Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Albert Park, 2014

2014 mid-season F1 driver rankings part two: 12-6

Driver rankingsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

The mid-season driver rankings continue with part two – you can read part one here.

12. Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez, Force India, Red Bull Ring, 2014Key stat: Scored Force India’s best result with third in Bahrain but only had one other top-eight finish

By a stroke of fortune, having left ‘top team’ McLaren for ‘midfield team’ Force India, Perez arguably now has a more competitive car underneath him. But while his team mate heads both McLaren drivers in the points, Perez is behind the pair of them. This has largely been down to some sub-par qualifying performances – getting his tyres up to temperature has been the problem on more than one occasion, notably at Silverstone and Barcelona.

He has, however, given Force India their biggest payday so far in terms of points by getting on the podium in Bahrain, passing Nico Hulkenberg along the way. He was in fine form in Austria, too, leading on his way to sixth, a gain of nine places over his starting position.

Part of the reason he started so low down on that occasion was his penalty from the previous race, where he had been on course for another big points haul before unwisely deviating from the racing line in the braking zone as Felipe Massa moved to pass him on the last lap. Up against a team mate of Hulkenberg’s calibre and with Force India aiming for the top five, he can’t afford to squander points like that.

11. Kevin Magnussen

Key stat: Made it into Q3 eight times – twice more than Button has

Being the first rookie to make his F1 debut for McLaren since Lewis Hamilton, expectations were inevitably high for Magnussen. Astonishingly he met them in his first race, taking third place in Australia which became second after Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion.

The keys to that result were an error-free driver on a track he’d never raced on before and an excellent qualifying performance, the latter being an area where he has impressed compared to his world champion team mate. He was fourth on the grid again in Germany, but his race was ruined at the first corner by Felipe Massa.

With McLaren having produced another indifferent machine, their new driver has usually been found plugging away in the midfield. There have been blips along the way, including contact with Kimi Raikkonen in Malaysia and Bahrain, and a hefty smash in the rain-hit qualifying session in Hungary. But on the whole Magnussen has coped well with being thrown in at the deep end.

10. Jules Bianchi

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Monte-Carlo, 2014Key stat: Scored Marussia’s first ever points with ninth place in Monaco

The stand-out moment of Bianchi’s season so far was, of course, ending Marussia’s three-year wait (plus two years as Virgin) for a point in Monaco. He managed it by elbowing Kamui Kobayashi out of the way at Rascasse in a brilliantly opportunistic move.

But there have been other occasions when Bianchi his proved his talent deserves to be put in a more competitive machine. In a wet qualifying session at Silverstone he took Marussia to new heights with 12th on the grid, and in Hungary demonstrated he is the team’s quickest driver even in a badly wounded car.

It bears remembering that he began the year with a couple of rash incidents in Malaysia (with Jean-Eric Vergne) and Bahrain (with Adrian Sutil), but that’s pretty much all to count against him so far. He’s building a solid case for Ferrari to finally promote him to the very top.

9. Romain Grosjean

Key stat: Qualified 4.5 places higher than his team mate on average – the best of any driver

At times, Grosjean’s driving has been capable of making even the sinfully ugly Lotus E22 a joy to behold. Dragging the unworthy car to fifth on the grid at the Circuit de Catalunya, and eighth at the chequered flag despite yet another power unit problem, ranks as one the best giant-killing performances of the year.

He repeated that result at Monaco and remains the sole contributor to Lotus’s points tally. Arguably just as impressive as his points-scoring feats was his performance in Malaysia, where despite a major handling imbalance due to a broken diffuser he resisted pressure from Raikkonen to finish 11th.

Lotus have struggled to make further gains in recent races, and the FRIC ban clearly hasn’t helped. And Grosjean took the shine off an otherwise excellent first-half performance by spinning off during a Safety Car period in Hungary.

