2013 F1 season driver rankings #5: Lewis Hamilton

2013 F1 season review

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2013

Having switched teams for the first time in his Formula One career Lewis Hamilton never seemed to get completely comfortable in the W04. Even at the end of the year its handling still perplexed him.

Nonetheless a positive first season with Mercedes saw Hamilton walk away with a win – which could have been two with better luck – and an impressively consistent run of points finishes.

The other major change he had to accommodate to was a new team mate. And it was clear from the outset Nico Rosberg was going to prove more of a handful on Saturdays than Jenson Button had.

While Rosberg forged ahead in the rain-hit qualifying session at Melbourne, Hamilton was fortunate to remain in contention after dealing the barrier a glancing blow.

Beat team mate in qualifying 11/19
Beat team mate in race 8/16
Races finished 18/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 516/1011

Hamilton took his first podium finish for the team in his second race but that undoubtedly would have gone to Rosberg had Mercedes not ordered their drivers to hold position. To his credit, Hamilton said afterwards Rosberg deserved to finish ahead.

For both Mercedes drivers the opening races featured a familiar pattern of disappointment: qualify well, then slip back after the W04 over-taxed its tyres. Spain was this in extremis for Hamilton, as he finished out of the points after starting on the front row.

Matters improved after that controversial tyre test but in Monaco it was Rosberg, not Hamilton, who led the team to victory in Monaco. Hamilton started alongside his team mate but a slightly dawdling in-lap during his pit stop left him vulnerable to Vettel who grabbed second place off the Mercedes.

In the middle of the year Hamilton seemed to hit the sweet spot with the car. He qualified on the front row of the grid for seven races in a row including four pole positions.

He converted one of those into his sole victory of the year in Hungary. This was a top-drawer performance all weekend, beginning with a superb qualifying lap to narrowly beat Vettel. In the race he made quick passes when in traffic – including a well-judged, opportunistic move on Mark Webber – to get into the precious clear air he needed to look after his tyres.

Hamilton was also in contention for another win on home ground at Silverstone where he led in the early stages before becoming one of the first drivers to suffer a tyre failure. He did remarkably well to recover from that to finish fourth.

His run of pole positions continued with a superb qualifying lap in the rain at Spa-Francorchamps, though on race day he could only offer token resistance to the Sebastian Vettel’s increasingly irresistible RB9. It came to an end after a self-confessedly poor performance in Italy where he was knocked out in Q2. A puncture hindered his progress in the race.

Japan was a case of what might have been after an excellent start was immediately ruined by the slightest of contact with Vettel, leaving Hamilton with a puncture. That misfortune was the second and final time he failed to score all year.

An indifferent couple of races in India and Abu Dhabi were later blamed on chassis damage that had initially gone undetected (his suspension also failed in qualifying at Yas Marina). He enjoyed a stronger race in Austin after that, but a potential podium finish in Brazil was lost after he collided with Bottas.

Although the year featured fewer of the highs which characterised his 2012 campaign, Hamilton was consistently in the hunt for strong points finishes and had a narrow edge over an increasingly well-rated team mate. But he knows much more will be expected from his second season at Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton 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.

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46 comments on 2013 F1 season driver rankings #5: Lewis Hamilton

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th December 2013, 10:07

    Well, I do think going to Mercedes showed a step forward for Hamilton. But now he has to dig deeper and improve, because Rosberg will do the same, and the range of technicalities that come with next years cars could very well favour Nico, who likes fine tuning things to detail while Hamilton has always been able to make so much out of his huge talent that he needed less of that.
    Will be nice to see how that develops, because I would think that the engineers would like to give Hamilton a car he feels more familiar and comfortable with, but the new rules are big challenge

  2. Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 16th December 2013, 10:26

    A rule set that encourages conservation rather than pushing hard does not bode well for the future of Lewis’ career. Hopefully Pirelli will be conservative and make a tyre that last and allows him to push.

    Might also help if he would get his personal life in order and stop being such an over emotional ninny.

    • Paul Sainsbury said on 16th December 2013, 19:46

      I rather like the fact that Lewis is not just another emotionless droid. It seems to me that whatever people think of him, he has the personal integrity to just ‘be himself’ He must know that by being honest in answering questions, he is going to receive a good kicking from some in the media and many on these kinds of websites.

      Sure, it would be a lovely world if everyone had ‘their personal life in order’, but the truth is, those who we look at from afar with respect and even sometimes awe, such as sports starts, musicians and actors, are just as capable of being involved with painful personal relationships as the rest of us. What right do any of us have to judge them in their struggles? Perhaps we could all have a little more sensitivity and respect?

