5. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 17 pts (9)
Yes, he should have got out of McLaren much sooner than he did. But now he has, and found a comfortable berth at Red Bull where he is free to stick two fingers up at his detractors and produce quality drives that give this flamboyant team a credible foundation. A shame his pit lane speed limit blunder at the Nurburgring cost them their first podium.
4. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 27 pts (5)
Another driver who is enjoying a new lease of life having switched teams. Indeed, only his Canada misfortune has really put him out of the title hunt. Having given Toyota their first podium and first pole position, it would be a shame if anyone other than Trulli (his under-performing team mate in particular) were to give them their first win.
3. Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 34 pts (3)
Finally ended his longest losing streak in 12 years with a joyles ‘victory’ in America. The car and tyres may be holding him back, but you also get the impression that he’s just not quite as on top of his game as before – it’s there in the unnecessary crash with Heidfeld in Australia, the way he didn’t make it past Alonso in San Marino, or past a struggling Raikkonen in Canada. The beginning of the end?
2. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 59 pts (1)
In the enviable position of having a supremely competitive car and the total backing of his team. After Kimi Raikkonen’s spectacular Nurburgring failure Alonso had his chance to close down the championship. But an unforced error in Canada put paid to that all to soon, and with McLaren enjoying a performance advantage at the moment he could be looking over his shoulder for the rest of the year.
1. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, 37 pts (2)
Even before the McLarens had their one-lap pace sorted out Raikkonen was threatening to be a championship contender. A tyre valve knocked him back down the field in Malaysia: little things. Once the pace came back to them he became immensely competitive, only marking his scoredcard when an error lapping Jacques Villeneuve at the Nurburgring inflicted terminal damage on his car. Watching him hound Alonso over the closing rounds could be one of the best championship battles for years.