2008 F1 driver rankings part 3

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton was champion - but was he the best driver of 2008?
Lewis Hamilton was champion - but was he the best driver of 2008?

It’s time for the final four. Who was my driver of the year? Read on to find out, and share your verdict below.

4. Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa dominated in Valencia
Felipe Massa dominated in Valencia

Mid-season ranking: 4

In my mind, Massa was definitely the best driver overall in 2008.
– Jean

He was runner up in the world championship by just one point, he won more races that anyone else and he had the best average starting position. So why is Massa only fourth in this list?

Two reasons: first of all, the mistakes. No, he didn?t make as many as the world champion did, but still there were plenty. Crashes and spins marred his first two races, and wet weather still seems to vex Massa more than most: he went off at Monte-Carlo and lost control at Silverstone five times, in a performance that recalled his shocking drive at the same circuit six years earlier.

Some may feel he deserves the championship more than Lewis Hamilton because Massa won more races and suffered more breakdowns. I understand that point of view, but I don?t agree with it. Every F1 car is a compromise between performance and reliability: if Massa?s had been more reliable, perhaps it would not have been as fast?

There were a few days when Massa simply didn?t figure. One of them was Spa, where he lagged behind Kimi Raikkonen ?ǣ but was later handed the win in controversial circumstances. At Shanghai, too, he fell so far behind Raikkonen the Finn had to go to great lengths to back off and let Massa past.

Those moments aside, Massa was deeply impressive in 2008, dispelling any notion that he would have to play second fiddle to Raikkonen. The suggestion that Raikkonen ended up behind his team mate at the end of the year because he was less fortunate than Massa simply doesn?t stand up: Massa was simply too quick for him, too often.

And that?s not something many expected to be the case when they paired up two years ago.

3. Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso ended Renault\'s two-year win drought in Singapore
Fernando Alonso ended Renault's two-year win drought in Singapore

Mid-season ranking: 5

Several mistakes earlier in the season (Canada and Monaco), but at the end of the season he was brilliant again. Completely annihilated Piquet.
– Patrickl

Fernando Alonso was conclusively the best driver over the final four races, in which he scored two wins and a podium finish. Those performances weren?t just the consequence of hard work at the race track (or, in the case of Singapore, a slice of good fortune), they were forged over months of development work, an area where Alonso has always been strong.

Fuji was surely his best drive of the year. The first-corner melee shuffled some of the top drivers out of his way, but he still had to out-drive Robert Kubica to take the lead. He accomplished this brilliantly, grinding out the relentless, consistently quick laps we recognise as an Alonso trademark.

Earlier in the year, when the car was mired in the midfield and even the minor points were hard to come by, Alonso seemed to lack his usual edge. A wet Monaco seemed tailor-made for him: he’d won there twice before and is a recognised ace in the wet, but it didn’t come together. At Hockenheim his temperament got the better of him, and after gesticulating furiously at Sebastian Vettel (whom Alonso felt had blocked him in the pits), Alonso spun off.

But by the end of the season he was back at his best, and with a rejuvenated Renault underneath him 2009 could see Alonso fighting for the championship once again.

2. Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton: the bad bits were bad, but the good moments were sublime
Lewis Hamilton: the bad bits were bad, but the good moments were sublime

Mid-season ranking: 3

Less brilliant than last year and often still given signs of being to hot tempered, but when he was in one of his days no one could come even close to him.
– Filipe

Hamilton?s season had ??win or crash? written all over it. On any given lap he could usually be found in one of the top two positions or toiling round towards the back of the field having tangled with a rival or been handed a penalty.

Plenty has been written about the world champion?s error-strewn performance in 2008. He hit Alonso, he hit Raikkonen. He received more penalties than anyone else, and ruined his starts at Bahrain and Fuji.

This is not an exhaustive list. But no driver ever attained greatness by avoiding mistakes, and on the flip side of Hamilton’s woeful moments were some examples of true racing brilliance.

Shown a wet track at Monte-Caro, Silverstone and Monza he sometimes lapped it whole seconds faster than his rivals could. Not for nothing was he voted F1’s best wet weather driver on this site a few months ago.

