2009 F1 driver rankings part 2: 15-6

How should we rate Massa, who only raced half the season?

How should we rate Massa, who only raced half the season?

We began the countdown of the top drivers of 2009 yesterday looking at the least impressive racers of the year.

Today we cover the other drivers who failed to make it into the top five – with more of your comments and ratings of the class of 2009.

15. Giancarlo Fisichella

Fisichella’s pole position for Force India at Spa was surely the great upset of the season. And he came oh-so-close to opening the team’s points account with a win. He had threatened to get the job done earlier in the season, finishing a ninth at Monaco with eighth-placed Sebastien Bourdais in his sights.

More would surely have followed had he stayed at Force India but the lure of Ferrari proved too great. However Fisichella struggled with the F60, particularly under braking as we saw when he crashed in practice at Monza. He failed to score a single point for the Scuderia.

So remember his season for that wonderful weekend in Spa, and not for the damp squib which was his switch to Ferrari.

He had the race of his life, then moved to Ferrari and reminded us all why he had ended up at Force India in the first place.
Ned Flanders

14. Timo Glock

As was widely expected, Glock was usually behind super-qualifier Trulli on Saturday. But on race day he often moved up the field – indeed he gained an average of almost four places per race.

He deserved much better at Malaysia where – just like at Brazil last year – he benefitted by going a different way to his rivals when the rain fell. He passed Nick Heidfeld for second on lap 32 when the red flags came out, but was dropped to third place by the count-back rule.

Glock did get a second place at Singapore by avoiding the kind of mistakes made by Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso.

If it wasn’t for Japan, he may have scored a few more points. Passed Trulli at Bahrain at the start. Should have won but the team put on the wrong tyre compound on his second stint and ruined his race.
Chalky

13. Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen had a disappointing final year with McLaren

Heikki Kovalainen had a disappointing final year with McLaren

Rating Kovalainen is a tricky job because we know new parts at McLaren usually went to Hamilton. But how much was this a refection on Kovalainen’s driving, and how far was it the cause of he gulf between him and his team mate?

In truth, probably more the former than the latter. He rarely looked on a par with Hamilton with a notable exception at Shanghai where Kovalainen kept the car on the drenched track while his team mate had several spins.

He scored points steadily in the second half of the season when the MP4-24 came good, and it’s fair to say he wasn’t quite as cavalier about finishing races as his team mate could be. He never made it as far as the podium, though – something Hamilton managed five times.

He did have a few good races when the car was really at its worse in particular at China. But when the car improved Kovalainen really didn’t put in the performances. Perhaps the cars doesn’t really suit him, but he could have at least gotten it to the podium at particularly Valencia and Monza but he lost out to Raikkonen in a much slower Ferrari. He also did well in qualifying a few times during the year. It cant really be easy to be pared up with perhaps currently, the best driver in the field.
Zenobia

12. Jarno Trulli

Started the season brightly with top-four finishes in three of the first four races. With a better strategy at Bahrain and without a qualifying penalty at Melbourne it could have been even better.

Despite suffering more than team mate Glock did from the wild swings in performance of the TF109 from track to track, Trulli still amassed more points. Getting beaten by rookie Kamui Kobayashi in the final race was a blow, however.

Best wine-producing F1 driver again. A couple of very strong drives, and a couple of occasions when he had a winning car. Shame they didn’t coincide. Appears to have gone mad, I hope we haven’t seen the last of Jarno’s Photo Casebook.
Bullfrog

Don’t you mean “whine?”
Penelope Pitstop

11. Nick Heidfeld

As ever, you get the fiercest arguments over whether a driver was better than his team mate when the two are very closely matched (think of Alonso and Hamilton in 2007, for example). It’s been pointed out by a lot of people on this site that although Kubica generally gets more column inches, Heidfeld out-scored him this year.

But if this list were a simple ranking of the drivers in order of how many points they’d scored it would be a rather lazy and simplistic one. Heidfeld might have scored more but for me Kubica showed more potential, and benefitted from a little less good fortune.

Heidfeld rode his luck to take a (half-points) second place at Sepang. Unlike Kubica he was able to use BMW’s KERS at the beginning of the season, but this was soon dropped entirely.

