Your verdict on the best F1 drivers of 2017

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    Surprised so many people are ranking Ocon above Perez, some by quite a margin, considering Perez was the leading Force India for almost twice as many laps. I was impressed by his speed and consistency, but I didn’t see enough racecraft from him to consider him ‘the next big thing’. It’s interesting that while Verstappen is constantly being criticized for being involved in racing incidents, nobody comments when it happens to Ocon.

    Having said that, I do think Perez was responsible for the Spa crash, and brought the Baku crash upon himself by his selfish actions in Montreal.

    I don’t have time to do a full list right now, but I think the Force India drivers would be around the bottom end of the top ten for me.

    Ben Needham

    @george – indeed. I think by the end of the year they were too close to split, but I gave Ocon the edge simply because I think Perez’s attitude in Canada in particular cost them a podium finish. Ocon perhaps ruined a 1-2 in Baku which you could argue is far worse, but that was an accident while racing. Disobeying a team order for the sake of defiantly finishing ahead of his team-mate was childish by Perez. I think Ocon does now just about have the edge, but it’s incredibly close.


    All in all, based on what they could have done and actually managed to do, without external influences:

    1. Hülkenberg
    Almost always on top of his game, very unlucky with material; Baku was a shame. But he would really go for the title in a good car.
    2. Hamilton
    People forget his inconsistency in the first half of the season, since he was brilliant in the second half. A deserved champion, but surely not a flawless campaign. If we only look to the first 7 races, far from it.
    3. Vettel
    Usually great every weekend. Even in Baku he was great, dispite his error. Rarely he didn’t get the best out of the car. I wouldn’t blame him for Singapore. All in all, more consistent in form than Hamilton, but the peaks were less high.
    4. Verstappen
    Very, very fast. He continues to remind me of the young Schumacher, in so many ways. Probably the fastest driver out there, but not quite consistent enough.
    5. Alonso
    Dispite his constant moaning and sarcasm, still a great driver trying to get everything out of the car. The self promotion he is known for still anoys the hell out of me, but oh man, what a driver.
    6. Ocon
    Great job in the duel against Perez, who I rate highly. Too many incidents early in the season, but I would blame Perez for more of them, thats the difference between them, for me, in this ranking.
    7. Perez
    Another really good season for Sergio, who I guess still dreams of being WDC. He might have what it takes, but Ocon has proven to be a big obstacle.
    8. Ricciardo
    Master in getting the most out of any situation, really smart – and just a cool guy. But simply not as fast as Verstappen.
    9. Sainz
    Solid job in terms of races, could improve still in quali. Thats what he needs to become a top driver. Let’s see if he can challenge the Hulk.
    10. Vandoorne
    Constant improving during the season, a great end to it. Could he still be a WDC candidate of the future, or will the LeClercs and Ocons pass him in that respect? Next season will be very interesting.

    Massa looked better than he actually was because of Stroll’s shortcomings most of the season, Raikkonen was average at best and shouldn’t be in a Top Team. Bottas had too long of a bad (really bad) spell to be in the Top 10, Grosjean and KMag had too many incidents (avoidable ones). Wehrlein did more or less as much as he could and I would put him in 11th, ahead of Bottas. He could have humiliated Eriksson even more in the races, I guess. All in all, a very strong grid this year.

    Diez Cilindros

    PART 2:

    #10 Felipe Massa (2,00/4): in the last races of 2016, Felipe acted as a retired driver: his performances were so low that we were afraid about his level in 2017. But Massa came back strong, performed as a team leader and ultimately helped Williams finish P5. In mid-year Stroll started to catch him in race pace, but his announcement of “actual” retirement gave him the boost to perform his last great race in Brazil. Good luck wherever you go, Felipe.

    #7= Daniel Ricciardo (2,05/4): we have to speak frankly: Daniel Ricciardo was utterly beaten by Max Verstappen in terms of raw talent and pure speed. But you look at the final standings and you see Daniel ahead of Max. Why? It’s true: Ricciardo had very good luck during two thirds of the championship. Max retired a lot of races being ahead of Dan, and then the Australian got a podium or even a win, as in Baku. But it wasn’t only luck: Ricciardo is one of the best overtakers. His comebacks in Monza and Interlagos were beautiful, and his late braking manouevre is almost indefensible. “A man of Sundays”.

