2011 half season driver rankings part 3: 5-1

2011 F1 season

Here are the top five drivers of the year so far.

Agree? Disagree? Share your verdict in the comments.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Valencia, 2011

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Valencia, 2011

5. Nico Rosberg

Beat team mate in qualifying 8/9
Beat team mate in race 4/7
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 292/463

Rosberg continues to impress at Mercedes. He’s the only driver outside of the top three teams to have made it into Q3 at every race this year.

His biggest weakness this year has been starts, which has left him dropping behind his team mate on more than one occasion.

Despite that regular points finishes have put him seventh in the championship, just 12 points behind Felipe Massa. Two races away from his 100th Grand Prix, and still without a win to his name, he must be wondering what he could do with a better car underneath him.

A shame to see him in an uncompetitive car, and has had some impressive pace (e.g. China) and tried some brave laps (Qualifying 3, Britain). I’d like to see him in a more competitive car, be that a Mercedes or not.
James_mc

Nico Rosberg 2011 form guide

Jenson Button, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

Jenson Button, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

4. Jenson Button

Beat team mate in qualifying 3/9
Beat team mate in race 2/7
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 176/475

Now in his second year at McLaren, Button has been closer to Hamilton on raw pace this year but is still typically a couple of tenths behind in qualifying.

He demonstrated his sensitive touch for slick tyres on a damp track in brilliant style in Montreal, where he chased down Vettel to snatch a sensational last-lap victory.

Button has often been able to make his tyres last longer than his rivals, allowing him to make fewer pit stops, which paid off handsomely in Malaysia where he took second place.

Holding second place in the championship until his Silverstone retirement, his aim at the start of the year was to improve his qualification performances. He has done, slightly, but his racecraft is good as ever. Has kept his head down, brought in the points and the best win a lot of us have seen in a very long time.
Electrolite

Jenson Button 2011 form guide

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

3. Lewis Hamilton

Beat team mate in qualifying 6/9
Beat team mate in race 5/7
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 299/475

Hamilton’s driving this year leaves you in little doubt that he is a driver who operates so close to the limit he is prone to exceeding it.

In Monaco and Canada he was aggressive to the point of wild. In the latter, a mis-judged passing move on his own team mate ended his participation in a race he might have won.

Properly restrained, his take-no-prisoners approach to racing combined with his raw speed make him one of the most formidable drivers in F1. He was simply unstoppable in China, rising above an early strategic setback in a manner that seemed to be beyond him in Monte-Carlo.

At Silverstone his early-stint performance in the wet part of the race – first on intermediates, then on slicks – showcased Hamilton’s driving at its very best.

Still quite fast, but needs to learn when to be aggressive and when to bide his time. I think the hype’s gone to his head.
xxiinophobia

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2011

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2011

2. Fernando Alonso

Beat team mate in qualifying 9/9
Beat team mate in race 4/6
Races finished 8/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 347/463

At Valencia Alonso said he’d driven the best seven races of his career up to that point. His two since then have been pretty impressive as well – splitting the Red Bulls for second at Valencia, and beating the pair of them at Silverstone.

Choosing between him and Vettel for driver of the year so far is not easy. Alonso’s made a couple of errors here and there, including brushes with the McLaren drivers in Malaysia and Canada. Aside from that, and a lacklustre performance at Shanghai, he’s been in excellent form.

These may not have been his greatest nine drives ever – there are plenty more great Alonso performances in his back catalogue. But he has begun 2011 as he ended 2010, back at the peak of his powers as he was when he won his world championships.

Amazing as always and he’s really having an awesome season, taking everything out of the car. The championship seems to be more or less decided, but if anything goes wrong for Vettel it’s probably Alonso who would take advantage of it.
Enigma

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011

1. Sebastian Vettel

Beat team mate in qualifying 7/9
Beat team mate in race 9/9
Races finished 9/9
Laps spent ahead of team mate 545/551

It’s easy to write off Vettel’s achievements this year as being simply the product of having the best car. But no-one can doubt he has made the best use of it.

