Start, Valencia, 2011

2011 half season driver rankings part 2: 15-6

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Part two of the mid-season driver rankings covers the ten drivers up to sixth place.

Read my verdict, a selection of your comments on each drivers, and share your view on the best drivers of the year so far.

Paul di Resta, Force India, Silverstone, 2011
Paul di Resta, Force India, Silverstone, 2011

15. Paul di Resta

Beat team mate in qualifying 7/9
Beat team mate in race 3/7
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 281/509

The reigning DTM champion has made an impressive start to his F1 career: particularly in qualifying, where he has regularly beaten his more experienced team mate.

He scored a point in his first race (aided, admittedly, by the disqualification of the Saubers) and repeated the feat at Malaysia.

Since then he’s missed opportunities to score with a few rookie mistakes, notably at Montreal and Silverstone – though the latter came after a botched pit stop had already ruined his race.

Has come into the sport “cold” and has thoroughly trounced his team-mate in qualifying. Has been unlucky with some over-officious stewarding and perhaps needs to recognise when to pull his nose out. Otherwise he would really be hammering Sutil in the standings too.

Paul di Resta 2011 form guide

14. Nick Heidfeld

Beat team mate in qualifying 3/9
Beat team mate in race 5/7
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 236/518

A podium finish in his second start for Renault justified the team’s decision to opt for experience over youth when choosing who to put in Robert Kubica’s sadly vacant seat.

Heidfeld had a public hurry-up from team principal Eric Boullier during the season as he was lagging behind Vitaly Petrov in qualifying.

But he remains as ever a very safe pair of hands in the races. Had it not been for a collision with Kamui Kobayashi in Montreal he’d have scored in the last six races in a row. As it is he’s now moved ahead of Petrov in the points standings.

I was expecting more out of Heidfeld this season, and although he was unlucky at times (Canada), he still hasn’t been consistently stronger than his team mate.

Nick Heidfeld 2011 form guide

Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, Montreal, 2011
Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, Montreal, 2011

13. Sebastien Buemi

Beat team mate in qualifying 7/9
Beat team mate in race 4/6
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 306/459

Buemi ended last year taking a fair beating from Jaime Alguersuari.

He turned the tables at the start of this season, finding speed and durability form the new Pirelli tyres much more quickly than his team mate.

But the balance of power has begun to shift once more and Buemi finds himself under pressure once again as we enter the second half of 2011.

He has been extracting a lot of performance from the Toro Rosso, but Alguersuari is catching up fast. He’s been solid and consistent, and he’d make a good number two at Red Bull if Webber decides to retire. He’s made it into the top ten at qualifying, but he needs to step his game up to stay ahead in the Toro Rosso driver war.

Sebastien Buemi 2011 form guide

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Istanbul, 2011
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Istanbul, 2011

12. Michael Schumacher

Beat team mate in qualifying 1/9
Beat team mate in race 3/7
Races finished 7/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 171/463

A new car and a change in tyre supplier has not brought about the instantaneous return to form Schumacher’s legions of fans will have been hoping for after 2010.

There has been discernible improvement, but while Nico Rosberg has reached Q3 at every race, Schumacher has missed out four times.

There have been flashes of the old Schumacher in some races, notably in Canada, where only the impossibility of defending his position against cars with DRS cost him a podium.

But there have been some clumsy mistakes as well – he’s lost the front wing off his car in collisions in Istanbul, Valencia and Silverstone. The comeback is still refusing to come good.

A mixed season. Has had some very poor races such as Turkey, but then again has had some monster performances like at Canada. His results again aren’t reflecting how well he has driven at times. His racecraft is still questionable, but it could simply be that the other drivers aren’t scared of him any more.

Michael Schumacher 2011 form guide

11. Sergio Perez

Beat team mate in qualifying 4/8
Beat team mate in race 2/4
Races finished 5/7
Laps spent ahead of team mate 162/337

Perez was cruelly robbed of points in his first F1 start due to a minor technical infringement by his team. Nonetheless, F1 Fanatic readers voted him Driver of the Weekend.

Since then he’s continued to exploit the Sauber C30’s low tyre wear to make inroads into the points. Last weekend he scored his best result so far, seventh, by keeping his pit stops to a minimum.

His start to the season was disrupted by that nasty shunt at Monaco. He had the sense to step down in Canada when he still wasn’t fit enough, and has got back on form since then.

It’s not been all plain sailing: he collected two penalties for collisions in Shanghai. That aside he’s made an excellent start to his F1 career.

It’s difficult not to like this guy – he made everyone smile with his 7th place debut finish, and although outclassed by Kobayashi in the succeeding races, his finding his feet again after his Monaco crash, including a 7th place finish at his first Silverstone visit.

