2010 half-term driver rankings (Part 3)

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Montreal, 2010

Who’s been the best driver over the first half of 2010?

It’s time to reveal the final top five in the 2010 half-term driver rankings. Find out where I ranked Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Robert Kubica below – and share your thoughts in the comments.

5. Jenson Button

Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2010

Some expected the reigning world champion to suffer at the hands of Lewis Hamilton in 2010. Button hasn’t been quite on his team mate’s pace, but the gap is quite small and he helped himself to a pair of opportunistic wins at the start of the season.

At Melbourne he was helped by Sebastian Vettel’s wheel failure, but not before he gained a load of places with a well-timed switch to slick tyres.

At Shanghai he (and a few other drivers) avoided the trap changing to intermediate tyres too early, and managed heavy wear on the tyres late in the race to claim win number two.

Shanghai was the last time Button out-qualified Hamilton. But the pair remain the most closely-matched team mates on the grid – Button just 0.031s slower than Hamilton in qualifying on average.

He’s been very consistent, with points finishes in all the races except Monaco, where a cover left on one of his radiators cooked his engine. And he’s raced well, passing Michael Schumacher on the first lap at Istanbul and nabbing second off Fernando Alonso in Montreal.

Against expectations Button’s had a strong start to his McLaren career, one which would look even better if the guy in the other car wasn’t Lewis Hamilton.

I must admit I never thought he’d win another race again in his career, never mind two in his first four races at McLaren. OK, so Hamilton has the edge on him in raw pace, but there’s no shame in that.
Ned Flanders

Compare Jenson Button?s form against his team mate in 2010

4. Mark Webber

Webber won a incident-filled race in Monaco

Webber’s domination of the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix – and a good portion of the Turkish Grand Prix, too – demonstrated what he’s capable of and made Red Bull’s decision to extend his contract a no-brainer.

Vettel had little response in those races, and it was clear from their notorious collision at Istanbul the frustration Vettel felt as he strived to stop Webber extending his championship lead even further.

Webber’s pole position lap at Sepang – gambling on intermediates while everyone else sought the security of full wets – was exceptional. And he looked good in the rain in Shanghai too before being bumped off the track during a restart.

Unfortunately Webber’s also hit some duff notes. He was scrappy at home in Melbourne, with several wild moments and an unnecessary collision with Hamilton. And he made a truly horrendous start at Valencia.

But when he’s been on top form this year Webber has proved too simply much for Vettel. Hopefully there will be no after-effects from his shocking Valencia crash to prevent him doing more of the same.

A hell of a improvement over 2009, when he only out-qualified Vettel twice. I wonder how much was down to his leg injury. He was flawless from Spain to Turkey and had some bad luck at Canada. But his mistakes at Bahrain, Sepang, Australia and Valencia were costly to him, as Vettel now has a somewhat good advantage over him. He is not as good over his team mate as everyone says – if he was, he wouldn’t be 12 points behind Vettel.
Guilherme Teixeira

Compare Mark Webber?s form against his team mate in 2010

3. Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Red Bull, Sepang, 2010

In the aftermath of Istanbul Vettel was rightly blamed by most of the portion of the world’s population not employed by Red Bull. His unnecessary move into the path of Webber ruined both their races.

But putting the incident – which will surely prove the nadir of his season – to one side, he’s otherwise driven quickly, consistently and is unlucky not to be leading the world championship.

Exhaust failure in Bahrain. Wheel failures in Melbourne and Barcelona. His anti-roll bar in Istanbul and his gearbox in Montreal. One could conservatively estimate the points Vettel’s lost to car trouble this year running as at least 40, enough to put him comfortably in the lead of the championship.

Vettel has continued to prove this year that he can scorch the opposition in qualifying and romp away to victory from the front row of the grid.

What we’ve not seen enough of from him yet is his ability to fight his way past rivals. Too much dithering behind Adrian Sutil in Shanghai allowed Hamilton to mug the pair of them.

That may ultimately prove the difference between whether he win the world championship this year or not.

