Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Melbourne, 2012

2012 half-term driver rankings part one: 24-11

2012 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Which drivers have excelled so far in 2012? The F1 Fanatic half-term driver rankings start here.

This is my rating of how each of the drivers have performed this year.

F1 Fanatic readers were invited to share their own views on each of the drivers and a selection of those appear below.

24. Narain Karthikeyan

Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, Hockenheim, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 0/11
Beat team mate in race 0/6
Races finished 7/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate 67/437

The statistics speak for themselves: Karthikeyan has been consistently beaten by team mate de la Rosa.

He did finish ahead on the road in Malaysia, after de la Rosa had picked up a drive-through penalty, but Karthikeyan later received a penalty of his own and dropped back behind in the final classification.

He’s qualified eight-tenths of a second slower than de la Rosa on average. It’s reasonable to question whether HRT are equipped to provide two cars of similar performance – only Karthikeyan’s had to have extra cooling holes cut in it in Hungary. But this is about the most that can be said to explain away the substantial gap in performance between the two.

Not one of the best 24 drivers in the world. Probably not one of the best 100. I don?t expect much.

Narain Karthikeyan 2012 form guide

23. Vitaly Petrov

Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, Valencia, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 2/11
Beat team mate in race 5/8
Races finished 8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 229/536

Petrov’s switch to Caterham was confirmed so late the team had already run Jarno Trulli during testing. He’s settled into the team since then and has fared better against Kovalainen then Trulli did, though that isn’t saying much.

Petrov has placed ahead of Kovalainen in races where both have finished, but Kovalainen seems to have bore the brunt of the team’s reliability problems. In qualifying, Petrov has been no match for him.

Anonymous in the Caterham, has done little to trouble Kovalainen, but could have got a point in Valencia.

Vitaly Petrov 2012 form guide

22. Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Melbourne, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 0/11
Beat team mate in race 0/10
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 15/672

At his best, Massa does an acceptable job as a number two driver, finishing within seven seconds of Alonso in Bahrain, Britain and Monaco. But these days are becoming all too rare.

He spun away a chance of a good result in Canada, and in both Spanish races the only cars behind him belonged to Caterham, HRT and Marussia. It was hoped a change of chassis would improve his performance in Malaysia – he finished a minute and a half behind his team mate.

With a dismal 15% of Alonso’s points haul so far, the question should not be whether Ferrari will replace Massa, but why they haven’t already.

The form is slowly coming back but he is being decimated by Alonso. If he doesn?t lose his seat at the end of the year I?ll eat my hat.

Felipe Massa 2012 form guide

21. Jean-Eric Vergne

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Sepang, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 2/11
Beat team mate in race 4/9
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 321/638

Vergne gave Ricciardo a run for his money in the opening races of the year. His sole points finish came in Malaysia, where he bravely stay on intermediates until the rain fell hard enough to bring the safety car out.

But he’s struggled in qualifying, often not making it out of Q3, and was beaten by both Caterhams in Canada. His collision with Kovalainen during the European Grand Prix was completely unnecessary.

Can?t seem to qualify well at all. Granted this year’s Toro Rosso is a dog of a car, but the difference between him and Ricciardo in qualifying are night and day. Vergne typically does better on race day, but hasn?t shown much potential beyond gaining a few places from a miserable start. Maybe with more Malaysia-like conditions he?ll achieve more, but probably not.
Matt (@AgentMulder)

Jean-Eric Vergne 2012 form guide

20. Charles Pic

Charles Pic, Marussia, Mugello, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 4/10
Beat team mate in race 2/6
Races finished 8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 214/522

Given his lack of pre-season testing, Pic has driven very well in his first season of F1 so far. He’s out-qualified and out-raced Glock in the last two races.

The two rookies who occupied his seat before him both lost their drives after a single season. So far Pic looks capable of bucking that trend.

Doing rather well, has been outperforming Glock lately and seems to be a rather quick, reliable newcomer. The Marussia makes it somewhat harder to judge, but I think the guy has potential.
Nick (@Npf1)

Charles Pic 2012 form guide

19. Timo Glock

Timo Glock, Marussia, Barcelona, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 6/10
Beat team mate in race 4/6
Races finished 9/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate 308/522

Is the grind of being at the back of the grid finally starting to wear Glock down after two-and-a-half years of it?

Glock has jumped at his rare chances to impress – holding off Kovalainen in Malaysia and almost dragging the Marussia into Q2 in the wet qualifying session at Silverstone.

But the rest of the time he seems increasingly frustrated by his car and his situation.

For someone who has been in F1 for as long as he has, he barely betters his younger and inexperienced teammate and has struggled to take the fight to the Caterhams, let alone take the Marussia up the grid.

Timo Glock 2012 form guide

18. Pedro de la Rosa

Pedro de la Rosa, HRT, Barcelona, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 11/11
Beat team mate in race 6/6
Races finished 8/10
Laps spent ahead of team mate 370/437

De la Rosa went into the first qualifying session the year having completed a total of 13 laps in the F112. Nonetheless he out-qualified his team mate and has continued to since then.

He’s taken the fight to Marussia when the opportunity has presented itself. It’s hard to ask much more of a driver in the worst car in the field.

Doing what is expected of him, seems to be carrying HRT and is dominating Narain as expected. Solid but unspectacular.

Pedro de la Rosa 2012 form guide

17. Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, Melbourne, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 9/11
Beat team mate in race 5/9
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 317/638

A great final lap in Australia saw Ricciardo pick off two cars for what so far have been his only points of the season.

He’s consistently beaten Vergne in qualifying and took a superb sixth on the grid in Bahrain – this was unfortunately followed by a less than stellar start.

