Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2012

2012 F1 Driver Rankings #3: Sebastian Vettel

2012 F1 season reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2012

Sebastian Vettel was made to fight harder for his third world championship victory than he was for the first two. The performance advantage he enjoyed throughout much of 2011 was gone.

Vettel hit a purple patch late in the season with four wins on the trot as Red Bull finally hit the sweet spot with the RB8. Even this was fleeting as McLaren asserted themselves once more before the season ended, and the RB8 was not the quickest car on average throughout the season.

But he took the opportunity to rise from the battle for second place and seize the lead of the championship. After that he narrowly prevailed in a nailbiting championship showdown, soaking up immense pressure from Fernando Alonso over the last three rounds.

As the season began the name of the game for Vettel was getting the best he could out of a car that was no longer the pace setter. He achieved this admirably in Australia, passing Rosberg in fine style early on and reaching the podium. But he faltered in Malaysia where another podium looked possible had he taken a little more caution lapping Narain Karthikeyan (who was penalised for the contact).

Beat team mate in qualifying 12/20
Beat team mate in race 11/17
Races finished 19/20
Laps spent ahead of team mate 865/1103

Anxious to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of performance, Vettel experimented with an earlier exhaust layout in China. But unusually he failed to reach Q3 and in a repeat of last year found himself slipping back late in the race, ending up fifth.

It looked like a return to business as usual, 2011-style when he won round four from pole position, coolly rebuffing an attack from Kimi Raikkonen. But Red Bull were off the pace in Spain and Vettel was outdone by Webber in Monaco.

Consecutive pole positions in Canada and Britain showed the team were on the right track. But they misread the tyre situation in Canada and had to make a late pit stop, though this at least ensured he finish ahead of Alonso.

In Valencia he was in crushing form until his alternator failed. That was a major blow to Vettel’s championship hopes, sending a 32-point swing in Alonso’s favour.

He took more than half of that back with his best drive of the season in a race he didn’t win. Alonso’s elimination in the first-lap crash at the Belgian Grand Prix gave Vettel an opportunity, but he was only 12th at the restart.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2012Vettel found it difficult to overtake other cars on Spa’s long straights due to his car’s poor straight line speed. But his commitment through the high-speed Blanchimont allowed him to make several passes into the chicane – including on his own team mate, and he rose from the field to take a valuable second.

Questions over Vettel’s capacity for racecraft are increasingly a thing of the past thanks to races like this and his recovery drives in Abu Dhabi and Brazil.

However he could have avoided penalties in Germany and Italy for errors while attacking and defending position respectively. His correct decision to cede position back to Romain Grosjean in Abu Dhabi having passed him with all four wheels off the track showed he was paying attention.

Vettel took some time to get the car to his liking in 2012 and did not always get the best out of what he had in the early part of the season. But by the final leg of the championship he was back in his comfort zone and it seemed nothing could put him off his stride.

His battling performances after being sent to the back of the grid in Abu Dhabi and knocked into a spin in Brazil demonstrated the speed, racecraft and rock-solid mental resilience of a triple-champion.

What F1 Fanatic readers said about Vettel

Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012Here’s what F1 Fanatic readers had to say about Sebastian Vettel:

Vettel truly deserved his third title. He battled with a car that wasn?t to his liking at the start, and score important points.

When the car was to his liking, he dominated. When events conspired against him he put in awe inspiring drives in both Abu Dhabi and Brazil, under immense pressure. He battled for positions in many races, and dismissed the view that he wasn?t a real racer.

Vettel still has some maturing to do, with frustration clouding his judgement in a few races. The fact that he is still developing as a racing driver must be a sobering thought to his rivals.

I think many people, when comparing the Red Bull to the Ferrari, simply assume that the Red Bull is a brilliant car (Newey = genius, so RB8 = genius) and because Alonso and Domenicali said at testing that the Ferrari is awful, they assume the Ferrari is awful. Think what you want, but for sure Vettel?s performance this year is highly underrated by many.

Vettel had some stonking races this year, and proved his mettle more than once. Alonso was just up against it in worse machinery, that?s pretty much all the difference.

Notes on how the rankings are produced

The F1 Fanatic Driver Rankings are my personal view on how the drivers performed across the entire season. Drivers such as Jerome D’Ambrosio who only competed in a small part of the season are not included.

Each drivers’ performance in all of the race weekends are taken into account and summarised. For more detailed views of how they fared in each weekend refer to the notes produced for each Driver of the Weekend article and the driver form guides.

A selection of F1 Fanatic readers’ views appear alongside the rankings. The full rankings will be published in seven parts, with individual articles for the top five drivers, after which there will be a vote for Driver of the Year.

Over to you

What’s your view on Sebastian Vettel’s third consecutive championship victory? Have your say in the comments.

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216 comments on “2012 F1 Driver Rankings #3: Sebastian Vettel”

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  1. Crazy to have Vettel ahead of Hamilton in my view. I know people will say that he didnt have the relaiability but either did Sebastian. Vettel’s drives in Abu Dhabi and Brazil were terrific and at the end of the day the record books will show he is the World Champion, the Number 1 in 2012 so i really cant comprehend how Hamilton can be ranked above him when he finished 4th in the championship.Lewis had a better car for the first half of the season in comparison with Vettel and both had reliability problems but for a finish it was Sebastian who came out on top.

