is doing worse than I expected from him. Not driving poorly but not as good as I was expecting.

  6. In my view, Maldonado should be 20th, quite far behind 19th. If you compare his 4 years F1 experience, the car he now has, the fact that at this point he just should know better, and you see his results and the way he races every weekend, and how he still says “the stewards were too strict”, he deserves last place by a long way.

    He’s the worst F1 driver we’ve ever seen, and I do mean it, simply because he’s really, really fast but he just cannot comprehend the fact that keeping your car safe and not crashing into every single car are 2 of the requirements to actually achieve something.

    Yuji Ide at least was absolutely slow, a driver with poor skills not really achieving anything. But Maldonado is fast, he has the skills yet he manages to fail time and time again except for TWO, maybe THREE races over 4 and a half years.

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      5th August 2015, 13:23

      Well done @fer-no65. Beat me to it by seconds!

      1. @fullcoursecaution I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s had enough with him. I can handle a slow driver, even a slow pay driver, I can even see the appeal of a slow driver, but this guy just gets up my nose…

      2. @fer-no65, “To finish first, first you have to finish”. Although not many people would rank him highly he’s not the worst driver in the sport. I’d say that title still belongs to De Cesaris.

    2. @fer-no65 Totally agree. He’s definitely the worst driver the season so far. Which is a shame, because deep down the has the ability to make some very impressive lap-times. Just too deep down.

    3. Then again, his drive in Austria was probably one of the finest of all this season. Quick but conservative stint on the slower tyre, very agressive stint on the quicker tyre, carving through the field, displaying some unbelievable car control.
      And, apart from the collision in Budapest with Perez, I remember very little accidents this year where Pastor was actually the guilty party. He has had a lot of technical troubles, which prevented some better results. Maybe he should be a bit higher up in the list.

    4. Worst ever? No, there are plenty worse: Ricardo Rosset, Alex Yoong, Jean-Denis Deletraz, etc.

      1. Let’s not forget Luca Badoer from that list.

      2. @jules-winfield) but those were unskilled drivers that were never going to do much. Maldonado IS skilled, he IS fast, but in 4 years he’s done nothing. Take that win away and you get results that Luca Badoer could’ve well replicated. And in worse cars too!

        It says enough that this guy has only finished in the top 5 twice in his life, one being his totally shocking win. And yet, Alonso in that dog of a McLaren scored a 5th place.

        If you consider his pace and his skills to his results and mistakes, he takes the prize for hte worst ever.

    5. I wouldn’t call Maldonado the worst ever, but he rarely put his speed to good use. I was looking at the manual for Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix 4 recently and there was a section which emphasised the difference between being ‘fast’ in an F1 car (which Maldonado is) and being ‘quick’, i.e. getting around the track rapidly without falling off or crashing (which he isn’t quite so good at). The mention of 2012 reminds me of what a frustrating season that was to be a Williams fan – Bruno Senna driving one car slowly and Maldonado being much faster but then crashing out and throwing yet more points in the bin, with Senna too far behind to benefit from his team-mate’s latest mishap. The real waste was that it was a good car and yet somehow Williams ended only eighth in the constructors. I still wonder what Hulkenberg might have achieved in that car had he been retained for 2011 instead of Barrichello and raced for them in 2012.

      I agree with the rankings so far for the most part, although I think Nasr should be above Perez who hasn’t done much for me this year (he has been beaten by Hulkenberg so far and hasn’t had as many impressive drives as usual, although Monaco is a clear exception), whereas Nasr’s performances if anything have exceeded my expectations. He has, and even though I doubt he’s world championship material he definitely seems better than Ericsson, who I think is just average.

  7. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    5th August 2015, 13:22

    Maldonado is much too high in my opinion. He should be dead last given his woeful performances so far this year. Like the article states, he has a reasonable car underneath him, yet with him at the wheel it still drives like it has 2 noses. I’ve had enough of Pastor’s excuses, when you have more than double anyone elses penalty moints, it’s time to start looking in the mirror (someone show him where the mirrors are please).

    Ericsson and Mehri might be a bit lacklustre, but at least they arent a danger to anyone around them around them (not counting Mehri’s dumb FR3.5 incident).

  8. This is my favourite part of the summer break and I particularly love the “extended notes on each driver”, I have never seen such a comprehensive summary on any other blog. F1 Fanatic has once again raised its game and deservedly wins the mid-season website rankings!

