F1 driver rankings 2018: Your verdict on the best and worst drivers of the year

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    It’s crazy to see such varied opinions on the best drivers of the season. I expected the mid field to be tight, but was convinced that Hamilton right in front and Stroll right behind was a given… But apparently not!

    F1 frog

    1 Lewis Hamilton
    2 Max Verstappen
    3 Charles Leclerc
    4 Sebastian Vettel
    5 Fernando Alonso
    6 Kimi Raikkonen
    7 Sergio Perez
    8 Daniel Ricciardo
    9 Nico Hulkenberg
    10 Esteban Ocon
    11 Valtteri Bottas
    12 Pierre Gasly
    13 Carlos Sainz
    14 Kevin Magnussen
    15 Romain Grosjean
    16 Marcus Ericsson
    17 Stoffel Vandoorne
    18 Lance Stroll
    19 Sergey Sirotkin
    20 Brendon e


    “1 Hamilton – Still he rises. But really, what is he rising from? When was the last time he was down, and hadn’t the machinery no to be in the top? 1995? Still, impressive season, best of anyone imo”

    2008 & 2018. He didn’t have the OUTRIGHT best machinery in these 2 yrs, so his title rivals had equal chance to win.

    I think Keith pulled a lot of stats,and around the time Hamilton had actually built up a strong points lead over Vettel, the Ferrari had been the quicker car more often. Going into Singapore, Keith stated Vettel had the quicker car 9 times, Hamilton only 5 and yet Hamilton had already built up a 30 point lead. And let’s not forget Vettel had bullet-proof reliability too at this stage while Hamilton had quite a few technical issues.


    As you’ve already done the bottom 3, I’ll gie my opinion on the rest…
    17. Stoffel Vandoorne
    16. Marcus Ericsson
    15. Romain Grosjean
    14. Carlos Sainz
    13. Kevin Magnussen
    12. Valtteri Bottas
    11. Sergio Perez
    10. Esteban Ocon
    9. Pierre Gasly
    8. Daniel Ricciardo
    7. Fernando Alonso
    6. Nico Hulkenberg
    5. Kimi Raikkonen
    4. Charles Leclerc
    3. Sebastian Vettel
    2. Max Verstappen
    1. Lewis Hamilton
    Probably one of the better seasons in terms of the way in which drivers performed for quite a while – everyone 16th up had a pretty solid year at least, and certainly their excellent moments. Some drivers it was quite hard to fathom how they could be so low.