It was slim pickings from then on with the troublesome F1.09. His strong suit was his impressively consistent finishing – and a record run of 41 classified finishes on the trot which only ended when Sutil crashed into him.

Another season where he drove great while almost not being noticed at all.
SaloolaS

10. Robert Kubica

Yes, Heidfeld scored two more points than he did. But Kubica had one more mechanical failure and was eliminated from a likely second place at Melbourne.

While it’s true Kubica often didn’t get as much out of the F1.09 as Heidfeld did when the car was at its worst, he could be relied upon to do better when the car was closer to the front.

He was especially impressive at Interlagos, where he got his BMW ahead of Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn on pure pace. It was one of the few occasions when he looked like the driver who topped this chart last year.

There were days when he couldn’t beat Heidfeld – and vice-versa. But on balance for me Kubica edges it as the better of the two BMW drivers this year.

Terrible car and terrible luck. Could have done a lot better.
Pedal to the Vettel

9. Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen hit a purple patch after Massa was injured

Kimi Raikkonen hit a purple patch after Massa was injured

The curious thing about Raikkonen’s season was how he came to life after Massa was injured in qualifying at Hungary. Suddenly Raikkonen was getting regular podiums – plus his customary victory at Spa.

Did Raikkonen up his game during Massa’s absence? Or was he flattered by comparison with less talented team mates – or, to put it another way, would an uninjured Massa have had the beating of him?

After Ferrari halted development on the F60 Raikkonen’s form dipped again at the end of the season, with a particularly disappointing final race at Yas Island.

The middle part of the season shows he still has the potential to be one of F1′s most formidable drivers, if someone can coax it out of him more regularly. Having him sat on the sidelines when there are plenty of F1 cars he could race is a waste of talent.

Was poor to begin with but had an incredible second half of the season in what was a very difficult and underdeveloped car, as demonstrated by Fisi and Badoer.
RandomChimp

8. Felipe Massa

It was a tough start to the season for last year’s championship runner-up with no points in the first four races, partly thanks to a pair of car failures. But from then Massa’s results reflected the consistent progress he and Ferrari were making: sixth, fourth, sixth, fourth and then third at the Nurburgring.

Then came that sickening crash at the Hungaroring which brought his season to an abrupt end.

Early in his recovery he was told team mate Raikkonen had finished second at Hungary. Massa replied that meant he would have won if he’d raced. We are left to wonder what might have happened, and whether his injureis and enforced absence from the cockpit will have blunted his edge.

Was on course to finish fifth in the title race after out-performing his team mate.
David A

7. Nico Rosberg

In his fourth season of F1, Rosberg reached new heights of speed and consistency – for which he has already been rewarded with a promotion to the championship-winners for 2010.

Though he got some stick for frequently topping practice sessions yet never translating it into pole position or a win, Rosberg brought his car home in the points for eight races in a row and single-handedly scored enough points to put Williams seventh in the constructors’ championship.

Yet he managed to go the whole season without reaching the podium. His mistake coming out of the pits at Singapore cost him his best chance of a top-three finish, but that was one of few significant errors from Rosberg this year.

Pushed to the limits, outclassed his team mate.
sato113

6. Rubens Barrichello

Rubens Barrichello withstood pressure from Button to win at Monza

Rubens Barrichello withstood pressure from Button to win at Monza

Barrichello came on strong in the second part of the season but he’d already lost a lot of ground to Jenson Button.

He was fortunate to salvage second at Australia after a poor start and a collision with Mark Webber.

Further slow getaways at Istanbul (losing nine places) and Spa (ten) meant he squandered the hard work he did on Saturdays. He was usually stronger than Button in qualifying – managing an average starting position of 4.5 to Button’s 5.7.

But despite staying in contention for the championship until the penulimate race he only beat Button four times in the 15 occasions both drivers finished. Two of those were his victories in Valencia and Monza, both of which were impressive – particularly the latter where he withstood race-winning pressure from his team mate.