    #7= Esteban Ocon (2,05/4): the man who beated Max Verstappen in F3, Esteban Ocon has shown his very special ability through the corners: his steering input is the lowest of the whole grid, but he’s still able to carry a lot of speed at the apex without any cost in degradation. In the future we’ll see if he develops as Max (perfect inputs in every phase of the corner) or Lewis (unbelievable control and sync between brake and wheel), but he’s very promising. And his mental approach keeps mistakes away: only the crash in Baku was entirely his fault. We’ll keep an eye on the #31.

    #7= Carlos Sainz (2,05/4): Carlos Sainz jumped into a new level in Spain 2016, when Verstappen moved up. The Spaniard then discovered his race pace and combined it with the usual pure speed in qualifying. But at the beginning of 2017, he came back to 2015: stupid mistakes (those crashes with Stroll in Bahrain and Grosjean in Canada…). Anyway, that accidente with Kvyat in Britain woke him up: he was the leader of Toro Rosso and needed to improve his game in order to leave the team and progress through his career. And from Hungary onwards, he drove at top-5 level. The STR12 was an average chassis with a bad engine, and P4 in Singapore was stellar. His debut in Austin with Renault just was the beginning of an interesting duel with Hülkenberg.

    #6 Sergio Pérez (2,10/4): the way Sergio Pérez scored that immense haul of points in the first part of the season, when the VJM10 wasn’t a Q3 car, was simply perfect: Pérez was “the best of the rest” and deserved a top seat. But Räikkönen was secured one more year, Ocon started to qualify within a tenth… and Checo’s star slightly faded. September and October seemed to be the beginning of a new status in Force India, but the Mexican recovered well in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. His intra-team battle will be one of the best in 2018, but sadly for him that top seat is farther than ever before.

    #5 Nico Hülkenberg (2,15/4): rock-solid during almost all the year, Nico Hülkenberg finished P10 in the standings despite the horrific reliability and a Q2 car during the first half of the season. That’s a very good performance. Destroying Palmer helped him in my points system, and some superb qualifyings ruined by the engine also were considered. But that crash in Azerbaijan, when that infamous maiden podium was possible, unveiled his weakness: he will hardly be as consistent as a fight for the title requires.

    #4 Fernando Alonso (2,16/4): if he’s driving like this in a demotivating car, what can he achieve if the fire comes back? Even without the gleam in his eye, Alonso is doing an unbelievable job. Allegedly weak in qualifying, Fernando performed excellent Saturdays (Spain!), beating Vandoorne 15-3. His raceraft is still superb and there are no signs of decline. It will be fascinating to see him fighting for podiums in 2018.

    #2= Sebastian Vettel (2,35/4): rear grip increase in 2017 would suit his driving style. We knew that, and track confirmed it: Sebastian Vettel was again an elite driver after an average 2016. He destroyed Kimi as in 2015, and as Alonso did in 2014. But winning in 2017 required to be in an extraordinary level with Lewis Hamilton, and the pressure caused some mistakes. Singapore was mainly bad luck, but in Mexico he was outclassed at the start, his main weak point. Michael Schumacher also was imperfect under pressure: he preferred to master every other aspect for preventing the pressure from appearing. A tactic Seb could use in the future (and is currently using, with a #2 driver in the other car) if he wanna beat Lewis.

    #2= Max Verstappen (2,35/4): Max is the man. What a talent he is. His driving technique is perfect: every input seems nice, the apex speed is awesome, the traction is good… he seems to find the edge and live in it easier than the rest of the grid. This is real quality. But not only he is an ace in technical terms: his passion and racecraft engage the fans and starts to influence the stewards. Max is starting to be very big. But he’s not perfect: when Ricciardo makes an stunning overtake (Räikkönen, Monza), Max struggles to make it stick (Massa, same place) and collides. Nevertheless, 2017 puts him into the top level, ahead of Ricciardo. Being only 20, how much can he improve?

