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    To consider the 2009 Renault a better car than the solid midfield cars Hulkenberg has driven is madness, IMO. The Renault R29 was the second worst car on the grid in 2009, a proper backmarker if I ever saw one. Even Force India had a better car that year, only Toro Rosso was worse.

    Compared to the R29, the Force India of last year was a rocketship.

    As for your question about who else achieved a performance like Brazil 2012 in a midfield car in recent years, Perez was at least as spectacular at Malaysia 2012 as Hulkenberg was at Brazil 2012, but no one right in their minds would argue that Perez is as good as Alonso.

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    In the early 2000’s they had unlimited testing, which makes the young drivers of that time far more prepared than the rookies of today.

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    Even Hulkenberg can perform at Alonso’s level, and do it much cheaper.

    The same Nico Hulkenberg who, after four years in F1, still hasn’t scored a single podium yet? The same Nico Hulkenberg who was hardly that much better than di Resta or Perez? Alonso scored podiums with the F14T and even the Renault R29, machinery that was no more competitive than the midfield cars Hulkenberg’s driven so far in his career. Alonso also trashed Raikkonen and Massa by far bigger margins than Hulkenberg trashed Perez and di Resta.

    Hulkenberg is not even in the same galaxy as Alonso.

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    No, entirely the opposite actually. Rosberg’s brakes weren’t cold at all, Nico’s brakes were overheating at the safety car restart. He had to manage them for at least a couple of laps, which allowed Magnussen/Alonso/Vergne to sneak by. Toto Wolff confirmed this. His brakes were even smoking during the SC period (something which does not happen when the brakes are cold).

    All in all Rosberg only got overtaken 3 times this season on merit, twice by Lewis, once by Bottas.

    In recent history, I don’t recall Kimi Raikkonen being overtaken even once in 2005.

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    If technical issues don’t count, then Magnussen/Vergne/Alonso overtaking Rosberg in the next few laps after the safety car came in at Hungary doesn’t count, because Rosberg had brake problems at the time.

    Same goes with Ricciardo’s pass on Rosberg in Canada, it doesn’t count because of car problems.

    If Rosberg’s pass on Hamilton at Bahrain doesn’t count, then Hamilton’s repass on Rosberg in Bahrain also doesn’t count, as it was just a matter of Nico not being able to make the move stick.

    In which case, Rosberg was only overtaken 3 times in 2014. On two occasions, by Hamilton. Once in Japan and once in United States. Once by Bottas, in Belgium.

    Hamilton goes one better, as he was only overtaken twice. Once by Bottas in Germany and once by Ricciardo in Hungary.

    By contrast, when you look at a championship winner with less dominant machinery, Vettel got passed at least 10 or 11 times in 2012. By Alonso in Malaysia. By Button, Hamilton, and Webber in China (twice by Jenson). By Hamilton in Canada. By Button in Hungary. By Alonso in Monza. By Hamilton in Austin, and by Kobayashi and Massa in Brazil.

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    Instead, it is Vettel who has this year entered an exclusive club of four-time champions, alongside only Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost. Does Alonso himself consider the Red Bull driver as a great driver to rank alongside such names?

    “Time will tell us,” he says. “There are many years [to go in his career].

    “He is 26 years old, so when he will have a car like the others, if he wins, he will have a great recognition and be one of the legends in F1. When one day he has a car like the others and he is fourth, fifth, seventh, these four titles will be bad news for him because people will take these four titles even in a worse manner than they are doing now.

    “So there are interesting times for Sebastian coming.”

    The barb – that Vettel has been able to dominate only because his car is on another level from the rest – is implied, but unmistakable.

    At the time, people dismissed it as sour grapes. In hindsight, Alonso was right.

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    Every year has had its few classics.

    2002: France and Great Britain
    2003: Australia, Brazil, Great Britain and United States
    2004: Belgium and Brazil
    2005: Australia, San Marino and Japan
    2006: San Marino, Hungary, China and Brazil
    2007: Canada, Europe, Japan and China
    2008: Monaco, Great Britain, Italy and Brazil
    2009: Australia, Malaysia, China and Brazil
    2010: Australia, China, Canada, Turkey and Korea
    2011: China, Canada, Germany and Hungary
    2012: Malaysia, Europe, Abu Dhabi, United States and Brazil
    2013: Malaysia, Great Britain and Germany
    2014: Bahrain, Canada, Great Britain and Hungary

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    Mind you, I think that Schumacher drove a lot better in 2005 than Vettel did in 2014. The Ferrari F2005 was a bit more of a disastrous car than the Red Bull RB10, yet Schumacher finished 3rd in the championship while Vettel could only manage 5th in 2014. That’s quite telling.

