2014 mid-season F1 driver rankings part one: 22-13

Driver rankings

The F1 Fanatic Driver Rankings are being produced for the tenth time this year, and as usual they began with a review of how the field has fared at the mid-season point.

Here are the ten drivers in the bottom part of the list – look out for the rest in two further articles to be published later this week.

22. Marcus Ericsson

Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, Monte-Carlo, 2014Key stat: Completed the fewest racing laps of any driver so far – 466 of the 698 which have been run.

Sporting Ronnie Peterson’s helmet design in Monaco, Ericsson produced the best performance of his short F1 career to date, and gave Caterham their highest-ever finish with 11th place. Yes it was aided by retirements, but also by several of his rivals making the kind of errors he avoided, which is particularly impressive given the car he has to drive.

But that was the sole highlight of a rookie campaign which has otherwise left a lot to be desired, even when allowances are made for the serious shortcomings of his machinery. We’ve quickly grown accustomed to the sight of Ericsson climbing from the cockpit of his Caterham, for which Renault’s persistent reliability problems have only been partly to blame. Qualifying has been a particular problem – he crashed in Malaysia, Monaco (taking out Felipe Massa) and Canada – and binned it just seven laps into the last race.

21. Max Chilton

Key stat: Record run of consecutive finishes for a rookie ended in Canada – when he took out his team mate on the first lap

It’s not immediately obvious whether a year’s experience has helped Chilton raise his game all that much. He continues to be a safe pair of hands for the most part – with the obvious exception of Canada – but otherwise doesn’t distinguish himself with speed in qualifying or races.

When the chequered flag falls Chilton can usually be found a considerable distance behind his team mate and not that far ahead of Ericsson. It was telling that even when Bianchi limped home with a badly damaged floor in Hungary, Chilton still couldn’t find a way past his team mate.

20. Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014Key stat: The only driver to be issued three penalty points for a single incident, when he flipped Gutierrez in Bahrain

The same old Maldonado mistakes persist – the careless collision which put Gutierrez on his head, the clumsy spin into the barrier during qualifying in Spain. But the greater impediment to his performance this year has been the dreadful unreliability and unsympathetic handling of his Lotus.

Because of that he has been unable to set a time during Q1 on three occasions and sidelined with technical failures during races four times. He didn’t even start the race at Monaco, which is usually one of his strongest circuits. But team mate Romain Grosjean has been similarly afflicted by Lotus’s problems, and he has had the car running and finishing in higher positions.

19. Adrian Sutil

Key stat: Has finished ahead of Gutierrez more often than he has finished behind him, and vice-versa in qualifying

Sutil had a lot of trouble getting the Sauber beyond Q1 in the early part of the season, and the unco-operative chassis has rarely been a willing partner in the races either. Much of the first half of the season was an unrewarding grind, punctuated with notable lows in Monaco, where he crashed out, and Austria, where a communications error meant he was accidentally told to stop.

But a glimmer of hope appeared prior to the summer break. With FRIC now banned, Sauber seem a little more competitive, and Sutil came within a second of scoring their first point in Hungary.

18. Kamui Kobayashi

Key stat: Equalled Caterham’s best ever starting position – 14th – in Australia

After a year away, Kobayashi’s fan-funded comeback has produced only disappointment thanks largely to his uncompetitive car. Even in China, where he put one over Bianchi in the final laps, he had the incredible misfortune to be robbed of the result because the chequered flag was shown too soon.

In Monaco Bianchi caught him by surprise at Rascasse and pulled off a pass which eventually gave Marussia a valuable two-point lead over Caterham in the constructors’ championship. The team may rue Kobayashi not being a bit more aggressive on that occasion, but more often than not it’s been the car which has let him down.

17. Esteban Gutierrez

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2014Key stat: Gained more places on lap one than any other driver: 26 (an average gain of 2.4 places)

Gutierrez has shown Sutil the way in qualifying and would probably have scored Sauber’s first points in Hungary had his energy recovery system not failed. Some poor luck also explains which his finishing record is not quite as good as his team mates – the collision with Maldonado in Bahrain, and Sauber’s pit error in Austria.