His margin over his team mate has been simply crushing – a fact which makes Red Bull’s attempt to impose team orders at Silverstone all the more unnecessary.

Such has been the scale of Vettel’s dominance that he hasn’t had to do much in the way of battling for position, other than occasionally passing drivers who pitted after him. While he’s led an incredible 78.9% of laps so far this year, his team mate is yet to hit the front, and it’s not as if Webber’s doing a particularly bad job.

Perhaps this flatters him – after all we saw two disastrous attempts at overtaking by Vettel last year. But it’s not as if he’s going to pull over and give the others a chance to lead, is it?

At Spain and Monaco he withstood a barrage of pressure from quicker cars without flinching. His only significant mistake of the year came in Canada, as he strove to keep Button far enough behind that he couldn’t zap past him with DRS.

And even then he was able to maintain his record of starting and finishing every race in the top two places.

Almost totally flawless. his Prost-like cruise to victory in Valencia was for me his most impressive win. Utter domination and control from start to finish, a truly perfect race. Has the car, knows the tyres, confident and if that wasn’t annoying enough for everyone else, he’s so damn likeable. Making hay whilst the sun shines is a prerequisite of a champion and it’s been a long summer for Vettel, but still he works hard.
Icthyes

Sebastian Vettel 2011 form guide

2011 F1 season


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141 comments on 2011 half season driver rankings part 3: 5-1

  1. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 19th July 2011, 10:30

    The perpetual F1 ranking problem: Whether to say that a quality driver in a car which is miles faster than the rest is doing the best job out there. In 2009 when Button did the same thing Vettel is doing now, we all said it was down to the car, in 2011, its down to Vettel. I’m confused.

    While Vettel has been mighty, I’m still far more impressed with Alonso who is dragging everything he can and more out of the 150 (silly symbol) Italia.

    • sharmin. (@spartle) said on 19th July 2011, 17:22

      Honestly, I think it’s the other way round. People were praising Button’s “smooth driving style” when he won it in ’09 but now a lot people don’t give Vettel the credit he deserves because they think that it’s solely down to the car. The reality is that the RB7 is much more dominant than the Brawn ever was but when you compare his efforts to his team-mate’s, you really can’t discount Vettel’s achievements.

  2. Tom11 (@tom11) said on 19th July 2011, 10:31

    Id have given Button over Lewis actually.

    • Mike said on 19th July 2011, 10:56

      I think if you take say, just the last few races, then for sure. And generally I’d agree. But it is so close to call and Hamilton, mistake prone as he has been, has done some massive laps.

    • qazuhb said on 19th July 2011, 15:02

      I agree. Jenson’s consistency more than made up for Lewis’ speed this year. In fact, I believe that (to this date) this is Hamilton’s worst season ever. He was more “mature” in 2007!
      He clearly has the potential to be on top (not as 2011’s champion anymore, but as the top driver), were not for that bitter foe he has on the track with the initials LH.

  3. MagillaGorilla (@magillagorilla) said on 19th July 2011, 11:23

    Keith sorry to ask maybe I’m just not paying attention or understanding but why do most drivers have #/7 (ex. Hamilton Beat team mate in race 5/7) but Vettle is the only one 9/9…?

  4. dfketr said on 19th July 2011, 11:51

    id have rosberg above hamilton and button. he gets more out of his car then the mclaren drivers do out of theirs.

  5. maxthecat said on 19th July 2011, 12:00

    It’s funny to see the Hamilton and Button comparisons because i think despite the fact Lewis has out performed Jens in most races it’s Button who most people would say is having the better season so far.

    • Anthony said on 19th July 2011, 15:15

      Yeah, people only remember bad races, and LH has had monaco/canada one after the other, followed by the slump in performance by the McLaren.

      When the year is over, we will all see who’s the better driver year-round (as last year).

