Rank the F1 drivers of 2016

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    The 2016 Formula One season is in the history books which means it’s time to give your verdict on who were the best and worst drivers this year.

    As always F1 Fanatic’s Driver Rankings will begin soon and a selection of your views on the drivers will form part of them.

    With that in mind, give your ranking of the drivers below and explain who impressed you, surprised you and who disappointed you in 2016.

    You can read all the previous Driver Rankings here:


    Ben Needham

    Including all drivers who participated in more than one race (ie: all but Vandoorne), my ranking and reasoning is below. Please note that I am not a particular “fan” of any driver and just enjoy the sport for what it is!

    1 – Daniel Ricciardo
    Whatever challenge Ricciardo is presented with he steps up to. Clearly better than Kvyat early season, he was then lined up against Verstappen who had the backing of the whole team to be the next big thing. Unlucky in Barcelona and Monaco, he then quietly chipped away while the focus was on his younger team-mate and showed that he’s not one to be ignored either. With highlights in Monaco and Malaysia, he brought the car home in every race and scored points in all but one. Easily the best of the rest behind the Mercedes, though Verstappen chased him hard. I’m looking forward to when/if the Red Bull’s fight at the front, because this could be a spicy partnership.

    2 – Max Verstappen
    I toyed between Ricciardo and Verstappen for my No. 1 and Max was very unlucky to miss out. Verstappen was the youngest driver in the field by some margin and frankly astonished me week after week. From his win in Barcelona to his mega drive at Interlagos, he took what was previously only potential and showed Formula One that he is a force to be reckoned with in the here and now. A competitor who attacks and defends hard for 1st, 3rd, 10th and 20th, he’s a real breath of fresh air. Low points including Monaco and Spa are the reason Ricciardo nicked it for me.

    3 – Carlos Sainz Jr
    In the early season switch between Kvyat and Verstappen, Kvyat wasn’t the only “loser”. Sainz was passed over for a promotion to the main team and must have been wondering when a space would ever appear for him at Red Bull now their line-up looks fairly secure. While Kvyat faltered and never looked like getting many points, Sainz got his head down, worked hard and put the Toro Rosso where it had no right to be. While Max was getting headlines in Barcelona, Carlos was also unbelievable on a weekend he could have been forgiven for being off-form. While the car lost ground to competitors in the late season, he still pushed into some last minute points.

    4 – Lewis Hamilton
    There’s no denying that the Mercedes was the class of the field with all but 2 victories between Hamilton and Rosberg. Hamilton clearly had the poorer luck of the two cars reliability-wise, but also made a few problems of his own, with several bad starts in the first half of the season. Few have mentioned/remembered that even after the Malaysia blow up, the Championship was still in Lewis’s hands until a poor race in Suzuka. Other than that, he was on fire for periods of the season, particularly the 6 out of 7 wins between Monaco and Germany and the final four races.

    5 – Fernando Alonso
    While the McLaren/Honda was still pretty poor, Alonso had another stellar season. A period in the second half of the season saw him as “best of the rest” behind the Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari cars and he duly racked up 54 points, more than double that of his team-mate. He can only hope the McLaren can challenge next year for wins/podiums or he may well call it a day.

    6 – Nico Rosberg
    “Undeserving”? Of course not. I’ve never placed a World Champion as low as this in my rankings, but I cannot help but admire Nico Rosberg this season. He was unflappable and drove the most logical season I’ve seen in a long time. A crushing start to the season was followed by a crushing restart after the mid-season break and that was all he needed. When Hamilton retired in Malaysia (as happens in Formula One), Rosberg followed it up with a brilliant victory in Suzuka and wisely followed Hamilton home in the final four races. In my opinion Hamilton was (and is) clearly quicker than Nico, but Rosberg is the 2016 World Champion and that will be his forever.

    7 – Sergio Perez
    Perez had probably his most consistent year so far, scoring points in every one of the last 10 races. However his highest highs came in the first half, with two brilliant podiums in Monaco and Baku. While pretty evenly matched with Hulkenberg, there’s a reason that Perez has enjoyed so many podiums while Hulkenberg still waits. Perez is a dark horse and Force India should be very pleased to hold on to him in 2017.

    8 – Sebastian Vettel
    Following a brilliant 2015, Sebastian cut a frustrated figure in 2016, despite going into Turn 1 of the season leading. He had the worst of Ferrari’s mechanical problems and there was rarely a good strategy to be seen (Abu Dhabi an obvious exception). The opposite of the cool headed Kimi, Vettel often let situations get to him and Mexico was not the only time he fired expletives into his radio. Kimi was a lot closer this year than in 2015, but Vettel just about saw him off.

    9 – Kimi Raikkonen
    Has Raikkonen finally silenced those calls to retire and open the Ferrari seat for someone else? He had by far the cleaner season of the two red cars, but rarely challenged for the podium after the opening races. Despite this, he picked up points regularly and often ran ahead of Vettel, outscoring him in the qualifying head-to-head, something usually seen as a Vettel strong point. It’ll be interesting to see how they compare next year… Ferrari is one of the teams we’ve heard little about when it comes to 2017.

    10 – Nico Hulkenberg
    Almost as consistent as his team-mate, but without the podiums. Hulkenberg often threatens a great result before falling away. After 6 seasons in points scoring cars you begin to wonder whether a podium will ever be reached. Moving to Renault makes perfect sense in my opinion; an Alonso-style gamble, as Force India will never (hope to be proved wrong) be a championship winning team… Renault just might be.

    11 – Valterri Bottas
    It may just be me, but I’m yet to see the hype justified in Bottas. Yes, he’s beaten Massa, but not comprehensively enough in my opinion. He took a good podium in Canada, but other than that was fairly uninspiring. Usually seen on the wrong side of overtakes, but that may simply be because he’s put his car where it shouldn’t be in the first place. He’ll need to beat Stroll convincingly next season to continue to be seen as one of the “next big things”.

    12 – Romain Grosjean
    The start of the season was the stuff of dreams, but the year quickly went off the boil. The scoreline in comparison to his team-mate flatters Grosjean, but he scored the points when it mattered most and that’s what is important. Few real obvious low points, but he did trail the lesser-rated Gutierrez in too many races.

    13 – Jenson Button
    Jenson was arguably the equal of Alonso in 2015, but was generally found pretty far behind him this year. It’s fair to say that Jenson is a force to be reckoned with in a car that is perfect, but struggles to drive around any issues. This car and engine combo most certainly has issues. The right time to retire in my opinion, with a good career behind him and a car that is still unlikely to suddenly be the class of the field in 2017 passed to the next generation.

    14 – Esteban Gutierrez
    Took a lot of unfair criticism this season for failing to score points while Grosjean had many. He’s not world class, but he had the beating of Grosjean enough to make the Frenchman uncomfortable. His replacement by Magnussen is an upgrade in my opinion and Gutierrez has now had enough chances in Formula One without really delivering much.

    15 – Felipe Massa
    As ever, a solid pair of hands, but rarely seen in the races doing much of any note. A lot of good points scored in the battle with Force India, but was still just beaten by Alonso in a very poor McLaren. If Button is making the right decision to retire, then Massa definitely is.

    16 – Pascal Wehrlein
    Wehrlein is a strange case this season; to the casual viewer he seems to have put in good performances, winning a point, getting into Q2 occassionally and generally beating his team-mates. He was passed over for the Force India seat by his team-mate (who, granted shows a lot of potential) and looks set for another year at the back in the Manor. A strong first season though by my reckoning.

    17 – Esteban Ocon
    Ocon shows a lot of potential and was starting to beat Wehrlein by the end of the season. It’ll be a big step up to the Force India and the challenge of Perez as a known quantity could either make or break him. Raced well in Brazil but got little attention other than that.