Yet it’s hard to shake the impression that, though the C33 is undoubtedly one of Sauber’s worst cars, it is capable of more than either of its drivers have extracted so far.

16. Felipe Massa

Key stat: Has retired on the first lap on three occasions

Massa has missed out on several points-scoring opportunities due to misfortune: he was blameless when he was hit by Ericsson during qualifying in Monaco, in his last-lap tangle with Sergio Perez at Montreal, and in the start-line crashes at Melbourne and Silverstone. But that’s not the whole explanation for why he has less than half his team mate’s points haul at mid-season.

On other occasions having started well he simply tried to make too much of the advantage, leading to tangles with Fernando Alonso in China and, most dramatically, with Kevin Magnussen in Germany. But most worrying for Massa are the increasingly common days when Valtteri Bottas has been just plain quicker than him.

15. Daniil Kvyat

Key stat: Toro Rosso is the only team where each driver has finished in front of the other the same number of times

There’s very little to choose between the Toro Rosso pair, and that reflects very well on the latest product of Red Bull’s junior driver programme. Despite a disrupted testing programme, including one day at Jerez when he didn’t get on the circuit at all, Kvyat scored in three of the first four races on unfamiliar tracks. He then used recent circuit experience to good effect at the Red Bull Ring, lining up seventh on the grid, only to be sidelined by one of Toro Rosso’s many car problems.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing – he ruined his race in Germany with a rash move on Perez, and the Hungarian weekend was a complete write-off. But he has more than justified Red Bull’s surprise decision to promote him.

14. Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2014Key stat: Sixth in Hungary was his best finish so far – Alonso has only finished lower than that once

Niggling problems during practice have been a feature of Raikkonen’s season so far, and that can’t have helped his qualifying and race day performances. But even making allowances for that, and the inevitable adjustment period involved when a driver switches teams, Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari has evoked more memories of his poor 2009 campaign than his 2007 championship victory.

At times it’s seemed as if his F14 T had been fitted with a Magnussen magnet, but while the McLaren driver bore responsibility for their tangles in Malaysia and Bahrain, the Monaco collision was down to Raikkonen. This began a poor run of races which included tenth places at Montreal (where he spun) and the Red Bull Ring, his nasty (and self-inflicted) smash at Silverstone, and a bruising encounter with several rivals at the Hockenheimring.

However he was happier with his car’s handling in Germany and that served as a springboard for his best performance of the season so far in Hungary, where he finished sixth despite being eliminated in Q1 due to an error by his team. Better days seem to lie ahead.

13. Jean-Eric Vergne

Key stat: Has the most retirements due to car failure of any driver: five

It’s a case of deja vu for Jean-Eric Vergne – at the mid-point of the season he’s had more mechanical failures than any other driver, which also happened last year. This has plainly affected his ability to score points, such as in Malaysia where he reached Q3 but had a power unit problem at the start of the race.

Car failures aren’t the only way he’s been let down by his team. In Spain a wheel came off his car during practice, leading to a grid penalty, and in Monaco having qualified seventh a pit release error led to a penalty. Wet weather conditions seem to bring out the best in him, as in Hungary where he got ahead of Nico Rosberg at the restart. Kvyat is certainly keeping him honest but Vergne narrowly has the upper hand at the moment despite his many misfortunes.

The next part of the rankings will be published tomorrow.

How the rankings are produced

Among the data referred to in producing the ranks 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 do you think these ten drivers have performed so far in 2014?

Have your say in the comments.

Images © Caterham/LAT, Lotus/LAT, Sauber, Ferrari/spa

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118 comments on 2014 mid-season F1 driver rankings part one: 22-13

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  1. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 12th August 2014, 12:31

    I’ve been waiting for this Keith, and your ratings seem to be incredibly fair so far. They do differ slightly from mine, however, but that just comes down to personal opinion really.