  6. Doug said on 19th July 2011, 12:30

    I see an error in Keith’s statistics. Button has 3 races on Hamilton (Monaco, Montreal, and Malaysa), not 2. Given that Hamilton’s retirement in Montreal was due to his own actions and Button’s retirement was due to his team, I would give the edge to Button this season. He had the pace at the end of Silverstone to catch and pass Hamilton, and then would have had 4 out of 9 races on Hamilton with more points. Just my 2 cents from America.

    • Andy G (@toothpickbandit) said on 19th July 2011, 12:45

      But then at Silverstone you could equally say it was the team’s fault not to fuel Hamilton up properly.

      All I remember is Hamilton easily passing and racing away from Button when he wasn’t having so save fuel. 6-3 is good enough for me to say that Hamilton has done a better job this season than Button.

      • raymondu999 said on 19th July 2011, 16:55

        The fact that he was shortfilled with fuel would mean he’s lighter, and faster too.

        • Anthony said on 19th July 2011, 19:03

          Martin Whitmarsh said they were within 1kg of fuel… we never got to see Button fuel-saving

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th July 2011, 17:14

      That’s not an error, you’re just handling the data differently. I’ve only counted races where both drivers finished, for obvious reasons.

  7. Aldo said on 19th July 2011, 13:22

    It would be impossible to do such a list and satisfy everyone. We can argue because this of that but in the end this is Keith’s opinion, and we all know that Keith is very, very serious with his statistics and race analysis. In general terms, I agree with this “ranking”, except one or two names and places.
    But to me, I have to say, the ONLY real way to do such a ranking is to follow… the championship standings. Anything besides or beyond that is subjective or personal preferences. I, for one, can’t see Nico among the top five, but this is just my opinion. The truth is that Webber (second) and Massa (seventh) managed to grab more points than him, and it’s difficult to argue against that.
    In any case, thanks Keith for the hard work compiling this list.

  8. Marcel said on 19th July 2011, 15:35

    In the middle of the season is still all to be determined. Right now will appreciate that there has been a change in Ferrari, and pending the decision on blowing exhaust from Red Bull. We’ll see how everything ends …

    You know this competition for the GP of Abu Dhabi? Giving away 2 tickets … Now I look at what are the conditions for the video http://www.youtube.com/formulasantander

  9. doncakes said on 19th July 2011, 15:43

    I had the same problem as Damon,

    “Keith, could you fix the “26-16″ article, please?
    The article cuts off at no. 20:”

    Agree with the ranking except, Count me in the lot that has Button over Hamilton at this point.

  10. SirCoolbeans (@sircoolbeans) said on 19th July 2011, 16:13

    I’d have put Button ahead of Hamilton at this point too.

    Although, Hamilton will out perform Jenson over the entire season, I have no doubt of that.

  11. TheVillainF1 said on 19th July 2011, 16:38

    I’d put Alonso first, Vettel 2nd. Vettel has had 2 car crunching crashes – allbeit in FP-1 – and has undisputed n0.1 status within the most dominant F1 car in recent history. He also threw away the win in Canada, and got saved by the bell in Monaco, saved by the team in Silverstone. That said he has had many great performances to dominate as he has been doing and would be deserving of a high spot in this ranking, but I qualify Alonso’s ability to squeeze every last bit of performance out of the ferrari -which has been quite a handful on most tracks- in every race and quali this season more impressive. His Spain quali lap the best illustration of this imo. And I really don’t like Nando so that’s something for me to admit lol.

    As for Hamilton-Button, I also believe Button should be ahead. Hamilton may have the raw pace edge over him, but Button’s incredible racecraft and maturity makes him pip Hamilton in my book.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 19th July 2011, 17:42

      I’d put Alonso first, Vettel 2nd. Vettel has had 2 car crunching crashes – allbeit in FP-1 – and has undisputed n0.1 status within the most dominant F1 car in recent history. He also threw away the win in Canada, and got saved by the bell in Monaco, saved by the team in Silverstone.

