2017 F1 driver rankings #3: Vettel

2017 F1 season review

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Sebastian Vettel led the world championship for more than half the year not because he had conclusively the best car, but because he wielded a very competitive car to excellent effect over most of the first half of the season.

He missed out on the title partly due to Ferrari’s reliability problems and partly due to his own errors. Two particular mistakes helped make Lewis Hamilton’s 46-point margin of victory as comfortable as it was.

Sebastian Vettel

Beat team mate in qualifying15/19
Beat team mate in race14/16
Races finished18/20
Laps spent ahead of team mate702/962
Qualifying margin-0.28

Baku is the most glaring one. In losing his temper while Hamilton was baking up the pack Vettel threw away what would have been a win following his rival’s later, unrelated head rest failure. He was doubly fortunate not to be excluded from the race and that his stop-go penalty wasn’t enough to drop him back behind Hamilton.

In contrast Singapore ultimately a racing incident, albeit one in which Vettel as the championship leader arguably risked too much. Max Verstappen gave an utterly persuasive analysis of why Vettel’s aggressive move from the start line showed a failure to correctly identify his most important threat in the race. This was a far less egregious error on Vettel’s part than Baku but it cost him much more.

He risked a few near-misses too. In Mexico his tangle with Hamilton cost the Mercedes driver more than him. And his post-race collision with Lance Stroll in Malaysia was totally unnecessary and nearly led to a gearbox change penalty.

Instead it was the car failure earlier that weekend and another in Japan which finished off his title hopes. But for much of the rest of the year he drove superbly.

He became the first driver to beat a Mercedes V6 hybrid turbo in the championship. And he out-scored a fellow champion with the same hardware by over 100 points, though the team clearly protected his position in Hungary by preventing Raikkonen from jumping ahead as Vettel struggled with a steering fault.

A crucial aspect of Vettel’s success was his qualifying performances. He regularly split the Mercedes drivers in qualifying. he claimed 14 front row starts in his SF70H, nine more than Valtteri Bottas did in his W08.

Early in the season, when Ferrari were strongest, he didn’t even need to start that high to win races. In Bahrain he came from behind both Mercedes to win despite nursing a problem with his car.

His race craft was much better than those headline-grabbing errors made out. Prior to the clash with Hamilton in Baku he’d clung to his second place at the restarts superbly. He put a great pass on Daniel Ricciardo at Shanghai and muscled his way past the Force Indias in Canada.

Vettel is undoubtedly right when he describes his season as being more positive than negative. The times this year when his temperament let him down may not have cost him the championship, but are clearly the part of his game which require the most attention.

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Over to you

While the start of the season was on par with Hamilton. His let down before the title fight was over makes us forgot how much he has taken out of the available package and been pushing Hamilton.

What’s your verdict on Sebastian Vettel’s 2017 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than him? Have your say in the comments.

Add your views on the other drivers here:

2017 F1 season review

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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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102 comments on “2017 F1 driver rankings #3: Vettel”

  1. I rated him below Hamilton and Verstappen too, he just made some clumsy & costly mistakes more.

    He … muscled his way past the Force Indias in Canada.

    That was a move I did not like at all, I found it overly aggresive. Especially Ocon had nowhere to go, and had to leave the track to avoid contact.

    1. That’s not right at all, Ocon had to leave the track because he wanted to stick it through to turn 3, when he had already lost the position. What he should have done is a late apex and try to retake the position on turn 4, not be a dummy and try to hold on to a place he had already lost.

      Part of knowing how to race is knowing when to give up a place so you don’t lose time battling lost causes.

      Also, what costly mistakes did Vettel make this year? And what clumsy mistakes were those?

      1. How about crashing into the back of Hamilton at Baku, then pulling along side him and making a second contact? Also making contact with both Hamilton and Verstappen at the begin of the Mexican grand prix. Arguably moving across in Singapore at the start too, although I think was a racing incident.

        I personally think Vettel had a much better season this year than last, and drove very well and consistently. However Hamilton’s performance this year has been nothing short of incredible – I’m not a Hamilton fan, but I have to admit he rose to another level. Last time I remember a driver impressing me this much over the course of a season would be Alonso in 2012.

        1. Yeah, you’re really not a Hamilton fan.
          In Baku, the stewards admitted to what Hamilton was doing. He brake tested Vettel twice, and Vettel got fed up. A stupid move on his part, for sure.
          In Mexico they were racing incidents and really nobody’s fault.
          In Singapore it was a completely blind corner for him, he could not have known the position of other cars. He was driving completely normal when compared to other starts (see the 2015 start, Raikkonen on Rosberg).
          So yeah, you’re totally not a Hamilton fan.

          1. @rahnarlsmenves “In Baku, the stewards admitted to what Hamilton was doing. He brake tested Vettel twice”

            Here we go again. No, the stewards didn’t say that. Hamilton did exactly what he did at the previous restart, but Vettel was closer and lost his temper when he failed to brake quickly enough and that’s it. He did it alone with no help from Hamilton. Stewards didn’t go further after reviewing the data.

            As for Singapore he moved sideways across the entire track. Not the smartest move but 2015 start is absolutely different, cars run straight!
            And no I’m not an Hamilton or a Vettel fan.

