Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Sepang International Circuit, 2015

2015 mid-season F1 driver rankings part three: 5-1

Driver Rankings

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Concluding the mid-season driver rankings, here are the top five F1 drivers of 2015 so far.

5: Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Red Bull Ring, 2015

Nico Hulkenberg

Beat team mate in qualifying8/10
Beat team mate in race4/8
Races finished8/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate359/551
Points24

It’s tempting to say Hulkenberg’s Le Mans 24 Hours victory has inspired him to reach new heights, but that probably sells his efforts short: after all he began his season with a solid seventh in Australia. More points would probably have followed in Malaysia but for a contentious penalty for tangling with Daniil Kvyat.

A tricky quartet of races followed: in China his engine failed, in Bahrain Sergio Perez figured out the tyres better than he did, in Spain the car’s lack of downforce made life difficult for both drivers and his Monaco Grand Prix was ruined when Fernando Alonso hit him on the first lap.

Since then Hulkenberg has delivered points every time out, apart from in Hungary when his front wing failed while he was running seventh. Eighth in Canada might have been better had he not spun while being passed by Sebastian Vettel, but in Austria he was in superb form to take sixth from fifth on the grid. The upgraded VJM08 promises to make the second half of the year a profitable one for Hulkenberg.

Nico Hulkenberg 2015 form guide

4: Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2015

Valtteri Bottas

Beat team mate in qualifying4/10
Beat team mate in race5/9
Races finished9/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate326/573
Points77

In his third F1 campaign, Bottas is grinding out dependable results for Williams like a season pro. Seven top-six finishes from nine starts (a back injury kept him out of the first race) has kept him ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the championship – small wonder he’s already being tipped to replace his fellow countryman at Ferrari.

His first race back from injury showed real grit: despite slipping to 15th at the start he ended up passing his team mate to finish in the top five. Not until Bahrain did he declare himself pain-free, and there he led home a Ferrari for the first time this year. He repeated the feat in Spain and again in Canada, this time claiming a podium finish.

Had he not been clipped by Verstappen in the closing stages at the Hungaroring, his only no-score all season would have been Monaco, where both FW37s struggled with severe understeer. At Silverstone, after a fine opportunistic pass on Lewis Hamilton, he obeyed his team’s initial order not to pass Massa and paid the price – having been unable to capitalise on his early pace advantage he slipped back later in the race when Massa was quicker.

This wasn’t the only time Massa beat him in the first half of the season. While between them the pair have extracted the best from a machine with clear strengths and weaknesses, Bottas has done a discernibly better job in spite of his early setback.

Valtteri Bottas 2015 form guide

3: Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2015

Daniel Ricciardo

Beat team mate in qualifying6/10
Beat team mate in race3/7
Races finished9/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate309/498
Points51

Ricciardo surely wasn’t expecting Red Bull and Renault to drop further off the pace and become less reliable in 2015, but they have. At times these problems have played havoc with his race preparations but he has often salvaged a result in spite of that: he covered just 19 laps during practice in Australia, yet still brought the car home in sixth.

In spite of these problem he carved out points finishes in the first six races, including Malaysia where he qualified fourth only to suffer brake problems on Sunday. Sixth in Bahrain was the most the car was capable of, and seventh in Spain was another result to be proud of having completed just 13 laps on Friday due to power unit problems.

Monaco and Hungary offered the best chances for the Red Bull chassis, but at the former an error with his engine settings cost him a chance at third on the grid. Nonetheless a bold and brilliant pass on Raikkonen at Mirabeau helped him to salvage fifth place. In Hungary he tangled with three other drivers during the course of the race which predictably led some to claim he had been ‘over-driving’, but he was blameless in each incident and deserved more than third place.

Daniil Kvyat has kept him honest at times, notably in Canada where Ricciardo was perplexed by his car’s handling. But in a season where victories haven’t been a possibility so far, Ricciardo nonetheless is continuing to make the best of a bad job.

Daniel Ricciardo 2015 form guide

2: Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2015

Lewis Hamilton

Beat team mate in qualifying9/10
Beat team mate in race7/10
Races finished10/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate413/633
Points202

You would have to be very brave or very foolish to bet against Hamilton clinching his third world championship title this year. There was only one area of his game which needed improvement over the winter – qualifying – and Hamilton has addressed it, hammering Rosberg 9-1 on Saturdays.

However from those nine pole positions, armed with by far the best car in the field, Hamilton has ‘only’ delivered five wins. Two of these were down to slow starts: Austria was the first of three consecutive races in which he started from pole yet was not leading at the end of lap one. Hungary was the second, and Hamilton was fortunate not to be punished by Rosberg for the decidedly off-par performance that followed.

Then there were the questionable strategies – pitting early in Malaysia which allowed Vettel in to win, and then there was Monaco, where Hamilton actively participated in a baffling pit call which handed victory to Rosberg. Ironically, this came during what was otherwise his most dominant performance of the year.

These problems aside, Hamilton has been formidable. His margins of victory over Rosberg may usually be just a few seconds, but in an era of fragile tyres and tight fuel limits there is nothing to be gained by having a greater winning margin. Indeed, as in China, the psychological screw can be turned by backing your team mate into a pursuing rival.

Hamilton seems to have Rosberg handled as the championship passes the halfway mark, and if he tidies up his act in the second half of the season there is every likelihood he will equal the championship tally of his hero Ayrton Senna – and surpass his wins total.

Lewis Hamilton 2015 form guide

1: Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Sepang International Circuit, 2015

Sebastian Vettel

Beat team mate in qualifying8/10
Beat team mate in race5/7
Races finished10/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate379/529
Points160

Having been thorough upstaged by Ricciardo at Red Bull last year, in 2015 Vettel has adopted the role his erstwhile team mate performed last year – a regular thorn in the side of the Mercedes drivers ready to seize any opportunity for victory.

Aside from a scrappy performance in Bahrain, where he finished behind a Williams after damaging his front wing, Vettel has consistently delivered the best the Ferrari is capable of. Even in Canada, where he lined up 18th on the grid after a technical problem in qualifying, he brought the car home fifth behind his team mate without the help of a Safety Car period.

While Raikkonen has only made it to the podium once, Vettel has appeared seven times, and has finished every race in the top five – something even the Mercedes pair can’t lay claim to. He was also close enough to capitalise on Hamilton’s Monaco slip-up to claim second place.

It’ll take a big step forward from Ferrari for him to have a shot at the title, but to be within 21 points of one of the Mercedes at this stage in the championship is a tremendous achievement.

Sebastian Vettel 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:

Nico Hulkenberg

Australia – Won the qualifying battle at Force India by one-thousandth of a second, but with the VJM08 still early in its development Q3 seemed out of reach. Rose unobtrusively to seventh with an error-free race. “At this stage in the season it is important to capitalise on any opportunity,” he said, adding he expects the team to be more competitive in Malaysia.

Malaysia – Both Force India drivers were caught out by the rain in Q2 but Hulkenberg made amends on lap one. “Mega first lap!” he exclaimed on the radio after making up six places to gain seventh. That became second when the Safety Car came out, but after racing resumed Vettel left him behind at over two seconds per lap. As he came under increasing pressure from behind he tangled with Kvyat while under attack from both Red Bulls and was given a debatable ten-second penalty which scuppered his chance of points.

China – Was one of the first drivers to do his last run in Q1 and paid the price, missing the cut for the next stage. Jumped from 16th to 12th at the start which included passing Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull and was running close to Verstappen and Ericsson before being forced out with drivetrain problems.

Bahrain – Force India were more competitive on a track which has traditionally suited them, and Hulkenberg delivered by taking his VJM08 into Q3, claiming eighth on the grid. The race was not as successful – he couldn’t make his tyres last and slipped to a disappointed thirteenth.

Spain – Having been 12th in final practice Hulkenberg hoped to qualify better than 17th, but the VJM08’s shortage of downforce made life difficult. “My final lap was not great,” he admitted, “but it’s not easy when the car is working in such a narrow window”. He fell behind Perez at the start and spent the middle of the race stuck behind Maldonado’s ailing Lotus, which confined him to 15th.

Monaco – Knocked into a barrier by Alonso at the start, Hulkenberg had to pit for a new front wing on lap one. Nonetheless his team thought points might be possible until the Safety Car came out.

Canada – Equalled the team’s best qualifying result with seventh, at a track where Force India’s Mercedes engine neutralised some of their usual disadvantage. A late-braking move at turn three got him ahead of Maldonado at the start, but a much earlier pit stop for the Lotus driver got him back ahead. Hulkenbreg then spun while trying to defend seventh place from Vettel. “I probably shouldn’t have tried so hard to defend against Seb,” he admitted, “but when you’re a racer you just don’t want to give up a position without a fight.” That scuppered any chance of catching Maldonado at the end, and he finished eighth.