    18 – Jolyon Palmer
    The two Renault’s were most difficult to place for me as the car was poor, the drivers seemed poor and the results were poor. While Magnussen scored the most points (due to a single finish in Russia), Palmer was a little more consistent and did often beat Magnussen, who came into the season expected to destroy him.

    19 – Kevin Magnussen
    Magnussen replaced Maldonado at fairly late notice, but was expected to have the beating of Palmer. Most would argue that he did, but I think this year has damaged his reputation badly and he’ll need an excellent year at Haas to recover it.

    20 – Marcus Ericsson
    The quote often banded around with Ericsson is “the least worst Sauber driver”, which I would agree with; in 2016. I would caveat this by saying that I’ve heard he often gets the better equipment (no idea if that is true!).

    21 – Felipe Nasr
    Scored points when it mattered to save his and the teams season. Was generally found behind Ericsson.

    22 – Daniil Kvyat
    The less said about Kvyat’s 2016 the better. He started in a Red Bull and finished on a bike! Perhaps unlucky to be given the boot initially, Verstappen’s performances have proved that it was the correct decision. Given the rare Red Bull challenge of a demotion he responded horrendously, far off Sainz in almost all races and never looking secure in challenging for points. He needs a long winter to recollect himself and has to beat Sainz in the first 4 or 5 races or the same thing will happen again with Gasly waiting in the Wings (poor pun intended).

    23 – Rio Haryanto
    Haryanto was clearly the worst Manor driver this year, but he wasn’t as far behind Wehrlein as reputation would have suggested. He didn’t embarrass himself, but doesn’t belong in a list of the world’s 22 best drivers.

    Uzair Syed

    My driver rankings:

    1. Daniel Ricciardo – The class of the field in 2016 and the clear best of the rest in points. Another superb and consistent season from the Aussie. He won Malaysia after an intense duel with another great driver in Max Verstappen, and deserved to win Monaco the most. He could have also won at Singapore if the race was extended by one lap! Very good in qualifying too. He is one to watch next year.

    2. Max Verstappen – Another great season from the flying Dutchman. He has been the most exciting driver to watch this season with some ballsy (and sometimes questionable) attacking and defending. Another one to watch for next season.

    3. Carlos Sainz Jr – If three car teams had existed, then this man would have deserved the third seat at Red Bull. He has scored 46 points in a car that has a slow and outdated engine, and has destroyed Kvyat. Who knows where he would have been with a proper engine.

    4. Fernando Alonso – He has dragged that McLaren in places where it didn’t belong. He is always there in the top 10 when you least expect it. Massively outperformed Button in the second half of this season.

    5. Lewis Hamilton – I don’t feel that Lewis has been driving at his best this season, making some careless starts and some generally bad races in Baku and Singapore. However, when he has been at his best he has been faultless and in a class of his own and way above his teammate. Yes, some people may say that Malaysia costed Hamilton the title, but they choose to ignore the races where he has been uncharacteristically sloppy and poor.

    6. Nico Rosberg – I place Rosberg just below Hamilton, although he was very close to him in my opinion. His performance was very similar to Hamilton’s over the season, excelling in some races but was also poor in others, most notably Monaco and Austria. However, he has been the better of the two with starting races, and that has won him the title, so to me he is a deserving world champion.

    7. Sebastian Vettel – A 2014-esque second half of the season from Vettel. He made a strong start but his performance dropped over the season, and his much older teammate ended up matching him in qualifying, and also being close to him in the races, which came as a surprise considering how Vettel thrashed him last year.

    8. Kimi Raikkonen – The most improved driver of the season. Last year Kimi was very bad, but this year he has improved massively and at some points in the season he was leading his teammate on points. He has also matched his teammate in qualifying. Good effort from Kimi.

    9. Sergio Pérez – Overall, a very good season in which Pérez ends up scoring just over 100 points in the Force India by consistently finishing in the points. He has had more luck than his teammate, but he has also been more consistent.

    10. Nico Hulkenberg – The unluckiest driver of the season. I can recall at least two instances where he should have been on the podium but instead lost it through no fault of his own, and he also somehow finds himself 29 points behind his teammate. A points gap which would have been much smaller if he had better luck. Poor old Hulk.

    11. Valtteri Bottas – Was much better than his teammate, although I cannot place him any higher because the people above him were simply better. He was still good though.

    12. Jenson Button – Goodbye Jenson, you will be missed. I don’t think that he put in too much effort in the second half of the season though, or maybe it was just Fernando being Fernando. That points gap between teammates is one of the biggest. I want Jenson on Channel 4 F1 next year! Please Jenson, please!

    13. Romain Grosjean – A bit of a meh season from Grosjean. He was impressive in the first few races, but his performance dropped off quickly after that and in some races he found himself behind Gutiérrez, which brings his ranking down.

    14. Felipe Massa – He was going to retire, but he was still comprehensively beaten by Bottas. Obrigado Felipe, another driver that will be missed. I will never forget the heartbreaking scenes in Brazil 2008.

    15. Pascal Wehrlein – The best backmarker driver of the season. He managed to get into Q2 many times this season in a car which I think is the worst on the grid. He also scored a point in it which ALMOST leapfrogged Sauber. ALMOST.

    16. Esteban Ocon – He started off badly, but in the past few races he was matching and sometimes even beating Wehrlein. Pretty impressive from a man who has only had 9 races in the car. He will be pretty good at Force India.

    17. Kevin Magnussen – I don’t think that he was too much better than his teammate, something which I expected in the pre-season. He did help Renault secure 9th in the WCC though, so he definitely helped the team. A shame that they didn’t repay him. At least he is still in Formula 1.

    18. Jolyon Palmer – Would have been on par with his teammate if he didn’t bottle it in Hungary. He should feel lucky that he is still in the Renault for next season.

    19. Marcus Ericsson – That Sauber was a bad car so I didn’t expect Ericsson to score points, and he didn’t.

    20. Felipe Nasr – He saved the team in Brazil with an impressive 9th place finish, but apart from that he was disappointing compared to Ericsson to be brutally honest.

    21. Daniil Kvyat – Outperformed by both his teammates this season. He has only scored 4 points in the Toro Rosso compared to the 46 that his teammate scored. He really needs to do much better than this if he is to have any chance of staying in Formula 1.

    22. Esteban Gutiérrez – He should have scored points in that Haas. It was clearly capable of points, and he didn’t score any. Grosjean single-handedly brought the team to 8th in the WCC. His attitude hasn’t been that great this year either.

    23. Rio Haryanto – This man was so bad, that he didn’t even get to finish the season. When he was in Formula 1 he used to finish last in almost every race, so it didn’t surprise me when he was replaced by a much better driver.

    N/A. Stoffel Vandoorne – I cannot rank him for obvious reasons but if I did, I probably would have placed him in 19th just for that single race alone. What he did in Bahrain was extraordinary, he flew straight from Japan to Bahrain with hardly any experience at all, and despite this he still manages to pick up McLaren’s first points of the season. I am looking forward to watching this man next season.


    1. Daniel Ricciardo – Ricciardo has had his second best season in F1 after 2014, winning a racw and halving a superb mid season where he consisently bagged podiums for Red Bull and in the end held off the talented Verstappen. He recovered from a tough period where the team cost him two potential victories and he was being beaten and got back up to his usual scintillating form.

    2. Lewis Hamilton – Lewis has been on form again and although this may be his worst year in the last three seasons he still has done a good job despite his engine problems and was unlucky to lose the WC, mainly due to engine problems. How he can recover from defeat for 2017 will be interesting, the most cruel thing was his blow out in Malaysia

    3. Max Verstappen – Max has been a super talent and his win in Spain was special or his scintilliting performance in Brazil has showm he can challenge for the title in 2017. Beaten over the year by Ricciardo but by the end he seemed to be better and showed his potential.

