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

2012 F1 season

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

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

  1. I don’t think Button deserves to be so high; he’s had 3 good races all season at best. His early season slump is non-excusable for he was driving a car (as Hamilton proved) was capable of winning races. He seems to be returning to form but still, a sixth place in Hungary compared to a race win from Hamilton; can’t argue with that.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th August 2012, 22:11


      a sixth place in Hungary compared to a race win from Hamilton; can’t argue with that.

      Yes you can – the strategy that condemned Button to slipping from third to sixth was clearly not his choice.

      • Oh and all Button’s bad strategies are due to his team isn’t it? And all good strategies are due to the fact that he is a tactical genius, isn’t it?

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th August 2012, 7:16

          Why generalize there &chicanef1, both Keith and Max are discussing a the race in Hungary where Button made it quite clear that he was not the one making that strategy and visibly (and audibly) unhappy with it.

          There have probably been many cases where the team did get it right. And there have been some races where Button got it exactly right. And there have been races where neither got it right. But that is not part of this discussion.

      • Sabrina (@sabrina) said on 15th August 2012, 13:21

        Maybe not his choice but necessarry. Jenson Button had not the pace for a 2 stopper. His tyre degeneration was too high
        Sam Michaels words on Speed TV:
        “His degradation was too high. If you look at his lap times, we realized at an early stage that we couldn’t do a two-stop with him. He couldn’t maintain the pace. It was just the way we had to set up and everything else. A three-stop in paper is fine, but you can’t overtake, and he lost too much time behind Senna, and once he lost that time, it was difficult for him to make it back into the top three or four.”

    • Yes, but Button qualified in 4th when his teammate was on pole, and apart from an opportunistic start was less than stellar and off the pace of the rest of he field, so his team had to try something different with strategy.

  2. I smell a rat in the rankings.
    Button ahead of Schumacher, Rosberg et al. ? His performances in Spain, Monaco, Canada and Valencia and qualifying in every single race has been pathetic to say the least. Granted Hamilton has been almost top-notch this season, but in those four races, the performance gap b/w him and Hamilton reminded me of Massa’s performance relative to Alonso. He failed to jump Kovalainen’s Caterham in the pits in Monaco, in a clearly quicker car. His performances in Germany and Hungary weren’t too good either. He charged up well at Germany, but couldn’t manage his tyres and would probably have finished third had Vettel been less impatient. He suffered the same fate at Hungary, where he couldn’t pass Senna for 10 odd laps despite having a quicker car and much better tyres(Alonso passed Perez, so that’s what I’m talking about, it is difficult but not impossible to pass at Hungary).
    In short, it seems whatever Schumacher does his championship will be remembered for his mistakes in Barcelona and Budapest. Whereas Button’s performances at Australia and China will be immortalised.
    Oh and I totally forgot the fact that he crashed into Karthikeyan at Malaysia, and later in the race with the fastest car on dry conditions, he was passed by Rosberg.
    After this, I won’t be surprised if Hamilton pips Alonso to the no.1 spot. This is after all, a British site.

    • ao Famuyide said on 13th August 2012, 19:58

      I agree with your assessment of Button’s performance this year.
      I disagree with your last statement though; I think there is certainly a bias out there in favor of Button- overhyping his good performances and excusing his bad ones. The bias is more nuanced; I think its a class thing for the British. Button’s middle class demeanor, accent, and background plays well with the F1 journalists and bloggers (BBC, JA etc) hence he gets all the passes. Hamilton meanwhile gets hammered by these people (all British) because of his different background, accent, and the hip-hop crowd he mixes with. The British tabloid journalists like him though (as you would expect) as a laddie.
      Now people will laugh this off, but I lived there as a foreigner and I **know** what I’m talking about.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th August 2012, 22:09

        Button’s middle class demeanor, accent, and background plays well with the F1 journalists and bloggers

        I can only speak for myself but that’s complete rubbish. I’m as uninterested in Button’s class (in the social strata sense) as I am his nationality or which brand of corn flakes he prefers.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th August 2012, 7:20

        I think the difference between the most of us and Keith here is, that we tend to rate the drivers from how we see them currently, i.e. based on their last couple of results. And for Button (apart from the last one) they have not been that great. But Keith went over all the races from the start, including those where Button looked to be continuing where he ended last year, on top form.

