Driver debate

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    Will Barnard

    Just wondering, who do you believe is the best driver currently on the F1 grid? Taking into account the many factors involved such as overtaking ability, consistency, popularity, etc.

    Ben Needham

    This is an interesting question and one we can never answer accurately. We can make a fairly good guess. The really intriguing bit for me is that a driver can look average in one team, then suddenly improve in a car that suits better. Take Daniel Ricciardo’s move from Toro Rosso to Red Bull; I remember people being underwhelmed when he was announced in favour of Kimi Raikkonen; but look how he’s been since then.

    Back to your question, I’d say there are only a handful of drivers in contention for the title of “Best on the Grid”… in my opinion, these being Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Leclerc and Ricciardo. Two of these can be ruled out instantly; Ricciardo for being bested by Verstappen last year and Vettel for being too inconsistent. Of the remaining three, Leclerc is too unproven, so I think it’s a toss-up between Hamilton and Verstappen.

    I couldn’t choose between the two, so if we’re including outside factors as well as current “skill”, I’d say that Verstappen’s youth, potential and hunger would set him apart.

    I suppose, if the question was who would I sign if I was starting a team with an open cheque book, the answer would be Max Verstappen for me.


    It’s constantly evolving. Ten years ago I believed that Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen were a class of their own. Raikkonen was the first to drop out this list, replaced by Ricciardo. Now I don’t see Riccardo as top of the top anymore, and Vettel is questionable. The two drivers that are the best this year (to me) are Verstappen and Hamilton. Since Hamilton is the only constant factor in my top-list, I have to give the title ‘best of the grid’ to him, although closely followed by Verstappen.


    Everyone will value different skills differently and we might not agree on a universal “best of” as it is quite subjective.

    I also agree with previous comments that Hamilton and Verstappen are currently on a class of their own, but Leclerc is making a good case for himself while Vettel is doing the opposite and leaving that elite group.
    For the best on a single occasion and the Wow factor, I would probably pick Verstappen. But in the other hand he still lack a bit of maturity and is a bit too reckless at time.
    Best overall, I would put Hamilton as he can be the fastest on his good days but he is driving smart and know when to lift off a little bit to bring the result home. Despite that this last statement will make him lose him the title of best of the day, it makes him earn the best of overall as he is just impressive on a whole season.

    To sum it up, Verstappen is the guy you want to win races but Hamilton is the one to bring home the championship.

    Keith Campbell

    My views on drivers change over time. During 2010-2013 I was convinced Alonso and Vettel were the class of the field, as they seemed to be the two that consistently performed at a very high level. There were two seasons that were a bit more questionable for Vettel, 2010 and 2012 where I think Hamilton was probably better too, but overall I had Vettel and Alonso as the top two. Since 2014 Vettel’s stock has fallen quite a bit though, I don’t know if it’s the change to the cars or maybe I was overrating him before but he’s been very inconsistent, and outperformed by Ricciardo in 2014 and Leclerc so far this year. He had one good year in 2015 but recently he’s been a shadow of his former self.

    Ricciardo I rate highly but he was getting outperformed by Verstappen so I can’t hold him at the very top any more either. And as others have said, it’s too early in his career to know just how good Leclerc is, he may turn out to be a great but I wouldn’t put him up there yet.

    So that leaves Verstappen and Hamilton as my current top two. Verstappen for me has been slightly ahead this year purely because he has had more of a fight on his hands against faster or equal cars, and more opportunity to show his talent (couple of errors in the last two races though). Overall, I’d rate Hamilton slightly higher in general because while I doubt there is much to choose between them on pace, Hamilton has more experience and knows when to back out of something and bank the points. Verstappen still has to hone his attitude a bit in my opinion, although he’s been very strong since Monaco last year.

    DeeAnn Hopings

    Of the current field, I would have to rank Hamilton first, closely followed by sMax at the moment. I say sMax because I don’t believe that he is as “mature” as Dr. Marko would have you believe. To me, the recent incident at La Source just serves to reinforce my opinion. I thought Jean Alesi’s statements about Leclerc compared to sMax hit the nail. What he said basically was that Leclerc considers his mistakes and learns from them. sMax seems to almost always put the blame on others when he has a problem. That’s not helpful in the long run. It feels like sMax retains a certain amount of entitlement in that people are expected to get out of his way. He hasn’t learned that he has to not only drive his car but also those around him. Anyway, those three are at the top for me. There are others in the field that I rate pretty highly, but you need the cars in order to really showcase what you can do. Vettel? It’s like the floor dropped out from underneath him. I always thought the he was somewhat overrated and overhyped, but not to this extent. He really needs to show some signs of life soon or the Italian press and the tifosi will make life absolutely miserable…


    Lewis Hamilton hands down. Sure. There are other drivers who can perform but LH has perfectly managed his driving over the past 5 seasons. Always minimizing points loss and maximizing every opportunity. He is always driving with his head which is now well on par with his talent.. that is what separates him from the others. Max is still a ways off. He has the talent but has yet to prove he is as solid as LH.

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