    4. Fernando Alonso – Alonso has done a good job in his underpowered car to get in the top ten in the standings and some super drives from the back such as Spa and Malaysia where he proved that he is driving as good as his WC years despite his regular radio outbursts.

    5. Nico Rosberg – A deserved WC to win nine races. For sure he had better luck but he scored more points and although Hamilton was better Rosberg deserved it with a much improved performance. Well done Nico.

    6. Sergio Perez – The best year of his F1 career as he took two podiums and looked at home not only in the races but also with better qualifying performances as he fairly beat Hulkenberg over this season for a second year running, showcasing his tyre management skill and his raw pace.

    7. Sebastian Vettel – Vettel may feel dejected to end the year winless and lose the qualifying battle to his teammate, but he was still as strong as ever in the races, using his super starts to challenge the Mercedes and Red Bull’s on multiple occasions. He seemed disheartened during the year, but his pace is still there.

    8. Carlos Sainz – Sainz maximised the car in the first half of the year where they were competitive and although the car dropped of the pace with a year old engine he kept up his form with Q3 performances late on. Although the worry may be that he was outqualified by Kvyat more times than not late on in the year and he was easily beaten by Verstappen, plus his embarrassing moment in Spa.

    9. Nico Hulkenberg – Hulkenberg was fairly even with Perez again and although bad luck derailed his chase for an inagural podium, his move to Renault in 2017 allowed him to reach new heights such as his qualifying in Mexico and his race in Brazil. Although he made too many errors and was caught up in first lap collisions unlike his usual self.

    10. Kimi Raikkonen – A much improved performance, especially in qualifying where he beat him, but strategy has hurt him at times. He still struggles in the races to keep pace with Vettel and has largely once again been the weakest of the drivers of the ‘big three’ teams.

    11. Valtteri Bottas – Managed to keep Williams in the hunt with P4, with some impressive points hauls, but didn’t have the x-factor he has shown in previous years, with quiet and solid points finishes but although he stamped his authority over an expired Massa, he wasn’t able to get Williams in the fight for P4 with many unlike himself collisions with others.

    12. Jenson Button – His farewell season in F1, with a competitive first half of the year showed his class as a WC, but did struggle at the end with motivation low and slipped backwards. His performance for third on the grid in Austria showed his love for the wet conditions and his points haul in Hockenheim shouldn’t be forgotten.

    13. Marcus Ericsson – His best ever performance in F1, especially at the end of he season where he almost scored points on many occasions with a backmarker car, and firmly beat Nasr, a shock after being trounced in 2015. Proved to many he is better than being labelled a definite pay driver.

    14. Romain Grosjean – It was a dream at the start with consecutive top six finishes with Haas, but things fell off and it ended up in a sour relationship with constant radio outbursts with serious brake issues and Grosjean probably had his worst year in F1, with a return to his 2012 style crashes and immaturity showing and has Gutierrez closer than his liking.

    15. Pascal Wehrlein – Looks set for a Sauber seat, and managed to fairly beat both his teammates in his rookie year. Although he wasn’t impressive enough to catch either Force India’s eye for a seat, and his point Austria was well deserved .

    16. Esteban Gutierrez – Ended up with no points, spoiling his best year in F1 as he looked the better deal than Grosjean alot of times this year, and seems to be out of F1. Still seemed inconsistent and his frustration late on in the season to get points may have ruined his performances.

    17. Daniil Kvyat – Lost the Red Bull seat and was dejected and was nowhere mid season, but ended the year happier, especially in qualifying, where he managed to beat Sainz. A tough year where he was on the breaking point and where his career has most likely gone down the drain.

    18. Kevin Magnussen – Couldn’t match his 2014 season in F1 and tailed off at the end massively, and was firmly behind Palmer towards the end of the year after a solid start to the season. Needs to impress in 2017 or he will be written off as another pay driver.

    19. Jolyon Palmer – Did better than we all expected, enough for a 2017 seat, but hardly set the world alight, and was error-prone.

    20. Felipe Massa – Farewell Felipe, his worst season in F1 maybe as he struggled to score points at the end of the season and seemed to be sleeping, and was utterly destroyed by Bottas

    21. Felipe Nasr – Was beaten by Ericsson over the year comprehensively, but put in a great drive to get Sauber’s points in Brazil, which will be important to them next year. This is likely to be his last year in F1 too, which is deserved, as he didn’t perform in his sophomore year.

    22. Esteban Ocon – A bit disappointed from Esteban who was looking to be a real talent, but struggled in qualifying against Pascal but ended the year with a good final duo of races which has sealed him a seat next year.

    23. Rio Haryanto – Another to join the collection of pay drivers who didn’t finish a season of F1, as he ended his tenure trundling around by himself at the back of the field, as his funding ran out.

    Ben Needham

    I’m particularly interested to see where people place Sainz, Bottas and the Ferrari pair… other than that, I think these listings are going to be fairly consistent.


    1. Fernando Alonso – Brilliant to get top 10 in the standings in what is still a terrible car
    2. Daniel Ricciardo – This guy just keeps getting better, one of the favourites for 2017 success
    3. Nico Rosberg – Beat one of the greatest of all time to become world champion
    4. Sergio Pérez – Best season to date, deserves to be in a front-running car
    5. Lewis Hamilton – Not quite as good as previous two seasons but still fantastic
    6. Max Verstappen – A rough diamond, will surely become one of the all time greats
    7. Romain Grosjean – Usually took his chances when they presented themselves
    8. Nico Hülkenberg – A good season, needs a better car to progress his career
    9. Valtteri Bottas – Solid as ever and thrashed his teammate
    10. Sebastian Vettel – Might be poor by his standards but it was still a decent season
    11. Carlos Sainz – Some highs and some lows, needs to improve to keep his seat
    12. Kimi Räikkönen – Better than last season but still not the Kimi of times gone by
    13. Jenson Button – Slightly disappointing, sad to see him bow out like this
    14. Pascal Wehrlein – My rookie of the year
    15. Kevin Magnussen – He did a good job given the circumstances
    16. Jolyon Palmer – He also did a good job given the circumstances
    17. Esteban Ocon – Did well to come in mid-season, was better than his predecessor
    18. Marcus Ericsson – Improving all the time but not even close to top drawer
    19. Daniil Kvyat – A difficult season for a good driver, glad he has another chance
    20. Felipe Nasr – Massively underperformed but showed what he can do in his home race
    21. Felipe Massa – Poor season but sad to see him retire after all these years
    22. Esteban Gutiérrez – Good single lap pace but wasted opportunities
    23. Rio Haryanto – Does not deserve to be a Formula One race driver

    NR Stoffel Vandoorne – Fantastic job as a stand in, looking forward to see how he goes in the future


    1 – Daniel Ricciardo – Says a lot that his worst race without damage was probably Japan, where he came 6th. Should’ve picked up another win in Monaco, if not for the team, and in Spain if they hadn’t put Max on a better strategy. Drove superbly all year long, hardly put a foot wrong. If Red Bull do have the best car next year, which I expect them to with Adrian Newey and downforce cars, then I’d say he’s the favourite to win the WDC, an accolade which he fully deserves at some point in his career.

    2 – Fernando Alonso – Dragged that McLaren up all year long. On so many occasions ended up as the best of the rest. One of his best seasons to date, and probably the best driver on the grid still. Deserves more than the 2 WDC’s he currently has, hopefully McLaren give him a better car.