Austria – Reacclimatised to F1 after his Le Mans triumph, and with a new engine behind him went sixth-fastest on Friday. He improved by one place on Saturday to take fifth on the grid, while Perez went out in Q1. In the race he was passed by Bottas, jumped back ahead with a quick pit stop, but ultimately lost out to the Williams. However sixth place was Force India’s best result of the year so far, and helped them pass Lotus in the constructors’ championship.

Britain – Force India’s heavily revised car looked best in Hulkenberg’s hands and he duly took it into Q3. A superb start – which he described as the best he’s ever made in F1 – put him ahead of both Ferraris. However they pitted before him, as did Kvyat, which cost him a total of three places, though Raikkonen’s troubles later elevated him back to seventh.

Hungary – Had to sit out second practice and much of the first session while the team investigated the cause of Perez’s crash. Once back on track he looked quick again however, setting the sixth-fastest time in final practice. He produced another astonishing start – leaping to sixth, then slipstreaming past Kvyat for fifth – and his race continued to run true to form as quicker rivals leapfrogged his Force India during the pit stops. A solid points finish was in the offing when his front wing collapsed on the pit straight, sending him into the barriers.

Valtteri Bottas

Australia – If anyone was going to get within a second of the Mercedes drivers in qualifying Bottas was probably the most likely to do so. Unfortunately he began suffering back pain in qualifying which later turned out to be “a very small tear in the annular part of a disc in his lower back”. That ruled him out of the race, though he hopes to be back for Malaysia.

Malaysia – In contrast Bottas had a disastrous first lap, plummeting to 14th place. He was also one of several drivers who had to queue behind his team mate during the dash to the pits on lap four, but once back on track he quickly made up places and by lap 11 he was on Massa’s tail. Had an entertaining scrap with Verstappen, who he passed on the outside of turn five, and he later used the same move to claim fifth from Massa.

China – Lined up behind his team mate on the grid and was able to jump him at the start, but lost out after Raikkonen’s daredevil move into Turn Three. Struggled to match his team mate’s pace during the race but was easily quicker than the Lotus behind and so spent the race virtually alone.

Bahrain – Completely free of back pain for the first time since being injured in Australia, Bottas took fifth on the grid ahead of his team mate and was well-placed to take advantage of Vettel’s delays. He held the Ferrari driver at bay until the chequered flag to equal Williams’ best result of the season so far with fourth.

Spain – Sat out first practice while Susie Wolff drove his car but was able to take advantage of Raikkonen’s troubles to qualify fourth. He then held off the Ferrari in the latter stages of the race to keep the place.

Monaco – Williams had it bad in Monaco but 17th in qualifying for Bottas before penalties was quite a shock. Started on the soft tyres but couldn’t make an alternate strategy yield a points finish.

Canada – Delivered under pressure at the end of Q3 to move ahead of both Lotus drivers for fourth place – and he was less than a tenth off Raikkonen. “That was as quick as the thing goes,” he said on his way back to the pits. Although he couldn’t keep pace with Raikkonen in the race he was quick enough to take advantage of his rival’s spin at the chicane. So for the third time this year he came home ahead of a Ferrari – and this time it earned him a podium finish.

Austria – Was pleased with the performance of his updated car and especially its performance on long runs on Friday. But had to settle for sixth on the grid as he was unable to use DRS at the end of his final lap because of the yellow flags brought out by Hamilton’s spin. Passed by Verstappen at the start, he got by the Toro Rosso driver in the race and then passed Hulkenberg too, only for the Force India driver to jump back ahead via the pits. Finally passed Hulkenberg again for an eventual fifth, as a braking trouble hampered further progress.

Britain – Susie Wolff drove his car in first practice, then in qualifying he was narrowly beaten by Massa. Having given Hamilton a bit of an easy time at The Loop on lap one, Bottas pounced at the restart to take up second behind Massa. In Hamilton’s view, Bottas was quicker than Massa, and had Williams not initially told him not to pass his team mate Bottas might have got ahead at this point. Hamilton jumped him in the pits and Rosberg overtook him when the rain began to fall. Having been slightly slower than Massa on the hard tyres, Bottas lost far more time on intermediates at the end of the race, and was nearly passed by Kvyat.

Hungary – Ran Williams’ new front wing and secured sixth on the grid, and was running fourth early on. Having been jumped by Hamilton and Ricciardo at the first round of pit stops, he was poised to profit from their post-restart scrap when he was tagged by Verstappen, picking up a puncture.

Daniel Ricciardo

Australia – The trademark grin was seriously tested by Red Bull’s persistent problems with a Renault engine that lacks both reliability and drive-ability. The former meant he only managed 19 laps before qualifying, and the latter was a persistent aggravation, particularly when it spoiled an otherwise good start to the race. Under the circumstances he did well to qualify sixth, but the fact he finished behind a Sauber shows Renault have a lot of work to do.

Malaysia – Fourth on the grid in a wet qualifying gave further cause to believe Red Bull’s shortcomings are in the chassis department rather than the engine. But in the race it was a problem with his brakes which held him back – a string of cars demoted Ricciardo’s RB11 leaving him last of the points-scorers.

China – Decent qualifying position was squandered after poor start as the car fell into anti-stall and was forced to try and fight his way back through the field but was held up by team mate Kvyat in the opening stint. Ran the longest stint of the race on Soft tyres but had a tough time passing Ericsson’s Sauber in the final stint and inherited ninth following Verstappen’s retirement.

Bahrain – Seventh on the grid behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams looked about as good as the RB11 was capable of, as did sixth in the race after Massa’s problems. Ricciardo’s Renault engine failed spectacularly as he accelerated out of the final corner and though he was able to take the chequered flag without losing a place there will inevitably be a price to pay for it later in the year.

Spain – Covered just 13 laps on Friday due to yet more Renault power unit problems on his car. Judged tenth on the grid to be “my worst quali since I started with the team” but was much more satisfied after a trouble-free run to seventh. With Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams ahead, it’s doubtful there was more to be had.

Monaco – Was “frustrated” after qualifying as a mis-communication over engine settings cost him what he felt should have been third on the grid. He then had to give best to his team mate at turn one and was jumped by Raikkonen during the pit stops. He fought back, however, making the same late switch to another set of super-softs which scuppered Hamilton’s race. He muscled his way past Raikkonen and was waved through by Kvyat, but having been unable to pass Hamilton he then had to let Kvyat back through again.

Canada – Last year’s winner was downcast after only managing ninth on the grid behind his team mate at a track where Red Bull’s greatest weakness was exposed. He slipped out of the points in the race and was at a loss to understand why. “We just couldn’t get any pace out of the car,” he said. “It is something we will look at to understand what the cause was.”

Austria – It was always going to be a tough home race for Red Bull and it got tougher when Ricciardo had to take his fifth engine of the year and the subsequent ten-place grid penalty. Had a new chassis after his problems in Canada but lost brake temperature in qualifying and didn’t make the cut for the top ten for the first time since joining Red Bull. Ran a huge, 50-lap stint on the softs so he could attack at the end on super-softs after taking his pit stop penalty. This worked out well: he was able to take Nasr for the final point but ran out of time to demote Perez.

Britain – Still seems unsettled and wasn’t quite on Kvyat’s pace in practice, but would have been seventh on the grid had he not been among the many drivers to lose a lap time for running wide. Arguably triggered the first-lap collision which put three drivers out, but was cleared, he then retired before half-distance with an electrical problem.

Hungary – Hampered by an engine failure on Friday afternoon but qualified strongly. The only driver to save a set of soft tyres in Q1, two rapid laps in Q3 secured him fourth on the grid, just three-hundredths of a second off Vettel. Having struggled to get away from the dirty side of the grid he was hit by Bottas at turn – the first of three collisions on that part of the track. After Kvyat waved him through Ricciardo passed Hulkenberg but after switching to medium tyres he couldn’t keep Hamilton’s Mercedes behind. That paid off when the Safety Car appeared, however, as he was able to switch to softs and go on the attack. He was hit by Hamilton as he passed the Mercedes, but was still able to go after Rosberg. Again there was contact, which forced Ricciardo in for a new front wing and cost him a shot at victory.

Lewis Hamilton

Australia – All weekend long Hamilton seemed to have a couple of tenths of a second in hand over Rosberg in the first sector. His first run in Q3 was good enough to take pole position by almost half a second, but he lowered his time on his second run anyway. A clean start and smooth restart meant he was untroubled by Rosberg at the start of the race, and despite misleading messages from his fuel read-out he kept Rosberg back in the second stint.