      • Robbie said on 16th December 2013, 20:03

        Nothing wrong with him being himself, nothing wrong with him having personal strife like we all do at times, but whereas musicians and actors can draw from that and use it to their advantage, I think the onus is on athletes to leave that off the ‘playing field’ as professionals, especially when a team and it’s sponsors are spending hundreds of millions and trusting you to be 100% when it counts the most. Perhaps if LH can’t do that, then it is also an indication that he might not hold it together when the pressure is at it’s greatest and he’s in the WDC chase going into the last race.

        • Paul Sainsbury said on 16th December 2013, 20:28

          That is a fair enough point. However, given that LH has already won a title and could really have won three, had things gone a teeny bit differently in terms of reliability, etc, I don’t think, on the whole, his being emotionally driven has adversely particularly affected him. Sure, he was all over the place in 2011, but that seems to have been the exception, rather than rule.

          I am really just saying that it is something we should appreciate, that he is prepared to answer questions honestly, even if it might cause somewhat of a backlash later.

          Also, I think ‘emotional’ athletes are so often the most entertaining, from a purist’s point of view. There is something compelling about someone who has bags of natural talent but perhaps not quite the self control to control it at all times. Most obviously, Gilles Villeneuve comes to my mind, but also that is why it often used to be so exciting to watch Nigel Mansell, there was always a real buzz of excitement in the air when he was on a charge. Part of that that excitement was not quite knowing how it would turn out.

          Perhaps that kind of potential excitement will return to F1 again if and when we lose the clown tyres, DRS, and drivers with colossal talent are once more able to get on with being free to display it to us.

          Well, one can only hope………….:)

          • Rails (@rjessalt) said on 16th December 2013, 20:50

            +1, extremely well said.

            And also, @spawinte, Lewis won the Hungarian GP this year during the exact time when he was pegged as ‘wearing his heart on his sleeve’. The issues he had this year did not lie within an inability for him to separate struggles his personal life with his racing life, but actually his inability to work with the fact he was being told to ‘preserve tyres’ each race which farther down the line, solicited the most gut wrenching radio responses, ‘I can’t go any slower!’.

          • Robbie said on 16th December 2013, 23:36

            Fair comment Paul and @rjessalt I think I am segregating personal strife from emotion. I think absolutely athletes are emotional and can often make that work for them and for the fans and it does add to the sport. It is more the personal strife I was referring to in terms of something an athlete needs to keep away from the game/race, imho.

    • Might also help if he would get his personal life in order and stop being such an over emotional ninny.

      @spawinte – I’m sorry but I don’t think this is fair criticism, at least insofar as you mock Hamilton as an “over emotional ninny” for being honest (when asked) about having experiences that are a universal aspect of the human condition, endeavouring to healthily love our partner (if we have one) and ourselves…
      Then @Robbie said…

      I think the onus is on athletes to leave that off the ‘playing field’ as professionals

      Isn’t the onus on pretty much everyone who has a job to do what they can to limit work-performance degradation during times of personal difficulty, whether related to romantic relationships or family tragedy, health/illness, money, etc.? That is, we all owe it to our employers to perform appropriately and consistently in exchange for the wages we collect, irrespective of what’s going on at home, right? But one wouldn’t mock theirr colleague if he was suffering b/c his LTR had fallen apart, though they might encourage him to get help if he needed it…

      The difference in Lewis’s case is that his work plays out in front of millions and millions of people 20 times (or more) per year!

      Of course Hamilton should do whatever is necessary to strengthen the mental athlete within and ensure his environment is conducive to his performing consistently to the max of his potential as a sportsman, but at the same time, he’s a human being and imo it’s unrealistic to think that there will never again be a time when his driving might be influenced by events in his personal life. I don’t think it’s that great of a reflection on your character to mock someone else for their humanity, let alone in terms like “over emotional ninny.

      • Robbie said on 17th December 2013, 13:17

        Fair comment. And of course the onus is on all of us at our workplaces to keep personal strife out as much as possible etc etc. And your are right that people shouldn’t be mocked if they don’t or can’t keep it from affecting their job.

        I think the reality is that LH is an icon in a massively popular sport globally, with fans and detractors globally, his career discussed ad infinitum on many forums, in magazines, and on TV. So of course no stone is going to go unturned in analyzing him.

