Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2017

Undisputed champion: 10 titles name Hamilton top driver of 2017

2017 F1 season

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One name consistently emerged above the others when F1 publications named their best driver of 2017: Lewis Hamilton.

Last year four different drivers were selected as the best of the previous season including Hamilton, then-champion Nico Rosberg and Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

But 12 months on the consensus was clear about who was the best driver of 2017. Here’s how a selection of publications rated the the drivers based on their performances last year:

F1 Fanatic Auto Motor und Sport The Guardian El Confidencial Motorsport magazine ESPN Autosport Express James Allen on F1 Red Bull
Author Keith Collantine Andreas Haupt Giles Richards Javier Rubio Mark Hughes Nate Saunders Various Ben Pringle James Allen Matthew Clayton
List Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link
1 Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton
2 Verstappen Vettel Vettel Verstappen Verstappen Verstappen Verstappen Verstappen Verstappen Vettel
3 Vettel Verstappen Verstappen Vettel Alonso Alonso Alonso Ocon Vettel Verstappen
4 Alonso Alonso Ricciardo Ricciardo Vettel Vettel Vettel Alonso Ricciardo Ricciardo
5 Ricciardo Ricciardo Bottas Alonso Ricciardo Ricciardo Ricciardo Vettel Ocon Bottas
6 Bottas Bottas Raikkonen Hulkenberg Hulkenberg Sainz Bottas Ricciardo
7 Perez Perez Ocon Bottas Perez Ocon Hulkenberg Perez
8 Ocon Hulkenberg Perez Sainz Bottas Perez Sainz Bottas
9 Hulkenberg Raikkonen Alonso Ocon Sainz Bottas Ocon Massa
10 Sainz Massa Sainz Perez Ocon Wehrlein Perez Hulkenberg
11 Raikkonen Ocon Hulkenberg
12 Grosjean Sainz Massa
13 Massa Wehrlein Grosjean
14 Vandoorne Grosjean Stroll
15 Magnussen Vandoorne Wehrlein
16 Wehrlein Stroll Vandoorne
17 Stroll Magnussen Magnussen
18 Ericsson Kvyat Kvyat
19 Kvyat Ericsson Palmer
20 Palmer Palmer Ericsson
  • Hamilton headed all 10 lists and was also voted Driver of the Year by F1 Fanatic readers
  • However championship runner-up Sebastian Vettel only made the runner-up spot three times – Max Verstappen was picked by most as the next-best driver of 2017 and never appeared lower than third
  • Although Ricciardo out-scored Verstappen (and suffered more retirements due to technical problems) he was ranked behind his team mate on every list
  • Similarly although Esteban Ocon scored fewer points than Force India team mate Sergio Perez, most publications ranked him ahead
  • A few surprising picks stand out: one publication put Ocon among the top three drivers and his fellow Mercedes junior driver Pascal Wehrlein featured in ESPN’s top 10 – small consolation for losing his seat at Sauber

2017 F1 season

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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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61 comments on “Undisputed champion: 10 titles name Hamilton top driver of 2017”

  1. Lennard Mascini (@)
    25th January 2018, 11:56

    What. Red Bull one of only three of these lists to not put Verstappen second.

    1. Always political correct ;)

    2. They still love Vettel (enough to throw out Kvyat over it) @leonardodicappucino :-)

  2. Apparently Occon was the most difficult to place going from 11 to 3rd and he appears on different ranking on every list.

    Looking at it globally, we find back the drivers groups we were speaking about when doing our ranking on the forum with a tier 1 composed of Ham, Ver, Vet, Ric, (Alo)
    Tier 2: Bot, Per, Occ, Hul, Sai
    Tier 3: Rai, Gro, Mas, Mag, Van, Wer
    Tier 4: Pal, Kvy, Str, Eri

    @keithcollantine it seems the login shortcut has disappear from top bar on mobile… Is it only me?

  3. In the eight end-of-term top ten rankings, Raikonnen appears (twice), which surprised me as I had forgotten about him. He’s all but invisible. Such a shame as he is (was?) a great talent. He seems to choose not to shine. Maybe this season? He’s running out of chances to impress us again.