Started off the season looking like he was going to get pole and win every race… if his car would actually finish. Since Webber started to beat him he looks worried and seems that it’s gone to his head a bit.
TommyB89

Compare Sebastian Vettel?s form against his team mate in 2010

2. Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica, Renault, Monte-Carlo, 2010

After an uninspiring 2009 the real Robert Kubica is back.

At the start of the season the Renault was the fifth-best car on the grid. Now, with Mercedes’ difficulties, it’s usually fourth. And Kubica has often exceeded the R30’s capabilities.

He’s done it partly by avoiding some of mistakes made by the front runners – like the McLarens and Ferraris that failed to progress beyond Q1 at Sepang, or the many drivers who blinked and pitted too soon for intermediates at Shanghai.

He’s done it with a breathtaking turn of speed, putting him second on the grid in Monaco and beating the Ferraris in Turkey. The gap between him and rookie team mate Vitaly Petrov in qualifying makes painful reading – 9-0 to Kubica, 0.957s faster on average (compare that to Rubens Barrichello’s 0.222s margin over Nico H???lkenberg).

And he’s done it with remarkable consistency, finishing every race in the points, except at Bahrain where he was delayed by a first-lap collision with Sutil.

Canada was his least impressive race, going off while battling with Schumacher and being fortunate to escape without a penalty for impatiently swerving around and hitting Sutil on his way to the pits.

Not being in one of the absolute front-running cars, he doesn’t face the kind of pressure to bring home maximum points without risk that the championship contenders do.

But if he was driving for one of the top teams, on this form there’s reason to believe he’d do better than several of their drivers.

Massively impressive, though the cars a definite contender – by which I mean when it’s not in Q3, someone’s doing it wrong. Still, he is driving out of his skin, and outperforming the car. Would certainly put him in the top three drivers.
Scribe

Compare Robert Kubica?s form against his team mate in 2010

1. Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Montreal, 2010

In his first three seasons you could take it for granted that Hamilton would be on or very near the pace of his car, and he would fight hard for any advantage on the track.

The difference this year is how he’s tempered his speed and aggression with a little more caution than before. It’s made him a more complete racing driver.

His battles through the field in Melbourne, Sepang and Shanghai were not only some of the most entertaining moments of the year so far, they were among the most impressive performances of any driver.

At Barcelona he was on course to split the Red Bulls – something that looked unthinkable when they’d out-qualified the field by nearly a second – before a wheel failure caused by an inadequately secured nut.

His first win of the season was just reward for his dogged pursuit of the Red Bulls, spending lap after lap within a few tenths of Webber or Vettel at Istanbul. In years past perhaps a careless move for position or one too many locked wheels would have scuppered his run. But he kept it clean and capitalised when they self-destructed.

Montreal was a tour de force – an excellent pole position (the only non-Red Bull driver to claim one so far) and a pair of careful passes in high-pressure situations gave him his best dry-weather win to date.

Aside from his mystifying qualifying performance in Melbourne, and occasionally sailing close to the wind with the stewards, Hamilton is in first-class form this year. He’s not always had the faster car underneath him, but he’s leading the world championship.

He had a slow start, but it seems he now has the measure of Jenson. His recent consistency has also helped him take the championship lead. He might want to avoid courting controversy, though.
Journeyer

Compare Lewis Hamilton?s form against his team mate in 2010

Full 2010 half-term driver rankings

See below for links to the first two parts.

24. Karun Chandhok
23. Lucas di Grassi
22. Bruno Senna
21. Vitantonio Liuzzi
20. Vitaly Petrov
19. Nico H???lkenberg
18. Pedro de la Rosa
17. Jarno Trulli
16. Kamui Kobayashi
15. Jaime Alguersuari
14. Timo Glock
13. Michael Schumacher
12. Heikki Kovalainen
11. Rubens Barrichello
10. Sebastien Buemi
9. Felipe Massa
8. Adrian Sutil
7. Nico Rosberg
6. Fernando Alonso
5. Jenson Button
4. Mark Webber
3. Sebastian Vettel
2. Robert Kubica
1. Lewis Hamilton

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95 comments on 2010 half-term driver rankings (Part 3)

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  1. Kate said on 8th July 2010, 17:19

    Hmm, not quite what I expected to be honest. I wouldn’t have Button that low, and I would probably have Webber ahead of Vettel.

