Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Melbourne, 2012

2012 half-term driver rankings part one: 24-11

2012 F1 season

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Which drivers have excelled so far in 2012? The F1 Fanatic half-term driver rankings start here.

This is my rating of how each of the drivers have performed this year.

F1 Fanatic readers were invited to share their own views on each of the drivers and a selection of those appear below.

24. Narain Karthikeyan

Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, Hockenheim, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 0/11
Beat team mate in race 0/6
Races finished 7/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate 67/437

The statistics speak for themselves: Karthikeyan has been consistently beaten by team mate de la Rosa.

He did finish ahead on the road in Malaysia, after de la Rosa had picked up a drive-through penalty, but Karthikeyan later received a penalty of his own and dropped back behind in the final classification.

He’s qualified eight-tenths of a second slower than de la Rosa on average. It’s reasonable to question whether HRT are equipped to provide two cars of similar performance – only Karthikeyan’s had to have extra cooling holes cut in it in Hungary. But this is about the most that can be said to explain away the substantial gap in performance between the two.

Not one of the best 24 drivers in the world. Probably not one of the best 100. I don?t expect much.

Narain Karthikeyan 2012 form guide

23. Vitaly Petrov

Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, Valencia, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 2/11
Beat team mate in race 5/8
Races finished 8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 229/536

Petrov’s switch to Caterham was confirmed so late the team had already run Jarno Trulli during testing. He’s settled into the team since then and has fared better against Kovalainen then Trulli did, though that isn’t saying much.

Petrov has placed ahead of Kovalainen in races where both have finished, but Kovalainen seems to have bore the brunt of the team’s reliability problems. In qualifying, Petrov has been no match for him.

Anonymous in the Caterham, has done little to trouble Kovalainen, but could have got a point in Valencia.

Vitaly Petrov 2012 form guide

22. Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Melbourne, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 0/11
Beat team mate in race 0/10
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 15/672

At his best, Massa does an acceptable job as a number two driver, finishing within seven seconds of Alonso in Bahrain, Britain and Monaco. But these days are becoming all too rare.

He spun away a chance of a good result in Canada, and in both Spanish races the only cars behind him belonged to Caterham, HRT and Marussia. It was hoped a change of chassis would improve his performance in Malaysia – he finished a minute and a half behind his team mate.

With a dismal 15% of Alonso’s points haul so far, the question should not be whether Ferrari will replace Massa, but why they haven’t already.

The form is slowly coming back but he is being decimated by Alonso. If he doesn?t lose his seat at the end of the year I?ll eat my hat.

Felipe Massa 2012 form guide

21. Jean-Eric Vergne

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Sepang, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 2/11
Beat team mate in race 4/9
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 321/638

Vergne gave Ricciardo a run for his money in the opening races of the year. His sole points finish came in Malaysia, where he bravely stay on intermediates until the rain fell hard enough to bring the safety car out.

But he’s struggled in qualifying, often not making it out of Q3, and was beaten by both Caterhams in Canada. His collision with Kovalainen during the European Grand Prix was completely unnecessary.

Can?t seem to qualify well at all. Granted this year’s Toro Rosso is a dog of a car, but the difference between him and Ricciardo in qualifying are night and day. Vergne typically does better on race day, but hasn?t shown much potential beyond gaining a few places from a miserable start. Maybe with more Malaysia-like conditions he?ll achieve more, but probably not.
Matt (@AgentMulder)

Jean-Eric Vergne 2012 form guide

20. Charles Pic

Charles Pic, Marussia, Mugello, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 4/10
Beat team mate in race 2/6
Races finished 8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 214/522

Given his lack of pre-season testing, Pic has driven very well in his first season of F1 so far. He’s out-qualified and out-raced Glock in the last two races.

The two rookies who occupied his seat before him both lost their drives after a single season. So far Pic looks capable of bucking that trend.

Doing rather well, has been outperforming Glock lately and seems to be a rather quick, reliable newcomer. The Marussia makes it somewhat harder to judge, but I think the guy has potential.
Nick (@Npf1)

Charles Pic 2012 form guide

19. Timo Glock

Timo Glock, Marussia, Barcelona, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 6/10
Beat team mate in race 4/6
Races finished 9/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate 308/522

Is the grind of being at the back of the grid finally starting to wear Glock down after two-and-a-half years of it?

Glock has jumped at his rare chances to impress – holding off Kovalainen in Malaysia and almost dragging the Marussia into Q2 in the wet qualifying session at Silverstone.

But the rest of the time he seems increasingly frustrated by his car and his situation.

For someone who has been in F1 for as long as he has, he barely betters his younger and inexperienced teammate and has struggled to take the fight to the Caterhams, let alone take the Marussia up the grid.

Timo Glock 2012 form guide

18. Pedro de la Rosa

Pedro de la Rosa, HRT, Barcelona, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 11/11
Beat team mate in race 6/6
Races finished 8/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate 370/437

De la Rosa went into the first qualifying session the year having completed a total of 13 laps in the F112. Nonetheless he out-qualified his team mate and has continued to since then.

He’s taken the fight to Marussia when the opportunity has presented itself. It’s hard to ask much more of a driver in the worst car in the field.

Doing what is expected of him, seems to be carrying HRT and is dominating Narain as expected. Solid but unspectacular.

Pedro de la Rosa 2012 form guide

17. Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, Melbourne, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 9/11
Beat team mate in race 5/9
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 317/638

A great final lap in Australia saw Ricciardo pick off two cars for what so far have been his only points of the season.

He’s consistently beaten Vergne in qualifying and took a superb sixth on the grid in Bahrain – this was unfortunately followed by a less than stellar start.

Of late he’s tended to hold the upper hand in the races, but there were close battles between him and Vergne at Silverstone and Hockenheim. Neither has stood out as an obvious candidate for Red Bull, but it’s still early days.

