2009 half-term F1 driver rankings part 1

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Two have already been dropped - but who's the best so far?
Two have already been dropped - but who's the best so far?

The summer break is the traditional mid-point of the season, and a good time to take stock of who’s doing well and who’s struggling so far this year.

Here’s part one of my rankings of the F1 drivers so far this year including some of your observations from the forum:

21. Nelson Piquet Jnr

Two of last year’s rookies failed to make it through their second season. Piquet complained with some justification that he never had the equipment or support to compete with Alonso. But there has to be more to explain to consistent gulf between them than Alonso getting first choice for new parts. However low Renault’s expectations were of Piquet, he failed to even meet those.

20. Sebastien Bourdais

Shown the door by Toro Rosso halfway into the season, Bourdais had been struggling to beat his rookie team mate Sebastien Buemi. Given that he only narrowly kept Takuma Sato from pinching his seat over the winter, it was no great surprise to see Bourdais elbowed out of F1. A return looks unlikely.

19. Jaime Alguersuari

Jaime Alguersuari made his F1 debut at the Hungaroring
Jaime Alguersuari made his F1 debut at the Hungaroring

The least-experienced driver to appear in F1 for many years did an entirely respectable job first time out in Hungary. Otherwise it’s too early to assess how good he is.

18. Adrian Sutil

More occasional promise and sad stories of what might have been. But while Sutil was unlucky to be eliminated by Kimi Raikkonen at Monaco last year, his crashes out of the points at Shanghai and the Nurburgring this year were mainly his own doing.

Sutil would never be near a point scoring opportunity under normal conditions, but his seventh place and race tempo in Germany was something special. He might outperform Fisichella in qualifying, but he is absolutely error prone during race and crashes too many times.

17. Kazuki Nakajima

Has had a couple of good races and seems to have improved since last year – until you consider how much better Nico Rosberg is doing with the same car. It’s fashionable to knock drivers who get their F1 seats thanks to benefactors like, in Nakajima’s case, Toyota. But you have to ask whether he’d still be in F1 without them.

Rosberg is getting great results and he is not even getting points.

16. Sebastien Buemi

Made short work of team mate Bourdais and scored points twice in the first three races. Has had a couple of rookie indiscretions and would probably have benefited from having a more experienced team mate. Ten races into his F1 career he finds himself cast in the role of team leader, which is a huge ask.

A reasonable debut season; as much as can be expected from a rookie in a poor car, and he was better than Bourdais.
Andrew White

15. Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella was on top form at Monaco
Giancarlo Fisichella was on top form at Monaco

Fisichella has been back on form this year and has come closest to breaking Force India’s points drought with a fine drive at Monaco. Before McLaren’s recent breakthrough he looked on the cusp of winning that first point.

Fisichella impresses me too. I find it bizarre that people say that Fisichella should leave and that Sutil should go to a team like McLaren. The only thing that Sutil has is the odd strategy gamble now and then where he shows himself in the spotlight just before he crashes out. Fisichella drives solid races in that back marker car without resorting to lame stunts.

14. Heikki Kovalainen

Kovalainen must’ve been hoping for rather more from 2009 so far than nine points. The lack of results is, of course, largely down to the problems with the MP4/24 at the beginning of the season.

Team mate Lewis Hamilton has tended to get the latest parts as they became available, but the Hungarian Grand Prix demonstrated why. Despite being given the same specification as Hamilton, who won, Kovalainen was over half a minute behind in fifth.

13. Robert Kubica

Stung by BMW’s disastrous loss of form, Kubica has often struggled to get the better of team mate Nick Heidfeld. This after coming within a few laps of taking second – or perhaps even better – at Melbourne. Seems to lack the motivation or ability to wring the best out of a poor car.

12. Timo Glock

Timo Glock mastered the changing conditions at Sepang
Timo Glock mastered the changing conditions at Sepang

There was clear improvement from Glock throughout 2008, and more of the same was expected this year. But his season has stalled as Toyota has found it increasingly difficult to replicate their early-season form with the TF109.

Third place at Malaysia was far less than he deserved after an astute tyre choice in wet conditions (which is becoming something of a trademark). But since then he’s struggled to keep up with team mate Trulli.

