Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Hockenheimring, 2019

2019 F1 driver rankings #15: Nico Hulkenberg

2019 F1 season review

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Nico Hulkenberg made an unfortunate habit of squandering opportunities for podium places during his Formula 1 career. He did it again this year, and not long afterwards Renault confirmed his services would not be retained for 2020.

Maximising the anguish, the nadir of Hulkenberg’s season occured at his home race. Though he wasn’t running in a top-three position when he touched the treacherously slippery run-off between the last two corners, he was in the hunt for a podium finish of the kind which has, mystifyingly, managed to elude him since he arrived in F1 a decade ago.

For his third season at Renault, Hulkenberg was joined by Daniel Ricciardo. This was the first time in a while Hulkenberg has been measured against a race-winning driver for the first time, and it showed.

Although Hulkenberg out-qualified Ricciardo in their first race together in Melbourne, he lost to his team mate in the next seven qualifying sessions. The gap may have been fractional at times – a mere four-thousandths of a second in China – but it was clear which driver was the benchmark for the car’s performance, and it wasn’t the one who’d been driving a Renault for the past two seasons. Hulkenberg didn’t make things any easier for himself when he crashed during qualifying in Spain, destroying his new-specification front wing.

The gap between the pair in terms of race results was similar, and both suffered from the team’s generally poor reliability compared to the opposition. Though Hulkenberg often ended up behind his team mate, it generally wasn’t by a large margin. Unlike his team mate, Hulkenberg never once managed to lead the midfield home, though there were times when Renault intervened to decide the running order of their two cars.

By the time the championship resumed at Spa, Renault had announced Hulkenberg would make way for Esteban Ocon in the team’s 2020 driver line-up. Despite that blow, and his dwindling hopes of finding a seat anywhere else as the season went on, Hulkenberg continued to perform well.

Nico Hulkenberg

Beat team mate in qualifying7/21
Beat team mate in race5/15
Races finished18/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate392/1078
Qualifying margin+0.07s
Points37

Even in this latter part of the season he out-qualified Ricciardo several times and beat him home in Sochi too. More often than not he was further behind at the chequered flag, though in Mexico that was partly because Daniil Kvyat had shunted him on the final lap.

As the season came to a close and his future became clear, Hulkenberg had a resigned air about his fate. He suggested he lost his place at Renault due to factors besides his performance in the car, such as the attractiveness to Renault of the French driver he is being replaced by.

While 2019 was far from a disaster, nor did he show the kind of team-leading potential which would justify the team keeping him alongside Ricciardo. But his enforced departure from the team – and, consequently, from Formula 1 – is as much a verdict on his previous championship performances as this one.

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What’s your verdict on Nico Hulkenberg’s 2019 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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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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82 comments on “2019 F1 driver rankings #15: Nico Hulkenberg”

  1. Hulkenberg 15th? Behind Raikkonen, Magnussen and Gasly? I’m afraid I will have to disagree completely. It’s probably not been his strongest year, but he ran Ricciardo quite close. Was he much worse off up against Ricciardo than Vettel was in 2014? I wouldn’t say so. And I don’t recall Vettel being ranked 15th. In fact, he was 7th.

      1. I think I would rate Ricciardo and Hulkenberg close together at 11th and 12th. 15th is too low for Hulkenberg and Magnussen and Gasly are both getting way too high now.

    1. I scrolled down here to post those exact same three names who surely didn’t do as well as Hulkenberg. Giving it more thougth, I’d also put Hulk before Norris, so 11th.

    2. @mashiat, it certainly would not be the first time that Keith has stood accused of being overly harsh on Hulkenberg, and in this instance it does feel a bit surprising that he is being ranked this far down the list.

      As you note, Gasly had an abysmal first half to his season – even if he then performed more strongly once back in Toro Rosso, the magnitude of some of his mistakes whilst at Red Bull, not to mention sometimes struggling to beat the midfield pack in what should have been a clearly superior car, should have dragged down his rating for the full season quite notably. It feels like he is being rated more highly because his better performances were his most recent ones, and therefore they tend to be given a disproportionate prominence in the overall rankings.

      I would agree that it also looks likely that Magnussen is going to be somewhat generously rated, given he will be rated ahead of Hulkenberg and a long way ahead of Grosjean. Whilst he might have scored more points than Grosjean, a significant chunk of his points came from just one race (Australia) – over the season, Keith pointed out in his comparison between the two drivers that Grosjean actually beat Magnussen 8-5 in races where both drivers finished. With those sorts of statistics, you would have thought that he should be rather closer to Grosjean in terms of ranking, rather than at least four places higher than him.