    #1 Lewis Hamilton (2,5/4): for the fourth time in a row, Hamilton was the best driver on the grid. His pure speed in qualifying is yet to be improved by anyone: Canada, Britain and that awesome pole in Italy were some of the best laps of the decade. He can drive on the edge with an outstanding perfection, using the decreasing brake and the increasing steering for making the rear into the corners without losing any time and generating enough heat for using a hard compound (last stint in Spa). There were more low races than expected (Russia, Monaco, Austria), but the rest of the time he was miles ahead of Valtteri and beated Vettel fair and square. After clinching the title, he slowed a bit, but that won’t be a worry in Australia 2018. He’ll be the man to beat.


    1. Hülkenberg
    Almost always on top of his game, very unlucky with material; Baku was a shame. But he would really go for the title in a good car.

    I like you @magon4.


    Have been reading this blog for quite some time now and enjoying it a lot. Please see below my first contribution to the blog (turning out to be slightly longer than originally anticipated).

    The drivers with less than 5 starts I have not taken into account below. However, in short: Gasly and Hartley have been decent so far (can only really judge next year, when they have become more acquainted to the cars); Button in Monaco, qualifying good and the race not so; DiResta did well, considering the lack of preparation; Giovinazzi did well in Australia, China was tough for him but hope to see him in a full time F1 seat in the future.

    Below my ranking of the 20 drivers with more than 5 race starts this season:

    Well-deserved WDC. Is the only driver currently on the grid who, when push comes to shove, is able to do an extra step resulting in weekends he completely dominates (from FP1 to the race on Sunday). Following the win of the title, he has not won anymore but rest assured he will be the number one title contendent again in 2018.

    Too many DNF’s to contend for the top positions in the WDC, but when the car was good, he was great. He showed maturity beyond his years in dealing on issues with his car, seemingly coming back stronger after every troublesome weekend. Verstappen made a serious leap in 2017 from 2016, can he make a similar one into next season?

    3: VETTEL
    After a poor 2016 campaign, I was not convinced Ferrari (and Vettel) would be as good as they were this season. Their start of the season was great, but gradually Hamilton and Mercedes proved to be the better combination – it did of course not help Vettel shooting himself in the foot twice, although I believe without the Baku and Singapore collisions Hamilton would have won nevertheless. Vettel’s overtake on Bottas in Spain was probably my favourite of the season.

    4: ALONSO

    Another great year from Alonso, getting his car into places it should not be. Very curious how the McLaren-Renault car will do next year.

    Possibly the best overtaker on the current grid, with his move on Raikkonen into the first chicane at Monza coming to mind as a highlight (I was on the stand at the chicane on that day, so I am possibly not completely unbiased here). Had a run of bad luck at the end of the season, but got the results when he could (9 podiums on 14 finishes is impressive).

    6: OCON
    Very impressed by Ocon’s first full year in F1. Had not expected Ocon to be so close to an established, experienced and (very) fast team mate as Perez.

    Good first year for The Hulk at Renault, getting the most out of the car. Also, it proves that to develop as a racing team you need first class drivers (see where Renault is now compared to last year) – which Hulkenberg is and the last year’s line-up was not. Too bad his only real driver error (in Baku), prevented him from getting his first podium.

    8: PEREZ
    Scored more points than Ocon, but with a smaller gap than I had expected. Had a couple of silly moments in the season and was outscored by his younger team mate as the season went on. Nevertheless, very fast race driver and a big fan of his fighting spirit (although the Spa shenanigans with his team mate were a bit much).

    9: SAINZ
    Can be absolutely world class on the day (Singapore this year comes to mind), but has too many poor days (Bahrain, Canada and Japan) to justify a higher ranking. Looking forward to the Sainz-Hulkenberg battle for 2018, to see who triumphs there.

    Had a poor start of the year (possibly due to lack of pre-season running in Barcelona), but improved significantly as the season progressed. Towards the end of the season he was getting quite close to Alonso’s performances, which is something given Alonso I believe is still one of the best and Vandoorne being a rookie.

    11: BOTTAS
    Impressive in the first half of the season; after the summer not so much. The win in Bahrain will do him good for the upcoming season, but cannot help to think that having Bottas in this car is wasting a fantastic seat – imagine Alonso, Ricciardo or Verstappen in this seat and the possible impact on the WDC.

