Since I participated in the half season rankings, I took my grades and feedback from that, and did the same for the second half of the season. I read through a couple of online season reviews, saw some ‘best of (driver x) in 2012′ videos on YouTube, mashed it all together and came up with the following. It’s a pseudo-scientific way, I’m sure off the top of my head I’d be too drawn to recent races and highlights, as opposed to the ‘bigger picture’. I’d like to note all drivers scored passing grades in my view.
It’s very hard to rate a driver who only did 1 race weekend in the latter half of the season and ended up with a KERS problem in the race. Further proof that hopping in at midseason is far more difficult than it was 10 years ago.
He brings in the money, but HRT is dying regardless. He has been quicker than de la Rosa on occasion, but out of the 24, there’s no denying he is the least talented. He is a good driver, but he sometimes demolishes a car (not referring to Yas Marina) and generally is least impressive over a weekend. To be honest, the only times I’ve seen him talked about were his run-ins with Vettel. If HRT is around in 2013, he might be there, if not, so long, Narnain.
While my low rating in the half-term report were mostly due to Pic outshining him, he had a good race in Singapore and was seemingly regaining the upper hand over Pic. Still, rather invisible and not at all carrying Marussia into better places. Like I mentioned in the half season review, a shame, because he was good at Toyota, but it looks like Marussia is his final station.
Heikki fell from 13 on my half season review to 22nd. While that looks utterly dramatic, a lot of drivers improved in my eyes and Heikki was one of the drivers who impressed me less. Add marginal difference in grades and I end up with him way down here. He was outshone in qualifying by Petrov more than once and seemingly in the races as well recently. He seems to be less motivated and has been very vocal over not wanting to pay for a seat at Caterham, so I think he was losing his will to perform and it made Petrov look much better than him, performance wise. Not wanting to pay for your seat while losing out to your pay driver teammate might not be the best perspective for the future..
He wouldn’t be this low if I were doing this off the top of my head, but he has been largely unimpressive, although the Toro Rosso is probably to blame for that as well. He’s had a few cases of bad luck, but practically invisible. I expected more from him, since I do count him as a talented guy.
20. De La Rosa
Made the most out of the HRT, reliable, didn’t do anything silly and probably was HRT’s biggest asset. As for the future, probably the same goes as for Karthikeyan.
Impressed me the first half of the season by being quicker than Glock, has shown himself to be more of a promise than the other drivers that aren’t Timo Glock Marussia/Virgin has had this far. He didn’t seem as impressive in GP2, but did a good job.
He scored more often than Vergne and kept himself out of trouble in Q1 mostly. He seems like the more consistent one, but he also seems to lose out on Vergne in a direct confrontation. Still, he seems more mature and quicker over one lap. Decent first full season.
It breaks my heart to put him this low and the car was a major influence on this. But apart from his drives in Melbourne, China, Monaco, Valencia and Brazil, it was a very troubled season, with a fair share of incidents, Q2 dropouts and some post-retirement announcement races I’ve accused him of phoning it in. He had a good pace this season, much closer to Rosberg, but together with the car, he didn’t do enough to impress. Still, I love the guy and I’ll miss him. (Again, I used marginal differences in grading, so on a 1-10 scale, he’s very close to the top 7 still.)
His first full season was always going to be viewed as his ultimate opportunity to prove himself. HRT was no place to do this, Lotus Renault was losing out majorly on the development race last year, while Williams was looking good from early on in the season. Dropping out in Q1 a couple of times, unfortunate incidents and lacking pace compared to Maldonado left me with a poor grade and a poor opinion of Bruno. Sure, he lost tracktime due to Williams’ preparation of Bottas, but he has barely out-raced Maldonado on track in competition. He might pride himself in the fact he was more consistent, but a race win or front row qualification is worth a lot more than scoring a point, starting from p11.
15. Di Resta
His first half of the season was pretty good and he seemingly had the upper hand over Hulkenberg. His forth place in Singapore was really nice, but after that, Hulkenberg obliterated him. He also made some sloppy mistakes over the season, with the shunt in Brazil being the biggest. He seemed to be under pressure from his teammate, as well as frustrated McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes didn’t pick him up. He’s a good driver, but lost a lot of shine in the final quarter of the season, which is a shame.
Much like Schumacher, a lot of damage done by the utterly unimpressive W03 since Monaco. Rosberg shone in China and Monaco, but had more trouble with the car than his teammate in some races, didn’t out-pace him as in 2010/2011, but did well and kept to his own.
Felipe had a dreadful start to the season and despite some promising drives such as in Monaco and Monza, it took him until Suzuka to find a decent form. There’s little a driver can do when a car is not to his liking and can’t find a proper set up/build, but his last few races were stunning. He started to reel in Alonso in qualifying and did very well in the races. He lost Ferrari a considerable amount of points, but the failings of McLaren and his late-season form helped Ferrari in their WDC and WCC challenge and helped them beat McLaren. It’s too early to judge if we’ve got pre-incident Massa back, but his for this season, the poor start overshadows the excellent drives at the end. He needs to be on it from race one in 2013.