          2. Have a look at the Singapore 2010 start. Alonso does the identical move on Vettel as Vettel did to Verstappen this year. No comment, no outrage, no criticism. Riciardo, Hamilton and Rosberg have stated that the move was fine, risky but fine. You could argue that with the circumstances of the championship being what they were Vettel could have eased off, but could anyone say that Hamilton, senna, Schumacher etc would have “eased off”?

          3. @spoutnik Of course Vettel lost his temper, I totally agree. He complained that Hamilton had done “the same thing” the first time around, so I’m pretty sure that only made him more mad. In fact, he might even have put himself in the position where he WOULD crash (the first time) against Hamilton if Hamilton (as Vettel saw it) brake tested him.
            If you’ve ever raced you’ll know that being brake tested is one of the most infuriating things to happen in a race (so much so that it’s pretty much all you think about when driving in a pack, to avoid smashing into someone, and to avoid being smashed into), and at the level of F1, there’s no excuse “I hadn’t learned my line” or “I have a different style”. It’s single-seaters (so accidental brake testing happens WAY less) and these guys know their stuff. Hamilton did what he did (legally, apparently, and I’m ok with the stewards’ decision, of course) and he did it on purpose. Vettel knows and knew that at the time.

            On the whole brake testing thing, one of the most fun things I love to do when sim racing (touring) is scare other drivers into outbraking themselves into a corner, because they thing I’m gonna crash into them from behind. I know they’re looking in their mirrors, and I know how to pull it off, and it’s so gratifying :)

          4. @rahnarlsmenves Indeed. Thing is, evidence of brake testing can be hard to find. But in this case it’s not even a case of brake testing because 1) it’s not like Hamilton piled on brakes 2) it’s the very nature of restarts in that the leader gives the tempo so I don’t see any problem with Hamilton manoeuver and Vettel looked to try a bit too hard and unfortunately paid the price. In the end, not even a notice was issued by the stewards: https://www.fia.com/events/fia-formula-one-world-championship/season-2017/eventtiming-information-30

          5. Go on then, evidence of brake testing?

  2. He regularly split the Mercedes drivers in qualifying. he claimed 14 front row starts in his SF70H, nine more than Valtteri Bottas did in his W08.

    What a qualifying duel we would see if Hamilton and Vettel shared the same car… they’re both so so strong on one lap.

    I’m most likely one of the few who really doesn’t really believe Vettel could’ve won this championship. Had Hamilton been able to work his car in Monaco and Sochi like Bottas did he very likely would’ve won at least Sochi instead of coming home fourth. It’s because of these two uninspiring performances by Hamilton that Vettel was still in the hunt, combined with his Baku error where in the end he still gained points on Hamilton.

    In the end I don’t blame his move in Singapore for anything, as it was a very normal and sensible move at the time. No driver could’ve known Kimi was going to be there, and there are countless examples of title challengers defending after a mediocre start. In the end 12 wins to 5 out of 20, shows what beast the Ferrari had to fight. If anything I believe Vettel flattered the Ferrari, and had there been a lesser man than Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes Ferrari would’ve added to their tally of championships thanks to Vettel.

    I’m also one of the few I guess who didn’t really participate in the phantom idea that the Mercedes was a diva, Hamilton/Mercedes just got it wrong in Monaco and Sochi,… He would’ve won Baku most likely too and that would’ve meant 6 top 2 finishes out of 8 races, that’s hardly a car to call a diva…

      1. Well, it has been said that Mercedes isn’t going for the same solutions on the next car. The next one is expected to be shorter and with much more rake, just like the Ferrari and Red Bull.

        Mercedes was indeed the best car overall, but Ferrari’s SF70H was much more consistent through the year. They didn’t have any low points like Monaco and Malaysia. And points were lost too on Canada and Silverstone with that undercut on Verstappen proving very costly near the end of the race.

        1. I just don’t know where this ‘overall more consistent’ comes from, it’s simply not true. Monaco is the only race where no Mercedes finished on the podium. Vettel alone finished off the podium 7 times, of which 2 were most likely guaranteed. The Mercedes was the better car on every single front part, and where arguably wasn’t the Ferrari never held an advantage big enough to make it a race deciding feature. On top, whenever that would occur Red Bull was there too.

          1. Baku was his fault.
            Canada was just bad luck Verstappen ran on his front wing.
            GBR was also bad luck
            Malaysia, reliability
            Mexico was his fault.
            Singapore was his fault

            of which Ferrari was faster in Malaysia, Mexico and Singapore and Ferrari blew all of these opportunities.

            Vettel starting from the back on Malaysia on certain moments of the race was a threat to Hamilton who started on pole. That was not a race to finish fourth.

          2. I really believe people who think Mexico was his fault have never ever driven a car to its limit, whether that is real life or on a gaming console…, then again once Verstappen was in front I think Vettel would’ve only finished second at best anyway, or even behind Hamilton still as we never got to see his real pace.

          3. @ Edd
            In Canada Vettel admitted he did not see/expected Verstappen… at all.
            He lost his front wing two times over the first laps… Vettels fault all the way

          4. @flatsix
            The guy lost control of his car for a fraction of seconds and hits other car who has nothing to do with him.
            You can call it an incident if you want, but if you have to blame someone, it’s him.

  3. Very very accurate description. He did very well most of the season but that was just not enough to get the title. That temper did cos him but it also makes him more human and interesting then HAM.
    So: much respect for this guy.