    3 – Nico Rosberg – Won the WDC, and deservedly so. Was excellent so often, got on top of problems that the car had, such as starts and engine modes in Baku etc. Would’ve liked to see him push for wins in the last few races, but just got the results he needed, a la Alain Prost, and got his first title.

    4 – Max Verstappen – Seen many on other sites saying he should be DOTY. I disagree, drove superbly on occasions (Brazil), but poorly on others (Monaco, Singapore). Expect him to be a multi-WDC in the future if given the right equipment, mad amounts of potential.

    5 – Carlos Sainz – Fantastic season for him, fully deserves a car that can challenge for podiums. Got some great consistent points early in the season, and just seemed to be able to drag that car up at the end of the season when 2015 Ferrari engine started to show. Good that Spain have got another driver coming through, with Nando not getting any younger.

    6 – Lewis Hamilton – Outperformed Rosberg on many occasions, and you can argue he lost the title with reliability all you like, but he lost it on the starts, where he wasn’t able to manage the problems as well as his team mate, which made the difference in the end. Yes he won the last 4 races, but that was when Rosberg was happy to settle for second. Nevertheless, a great season from him to get 10 wins.

    7= – Nico Hulkenberg – Such an unlucky and underrated driver. In the races they’ve both finished, it was 8-8 with Perez, and outqualified him 11-10 this year. So many times when he looked strong he was taken out or had problems. Could’ve got 3rd in Brazil if not for the puncture. Hopefully the Renault can give him the car he needs to get that podium and win he deserves.

    7= – Sergio Perez – 2 podiums and best of the rest in the standings, very strong season. Honestly can’t split the two Force India drivers in terms of ability, expect him to comfortably beat Ocon next season. Hopefully we’ll get to see him in the Ferrari after Kimi retires, and see what he really can achieve at a top team in a good car.

    9 – Sebastian Vettel – Not the best of seasons for him or Ferrari, however he was hampered by their strategy at times, such as in Canada. Was unlucky with failures in Bahrain and Austria where the car looked good, and did well to get a lot of early podiums before the Red Bull’s overtook them, thus getting him 4th place overall.

    10 – Pascal Wehrlein – Got Manor’s only point of the season with a great race in Austria, beat Haryanto in every race they were team mates, and comfortably looked faster than Ocon. Was apparently passed up on a Force India seat because the team preferred working with Ocon in testing. Hopefully he can be given a car that can challenge for points more regularly.

    11 – Kimi Raikkonen – Strong start with the 3 podiums in the first 5, then a poor middle, and a strong end to the season after he got married and got his contract sorted. Seemed to really be on it recently, especially in qualifying, actually beating Seb 11-10 in the aspect.

    12 – Valtteri Bottas – Started very well, and got a podium in Canada, but as the car lost its mojo it seemed he did too. Despite that, he still vastly bettered his team mates tally. We all know what he’s capable of, and hopefully he gets back to being one of the most highly regarded talents. Expect him to sweep Stroll.

    13 – Jenson Button – Sad to see my favourite driver go. Probably did better than the car, but it didn’t seem as good because of Alonso. He did have problems in a lot of the races Alonso did well in though, sometimes while he was ahead: Hungary, Russia, Belgium, Singapore so on. Great career, and hope to see him commentating with DC and Webber on Channel 4, as that would be an amazing line up.

    14 – Romain Grosjean – At the start of the year, it looked like he’d be top 3 on this list, but brake problems and tough weekends brought him down quite a bit with 1 point finish since Austria. Still got every single point for Haas

    15 – Kevin Magnussen – Especially at the start of the season, dominated Palmer. He has 7 points to Jo’s one, and I also respect him for ditching Renault when another, better offer came on the table after how publicly poorly they treated their drivers.

    16 – Esteban Ocon – Did well considering how he came into the season in Spa, and was almost instantly better than Haryanto in that Manor. Will be interesting to see him pitted up against Perez. One to watch for the future definitely.

    17 – Felipe Massa – Sad to see this great driver go. One can only imagine what he’d have achieved without his accident, but this year he was poor, with only one top 5 finish, and generally finishing battling it out for the points, a decent bit behind his team mate. Was the right time for him to leave, and he got the send off he deserved at Brazil.

    18 – Marcus Ericsson – Despite not getting the all important points, he did outperform Nasr usually, and given how poor his 2014 was, will be interesting to see how he does if Sauber can get into the points on a few occasions. Has to prove he isn’t just a backmarker driver.

    19 – Jolyon Palmer – Poor first season for him. He picked up a little to the end, but he can’t keep making these mistakes like crashing into Sainz. Good drive at Malaysia, but that’s all I can think of this year. Will probably be ruined by Hulk in a similar way Gutierrez was, unless he bucks his ideas up.

    20 – Felipe Nasr – After a great 2015, in particular the start, he was poor this year. Got the all important points for Sauber to put them 10th at his home race, but that was the only memorable race from him. We need a Brazilian in F1, but not sure he’s the one.

    21 – Daniil Kvyat – As the meme says, started the year in a Red Bull and ended it on a bicycle. Got a podium in China, despite torpedoing Vettel, but it all went downhill from there. 3 points to Sainz’s 24 while they were team mates really shows how poor he was. Hope he comes back with his 2014/15 form next season.

    22 – Esteban Gutierrez – Another poor season, showing he’s no more than a pay driver. 0 points, in the 2 seasons where his teammates have got points, he’s been outscored 80 to 6, and all those 6 were in 1 race. Hopefully he doesn’t get a seat next year, I think he should go to IndyCar or something, he could do well there. Yes he won GP3, but he had no real good competition.

    23 – Rio Haryanto – Went midway through the season because of money, and don’t think he’ll be coming back. Finished behind Wehrlein in every race (except 1 where Wehrlein DNF’d, so that doesn’t count). He had a go but didn’t make it, should find another series that he’s comfortable in.

    Stoffel Vandoorne – good debut for McLaren, excited to see how he does against arguably the best driver on the grid next season. Win win for him, if he outperforms Alonso he’s held in high regard, if he gets outperformed he can say it’s his rookie year and he’s up against the best driver on the grid.

    Craig Woollard

    The sheer quality of the field makes this nearly impossible to do, but here goes.

    1. Daniel Ricciardo – The only driver to not retire from a single race. Could well have finished every race in the points. Not always as quick as Verstappen, but so much more consistent. Just the one race win does not justify the level of performance he is at right now. I cannot think of a single major error he has made this season.

    2. Max Verstappen – Sometimes brilliant. Sometimes frustrating. Always exciting. Any critics of this guy have almost certainly been silenced this year. He is still not quite the finished product, but the potential is there for him to be one of the greatest ever. Oh how I wish we had an onboard of the entirety of his final stint at Brazil.

    3. Carlos Sainz – Turned into a brand new driver once Verstappen had left. Even as the season progressed and the Toro Rosso was out-developed by other teams, Sainz still worked some incredible magic. He qualified in positions which the car did not belong in, and finished races in positions which the car did not belong in. To be sticking a Toro Rosso in sixth place on multiple occasions so late into the season is quite simply incredible.

    4. Sergio Perez – The first season I feel where Sergio Perez has strung together a consistent year-long campaign. When an opportunity was presented to him, he took it with both hands, and walked away with silverware on more than one occasion. When the car was not challenging for podiums, he was qualifying it well and sticking it well into the points positions. He very much carried the momentum he had from the second half of 2015 and is one of the main reasons Force India did so well this year.

    5. Lewis Hamilton – Hamilton was the better of the two Mercedes drivers this year, but I can’t help but feel that he could have done a bit more this year. He simply did not ‘turn up’ to races such as Baku and Singapore, and he really looked like a beaten man at times. Many will bring Malaysia up (probably for years to come), but there were plenty of other races where Hamilton could have found that five point swing in his favour.

