Start, Silverstone, 2011

2011 half season driver rankings part 1: 26-16

2011 F1 season

Start, Silverstone, 2011
Start, Silverstone, 2011

With half the season done, there is still half the season left to run.

Well, not quite, but with nine out of 19 races in the books it’s time to see how the drivers are getting on.

Here’s the first part of my mid-season driver rankings plus some of your views on the drivers from the forum.

Share your view on the drivers rated below in the comments.

26. Narain Karthikeyan

Beat team mate in qualifying 0/7
Beat team mate in race 1/5
Races finished 6/7
Laps spent ahead of team mate 125/346

It was much more of a surprise to see Narain Karthikeyan being handed an F1 return with HRT than it was to see him dropped from the team halfway through the year.

Even so, the team should have done him the courtesy of letting him know he was being replaced before he read about it online.

Narain is constantly raising the bar for the pay driver stereotype: slow, back-marking rich guys whose sponsors earn them drive with the Formula One minnows. His performances against Liuzzi are evocative of pay driver Ricardo Rosset and Vincenzo Sospiri in the MasterCard Lola car, respectively.

Narain Karthikeyan 2011 form guide

Daniel Ricciardo, HRT, Silverstone, 2011
Daniel Ricciardo, HRT, Silverstone, 2011

25. Daniel Ricciardo

Beat team mate in qualifying 0/1
Beat team mate in race 0/1
Races finished 1/1
Laps spent ahead of team mate 1/49

Making a race debut with a back-of-the-grid team brings particular difficulties. As new drivers having so few opportunities to test F1 cars today compared to four or five years ago, we should adjust our expectations accordingly.

The only benchmark Ricciardo can be measured against in his single F1 start to date is his team mate. He was slightly closer to Liuzzi in qualifying and the race than Karthikeyan had been, which is a good start.

Can’t say we’ve seen much, perhaps see him in a Toro Rosso next year.

Daniel Ricciardo 2011 form guide

24. Jerome d’Ambrosio

Beat team mate in qualifying 2/9
Beat team mate in race 2/5
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 85/411

Nine races into Jerome d’Ambrosio’s career he’s shown himself to be a safe pair of hands.

Missing the 107% cut in Montreal was a moot point, and he’s lost out to Liuzzi’s HRT on a couple of occasions. But he’s not been completely blown into the weeds by Timo Glock.

Seems to be holding his own as a rookie slightly better than his predecessor Di Grassi, but nothing amazing so far.

Jerome d’Ambrosio 2011 form guide

23. Jarno Trulli

Beat team mate in qualifying 1/9
Beat team mate in race 2/4
Races finished 7/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 176/369

Clearly unhappy with the handling of the new Lotus, particularly its steering. After nine races it’s surprising this veteran of 243 Grands Prix hasn’t got the car working to his liking yet.

The qualifying scoreline makes particularly grim reading for a driver once regarded as a one-lap specialist.

Too big of a gap from his team mate and only escaping the last position for obvious reasons. Don’t believe he should leave since I enjoy seeing old blood racing against young blood.

Jarno Trulli 2011 form guide

22. Vitantonio Liuzzi

Beat team mate in qualifying 8/8
Beat team mate in race 5/6
Races finished 6/8
Laps spent ahead of team mate 269/395

Not too proud to turn down a drive in the slowest car in F1 to keep his career going, it’s thanks to Liuzzi the team finds itself ahead of Virgin in the constructors’ championship.

He’s kept Glock and D’Ambrosio honest in qualifying and even claimed the odd scalp on Sunday.

I’ve defended Liuzzi before and i’ve slated him before. This year though, as a team leader, he’s doing a great job. However, for the vast majority of the season he’s been compared to Karthikeyan which may explain this.

Vitantonio Liuzzi 2011 form guide

Pedro de la Rosa, Sauber, Montreal, 2011
Pedro de la Rosa, Sauber, Montreal, 2011

21. Pedro de la Rosa

Beat team mate in qualifying 0/1
Beat team mate in race 0/1
Races finished 1/1
Laps spent ahead of team mate 0/70

Parachuted in for one race with the team that dropped him last year, de la Rosa did about as well as could be expected in difficult circumstances.

Did okay under the circumstances in Canada.

