Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean, Suzuka, 2013

2013 F1 season driver rankings part three: 10-6

2013 F1 season reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

The F1 Fanatic 2013 driver rankings continue with part three.

10. Paul di Resta

Beat team mate in qualifying 11/19
Beat team mate in race 8/12
Races finished 15/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 460/826

Paul di Resta had a reasonable third season with Force India which very easily could have brought so much more.

The Force India was at its best in the first half of the season when Pirelli’s tyres were particularly delicate. But a combination of errors on the part of team and driver which saw Di Resta drop out in wet Q1 sessions in Malaysia, Monaco and Canada particularly compromised his points haul.

In Britain he missed out on a strong qualifying result after falling foul of the minimum weight limit. Nonetheless he recovered to finish ninth – his sixth points score in a row, a run which included a superb fourth in Bahrain.

For a few minutes in Q3 at Spa it looked like Di Resta was going to pull off a shock pole position in another wet qualifying session, before he was bumped back by Mercedes and Red Bull drivers. He started fifth, but was bundled out of the race by Pastor Maldonado.

When the team’s fortunes took a downward turn in the second half of the season Di Resta’s went with them initially. Errors of his own making spoiled his races in Italy, Singapore and Korea. But even in this difficult time he usually had an edge over team mate Adrian Sutil

This was shown again when Di Resta led the team’s late-season resurgence with strong scores in India and Abu Dhabi – keeping Lewis Hamilton at arm’s length in the latter – which helped Force India see off Sauber in the constructors’ championship.

Paul di Resta 2013 form guide

9. Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, Monza, 2013

Beat team mate in qualifying 15/19
Beat team mate in race 6/11
Races finished 16/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 591/893

Daniel Ricciardo’s season had all the hallmarks of a driver who wrung every last tenth out of his equipment on Saturday but couldn’t sustain the same performance over a race distance.

He could rely on a healthy advantage over team mate Jean-Eric Vergne in qualifying and took the Toro Rosso into the final ten more than twice as many times as his team mate. This gives a major clue why Red Bull chose him for 2014 instead of the other potential drivers available to them.

Although his margin over Vergne in the races was less emphatic there were problems along the way – a couple of early-season exhaust failures and his elimination at the hands of Romain Grosjean in Monaco. A very promising run at Silverstone was ruined when the team failed to pit him when the Safety Car came out.

In Belgium he made up nine places to finish a solid tenth. He might have done the same at Suzuka had he been more alert to the probability of getting a penalty for going off-track while overtaking Adrian Sutil.

He faces an enormous task up against a four-times champion next year. On the strength of this season he should be a good match in those all-important qualifying sessions but there are still questions over his race pace.

Daniel Ricciardo 2013 form guide

8. Jenson Button

Beat team mate in qualifying 9/19
Beat team mate in race 13/19
Races finished 19/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 624/1112

For the first time in his McLaren career Jenson Button didn’t have a car that was capable of winning. And based on his efforts you’d have to say it probably wasn’t capable of finishing on the podium, either.

He came closest in Brazil but even by the final race of the season McLaren had only improved the car by enough to come home 20 seconds behind a Ferrari. He had a shot at a podium finish in Malaysia as well before a problem at his pit stop ruined his race.

Unable to compete on sheer pace, McLaren’s best opportunity for success was to reduce their number of pit stops. Button exercised commendable self-discipline in China to take fifth and making one pit stop fewer than his rivals also served him well in Spain.

There were other occasions when he deserved better than he got. The late Safety Car period spoiled his race in Britain, and dithering backmarkers cost him a better finishing position in Germany.

The weakness in his game was, as usual, qualifying. Typically Button had front wing set at maximum but still couldn’t get enough turn-in at the front of the car to suit his driving style.

This indirectly contributed to a spate of first-lap incidents in the second half of the season which spoiled his run of squeezing solid finishing positions out of the MP4-28. His penalty for overtaking under red flags in America was a strange lapse for a driver of Button’s experience.

But he drew a line under a disappointing year with a fine drive in Brazil which was worthy of his status as one of the sport’s champions.

Jenson Button 2013 form guide

7. Romain Grosjean

Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean, Suzuka, 2013

Beat team mate in qualifying 9/19
Beat team mate in race 5/13
Races finished 15/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 403/888

There can surely be no other driver more deserving of the distinction ‘most improved driver’ than Romain Grosjean.

A truly horrendous weekend in Monaco gave cause to doubt whether Lotus would tolerate his error-strewn ways much longer. But after that he got his act together and was one of the stand-out drivers of the final races.

It’s true that Grosjean found the long wheelbase E21 and the revised tyres more to his taste than Raikkonen did. But Grosjean did miss out on some upgrades at the beginning of the year while Kimi Raikkonen made a winning start to his campaign.

Indications of Grosjean’s improved form were visible at Silverstone, then in Germany he produced his first eye-catching performance of the season. It was a shame the Safety Car period deprived us of seeing a proper battle between him and Sebastian Vettel.

By Japan Grosjean looked a true front runner and there he took the fight to the Red Bulls in superb style, bursting through from the second row to lead the race, only losing out to his rivals in the final stint.

In America he successfully split the pair of them to equal his best career result. It’s taken time but Eric Boullier’s faith in his driver has finally been vindicated.

Romain Grosjean 2013 form guide

6. Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Monte-Carlo, 2013

Beat team mate in qualifying 8/19
Beat team mate in race 8/16
Races finished 17/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 495/1011

If three seasons of beating a somewhat faded Michael Schumacher hadn’t been enough to convince some of Nico Rosberg’s abilities, his 2013 campaign should have won over a few more of his doubters.

Lewis Hamilton is a long way from being past his prime yet Rosberg gave his new team mate a close run on almost every metric.

Indeed Rosberg won more races, two to Hamilton’s one, though he was aided somewhat by their contrasting fortunes at Silverstone. Still it was Rosberg who suffered the brunt of the team’s reliability problems (electrical failure in Australia, anti-roll bar in China, front wing in Korea), without which he might very easily have beaten Hamilton on points

The same goes for his order to finish behind Hamilton in Malaysia, which Rosberg obeyed. Events in the same race showed other drivers would not have been so biddable.

There were some tough races in the early part of the season where Mercedes were completely flummoxed by the tyres: Rosberg slumped from pole position to ninth in Bahrain.

However in Monaco he converted pole position into his first win of the year. This exercise in driving as slowly as he dared may rank as one of the least exciting victories Formula One has ever seen, but you can’t blame Rosberg for playing the game the way it’s meant to be at the moment.

His run of three pole positions in a row ended in Canada, partly due to a problem with his radio. But he had no excuses for being eliminated in Q2 at his home race – this was a clear tactical oversight.

Late in the season Rosberg retaliated to his team mate’s resurgence, qualifying ahead in three of the last four races. He started alongside Vettel in Singapore and Brazil and beat Vettel to turn one on both occasions – only to be passed by the end of the first lap.

Realistically, neither of these were missed opportunities to win races, though his slump to fifth in the season finale must have been a disappointing reminder of how the season began for Mercedes.

Nico Rosberg 2013 form guide

How the rankings are produced

This is a ranking of how drivers have performed in the 2013 season, irrespective of their form in previous years. Among the data referred to in producing the rankings are notes on each driver’s performance at each race weekend, compiled data on car performance, direct comparisons between team mates and each driver’s form guide.

Over to you

How highly do you rate the drivers who’ve appeared so far in the rankings? Give your views on them in the comments.

Images ?? Red Bull/Getty, Pirelli/LAT, Daimler/Hoch Zwei