      Now, whilst I do think it is fair to say that this probably wasn’t Hulkenberg’s strongest season, Keith himself notes it was hardly a disastrous season either. He had the occasional low point, but didn’t have a season where he was systematically making errors or wildly off the pace, and whilst it is true that he was beaten more frequently by Ricciardo, Keith does acknowledge in his article that was sometimes due to team orders (e.g. in Canada, Hulkenberg was ordered to hold station behind Ricciardo given that Ricciardo had been pitted early to defend his position against Gasly).

      I’m not saying that his season was stunning, but rather I feel that Hulkenberg should be ranked a bit higher by virtue of the fact that there are other drivers whom I feel had more flawed seasons overall and should therefore be ranked below him.

      1. As usual with these things and Keith, take Hulk’s position, move him 3 or 4 upwards, and that’s where he deserves to be.

    3. @mashiat

      I suggest Mercedes got this right. With a strong #1 driver having a safe pair of hands is better than a hot head who might (might!) be better.

      Hulk brought home points. How many more will Ocon bring? Will it be more than the cost of 1 or 2 DNFs?
      One or two double DNF if he clashes with Riccairdo?

      I’d have rated him higher, and I’d have keep him

      1. @slotopen when I read you say “safe pair of hands” I assumed you were defending the decision to bring in Ocon. But you went on to suggest that Hulkenberg was the safer option, which seems bizarre when Ocon was lauded for his incredible consistency and we’ve just read in this article how Hulkenberg’s legacy will be one of squandered opportunities.

        1. Ocon was lauded for his incredible consistency

          Missed that accolade for him.

          1. Crashing into your teammate no less that atleast every three races is a type of consistency.

            I’d have kept Hulkenberg if I was Abiteboul. Ocon is a hothead, not necessarily a bad thing to be as a racing driver,but he is prone to crashing(especially with his teammate) and losing the team valuable points.

            I never got the feeling that Ocon was anything more than a Rosberg with a bit more “crazy” mixed in, you know, “for the show”.

          2. It was literally in his most widely used nickname: Oconsistency. You can’t get more lauded for something than being named for it.

    4. Yeah, this review makes me very curious of Gasly’s and Mag’s review. This also says quite a lot a out Ricciardo, he was better than Hulk but not by too much in my opinion.

    5. @mashiat

      I would have to agree with you. I’ve agreed with most of Keith’s rankings from 20 to 16… but this is ridiculous.

      Hulkenberg rated lower than Gasly, a driver who was as bad as Kubica and Stroll for the first 11 races of the season???
      Hulkenberg rated lower than Kimi Raikonnen, a driver that was getting matched and beaten by a driver ranked #17 during the second half of the season.
      Hulkenberg rated lower than Magnussen… what a yoke! Magnussen was awful and was marginally better than his teammate who is ranked at #18.

      I’d put Magnussen at #15, Gasly at #14, Raikkonen at #13, Hulkenberg at #12, Albon at #11

  2. I think Hulkenberg can rightly feel pretty hard done by from F1.

    His career spanned the decade from 2010 to 2019, a period which saw utter dominance from first Red Bull, then Mercedes, with only McLaren (early on) and Ferrari being regular podium contenders. Podiums or race wins earned on merit were incredibly rare for the midfield teams, and Hulkenberg never found himself with that package.

    He came close but was passed over for a drive with one of the big teams, agonisingly so in 2016 when he had just signed for Renault when Mercedes came looking for a Rosberg replacement.

    At Renault he dominated Palmer, then convincingly beat Sainz, who is now enjoying the plaudits that come with competitive machinery. Against a tough benchmark in Ricciardo there was little to choose between them by way of margins, in both quality and races.

    And whilst Germany was indeed the nadir of his season, it did come after a superb weekend where he dominated Ricciardo through practice and qualifying and was the driver of the race until he skidded off on the roulette patch. It’s a shame 40 laps of the highest quality get overshadowed by a single small mistake, when others like Kvyat and Stroll drove lacklustre races and cashed in by rolling the dice on strategy simply because they had nothing left to loose.

    Unfortunetly I don’t think F1 will miss Hulkenberg for a minute. In my mind he deserved more than he got.