      1. Neither of those crashes mattered as much as Alonso’s contact with Hamilton at Sepang.

      2. Vettel earned the number 1 status by dominating his teammate (like Alonso did to Massa last year, and is doing this year).

      3. In Monaco, you could argue that Vettel was lucky, but he made his own luck- by making no errors on the most unforgiving circuit on 50 lap old tyres. All while being chased by two world champions in equal or faster cars in those conditions.

      4. Although Alonso has often performed well in the Ferrari, I just can’t put those above someone who has been so dominant this year, so it’s 1. Vettel, 2. Alonso for me.

      5. I do agree with Button ahead of Hamilton.

  12. SupaSix-1 said on 19th July 2011, 17:02

    The hamilton vs Button debate is nonsense.

    Lets look at the facts:

    2011 season for button has been labelled as a sucess by some – and this is for a mediocre performance consistantly finishing and qualifying a couple of places behind Lewis in most races. The only times button does well is when his team mate takes himself out of the way. Lewis always takes places away from button If and when Lewis starts behind jenson. Jenson hardly has ever taken any places from Lewis unless Lewis either takes himself out or if Lewis has a gearbox issue like in Suzuka 2010 and lets jenson past.

    Lets face it…..at this stage in the season…Lewis’ season is unfairly described by some as ‘a failure’ and he is currently equal on points with his team mate who’s 2011 season so far by the deluded has been labelled as ‘great’.
    -This in itself alone tells you that jenson is equal to Lewis only when Lewis makes mistakes and is not on top form.

    Also if Lewis is so bad..then even when losing such a big deficit in canada when Lewis scored NO points & where jenson scored FULL points..the maximum – At this current stage they are on equal points!

    Bottom line is…jenson is only so close to Lewis (in terms of points) ONLY because Lewis has had more incidents which have held him back – Its not because jenson has beaten Lewis in a straight fight. If it was judged in a straight fight then Lewis wins hands down which has been proven endlessly.

    NOW also remember that the likes of jenson and fernando have around 7 years more experience than Lewis – jenson managed to alienate the whole F1 paddock for being a playboy way before he even achieved anything in F1…to the point where other team inc the backmarkers wanted him at the end of 2008.
    Alonso too has had his fair share of silly imature moments.

    Basically the likes of these 2 experienced drivers who are at their peak are being compared to a younger guy who has 7 years less experience then them and is currently in the phase of his f1 career where hes learning & on the journey of maturing…..just like they were! And dont forget that Lewis has beaten them both as they both have been team mates! Lewis has also consistantly beaten Vettel during thier junior days of close racing.

    The point is…by the time Lewis has as much F1 experience as the webbers…buttons & alonsos – Lewis WILL simply be a true phenomenon – Thats when he will prove that the hype around him was underated.

    BTW..I think its disgusting seeing some of the resentment thats aimed at Lewis by the critics inc by the british media too – which seems on a daily basis. But all this attention (good & bad) does also cement the fact that Lewis Hamilton WILL be a real sporting GREAT…a true sporting legend of our time.
    -The fact that people trip over themselves just to comment on the guy….the attention he gets just by coughing…cements his status in the books of the ‘greats’.

    ….and hes still got another 10 plus years left of his career!!!

    • Vinola said on 19th July 2011, 17:42

      Well said.
      You’d think beating a world champion as consistently as Lewis has done would at least put him on par with Alonso who numerically has the upper hand in beating his team-mate. Even Button would have had a perfect score against a mediocre Massa.

      • dragon said on 20th July 2011, 10:08

        The mediocre Massa who was only a fuel rig away from taking the crown from your golden boy?

    • Soumya said on 19th July 2011, 19:00

      Yes,yes he is,blah blah bloody blah.

  13. doncakes said on 19th July 2011, 17:19

    No one is saying Lewis does not have more raw talent then Button. But his misques, in my opinion have put him up till this point, behind Button. This is a report card on the first half only of THIS season.