    I did think long and hard about my ratings and my 22 are posted below:

    22: Ericsson
    21: Maldonado
    20: Chilton
    19: Gutierrez
    18: Sutil
    17: Perez
    16: Raikkonen
    15: Massa
    14: Kobayashi
    13: Bianchi
    12: Magnussen
    11: Kvyat
    10: Vergne
    09: Button
    08: Grosjean
    07: Vettel
    06: Rosberg
    05: Bottas
    04: Hulkenberg
    03: Hamilton
    02: Alonso
    01: Ricciardo

    I look forward to seeing the rest of these!

    • Rosberg ahead of Bottas and Hulk. He has only made minor mistakes while Bottas crashed in Australia and Hulk took out Perez in Germany/ Hungary.

    • Sven (@crammond) said on 12th August 2014, 13:24

      @craig-o I´ll just use your text, since I wouldn´t want to word it any differently, and change some little things in the ratings:

      I’ve been waiting for this Keith, and your ratings seem to be incredibly fair so far. They do differ slightly from mine, however, but that just comes down to personal opinion really.

      I did think long and hard about my ratings and my 22 are posted below:

      22: Maldonado
      21: Ericsson
      20: Chilton
      19: Gutierrez
      18: Raikkonen
      17: Sutil
      16: Perez
      15: Kobayashi
      14: Magnussen
      13: Massa
      12: Bianchi
      11: Kvyat
      10: Grosjean
      09: Vettel
      08: Vergne
      07: Rosberg
      06: Hamilton
      05: Button
      04: Bottas
      03: Hülkenberg
      02: Alonso
      01: Ricciardo

      I look forward to seeing the rest of these!

    • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 12th August 2014, 15:32

      @craig-o – Here are my rankings for the season…

      22: Ericsson
      21: Chilton
      20: Maldonado
      19: Sutil
      18: Gutierrez
      17: Kobayashi
      16: Raikkonen
      15: Massa
      14: Perez
      13: Button
      12: Bianchi
      11: Magnussen
      10: Grosjean
      09: Vergne
      08: Vettel
      07: Kvyat
      06: Hulkenberg
      05: Rosberg
      04: Bottas
      03: Hamilton
      02: Ricciardo
      01: Alonso

      Put simply – if you’re in the top twelve you’ve impressed me at some point this season.

    • Paul (@frankjaeger) said on 12th August 2014, 23:54

      I bloody love these!

      22. Ericsson
      21. Chilton
      20. Maldonado
      19. Sutil
      18. Gutierrez
      17. Bianchi
      16. Kobayashi
      15. Jean Eric-Vergne
      14. Massa
      13. Raikonnen
      12. Kyvatt
      11. Perez
      10. Magnussen
      9. Grosjean
      8. Button
      7. Hulkenberg
      6. Vettel
      5. Rosberg
      4. Bottas
      3. Hamilton
      2. Alonso
      1. Ricciardo

    • Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair) said on 13th August 2014, 0:20

      @craig-o These are my rankings halfway through the season:
      22: Maldonado
      21: Ericsson
      20: Gutierrez
      19: Sutil
      18: Chilton
      17: Kobayashi
      16: Raikkonen
      15: Perez
      14: Massa
      13: Magnussen
      12: Button
      11: Vettel
      10: Bianchi
      09: Grosjean
      08: Kvyat
      07: Vergne
      06: Rosberg
      05: Hulkenberg
      04: Bottas
      03: Hamilton
      02: Ricciardo
      01: Alonso
      The bottom four drivers are rubbish.
      Chilton needs to stop driving slowly and start being aggressive.
      Raikkonen and Vettel have been disappointing this season.
      Massa needs to improve his consistency.
      Magnussen has potential but needs to start using it.
      Anyone in the top 10 has impressed me so far this season.

