+ Mark Webber – leading the championship, poor judgement in Australia and being beaten off pole by Vettel in Malaysia the only two real mistakes he’s made. Managed to use the latter to spur himself on and a dominant victory at Monaco has summed him up for me this season. Perhaps his leg-break was more significant last season than we thought.
+ Jenson Button – I’ve never been a fan but he has done exceptionally well this season. Written off by myself and by people who should probably know better has walked into the lion’s den and left the lion looking pretty toothless for a wee while. Made some very brave strategy calls in the first few races which paid off for him handsomely
+ Hamilton – Unlucky in Oz, has driven superbly after poor qualifyings. Was in danger of being overshadowed by Button but is now definitely more of a team player and has matured a lot in the past year and it is showing now.
+ Kubica – Personally, I think that the Renault is a good car. But by the same token, Kubica has been driving very well. Re-affirmed his status after a very disappointing 2009. A win this season is surely a case of sooner rather than later. Valencia perhaps?
+ Sebastian Vettel – Almost untouchable at first and would be leading if it wasn’t for his car’s poor reliability. Unfortunately he appears to really be feeling the pressure of Webber coming from seemingly nowhere to take charge of the title race. Turkey was pure pressure, but he could easily have won 4 races this season but instead won 2.
+ Petrov – The cynic in me suggested that he was in the team due to his Russian connections alone, but the man has proved that he can drive. Has compared favourably with the exceptional Kubica. Can only get better once he improves his fitness. His presence in the paddock has also resulted in Kubica losing his status as “most ill-looking F1 driver”.
+ Adrian Sutil – Hard to tell if he’s outperforming his car or if the Force India is a good car due to the poor form of his team-mate. Strong qualifying and race pace. Perhaps his time in a bigger team will come in time, ending his long term association with the team.
+ Haymeeee Alguasiari – Very impressive this season. Shows what some testing miles and shots in an F1 car can do. Has diced with the bigger teams and more famous names, showing no fear.
+ Nico Rosberg – Despite the hype around Schumacher performed well in the first quarter of the season. Has tailed off a bit since Monaco but still doing well. Perhaps Brawn/Mercedes have an eye on developing him using Schumacher to become team leader in a season or two
+ Kamui Kobayshi – Many DNFs and crashes but a lot down to car failures. Finally began to show the pace and tenacity that led to him being signed up.
+ Karun Chandok – Stuck in a crap car, first time in it was qualifying Bahrain. Very much seen as the second driver in the HRT team at the start of the season, perhaps due to the unfavourable comparisons with fellow countryman Narin Karthikayen. An overall nice guy, cheery despite being in a poor car.
+ Bruno Senna – Phenomenal weight of expectations courtesy of Uncle Ayrton. Guilty of pushing the car too hard on at least one occasion, perhaps echoing his late uncle or maybe more of a reflection on his car. Senna and Chandok appear to both be very friendly happy guys. If they end up moving to better teams, I’d love it if they came as a pair.
+ The World’s Fastest Heikki – Seems to really be enjoying himself at Lotus. For the first time he’s in a seat that hadn’t just been vacated by Alonso. Outperforming his established team-mate and I’d bet he’ll get Lotus’ first points and podiums if they come. Can see him staying at Lotus long-term. Again guilty of pushing the car too much in Monaco but at least he kept it in one piece unlike the other former Renault and McLaren driver…..
+ Timo Glock – Like his team-mate, beset by reliability problems and quite a slow car. Has like his team-mate been very feisty, battling with Alonso on at least one occasion. Well out of the politics of Toyota, I don’t believe for a second that he needed to miss the last two races of the season.
+/- Lucas Di Grassi. Hard to quantify due to the poor reliability and poor car, allyed to the fact that he had to wait a while for the Limo. Again, proved to be a battler and if Virgin get things sorted has the potential to have a strong finish to the season
+/- Fernando Alonso – Performed solidly in Bahrain, altho admittedly inherited the win. Making too many errors, particularly in qualifying or practice – when was the last time we saw a jump start? Like his team mate of ’07, has matured a lot. Guilty of dozing at the end of Monaco, but his race performances have been very strong and he’s still 4th in the standings. One has to ask however, where would he be finishing if he wasn’t making mistakes in qualifying?
+/- Michael Schumacher – Took a long time to get up to speed after a long break out. For someone so talented, perhaps too long? Has not done well in comparison to his team-mate. Sneaky in Monaco, a bit like the old Schumi.
+/- Sebastian Buemi – looked good last season and has been unfortunate with reliability. Another who needs to have a bit of luck and could have a good second half to the season.
+/- Rubens Barichello – In one of the worst cars and hasn’t been doing particularly well or badly. Petulant throwing of the steering wheel in Monaco was not good, particularly from the most experienced man in the paddock
+/- Pedro De La Rosa – Again, not been racing for a long time, but hasn’t done anything to convince me that he has great pace, race or qualifying. Yes, a good tester but is he really worthy of a race seat? Also has suffered badly from poor reliability.
- Nico Hulkenberg – Won every series he’s entered in and at the moment doesn’t look like he’ll add F1 to this. Poor reliability and bad luck has been compounded by small first-corner shunts (e.g. Monaco tunnel crash was caused by a nudge on his front wing). Also conspicuous by his number of pit stops in each race (see Keith’s charts for what I mean). Experience of racing in many different series and always adapting well should have him in good stead, as does his deep knowledge and involvement with the team in the factory.
- Felipe Massa – Although he led the championship standings at one point, that was mainly due to recording more finishes than Sebastian Vettel. Not the same man who ran Hamilton close in 2008. Really struggling with the soft tyres and although he’s outperformed the mis-firing Alonso in qualifying, he frequently ends up only a place or two ahead of the Spaniard.
- Tonio Liuzzi – Unlucky in his first outing in F1 in a silly seat-share scheme with Red Bull. However hasn’t done anything to convince anyone that he’s worthy of a race seat. For someone with over 50 F1 starts to his name he really should be out-performing the inexperienced Di Resta. But he’s not. What’s the Italian for “Shoogly peg”?
- Jarno Trulli – The great qualifier has not even managed to do that well this season. Pressure was on at the end of last season with his desperate dive at Sutil and then subsequent rage. Monaco was embarrassing for a man of his experience, and almost took out Webber in the process of attempting to decapitate Chandok. Surely the end of the road for Jarno?