Okay, here’s my full list with some revisions:
24. Karthikeyan: Narain is constantly raising the bar for the pay driver stereotype: slow, back-marking rich guys whose sponsors earn them drives with the Formula One minnows. His performances against Liuzzi are evocative of pay driver Ricardo Rosset and Vincenzo Sospiri in the MasterCard Lola car, respectively. And clearly, out of the two, Karthikeyan is not Sospiri. No, he’s like Ricardo Rosset…. maybe slightly better.
23. D’ambrosio: His nickname, “Custard”, is fitting: he’s a sweet fellow but like the viscous treat he’s fondly named after, he’s slow. Really slow. He’s like his predecessor di Grassi except he has more money.
22. Trulli: Jarno Trulli: I speak of the driver who won on the challenging streets of Monaco, a man so quick he could outqualify cars much quicker than his on Saturdays and manage to keep them behind him the next day. Whatever happened to this guy? Every weekend, he’s constantly outpaced by Kovalainen, blaming power steering issues. Perhaps it’s because he’s lost the power; he’s lost the will to drive. Utterly disappointed for Jarno.
21. Barrichello: Williams has really hit a speed bump this season. In this decade, they’ve gone from title contenders to race winners to podium contenders to points contenders to midfield contenders, and now, they’re backmakerkers. Not even the experinece of Vovó Rubens can save them. He’s scored all four of their points but he would’ve been behind Maldonado in the standings had that red flag not come out in Monaco. He’s constantly outpaced by Maldonado, but while he can actually bring the car home in one piece, he’s not the title contender he was two years ago.
20. Maldonado: Maldy recieved a lot of flak after Williams’ decision to replace Nico Hulkenberg with Maldonado. I didn’t criticize them as vehemently as others, as I remakred, “Hey, this guy won GP2. He can’t be all that bad.” And I was right, sort of. Pastor is exceptional on Saturdays, blazing his teammate, Formula One’s unchallenged “Veteran”. However, come Sunday, he struggles to bring the car home in one piece or in the points. This being said, he had a brilliant rookie drives ever at his “home” race in Monaco.
19. Sutil: He doesn’t deserve to be in Formula One. He’s been with the same team for the longest time now, and other than Monaco 2008 and Monza 2009, I can’t recall any strong drives from Adrian. I’ll admit he has strong race speed, but being shown up by Paul di Resta in qualifying is beyond embarassing. There are better drivers who deserve his seat, like Hulkenberg.
18. Glock: Timo Glock had quite a rocky start to 2011, but he’s showing his progress in that Virgin (quite a dog of a car, and not a racing dog, mind you) by putting d’Ambrosio in his place and beating Trulli rather frequently. Like Liuzzi, it’s hard to measure his speed against his mediocre-not that great teammate, but he seems to be doing an okay job. I bet he must be slapping himself all over for not signing for Renault in 2010!
17. Liuzzi: He’s driving the wheels off his Hispania. Or so it seems. He’s easily outpaced Karthikeyan and d’Ambrosio, and he is proving the talent he had when he dominated Formula 3000 in 2004. Much improved from last year, indicated with his strong showing at Canada. It is was rather difficult to gauge his talent against Karthikeyan, but with Ricciardo on board, we will all see his true speed in the HRT. The highly-rated Ricciardo didn’t blow him out of the water in Silverstone so Tonio seems to be doing a solid job.
16. Nick Heidfeld: I honestly think Renault should’ve listened to Kubica by picking Liuzzi over Heidfeld. Renault wanted an exoerienced driver to partner Petrov, but that being said, Petrov is outqualifying him and seems to be faster. Nick has genuine race pace and his podium in Malaysia was a strong showing, but every week he seems to take a step back while the leadership reins look set for Petrov’s taking. With a name like Quick Nick, you’d really have to expect better performances on Saturdays.
15. Alguersuari: He’s been very quick as of late, but he’s been out in the first qualy session too many times and I still belive Buemi’s better. But he’s improving rapidly, and he’s come a long way since his nightmare début in 2009, so one has to give the kid credit for that.
14. Schumacher: He’s improved a lot since last year, shown by his remarkable Canada drive and his starts in wet races which often give him many race positions. That being said, he’s still being outperformed by Rosberg, and he’s caused quite some mayhem on the track- Petrov and Kobayashi are some of the victims.
13. Buemi: He has been extracting a lot of performance from the Toro Rosso, but Alguersuari is catching up- fast. He’s been solid and consistent, and he’d make a good number two at Red Bull if Webber decides to retire. He’s made it into the top ten at qualifying, but he needs to step his game up to stay ahead in the Toro Rosso driver war.