  14. MW (@) said on 19th July 2011, 17:39

    I like these rankings..

    However you come to expect bias towards Hamilton on this site.. There’s just no way he could rank 3rd. I suppose that’s unavoidable with sport, you support your countrymen in so many other sports, why not this?

    Hamilton at this point is like that mate you used to have a great laugh with when you went out, always entertaining…

    but these days he only shows the odd flash of his former self and generally gets “fueled up” and does stupid stuff. You still say he’s a great guy just beacause he’s your mate…

    I’d have Hamilton back in 11th or 12th and I’m probably biased because I think he’s great to watch!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th July 2011, 17:48

      I totally refute the accusation of bias, which I’ve come to regard as tedious and predictable.

      I’ve explained why I think Hamilton belongs where he is, and the best you can come up with as an argument for why he should place lower is essentially: ‘You’re only saying that because he was born on the same land mass as you’. I assure you, I really don’t care about that.

      • Soumya said on 19th July 2011, 19:02

        Oh,i dont think so. I would care to rate my countrymen a little higher than most(even if unfairly). Its a human emotion,we arent accusing you of anything other than being human.

        • Marucat (@marucat) said on 19th July 2011, 19:43

          Just because you (and MW) would do so doesn’t mean everyone else automatically would. I’m German and would personally rank Alonso ahead of Vettel, Glock lower, and Schumacher not a place higher than he is. I’d be tempted to rate my favorite drivers a little higher, sure, but not everyone chooses their favorites by nationality, so that criteria may have no meaning whatsoever to some fans while it’s majorly important to others.

          Accusing Keith of bias is really just a handy excuse for not agreeing with his choice. If you disagree, fine, so do I sometimes, but all these “of course you prefer Hamilton/Button/DiResta, they’re British” comments are really just repetitive and annoying. Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to support a driver fopr reasons other than nationality!

        • Its a human emotion

          Not everyone is patriotic and those who are don’t always let it cloud their judgement. I’ve been reading this site for literally years now and I honestly couldn’t tell you who Keith supports (if anyone) because he has always been so balanced. I’ve read criticisms and praise on Fernando, Lewis, Ferrari, Mclaren and every time he argues his reasoning thoroughly and backs it up. Even when I don’t agree with his conclusions Keith still makes his point in a way that I can see where he’s coming from.

          I apologise for rising to yet another accusation of bias as normally they just wash over me but I really feel for Keith getting the same stick every day and I’ve yet to see anyone back it up with any evidence.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th July 2011, 21:38

          Sure Soumya, you can do so. But that does not mean others do the same.

          I for one would maybe be even more critical of my fellow countrymen than of foreigners, and Keith has shown often enough, that he does not base his judgements on this kind of thing.

        • kbdavies said on 19th July 2011, 21:39

          @Soumya –
          Yeah, but the point is that Keith is NOT human.
          Surely, no being, made of flesh and blood is capable of the effort it requires to make this blog as exciting and informative for F1 fans worldwide.
          I mean, interactive graphs, driver form guides, driver rankings, race breakdowns, paddock gossip, F1 trivia, insider info, technical reviews, pictures, etc. Keith is surely some intergalactic humanoid being, sent to Earth to do us all a massive favour.
          All will be surely revealed in time, no doubt!

      • Anthony said on 19th July 2011, 19:31

        Keith, nevermind. If you were really biased you would put LH in front of Alonso, and you didnt. He certainly had a better start of the year and the first non red bull winner.

        But you’re being fair, wich is great to see.

      • Hamish said on 19th July 2011, 22:49

        Well thats incorrect Keith. No one has to go into great detail why Hamilton should not be in 3rd as it is very evident that hes had some shockers.

        Going by what you’ve said you’ve basically based it on the machinery that he is in, and as so have defeated the whole point of your article.

      • mfDB said on 20th July 2011, 3:37

        Isn’t this particular argument even more tedious since Button and Hamilton and Keith are all from the “same land mass”?