Pedro de la Rosa 2011 form guide

20. Pastor Maldonado

Beat team mate in qualifying 5/9
Beat team mate in race 1/6
Races finished 6/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 186/434

Maldonado’s arrival at Williams, usurping Nico H???lkenberg and wielding a thick wedge of PDVSA cash, attracted much negative comment before he’d as much as turned a wheel.

His first half-season hasn’t been the disaster some expected, but nor has he covered himself in glory all that often. A stand-out exception was Monaco, where he was on course for a points finish before colliding with Lewis Hamilton.

Three appearances in Q3 after a bad start to his rookie season were very welcome by Williams. He has been unlucky in those races where he was strong (Monaco) and in the others has been not fast enough to grant him his first points.

19. Vitaly Petrov

Beat team mate in qualifying 6/9
Beat team mate in race 2/7
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 282/518

Got the year off to a fine start with a podium finish at Melbourne.

Since then there hasn’t been much to celebrate. Petrov has found himself increasingly out-classed by Nick Heidfeld on race day and although he retains a slight edge in qualifying, Heidfeld is eroding that as well.

Seems do handle qualifying in a decent manner with blistering quick starts. Race pace has not been as good as it should.

Vitaly Petrov 2011 form guide

18. Jaime Alguersuari

Beat team mate in qualifying 2/9
Beat team mate in race 2/6
Races finished 7/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 153/459

At the beginning of the year Alguersuari could find neither performance nor durability from the Pirelli tyres, and struggled relative to his team mate.

He has turned that around in recent races, however, and finished the last three in the points. It raises the prospect of a fascinating battle between him and Sebastien Buemi over the remainder of the season, while Ricciardo covetously eyes their places in the team.

Needed some time but now he’s up to speed he’s had some great races and he needs to keep that up if he wants to stay at the Red Bull family, as some other drivers are knocking on that door.

Jaime Alguersuari 2011 form guide

17. Rubens Barrichello

Beat team mate in qualifying 4/9
Beat team mate in race 5/6
Races finished 7/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 248/434

Barrichello has come under some pressure from his new team mate in qualifying. But in the races the vast benefit of over 300 races and nearly two decades in F1 is telling.

He’s accounted for all the team’s points this year and shown some great touches when the car has allowed him to, such as his opportunistic pass on Michael Schumacher at Monaco.

Still has the talent, but not being done any favours by the utterly disappointing FW33.

Rubens Barrichello 2011 form guide

16. Adrian Sutil

Beat team mate in qualifying 2/9
Beat team mate in race 4/7
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 228/509

The qualifying scoreline makes grim reading for Sutil up against his new team mate.

Di Resta has proven capable of racing at his team mate’s level right from the off, even on tracks he hasn’t seen before.

Sutil may have the points advantage but on the evidence of their form so far he’ll have to up his game to stay ahead in the second half of the year.

Has been thrashed by his rookie team mate on Saturdays but has looked pretty strong on Sundays. He still makes way too many mistakes though, and hasn’t matured as much as people expected him to. He was having a much stronger and consistent season last year.

Adrian Sutil 2011 form guide

2011 F1 season

Browse all 2011 F1 season articles

162 comments on “2011 half season driver rankings part 1: 26-16”

  1. Does the second number in the statistic about races exclude retirements?

    Anyway, a couple of typos:

    […] which suggests there’s nothing wrong here a bit more track time wouldn’t help.


    But he made a breakthrough and has been in the points for the last ten races.

    I don’t see why Petrov is so low to be honest. He outqualifies Heidfeld most of the time, which means a lot considering he lost 2-17 against Kubica. Either he should be higher or Heidfeld lower. While he may lose out to him in the races, he also seems to have less luck – he seems to be stalked be a certain Schumacher that is missing his braking points.

    All in all good, although Alguersuari’s latest performances were top notch.

  2. I think Vettel has to be on top for sure. But second? That will be interesting.

    My guess would be Alonso. He has done so much in such an uncompetitive car. And that win was fantastic. But even ignoring that he has really been putting the car further up the grid than it really deserves I feel.

    Lewis for me, is still one of if not the quickest drivers… yet… he has made too many mistakes and could have done more. For sure he can bounce back, and I’m sure he will. But yeah… not this half.