    1. Indeed, there wasn’t much between Hulkenberg and Ricciardo. Both are excellent drivers and will find themselves further down this list than they deserve to be.

      The reason is the car they drive of course.
      Somehow McLaren put their act together and produced a car that allowed Sainz to become best of the rest while using the same engine as the man who beat him previous season when both drove for Renault. Carlos did a great job, but Nico and Daniel aren’t suddenly worse drivers. It is the car.

      Over the years, choosing to drive for Renault hasn’t helped any F1 driver’s career much. Except for Fernando Alonso’s first stint of course, but then not the second.

    2. @aussierod People keep talking about when he beat Sainz, but no one factored in that Sainz was never Renault driver. He came only as loaner from Red Bull. Also it’s the first year for Sainz driving the Renault while it’s Hulk second year. So the cards are stacked against Sainz in their battle. Also Hulk beaten badly by Perez when they’re together in Force India.

      1. @sonicslv by the same token, Sainz has only been a McLaren driver for this year. Are you saying that Sainz was bad this year and the car just worked well for him since he obviously didn’t have time to get familiar with the new car at McLaren? Should we use last year’s performance for Sainz and put him in 16th? I do see your point about the fact that Hulk had been with Renault for a while but maybe Hulk was sick and tired of Renault underdelivering. His parting statement on the radio spoke volumes. Wait for Daniel’s final comments in 2 seasons! They’ll be a lot more colorful :-)

        1. @freelittlebirds ”His parting statement on the radio spoke volumes”
          – I wouldn’t really draw definite conclusions from the post-Abu Dhabi GP cooldown lap words as the sarcasm behind them is quite apparent, LOL. To me, at least.

        2. @freelittlebirds Wait, those are 2 different things. First is Hulk vs Sainz comparison that often brought up by Hulk fans as an argument that Hulk is the best driver that never got a chance. Which I pointed out why logically Hulk should beat Sainz last year. And who knows how open Renault with Sainz last year considering Sainz is not truly their driver and there’s a real possibility he can bring some Renault secrets to Honda (without any hindsight that he go to McLaren instead). The second thing is this year performance which we can’t easily compared them anymore because they are in different teams now. Also Sainz is truly McLaren driver, not a loaner, and the lead / more senior driver.

          Simply put, in 2018, the cards are stacked against Sainz in Renault thus the fact that Hulk beat him doesn’t prove much. This year, the cards are stacked for Sainz in McLaren, but since they not teammates anymore, you can’t really make a comparison between them.

          Also if Sainz wins F1.5 this year and people using argument that Hulk beat Sainz in 2018 so Hulk is the better driver, then by the same logic, Perez is the best midfield driver since he beat Hulk when they’re teammates. Of course these kind of argument is silly and people really shouldn’t use it to justify why their favorite driver is the best.

          1. @Sonicslv Lol Perez is better than Sainz, he has been the class of the midfield for years you may aswell say Bottas is the best of the rest with that attitude, Bottas finished ahead of Max. Max is better then Bottas then lol… It does not mean Sainz is better than Perez because he beats him in the WC standings, yeah he probably will beat him again he drives for Mclaren a historical great F1 team, it is ridicolous for Mclaren to behind Racing point.

            Anything to discount Hulk last year, im sure Renault were delighted with Sainz when they initially bought him they had no idea Ric would choose them, so they are hardly gonna sabotage him. Sainz has only truly outlcassed the corpse of Kvyat since he as been in F1. Norris a rookie was more his equal untill the break in August.

          2. Of course these kind of argument is silly and people really shouldn’t use it to justify why their favorite driver is the best.

            You really should read the comment completely before hitting the reply button mate.

  3. It’s a shame 40 laps of the highest quality get overshadowed by a single small mistake

    Although I agree with many things that you say, this part is here is precisely why Hulkenberg is being left out in the cold – the really special drivers tend not to make that one small mistake when the chance of their lives happens. Of course you can say that Leclerc and Hamilton did the same mistake in the same race, but this was also not the first time Hulkenberg squandered these rare chances. Compare it with Perez, who often makes it happen.

    1. Now you’re just involving some hocus pocus. Hulkenberg has been best of the rest in many races. He’s just been unlucky that none of those races were ones where 4 of the class A cars had a problem. Perez did have that luck. It has nothing to do with “making it happen”.

      1. @krommenaas, whilst the assessment by Keith may have its criticisms, he is correct to note that Hulkenberg wasn’t “the best of the rest” in any race this season.