Malaysia – Missed a significant chunk of Friday running due to a power unit inlet system problem. Nonetheless a rapid lap at the start of Q3 secured his second pole position of the year – neither he nor Rosberg beat the time as the track dried. He led at the start but pitting under the Safety Car dropped him back into the pack and by the time he emerged Vettel was ten second up the road, and after over 40 laps of chasing the gap was pretty much the same.

China – Fastest in every single session, except for Q1. Led all but three laps of the race en route to his second hat trick of the season. Able to control his pace and manage his tyres whilst never allowing his team mate to get within a second of his lead all race. Has now beaten his team mate to the chequered flag in all three races in 2015.

Bahrain – Claimed his fourth pole position in a row on Sunday by a healthier margin than he enjoyed in China and Malaysia. Hamilton rarely looked threatened in the race as his team mate scrapped with the Ferraris. A last-lap brake-by-wire glitch might have proved disastrous had it struck earlier, but it didn’t stop him from winning his third race this year.

Spain – Spun in final practice after touching the artificial grass in turn three, and from then on seemed to lose the initiative to his team mate, who beat him to pole position. A poor start cost him one place to Vettel and almost another to Bottas. Unable to pass Vettel on the track, he tried to undercut the Ferrari at the first pit stop but was thwarted by a slow left-rear tyre change. A switch to a three-stop strategy got him ahead, but by the time he’d made his extra pit stop Rosberg was too far ahead to be caught.

Monaco – Led both practice sessions on Thursday. Didn’t seem as settled on Saturday, including in qualifying where he was kept from the top spot in Q1 and Q2. He recovered well, however, chose to be the first Mercedes in the queue following last year’s controversy, and took his first Monaco Grand Prix pole position at his ninth attempt. Led comfortably from the start and was over 19 seconds ahead of Rosberg when the Safety Car came out. Didn’t expect to lose the lead by pitting, but he did, and finished a very frustrated third.

Canada – Despite topping both sessions on Friday he had a scruffy start to the weekend – a spin in first practice, a bizarre crash in the second, and in the third he was last after failing to get a clean lap in before the red flags started to fly. Rosberg ran him close in qualifying but Hamilton prevailed by a comfortable margin. He pulled clear in the first stint but Rosberg kept him honest after they switched to softs, the gap rarely more than two seconds. Even so, a fourth win for Hamilton never really looked in doubt.

Austria – Half a second off the pace on Friday and didn’t seem to be much closer to his team mate as the track dried in qualifying. Then it all seemed to click when it mattered: suddenly Hamilton found his missing chunk of time in the middle sector and claimed pole position, despite spinning at the beginning of his final lap. However his start was tardy – Hamilton later said he wasn’t satisfied with recent changes Mercedes have made to their clutch – and he spent much of the race chasing Rosberg. Then made life more difficult for himself by straying across the pit lane exit line and collecting a five-second time penalty, so had to accept second.

Britain – Looked genuinely uncomfortable in the warmer conditions on Friday, but overnight changes seemed to result in a car he was much happier with. He duly took his eighth pole position of the year – as in Austria his first lap was good enough and neither Mercedes driver improved on their second runs. Having reverted to an old clutch set-up for his start he blamed a lack of grip on his grid position for a sluggish getaway which allowed both Williams drivers past. He briefly got back in front of Bottas only to lose the position again while attacking Massa. He told the team he couldn’t pass Bottas, but his lap 19 pit stop and a flying out lap ensured he jumped both the FW37s. He had a brief off at Copse when the rain arrived, and after the track dried he began to struggle with his front tyres. However his decision to pit on lap 43 for intermediates just as the rain was returning was inspired, and won him the race.

Hungary – Swept all three practice sessions with little drama besides the occasional lock-up, and continued his domination into qualifying where he headed all three parts and sealed his ninth pole position of the year. But his domination of the weekend ended within seconds of the start: relegated to fourth in the first few corners, he then went off at turn six, slipping to tenth (and somewhat unfairly blaming his team mate for the error). He’d fought his way back to fourth when he came under attack from Ricciardo and thumped into the Red Bull, necessitating a front wing change and earning a drive-through penalty. Nonetheless he recovered to sixth at the chequered flag and edged further ahead of Rosberg in the championship.

Sebastian Vettel

Australia – Vettel’s first race for Ferrari went about as well as he could have hoped. After chiding himself for not taking third place on the grid when it was in the offing, he took it off Massa in the race by pitting three laps later than the Williams and dropping his lap time by around eight-tenths of a second despite the age of his tyres.

Malaysia – Exclaimed “not again” when he missed out on pole position to Hamilton by less than a tenth of a second, as he also had done last year. But he was clearly pleased with the Ferrari’s performance, and better was to come in the race. He rebuffed Rosberg at the start, inherited the lead during the Safety Car period when the Mercedes drivers pitted, but picked off both of them after his first pit stop. That put him in position to clinch his first victory for Ferrari at his second attempt.

China – Three races, three podiums for Ferrari’s newest driver. Was consistently quicker than Raikkonen all weekend and ran third the entire race, behind the Mercedes. Tried to put Rosberg under pressure in the middle stint, but the way that Mercedes pulled away after the final stops suggested challenging for the win was never really a possibility for Vettel in China.

Bahrain – Showed his potential in final practice and delivered on it by splitting the two Mercedes in qualifying, lining up on the front row. However he wasn’t able to keep Rosberg behind in the race – being passed three times – and was forced to make an extra pit stop after going off and damaging his front wing. That dropped him behind Bottas, where he finished.

Spain – Took third on the grid in the upgraded Ferrari, albeit more than three-quarters of a second off Rosberg’s pole position time. Ran in front of Hamilton for the first half of the race but when Mercedes put their man on a three-stop strategy Ferrari stuck to their guns and Vettel, perhaps inevitably, lost his hold on second place.

Monaco – Quickest in final practice but when Mercedes got their act together in qualifying the full scale of Ferrari’s deficit to the silver cars at this track was revealed. Nonetheless he took third once again, and fought hard to try to separate the Mercedes drivers at the start. He had to settle for third, but stayed close enough to Rosberg to be able to take advantage when it all went wrong for Hamilton.

Canada – Power unit trouble was an inconvenience in practice – and a major problem in qualifying, where it put him out in Q1. Then it transpired he had overtaken Merhi under red flags in practice, incurring a five-place penalty which left him 18th. Made an early pit stop at the end of lap seven but a slow tyre change cost him more time, as did a contretemps with Alonso at the chicane. But he kept picking off his rivals and strong pace after his second pit stop brought him up to fifth place behind his team mate.

Austria – Quickest on Friday by little more than a hundredth of a second, but twice had to stop with transmission-related problems. Fastest again on Saturday morning, but didn’t have the one-lap pace to split the Mercedes, although he would have been quicker had he also not been unable to use DRS. Didn’t have the pace to attack Mercedes at the start of the race on super-softs, but was quicker on softs in the second half of the race. However by then a slow right-rear tyre change had dropped him to fourth behind Massa, where he finished.

Britain – Was held up by Massa during his final out-lap in Q3, which may have affected his tyre preparation, then had “a really bad start” from sixth on the grid. It got worse at the restart where he fell behind Perez, though he took that place back on lap nine. An early first pit stop got him in front of Kvyat and Hulkenberg, and when it started to rain he passed Raikkonen. Significantly quicker than the Williams drivers at this point, a well-timed pit stop got him ahead of them for a podium which had looked unlikely earlier in the race.

Hungary – Didn’t seem to quite have a match for Raikkonen’s pace in practice but led the way for the team in qualifying to take an increasingly familiar third place on the grid. A superb start put him in the lead from where he used Ferrari’s soft tyre pace to great effect – Raikkonen was ten seconds behind even when his car was still healthy. The Safety Car period was exactly what he didn’t need but his nearest rivals mostly took themselves out of contention as he grabbed his second victory of the season.



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 five 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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  • 160 comments on “2015 mid-season F1 driver rankings part three: 5-1”

    1. I hadn’t notice Val77erri Bo77as has 77 points!

    2. I can’t help but feel Bottas is overhyped. He is not outperforming Massa the way I was expecting him to, so either Massa got a lot better after he left Ferrari, or Bottas is not as good as at least I though he was.

      And as to the comment: “Had he not been clipped by Verstappen in the closing stages at the Hungaroring,…” I don’t understand why people say Ricciardo was not to blame for the incident in Hungary with Rosberg, yet Verstappen is for a similar incident with Bottas. Both involve that car in front not giving room to the car behind (and Vertappen was not found guilty by the stewards either).

      1. It’s not that Ricciardo wasn’t to blame, it’s that he and Rosberg were BOTH to blame. Which is why no penalty was given in that particular incident.