Slightly better than Vergne, mostly due to super qualifying performances. Sixth in Bahrain was mega but blew it on lap one. Toro Rosso need to find more pace for him and Vergne to shine.

Daniel Ricciardo 2012 form guide

16. Bruno Senna

Bruno Senna, Williams, Hungaroring, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 3/11
Beat team mate in race 5/8
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 218/511

Neither Williams driver has scored as much as they should have done with the FW34 so far this year. Senna’s problems have usually started in qualifying, where he has been almost six-tenths of a second slower than Maldonado on average. In Spain he put the car in the gravel in Q1.

Starting in the midfield has sometimes led him into trouble – he was hit from behind in both Spanish races while running long in an effort to regain lost ground.

But on other occasions he’s got his head down and brought the car home and has finished in the points six times to Maldonado’s two. He finally reached Q3 for the first time in Hungary, which he will hope is a sign of things to come.

Significantly slower than Maldonado in qualifying but not much difference in race pace. Needs to improve qualifying to get consistently into points. I was honestly expecting more from him but it needs to be noted he is driving his first year at Williams compared to Maldonado.

Bruno Senna 2012 form guide

15. Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 8/11
Beat team mate in race 3/8
Races finished 9/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 293/511

No-one can seriously call Maldonado a second-rate pay-driver any more – his consummate victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, withstanding pressure from no less a driver than Fernando Alonso, blew that label away.

Instead his detractors now call him a crash-prone liability. And on the strength of the year so far it’s been hard to argue with that.

It beggars belief that the same driver who dazzled in Spain could commit some of the monumental blunders in the races that followed and fail to score any further points since then. His collisions with Perez at Silverstone and Hamilton in Valencia were careless at best, cynical at worst.

But his clash with Perez during practice in Monaco is the most troubling incident so far. As with his incident with Hamilton at Spa last year it looked very much like a piece of retribution, and that sort of thing simply must not be tolerated on a race track.

A win is a win is a win, and I have given him full credit for it. But was it his twin brother driving in Barcelona? Because he has practically nothing to show for us outside of that weekend, wasting dozens of points for Williams. His (quite frankly) ridiculous driving has knocked him down a few notches for me as well.

Pastor Maldonado 2012 form guide

14. Kamui Kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Bahrain, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 5/10
Beat team mate in race 3/6
Races finished 8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 194/507

Kobayashi has had a fair start to the season but has not been able to hit the same heights as his team mate. However fourth place in Germany (following his promotion due to Vettel’s penalty) was a new personal best for him.

He looked set to do even better when he lined up third on the grid in China, but went backwards at the start and only just came home in the points. He had a scrappy race in Valencia too, tangling with Senna and Massa.

Poor results and not showing the speed of Perez. Some sparks of the Kamui that thrilled people in 09 and 10 but he doesn?t seem like the same driver.

Kamui Kobayashi 2012 form guide

13. Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Valencia, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 5/11
Beat team mate in race 4/9
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 264/576

There has been very little to separate the Force India drivers as the race and qualifying scorelines show.

Hulkenberg has achieved the team’s best result so far, fifth in Valencia, and it might have been even better had his KERS been working – as it was he was defenceless against Schumacher and Webber in the DRS zone late in the race.

He impressed in the wet qualifying session in Germany, setting the fifth-fastest time. But a mistake while defending from Senna at Silverstone cost him a points score – something the team are finding it increasingly hard to come by.

Has also been consistent for Force India with a stand out result in Valencia and some strong qualifying sessions. Appears to have caught up to speed and is matching his teammate. A strong and intriguing battle of the Teammates at Force India. Both Hulkenberg and di Resta have kept Force India in touch with the fundamentally faster Williams in the constructors’ championship.

Nico Hulkenberg 2012 form guide

12. Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Monaco, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 9/11
Beat team mate in race 3/8
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 307/536

Caterham remain slightly too far behind the midfield to be regular contenders, but whenever the opportunity to join the battle has presented itself, Kovalainen has usually been the one to take advantage.

Although his race finishing rate is strong, a series of technical problems have prevented him from finishing higher. He remains the best prospect among the not-so-new teams for a points finish if the cards fall their way.

Kovalainen has been his consistent yet unlucky self. His performance in Monaco was a good reflection of why he probably belongs in a better car

Heikki Kovalainen 2012 form guide

11. Paul di Resta

Paul di Resta, Fernando Alonso, Bahrain, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 6/11
Beat team mate in race 5/9
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 312/576

Di Resta has been slightly more consistent than Hulkenberg, leading him home by small margins in Malaysia and Monaco.

He has also grabbed points with some shrewd last-lap tactics. A burst of KERS helped him snatch tenth place in Australia, and he resisted fierce pressure from Alonso to take a season-best sixth at Bahrain.

Although I?ve been increasingly impressed with Nico Hulkenberg, di Resta has to rank above him for his consistent points-scoring over the first eight races of the season. His car is not as high up the pecking order as it was last year, but he?s done a respectable job of hauling it into the top ten on multiple occasions nonetheless.

Paul di Resta 2012 form guide

The F1 Fanatic half-term driver rankings will continue next week. Have your say on the drivers so far in the comments.

You can also read what other F1 Fanatics had to say about the drivers in the forum.

Driver rankings

Browse all driver ranking articles

Images ?? HRT F1 Team, Caterham/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Toro Rosso/Getty images, Marussia, Marussia, HRT F1 Team, Toro Rosso/Getty images, Williams/LAT, Williams/LAT, Sauber F1 Team, Sahara Force India F1 Team, Caterham/LAT, Sahara Force India F1 Team

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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146 comments on “2012 half-term driver rankings part one: 24-11”

  1. Has anyone considered that Ricciardo could be absolutely stellar in qualifying? JEV was considered very fast, nearly won the FR3.5, won the British Formula 3, and Ricciardo has absolutely whiped the floor with him, on average Ricciardo is faster than Vergne by 0.450 of a second.