    Yes, Schumi got 10 free bonus points in Indianapolis, but even so, he was WAY closer to Fisichella and Montoya in the championship than his car should have allowed him to do. Schumi was regularly fighting with the Renaults and McLarens in 2005 with a car that should’ve been fighting with Toyota, BAR, and Williams.

    By contrast, Vettel got trashed by his own teammate who drove identical equipment, Bottas who drove a different car that appeared to be fairly equal, and was almost matched by Alonso, who drove a far worse car than he did.

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    Vettel’s 2014 = Schumacher’s 2005?


    Also, if the similarities between Schumacher and Vettel continue in future seasons, will Sebastian ever win another world title?

    This is a very good question.

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    Will CodeMasters ever be able to create a game in which the AI do not slam on the brakes and slow down to walking pace whenever the are trapped on the inside line of a corner?

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    After 2014, how have views changed on Lewis in hindsight? We saw 2012 completed, 2013, and 2014. Where would they rank among the first 5 years of his career?

    In my opinion:

    1. 2012
    2. 2010
    3. 2007
    4. 2014
    5. 2008
    6. 2009
    7. 2013
    8. 2011

    In 2012, he was faultless. McLaren’s enormous incompetence and poor reliability was the only thing which prevented him from winning the championship that year. He had a couple of poor weekends in Spa and Suzuka, and didn’t convert pole to win in Melbourne. Other than that, he was perfect. Spain, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Brazil alone cost him 100 points, none of which were his fault.
    Hamilton’s 2010 season is quite underrated to be honest. His only real mistake that year was Monza (Singapore was a racing incident at best, at worst it was Webber’s fault). He had bad luck in Spain, Hungary, and Japan; yet came damn close to winning the WDC in what was, on balance, the 3rd best car of the season.
    2007 was obviously spectacular, but slightly overestimated because it was his rookie season. Lewis had quite a bit of testing beforehand, so he was obviously well-prepared. He won 4 races, matched Alonso in equal machinery, and only made two real mistakes in Nurburgring and China. He lacked pace in races like Malaysia and Silverstone, but owned the field in Canada and Japan.
    2014, despite being by far his most successful season so far, statistically, is down in 4th. His qualifying was poor, and for the first time in his career, he was out-classed by his teammate on Saturday. Made some silly errors in Bahrain, Austria, Silverstone, and Abu Dhabi. OTOH, on race day he was awesome, and had many epic drives including Bahrain, Hungary, Japan, USA, etc…
    2008 was Lewis’s first championship year, yet it is down in 5th. Why? Too many mistakes made his season harder than it probably should have been. Bahrain, Canada, France, and Japan come to mind. On the flip side, he had plenty of epic drives in Silverstone, Hockenheim, and Belgium. Overall, I’d say he won the WDC in what was arguably not the best car of the season.
    In 2009, Lewis drove what was probably the worst car of his career. Until mid-season, it was over 1 second off the pace, and often struggled to get points. Despite that, he put on some great displays in Australia (despite what happened afterward) and Bahrain. When the car got better, he brilliantly won 2 races, but also made a silly error in Monza.
    2013 was a year where I seriously began to question Lewis’s speed and motivation. Yes, he had some epic drives in Silverstone and Hungary, but there were so many races where he was simply outclassed by his teammate (Spain, Monaco, Singapore, India, Abu Dhabi). He also didn’t look like “Lewis” in the rain, as he struggled a lot with his car. Probably his second worst season overall.
    As for 2011, the less said the better. He had some moments of genius in China, Germany, and Korea – but far too many mistakes and epic fails, brainfade moments which made me question him as a driver, and some races where he looked way off the pace (Malaysia, Japan). McLaren was not that far off Red Bull’s pace, had Lewis from 2012 been sitting in that MP4-26, Vettel would’ve had to fight a lot harder for that championship than he did.

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    Did Vettel need to be outside of the top 3 in the championship standings to be able to exit Red Bull?

    If so, he must have known as far ago as Bahrain/China that DR needed to out-perform him in order for him to exit Red Bull (at the time, Alonso was still tied to Ferrari). I don’t think Vettel has that kind of foresight.

