2011 F1 driver rankings no.5: Lewis Hamilton

2011 F1 season review

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Korea, 2011

No celebration for Hamilton after taking pole in Korea

“The personal life, the way things have gone have not been as smooth and as happy as they could have been in the past and to do what I do is a combination of many, many things that are surrounding you”

Lewis Hamilton explaining his troubles in 2011? No – this quote is from last December. This is Hamilton describing what went wrong last year.

Twelve months on the explanation hasn’t changed but Hamilton’s form has clearly suffered.

Hamilton has always been a error-prone driver. This was true when he won the F3 Euroseries in 2005, the GP2 championship in 2006, and the world championship three years ago. This makes ranking him among his peers a case of weighing up the brilliant drives against the mistakes.

Previously the moments of genius have vastly outweighed the gaffes. But this was not the case in 2011.

During a fraught season he collided with his team mate Jenson Button, Pastor Maldonado and – on several occasions – Felipe Massa.

Beat team mate in qualifying 13/19
Beat team mate in race 7/14
Races finished 16/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 530/975

At times he paid the price of putting himself at the mercy of another driver during an overtaking move. This worked brilliantly when he forced his way past Button in China – not so much when applied to Maldonado and Massa in Monaco.

This was not the case of a few minor racing incidents. Hamilton committed the kind of baffling blunders not worthy of a driver of his calibre. Such as carelessly driving into the back of Massa in Singapore. Or repeating almost move-for-move the same driving he’d been warned about in Sepang last year, leading inevitably to a penalty.

Rare were the weekends when Hamilton did not make at least one appearance before the stewards. This prompted his notorious outburst in Monaco where he claimed the stewards singled him out more often than other drivers. But looking at the record over his five years in F1, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that, one or two incidents aside, Hamilton’s treatment from the stewards has been entirely fair.

It’s easy to play up the desperate moments of Hamilton’s 2011 campaign and overlook the moments of genuine inspiration. His victories in China and Germany were from the top drawer, blending speed and Hamilton’s characteristic aggression and verve racing for position against the best drivers in the world. I simply couldn’t bring myself to place a driver capable of those performances outside the top five.

He began the season strongly in Australia after a torrid off-season for McLaren, hounded Sebastian Vettel in Spain, and was the only driver to beat Red Bull to pole position all year.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nurburgring, 2011

Happier times: Winning in Germany

What really lies at the root of Hamilton’s unsettled year is the cause of considerable speculation. Much has been made of his decision to appoint managers who are more concerned with Lewis Hamilton the brand rather than the racing driver.

It’s also true that he came under greater pressure within his team than ever before, ending the season behind his team mate for the first time in F1. Hamilton was usually quicker than Button in qualifying but on race day Button often got more life and performance from the new specification tyres.

Come the end of the season there were some signs Hamilton had begun to find his form again. He took a third win in Abu Dhabi, gifted by Vettel’s first-lap retirement. But he ended the year with an anonymous performance in Brazil which ended with a rare gearbox failure.

It was a suitably unsatisfactory end to a season which Hamilton would probably sooner forget.

F1 Fanatics on Lewis Hamilton

Much has been said about his issues so I won?t go into detail, but it?s been a poor season for him. Even so, his wins in China and Germany were of the highest class ?ǣ his driving skills have never been in doubt, only his mentality.

It?s good for the sport that he seems to have got on top of whatever issues he had, because Formula 1 without an on-form Lewis is lacking.
Dan Thorn

Occasional flashes of brilliance in China and Germany were marred by silly mistakes and unusual muted performances. He seemed to be constantly involved in needless incidents that took valuable points from him. Outclassed by Button this year in and out of the cockpit.
Colossal Squid

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Melbourne, 2011

Second in Melbourne felt like win after testing trouble

Hamilton is an excellent qualifier and a daring overtaker. But this year, his judgement has been poor and he has attempted many moves which were neither sensible, nor necessary. With DRS and disintegrating tyres, many moves which were once ??brave? and now ??foolish? ?ǣ and Hamilton hasn?t had the nous to adjust his strategy.