    Top two I’d agree with though.

    • phoros said on 8th July 2010, 17:22

      That’s exactly my thought.

      • Kate said on 8th July 2010, 17:33

        I know looking at the standings this view point is a bit irrational, so I’d better justify it. I was more impressed with Button and Webber’s wins that Vettel’s, and at this point everyone has lost at least some points due to bad luck so I didn’t factor that in too heavily.

        Also, I feel that Vettel has underperformed on the whole this season while Button and Webber have exceeded expectations, so that probably influences my view, whether it should or shouldn’t in such a ranking.

    • Hare said on 8th July 2010, 23:03

      If it wasn’t for his mechanic’s error in Monaco, Button could quite well be leading the championship. He’s made next to no mistakes.

      • svingoville said on 9th July 2010, 0:55

        wat about the wheel coming off for L.H due to a loose nut wat about when hamilton waas called into the pits 4 an extra pit stop?

        • Hare (@hare) said on 9th July 2010, 1:06

          true. Although Jenson’s was through sheer imcompetance on the part of the mechanic, it simply shouldn’t have happened.

          The wheel nut debacle happens much more often, and is a result of racing under pessure.

          I think Jenson was a little more hard done by techinally, but Lewis certainly more hard done by for loosing the postion. I couldn’t see Jenson getting as many points in Monaco.

    • miguelF1O (@) said on 9th July 2010, 0:41

      since the first part i said it was going to be lewis but thats wrong not because of the overtakes that cars has all of the ingredients to overtake fast car fast driver but this season is painted in chrome all adversaries feel that the fia is getting out of shape in terms of racing rules if red bull doesnt wins this year its because of the cheating

      • lettucefolk said on 9th July 2010, 7:54

        If you have nothing useful to say other than ridiculous blabber, please shut up.

      • Lee said on 9th July 2010, 8:36

        @miguelF1O,

        You clearly know nothing about F1 and simply like to see your words on screen? Unless you have something more intelligent to write then I suggest you stop posting.

  2. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 8th July 2010, 17:20

    Not the order I would have chosen (I would have put Button and Webber ahead of Vettel, and uncharitably ahead of Kubica too), but you’ve argued your choices very well.

    But you know, you’ve missed out Kimi Raikkonen!

    • Scribe (@scribe) said on 9th July 2010, 0:35

      Agree, I would’ve had Vettle below Webber and Button ahead of the pair of them, but the way the seasons gone it’s mostly subjective between these five. Great reasoning too Keith, certainly tops Sawards bizzare an unbalanced pop.

      If they were all in even cars I’d put the championsip order as
      Hamilton
      Kubica
      Vettle
      Webber
      Button
      Reason I put Kubica below Hamilton is that I’m not sure he’d be so flawless is the preassure of a title was upon him, something he’s not realistically experianced yet. However in even cars Alonso would be well up there.

      an yay, got quoted on all three parts, go the F1F fourum!

      • Jhonnie Siggie said on 9th July 2010, 1:17

        Good order in your scenario. I would, however, always have Button ahead of Webber. Button makes very few mistakes compared to Webber and he is also more of an opportunist IMHO. Also, Webber seems to go into the back of people when the heat is on – HAM in Australia and KOV in Europe to name a couple.

  3. Paul G said on 8th July 2010, 17:24

    I agree with the top 3, but not the top 6.
    Alonso is, and has been, better than the erratic Webber and slightly slow Button who is only now regarded as something slightly more than a journeyman by dint of some very large luck in recent races and getting his butt into two cars (in the last couple of seasons) which are/were arguably above his talent level.
    I still see Button at the same level as people like Ralf/Fisi/Trulli/Kovalainen, etc, and not a true wdc.
    Come seasons end it will be Alonso v Vettel and Hamilton with Kubica as the man who most performed his machinery and Webber and Button out of the picture.