Hamilton started from pole position more times than anyone else and won more races on the track as well – whatever the stewards had to say about it. He pulverised his team mate, too.

Towards the end of the season he seemed to have finally learned the lesson that F1 championships these days are less about the points you win and more about the points you don?t lose. He trod carefully at Singapore while shadowing David Coulthard, and erred on the side of caution all weekend at Interlagos.

Some are asking if Hamilton now has a place among the all-time greats. Such talk is grossly premature ?ǣ he may be the youngest ever champion, but that alone is not enough to make him one of the best ever. But if he can match his obvious speed and instinctive race craft to a cool head, that could set him on the path to greatness.

1. Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica showed his class with an error-free race at Monte-Carlo
Robert Kubica showed his class with an error-free race at Monte-Carlo

Mid-season ranking: 1

Even though BMW dropped off the pace, Kubica has still had a late chance for the title.
– Dan

By the end of the season everyone has formed a view on which driver was the best. But I often find opinions about this sort of thing can get distracted by the later races of the year and ignore how the season began. If you fall into that trap, it’s easy to underestimate how good Robert Kubica’s performance was over the whole of 2008.

What makes Formula 1 such a challenging sport to analyse is the fact that every competitor is in a different car to all but one of his rivals. Three drivers conclusively got much more out of their cars over most of the season than their team mates, and they are the three drivers at the top of my list.

Kubica is top because not only was he consistently fast, he was the most error-free. And that was clearest of all over the first half of the season. Some produced better performances later on in the year, but taking the season as a whole, I fully believe Kubica was the better man.

At Melbourne he was hit by a lapped car. During the first half of the season he only finished behind the faster McLarens or Ferraris, and often ahead of a few of them as well. And at Canada, everyone was behind him. Some might suggest he lost a win at Fuji to Alonso. Looking at the data, I think he did an exceptional job in keeping Raikkonen at bay for second.

The only mistake worthy of the name all year was a spin in the pouring rain at Silverstone. Other drivers lost control many times in that race, but Kubica had the misfortune to spin into a gravel trap.

BMW, for whatever reason, seemed less interested in throwing their weight into a title effort this year, and more concerned with remedying Nick Heidfeld’s qualifying problems and sorting their preparations for 2009. Making matters worse, Kubica’s race at Singapore was destroyed by the appearance of the safety car at an inopportune moment, and a slow pit stop ruined his race at Hungary.

BMW may come to regret their choice of priorities if Kubica switches to another team in the near future. With a MP4/23 or F2008 at his disposal he would surely have been champion. With a little less misfortune, he might even have done it in an F1.08. And for that reason, Kubica is my driver of the year.

Who’s your driver of the year? Share your verdict below and vote in the 2008 best F1 driver poll.

59 comments on “2008 F1 driver rankings part 3”

  1. Alonso above Massa is a little unfair on the Brazilian. Alonso was best if considered the 2nd half alone; but his 1st half was shabby: Monaco, Canada, Germany (which were lottery races; and he could have done better). Massa was shabby only at 3 races: Australia; Malaysia; Silverstone.

    And I was always of the opinion that Lewis and Massa should be together in this list. Either 1-2,2-3,3-4. They were very very close all season. Putting any driver in their midst seems injustice.

  2. That’s weird. You put a consistent driver on top, yet you advocate a medal system that would work especially against consistency? On the other hand you put Massa down when the medals system actually would improve his rank.

    Personally I would put both Hamilton and Alonso ahead of Kubica. All three had a few races where they performed subpar, but Kubica never really showed any special drives (like Hamilton did at Silverstone, Germany, Monza and Monaco and Alonso did at Fuji and Interlagos)

    Kubica messed up at Silverstone and in qualifying in the last two races. Hamilton messed up in Bahrain, Canada and to a lesser extent Fuji (and was hit by unfair stewards decisions in France and Spa). Alonso messed up in Monaco and Canada (although that’s claimed to be a mechanical fault). Am I missing some mistakes there? Otherwise I’d say Alonso made the least mistakes of the three.