    And I think the third place behind the ultimate winner HAM and the most promising and exciting star of F1 VER is very correct.

  4. Agree with this review

  5. See? I told you it was gonna be Hamilton > Verstappen > Vettel.
    Aaahh, I know you too well, Keith Collantine :)

    1. Also, for the record, I don’t agree with this. My previous comment may be misunderstood.

      1. But you obviously know the arguments to support keith. So at least that part is concurring ;)

  6. Unpopular opinion:
    Between Vettel and Hamilton, I think Vettel did a better job over the season.
    “But Baku, but Singapore …”
    I can only agree with Baku, that was stupid and should’ve resulted in a disqualification. But the crash in Singapore was a freak event, not caused by anyone’s wrongdoing (including Vettel’s), just the result of unusual circumstances (3 cars side by side at vastly different speeds after the first wet start in many years). From the cockpit perspective, neither driver did anything extraordinary or predictably risky. It’s easy to draw the armchair conclusion that a crash happened, which wouldn’t have been the case if Vettel hadn’t tried to defend from Verstappen, therefore Vettel must’ve been to blame. I think that’s nonsense. Had Vettel simply let Verstappen by, despite not having any way of knowing that Räikkönen had produced his only good start of the year, the critics would be pointing at Vettel’s embarrassingly weak defense of a vital pole position.

    In the 20 rounds of this championship, Vettel had exactly one race where he seemed to struggle for pace, and that was in Silverstone, where he would’ve finished 4th (under normal circumstances), just a place lower than the maximum result Ferrari could’ve realistically hoped for. He was on it in the remaining 19 rounds, something that cannot be said about Hamilton, whose first half of the season was affected by several underwhelming performances:
    – Russia, where he was outqualified by Bottas and finished three places lower and 36 seconds down on his team mate, whose race didn’t even go perfectly smoothly after flat-spotting a tyre with 10 laps to go.
    – the embarrassing Q2 elimination in Monaco, which confined him to 7th in the race
    – the Austrian GP, where he dropped the ball in qualifying and qualified 3rd while Bottas got pole, getting himself stuck behind Pérez and Grosjean after dropping to 8th on the grid with a gearbox penalty, which confined him to 4th in the race.

    And then there’s the Brazilian GP, where he single-handedly destroyed his race with an unforced crash in qualifying.
    Compare that to the list of Vettel’s ‘crimes’: Unsporting behaviour in Baku, race incident in Singapore, odd, but ultimately inconsequential post-race collision with Stroll, collision with Hamilton in Mexico. Apart from the moral outrage due to him colliding with Hamilton twice, I fail to see why he should be ranked lower than Hamilton.
    Yes, the narrative of this season is that Hamilton overcame great challenges to clinch the title, and so on and so forth, but I think the main reason why Hamilton had to fight this season, were his own shortcomings. Ferrari did put up a fight in the first half of the season, but even then, Hamilton lost more points due to his occasional off weekends than he did because Ferrari was quicker every now and then. Vettel’s title hopes didn’t collapse due to his mistakes and despite having an equally competitive car. He lost because the Mercedes was systematically quicker, and because Hamilton stopped wasting points until the championship was decided.

    1. I see your point, and I think Hamilton is massively overrated aswell. Altough I do think Hamilton was the better man this season, due to less mistakes than his rivals, and his good qualifying performences.
      In the end he won the championship because he had the best car, and his teammate isn’t competitive enough to give him a hard time over a whole season
      IMO Verstappen, Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso are very close in this ranking, butI would give it to Max. He made very few mistakes and was almost always ‘on the pace’. He beat his high-rated team mate more often than not, and drove better in most of the races. He didn’t have weekend like Hamilton had in Sochi and Monaco, and he only had one major mistake (hungary) instead of Vettel’s mistakes in Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico and Baku.

      1. @jesperfey13 Verstappen forced the issue a few too many times in the races this year. Of course, it’s easy to forget that he’s still very young but he’s a quick learner.

        1. @freelittlebirds @jesperfey13 The only problem with Max this season is he can be quite aggressive at the start such as Spain, Canada, and Mexico

          1. “The only problem with Max this season is he can be quite aggressive at the start such as Spain, Canada, and Mexico”
            I just though that realy was his strong point…. out of the 5 best starts this season Verstappen was on 4 (China), 3 (Italy) and 1 (Canada)…

            Spain was actually one of his better starts going from P2 to 3 overtaking both Bottas and Raikkonen… high risk move…? No way, than every outside overtake is high risk, just Bottas being overambitious.
            Canada was actually the best start ever for the RBR team…
            Mexico was another masterclass, Vettel was beaten to the first corner, but kept on puching and pushing and hit two cars.

            Verstappens starts are a problem for other drivers, Singapore showed Vettel was intimidated by Verstappen on P2

      2. @jesperfey13 Did you think Hamilton was ‘massively overrated’ as a rookie in 2007 when he missed the WDC by just one point? Do you think he’s not as good now as he obviously was then? I’m sorry, I’m not particularly a follower of any driver but I find it hard to consider how Hamilton can be ‘massively overrated.’ Merry Christmas..