I can’t believe he is still so hungry after so many years. Let down by his race pace a few too many times.
Sharon

Read the first part of the list here: 2009 F1 driver rankings part 1: 25-16

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161 comments on 2009 F1 driver rankings part 2: 15-6

  1. TommyB said on 26th November 2009, 21:41

    Kimi fans won’t be happy unless he is number 1 as they see him as the best F1 driver ever to exist. In my opinion he is very over rated

    • Terry Fabulous said on 27th November 2009, 4:38

      Indeed TommyB

      If Kimi were actually as good as his fans see him… then he wouldn’t have been sacked.

  2. BNK Racing said on 26th November 2009, 22:10

    overall good rankings for most drivers. there are a few i would switch around, as would everyone else. but your explanations are spot on in my opinion. forget the conspiracy theorists (ie. kimi fans)

  3. Tod Fod said on 26th November 2009, 22:34

    The whole ranking system is highly subjective, and I disagreed with most of the rankings so far. This is what I would think its like, but I think we will have people arguing with this one as well

    25. Nelson Piquet – (No explanation for the cry baby)
    24. Luca Badoer – (He was never worthy of a drive in 2009)
    23. Nakajima – (Started all the races.. yet zero points)
    22. Sebastian Bourdais – (Was creamed by rookie Buemi)
    21. Romain Grosjean – (little credit due to no testing)
    20. Jaime Alguesari – (same as Grosjean)
    19. Heikki Kovalainen – (Never impressed even with a quick mclaren)
    18. Vitantonio Liuzzi – (Did good for coming in mid-season, but never made it to the points)
    17. Adrian Sutil – (Showed promise but always managed to screw things up)
    16. Kamui Kobayashi – (Exciting, but two races was too early to rank him higher)
    15. Giancarlo Fisichella – (His Spa performance was great, but he should have stuck it out with Force India)
    14. Sebastian Buemi – (Was impressive everytime his car was competitive, but not as consistent)
    13. Robert Kubica – (BMW did not live up to the hype .. nor did Robert with Brazil being his only saving grace)
    12. Nick Heidfeld – (Was consistent and made no mistakes)
    11. Jarno Trulli – (Toyota gave him a competitive car for many races, yet was not able to capitalise during the race)
    10. Timo Glock – (Didn’t qualify as well as his teammate , but put in solid race performances)
    9. Fernando Alonso – (Its easy to look good when you have terrible teammates, but Alonso just did not race up to his regular high standards)
    8. Felipe Massa – (Pushed the Ferrari hard to get the most out of it, wish he was around till the end of the season)
    7. Rubens Barrichello – (Could have done more with a Brawn. Too many screw ups in the first half of the season)
    6. Nico Rosberg – (The most consistent driver on the grid. Always ended up gaining places during the race, but still hasn’t been able to show pace in qualifying)
    5. Mark Webber – (Quick yet unlucky)
    4. Kimi Raikkonen – (Super impressive although the Ferrari wasnt updated, but came to life a little too late)
    3. Jenson Button – (He is the champ, and did well for the first 6 races, but slacked for the last 10 races)
    2. Lewis Hamilton – (Never gave up even when Mclaren’s pace wasnt there. As soon as Mclaren got the pace, he was on the ball)
    1. Sebastian Vettel – (Engine failures, bad luck and small mistakes ruined a WDC for F1′s youngest superstar)

    • Patrickl said on 26th November 2009, 23:58

      Yeah, I guess everybody sees it differently.

      For instance, there is no way I will agree with you on the Vettel pick for first. 4 races where he crashed into opponents or the barrier or spun out costing him effectively the championship. I’d hardly call that “small mistakes”.

      Besides that, indeed he made several “small mistakes” like flying off in Turkey (thus losing the race to Button and Webber) and cutting the pitlane in Singapore (landing himself a pitlane speeding penalty).

      The rest of the list looks pretty much ok though :)

  4. You are wrong with Barrichello. He lost the second place in the championship at the last race because of the small accident at the beginning of Yas Marina circuit. Also don’t forget the fact that he was the second driver on his team as Webber on Red Bull but Mark finished fourth instead. A great achievement for a pilot of his age! Rubens is still number one and he should be the champion right now, we all know that! Accelera Rubinio!!

