Debate: 22 best drivers in the world?

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Montreal, 2007, 3 | Daimler ChryslerFormula 1 is the number one form of motorsport – but does it also have the best racing drivers in the world?

Who would you evict from the F1 grid, and who would you replace them with?

If F1 were just going to have the 22 best drivers in the world, would the grid stay as it is now? Who would you drop and who would you replace.

And just to spare everyone writing in with ‘Michael Schumacher’ as an answer, let’s keep this limited to drivers who haven’t retired from regular competition.

I would definitely drop Sakon Yamamoto, Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, and call up Juan Pablo Montoya (NASCAR), Sebastien Bourdais (who’s already on his way in) and Mika Hakkinen (DTM).

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30 comments on Debate: 22 best drivers in the world?

  1. Fer no. 65 said on 21st August 2007, 15:56

    Robert, we can’t compare the drivers if we don’t see them in exactly the same cars, that’s why i would consider the oldies. I wouldn’t drop them inmediately.

    I bet that there are several drivers that should be able to match the 22 stars we see 18 sundays per year. As drivers get seats not 100% by their abilities, they need loads of money to get in.

    Many F1 drivers were surely beated by others that didn’t have the chance. Ralf for example, if it wasn’t for being the young brother of the then double world champion, im sure it would have been harder for him to get the Jordan seat back in 1997.

  2. I really think the current F1 grid has as much strength in depth as any driver line up in all the time I’ve been following the sport.

    I’d drop Yamamoto and bring in Glock. Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher and Coulthard all certainly have the ability to be in F1, but there is a reasonable argument that they’re past their best and its time they moved aside.

    In that case, I’d bring in Bourdais, Paffett and Romain Grosjean (the last one a bit of an eccentric hunch – a roll of the dice as it were). A decent case can be made for about a dozen other guys though.

  3. Dan M said on 21st August 2007, 18:31

    Paraphrased to keep this short….

    “..If you’re talking entertainment, it might not be. If you’re talking average driver skill, I’d say it is.”

    -F1 is becoming a business and not a Motorsport, therefor it doesn’t need, nor have the best drivers. Its all about who can bring you the most money, it just happens that most of the time that is the winning driver… Not always though. They are great at driving underpowered computer assisted parade billboards but real cars?

    “Fair enought, Number 36, but what would you suggest IS the number one form of motorsport? ”

    -I must say I personally think that WRC has the most skillful drivers and unpredictable action. It has the same amount of passing as F1…. NONE, atleast they race at different time intervals.

    The problem with comparing the two sports/drivers is the same as comparing to F1 teams, they are so drastically different that its hard to compare skill wise. Unless of course we go by “Race of Champions” which is almost always won by the rally guys.

    PS: I’m surprised I didn’t get blasted for the Tony Stewart remark!

  4. You didn’t get blasted because no F1 fan has ever heard of Tony Stewart, Dan. ;)

  5. Daniel said on 21st August 2007, 22:02

    I would replace Ralf, Coulthard, Yamamoto and Liuzzi with Sebastien Bourdais (who’s already on his way, like you said), Timo Glock, (GP2 leader, some F1 experience, not a genius, but deserves his place, considering the current grid), Robert Doornbos (Champ Car rookie of the year, 2nd to Bourdais, considerable F1 experience, but not a genius either), and Nelson Angelo Piquet (runner-up in GP2, after a hard-fought battle with Lewis Hamilton last year… again, considering the current grid, it’s fair enough)

  6. Not sure who I’d dump but I’d like to see Tony Stewart, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon step up the F1 plate.

  7. Number 38 said on 22nd August 2007, 23:18

    Why is it so many are so willing to throw away experienced talent and ‘roll the dice’ on complete no-name, green horn, novice, rookies who offer NOTHING. Virtually every offering above, new drivers entering F1, is justified with the phrase ….. he deserves it! Poppycock! WE deserve better! I don’t buy an F1 ticket to see kids LEARNING f1. Compare each teams ‘matured’ drivers over their rookie drivers, Fisi over Kova, Heidfeld over Kubica, Wurz over Rosberg. Maturity means something. Moves like replaceing Fisi with Piquet or replacing Heidfeld with Vettel would be FOOLISH !!! Drivers that are MORE DESERVING than the new comers from the junior ranks are Klien and DeLaRosa and Montagny. These drivers could offer more to their respective teams and put on a better show for the F1 following.