    • matt90 said on 8th July 2010, 21:56

      No driver should be be compared to Ralf. And I’d say about the same of Trulli. He’s performed considerably better next to Hamilton than Kovalainen did as well. I think one reason that people rate Button so low is because he didn’t stand out in 07 and 08, despite the fact he had a shocking car and performed well against Barrichello.

      • Mike said on 9th July 2010, 22:55

        People always pick on Ralf, Along with EJ. But go back a few years and both driver and team were hot prospects.

        It’s easy to say things after it’s happened.

    • Matt said on 9th July 2010, 9:50

      Kovalainen was not as consistently close to Hamilton as Button has been in the same car, I think people seem to find it annoying that a not so fast consistent intelligent driver can some times get the better of the driver with the greater natural talent (Hamilton)

  4. sw6569 said on 8th July 2010, 17:25

    I think I would have put Vettel in 5th and Kubica in first. Otherwise, I agree with the rest of your rankings!

  5. S.J.M said on 8th July 2010, 17:33

    Have to agree with the comments, that i dont agree with the top 5. The previous countdowns have been bang on, but Id too have webber & Button ahead of Vettel (Hamilton, Kubica, Webber, Button, Vettel). Sure, Vettels won races, but he still has only proven that he needs a front row slot to win the race, where as the others have battled for positions.

    Cant argue with #1 though, Hamilton hasnt had it easy at the start of the year (his fault or otherwise) but he’s the guy whose made the most overtakes this year, been consistant and controlled, and deserves to be top of the pile at this stage.

    • Scribe (@scribe) said on 9th July 2010, 0:38

      Vettle,s early season form was electric though, Tommys bang on, it looked like if Vettles car held no one would get a look in, I do rank him down for the subsequent wobbles though, although the preassure getting to him is understandable.

      • Lee said on 9th July 2010, 8:47

        Vettel is a very very fast driver when he is on form and things are going well. However he does seem to fall apart a bit when the pressure is on. I would also say that there a a few drivers that are much better when it comes to actual racing rather than banging out fast laps. Hamilton, Alonso seem to be the best while Button has impressed me this season as too has Webber. The biggest surprise for me though has been Kubica as I had pretty much decided in my head that he was all hype after last season. He certainly has made me take that back though this season, showing that he is a very well rounded driver. Hamilton though just amazes me, he is getting better and better each season and if he keeps this going could be world champion quite a few more times. I fear Alonso is his own worst enemy. He is clearly a very talented driver but seems to let little things get to him in a very big way. I also have heard quite a few insider stories about his arrival at Ferrari that do not show him in a good light, I do however think he is an excellent driver.

  6. zarathustra said on 8th July 2010, 17:33

    1. Hamilton / Kubica
    2. …
    3. … <— (unlucky Alonso should be here)
    4. Button / Webber
    5. Vettel

    • Anthony said on 9th July 2010, 3:55

      I dont think a jump start, a colision with button and an crashing in monaco is bad luck… I call it mistakes!

  7. Tango said on 8th July 2010, 17:39

    The two first are no-brainers really. Have to agree. I’d step Button before Webber and Vettel though : He is really close to Hamilton and while slightly less agressive, still manages to stay a few seconds behind Lewis come the end of the race(and seems quite happy to stay so)

    • Jhonnie Siggie said on 9th July 2010, 1:53

      He is happy because he is close to Lewis and is banking on Lewis screwing up and earning some DNFs. He is also praying for some wet races as his gambles in those have paid off so far.

      He knows that LEW will clean his clock in normal circumstances.

  8. Katy (@katy) said on 8th July 2010, 17:40

    I agree with the top 5 definitely. Still don’t like Chandhock being right at the bottom though :( he’s the best of the new teams!

    Just a heads up there’s a typo on Jaime’s name in the full list of rankings.

    • Katy said on 9th July 2010, 2:24

      Also, I’d like to add that I think it’s really hard separating Webber and Vettel. They’ve both had bad luck, both made mistakes and both had some great races. They’re pretty much even I’d say. I’d put them joint 3rd probably.