    12: MASSA
    A respectable final season for Massa and a vast improvement compared to 2016. Given who are being seriously considered to replace Massa at Williams for next season, I believe hanging on to Massa another year would not have been a bad decision – not the fastest anymore, but capable of doing a fine job.

    The number two driver at Ferrari and not necessarily a solid one, more so even than in the 2016 season. Of the top six cars, Raikkonen’s number 7 is usually the slowest which says a lot given what Vettel is able to achieve with the same car.

    14: GROSJEAN
    Slightly better than a decent year for Grosjean. He scored most of the points for Haas (28 of their 47) and had a couple of good races; if I were Grosjean I would however have a chat with FOM, as he is not being portrayed for what he is (a good and fast racing driver) but as a serial moaner on the broadcasted driver briefings and radio transmissions. I do wonder what he would be capable of in a car higher up the grid?

    Decent year by Magnussen. He got involved in a couple controversies, with the stick he got was somewhat exaggerated at times I thought. I like racing drivers who fight for positions, bordering the rules to what is allowed or not and Magnussen is one of these drivers. His overtake into turn 1 in Japan on Massa showed this fighting spirit.

    16: WEHRLEIN
    Had a couple of good races, with the points scoring race in Spain as a standout. I expected him to outperform Ericsson significantly but that was not to be – probably without a seat next year in F1, but do believe we have not seen the last of Wehrlein as he is definitely talented.

    17: ERICSSON
    Not the best driver on the grid, but I guess we should be happy he is on the grid as we might not have had Sauber anymore without the Swedish backing he brings (indirectly). Was outperformed by Wehrlein, but not by much.

    18: STROLL
    After a poor start of the season, I thought his decent results in Canada and Baku would kick start his season. It turned out this was not the case: as the season progressed his form plummeted again and he was easily outshone by Massa, who in all honesty is also not a driver at his peak. I seriously worry for Williams next year.

    19: KVYAT
    Kyvat 4 – Sainz 48. This stat alone says enough that dropping Kvyat was justified.

    20: PALMER
    Comes across as a nice bloke, but is just not such a good F1 racing driver. He had some bad luck (but looking back, nearly every driver has their fair share during a season), but even so was never close to challenge Hulkenberg.

    Diez Cilindros

    Last year I was marking every driver’s performance after every race: 0 for “disastrous”, 1 for “bad”, 2 for “OK”, 3 for “nice” and 4 for “excellent” (“5” for “legendary”, but no single performance deserved that mark in 2017). Let’s do the same this year:

    PART 1

    (Pierre Gasly, Paul di Resta, Brendon Hartley and Antonio Giovinazzi are all excluded because of their few appearances)

    #20 Jolyon Palmer (1.56/4): what an awful season, Jo! Palmer’s performances teaches us that winning GP2 is meaningless if you do it in your 4th season, as Davide Valsecchi or Fabio Leimer. His second half of 2016 barely justified the new contract, and being beated by Hülkenberg was anything but unexpected. Even so, the way Nico destroyed him was disappointing. His overaggressive and erratic driving style caused a lot of accidents (Russia Q1 was embarrasing) and ultimately he was slow. Jo was the worst driver of the season.

    #18= Stoffel Vandoorne (1.60/4): his first full season in F1 should have been competitive because of his massive experience in lower categories. But 2017 cars were definitely tough for rookies, and Stoffel struggled. We all expected that in last races he should be near Fernando Alonso (never ahead; Alonso is still too good), and we saw it in Malaysia. But ultimately Sepang was the outlier: it was the only time Vandoorne was close to Fernando. And even for a rookie, it was disappointing. Still a lot to improve in 2018.

    #18= Kimi Räikkönen (1.60/4): he has a lot of fans, but Kimi Räikkönen’s 2017 season has been very poor. 5-15 in qualy, 2-13 in races where both Seb and him finished, 1-4 in poles, 0-5 in wins, 7-13 in podiums… Kimi scored at a similar rate than in 2016, and it’s obvious that SF70H was way better than his predecessor. In other words, Räikkönen canceled the work made by Maranello during a whole year. You can see that his driving is suboptimal: carrying a lot of steering at the apex penalizes his traction. He can’t live on the edge as the top tier. His time passed.