        And possibly there is a difference in how we value driver mistakes. With Rosberg losing good starting positions from Q3 mistakes in 3 races where it might have been a pole, Schumacher needlessly crashing into others and thereby ruining his top chance to win in Monaco. And with Maldonado throwing away points. In comparison, a driver struggling to get the perfect setup after a car update maybe is not that bad?

        • Girts (@girts) said on 14th August 2012, 7:53

          @BasCB First, I’m pretty sure that (almost) noone else has spent as much time as Keith evaluating the drivers’ performances. For instance, I don’t think that a lot of F1 Fanatics rewatched all the races. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have our own opinions but the arguments need to be well-grounded.

          Secondly, I believe that this is quite a tricky subject that perhaps shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Of course, you can pretty easily compare two team mates and say who of them has done a better job. It is also clear that maldonadoing your car on a regular basis doesn’t give you bonus points, too. But how can one tell that Alonso has been performing better than de la Rosa this year? Both have destroyed their team mates this year, both haven’t made any serious mistakes and both seem to get most out of their cars. The difference is that Alonso has been fighting for the first places and that, given his past achievements, we naturally assume that Fernando is much better. But how much exactly? It’s impossible to measure it accurately.

          I personally spent a reasonable amount of time (not as much as Keith though) trying to compare the drivers. I printed out all the 2012 F1F reviews of drivers’ performances, calculated the average Autosport ratings and reviewed them and studied F1F statistics section, too. But I still don’t take my personal rankings very seriously.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th August 2012, 8:05

            I think you are absolutely right about how hard it is to take in account the car when making a driver rating @girts, by the way kudos for putting in the effort to make a thorough analyses of their performances!

            Just had a look at your driver rating, seems you are pretty close to what Keith has, with notably differences are Petrov rated better, Button comes below the Mercedes drivers and DiResta behind Hulk.

    • Mayank (@mjf1fan) said on 13th August 2012, 21:51

      Actually Schumacher is facing ” Being Schumacher” problem. No matter what he do, how small or big is the error done by him, it will be highlighted as a BIG ISSUE. Although what he did at Budapest was definitely not a small error and you wont expect that from MS, but its alright, everyone makes mistakes . I dont understand how JB is ahead of MS. Even if we look at the statistics which is shown here , MS finished races 4/5 times ahead of his teammate whereas JB just finished 3/10 . It is very unfortunate that MS had all those reliability issues in first half of season. To judge him at this moment is very hard. But with whatever stats we have, MS deserved higher place than JB .

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th August 2012, 22:08


      This is after all, a British site.

      No it isn’t – this is a site for F1 fans, regardless of their nationality.

      As has been pointed out countless times before, only around a third of users on the site are British:


      • That isn’t the main point… its strange that people when showed the truth straight in their faces suddenly become incredibly observant and start arguing on the small points which is probably not what the arguer is trying to focus on.

        • Andrew81 (@andrew81) said on 14th August 2012, 23:14

          Your whole comment is implying a British bias, it’s only at the end, in the part Keith quoted, that you said it directly. You disagree with his placing of Button. So do I, and I’m British. Sadly, there are too many people, like you, who can’t see past nationality when it comes to this sort of debate and get on some high horse. Get rid of the ‘bias’ slant and you actually had a good argument to bump Button down a few spots.

