2007 drivers’ half-term report – part one

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri, Indianapolis, 2007Nine races out of 17 completed – it’s time to rate how the drivers are doing.

I’ll start off with the bottom half of the field today – don’t miss the top ten tomorrow. And if you don’t agree, well, that’s what the comments box is for! Last year’s list certainly generated some debate…

23. Christijan Albers

2006 ranking: 23

Spyker have dropped him for a reason. Rookie team mate Adrian Sutil out-qualified Albers 7-2, and the Dutchman left the Magny-Cours pit lane with the refuelling rig still attached. Over and out.

22. Scott Speed

2006 ranking: 17

It’s been a bad year for both Toro Rosso drivers. Speed drove a fine race at Monte-Carlo to ninth, but set against that all his other drives have been completely anonymous. Has crashed out on three occasions in nine races.

21. Ralf Schumacher

2006 ranking: 19

Watching Schumacher at Toyota this year has been painful, no more so than the many laps at Monaco where he ran dead last. Finally out-qualified Jarno Trulli for the first time this year at Silverstone, but the second highest paid driver in F1 isn’t justifying a fraction of his salary.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, Melbourne, 200720. Vitantonio Liuzzi

2006 ranking: 15

Like his team mate has also crashed out three times and suffered heaps of STR unreliability. But his race pace has looked marginally better.

19. Adrian Sutil

No 2006 ranking

The rookie has shown well, particularly in qualifying, but there’s been a few crashes as well. But team boss Colin Kolles believes in him.

18. Anthony Davidson

No 2006 ranking

Team mate Takuma Sato has scored all the points so far and Davidson has usually been behind. It could have all been different but for the untimely intervention of a ground hog at Montreal while Davidson was running third. However it wouldn’t change the fact that the amiable Davidson needs to start putting Sato in the shade.

17. Takuma Sato

2006 ranking: 18

Sato stunned the paddock with his beautiful pass on Fernando Alonso at Montreal – and cemented his anti-hero status one week later at Indianapolis with two separate blunders in the race. On balance his hot-and-cold performances have him ahead of Davidson by a nose.

Rubens Barrichello, Honda, Sepang, 200716. Rubens Barrichello

2006 ranking: 14

Clearly faring better at Honda in 2007 relative to his team mate – and usually a little bit quicker than Jenson Button in the opening races. But when the RA107 gave the drivers a sniff of the top eight at Magny-Cours it was Button that found an extra level and left Barrichello behind.

15. Alexander Wurz

No 2006 ranking

On his overdue return to F1 racing Wurz has raced well but qualified badly – he’s 8-1 down to team mate Nico Rosberg on qualifying pace. It’s an enormous problem given how difficult overtaking is this year, which he needs to get on top of. His drives in Monaco and Canada were top-drawer, however.

14. Sebastian Vettel

No 2006 ranking

How high can you rank a driver on the strength of a single race? Vettel scored a point on his F1 d???but, and became the youngest ever driver to do so. Compared to team mate Nick Heidfeld, he did at least as well as 2006 star rookie Robert Kubica. Apart from that first corner mistake it was a seriously impressive d???but. It’s just a pity Lewis Hamilton has moved the goalposts.

13. Jenson Button

2006 ranking: 4

The ten-place fall in the F1F rankings for Button is much more a reflection on the skill he is able to show in the ghastly RA107 than him. The quick, consistent Button that broke Honda’s duck in France was a totally different creature to the one that slogged around at the back of the first seven races. The better Button needs to keep showing up.

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, Barcelona, 200712. Heikki Kovalainen

No 2006 ranking

His d???but at Melbourne was hair-raising and contrasted starkly with Hamilton’s. But Kovalainen picked himself up off the floor and has beaten team mate Giancarlo Fisichella in three of the last four races. I’d bet on him being firmly on top by the end of the season.

11. Mark Webber

2006 ranking: 6

There’s only so much you can do with a car that breaks down in more races than anyone else’s. Webber continues to qualify the car very strongly – six times in the top ten. But team mate David Coulthard has shown him up on race pace. That’s not something Webber is used to, and it’s no coincidence that Coulthard’s just been signed for another year.

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4 comments on 2007 drivers’ half-term report – part one

  1. “Kovalainen picked himself up off the floor and has beaten team mate Giancarlo Fisichella in three of the last four races. I’d bet on him being firmly on top by the end of the season.”

    6/4 at Bet365

  2. You’re totally wrong about Scott Speed. :)

  3. Number 38 said on 16th July 2007, 22:20

    The Scott Speed fan club has just spoken. Take heed! I’m from the Davidson supporters and have to admit he’s had a tough time this year but the race manager has to take MOST of the fault……In a 15 minute Q1 session we rarely
    see Lil Ant out for more than 3 or 4 high speed laps. You don’t qualify sitting in the pits and then roll the dice in the last three minutes hoping for that “one hot lap” IN TRAFFIC.
    He runs well when in the open,
    just needs more RACING mileage.

  4. I’m from the Spyker supporter club – and even I can’t argue against Christijan Albers having P23 on the list. The only thing I can say in mitigation is that the problem appeared to be lack of compatibility with the car rather than outright lack of skill. Still, I can understand the (very) low opinion. It’s nice to see Sutil’s skills recognised for what they are as well.

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