    #17 Daniil Kvyat (1.67/4): in the first races, Kvyat was performing close to Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard was the one causing accidents and Daniil was close in qualifying. But from Austria onwards, 2016 Kvyat’s poor version was back. Stupid incidents, specially at the start of the races, lack of pace and that absurd crash with the wall in Singapore when the team needed the points. As aggressive as Palmer, the Russian spent 4 years in F1 without shading even a bit his approach. No one was surprised when he was ultimately sacked.

    #16 Valtteri Bottas (1,70/4): OK, he is a victim of my points system, but this is the same for everybody. After initial struggles, he was a real title contender from Russia to Hungary, scoring good wins and a nice strike of podiums. But after the summer, he suddenly disappeared. Even worse, Hamilton shone at his best level of the year and that made the difference between Lewis an Valtteri inadmissibly big. 5 races in a row with binary marks (1/0/1/0/1) threw him down the order. Good news? He discovered the places when he can beat Lewis: flat tracks, 90-degree corners, smooth surfaces. Bad news?he needs to improve in the rest of fields.

    #15 Kevin Magnussen (1,75/4): his non-so-positive 2014 with McLaren maybe wasn’t enough to sentence him. His second year in Renault, and rumours about his poor teamwork, started to make it clear. And third time lucky: indeed, Kevin Magnussen won’t be a Grand Prix winner. His strength was qualifying, and he seems to have lost his mojo in Saturday (3 years without being in Q3). He has improved a bit in bringing points home, but overall he performed worse than Grosjean, and the French isn’t the next big thing either. Add some bits of dirty wheel-to-wheel racing, and the cocktail is clearly demotivational.

    #14 Lance Stroll (1,80/4): if he was as consolidated as Kevin or Kimi, his qualifying pace would be considered disastrous. But hell, he is only 19yo and he’s in his first season: you shouldn’t bury a driver’s reputation in his rookie year. And after a particularly disastrous beginning, he started to be in the right places for scoring points on Sundays. Baku was not only fortunate, but also great, but for 2018 we expect more consistency and much more raw speed.

    #12= Marcus Ericsson (1,85/4): we all thought that Ericsson would be destroyed by Pascal Wehrlein, but the Swedish driver managed to stay close to his pace. And in the last races, when Sauber eventually understood the car and the tyres, he was quick, close to Q2 in USA and Mexico. But the main problem with Marcus is that he’s totally the opposite to spectacular. Nobody can remember a good race performed by him. Ultimately, it was Nasr and Wehrlein who scored the points, and he remained in the shadows. When his time arrives, nobody will remember him because he’s not even as bad as Winkelhock or Ide.

    #12= Romain Grosjean (1,85/4): step by step, as Sergio Pérez, Grosjean is getting away from that drive at Ferrari. Moving into Haas wasn’t as a good step as he expected, and now Romain is very far from the podium places he used to visit in 2012/2013. And, what is worse, he’s starting to fade. His driving style, very brake-dependant, is causing him a lot of troubles, and his label of “whining driver” is sadly attached to him. He’s 31yo, and now it’s just too late for him. Anyway, he’s good enough for beating Magnussen.

    #11 Pascal Wehrlein (1,94/4): after his absurd crash in RoC, we feared that Giovinazzi could make an impression and make Wehrlein’s career even shorter than it now appears. But Pascal came back with an extraordinary race in Bahrain and a superb show in Barcelona, and we were confident. In 2016, we saw that the #94 had a good talent. But this is not enough in F1: his devotion seems very weak. He doesn’t seem to give everything for being in the sport. Allegedly a bad team player, Pascal only shone when the car was decent; the rest of the time, an average driver like Ericsson was too close. And it’s not enough.


