2010 F1 driver rankings part two: 17-9

2010 F1 season reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Read on for part two of the 2010 F1 Fanatic driver rankings.

While writing the final driver rankings for 2010 I consulted the F1 Fanatic driver form guides and statistics, re-watched the races and qualifying sessions and read your remarks in the 2010 driver rankings forum thread.

A selection of your comments from the thread are included below.

17. Nick Heidfeld

Nick Heidfeld, Sauber, Suzuka, 2010
Nick Heidfeld, Sauber, Suzuka, 2010

Half-term ranking: n/a

Heidfeld’s 2010 season started very late – he was only drafted in at Sauber for the final five races.

He got up to speed quickly, finishing within a couple of seconds of Kobayashi in Suzuka and Korea. He scored as many points in his five races as Pedro de la Rosa had in 14.

Was always close to Kobayashi despite joining late in the season. Not an easy thing to do! Remember Fisichella last year?
M Sakr

Nick Heidfeld 2010 form guide

16. Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Singapore, 2010
Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Singapore, 2010

Half-term ranking: 9

Being Fernando Alonso’s team mate must be one of the toughest jobs in Formula 1. Alonso may have been the new recruit, but from day one he out-drove Massa in the car and out-flanked him within the team – the latter becoming brutally clear at Hockenheim.

It’s easy to overlook the few highlights in Massa’s season. He did beat Alonso in four of the first seven races, though this was often down to Alonso making life difficult for himself. And Alonso didn’t completely rout him in qualifying.

But by the end of the season Massa’s function within the team had been reduced to supporting Alonso, and he couldn’t even offer much in that capacity.

Suzuka was the nadir, failing to reach Q3 then smashing into Vitantonio Liuzzi at the first turn. I was surprised the stewards didn’t give him a penalty for that. Maybe they felt sorry for him too.

I was so disappointed (and worried) last year when Massa had his accident, as I am a large fan and I think he may well have had the measure on Kimi R??ikk??nen.

But pre-season I was worried that Alonso would make mincemeat of him, and that?s how it seemed to go this season. He didn?t start off badly, nabbing a podium in Bahrain and finishing ahead of Alonso in a few of the first races (like Australia). But as the season got underway and Mr Eyebrows began his domination of the team (China, anyone?) the Brazilian faltered.

And when it finally looked as if he had regained some 2008 form in Germany ??it?? happened, and that was about it. Very disappointed for him and hope he comes back stronger next year.
Joe King

Felipe Massa 2010 form guide

15. Nico H???lkenberg

Nico H???lkenberg, Interlagos, 2010

Half-term ranking: 19

The highest-placed ‘true’ rookie of 2010 on this list doesn’t have a drive for 2011 yet. But it’s clear that’s a reflection not on his ability but his lack of sponsorship compared to Pastor Maldonado, who has taken his place at Williams.

H???lkenberg’s maiden season was scrappy at times, especially in the opening races of the season and that lifeless final appearance at Abu Dhabi, by which time he must have known he wouldn’t be returning for Williams in 2011.

But glimpses of his potential weren’t confined to that shock pole position at Interlagos and the mature way he handled racing with the championship contenders in the race. He was fifth on the grid in the rain-hit qualifying session at Sepang and had a great weekend at Monza.

It would reflect badly on F1 if a promising talent such as this cannot find a race seat for a second season.

Best of the rookies, he started to find his feet at the end of the year, caught up with Rubens (which isn’t as easy as Ruben’s detractors might like you to believe) and pulled that stormer of a lap in Brazil. If you can leave Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso looking baffled as to where you’ve found the speed on a qualifying lap, then you’re a rare talent.

Nico H???lkenberg 2010 form guide

14. Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Singapore, 2010
Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Singapore, 2010

Half-term ranking: 12

Kovalainen was the only driver from the new teams to finish ahead of a car run by one of the established outfits.

He did it to H???lkenberg at Shanghai as the Williams driver made about two pit stops too many, and he somehow kept Vitaly Petrov’s Renault behind at Montreal as well.

He was regularly the highest-placed of the new teams’ drivers, and that wasn’t just down to having better reliability than his team mate.

Kovalainen had a strong season, revelling in his role in developing a new team. Having fewer mechanical retirements than Trulli helped, but Kovalainen generally seemed to be punching above his weight, even after the Lotus stopped developing their 2010 car. Like Glock, he took advantage of his opportunities and made it to Q2 in Malaysia and Belgium.

Heikki Kovalainen 2010 form guide

13. Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher. Mercedes, Shanghai, 2010
Michael Schumacher. Mercedes, Shanghai, 2010

Half-term ranking: 13

A few races into Schumacher’s comeback several people were wondering what his exit strategy was going to be. It’s to his credit that he stuck it out.