    6. Nico Rosberg – He had the best car, and beat what was in front of him. Sometimes that was not very much due to issues on the other car, and on other occasions it was a bit more. Some of the penalties given to Rosberg earlier in the season still result in some head-scratching, whilst he got away with other situations. He played the numbers game once he did all of the hard work after Japan, but that should take nothing away from Rosberg. He is a worthy World Champion, but I think that the other guy drove a better season.

    7. Sebastian Vettel – The contrast of Vettel pre and post summer break is staggering. Vettel was nearly flawless early in the season, let down only by the car or by the team. After the summer break, he let himself down far too often, and caused some clumsy incidents. He sometimes didn’t turn up on Saturdays and looks so, so frustrated.

    8. Fernando Alonso – The old Alonso is back. When the car was good, Alonso was fantastic. When the car was not, he still somehow managed to do something with it more often than not. He took a little while to get up to speed this season, especially after launching off the back of a Haas, but ultimately delivered some fine results. He has very much still got it.

    9. Valtteri Bottas – The Finn often went a bit underneath the radar in 2016, but still delivered a very solid season. He was the strongest driver statistically on Saturdays against his team mate, and regularly chucked his Williams into the points. He sometimes stumbled a bit here and there early in the season, and had a few reliability issues, but otherwise was strong once again.

    10. Kimi Raikkonen – Raikkonen bounced back from a fairly so-so start to the year to really make Vettel do some thinking. He was sometimes caught up in incidents which weren’t his fault, but was also prone to his own errors from time to time. His rostrum-less second half of the season is the main reason why he only just scrapes my top ten though.

    11. Romain Grosjean – When the Haas was good, Grosjean was amongst the best drivers in the field. When the Haas was bad, Grosjean was amongst the worst. His passion cannot be questioned, and the team radio showed that. He was not always quicker than his team mate, but crucially he was quicker when it counted.

    12. Nico Hulkenberg – Hulkenberg had a fairly strange season. When opportunities were presented to him, he failed to really make the most of them, yet he would be able to string a result from nowhere at times. His progress has stagnated, which I think is why the Renault move will be good for him. Could, and perhaps should have stood on the podium.

    13. Kevin Magnussen – Magnussen was another driver who was able to extract that little extra something from the car when the opportunity was there to do so, but looked really quite poor at times as well. His control at Russia was nothing short of excellent, and he drove a fine race at Singapore too. He also got a bit unlucky at times.

    14. Felipe Massa – Massa started the season fairly well and consistently, but really dropped off after that. After his retirement announcement, he looked like he was in ‘retirement mode’.

    15. Pascal Wehrlein – Rookie of the year. Wehrlein has not got a seat confirmed for 2017 yet, which surprises me somewhat. He looked a bit shaky on Saturdays initially, but looked so much better after that breakthrough weekend at Austria. He usually starts races incredibly well, but also makes the odd rookie mistake. I hope we see him again next year.

    16. Esteban Gutierrez – I think zero points is a bit unfair on Gutierrez in 2016, considering how often he was able to beat a driver of Grosjean’s quality on merit. He was simply unable to string an entire weekend together when the points were on offer.

    17. Marcus Ericsson – His Mexico drive was absolutely superb, and he clearly had the edge on his team mate for much of the year, but otherwise did very little in a car which was sub-standard.

    18. Jolyon Palmer – Often close to Magnussen, sometimes a little bit ahead, but otherwise completely unspectacular. Only really did anything of note when he spun off or hit something.

    19. Daniil Kvyat – If the car wasn’t ruining a race for Kvyat, or someone else wasn’t ruining a race for him, the Russian was often ruining it for himself. Yes, he had a cracking race at Singapore and a few good qualifyings here and there, but he was absolutely thumped by his team mates this year. He needs to come back next year so much stronger if he is to remain within Red Bull’s family.

    20. Jenson Button – Other than his fine weekend in Austria, I really cannot see what Button did which was particularly great this year. He was comprehensively beaten by Alonso, who was mixing with Williams and Force Indias, whilst Button was sometimes stuck around the Renaults and Haas guys.

    21. Felipe Nasr – Scored points at Brazil. Did very little otherwise.

    22. Esteban Ocon – He started his half-season off incredibly slowly, but gradually looked much more comfortable. Started to look like the real deal at a number of events, especially at Brazil.

    23. Rio Haryanto – Sometimes okay on a Saturday. Absolutely nowhere on a Sunday. Hopefully we never have to see him in F1 again.

    24. (N/A) Stoffel Vandoorne – Ranking a driver based on one race is tough, so hence the N/A. Did a super job at Bahrain.


    From back to front:

    23)Haryanto-has no place on the F1 grid on merit


    21)Kvyat-just a terrible season overall. Lucky to have another chance

    20)Palmer-improved in the second half of the season, but all in all I don’t feel he deserved another season

    19)Nasr-disappointing season after a good 2015. Certainly capable of more, but will he have another chance?

    18)Ericsson-improved since 2015, and impressed on a couple of occasions, but nevertheless his place is secure only because of the funding and I don’t see a path up the grid for him.

    17)Massa-I really wanted to rank him higher but I can’t. Was a shadow of his former self most of the season.

    16)Magnussen-didn’t blow Palmer into the weeds as he should’ve done. Certainly Haas is his last chance to impress.

    15)Wehrlein-wasn’t as dominant as predicted against Haryanto. And didn’t destroy mid-season entree Ocon either. Must do more if he wants to land in a top seat one day.

    14)Button-unlike 2015, was nowhere near Alonso’s pace. Probably the right time to retire.

    13)Ocon-raw talent unquestionable, but will have to dig deep to impress against Perez next season.

    12)Grosjean-did a great job for a new team, but constant whining on the radio is probably not the way to deal with problems.

    11)Vettel-I know it’s controversial to leave him out of the top 10, but he was not himself frequently this season, so many mistakes, a loss to KR in the qualifying battle. Not his season.

    10)Hulkenberg-maintained qualifying edge over Perez, however the deficit to Perez in the results has widened and not all of it was bad luck. Probably needed a change of scenery, and a last chance at greatness at Renault.

    9)Bottas-good season for Bottas against a backdrop of a fading team-mate and a fading car competitiveness. Must shake off the good but not great moniker if he’s to move up. Rosberg did so, but can he?

    8)Raikkonen-despite improvement this season I still believe Kimi is capable of more and has to be more aggressive with his approach both on and off the track.

    7)Perez-great at tire management and maximizing his opportunities. He lacks however that last edge of raw speed needed to ascend to true greatness.

    6)Alonso-a great season that proved he’s still as fast as ever. Deserves to get his third WDC before he heads off to WEC, but there are no such concepts in sport.

    5)Sainz-Proved beyond any doubt that he’s a star of the future. Has all the ingredients to be WDC. He might not be as good ultimately as Verstappen but he’s very close.

    4)Rosberg-a worthy WDC, however 3 drivers did better than him this season. His resilience in fighting more talented drivers, proves to all who doubted it, that with hard work you can raise above your limitations.It’s as good an inspiration as any in sport and in life in general.

    3)Verstappen-Exceptional driving talent, but is neither a complete package nor a true sportsman yet.

    2)Hamilton-one of the all time greats, had a great season overall, but had some mistakes and some misfortune that cost him dearly. Had he been on form of the last 4 races all season he would be champion comfortably. That’s why he’s only at 2nd position.

    1)Ricciardo-best overall driver of the season. Has no real weaknesses in his game(apart from a occasional bad start and that disgusting “shoey” thing). Great qualifier, great in battle, great in tire management. A perfect example of a modern F1 driver. If the RBR has a good car next season, anyone who wants to become WDC will have to dig very deep to beat the “honey badger” first.