      • Alex (@axmaxone) said on 13th August 2014, 14:00

        Can’t be bothered doing them all but here’s my top 10:
        1. Ricciardo
        2. Bottas
        3. Hulkenberg
        4. Alonso
        5. Rosberg (has been slower than Hamilton but has made no mistakes)
        6. Hamilton
        7. Bianchi
        8. Massa (has had a lot of bad luck)
        9. Vergne
        10. Kvyat

  2. Dr. Jekyll (@dr-jekyll) said on 12th August 2014, 12:32

    a sad day/season as a Swede and Kimi fan…

    Here’s hoping for the second half of the season and next season turns out better!

    (I’m expecting Bottas high up on the list though, so I have that to look forward to at least)

  3. Connor McDonagh (@conmcdonaghf1) said on 12th August 2014, 12:32

    Raikkonen ahead of Massa? I don’t agree with that.

    Raikkonen on average, has qualified nine tenths behind Alonso and has yet to finish ahead of him in a race situation. Massa on the other hand, has been on average, less than a tenth behind Bottas and the pace between the two drivers are fairly close more often than not – certainly closer than that at Ferrari.

    Canada he spun himself, Silverstone it was his mistake which took himself and Massa out. Rookie mistakes really. I personally think, Raikkonen should be lower down.

  4. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 12th August 2014, 12:37

    I’d argue that Gutierrez does not deserve to be placed ahead of Kobayashi, but then I am being extremely biased.

  5. Jarnooo (@jarnooo) said on 12th August 2014, 12:38

    Raikkonen should be lower.

    I hope Toro Rosso don’t drop Vergne for next season. He’s a talent who’s been very unlucky. But I have a feeling somebody younger will take his place next season. Hope he gets a seat somewhere else.

  6. PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 12th August 2014, 12:46

    Agree with pretty much all of these, though maybe I’d switch Raikkonen and Kvyat around. As I say, for everything else I totally agree.

    Ericsson has definitely been the stone-wall worst driver on the grid, with Chilton being easily the next worst. Maldonado has been absolutely demolished by his team mate. In-fact, all three of these guys are getting beaten heavily by their respective team mates.

    Koboyashi has been also unremarkable in the unremarkable Caterham, but has simply battered his team mate, as you’d expect one to do against a rookie.

    Gutierrez hasn’t exactly been good, but he is out performing Sutil for the most part, and there seems to be more to come, though how much is questionable.

    Massa has been a huge disappointment. Yes he has had some good performances, but he’s got himself caught up in so many issues that it’s starting to get a bit worrying that it may continue all season.

    Raikkonen I think has been the disappointment of the season. So much was said before the season started of the Alonso/Raikkonen battle, but it has been an absolute slaughter in the way of one man. As I said, personally I would put Raikkonen bellow Kvyat, simply because he is a rookie and doing very well.

    Both Kvyat and Vergne could occupy the same spot in the table for me. Vergne does edge it though for some great performances. Whilst Kvyat has been the standout rookie, he’s also made a few mistakes, rookie mistakes, but mistakes all the same, where as Vergne has been as solid as he’s been for every season he’s been in the sport.

    Sutil has been very unremarkable again, and as Keith says rightly, very poor in qualifying. Whilst Sutil has had the upper hand in races, the fact his team mate is only in his second year makes you think Sutil really needs to pull his finger out.

    It’ll be interesting to see who’s in the next section. I imagine the likes of Grosjean, Perez, Button, Magnussen and Bianchi to be there, Bottas maybe as well.

    My top 5 so far are:
    5. Hulkenberg
    4. Rosberg
    3. Hamilton
    2. Ricciardo
    1. Alonso

    I think this season there has been a definite top 2, and there’s probably a 3-6 including Bottas, which could all be rotated into order. (So that would be HAM, ROS, HUL, BOT) for any order from 3-6. Button 7th.

  7. Todfod (@todfod) said on 12th August 2014, 12:51

    Usually don’t disagree with Keith’s rankings but I definitely have a different opinion on a few of those…

    1) Maldonado was the worst driver on the grid. Considering the number of years he’s spent in the sport, he drove worse than a rookie. And he has been comprehensively destroyed by his teammate.