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      13th December 2012, 13:42

      But the thing is that Lewis had far more reliability problems than Vettel.
      Not only that but it seemed as if Mclaren were almost determined to trip over themselves (obviously not, but they made far too many mistakes for a team of their calibre).
      – Early season pit stops problems in – Malaysia, Bahrain (x2), and Monaco severly hampered his races.
      – Mechanical failures that hampered his performance in Japan and Korea (Suspension)
      – Refuelling debacle in Spain – 24th on the grid.
      – Getting taken out by those GP2 bandits in Valencia, Spa and Brazil
      – Puncture in Germany ruining his race.
      – Gearbox failures in Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

      Mclaren had the pace to win this championship easily. And they should have with a driver with Lewis’s current form, and a quick car. But too many errors, the majority not Lewis’s fault, cost him the championship. He drove the nuts off that car. But to no avail.

      So I find that argument of Vettel having the same amount of problems to be somewhat wrong.

      Hamilton was clearly hampered much more severly by mistakes than Vettel was. And the evidence is in the numbers, Vettel won the C’ship and Hamilton didn’t. Simple as that.

    2. @padelee
      Really? Thought it was obvious to everyone the fight for best driver 2012 is between Lewis and Alonso.

      1. How is that logical when Sebastian beat both of them to the title?

        1. Because simply put vettel didn’t do that by himself. Winning a wdc is ALWAYS a combination of driver, car and team. The point of this ranking here is to single out as much as possible the team and car and purely look at the performance the driver made. Vettel did in that aspect less then alonso and hamilton.

          1. in my personal opinion this Should be the comment of the year.

          2. @turbof1 I disagree, Look at many of the races near the end of the season and you will see some amazing racing. They all had very different seasons but I think it’s unfair to suggest that Vettel didn’t perform.

          3. @turbof1 So Vettel’s car drove itself to victory 5 times this year and from the back of the grid to podium in Abu Dhabi and back to 6th in Brazil in the rain!!!..(Sarcasm) Look i understand where you are coming from, Lewis would have been right up there in the fight for the title if he didnt have so many reliablity issues and other incidents throughout the year, but Sebastian was very consistant from Bahrain onwards..and had those altenator problems in Valencia and Monza but he battled back and under massive pressure, from a comprehensive points defecit he hauld himself back into contention when it looked like Fernando might be on his way. It was a terrific comeback from Sebastian from japan onwards, and as i said earlier, put in two of the best drives of the year in Abu Dhabi and Brazil…

          4. The point of this ranking here is to single out as much as possible the team and car and purely look at the performance the driver made. Vettel did in that aspect less then alonso and hamilton.

            I’ve read and re-read the post by Keith, and I still don’t see where he removes team and car from the equation and singles out the driver. It can’t be done, which is why these sorts of rankings always come down to peoples personal preference.

          5. I think that’s a pretty fair assessment of how this whole thing works.
            At one extreme there could be a complete XXXX of a driver in an absolute rocket-ship of a car capable of winning everything through technical superiority, and at the other is a highly idiosyncratic car with a political and slightly disfunctional team who happen to be blessed with a driver whose singular minded intensity manages to unite and invigorate all those around him in an astonishing effort to conquer both the car and (most of) his opponents in a blast of heroic energy and pure resolve. Triumph of the Will!
            Sorry. Got slightly carried away there.

          6. So Vettel’s car drove itself to victory 5 times this year and from the back of the grid to podium in Abu Dhabi and back to 6th in Brazil in the rain!!!..(Sarcasm)

            Yes. That’s why he is 3rd out of 24 drivers – a very very good result.

      2. Don’t be arrogant. Kimi and Vettel were extrememely good as well, so it was close between those four.

      3. I disagree Jason, to me it is a discussion for the better driver between Vettel and Hamilton for 2nd and 3rd. I think if this was an article I wrote, I may have put Vettel above Hamilton, but this order is justified as well (only if – in my opinion – Hamilton is 2nd, not 1st).

    3. I can’t shake off the feeling that Hamilton has been a bit overrated this season. You can’t blame the team and luck for everything. After all the driver is part of this team and he bears his responsibility for the results too, which are not great when you look at the standings and into the pace of the car. For example all the drama around Lewis and his new contract didn’t contributed to the motivation and the passion they put into the race for the title. I mean, next year in Mercedes he may not score a podium and still be flawless on track. But that won’t make him 1 or 2 for the driver of the season poll.

      1. So it’s his fault that his car kept breaking down and his team kept messing up his pitstops?

        1. That’s not what i am saying, i am assuming that he was bad motivator, or less inspiring… you know, he lacked leadership maybe. Those are driver qualities too. The guys didn’t die for him there. And twitter dramas are not helping for the climate in struggling teams (again this is just an example).

          1. the errors were not his fault, but the way he handled them wasnt brilliant. At times he handled things excellent, then he totally drops the ball with twitter like moments.