    A bit late but…

    1. Hamilton. Don’t like him particularly but it was impressive how he stepped up after the summer break.
    2. Alonso. Comfortably beat a very good teammate and dragged the Mclaren to seemingly impossible heights.
    3. Sainz. Controversial choice yes, but he punched far above his weight in the Toro Rosso. I think he could win a race next year.
    4. Verstappen. Much better than Ricciardo if you look closely, but some of his drives from the back were massively overrated given the advantage the top 3 teams have.
    5. Vettel. Mostly very good, but did himself a lot of harm with some stupid incidents.
    6. Perez. The fact that Ocon doesn’t have as much experience shouldn’t disguise the fact that Perez was still the superior of the two. Possibly denied a win in Baku by his teammate’s clumsiness. I think he’ll increase his advantage next year.
    7. Ocon. Good, but not quite as good as everyone seems to be saying. The jury’s still out on his star potential in my opinion.
    8. Ricciardo. The season looks good on paper but on closer examination he should be worried.
    9. Massa. Destroyed Stroll in qualifying.
    10. Hulkenberg. I’ve always thought he’s overrated and this season is no different. Looked good against a very poor driver in Palmer but as soon as Sainz turned up he was on his pace. If I was Nico I’d be worried about next season.
    11. Raikkonen. Slightly unlucky in that he had to play second fiddle to Vettel but if he’d been competitive enough, then he wouldn’t have had to.
    12. Vandoorne. Overcame a difficult start in a poor car against probably the best driver on the grid to put in some fine showings later in the year.
    13. Bottas. Decent at times but very poor after the summer break. Not combative enough and a very uninspiring appointment by Mercedes.
    14. Wehrlein. Had some fine performances but Ericsson was a little close for comfort.
    15. Magnussen. Inconsistent but also unlucky when compared to Grosjean.
    16. Grosjean. Occasional good performances but a lot of moaning and his biggest haul came on a weekend when Magnussen was quicker but stymied by mechanical trouble.
    17. Ericsson. Not as bad as everyone says, but not great either. Every year people predict he’s going to get destroyed, but he’s always been competitive. Got to respect him for that I suppose.
    18. Stroll. Some great performances but abysmal in qualifying. Whoever gets the Williams seat won’t be too worried about facing him I don’t think.
    19. Kvyat. Okay in qualifying but nowhere in the races. I would like to see him back at some point because he has genuine talent, but got destroyed by Red Bull.
    20. Palmer. Awful.


    The five best drivers were : Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Alonso

    – Vettel : I think it is very difficult to judge him this year. He did a very decent job in the first half of the year with adopting the new regulations, doing consistent strong performance while others (including Kimi, Hamilton, Bottas) were tended to suffer. I think that was a legendary performance from him (and from the team as they worked together). He also had nice moves on the track, amazing overtakes. Until Baku, he was the best I think, then Baku was unnecesary and Malaysia last lap was a mistake also, though Singapure was more like a fail on the team side (and-or Kimi) as I see. He was unlucky and did some mistakes but maybe this was the Best Vettel we have ever seen.

    – Hamilton : Did a decent job of course, I think he proved a very professional performance, always stayed cool. In the second half of the year he dominated his new teammate (and the champoinship). After they had a better understanding on the car and on the new regulations with the team, and with the developments of the car Hamilton was unbeatable. In the first half Bottas was fairly close to him as he was new in the team, comparing to Hamilton’s 4 years experiences which shows that Hamilton wasn’t perfect neither. He was in a more comfortable situation than his main rival. When it was needed, he proved, that was his job this year.

    – Verstappen : I think he showed a stunning performace in general, even if we are talking about qualifying or races. He is the man why it’s worth watching the boring races as well, like Schumacher 20 yrs ago. There were some mistakes here and there (in Italy), sometimes I felt that he is still young and he is still not as complete as some others, but he is on the way with no questions. He had a tough season which could have a good effect on his development. Maybe he is the biggest talent of our time.

    – Ricciardo : He did a very good job, some unbelievable overtakes. He was also very professional on controlling his races. Though his teammate caused headaches for him, he is still very stable mentally and still doing an amazing job. He is still able to answer to Verstappen and he is a very tough driver to beat. One the best and most completed drivers of our time and I think he is able to push his limits time to time.

    – Alonso : Despite of the package he has, he is still able to prove and to get the out the maximum of it. He did a great job this year once again. If he had just a little bit better car, races would be super exicting because of watching him. Will see next year. He is still on the top, maybe better than ever.

    – Sainz, Ocon, Perez, Hulkenberg were doing a consistent great performance.

    +1 Vandorne : I think considering the extra difficulty level he was facing with this year, as a rocky he did a fairly good job. In a car like this year McLaren, the driver experience counts much more. His first year situation is very different to Sainz’s, Max’s.

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