      3. In the end he won the championship because he had the best car, and his teammate isn’t competitive enough to give him a hard time over a whole season

        Enter Kimi Raikonnen. Where would Vettel be if he even had a Bottas in the team capable of beating him frequently? Selective reasoning methinks

    2. Absolutely agree with you. Hamilton’s slump drives are never mentioned by anyone.

    3. Very well put, I am of the same opinion. Vettel has had good seasons, but this one is one of his best, and Hamilton was just cruising for the title, and the only reason we even had any question whether or not he’d clinch it was because he (Hamilton) dropped the ball so many times.
      Hamilton should be ranked 6th or lower, certainly worse season than Alonso, for example, or Ricciardo.

    4. comment of the year.

    5. I have read some rubbish on here but really?

      Hamilton cruised to victory while brave Seb fought the good fight? Oh please..

      Your comment that Bottas “did not push him” is just hilarious because of course Kimi did a fine job. Massively pushed Seb. Or even how terrible he was in Austria… with a gearbox penalty. Ignoring the fac5 that the other Merc was often behind Seb indicating how close these cars were.

      Did you not notice the clear advantage Ferrari and at the end Red Bull had in /q3 in later races?

      Like it or not those cars were very equal across a representative half and half of the season. The fact that Seb can’t race close field is hardly new and something that just reared its head this year. He has clattered into cars since he got to F1 but his qualifying advantage usually got him out of trouble. This year he came up against the better man (his words) yet you can sit there and suggest his year was somehow stellar and free of fault.

      I want some of what your taking please.

    6. Very true, +1

    7. Your comment is quite popular with me; excellent analysis and I completely agree. This whole “Ferrari has caught up with Mercedes” story was just ridiculous propaganda spun out by Mercedes and Liberty Media.
      The Mercedes domination era – 2014 to 2020 – is a stain on the sport.

    8. This. Vettel flattered the Ferrari. Hamilton did not do the same for Mercedes.

      Imagine what Vettel would have done in a Mercedes.

      1. I think Vettel would have done about the same as Hamilton in that Mercedes. They are both amazing drivers, with their own personalities.

      2. Martin O. Powell
        18th December 2017, 22:43

        Pretty much the same if Hamilton was in the other seat.

    9. Unpopular? Quite popular with me at least
      I am by no means a Vettel fan, but his season -even with the Baku brainfade- was vastly better than Hamilton’s, who mostly did nothing more than decent qualis followed by cruising races in an overwhelmingly dominant car. Only Bottas could have caused him real trouble but he never did. Yes I know than Kimi caused little trouble for Vettel also (except for his lightning-fast start at Singapore, and the debacle it brought). But Kimi wasn’t driving a Merc.
      I rank not only Vettel and Verstappen but also Alonso, Perez, Ocon, Sainz and Ricciardo as better drivers than Hamilton this year. At the very least.

    10. Nase, overall agree with the comment, little correction though: silverstone was a race where vettel could’ve got 2nd, remember raikkonen, the super slow one, would’ve had enough margin on bottas to keep him behind without the failure, so 2nd was on the cards for ferrari, not 3rd.

  7. I think what really got to Vettel was the pressure to be a Ferrari world champion, and/or the first Ferrari champion in a decade. I think it’s the one thing that will keep haunting Ferrari forever, and i think that it still is the one thing that could stop Ferrari from winning the title(s) next year too. 2018 could be either very good, or very bad for them.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      18th December 2017, 13:08

      The engine regs haven’t changed yet so it’ll be another easy Mercedes win. Hopefully it’ll be close towards the start of the season before the engine penalties start to kick in but ultimately, the Mercedes engine is far too good compared to the rest to not win the title.

      1. @petebaldwin Last season they didn’t really win the titles easily, though especially when compared to the three preceding seasons.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          18th December 2017, 16:14

          @jerejj – I just think with the reduction of engines next year, their reliability will make them stringer and stronger the longer the season goes. Others may be as quick but they won’t be quick and bulletproof.

          1. Quote from motosport.com “Ferrari made clear it would not back such a move [garnering unanimous support to keep F1 at the current four engines per season limit] on the grounds that it had already devoted time and resources to ensuring its engines were reliable enough to last the extra mileage.”
            Maybe Ferrari is actually ready? All i hope for is a competitive season.

      2. Then why don’t Williams and Force India fight over second and third in the WCC?

        1. That’s a stupid remark. You can have one super strong and muscled leg and still you’ll never win the 100m sprint. Force India and very much so Williams can be very happy they have the best engine on the grid. Otherwise they’d be an easy prey for Renault and quite easy McLaren next year. Engine is not everything but big enough of an influence to overcome ‘not optimal aero’ whereas perfect aerodynamics don’t result in the same balance swing in performance.

        2. secret engine codes?
          Read about it..

  8. petebaldwin (@)
    18th December 2017, 13:07

    I think Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen were very close this year but I’d agree with Keith’s order here – it’s very hard to split them though.

    I guess I’d say they were all fairly equal in terms of performance but Vettel made the most costly mistakes followed by Verstappen with Hamilton making very few over the year.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      18th December 2017, 13:15

      I agree on that. Hamilton’s biggest issue this season was having races he was off the pace (Russia, Monaco), but once he got that sorted he was fast and consistent. He did crash in qualifying in Brazil but that pales in comparison to Vettel’s mistakes (and the Baku move).

    2. I agree.

      I’d like to add Vettel was fortunate not to get penalized on 3 occasions.