Behind all that Hamilton remains fast, and won three races (albeit Abu Dhabi was almost uncontested). Almost any team on the grid would love to have him.
Alex

Some races he was just off the pace (Valencia, India and Brazil although he had a problem at Brazil) and others he was just reckless/unfortunate. He may have been stellar in Germany and China but apart from that it was like someone else was driving the car.

I never expected Lewis to have a season like this and I?m sure he?ll bounce back but few greats have such a woeful and distracted season when in good cars. He can?t afford another year like this.
Steph

Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

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112 comments on 2011 F1 driver rankings no.5: Lewis Hamilton

  1. David-A (@david-a) said on 13th December 2011, 12:49

    Are the top 4 getting individual articles Keith?

    • GameR_K (@gamer_k) said on 13th December 2011, 12:58

      Hopefully, Yes. Hamilton being placed 5th in itself is going to bring out the wrath of his legion, even if the view is balanced. Remember the number of comments Monaco GP article got? Even if all the other 4 are clubbed in as a single review it won’t get that many comments.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2011, 13:07

      @david-a Yep, and the vote at the end as usual.

      • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 13th December 2011, 13:36

        An interesting format, it’s a pity only that this year’s driver’s performances do not lend themselves to wild speculation about the order of the drivers in places 4 to 1 (4. Rosberg, 1. Vettel, with Button and Alonso playing a tiebreak for second place).

        • Sideshow Bob said on 13th December 2011, 17:14

          I’m guessing Button will be number one, since after all trying rank everyone is an inherently stupid and impossible idea and this is more about eyeballs, clicks and discussion than anything else.

          • egsgeg said on 13th December 2011, 18:16

            Vettel preformed the best by far, especially against his team mate.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th December 2011, 9:05

            This is the seventh year I’ve done this series of articles, which includes the halfway rankings. It has always been an effort to legitimately rank all the drivers.

            It’s not easy and it does throw up some tricky questions, but this is what I’ve chosen to do and every year I try to do it better – whether that’s by changing how I record the races during the year, analyse the drivers’ form and statistics, or in this case how the finished rankings are presented.

            The change in format this year is because the old way meant the last article in the series, which usually featured the top three drivers, was rather too long.

            Not that I suppose my explanation will convince you or even be read by you as you’ve already made up your mind I’m only doing this for the most cynical of reasons.

        • PaulK (@paulk) said on 14th December 2011, 5:44

          It’s gonna be Vet-But-Alo-Ros. Vettel cannot not be first and Button cannot not be the following.

      • SVettel (@) said on 13th December 2011, 21:28

        I can’t decide between Kovalainen and Vettel

  2. Mr draw said on 13th December 2011, 13:22

    Hamilton 5th? I ranked him 24th, between Chandhok and Schumacher.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2011, 13:26

      I don’t think the fact that he made a few (admittedly terrible) mistakes completely eradicates the many far better aspects of his season.

      Not that you’ve bothered to explain your point of view, I’m just guessing.

      • Mr draw said on 13th December 2011, 14:04

        Well, 24th is maybe a little harsh, but I think he performed way below his normal level, which is reflected in a low score. Of course he did have some good races, but championships are not won because of a few great results. Championships are won by consistency and well, that was not Hamilton’s strongest point this year. Somehow he managed to find himself in trouble in most of the races, usually becoming impatient and causing various collisions. In my analysis I substracted all these errors from his good showings and I ended up negative. So that’s why I think his 2011-performance was bad. After his promising rookie-season his driving has become much more erratic. That trend has to reverse.

        • Franton said on 13th December 2011, 14:29

          Just because any driver has one bad season doesn’t automatically mean they’re rubbish. Two to three seasons of really bad form is more like it. You’re just being overly harsh.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th December 2011, 19:53

          Sure, Hamilton did underperform Mr. Draw. But we are not ranking how much of his potential did the drivers achieve this year.

          And even if we would do that, you seem to weight only how big the gaffes were that he was able to manage, and Hamiltons really managed to be pretty big.

          But Liuzzi’s bowling alley driving in Monza, Chandhok’s numerous spins in his one race and Maldonado almost purposely driving into Hamilton, were all quite high on that list as well. And not off-set by as big highlights as winning in China and Germany, keeping Vettel honest in Spain and beating him to pole.