11. Nick Heidfeld

Has been more consistent than his team mate in the truculent F1.09. Heidfeld rode his luck to take half a second place at Malaysia. That aside it’s been slim pickings.

Heidfeld has proved that he still has talent by beating Kubica, but BMW are performing so badly it’s hard to choose between them. Heidfeld’s podium in Malaysia was a stroke of genius on his part, gaining about 10 positions by being more aware than everyone else on the track and in the pits.

10. Rubens Barrichello

Infamously railed against his Brawn team for a strategic miscue at the Nurburgring – but arguably the weakest link in the team is Barrichello himself. Has led Jenson Button home only once and trails him 0-6 on wins.

Awful starts, bad tyre management. And has been spewing vitriol against his team all season. But he minimised the damage caused to Brawn GP’s constructors’ championship challenge on the only weekend when Red Bull reigned supreme and Button was off-pace (Silverstone).

9. Kimi Raikkonen

Is Kimi Raikkonen on his way to the World Rally Championship?
Is Kimi Raikkonen on his way to the World Rally Championship?

Looks less and less like the stealthy fighter that snatched the 2007 championship – on a race track at least. On the rough stuff in Finland he fared better and it would be no surprise to see him switch codes sooner rather than later.

That said, he rose to the occasion at Hungary, bringing Ferrari some cheer with a fine second place. What a pity we won’t get to see him take on Michael Schumacher in the same car.

Do you agree with the rankings so far? Have your say below and check back tomorrow for the top ten.

The rankings at the end of last year

67 comments on “2009 half-term F1 driver rankings part 1”

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  1. James Brickles
    13th August 2009, 12:17

    So that leaves…

    1. Button
    2. Massa
    3. Vettel
    4. Webber
    5. Trulli
    6. Rosberg
    7. Hamilton
    8. Alonso

    And two more slots, presumably for Badoer and Grosjean ;)

    1. Have fixed the numbering :-)

  2. 1. Button
    2. Raikkonen
    3. Alonso
    4. Massa
    5. Barrichello
    6. Webber
    7. Rosberg
    8. Kubica
    9. Vettel
    10. Hamilton
    11. Kovalainen
    12. Glock
    13. Heidfeld

    1. Ferrari fan yeah?

      Raikonnen 2nd? What?

    2. lol why did you put Webber and Vettel so low down?

  3. don’t agree with glock’s 14th. he’s finished in the top 10 in every race thus far! i think only jenson button has done the same. thus he should be slightly higher up. and accident or not, i don’t think massa should finish very high up. true he’s been better than raikkonen but i’d have placed barrichello and glock above both ferrari drivers.

    my picks for the remaining 8:
    1. button
    2. webber
    3. vettel
    4. rosberg
    5. hamilton
    6. alonso
    7. trulli
    8. massa

    1. Glock’s finished every race, but Massa is still ahead in the championship in a car that hasn’t set the world alight, like the Toyota. But Glock could still be higher.

  4. Barrichello should be much further down. Fissi has done a better job with the Force India then Rubens has with a Brawn

    1. Keith is the next FIA president!
      13th August 2009, 13:34

      I agree entirely there!

      1. Rubens should have at least won a race. Brawns were miles ahead of the field in the first few races and Rubens should have at least come 2nd behind Button in the first few races. He’s been VERY poor

  5. only a couple of responses so far but i’m not entirely convinced button is number 1. Yes he’s shown some great form and proven he can be a race winner. However i’m not totally convinced yet that he desereves the number one spot. He’s won more races than anybody this season and i think it’s not totally down to the car, he is a talented driver, however looking at someone like Rosberg who has been on fine form in that Williams. I think he is truly getting everything he possily can out of that car and more. Alonso i think has also driven the limits of that Renault and then some. To me he’s still the best all round racer out there and i can’t waot to see him at Ferrari. Webber who has been racing very strongly and consistantly and not at 100% fitness i think is a testement to him as a driver. I don’t think he has the raw talent like say Vettel but you can’t doubt he is definately a capable driver in the right car. Vettel, ‘baby schumi’ to some, how awesoem that would’ve been seeing the 2 race oh well that’s life and racing. vettel has put in some strong performances but definately out performed but webber in recent races. For whatever that reason who knows. Trulli…hmmm one lap specialist, don’t rate him at all really, nothing against him but just dosen’t do anything for me.