      Baku could easily have been a disqualification. I think he would have gotten a penalty in Mexico if the championship had been closer. Then the silly cool down lap crash.

      I think Vettel did remarkable this year, but made many glaring mistakes.

      1. @slotopen He arguably deserved a race ban for Baku, but Mexico was a racing incident and anyone who has ever (tried) driven a car to its limits knows that. Malaysia again was an obvious stupid accident that should not have happend but wasn’t really anyones fault, and it you’d like to blame one it’d be Stroll. Can be quite easily determined by looking at the onboard the way the apex goes, which he should’ve followed knowing there were cars behind him.

  9. I had Vettel as the best driver of the season, because I think the Mercedes was the better package and to even be this close (and in the end his failings cost him as much as his car’s failings) was remarkable. However, I feel that it’s important to emphasise that this season had a top three that, to me, is reasonably interchangable, and streets ahead of the rest of the field. So, to each their own.

    1. Here too. Vettel was perfect and dragged a worse car (and team) to results it shouldn’t have, and qualifying was superb. No one else would have done any better in that car. To forget all that because of an anger issue in safety car conditions is really unfair, when he was never let down by driving skills like repeatedly starting way down the grid when his team mate was at the front as higher ranked drivers would do. It’s like saying he was not the best because he didn’t win the championship. Just too simple.

      1. I have read some rubbish on here but really?

        Hamilton cruised to victory while brave Seb fought the good fight? Oh please..

        Your comment that Bottas “did not push him” is just hilarious because of course Kimi did a fine job. Massively pushed Seb. Or even how terrible he was in Austria… with a gearbox penalty. Ignoring the fac5 that the other Merc was often behind Seb indicating how close these cars were.

        Did you not notice the clear advantage Ferrari and at the end Red Bull had in /q3 in later races?

        Like it or not those cars were very equal across a representative half and half of the season. The fact that Seb can’t race close field is hardly new and something that just reared its head this year. He has clattered into cars since he got to F1 but his qualifying advantage usually got him out of trouble. This year he came up against the better man (his words) yet you can sit there and suggest his year was somehow stellar and free of fault.

        I want some of what your taking please.

        1. I don’t know what this bizarre reply is all about, but you should really stop taking whatever you’re taking.

      2. @balue

        You’ve got some selective thinking there. You’ve completely missed out vettels crashes in Singapore and Mexico. His start in Mexico was honestly some of the worse driving I’ve seen. It was simmilar to his mistake in Singapore simply because he doesn’t seem to know when he’s beaten. Now some will say that’s good fighting spirit but in both these races he contributed to a crash which could have been avoided. I don’t think for one second he hit Hamilton on purpose in Mexico but the fact is he really had no reason to hit him at all. It’s just really lazy driving running into the back of another driver. I guess Vettels mistakes just cost him more than Hamiltons off weekends hence why he’s rated below Hamilton.

        1. The selective thinking is making Vettel’s Singapore T1 squeeze into anything other than a racing incident as the article here well makes out. In fact it was completely normal start behavior and especially so for someone needing wins for the championship. He could reasonably not expect his team mate to think 3 wide would be fine into a rainy T1 Singapore. He would on the other hand expect him to not do anything foolhardy with his team mate in such a precarious position in the championship. So it was not a mistake.

          Actually, when it comes to Singapore, it must be noted for his fantastic pole when the chips were down.

          Being aggressive and going for the win in Mexico race was the only hope he had in the championship which was in reality anyway long gone by then. He clipped Verstappen and as a result slid into Hamilton, but Hamilton too clipped Verstappen, loosing part of his wing. A move just as risky on his part. Yet you find Vettel’s L1 driving in this hectic must-win race some of the worst driving you’ve ever seen? How about when Hamilton completely unprovoked binned it in Q1 Brazil like a rookie? To me it seems the selective thinking here is all yours.

    2. @hahostolze

      because I think the Mercedes was the better package and to even be this close (and in the end his failings cost him as much as his car’s failings) was remarkable.

      Didn’t think his performances in the 2nd half of the season were that remarkable. He did capitalise on most occasions when his car was at par or quicker than the Mercs, but still made costly mistakes in crunch time. Considering the fact that his predecessor at Ferrari took championships down to the last race in more inferior machinery, I think Vettel cannot be placed any higher than #3 on this list.

  10. I think on balance the Ferrari was at the very least equal to the Mercedes over the course of the season. Definitely a better race car, so I really think Vettel should have been champion.

    That he wasn’t was partly because of himself and mistakes he made, and partly because of reliability. Take either one out, and I think he’d have won.

    So third seems reasonable.

    1. You are delusional. The Mercedes always had race pace to spare over the Ferrari (well, Hamilton’s Mercedes did anyway). No way was it a better car than the Mercedes. Bottas’ season in comparison to Raikkonen’s speaks for itself.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        18th December 2017, 16:15

        Your engine is more reliable when it’s run at 80% rather than 90% (for example). That’s where the Merc reliability comes from.

      2. I don’t get this requirement for throwing insults out just because a person doesn’t share your opinion.

        “Ooh, he disagrees, quick, call him delusional and state my opinion like it’s a fact.”

        That silliness aside… to me, the respective seasons of Bottas and Raikkonen say more about the difference in ability of the two, and their differing positions within their teams, rather than any difference in what they were driving.