    Hamilton and Alonso were pushing harder too. Just driving till race end like Kubica does is less dangerous than actually overtaking cars like Hamilton and Alonso were doing. When Kubica ran into safety car trouble, he just sat there behind the car in front of him.

  3. I find it very difficult to rank Alonso, Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kubica and Vettel.

    Massa, Hamilton and Raikkonen because they were in superior equipment but didn’t produce as much as they could have. Raikkonen fared worse then the first two, obviously, but I figure he lost about 15 points to bad luck (Hamilton crashing into him, exhaust going pop, ceding positions to Massa, pit-wall spectacles). Kubica was stable but didn’t really pull of any stellar drives, Vettel perhaps the opposite with a few exceptional perfomances late season but otherwise milquetoast performance. It’s hard to gauge just how much the shitty early season Renault held Alonso back.

    I’m pretty sure I’d end up putting Alonso on top, with Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Kubica in some kind of mid tier, with Vettel close by.

  4. Hmm I was thinking similar things to Patrickl!

    Some may feel he deserves the championship more than Lewis Hamilton because Massa won more races and suffered more breakdowns. I understand that point of view, but I don’t agree with it.

    Surely thats advocating consistancy, Keith?!!! =P

  5. I’ve never said I was “against consistency”, but I think performance is more important, and my opinion is Hamilton out-performed Massa.

    And Kubica out-performed the lot of them.

  6. If too many factors are considered , it gets confusing , and even impossible to rate drivers . In Massa’a case , he would have won with the same luck as Hamilton , so I put him above. Both made some mistakes , but then both also drove races which were even above the capabilities of their superb machinery , and that makes up for the mistakes and more. Alonso as we know was solid , particularly in the second half. Kubica , yes the least mistakes , but then I must question if he was giving his maximum and even more , like I believe Ham. and Massa did , hence I don’t believe overall he was the best.

  7. If you look back at the points standing after each race you will see that Hamilton was in the lead most of the season. He also had a few outstanding performances not matched by any of the other drivers. I would have it, Hamilton, Massa, Alonso, Kubica.

  8. Massa
    That’s how i see top4.

  9. Keith, you’ve done a comprehensive job on this driver ranking. – you’re a obviously complete ranker.

    Three drivers conclusively got much more out of their cars over most of the season than their team mates, and they are the three drivers at the top of my list.

    That’s true for Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, but Robert Kubica was only 15 points (25%) and 2 places ahead of his team mate Nick Heidfeld in the WDC. He was *consistently* ahead of ‘quick’ Nick but not hugely so. Certainly, this is a much better performance than last year, when he was 22 points behind. It shows Kubica to be improved, but the best? I think BMW made the right call in focussing on 2009. If outperforming your team mate were the key criterion, you would have to rank Seb Vettel even higher. And if we’re talking about the percentage of a team’s points one driver scores relative to his team mate, then Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and even Rubens Barrichello (!) are looking good.

    I also think both Ferrari drivers could have made more of their car. Ferrari were faster than McLaren in Q2 at 11/18 races, and set quicker fastest laps in 14/18 races. This is reflected in your rankings of both Ferrari drivers (but putting Massa fourth after his performances in Interlagos, Valencia, Bahrain, and Turkey is tough). But in my mind, this elevates both McLaren drivers. Despite Ron Dennis’s proclamations, McLaren had marginally but definitely only the second fastest car on the grid. True, there was more rain than usual this season and this played more to Mclaren than Ferrari, but I think Lewis delivered some astonishing performances and Heikki wasn’t as bad as his points tally suggests.

    I plotted your rankings against the WDC positions. As with all rankings I have seen, there’s an enormous correlation between drivers’ subjective performances and their WDC position. A best fit line to the scatterplot splits the field in two, with mainly drivers slower than their team mate above the line (ie ranked as worse by KC than their WDC position suggests) and mainly drivers faster than their team mate below the line (ranked as better by KC than their WDC position suggests). The only exceptions to this, funnily enough, are at the extreme ends of the rankings. Bourdais and Button are ranked higher by Keith than their car’s speed and team mates’ performances would suggest. Lewis and Felipe, conversely, are ranked lower by Keith than their cars’ speed and team mates’ performances suggest.