    • John H said on 28th November 2009, 3:07

      He should have been well clear in 2nd place, just like Button should have been well clear in 1st.

      It wasn’t just to do with a ‘small accident at the beginning of the Yas Marina circuit.’

  5. Tod Fod said on 26th November 2009, 22:45

    Nikos, you might disagree with me, but I thought Brawn was by far the superior car this season (speed, consistency and reliability wise). I think if Vettel and Webber were driving for Brawn, they both would have fared better than Barrichello. But I guess thats just my opinion and thats why I couldnt rank him higher than seventh.

  6. jason said on 27th November 2009, 0:11

    finally a fair assessment of how horribly average a driver raikkonen has become since his fluke of a championship win thank you Keith. just wait for Alonso to get a couple grand prix under his belt in the 2010 season for Ferrari then they can look back and say ya we used to have that crap driver his name was…. rai………………….um well can’t remember his last name but he had a females first name and he was finish well screw that guy we have Alonso

  7. Journeyer said on 27th November 2009, 0:33

    What’s Alonso doing in 5th (or wherever he ended up in the Top 5)? While it’s folly to compare him to his teammates, he went nowhere fast this season, and his vaunted 6 tenths didn’t show up.

    I would’ve ranked it as such:
    5. Barrichello
    6. Raikkonen
    7. Massa
    8. Alonso
    9. Rosberg

    Anyhow, my guess for Keith’s Top Five is:
    5. Alonso
    4. Webber
    3. Hamilton
    2. Vettel
    1. Button

    I agree with #1-#4.

  8. Melanie said on 27th November 2009, 0:35

    I can’t really respond to your comment if you don’t tell me why you think I should have rated them differently.

    Because over the nine races they did together Massa was the better driver. And I don’t think anyone doubts Massa is a better driver than Fisichella or Badoer.

    Raikkonen and Massa fared similarly in qualifying and their finishing rate was the same. But Massa generally finished higher, reflected in the fact he scored more than twice as many points as Raikkonen.

    Well I’ve put my reasons for not rating him as highly as you do about as plainly as I can. When he had a decent team mate (Massa) he was usually not as impressive as him. He did have a patch of good results but not having Massa there to compare him against makes it difficult to rate him much higher. The drivers that are ahead of him impressed me more and/or in different ways.

    Unfortunatly, it isn’t always so simple, Kimi didn’t do so badly in the first half of the season as the points suggests or as some people seem to think.

    Lets look at it a bit more closely:

    In Australia Kimi crashed out in a good position, according to the official FIA documents it was a retirement, but Kimi said it was his own mistake, so lets say it was his mistake. Felipe retired from the race, he was behind Kimi. But generally it was a very messy race for Ferrari, and they had problems with their tyres and graining.

    In Malaysia the team made a mistake with the calculations for qualifying and Felipe was therefore out in Q1, and as a result his race was compromised. Kimi was running very well, until, Ferrari placed him on dry tyres, in the end he had to change his tyres three times and as a result ended up last.

    At China Felipe was running very well, and he was up to 4th place until he had to retire. Kimi reported problems with his engine very early on in the race, and he subsequently finished in 10th place.

    Bahrain was Ferrari’s first trouble free race for both Kimi and Felipe. Kimi did well and ended up in 6th place, while Felipe ended up in 14th place. At this stage Ferrari still didn’t have their updates so there were a few teams who were faster.

    In Spain Ferrari finally received their updates, so they were finally a bit faster. Felipe did really well in the race and was going for a 4th place until the fuel incident, and the team told him to slow down, in the end he lost two point, but at least he still managed to score some points. Kimi on the other hand had the same problem as Felipe had earlier in the season, the team miss calculated the times in qualifying and Kimi was out in Q1. In the race he retired due to hydraulics failure.

    Monaco was the second race in the season were Ferrari didn’t have any problems for both drivers at the same time. Both Kimi and Felipe did very well during the race Kimi ended up in 3rd and Felipe in 4th. Kimi also received the lighter chassis first for this race, as he is heavier then Felipe.