        1. Oh, don’t be a milksop.
          See? That was an insult – I don’t mean it though, you’re alright :P
          Delusional isn’t an insult, it’s a state of mind, and that’s the state of mind of anyone who thinks this year’s Ferrari was the better car.
          That said, I do apologize if you FELT insulted. I don’t mean it as an insult. I mean you need to check your perspective because it’s totally skewed.

    2. @neilosjames

      I agree with you. I think the Ferrari was very competitive. Vettel lead the Championship for half the season. Perhaps Ferrari made design compromises, perhaps the failed at QC. The main reason Ferrari were 2nd fasted was because of the reliability – you can’t win from the pits.

      And Vettel was the same way – he was the best driver in the field – when he didn’t lose his temper or crash.

  11. I was expecting him to be ranked 2nd, so now I assume Verstappen is going to be ranked 2nd.

    1. The second coming of Senna? pfft, We’ll be lucky if he’s ranked on the same ladder as the other 19 drivers.

  12. This (I would say) is the correct list – not the f1fanatic point of view:


    Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 8,7 i snitMax Verstappen (Red Bull): 8,7 i snitFernando Alonso (McLaren): 8,5 i snitSebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 8,2 i snitDaniel Ricciardo (Red Bull): 8,0 i snitNico Hülkenberg (Renault): 7,8 i snitSergio Perez (Force India): 7,8 i snitValtteri Bottas (Mercedes): 7,6 i snitEsteban Ocon (Force India): 7,6 i snitFelipe Massa (Williams): 7,4 i snitCarlos Sainz jr (Toro Rosso og Renault): 7,4 i snitPascal Wehrlein (Sauber): 7,0 i snitKevin Magnussen (Haas): 6,9 i snitKimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): 6,9 i snitStoffel Vandoorne (McLaren): 6,7 i snitMarcus Ericsson (Sauber): 6,7 i snitRomain Grosjean (Haas): 6,7 i snitDaniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso): 6,5 i snitLance Stroll (Williams): 5,9 i snitJolyon Palmer (Renault): 5,4 i snit

    1. @Nunu: looks like a very good one, I don’t like autosport at all, but this time I think they got it right, perhaps the marks of the worst drivers are a bit too high, but the rankings make sense to me.

      What I would change mostly is grosjean should be in front of magnussen, not several positions behind (though I see score is close) and maybe raikkonen a couple of places better, but he’s been bad, no question.

  13. “Sebastian Vettel led the world championship for more than half the year not just because he had the best car, but because of how well he drove it.”


    1. Nah, really, mercedes was better both from the reliability POV and the performance.

      Notable races where ferrari was clearly faster? Hungary, monaco, singapore, malaysia

      Notable races where mercedes was clearly faster? Monza, silverstone, abu dhabi, canada, spain

      Then don’t forget there were races where hamilton was off the pace and bottas still managed to beat vettel, which to me hints at mercedes being superior, you don’t see hamilton fighting with raikkonen, but you see bottas fighting with vettel often!

      Also if vettel drove the car so well that he led the world championship for more than half the year while having the best car, hamilton must be a god in y our opinion?

  14. Being a Vettel fan this post was painful but yes sadly looking back 3rd is exactly what Vettel deserves.

    I’m not exactly happy about Verstappen in 2nd either, but yeah out of these to he deserves to be ahead. I don’t quite like Max’s aggressive moves sometimes but when he had the chance to convert to a race victory he kept his cool and got the job done.

    Meanwhile for Vettel he just needs to learn to control his emotions and not let the brain games get on his head. Next season I hope for a 4 way fight – Vettel-Max-Hamitlon-Bottas (I personally feel Riccardo’s pace has gone down since 2016)

    1. oh oops sorry forgot Alonso the magician – make that a 5 way fight !

      1. Great comment from a Vettel fan. (With a @RedBullF1 user name and Ferrari user image you must be a real fan)

        I hope (and expect) a multi driver fight next year as well. But after this year I cannot see Bottas being a part of that.

        1. @Egonovi

          Haha yes made my username back when Vettel was at Redbull, oh how I regret it now :D, you can go into my profile to see that my cover page shows Vettel holding up his trophy at the australian GP earlier this year, proves that I am legit !

          But yeah part of my is still in love with the Redbulls and what they achieve, so I am living with it.

  15. This top 5 is looking quite different to how I would have it I think. Probably Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen/Ricciardo (tied) and Alonso. The only reason why I would have Ricciardo and Verstappen tied is because the only time we have had a lot of times to compare them is in qualifying. Verstappen has been better there but it isn’t what counts. There have only been about 3 races this year where both drivers have finished without any penalties at the start or getting involved in some sort of incident. Verstappen may also have usually got better starts. Also, he almost always has retired ahead, but it usually has been very early in the race. We have no clue what Ricciardo could have done at the end. In China, everyone raved about Verstappen’s race while not many seemed to notice it was clear Ricciardo was faster at the end. Although it is still really impressive that Verstappen beat him.