12. di Resta: I can proudly say Paul di Resta is among my favorite drivers. Why? He’s quick, determined, and did I mention he’s quick? His 6th place on the grid at Silverstone was stellar, and he’s been making Sutil want to stick broken glass in his own face. However, he is a rookie, and with that, he’s still learning the trade of Formua One. With learning comes mistakes, and he’s had plenty of those. Once he sorts out his little bugs and glitches, he’ll be landing that coveted Mercedes seat in no time.
11. Kovalainen: Heikki and Team Lotus have this great chemsitry which carries over to the racetrack. He easily outqualifies all of the drivers with the second year teams, and he got to Q2 in Britain fair and square. As the Lotus car gets more competitive, count on Heikki to deliver the team’s first point(s).
10. Petrov: Vitaly Petrov easily earns the “most improved” award this year following his brilliant qualifying speed. Jos Verstappen, who labeled him as “the worst driver [of 2010]” must be urinating his pants in anger because the Vyborg Rocket has been truly impressive along with the other sophmore drivers this year. He still makes some mistakes, but he’s had the upper hand over Heidfeld and he’s improved by miles- his Australia podium is his well-earned reward for this.
9 Pérez: I remember defending Sergio when many people labeled him as a pay driver, with his only excuse of landing a Sauber seat being his Telmex money. I now guffaw at these people, for Sergio has proven himself a bold drivers who can really make Jenson Button look bad at the art of tyre conservation. He’s got an able teammate in Kobayashi, and he is quickly learning Formula One. Like di Resta, he has his mistakes, as do all rookies, but he’s shown himself a great passer whilst being soft on the tyres. One of my favorite drivers, hands-down.
8. Webber: “PortuGoose, you put Webber in eighth?” you scream, but alas, I have. Sure, it’s tough being a team mate to the world’s number one driver at the moment, but one would think (or at least I would) that Webber would be way closer to Vettel, like in 2010. He seems to have taken a step back, and I might blame that to lack of morale after losing the 2010 title. He’s been disappointing; you’d think he’d have won a race by now (becuase Hamilton, Button, and Alonso have).
7. Massa: To be honest, I cried when Massa lost the 2008 title to Hamilton. After all, I’m Brazilian and I was twelve years old then. I’ve witnessed the transformation of Massa from championship contender to number two. It’s a little heartbreaking, actually, for lack of a better word. But on the bright side, he’s improving. Sure, he’s still in Alonso’s shadow and he hasn’t outqualified him, but you can’t deny Massa is doing better this year. He stopped blaming the Bridgestones, for once, and his qualifying is steadily improving. The favouritism towards Alonso has ruined his chances for podiums due to Alonso-favouring strategy calls, but all in all, he seems poised to return to his winning ways- soon. All he has to do is beat Alonso frequently.
6. Kobayashi: Kobayashi is undoubtably the fan-favourite, the over-achieving underdog, the brave-as-hell overtaker whose ferocious Japanese war cry sends chills down the spines of his midfield rivals. But I must say, last year’s samurai rookie has hit a Formula One growth spurt. He now drives with a confident maturity while maintaining his knack of passing. This year, he has a more reliable car, a gift for his efforts last year, but still has had some misfortune, like punctures and unsafe pit releases. Still, you must marvel at his consistency, and one cannot forget his charge in Monaco and his strong form in the Canadian monsoon. He still crashes a bit- (like most Japanese drivers, as the stereotype goes) but only in practice- and not when it counts on Sunday.
5. Rosberg: It’s been a rather quiet year for Rosberg in the less-competitive Mercedes car this year. Due to this, don’t expect him to win this year- count on him to consistently beat Schumacher, finish in the points regularly, and challenge for podiums. If he keeps up his performances and pace, he’ll allow Mercedes to beat Renault and he might just beat Massa in thenWDC.
4. Hamilton: The Stewards’ best friend has got speed and overtakes like he made a pact with the devil- but he also drives like the devil himself. He won in China, but he crashed out in Monaco and Canada. This lack of consistency is the reason why I rate Button higher this year- Lewis has to keep his cool if he wants to challenge for wins and championships.
3. Button: Everybody knows Button is not as quick as Hamilton- but he is much smarter, and if you were to ask Nelson Piquet (senior, not that dunce Piquet, Jr.) how he won championships, Piquet would reply with an answer about staying cool and using your brain- that’s how he beat those William meatheads Reutteman and Jones to the title. And Button is doing just that. Hamilton, unlike Piquet/Button, is not using his head- the cost is Button’s gain. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget Button’s Canada win- kinda remimded me of Piquet winning at Mexico in the Bennetton. Wow, am I good at Piquet-Button analogies or what?
2. Alonso: Needs a better car. Then, I can rate him better or equal to Vettel. He’s truly driving like a double champ, but maybe if they put him in the Suzuki Liana on Top Gear….
1. Vettel: Worst finish: second place. ‘Nuff said.