    In Turkey, Kimi and Alonso had a racing indecent at the start of the race, as a result Kimi broke his front wing and as a result he had to change his front wing, he lost too much time and his race was compromised. In the end Felipe did well and ended up in 6th place, while Kimi ended up in 9th place. Felipe also received the lighter chassis for this race.

    At Silverstone Kimi qualified in the top ten, but as a result he had to go with lower fuel. Felipe didn’t make it into Q3 so he could fill up. It has always been the best strategy at Silverstone to run for longer with more fuel. The exact same thing also happened to Alonso in this race, and even Piquet was able to beat Alonso by just going for longer with more fuel. The fact that Kimi ended up in 8th place while Felipe ended up in 4th place wasn’t so much because of anything that Kimi did or didn’t do, it was more or less decided by the strategy of each driver. But at least it was another trouble free race for both Ferrari drivers!

    For the German GP Felipe received a suspension and rear wing update, and Kimi had to wait for it this time. Felipe had an extremely good race, scoring his first podium of the year. While Kimi was up in 4th place but he had to retire due to debris stuck in the radiator. It was also in Germany were Ferrari had their last real updates.

    At Hungary Kimi received the same updates as Felipe had for the German GP. Felipe was struggling a bit in all of the free practices. But yes of course, Felipe also had his very unfortunate accident at that time.

    If you really look at the results of Kimi and Felipe’s time together in the first half of the season, you will see that they only had three races together, that was actually trouble free for both drivers.
    Bahrain, Monaco and Silverstone, in Bahrain and Monaco Kimi ended up in front of Felipe, and in Silverstone Felipe ended up in front of Kimi.

    Kimi also did quite well in qualifying, he out qualified Felipe even though he was always heavier then him.

    What I am saying is that it is actually quite hard to tell what was really going on in the first part of the season, the points certainly doesn’t tell the whole story in this case.
    And Ferrari made so many mistakes at that time, they rarely had any trouble free races together. Personally I feel that they were properly very equal, or in truth there is just to little to really judge their performances relative to each other.

    It is a bit unfair therefore to write off, all of Kimi’s good performances just because Felipe wasn’t there. Ferrari stopped development in Germany, while some of the other teams really kept up a strong pace of development. So the rest of the grid were still present, why not just use that as a comparison?

    It was quite obvious that Red Bull, Brawn, and Mclaren where faster then Ferrari from Hungary until Abu Dhabi. But during that period there were others who were also often faster then Ferrari, like Force India, Williams and Toyota.
    And yet Kimi was able to score only two points less then Hamilton, who was the best points scorer in the second half of the season, and Kimi also outscored others with faster cars like Button, Webber and Barrichello. So even if Felipe wasn’t there and even if Kimi’s teammates struggled because of the circumstances, it is still quite impressive that he often managed to beat others in faster cars.

    He finished 2nd in Hungary, 3rd in Valencia, 1st at Spa, 3rd at Monza, 10th at Singapore, 4th in Japan, 6th in Brazil and 12th in Abu Dhabi. That is quite an impressive record for someone who were driving the 4th – 6th fastest car for most of that time.

    It is also not entirely correct to say that Kimi didn’t do well at the end of the season. At Singapore Ferrari were really slow, Domenicali and Chris Dyer stated as much. Kimi did well in Japan again, as the track suited Ferrari better then in Singapore. In Brazil Ferrari looked quite lost in free practice, but Kimi did really well in qualifying, in the rain. He started 5th, but after Webber broke his front wing, and his car was set alight in the pits, he went back out in the last place. In the end he still did quite well to finish his race in 6th place despite all the incidents.
    Abu Dhabi was another difficult track for Ferrari and also for Renault it seemed like they were actually the slowest cars on the grid. This was already Fisi’s 5th race in that car, he should have at least gotten a little bit used to the car by that time. But Kimi still managed to out qualify him by one second.
    Grosjean who was obviously a rookie, qualified only three tenths slower then Alonso for example at Abu Dhabi after 5 races. So Kimi properly did quite a decent job in Abu Dhabi, even though he only ended up in 12th place.