    1. Sorry – I never spell his name right. Raikkonen, with stuff over one of the letters. “Kimi” is easier…

      1. @tribaltalker His name actually has “stuff” over two letters: on the “ä” and on the “”ö” (see the offical writing here).
        For some reason this site does not support those characters, so I am always a little confused when I read the names Räikkönen, Hülkenberg or Pérez here.

        1. Apparently the site now supports those characters. I am sure some time ago it didn’t, and converted all of them in the corresponding characters “without the stuff”. I like the improvement!

          1. @demercer – Thanks for the feedback. I’d forgotten about the Hulk, too. I speak some Spanish so it’s easier to work with names like Pérez. I think the lack of accenting in the bulk of British English makes many of us uncomfortable with (or blind to) the special characters; and they are tricky to pull out of a QWERTY keyboard. It’s not that we don’t care, we just don’t see. Here’s hoping that Kimi gets some headlines in the UK press so they can use his name in big letters.

    2. It’s really a shame! That guy pre-2008… had him kept that commitment, would’ve been one of the Greats.

      I personally believe that the cost of being crowned, despite having superb title-deserving campaigns like 2003 and 2005 took off his hunger. That doesn’t diminish my respect for him, but surely makes me sorry for his talent, so, so wasted!

  4. I’m typically critical of the F1 reporting by Benson (BBC), but might add Richards (The Guardian) to that list.
    – Raikkonen 6th
    – Alonso 9th
    – Stroll 14th
    – Palmer ahead of another driver (even if that’s Ericsson)

    1. Indeed, they must assume vettel is a lot stronger than alonso to put raikkonen in front of him, it’s insane when alonso is very similar to vettel.

      Palmer np being last but one, but stroll 14th is also overrated.

  5. The Express is smoking something very special. I want some.

    1. Because they put Ocon higher than most of the others did. That’s the only real difference. At least they put Vettel in a more realistic position.

  6. Red Bull voted Seb higher than Max?

    1. If anyone can make a well-founded comparison, it’s them.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      26th January 2018, 0:37

      Makes sense – after all, Vettel won 4 WCCs for them. This might change if Verstappen wins one for them.

  7. Would like some of what Giles Richards (The Guardian) is smoking. Raikkonen 6th, Alonso 9th, Hulk 11th, Vandoorne behind Wehrlein and Stroll… Oh dear

    1. Yes, vandoorne if anything is even to raikkonen in virtue of the gaps they are taking from vettel and alonso!

  8. We are witnessing the greatest of the greats. Lewis Hamilton. Put him into any generation of Grand Prix car and ask yourself is there anyone in any of those eras who would beat him. Is there anyone ?

    1. Nico Rosberg?

      1. I think the short answer is few people consider him the greatest of the greats, maybe just the greatest Brit, and he has only proved his abilities in a pampered generation of safety, conservation holding drivers back from any limits, and having DRS at his disposal. F1 generally does not lend itself to great feats like it did in the past when the true Greats were driving under conditions of much greater danger, with conservation only being a normal factor not an overwhelming one, without the luxury of DRS. The true Greats were much moreso in driver vs driver times, whereas in the last decade it’s been more about engineer vs engineer, and strategist vs strategist and less about drivers making their own decisions and being able to push themselves and their cars to any limits.

        So I think there is no right answer to the question, as it’s very subjective, but I say coddled drivers of the current generation would find it much harder to drive in previous eras than the true Greats would find driving in today’s era. To me F1 today is F1 lite compared to the past. But at least they’re getting a bit back to where they should be with cars a little harder to drive…just need to drop the finicky limiting tires, and DRS, and the cars and tracks will still not nearly offer the psychological danger factor of previous generations of the ultra-brave.

        1. It’s unfair not to consider current drivers some of the greatest just because of the era of cars they drove. Not their fault they aren’t as dangerous as they used to be, doesn’t take away how good they are.