    1. Yup, F1F’s my number one in mid-season rankings as well.

    2. @girts

      I particularly love the “extended notes on each driver”

      Agreed, that definitely set this rankings apart from the rest. Kudos @keithcollantine, that was a little stroke of genius.

      1. Agree, when you are trying to finely tune your ranking, trying to recall each race is where the detail of it lies!

    3. @girts @andae23 Thanks guys :-)

  9. @keithcollantine I think Mehri had tried the car prior to Austria. “Australia” is what you meant, I suppose. It’s okay, we all make that mistake every once in a while

    1. @mashiat Indeed – have changed it, thanks!

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      5th August 2015, 15:52

      we all make that mistake every once in a while

      I’m glad it never happened to me flying home. @mashiat ‘that was a short flight! weird that German accent over the PA!.’

  10. My last to 13th rankings:
    20. Ericsson – Despite being in F1 for a year more than Nasr, Ericsson still hasn’t shown to be the team leader and is losing to the inexperienced Nasr in every aspect. Also has made more mistakes too.
    19. Maldonado – He still hasn’t given up his habit of crashing or collecting penalties as if they were sweets, and is losing to Grosjean in every aspect and is much slower.
    18. Merhi – His car is terrible, but slightly not as good as Stevens. However, in the last few races he has closed the gap to Stevens performance-wise.
    17. Stevens – He is doing a solid job in his bus, and has had the edge on Merhi, especially in the first few races.
    16. Perez – Once again, Perez is failing to beat Hulkenberg (who really deserves a top seat, IMO), and is very inconsistent, which is the opposite of Hulkenberg.
    15. Raikkonen – He really is past it, and needs to retire soon. Vettel is making him look like an amateur. However, he has been very unlucky, especially in Australia and Hungary.
    14. Rosberg – 9-1 in qualifying, and 7-3 in the races both in Lewis’s favour really just says it all. Disappointing performance from Rosberg.
    13. Nasr – He is showing his more experienced teammate who’s boss at Sauber. Doesn’t say much though, considering that Ericsson is last on my list.

    1. Also, @keithcollantine I just want to say what a great job you and the other contributors to this website are doing. This for sure is the best F1 website out there!

      1. @ultimateuzair Thanks very much!

    2. @ultimateuzair

      14. Rosberg – 9-1 in qualifying, and 7-3 in the races both in Lewis’s favour really just says it all. Disappointing performance from Rosberg.

      My problem with putting Rosberg that far behind based solely on the comparison against his teammate is that it ignores the quality of who he is competing with. Hamilton is one of the best drivers ever (granted, how ahead in the list is very arguable), he definitely has a much tougher comparison point to most on th@ultimateuzair

      14. Rosberg – 9-1 in qualifying, and 7-3 in the races both in Lewis’s favour really just says it all. Disappointing performance from Rosberg.

      My problem with putting Rosberg that far behind based solely on the comparison against his teammate is that it ignores the quality of who he is competing with. Hamilton is one of the best drivers ever (granted, how ahead in the list is very arguable), he definitely has a much tougher comparison point to most on the grid, if not all.
      If it was like Webber, who would be beaten by inferior cars fairly often, I’d see your point, but other than being beaten by Hamilton, you can’t say he’s not making good use of the machinery he has, few exceptions aside.
      e grid, if not all.
      If it was like Webber, who would be beaten by inferior cars fairly often, I’d see your point, but other than being beaten by Hamilton, you can’t say he’s not making good use of the machinery he has, few exceptions aside.

      1. I agree with that. But, if his car didn’t have such a big performance difference to all the competition, he might have been very much like Webber.

      2. My problem with putting Rosberg that far behind based solely on the comparison against his teammate is that it ignores the quality of who he is competing with.

        You could say the same about Raikkonen being ranked 14th. He’d probably be ranked a good deal higher if his teammate was Bottas rather than Vettel. But that’s a characteristic of all these driver rankings, including the Autosport one, which rank drivers primarily on the basis of how well they are competing with their teammates.

        It’s sort of a mobius strip argument as to whether Rosberg is a mere 21 points behind LH because the former is driving that well, or the latter is driving that poorly. In truth I don’t think either has driven especially well in the first ten GP’s. Five wins in ten races is a poor return for “one of the best drivers ever” in one of the most dominant cars ever. Vettel managed nine consecutive wins in a car with less of a performance advantage than the W06 enjoys.

        1. Raikkonen has not only been slower, he’s also been making mistakes quite often, and the difference in qualifying between him and Vettel tend to be much bigger than Rosberg and Hamilton (Rosberg being usually second while Raikkonen falls behind in qualy).