        Rosberg could have left a bit more room, and Dan could have backed off the throttle just a touch. But neither of them did :)

        1. That’s also how I see it. Would you agree that the same is true for the Bottas-Verstappen incident?

          1. To me they were both to blame. It was nothing big really, just a shame that these front wings are as sharp as razors.

      2. @vvans

        I don’t understand why people say Ricciardo was not to blame for the incident in Hungary with Rosberg, yet Verstappen is for a similar incident with Bottas.

        Just because the way in which two cars interacted at the point of contact (i.e. front wing to right-rear wheel) is very similar doesn’t make the causes of the two incidents the same. They were very different.

        Verstappen hit Bottas because he failed to appreciate how much the Williams driver had to slow in turn five because of the cars in front of him. Ricciardo and Rosberg made contact because the Mercedes driver left him too little room when Ricciardo was not obliged to make way for him.

        Having said that, I expected Verstappen to get a penalty and was surprised he didn’t. I don’t necessarily think he should have, but the stewards tend to be tough when one driver’s race has been ruined by another.

        1. @keithcollantine

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7EqfjKhFWQ

          The way I see it, it was Bottas’ coming inside when Verstappen was already there rather than Verstappen’s driving into the wheel of Bottas that caused the contact.

          While I don’t know who is to blame, I fail to see the difference between this situation and Ricciardo-Rosberg

          1. @vvans, @keithcollantine
            It was a simple racing incident. Verstappen sees that Bottas is blocked by two cars on the inside and forced to run wide, so Verstappen is having a go (which I should have done as well). Then Bottas releases throttle to slot in behind the other two cars. He steers to the inside and rightfully so because he is more than halfway in front of Verstappen. Both were to blame a bit. Verstappen for making a move from far, Bottas for failing to negotiate there could be another car on the inside after being pushed wide.

            But like I said, the incident itself was nothing serious, shame Bottas got a puncture.

          2. I fail to see the difference between this situation and Ricciardo-Rosberg

            There are many differences. The most important is that this took place at the mid-point of the corner while Bottas was turning in to the apex. The Rosberg incident took place on the exit of the corner where Ricciardo was ahead at the apex, so Ricciardo is entitled to hold his line. It looked odd because Rosberg was accelerating much faster, but he came from behind on the apex and so should have left space on the exit.

            That said, I don’t think it was a huge error by Verstappen. Bottas took an unusual line to try get a better exit than the cars in front, I guess Max thought Bottas was running wide and by the time he realised he was cutting back to the apex it was too late to back out.

            1. It’s almost like Raikkonen-Ricciardo incident in Monaco, what happened with Bottas-Verstappen.

            2. Botas just took the outside line in the corner and decided to take the inside line without checking if anyone was there. I hope I don’t come across you when driving on highway, apparently it’s ok to switch lanes without checking according to you.

              Botas himself already admitted it was his own mistake, and the stewards ruled Verstappen took enough evasive action to avoid the contact.

      3. Bottas is not overhyped – just ask Ferrari, and he is not currently dominating Massa because Massa is also driving great!

        1. Ask Ferrari about what? Just because rumours are talking about Bottas joining Ferrari, doesn’t mean that Ferrari agrees.

          Massa’s skill level is very well know at this time. He is a solid mid-tier driver, which means that so is Bottas. The Williams FW36 was clearly the 2nd fastest car in 2014, yet the drivers managed only 4th and 7th in the WDC. A top tier driver would have done better.

          Bottas/Massa is a case of the car making the drivers look better than they actually are. Just imagine what a top driver could do in the FW37.

      4. @vvans @keithcollantine @matthijs @george

        I think the Ricciardo-Rosberg incident was similar to the Hamilton-Bottas case when Lewis was leaving the pits. The Mercedes driver in both cases didn’t leave room, with the difference being that Valteri backed out of making contact, Daniel didn’t.

        1. And I agree with @pastaman ‘s assessment of RIC-ROS.

      5. I can’t help but feel Bottas is overhyped. He is not outperforming Massa the way I was expecting him to, so either Massa got a lot better after he left Ferrari, or Bottas is not as good as at least I though he was.

        Perfect.
        I would say that Massa is not even near the bad driver some guys here think he is, but the hype on Valtteri is just off the scale.

    3. Agree except for Bottas, on a par with Massa he wouldn’t have made it in my top 5

      1. Since Massa is 6th and Bottas just has the edge, 4th seems agreeable. I found it a bit weird that Ricciardo is 3rd on the list given that Kvyat is 11th.

        1. Agreed. Ricciardo on 3rd place is not at all in line with the way I see it (but that’s the problem with these lists, it is incredibly subjective).

          1. It might be because other races where Kvyat was the faster driver Ricciardo had other things that masked the situation (Malaysia, Monaco, Silverstone) or Kvyat made mistakes (Austria, Silverstone). And the most recent example is Hungary where Ricciardo was faster but ended up behind Kvyat. That gives the impression it’s been the same whole season. Ricciardo needs to get a handle on his starts anyway though.

    4. Bottas is as inspiring as a cardboard cutout. I really don’t see what’s so special about him. He is finishing in positions that are pretty much guaranteed for the car he has and the advantage it has over all other cars except Ferrari and Mercedes. I really don’t remember seeing him doing anything outstanding.

      1. If you put Vettel in Williams and Bottas in Ferrari, it feels like Vettel would still outqualify him. There’s only a tenth on average between those cars.
        I would expect Bottas to do better in at least quali even if it turns out his car doesn’t have Ferrari race pace.

      2. Agree. I wouldn’t rate either Bottas or Massa as strong performers this year. Couldn’t remember anything noteworthy from either driver other than the start of the British GP.

        If Ricciardo or the Hulk were in a Williams, they would have bagged a couple of podiums among themselves for sure.

        Would have to disagree with Keith’s ratings for both of them. I wouldn’t put Massa higher than #10 and Bottas higher than #8 in the rankings.

        1. you dont understand the sport. both Massa and Bottas have been really solid this year – put them in Rosberg’s seat and they would be closer to Hamilton or even beating him.

          1. Well.. I really hope I do understand the sport as well as you do someday.

            I just had an opinion – That they have the 3rd fastest car on the grid, and on some occassions the 2nd fastest car on the grid, and yet they haven’t bagged enough podiums among them when Ferrari and Mercs have slipped up.

            You can look it either ways – both have been solid … or both have been mediocre

            I think mediocre

          2. you could say the same about most other drivers on the grid. Rosberg is just a gloryfied development driver.

          3. @kpcart The only one that doesn’t understand this sport, is you kpcart. You are always posting rubbish comments that don’t make sense to anyone.

      3. A perfect #2 ferrari driver.

      4. The reason he doesn’t appear to be special is because he is doing everything right. Quality driving is all about consistent driving and staying out of trouble.

    5. I wouldn’t put Ricciardo in top 3, but mostly agreed with the rankings.

      1. kvyat 11 and ric 3? not at all accurate imo, have seen very little of Ric this year that warrant a top 3 ranking

        1. I think it’s outrageous.

          1. Outrageous, really? I think you take this far too seriously.

            1. Naah… I really don’t. And it’s despite that.

          2. I agree. It’s a joke. Kvyat has been mighty impressive this year, even if you don’t take into account his lack of experience. I’d have ranked them 5 and 7th or something like that. (Ricciardo hasn’t done anything to warrant a top 4 place IMHO, and the same is true for Bottas)

            1. Agreed. Ric should be #5 at best in my opinion, but then again, that’s just my opinion.

        2. ColdFly F1 (@)
          7th August 2015, 14:01

          IMO the performance of many drivers is very close this (half) year. @dr-jekyll Especially, the drivers ranked 3rd to 12th (or 13th) have just marginal difference (see detailed notes by Keith).

          1. I actually agree with that. First 2 is on another planet. But the guys after that look pretty tight. Hard to choose really.

    6. I agree with the rankings (all of them), possibly could have only made 2-3 changes if I wrote them myself.

      However I can’t applaud Ricciardo’s move in Monaco as “brilliant”, any move that results in contact is not, even in the narrow streets of the principality.

      As of Bottas, people often forget how consistent his perfomances are, even when it’s just his third year. See the one of the most experienced drivers of the grid, Raikonnen, how he struggles to perform at a constantly high level and compare him with Bottas. Sure Massa can beat him when everything goes right, but Valtteri is usually right behind. That’s the kind of driver Ferrari needs, someone that can take 100% from the car, at every single race, like Vettel always does, and did.

      1. That’s a good point.

      2. But look how incredibly consistent Raikkonen was at Lotus. I believe he even set the record for most point-scoring finishes in a row (correct me if I am wrong). I don’t think we can blame Kimi’s inconsistency solely on him. His qualifying performances yes, his inconsistency no.

        1. He’s been always like that with Ferrari. I think there’s something fundamentally wrong with the chemistry between Raikkonen and Ferrari. A Song of Ice and Fire. Red blood and gore galore.

