Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Valencia, 2012

2012 half-term driver rankings part two: 10-6

2012 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

The second part of the F1 Fanatic half-term driver rankings brings us up to the top five.

This is my rating of how each of the drivers have performed so far this year. See here for information on how the ranking is produced and you can read the first part here.

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

10. Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Valencia, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 4/11
Beat team mate in race 4/5
Races finished 5/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 179/487

When it comes to reliability, the law of averages seems to have finally caught up with Schumacher. During his peak years his Ferraris never seemed to let him down, but this year his car has failed him more times during races than anyone else’s.

Notably in Australia and China he was running within the top three in the opening stages only to drop out with problems not of his own making.

But it would be wrong to suggest Schumacher’s problems this year have stemmed entirely from the shortcomings in his car. The less said about his disastrous Hungarian weekend the better. A careless collision with Senna at the Circuit de Catalunya cost him what should have been pole position in Monaco.

Putting the faults of man and machine aside, it’s not been hard to appreciate that this year has seen some of Schumacher’s best performances since his comeback, notably in the wet qualifying sessions at Silverstone and Hockenheim and when he finally scored his first post-comeback podium at Valencia.

Has been much closer to Rosberg and has held the upper hand on his teammate on numerous occasions, but has been held back by silly mistake and mechanical gremlins.

Michael Schumacher 2012 form guide

9. Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 7/11
Beat team mate in race 1/5
Races finished 11/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 308/487

Rosberg finally claimed his first Grand Prix victory in China with a superb pole position and a consummate drive. He was pulling away from his team mate until Schumacher dropped out and was one of few front-running drivers to successfully complete the race with only two pit stops.

He followed up his China win with a strong second in Monaco. But it’s hard to avoid the impression that he might have achieved more with his W03, particularly earlier in the season. Mistakes during qualifying in Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain cost him better starting positions.

Mercedes have slipped into the midfield of late and Rosberg has found himself scrapping for points places instead of aiming for the podium. On balance he retains the upper hand at the team though by a reduced margin.

Achieved Mercedes first win since its comeback with probably the best qualifying lap of the season.

Nico Rosberg 2012 form guide

8. Jenson Button

Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 2/11
Beat team mate in race 3/10
Races finished 11/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 238/662

Given his alarming dip in form in the middle of the season it’s easy to forget how strong Button’s start to the year was.

He ran away with victory in Australia and would have pushed Rosberg much harder for victory in China had it not been for one of McLaren’s many pit stop blunders.

But after F1 returned from the opening flyaway races he seemed to lose his way on set-up completely. The nadir was Canada: while Hamilton won Button flailed around and finished a lapped 16th.

It’s difficult to comprehend how things could go so badly wrong for such an experienced driver and team. Having qualified on the front row for the first two races he found himself struggling to reach Q3 on occasions and, in Britain, failed to make it through the rain-hit Q1.

The upgrade McLaren introduced in Germany seems to have stopped the rot and Button was in the hunt for victory once more at Hockenheim. But it’s surely too late for him to think seriously about contending for the championship this year.

He?s picked up three good results, but has finished outside of the points four times, while his team-mate scored at each of those races and even managed to win one of them. The qualifying head-to-head looks even worse, as Button trails one to ten.

The 2012 season hasn?t quite been a complete disaster for Button, and a second-placed finish in Germany was an encouraging sign for the rest of the season, but he?ll be disappointed not to have stayed in the championship hunt after winning the first race in the fastest car on the grid.

Jenson Button 2012 form guide

7. Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez, Sauber, Sepang, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 5/10
Beat team mate in race 3/6
Races finished 9/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 313/507

Perez came of age with his battling drive to second in Malaysia, which began when a gamble on switching to wet weather tyres early paid off.

Though much has been made of his costly mistake while pursuing Alonso it should not be forgotten that his team cost him even more time by inexplicably leaving him out a lap too long as the track dried.

He returned to the podium in Canada with a late charge through the field as the car and conditions came to him. These two races bookended a frustrating series of weekends there things failed to come right.

His qualifying has let him down on occasions but he has usually proved capable of fighting back. Such as in Germany, where a mistake in qualifying left him 17th, from which he finished sixth. In Australia a gearbox change penalty left him 22nd but he one-stopped his way to eighth.

He’s had some poor luck: picking up a puncture on the first lap in Spain after qualifying a career-best fifth, his slow pit stop in China and being taken out at Silverstone by Maldonado.