        In every race where he scored points, there was at least one other driver from the midfield pack who finished ahead of him. In Australia he was beaten by Magnussen, in France he was beaten by Kimi, in Britain by Kimi, Kvyat, Sainz and Ricciardo, in Belgium by Kvyat and Perez, in Italy by Ricciardo, in Singapore by Norris and Gasly, in Russia by Norris, Perez, Magnussen and Sainz, in Mexico by Perez, Ricciardo and Gasly, and in the USA by Ricciardo, Norris and Sainz.

        There is an argument over whether he should have been “best of the rest” in Canada, as there is the issue of team tactics. In that race Ricciardo, who’d been the leading driver of the two, made a very early first pit stop so as to protect his position against an aggressive undercut attempt by Red Bull with Gasly.

        That kept Ricciardo ahead of Gasly, but it left him with a tyre life issue near the end when Hulkenberg could close back in, having run a more normal strategy. In that case Hulkenberg was ordered to stay back behind Ricciardo, as the team thought it wouldn’t be fair for Ricciardo to lose the place to Hulkenberg on a strategy decision that had, ultimately, helped both drivers (as Gasly lost out to both drivers in the end).

        Now, if Renault had allowed Hulkenberg to pass Ricciardo, that is the one race this season where he would have been the leading midfield driver – otherwise, in every other race there was at least one other midfield driver ahead of him to take the honour of being “best of the rest”.

        1. To be fair with Hülkenberg, he would’ve been best of the rest in Bahrain if he didn’t suffer that engine failure two laps from the flag. That was probably his best race of the season, going up from 18th to 6th on pure pace.

          1. jamt, although Hulkenberg did have a small lead over Norris in Bahrain before his retirement, given that Hulkenberg ultimately had a DNF in Bahrain due to mechanical failure, by definition he did not finish “best of the rest” because he did not finish the race.

          2. I have missed where is the definition of “best of the rest” in the F1 rule book… sorry

          3. jamt, if we are talking about “finishing best of the rest”, that would strongly imply that, by default, you need to actually finish the race in the first place.

      2. @krommenaas it very much is about making it happen. He’s never had a podium, which, given his apparent talents and the cars he’s driven, has to be a reflection of his abilities as a driver. The best drivers take their opportunities. He may well be a very fast driver, but he has been shown, decisively, to not be a podium winning driver. He’s had a very long career, you’d think he could have made it happen at least once, but he didn’t. I always thought he was outstanding and very unlucky but as the missed chances mounted up I have concluded he found his level.

        I still would have rated him higher than this!

        1. No, not with Formula 1 effectively being separated into two classes. A driver in a class B car getting a podium is a reflection of two things: his ability to finish as the first class B car, and the sheer luck of having four class A cars run into problems – which usually happens late in the race when the order of the class B cars is already determined.

          Last season, Hulkenberg was best-of-the rest 6 times, while noone else was best-of-the-rest more than 3 times (and his teammate only once). That he didn’t get a podium out of that, while Peres did, is entirely down to luck.

    2. Perez binned it in Germany though in what is the same race that you seem against Hulkenberg in. The other interesting thing I find about Perez, is that Stroll had scored more points than him as well as in more races at the summer break. I think it was only after the summer break that Perez started truly dominating Stroll results and points wise. I think Perez’s start to the season was pretty poor, so I don’t think I could rate him much higher then Hulkenberg. But I think Hulkenberg should be higher than 15th.

      1. @thegianthogweed and @krommenaas
        I was talking about Perez in the context of their careers. Their career paths suggest they are more or less on the same level, even considering their 3 seasons as team mates (although Perez wins that battle). Of course Perez binned it in Germany, like Hulkenberg, but along their careers they had similar opportunities to get on the podium – Perez often capitalizes on these rare opportunities, while Hulkenberg frequently flounders. That doesn’t mean the Hulk is a bad driver, or that Perez is world champion material, but one of the characteristics that distinguish the great from the rest is that they will not flounder under pressure (especially when multiple opportunities are presented).

        1. Oh yea if talking about in general, i think Perez is clearly much better. But this season, I don’t think there was this much of a difference.