        2. He’s just getting old. It happens to us all.

        3. I don’t remember Raikkonen being consistent at Lotus. On the contrary he would put in excellent performances in a few races, only to mix those with surprisingly uninspired performances in other races. Podiums mixed with 9th and 10th places are not a consistent performance, even if they are all in the points.

      3. it’s just his third year

        Most Toro Rosso drivers were fired before their third year. I don’t see Bottas making a lot of progress anymore. He’s simply not fast enough to match Vettel. Hulkenberg on the other hand, maybe …

        1. I heard from James Allen that engineers don’t think that highly of Hulkenberg, but they think Vettel is outstanding. How is that possible I dunno. It feels like those two would be a lot closer than they think. I think him making a Ricciardo on Vettel is more likely than Ricciardo making the same thing again.

          1. Are those the same engineers who suggested hiring Kimi and even keeping him on for another year after 2014? :)

            1. Not Ferrari engineers specifically. Raikkonen is no worse than a bunch of other drivers, but whatevs.

          2. peras, I would say that is slightly surprising to hear that engineers do not think Hulkenberg is that good, because he was reportedly held in fairly high regard whilst he was at Williams for his technical knowledge. Similarly, I don’t recall any complaints about his technical ability whilst he was at Sauber, so I’m curious as to where that criticism is coming from.

            As for Vettel being outstanding, whilst Vettel does generally seem to be a quite knowledgeable individual, Newey did indicate that Vettel was slightly weak in some areas (I recall Newey stated that he felt that Webber offered better feedback on the high speed handling characteristics of his cars than Vettel did, with Vettel being better when describing low speed handing characteristics).

            1. Newey never mentioned high speed versus low speed handling feedback. What he said was:

              Mark is very sensitive on the aerodynamics of the car, Sebastian is very sensitive in other areas like tyres and suspension characteristics, so they have complemented each other.

              The comments on Hulkenberg was from this article

              As for Hulkenberg, he is in demand lower down the grid; Force India would like him to stay and the new Haas F1 team are interested in his services, but that elusive top team seat seems destined not to happen for the German.
              Detailed analysis of his on track performance data by the engineers, which Williams management will be studying now, as all the teams do, shows that while he has his moments of magic, he’s not at the level of a Bottas or a Ricciardo.
              The key to being a top F1 driver is repeatability; the knack for putting your three best sectors together in a qualifying lap when it counts, doing it every time and essentially not having off days.

              and the comment on Vettel was a reply by James Allen to a comment on Hulkenberg (see comment 6)

              I find it interesting you’ve said that on closer look, his data doesn’t support his apparent potential. is it as black and white as data quantifying his talent?

              Sure the engineers from every team have all the data, lap times etc from every GP weekend and group test and can see what the drivers are capable of.
              That’s why it always makes me laugh when fans say things denigrating Vettel, for example. You ask any F1 engineer what their data says about Vettel and they’ll say he’s an outstanding F1 driver, regardless of how good a car he may have had in the past.

            2. Yes that’s what I was talking about. Thank you.

    7. an ideal ranking

    8. I think the last race in Hungary has had a significant impact on the mid-term rankings.

      For Ricciardo, his season seemed to unravel a bit with poor performances in Canada and Silverstone, but his drive in Hungary reminded me just how good he can be.

      If Rosberg had put soft tyres on for the final stint, he would probably have taken the win and the championship lead. As it is, I think Keith is a little bit harsh on him with 12th place, after all he did usually run Hamilton close, was occasionally faster, and some of his drives are underrated, for instance in Bahrain were he overtook a Ferrari three times, despite not having a hugely faster car that weekend.

      Hamilton would surely have been P1 in the rankings if he had gotten off the line properly in Hungary, for the pace was there to dominate the weekend, despite the strength of the Ferraris in the race. As it was, Hungary was a blemish on his otherwise clean record.

      Vettel not only inherited P1 in Hungary due to Mercedes’ problems, but also, in my opinion, first place in the mid-term rankings. To me, he has been the front runner that made the fewest mistakes, but I find his season so far still somewhat short of brilliant. Apart from the mentioned Bahrain, I found him somewhat weak in Silverstone and Spain (where he lost a lot of time to Hamilton when they did allow the undercut, even losing time when Hamilton was on old tyres and Vettel on new ones).

      1. Did you watch the race in Bahrain? Mercedes was definitely faster than Ferrari. It’s just that a bit of a reliability with a dash of different strategy made it look like Ferrari was just as fast. If Ferrari run the same strategy with Raikkonen like they always had to do with Vettel, they never would have caught them. Same with Malaysia.

        1. I watched it twice, actually. Hamilton built up a five second lead before the first pit stop, but he used ‘all this tyres’ to do so, resulting in a slow couple of laps before his first stop, allowing Vettel and Rosberg to almost catch him. So yes, of course Mercedes was faster, but their advantage was not as large as at other races.

          1. Yep. I watched it twice too. More or less agree with you.

          2. That isnt how Bahrain went! Lewis maybe used all his tyres (quite why using all the life in your tyres before you pit is a bad thing i dont know but….) but the reason Vettel and Rosberg caught up was because merc delayed him coming in the pits so Rosbergcould come in firstdue to his bad start. So it was the undercut that caught vettel and Rosberg up with Ham… NOT him using all of his tyres….but dont let the truth get in the way of a good story.

      2. I would put Vettel ahead of Hamilton even before Hungary. Lewis in Silverstone was not better than Sebastian. Neither in Spain. And I don’t think taking the lead at the start makes you “inherit” the lead. Vettel is the one who forced Hamilton to make the mistake in the end.
        It’s really weird that if he occasionally got outqualified by Williams/Red Bull but finished the races ahead, he would like more “brilliant” than he does. To me he looked brilliant, more so than Hamilton tbh, hence the ranking. And I agree with that.

        1. I think that’s definitely arguable about Silverstone. Until the rain came Vettel was completely anonymous at Silverstone.

          1. They had very similar races with one of them as frontrunner other one the midfielder.

          2. “anonymous” at silverstone for being behind 2s behind raikkonen for the entire race after they pitted for the 1st time. We know what happened when rain fell.

        2. I think Hamilton’s mistakes at Silverstone were very similar to Hungary, he just got lucky and lost fewer posit I ns. Then the rain saved his day.

          I think Hamilton is the fastest when he has a great day. But most days Vettel gets better results.

          1. Imo whenever people start talking about Grand Chelem, lapping the field or that sort of things Hamilton has races like Monaco or Hungary.

            1. Exactly

            2. What is your point? People only talk about grand chelems etc when they are achieved…. Ham has had a few in the lastcouple of years so….. Also Monaco was a field annihilation from Ham…. He was 20 seconds clear of the field AT MONACO…. His driving that day….no…that WEEKEND was fantastic. It was a bad decision that cost him not his racing.

      3. Were you saying the same thing while Vettel was getting past Rosberg and Hamilton on track?

      4. Recap: Silverstone – Round 9
        Mercedes and Ferrari are slow off the line. Mercedes overtaken by Williams, Ferrari overtaken by Hulkenberg.
        Restart bad for Hamilton and Vettel as both got overtaken by cars behind while they were trying to overtake the guy ahead. Vettel then overtakes Perez.
        Hamilton and Ferrari drivers undercut all others around them during the pit stops.
        It starts to rain. Hamilton’s tyres are gone so Rosberg closes down the gap and Hamilton decides to pit. Vettel overtakes Raikkonen and closes down the gap to guys in front, then decides to pit.
        Hamilton 1st, Vettel 3rd.
        How is it that Vettel’s race was any weaker than Hamilton?

        1. I did not say anything about the relative performance to Hamilton, just that I found Vettel’s performance not so impressive. Until the rain came, he had trailed Raikkonen for most of the weekend.

          1. It sounds like that though. Especially when you mentioned Spain and Vettel losing time to Hamilton and such. By the way, do you realize that in Spain Ferrari was horribly slow compared to Mercedes? And which part of the race you’re talking about where Vettel on new tyres were slower than Hamilton on old? Is it after last stop? Did you really expect Ferrari to keep up with Mercedes after Hamilton got ahead?

            1. I was referring to after Vettel’s last stop, but before Hamilton’s last stop.

            2. Ferrari was seriously off pace on hard compound in Spain. Dunno why you were so surprised Hamilton was faster than Vettel. Didn’t you also see what happened in China when Rosberg told Hamilton to step it up? Never mind the fact that Hamilton needed to spend 18 laps on hards whereas Vettel went to the end. Raikkonen got stuck behind Bottas and Ferrari pace was closer to Williams then Mercedes. I don’t think 3 stops would have worked either. Mercedes would get ahead via pits anyway.