        I also think that in LH’s case, off-track distractions seeping in for a few hours on the track could kill him, and for regular folk just putting in a days work, bringing their personal strife along for a few hours in a meeting could get them fired. That’s just a reality, but again, you are absolutely right that nobody deserves to be mocked for having personal issues like most people do at some point or another. People being human, and therefore not perfect, means that some will mock others. Happens all the time in school, offices and workplaces, and especially happens with politicians and athletes who are in the public eye. It’s not always fair or justified, and sometimes it actually is. That’s humanity for ya.

  3. Diceman (@diceman) said on 16th December 2013, 10:32

    Completely agree with this ranking. Hamilton was 2nd in my mid-season list but his second half of the season was somewhat disappointing. Good season from Lewis anyway, but there were 4 other drivers who were better.

  4. davidwhite (@davidwhite) said on 16th December 2013, 10:35

    Hulkenburg higher than Hamilton…. The world’s gone mad! I guess the Brit’s love an underdog but to say he’s been the 4th best driver this year just isn’t right.

    • AlokIn (@) said on 16th December 2013, 11:02

      +1, keen to know how Hulkenburg rated higher. Feel somewhat unfair for Lewis.

    • Eddie (@wackyracer) said on 16th December 2013, 11:15

      Yeah, if Hulkenberg is above HAM then GRO should be too, they were nowhere the first part of the season, while the second one they showed up

    • Diceman (@diceman) said on 16th December 2013, 11:22

      Hulkenberg did great job in the first half too, but the car was nowhere until Monza. Grosjean had great machinery for most part of the season, but he was pretty badly lost until Germany.

    • Sumedh said on 16th December 2013, 12:32

      It is impossible to put any driver in between Rosberg and Hamilton. The two teammates at Mercedes were so so evenly matched.

      So, if Rosberg is 6th, Hamilton would obviously be 5th. So, Hulk had to be 4th. Unless you feel that Hulk was worse than BOTH Mercedes drivers and he should be 6th with HAM and ROS 4th and 5th.

      • Toncho said on 17th December 2013, 13:50

        Rosberg gave him a good run for his money. With no team orders and a little bit more of luck (car failures) he would have ended on top.

    • I would actually agree with Keith’s rating while Hamilton has shown his talent and ability through out the season in a new team. However it wasn’t a consistent performance from him, rather we might expect more from a driver of his caliber. Hopefully he is here to show what he really got in 2014.

    • I think it’s more that we are looking harder at the underlying data (but culturally yes we do love an underdog!). Hulk’s car was the 4th worst in the first half of the season on pace and so his performances e.g. 8th in Malaysia went under the radar. Once his car was near the pace of the frontrunners, he was able to beat them e.g. 4th in Korea, qualifying 3rd in Monza. However, Raikkonen also outscored Grosjean over the year, so Grosjean can’t be as high as him despite such a stellar second half.

      All of the signs point to Hulk being a top, top driver in a top car. He’s definitely in the top 5 drivers of the season, and yet he is barely managing to stay in F1! Di Resta (he was 11th I think in my list, but his place around 9-10-11 is fully justified) however is not so lucky (despite usually being able to continue in F1 with his results in prior eras). The signs are that unless you can be a top 5 driver straight off the bat, it’s going to be nigh on impossible to get into F1 without any backing from now on. Robin Frijns is literally finding that out at the moment.

      • I also think that the data points to Hulkenberg being a very adequate replacement for Hamilton at McLaren, while Perez and Di Resta would be similarly matched behind Button where Perez was this year. I think Di Resta may scrape it over a season through consistency (if he doesn’t spin off at all that is). However, Perez is also the youngest, and may yet improve further in the next few years. Hulk would probably beat Button as well on points…

        It’ll certainly be interesting to see where Magnussen fits in come the end of the season (and once he is fully up to pace in an F1 car), relative to all these drivers. McLaren rate him as high if not higher than Hamilton from the sim data. This would point to him outpacing Button once fully comfortable in the car (second half of the season at least, if not final quarter).

        • You’re making this stuff up.

          Nowhere have you read that Mclaren rate Magnussen ‘as high if not higher than Hamilton’, time will tell if he is so but, Mclaren haven’t said so.

      • @fastiesty – All of the signs point to Hulk being a top, top driver in a top car.

        haha yeah except for the most important sign of all: “No. of Wins”!!! lol ;)

        • I still think he had a legitimate win – in a Force India – taken away in Brazil 2012 to ‘spice up the TV ratings’ with a ‘debris safety car’. Hulk’s only competition was Button and he had him in check, as he led at least half of that race (until even a while after the safety car). F1’s latest gimmicks show it is moving in the NASCAR direction… not too long until Bernie gets his wish of an ‘F1 championship chase’! Hey, if it stops Red Bull..