    Then you look back at things like the fact Ricciardo was faster than Vettel’s pole laps during the young driver test (obviously different track conditions, which is was written down too) and you have to wonder if this guy is just incredibly fast?

    His main problem so far is that he is super conservative at the start of the race, obviously not wanting to get in a colision, but his race pace is good, his qualifying pace is absurd and he has shown a strong ability to overtake. I think if RBR wants a driver who can put it on pole and race off to a win like Vettel, he is their man. I wouldn’t even necessarily bet against him on one lap pace against Vettel either.

    1. Then you look back at things like the fact Ricciardo was faster than Vettel’s pole laps during the young driver test (obviously different track conditions, which is was written down too) and you have to wonder if this guy is just incredibly fast?

      Actually, having checked, it was slower than Vettel’s 2010 pole time (but faster than Webber’s 2010 qualifying time), and he set his time during the day with hotter track conditions. Vergne in 2011 was also slower than both RBR drivers at Abu Dhabi.

      1. In fact Vettel’s Q3 time in 2010 was 1:39.394 and Ricciardo’s time on day 2 of the young drivers test was 1:38.102 , also Jérôme d’Ambrosio and Sam Bird also beat Seb’s time. But as you said this was with hotter track conditions and a track that had just had a grand prix weekend on it and had lots of grip.

        1. Oh, I must have checked day 1 or something. I guess that given how much faster all of the times were, it was a pretty useless fact from the poster above.

          1. @david-a

            I can’t respond to your post down below as there is no reply Button on it. All I can say is that we havn’t seen any evidence of such greatness from Vettel. He has beaten Webber yes, often by not a substantial margin. Certainly not like Lewis beat Heikki and on many many ocassions Mark has looked the stronger driver, although not consistently.

            But until he takes on a WDC in the same car, or wins a championship in a car that at very best can be considered equal best we certainly don’t know enough to rate him as one of the greats.

            Remember, Jaques Villeneuve was a champion in a Newey car, for all we know Vettel is just another one of those ‘random newey results’. Ultimately time will tell.

          2. @infi24r – Lewis did beat Heikki by a substantial margin, but at quite a lot of times, Vettel has as well. He does after all have over double the wins (despite losing quite a few in 2010 and another this year with unreliability) and three times the poles of Mark.

            Villeneuve did win a title with a fast Newey car. But he only did it by the skin of his teeth, even inheriting wins from other drivers (like Hakkinen at Silverstone, or Hill at Hunagry). When have we seen a non-great driver simply get plugged into a great car and dominate an F1 season like in 2011? He’s the same driver that ranked 5th on this list four years ago, when he wasn’t in a frontrunning car.

            He is one of the top drivers of the last few years, no doubt about that. It certainly isn’t a “joke” to suggest that as you said earlier. If time will tell us anything, it’s where he will rank all-time.

          3. Actually in many ways Villeneuve mimicked Vettel.

            He nearly won it in 1996, but Damon Hill beat him (Vettel 2009). He won it by the skin of his teeth in 1997 (Vettel 2010) the key difference is that following this Villeneuve didn’t have a dominant car as Williams fell of. I feel if he had he would have dominated 1997 in a similar fashion.

            And yes, Vettel does sometimes beat Mark by substantial margins, but Mark also sometimes beats Vettel by the same. And you have to consider above it all it is Vettels team we are talking about here. They want Seb to win so they push car development preference towards him. We saw earlier this year how far behind Seb can be when the car doesn’t suit him. If in some alternate universe the team was 100% behind Mark and Seb was the ‘also ran’ at RBR, I think the shoes would completely reverse.

            I agree Vettel is certainly one of the best drivers of the last few years. 100% agree. The difference is I think he’s a good to great driver, but not this all time great, mentioned in the same breath as Hamilton and Alonso driver that people seem to market him as. If I was asked is he great, i’d say yes. All time great? Well he could go on to alot of success in Adrian Newey built cars i’ll tell you that.

          4. As i pointed out, one of the key differences was that Villeneuve was inheriting wins from other driver’s misfortunes in 1997, Vettel had lost several through mechanical issues that he wasn’t to blame for in 2010 (even if he did make errors). Also, Villeneuve didn’t really do anything impressive with the cars he had outside of those 2 years- Vettel had established himself as a prospect with his performances in 07-08.

            Otherwise, there’re things you said that I agree with, and others that I’ll agree to disagree. For instance Mark would actually have to beat his teammate consistently in order to get the team behind him, like at other teams that have favoured a lead river.

    2. Hard to say with STR because I feel the car, whist being nearly a second faster than Caterham, is half a second shy of Force India, so for all we know, JEV might be doing well in qualy and DR amazingly well (or what we think now with JEV underperforming and DR doing a solid job, no more).
      Looks like JEV will win the points battle, as unless there’s a bit of attrition, I can’t see STR getting in the points. They’re always around 12/13/14/15 on a typical race, so would probably need 4 or 5 ‘faster cars’ to retire to get a point.
      As for the RB development programme, has Vettel’s career now raised the bar too high for future RB drivers? Is the Vettel discovery a one off (or I seem to think, very rare) or do the RB management think all their drivers should be like Vettel- ie SV is a ‘par driver’?

      1. Just to add briefly, is it a bit harsh that potential RB drivers are judged against someone who may end up being mentioned as one of the best of his generation.

        1. What a joke. All anyone can say with any certainty is that “Vettel is better than Mark Webber”. Mentioning him as the best of a generation is ridiculous. We have no idea how fast the Red Bull is, and the two RBR drivers seem fairly evenly matched alot of the time.