    Without anyone laughing at me, can I put in a good word for Nelson Piquet? He’s ranked plum last (not just by Keith) because his modest collection of points is considered a fluke in an otherwise dismal year. But is this pattern of results something to do with Pat Symond’s tactical genius? He deliberately sent Piquet out with weird strategies, knowing that every few races he would luck in to a few points he would otherwise never get. Conversely, when the weird strategy didn’t play out, Piquet was guaranteed zero points. I would put money on him being closer to Alonso next year. Maybe 5 places behind on the grid instead of 7.

    Lewis #1, btw. No doubt about it, in my completely unbiased mind.

  10. I think Kubica being given the number 1 slot is not a reflection on him being the out and out best driver, instead I think that this season saw an unprecedented amount of errors from the other drivers which leaves to doubts cast on the other drivers.

    Kubica demonstrated he knows how to bring the car home while being consistent – but there were very few moments in the season that I was openly impressed by his ability to take a race to anyone. If the BMW was fast – then so was he, but if it was average, then so was Kubica.

    It is the other drivers fault that they messed up more than Kubica, so hats of to him, but I am still cautious as to if Robert is the out and out fastest driver in the field – but that is another question all together!!

    If Alonso had a better 1st half of the season I would have gone for the ex champion.

  11. Oh Please

    Keith, I think you have been rattled this year by some of your posters, and have gone out of your way to “Appear” to be unbiased.

    But it shows through, and as such, though I find what you write interesting, I do not believe it is what you really feel.

    Kubica got lucky in Canada, where a year before his red mist nearly killed himself. Then he started bitching and moaning about BMW, hardly professional. You make him nmber 1? Does this have anything to do with the number of Poles who visit your site per chance?

  12. in my opinion kubica is only a solid driver who lucked into his win in canada when hamilton took raikkonen out; as consistent as he and bmw may have been, they mostly did not appear to have the raw pace to win this season! his relatively disappointing end to the season where he was outperformed by heidfeld seems to have been glossed over too.

    i would have ranked him fourth, alonso third massa second and hamilton first…

  13. I wouldn’t have even put Kubica in the top 4. One lucky win, consistent, yes, but the best? No way. Massa had some great races, especially Brazil — under pressure, and Hamilton had much “higher highs”. If you put Kubica and Hamilton in the same team, i think Lewis would destroy him on sheer pace. Alonso redeemed himself to me this year by never giving up and taking some risks. My top 4:

  14. Fair evaluation.

  15. I actually agree on this one with Keith.
    If you’d know more about how BMW operates you’d realize that development stopped almost completely after Canadian GP – which was only a 7th GP this year. With that being said Kubica was still 12 points within Lewis after Japanese GP (with two races to go!). If that’s not over achieving then I don’t know what is.

  16. Kubica #1? Come on man. The mark of any great competitor in any sport is there ability to finish when the game is on the line. Kubica just went straight into the tank at the end of the season when he was in the title hunt. This completely disqualifies him from even being considered.

  17. Keith, this post is regarding best drivers, not about the car manufacturers, is not it? So IMO ranking should be done based on the drives alone and how much can a driver get the best out of his car.
    Based on that I wud rank
    1. Lewis (Had gr8 drives in Britain and Monaco, always pressed for win)
    2. Alonso (A close behind, superb in the second half, made less mistakes than the top two)
    3. Massa (Again a close 3rd, due to unwatchable mistakes)
    4. Kubica (Always consistent but has he pressed for some position gains ever? Apart from the last lap in Interlagos?)

  18. I think it is odd how everybody still thinks that monaco was the race where Hamilton was brilliant and Massa lost the lead due to a mistake in the wet…somethings a bit wrong here.

    But in my opinion Massa and Hamilton where really even matched over the season; both had one retirement after a stupid mistake (Malaysia, Canada), one embarassingly slow race (Bahrain, Silverstone), and an equal share of dominant and average drives. At most races, Massa had a slightly faster car, but also a less reliable one.

    In my opinion they should be equal second behind Kubica. Alonso’s first half of the season was too bad to put him ahead of Massa.

