1: Vettel – He had the best car, yes, but he certainly made the most of it and made his team mate look a bit silly.
=2: Button and Alonso – Two top class drivers that completely dominated their team-mates and made them look like amateurs. They took their cars to places they really had no right to be. The three best drivers in F1 at the moment, in my opinion, are Vettel, Alonso and Button. All good for different reasons, so no-one is better than the other.
4: Webber – Demoralised by his team-mate, but remarkably consistent apart from his silly crash in Monza. Some great overtaking, but his season was really let down by being outqualified by Seb and compounded by getting poor starts to nearly every Grand Prix.
Now it gets tricky…
5: Rosberg – Challenged for the lead on several occasions throughout the year but was let down by yet another mediocre Formula 1 car. I’m hoping Mercedes can lift their game and provide him with something that allows him to show his talent.
6: Kovalainen – Brilliant in qualifying and even better in the races. I’m not sure if Trulli’s making him look good, or if he’s genuinely that good. It’s a pity he couldn’t do more with his McLaren, but he’s far too good for that Lotus.
7: Petrov – Silenced his critics and ironed out his rookie mistakes. He was incredibly consistent and worthy of his seat.
8: Massa – Another disappointing season compared to his team-mate, but there were positives. He actually even outqualified Alonso! He was most impressive in China and Germany, but in Germany, he was let down by his mechanics when he was on course to beat Sebastian Vettel.
He’s still recovering from his massive injury sustained two years ago, and really, he probably shouldn’t be driving again just yet. I missed him dearly when he was gone, but I think he could have done with a longer break. Sid Watkins said he should be fully (or as much as he ever will be) recovered by 2012 if I recall correctly, so if he’s not back to his best next year, I’m afraid he may never be. It’s so sad as it wasn’t his fault and I have a massive soft spot for him after all he’s been through. I’ll never really give up on him, but I can’t help but feel sorry for him. He’s not been amazing, but he deserves none of the criticism he gets. It’s really quite low. Some people are heartless.
9: Hamilton – Showed remarkable pace and put lots of pressure on Seb at the start of the year, but he was also very inconsistent. He may be faster than his team-mate, but he’s certainly not a better F1 driver.
10: Sutil – He had a slow start to the year, but somehow managed to turn it around and ended up outperforming his team-mate comprehensively in the second half of the year.
11: Perez – Easily the best debutant. His first race was nothing short of stunning and he made very few mistakes for the rest of the season. He often outqualified his team-mate and scored a good haul of points, despite missing two races through injury. He’s a pay driver, but he’s a good pay driver and I hope he’s here to stay.
12: Di Resta – The second best rookie. The only thing letting him down, really, was all of the mistakes and tangles he got himself into. I’m sure he’ll be much better next year and I can see he’d make a fine driver one day.
13: Schumacher – He had a very quiet year and once again failed to make it onto the podium despite it looking likely in Montreal. He made some silly mistakes and caused some silly accidents (Turkey, Singapore) but overall, he was better than last year.
14: Kobayashi – He wasn’t as exciting as last year, but I’d say he was an improved driver all round. His best performance was in Monaco, but he was robbed of his 6th in Montreal due to a technical fault, despite the fact he outraced Felipe.
=15: Buemi/Alguersuari – They were both very evenly matched all season long, and Buemi’s awful luck this year stopped him from showing us his full potential. It would be so hard to drop either of them as they’re both solid drivers, but I think Buemi is gone and Vergne is in.
17: Senna – He was thrusted into the seat at Spa with very little experience of driving the car, yet managed to make it into Q3 which was impressive. He was quite solid for the rest of the season and I think he could be a champion in the right car. I hope he is, anyway. (He’s also a terrific guy!)
18: Heidfeld – Just mediocre. He was amazing in Sepang, but the rest of his season was quite uneventful. He’s worthy of a seat, but he’s never had any real luck. It’s a sad waste of talent, but I can’t see anything changing.
The rest: Barrichello/de la Rosa/Trulli/Liuzzi/d’Ambrosio/Glock/Karthikeyan/Ricciardo/Chandhok – Impossible to judge. All had terrible cars and couldn’t do anything in them. I can’t even remember anything happening to Glock all year, and he’s not a bad driver!
The worst: Maldonado – Should have been given a multiple race ban for his stunt in Spa. Deliberately causing a collision is the worst thing a driver can do, and it’s certainly not something we can tolerate in F1. NASCAR exists for that sort of stuff. ;)
That was hard. It’s so difficult to judge drivers like that and I’ll doubtless disagree with myself completely by tomorrow. I’m not even sure that’s what I think now!