            But despite that id still, as a driver and racer put him ahead of seb. Tho im a little biased. But fernando is a cut above the lot.

            Vettel and lewis are fantastic qualifiers. They pull something out over one lap no one else can. Fernando can chip away and make up the difference with brilliant consistancy that no one else can

        2. No, but it’s not the first time a driver will be unlucky.

          You have to discount reliability problems, not use them as a boost.

    4. I agree with you here, I think there are two important points casual fans tend to miss firstly, the immense pressure Alonso put Vettel under. There was a massive psychological warfare going on and Vettel handled it very well – four race wins in a row to haul himself back into contention in such a tight season (setting records along the way for longest period lead by a driver in a insanely competitive season) was no mean feat and when Alonso really cranked up the pressure over the final three races and things did not always go smoothly for Vettel he never buckled. At the same time I think it is fair to say Alonso wilted as the pressure grew over the final races – in Brazil it was clear Massa thought a fighting for victory was possible but Alonso could not find the speed over the final races that Massa proved the car was capable of. Alonso kept saying he was perfect and everyone believed this as the gospel truth but if you analyse the facst he faded just when Seb stepped up to the plate. Someone like Hamilton was never really under much pressure so we did not really get to see what he was made of – it is all good and well putting in some great drives but he was under no real pressure- and let us remember Hamilton did after all have the fastest car.
      My second point is a bit harder to put into words but it comes down to how a driver motivates/interacts with his team. Back in the day with Schumacher winning, Ferrari always looked the more relaxed team, a fun team (red wigs etc especially compared to McLaren) – these days with Alonso running his PR “Mr Perfect” campaign and enquiry after enquiry getting launched as to why Ferrari fail – you get the impression it is not a great place to be working at the moment, best to shut up and keep your head down. Seb seems very willing to share his success more with the team and worked hard with them to get the car back on track and then was able to take full advantage when they did so – Alonso has had the full backing of Ferrari for three years now but he never seems to be able to get the team to rise up with him (just a Hamilton will take a lot of credit should Mercedes come good, Alonso seems immune to taking any criticism when the car fails to develop etc). With such closely matched driver I think how each interact within their team is very important – I am not sure Alonso’s influence produces designers confident to try things and stamp there name on ideas etc.

      1. I don’t think the situation @ RBR is any different from Ferrari or McLaren. All 3 expect to win, but only RBR has achieved that. I can’t remember where, but there was an article about RBR that said they weren’t as friendly or something like that compared to the rest of the paddock.

        1. I am talking about a “atmosphere” that each team creates – you just know that if Ferrari’s car is not on the pace in Adelaide Luca is going to be spitting flames, demading answers etc…. Think how Pat Fry and his team must have felt when Alonso said he fighting against Seb and Newey…. you going to tell me Pat felt really inspired (and judging from what I read in the press he certainly did not). I think the “atmosphere” created by Alonso with his “i am perfect” speaches within Ferrari could not have been motivating for those working on developing the car…

          1. Yes, I do suppose that made it clear from the start for them that not winning would be blamed on them, while winning it would not be to their credit but Alonso’s, @cronies, true.

      2. 100% correct man!

    5. @padelee
      the record books never show the full picture, the races do. exactly what keith’s article describes as well. vettel in 3rd and lower than hamilton and alonso is justifiable.

      1. @andrewf1 I know ya, i respect everyones opinion but that doesnt stop me from having a differing one. I Like Hamilton, i think he’s a fantastic talent, same goes for Fernando who was amazing this year. Simply though for me i believe Sebastian was at least the second best driver of the season.

        1. In support of @padelee, a bit of data analysis
          1. A driver is best judged by what they do on race day, and race results are the ultimate judge of their quality.
          2. The only way to quantify this is to compare where starting and finishing positions and tell how often they were able to best their rivals, or be bested by them.
          3. Retirements should be removed from the equation because they are caused by factors to difficult to apply to the Driver input (mechanical failure and contact)
          4. Qualifying performances are not important because we are looking at the amount of change from start to finish, not the imperical position itself.

          The results are as follows…
          FA Average Grid position = 6.15
          FA Average Finish position = 3.27

          SV Avg Grid position = 5
          SV Avg Finish position = 3.44

          LH Avg Grid position = 4.78
          LH Avg Finish position = 4.35

          So, on average, and discounting races in which they the driver did not finish…
          SV was able to trump about 2 of his rivals each race,
          FA was able to best 3 of his,
          LH basically finished where he started.
          With this view of the data, Im struggling to see LH’s high rating over any of the other two. @andrewf1

          I am sure someone will point out a flaw in this analysis, and I look forward to such fruitful discussion.

          1. But if a driver – any driver – managed to take pole and first place in every race, they would have passed, or ‘trumped’ no one. and by your reasoning “basically finished where they started”.
            Doesn’t really work, does it?

          2. Your average finish position doesn’t include car failures outside of the drivers control. Can you factor that in please?

            (spolier – you can’t. This ranking has some subjective elements in it).