    But the fact that the points gap is 32 (more than a race win) and Ricciardo has only has one less retirement makes it questionable as to if Verstappen has done a better job overall. He could well have done, but in these 7 races he has missed, we have no clue how well he could have done. Rating him 2nd seems very generous to me. According to Horner, Red bull were at their strongest over Malaysia, USA, Japan and Mexico. 2 of which Ricciardo had to retire in. At this stage, I think their luck was getting to be more even. Then Ricciardo had to retire again in Abu Dhabi when from what we could tell, so far he had been getting the better of Verstappen all weekend. Ricciardo also hasn’t collected a single penalty point, while Verstappen has had several. Ricciardo also hasn’t broken any rules during the season or collected any penalties during the race. Verstappen has taken his team mate out of the race and cost himself unnecessary points in Italy with a collision with Massa. I really don’t get why some blame Massa for that. It was classed as a racing incident and the one who suffered was Verstappen. As there was no further action, it either implies neither were at fault or much more likely in this case, Verstappen was mostly to blame. Massa had the right to do exactly what he did as he got away without being damaged or peanalised. Verstappen could have waited until a much easier place to overtake.

    Sorry to have all these negative points about Verstappen, but I really am surprised he can be on the top 2. If he is first, I think that will be the first rating on this site that I’ll have to say I very strongly disagree with. I don’t want to sound like I think Ricciardo has done a better job, as that is difficult to prove. I think Verstappen could well get a chance to prove himself and get the better of Ricciardo next year and actually show it in points. But at the moment, my opinion is that Ricciardo is overall, the more solid driver, but the difference between there performance on the whole is very small. Both have driving styles that work better at different times. Verstappen has better starts and often takes more risks that often would work out. But I think Ricciardo’s racecraft is a step up on Verstappen’s. His overtakes never fail or result in contact. Some of it may be pure bad luck but there have been so many occasions where Verstappen’s overtakes have resulted in some contact and either did or could have gone much worse. in In the first few corners in Spain, Canada, Austria, Hungary, Singapore and Mexico Verstappen had some contact in the first few corners. In the ones he didn’t suffer in, it could have easily gone much worse. But taking risks sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t. So often it can be just as good as being cautious.

    I’d have to rate Vettel above Verstappen as although I think he’s had 1 or 2 races that were worse than Verstappen’s poor ones, I think he’s had quite a few more outstanding ones personally.

    1. Some reasons why Verstappen has been ranked (much..?) higher than Ricciardo:
      – beating Ric 13-7 in quali
      – only Stroll and Palmer where further off in quali
      – Verstappen battled with Vettel and Hamilton, Ricciardo with Raikkonen and Bottas
      – Average DNF position P3.15 versus Ricciardo P10
      – Ricciardo crashed twice, Verstappen caused one
      – Ricciardo lost many places at the starts, Verstappen gained places at the starts
      – Ricciardo involved in more incidents than Verstappen…. just count them race by race
      – Verstappen overtook Hamilton twice…. no one else did (not even once)
      – Verstappen overtook Ricciardo 4 times, Ricciardo never (ever) overtook Verstappen
      – Verstappen way more laps ahead of his team mate

      Stil in doubt…? There’s good reason why team bosses and most polls put Ham 1st, Ver 2nd and Ricciardo either 4th or 5th. Verstappen in this years Ferrari could have been a very realistic WDC contender and would have given Hamiton a much harder job fighting for the title. In 2017 Hamilton was close to a walk in the park…Bottas in no Rosberg and Vettel just lack’s a cool head.

      1. Some of those ‘stats’ need a lot of context to make sense, they are not explaining any of the variables between those two drivers.

        For example, “Verstappen overtook Hamilton”, yeah, when in the championship was that? at what point during the race was that? those are 2 answers too many for any indicator. Same goes for “Verstappen way more laps ahead”, is that discounting races where a penalty was a applied to the other driver’s grid position?

        I think you grt my point.

        1. Malaysia was an overtake for the win, think that one actually matters, Mexico may seem no such much, but taken from the gridpositions another key moment as Verstappen won both those races on merit…beating Hamilton twice.

          Laps ahead is a no brainer, from the 7 DNF’s Verstappen suffered from he was ahead of Ricciardo in 6 (imagine the points Ric gained from Verstapppens DNF’s).

          Statistic matter, Verstappen was well ahead in any but the number of overtakes and total points…

          To my opinion the fact Vertappen overtook Ricciardo many many times in two season are telling us, he’s the much better driver of the two.

      2. Verstappen in this years Ferrari could have been a very realistic WDC contender and would have given Hamiton a much harder job fighting for the title.

        Than Vettel or Ricciardo?

    2. @thegianthogweed
      Not saying I totally disagree putting ricciardo and verstappen even this season, cause verstappen may be great but ricciardo is very good too, there wasn’t a lot between them, verstappen may be a lot faster but ricciardo takes less risks while still being good at overtaking and defending.

      All I’m gonna say though is: analyze the points lost through reliability on both drivers and also consider when the one behind gains position thanks to the other’s retirement and you will see verstappen at least slightly (don’t remember the precise numbers) pulls ahead on standings too.

      1. Ricciardo takes less risk keeps on buzzin’ through topics… this is merely thanks to their general attitude.
        Verstappen seems to be the risky driver, but it just doesn’t translates into more incidents, though some may feel it is.

        Taking race by race Ricciardo was involved in 7 incidents, he caused two crashes (Aus and Baku), and was the cause of three incidents (GB, Monaco, Monza), the victem of two more (Hun and Abu). In a few occasions he got away with only losing places, some ld to DNF

        Verstappen was involved in 5 incidents, he caused one (Hun), partially at fault in Monza and the victem in Spain, Aus and Sin.