  19. I agree with that ranking. Robert’s season was really impressive. BMW didn’t have the pace to fight for even one win. BMW were always slower than fastest car (depends on track – Mcl or Ferrari) 0.4s in Australia, Bahrain and Malaysia and about 1s in second part of the season. Despite that Kubica was able to outperform his car and in normal race conditions did fantastic job. Sometimes in qualyfying, sometimes at the start of the race he won with Mcl or Ferrari drivers. Kubica was always fast and only in Interlagos with “great” team strategy decision looks nowhere.
    Unfortunately BMW decided to switch resources on 2009 car, and what’s really strange Kubica got only two test days in 2nd part of the season.

    To be honest, as Kubica said after Interlagos the best driver of the season is the World Champion.

    Driver’s rankings is just amusement. For me as F1 and Kubica fan the most important thing is that Robert, Vettel and Massa showed they are able fight for championship when car is alright. They joined to Alonso, Kimi and Lewis.

  20. @Keith Collantine, I see one mistake. Kubica race was ruined in Spa cause slow pit stop, not Hungary. At Hungary BMW did amateur mistake with tyres pressure and Robert with Nick were slower than Force India :)

  21. Kubica is very good, but I just can’t rate him quite that high. For me Massa takes the cake this year, he truly displayed dominance, next I have Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Kubica tie and then Raikonnen.

  22. Personal I think you have the top 5 wrong. I agreed with the rest of the positions but Massa developed more than any other driver this year.

    To put Alonso, who had a shocking first half of the season, and Hamilton who made some of the worst unforced errors, above of Massa seems incredible harsh. Especially considering that you give Massa so much grief for his performance in the wet, when it’s well known that the Ferrari was a handful in anything but perfect conditions this year. Yet Hamilton’s kind of unforced errors of driving into the back of another driver in the pit lane, or completely out braking himself on more than one occasion seems not to go against him in the slightest.

    I agree to decide on the top 5 is incredibly difficult considering we saw one of the worst driven (yet most exciting) seasons in a while. It just seems a little biased against Massa, who as I already said, developed the most, and actually won the most races the season.

  23. I think there is much rationalisation of choice here with Kubica. Its based on non-falsifiable presumptions as much as what we saw on the track. The development question is not whether they stopped but about about the BMW’s actual design potential: if they did stop, then presumably insufficient. That the team sacrificed his speed to help Heidfeld is without facts in evidence.

    His late season viability was due to the HAM & MAS late-season comedy extravaganza and weather disasters as much as his “consistency.” And he won his only race after spectacular hijinks I needn’t repeat.

    Further, to assume he wins the crown in a top-two car is hard to accept given that 2x WDC Alsono does not top HAM in the same car on speed. And both Hamilton and Alonso destroy their respective teammates this year, with ALO winning two races with a car that was much weaker for most of the year.

    Does he beat all of MAS, RAI and HAM in a top-two car this year? Its not an insane proposition from what little basis we have for direct comparison. But his #1 ranking on this basis is tantamount putting him above the winners of the last 4 WDC winners. And this is without any evidence of a truly stunning performance, but instead, “consistency,” and rumours of effective sabotage, that’s just over-the-top. And it is not consistent with the qualified speculative nature of his hagiography here.

    For the record, I put this season’s ranking as ALO, HAM, MAS, VET

  24. I’m with Keith.
    Use your imagination guys! Lets put Robert in one of the best car this year, where both drivers got full team support (Ferrari) and probably at the end of this season he’ll be a champion with arround 150 points.

  25. @Richard – instead of using imagination, I’ll use history. Back in 2001, Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Raikkonen were team mates at Sauber. Over 17 races, Heidfeld actually qualified on average 0.7 places ahead of Kimi. If you look at the first 17 races Heidfeld and Kubica drove together as teammates, Heidfeld qualified on average 1.0 places ahead of Kubica. They have now been together 40 races and Kubica has improved somewhat, but I don’t think it’s possible to be confident that if Raikkonen and Kubica were team mates, the Pole would wipe the floor with the Finn. The same pretty much applies if Kubica was partnering Massa (whom Heidfeld out-qualified when they were team mates at Sauber in 2002).