          If Vettel was 3 seconds faster per lap than Webber ok maybe you could rate him. But for them to be fairly even with the clear RBR bias towards Vettel doesn’t really speak that highly of him.

          For all we know he’s just a good driver who happens to be in the best car.

          1. @infi24r

            We have no idea how fast the Red Bull is

            For all we know he’s just a good driver who happens to be in the best car.

            Well, you seem confident about that, don’t you?

            I’m beyond tired of this, but Vettel is considered one of the best driver so fthis generation because of what he has achieved throughout his career (which only Schumacher, Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton are close or ahead) and opinions of many observers (SV’s former engineer Ascanelli compared SV with greats of the past, guys like Lauda, Moss and Stewart believe he is one of the best on today’s grid). The only joke here? Your obsession with dragging down the sport’s youngest champion.

          2. people underrate Webber to put Vettel down, it does my head in to be honest. Look at RB this year, not the best car but 2 drivers consistantly delivering and they’re top of the WCC. Mclaren/Ferrari have 1 driver driving very well and the other doing less well.
            It doesn’t happen that someone hammers all his teammates, sooner he will get given a tough fight or even beaten. Webber is a tough opponent, don’t forget.

          3. @infi42r – your comment is fairly ridiculous. Mark Webber is by no means a world class driver, but he’s no slow coach. The main reason he beats Webber is because he is a great driver. I doubt anyone bar Alonso could have dominated the way he did in 2011.

            If Vettel was 3 seconds faster per lap than Webber ok maybe you could rate him

            What a ridiculous statement. Ayrton Senna, the best qualifier of all time couldn’t out-qualify his team mates by that big a margin. His Monaco ’88 qualifying performance was considered unbelievable, yet that was half the margin you are talking about. May I remind you that an F1 car could easily cover 200m in that space of time…

          4. I’m sure Vettel can drive the car as fast as any other driver out there, but at least to me driving the car the fastest possible and being one of the greats is something very different.
            I’m sure many people don’t consider Vettel one because he is identified with one of the most unsympathetic teams I can remember, because he doesn’t use to show “great” behaviour inside (no respect for drivers in slower cars, sometimes seems to consider himself the only driver on track) or outside the car (remarks towards Webber or for example Karthikeyan, never heard him mention any achievements by his teammate etc.) and a couple of other things that probably only annoy me personally (for example I hope he lives happily ever after in Switzerland, like so many others).

            Notwithstanding, others might see it differently and who am I to judge, but to me there are still others on an entirely different level.

    3. The thing that caught my eye was that Di Resta has less impressive stats than Ricciardo (and others) but is rated higher, obviously the FI is superior to the STR but this is DRIVER rating and is obviously still based on subjective opinions.

      1. I don’t get the Di Resta hype either. If you put Ricciardo in the more competitive Force India he’d be just as good imo.

  2. Massa and Karthikeyan haven’t beaten their teammates in any qualifying session or race. Their teammates coincidentally are Spanish.

    1. I think almost everyone agrees with two things on every half-time list of 2012: 24th- Alonso and 1st-Karthikeyan.

      1. What a mistake-a to make-a!!!!!

  3. matthewf1 (@)
    10th August 2012, 13:09

    23. Vitaly Petrov (beat team mate 5/8)
    22. Felipe Massa (beat team mate 0/10)

    Has Petrov done something to upset you?

    Other thoughts are that Pic should be ahead of Glock, as Pic has been far more impressive given he has only just started in F1 whereas Glock has been around for ages, he should be owning Pic to be placed above him – and he’s not.

    I expected to see Schumacher in here – hasn’t done anything apart from a faux pole in Monaco – which was so because of his own mistake in Spain.

    Also, Button should be in the bottom half – several very poor weekends and constant moaning while Lewis has just got on with it and delivered.

    It’s very hard to rate the Toro Rosso guys because there’s no benchmark for them.

    1. 23. Vitaly Petrov (beat team mate 5/8)
      22. Felipe Massa (beat team mate 0/10)

      Has Petrov done something to upset you?

      Possibly Alonso is considered a much higher benchmark than Kovalainen. But yeah, that is terrible for Massa.

    2. Petrov is no way the 2nd worst driver, and Pic ought to be a bit higher. Surprised Button makes the top 10 too.
      Aside from them, I pretty much agree with the list so far.

    3. I expected to see Schumacher in here – hasn’t done anything apart from a faux pole in Monaco – which was so because of his own mistake in Spain.

      Looks like Schumi’s done something to upset you as well because I remember him being severely plagued by Mercedes’ poor reliability (on his side) & we don’t know where he would’ve finished in the particular races he retired in. If anything, he’s (questionable) outperformed Rosberg on most occasions even prior to his DNFs (Australia, Spain, Monaco, Valencia, Silverstone, Hockenheim). Only on weekends such as China, Bahrain, Canada & Hungary have I seen Rosberg clearly outperform him.

      Also, Button should be in the bottom half – several very poor weekends and constant moaning while Lewis has just got on with it and delivered.

      Button is a driver that has a driving style based on perfection & finest, Hamilton on the other hand is one that can adapt his around the car’s needs, hence why he’s been ‘moaning’ about equal heat into both front & rear tyres & etc. When he’s satisfied (at least) with the car in weekends particularly Australia, China & Germany he’s delivered & we all knew JB was a much better driver than his blip in form showed from Spain to Canada at least. So we regard him as inconsistent in arguably the fastest car as a result & so I expect him to be no higher than 10th or 9th in part 2.

      P.S. I just really feel for Massa. Wasn’t expected 22nd & I wonder If the rankings are based on opinions of fanatics rather than one set in concrete by Keith.