  9. Steph90 (@steph90) said on 8th July 2010, 17:42

    Mine personally would have been:

    5/ Vettel – consistent and let down by his car mostly (but as he’s had all the failures I can’t help but wonder if he rides the car too hard but as that is speculation I’ve kept that out of why I’ve placed him 5th). However, he’s three times tried something dangerous mostly trying to intimidate/drive into people. The China pits with Lewis, Turkey with Lewis and then Turkey with Mark. Worse still, he says he would do it again. His speed is undoubtedly impressive but his race craft needs work.

    I was very close to putting Alo in Vettel’s place but decided against it.

    4/ Jenson Button. Lewis probably beats him on raw speed but he’s read the conditions brilliants and beat Lewis on the odd occassion in quali. He lacks pace sometimes but no real blunders.

    3/ Mark Webber. Only counting Bahrain quali and the Aus rampage really against him. Besides that he has been magnificient with his form. He finished only pone placve behind Vettel at Canada despite that gearbox penalty. Valencia he went backwards and was more at fault than Kovy for what happened but he’s really shown he can be a champion this year.

    2/ Robert Kubica. Not number one and considered putting him 3rd because although he has made virtually no mistakes (which is what got him in the top 5) except maybe Canada with Schumi and that ridiculously daft dive in the pits infront of Sutil, I can’t judge his pace when he has Petrov plus that car fits him like a glove. I also think Renault deserve much more credit then they’re getting for the car, strategy and development as well as moulding the team around Robert.

    1/ Hasn’t always been on top of his game in quali. He wasn’t exactly wise publically critising the team in Aus either nor was his weaving in Mal that smart but compared to some of the goings on this year they were minor. Keith mentioned before he sometimes stays in slipstreams too long and clips cars such as Massa this year at Aus but apart from that he’s been exceptional.

    Someone once said it takes 3 years for a driver to settle into F1. This is Hamilton’s 4th and it’s by far been his best. As a Ferrari fan, he’s the one I’ve been watching every session and for a while now.

    • Kate said on 8th July 2010, 17:46

      Yeah, that would be my order too.

    • George (@george) said on 8th July 2010, 18:16

      “I was very close to putting Alo in Vettel’s place but decided against it.”

      I dont believe it Steph, surely your Ferrari fangirlism isn’t waning?

      I think Webber deserves to be above Vettel, he’s showing that Germany last year wasn’t a one-off.

      • steph said on 8th July 2010, 18:39

        Definitely not waning but Alonso’s really pushed the car compared to Massa but has made far too many crucial mistakes. His recovery drives have generally been great but he’s made them far too often and mostly if not always, from his own doing. I like Ferrari but I can’t ignore that :P

    • Mouse_Nightshirt (@mouse_nightshirt) said on 8th July 2010, 20:05

      This is the order I would have gone for. Vettel’s racecraft still leaves something to be desired, enough to lower him down a few spots.

    • felipe massa fan said on 9th July 2010, 11:58

      i completely agree with you
      but this year there has been too many mistakes bye alonzo, vettel, webber and button is to unaggresive

      in 2008 it was hamilton vs massa which was so exiting and they didnt make mistakes
      i am begging to wonder if alonzo is any good

      last year kimi raikinnon was doing better in a car which was rubbish with 4 or 5 consecutive podiums than alonzo is doing now
      Redbull have just taken the exitement out of f1 The days of pure rivalry between mclaren and ferrari were much better like in 2008

  10. PJA said on 8th July 2010, 17:57

    I think that would probably be my top five except I would put Vettel lower possibly below Alonso.

  11. johnno said on 8th July 2010, 17:59

    swap vitaly petrov and michael schumacher and i completely agree (:

  12. sumedh said on 8th July 2010, 18:05

    Will disagree with comments and agree with Keith.

    Viewers have a short memory, and thus the only 2 memories most prominent of Vettel are of him colliding with Webber and him asking on the radio, if he should pass the cars ahead on-track or not. Both clearly wrong things.