    I think the only other guy it could is Button. Yeah sure he’s had some luck and he isn’t on Lewis’ pace, but geez. He grabbed that luck by the dangly bits and then some.

    And for once Schumacher don’t be miles off Rosberg. Huzzah!

      1. This really does get VERY subjective at the top (yes the whole list is but meh).

        You *could* say that Vettel has generally had an easy run without much to do. He has the fastest car and his team mate is for some reason not a threat this year (it’s not due to lack of talent). He hasn’t had to show much this season.

        You *could* also say that Kamui has had a great season with excellent driving skills on show (arguably the most obviously talented driving out there) and he has driven very fairly. But I can’t see many people putting him at the top. Not unless he’s in one of the top 3 teams.

        I really want to see Kamui in a good car. Can’t see where there is a spot at the moment though – ditch Massa and have him in the Ferrari? He’s not going to be in a McLaren any time soon and Red Bull tend to have their own development path for drivers (arguably not delivering much ATM though)

  3. More or less agree, although Algusuari deserves more credit than he’s given some times. He’s turned his season around lately. Three points finishes in the last three races has saved his skin at Toro Rosso (although there are suggestions that it was actually his father’s wallet that did him a favour).

    Glad to see that Heikki Kovalainen is in the top 15. Very much agree with that.

  4. I don’t understand how Ricciardo is ahead of Karthikeyan, albeit he’s had more starts, at least he’s beaten his team-mate in the race and led a higher percentage of laps vs his team mate.

    Not that any of it matters, but I’m tired of people berating Karthikeyan and praising Ricciardo despite the fact that neither deserve any.

    1. Karthikeyan has been in 26 races. That’s why.

      There hasn’t been a barrage of Ricciardo support on this site either if it makes you feel any better.

      1. Karthikeyan had a 6 year break from Formula One… Ricciardo s performance was a massive dissapointment looking at how many tests he had + free practices with STR + lot of hours in a simulator…

    1. More than Massa, Webber deserves to be in this list of 16-26.

      Webber in 2011 has been worse than Massa in 2010. Massa has been compromised by bad pit stops and having to accommodate for Alonso’s strategy.

      Webber even on good days (without KERS or other issues) has been unable to challenge Vettel. What’s more, he lost out to Alonso at Valencia too!

  5. If Timo didn’t blow Jerome into the weeds, how come he rated so well? Also, Petrov for me should’ve been rated just below Heidfeld – they have a relatively similar number of points.

  6. Great stats. Mosrtly agree altough I think Buemi will be ramked to high vs Alguersuari. I’m sure this will look totally different at the end of the season anyhow.
    By the way, Alguersuari would love this: “But he made a breakthrough and has been in the points for the last ten races”

  7. Remember Petrov is a tad unlucky as well. He was crashed out of the Monaco GP when he was about to get a haul of points, and he could’ve done much better in China without his qualifying problem

  8. “He was slightly closer to Liuzzi in qualifying and the race than Karthikeyan had been, which is a good start.”

    Absolutely false. He may have been slightly closer in qualifying, but he was hardly closer during the race. More unjustified hype.

  9. Very interesting list there Keith. It is quite different than my list but I dont necessarily disagree with anything you have put up there yet. Very nice of you to post your opinion on such matters.

    Is their going to be a chance for the readers to vote just like at the end of last year (if I remember correctly)?


  10. Why is Vitaly Petrov so down the order? I do agree that he didn’t keep the promise that he showed in the Asian part of the season but I think he had done enough good job to be ahead of Barrichello & Sutil.

    1. Agreed. At least Petrov have showed us something amazing. It might only have been on a couple of occasions, but i don’t think that Barrichello have done anything special, and the only thing i remember about Sutil’s performance, is that he might be more consistent then Di Resta, but in the end, not nearly as fast.

  11. Great work as ever Keith. However I think Maldonado should be higher. In his first season and being largely seen as a pay driver, being able to out qualify Barrichello over 50% of the races commands more respect imo. He has improved greatly as the season has worn on.

  12. I agree pretty much with one exception – Petrov, he has beaten Heidfeld in qualifying consistently and has performed decently in races, and after all Heidfeld is a good driver. Personally I think I would find it hard to decide which of the 2 had done better.

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