    Diez Cilindros

    20) Stoffel Vandoorne (3,81/10): that 0-21 figure says it all. In 2017 there were clear differences between both MCL32 in terms of upgrades and Stoff had the excuse of being in his rookie year. But 2018 was a horrific one. It’s hardly justifiable to not beat your teammate during a single qualifying session. Not even in Russia, with Fernando just doing a lap and enduring a “I’ll-give-you-whatever-tows-you-need” Q1. The chassis change affected little and he stood way behind Fernando. There were no signs of premium quality, and it’s sad from a driver who smashed everybody in lower formulae. Maybe Alonso is still damn too good?
    19) Brendon Hartley (4,00/10): having the same F1 experience than his teammate and much more knowledge about hybrid systems and competition through the years, we thought Brendon could conceal his alleged deficit in pure talent and raw speed. Ultimately, he couldn’t do it not only because of bad luck (British FP3 et al), but also stupid mistakes (Baku Q1, Spain FP3 and some other crashes). He might have helped both RB and Honda from the technical side, but this is not enough in Formula 1. As Stoffel, just too slow in the crucial moments.
    =16) Romain Grosjean (4,40/10): with a car capable of finishing P7 at the drivers’ standings, Romain just managed a P14. That sums up a painful year, full of stupid crashes (Azerbaijan, Spain start, French Q3…) and general slowliness until summer break. From Spa onwards, nevertheless, he recovered some speed but still wasn’t capable of translate it into real good points. He saved his job because of sentimental reasons well rated by Gene Haas (he joined the project from the beginning), but he needs much more stability in 2019. Being 32, it’s maybe too late for expecting improvements.
    =16) Valtteri Bottas (4,40/10): oh dear, what a year! During the first half of the season, Valtteri was slower than Hamilton but within a reasonable gap. But from Britain onwards, it was just too much. People overestimate the “bad luck share” at the beginning: he’d have been given the win in Baku by means of a well-timed Safety Car, and his DNF in Austria came after losing P1 at the start, so you can only claim Shanghai as his only deserved-but-stolen win… apart from, obviously, Russia. Those 7 points would help him for leapfrogging Kimi and Max for P3 at the standings, and 2018 wouldn’t seem so bad… but overall his driving was slow, erratic (clumsy moves in Hungary and Q3 in Austalia) and had meaningful problems with tyres and blistering, much better managed by his teammate. His contract was renewed too soon and he overrelaxed; Ocon will be a harder threat.
    =16) Marcus Ericsson (4,40/10): at his 5th F1 season, being beaten by a rookie could only mean that he is much more talented than you. And Ericsson was, from China onwards, completely destroyed by Leclerc. It was usual to watch the screen and find a half-a-second gap between both Saubers: Marcus just hasn’t got the special touch, and never had. With his Swedish backing being less important thanks to the Alfa Romeo-Ferrari connection, his future was sealed.
    =13) Sergio Pérez (4,64/10): strange year for Checo. That 5-16 qualifying record speaks for itself, but Pérez has always been a Sunday driver, and in race pace there were no differences between he and Ocon. Moreover, he took adavntage of the Q2 tyre rule and some team orders to gain track position and, ultimately, score more points. The 13-point gap between both FI drivers is mainly explained by his outlier in Baku; the rest of the year, it was much more close, and Checo may nonetheless have been the worst of the pair (5-10 in Sundays where both saw the checkered flag).
    =13) Kevin Magnussen (4,64/10): Haas had on average the 4th fastest car of the grid during 2018, but they managed only to finish P5 thanks to the Force India withdrawal. Seems clear that a lot of things failed, and two of them were their drivers. Grosjean did during the first half of the season and Kevin’s turn came from Spa. He was outqualified 1-8 and was unbelievably slow on Saturdays, his main strength since his debut. Combining this with his usual roughness in the wheel-to-wheel racing, it’s impossible to consider him as a future Grand Prix winner.
    =13) Carlos Sainz (4,64/10): I used to say about the Verstappen-Sainz couple that Max will be the Hamilton and Carlos the Rosberg: the former, multiple times World Champion; the latter, only one if lucky. And following that prediction, I thought that if Carlos is like Rosberg he should beat Hülkenberg. But he didn’t. He was close, but Nico solidly had it cover. His progress in 2015-2017 was quite obvious, but there was some stagnation this year, specially in that basic Q3 lap (he usually is slower than in Q2) and tyre degradation with the quali tyre.
    =10) Kimi Räikkönen (4,76/10): thousands of people love Kimi, but that must be because of his behaviour, his “I-don’t-care” approach and the nonpolitical intra-team attitude… not because of his driving talent. He is clearly over the hill, since circa 2013, and Vettel easily destroyed him. Age has made him lose that special touch in qualifying, he made some great mistakes in the ultimate Q3 lap and since then he had to stick to the sub-optimal strategy, being a hindrance for Lewis/any Seb rival. Leclerc will put lots of spice into Ferrari next year.
    =10) Lance Stroll (4,76/10): very highly rated? Well, my system is very kindly with drivers at the back of the grid (de la Rosa was 3rd best driver of 2012 using my marks…), and apart from two very good performances in his favourite tracks (Baku and Monza), the rest of the time he was even beaten by a rookie as Sirotkin is. Stroll’s quali pace is utterly disappointing, and he tries to fix it by taking massive risks in lap 1, and when he doesn’t gain 3-4 places he finishes someone’s race. Undeserved seat in Racing Point and unlimited financial backing make 2019 quite a relaxing year for Lance; his seat seems safe for him.