          1. Sure it’s not their fault, but to me it is just a plain and simple reality that drivers in the past had to be much more mentally strong. They had much more playing on their minds and much more to do on their own while in the car. So I think it is not just about how good drivers are, but it is about how mentally strong they are too, and to me they had to be much moreso in the past. We know all the drivers who make it to F1 are darn good drivers. Just as we can split hairs amongst golfers etc etc. They all can do their activity very very well. It is about how they do their activity when the pressure is at it’s greatest as is the mental strife. I think previous drivers were much bigger men on the mental side. That’s not to say some of today’s drivers would necessarily crumble, but we just don’t have the same conditions to know. They haven’t had to do their activity under other than coddled circumstances. Good drivers in F1-lite wouldn’t necessarily be good drivers under much heavier mental circumstances playing on their psyche day and night.

        2. You are correct in saying that many people rank Hamilton as a top British driver. He is right up there behind Jim Clark. Graham Hill, Jim Stewart, and Nigel Mansell. He is a heck of a driver, but not really Greatest Of All Time material, mostly because he hasn’t raced in a truly great era. However, he is right up there with Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, Somewhere beneith Shumacher and above Senna. He is in Mika Hakkinen territory for sure, but not as cool in public. Just my opinion. :)

          1. Just my opinion too of course, I don’t put anybody above Senna.

          2. Oh, Stirling Moss…

          3. Oh come on, Hamilton is miles ahead of Hakkinen.

      2. @pastaman ABSOLUTELY SAVAGE

        I’m dying ahahahaha

      3. @pastaman lol, nailed it!

      4. douglas fairbanks
        25th January 2018, 21:45

        It is time to make it clear:Paddy Lowe and Nico Rosberg were fired for cheating inside the Mercedes team.
        Ask Niki the truth lauda!
        Further truth to Rosberg never retired but fired?Rosberg is coming back in 2019 to replace Raikonen kimi at Ferrari.
        This Ferrari news was dropped by WOLF in 2016/17.And somehow semi confirmed by Rosberg.
        A remote chance has Rosberg trying to make peace with Lewis Hamilton in hope to drive at Mercedes again.
        Do you own research and check NIKI Lauda and Wolf quotes.
        By the way,Lewis Hamilton,while certainly a great driver is not my favourite,I personally believed Rosberg a much more polished personage than Hamilton.

        1. This is just the kind of malarky that I would expect from Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

        2. That reads like you too smoked something special there Douglas Fairbanks…

    2. @Tedbell

      Fangio would have crushed him back in the days, like he crushed everyone else.
      Just look at his stats and you know that what Lewis has achieved (which is quite alot) doesn’t even come close to what Fangio achieved.
      And I’m sure Jim Clark would have crushed him too.
      Alain Prost would have outsmarted him.

      1. In a world with increasingly more social mobility, coupled with the sports visibility and relative accessibility (compared to the earlier years of the championship) I find it impossible to agree with your position. There simply weren’t enough people aware of or given the opportunity to contest in the sport let alone a motorsport industry like we have today. Put any current driver alongside the grids of yesteryear and I suspect they would be the ones doing the crushing. The current crop of racers have been racing since they started school not taking it up in there mid to late 30’s.

        Fangio may have been the best of his generation but that is probably it.

        1. Fangio started racing when he was 12, and his family was pretty poor.
          Basically none of your arguments count regarding Fangio.

        2. Disagree.

          We live in the “antisport” Era. Being a top athlete doesn’t mean GOAT. Fangio was an old man who not only crushed, but plainly dominated everybody in the field for nearly a decade; all kinds of drivers, from young aces to seniors. And, unlike Hamilton, with all kinds of engines and constructors.

        3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          26th January 2018, 12:51

          Lewis is a champion in a world of 7 billion people with dozens of racing categories where teammate compete for a .1 second advantage in an era where getting the temperature of the tyre to work is as important as being 0.5 seconds quicker over drivers like Fangio and Clark.

          Fangio was a champion in a world of 2 billion and 100 racers. One of the greatest things I heard about Fangio was the way he slept – he would put his arms over his head so he could breathe better.