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    Remember Alonso at Singapore 2009? The Renault R29 was a proper soapbox of a car, it finished 8th in the WCC that year. Alonso dragged that donkey to the podium, and it was worse than any car Hulkenberg has drove in his career.

    Hamilton, despite of what happened after the race, was masterful at Australia 2009. The early version of the MP4/24 was 2 seconds off the pace, and he drove that thing from 20th to 3rd.

    Nico Rosberg with Williams in 2008 got a pair of podiums in a car which was at least as bad as the 2010 Williams and 2013 Sauber, and likely worse than the Force India’s from 2012 and 2014.

    Hulkenberg has been in F1 for 4 years now and has yet to score a single podium despite driving many solid midfield cars. A really special talent like Alonso or Hamilton would have had at least a couple of podiums already if they were driving his cars, I have no doubt about it.

    Hell, even drivers like Giancarlo Fisichella (with Jordan & Benetton), Ralf Schumacher (with Jordan & Williams-Mechachrome), and Rubens Barrichello (with Jordan & Stewart) were often able to get brilliant results and podiums out of midfield cars. Later, all of them turned out to be average, solid but unspectacular. Hulk hasn’t shown me anything to suggest that he is any better than a Fisi/Ralf/Rubens caliber driver.

    I’d also say that Perez has impressed me more this season, despite of what the final scorecard says. Checo had a lot of bad luck in this season. Brake failure in Canada cost him a 2nd place or maybe even better (18 points), had a 50/50 collision with Button in Monaco (8 points) and never even got to start in Malaysia (Hulk scored 10 that race). Luck-adjusted they have been fairly equal, or Perez maybe even slightly ahead.

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    I don’t understand all the hype around Hulkenberg tbh.

    I mean, he’s spend 4 years in F1 this season and still is podiumless. Certainly, his car has been more than once capable of a podium (Brazil 2012, Bahrain 2014) and he either blew it with a crash, or got beat by his own teammate.

    Nick Heidfeld 2.0

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    1. Fernando Alonso
    Destroyed Raikkonen like no one even thought was humanly possible, 16-3 in qualifying and races. Nearly had a miracle win in Hungary in a donkey of a car. Finished very close in the final points tally to Vettel and Bottas despite having way worse machinery than either of them. Didn’t make a significant mistake all season long. I have no idea how someone moderately objective can rate the likes of Rosberg and Button ahead of him IMO. 2 WDC and 32 wins simply don’t do his talent justice. 10/10

    2. Daniel Ricciardo
    THE surprise of the season. Convincingly beat Vettel and was the most frequent challenger of the Mercedes duo. Took optimum advantage of whenever Rosberg or Hamilton hit trouble in Canada, Hungary, and Belgium. His qualifying and wet-weather driving could use a little improvement, but in the races he’s been Alonso-like. Masterful at overtaking and very good at taking care of his tyres. 9.5/10

    3. Lewis Hamilton
    A very well deserving champion. The first non-German driver to win 11 races, and did it despite driving against a way stronger teammate than Barrichello or Webber. He has been inconsistent in qualifying, but in the races beyond brilliant. His only mistake on Sunday was the spin in Brazil. He’s had some epic drives this year like Bahrain, Hungary, and Japan. 9/10

    4. Valtteri Bottas
    Started of the season a little slow, but Austria-onward he really got going. 6 podiums in the 3rd best car is a good achievement overall. He split the Red Bulls this season in a slightly weaker car overall. Had some excellent drives in this season, like Australia, Germany, and Monza. Silverstone however, is the real highlight of his season. He was epic on that day.

    5. Nico Rosberg
    His qualifying has been beyond phenomenal this season. 12-7 against the supposed fastest man over a single lap. He struggled a little early on in the wet qualifying sessions, but ever since Monaco, he took 10 poles to Lewis’s 3. His race performances have been more hit-or-miss. Occasionally very good (Canada, Austria, Brazil) but often also underwhelming (Malaysia, China, Belgium).

    The rest;

    6. Jenson Button
    7. Nico Hulkenberg
    8. Romain Grosjean
    9. Sebastian Vettel
    10. Jules Bianchi
    11. Jean-Eric Vergne
    12. Sergio Perez
    13. Felipe Massa
    14. Kimi Raikkonen
    15. Kamui Kobayashi
    16. Daniil Kvyat
    17. Kevin Magnussen
    18. Pastor Maldonado
    19. Adrian Sutil
    20. Marcus Ericsson
    21. Esteban Gutierrez
    22. Max Chilton

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