In the first of a two-part feature we reviews and rate the 25 drivers who participated in the 2005 World Drivers’ Championship. The top ten will be revealed in the final issue of 2005â€¦
27 (-12 on half-term report ranking) Takuma Sato, BAR-Honda, 1 point
Sato’s third full season of Formula One was a disaster: twice disqualified (once at his home race), littered with spins and incident, and seldom on the pace of his team-mate. Even his rivals lost patience with him with both Michael Schumacher and Jarno Trulli criticising Sato after incidents. Honda’s ‘junior’ team may be his last chance – but after three-years at the top flight he shouldbe doing far better than this.
26 (-8) Patrick Friesacher, Minardi-Cosworth, 3 pts
Dropped by Minardi after 11 appearances, Friesacher was, in all fairness, not the least talented driver ever to don Minardi overalls. But his lack of pace compared to team-mate Christijan Albers and two self-induced retirements pushed him onto the sidelines.
25 (N/A) Antonio Pizzonia, Williams-BMW, 2 pts
After Nick Heidfeld picked up a slight injury, Pizzonia was gifted his third bite of the F1 cherry – and once again failed to impress. Four starts yielded one solid run to the points, then two self-inflicted retirements and one first-corner collision. Surely the sun has finally set on his unimpressive F1 career?
24 (-7) Tiago Monteiro, Jordan-Toyota, 7 pts
Controversial? Monteiro probably had the beating of team-mate Karthikeyan on average. But Karthikeyan took the better starting positions on average, yet suffered greater unreliability. Monteiro shunted Juan Pablo Montoya off in Turkey, and his unconcealed glee at motoring to a simple third at Indianapolis, on a rotten day for F1, really rankled.
23 (-3) Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan-Toyota, 5 pts
Monteiro may have been more consistent, but Karthikeyan’s flamboyant style never left you in doubt who was trying harder – and who could perhaps wring more speed from the Jordan. What a pity we never got to see his acclaimed wet-weather prowess at work.
22 (N/A) Robert Doornbos, Minardi-Cosworth, 0 pts
Doornbos was not of obvious value as a replacement to Friesacher, as his qualifying performances were only slighter better. But he worked well with fellow Dutchman Albers and helped Minardi perform small wonders with their new car, hounding Jordan later in the season.
21 (N/A) Ricardo Zonta, Toyota, 0 pts
Drafted in to replaced the injured Ralf Schumacher at Indianapolis. Qualified 13th then did not take the start along with all the other Michelin drivers. Distinguished himself by sticking to the boycott despite only having one shot at starting a race this year.
20 (N/A) Anthony Davidson, BAR-Honda, 0 pts
Poor Ant. Passed over for the BAR driver in favour of the hopeless Sato. No longer able to put in his excellent Friday test performances as the team had risen above the ranks of the minor teams in 2004. Then got one shot in Malaysia whereupon his engine promptly died a few laps into the race. Give the po’ boy a break.
19 (-3) Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull-Cosworth, 1 pts
Would surely have achieved greater things with more than four starts to his name, but Red Bull abandoned their peculiar ‘driver share’ scheme when it became apparent that the qualifying format was damaging their chances because of it. Liuzzi scraped a point but didn’t really justify the hype in his few outings – ’06 is his real chance.
18 (N/A) Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren-Mercedes, 4 pts
His one-off appearance in place of Montoya while the MP4-20 was lengthened to fit Alexander Wurz was perhaps his best ever race – he scythed through the field at Bahrain in scintillating (if erratic) fashion and set fastest lap. With a Spaniard now champion, could de la Rosa pick up his racing career again?
17 (N/A) Alexander Wurz, McLaren-Mercedes, 6 pts
Finished higher than de la Rosa in similar circumstances at a circuit where overtaking is virtually impossible. That is testament to Wurz’s prodigous speed that is wasted in testing. Why Ferrari passed over the like of Wurz to sign Felipe Massa is a mystery.
16 (+3) Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber-Petronas, 9 pts
Not a season worthy of a former champion. Villeneuve got the better of Massa on plenty of occasions, when he should have been doing it week in, week out. Showed more ability to get the best out of the car when it was working well, though, and his racecraft was superior. Not by enough, though.
15 (-1) Felipe Massa, Sauber-Petronas, 11 pts
Straight into cruise mode after being signed by Ferrari – indeed he cruised straight into the back of the leaders at the start in Turkey. His career has run curiously parallel to Takuma Sato’s to date, and it’s difficult to see what merits Massa has that have endeared him to Ferrari over anyone else.
14 (+7) Christijan Albers, Minardi-Cosworth, 4 pts
Albers was doing a decent job to start with, and fared even better once Robert Doornbos arrived on the scene and Minardi began to hone the PS05. Albers even outqualified and ran with the Jordans on the odd occasion. Has proved himself wholly deserving of an F1 drive.
13 (=) Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 45 pts
Five races into the season, Ralf was being dominated by team-mate Trulli, who had three podiums and 26 points to Ralf’s 14. But Ralf proved more adept at regularly bringing the Toyota home in the lower reaches of the points and edged ahead of Trulli by the championship’s end. For the money, though, Ralf should be blowing Trulli into the weeds.
12 (-2) Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 38 pts
Didn’t cope with the Ferrari-Bridgestone’s troubles as well as Michael Schumacher did – and finally succumbed to the pressure of being noticably inferior to his team-mate. Threw a hissy fit after Schumacher’s perfectly legitimate pass at Monaco, and threw away a chance to put one over the German in Indianapolis. Switched off for the year after inking his 2006 BAR contract.
11 (-2) Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, 56 pts
Disastrous. There’s only one way to describe finishing a season 79 points behind your youngest-ever-championship-winning team-mate. His Australian Grand Prix win was a fluke aided by a fortunate starting position and when luck offered him the same chance in Japan Raikkonen tore him to shreds. Spent the last race of the season blocking the McLarens under team orders and getting a penalty because of it – not terribly dignified.