8. Jenson Button

Key stat: In the ten races where both McLarens finished, Button was ahead eight times

Button has consistently got the job done for McLaren this year and it will be to the frustration of both that occasional opportunities for much better results have narrowly passed them by. Such as in Hungary, where he was the first driver into the pits during the first Safety Car period – and the team made the baffling decision to put him on intermediate tyres.

Australia was another such missed opportunity – Button backed off for Raikkonen’s crash during Q2 and failed to make the cut. That meant it was his team mate who scored the team’s best result of the year so far, though Button made his way up from tenth to finish behind him.

Button has usually spearheaded challenge of the ‘other’ silver cars, notably on home ground at Silverstone where he claimed an excellent third on the grid in damp qualifying positions and narrowly missed out on a podium finish. He was fourth in Canada as well after springing a double-pass on Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg.

7. Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Hockenheimring, 2014Key stat: Ricciardo has been in front of Vettel for 267 laps, Vettel has been in front of Ricciardo for 260 laps

People sat up and took notice when the world champion team ended Mercedes’ dominance in Canada because it wasn’t their world champion driver who won the race. Vettel had been leading team mate Daniel Ricciardo but came out of his second pit stop in traffic, giving his team mate to jump ahead and eventually claim the win.

That was one of several reminders this year that the comfortable margin Vettel once enjoyed over his team mate is a thing of the past. He’s looked uncomfortable at the wheel of the RB10 even when it has been working – which all too often it hasn’t.

His races in Australia, Monaco and Austria were scuppered by technical problems, and further glitches hampered his qualifying efforts on other occasions. But cancelling these out would not tip the qualifying scoreline (7-4 to Ricciardo) or race results (6-1 to Ricciardo) decisively in Vettel’s favour. Vettel has admitted Ricciardo has done a better job with a car he hasn’t fully got to grips with yet.

Partly because his team mate has driven so well, and partly because we have come to expect so much from Vettel, it’s been easy to overlooked some of his better moments this year. Such as coming within five-hundredths of a second of taking pole position off Lewis Hamilton in the rain in Malaysia, or battling from 15th on the grid to finish fourth in Spain. But there is no denying Ricciardo has him under the kosh, and how he responds will be one of the fascinating storylines of the second half of the season.

6. Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Albert Park, 2014Key stat: Has the best qualifying scoreline against his team mate: 9-2 (Alonso has the same over Raikkonen)

Having been passed over by too many top teams Hulkenberg must be drawing some satisfaction from having his new team mate and former McLaren driver comfortably handled so far. But it’s not been as one-sided at Force India as some expected.

Hulkenberg had been piling up the points until the last race in Hungary, where exuberance seemed to get the better of him in the kind of damp conditions where he usually excels. Having just passed Sebastian Vettel at the restart he went wide at turn five and later collided with his team mate.

Until then he had been a model of points-scoring consistency and the bedrock of Force India’s best season so far. A regular in Q3 and a fixture in the points, the only question mark over Hulkenberg’s performances this year is how Perez managed to get the car into stronger finishing positions on occasions, such as in Bahrain and Austria.

The final part of the rankings will be published on Friday.

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 seven drivers have performed so far in 2014?

Have your say in the comments.

Images © Force India, Marussia, Red Bull/Getty

76 comments on “2014 mid-season F1 driver rankings part two: 12-6”

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  1. But there is no denying Ricciardo has him under the kosh

    Does he? The only races where Ricciardo was actually faster than Vettel and beat Vettel on merit were Bahrein, China and Austria. Although in Austria Vettel’s race was over pretty quickly but Ricciardo looked faster there all weekend.
    In all the other races Vettel either had problems with the car or had other events turn his race upside down.
    Vettel could have just as easily won Canada if the team had used a strategy for him that didn’t involve getting stuck in a group of slow cars that are very fast on the straights.
    Vettel could have just as easily won Hungary if the SC had come out about 5 seconds earlier.
    Vettel could have been 3rd in Silverstone if the team had managed a good sub 3 second pitstop like they normally do instead of the the 3+ second pitstop which saw Vettel come out of the pits just 3 tenths ahead of a Ferrari that’s about 5 tenths faster in a straight line with DRS and had warm tyres.

