The half-way point in the season has passed and it’s time to pass judgement on the performances of each of the drivers so far.
Who have been the best and worst drivers so far this year?
Here’s my verdict – as ever do share yours as we go along.
22 Nelson Piquet Jnr
2007 ranking: n/a
Apart from his points score at Magny-Cours it’s been painful watching Nelson Piquet Jnr’s Grand Prix debut. He’s been repeatedly off the road and a long way off Fernando Alonso’s pace – even taking into account the fact his team-mate is a twice champion.
21 Takuma Sato
The decline and death of Super Aguri was a sad sight. The drivers were usually under instructions to simply bring the cars home undamaged as the team couldn’t afford to repair them. But Sato couldn’t manage even that, somehow managing to hit a barrier on a Hermann Tilke circuit, of all places.
20 Adrian Sutil
It was a terrible shame to see his gutsy drive at Monte-Carlo cut short by Kimi Raikkonen’s error. But for most of the race of the season Sutil has been down on Fisichella’s pace. Given Heikki Kovalainen comfortably beat Fisichella over most of last year, Sutil needs to be doing the same to justify his place in F1. Very handy in the wet though.
19 Giancarlo Fisichella
Consistent but unspectacular now he’s back at Force India (formerly Jordan), Fisichella made a howler of a mistake at the start of the Turkish Grand prix and otherwise little has been seen of him. His technical input has won praise from the team, however.
18 Anthony Davidson
Quicker and more consistent than Sato over four races, but that limited frame of reference isn’t enough to reasonably place him any higher than this. Definitely deserves a proper F1 shot with a bona fide outfit.
17 Sebastien Bourdais
2007 ranking: n/a
Yet to show much speed and, ominously, is already talking about how much better he might do next year with slick tyres. Highly rated team mate Sebastian Vettel has largely led the way this year but Bourdais is making discernible improvements and is doing a better job of bringing the car home.
16 Timo Glock
2007 ranking: n/a
The 2007 GP2 champion has had little opportunity to show off his wheel-to-wheel racing skills and has largely been in his team mate’s wheel tracks. His run to fourth at Canada was mature and opportunistic, however, and he’s finished every race since Malaysia.
15 Jenson Button
Team mate Rubens Barrichello has thoroughly usurped Button in his role as the safe pair of hands guiding Honda’s latest shed into those useful points-paying positions. Button could have had an excellent result in the wet at Monaco but he hit Nick Heidfeld. With Honda apparently on the hunt for a big-name star to join the team, Button needs the kind of results Barrichello is getting – and fast.
14 Kazuki Nakajima
One of the pleasant surprises of the year. The omens for Nakajima did not look good early in the year. Seen as a political appointment for Williams atToyota’s behest, he parked on top of his pit crew at Interlagos last year and then rammed Robert Kubica out of the Melbourne race during a safety car period.
Happily things have imprved quickly. He’s been in the points four times – once more than team mate Nico Rosberg – and has begun to get on terms with his team mate’s qualifying pace.
13 Nico Rosberg
Since that excellent podium at Melbourne Rosberg has suffered from the see-sawing performance of Williams’ FW30. The team admit they have been neglecting the current car at the expense of developing the FW31. But Rosberg has made quite a few mistakes as well, notably at Monte-Carlo and Montreal.
12 David Coulthard
It will be a shame to see David Coulthard go at the end of the season but when you compare his results with his team mates it’s hard to make a case for Red Bull keeping him. Webber’s been in the points six times, Coulthard once, though if his Montreal podium was fortunate it also spoke volumes about his maturity and composure as a driver. Otherwise it’s the same Coulthard story – not quite quick enough in qualifying, and too many avoidable incidents.
11 Rubens Barrichello
Barrichello had a poor 2007, and 2008 started badly as well with disqualification in Melbourne for leaving the pit lane while the red light was on. But his new status as F1′s most experienced driver ever and reunion with ex-Ferrari mastermind Ross Brawn seems to have brought out the best in Barrichello. He took advantage of streaming wet weather at Silverstone to score points for the third time this year and get back on the podium. Wasn’t that supposed to be Button’s job?
Join us tomorrow for part two. To make sure you don’t miss it subscribe to F1 Fanatic by RSS or email.
(I originally wanted to do this post using some of the excellent contributions made to the discussion of top drivers on the forum. However due to a technical glitch with the forum I have been unable to, for which I apologise.)