Luca di Montezemolo has said Perez is still too inexperienced to drive for Ferrari. But it’s hard to see how a driver who has performed so well this season could be considered less worthy of the seat than the persistently under-performing Massa (22nd on this list).

Quick enough to win if his team had any killer instinct. Could do with a couple more top-three finishes, but he?s already done more than Alesi, Capelli, Irvine and Massa ever did to deserve a Ferrari drive.

Sergio Perez 2012 form guide

6. Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Valencia, 2012

Beat team mate in qualifying 7/11
Beat team mate in race 2/7
Races finished 7/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 170/480

Right from the off Romain Grosjean has looked competitive in the Lotus, regularly out-qualifying his considerably more experienced team mate.

Perversely, this has worked against him in some races, notably Bahrain where having fewer fresh tyres left him vulnerable to the recovering Raikkonen.

But he brought the car home on the podium and has done so on two subsequent occasions as well, peaking with second place in Canada. Grosjean’s maturity in wheel-to-wheel racing has won him admirers as well – recall his passes on Hamilton in Bahrain and Valencia.

It’s in the opening laps of races that he’s looked most like a rookie, often losing places and sometimes tangling with other drivers, leading to an early bath. Once he knocks that on the head it’s not hard to imagine him giving his team mate a very hard time indeed.

In March, only 9% of F1 Fanatics expected Romain Grosjean to beat his team mate over the 2012 season. The Frenchman probably won?t quite manage to do that but it?s undeniable that he has exceeded the expectations with certainty. He is leading the qualifying battle in the team by 7-4 and there is no doubt about his race pace, too.

The mistakes and mishaps have robbed him of many potential points but the speed is there and he still has plenty of time to turn his still young and promising career into a real success story.

Romain Grosjean 2012 form guide

The F1 Fanatic half-term driver rankings will continue on Wednesday. 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

Image ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei, ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Sauber F1 Team, Lotus F1 Team/LAT

117 comments on “2012 half-term driver rankings part two: 10-6”

Jump to comment page: 1 2
  1. Button is too high for me, but the others are ok. I’d have said RG, SP, NR, MS, JB from 6 to 10
    Top 5 would be FA, LH, SV, KR, MW with the 3rd/4th/5th being very closely matched

    1. though of course having looked through the forum thread where we made the votes, Vettel will be 5th- he’s just not as popular as Webber or Kimi. Kimi might get 3rd to be honest

      1. I think Webber did a better job then Vettel so far, although its close between them @91jb12. He is consistently getting results, and he has improved his starts a lot. He did (again) suffer some issues that held him back in qualifying, and some dodgy stragegy. But Vettel had Valencia, so I guess it almost evens out.

  2. “The less said about his disastrous Hungarian weekend the better”

    Haha, that made me laugh. You have a way with words Keith!

  3. Button’s position seems to be the biggest issue here at the moment, and I have to say I agree with the general perception that he didn’t deserve 8th on this list. Looking at what the Merc drivers have achieved with the 4th best car on average, they ought to be ahead of Button.

    Also, I expect Alonso to be No.1, no argument can be strong enough to knock him off the top. If someone else is No.1 I’d love to read the justification for it – I expect it will be absurd.

    1. At the same time, both Rosberg and Schumacher have absolutely had some poor weekends as well. Neither of them seems to be able to overcome the limitations of the car and apart from China and Monaco, they’ve both spent most time being overtaken, rather than overtaking themselves.

      I personally ranked Schumacher and Button lower, but I don’t think it’s completely unjustified.

  4. Button is too high ranked. Rosberg with a inferior car has a win and is ahead of him in the championship, as would be Schumacher if he didn’t have so much car issues. And the only race that Jenson qualified ahead of Lewis was Germany. The other times Hamilton started behind Button was due to penalties.

  5. Personally I think Kimi will win the title this year. But if second part of the season repeats it self, Alonso’s laugh after he crossed the line in Valencia ’12 will sum up the season. Championship on a silver plate with kind regards from McLaren, Red Bull and Lotus.

    1. Silver plate? Really now? Not only has Alonso pushed his Ferrari to its limits and beyond, once you get an opportunity, you have to be there to capitalize on it. You have to be able to respond to that opportunity in race pace, strategy, etc. His driving has been superb and he’s on the verge of breaking Schumacher’s consecutive points finishes. I also can’t remember a race where all 3 teams you mentioned weren’t on him at least.