          3. It is just a crazy way of going about it – where is the reward for a good quali lap – poor guy on pole? If you useless at quali like Ferrari this year you going to LOVE this system. Can not see any value in it at all, you rewarding poor qualifing pace which was exactly Ferrari’s problem.

          4. Thanks for the feedback guys. Please accept my response


            pole and first place in every race, they would have passed, or ‘trumped’ no one.

            I agree this is a difficult one and well addressed in my original post. Indeed there is no way to improve from a Pole – Win, because there is no 0th place. To some extent it is mentioned in the Imperical Data (the actual position number. So, lets look further into it.

            FA: 2 Poles, with an average finish of 1.5 for those races
            SV: 5 Poles with an average finish of 1.8 for those races
            LH: 4 Poles with an average finish of 2 for those races.

            This data tell us that even from Pole, with no traffic, clean line, clean air, right of prime line into the first corner, LH’s most common response is to be beaten by his rivals. I will now brace myself for the comments on how the MCM car is a slow started, or how rivals sandbagged in Quali…


            doesn’t include car failures outside of the drivers control

            You are absolutly correct, that is why any race which the driver failed to complete the race distance has been removed from the analysis, we are only looking at what we KNOW the driver did and trying hard to remove external factors outside his control. Im not very fond of speculations, of the “IF Game” as many tend to be.


            where is the reward for a good quali lap

            I agree, seen above analysis to john-h. The point remains. Data shows that LH’s performance has a tendancy to finish where he started. Further the points totals indicate he didnt win, nor did he lead the Championship at any point, even in races were he had Pole, he failed to capitalize more often this FA and SV.

            All this said, I will now read our own Keith Collentine’s article which places LH above SV in ranking this year and see all the points which I surely have missed.

    6. @PatrickDelee It seems you have bias for RBR from your profile pic, and thus you are skewing the facts. Also RBR had a car that came under scrutiny more times then the fastest car on the track. Alonso pulled out more from the third best car than Vettel did early on, Hamilton retired more times from the lead than any other driver he fought through challenges and still stayed relevant to the championship for more than three quarters of the way through. The only issue RBR really had for Vettel was alternator/kers, which really isn’t new for RBR in the past couple seasons.

  2. Good call. I think you’ve got things spot on so far.

    Was a close thing between Vettel and Hamilton in second for me but I think Lewis just edges it, with Alonso slightly ahead.

    1. For me 3rd was never in question.

      I think it’s a close call between Lewis and Fernando. To me they are both best drivers of 2012.

    2. Exactly my idea too.

    3. One of the great things about this season for me is that the best three drivers on the grid were on top form. In my mind there’s very, very little separating Vettel from Alonso or Hamilton. You could justify putting those three in any order.

      1. I’ll agree with that. People have been saying for a while now that Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel were the three best drivers of this era and in 2012 they more than proved that.

    4. That pretty much mirrors my opinion. I think Vettel and Hamilton were very closely matched this year, with Alonso edging both. Vettel’s driving this year was undisputedly very good this season though and the fact he’s still maturing should instil fear in the competition for next year.

  3. It’s all about how much you weigh the cucumber.
    If he was as composed off track and on the radio like he is in one of his pole-laps, he could’ve been 2 or even 1.

    1. @verstappen: Totally disagree with you on that one. After all, it’s the drivers ranking, not the personality of the year awards.

      1. You gotta have mental strenght, not let your emotions get in the way of your driving – the finger is a personality thing, but bad angermanagement isn’t. @gerdoner

  4. Nice – the top 5 will be in the same order as in my rankings, good to see we agree again, Keith :)
    Vettel had a very good season – hard to compare with last year, as it was completely different, but he had to work really hard for this title. But Alonso and Hamilton just drove better and more consistently this year.

  5. Crazy to have Vettel behind Alonso in this ranking.
    To win a third championship, it should be ranked higher than “driving superbly with a poor car like the Ferrari” (Alonso)

    1. I suppose using the rationale you could see gilles villeneuve as a mere journeyman. There’s absolutely no way you could rank vettel higher than alonso or hamilton this seaon.

      1. Completely agree, if stats were all we went by what would be the point of doing a list like this at all as it would just be the order of the championship table.

        1. @debaser91 and Michael Schumacher would be declared the best driver of all time…..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      2. davidnotcoulthard
        13th December 2012, 15:10

        @dam00r @Davydavy
        No, I think it’s impossible to rate any of them higher and have everybody on earth agree with you.

      3. Well, you easily could, all three did so well.

        Vettel deserved his championship, he had to really drive for it this year.

  6. My gut feeling says this article gonna draw 200+ comments, bring it on!! :P :)

    1. Just wait for the next one in this series ;)

      1. @maroonjack far that is way behind this :P
        And this has just now crossed the 200 mark

  7. I would put him at least at #2 just because of the fact that he won one of the most competitive seasons in history of the sport, but I can understand placing Hamilton one spot above. #3 doesn’t sit too well with me at all but I have very subjective opinion on the matter. Saw my girlfriend cry at least two times during Brazilian GP when we thought all was lost to evil genius of Fernando and had a huge headache myself on sunday evening from all the tension. So I don’t have the clearest judgement to rate Sebastian and kindly leave it to Keith:)

  8. +1 Perfectly placed in the ranking.