      5. Hungary was a blemish on (Hamiltons) otherwise clean record.

        He’s made numerous errors this season besides the cart-load of them he made in Hungary. He made bad starts in Austria and England, ran off-track and lost position to Bottas in Silverstone, and deserves at least 50% of the blame for the Monaco pit-stop blunder.

        1. You forgot the start in Spain. Though team thinks car is to blame for that one along with Austria one. It’s starting to get a little bizarre though.

      6. Vettel inherited the win in Hungary?? The things that get posted on this site are hilarious

        1. Haha. Indeed.

          There’re stats regarding this actually. Among 5 WDCs on grid, Vettel has inherited the least amount of races (only 1 or something) and lost the most from lead due to reliability (10 or something). So if he were to inherit a race, that would be a very rare occasion as a matter of fact.

        2. Inheritance would only apply if the driver were to have a technical problem or be involved in an incident, causing them to lose position. A legitimate startline overtake is a forceful move.

      7. (@adrianmorse)
        How dare you challenge the pro-Vettel narrative of F1F!

        Never mind the fact his performance this year has been average at best, and all his supposedly ‘great’ drives were simply having yet another off form old man for a teammate (also being given the 2nd rate machinery, again), and once again lucking into a variety of factors and a Ferrari infinitely better than last years.

        Never mind the single year he’s had a competitive team mate, he got annihilated, and never mind he’s proven himself as clumsy in traffic as ever this year. All this is moot, because STATS.

        1. @JagFan

          The effort you used in typing uip that tripe, which has no basis, would have been better used in watching paint dry.

        2. I never know if things like this are really believed or are just said to start flame baits.

          Because it is impossible that someone that knows a little of F1 can write such rubbish if they are not full of hatred against a driver

        3. So Hamilton clattering into half the cars on the grid is just fine, because it’s him being aggressive or whatever, but if Vettel makes contact with another car (which I can’t recall him doing this season, off the top of my head) he’s “clumsy”?

          So if Hamilton get’s stuck behind somebody and is unable to pass (despite having by far the quickest car on the grid) that’s just bad luck, but if Vettel finds himself in the same situation it’s a manifestation of his being “average at best”?

          So if Hamilton or Alonso wins in “not the best car” it’s a sign of their superlative driving brilliance, but if Vettel wins in an inferior car it’s just him “once again lucking into a variety of factors”?

          Reading some of the comments here gives me the feeling I accidentally wandered into a Monty Python skit. “Yes, but apart from all those records and accomplishments, all those wins, and titles, and poles, at multiple teams, what’s he ever done to suggest he’s a good driver?”

          1. spot on ….

          2. spot on …. This is the comment of the week for me.

      8. @adrianmorse

        “short of brilliant” lol.

        In Silverstone, Ferrari had the 3rd fastest car, and by a real margin too. During the race, Vettel caught and passed his team on the track to get into 5th. He was definitely making the best of a bad situation.

        When the rain came, he was probably the best driver on the track by some margin, both on the slick tires on a wet track and then making the right strategy call at the right time – much more so than Hamilton, who really had no choice but to come in that lap – if he didn’t, he would have ended up 5 seconds down on Rosberg by the next.

        In Spain, again, the Mercs were monster but another bad start by Hamilton, or great start by Vettel, got him into p2. There was no way Hamiton could pass Vettel on the track. So in a much slower car, on a track that the Mercs were massively quick on (don’t forget the performances they had in winter testing), Vettel did a great job holding Ham up. Look how far up the road Rosberg got, and he’s the slowest of the the two Mercs.

        Bahrain definitely was scrappy, but really came down to one missed corner, a freak wing break coming back on at the worse place possible, right after the pit entrance.

        Don’t forget Hamilton was short of brilliant in Silverstone – that restart alone was horrid, losing a place to Bottas and saved by being able to do the undercut on the Williams – a rather uninspired team when it comes to racing (they make consistently the most conservative, “let’s not really go for a win”, decision. We can diss on Maldonado all we want, but the beauty of him winning in a Williams, is that it was a Williams). Hamilton also had that pit lane exit penalty in Austria, and for a second race in a row in Hungary, he blew the restart after an SC.

        So Vettel 1 and Hamilton 2 at the mid-point is right. Not to mention that Vettel won Hungary in essentially the 3rd fastest car behind the Mercs and the Red Bull.

        1. @uan, I stand by my comment, although I should have made clearer that I do agree with Vettel ranked first. What I was trying to say was that, if Hamilton had won Hungary, I would have put him ahead of Vettel.

          1. @adrianmorse

            fair enough. I think more troubling for Hamilton is that he’s had 3 bad races in a row (Austria, Silverstone, Hungary), each with unforced errors – I’m not talking about the bad starts. He needs to clean up his racing, though he may get away with it against Rosberg.

            He’s definitely been epic in qualifying, pulling out some times in Q3 that were staggering and unexpected.

    9. I don’t get why Hülkenberg is rated so highly for this half season, it seems to me he only started performing well after the 24 Hours of Le Mans, before then his performances were questionable (and i’m a fan of his so i’m not being biased about it). I also think Ricciardo should not be so high, even compensating for the car his performances have been disappointing in my opinion. The Toro Rosso drivers should be up there instead, with better reliability I believe it was possible Sainz and Verstappen would both be in the top ten of the drivers championship right now.

      1. Sainz should have been in the top 5.

        I disagree about Hulkenberg though, he has been faster than Perez nearly all season, which wasn’t the case last year. He definitely improved IMHO.

        1. lol :D Sainz in top 5 haha

    10. Personally, I would rank Ricciardo and Bottas further down the top ten, although I say that only on the basis of their mightily impressive campaigns in 2014. The rankings are fair in a blinkered, isolated reference to 2015 because, alas, driver development is a maddeningly inexact science. That does not change the fact that Williams would have expected the gap between Bottas and Massa to grow, not shrink, and nor would Red Bull have anticipated Kvyat to pose such a credible threat to Ricciardo’s team leadership once the early season cobwebs had been blown away.

      Fortunately, the Hungarian Grand Prix confirmed the dynamic, aggressive Ricciardo of 2014 was only laying dormant and waiting for a real opportunity of a great result; he will be one to watch on the streets of Singapore. He is also a man that I am sure will be a factor in many future world championships.

      Bottas has been less convincing in 2015. He deftly exploited opportunities handed to him by Ferrari in Bahrain and Canada, but has marred his season with poor laps in Q3 and the occasional poor start. Will it change the seeming inevitability of him moving to a bigger team? Probably not. That said, the way in which he exploits the two major opportunities in Spa and Monza will likely be the defining chapter of his season.

      1. I would rank Bottas and Ricciardo further down without looking at their previous seasons and potentials. If I looked at those sorts of things, it would be even worse, but that doesn’t make sense to me anyway. Considering Massa is highly ranked in this list, Bottas wouldn’t be down too much, but Ricciardo would. Especially for his starts (worse than Bottas and everyone) and his occasional off the pace races.

    11. I don’t agree with Ricciardo in 3rd at all. I think we can all agree that so far he’s been marginally quicker than Kvyat, yet he’s finished behind him more often than not. Bad starts, a lot of accidents in wheel to wheel racing and sometimes he even lacked the pace. He’s been a bit clumsy so far in my opinion. He showed flashes of 2014 brilliance, but just flashes and to be honest Kvyat has delivered the big results this year.
      Bottas in 4th seems a bit too much, I expected him to beat Massa consistently, but maybe we have to credit Massa rather than criticize Bottas.
      It’s just opinions, though. It’s cool to see what other fanatics think.

        1. I agree, Hulk deserves 3rd

      1. how can you say that he is clumsy?
        his starts have been poor I agree. but if you are referring to Hungary as Ricciardo being clumsy, none of the 3 incidents were his fault. The Rosberg incident is arguable, but even still i feel it was the Mercedes boys trying to throw their weight around.
        I mean does anybody actually believe that Lewis “under-steered” into Ricciardo? simple fact is Lewis played dare and came out ruining his and arguably Ricciardo race some what.

        1. If it was totally his fault, then people would say it is “his fault”. But getting into that sort of situation is clumsy. Like Maldonado finding himself in crashes even if it’s not really “his fault”. Off the top of my head I would give Monaco incident and Silverstone start pile-up as examples of his clumsiness too.

        2. WHAT??? Lewis played dare?? It was entirely obvious he understeered into Ric…. He made an error… It cost him the race win….he got penalty and never muttered a word in defence…. Jees… Some people will never give Ham tge slightest bit of credit. Played dare?? Jees!

      2. You really need to see the races where it is ‘marginally quicker’. The only real race Kyvat has had the wood over Ricciardo was Canada where Ricciardo was all out at sea.