      1. @younger-hamii

        I wonder If the rankings are based on opinions of fanatics

        No, the ranking is entirely down to how well I think each driver has done.

        1. I thought your opinion qualified as the opinion of a fanatic Keith. Or have you fooled us all this while with the website title? I’m deeply disappointed. :P

          1. @raymondu999 By “opinions” I took it that @younger-hamii meant I took the opinions of other people into account, rather than just my own.

        2. I know you will put Vettel above Hamilton. Surprise me.

    4. @matthewf1

      23. Vitaly Petrov (beat team mate 5/8)
      22. Felipe Massa (beat team mate 0/10)

      Has Petrov done something to upset you?

      I noted the disparity in their finishing positions compared to my rating of them while I was writing this and, because of that, made a point of referring to it in the text.

      But don’t let that stop you jumping to the conclusion that I placed Petrov where I did because I have it in for him or something silly like that. I must have been accused of holding a grudge against (or being biased in favour of) every driver on the grid by now.

      For the record, of the five occasions Petrov has finished in front of Kovalainen, I consider that he did so on merit once, as alluded to above. The notes in this year’s “Driver of the Weekend” articles (search link) explain more.

      Pic should be ahead of Glock, as Pic has been far more impressive given he has only just started in F1

      I don’t agree. This is a ranking based solely on how well the drivers have performed so far this season. It does not attempt to set their achievements within a wider context of how much experience they have. That would add a whole extra level of complexity as it would involve including an opinion of how well each driver should be doing.

      So Pic/Vergne/Ricciardo/Grosjean don’t get bonus places for being rookies, and Schumacher/Button/whoever don’t get docked places for being experienced. Which I think is fair.

      Nor, for that matter, do I care if a driver has been ‘constantly moaning’ – what matters is how they drive.

      1. matthewf1 (@)
        10th August 2012, 14:27

        Nor, for that matter, do I care if a driver has been ‘constantly moaning’ – what matters is how they drive.

        so…useless but still somehow in your top ten

        1. @matthewf1 Obvious I don’t consider a driver with three podium finishes and a win this year “useless”.

          But as you’ve ignored my explanation above and I see you’re now also accusing me in another comment of favouring of Button ‘because he’s English and drives for McLaren’ – despite the fact you haven’t even had chance to read my reasons for placing him where I have – you are obviously not in he least bit interested in what I have to say, you just want to do some trolling.

          1. matthewf1 (@)
            10th August 2012, 14:50

            I’m not trolling at all.. I just believe Button is not worthy of such a high ranking. It’s just my opinion, and you have yours. Surely you know this article generates discussion and debate, unless you expect all the comments to just say they are in complete agreement with your rankings.

          2. @matthewf1 That might be the case if you’d bothered to discover my opinion of Button before jumping in to accuse me of putting him in the top ten because he’s English.

        2. @matthewf1 – Button hasn’t been the best, but he has had some decent drives, and has one of the grid’s best drivers to compete with as a teammate. His run of low scoring finishes between Bahrain-Britain would cost him a top 10 place IMO though, with perhaps Di Resta getting in there, since he has been pretty consistent and solid.

    5. Petrov really deserves a bit higher ranking, because he is not doing very bad. He doesn’t have good qualifying pace, and he is matching Kovalainen on race pace. So I would rank him 20th.

    6. 23. Vitaly Petrov (beat team mate 5/8)

      That should be read: team mate’s car broke 5/8


    7. Personally I don’t think Button is worthy of a top ten spot; sure he has had some good races (Australia & China spring to mind) but besides that he has been mediocre at best. Whilst he was struggling with a car clearly capable of much better things, Hamilton was maximising his performances by consistently fighting for pole position (or battling to a high grid spot when it wasn’t possible) and his misfortunes can be mostly blamed on the teams’ disastrous pit stop blunders.
      And for the record, I am neither a McLaren or a Hamilton fan…in actual fact I am a huge fan of their arch rivals Red Bull.

    8. Please switch Button and Petrov. ;) I think Kovalainen is vastly underestimated because of his poor McLaren seasons, but with Caterham he is doing extremely well. He completely destroyed Trulli, who is by no means a bad driver, so I think Petrov should get a little more credit. Button, on the other side, has come up with some embarrassing performances. Of cource he is a nice guy and he won the season-opener, but I guess he would have been fired for his lack of performances if he had been a Toro Rosso driver. Of course a large part of his misfortune was due to strategic mistakes by his team or badly executed pitstops, but the majority of it was because of poor driving. As he is nearly four victories down on Alonso, he is already out of title contention, so he definitely doesn’t deserve a top 10 spot.
      Pic is doing great this year. Sadly it went by unnoticed at this site.

      1. Pic is doing great this year. Sadly it went by unnoticed at this site.

        No it didn’t. I said he was doing well here and I have mentioned it in the Driver of the Weekend articles as well.

        But it’s hard to justify placing him much higher as his car means he’s rarely racing for position with other drivers.

        1. Alright. I hope he’ll be doing better in the final driver-rankings. ;)

  4. Dimitris 1395 (@)
    10th August 2012, 13:23

    My only argument is that Button shouldn’t be in the top-10. The car is not suited and he he just can’t get away with it. Also, I would like to see Petrov and Pic a bit higher but I understand the reasons why thhey are where they are…

    1. just seen your comment! You and I clearly read off the same hymm sheet! (I expect us to have differences as we get nearer the top though)

    2. I agree entirely, although my only gripe would be who to replace them with (referring to Petrov & Pic). Perhaps Maldonado, as I think his stupidity negates any respect or support I gained for him in Spain. I believe fundamentally that consistency overpowers every other aspect of a drivers performance, and Maldonado has had few good performances. If only he didn’t crash so often…
      Precisely because of that I think Alonso by far has been the best driver, and I don’t think anyone can argue with that. Personally I think Vettel should be second, but that is up for debate.