  9. “Questions over Vettel’s capacity for racecraft are increasingly a thing of the pass thanks to races like this and his recovery drives in Abu Dhabi and Brazil.”

    Quick correction needed there, unless it’s a pun, which would actually make sense, heh.

    I cannot say I agree with this one, though. Vettel behind Alonso is understandable, but even taking into account Hamilton’s reliability woes, ranking him third instead of second is rather harsh.

    1. Ha! No pun intended, just better typing needed.

    2. Well, without McLaren’s woes, Hamilton would probably be a two-time world champion. Unless you mean something else by “taking them into account”.

      1. @maroonjack – So if Hamilton would’ve had the fastest car AND the most reliable car, he’d be a two-time world champion? Good for him.

        1. He would, but that’s not the point. I was addressing “taking into account Hamilton’s reliability woes”. No matter which way you cut it, he was better than Vettel this year and on par with Alonso.

          1. @maroonjack

            Please explain why he was better than Vettel or Alonso (or Räikkönen). You’re all saying that obviously he’s better but why? I struggle to see his performances any better than the rest of the top runners.

          2. @tmekt
            I’m not saying Hamilton was better than Alonso. I think they were more or less equal this season, although they had very different “adventures” along the way. Fernando didn’t have the quickest car, but he had excellent starts and achieved a lot through consistent, solid driving, but he wasn’t as aggressive and entertaining as Lewis. Hamilton was also doing wonders with his car, but he was a bit unlucky, to put it mildly. I made a post about it here: .

            I don’t see the point in explaining why Seb and Kimi should be behind Fernando and Lewis in this ranking. Keith puts it very well in his articles and I pretty much agree with him so far.

          3. Looks like I messed up the formatting. The link should be separate from the last paragraph ;)

          4. @maroonjack

            I’m aware of the facts but they don’t clear anything up. They just say where Hamilton could’ve finished without technical problems. That’s not the way to measure the best driver; if it was you would have no choice but to elect Vettel for the wonders he did (that he actually did) with his car in India, Korea, Valencia and Japan for instance. You could say that these were solely because of the car but then what about Hamilton’s car this year? It was magnificent too so why weren’t his accomplishment (hypothetical or not) solely because of the car?

            Lewis driving aggressively and more entertainingly neither makes him better than anyone else. It’s just his driving style; who’s to say, if he had driven a little bit less aggressively he could’ve done better on some occasions like Valencia (I know I know the collision was Maldonado’s fault but still) or Hockenheim (I don’t remember any other driver’s having punctures so maybe it was his error… probably not though). So what if Vettel’s or Alonso’s driving style are somehow less “entertaining”? They seem to deliver regardless of that.

            I’m obviously not saying that Hamilton’s a bad driver. I just find it a bit difficult swallow that he’d be the next best thing since Senna, as some make him out to be.

          5. @tmekt
            Well then, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. In my opinion Alonso and Hamilton were pretty much equal, when it comes to demonstrating their skills and maturity behind the wheel. For me and many others they were better than Vettel. If you’re not convinced by now, after reading all the articles, comments and forums, then there is nothing I can do to convince you.

            By the way, try to avoid strawmanning others, as it gets annoying pretty quickly. Do I make anyone to be “the next best thing since Senna”? No. Do I claim that “entertainment” is the only redeeming quality in a driver? No. Try to appreciate an opposite point of view in its entirety, instead of narrowing it and twisting it, just to make it easier to argue. I’m not interested in that at all.

          6. @maroonjack

            Sorry if I came off disrespectful towards your opinion, wasn’t my intention. Just trying to find some sense out of things and in the same time express my own opinion. (btw you did twist and generalize my post for your reply a bit too)

            The Senna-point (and to be clear I meant Ayrton not Bruno ;) )wasn’t directed at you either but there really seems to be a lot of people out there that think like that. Hamilton is a great driver but a bit overrated in my opinion. Perhaps I’m just biased though.

  10. Might be because Alonso and Hamilton have been slightly overrated this year.I wouldnt put Alonso higher than third because he showed he wasn’t doing as good as he was saying he was , by getting pushed by Massa a lot in the second half.And especially Lewis , though everyone says Vettel won ’cause he had the better car, it was more often than not that McLaren were setting the pace.Plus, i still think there is some growing up left to do for Lewis(as in “room for improvement”)
    And before you call me a Vettel fan, know that i’m not.Even so , i think he should have been first.
    As for my “fanboy” affiliation, its Kimi. And he should be in 4th.Where he is.

    1. 20 divided by 2 does NOT equal 2.

    2. @wally02avg Vettel was pushed by Webber for more races than Alonso was pushed by Massa. Massa was also visibly improving at the end of the year, and he almost always pulls out something at Interlagos. As for the McLaren, it was rarely far ahead on race pace, and when it was it tended to break down. Hamilton lost more points than anyone else through misfortune and/or team mistakes, usually gifting more points to Vettel.

      Having said that, I’ve given up on Hamilton ever growing up, it’s a pity Button doesn’t have his talent.