      Kimi is looking good, but don’t forget, Lotus/Enstone has been through a lot of changes and haven’t been this competitive since 2006. While it is a shame to see them struggle to maximize the potential of the car, it wouldn’t be a huge shame if Kimi and Lotus don’t end up as champions.

      1. Not only has Alonso pushed his Ferrari to its limits and beyond, once you get an opportunity, you have to be there to capitalize on it

        Exactly that, he did capitalize, while it was others to loose. Nothing less is expected of Fernando, he is a champ. But he is more than anyone else knows what kind of early Christmas, first part of the season turned out to be. And again, that laugh tells it all.

  6. Oooo Perez and Grosjean right next to each other. I’d put Perez above Grosjean, just. I have more confidence in him to deliver when he has the opportunity (mistake in Malaysia aside). That said, Grosjean does seem to be turning the corner very quickly.

  7. Rosberg has one less podium than button and also a single perfect win, however still a point ahead in an inferior car. He is quite closer or ahead of teammate which is not the case of Button, Massa and Schumaher hence the critics.

    In fact if drivers paycheck was a fix WDC position we will be seeing a different f1 !

    Perez and Grosjean manage to be above of some world champions so far, most give credit they are against the toughest drivers line up ever and on their early 20’s in their second season kicking ass.

  8. I echo most of the comments with regards to Button. The McLaren has been competitive at far more races than the Mercedes and yet his results don’t show that. Rosberg had two quiet races at the start of the season and has been a bit anonymous in the last three (not helped by his poor qualifying in the wet), but his run of consistency and speed in the races in between almost put him in championship contention for a while. Schumacher has had some bad luck but has been a match for Rosberg on pace. Tenth for Button behind the two Mercedes drivers would be fairer in my opinion.

    Looking ahead to the top five, it would take an agenda to put anyone other than Alonso at number one, though I will say he has been flattered somewhat by his good fortune compared to others. Nevertheless, he has taken full advantage of that and is my number one. I would put Hamilton second. That McLaren is not as fast in the races as it is in qualifying; in a piece in Autosport magazine, Gary Anderson says it is sixth fastest on race pace. I wouldn’t go that far, but to be as close to the Red Bulls as he is, despite a lot of mistakes by the team and some bad luck, is worthy of second place for me. Vettel is third for me. His results haven’t been brilliant, with only one podium since Bahrain, and mistakes have crept in (Malaysia, Spain, Germany), but on the whole he has been consistent and he did lose an almost certain victory in Valencia. I’m going to go against the grain a little and put Raikkonen in fourth. He has been very consistent, with points in every race except China (which was due to a strategy error by the team), and has quietly been racking up the podiums in the last few races. The only downsides are the lack of a win and a couple of quiet races at Monaco and Canada. Webber, my fifth place choice, has had two wins but a good deal more quiet races. At the beginning of the season, he was consistent but not quick enough. A win from an inherited pole position in Monaco was perhaps a bit fortunate, but still well deserved. The win at Silverstone was also good, but the Red Bull has looked consistently strong in the races this year and the number of times Webber has not delivered (Spain, Canada, Germany, Hungary, arguably even Australia and Bahrain) counts against him for me.

  9. Just wanted to draw your attention to the fact that although these lists are interesting, the Irvine/Massa comment from the previous list is actually the best comment on here because in truth there is only one way to measure a driver, and that’s not actually against his teammate, but against his car. Sadly this isn’t actually possible, since it is impossible to baseline a car’s performance, and so instead we have to use our imaginations, statistics and compare team mates to get an idea, but the theory goes like this:

    A car operates at 1:00:00 lap time as a base-line.

    An average driver will get that lap time.
    A poorer driver will be slower, say, 1:01:10
    A better driver will be faster, say 0:58:50

    Depending on the baseline of all of the cars on the grid then the difference between drivers abilities to maximise the car could end up meaning a poorer teammate comes second, or a poorer teammate comes 10th simply by virtue of how close the field is. Using the example of being 30 seconds down over a race distance compared to 5 minutes down is simply crazy. 5 minutes? Over the course of a GP? That would be what, six seconds a lap under race conditions, in the same team on the same tyres? This, of course, is why comparing to team-mates also does not allow a full ranking to be created, because there are times when some drivers will simply “own” the car and extract much more performance than it than is normal, although these can never be proven, because again, it is impossible to generate a baseline performance for a car. That’s why all of these lists will always be subjective no matter what mechanism is used, but by understanding that the drivers should be measured against the car, and that is why the team mate is used as a comparison, we can understand that being beaten by other drivers as well as your team mate does not intrinsically make you a worse driver than just finishing behind your team mate.
    Also, Given that the baseline of a car would inherently change on a track by track basis dependant on weather, circuit, etc. this should also be taken into account, with perhaps, given drivers able maximise their performance against the car better under particular conditions, or over a certain period of time.

