Who was the best driver of 2008? Who failed to perform? Did the best man win the world championship?
Over the next three days I’m going to be rating and ranking the drivers of 2008, using your suggestions and ideas from the thread on the F1 Fanatic forum (which is still open for last-minute submissions).
We start today with the bottom ten, and end on Friday with your votes for the best F1 driver of 2008.
Takuma Sato – There was little for him to achieve with the Super Aguri early in the season, but he hardly helped matters by crashing in qualifying at Bahrain.
Anthony Davidson – The collapse of Super Aguri robbed of us of an intriguing inter-team battle that Davidson looked to be gaining the upper hand in.
20. Nelson Piquet Jnr
Mid-season rank: 22 (out of 22)
Really should have delivered more. Of course he’s a rookie, but he really got trashed by Alonso. Nice second place at Hockenheim, but that was obviously extremely lucky.
Piquet’s debut was always going to be tough, with his father’s legacy to live up to and an ill-handling car to drive. On top of that his team mate was Fernando Alonso, probably the best all-round F1 driver of recent years.
But even so Piquet posted more non-mechanical DNFs than any other driver and the gap between his average starting position and his team mate’s was the widest of any pairing on the grid. Germany was a shining moment – although he lucked into the lead he kept his cool and scored a fine second.
The team insisted he showed great promise in testing but struggled to translate it into race performance. His detractors say he’s only there because Fernando Alonso won’t tolerate a competitive team mate.
19. David Coulthard
Mid-season rank: 12
Very sad final season. A friend put it well “last year Dc only start to race when it looks he might score some points, this year he only show up on sunday the two times when it looked he could score a podium
Coulthard’s F1 career came to an end with his worst ever performance in the championship. A depressing fact, allied to his heart-breaking exit from his final race, when he was tapped into a spin by Nico Rosberg.
It had been a year of incidents for Coulthard – some his fault, others not. Only a canny third place at Montreal afforded him some respite in a gloomy year.
18. Kazuki Nakajima
Mid-season rank: 14
Benefits a lot for low expectations and did much less rookies mistakes than Piquet. He also almost never did more than bring the awful Williams car home till the end while hoping other have problems.
Williams praised Kazuki Nakajima’s progress throughout 2008, though it was sometimes difficult to see exactly why. He did score some useful points early in the season, but was usually a long way off team mate Nico Rosberg’s pace.
17. Giancarlo Fisichella
Mid-season rank: 19
The VJM01 was not a car with which Fisichella could expect to make a case for his return to a top-line team. But it often seemed it wasn’t just the car that left something to be desired. The value of the team having such an experienced driver might have seemed hard to appreciate when Fisichella made the sort of mistake he made at Istanbul – the kind of thing Lewis Hamilton would have been pilloried for.
16. Adrian Sutil
Mid-season rank: 20
There wasn’t much to separate the Force India drivers over the course of the season, but it was Sutil he gave the team their strongest performance of the year, running an excellent fourth at Monaco. Of course, we all know what happened next. On top of such misfortune, Sutil also had more mechanical DNFs than any other driver.
15. Jenson Button
Mid-season rank: 15
The Honda pair led lives of quiet desperation in 2008. Button, though, might have had more to smile about had he not clipped Nick Heidfeld’s BMW early in the running at Monaco. Team mate Rubens Barrichello firmly put one over him at Button’s home track as well. There were times when the two fought tooth and nail in an exclusive battle over some obscure position the television cameras don’t see, like at Fuji, where Barrichello again had a narrow win.
14. Sebastien Bourdais
Mid-season rank: 17
Poor Sebastien Bourdais. When he achieved his best qualifying position of the year at Monza, his car wouldn’t start. When he got the better of his flavour-of-the-month team mate at Fuji, he received a dubious penalty from the stewards.
On other occasions he was the architect of his own demise – like that careless crash with Trulli at Shanghai. There were clear signs of progress from Bourdais through the season and I hope he gets another chance in 2009.
13. Rubens Barrichello
Mid-season rank: 11
Much better than Button. A class drive on Silverstone and overall his best Honda season. Too bad Honda’s car was just impossible.
After two years at Honda spent largely in Button’s wheel tracks, Barrichello came out on top in 2008. He grabbed an excellent, opportunistic podium at Silverstone in dreadful conditions. F1’s most experienced driver is surely not ready to be pensioned off just yet.
12. Timo Glock
Mid-season rank: 16
Impressive rookie. Especially the second half of the season he showed his talent. Someone to look out for in the future
I thought Glock’s second place at the Hungaroring was the under-rated drive of the season, especially as it came so soon after his bruising crash at Hockenheim. That marked the turning point in a season that seemed sharply divided between haphazard rookie performances (including another crash at Melbourne) and some more mature drives later in the year. He didn’t set the world on fire Sebastian Vettel-style, but he showed sincere promise, particularly with his disciplined drive to sixth at Interlagos, tip-toeing around a sodden track on dry weather tyres.
11. Nico Rosberg
Mid-season rank: 13
The awful car often didn’t help, but Rosberg did a little too much mistakes in races where Williams look competitive. But he still looked very fast whatever he got a chance.
Rosberg seized points-scoring opportunities at Melbourne and Singapore to grab a pair of podiums. There were still a few impetuous moments, particularly in wet races, but he gave the impression that he could do very well with a better car at his disposal. But can he get one at Williams?
Here are the rankings from the half-way point in 2008:
- 2008 half-term driver rankings part 1
- 2008 half-term driver rankings part 2
- 2008 half-term driver rankings part 3
The next six drivers will be named tomorrow, ahead of the final top four on Friday and a poll on who you thought was the best driver of 2008.
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