  4. Hulkenberg behind Gasly?? Sorry Keith, no way do I agree with that one

  5. I would have put Magnussen below Hulk. Curious to see MAG’s review then!

  6. Driver ratings should be independent of the car. In which case both Gasly and Albon should be behind Hulk based on the fact that RIC and VES were both close, HULK behind RIC by a small amount and GAS and ALB were well behind VES. Hell, I’d put VET behind HULK

    1. Ves and Ric were not close though that is the thing, closer than Albon and Gasly sure. But this myth that ric was with Ves is hilarious. It would be like saying Bottas is nearly with Hamilton because he had same poles as him. First year Ves and Ric was close and even then, Ves was right on his pace from day one and won the first race they were teammates. Just look at who finished ahead when both finished. Look at who was ahead when someone retired aswell, Ric got an absoloute pasting his last year at RedBull.

  7. It wasn’t a hugely strong year from Hulkenberg but he was better than 15th.

  8. It may seem a bit harsh, but when one thinks of it a bit longer; What did Hulkenberg do this season that would have warranted a higher place in the rankings? A question one might ask of his entire career to be honest.
    Granted, perhaps his height/weight might have been an hindrance, but that’s the general unfairness in any given sport.
    Don’t get me wrong, he is a world class driver, but in my opinion he would have faired a lot better in endurance racing.
    And although he comes across as a nice guy, I’ve always sensed a bit of resentment in the latter part of his career, sensing it might not pan out as expected and he’ll always be remembered as that guy who didn’t grab the opportunities presented to him.

    1. Rik, I would say that it is in part a reflection of what he didn’t do as well as what he did do. As I noted earlier, I wouldn’t say that Hulkenberg’s performance this season was his best in the sport, but it wasn’t his worst either.

      There were a number of other drivers on the grid who lacked consistency and had poor races, were more error prone or somewhat slow in relation to their team mates. His performances weren’t especially stunning, and as Keith notes, there wasn’t a single race this season where he finished a race at the head of the midfield pack (unlike Ricciardo), so I do feel that his performance was kind of average this season.

      However, given that he was reasonably consistent over the season and less error prone than his rivals, I would argue that there is a case that there are other drivers who should be ranked lower than Hulkenberg. You could say that it is a bit of a backhanded compliment, but I do feel that, whilst he wasn’t exceptional this season, he probably deserves to be a few places higher by virtue of the fact that others had a worse season than he did.

      1. Anon, I do agree he was rather consistent compared to other drivers and could have finished a few places higher (but really not higher than 11th in my opinion) but I, and maybe Keith to, have more sympathy for a driver like Magnussen, who at least had some standout moments, or Gasly, who turned his season around.
        And I can’t deny that I have always judged Nico by a higher standard, which he never live up to resulting in me getting disillusioned with him.

        1. Rik, in the case of Magnussen, though, he had standout moments for both good and bad reasons – I’d personally rank him below Hulkenberg – and, whilst I do recognise that Gasly turned his season around, there is the question of whether his good performances in the latter part of the season were enough to outweigh quite how poor he was at the start of the season (personally, I would say that it doesn’t completely outweigh it). Is a driver with a more consistent baseline preferable to one who is much more variable, with both higher peaks and greater troughs in performance, or not?

          I’d agree that, on reflection, Hulkenberg’s season would probably see him fall into the lower half of the field, but moving him up a couple of places seems reasonable – you could probably make an argument for a position somewhere between 11 and 13 in the rankings.

          1. Anon, like I said, he might have been a bit higher on consistency, but I can’t deny I watch this sport to be entertained, and consistency is a great trait, but it’s also rather bland if not combined with some outstanding performances, hence my preference for guys like Kevin and Pierre. (I guess we’re gonna have the same discussion when Vallteri is up for debate 🙂)

    2. What did Hulkenberg do this season that would have warranted a higher place in the rankings?

      More consistent and less error prone than Magnussen and Gasly.

      1. @coldfly
        Like I said above, I’m not denying his consistency, but his consistency was a 6,5 throughout the season, both in qualifying and in the race, where both Gasly and Magnussen scored 9’s and 3’s and everything in between, which over a season my result in a 6 average, but at least they entertained me more, hence the bonus point. (Just listening to Kevin after qualifying in Austria or Pierre in Brazil still gives me goosebumps.)
        Had Nico scored the podium in Germany, he would have been a top ten for me.

  9. Keith, I disagree with you in your way to get more comments in your webpage…

  10. Stephen Higgins
    15th December 2019, 13:14

    This is a guy who won Le Mans first time out.

    Clearly fast, but unfortunate.