    Wow and after all of this drivel i still havent’ come up with a top 10….hmmmm my bad

  6. 1. Webber [Done his level best every race]
    2. Button [Hard not to put him at the top]
    3. Hamilton [profound victory on the back of the most improved car in F1]
    4. Alonso
    5. Vettel [He should be far ahead of his team mate right now, but he’s not. Why?]
    6. Massa
    7. Rosberg
    8. Trulli

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      13th August 2009, 17:58

      I’d agree with this.
      Hamilton and Alonso have impressed me by how well they’ve raced in relatively poor cars.
      And although I’m a huge Vettel fan I’m beginning to think that if the championship comes down to a fight between him and Webber then the Aussie should win. Even though Vettel is lightening fast he has been disappointing when it comes to actually racing other cars (defending his position, overtaking etc.).

    2. I agree apart from replace Alonso with Rosberg

  7. The major disapointment this year has been Kubica. If he doesn’t start to turn things round soon then 2009 could do some serious damage to his career. Most people considered him to be one of the best 3 or 4 drivers in F1 this time last year, but I get the feeling everyone has revised their opinion of him lately.

    It seems pretty inconceivable right now that he was arguably the pre season title favourite. He needs to make the right choice for his new team next season or he could easily turn into the next Jean Alesi.

    1. You got that right Ned,Kubica has been the biggest dissapointment of the season.I know he doesn’t have a competitive car this year but,Heidfeld has been able to wring a little of performance out of that dog of a car.I suppose Kubica is still holding a grudge that BMW didn’t support his quest last year….then developed a car unworthy of him for this year.He seems to have just given up.I am a BMW fan but,I have to admit that I am not happy with the way they have handled themselves.

      footnote:Ned Flanders looks like Dr.Mario Thiessen.

  8. Keith is the next FIA president!
    13th August 2009, 13:32

    Raikkonen should at least be in the top ten and Rubens much further back.

  9. I think ou are being a bit harsh on Sutil here. Sure, he is making too many mistakes, but his pace at the Nurburgring has been extraordinary.
    Buemi and Glock also too low in my opinion.

    1. His pace at the Nurburgring wasn’t that spectacular. Fisichella was right behind Sutil when Sutil came out of the pits.

      You could see both cars in the same frame. Granetd Kovalainen was still in between. Actually, Kovalainen was holding Fisichella up so otherwise he would probably even have been in front of Sutil.

  10. Cant put Button on top, after Hungary its clear he’s nowhere if his car isnt perfect.

    Webber has to improve in qualifying but very good in the race so I’d put him very high, still probably not on the very top.

    Rosberg has the car but not showing enough, yes better than nakajima but that guy is just pure crap.

    Alonso is quite good, hasnt got the car but manages to still get some points.

    Hamilton might just be up there with the best right now. Bad car but still manages to score points anda win.

    hard to pick a winner…

    1. It is very hard indeed. Its been a weird season really. I agree about Button, has been very poor without the perfect car, I think Webber is number one but its still not an amazing performance from him this year.

      1. Yes toss up between Alonso & Webber – followed by Button and Vettel

  11. Kubica should go down to 17th. Kovalainen and Fisichella have had better seasons, whilst Kubica’s has been miserable.

  12. Nick Heidfeld should be on top 10, and Kimi Raikkonen on top five.

    1. i agree with you!!!!

      1. 2. Vettel
        3. Webber


  13. pseudohendrix
    13th August 2009, 13:59

    Massa has done no better thus year than Raikkonen did last year. He has been outqualified by Kimi at the majority of the races. The difference is the KERS system this year which has prevented Massa from being bogged down in the mid-field where he qualifies like Kimi did last season. Kimi has had the measure of Massa this season imo

  14. Massa #1. In China when the car was rubbish he got up to 3rd but then had to retire, monaco he set fastest lap but couldn’t catch kimi when stuck behind button. Kimi 2nd in Hungary fantastic but who knows where massa would have ended up if he had raced.Kimi may have outqualified him more but Massa is beating in points and that’s what counts.
    Button has led classy (if not boring) races from pole but when his car is nowhere he completely fails to do anything apart from shout on the radio.
    Rosberg in top 5 this season.