    A hard year, not only because of the difference between teams but because so many drivers had both good and bad races.
    In reverse order:
    23 Haryanto – Failed to leave a mark

    22 Kvyat – While I can sympathise with the way he was treated he didn’t do much to prove Red Bull wrong after.

    21 Palmer – Not bad but didn’t show anything special

    20.Ericsson – Same

    19 Nasr – impressed occasionally but average overall

    18 Ocon – Some very good performances and clearly fast but hard to compare without a full season

    17 Magnussen – Did what was expected of him but nothing more

    16 Wehrlein – Clearly one to watch with some good races but didn’t beat his teammates by much of a margin

    15 Massa – Didn’t perform at his best but proved he still had it on occasion

    14 Button- performed well but let down by the car and nothing stand out

    13 Gutierrez – always close to a good result but not quite.

    12 Bottas- Beat Massa but did nothing exceptional

    11 Grosjean- An excellent start but faded a bit after

    10 Hulkenberg- Good solid drive this year

    9 Sainz- One to watch for the future, plenty of good races

    8 Perez- Beat his team mate and has proven time and again to be a smart racer, taking advantage of his smooth driving to get the maximum points

    7 Vettel -Several great drives let down by errors and poor strategies

    6 Raikkonen – a return to form with some great racing and qualifying sessions.

    5 Hamilton – Demonstrated again he’s a great driver but made too many mistakes with starts and during races to be ranked higher

    4 Verstappen – Take out a couple of races and he would easily be number 1 but some silly errors and moves let him down

    3 Rosberg – Did everything he needed, including fighting back from last at one point but was let down with 1 or 2 clumsy moves and slow wet races. Had he pushed harder in the last races and got first instead of, understandably, settling for second I would have put him higher.

    2 Alonso- Consistently got more out of his car than I would have expected, showed good defensive and attacking driving

    1 Ricciardo – An excellent season, beaten occasionally by his teammate but always consistent with good results. Not spectacular all the time but when you think back he was always there.


    One of the toughest season to rate the drivers, anyway I’ll start from the Bottom.

    N/A Stoffel Vandoorne He was very impressive in Bahrain, but thats only one race.

    23. Haryanto – I don’t even think he deserve a seat for F1, he gave no fight to Wehrlein

    22. Kvyat – Had an okay to the first 3 races of the season, until Russia and after that we can see why Red Bull kicked him

    21. Ericsson – He had a bad car yes, but still he didn’t show anything impressive

    20. Nasr – Similar to Ericsson, but that 9th place in Brazil at least saved Sauber

    19. Palmer – He had some impressive races, surprisingly showing the way for Magnussen in the 2nd half, but too inconsistent and error prone

    18. Massa – Sad to see him go, but his performance say that he made the right decision to retire

    17. Magnussen – Amazing drive in Russia, other than that nothing special and was caught by Palmer at the end of season

    16. Ocon – He had a great “half’ season and sometimes quicker than Wehrlein, but still to early to judge

    15. Gutierrez – While he score 0 points, he had showed couple of times that he have the speed to beat Grosjean and deserve another shot in F1

    14. Button – Coped well considering the car reliability, but no way near Alonso and faded in the 2nd half of the season

    13. Wehrlein – Very impressive. Brought the Manor where it doesn’t belong including in Austria

    12. Grosjean – Had some extremely impressive weekends, but couldn’t retain his fine form in the opening races

    11. Raikkonen – Outqualified Vettel, but in the race he still not up to it, nevertheless he improved in the 2nd half of the season.

    10. Bottas – Outperforms Massa more comprehensively than the last 2 season, but as the car drops he also dropped in form.

    9. Vettel – He still have the pace, but outqualified by Raikkonen is not really a good thing and he’s been crash prone this season

    8. Hulkenberg – Points wise he’s way behind Perez because retirements shadowed his performance, however in fact he’s so close to Perez

    7. Perez – Slightly better than Hulkenberg and deliver two podiums, was more consistent than ever although he could’ve done a little bit better.

    6. Sainz – Shown the way for Kvyat most of the season, had some great battles and impressive performance, not as good as Verstappen but still a fine wonderkid

    5. Hamilton – He’s been off the form too much this season so he lost the title to Rosberg, and his starts have been problematic, still though I expect him to be back on top form next season

    4.Rosberg – Maybe on track he’s slightly off Hamilton’s pace. But he always capitalise every chance he got and have been growing a lot in mentality this season, a deserved world championship title. Still need to improve wheel to wheel skill though.

    3. Verstappen – He add a completely different color to F1, with his epic defending skills that FIA have to ban. Have been trailing Ricciardo consistently and have a lot of fine performance this season, although he’s still a bit immature sometime. Definitely will be a world champion

    2. Ricciardo – Near excellent season. Has almost no weakness other than outperformed by Verstappen couple of times. Have shown incredible performances throughout the season, Handle things off the track brilliantly as well, I tipped him for the WDC if Red Bull get within 2 tenths of Mercedes next season

    1. Alonso – He seem recaptured his 2012 form, incredible racecraft and once again outperformed his car sometimes. Destroyed Button in the 2nd half of the season and there’s not much he can do to make the season better other than hiccups in Australia and Brazil. Really hope McLaren can find it lost mojo next season and see Alonso shines again.


    I’ll also include my rating on a scale from 1 to 10 to put their relative positions into perspective.

    1. Nico Rosberg – 9 – Deserves the title, regardless of what some say. Delivered, without foul games.
    2. Max Verstappen – 9 – The star of many races, he doesn’t take chances, he makes them.
    3. Fernando Alonso – 8.5 – Top 10 with a McLaren-Honda of this era? 5th twice? Wow!
    4. Daniel Ricciardo – 8.5 – Only Rosberg was more constant, but Daniel was let down too much by team errors.
    5. Sergio Pérez – 8.5 – Punched above his weight more often than not, earned two great podiums.
    6. Pascal Wehrlein – 8 – Beat both of his teammates like they were amateurs. And then some.
    7. Nico Hülkenberg – 8 – German quality all year, got a boost from his Le Mans win.
    8. Carlos Sainz – 8 – Twice a 6th place in a horrible car in the second half of the season!
    9. Valtteri Bottas – 7.5 – Beat Massa as expected and an occasional good result, but no podium.
    10. Romain Grosjean – 7.5 – Very solid season with awesome results in the first few races.
    11. Lewis Hamilton – 7.5 – Still respect him a lot, but uninterested press confs, dirty games, lack of pace in the first half and a lot of bad starts killed his championship, not his one and only technical failure.
    12. Kimi Raikkonen – 7 – A bit in no man’s land with Ferrari just barely able to catch podiums.
    13. Sebastian Vettel – 7 – The only girl on the grid, based on my emotions he would end up 20th, seriously, what are we doing here?
    14. Keving Magnussen – 7 – Most underrated driver maybe, so I feel 14th doesn’t do him justice either.
    15. Felipe Massa – 6.5 – The closer to retirement, the worse his results became.
    16. Jolyon Palmer – 6.5 – Grew into F1, the races and the team. Steadily, but slowly.
    17. Jenson Button – 6.5 – Took the reverse route of Palmer, got worse and even seriously bad at the end.
    18. Esteban Ocon – 6 – The only reason I put him higher than Nasr is because he entered mid-season.
    19. Felipe Nasr – 6 – Awesome guy in person, just middle of the road in performance.
    20. Marcus Ericsson – 5.5 I can think neither positive or negative about him.
    21. Daniil Kvyat – 5 – So much mistakes, it wasn’t the pressure, so maybe the lack thereof?
    22. Esteban Gutiérrez – 4 – The first reason Kvyat doesn’t end up last, overall lacklustre.
    23. Rio Haryanto – 3 – The second reason Kvyat doesn’t end up last. Poor Rio.