    1. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
      15th December 2019, 13:39

      it was clear which driver was the benchmark for the car’s performance, and it wasn’t the one who’d been driving a Renault for the past two seasons

      I find this claim a bit ridiculous seeing as how the average qualifying gap was 7 hundreths. Generally putting Hulkenberg 15th is absurd, sure he is not one of the top top drivers, but he is one of the best outside them. I’d rate him on a par with the likes of Bottas and Perez, just behind Ricciardo, Sainz, and Vettel. Honestly, I’d rate him as 9th or 10th probably. It’s a shame that he wont be in F1 next year, but if any new teams come knocking for 2021, I am convinced the Hulk will be at the top of their list of wanted drivers.

      1. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
        15th December 2019, 13:40

        Nevermind, messed up posting this, wasn’t supposed to be a reply

    2. Stephen Higgins, Hulkenberg was part of the winning team at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, but I feel that does a disservice to the team mates that he had in the No.19 car.

      Don’t forget that both Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber are both veterans of sportscar racing, and that the Porsche 919 was the odds on favourite to win in 2015 – the fastest Audi R18 was three seconds off the pace of the fastest Porsche, whilst Toyota’s cars qualified nearly 7 seconds off the pace of the leading Porsche.

      Meanwhile, although the focus was on Hulkenberg, there were those in the world of sportscar racing who pointed to Bamber’s stints during the night as being a more decisive factor in putting the No.19 car into contention for victory. He was part of the winning team, but I do feel that focussing solely on Hulkenberg does downplay the fact that he had two very talented Porsche factory drivers to work with that year – Hulokenberg didn’t win that race single handedly.

  11. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
    15th December 2019, 13:41

    it was clear which driver was the benchmark for the car’s performance, and it wasn’t the one who’d been driving a Renault for the past two seasons.

    I find this claim a bit ridiculous seeing as how the average qualifying gap was 7 hundreths. Generally putting Hulkenberg 15th is absurd, sure he is not one of the top top drivers, but he is one of the best outside them. I’d rate him on a par with the likes of Bottas and Perez, just behind Ricciardo, Sainz, and Vettel. Honestly, I’d rate him as 9th or 10th probably. It’s a shame that he wont be in F1 next year, but if any new teams come knocking for 2021, I am convinced the Hulk will be at the top of their list of wanted drivers.

    1. @leonardodicappucino Lol Hulkenberg behind Sianz?. HAHA, guess you missed them when they were teammates just one year ago. Sainz is so overrated. Sainz was made to look pathetic.

  12. I am completely baffled as to how Magnussen is coming out ahead of Hulkenberg! I am also baffled as to how Magussen is coming out at least four places ahead of Grosjean. Is he related to Keith?

    On the other hand, as several have said, Nico has had a lot of chances to put in memorable or notable performances and has often failed at the final hurdle. He is still a better or more reliable option than at least 6 or 7 others though.

  13. Disappointed, but not surprised.
    Every year on this website his performance is massively underrated.

    https://abload.de/img/seasonu9k54.png

  14. Ouch, below Magnussen? No way. Hulk was racing against the guy who would often beat Vettel and Verstappen after all. He did fine… dort of.

  15. I think Hulk and Ricciardo should be separated by 1-2 spots so that puts Ricciardo in #13 which also doesn’t feel right.

    This ranking could use an update.

    I sympathize with Keith because it’s really hard to place some drivers this season – Raikonnen can’t be that high because Giovinazzi matched him at the end of the season. Gasly can’t be high because he was horrible in the Red Bull – he could have won 3 GP in the Toro Rosso and still not made the top 10. Kvyat wasn’t better than Albon or Gasly…

    It’s hard to rank Perez because he’s racing Stroll. It’s hard to rank Russell vs the rest because he was racing Kubica and beat him completely although ironically Kubica got the only point that Williams scored.

    Leclerc looked great but showed some wrinkles at the end of the season.

    Actually, two rankings cannot be argued and that’s the #1 and #2 spots this year. Everything else is debatable. #15 for Hulk is unfortunately untenable this year based on the comments from other folks here. It’s off by at least 2-3 spots.

    1. We should also not forget that both Alonso and Vettel have always spoken very highly of Hulkenberg. He had a bad season but it wasn’t a terrible one and certainly he didn’t deserve to be out of F1 any more than Bottas, Perez, Magnussen , Grosjean, Raikonnen, Giovinazzi, Albon, Gasly, Kvyat, Stroll, Norris, and even Sainz deserve to be in it.