    It’s not a whole lot of if and buts, it’s one ‘little’ thing that sees Vettel lose a race and Ricciardo win it.
    Ricciardo has done a superb job. All things considered there’s very little between him and Vettel. That’s an achievement in itself. But this article is making it sound like Vettel is being schooled by the new kid. He isn’t, not even close.

    This ranking also suggests Hamilton and Rosberg are driving better than Vettel or Hulkenberg at the moment. I take serious offense to that. Personally I wouldn’t place either of the Mercedes driver’s in the top 10 even. Their season has, so far, been riddled with mistakes. Small ones and big ones. Vettel and Hulkenberg have made far less mistakes combined than either of the Mercedes drivers have made so far.
    Vettel had two spins, one in P3 Bahrein which damaged his floor and the one in Hungary which pretty much sealed his already ruined by SC race.
    Hulkenberg hit Perez in a really clumsy move in Hungary. That’s about it really.
    Now compare that to the Mercedes driver’s. If lost count at how many times Hamilton has messed up qualifying. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “this track is Hamilton’s track, he will get pole easy”, well, I would have gotten at least a few nickels…
    And Rosberg has been outqualified quite a few times,.. By other cars… How does that happen…
    Seriously though. Both Rosberg and Hamilton have made plenty of mistakes already. And I suppose they should be given some room for error being in a tight battle for the championship and all but I can’t remember Vettel making this many mistakes in 2012 or 2010 for that matter.
    In fact, based on that I’d say the Hamilton from 2007 was far better than the Hamilton today. What mistakes did he make that year? Defying Alonso? Listening to his team by staying out in China on destroyed tyres? Maybe, I can’t really fault him for that. Aside from that I can’t really remember anything he did wrong that year.
    And he was just one point away of winning the title that year. It doesn’t get any closer than that… Besides deciders on countback of course.

    1. It was only in Austria and Silverstone that Hamilton made mistakes so i don’t know why are you saying that he made plenty of errors.

    2. It’s not a whole lot of if and buts, it’s one ‘little’ thing that sees Vettel lose a race and Ricciardo win it.
      Ricciardo has done a superb job. All things considered there’s very little between him and Vettel. That’s an achievement in itself. But this article is making it sound like Vettel is being schooled by the new kid. He isn’t, not even close.

      Man… I would love to read your opinion after this race in Spa…

      Vettel was, literally, destroyed in all levels by Daniel and if I would use a word to define their fight this weekend, I think “schooled” would be really appropriated.


  2. I’ve added to my post yesterday:
    22.Chilton: Continues to perform at a very low standard.
    21.Ericsson: Some excuses for the rookie, but not a lot of potential is shown.
    20.Maldonado: It is not just his recklessness, he has also been massively off the pace.
    19.Sutil: Just been very mediocre, but at least he has had his moments.
    18.Kobayashi: Personally, I never understood the buzz around this guy. Beating his teammate though.
    17.Gutierrez: Ahead of Sutil, but that isn’t saying much. He is good in the wet at least.
    16.Raikkonen: Very disappointing. Unlucky, but still the worst season by a World champion I’ve seen.
    15.Massa: Similar to Raikkonen, but has been closer to the pace.
    14.Magnussen: Showing a lot of potential, but hasn’t made best use of it yet. Promising start to career.
    13.Kvyat: Close to his teammate. Only rookie to have earned his place next year by this point.
    12.Perez: Closer to Hülkenberg in races than expected, but won’t be a top driver with qualifying like that.
    11.Vergne: His form has been good this year and I think he has earned a place higher up the grid.
    10.Bianchi: Fantastic performances throughout the year, but probably due to his car, they aren’t that often.
    9.Button: Good but not great. Picking up the points, but not strong enough to lead Mclaren’s resurgence.
    8.Grosjean: Smashed his teammate so far, but has had a few bad moments. Deserves better.
    7.Vettel: Solid, but moments where he has been a shadow of himself. There have been glimpses though.
    6.Hülkenberg: Exceptionally consistent, but hasn’t really shown the killer instinct yet.