      • MW (@) said on 20th July 2011, 9:34

        I know that efforts are made on this site to be non-biased and it is tedious to bring it up as it’s an obvious argument.
        However in this case though, there actually isn’t another driver in F1 who has had the machinery under them and thrown away results in so many races due to driver error.
        That’s why I think Hamilton deserves to slot in behind the likes of Heiki, Glock and Kobayashi who are generally putting in solid drives and outperforming their machinery.
        Appologies, I enjoyed the article and then go and complain about how it was written, so ungrateful!!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th July 2011, 21:35

      Yeah, sure put Hamilon in 11th or 12th. Right behind Massa and Webber and others who managed to win a race this year as well.

      • Hamish said on 19th July 2011, 22:54

        BasCB:

        1) This has nothing to do with Massa or Webber, only has since you mentioned it.
        2) These are rankings based on the first half season and as a result the whole half season is factored. Olivier Panis was one of 4 race winners in 1996, yet finished 9th in the WCD. Im assuming he would therefore be in your top 4 for the season?

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th July 2011, 23:07

          Not tru Hamish.
          It is about them. They are surely doing less of a good job then Hamilton is so far in a car only a little worse (Massa) or a lot better (Webber).
          If MW rates Hamilton below 10th, he is saying he did worse than these two.

          And Yes, I would definitely have rated Panis pretty high, maybe in the top 4, because while being lucky in Monaco he also did a really good job in an under par car that year.
          But to give a more accurate answer I would have to look closer at that season, as it has been a while ago so I do not remember the whole season that well.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 20th July 2011, 2:25

          I personally would have had Hamilton 4th, not 3rd, but suggesting he should be outside of the top 10 is ridiculous. He’s made mistakes and lost points through his own doing, but is still level on points with his teammate. Unless you really think Button is worthy of a place outside the top 10 too.

  15. Alistair said on 19th July 2011, 18:41

    This listing, once again, goes by machinery and not by man: RBR, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes. You must judge the driver by his machinery; i.e., relative to his teammate. Massa and Webber, who are awful this year (every year), are simply making their teammates look better than they actually are.

    Whereas, Lewis has a good teammate and so he cant thrash him as the others can thrash their teammates; and he has a poor car with terrible strategy and so doesn’t win very often…

    Lewis should be no: 1. This year and every other.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 19th July 2011, 18:59

      On the flip side, perhaps Alonso and Vettel are so good, they are making decent drivers like Massa and Webber look awful? We can never truly know. I disagree with Hamilton being number 1 so far this year.

      • Northman said on 20th July 2011, 0:30

        Come on Alistair, I appreciate the fact that you’re a fan of Hamilton – and fair play to you – but that last commment was pure fawning and totally discredits you.

    • dragon said on 20th July 2011, 10:10

      Surely you’re a troll.

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 20th July 2011, 11:35

      We can’t rank by ‘If Lewis was in a RBR this year’ or ‘If Glock and Kovaleinen had the best car’ because, quite simply, they haven’t, and we can’t guess they’d be winning if they were.

      The guys who are driving the best machinery are doing so because they’ve earnt it and their respective teams put them there.

      It’s not like all the drivers’ names were put in a hat and it was like ‘here you go, worst team on the grid I’m afraid, bad luck…’

      • MW (@) said on 20th July 2011, 11:49

        That sounds like a weighting system to me electrolite. It does make sense to do that because it’s near impossible to assess a drivers pure ability when not combined with his machinery.
        It should be stated from the outset that this system is being used.
        Actually taking Hamiltons previous achievements into account is the only reason you could logically put him in 3rd position IMO.

      • Rob said on 20th July 2011, 11:55

        Shhh! Bernie might hear you! I can just imagine him keen to sell the ‘F1 Driver Lottery – Live!” to television channels.

        Presented by Nigel Mansell with his glamourous co-host, Nelson Piquet.

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