      1. @freelittlebirds

        Lol why would Bottas or Perez deserve to be out of F1 one finishes 2nd in the championship and 5 poles, and Perez the guy who beat Hulkenberg and is the stand out midfielder year after year. The others i agree with but stop with this notion, Bottas is overrated. Bottas had a bout the same gap in races to Lewis that Hulk had to Ric. You must rate Lewis really low lol, Lewis would hammer Hulkenberg.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          16th December 2019, 1:39

          I’m not sure where you came up with the notion that I was comparing Lewis to Hulkenberg. I actually rate Lewis very high. You don’t have to tell me, Perez is the king of midfielders – I think that’s the term I’ve coined for him over the years – it’s unfortunate that he is just not able to compete in one the quicker cars since tires are less important. Hulk is not a great midfielder (he’s just good enough to score as much as Perez) and I’m sure after 10 years of suffering in the midfield he might have lost his speed or his drive or his confidence. You put Cristiano Ronaldo as a central defensive midfielder for 5 years, let’s see how many goals he scores:-)

  16. Hulkenberg proved one thing if like me you feel driver performance in terms of speed and natural speed does not change much. And that is that Ricciardo found a perfect storm vs overrated Vettel. Max demolished him his last season i do not want to hear the retirement stuff either unlike Lewis losing to Rosberg when ahead in a race Ric was outclassed, Lewis was not outclassed. Max was not outclassed. Max was always way ahead in another league when stuff happend.

    Vet and Ric have something in common they have both been outclassed. When can anyone say Lewis who im assuming is the longest serving driver was outclassed by a teammate?.Has he been beat? Sure, but not outclassed ever over a season. It is why you cannot judge how well Sainz done this year, that Mclaren must of been a rocketship, i do not rate Sainz any better than Perez. Perez beat Hulk not by much, and Hulk destroyed Sainz. Perez is porobably just behind or on the same level as Ric and Vet i genuinely believe that.

    There is 2 drivers the class of the field and that is Lewis and Max, Leclerc is probably in that tier imo but we will see in the future. The rest i think Bottas is even in the tier of Ricciardo and Vettel, if you think Bottas is bad then you must be thinking Ric and Vet etc would be destroying Lewis(no sane person thinks that) as look at Bottas speed he does not get made look silly, in qualifying atleast. I am shocked there was not way more margin for Riciardo vs Hulkenberg tbh. Never did i really go wow he is destroying Hulkenberg a guy who as been stale for yrs loiterring in midfield cars, Ricciardo should of been 20 odd seconds up the road race after race if he was a top tier driver.

    1. Lewis was definitely outclassed by Jenson in 2011.

      1. Lewis was definitely outclassed by Jenson in 2011.

        No, he wasn’t. he outqualified him, had more poles, more fastest laps, and won the same number of races as Jenson did. The fact that he did this in what is arguably his worst year, and what was definitively Jenson’s best year, speaks volumes.

        Except of course, your definitions of “outclass” is based on the merel tally of points.

        1. @kbdavies, this is getting somewhat off topic given this is meant to be about Hulkenberg’s performance in 2019, not Hamilton’s performance in 2011.

          However, if you want to discuss that, you are incorrect to claim that Hamilton had more fastest laps than Button did in 2011 – they actually had three fastest laps each, so they are tied on that statistic.

          It depends on whether you are looking purely at one lap performance or in terms of race duration performance. Hamilton might have outqualified Button more often that season, but where both drivers finished the race, it ended up being 7-7 in terms of the number of times that each driver beat the other one.

          One area where Hamilton does come off worse when compared to Button is the number of times he was investigated or penalised for driving standards or causing collisions – he earned quite a few more penalties for collisions or poor driving, and he did also crash out of more races than Button did (Hamilton’s collision with Kobayashi in the 2011 Belgian GP was rather poor).

  17. Take a well respected driver.
    Rank him lower than expected and below less respected drivers.
    Watch the controversy explode in the comments.

    Job done.

  18. My feeling is this rating is too low. Nico is much better than this. Maybe his last races were compromised by his being displaced at Renault, but even so, this just seems too low. To be fair, this is a very talented field, so maybe this place is justified, but it just doesn’t seem right to me.