    1. Moo Point: Like a cow's opinion, it's Moo!!
      13th August 2009, 14:34

      Button has led classy (if not boring) races from pole but when his car is nowhere he completely fails to do anything apart from shout on the radio.

      Okay, first off show me a driver who can make a car faster than it physically is capable of going with no heat in the tyres.

      Secondly, we only hear what the TV Director wants us to hear, so they let us hear Button shouting on his radio, maybe they choose not to let us hear him having sensible constructive conversations…

      Oh and Keith, 11+8 = 23???

      1. 13 + 8 (rather than 11+8)! ;)

    2. ya i agree with you.massa this year too lost many points bcoz of his car which let him down in australia,shangai and offcourse when he was ruuning out of fuel in spain,when he simply left alonso and vettel for 4th and 5th.but kimi had only one car failure,but that sleeping baby is sleeping in all the races…. and still he is not able to climb massa in points,although massa was not in hungary.

  15. I hope you won’t put Button on top Keith. He simply doesn’t deserve it. The car’s gone bad, and he’s struggling.

    1. I hope he does. Anyone who wins six races out of the first 10 has to be number one.

      And show me any driver who is able to win races when his tyres are, at their best, 20 degrees C below the bottom threshold of their working range.

      If you want another reason why Jenson should be on top, answer me this. Name the only driver in 2009 who has scored points in every race. Answer: Jenson Button.

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        13th August 2009, 18:03

        Yeah, Button may only be able to win when he has the best car but to do that he still has to drive faultless races.
        He deserves every race win because he made no mistakes when winning them, so he does deserve to be up there on this list.
        Maybe not number one though because other drivers have dragged a few tenths out of cars that didn’t seem like they could go any faster.

    2. It’s very easy to criticise Button now that things aren’t going as well as before. It did irritate me when people like Martin Brundle jumped on the Button bandwagon and started saying he was the best driver in F1 all of a sudden, but to be fair his 6 wins out of 7 races earlier in the season was seriously immpresive. Regardless of what happens from now on he’s having probably the best F1 season he’ll ever have, so give him some credit.

    3. I didn’t agree with people claiming Button was the best driver in F1, but earlier in the season when people were saying it, although Button had the best car he wasn’t making any mistakes whereas other drivers were and I think they were basing their remarks on that.

  16. My Rank :
    23. Piquet
    22. Alguersuari
    21. Bourdais
    20. Buemi
    19. Kovalainen
    18. Sutil
    17. Kubica
    16. Kaz Naz
    15. Heidfeld
    14. Fisico
    13. Glock

  17. 1. Hamilton
    2. Webber
    9. Massa
    10. Vettel


  18. Ok fair point about the radio and Button but the fact is he has been almost forgettable for the past few races. I’m not his biggest fan but of course I’ll admit he has done a stunning job for the most part of the season leaving everyone in his wake (where Rubens has completely failed) but nothing much since then. He still deserves championship more but in rankings overall near top but not on top.

  19. Neither Hamilton or Button deserves to be #1. Both are great drivers when they have the best car, but when that isn’t the case, they suck and get frustrated. Also, both of them are clearly number one drivers in their teams, getting more help from their teams than second drivers Kovalainen and Barrichello.

    IMHO Webber has done the best job so far. He’s only 18.5 points behind Button and most of the season his car has been worse than Buttons. Fantastic driving in Germany even though everybody was already saying that Vettel should be number one driver.

    1. you’re forgetting that even though Hamilton had an awful car for most races he still overtakes everywhere he races.

    2. Are you nuts? Hamilton has driven some great races in that poor car. AND he developed it to the point that it can win races again …

  20. It’s difficult to rank drivers like this as there’s much less you can do with a poor car. If you have understeer for the whole race then you’re not going to blitz through the field. Plus bad luck will show up quite heavily in your points total.

    Who’s to say if you put Sutil in a Mclaren that he wouldn’t be a star?

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