    You and Keith might be absolutely right that Kubica is the bee’s knees, but I’ll reserve judgement until he’s in a race winning car.

  26. Anonymouse – I don’t know where you get the idea that I claim to be unbiaised. I’ve never said anything of the sort. Bias is inevitable – everyone is biaised and if anyone tells you they’re not they’re either ignorant of the subject, lying or stupid. You can try to be impartial – and I do – but you never achieve it 100% of the time.

    I can’t understand why you think my choice of Kubica as driver of the year is anything but sincere. I’ve told you why I thought he was the best and I don’t think it’s a minority view. I just opened Autosport and their number one driver this year is Kubica is well – in fact they’ve picked the top five the same as I did. Are they pandering to a populist view as well?

    I take the suggestion that I picked Kubica to encourage Polish visitors to the site almost as an insult. Surely you do not seriously think I just put up views I think people will agree with? You should see how many people disagree with me about Ecclestone’s ‘Gold Medals’ idea. I do not put up ‘popular’ ideas to pander; I do not put up ‘unpopular’ ideas to provoke. I write what I think, and my opinions are sincerely held.

    Nirupam – Yes this is about the drivers but I think you have to take the quality of car they had to drive into consideration to understand how well a driver has done. The difficulty is in how far you take it, and I think in order to get the complete picture you have to be at the side of the track which, unfortunately, I can’t do right now. To take the Autosport example again, they have Rubens Barrichello in ninth…

    Kester – I agree Massa improved enormously this year, but there’s more to a driver’s performance than how much he has ‘improved’ over previous seasons.

  27. Massa was also a bit off colour at Shanghai and Spa.

  28. 1. Kubica – fast and didn’t make mistakes (more or less.)
    2. Alonso – again, quick and consistent.
    3. Hamilton – very fast on some circuits, rookie mistakes on others.
    =4. Massa – Fast, so long as he was near the front of the field.
    =4. Vettel – Fairly quick and reliable.

    I’ve only been watching this season since Hungary, though, so I’ve ranked them according to what I’ve seen.

  29. 1. Kubica
    2. Alonso
    3. Hamilton
    =4. Massa
    =4. Vettel

    Only been watching this season since Hungary, though, so that’s what I’m basing this on.

  30. Kubica was not the best driver, how totally ridiculous. He had a great season but he was under no pressure at all as he was never expected to win. At times he was near the top at times he was nowhere. Lewis was world champion and although he made some mistakes also produced some truly great drives – to give it to Kubica purely on consistency and a lack of mistakes is a joke.

  31. Hamilton. We’re not yet discussing whether Kubica is a potential great or a new Senna etc. The fact that this is a question (and I agree, as yet very much unanswered) with Hamilton means his driving must be fairly exceptional. And if that’s the case, why rank him less than first in a year where he won the championship? In his second year in F1?

    Of course, there are other rationale for ‘best driver’ rankings: best consistency (Kubica), best real endeavour and driving improvement (Massa), best car improvement (Alonso), best hint at greatness (Vettel), etc… But best driver? Hamilton.

  32. Keith, I agree with your ranking with the exception of putting Alonso ahead of Massa which is too generous for Fernando.
    As far as Kubica, he got the most out of his hardware – something one can’t say about the other guys. That alone makes him the best driver. Now, the final position in the race is the result of man and machine performance combined. Given that he had inferior equipment, and that the BMW team didn’t help later in the season as they were caught off-guard with is performance and unprepared to change plans, KUB’s ending the season in the top three/four is a huge accomplishment. Obviously the ‘man’ component far outperformed the ‘machine’ or he wouldn’t be in the title fight for so long. Surprisingly some continue to use the argument that KUB capitalized on others’ mistakes and that diminishes his result. What a piece of nonsense! Like he was sitting around and waiting for a handout. Then what about the other 16 or 17 guys? were they all sleeping?

  33. 1 – Massa
    2 – Hamilton
    3 – Alonso
    4 – Kubica

    For me, Massa was the most improved driver this year, he was untouchable in several races, scored more wins than anyone else, made far fewer mistakes and lost the championship through poor team work and poor luck. He might not be world champion, but all of this and his reaction to losing proved that he is world class. Whilst I would understand 2nd place, especially here, I don’t see any rationale for having him 4th.