    As for Kimi’s win at Spa; to imply that Kimi’s win at Spa is noting out of the ordinary, is also a bit unfair I think. Red Bull, Toyota, Force India and most likely also Brawn were faster then the Ferrari at that track. How often do we see drivers winning races in the 4th or 5th fastest car on the grid, and it is not like it was raining or something. Kimi was the only one this year who won a race in not one of the fastest cars on the grid.

    I do appreciate your rankings, it isn’t a easy job and some people will always disagree. :)

    • sumedh said on 27th November 2009, 9:11

      At Silverstone Kimi qualified in the top ten, but as a result he had to go with lower fuel. Felipe didn’t make it into Q3 so he could fill up

      Even if a driver qualifies for Q3, he can choose his own fuel load. There is no upper limit on the fuel that can be carried by a driver in Q3.

      It was Kimi’s foolishness not to fuel himself heavily. It was clear that Ferrari was not going to be anywhere in top 5 unless it was on fumes. Kimi could have and should have chosen a more realistic race-day strategy, instead of trying for Saturday glory.

    • Very nice!

    • Patrickl said on 27th November 2009, 22:52

      Very good overview of the races.

      Hopefully this will help people realize that there is more to it than simply looking at the score boards.

  9. wasiF1 said on 27th November 2009, 1:01

    Barrichello could have finished the championship on second place if not he had those starting problem at the start of the race in Australia & Belgium.

  10. wasiF1 said on 27th November 2009, 1:58

    Why still Alonso didn’t showed up?Honestly Barrichello should be in the top 4 other than 6.The top 5 consists of Hamilton,Webber,Vettel,Button & Alonso.I do agree the fact that he is probably the best driver out there,on his performance in 2009 I will not have him in my list in the top 5. (APOLOGY IF I HURT ANY ALONSO FAN)

  11. wasiF1 said on 27th November 2009, 2:03

    Why still Alonso didn’t showed up?Honestly Barrichello should be in the top 4 other than 6.The top 5 consists of Hamilton,Webber,Vettel,Button & Alonso.I do agree the fact that he is probably the best driver out there,on his performance in 2009 I will not have him in my list in the top 5. (APOLOGY IF I HURT ANY ALONSO FAN)

  12. wasiF1 said on 27th November 2009, 2:05

    Sorry I posted the same thing twice.First it told me that I had an error,so I pasted it again.

  13. Tod Fod said on 27th November 2009, 2:50

    I am an Alonso fan, and I completely agree that his 2009 performance has been his worse so far. He just did not give a crap about Renault this season, and after he signed the Ferrari contract he wasn’t even giving it 90%. I agree that other Alonso fans, like myself, might say that he outpaced his teammates, but come on piquet is probably the worst driver I have seen in a long time, and Grosjean had no time to adapt to an F1 car. During a race, Alonso was not looking at closing the gap to the cars in front of him, instead he was rather content with just consolidating his position and going for a couple of points.
    I hope he gets his motivation back next year, and gets his third WDC.

  14. HI, I am also an alonso fan.
    Regarding the “motivations “, in 2005 kimi fought for the WDC. In 2006, when mclaren wasn’t good, he dint deliver , he dint even push because he had already signed to race for Ferrari in 2007.

    Now consider Alonso, he fought for WDC in 2007,went to Renault in 2008,fought hard to garner 2 wins(singapore is his win despite the crash gate scandal), finished 5th overall. He thought that Renault would provide him with a good car for 2009. But they didn’t. He still fought hard taking a pole, a second row start in china and finishing in q3 more often than not. Even he is entitled to be somewhat indifferent when he knows that truck called Renault isn’t drivable.

    Regarding Lewis pushing hard, he knows he has a contract with mclaren till 2012. And he needs to continually exhibit to MClaren that he is still good. He had things to prove to Mclaren that’s y he pushed.

    We all need to keep one thing in mind that if the car isn’t good, no driver can do anything with it ,be it senna, shcumi, Alonso, kimi or ham..

    Alonso might not deserve to be in 5th but he still deserves to be ahead of barichelo, kimi should be 6th

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