      1. @george

        Vettel was pushed by Webber for more races than Alonso was pushed by Massa

        That is very true but supposedly Webber is supposed to be the best “number 2” driver of the top 3. Also, Webber losing his push on Vettel coincided with Vettel hitting a purple patch so really Vettel eventually beat Webber because he stepped up his game, whereas Alonso lost out slightly because Massa vastly improved while Alonso fell back a bit.

        Undoubtably though Alonso was utterly brilliant – my number one driver this season anyway.

  11. Definitely the correct ranking for Sebastian this year. Even though he was remarkable this year, the level of competition was abnormally high too.

    Personally, (and I hope this is the outcome), Lewis is #1 and Fernando #2.

    Lewis has made absolutely no mistakes this season, and he has corrected every single criticism that was placed upon him last year, and went even further to improve himself. Without doubt he was the most unlucky driver on the grid.

    1. I love Hamilton’s racing style, but I’m hopeing that he will shot his mouth from now on. Enough of tweeter and stuff. Just drive and show some raw speed even if the tires explode after 10 laps :)

  12. Is there an article describing how these rankings are created?

    1. It’s written in the article, it’s reflecting the personal opinion of the guy who made this ranking I would put Vettel #1 after all he got 3rd World Championship and as Lauda says… who becomes the champion at the end of the year is the best driver of the year simple as that

      1. who becomes the champion at the end of the year is the best driver of the year simple as that

        I think that ignores the rather obvious point that they aren’t all driving the same cars. To say nothing of luck.

        Frankly I think that’s something people say when they’re put on the spot by a journalist and don’t want to give a real opinion.

        1. @keithcollantine ssometimes i don’t agree with you, but this time you are 100% right.

        2. @keithcollantine

          To say nothing of luck.

          Of which Alonso had, by far, the most this season.

      2. I don’t think that’s the oft quoted line given by drivers and pundits, more like whoever wins the title deserves it i.e. there are no undeserving world champions but that by no means they are the best driver across the season. There is a difference.

      3. missed that part.

  13. I am so pleased to see this. At first it niggled at me a little but after thinking it over it is just the media pushing down the perception of lewis (even the wonderful James Allen!). I know that some will say it is pointless to play a game of what ifs, but if McLaren were as reliable as Ferrari lewis could have taken another 3,4 or even 5 wins. With that many wins, he would have won and we would all be hailing his performance. We would also be able to see how terrible button had been this year. Ok he won 3 races this year but so did lewis in 2011 yet I think it is fair to say that lewis has taken more heat for 2011 than button has for this year. here is to the boys in brackley giving lewis the platform he needs!!

    1. and if the Red Bull had the reliability of the Ferraris, Vettel would have won 6 races.

      1. Exactly – it’s a game of ‘what if’s and it is essentially pointless – but good fun!

      2. Alonso and Vettel had the same number of retirements, two. FA at Belgium and Japan. SV at the European GP, and Italy.
        In contrast, LH retired 6 times.

  14. I put him as number one due to his outstanding capacity of getting the maximum of situations, some of those caused by own mistakes. Sebastian was more consistent than Lewis (who was very consistent) and Fernando (who did falter just a tiny bit towards the end). But I’m actually ok with him on 3rd, that’s how close the top 3 this year have been.

    In general (not 2012 season), I rate Vettel behind Alonso, but ahead of Hamilton… also very slightly.

    And I believe out of the next two, Lewis should be this year’s number one… hope Keith sees it the same way!

    1. “Sebastian was more consistent than Lewis (who was very consistent) and Fernando ”
      He was not consistent in the begging of the season. Plus he made mistakes such as Malaysia where it was 50/50 each drivers fault. A driver like lewis and alonso would not have clipped the HRT. In abu dhabi he hit someone from behind and as Martin Brundell said it best “that was clumsy”. Then had to change his front wing because he hit the styrofoam board under the safety car. Let’s not forget Germany where he passed Button outside the track. Last but not least in Brazil he was again at least 50/50 to blame for the collision with Senna and was lucky no continue the race.
      Hardly sounds like the consistency of Lewis and Alonso demonstrated.

      1. In abu dhabi he hit someone from behind and as Martin Brundell said it best “that was clumsy”.

        I don’t think any driver in history could stand up to having all his races analyzed the way Vettel’s are. Brundle must remember a certain A. Senna clumsily crashing into him from behind in 1989 in Adelaide. I could point out some other embarrassing crashes in Senna’s career, and not from his youth either. Using the standards I see being applied to Seb, Ayrton was a rather unskilled driver!

        Let’s not forget Germany where he passed Button outside the track.

        Oh, the humanity! People simultaneously say that they want more exciting, aggressive driving, and find fault with drivers for running afoul of the increasingly nit-picky rules. In the “glory days” of F1 Vettel could have gotten away with ramming Alonso – today, his skills are called into question for running off track while attempting an overtake.

        1. Senna clumsily crashing into him from behind in 1989 in Adelaide.

          You must be kidding, how do you compare Senna crashing into the back of brundel during heavy heavy rain and compare that to seb clipping the back of a car during abu dhabi.

          increasingly nit-picky rules.