    • George (@george) said on 16th December 2013, 18:17

      So if a driver has a slower car he can’t possibly be better than someone with the second fastest car on the grid? Rubbish.

    • The British seem to be guilty of a lot of things then, like rating British drivers that race for McLaren highly, not rating British drivers that do not race for McLaren highly enough…

      • Yes, probably because they don’t “race British” (ironic), or maybe because Di Resta is Scottish (tender issue at the moment!).

        I think the real reason is a lack of screen time. Non-fanatics will just rate whoever wins or drives the best car as the best. It’s only logical.. only once you fully understand the sport can you see all the little intricacies that go into making the full package.

  5. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 16th December 2013, 11:50

    That’s a nice way to sum up 2013 for Hamilton. A solid learning year, a solid run of points and podium finishes, blistering qualifying pace and a cracking drive to victory in Hungary. Yes he struggled at times and Rosberg gave him a hard time, but that has to do more with Rosberg being better than most give him credit for than Hamilton underperforming. Hopefully Hamilton keeps the form going into next season.

  6. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 16th December 2013, 15:54

    To be honest I was more impressed with Rosberg, especially in the latter half of the season. Maybe I expected more from Lewis but after his win in Hungary he was largely anonymous. His first half of the season was really strong, and he’d be a lot higher if he kept it up. Still, there was very little between them in the end and it’s entirely justifiable to put Hamilton ahead.

    2014 is shaping up to be very interesting in Mercedes. Will Rosberg keep with and possibly beat Hamilton, or will Lewis in his 2nd year there clearly pull ahead in performance? I’m hoping Rosberg can keep pace, especially if Mercedes are fighting for the championship as many expect!

    • Robbie said on 16th December 2013, 20:08

      Agreed. I think it will come down to whether or not LH and NR are equally comfortable or uncomfortable with the car. If one is one, and the other is the other, then that to me is the only reason why there would be a big difference between the two. We’ll have to see how each driver likes/dislikes the new car. If the rules were the same I would have expected them to shadow each other again, but I think now we just have to wait and see as they’re on a new drawing board. Personally I have no problem with LH, but I kind of pull for NR because I am impressed with how he has handled having WDCs for teammates.

      • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 17th December 2013, 0:03

        I think you’re right. The way management of several aspects of the car will have a huge impact in performance next year, from the tyres to fuel consumption to management of the next generation KERS systems I fancy Rosberg personally to have a minor advantage. Hamilton’s a pure racer whereas Rosberg to me seems more analytical in his approach. Time will tell!

        I too am impressed how since 2009 he’s been driving very well and how he handled Schumacher during their time together and Hamilton this year.

  7. usukpam (@usukpam) said on 16th December 2013, 22:12

    This forum is so unfair to Lewis Hamilton when it comes to rating his perfomance. Keith Collantine never liked him so how can Lewis get a fair rating here. Now my questions are : 1. How many times will Lewis beat Rosberg during his life time as a pro driver for the white fellows to give Lewis some credit. 2. Tell me on what grounds should Nico Hulkenberg be rated higher than the two mercedes drivers. So Keith if you have issues with Lewis you should grow up and dont allow that influence your judgement. You did not set up this forum for a bunch of kindergarden kids ok.

    • Robbie said on 17th December 2013, 0:17

      Not trying to speak for Keith here, but imho you are out of line and it is you that are coming across as the one having issues and are talking like a 5 year old.

      Rather, why don’t you just suggest where you think he should be ranked and why…you know…like an adult would?

      • Paul Sainsbury said on 17th December 2013, 1:41

        Agreed.

        That was, frankly, an insulting post. It is clear that Keith puts a lot of thought into these ratings, and they are well-reasoned and fair. I am sure not everyone thinks they are all in their own ‘correct’ order, but I have seen nothing to suggest any of them have been influenced by anything other than the evidence.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th December 2013, 20:16

      @usukpam I have nothing against Hamilton at all.

      I’ve acknowledged Hamilton beat Rosberg more often than not but the scoreline was hardly emphatic, was it?

      I’ve stated my case for placing Hulkenberg where I did and I don’t have anything to add to it.