  8. Without a doubt, montoya. A mix of a strong caracter, and a set of circumstances, gave him no option but to move back to the usa. An interesting move, if he could light the world on fire, over there. A thing he is having a hard time doing.
    Bourdois, another pilot that is good enough to make the cut, thanks berger for looking outside the envelope. From the marketing point of view, we should not forget, rossi, he was close to making a deal, last year, and he should have, if you ask me. Would be an interesting question for him, if he was frank with his answer.The worst case would be to be as bad as fisico, but i do not think worse.

  9. Journeyer said on 22nd August 2007, 23:34

    But Number 38, there’s a problem here. Some of these matured guys already got their shot to win, and they didn’t. Fisi proved that in the last 2 years – and Kovalainen has been beating him as of late. Heidfeld is doing well, but Kubica has been beating him consistently since France. Wurz got that 3rd and 4th, but otherwise, Rosberg has beaten him all season.

    I’m not saying experience isn’t important. It is. However, these youngsters look very good indeed. But how will we know if they’re good enough if we don’t give them a try? After all, there have been drivers who did well in the lower formulae but suck in F1 (Liuzzi and Trulli). And vice versa (Mansell, notably). So there’s no way to know for sure unless they get an F1 shot. And to be honest, I rate Piquet and Vettel. I think giving them good race drives will prove to be a brilliant decision.

    But to avoid what happened most notably with the Red Bull program (Klien, Liuzzi, Speed), they have to be guided well, to be motivated properly. Otherwise, we will never see their full potential.

  10. Number 38 said on 24th August 2007, 22:41

    Hey ‘journeyer’ let’s expand your thesis….”Fisi …. Kovalainen has been beating him as of late. Heidfeld is doing well, but Kubica has been beating him consistently since France. Wurz got that 3rd and 4th, but otherwise, Rosberg has beaten him all season.”

    You seem willing to dump the top performers at half season, using that thought….
    shall we kiss Alonso goodbye, I mean Hamilton’s ahead in points at half season, dump Coulthard ….. after all Webber looked good for a race or two, golee….we could even toss Button out, he’s a non-producer. I did use names to make my point but perhaps, and I’ve used names to continue your thought, but perhaps for the better good NO NAMES are needed. Drivers are abbused in the current F1 environment, they are treated like mere low level EMPLOYEES. Teams rarely make sufficent comittment to those who actually produce the results they expect. You mentioned Trulli (sucks) but a review of the 2005 season shows he had 46 points before Silverstone, he was 4th in the Drivers standings for Renault then old Flavio gave him the pink slip. There is nothing wrong with Trulli, it was Briatore who ended his run, and let’s consider Trulli’s car the passed two years !!!!!!!
    If I had to replace Fisi I’d put Trulli back in the Renault !!!

    I’m trying to make a point…..the seasoned drivers are BEST for the sport, rookies are a necessity, everyone is a rookie once but, to wish for more and more rookies is foolish. I don’t buy a GP ticket to watch kids “learn”. Let’s look at some of the names mentioned above (in various postings) ….. Speed, Luizzi, Klien, Albers, Wilson, Pizzonia (anybody remember him), and several more……..
    All of them lost their seats through no fault of their own, Team management made the call, not us, and each was replaced with yet another low end driver
    who PRODUCED NO BETTER !!! Now enter Bourdais and Vettel and maybe Piquet, and who knows who else……. I see no assurance of “improvement” in 2008.

  11. Oldcastiron said on 17th September 2007, 2:36

    Montoya isn’t even in the top 22 among NASCAR drivers, let alone the top 22 from all forms of 4 wheeled motorsports.

  12. Let’s consider the Red Bull challenge. This was a competition held over the past five years or so to find the best up and coming young American driver(s) and get them into F1. What we found was Scott Speed and he didn’t make the cut after more than a year behind the wheel.

    What we’re asking for here is somebody who can race f***ing anything. How about Ricky Carmichael and Floyd Landis?

  13. pablo said on 3rd October 2007, 10:16

    Out with
    Yamamoto(not up 2 it)
    Wurz(test driver)
    Couthard(past peak)
    Ralf(past peak)
    Rubens(past peak)
    In with
    Piquet jr
    Glock
    Paffet
    Will Power
    Robert Doornbos

  14. well i think that lewis hamilton is the best f1 driver

  15. Santa Claus said on 29th November 2011, 21:04

    None of them? They might be good at driving an open wheeler around a flat asphalt track but good overall DRIVERS? Not at all. Most of the top boys from the WRC would be winners, Sebastian Loeb is probably the best one at the moment but lots of others are excellent too. Of the older generation I think Walter Rohrl would be the obvious first choice.

    Kimi Raikkonen is a former F1 world champ but was properly schooled in the WRC for several years. People good at crashing while steering left (NASCAR) isn’t even close to a list of good drivers.

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