    1. i agree with you. Hulk need the killer instinct. perez got a podium and Marcus needs too show alot now. as a swede i want him to perform and get a second season but so far he hasnt impressed me

  3. 1. Hamilton
    2. Alonso
    3. Ricciardo
    4. Rosberg
    5. Bottas

    There have been more memorable drives from Lewis more than anyone else this year, mainly due to forces beyond his control. The mental strength it takes to come back from his misfortunes have been severly underrated. Alonso has been phonomenal in an oversteeringunderpowered piece of junk. Riccardo is dead even with fernando to me, but not as consistent from race to race. Rosberg has been very prost like, doing just enough to consisently get good finishes, his speed needs to improve if he wants the title. Counting on hams car breaking every race isn’t feasable. Bottas has made some incredible passes and bonehead rookie mistakes but his raw pace is as high as anyone in F1. Honerable mention to K Mag(who has been faster then jenson but much more mistake prone), Hulk(in my opinion would be the best #2 for a top team if the ham alo vet trio was the number 1), and Vettel(wo I’ve never thought was hands down the best even with all the victories.

    1. Too add about Seb, he had the most t unlearn this year with the way the red bull worked in 2013, he could stomp the pedal much earlier than everyone else and its very difficult to unlearn you technique. He doesn’t adapt to the car as well as say alonso, but once he gets rolling its a tough train to stop. His determination has never been in question and I expect him to try to beat daniel into the ground over the 2nd half of the season. What’s inside gets revealed during tough times not god ones, now we will get to see what seb is really made of. I’m excited, he’s a hell of a driver and now he will be more focused then ever. Great compeditors love being doubted more tha praised and I’m sure Seb will be up for the challenge. Cuz Dan is. While I’m at it Rosberg has also shown more grit in him than I thought he had. His “mistake” in monaco, pushing Lews wide 1st turn in Canada and obvious annoyance at not being able t pass ham on he last lap at the hungaroring showed me how much he really wants this. I didn’t think he could be ruthless and he is. Gloves are coming off 2nd half of the season and I wouldn’t be surprised with whatever happens, Senna Prost suzuka comes to mind. The 1st one not the retalitation by Senna.

  4. I don’t see Hamilton top. Rosberg should surely be below him. Bottas has come good but as he wasn’t stellar to begin with I imagine he might be 5th.

  5. I’ll contribute my rankings here.

    22 – Marcus Ericsson: A rather anonymous performance all round. Most of his TV coverage has come as a result of causing incidents.

    21 – Max Chilton: Again, thoroughly outshone by Jules Bianchi. Decent start to the season, but Bianchi has exerted his authority since.

    20 – Kamui Kobayashi: A driver that I feel is overhyped. Unspectacular performances in an unspectacular car.

    19 – Pastor Maldonado: He has lived up to his reputation of crashing, with handsome contributions from his car’s torrid handling.

    18 – Adrian Sutil: Penalised by his weight, but this season has cemented my impression that he is a forever midfield driver.

    17 – Esteban Gutierrez: His qualifying has improved since last season, but he has failed to outshine the average Sutil.

    16 – Kimi Räikkönen: A thoroughly disappointing performance. Alonso has comprehensively beaten him, even considering for his greater degree of unreliability.

    15 – Felipe Massa: With the equipment he possesses, and with a renewed opportunity to recapture the form of 2008, I can only say I am disappointed by his performance. His qualifying effort was stellar in Austria, but besides that Bottas has outperformed him, as Massa has involved himself in incidents.