    2) Felipe Massa hasn’t been that poor. He made some 1st lap and last lap errors (Canada), but he has been the only driver other than a Merc driver to take pole this year, and has been pretty close to his highly rated teammate on numerous occassions. I would place him at #13 at worst

    3) How on earth is JEV in front of Kvyat??? Kvyat has been far more impressive in the race and quali. He has made a few rookie errors, but there is no way he deserves to be this low. He has been more impressive than Magnussen in his rookie year

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 12th August 2014, 12:56

      For me the 22 to 13 would look like –

      22. Maldonado
      21. Ericcson
      20. Chilton
      19. Sutil
      18. Guttierez
      17. Jean Eric Vergne
      16. Kobayashi
      15. Raikkonnen
      14. Magnussen
      13. Massa

    • Jarnooo (@jarnooo) said on 12th August 2014, 13:48

      I think your opinions of Maldonado and JEV are skewed by their car’s failures. The amount of times Maldo hasn’t been able to put in a time in quali of even start the race is very high and JEV, as Keith pointed out, has had the most unreliability in the race than anyone.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th August 2014, 17:57

      @todfod

      Considering the number of years he’s spent in the sport, he drove worse than a rookie. And he has been comprehensively destroyed by his team mate.

      I understand where you’re coming from but their level of experience doesn’t have any bearing on my rankings. There are plenty of difficult variables to assess as it is without also making allowances for their career histories!

    • Tyler (@tdog) said on 13th August 2014, 1:20

      How on earth is JEV in front of Kvyat??? Kvyat has been far more impressive in the race and quali

      @todfod JEV is ahead of Kvyat on world championship points, despite having the greater share of mechanical misfortune. He has outqualified the Russian 6-5. Vergne has a narrow, but clear lead on laps led (222-193). In the four races they have both finished, the score is 2-2 as to who finished ahead.

      What metric are you using to conclude that Kvyat has been “far more impressive”?

  8. I think it’s a fair standing, in which, I mostly agree. Kvyat may need a place higher in my own opinion, but has he done better than Raikkonen, it’s difficult to judge.

    Magnussen and Perez certainly sits 12th & 11th respectively, there.

  9. Who’d have thought that the former Ferrari duo of Raikkonen and Massa would be rated at 14th and 16th best on the grid before their careers were over…(although it is just an opinion rating)

    Agree for the most part although in defence of the heavier drivers in some teams (Ericsson, Sutil, Vergne) i would tend to rate them a bit higher on the basis they have been losing time to their team-mates for at least part of the season. I also think Massa is a few places low (but only a few) although it depends how you view his various collisions….

    • Sam Andrew said on 12th August 2014, 14:20

      Indeed it makes you wonder just how much quicker the Ferrari was in 2007 / 2008 with Kimi/Massa behind the wheel for them to compete with the McLaren in the hands of Alonso/Hamilton.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 12th August 2014, 15:01

        I don’t think it does. Times simply change.

      • I think it’s fair to say that Massa/Raikkonen were performing at a much higher level in 2007/2008 than the first half of 2014. Massa has been on a downward slide for a long time, but Raikkonen’s drop-off was much more sudden. I expect Raikkonen in particular to improve significantly in the second half of the season as he gets the car in his preferred working zone.

      • Breno (@austus) said on 12th August 2014, 22:39

        I think Alonso has improved, while Massa has gotten worse. I wonder if Raikkonen is simply having a bad moment, in a generation that doesnt suit him, in a bad car (not that I rate him as highly as Alonso).

  10. BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th August 2014, 13:06

    Maybe a tad surprising to find Massa as far down. On the other hand, he is in a car that is at least the 4th fastest this year and on occasions clearly top 2, and he has let us down with ill-judged moves that reminded us more of Hamilton tangling with Massa at almost every second race (impression not reality) in 2011 than the driver he was at his peak, or even in part of the last season after it was announce he would be replaced.