Of late he’s tended to hold the upper hand in the races, but there were close battles between him and Vergne at Silverstone and Hockenheim. Neither has stood out as an obvious candidate for Red Bull, but it’s still early days.

Slightly better than Vergne, mostly due to super qualifying performances. Sixth in Bahrain was mega but blew it on lap one. Toro Rosso need to find more pace for him and Vergne to shine.

Daniel Ricciardo 2012 form guide

16. Bruno Senna

Bruno Senna, Williams, Hungaroring, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 3/11
Beat team mate in race 5/8
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 218/511

Neither Williams driver has scored as much as they should have done with the FW34 so far this year. Senna’s problems have usually started in qualifying, where he has been almost six-tenths of a second slower than Maldonado on average. In Spain he put the car in the gravel in Q1.

Starting in the midfield has sometimes led him into trouble – he was hit from behind in both Spanish races while running long in an effort to regain lost ground.

But on other occasions he’s got his head down and brought the car home and has finished in the points six times to Maldonado’s two. He finally reached Q3 for the first time in Hungary, which he will hope is a sign of things to come.

Significantly slower than Maldonado in qualifying but not much difference in race pace. Needs to improve qualifying to get consistently into points. I was honestly expecting more from him but it needs to be noted he is driving his first year at Williams compared to Maldonado.

Bruno Senna 2012 form guide

15. Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Barcelona, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 8/11
Beat team mate in race 3/8
Races finished 9/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 293/511

No-one can seriously call Maldonado a second-rate pay-driver any more – his consummate victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, withstanding pressure from no less a driver than Fernando Alonso, blew that label away.

Instead his detractors now call him a crash-prone liability. And on the strength of the year so far it’s been hard to argue with that.

It beggars belief that the same driver who dazzled in Spain could commit some of the monumental blunders in the races that followed and fail to score any further points since then. His collisions with Perez at Silverstone and Hamilton in Valencia were careless at best, cynical at worst.

But his clash with Perez during practice in Monaco is the most troubling incident so far. As with his incident with Hamilton at Spa last year it looked very much like a piece of retribution, and that sort of thing simply must not be tolerated on a race track.

A win is a win is a win, and I have given him full credit for it. But was it his twin brother driving in Barcelona? Because he has practically nothing to show for us outside of that weekend, wasting dozens of points for Williams. His (quite frankly) ridiculous driving has knocked him down a few notches for me as well.

Pastor Maldonado 2012 form guide

14. Kamui Kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Bahrain, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 5/10
Beat team mate in race 3/6
Races finished 8/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 194/507

Kobayashi has had a fair start to the season but has not been able to hit the same heights as his team mate. However fourth place in Germany (following his promotion due to Vettel’s penalty) was a new personal best for him.

He looked set to do even better when he lined up third on the grid in China, but went backwards at the start and only just came home in the points. He had a scrappy race in Valencia too, tangling with Senna and Massa.

Poor results and not showing the speed of Perez. Some sparks of the Kamui that thrilled people in 09 and 10 but he doesn?t seem like the same driver.

Kamui Kobayashi 2012 form guide

13. Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Valencia, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 5/11
Beat team mate in race 4/9
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 264/576

There has been very little to separate the Force India drivers as the race and qualifying scorelines show.

Hulkenberg has achieved the team’s best result so far, fifth in Valencia, and it might have been even better had his KERS been working – as it was he was defenceless against Schumacher and Webber in the DRS zone late in the race.

He impressed in the wet qualifying session in Germany, setting the fifth-fastest time. But a mistake while defending from Senna at Silverstone cost him a points score – something the team are finding it increasingly hard to come by.

Has also been consistent for Force India with a stand out result in Valencia and some strong qualifying sessions. Appears to have caught up to speed and is matching his teammate. A strong and intriguing battle of the Teammates at Force India. Both Hulkenberg and di Resta have kept Force India in touch with the fundamentally faster Williams in the constructors’ championship.

Nico Hulkenberg 2012 form guide

12. Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Monaco, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 9/11
Beat team mate in race 3/8
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 307/536

Caterham remain slightly too far behind the midfield to be regular contenders, but whenever the opportunity to join the battle has presented itself, Kovalainen has usually been the one to take advantage.

Although his race finishing rate is strong, a series of technical problems have prevented him from finishing higher. He remains the best prospect among the not-so-new teams for a points finish if the cards fall their way.

Kovalainen has been his consistent yet unlucky self. His performance in Monaco was a good reflection of why he probably belongs in a better car

Heikki Kovalainen 2012 form guide

11. Paul di Resta

Paul di Resta, Fernando Alonso, Bahrain, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 6/11
Beat team mate in race 5/9
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 312/576

Di Resta has been slightly more consistent than Hulkenberg, leading him home by small margins in Malaysia and Monaco.

He has also grabbed points with some shrewd last-lap tactics. A burst of KERS helped him snatch tenth place in Australia, and he resisted fierce pressure from Alonso to take a season-best sixth at Bahrain.

Although I?ve been increasingly impressed with Nico Hulkenberg, di Resta has to rank above him for his consistent points-scoring over the first eight races of the season. His car is not as high up the pecking order as it was last year, but he?s done a respectable job of hauling it into the top ten on multiple occasions nonetheless.

Paul di Resta 2012 form guide

The F1 Fanatic half-term driver rankings will continue next week. Have your say on the drivers so far in the comments.

You can also read what other F1 Fanatics had to say about the drivers in the forum.

Driver rankings

Browse all driver ranking articles

Images ?? HRT F1 Team, Caterham/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Toro Rosso/Getty images, Marussia, Marussia, HRT F1 Team, Toro Rosso/Getty images, Williams/LAT, Williams/LAT, Sauber F1 Team, Sahara Force India F1 Team, Caterham/LAT, Sahara Force India F1 Team