    14 – Sergio Perez: He started off the season being a real threat to Hülkenberg, but the latter’s consistency has showed its hand. But Perez has had the more eye-catching performances in Bahrain and in Canada (prior to the incident).

    13 – Kevin Magnussen: Started out very convincingly, but has since faded into a number two role behind Button. No doubt he is still a promising talent for the future, but if it was points they were after McLaren would have been better invested signing Hülkenberg.

    12 – Daniil Kvyat: A rookie who for the large part has looked like he has had several years experience. In a more reliable car, he would have been a consistent points scorer.

    11 – Jean-Eric Vergne: He has just edged Kvyat (and has suffered more from Renault issues), but still seems to be inferior to Ricciardo.

    10 – Romain Grosjean: He ranks ahead of the Toro Rosso drivers purely on the basis of keeping motivation despite his issues and for having to take the lead of the team.

    9 – Jules Bianchi: What else can I say but Ferrari, you hired the wrong man.

    8 – Jenson Button: Started the season in the most horrible circumstances having lost his father, but has shown great resilience and consistency. Qualifying remains his weakness, however.

    7 – Sebastian Vettel: His season hasn’t been as bad as many have suggested – unreliability and strategic errors costing him results ahead of Ricciardo – but he definitely needs to up his game. Clearly hurting from the loss of the blown diffuser, which became such an integral part of his driving style.

    6 – Nico Hülkenberg: He misses out on a top 5 spot on the basis that Perez has had the more eye-catching performances. But he has displayed all the credentials required to win championships yet again.

    5 – Nico Rosberg: It’s not been perfect, but his lead in the standings is a testament to the fact that he has not been swept away by Hamilton and has held his own, even if he has had generous helpings from unreliability on the other side of the garage.

    4 – Lewis Hamilton: Suprisingly, qualifying has often been his weakness this season. His run of form at the start of the season however to out-do Rosberg – particularly in Bahrain – edges him ahead of his teammate.

    3 – Valterri Bottas: Threw away a great opportunity for a high points score in Australia, but since then has displayed immense promise. In the right conditions, a win is certainly on the cards.

    2 – Daniel Ricciardo: Well, his season has been nothing short of spectacular. To be ahead of a four time champion – no matter the circumstances – is a massive achievement. His two wins have been largely based on luck, but he has seized the opportunity.

    1 – Fernando Alonso: He will just not give up. Relentlessly consistent, ruthless in battles and has trounced his champion teammate as if he were a pay driver.

    1. “…which became such an integral part of his driving style…”

      Good point.

      Must be fascinating to see from inside how Vettel are coping with that, because I think he’ll have to reinvent himself as a driver.

      When we drive in high leve, we perceive that what make us faster or slower than other driver is just a tiny detail. I bet that in F1 this margin of who is faster or slower must be even tinier than in a amatuer level.