          • Enigma (@enigma) said on 13th December 2011, 20:23

            @BasCB Agreed. Even when Hamilton underperforms, he’s still better than a lot of drivers. And even in a season full of errors, he wasn’t far behind Button.

          • Mr draw said on 13th December 2011, 20:58

            In F1 the performance of a driver-car combination is greatly determined by the car’s performance. So in my opinion it’s unfair to judge drivers by their performances alone. Yes, Hamilton did win on three occasions, when Vettel ran into trouble, but his car was capable of doing that (combined with the fact hat the second Red Bull driver was hugely underperforming). Still, until Monte Carlo, he was close to (or even ahead of) Vettel in terms of “relative performance”. We pinned our hopes on him for the championship-battle, but it turned out that race in Monaco was the beginning of his mid-season slump. His 5th position in the final rankings, behind Alonso’s Ferrari, speaks volumes. So that’s why I can’t see why he should be ranked higher that – at least – the likes of Kovalainen, Kobayashi or Alguersuari, who also did some stunning performances in crappier cars.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th December 2011, 21:34

            MR. Draw, the fact you yourself say that Hamilton

            was close to (or even ahead of) Vettel in terms of “relative performance”

            shows why he deserves to be at the top of the pile.

          • leepat0302 (@leepat0302) said on 14th December 2011, 17:16

            +1

          • Mr draw said on 14th December 2011, 19:45

            MR. Draw, the fact you yourself say that Hamilton

            was close to (or even ahead of) Vettel in terms of “relative performance”

            shows why he deserves to be at the top of the pile.

            I think you misquoted me, as I said his performance was fine until Monte Carlo. I don’t think he could have done much worse in the second half of the season, so his overall score was pretty bad in my opinion.

        • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 13th December 2011, 20:47

          You are rating Hamilton 24th because he didn’t drive in a way championships are won? There are 27 drivers who didn’t.

        • JustOnePint said on 13th December 2011, 22:47

          how come 24th and not 28th? Even 28th out ot 28 is too good for it

  3. ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 13th December 2011, 13:23

    I think Hamilton is too high up the order, and I will now expand on my point that I made in the 15-6 article.

    To rank a driver, I think we must consider how close they have got to reaching their potential. In my opinion, Hamilton was probably further away from his potential than any other driver on the grid over the course of the year. With his raw speed and the strong car, he should’ve been easily 2nd, but threw great opportunities away with an abundance of silly mistakes, an often poor attitude and inconsistency. While he did have some great drives, and got some excellent wins, he really should’ve done more throughout the year, in my opinion, which is why I can’t consider him in all fairness as a Top 5 driver.

    However, this is a very rare year in that there were only three real stand-out drivers, and it’s very hard to make a conclusive argument for anyone below 4th. Therefore, while I feel Hamilton should be much lower, there aren’t too many drivers that shout out to be above him.

    • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 13th December 2011, 13:51

      I agree on your opinion of how a driver should be ranked, and Hamilton certainly didn’t live up to his potential this year. It almost seems unfair to rank Hamilton with his many mistakes ahead of, say, Kovalainen who has been consistently performing all year.

      Still, his standout drives were exactly that. It would be unusual to have a driver who won 3 races not considered in the top 5.

    • Estesark (@estesark) said on 13th December 2011, 14:41

      Where would you rank a driver whose potential stretched only to finishing last in each race (not crashing out), which is exactly what they did for the whole season?

      • macca1977 (@) said on 13th December 2011, 15:45

        I think there is a clear order on teams classification RBR, McLaren, Ferrari, Merc, etc… therefore we can say the theoretically best possible position of a driver according to his team. Vettel and Webber -> #1, Button and Hamilton -> #3, etc… and we can compare those positions with the WDC 2011, that’s another way to judge performances, at least another variable to add to the equation.

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 13th December 2011, 18:48

          That would be one way of ranking, which would imply that Button and Alonso both “outperformed” their car (as much as I loath that term). That is probably true, but I certainly wouldn’t say that either of them performed better than Vettel, who truly maximized his potential, or got as close as humanly possible. By your ranking then, Webber and Hamilton would both have underperformed compared to their potential, which is fair, but Massa would be placed in the championship right where he should be, and I would argue that he certainly underperformed to a far greater extent than either Hamilton or Webber, both of whom won races this year, whereas Massa wasn’t even able to place 4th, and most of his 5th place finishes were only because one of the top 5 had a problem (i.e. out of luck, not on merit).