    =10) Nico Hülkenberg (4,76/10): another rock-solid year for Nico… and again a lost opportunity for showing us if he deserves a top seat. He seems to be unstoppable in qualifying during a whole year, but still he makes some strange mistakes when that elusive rostrum is close. His crashes in Baku in both 2017 and 2018 are big blots in his resumé, he doesn’t seem to be able to make a steady season, without ups and downs, and a top seat needs regularity. His beautiful peak from 2012-2014 seems slightly far away, but he’s still a great driver for the midfield level he is on. Interesting battle with Ricciardo: possible ahead on Saturdays, but will he beat him on Sundays?
    =8) Esteban Ocon (4,88/10): Ocon again raised his game during 2018, utterly dominating Pérez in qualifying, but having a big share of bad luck. His mistake at the Baku’s start shouldn’t have been as costly as it was (a podium!), and reliability (Spain, Abu Dhabi) and other drivers’ errors (France, Singapore), besides the DSQ in Austin, made him look worse in the charts. He seemed to lose his temper once he found himself out of the grid for 2019 and lowered his standard, with Brazil being a very strange mistake from the man with the longest streak of checkered flag from the debut. But overall he is quite good and deserves a wheel; 2020 should be his year.
    =8) Sebastian Vettel (4,88/10): what to say about Seb? He was as quick as ever thanks to his magical ability to drive around a lap, but when things get out of his control, he suddenly loses the temper and makes stupid mistakes. As Schumi, he cracks under pressure; Michael opted for trying to have everything under control and destroy all opposition, raising the levels in every single aspect. Can Seb, without the best team, emulate that? Seems unlikely. By any unknown reason, he can’t drive through the field as in 2012. Was he a star that shone too much, too early? Maybe, maybe not. From a technical point of view, he’s still a top driver, but his pairing with Leclerc will be unbelievably exciting.
    7) Sergey Sirotkin (5,00/10): Again, a bit overrated because of my system, but we have to analyze it carefully. He made little mistakes during the season, wasn’t slow not even in his debut, beated Stroll 13-8 on Saturdays… what more do we have to ask for a rookie driver? He had a nice first year at Grove, similar to Bottas in 2013 or Rosberg in 2006, so he may deserve another chance he won’t have.
    6) Pierre Gasly (5,12/10): Gasly showed he’s a great prospect by putting some astonishing performances in the Toro Rosso when the car seemed good enough for fighting for points. He utterly beated Hartley and fought until the end with Leclerc and Grosjean in the drivers’ championship. He’s been quick, very quick, but compare him with Verstappen seems too optimistic; Gasly may reach the Ricciardo’s tier in terms of pure talent, but it’ll be interesting to see him fighting with Max in 2019, specially after having shown some guts in several radio rants with Toro Rosso re Hartley.
    5) Daniel Ricciardo (5,24/10): until Montecarlo, Ricciardo was the sensible guy in the Red Bull pairing. His mature driving in Monaco (with a 160 HP loss!)and his maximum attack mode in China were fantastic highlights. His overtakings were top tier and he’s still a very good driver for Sundays. But not only the awful rliability hinders his performance; that woeful qualifying shows are the limiting factor for being a WC contender. As Räikkönen, he had to stick to suboptimal strategies and appear to be even worse than he really is. A great racer, but he needs to find some one lap speed.
    4) Fernando Alonso (5,48/10): Alonso is going to retire from Formula 1 still being at the top. His consistency is surreal (which other driver could be better than his teammate 21 out of 21 times?) and he’s still one of the best at the wheel. Nobody can extract more from his woeful cars, and finishing the year with 50 points (more thna Ocon or Grosjean!) seems unbelievable. A master in starts, first laps, confusing situations and dry-but-damp tracks, 2018 will be rememebered as another year of great driving by Fernando… but again in an undeserved awful car.
    3) Max Verstappen (5,83/10): undoubtedly a year with an inflection point: Monaco FP3. In that crash, Max’s life changed for ever. He was irresistibly quick but he made so many mistakes; after that, he stayed as quick as ever but rarely put a wheel off track, making him one of the best drivers in the grid. He destroyed Ricciardo in qualifying and race (obviously affected by reliability) and put some magical performances (P2 in Singapore, spectacular comebacks from the back of the gridin Russia and USA, incredible and hard-fought overtakes in Brazil prior to “that” crash, a spectacular streak of 5 podiums in a row…). With this new approach, he only needs a good car for fighting for the championship.
    =1) Charles Leclerc (5,95/10): one of the stars of the season. Maybe the “hypest” one, because os his youth. He’s been one of the best rookies of the history by means of pure speed in qualifying and impressive lap-by-lap race pace. When Sauber was a Q1/Q2 car, he achieved some impressive Q3/points finishes, and when it turned to be a Q2/Q3, he strated to outqualify Renaults, Haas and Force Indias in a scintillating way. He is very quick, very humble and seems to be one of the next big stars. Vettel should be worried.
    1) Lewis Hamilton (5,95/10): Lewis set, one more year, another level. After a not-bad beginning, he started to put great performances, specially with the comeback in his home turf. But obviously Germany was the first key. His pace with new tyres under the slight rain was legendary, and winning from P14 is historic. Great poles in Hungary and Belgium led to another epic win in Italy without the fastest car and desperating Vettel, and THAT lap in Singapore sealed the championship. Still he rises, still the best.