  6. These are my rankings halfway through the season:
    22: Maldonado – Keeps crashing all the time and is way off the pace of Grosjean. Grumpy attitude and is only in F1 due to his PDVSA money.
    21: Ericsson – Also crashed a lot during this season and has probably costed Caterham a lot of money, he needs to improve considerably.
    20: Gutierrez – Slow driver and makes errors at crucial points which has costed Sauber points, e.g Monaco 2014. The car has let him down, but I doubt Gutierrez is driving it to its full potential.
    19: Sutil – Slow like Gutierrez and I have a feeling he’s passed it, his best seasons with Force India have gone. The car has let him down like his teammate but a driver of his experience would be higher up the field.
    18: Chilton – He is much slower than Bianchi, scored no points unlike Bianchi but you can rely on him to finish a race but he lacks speed and aggression. Being slow isn’t going to win you a WDC.
    17: Kobayashi – Hasn’t shown much this season due to driving a Caterham but has been beating Ericsson, however I don’t think he is as good as he was at Sauber, but that could be the new regulations not suiting him.
    16: Raikkonen – Major disappointment this season. I expected him to be right up there with Alonso but has been much slower than him, made quite a few rookie mistakes, especially in Canada and Silverstone, and I reckon his best days are over.
    15: Perez – Can deliver when he tries but has been inconsistent unlike Hulkenberg when it comes to finishing in the top 10.
    14: Massa – Could have scored a lot more points had he not have been involved in too many crashes However, Silverstone wasn’t his fault but he is becoming Maldonado in the sense that he is blaming other drivers for racing incidents/his own mistakes. Bottas has outperformed him.
    13: Magnussen – Has potential as shown in Australia but needs to start using it. He is doing OK as a rookie but expect more in the 2nd half of the season considering he has won titles in lower formulae.
    12: Button – Outperforming Magnussen but with his experience I expected him to do so. However he is consistently scoring the points which is what Mclaren need right now judging by the state of their car.
    11: Vettel – Like Raikkonen he has been a bit of a disappointment this year. Hampered slightly with unreliability but Ricciardo has outperformed him so far and seems to have lost that magic touch that he has with blown diffuser cars.
    10: Bianchi – Gave Marussia their first points and much faster than Chilton. Expect him to be in a Ferrari in a few years.
    09: Grosjean – Faster than Maldonado for most of this season. And the great thing is he’s stopped his crashing without losing his speed unlike Crashtor Maldonado. Scored all of Lotus’s points and deserves a better car in my mind.
    08: Kvyat – For a rookie he has done well in a Toro Rosso . Has made very few mistakes and has stuck right with Vergne. He did make a mistake in Germany but you expect these things with rookies.
    07: Vergne – I think he deserves another season at Toro Rosso or at another team. He is good in wet conditions and was sometimes as good as Ricciardo last year. Give him the right car and he might be a championship contender like Ricciardo.
    06: Rosberg – Leading the championship on merit, seizing every opportunity he has and taking advantage of Hamilton’s problems but to establish himself as a top driver he needs to do something spectacular. Coming from the back to finish on the podium or master the skill of spectacular overtaking.
    05: Hulkenberg – Should have been in a top seat ages ago, outperformed most of his teammates and just because he is tall he has been declined not once, not twice but three times a top seat.
    04: Bottas – One of the surprises of the season. Last year when he was dragging a slow, rubbish wooden box aka Williams FW35 and beating Maldonado despite being a rookie. This year, he has a car which I feel he deserves.
    03: Hamilton – Has been the fastest driver out of the Mercedes pair but lies 2nd in the championship due to bad luck with unreliability on his car having to play catch-up to Rosberg due to his bad luck, and shockingly team orders in Hungary. His drives in Germany and Hungary were entertaining to watch, and I’m expecting a close fight between him and Rosberg in the 2nd half of the season.
    02: Ricciardo – Another surprise of the season. I expected Vettel to demolish him this season but he has had the pace of Vettel and has sometimes wiped the floor with him in some races, e.g Canada and Hungary 2014.
    01: Alonso – I’m not even an Alonso fan but he has dragged that red dog of a Ferrari to podiums and positions it should never have been. He has been wiping the floor with his fellow world champion teammate!

    1. Bad examples of Ricciardo wiping the floor with him, considering he was well behind in Hungary before the safety car and in canard that was a Red Bull strategic error to give him track position (before that he was behind).

      I’d say China would better cement your argument.

  7. Never mind a few years, Bianchi should already be in a Ferrari. Surely he couldn’t do worse than the sad clown Raikonnen. They will have to find a way in for him next year or he might be poached by someone else … (Bianchi that is, not Grucho)

  8. I don’t know how much liking a person factors into people’s ratings. I just don’t see Ricciardo in the top 3. His wins and successful finishes have involved too much luck for me to award full credit to him for them.

  9. Top 5 is:


    My 5 fav pilots are


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