The second part of the driver rankings covers positions 12 to six.
And share your thoughts on the best drivers of 2010 so far in the comments.
12. Heikki Kovalainen
After a bruising couple of seasons at McLaren, Kovalainen seems much happier at Lotus and has been the stand-out driver among the new teams over the first half of the season.
When there’s been a scalp to claim – be it Nico Hülkenberg at Shanghai or Vitaly Petrov in Montreal – Kovalainen was the man who took it.
And a terrific effort in qualifying at Canada brought him within two tenths of out-qualifying Kamui Kobayashi.
Lotus are gradually getting closer to their rivals – they were 3.15% off the fastest time of the weekend in Valencia, which was their best so far this year. Look to Kovalainen to take the fight to the likes of Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber.
It’s a joy to watch him having such a great time at Lotus. No one expected much from the new teams but Heikki is really delivering. On paper, his results don’t look like much but I think that’s more to do with the car than his driving. The smart money’s on Kovalainen to score the new teams’ first point.
11. Rubens Barrichello
Barrichello has been largely dependable for Williams and sniffed out points whenever they came his way – particularly at Valencia, where he finished fourth despite a lot of pressure from Robert Kubica.
But he seems to have continued his habit of making poor starts, a problem which was also evident on several occasions last year.
He had Hülkenberg comfortably handled in the opening races but his young team mate is beginning to put him under more pressure, especially in qualifying. It could be an interesting second half of the season at Williams.
Has had a average start to the season and, barring a drain cover, would have finished every race. His experience though will help Williams out of this.
10. Sebastien Buemi
Buemi has driven well despite having some utterly horrendous luck. The worst of which was his weekend in Shanghai, where he first suffered the fright of both front wheels coming off his car at full speed during practice, then was rammed out of the race by an out-of-control Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Buemi was also hit by Kobayashi on the first lap in Melbourne and Pedro de la Rosa on lap one in Barcelona.
In the last two races he finally showed what he was capable of. He led briefly in Montreal, carefully defending his position from Fernando Alonso, and later passed Michael Schumacher with a firm, clean move that few others managed to replicate. He picked up points for eighth place and more came his way at Valencia.
Looked good last season and has been unfortunate with reliability. Another who needs to have a bit of luck and could have a good second half to the season.
9. Felipe Massa
Up until his crash last year, Massa’s form was on a clear, upward trajectory. For some reason he has not had the same sparkle in his driving this year – whether it be because of his injury, the length of his time out of the cockpit, the arrival of a new team mate, the car or something else.
He’s done a competent job, usually staying out of trouble and collecting points in all of the first seven rounds. And there’s been some fine passes to, taking on Jenson Button at Sepang and springing a surprise attack on Adrian Sutil in Montreal.
But he’s rarely had anything to trouble Alonso with, out-qualifying his team mate just twice on merit.
At Australia and Malaysia it often seemed Massa was holding his team mate up as Alonso recovered from earlier problems. In China Alonso barged past his team mate on the way into the pits rather than get stuck behind him again.
That told the story of the balance of power at Ferrari this year.
What happened to the man that has beaten the then-world champion by 22 points in the same machinery? Given how he matched Räikkönen, I expected him to be around Alonso at least, but he can’t get closer to him on qualifying. He has some problems with tyres, yes, but I believe he should have gotten around it as his team mate do not suffer from the same problem.
8. Adrian Sutil
Too often scrappy last year, there’s a new maturity evident in Sutil’s driving and he’s often been both quick and aggressive.
He’s finished in the points in the last five races and put an excellent pass on Buemi in Valencia which eventually allowed him to finish sixth.
At Sepang he held off a charging Lewis Hamilton for his best result of the season so far – fifth.
Team mate Liuzzi has rarely had a look-in in qualifying – Sutil holds the upper hand by seven to two.
Sutil and consistency – two things I never thought I’d link! He seems to have cut out the sloppy spins and collisions which have blighted his F1 career so far, without losing his speed.
7. Nico Rosberg
Despite the W01′s problems seeming to get worse rather than better, Rosberg has scored points consistently and leads the better-equipped Massa in the points standings. Five top-five finishes and a pair of podiums are more than his car deserve.
He only failed to finish in the top ten in Spain, where he struggled to get to grips with the longer-wheelbase W01. He now seems to have got over that problem and is back in front of Michael Schumacher once again.
But as Renault and Force India put the team under ever more pressure, life may only get tougher for Rosberg this year.
The key positive for Nico is that he is soundly beating Schumacher. However, it seems that this isn’t doing as much for his reputation as previously expected. He will need to do better than two podiums if he is to emerge as Mercedes’ leader and true long-term bet, rather than Vettel or Kubica.
6. Fernando Alonso
For Alonso the wilderness years are over and he’s finally back with a top team. Bahrain ran according to plan, with a debut victory for his ne team. But it’s not gone quite so well since then.
That’s partly been down to some poor luck. He wrestled with a damaged gearbox in the punishing heat of Sepang, yet was cruelly robbed of a points finish by an engine failure while he was busy finding a way past Button. Valencia was the most extreme example of Alonso’s misfortune, losing a likely podium finish due to the deployment of the safety car.
But, while his speed and race-craft make him as formidable a presence on the track as ever, he’s made too many costly mistakes.
The collision with Button at Melbourne, the jump start at Shanghai, and the oh-so-costly crash in final practice in Monaco have kept him from points with which he might be leading the world championship.
The drive in Malaysia was very special, an there have been flashed of brilliance. But Alonso is a double world champion at what should be the very height of his powers. The age is at is often when a driver is at their very fastest they’ll ever be, he should not be making so many mistakes. His comeback drives are special, but he shouldn’t be making them so often.
The top five drivers of 2010 so far will be published tomorrow. To make sure you don’t miss it you can subscribe to F1 Fanatic for free via Tiwtter, RSS or our email subscription service. Click here for more information.
F1 Fanatic Driver Rankings
- 2013 F1 season half-term driver rankings: 5-1
- 2013 F1 season half-term driver rankings: 10-6
- 2013 F1 season half-term driver rankings: 22-11
- 2012 F1 Driver Rankings #1: Fernando Alonso
- 2012 F1 Driver Rankings #2: Lewis Hamilton
- 2012 F1 Driver Rankings #3: Sebastian Vettel
- 2012 F1 Driver Rankings #4: Kimi Raikkonen
- 2012 F1 Driver Rankings #5: Nico Hulkenberg
- 2012 F1 Driver Rankings part two: 14-6
- 2012 F1 Driver Rankings part one: 24-15
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