    @ColdFly’s ratings of the class of 2018 drivers.
    I’ve rated each driver how close they got to a perfect season with eliminating the car impact. It was quite difficult to separate car and driver for the ‘lesser teams’ as there was much less video material to work with. 100% is a perfect season, 0% is the lowest (but can still be a ‘fine F1 driver’)
    1 Lewis Hamilton (78,7%) – a bit slow start with a few lacklustre races, but then woke up and never stopped. He also kept on racing hard when the car was not the best.
    2 Max Verstappen (76,0%) – very clumsy start of the season; no disaster but many small mistakes which got all the attention. After Monaco P3 he cleaned up his act and had arguably the best ‘rest of the season’ squeezing everything out of the car. So much so that a strong performing Ricciardo seemed asleep at times.
    3 Charles Leclerc (57,4%) – very impressive season, although it is very hard to judge what was Leclerc and what was the car (maybe it was even better than my score here). He also had some very ‘rookie drives’, e.g. Germany.
    4 Fernando Alonso (49,4%) – another one who we did not see a lot. But the way he squeezed out the performance on many a Saturday was impressive, and the few wheel to wheel battles we saw made me wish he was in one of the top 3 cars (or even a Haas, FI, Sauber, or even Renault)
    5 Daniel Ricciardo (48,5%) – very solid season in which he showed that he is probably the best and cleanest of the late brakers (‘dive bomb’ is too disrespectful)
    6 Sebastian Vettel (41,5%) – Such a good start, raking in the wins and points when he deserved it and also when he did not deserve. But was he clumsy towards the end! Based on this I have lowered my admiration for him overall a tad (maybe more of his wins were the car rather than the driver)
    7 Pierre Gasly (40,8%) – Some very impressive highs, but also some meh races. Luckily no big mistakes. He often drove the car a lot faster and higher up on the grid than could be expected of a car with an experimental PU.
    8 Esteban Ocon (38,0%) – strong season by Esteban; he showed that his F3 title was well deserved. Yes he made some mistakes as well, and not sure if he will ever be a top team worthy driver. But there are some more experienced drivers behind him in my 2018 ranking
    9 Nico Hulkenberg (37,7%) – a few small mistakes, but always great to see the consistency of Hulkenberg. Maybe his highs were not that impressive, but he was always there.
    10 Sergio Perez (36,3%) – Very solid season by Perez, as most of his seasons. But some very poor mistakes, offset by a lucky podium in a good race.
    11 Carlos Sainz Jnr (36,1%) – seemed a bit of a step back for Sainz this year, especially after being confirmed as McLaren’s 31 (!) driver for next year. I sometimes wonder where he took the wrong turn when he was fighting with Verstappen at almost the same level. Hope he picks it up again next year.
    12 Kevin Magnussen (34,3%) – He might have big balls, but those seem to do the talking for him rather than the racing. Yes, he beat his teammate in this ranking, but that was only because the other guy made such huge mistakes early on. Not sure where Magnussen is going in his career, but I predict him fighting every year with the newest rookies for attention and ratings.
    13 Kimi Raikkonen (32,6%) – Even at 13 this has been a visible improvement for Raikkonen. It is easy to see his deserved win in Austin and the good weekend in Monza until he gave it away as if he didn’t want to win. Raikkonen clearly improved in the second part of the season, and I think he might have another Lotus year at Sauber in 2019.
    14 Valtteri Bottas (32,1%) – Very disappointing for the driver who was steadfastly in my top-10 in his Williams days. He simply wasn’t there during most of the season, and that was even after giving him kudos for the races he should have won on merit (Germany and Russia, and maybe Baku).
    15 Romain Grosjean (25,3%) – A very droppable performance during the first part of this season (I would have dropped him). But then towards the end he woke up again and showed that he still can race.
    16 Lance Stroll (23,6%) – Seems to be slim on talent, but like Maldonado he then suddenly shows us that there are some racing skills in this guy (Monza quali). A big chunk might be the car, but he needs to be a genius if he can hide his talent for this long.
    17 Marcus Ericsson (22,4%) – and this is actually his best season I’ve seen. I’ve even noted him during a DOTW review, or maybe even 2. But that was all.
    18 Stoffel Vandoorne (20,4%) – He was probably dead last until he woke up in the last races of the season. But too late for my ranking and for retaining his seat. I can’t think of any reason why he should remain in F1. Even when the going gets tough he should have tried to show something.
    19 Sergey Sirotkin (19,9%) – Similar to the driver ahead of him he had a very boring season and then suddenly showed up and demonstrated his racing talents (was it Austin).
    20 Brendon Hartley (12,1%) – next to Ricciardo the nicest guy off track. But unlike Ricciardo and most of the other F1 drivers not showing any assertiveness when racing. I’ll miss him, but as a Porsche fan will enjoy him in the years to come.


    Top tier:


    All within 0,2%
    or 0.2sec/lap

    Mid pack:


    All within 0,2% or 0,2sec/per lap on average

    Bottom tier


    All within 0,2% or 0,2sec /per lap on average

    All 20 drivers within 0,6% or 0,6sec/per lap on average

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