          As McEnroe said when they asked him if players like Borg and himself would have done well in the current era of power tennis – he replied that the biggest strength of any champion is their ability to adapt so it stands to reason that they would have adapted.

          If Fangio was looking for an advantage in breathing of all things for his racing, he would have found advantage in other areas today. So he would have done well, if not as well as he did back then. Same for Lewis, he would have found a way to prevail in another era.

          You cannot respect one champion in one era and not respect a champion in another era. They are both extraordinary competitors.

          1. @freelittlebirds that’s well put, and a nice fact about Fangio I didn’t yet know ; thanks.

      2. Oconomo Right on the mark.

      3. If we start making up scenario’s then I will add that Hamilton would have crushed Fangio in current times.

    3. Jim Clark. Would he beat Lewis? No-one knows, but his record was better, 25 wins, only 1 second place.

      This is me speaking as a Lewis fan.

      1. You need to look at Jim,s stats closer.

        He won dozens more non counting championship F1 races, the Southern Tasman challenge 3 times (F1 standards and regs) Indy 500 F2 races and the championship – in the same year he won Indy and the F1 championship!, BTCC races and the championship and even ran in the British Rally.

        Have a look at his Wiki page

        All at the same time (obviously impossible today but still remarkable)

        Just like Hamilton he lost at least two championships by a few points (1 to Surtees whom while very very quick was really nowhere near Jim but had the much better car) and again in parallel, mechanical gremlins were his only downfall.

        It saddens me his stats are only ever considered for F1 races at a time when there were only 8-10 races.

        In 65 he competed in an astonishing 98 top flight races across a vast range of series all over the world

        I let you find out how many of those he won that year.

        To my mind – the best ever.

  9. To come out best is the best car is francly outclass your team mate.
    To come out second best in the third best car is leaving a lot of drivers behind, doing that at age 20 makes you wonder…

  10. Just for completeness I include the f1metrics list – mostly because I think it’s an interesting experiment, but also because it usually creates debate. for those that don’t know it, it is an objective measure using points per finish as the metric and adjusting according to previous head to head ratings. sainz has had very few team mates, so he could tumble down the rankings in the future (the list is not immutable over time).

    1. Sainz
    2. Vettel
    3. Alonso
    4. Hamilton
    5. Ricciardo
    (by his method 2017’s top 5 was the closest ever, going all the way back to 1950)
    6. Verstappen
    7. Vandoorne
    8. Wehrlein
    9. Perez
    10. Hulkenberg
    11. Ocon
    12. Bottas
    13. Ericsson
    14. Grosjean
    15. Stroll
    16. Kvyat
    17. Magnussen
    18. Massa
    19. Raikkonen
    20. Palmer
    21. Gasly


    1. Actually, I like this better than almost everybody putting VER at 2nd. It’s a joke people treating this as some kind of established truth.

      1. Fact remains Verstappen has been the only real threath to the #1 in terms of drivers performance, nor Vettel nor everyone else could match Hamilton on racing day. Verstappen was the only driver to overtake Hamilton… twice.

        When it’s wet no one doubts who are the best two drivers of todays grid, when it’s dry the cars play a more important role and things are getting blurry for some.

        1. Fact remains Verstappen has been the only real threath to the #1 in terms of drivers performance, nor Vettel nor everyone else could match Hamilton on racing day.

          That is not a fact at all. Nor HAM or VET gives a damn about VER right now. Best way to illustrate that is VER’s victory in Malaysia.

          We’ll see what the kid really can and cannot do against the best two when he gets a shot at the championship. Until then, he’ll be just the peoples’ star, collecting “meaningless” victories and getting into first turn incidents.

          1. Yeah, but that’s really making bold statements based on thin air… once RBR is in the game Verstappen will be the one both Hamilton and Hamilton have to fight.

            Verstappen is inside Vettels mind big time, in Singapore Vettel knew he had to cover Verstappen for the win.
            Hamilton repects Verstappen for what it is, in last years RBR he only could be a threath for a win here or there, not for the title… like I said, fact remains Verstappen was the only driver to overtake Hamilton… in the third best car on the grid.