          • My whole comment isn’t implying British bias(I have a tendency to use the word ‘rat’ in everything). I only wanted justification on why Button has been ranked ahead of Schumacher and Rosberg. In hindsight, I regret having added that last line, not because I think it is inappropriate, but because the argument shifted away from Button to Britain.
            And Keith’s argument that the site isn’t British just because 33%(which, if not an absolute majority, is still a majority) doesn’t mean that the site isn’t British. Keith is British and so is the site because he created it. For example, Force India is an Indian team because Dr. Vijay Mallya, the owner is Indian. It isn’t a British team just because most of the personnel are from the UK, is it?

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th August 2012, 8:17


          probably not what the arguer is trying to focus on.

          I’m well aware that may be the case. But you’ve written about my website and have made a fundamentally incorrect assumption about it. Did you really expect that I would see it and ignore it?

          • No but I expected you would justify why Button is ranked higher than Schumacher and Rosberg.
            Anyway I’m building the bridge quickly so that the water flows underneath it asap. I’m sorry for offending the F1Fanatic users.

  3. Broom (@brum55) said on 13th August 2012, 20:37

    I’m surprised to see Button so high. Apart from when Mclaren has been the fastest car, he has been nowhere this season. In the 5 races from Spain to Britain his performances were every bit as bad as Massa’s worst performances. When the car was fantastic of course Button looked great but when the car becomes a handful, Mclaren are every bit the one man team Ferrari are. I’d have both Mercedes drivers ahead of him so far this year.

  4. OOliver said on 13th August 2012, 20:57

    I thought Button only qualified ahead of Hamilton once in Germany or am I getting it wrong?

  5. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 13th August 2012, 22:24

    @keithcollantine Keith I really admire your work in general and mostly agree with your rating, but I must say that for some reason in the case of the Sauber drivers you got it completely wrong suddenly. Both in terms of ratings and the comment you chose.

    Kobayashi 14th and got “poor results…(more nonsense)”?! Really? Do you have facts to support this theory?

    And then Perez 7th(huge gap and nothing like that in reality) with the ignorant comment by @bullfrog that Perez has done more to deserve Ferrari seat than “Alesi, Capelli, Irvine and Massa”. Really? Let’s start with Massa who was considered a very good young driver renown especially for his natural speed in fast corners(Peter Sauber’s words). He also had good results in a car that was farther from the front than the current Sauber is. The fact that post-crash Massa is a shadow of his former self clouds some people’s memories it seems.
    Irvine, though IMO a despicable character, was no slouch. He fought on equal footing with Barrichello in Jordan in 1994-5 and finished on the podium in Canada as well, same as certain S. Perez
    Capelli was considered by most to be a “champion of the future” with his excellent performances in March until he was destroyed by team-mate Alesi in the rubbish 1992 Ferrari. Which brings me to Alesi:
    during 1990 Alesi was courted by three of the top-four teams in F1 who fought for his services . He was signed to a pre-contract by F. Williams which Ferrari had to buy-out. All of them were stupid it turns out, how could they miss his rubbish performances, and of course he nowhere near deserved the Ferrari seat as the mighty S. Perez does, right??

  6. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 13th August 2012, 22:33

    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

    • 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 13th August 2012, 22:35

      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

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th August 2012, 7:28

        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.

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

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

  8. SundarF1 (@sundarf1) said on 14th August 2012, 0:20

    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.

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 14th August 2012, 10:20

      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.

  9. Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 14th August 2012, 1:05

    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.

  10. Kimi4WDC said on 14th August 2012, 4:13

    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.

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 14th August 2012, 10:28

      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.

      • Kimi4WDC said on 15th August 2012, 1:46

        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.

  11. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 14th August 2012, 19:27

    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.

  12. Nickpkr said on 14th August 2012, 21:22

    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.

  13. Andrew81 (@andrew81) said on 14th August 2012, 23:37

    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.

  14. Paul Barrass said on 15th August 2012, 11:12

    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….

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th August 2012, 11:21

      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.

      • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 15th August 2012, 11:34

        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.

        • Paul Barrass said on 15th August 2012, 12:01

          @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.

          • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 15th August 2012, 13:51

            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

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