    • To rank a driver, I think we must consider how close they have got to reaching their potential.

      I disagree. In ranking drivers one should consider how well they have done compared to other drivers. Why should one’s potential act as a disadvantage? Hamilton not being at his best still makes him a damn better driver than Karthikeyan at his peak.

      Overall I see where Keith is coming from: it seems wrong to place a driver who might have achieved his greatest GP victory (Germany) outside the highest ranked drivers. However, what is more relevant in my opinion is that up to Monaco, Hamilton’s season was rather good – no worse than his 2010 form (Malaysia was not that much of a blunder). After that he started to make mistakes, but the fact that in a dismal season he has not been completely annihilated by Button, who is considered to be at his prime, speaks volumes about Hamilton’s abilities.

      So, yes, Hamilton has not had a good season, but when one actually thinks about it, it was not all that terrible.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 13th December 2011, 20:37

        Well said @Victor on all points. The fact that in a terrible season after the first 1/3 of it, he still comes relatively close to Button, and thus does a lot better than either Massa or Webber, is why he a top-5 ranking seems deserved.

        I had avoided really placing Hamilton anywhere in my own private ranking, because he, together with Rosberg, and Webber, Kobayashi, Schumacher, and Massa too, seemed to have some good things to recommend them, but there were others who did better.

        Will be interesting to see how the others are ranked exactly over the coming days, though I’d expect Rosberg up next. Button vs. Alonso is a bit of a coin-toss for me, the winner seems clear though.

      • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 14th December 2011, 14:33

        In ranking drivers one should consider how well they have done compared to other drivers.

        @Vicotr Well why not just put down the championship standings as the rankings? I think we must consider some element of potential, whether it be the car or the driver.

        I guess it depends on what we are ranking – their driving or their overall performance.

    • pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 14th December 2011, 16:32

      @ed24f1:

      Potential is purely subjective. It is impossible to rank based on subjective criteria vs actual.

      You or I may think best potential ever, but Fred down the road or that bloke in the pub may think no potential at all. So which measure do we use?

  4. Beat team mate in qualifying 13/19
    Beat team mate in race 7/14
    Races finished 16/19
    Laps spent ahead of team mate 530/975
    With this numbers, I don’t think his season was so terrible as people say. The guy won 3 races, was the only one to score a pole position other than the Red Bull drivers. Maybe the high criticims is a reflection of what was expected of him. About his colisions 3 were enterily his fault: Kobayashi in Spa, Massa in Singapore, and Maldonado in Monaco (maybe I’m forgetting some hahaha). The one with Button was a race incident where he tried to overtake and Button didn’t see him. The others with Massa seemed race incidents also. He had a routh time and despite all that had 3 wins, the same number of Button. Despite this stones were throw at him the whole season, wich I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think he should be behind Rosberg.

    • Tom (@newdecade) said on 13th December 2011, 13:47

      Looking at it that way it seems to be a reflection of ‘potential’ versus ‘attainment’ in the ranking of a driver over a season.

      See Webber: he attained consistent, yet unconvincing, results throughout the year, overall qualifying it as a success, but do we judge it as awful compared to his teammate? Or just reduce the ‘potential’, thereby in a way devaluing him even further?

      Lewis beat his teammate convincingly on several occasions, obviously showing the potential was there, but the consistent attainment was poor. It seems like basing a driver rank on his consistency vs. attainment of potential is a very subjective question, as forums across the net will attest…

    • Ilanin (@ilanin) said on 13th December 2011, 13:49

      The numbers flatter him somewhat as a comparison to Button, simply because when Hamilton beat Button the cars were generally fairly close together whereas when Button beat Hamilton that wasn’t the case. On average, Lewis finished (when he finished) in 3.53rd place whereas Jenson finished in 2.89th place.

      • dkpoot said on 13th December 2011, 14:25

        and because hamilton may have led at the start of races over button, but didnt lead where it counted most, at the end of the race, due to overusing tyres or crashing.