    3. I completely agree. Button has been hands down the poorest driver on the grid in races such as Monaco, Barcelona, etc. There is no way I would rate him higher than Di Resta, Kovi, Kobayashi.

      Other than his strong performance in Australia and a couple of above average performances in China and Germany, he has been ridiculously bad. Rank 15 in my books

  5. It’s always extremely difficult to decide on these. I personally don’t think Button should be in the top ten and agree that Petrov is too low and Pic should be ahead of Glock.

    Sure Button has a win and has driven some fantastic races, but when comparing his consistency to that of Kovalainen, Hulkenburg and di Resta, he hasn’t been very good at all. Driver’s with the virtue of having a faster car will always rate higher than those with slower cars because their peaks are more noticeable. On the other hand, the reason the higher ranked driver’s are in the faster cars is because they deserve to be their.

    1. I think it depends on the rating system. I follow Autosport’s ratings this year, they rate all the drivers after every race and Button’s average rating so far is 5.91, which puts him in the 21st overall place that he shares with… Karthikeyan.

      This is an obvious exaggeration that doesn’t need to be discussed further but I would say that JB deserves to be ahead of the likes of Kovalainen and di Resta, too. The latter ones have had a lot of decent weekends, while Button has had a few disastrous weekends but also a couple of great ones (morevoer, not all the lost points have been due to JB’s own faults and shortcomings). In other words, I personally rate one win and one complete failure higher than two average performances.

      1. Girts, could you tell me the link of the autosport rankings. Button for 21st! That’s a little harsh. I would like to see their other rankings.

        1. Autosport simply give each driver a mark (0-10) after every GP weekend, like in this article. But these articles are in the features section, that is, available only to those readers, who have subscribed to the premium content :(

          I don’t know if they have calculated the average ratings themselves but I did that, just made a table in MS Excel. Most of the ranks that you get this way make sense but some are a bit crazy, for example, Hulkenberg is 4th (average mark 7.36) and Pic is 7th (7.18). This simply shows that their ranking system isn’t perfect, which is probably why they haven’t published the half-season results and instead made an alternative drivers’ performance review (which is again available only to the subscribers).

      2. But once again, if you read @keithcollantine explanation a bit above, you will see that both ranking are not the same as autosport gives a note on “how they should perform” and here only on “how they perform” and that’s a huge difference …
        But everyone will have his thoughts and it’s what’s great with this article, lots of opinion, lots of talking (no need to say that comments with arguments have more weight because you can justify one way or another the difference in your thinking). And it’s also a great way to underline what has been achieved by each driver this year.

    2. True, though conversely you could also argue that sometimes drivers with the virtue of having a faster car may find themselves rating lower than drivers with slower cars, as their performance deficits are also more noticeable (e.g.: Massa, Button).

      1. @sandlefish I definitely thought about that as I submitted my post, and I think that has definitely been the case with Massa (Though he has been pretty awful)

        @girts I agree that one great performance and one bad performance outwieghs two average performances, the problem is that great performance by fundemantally sow cars are less noticeable. Personally I rate di Resta’s Bahrain, Kovalainen’s Monaco and Hulkenburg’s Valencia the match for Button’s best race, just the result is lower because of a fundemantally slower car, then they’ve not had as many awful performances as Button.

        That’s why I rate them above Button.

  6. How on earth Button is above di Resta and Kovalainen is beyond me. His slump from Bahrain to Britain where he scored a grand total of 7 points was simply embarrassing to watch, probably even worse than Massa last season.

    1. matthewf1 (@)
      10th August 2012, 14:29

      Jenson is above those two because
      a) he is English
      b) he drives for McLaren

      1. Perhaps, but let’s just say for argument’s sake that he’s ahead because he has more points, more wins and more podiums.

        1. and a championship winning car

      2. To be honest, I actually agree with you on that, and there’s no question in my mind Button should be outside of the top 10.

        However, you really shouldn’t have said the English part. You’ll get a lot of backlash for that, even though it’s true.

        1. Perhaps, but let’s just say for argument’s sake that he’s ahead because he has more points, more wins and more podiums.

          Yeah, and look at the car he’s driving, and now look at where his teammate is. Button has been annihilated by Hamilton this season, the only times he’s actually performed to the car’s capacity was Australia, Malaysia, and Germany. For the rest of the season he’s been a huge disappointing. Seriously, Jenson’s sweet spot is far too small, when the car works for him he’s great, when it doesn’t he looks like Karthikeyan in a Mclaren. I’d have rated him slightly higher than Massa.

        2. @kingshark

          you really shouldn’t have said the English part. You’ll get a lot of backlash for that, even though it’s true.

          I’ve been compiling the data for these articles since the season began. I’ve dedicated pages of this site to compiling, comparing and sharing data on driver performances in a way I wasn’t able to find on other sites.

          In writing the articles I’ve referred back to all my original notes, rewatched races and spent a lot of time thinking about how well each driver has done.

          And without even bothering to discuss the facts I’ve presented here, you write off all my efforts as the product of some simple-minded moron who has just ranked the drivers by who was born closest to him.

          Why do people like you find it impossible to accept that other people might form different opinions to you for perfectly valid reasons that are not rooted in something as simplistic (and, to people like me, uninteresting) as nationality?

          1. In writing the articles I’ve referred back to all my original notes, rewatched races and spent a lot of time thinking about how well each driver has done.

            @keithcollantine, what’s much more interesting is, how have you been rewatching races? :)

          2. @victor I’ve got them all recorded!

          3. @keithcollantine your efforts aren’t wasted… there are lot of people who appreciate and love reading each and every article. Don’t let this ruin your day !

          4. If you look at the clouds, you’ll see faces.

            Same with statistics.