Sergio Perez 2011 form guide

Timo Glock, Virgin, Monaco, 2011
Timo Glock, Virgin, Monaco, 2011

10. Timo Glock

Beat team mate in qualifying 7/9
Beat team mate in race 3/5
Races finished 6/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 326/411

Who knows at what point Timo Glock realised the second all-CFD Virgin Racing car wasn’t going to be any better than the first one. Probably at some point during those first laps with the car at Jerez.

Faced with another long season plugging away at the back of the field, Glock is resigned to making the most out of what he’s got.

He was ecstatic with his Monaco qualifying lap, even if he wasn’t able to overhaul either of the Lotuses on that occasion. At Silverstone he was keeping Jarno Trulli behind when the Lotus dropped out.

He’s got to be on the list of any front-running team with a vacancy for 2012.

Another season as a backmarker, surely not something a driver of his talent deserves. Hopefully the team improves or he moves to a better one, as he’s clearly talented and it would be great to see him driving a good car (again).

Timo Glock 2011 form guide

9. Heikki Kovalainen

Beat team mate in qualifying 8/9
Beat team mate in race 2/4
Races finished 5/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 193/369

Another driver who deserves better machinery than he has at his disposal.

Kovalainen has been little troubled by his team mate so far this year and has grabbed opportunities to move the T128 up the order – such as his appearance in Q2 at Silverstone.

Quietly doing the job at Lotus and has been the one to take the opportunity of getting into Q2 when it comes up. It seems like he genuinely cares about making Lotus better and it doesn’t matter to him that he’s at the back, so long as he’s racing. Heikki is fast becoming one of my favourite drivers.

Heikki Kovalainen 2011 form guide

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Valencia, 2011
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Valencia, 2011

8. Kamui Kobayashi

Beat team mate in qualifying 5/9
Beat team mate in race 3/5
Races finished 7/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 245/407

No longer the upstart rookie, Kobayashi has been thrust into the role of team leader at Sauber – and he’s responded to the challenge very well.

Six points finishes in nine races only tell part of the story. An assault from Schumacher in Silverstone and the team’s disqualification in Melbourne likely cost him two more.

Best of all, he hasn’t lost his capacity for gutsy, crowd-pleasing overtaking moves – he’s still a joy to watch.

Has driven very well in a Sauber that’s much improved over last year’s. Probably the most consistent driver who doesn’t have a top-tier car.

Kamui Kobayashi 2011 form guide

7. Felipe Massa

Beat team mate in qualifying 0/9
Beat team mate in race 2/6
Races finished 7/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 116/463

Massa took a fair kicking from Fernando Alonso last year, and it’s to his credit that he’s picked himself up after it.

Buoyed by a change of tyres for 2011, he is performing noticeably better.

The qualifying scoreline still makes for painful reading but Massa has been within hundredths of Alonso at some races. He made a habit of jumping his team mate at the start earlier in the year, too.

He had a particularly good run in China, passing Lewis Hamilton early on and finishing in front of Alonso, albeit in sixth place.

Despite claims Massa’s season is looking better than 2010, he is always the last of the top three teams. He has showed some good performances in qualifying almost matching Alonso like in Canada, and beat him in Malaysia and China, but he has yet to finish higher than fifth. After nine races, three podiums a win by his team mate, podiums should be in reach for the Brazilian.

Felipe Massa 2011 form guide

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2011
Mark Webber, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2011

6. Mark Webber

Beat team mate in qualifying 2/9
Beat team mate in race 0/9
Races finished 9/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 6/551

Webber badly needed to put one over Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone, so no wonder he ignored the team’s demand for him to back off.

The Red Bull duo are the only drivers to have completed every racing lap this year – and Webber was ahead for just six of them.

True, he’s had some problems with KERS during the year, but this alone isn’t enough to explain the gap to his team mate – Vettel has not been immune to similar problems.

Early in the year Webber was having a much harder time with the new tyres than his team mate – wearing them out more quickly and not getting the same performance out of them. He’s made significant progress in that regard since then.

China was his stand-out performance of the first half of the year. Left 18th on the grid after failing to get through Q1 on hard tyres without KERS, he raced through the field to an excellent third place.

Some good drives, but he has the same car as the champion and is 80 points behind him. Amazing in China though.

Mark Webber 2011 form guide

The third and final part will be published on Tuesday.

2011 F1 season

Browse all 2011 F1 season articles

Image ?? Force India F1 Team, Red Bull/Getty images, Mercedes, Sauber F1 Team, Red Bull/Getty images