  19. If anyone needs a substitute driver next year I wouldn’t be surprised if we haven’t seen the last of the Hulk. Maybe he wasn’t as great a driver as we once thought, but he was a safe pair of hands and brought home points.

  20. Well #14 has to be Magnussen. And above him Raikkonen, Perez, maybe Ricciardo at 11th, Gasley at #10 because of the comeback and podium with TR. Then in #7-9 the young rookies, led by #6 Vettel. Top five will be really interesting. I think Lewis has to be #1 and Bottas #2 because–hey!–they by far won the most races. Max can have #3 for the way he charged all races (okay, forget about that Spa lunacy at turn 1) Then Charles, and Carlos #5. Carlos over Vettel because he was more consistent, with fewer BIG mistakes–Vettel just blew up in four races I can think of, from Canada to Brazil. Fun exercise, lots to jaw about for 10 weeks until Barcelona.

    1. I don’t really see any reason to have Gasly ahead of Kvyat, certainly not this high up. His time at Red bull looked worse than any stage of Kvyat’s season. I think it is very likely due to the fact Gasly has been decent and had a one off outstanding race just recently that he is this far ahead. Kvyat also got a podium and if we go right back to the beginning of the season, Kvyat was doing better than Gasly quite clearly. First race, beating him in a Toro Rosso. Then in the next race, Kvyat may not have been great, But Gasly was beaten by Kimi and Norris. Very poor. Then many more incredibly poor races came. I think it is related to it being some time ago and him making a decent come back from this that could have changed his rating. I just can’t say he’s been better than Kvyat.

  21. I do feel like Hulk is mightily overrated in this community. 15th is pretty much exactly correct place for Hulk this season. I can’t remember a single stand-out drive from him which would earn him a higher place in the ranking. He was also beaten by his team-mate who was driving his first season in a team and who was clearly beaten by his ex-team mate couple of times before this season.

    1. Fans seem to like some drivers… just because. Maybe they find him a nice person, his attitude, etc. But let’s face it: to get higher ranking, driver with his experience – 10 years in F1, 3 years in a team – should perform better.

    2. @huhhii yeah, unfortunately Alonso and Vettel disagree with you and they rarely talk positively about other drivers. On the bright side, you could be wrong and they could be wrong.

      1. @freelittlebirds I couldn’t care less about Vettel’s and Alonso’s opinions. Furthermore, Alonso used to say Vandoorne was the fastest team mate he has ever had, so according to Alonso VAN was better than Hamilton, Räikkönen, Button etc. That should tell everything about his credibility as a commentator.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          17th December 2019, 2:42

          @huhhii Alonso’s comments generally tend to paint a good picture of him so his comment out of the blue about Hulk when he was listing quick drivers was very surprising. It seemed like a genuine respect of Hulkenberg’s abilities. You’re entitled to your opinion – I was simply stating that Hulk impressed Vettel and Alonso but obviously failed to impress you.

  22. I don’t take a lot off interest in statistics (lies, dammed lies and statistics) but I have never understood how Hulkenberg built up his fan base. He has always been a mediocre driver and I am surprised he lasted as long as he did.

    1. @accidental-mick you do not have 179 entries by being a mediocre driver in F1 especially without being a pay driver like Perez for instance. You also don’t have talks with the top teams or join engine manufacturer teams like Renault which ended up being a vast disappointment for Hulk. You also don’t get complimented by Alonso or Vettel who don’t compliment drivers. Let’s not forget his height disadvantage. A reboot in another series might not be a bad idea for Nico – he should go win 5-6 LeMans or Indy titles.

      He also seems to be a pretty funny guy as we saw when he replied to someone on Facebook after joining Renault and when he replied to Renault’s comment at the end of the final race “I wish I could say the same” which pretty much explains the last 3 seasons with Renault.

  23. Hulk is a smart, funny engaging guy. He’s also a terrible F1 driver. Not because he lacks skill or pace, dynamic feel for the car, racecraft or intellect, but because he has always lacked the competitive fire that has put others with arguably less talent ahead in similar machinery.

    Too conservative, too risk averse, never learned how to drive on the ragged edge of control. Nice guys finish off the podium.

  24. Strongly disagree with this ranking. No way he’s behind Magnussen and Gasly. Maybe even Vettel with regards to the car he had at his disposal. Not a top 10 but definitely not p15

  25. Yeah agree with this. Really just an average season, not bad, but not great either. Should of done a lot better this year i thought

  26. #13 or 12, not 15th

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