          5. I rated some drives quite differently than you did @keithcollantine, but first of all i found it extremely tough as I was rating from a view now, and not with going through notes made all through the season and rewatching the races.

            I do think Petrov might deserve to be a bit higher, and I tend to see it closer between Vergne ad Ricciardo, while I possibly underrated Glocks performances if only because the last couple of races we did not see much of him.
            So thanks for your notes and thorough work to get a good overall view of the first half a season then!

        3. @Kingshark @matthewf1 Sorry guys but those accusations just don’t make any sense. I could name hundreds of articles on this site that prove the opposite is the case. Just a couple of examples: Last year, Button was 3rd in the driver rankings, even though one could as well have put him 2nd. Or, in 2008, Hamilton, the world champion, was rated 2nd (Button was 15th then, behind his team mate Barrichello). There will always be discussions about topics like this, even the wisest experts have different views.

          It feels kind of surreal: In my country, I don’t dare to admit openly that I don’t always support Latvian sportsmen because nationality doesn’t matter to me, everyone would think that I’m completely insane then. Here, the website does everything possible and more to be objective, yet Keith gets accused of being ‘British’ again and again. Maybe Hamilton, Button & di Resta should be excluded from the rankings at all but, wait, the Brits are actually everywhere, for instance, Ross Brawn, Christian Horner, FI mechanics… I suggest we forget about F1 and rename this site Icehockey Fanatic, that should help.

          1. I’m Indian and even I admit that Karthikeyan and Chandhok have been the drivers who have least deserved their race seats over the past 3 years.

        1. the only times he’s actually performed to the car’s capacity was Australia, Malaysia, and Germany.

          That should be China, not Malaysia!

          Keith, I know you asked fellow F1Fanatics about their opinion on the season rankings, but honestly Button is rated this highly because his fanbase on this website is huge. He has over 1000 followers. Anyone who has a non-biased point of view on him can see how much he’s under-performed and disappointed this season.

          1. @kingshark As I pointed out to @younger-hamii the ranking of the drivers is done entirely by me. This is not based on a vote taken of the sites readers which you can tell because there hasn’t been one.

          2. @kingshark, I am an Australian, my fav driver is Webber but I also rate Button highly, maybe because I have seen his whole career not just the last couple of years. I think you should wait to see his ranking before complaining about it. Me, I don’t get the DiResta thing, he may be excellent but I haven’t seen anything to make me think so, maybe in ten years I’ll get it.

      3. If you’ve been reading this website for the last 5 years like I have, you might understand that Keith is in no way biased towards the English drivers, I know this myself because I’ve engaged in some debates with him over Lewis Hamilton’s antics (me defending him, Keith criticising him). Have a look at his views on Hamilton’s penalties last year and you might understand there is no national favouritism on this site, far from it in fact.

  7. These are more or less how I would have ordered them, though I do believe Kovalainen was deserving of one or two places more, and perhaps I would have had Button outside the top 10. Still, until I see the full list, I can’t really say any more.

    The ‘car-performance’ variable does make between-team comparisons of drivers difficult, even if this season has been rather close in comparison to others. For instance, machinery capabilities limit Marussia, Caterham and HRT (and increasingly, Toro Rosso) to the tail of the order. However, I’m not sure that while not scoring any points, Kovalainen is driving any worse relative to his machinery than some of the bug guns in top cars, or that Button, despite scoring points, deserves to be ahead for the same reason.

    Ultimately the best yardstick for a driver is an inter-team comparison (e.g.: Pic vs Glock – who I think I would have swapped given Glock’s experience), consistency of performance and (inevitably) some personal judgement. My view anyway :P

  8. @keithcollantine

    These are definitely my favourite articles you do each season,

    I cant remember if you have already done this in the past or not but can you set up a poll where we rank our opinions? Then we can see the average opinion, would be interesting to see how it would compare to your own.

    1. @prof-kirk I’m glad someone likes them and is taking it in the spirit it’s intended instead of accusing me of being a petty-minded xenophobe.

      I usually do a poll for people to vote for their top driver at the end of the year. Besides that we have the Driver of the Weekend articles for each race so I think that side of things is well catered for.

      1. @keithcollantine @prof-kirk Love it as well, as well as the opinion sharing as long as there is an argumentation. People saying you wrong because they think so without explaining their point of view is quite killling the reading but can’t do much about it if it’s ignore …

        For a ranking by the Fanatics (for the season or race week end), could it become a list pick rather than a single pick, it would be much more representative I think. Like you rank your 5 best driver for the WE (like for the prediction) and for each list points are given 7,5,3,2,1 for example and that way we could make a mention to a nice drive (for example Kovalainen at Monaco) without killing the best driver of the week end (which was Webber for me). This would probably also help non GP winner to get a nice ranking as too often it’s the winner that gets all and he’s not always the best of the whole WE …

        Just in the suggestion box … Excellent job to entertain us during the break (maybe it’s why so many fanatics are on their nerves and a bit more agressives than usual ^^ )

    2. @prof-kirk Having a good read through the forum post usually gives you a good impression of where people rank the driver’s. It’s really interesting reading what conclusions others have drawn over the season, offering different perpectives :)

      Maybe someone could compile an average from the rankings in the forum post, I would but I’m not very good with that stuff

  9. 1997 French GP – Schumacher wins, Irvine finishes 75 seconds behind, he’s good driver, because that was 3rd place
    2012 Malaysian GP – Alonso wins, Massa finishes 97 seconds behind, he’s useless, because that was 15th place (75 seconds behind was good only for 11th)

    That’s the problem I have with such rankings (not with authors – good joob Keith!). How we should rank drivers? On the basis of their cars? Points? Lost chances? Teammates? Gaps to teammates? Perceived speed of teammates? Because for me for example there is no way Pic in 20th place would have done better job in Ferrari than Massa, who is ranked as 22th. I can’t imagine a rookie finishing 6 times wiithin 10 seconds of one of the greatest drivers in history and that is what Massa achieved this season. In my opinion if Pic or someone else like Glock, Senna or de la Rosa would be in Ferrari, they would be absolutely trashed by Alonso week after week and we would say they need to go from F1. But because their respective teammate is not one of the greatest driver in history in his prime form, can they be classified higher than Massa, who has Mount Everest to climb every single weekend?