    We tend to forget the start of the season which Keith has rightly reminded us of. He lost 2 wins in the first 2 races through no fault of his own. Somehow, in this topsy-turvy and exciting 2010 season, this fact was lost in obscurity, but Keith has rightly reminded us of it.

    Similarly we tend to forget Webber’s ordinary start of the season. He was nowhere in Bahrain and made a complete mess of himself at Melbourne. In Canada as well, he foolishly tried an unrealistic strategy. And got overtaken by 7 cars on the first lap at Valencia – which can be pinned down only on his own terrible riving.

    But somehow, all we remember of Webber is him being publicly reprimanded by Helmut Marko and rest of the Red Bull. He has become the ‘hero’ for the fans only because of that one incident.

    Fully agree with your rankings, Keith. A very honest and comprehensive assessment of the top 5.

    • Syqo said on 8th July 2010, 19:38

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

      I’m surprised that so many people would place Webber ahead of Vettel. Whilst Webber was outstanding in a few races, he has made many more errors than Vettel as already pointed out and he also went wide at turn one in Malaysia gifting Vettel the lead and ultimately the victory. I think we’re placing too much emphasis on Turkey and forgetting what happened in the earlier races.

      I completely agree with Keith’s rankings and I’m glad he took everything into consideration rather than being swayed by a few incidents.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th July 2010, 20:52

      You might be right on Vettel but Webber had his race busted by team error (pit stop tactics) in Australia as well as a pit stop problem in Valencia.
      His error seems to be more about losing his cool and getting impatient in that situation (hitting Hamilton, flying over Heikki).

      • Don’t forget that Webber can actually race and overtake, skills that Vettel seems sadly lacking. Weren’t 2 out of the top 10 overtakes Keith wrote on last year Webber passes?

    • Katy (@katy) said on 9th July 2010, 1:27

      Yep, definitely agree with everything you’ve written.

  13. Alistair said on 8th July 2010, 18:10

    A pretty good list. Mainly because this one seems to take into account the performance of the car more than previous lists did. I.e., we need to consider not only what a driver did do but what could have been done with the machinery he had. So a driver, such as Kubica or Button, can never be no: 1 on the list if, given the same machinery, teammate, opportunity, etc., another driver would have done better than he did.

    I wouldn’t have ranked Kubica in the top three; let alone second. Just as Button has the apparent disadvantage of having Lewis as a teammate, Kubica has the apparent advantage of having Petrov as a teammate. Kubica is the only driver among the top 5 teams to have a rookie teammate. Moreover, perhaps the reason that Kubica seems to make few mistakes is that he’s not being pressurised from a being in a top team, with a top-class teammate, being in the media spot-light, etc. In fact, I’m very dubious of his talent, since his record against the less than stellar Heidfeld over several years wasn’t too impressive.

    I would have ranked Button higher. A major factor in his success, however, has been his luck. Many people talk about his great judgement of the weather. But a driver, whether Senna, Schumacher, Button, or whomever, is just gambling when he makes a decision in the cockpit like that. A driver should know what tyres are called for in the present circumstances. But he’s gambling when he makes a judgement on one lap for the next; all the more so, for the next few laps or the next stint. And Button’s calls would have either won him the race or put him well out of the points: hardly a sensible gamble for a championship contender to make. And Button is further lucky in that Lewis has been unlucky: his strategy calls (the team’s strategy calls) haven’t paid off; and that tyre problem cost him many more points than Button’s Monaco mishap. We saw Button’s luck, again, with the safety car at the last race.

  14. Shilpesh said on 8th July 2010, 18:22

    Expected Webber and Button to be ahead of Vettel. Lewis and Robert have put up a performance that makes it very hard to choose B/W them for top spot.

  15. vitor said on 8th July 2010, 18:50

    vettel in 3rd??? LOOOOOOOOL
    vettel is the driver with more laps on front of the grid!!! have 2 wins but he could win more races, but had problems with the car!!! (barhain, australia)

    rosberg out of the top 5????

    wath win of both mclarens was clean and without problems, rain, tyres issues???

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