          1. But Rosberg is driving a much better car than Raikkonen – or anyone else other than Hamilton. I haven’t crunched the numbers but I strongly suspect that the actual time difference between Kimi and Seb in quali is very similar to that between Nico and Lewis. It’s just that the Ferrari drivers are part of a competitive pack which includes RB and Williams while the Mercedes is in a class all its own. Put Kimi in that W06 and I expect he’d be usually second in qualifying as well.

          2. It would be interesting, if we had the numbers. And that still doesn’t cover the amount of silly mistakes.

          3. When performance difference gets smaller, slower drivers fall further behind. For example, you cannot say Rosberg is better than Webber, because if you gave another half a second to Webber he would have started/finished each race 1-2 too.
            But, I agree that Rosberg-Hamilton is much more closer in quali. Even without mistakes.
            If Mercedes drivers have a couple of tenths of difference between them, Ferrari drivers have 3-4 tenths easily.

    3. If Kimi is 14th, then Rosberg should figure in the lower echelons of this ranking as well.

      He has been very disappointing this year. I was hoping that he would up his game and take the fight to Hamilton after last year, but he has let himself down. He doesn’t appear to be at ease with himself. He ‘s probably pushing harder than ever, but not getting close enough Lewis, which must be eating him alive! The frustration is understandable, he probably needs a change to his approach.

  11. typo @keithcollantine
    ‘Merhi was dealt a tough hand with zero time in the car before Austria

    pretty sure he raced in all the prior races this season!

  12. ColdFly F1 (@)
    5th August 2015, 14:16

    Good raking so far!
    A bit surprising to see Button there, but need to read the rest first. It is hard to judge the McLaren drivers though; 180laps we can compare both out of 633 total! Also I cannot immediately think of another driver that should be 13th instead of him.
    I see a nice improvement in Merhi, and expect him to improve a few places.

    1. @coldfly The McLaren drivers were by far the hardest to place. It’s a strange season for them. If they see the chequered flag a bit more in the second half of the year it’ll make the end-of-season rankings a bit easier!

  13. I must say, I have been disappointed by Roberto Merhi, after all, his is a true single seater star. Following the Hungarian round of last year’s FR3.5 championship, Roberto’s pace advantage over Sainz looked set to add an FR3.5 championship to his 2011 F3 title. Ultimately, a poor final two rounds to the season would see him ranked P3. Yes, he was anonymous in the DTM, but so to was Antonio Felix da Costa before his recent Zandvoort victory, and few would deny his single seater credibility (had Arden not had such a shocking year in FR3.5 in 2013, it is not difficult to imagine da Costa where Kvyat is today).

    Yes, his weight versus Stevens does represent some of his pace deficit, but that aside I really didn’t anticipate him having any trouble at all in beating Stevens having scored 61 more points in FR3.5 last year.

    1. @countrygent

      I must say, I have been disappointed by Roberto Merhi, after all, his is a true single seater star.

      I think he’s on an upward curve in F1, certainly compared to seasons. His recent antics in Formula Renault 3.5 certainly did not impress me…

      1. @keithcollantine I think he should have earned penalty points on his super-license for that truly abhorrent incident. I think it was truly appalling the way Sky Sports chose to second his plea of innocence when they did the team-by-team review in Hungary – Latifi’s car, with a bit more speed, could have been flipped over the catch fencing and into the grandstand. A cloud is already hanging over single seater racing, we really don’t need poor driving standards in the mix on top.

  14. I had a similar rank to what Keith was thinking. Except that Merhi was at #20 and Ericcson at #19. Also thought that Jenson deserved to be at #10, and Verstappen was at #13 for me

    1. Verstappen at 13th? I know people don’t like him but that seems incredibly harsh. Both Sainz and verstappen have done a great job this season.

      1. “I know people don’t like him” That’s a very weird statement. The Internet is full of people who have all sort of feelings for him, and every other driver.

  15. I’d argue that Mehri should be above Maldonado and Nasr should be above Raikkonen and Perez but apart from that it’s a list I mostly agree with.

  16. In the GPDA poll earlier this year Kimi Raikkonen was voted most popular driver, so what I’m going to write next will probably greeted with some criticism.

    I think Raikkonen should be dead last in this list. Any of the other drivers would have done better in his place.