  34. Massa bad performance in Monaco??? Are you serious??? He was fastest in the wet and made a tiny error… which only cost him 5-6 seconds.. compared to everyone else. Only reason why Hamilton won was because he made a massive error and crashed into a wall!!!

    Get you stuff right before you post them.

  35. Keith – interesting final four. Identical to Autosport’s final four actually!!

    I agree with you that BMW is culpable for possibly throwing away a championship. Focusing on Kubica (not Heidfeld) and 2008 (not 2009) could have seen us with more Pole on pole

  36. Hamilton above Massa is fair. Kubika above all is fair.

    But Alonso above Massa isn’t. His 1st half was not at all good. Consider this; Trulli, Nico, Glock, David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello; his team-mate Nelson Piquet, Vettel; all made it to the podium before him. And this season was strewn with lottery races.

    Alonso’s performance took an upswing only in the last 4 races; that was only after Renault had improved their R28. Mind you; the R28 improved only because; everyone had shifted their attention to 2009 by then.

    In my book.
    1. Kubika

  37. aahhh consistency, the hobgoblin of the narrow minded. Give me death or glory drivers every day of the week. Im sure you could write a computer program that would prove that Kubica is the best driver as well but thankfully human instinct still counts for something.

    A little shine just came off this site

  38. Why do people keep saying that Massa improved so much this year? Improved compared to what?

    Compare his results from the last two seasons and you’ll see they are almost identical. Same number of podiums, same number of poles and just about the same number of points (with one race more though). He was fast on the same circuits in both years. Both season’s showed bad luck and driver errors here and there. Seriously, it’s almost a carbon copy of last years results.

    The difference is that McLaren was slower this year (and they lost Alonso and Alonso lost McLaren) and Raikkonen made a huge number of mistakes. Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen scored less points etc. So his competitors were indeed a lot “worse” than previous season, but that doesn’t make Massa “better”.

    I’d say Massa actually performed worse than previous season (seeing how he had the same result with less competition and a race more), but obviously a lot “less worse” than his competitors. Indeed this made Massa look relatively better, but the reality is that he performed just about the same as the year before.

  39. patrick. i think you could call it that way but equally you could say that it was a more competitive environment therefore drivers were bound to be put under more pressure and therefore make more mistakes. More drivers won races than i can ever remember and it is to Lewis and Massa’s credit that faced with Kimi, Heikki, Alonso, Vettel and Kubica they managed to come out on top. I think Massa has improved enormously since he joined F1, but i agreeless than comment consent over the last 2 seasons.

    On another point; You can make any subjective opinion you want on who was better but at the end of the day the points gained tell the story. If your telling me driving a Ferrari or a Mclaren doesnt have its own very individual demands compared to driving a Torro Rosso then your kidding yourself. Kubica i still think is iver rated – hes basically the dark horse that the media ignore that afficionado’s like to say “ahh yes, hes actually the best” implying some sort of knowledge no one else is party to. Fact is hes steady, his racecraft is offensively still to be proven though defensively he looks excellent. He may well win championships but in cricket would you rather watch Pieterson bat or Boycott?

  40. well that was a surprising choice from you keith. You ranked Kubica as number 1……. wouldnt of been my choice but were all entitled to our opinions.
    who was your previous year number 1 ranked driver?

  41. Keith, I just can’t agree with Kubica. Yes, he was robotically consistent for most of the season, but surely not the best in class?

    My top four:

    1. Massa
    2. Hamilton
    3. Kubica
    4. Alonso

  42. I’m sure that should Kubica had started his season like he finished and finished like he started most of you wouldn’t have argued him being the driver of 2008. Unfortunatelly the old quote which goes more or less like: “you always mean as much as your last performance” can be recognized in some of your way of thinking.
    And that’s disappointing.

  43. I’m sure that should Kubica had started his season like he finished and finished like he started most of you wouldn’t have argued him being the driver of 2008.

    Kubica seems like a good qualifier and he’s decent in the race, but he doesn’t show anything extra. No exceptional drives, no overtaking. He just runs his laps and finishes in the position that the car allows him.