          I never knew that a driver passing outside the race track and getting called for it was considered nit-picky. A first for everything I guess.

      2. A driver like lewis and alonso would not have clipped the HRT.

        Alonso, perhaps. But Lewis has a long history of making contact with other cars. That’s especially the case if we include those incidents where Lewis was not at fault, as you do here for Vettel.

        1. Alonso would probably have just sat behind the HRT, got on the radio to the team and complained until it moved safely out of his way!

          That to me is why, if forced to order the top 3 I would struggle to put Alonso ahead of Vettel or Hamilton. I think there is no real way of knowing which was the ‘best’ overall and would prefer to put them joint first, but if forced to differentiate I would pick Hamilton or Vettel first as they seem to be real racers. As a result they also make more mistakes, but to me that’s racing.

      3. with consistent I mean (and I ‘ve said it elsewhere) that he always got the maximum, even if he had to fight for it because of own mistakes. He got the points that were possible. And they were the basis for his title.
        With consistent I don’t mean without fault, but I mean bringing home the points in good and in bad days.

      4. plus he made mistakes such as Malaysia where it was 50/50 each drivers fault.

        That’s odd, I always thought a driver who had left the track must always be careful when rejoining that same track. And I guess Karthikeyan admitting it was his own fault was wrong as well…

        If you think Karthikeyan was talking about Vettel when he was ‘bullied off track’ guess again. That was Hamilton.

      5. lewis won’t hit an HRT — but he can hit a “RED” ferrari stopped on a red light, at the pitlane

    2. I’d put Vettel’s slight contact in Abu Dhabi due to “race rustiness” – he had become used to leading from the front again with 4 straight wins and to then be sent to the back of the grid (a situation all but unbeknown to Vettel) would obviously come as an unwelcome surprise. I think the mental integrity he had to be able to fight back onto the podium really showed us what a great driver he is and you could see the elation (and perhaps relief!) on his face on the podium.

  15. this is ********…… he’s 2012 world champion!!!!! i can understand if he’s below alonso… but why he’s not ahead of hamilton!!!!!!
    come on…hamilton too had a very quick car…..and he hasn’t done anything better than vettel….

    1. LoreMipsumdOtmElor
      13th December 2012, 14:22

      I’m not a Hamilton fan but he would’ve clearly been world champion if it wasn’t for the technical failures.

      1. Karthikeyan would the world champion if he’d won all the races

    2. It is because that Vettel has fewer fan than Hamilton here I think :)

      1. @ka12 I can assure you it’s not. As it says in the article, this is my view on who performed best in 2012 – not who was the most popular (we have a different thing for that).

        Obviously Hamilton is in front of Vettel in the rankings. Where he is and why he’s there will be revealed tomorrow.

        1. It will be interesting to read the reasons why LH is ahead of SV. I too am sitting on the fence about this one so it will be fun to read and debate the reasons.

          I don’t think though, that one can say without the technical issues LH would clearly have been WDC. That’s playing woulda, coulda, shoulda, and if one is to somehow erase LH’s technical difficulties, then doesn’t one have to also erase SV’s? In which case it is not clear at all who would have been WDC. I think the only thing that is clear if both LH and SV had perfect reliability, is that the fight would have come down to SV and LH, not SV and FA.


            This thread from the forum is impartial in as much as it can be when you’re extrapolating what went wrong in the season, but both Vettel and Hamilton’s bad luck (as well as others of course) are analysed and it concludes Hamilton would have won if things had gone his way. I agree it’s a big if and I understand why some people have a problem with it but in my view Hamilton was the best driver this season.

          2. davidnotcoulthard
            14th December 2012, 1:39

            I’m fine with your opinion on how good Lewis is, but the “if” part seems to ignore that his car was an “extreme version”, so to speak, of the RB6, or even perhaps the race-leading Leyton House: Fast but fragile – If he loses all his problems and win the title people will probably cry that the car won it.

          3. I disagree, considering he had a world champion team mate who didn’t get near extracting the same pace out of the car anywhere near as consistently.

        2. So Ham in ranking n.2 revealed???

          1. No, that’s why I said:

            Where he is… will be revealed tomorrow.

    3. @jason12joy , no it isn’t an expletive, it’s an opinion. I would’ve had Alonso at number one despite him not being the world champion. Although there are good arguments for Vettel being at #1, there are compelling arguments to put Alonso, Hamilton or Raikkonen there too. And if the championship order was all we would go on, then it’d be like saying that both Williams drivers definitely did better than the Caterhams, STRs and Marussias, which isn’t necessarily true.

  16. In my opinion ranking top four is extremely hard this year, since they all drove in different teams. Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Räikkönen all had a great year and crushed their team mates. Alonso and Räikkönen with a bigger margin of course, due to having poor team mates.

    I’m a bit disappointed to see that in the end the humble guys (Vettel and Räikkönen) get ranked lower than those who are constantly bragging about their achievements and diminishing their team and other drivers (Hamilton and Alonso), even if the ranking might be correct.