      • Look at your statement “when he finished”. He finished 16 of 19 races. For me that’s over criticims. He season wasn’t great but it wasn’t a disaster also. Of course Button outrdriven Hamilton this year and it was more consistent , but this consistency produced the same number of wins of his teammate. I think Button or Hamilton would be more happier with a 4th win than the second position on the drivers table.

    • He’s had appalling performances at times – but he’s also had some of the best this season. He wasn’t at his best this year but he did quite well.

  5. Great read…… But I do hate you for taunting us like this :D

    I think… His drives, when they were good. Were easily some of the best all year. So I think 5th is right. Even if he did mess things up more often than getting them right.

  6. ScuderiaVincero (@scuderiavincero) said on 13th December 2011, 13:43

    I’m just hoping to see a more focused Hamilton next season, along with a back-on-form Massa. F1 needs its superstars, the more the merrier.

    • themagicofspeed (@) said on 13th December 2011, 15:13

      Yeah, as much as i don’t like the guy, he is exciting to watch, which is more than can be said of the other top drivers. He swings out the back end and just when you think he’s going to lose it, he gathers it up. Vettel’s car control is far inferior to both of the McLaren drivers; LH is a master of control, as proved at Silverstone and Monaco in 2008, but Button is the true genius of control. In terms of pure skill, he pastes the entire field. F1′s top drivers need to be on it next year, to produce one hell of an exciting year.

    • SimBri (@f1addict) said on 13th December 2011, 16:01

      Very true, it seems that a lot of the narrative this season was of drivers/teams not living up to their potential (in particular Hamilton, Webber, Massa, and Renault). It would be great to have a season (particularly with 6 world champions) of everyone performing their best.

  7. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 13th December 2011, 13:54

    I would’ve put him nearer the cusp of top 10 than top 5- just too many dumb crashes and needless slip-ups outweighing the masterclass in China and especially Germany. After a strong start when he appeared the only man capable of putting Vettel under any pressure, he then came into contact with cars more often than trophies, but he’ll bounce back

  8. I think it says a lot that when Hamilton has a bad year, by his standards, he is still the fifth best on the grid

  9. Jim Bob James said on 13th December 2011, 13:59

    Well, I don’t disagree that this has been a disappointing year for Hamilton, but my problem with him at no. 5 is that means Rosberg is no. 4. This doesn’t make sense to me. Hamilton’s had a load of screw-ups, but he still won three races (i.e. the joint second highest number), and was the only non Red Bull to get on pole, whereas the pinnacle of Rosberg’s year of glory has been, er, three fifth place finishes.

    And before anyone says ‘yes but Hamilton’s had a better car and Rosberg’s was rubbish’, just stop and think. By that logic Kovalienen should be no. 1 and Vettel about 8th, because ‘it was only the car’. It seems very strange to prioritise Rosberg’s slightly pedestrian consistency over things that matter, like race wins and poles.

    • Estesark (@estesark) said on 13th December 2011, 14:33

      Here’s what I had written before I spotted this comment, which makes the same point:

      Hamilton had a mixed season, but he still won three races and was the only non-Red Bull driver to take a pole position all season. Did Nico Rosberg really have a better year than that? In my opinion, he did not. Fourth in these rankings might have seemed too high for Hamilton, but there weren’t actually many drivers who performed better. I look forward to reading Rosberg’s ranking article for more explanation.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 13th December 2011, 15:25

        I’m thrilled to see NR placed so high after reading most of the comments throughout the season to the effect that he just quietly and unobtrusively went about his business but didn’t thrill anybody or make driver of the weekend, not even top 3.

        But to me the big deal about NR is that he has done what he has done with MS as his teammate. Given the huge accolades MS gets, including driver of the weekend nominations for passing cars he should have put behind him on Saturday, that just tells me that NR’s achievement should carry some weight. ie. If MS is such a force still, then NR has done something huge (for him if nobody else) and something unprecedented in MS’s tenure in F1…beaten him two seasons in a row. But obviously in the end his achievement has not gone unnoticed given his high standing, so that’s great imho.

        Of course NR did also lead a race at the start, and he made some excellent passes and repasses throughout the season. Should be so fun to watch Merc, MS and NR and how they sit amongst the grid next season.