        – Canada > Kvyat had a better w/e fair and square
        – Monaco > Ricciardo lost 3rd place in Q due to loss of engine power, got boxed out 1st corner and Monaco track position is king
        – Silverstone > pretty even between the two, Ricciardo missed Q3 by 3cm and then engine put paid to a possible good result which Kvyat went on to get
        – Austria > Ricciardo had brake problems in Q but finished ahead of Kvyat (hard to quantify how much Kvyat’s collision, which was his own fault, impacted his race )
        – Hungary > Ricciardo was a pit stop ahead of Kvyat at least before the safety car, smashing both in Q and R except Kvyat brought it home in 2nd place while others fell away. Had it been normal race, Kvyat would have been just inside the top 10 and probably 40 seconds behind Ricciardo at the end

        Add to races like Spain where Ricciardo smashed Kvyat by like 20+ seconds then it’s fairly fair (I would have Kvyat just inside the top 10 though). The points don’t justify that Ricciardo is still the faster and better driver. It’s races like Hungary where people failed to watch Ricciardo vs. Vergne and went straight to the WDC table or race results, they don’t tell the full story.

        Perhaps Ricciardo is not top 3, but would still be in the top 5 IMO. Other drivers have made far more mistakes than Ricciardo.

        His race starts aren’t great but Hungary it looked worse, he had only lost one position but the contact with Bottas on the exit where his car went airborne is where his lost the places – not Bottas’s fault – otherwise he would have held position on the 1st lap. That bump alone from Bottas cost him positions to Bottas, Kvyat, Hulk and almost Perez down to the entry on turn 2.

        1. Kvyat was faster in Canada, Austria, Silverstone and Malaysia. None of his excuses really mattered. Don’t you think Kvyat has them too.

          1. lol faster in Austria? one qualifying session counts for the whole weekend? Silverstone who knows what would have happened but like I said, it was pretty close between them that w/e. If Kyvat was better he wouldn’t have spun and ruined a good podium chance.

            Malaysia I’ll give you that even when both drivers had brake problems but otherwise its slim pickings for Kvyat.

    12. The top 5 has to be reserved for those who have gotten the most out of their machinery and hardly put a foot wrong, so it’s difficult to argue with these choices. On merit alone, perhaps someone in a far weaker car would make it here too, but it’s way too difficult to judge what happens down the field. I think it’s a toss up between Vettel and Hamilton, but yeah Vettel takes it for me too, his consistency is very impressive. If Ferrari can pull up even more we could still end up with a cracking end to the season.

    13. I feel that Hülkenberg, Bottas and Ricciardo have done too little to justify a top 5 ranking. But then again, I can’t think of a name that should replace the three. Apart from Vettel (and Hamilton) nobody actually exceeded my expectations.

    14. ColdFly F1 (@)
      7th August 2015, 14:19

      Fully agree with the top 2.
      It gets a bit more difficult after that, and positions 3-13 are extremely close.
      All of them have shown some very strong racing (except maybe Button due to lack of opportunities) and all of them have shown some mistakes and/or lacklustre races (moments). It is hard to to judge who really deserves to be in the top 5 with Vet and Ham. The names in this top 5 are good, but I’m not sure what Alonso did wrong in the few laps he drove to say that Ric/Bot/Hulk are better.
      Furthermore, I see good improvements in Hulk, and some deterioration in Bot; and I would have swapped them.
      As far as team battles for the positions 3-13 I agree with most: Bot>Mas, Alo>But, Ric>Kvy. The only one I would have done different is put Ves above Sai. As I mentioned yesterday I rate the impressive racing the guy has done more than penalise him for the odd mistake. Sainz on the other hand had less mistakes, but not as many amazing moments.

    15. I was reading this an i’m like hmm… they are gonna put Lewis first; what a nice surprise to see Seb where he deserves to be (this half season).
      Aside from that Lewis has done a cracking job at taking away the only advantage Rosberg had last year – qualifying. That is impressive.
      A few years ago Michael’s records seamed unattainable; more and more i get the feeling one of these two will close on them; depends on who will get a decent car in these next seasons.

      1. There are news that new regulations won’t come in effect until 2018. If that’s the case let me be the first one to congratulate Lewis on his 5th championship.
        Wake me up when we get there.

    16. I know that there weren’t any standout performances from any driver this year but putting Vettel in the #1 spot is a big stretch. He won 2 races, one that was given away by Mercedes simply to shut up Horner and his “noone but Mercedes will ever win again” and the other one where every other driver was either to stupid to drive or had their race ruined by one of the stupid ones.

      Kimi was right about the whole “don’t just look at the results”. He had a lot of bad luck and was generally MUCH MUCH closer to Vettel than he ever was to Alonso. That’s the main reason I am absolutely unimpressed by Vettel. He didn’t standout as much as expected against one of the weakest drivers in the field.

      Not a Hamilton fan but the #1 spot should be his. For sure.

      1. Never mind the tinfoil and a lot of “stupid” things in your comment….

        It is a matter of FACT that Raikkonen is not doing any better against Vettel than he did against Alonso. And that’s actually quite surprising. Since:
        1. This is Vettel’s first year in this team unlike his teammate.
        2. Vettel can only compensate so much, his car is simply not as fast as Mercedes, and he can only achieve 3rd at best.
        3. Most of the time Ferrari is joint 2nd best in quali trim with Williams or Red Bull, but they look to be a bit faster in the races.
        4. Raikkonen likes this car much more than he did last year’s car. So, he’s comfortable with it.
        So you would think that Vettel being almost stuck in 3rd every race and Ferrari being overall the 2nd best car would bring Raikkonen closer to his teammate in any case. But that’s exactly what NOT happened.
        Ha, I don’t believe you can then say that Vettel and Alonso would be on par as I don’t think you can come to such a conclusion via Raikkonen. But let’s not spout nonsense.

      2. Right OK… All about the bad luck. Seriously, its Vettel’s first year at the team and still he is absolutely trouncing Kimi, both in races and qualifying. I’m sorry, he no longer deserves a top driver status.

      3. “one that was given away by Mercedes simply to shut up Horner and his “noone but Mercedes will ever win again””

        You’re right, and men never went to the Moon, it was filmed in Nevada

    17. Both Hulkenberg and Bottas should be streets clear of their teammates – but they aren’t. Therefore they should be a lot lower. Ricciardo is not outperforming his car; he driving exactly at the level of his car – so should be a lot lower. Top two – no argument.

      1. Agreed. I don’t understand the disparity between kvyat and Ricciardo.

      2. A lot of people forget that Bottas has one race less than Massa, which is why in terms of points, the gap isn’t huge. Bottas has 14 points less than after nine rounds last season. But has not finished two and started one, where as he was only outside the top 10 once after ten races last season. It shows he has been more consistent but very anonymous I guess this season. I’ve never rated Massa at Williams. Should have won in Canada last season without a doubt and has been very average this season, and is been outscored by his team mate, even though he has finished more races

        1. Well, now remember that he set the 6th time on the race he lost, compared to Massa’s 3rd. He would be 5th at that race AT BEST, and behind Massa, who managed to keep Vettel behind for long into the race.

          So, 13 points advantage. Nothing big. And Massa had to start from the back 2 times on tracks where Williams was performing well. Ricciardo’s 6th on Bahrein should’ve been his.

          And considering how Massa is known to be stronger on the 2nd part of the season, let’s see if Bottas can keep this advantage till the end.

    18. I’m a huge Ricciardo supporter, but i think he is ranked too high. To me he should be at least on the lowest part of today’s list.

      Agree with Vettel ahead of Hamilton. Performance-wise both are showing why they are the biggests winners of their time, but Hamilton’s Monaco confusion and his awful race on Hungary plays against him.

      Vettel wasn’t nice to see on Bahrein, but that’s his only low this season thus far. He is beyond expectations with Ferrari.

      1. Agreed. Considering that Kvyat would almost certainly be ahead of Ricciardo in the WC standings if not for that DNS in Australia, to be ranked 11th to Ricciardo’s 3rd seems hard to support. Either the Russian should be ranked higher, the Aussie lower, or both.

        And if Maldonado makes that same contact with Raikkonen in Monaco, it’s a clear penalty. I’d have Hulk 3rd. Or even 2nd.

    19. I wouldn’t put Ricciardo ahead of Hulk. Do you really think he has been the 3rd best driver this season so far?

      1. I would put guys like Sainz, Hulkenberg or Alonso ahead of him.

      2. That’s what I was going to say.

    20. How is it possible Ricciardo is so far up compared to his teammate? I also think Rosberg is a tad underrated, maybe even Perez too. But Ricciardo 3rd? That doesn’t sound right.