    It’s one of the reasons I want to see Massa staying on the grid next year, but with other driver in second Ferrari seat. Not Perez, because I think this guy has that something special, but the likes of Kobayashi or Kovalainen. We would really see how fast these so called “promising drivers deserving better car” are in relation to Alonso and that would help to create more realistic rankings.

    1. @armchairexpert The Pic/Massa comparison is a very interesting one. In my defence, there are only two places between them!

      It’s partly a question of consistency, though. Would I have expected Pic to have got as close to Alonso as Massa did in his best races? Not necessarily.

      Would I expect any driver capable of being in F1 to have done better than Massa has done in his worst races? Probably.

      1. Yeah, it’s really tricky. Webber twice finished 40 seconds behind Vettel with no excuse to explain such difference and we know Button and his snal pace in several races (with most visible examples in Canada and Monaco). Massa had 5 horrible races, but looking at issues Webber and Button had, maybe it is really difficult to partner world class teammate and not necessarily new guy would be much better than Massa?

        All in all as I said before, I hope Ferrari (and Mercedes) will have new driver next season. It’s never bad to see new face in factory team with big budget and how he compares with teammate, that’s why 2010 was so exciting.

      2. From above:

        This is a ranking based solely on how well the drivers have performed so far this season. It does not attempt to set their achievements within a wider context of how much experience they have. That would add a whole extra level of complexity as it would involve including an opinion of how well each driver should be doing.

        So Pic/Vergne/Ricciardo/Grosjean don’t get bonus places for being rookies, and Schumacher/Button/whoever don’t get docked places for being experienced. Which I think is fair.

        @keithcollantine I thought you said that expectations don’t matter, only the actual performance? I think you’ve contradicted yourself.

    2. While I find the Irvine/Massa comparison an interesting statistic, you have to consider F1 has changed a lot in the 15 years in between them. This season especially, it’s very close and I can remember races where the winner’s advantage over a 3rd placed man was a lap, which is basically unthinkable in 2012. If Schumacher finished 25 seconds behind Villeneuve, that would have been bad, but not too troubling. If Vettel finished 25 seconds behind Alonso, people start asking questions and he might not even be in the points.

      I still have some hope left for Massa, but honestly, he’s had his chances. Were he not injured in a Ferrari during a race meeting, I cannot imagine Ferrari going so lightly on him. I also hope Ferrari and Mercedes get different drivers, as I have to admit I also enjoy some changes to the grid every now and then.

      1. I agree with you, but where do we draw a line? Last year I think Massa was only 2 times with Alonso at the end of the race, finishing remaining races from 30 seconds up to over 1 minute behind and I somehow don’t remember as fierce witchhunt as it is now. In hypothetical scenario, if there is a car 2 seconds faster than the rest, one driver extracts everything from it, but 2nd driver is consistently 1.5 sec off the pace still getting 2nd places, should this driver be fired or kept? And how we would rate him?

    3. they would be absolutely trashed by Alonso

      Sorry, but that seems to me a false argument. The problem with Massa is not that he’s regularly getting trashed by Alonso, but that he is usually beaten by 6-10 other drivers, too.

      That’s why the Irvine/Massa comparison makes no sense: F1 is not a time trial, but a competition between 20-24 drivers. If you come second 5 minutes down, you actually did better (by beating 22 top professionals) than when you come 24th (thus beating nobody) 30 seconds down.

      1. The Irvine/Massa comment is actually the best comment on here because in truth there is only one way to measure a driver, and that’s not actually against his teammate, but against his car. Sadly this isn’t actualy possible, since it is impossible to baseline a car’s performance, and so instead we have to use our imaginations, statistics and compare team mates to get an idea, but the theory goes like this:

        A car operates at 1:00:00 lap time as a base-line.

        An average driver will get that lap time.
        A poorer driver will get less, say, 1:01:10
        A better driver will get more, say 0:58:50

        Depending on the baseline of all of the cars on the grid then the difference between drivers abilities to maximise the car could end up meaning a poorer teammate comes second, or a poorer teammate comes 10th simply by virtue of how close the field is. Using the example of being 30 seconds down over a race distance compared to 5 minutes down is simply crazy. 5 minutes? Over the course of a GP? That would be what, six seconds a lap under race conditions, in the same team on the same tyres? This, of course is why comparing to team-mates also does not allow a full ranking to be created, because there are times when some drivers will simply “own” the car and extract much more performance than it than is normal, although these can never be proven, because again, it is impossible to generate a baseline performance for a car. That’s why all of these lists will always be subjective no matter what mechanism is used, but by understanding that the drivers should be measured against the car, and that is why the team mate is used as a comparison, we can understand that being beaten by other drivers as well as your team mate does not intrinsically make you a worse driver than just finishing behind your team mate.

    4. Very interesting point about Massa/Pic. I suspect a similar thing is influencing people’s opinions of Button’s performance this year. I think last year’s Hamilton hasn’t been forgotten by many, and people are comparing Button’s performance vs Hamilton this year as Button vs last years Hamilton. But this years Hamilton is the 2007/2009/2010 Hamilton, arguably the best driver on the grid. Would any of the drivers on the list so far have done a better job against this years Hamilton… I personally doubt it.