    In fact Raikkonen has been somewhat of a disappointement ever since his comeback with Lotus. In one his first races with that team he dropped 10 places in the final lap, due to his tyres going ‘off the cliff’. After that he was always very conservative, never pushing early on. Some more ballsy drives could have won him a few more races at Lotus than he did. In the end of his tenure he was outshone by his teammate.

    Last year at Ferrari was nothing short of a disaster. This year seems slightly better, but only because the car is. I can’t really understand it. Raikkonen used to be hard-charging, relentless and smart. Now it’s uninspired and defensive, riddled with mistakes. It looks like his time is up.

    1. Raikkonen didn’t do any worse than Massa did against Alonso.

    2. Raikkonen recently said he should be judged on his performance rather than his results. The thing is, I’m not sure doing that improves the picture greatly. He’s been over half a second slower than Vettel on average in qualifying – that’s distorted a bit by Malaysia and Austria (and flattered by Canada) but even so, it’s a poor result.

      1. @keithcollantine is spot on. And when it comes to results, how many outliers can we realistically exclude? I think Kimi can only argue that he fully maximized the points on offer at the Bahrain GP this year, and when there are rivals like Hulkenberg doing that at almost every single round, I simply don’t think that is acceptable. Equally though, with reference to the way Massa was vehmently retained despite poor form against Alonso, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kimi stay at the team famous for its love of continuity.

        But this is the same man of was an absolute points vacuum when he was racing for Lotus. Ferrari’s rationale behind chosing Raikkonen over Hulkenberg was with reference to an assault on the WCC. It rather makes me wonder whether the delta between his 2012-13 form and his 2014-15 form has an underlining explanation. Stylistic unease with the V6 PUs? An issue with Ferrari’s procedural culture? Harder Pirelli compounds? Pining for Mark Slade? Any combination of these factors, together with a natural, age-induced degradation of pace, could explain his marked drop-off in pace.

        1. Or the Lotus was an absolute belter of a car that flattered Kimi’s performances… I’ve seen that one thrown out there in recent weeks. Doesn’t say much about Grosjean if it’s true.

          Personally I just think he really hasn’t got to grips with the turbos, and he has also noticeably struggled since they changed the tyres in mid-2013.

          1. Are those the same people who think STR in 2008 was THE best car on track? People talk about cars flattering certain drives. Looking at it now, it feels like certain drivers flatter the car too as the credit for their achievements are automatically given to their engineers.

          2. Yep, good point @debaser91. I certainly don’t think it was a car with the raw performance and peak downforce versus the respected references, but its tyre management in race trim allowed Kimi to exploit his finesse for race pace. For the latter half of 2013 and the European season of 2012, you could perhaps legitimately argue it was the second best car on track.

            But then again Kimi has the second best car now, but is simply not as consistent as he was in the Lotus. You could argue that whilst his best form is still similar to his Lotus days, the real disparity is his inability to consistently replicate it.

            I equally think there might be something in the way there appears to be outwardly impressive stints at McLaren and Lotus proceeding and intercepting two very peaky stints at Ferrari. Raikkonen’s form has been so hit-and-miss since 2007 you could write a novel of conjecture as to why he cannot consistently produce his best efforts: a question even Kimi doesn’t know the answer to. Really all we can do is agree with AUTOSPORT’s Ed Straw, who dubbed him “F1’s most frustrating champion” some years ago.

          3. @countrygent If Lotus was the second best car in 2012, was Red Bull the third best then?

    3. I think that’s a bit extreme. Raikkonen’s had a pretty bad season so far, but he’s also had some bad luck and has one of the fastest drivers as a teammate. I don’t think any of the drivers that are ranked below him would have done better than him so far.

    4. Imo, this year doesn’t look any better. His teammate cannot do better than 3rd quite often and has a big obstacle ahead of him as Mercedes is too fast for a driver to make much of a difference. And Raikkonen is clearly getting along with the team and the car much better than he did last year. At least he seems more comfortable with the handling. However, his results this year don’t compare any better than they did to his teammate last year. That’s bad.

      1. Given the existence of the two Mercs and Vettel, the best Raikkonen could reasonably expect to be in the standings is fourth. As it happens he’s fifth – but only because the car failed on him while running second in Hungary. He’s certainly not having a good season but I don’t think he’s been as bad as people are saying.