    • Solo (@solo) said on 16th May 2014, 14:04

      I don’t think Keith dislikes Hamilton but i do think he overly likes Vettel. He never misses a chance to defend him while he doesn’t care much to comment when a debate about other drivers occurs.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th May 2014, 14:18

        @solo

        He never misses a chance to defend him

        I’m often struck by how unrealistic a view some people have of how much time I have to spend on comments. It’s not uncommon to get a thousand per day, and finding time to read them all is a stretch, let alone filter out all the ones on a particular driver and reply to each of them.

        So, no, of course I don’t do that. And as for my preferences, as I’m bored of saying by now, I don’t play favourites.

        But I’m well aware that for all that there will always be some people he can’t be bothered to pay attention to what I actually write or have a discussion about a driver based on how they’ve performed which goes beyond a playground-level ‘you only write nice things about him because you like him’.

        • Solo (@solo) said on 17th May 2014, 10:59

          No i am certain am not wrong about this because i’ve gone threw pages in mass and is strikingly obvious when you don’t seem them threw many days and big gaps that amazingly many times when there was “Vettel is flattered from the car”, “Vettel Malaysia thing”, “Booing”, “Webber car problems to Vettel” etc type of conversations we will see you posting statistics or defending him etc. There is not even close comparison to such thing with any other type of conversation in 2013.

          I don’t know if you did it because you like the guy or simply you got annoyed by the not very warm feelings some have for a 4 times champion but you did it and that goes along with what comments of the day you liked choosing and round-up articles. You liked putting the “Vettel deserves his success, his a great fellow” articles or comments.
          Check your own comments for the 2013 year and you will see it.

  8. Xinger Mel (@xingerbelmel) said on 17th December 2013, 4:13

    I have nothing against Lewis. In fact, I like him quite a lot. Correct me if I’m wrong…I was a bit disappointed this season though he did a good job dealing with the first huge trisection in his career…disappointed not in particular of the results…but in how he was distracted…I got confused and worried as I watching him during race and after race in interviews…what I respect the most is a driver’s dedication and focus and the ability and willingness to find a way to bring out the best of the car and the team…I don’t blame him for not being like a “machine” as much as Sebastian…but I do think that apart from the car, the team, the uncontrollable conditions, the driver’s skills…there’s that dedication and intense focus not in one day but everyday that would make a champion a champion…
    I do wish him good luck in 2014:) Hopefully he can improve, along with his team.

    • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 17th December 2013, 14:30

      This was a very tricky year for Hamilton but I think he handled it exceptionally well. There were so many incidents where Hamilton could have easily said too much.

      He was fantastic on the podium in Malaysia – showed tremendous maturity by saying that Rosberg deserved to be there.

      Then he lost a victory in Silverstone where Rosberg won – again incredible maturity and team spirit.

      Then his car was slower in a straight line than most cars – again, he showed huge maturity.

      Then Rosberg spitefully slows him down unaware whether Hamilton might be fighting for P1 – not a peep from Hamilton. Mercedes is left with no choice but to ask Rosberg to make room.

      Then Rosberg’s front wing comes down and he’s racing Hamilton while his car is on fire… Not a peep from Hamilton.

      Then his car sustains damage during qualifying. Hamilton says something went, Lauda says it’s driver error. Not a peep from Hamilton despite being right.

      Then Lewis’ car starts malfunctioning and he has trouble passing Marussias – it turns out he’s had a cracked chassis. Not a peep about it from Hamilton.

      During the interviews he kept focussing on the great job the team had done and how they needed to put both cars in front as he pointed out that only 1 car seemed to do welll in a GP.

      • Xinger Mel (@xingerbelmel) said on 17th December 2013, 22:03

        yes:) I really love the fact that he keeps trying to work with his team and I do think that Mercedes could be very competitive in 2014. It was a great start for Lewis. I can imagine the transition wasn’t easy…but good luck:)

  9. Chris Greene said on 21st December 2013, 9:25

    Hamilton’s teammates so far in F1 are far superior to either Vettel’s or Alonso’s. Results look better when you have weaker teammates. Hamilton has always been on a team whose goal is to hire the best driver available. The same cannot be said about Vettel and Alonso. How did Alonso react when he had a tough teammate for once in his career? Looks like Vettel is going to go through his career and never have a teammate who is one of the elite drivers. Hamilton has been a part of the best driver pairing in 5 of his 7 years. Which driver has won the title in the last 15 years and his team did not win constructor’s title in same year? Hamilton in ’08. None of Vettel’s former teammates are in F1 anymore. That says alot, doesn’t it?

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