Schumacher’s problem was rooted in the tyres, particularly the fronts, which wouldn’t allow him to throw the car into the corners in his customary style. Mixed weather conditions, so often his forte in years past, exposed the problem even more.

He was often seen slipping back down the field and at times his defensive strategies clearly went too far – as at the Hungaroring.

But there was light at the end of the tunnel. As Mercedes made progress with the car, Schumacher’s performances correspondingly improved – notably in Korea.

He never looked like beating his team mate, and when he had the chance to in Interlagos he let Rosberg by, even though Rosberg had not done the same for him in Suzuka.

On whose standards are we to judge his year? The standard he set in his dominant years, or the standard we would expect of a 41-year-old who?s been out of the sport for three years?

Schumacher was pretty disappointing this year, the first year he completed a full season without winning at least one race. Two fourth place finishes and little more than half of the points scored by his team mate shows he doesn?t have the touch he did before.

A terrifying smash at the last race of the year is probably another tick in the ??retire again? column. If 2011 is the same as 2010 I can see him pulling out half way through next year and handing the reins over to probable test driver H???lkenburg.

Michael Schumacher 2010 form guide

12. Jaime Alguersuari

Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, Bahrain, 2010

Half-term ranking: 15

Alguersuari made solid progress throughout his first full season of F1. By the end of the year he had gone from being the junior partner at Toro Rosso to regularly out-qualifying and out-racing Sebastien Buemi.

There are still some rough edges on this young talent – he ran into his team mate at Hockenheim and picked up a penalties at Spa and Monza.

I thought he would be really poor, but in my opinon he totally crushed Buemi, and drove well in the last four races of the season. I think he?s one to watch for the future.

Jaime Alguersuari 2010 form guide

11. Timo Glock

Timo Glock, Virgin, Singapore, 2010
Timo Glock, Virgin, Singapore, 2010

Half-term ranking: 14

Glock took the fight to Lotus beyond what the VR-01 should have been capable of. As usual, he stood out in wet races and might have caused a late upset in the new teams’ championship battle if he hadn’t been taken out by Sebastien Buemi in Korea.

He was impressive in Singapore too, defending his position from a string of faster cars before his race was ruined by the safety car intervention. Clearly a talent that deserves better machinery.

“Impressive” is not enough to describe Glock’s work this year. He has always been on the gearboxes of the Lotuses, and sometimes even coming home in front of them, in a car that was arguably not capable of such feat. Worthy of note was his defence from Sutil at Singapore – pure class, he didn’t even need to put a wheel off the racing line!
Guilherme Teixeira

Timo Glock 2010 form guide

10. Kamui Kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Valencia, 2010
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Valencia, 2010

Half-term ranking: 16

Kobayashi looked like a loose cannon at the start of the season, particularly in Melbourne where he was rarely seen with a front wing attached to his Sauber.

But, much like his car, he came good as the season went on and the team put his overtaking prowess to good use with some daring strategies. He grabbed seventh at Valencia after springing a surprise attack on Fernando Alonso, then passing Buemi within sight of the flag.

More heroics followed at his home race in Suzuka. But he wasn’t just a one-trick pony – a more conventional strategy yielded his best result of the season – sixth place at Silverstone. There’s still room for improvement, particularly in qualifying, but otherwise a very impressive season.

Provided a lot of entertainment this year, especially towards the end once Sauber became more reliable. Every time the camera cuts to a Kobayashi replay I get excited because you know something amazing is about to happen!

Kamui Kobayashi 2010 form guide

9. Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil, Force India, Silverstone, 2010
Adrian Sutil, Force India, Silverstone, 2010

Half-term ranking: 8

Started the season brightly but found it increasingly difficult to impress in the Force India as the team fell behind in the midfield battle.

What marked Sutil’s season out as such an improvement over previous campaigned was that, by and large, he cut out the mistakes and accidents – Korea being a notable exception.

His natural talent shone through more often and he pulled off some excellent overtaking moves, particularly on Buemi in Valencia and Schumacher at Silverstone. In fact, he and Schumacher crossed swords several times in 2010 and Sutil often came out on top.

Even as the car’s performance waned Sutil was seldom troubled by team mate Liuzzi.

People have been quick to slate Adrian Sutil after a disapointing second half of the season, but that just typifies how short people’s memories are.

He managed to drag a car that was average at best to points in almost half of the races this season, including superb fifths at Malaysia and Spa. His excellent points haul very nearly helped Force India to pip Williams to sixth in the constructors’ championship.
Ned Flanders

Adrian Sutil 2010 form guide

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Images ?? BMW Sauber F1 Team, Ferrari spa, Cosworth, Lotus Racing, Mercedes, Red Bull/Getty images, Virgin Racing, BMW Sauber F1 Team, Force India F1 Team