    But I wonder if telling all year that you’re taking the maximum out of your car or that your rival has a dominant car actually affects people’s opinion. I think so, since most of the fans are certain that Alonso was the best driver of the year, even though Hamilton, Vettel and Räikkönen also had almost a perfect year.

    1. Raikkonen doesn’t speak out because he just doesn’t care, I wouldn’t give him extra credit for that. And one word I would not use to describe Sebastian Vettel is humble.

      1. Compared to our spanish friend, he is a monk.
        He generally admits mistakes and when he hasn’t had a perfect lap. In F1 this should count as humble.

        1. He generally admits mistakes

          erm..does he?

          1. Yes he does. Have you ever seen any of his interviews post-race? With Narain, he believed he was in the right, I’ll give him that. But he is not shy to say that things could have gone better, also from his side, wheras Alonso always praises himself saying that he got the maximum, even in races where Massa was better.

          2. @magon4

            With Narain, he believed he was in the right

            With quite good reason. The stewards did agree with him. Not to say that, that is always the truth, but it does mean that he has the facts, numbers and rules on his side. Which in most cases would be enough. From a subjective view, it might be different, but then it will be subjective. Of cause he will believe that he didn’t do anything wrong, like Karthikeyan will believe otherwise, and us fans will be somewhere in between based on our subjective standpoint. So I think its a little harsh to hold it against him like that.

          3. you seem to forget Germany when he passed Button outside the track.

          4. @mads

            Of cause he will believe that he didn’t do anything wrong, like Karthikeyan will believe otherwise

            Even Karthikeyan admitted fault.

            The only thing people can criticise Vettel for is the finger (which we have seen numerous times in F1 but only seems to be a big deal when Vettel raises it) and his comments towards Karthikeyan afterwards.

      2. @debaser91 – I don’t understand why Vettel is often considered to be arrogant. Sure, he’s had his finger thing, but Alonso had his dances in 2006 and he wasn’t generally considered to be full of himself before 2007.

        Vettel probably was childish back in 2010, but I was talking about this season.

        1. @hotbottoms

          I don’t see why people find the finger thing arrogant, is it annoying yes. Arrogant. No, its just his way of celebrating.

          However petty name calling to Narian, whining when he lost his from wing in Abu Dhabi and having a little fit about DRS when passed by Lewis weren’t childish?

          Not saying Alonso is any better but to say Vettel wasn’t childish this season is very ridiculous statement. To be honest, I’d say most of the top drivers, bar Webber are pretty full of themselves. Just some show it more than others.

          1. you mean Button calling Kobayashi an idiot and Webber calling Grojean a first lap nut jub (when Keith has gone to pains to show that really isn’t the case) are okay?

            And while Vettel clearly was agitated after he hit the DRS board in Abu Dhabi, afterwards, he admitted that it was his mistake, that he made things harder for himself, and that he should have been paying closer attention.

            But against Alonso (me and the team were perfect and didn’t make any mistakes), sure… Though there is something inherently childish to continuing to say you are perfect and made no mistakes when you have. Reminds me a bit of George W. Bush.

          2. @davef1 raising your index finger is not arrogant? if he did it at one or two races thats a fair comment…but 36? reminding the world he is number 1, numero uno, top of the heap, the best every race isnt arrogant? if it was his way of celebrating I’d like to see him show us 2 fingers when finishing second and 3 fingers in 3rd :)

          3. One thing about Vettel’s index finger – it only appears when he has won (qualifying or race). Alonso’s claims of being the best do not seem to show correlation with actual results. I think that is the important difference. Any victorious driver is entitled to express happiness at his success, the others should show respect to the victor.

  17. Completely agree with the ranking. Frankly I didn’t expect Seb to show up at #3 here. His drive in Spa was spectacular and so was his Brazil drive under pressure. I believe his Abu Dhabi drive’s been blown out of proportions given how the race seemed to play exactly into his hands.
    And then there were 2…I know the ranking’s been decided and it would be Alonso at the top most probably. But I just wish Lewis gets it, coz he was almost flawless the whole season (which cannot be said about Alonso, who seemed slightly listless when it counted) and was on the money race after race till the last one.

  18. Lewis was just too amazing this year…
    Lewis #1 and Fernando #2

  19. It’s so difficult to compose a top three this year. Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton have all had brilliant years and to be honest I don’t know which one of them would have become champion if they all would drive in the same car. As you explain, the minor details have made the difference this year: Vettel’s unnecessary penalties this year probably made him third on your list. I disagree, I would put Vettel ahead of Hamilton and Alonso.

    Vettel has really proven himself this year – like the 2010 title, it certainly wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter. His fine drives in Belgium, Abu Dhabi and Brazil proved to be crucial for his championship campaign, which I think makes the 2012 title stand out from the others. I wonder if he can emulate Schumacher’s championship tally.

    1. Oh, and thanks for using my quote :)

  20. I agree with this ranking. I also acknowledge that Keith proved me wrong :p. I really tought you would put him higher, due that being less hard to understand. However, logical and rational speaking Hamilton really deserves to be higher ranked then vettel. Choosing so would always arise controverse but ultimately it is the right choice! Glad you did so Keith. Have a none-vettel thumbs up of me :p.

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