    5. As a long time Kimi fan, I am too very disappointed with Raikkonen, but only really when looking at the points table. He has shown very good speed against Vettel on Fridays most of the season, Saturdays have been again disappointing but he has started to close the qualification margin on his teammate. When it comes to races he has just had too many issues. I just looked at the race results and heres a quick summary what could have been

      AUS – without getting hit and later retiring in AUS he would have likely ended 4th. -12 pts.
      CHI – closed on Vettel and could have well overtaken with better tyres had there not been SC. – 3pts.
      MON – could arque the move Ricciardo made on him wasnt too clean. – 2pts
      CAN – engine map after pit stop caused spin. -3pts
      UK – rain and tyre gamble that did not work out. -11 pts
      HUN – MGU failed. -18 pts

      That in total is 49 points and majority of those lost points are just technical reasons why he lost them. Even if people blame him for the Canada spin, and wrong tyre call in UK, he would still have 35 points more.

      I wonder if he had all those points, how would the mid season rating look when his total point tally would be 76 + 49 = 125. That would be still around 20% less points than Vettel. But how many times Vettels car failed on him other than in Bahrain ? If Kimi can keep qualifying on the 2nd row and get rid of all the gremlins, he will be due some podiums for sure.

      This is why I believe Kimi in that interview had said to look at his performance rather than results.

  17. Nice ranking. I’d personally put Merhi ahead of the pastor but I agree with pretty much everything else.

  18. Well, sure Ericsson has really shot himself in his foot a few times, but which driver hasn’t? What really makes Marcus Ericssons 2015 first half of the season so bad is because of his pitcrew and engineers. Too many times their mistakes has caused him (and Sauber) to give away points. For example, in Bahrain, Ericsson made an exellent start and first stint, but when he finally was told by his engineers to enter the pit (way too late – long after Nasr who was slower than Ericsson) they mess up, and instead of a ~3 second pitstop they hold him up for a minute – loosing valuable time and his spot to Nasr. Ofcourse all crews make mistakes every now and then, but so far either the engineers or the pitcrew (or both) has made it difficult for Ericsson in almost every race. In Hungary Ericsson was faster than Nasr. When it was time to enter the pits Ericsson was chasing down Massa and Button, still the engineers decide to bring in Nasr and leave Ericsson out for too long on worn tires. The consequenses – Ericsson, with brand new options, ends up right behind Massa who went with primes. Waste of time and tires, which he could have used to overtake Button in the last few laps to bring home more points. The only reason not to bring in Ericsson before Nasr and make a undercut was to get Nasr close to Ericsson and have both on “averege” no-points positions instead of letting Ericsson push.
    Also, what happend in Silverstone with the triple tire change, I don’t know if it was Ericssons call or the engineers. Anyway it was a mistake, again…
    No matter if it’s the driver, engineers or pitcrews, mistakes are too costly in F1. And unfortunatly Ercisson has had one too many so far.

    1. +1

      Not that he’s been great by any means, but pitting later than Nasr every time, even when being ahead, is definitely costing him.

      1. Hmm, Banco do Brazil all over the car. Nars getting the best pit strategy every time even when he is slower than slowricsen. Hmm. Hmmmmm. I wonder how this could be. Hmm

  19. Ranking time! Fascinating, as always, thank you for all the hard work.
    I’d have put Pastor last, appart from that I quite agree with it so far.

  20. Seems good to me. Maybe Maldonado should be 20th, but that is probably a biased view I’m offering since I can’t stand his attitude.

  21. F1 Fantastic – Please, sometimes i wondering if you guys have see the first part of the season! I laugh about this ranking..!!!

    1. Sometimes I wonder if you’ve managed to read the masthead, let alone the article :-)

      Seriously though, what do you disagree with and why? If you don’t tell me that much, how am I supposed to understand your point of view?

  22. Being an Aussie, it’s hard to say that I doubt Ricciardo will make top 5 this time round but I’m not sure if he’ll be up further on the list compared to Kvyat though. Close call between the them. Mayne 9th and 10th for them. I would love to see Sainz be rated higher than Verstappen though but again I think it eould be close netween them.

    For me though, my top five goes like this:

    1: Sebastian Vettel
    Reason: Shown Kimi the way this year including 2 surprise and well deserved wins in Malaysia and Hungary. His pace all year has been remarkable and in most GP weekends he has unsettled the 2 Mercs through his pace in qualifying. Enough said.

    2. Lewis Hamilton
    Reason: Has shown this year what wasn’t as convincing compared to last year: being championship favourite because of pure pace he has shown. If I can recall his only really dud and forgettable weekend could be Hungary but otherwise he’s been on top form and leaving Rosberg more and more frustrated.