    21. My top 5 rankings:
      5. Bottas – 4th in the championship and second-best of the rest behind a quadruple world champion is pretty good. He is consistently finishing in the top 5. However, he is only 5th for me because he is only outperforming an old man (Massa) by 3 points, which is not good enough. I would not put him in a Ferrari.
      4. Ricciardo – After a spectacular 2014, things have once again calmed down for Daniel. However, he has been one of the most exciting drivers to watch in my opinion, and we see flashes of the 2014 Ricciardo this year. A solid job in a midfield car.
      3. Hulkenberg – When will this man get a top seat? I’m praying that he gets the Ferrari one. Once again, he is destroying his teammate 4 years in a row. He’s been rather unlucky too this year. Hit by Vettel, hit by Alonso, engine failure in China, and front wing failure, and still lies in the top 10 in the championship with a mediocre car.
      2. Hamilton – Leads the championship, wiping the floor with his teammate in every aspect, on route to get the pole trophy and the fastest lap award. Why then is he in 2nd? Only five wins out of the ten races is quite poor for a driver of his calibre in my opinion. He also has one of the two best cars on the grid. And there’s one person who has been a thorn in his side.
      1. Vettel – The number one is back for Vettel! But it’s not on his car. He has been brilliant every race, apart form Bahrain, taken two wins in a car that isn’t good enough to win the world championship, and has been outclassing his teammate! He has been world class.

      1. Hulk didn’t get hit by Vettel.

    22. Hamilton in p2 is what i question… being in the fastest car always gives you an advantage – yet Rosberg (12th in standings), nearly took the championship lead in the last race. Hamilton gets the job done in qualifying because of the cars pace, but is not a dominant racer, not the way Schumacher or Vettel were with winning cars. Vettel is a very worthy 1st in this first half of year… i want to see him in a mercedes, he would put many manners over Hamilton. but for the next few years with the stupid engines rules, Hamilton will keep winning

      1. he would put many manners over Hamilton

        What manners are you taking about, he is the best world champion, even Bernie admitted it.

        1. That’s from a marketing point of view, not a driving point of view.

          1. Ok forget Bernie’s comments….. Let’s use the recent votes by the team principles then.

            They all voted him best driver on the grid right now, even Arrivabene.

            1. You mean the team principal vote they do every year? The vote that he won for the first time since 2008? It wasn’t unanimous, given that the same article that called it unanimous went on to quote Tost saying Vettel as the best driver. And Arrivabene praising Hamilton doesn’t necessarily mean he voted for him either.

        2. yea from a marketing point of view is what he said, and bernie said in 2013 that vettel was the best ever in terms of driving, so i he’s your source then you screwed yourself

          1. He also wants him to marry his daughter I think? LOL But I don’t think Vettel takes it seriously. He has kids anyway.

      2. The only team mate Lewis has every been beaten by is a former WDC and that many deemed to be his worse season ever. The following year, he wiped the floor with him.

        Remind me again who beat Seb?

        Seb putting manners on Lewis in the same car….haha… That part alone should get COTD.

      3. @kpcart I think you have been dreaming too much lately it seems. No way Vettel would put manners on Hamilton like you are suggesting . They would be very close to each other and it would be extremely difficult to predict who might win between.

    23. Vettel wins only when Rosberg fails to gain on Hamilton problems…yet he`s N1? strange…

      1. Vettel makes the problems for Hamilton himself. He doesn’t wait for them to fail. Imo, that’s one of the reasons he’s deserved the top spot so far.

        1. he takes what falls from Mercedes team`s hands…is that a N1?

      2. Leaving aside the fact that “Hamilton’s problems” have mostly been self-inflicted, how was Vettel’s win in Malaysia due to Rosberg “failing to gain” on Hamilton?

        1. How a person with 5 wins could be behind one with 2 lucky wins?

          1. Because (1) this is not a ranking of “Who has the most wins” but “Who has driven best”, and (2) there was nothing “lucky” about SV’s 2 wins. He outperformed Hamilton in both of them in spite of having an inferior car.

          2. What you’re looking for is called “championship standings”.

          3. @blakk76

            Vettel’s 2 wins were on merit. Mercedes didn’t have mechanical issues nor were they unavoidably hindered by a safety car (the time lost at Malaysia & Monaco was COMPLETELY avoidable, unlike say, Hungary ’14).

            1. still, he`s best of the rest, and I dont see a point, why he must be N1…

            2. @blakk76
              Becuase Hamilton’s Austrian, Spanish and especially Hungarian GP’s weren’t too good, with the latter resulting in a worse finish than Vettel has had so far this season.

          4. Vettel’s has maximised his performance in the car. Even as a Hamilton fan, it seems obvious to me that Vettel’s has had the best season so far this year.

    24. Hamilton`s problems are caused by strange position of Mercedes team, when clearly outmatched driver has green light to spoil Ham`s races, like last one in Hungary…

    25. I usualy agree with these rankings, but this year I can’t decide where to put anyone – it really has been a difficult one to rate. Vettel has clearly been the best, but it’s so difficult to rate the others, because noone else REALLY stands out, the way Hulkenberg, Bottas and some others did last year, for example.

      1. Okay, Hamilton in second is somewhat clear as well…but behind that it’s next to impossible as far as I’m concerned =)

    26. Vettel has enough points to stand 2nd in WCC on his own. It’s like 2013 all over again.

    27. Fully agree with top 2. I’m a Hamilton fan but he’s made a few silly errors (Safety Car restarts, Monaco pitstop for example) compared with Vettel, who I don’t like, who has been virtually flawless.

    28. I think Hülkenberg deserves a top team.

      1. It’s been like this for the last 3-4 years. Yes, he does!

    29. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Bottas has made too many mistakes, Ricciardo dipped form for 3 or 4 GP’s. Hulk has been more consistent than Bottas and so as Alonso and both STR drivers, Ricciardo is somewhere in the middle of them. That said the top 2 is undisputed. I would top Hamilton. He and the car are in sync. Vettel has been as consistent as he has proved in the past, that said sometimes and at Bahrain and Silvestone Kimi was undoubtedly faster, now if you add up some other races from the start of the season where Kimi looked the quickest and the F1.com driver ratings, you are left with the impression that the SF15 has more than both Kimi and Seb can muster. Top points for consistency nevertheless.

      1. @peartree Kimi was never faster in Silverstone or Bahrein. In Bahrein he had the better strategy combined with Vettel his only mistake it might seem so though. In Silverstone Vettel did not make a very good start and fell behind being stuck but everytime in clear (rain) air he hauled him in. He did not win got ahead because of a screwed pitstop or anything, he overtook Kimi on track on slicks in the rain. That’s when Kimi began to fall back properly by pitting for inters too soon.

        1. During the entire Silverstone weekend Kimi was faster than Vettel. Vettel however had the confidence to push on the slippy conditions, and that’s why he got Kimi. Seb took advantage of following behind in that occasion. Analyze the data from Bahrain and you’ll realise that for some reason Kimi was faster than Seb, obviously if Seb hadn’t make that mistake he would have kept Kimi behind.

    30. If he had won in Bahrain and Monaco (undercut Ros), came 2nd in Spain (didn’t get undercut by Ham) and Austria (Ham penalty), finished 4th in Canada, he would have been leading the championship by 4 points. Imo, Ferrari and Vettel could try a bit harder.

      1. Yes, and if Massa had won in Australia, China, Spain and Britain while finishing second everywhere else, he’d be leading the championship. IMO he and Williams could try a bit harder!

        1. You are just making stuff up, what I’m saying is realistic.

          1. How is it in any way realistic to toss out remarks like “If he (SV) had won in Bahrain”? Or “come 2nd in Spain” … where he finished 30 seconds behind the Mercedes in 2nd place? How is it realistic to make suggestions like “don’t get undercut by Hamilton” when Hamilton is driving a car more than a second and a half per lap faster?

            The only suggestion you make which is plausible is the “4th in Canada” one, where Ferrari could have moved him ahead of Kimi.

            If the Merc had only a slight performance edge many of the things you say might be at least theoretically possible. But it has a greater advantage over the Ferrari than the Red Bull RB9 had over the second best car in the last few races of 2013.

    31. Best thing that can happen to Formula 1 this season would probably be Vettel winning the championship. Don’t think that’s possible. Like, at all. And mostly that’s why.

    32. Nico Hulkenburg definitely deserves a top seat in my opinion. I also think Bottas is overestimated. He’s a solid driver, who is probably better than Massa, but not by a big enough margin to be a star. Hulkenburg has deserved a top seat for ages, and I think that he is easily as good as drivers such as Riccardo, and Hamilton, and only Alonso gets more out of a underperforming car. I dont understand some of these rankings, why are the Williams drivers so far up, when neither has really shone, or outperformed the other, or their car. Kvyat and Riccardo need to be closer together in my opinion as well.

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