    What’s the main point of this post, you say?

    Well, like many other people, I think Button is probably a bit too high, and although I think that using this mechanism to rate drivers would take far more time and effort than I am prepared to put in, and also, would involve so much guesswork that the results wouldn’t necessarily be different, but I would be very much surprised that, if using a system that takes these things into account the Button would finish lower than the Merc’s and possibly some others as well.

    Also it would put Alonso even higher, or at least, would make the gap between him and Lewis greater, as i truly believe that the red car is still a dog and Alonso is truly “owning” it this year. So much so, that, like some other posters, he is no longer now the guy I love to hate, but the guy I begrudgingly respect. Similar to Schuey on his first red WDC, although by the time he was finished I hated him, and now love him again :-)

    p.s. I also believe that using a system where the driver is measured against the car would have shown Vettel not be the “great” as some people say, as he would not have been as far above the baseline of the car except for maybe about a half to two thirds of last year, as someone like Alonso or Schuey/D Hill in their prime would have been able to get it. (I always thought Damon used to wring the very most out of the car pretty consistently and Schuey in his prime was a demon for it)

    Sorry for the long post….

    1. I look at it a slightly different way: A car is capable of doing a lap time which represents 100% of its potential. The best drivers get closest to that – let’s say 99.5% – whereas the merely good are in the 98-99.5% range and the rest never get into an F1 car.

      There are figures I’m plucking out of the air to illustrate a point – it would be fascinating to apply real data to it if that were possible. But how do you measure when a driver has extracted the absolute maximum from a car? That’s the difficult part here.

      1. I completely agree @keithcollantine . It’s physically impossible to go above car’s ability. If a car made that lap time-it was capable of it, even if there was only one human on the planet capable of wringing it from that car( Best example-Senna pole lap in Monaco 1988).

        @Paul Barrass-interesting post but there’s a clumsy elephant in your room: Damon Hill, really? One of the most unconvincing champions in F1 history and you say he always wrung everything from his car? I think a certain Sir Frank would disagree with you on that.

        1. @montreal95 In some ways you’re right. 1995 was probably Hills Annus Horriblis. I’ll accept that, and note that I don’t think Hill was the most well adjusted of drivers, particularly where a certain fast German was concerned, but I think over his whole career he did tend to maximise the car. Maybe it’s rose-tinted glasses as I was youthful and he looked a bit like me…. goes without saying that Senna was ludicrously fast and maximised the car, and for both @keithcollantine and @montreal95, I’m still a little unsure as to whether it’s better to go for having the car @ 100% and see whether drivers can get closest to it’s maximum, or find some way to baseline the car and see if drivers could give more than the car is capable of, say 110%.

          I’m inclined to the latter on the evidence of this season, particularly early on when the Ferrari really did not look capable of what Alonso did with it. The way he wrestled it around Aus and Mal in practice and quali sessions was inspired, but I accept that in reality the car will have a maximum potential that can’t actually be bettered no matter how good the driver so that way makes more sense in another way… Still, nice to see that the view is shared anyway. Thanks gents.

          1. Paul, don’t get me wrong. I have enormous respect for Damon and his abilities. Who knows what could he have achieved if he had had a normal junior career, not one which started around age 20(OT-it reminds me of a certain B. Senna whom certain commenters here so like to bash). I also was very much on Damon’s side in his fight with M. Scum whom i’d never liked, which only increased the level of my frustration. Like or no, I’d never put Damon in the same sentence with the Scum ability-wise. there were precious few races when he took the fight to Scum and beat him(most notably-Suzuka 1994) but generally there was no contest.

            Regarding Alonso’s amazing performances in the first half of the season: Let’s agree that he achieved the absolute maximum of what was possible with that car and that it’s a fair assessment to say that no current F1 driver could have done better, and leave it at that ok? And btw, it’s been a pleasure

Jump to comment page: 1 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.