It might seem odd to have this guy way over here, but he was one of the surprises of the season for me. He didn’t fall too far behind Heidfeld in 2011, was arguably quicker than Senna, but now also proved himself against a fan-favorite driver, Heikki. He brought Caterham their 10th place, so if anything, this bodes well for his 2013 chances.
Dropped a place from his mid-season standing for me, but unlike an unimpressive 2011, he has impressed me a lot this season. Sure, he had more than his fair share of incidents, but cleaned up his act after Grosjean’s race ban, ironically. He needs his head sorted out, still, but I really think we’re looking at a driver like Montoya, who can win races and might have the odd shot at the title if everything comes together.
He had a poor second quarter of the season, but struck back in Belgium and basically kept at it. He’s shown some drives that reminded me this guy can be a very serious threat for the title, but his weakness seems to be his vulnerability to an inferior car, or a lack of understanding. His amazing drives in 2004 and 2006 seemed like flashes in the pan, but he has shown himself to be a very good driver; he just has to rely on the car a lot more than guys like Vettel/Alonso/Hamilton.
Didn’t impress me that much early in the season. But slowly, he got a hold of Di Resta and did away with him. He has some fiery drives, some great qualifying sessions and was the star of the Brazilian GP. An excellent driver and to be honest, I feel Ferrari and/or McLaren missed out by not signing this guy. But, who knows, in the future, we’ll be looking at the third German world champion.
Dropped a few places from his mid-season position, mainly due to the fact he mistook careful driving for slow driving after his ban, but still managed to get in trouble. But this guy has a LOT of potential and while Kimi got more confident, Romain seemed to be more doubtful. That doesn’t change anything about how close the two were earlier in the season. More so than Maldonado, if he gets his head screwed on right, a very serious title candidate.
Webber seemed done for after 2011. Losing out to his team mate that badly is terrible. 2012 got along very, very well for Mark. But some uninspired drives after Monaco, a brilliant win in Silverstone and then it was over again. He didn’t stop performing, but he did drop significantly. He was ahead of Vettel in points at some point, but ended up 102 points behind him. Disappointing second half of the season, once again missing out while people were sure this might be his last shot at the title.
A mere 6 points behind Perez who is moving to McLaren, while his future is uncertain. Kamui kept out of trouble this season, had very decent drives and a glorious podium in his home country. I think this was the strongest Kobayashi we’ve seen thus far, but potentially also the strongest he is going to get. Still, an impressive season. I’d be sad to see him go.
Probably still the revelation of the season. A very exciting driver, awesome podium finishes, a move to McLaren.. Still, not scoring since Singapore, not the best qualifying skills, he has a lot to learn and he already has some people on his back questioning his move to McLaren. He needs to prove them wrong in 2013.
Probably his best season since 2008. He showed awesome pace in the races he won and led until retirement, in qualifying and seemed a lot more mature than in 2011. Still, he had some weird races and moments and while being generally fast, I’m not sure if I’d call it consistent. I dislike threads where people go out of their way to ‘prove’ Hamilton ‘should’ have been champion, but looking at Lewis’ performance alone, he would have been one mighty contender.
Since I’ve exposed myself as a Ferrari/Alonso fan, this probably is seeming like sour grapes. There’s no denial he is one of the best drivers there is and we’ll probably include him with people like Schumacher, Prost, Senna, etc near the end of his career. Still, he had a lot of moments of desperation this season, with the radiomessage of ‘DO SOMETHING!’ in Hungary being the pinnacle of a frustrated driver, who wants to fight for the championship, but isn’t doing anything near that at a moment. He didn’t set a foot wrong between Belgium and India. Abu Dhabi was sloppy but very impressive, Austin not so impressive, but he ended it with yet another impressive, but sloppy, drive in Brazil. I cheered when he won Singapore, it felt like vindication for a good driver in a mediocre season and boy, he turned that season around. Still, he started off sloppy and lost out to Webber when the car didn’t seem as stable as later.
I’ll admit to bias, Kimi is one of my favorite drivers and out of the current crop, he probably has been for the longest time bare Schumacher. Still, his comeback at Lotus, which wasn’t a great team in 2011, him being out of the sport for 2 years.. I didn’t expect too much. He has been utterly consistent, scored points in all but one race and made little driver errors. His win in Abu Dhabi was a gift from McLaren’s reliability problems, but well deserved. Another year like this, and we’ll be talking about the Vettel/Alonso/Hamilton/Raikkonen era.
What can I say? He dragged a dog of a F2012 to places it should not have been early in the season, always was exactly where he needed to be to benefit from others’ downfall and as the car got better, he barely ever left the podium. Over the entire year, probably the most excellent drives. He never let his spirit down, he fought until the last race, while a cynic like me thought the title race was over when the RedBull-Vettel machine started to run on full power again. Missing out on the title by 3 points is no shame, but still, no title. He seemingly had less amazing races near the end, much like 2010, but I think, for people who saw the 2012 season happen, his 2012 season will be talked about for many years to come.
There you have it. Also, while consulting Wikipedia, I noticed just how often F1fanatic and @keithcollantine were used as reference on the 2012 season page. Cool stuff.