    Special mention:
    Stoffel Vandoorne – 8.5 – Based on his single race, he did outstanding. I’m dreaming of a championship fight between McLaren-Honda, Red Bull Racing and Williams in 2017 with at least 5 mega drivers fighting for wins and podiums. To be fair, I have no idea what to expect from Lance Stroll, but Pérez or Wehrlein can always take over mid-season if he turns out to be just another pay driver.

    Drivers that impressed me
    The top 3 in my ranking are also the three drivers who impressed me the most, by far. To start with Nico Rosberg, I didn’t expect him to be able to handle the pressure of a championship lead with such a legend as a teammate, but he delivered again and again. Although at first he didn’t say it, he definitely played it safe the last four races, which was easily seen in the last race where he passed Verstappen with not that much effort when it became “critical” but never made such a move on the even slower Hamilton. He knew there was no such need, he just had to secure 2nd or 3rd. So a very smart and decent won championship, not the most entertaining from his side at times, but the same can be said for many other championship winners.

    Max Verstappen showed the raw talent he has and is. Made easily the most impressive moves of the year, overtook where others were crying they couldn’t overtake at this circuit (Hamilton), redefined physics in the rain in Brazil (quote from Toto Wolff) and pushed Nico Rosberg into his one and only mistake under pressure. I’m not going to compare him to Senna, Schumacher or other greats, Verstappen is Verstappen. Well… not Jos obviously, but you get the point. He is still far away from achieving anything like those legends, he hasn’t even had a pole yet, but if he keeps on growing and has the right equipment under his butt, he’ll definitely get his chance to fight for a championship.

    Fernando Alonso is the last of the drivers who impressed me throughout the year. Like I said above, he got some terrific results with a car that was still left for stranded by the Mercs, RBR and Ferrari. Some tracks were better than other, but he often fought with the best of the cars behind the first 6, which were of course Force India and Williams. And Toro Rosso at the beginning. Beat his teammate like Jenson was driving with a GP2 engine and ultimately never showed the horrific negativity of last season. He is on his way back and if there is one man who I think should win another championship next year, it’s Fernando.

    Drivers that depressed me
    Yeah, I opted out of using the term “drivers that disappointed me” since all of them did every now and then. Rosberg slightly in the last four races, Verstappen in Monaco (shame on you!) and Alonso err… yeah… for not participating in the second race.

    Anyway, there were a few that either pissed me off, drove me crazy, had me hating his guts or all of the above at the same time. The honour for the one person that ticked all of these boxes goes to Sebastian Vettel! If the FIA held a vote for “whiner of the day” he would win it at least half of the races. Everything came out of his mouth this year, from complaining like a baby about being overtaken by Verstappen for the n-th time (“Daddy Arivabene, it’s not fair, he keeps overtaking me but I want to win!”) to not agreeing with the way he was overtaken (“Did you see that mommy Adami, I had to move half a meter from my ideal racing line, that shouldn’t be allowed!”) to outing his frustration at the last person who can actually do something about it (“F*ck you grandpa Whiting, I hate you!”). Alright I know, I’m exaggerating. But just a little bit. I seriously thought after the Mexico GP that Ferrari would need to replace him for the next race, just to put him back to where he belongs (with both feet on the ground and his mouth shut).

    Next up was Lewis Hamilton. It’s just too much for me to sum up, but everything from the cocky attitude in interviews to his philosophical-length pauses after regular questions and even then only replying with something in the line of “I don’t think of stuff like that, I just focus on putting in the results”. Well for someone who waits that long, you spent a lot of time thinking about nothing, don’t you? The phone-related incidents were the least of my concern during the season, but it did show a lack of respect. Honestly, I think he’s trying too hard to find a new identity, something that fits in with his newfound superstar friends like Justin Bieber, Serena Williams and Rita Ora, but it just isn’t the Lewis we all knew and came to love over the last couple of years. All the dodging of questions by not giving an answer at all and finally trying to play mind games with Rosberg before the final race, which ultimately ended up with him so scared of not winning a 4th title he had to resort to stupid hold-up tactics. If you are that desperate, at least be a man, qualify 2nd (or somehow end up on the wrong side of the track for pole… bonus points for whoever knows what I’m referring to) and ram into Rosberg at the first corner with the risk of you both ending the race right there but also a possibility of just eliminating your teammate and you winning the championship. Well not really, only his idol can get away with that unpunished.

    To make it a bit shorter, the final two are Jenson Button and Daniil Kvyat. Jenson for being annoying and cocky ever since he announced his retirement and not delivering a single result since. And Daniil for being such an idiot that he somehow makes it possible to rear-end another car three times in a single season. I’m seriously surprised they’ve kept him on at Toro Rosso. I mean: if Verstappen fails next year, Sainz is the foot behind the door. All I can think of is that Pierre Ghasly could expect to race for RBR in 2018 or 2019 after a year in Toro Rosso, but both Ricciardo and Verstappen have a contract until then and there are other rookies fighting for top spots (Vandoorne, Stroll, Ocon), so they just keep him outside of F1 for now to take it easy. But that’s now what Red Bull is known for.


    I think I’ll let others do the ratings, however, I’ll post a few positive and negative comments of some of the key drivers.

    + Solidified himself in the Ferrari team as the #1 driver (I’m not talking about his performance blowing kimi out of the park, but whenever there was a call from Ferrari on track, it always favored Vettel).
    – His form towards the end of the season was what I would call focused aggression. This doesn’t suit his driving style though and he made a lot of mistakes because of the over hyped aggression. I think he performs better when things are in harmony.

    + Proved to be one of the faster drivers in the season, dominated many races and race weekends.
    – His attitude outside of the car hurt him more than it did Rosberg and I think that ROS ended up winning the championship because he didn’t let Hamilton’s antics get to him.

    + The most consistent driver all year. He may have the best car, but this year he took the championship by winning everything that Lewis couldn’t, and then settling for 2nd when he couldn’t win. Very reminiscent of Prost. I also think that Rosberg showed maturity, and that was able to withstand the grandstanding from Hamilton.
    – He’s not faster than Lewis in a straight fight, but he didn’t need to be.

    + Following in the footsteps of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, essentially upsetting the accepted F1 establishment by pushing the boundaries of good manners. As Schumi and Senna would atest to, being nice doesn’t win championships. Verstappens fierce overtaking and blocking this year was used at the right places and in the right times for his own advantage.
    – He is impetuous, and tends to gamble on making tough moves, which can cause him problems, like it did in Mexico.

    + Incredibly fast and on top of it, consistent… He put the Mannor into Q2 several times this year.
    – Very much a rookie year, with some very big mistakes, like the one in Qualy in Malaysia where he hit a bump in damp conditions and aquaplaned off.

    + Arguably a great season, solid drives, week in and week out. Had a few unlucky moments, like getting taken out at the start of Singapore, but had such solid drives each race weekend.
    – Beaten by Cecco in the WDC.


    1 – Max Verstappen. And yes, I’m taking factors into account. If you consider he absolutely rinsed my 7 ranked driver, and then immediately started regularly besting everyone’s number one pick, at his age and level of experience, how can he not be? Sensation doesn’t begin to cover it. He’ll draw masses to F1 like we haven’t seen since a yellow helmet in a Lotus.

    2- Lewis Hamilton. Still the fastest in F1, I think. Unlucky at times, deserved more, deserved a title too. His emotions block his driving at times. That stops him being number one.

