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. themagicofspeed (@) said on 19th July 2011, 20:00

    my top 5 is:

    1. ALONSO – he’s kept his head down and got the maximum out of what is, all in all, a 2nd rate car. His Silverstone win proved that this approach seems to be paying off.
    2. BUTTON – primarily for his performance in Canada.
    3. ROSBERG – he’s blown MSC into the weeds consistently since the word go in 2010. Admittedly less so this year.
    4. VETTEL – generally speaking, hes not had to do anything to get in the position hes currently in – he has Adrian Newey to thank for RBR’s depressingly dominant car. I dont recall seeing him fight hard for a place, or make an important overtake. He had to fight to stay ahead in Canada, which of course he didnt because he cracked. Very overrated driver imo.
    5. HAMILTON – up until recently has had no respect for other drivers, and total disregard for the rules.

    Thats only my opinion but anyway.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 19th July 2011, 20:36

      4. VETTEL – generally speaking, hes not had to do anything to get in the position hes currently in – he has Adrian Newey to thank for RBR’s depressingly dominant car. I dont recall seeing him fight hard for a place, or make an important overtake. He had to fight to stay ahead in Canada, which of course he didnt because he cracked. Very overrated driver imo.

      He had to overtake to take the win in Spain, where he was chased by Hamilton all race long. He also passed people in the first 2 races, China and Britain. He cracked in one case where he was being chased, out of three (Canada, Monaco, Spain).

      4th for the guy who is 1st by such a long distance is a treavesty. He’s UNDERrated.

      • Neusalz (@dpod) said on 19th July 2011, 21:46

        Putting Vettel in any position other than 1st is kind of tough to justify. I somewhat agree that he hasnt really had to fight for position or make important overtakes. Many people have brought up Spain (like David A) but I remember when Kubica overtook many drivers (Singapore) and was somewhat discredited because he had “fresh” tires yet when Vettel does the same he is praised. Leaving that aside I think he well deserves first right now but I will wait until the end of the season to call him a worthy Driver Champion of 2011 if he does win it.

    • 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 19th July 2011, 22:22

      WUM
      by your logic, you’re doing well top put Vettel in your top 4!

      There’s been a few drivers in the past with a car advantage like Vettels but really only Schumacher achieved the set of results he has had over the last 10-15 races. He may never go on such a run again or, if he is still far from the finished article (as a few people mention), what will he be like if he gets there?
      He has a nack of winning in the best car. Thats not a bad habit to get into.

    • GameR_K (@gamer_k) said on 20th July 2011, 8:16

      You are very wrong about Vettel ‘themagicofsleep’. Either you are watchign another season or just slept through it

  2. Michael Griffin said on 19th July 2011, 21:19

    Goodness me, the whole “British bias” story keeps coming along doesn’t it! This despite the site having something you don’t see very often, an unbiased and VERY fair author.

    Fact is, Hamilton has been AWESOME in 2011. Granted, he drove like a numpty in Canada and Monaco, but nobody has been flawless this season, not even Vettel. Everybody makes errors, some worse than Hamilton ever could dream of making.

    Third place is fair I feel. Button has been doing a fine job this year but he’s still getting his a*se handed to him on a regular basis in qualifying. He can’t rely on Canada-esque recoveries and changeable conditions at every venue…fourth is the best he could do.

    Alonso has been on fire recently, and beating Massa comfortably in qualifying again.

    Vettel? Well, he’s Vettel isn’t he. Need I say any more….

    P.S – Guys, stop with the “British bias” angle, its old, tired, boring and more importantly, slanderous and totally untrue.

  3. Northman said on 20th July 2011, 0:38

    Like others, I also believe Button should be ahead of Hamilton. However there are valid arguments to suggest otherwise and as such shows it’s pretty close between them this year.

    My main objection to the top five rankings is the tenor of Hamilton’s blurb – far too positive! e.g..’most formidable drivers in F1’….’showcased Hamilton’s driving at its very best’. Whilst these comments are not necessarily untrue, I don’t think he deserves to have this much praise lavished on him by anyone this season. Whereas both Alonso and Vettel do, but their blurbs were pretty uninspiring.

  4. 30's said on 20th July 2011, 2:18

    the reason why alonso & vettel in top 2 is because they have team order privilage in the top team.

  5. JustinF1 (@justinf1) said on 20th July 2011, 6:29

    Even thought I know I will get Boo’d for being a Webber/Vettel fan, Button was absolutely fantastic in Canada !! I hope he gets a better drive soon !

  6. themagicofspeed (@) said on 20th July 2011, 14:18

    im not saying that vettel is not a good driver, or anything like that – he is – i just think that, his success has a hell of a lot to do with the red bull car than anything else. if he was driving say, the mercedes of schumacher, he wouldnt be able to do much better with it – but again thats just my opinion.

    looking back, i was indeed wrong about spain and china, however the tyre change with 6-7 laps to go in monaco left a very bitter taste in my mouth – i felt that the race result was a total farce as we never got to see what would have happened if his tyres had not lasted.

    • his success has a hell of a lot to do with the red bull car than anything else.

      I’m not denying his car is good but Webber mostly has been nowhere near him. It isn’t just that the Red Bull is good it’s that Vettel is so good in it.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 20th July 2011, 17:37

      Despite being a big Schumacher fan (who feels he isn’t as good as he was in his prime), I feel that Vettel has proven himself in midfield machinery. Look at how he did in 2007 and 2008 for further reference.

      • themagicofspeed (@) said on 21st July 2011, 19:30

        i agree, Schumacher is nowhere even close to the amazing speed he was naturally capable of in his prime. I was a Schumacher fan until he signed for Mercedes.

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 21st July 2011, 9:23

    Agree with everything, again. Rosberg’s likelihood to keep his head down can be to his detriment at times but invariably he gets the job dne. Such a shame he’s yet to stick it on the podium.

    Vettel couldn’t be less than number 1 right now.

  8. skd said on 21st July 2011, 17:36

    Hamilton is the best driver in the field with the 3rd best car.
    If Vettel is so much better than why does he struggle to pass Lewis in a faster car?

    Driving ability isnt just about how fast you can go but how fast you are when interacting with other drivers. Without a doubt Lewis is the best, with Alonso a close second.
    If we are trying to make a judgement on how well each driver and team uses their equipment, well thats what the point standings are for.

    I would much rather see a driver make a mistake and hit someone going for it than a parade and resorting to pit early and pass someone in the pits because you cant get them on the track(looking at you Seb)

    You praise Senna for his skill and aggressiveness and criticize Lewis for his.

    • themagicofspeed (@) said on 21st July 2011, 19:38

      If Lewis was so progidosly good, he would be further up the standings than he is now. I agree that he is very quick, and undoubtedly talented, but his judgements in crucial situations are his greatest flaw, and what let him down as a driver time and time again. For example, in Monaco, where he drove straight into Felipe in the middle of the hairpin, which was pretty daft. Following this, in Canada, going for a gap which was always going to dissapear, and nearly taking his team mate out with him.

      Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton are in a different league altogether. I cannot comprehend any of the current drivers being likened to Ayrton. He might have copied his helmet colours but Ayrton was 5x the man Lewis will ever be – in my opinion anyway.

    • brum55 said on 21st July 2011, 21:09

      Is this the same Hamilton who couldn’t overtake Vettel in the Spanish GP when McLaren was the faster car?

      Hamilton’s interaction with other drivers has been poor this season. Thats why in two races where McLaren has been the fastest car Monaco and China, Hamilton got P6 and a DNF.

      I agree, attacking drivers are better than strategic ones but there is a reason why Button despite not being as quick has the same number of points as Hamilton.

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