    3. Nico Hulkenburg
    Reason: He needs to be in a faster car!!! He has shown what he can do for the past 3 years now and this year isn’t a different story. He has been exceptional against Perez and I would love to see him in Raikkonen’s car next year

    4. Valterri Bottas
    Reason: Time and time again he has shown he is quickly than his highly experienced teammate and that is a big thing since he is still got so much learn in F1 and, hopefully, a lot more chances to prove he’ll be Finland’s next F1 champion

    And finally 5. Max Verstappen
    Reason: While on some occasions he has made avoidable and costly mistakes, especially in Monaco, he has shown that he’ll be one for the record books. Because after all, he’s 17. And how 17 year olds have F1 teams shown interest in. Not too many and he has also proven that considering his age, he is an exceptional driver. I can’t wait to see what he can do in the future cause I have a feeling he’ll one of the greatest F1 drivers we’ll ever see

  23. Well, id say that Number 20 should be Pastor Maldonado. He has done nothing but crash this year and get penalties.

    My Top 5:
    5. Fernando Alonso
    4. Nico Rosberg
    3. Max Verstappen
    (3rd because off his outstanding drive
    in Hungary, despite being very wild and careless. Also for consistently out
    performing Sainz.
    2. Lewis Hamilton



  24. Can’t agree on Ericsson being 20th. He’s got a rookie engineer, the team is constantly messing up his strategy and Nasr’s money gives him right of way. And, the “mistake” in Malaysia was due, according to Sauber, to the floor of the car being broken.

    He will chip away on Nasr and be the no 1 driver in Sauber when the season is over.

  25. Sorry, but these rankings are a bit of a joke. With a car as dominant as the Merc is this year, a Schumacher, a Senna, an Alonso, yes, even a Button (2009) would have more or less sewn up the Championship by now, yet Hamilton has failed to do so. With such a car at their disposal and not having done better, Hamilton should not be in the top five and Rosberg not in the top 12. Is it because of his huge fan following that an objective assessment of Lewis Hamilton is never possible? To add insult to injury, both Button and Stevens have done far better with the horrible cars at their disposal than you credit them with and thoroughly deserve to be in the top ten.

    In terms of poor and disappointing performances, Kimi Räikkönen takes the wooden spoon with some ease and should be ranked dead last. And I have always been an admirer of the Flying Finn…

    1. With a car as dominant as the Merc is this year, a Schumacher, a Senna, an Alonso, yes, even a Button (2009) would have more or less sewn up the Championship by now, yet Hamilton has failed to do so.

      No they wouldn’t, precisely because Mercedes are so dominant. Even if the lead driver won every race, a driver of Rosberg’s calibre should be capable of finishing second in all of them too, and for the most part he has. In that scenario the scoreline after ten races would be 250 to 180, the leading driver would have a 70 point margin with 225 still available to be won, and therefore would be nowhere near clinching the championship.

      1. Could you then explain why Vettel is only 42 points behind and does not even have to win every single race of the nine remaining to be world champ should Hammy finish second every single time. It is a feat Vettel has performed before (2013). Hamilton will never be a great champion because he does not have the single-minded passion of a Stewart, Senna or Alonso to be the unquestioned No1 driver as opposed to being the lucky driver of the unquestionably best car. He’s more into bling jewelry and parties which is understandable in a young man if not in a champion.

  26. Can’t agree with everything here. Raikkonen does a better job against his team-mate than Rosberg yet KR is here while NR is nowhere to be found? Also Nasr doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s doing as a rookie and Stevens ahead of Merhi is a mistake since Merhi is vastly more talented than Stevens, he’s proven so at every level so if he’s worse than Stevens for the first quarter of the season(in the last races normal service was resumed) and by a big margin at that there must be another explanation that’s not his fault

    My rating of 20-13:

    20) Ericsson
    18) Stevens
    17) Merhi
    16) Perez
    15) Rosberg
    14) Raikkonen
    13) Nasr

  27. This is already off to a bad start, which is funny when this gets as much flak as it does each year. First off I didn’t expect to see Ericsson last, I don’t care for him but he’s done a hell of a better job than the once in a blue moon Maldonado. When you rack up as many penalties in a single race as he did and for what they were…yeah that just says it all. Then you compare experience with those others you put lower then him…a driver running a full schedule in a feeder series and then another driver who yes has one year of experience but a year of it in a car that didn’t complete many races as well. This compared to Pastor who has been in this series since 2011 and keeps doing this, but what’s worse is he does all this and gets arguably worse each season, his highlight in 2012 was a win…in 2015 it was getting the most penalties in a single race that’s not progress.

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