    3 – Daniel Ricciardo. As good as it gets, if sometimes a little lacklustre in the race. Not nearly as consistent as in 2014, regularly beaten in a a car he knew better. Best qualifier in the game though and made that count. Worry he may well be second best next season.

    4 – Nico Rosberg. A deserving world champion. Finally managing to consistently turn poles into wins. Incredibly fast and very good at developing the car. Not a brilliant racer but still was there when it mattered.

    5 – Nico Hulkenburg. Incredibly underrated because of Perez, Hulkenburg was better this season. Next year, with normally degrading tyres he’d have beaten him soundly. Great qualifier and consistent racer.

    6 – Kimi. My favourite driver did himself no shame this season. Impressive stuff and probably should have won Barcelona. Vettel was not at his amazing 2015 best but Kimi really pegged him this year. Hope it continues.

    7 – Carlos Sainz. Soundly beaten by Verstappen and tailed off badly at the end of the season, but still showed a great amount of promise and skill during the European part of the season. Future race winner.

    8 – Sebastian Vettel. Best driver last year, this year his frustrations showed on the track. Whining hypocrite and not beating Kimi dominantly. Final race of the season was brilliant again though so hope that fire still burns.

    9 – Sergio Perez. Big benefits from the degrading tyres, on pace was second-best to Hulkenburg. Still a future race winner and strong driver.

    10 – Fernando Alonso. Very difficult to gauge how good the McLaren actually was so can’t place him too highly. Outdrove the car at times, still one of the very best.

    11 – Valterri Bottas. Had an off colour season. Not showed himself enough due to the car but also rarely outdrove it.

    12 – Pascal Wehrlein. Never really rated him but his Q2 performances have been brilliant. Ocon had his number in the races though I reckon.

    13 – Joleon Palmer. Never rated him at all and felt vindicated during the first part of the season. The way he improved was very impressive. Kudos

    14 – Romain Grosjean. Got points when he could. Didn’t impress me enough vs Guttierez on pace.

    15 – Jenson Button. Final season blues.

    16 – Esteban Ocon. Probably the biggest talent outside of Verstappen but didn’t really (get to) show it in the Manor. Hope he shows it next to Perez next season.

    17 – Daniil Kvyat. Beat Ricciardo last season. Terrible at the start of this one. Just too inconsistent and mentally unready. Still very fast and by the end regularly ahead of Sainz. Glad he’s been given another chance.

    18 – Esteban Guttierez. Quali pace impressive. I for one hope he isn’t lost to F1 yet.

    19 – Kevin Magnussen. Never thought he deserved a McLaren seat but he did show potential. Didn’t this season. Poor.

    20 – Felipe Massa. See Jenson Button. Glad he’s going.

    21 – Marcus Ericsson. Beat his teammate in everything but points. Improved.

    22 – Felipe Nasr. Poor.

    23 – Ryo Haryanto. Bye.


    1. Daniel Ricciardo – He gets my vote because whenever you looked at who was the nearest challenger to the two Mercedes drivers, invariably it was Danny Ric. He put in some blinding performances, Monaco and his dogged defence of the lead in Malaysia being the highlights. That said, he could have had a stronger run in.

    2. Lewis Hamilton – If a driver’s first reference is his team mate then more wins and more poles should put you ahead of him in a ranking like this. Did all he could to win the title and fell short, partly because of reliability but also partly because of his failure to get on top of the W07’s temperamental starting procedure. If he had just lost the title because of reliability, he would be my number 1, but he didn’t, so he isn’t. Clearly the faster of the two Mercedes drivers.

    3. Max Verstappen – A breakthrough season. The win in Spain was equal parts good fortune and well earned, and he seemed to keep reeling off the performances. Marked down for the manner he defends, which is very slightly on the wrong side of the limit for me. A virtuoso drive in Sao Paulo was his highlight of the season.

    4. Sergio Perez – Whenever Force India have a sniff of a podium it is Perez who seems to grab it. He was super this season. Fantastically quick and consistent.

    5. Fernando Alonso – Dragging the best out of recalcitrant machinery seems to be the defining feature of his career. Another fantastic year.

    6. Nico Rosberg – Did all he had to do to win the title, but he won fewer races and took fewer poles than his team mate. He also still hasn’t really proven to be top tier in wheel to wheel combat as we saw from Austria and Germany. Still, by far his best season.

    7. Carlos Sainz – Did an amazing job with the aging Ferrari engine in the back of his car. Routed Kvyat once the two were paired together and he put in some tremendous drives, notably Spain, Austin and Interlagos.

    8. Nico Hulkenberg – Proved he is still quick enough to justify his reputation, but luck never seemed to be on his side. Still no podium…he’s better than that.

    9. Pascal Wehrlein – Scored points for Manor…that is a massive achievement. He also managed to creep into Q2 on numerous occasions. The guy is clearly quick, I hope he doesn’t take the Force India snub too hard and manages to have a solid second season.

    10. Kimi Raikkonen – Outscored and outqualified a misfiring Vettel. But you still get the impression he has lost a few tenths and is only hanging onto his seat because (a) having him sells merchandise, (b) because he gets on with Vettel and (most importantly) (c) because he doesn’t destabilise the team.

    11. Sebastian Vettel – Waaaaay below par. Almost as bad as 2014 at times. Probably letting his frustration at Ferrari not being quick enough again get to him.

    12. Valtteri Bottas – Comprehensively had the beating of Massa, but this was a disappointing year for a driver who undoubtedly has race wins in him. Needs to leave if Williams fail to produce a competitive car next season.

    13. Romain Grosjean – He was a revelation early on in the season but he seemed to let the various issues he was having with the car get the better of him. At times he was roundly beaten by Gutierrez…oh dear. Because of that, he drops behind Bottas in my list.

    14. Kevin Magnussen – Did all he could with the recalcitrant RS16. Shaded Palmer early in the season and then seemed to falter when Palmer got into his stride. Deserves to be further up the grid.

    15. Jenson Button – Soundly beaten by Alonso. Lost the edge late in the season, sad end to a great career, thanks for the memories Jenson. I’m sad I’ll never get to hear anyone complain of “massive understeer” or “front locking” as passionately as you did over the years.

    16. Esteban Ocon – Did as well as could be expected having been parachuted into a car he hadn’t driven, kept Wehrlein more than honest. Fantastic in the wet at Interlagos.

    17. Daniil Kvyat. Poor Dani. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. He’ll come back stronger next season, he is genuinely quick so he is deserving of his seat.

    18. Felipe Massa – It seemed like Massa was calling it in for most of the season. Struggling to think of any highs. Which is a shame because he’s had a great career and he is a true gentleman.

    19. Jolyon Palmer – Don’t think he is quick enough to justify his seat to be honest. Should struggle against Hukenberg.

    20. Marcus Ericsson – I am genuinely amazed that he has a seat for next season…even if he does have connections to Longbow. he’s improved, but he isn’t F1 material. He’s had his chance and it is time for someone else to get theirs.

    21. Felipe Nasr – Outperformed by Ericsson…hence the lowly ranking. Sauber owe him about $15 million for his drive at Interlagos, which may be enough to save him. Still has potential though.

    22. Esteban Gutierrez – You could take my review for Ericsson and copy and paste it here.

    23. Stoffel Vandoorne – The biggest talent outside of Verstappen and Ocon. Cannot wait to see how he compares to Alonso. Fantastic drive in Bahrain and by all accounts it was his feedback that helped McLaren unlock performance from the car, so clearly has the mechanical sympathy needed to succeed in F1.

    24. Rio Haryanto – Poor Rio, he gave it a good go and kept Wehrlein honest on more than one occasion. More often than not was thoroughly out of his depth.

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