        • Jim Bob James said on 13th December 2011, 15:36

          But what exactly is Rosberg’s ‘massive achievement’? He has driven an average car reliably, has made no real mistakes but has done nothing spectacular either, and has consistently finished about fifth sixth or seventh.

          Now this is pretty good, but it doesn’t make him the fourth best driver on the grid. I just don’t understand why everyone rates Rosberg so highly: what is it actually based on? Hamilton won more races in his supposed worst year ever than Rosberg has in his entire F1 career and people are falling over themselves to give Rosberg the ‘huge accolades’. It doesn’t make logical sense.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th December 2011, 16:11

            Now this is pretty good, but it doesn’t make him the fourth best driver on the grid. I just don’t understand why everyone rates Rosberg so highly: what is it actually based on? Hamilton won more races in his supposed worst year ever than Rosberg has in his entire F1 career and people are falling over themselves to give Rosberg the ‘huge accolades’. It doesn’t make logical sense.

            Hamilton had a front running, extremely competitive car to win those 3 races, but squandered more wins, podiums and pole positions. Don’t get me wrong, Hamilton did have some excellent drives, and I agree with the 5th place ranking, but Rosberg didn’t squander anything. He did what the car was capable of in qualifying and the races more consistently.

          • Please rewind back to first half of 2009 and let all of us know how many races hamilton won. (I lost track of the times he was lapped by button to be honest). Am not suggesting that hamilton is bad at all. He is one of the best. But thats precisely the point. Hamilton in Williams/Merc in the 5 years rosberg was there wouldn’t have achieved significantly more.

    • themagicofspeed (@) said on 13th December 2011, 15:17

      I agree, Rosberg is the most overrated driver in F1, along with Glock, Kovalainen and Sutil.

      Since his debut, he has:
      Set FL at Bahrain 2006
      Finished 2nd at Singapore 2008, which we now know was a fixed race.
      Finished in front of an ageing Michael Schumacher, who just doesnt have it in him anymore to keep up with younger, fitter drivers.
      Nothing to write home about, imo.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 13th December 2011, 15:29

        Just another thought given that my last comment didn’t even contain the name Lewis Hamilton…methinks LH is where he is because he squandered a top 3 car too often, whereas NR in a distant 4th place car (in the Constructor’s chase) maximized what he had with incredible consistancy, and again, with MS as a teammate, the one that Brawn starting things off at the beginning of 2010 touting MS as 2010 WDC…that could have been a daunting thing for NR to live with, but it didn’t phaze him a bit…seems to have inspired him.

        • Jim Bob James said on 13th December 2011, 15:51

          I’m sorry, but you’re talking with blinkers on. Schumacher and Rosberg ended the season with a very similar number of points from an identical car. So, if you’re saying that Rosberg has been an amazing revelation, then obviously that should also apply to Schumacher’s season. Similarly, if Schumacher is supposedly a huge disappointment, that must also apply to Rosberg who performed only marginally better. The case you are making – that Rosberg desrves ‘huge accolades’ while his terrible teammate scrapes the barrel of indignation – doesn’t hold up to neutral scrutiny (or a glance at the points table).

          You are also making too much of the Brawn 2010 WDC comment. Of course Ross Brawn said that: he’s the team principal and it’s called publicity and promotion. If he’d said ‘Michael’s 41 and he’s been out for three years, so he may struggle a bit’ – i.e. told the truth – that would have been bad PR skills and bad leadership.

      • celeste (@celeste) said on 13th December 2011, 15:43

        I agree with all of you. Rosberg ha not earned in my opinion a place in the top five, and certanly not about Hamilton.

        In my opinion right now he is overrated. Maybe in the future Rosberg will do something to chance my opinion…

    • egsgeg said on 13th December 2011, 18:27

      I feel that Lewis drove to his limit, and because of that, he made a ton of mistakes. Other drivers like Alonso can avoid mistakes while going even quicker because they have more capacity as drivers.

      To say Lewis had other issues which held him back etc is really just excuses made to cover up his poor performance limits.

      No doubt he is an excellent F1 racer, but to think that he is not driving his best is false.

      • snowman (@snowman) said on 13th December 2011, 19:20

        Agree with Robbie here, Rosberg deserves to be 4 and above Hamilton. Rosberg has had a Vettel season in a rubbish car by not putting a foot wrong all year.

