Nine rounds passed in the unprecedented 19-round 2005 Formula One World Championship, and Spain’s Fernando Alonso is the clear championship leader. But he may not have it all his way in the second half. We rate the drivers’ performances through the season to date.
21. Christijan Albers, Minardi, 4 pts (17)
There has not been much to distinguish the Minardi drivers from each other. Albers may have been first of the two home in the US ‘race’, giving him one more point, but realistically Friesacher has edged him thus far.
20. Narain Kartikeyan, Jordan, 5 pts (15)
Widely expected to have the beating of team-mate Tiago Monteiro, Karthikeyan’s exuberant style has troubled the unco-operative EJ15 and not leant itself to strong finishes. Dramatic to watch, but visibly flailing.
19. Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber, 5 pts (15)
Shone in San Marino, where he scored a rare fourth, but otherwise the less said the better.
18. Patrick Friesacher, Minardi, 3 pts (20)
Has succeeded in making the Minardi go far quicker than it deserves and shown more natural ability than many gave him credit for.
17. Tiago Monteiro, Jordan, 6 pts (13)
Conspicuously the better of the two Jordan drivers when the team came to the fore in the six-car US Grand Prix. Those who’d kept their eye on the back of the field in 2005 knew to expect as much.
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull, 1 pt (21)
The 2004 F3000 champion did not get as much out of the car in his first four-race stint as (more experienced) rival Christian Klien, but expect better from him next time around.
15. Takuma Sato, BAR, 0 pts
BAR gremlins and controversies notwithstanding, Sato has been utterly invisible this year. Must perform in order to justify his continued presence in F1.
14. Felipe Massa, Sauber, 7 pts (12)
Has out-performed his struggling team-mate, but inconsistency and errors have left you wondering if there isn’Ralf St quite a bit more speed in the Sauber than Massa makes it look like there is.
13. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 20 pts (8)
Ralf has nowhere to hide – massively over-paid and being trounced by team-mate Trulli. Needs a good end to the year.
12. Christian Klien, Red Bull, 4 pts (17)
Klien may have got his F1 break in 2004 thanks to little more than his considerable financial backing, but he has given ample justification for his place in the sport to the surprise of many onlookers in 2005. Deserves a 100% full-time drive for next year.
11. Mark Webber, Williams, 22 pts (7)
Webber’s season has verged on the disastrous at times. His earlier remarks on team-mate Heidfeld’s unwillingness to race wheel-to-wheel must be haunting him as he trails the German 22 points to 25. His turn one, lap one shunt at the Nurburgring was a notable lowlight. He must assert his primacy in the Williams team to prepare for Jenson Button’s likely arrival next year.
10. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 29 pts (4)
Made the best of a bad job early in the season but he gets no sympathy for whingeing about his team-mate when he should know what the score is by now.
9. Jenson Button, BAR, 0 pts
Perhaps too lofty a position for a driver with no points, but Button has been elegantly smooth as ever, took a fine pole in Canada (which he then followed up with an unfortunate mistake) and is surely on the verge of a major points haul.
8. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, 17 pts (9)
A shockingly low championship place attests to how the round one winner has been blighted by mechanical failure.
7. Nick Heidfeld, Williams, 25 pts (6)
It was fitting that Heidfeld, rather than Pizzonia, should get his break with a major team for 2005 and he has ewarded them well with more consistent drivers than his team-mate and a couple of podiums. With Webber locked in, though, he will struggle to keep his seat over Button for 2006 – A Sauber-BMW beckonsâ€¦
6. Juan Pablo Montoya, 16 pts (11)
Montoya struggled as much as Kimi Raikkonen did in the early races with the MP4-20′s lack of firstlap grip. Problem sorted, he was kept from the cockpit by injury. Since then unnecessary incident (Canada and Monaco) and misfirtune (Nurburgring) have thwarted his efforts. Surely he must start to iron out these flaws as their cumulative cost to his championship aspirations becomes more clear?
Before we crack on with the top five drivers, a word on the super-subs who have made an appearance this year. Pedro de la Rosa deputised for Montoya in Bahrain and provided a lot of entertainment as he made his way up for the field, even if his off-track antics probably cost him a few points. Alexander Wurz, Montoya’s second stand-in, was a complete contrast – almost anonymously smooth but definitely quicker than de la Rosa.
Poor Anthony Davidson only managed a couple of laps in Sato’s BAR at Malaysia before the engine died but Ricardo Zonta was unluckier still. Stepping in for Ralf Schumacher in the United States Grand Prix he couldn’t even take the start as all the Michelin runners had to withdraw.