    On the other hand, indeed I don’t see why people should ignore that Heidfeld and Kubica scored just about the same number of points in the last 12 races.

    They are really matched much more closely than people give Heidfeld credit for. Sure Heidfeld had some trouble with qualifying and sadly for him that was in the part of the season where the BMW was able to really compete with the top teams. Though he really gave Kubica a run for his money in the majority of the season.

    To be honest I wonder if the roles in the team won’t reverse again. The cars will handle differently and it might suit Heidfeld better again. So who knows, next year Heidfeld might be on top of Kubica as he was in 2007.

  44. Kubica being number one can be argued over and over again, but I think only BMW knows if he truly deserves it. We are not 100% sure what he had at his disposal. In my opinion he always pushed his car. The last couple of qualis you could really see him trying to get everything out of it even though it didn’t amount to anything great.

    Some mentioned that there is no proof that BMW switched their efforts towards Heidfeld. Look at how much testing Kubica did in the second part of the season. Also I believe Kubica when he voiced his opinions. He is always polite and reserved. If he openly said that the tam is not focused on him then it must have been a really big issue and not just him being a primadona.

    Congratulations to Kubica and the top 4!

  45. Kubica was the best driver this year because with such a poor car, with no support and development from the team in the second part of the season, with such pathetic mistakes in tactics made by BMW, with bad team performance in the pit-lane, he could not have done better than 4 place.
    He got maximum what he could get from this team and this car.

  46. I’m pretty sure there were other drivers who did “the best” they could with their car.

  47. John – regarding your comment number nine (belatedly, as the stupid spam filter deleted it) – thanks for the graph it’s really made me think about how I go about putting these rankings together. I wonder how it would look if we plotted other people’s rankings on there?

  48. yeh thats the one, thanks keith. if there was such a thing id rate Mr Spencers post as the 2nd best id ever read on this site – after all mine naturally.

    Seriously though it does maybe put meat on the suspicion that you raised Kubica artifically high – maybe to prompt debate??

  49. It was weird how the notification for John’s post came only yesterday. It wasn’t a spam filter that messed things up.

  50. ‘Artificial’, no – Kubica was my genuine choice.

    But John’s given me some food for thought, no doubt about it. Trouble is, it’s very hard from the outside to discern whether, say, Giancarlo Fisichella’s driven a better season than Heikki Kovalainen. I may come up with new ways of approaching this in the future.

    Patrickl – what notification?

  51. His graph certainly helps at the lower end of the scale and i thought the insight into Piquet was spot on.

    The suspicion has to be that Renault used Piquet to test their contrarion theory -otherwise known as “minority games” where you adopt the least common strategy; Pat Symonds did allude to it in one interview.

  52. Patrickl – what notification?

    Well you said that your response to comment nr 9 is belated due to the spam filter. Yet I received the notfication of John’s post only yesterday evening. Six days after he posted his comment.

    It seems there was something funky going on with the e-mail notifications.

  53. yes i only got that post yesterday also

  54. I received the notfication of John’s post only yesterday evening.

    That would have been when I took it out of the spam filter, triggering the notification. You don’t get a notification when a comment identified as spam is posted (and trust me – you wouldn’t want one!)

  55. Kubica had a chances to win more than one race. Do you remember his outstanding performance at Monaco? Lewis won not because hi was better but because he crashed early and changed tactics!

    1. Kubica only got on the podium because Massa lost speed after the first few laps and because Raikkonen and Kovalainen had to stop.

      Hamilton was in a league of his own. He was lapping a second per lap faster for quite a while creating a gap of 20 or 30 seconds in no time.

      1. OK so why is that Kubica did not lose the speed as Massa did, and why is that he didn’t need to stop like Raikkonen? It was a punishment for the Finn for not having his tyres fitted on time. Kubica didn’t make such a silly mistake. In fact – he was the only driver (well, bar Sutil)in that extremely demanding conditions with no mistake on his belt at all.

        Ham was running nicely, however – if he hadn’t made that early error, he would have finished behind Bob. Why do I think so? And how the heck would he overtake Kubica on the Monte Carlo Circuit ?!

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