    Also I am inclined to exchange Kvyat and Kimi, because the latter has achieved less and threw away more with a car that is better than the young Russian has in his rookie season. But its by small margins and does not really make a difference in the grander picture

  11. frood19 (@frood19) said on 12th August 2014, 13:11

    i would have had raikkonen lower (too many silly errors). i’m glad massa is down there too. button and magnussen must scrape into the top 12 – neither have been consistent enough. vergne and kyvat could conceivably be higher than the mclaren pair.

    • Alex (@axmaxone) said on 13th August 2014, 14:28

      Raikkonen’s only costly mistakes were Australia Qualifying and Silverstone Race, his spins in Canada were caused by engine settings according to Ferrari (http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/114524).

      His season hasn’t been brilliant but could look a lot better without Magnussen, Chilton and constant late first pit-stops which again and again put him on the back foot and reverse his early progress as he struggles to qualify higher up the grid.
      Australia: Genuinely out-classed by Alonso
      Malaysia: Magnussen hits him at start, shows great race pace that may have seen him fight in top 5.
      Bahrain: Race Pace a match for Alonso, just never got in a position where he could fight after a slow start (no bad luck here really)
      China: OK that was bad. But, being unhappy with the front end never helps at Shanghai
      Spain: Given inferior strategy to Fernando so loses inter-team battle
      Monaco: Hit by Chilton under SC, granted he throws away the 2 points he could’ve got later but without Chilton, he was on for podium
      Canada: Was directly behind Alonso before stops, then loses positions and time during pit stop phase, engine setting problem later causes spin
      Austria: Pits on average 0.8s slower than Alonso’s, like in Canada, unable to progress due to late pit-stop calls and then slow stops
      Silverstone: Error causes crash
      Germany: Late pit-stop calls yet again halt early race progress, two minor knocks to his front-wing loses him pace
      Hungary: Bad call by Ferrari in Hungary, yes he was slower than Alonso, but was not slow enough to qualify 17th, still recovers to 6th matching Alonso’s pace during the race.

      Even if more things had gone right for Raikkonen, Alonso would still have outclassed him, but I just want to highlight that the points don’t tell all of the story.

  12. F1ismydrug (@f1ismydrug) said on 12th August 2014, 13:13

    Suprised with Keith’s rankings, usually I don’t disagree with him but not in this case:

    1) Didn´t expect to see Kvyat or Vergne so down in the rankings . For me so far both have been clearly more consistent and matured than Magnussen, Raikkonen, Grosjean or Massa (Kvyat has been more impressive than Magnussen in his rookie year) and on the same level as drivers Perez or Button.

    2) Although Bottas has the upper hand on Massa, the Brazilian has driven far better than Raikkonen (also fewer mistakes) so can´t understand why he is bellow in the rankings.

    My ten drivers in the bottom part would be
    22. Ericcson
    21. Chilton
    20. Maldonado
    19. Sutil
    18. Guttierez
    17. Kobayashi
    16. Raikkonen
    15. Magnussen
    14. Grosjean
    13. Massa

  13. Deej92 (@deej92) said on 12th August 2014, 13:24

    Everyone has their own order and opinions on this so I won’t argue with this. I do think the Toro Rosso pair have done a good enough job to make my top 12.

    22. Ericsson
    21. Chilton
    20. Kobayashi
    19. Sutil
    18. Maldonado
    17. Gutierrez
    16. Raikkonen
    15. Magnussen
    14. Massa
    13. Grosjean

  14. Girts (@girts) said on 12th August 2014, 13:40

    I fully agree with Chilton’s ranking but I read an interview with him a couple of months ago (in Motorsport Aktuell) where he claimed that he often got worse equipment than Bianchi. Given Marussia’s tiny budget, it sounds plausible. I cannot know how much impact it has actually had on Chilton’s performance but probably it makes him look worse than he actually is.

  15. For me there is no way Raikkonen should be higher up the order than Massa.

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