          2. Verstappen is inside Vettels mind big time, in Singapore Vettel knew he had to cover Verstappen for the win.

            You guys give a lot of credit for VER. Inside VET’s head… C’mon! The one was inside his head was HAM. VET couldn’t waste that win. Was it RAI in first row he would defend the same.

            Hamilton repects Verstappen for what it is

            I don’t see respect from HAM, but caution.

            fact remains Verstappen was the only driver to overtake Hamilton

            Another remaining fact is that ROS was the last one to beat HAM for the Championship, but he’s no top 3 driver of the class.
            Well, we could debate this forever. It was a nice chat, after all. Cheers!

    2. @frood19 The f1metrics ranking is one of my favourtie rankings each year as well. Not because it produces a ranking I would just take over, but because the methodology is the most likely to make me occasionally challenge and adapt my subjective view.
      Now obviously, this list doesn’t come without caveats, and the most obvious one is the Red Bull/Toro Rosso drivers only being connected to the rest of the field through the 2014 Vettel/Ricciardo comparison, where most of us believe Vettel just took a year of. Interestingly, if the Hülkenberg/Sainz comparison demotes Sainz, it’ll also demote Ricciardo/Verstappen, and it’ll promote not only Hülkenberg but also those connected to him, most notably Perez. The 2018 Renault-teammate battle will be one of the most interesting and impactful for years for this model.

      1. @crammond exactly, and i like the discussion that he writes for all of the controversial/important placings. i enjoyed this year’s because it kind of agreed with my intuited rankings, especially the top 6 (though not in that order for me) and raikkonen near the bottom. you’re right that hulk/sainz will be important – it’s interesting to see how highly rated hulkenberg was as a junior (by f1metrics), a fair bit ahead of sainz.

        1. Well put, the both of you @crammon, @frood19; I definitely don’t take the final rankings as gospel, but as you say, the effort is interesting, as well as the authors explanations and comments about the methods and issues that come up, challenging what we think we know about the drivers relative strengths.

    3. It’s a really poor way of ranking drivers though. It’s a whole lot of mumbo jumbo to basically penalizes the drivers in fast cars and with good team mates. The worse your team mate is the better you look.

      You might as well divide the points scored by the driver by the points scored by the whole team.

      1. Rated the drivers to percentage of tam points scored:
        1  Carlos Sainz Jr.
        2  Pascal Wehrlein
        3  Nico Hülkenberg
        4  Sebastian Vettel
        5  Romain Grosjean
        6  Fernando Alonso
        7  Daniel Ricciardo
        8  Lewis Hamilton
        9  Sergio Pérez
        10  Felipe Massa
        11  Lance Stroll
        12  Esteban Ocon
        13  Valtteri Bottas
        14  Max Verstappen
        15  Stoffel Vandoorne
        16  Kevin Magnussen
        17  Kimi Räikkönen
        18  Jolyon Palmer
        19  Daniil Kvyat

        This gets a bit affected by DNFs but still. Pretty similar overall.

  11. Screw that. Hamilton is a complete carbaby who wouldn’t be able to win if he wasn’t in the best car on the track. He’s highly overrated and people just love him because he’s British..

    1. A carbaby? Was Hamilton born in a car? Makes sense then that he’s so good in cars.

      Vettel was in a car that was at least as good if not better (especially the first half of the season). Vettel could have been WDC if he hadn’t thrown it away in Baku and Singapore. But then he isn’t a “carbaby”. Bottas was driving the same car and he also managed not to become WDC. Not even #2 actually.

  12. I have a simple list…


    Everyone else.

    And Ham was clearly the best driver last year.

    Max V clearly has a lot of hype behind him, but just like Bitcoin his value currently is not 4 championships.

    So I firmly agree with them authors.

    1. Is a drivers real quality hidden in how many titles he won…? That would certainly rule out some great names like Senna or Bellof….

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