        Sure Schumacher isn’t back at his best but with his achievements he could be 90 years old and it would stil be impressive for anyone to beat him in nearly every qualifying. (exaggerating for effect!)

        The races were certainly a lot closer with the old boy but at end of season Rosberg was ahead. It could be said on Schumacher’s best days and Hamilton’s best days this year they would be better than Rosberg’s best but consistency is the key.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 14th December 2011, 15:27

          @Jim Bob James…it’s just that especially after Brawn’s comment at the start of 2010 about him being WDC for that year, that could have made the task of being MS’s teammate even more daunting than it should have been, given the history of MS and his teammates. But instead NR rose to the occasion. I agree he wasn’t that much more special than MS, but looking at the quali effort, the race consistancy, and the outpointing of MS two years in a row makes it huge FOR NR and his own personal psyche if for no-one else…That is more to the point of what I mean. A lesser driver may have willowed under the threat of MS as a teammate…NR seems inspired by it…and then considering the last two races after his contract was extended, he seems even more stoked.

  10. brxtr (@broxter) said on 13th December 2011, 13:59

    Keith seems to rating a driver by their expected standards more than anything else. Perhaps that’s why Massa was so high up the list.

    • True, this can explain Webber position : nobody expected he wil be good, then he wasn’t, then he is 6, whereas he should have been 15. Rosberg is not expected to climb to the podium, he didn’t, then he is in front of Hamilton, who is punished to not be world champion despite his 3 victories in a context where RB is like the Ferrari 2004. Schumi is expected to win, he didn’t then he is behind Webber. Very very very strange classification, against all stats and all the behaviour of the driver on race. Disapointing.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2011, 16:29

      @Broxter

      by their expected standards

      Not sure what you mean by that.

      • Jake (@jleigh) said on 13th December 2011, 17:03

        i think what he means is that you take into account previous reputations and expectations of the drivers (not necessarily a bad thing).

        If you don’t do this however, and you look at the drivers seasons as if they were just driver X, there is a strong argument to put Hamilton above Button.
        Hamilton was quicker than Button this season, there’s no doubting that other than at a few tracks (e.g Brazil – although he had good pace in the race despite in issue). He matched Button for wins but just got caught up in a lot of incidents. If you look at the crashes though, it could be convincingly argued that only one was his fault (Massa in Singapore).

        Now if you look at these as driver X and driver Y, with no preconceptions, and had to choose one driver to keep for next season, I would choose Hamilton every time. And judging from your comment re. Grosjean and Petrov along the lines of “it’s easier stop a quick driver crashing than it is to turn a slow driver quick”, I think you would do the same.

        I don’t necessarily think this is how rankings should be done but it makes an interesting point.

  11. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 13th December 2011, 14:09

    This is by far the most correct position for any of the driver rankings so far.. Hamilton is a brilliant driver (I seem to remember he was no1 at the 2010 halfway rankings) and has had some brilliant results (China, Germany, most of Hungary) but 7 penalties and far superior performances by 4 other drivers (everyone would agree 3, Rosberg I think has done a good job this year aswell) meant that 5th was the logical position for him this year.

    As I’ve said before, I really hope Hamilton can find his form again for 2012 and give us an exciting championship again.

    There, that’s my attempt at COTD.. I’m getting desperate now!

  12. magon4 (@magon4) said on 13th December 2011, 14:19

    I agree with Keith here, actually I would have put Hamilton in front of Rosberg this year. Hamilton had more brilliant weekends than poor ones and numerically was slightly better than Button, all things considered. I still agree with placing him behind Button this year, that is fair.
    By the way, Alonso will be number 2 on Keith’s list… even Button’s best ever season is not better than another one of Alonso’s great ones…

  13. KoolKieren (@koolkieren) said on 13th December 2011, 14:21

    The way I see it this means the top four are as follows:-
    4 – Rosberg
    3 – Alonso
    2 – Button
    1 – Vettel (Though I hate the guy he has been supreme this season)

  14. Franton said on 13th December 2011, 14:27

    Sorry Keith, but I really don’t see how you can blame Hamilton for collisions with Maldonaldo. Especially when other drivers were giving room to each other at Monaco, plus MAL’s deliberate collision after the session had ended.