        The points Ric gained from Ver DNF’s are immense Ver DNF 6 times in front of Ric.
        Ric DNF-ed two times in front of Ver

        Average DNFposition Ver P3.15, Ric P10

      2. I think that is a fair enough judgement @esploratore. But I think there were one or 2 occasions when Ricciardo retired was behind Verstappen because of a problem. In Russia, I think it is very likely his bad start resulting in multiple cars going past him (including Verstappen) was related to the issue that made him retire.

        But as Verstappen’s retirements have been early, he may have gained the positions at that stage, but there is no way we can tell if he could have got past him later. Which is my main reason due to such a lack of evidence, I find it unfair to rate one a lot higher than the other. These two have been fighting against each other less than any other pair on the entire grid. So I find others deciding either one is much better or much worse a bit much at the moment. We will hopefully get a much more fair comparison next year. It could well be the case that Verstappen is much better. But basing it on a year where Red Bull have done by far the leased laps of any team is a bit much to base their ability off.

  16. I think at the end of the day the top 4 drivers in this rankings article would have all done similar jobs in each other’s cars, with their own individual strong points making races look a bit different.
    If they get equal cars then Lewis’ closest rivals will be happy to see he still seems to have his dips over a long season.

    For me Vettel would be Number 1, as Alonso showed when he was at ferrari, it’s by far the best managed team. They say nobody is bigger than the team yet Alonso and Vettel carried them at times.

    Also, all four of these drivers would and *have* moaned about their machinery, it’s nonsense making out this is only an Alonso thing and he is nowhere near as bad as Mansell, Prost and Senna where politically within a team. Are F1 fans becoming sn@wflakes or what?

  17. Martin O. Powell
    18th December 2017, 23:21

    I’m sure I am missing something here:
    After testing Mercedes and Hamilton said Ferrari had the fastest car.

    Vettel and Ferrari said, they had the fastest car.

    All the ex F1 driver pundits, said the Ferrari was the faster car and/or the one they would prefer to drive.

    It seems that the people inside the sport know that the Ferrari is quicker, and some people outside believe the Mercedes was.

    The team bosses voted Hamilton the best driver, again, with Sebastian in 3rd.

    That should give us outsiders a clue as to who had the fastest car.

    It’s as if people can’t get their head the fact that Sebastian was beaten by Lewis while he was driving the better car.

    1. It simply doesn’t seem like it, considering hamilton\vettel > bottas > raikkonen, it really doesn’t support mercedes being slower than ferrari.

      1. Martin O. Powell
        19th December 2017, 16:13

        Maybe it’s the drivers?

      2. Martin O. Powell
        19th December 2017, 18:38

        This is what I mean, why do us outsiders believe we know more than the insiders?

    2. Ask any driver, now, what they’d like to drive and they will all say Mercedes.

      Mercedes were clearly sandbagging in winter testing because as soon as they got to Australia, from the word go, they set the pace. Not Ferrari.
      Furthermore, Mercedes and Hamilton always like to play the underdog. I don’t think I have to remind anyone of the comments from them in 2016 and 2015 on how competitive Red Bull or Ferrari looked only to outpace them by a second in quali.

  18. Would argue Vettel had the strongest overall car up until the mid point of the season and a bit after. He had a good year though, just not quite up to it

  19. This is the 1st season of the hybrid era that HAM had to beat someone other than his teammate. VET deserves credit for that. I don’t think it’s correct to have him behind VER. Guys like VER and RIC could be aggressive because they were not racing for a championship. Would like to see how they drive when in contention. Then we can see how they react to the pressure. We cannot even speculate on this until they are remotely close to the top of the standings.

    1. We could draw conclusions Vettel had that signicant car, but failed to deliver, mostly causs he cracked under pressure.
      We also could draw conclusions from Vettel not being able to overtake Hamilton on track while Verstappen, as the only driver on the grid did twice. We could alos draw conclusions from the fact Verstappen was able to defeat Vettel in a lesser car, while Vettel could not even matck Hamilton in a rather equal car.

      Given a WDC potential car things get only easier, especially if the car has ‘pole’ potential such s Mercedes ( 15 poles)

      1. Whatever fits in your shop,…

  20. I think Baku should have moved Vettel much further down the rankings. There is absolutely no excuse for deliberately hitting another driver, even at low speed, who knows what damage could be done which might manifest itself at 200 mph?

  21. Lost his temper, yes he did but driving wise, Vettel made one mistake and it’s not really a mistake driving wise, it’s was a high risk manoeuvre that didn’t work. Ferrari and Vettel lost the championship but people don’t understand how well Ferrari had to perform and did perform for a long time in order to take advantage of what they could, Ferrari and Vettel were often on the last ditch qualifying lap putting the car on the front row. In the end it was the pressure where Ferrari lost it, they had to be perfect to win, Mercedes looked the stronger car from Barcelona. Honestly taking in consideration how Vettel drove and how he drove around all the challenges he still has to be #1 at worst #2.

  22. I never understood why everbody says the Ferrari was a better car than the Mercedes. I just find it illogical. Most poles, better reliability, better team overall, only because the better Ferrari driver defeated by a small margin the worse Mercedes driver?

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