    The collision with Button is very contentious too what with the extreme bad weather in Canada, although Jenson HAD to know that Hamilton would be trying to make a pass sooner or later. He might not have seen him in all that spray but he would have heard him.

    We’ll leave out collisions with Massa where Hamilton doesn’t appear to have learned from prior experience, and Massa then behaved like a spoilt petulant child afterwards. No-one’s coming out clean from those incidents.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2011, 16:31

      other drivers were giving room to each other at Monaco

      Which I alluded to in the article. You seem to have misread my point of view as simply being “Hamilton was entirely to blame for every crash”, which isn’t what I wrote.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 13th December 2011, 20:43

        I thought your words on that were very well put @keithcollantine:

        At times he paid the price of putting himself at the mercy of another driver during an overtaking move. This worked brilliantly when he forced his way past Button in China – not so much when applied to Maldonado and Massa in Monaco.

        A driver has to know when/with who, and when not to do that, and Hamilton didn’t manage it well during the year. Added to the outright mistakes, well, that’s three wins and fourth in the WDC, seems like a good evaluation.

      • Franton said on 14th December 2011, 0:21

        You implied it with your further statement:

        “This was not the case of a few minor racing incidents. Hamilton committed the kind of baffling blunders not worthy of a driver of his calibre …”

    • Re: Button
      I think this incident’s interpretation depends on your framework. If you are trying to assign blame, then yes, it is IMHO a racing accident, not a clear-cut Hamilton’s fault.

      But now we are judging Hamilton as a driver. I am convinced that if a truly great driver – Lauda, Prost,… fill in your favourite – were in that position, they would have thought: “Well, it’s raiing dogs and cats and you can hardly see your own front tires. Button is on a path that takes him to the left edge of the track. If I stick my nose in and he does not notice, I am in big trouble.” And they would have waited for a better opportunity and pass later. So in this way I would say that this incident weighs against him at this particular discussion. It was not a wrong move, but it was an unwise move.

      While his driving has been stellar this year as well, he seems to lack racecraft. This is nothing new, it cost him the title in his first year (and I felt really sorry, not that I would particularly care for LH, but it would have made a great stat), but when you do not race smartly, you depend on a chance more. Sometimes you get more lucky, therefore the lack of racecraft does not show so much, and sometimes you get less lucky, which basically sums up this year for Hamilton.

  15. magon4 (@magon4) said on 13th December 2011, 14:39

    @KoolKieren just out of curiosity, is it the finger? Or why do you hate him? Such a nice lad…

    • magon4 (@magon4) said on 13th December 2011, 14:40

      shoud’ve used the reply button! :/

      • It Hammer Time said on 13th December 2011, 16:20

        Im with KoolKieren with a dislike of Vettel:

        He fast, consistent, has solved a previous tendancy to crash, a nice chap, who engages with the media/ public, and is down to earth…All admirable qualities admitedly.

        BUT, what I really desire as a fan…is a contest, that is what F1 has given me in recent previous years, and with only One dominant Red Bull and no significant rule changes/ driver changes, i can see Vettel walking next year, unfortunately, and i will find that boring.

        My fantasy 2011 Christmas wish list in no particular order:

        Competition for pole & race win each race
        A competitve Williams
        A resurgent Mark Webber
        Di Resta in a Mercedes with Rosberg
        Kubica in the 2nd Ferrari

        • celeste (@celeste) said on 13th December 2011, 18:00

          Yeah, but the fact that this season wasn´t a close one is hardly Vette´s fault. If only he did what he is pay for in the best way he could. Other teams and drivers are to blame because the season wasn´t a close one, not Vettel.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 13th December 2011, 20:48

            That in itself can be grating to some though @celeste.

            Personally, I wish he didn’t have such a fast car this year, since he and the team did so great that it made it a one sided competition. But I also enjoyed (especially when looking back, and not hoping for a closer fight any more) some of his great drives, and they did such a great job that maybe they deserved that fast car, and the pitstops too, after last years troubles.

            And Vettel also seem to be a fun guy, with a team that lets him be thus, so in effect we now have a great champion to cheer. Guess I’ll have to change mindset and enjoy it.

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