2010 half-term driver rankings (Part 1)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Valencia, 2010

Which driver has performed the best in 2010 so far? We’re past the halfway point in the season so it’s time for the F1 Fanatic half-term rankings.

The first in this three-part series covers the drivers in the bottom 12 positions. As usual, your thoughts and observations from the forum have been considered and included.

Read on to see who I’ve ranked where and share your verdict in the comments.

24. Karun Chandhok

Karun Chandhok, HRT, Barcelona, 2010

Life is far from easy as a driver for one of the new teams. These drivers who appear at the very bottom of the list do so as much because of their limited opportunities to show their potential as any shortcomings on their part.

In Chandhok’s case, it meant not starting his F1 season until qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix – by which time some drivers had logged over 800 laps in their 2010 F1 cars.

Chandhok has been the slowest driver this year but he’s also in the slowest car, so that doesn’t show us a great deal. His team mate Bruno Senna has been quicker on the whole, but Chandhok has beaten him on occasions in qualifying and races, including in the last round at Valencia.

Perhaps he deserves to be higher. But so far his circumstances have given him little to no chance to prove it.

So far he is doing pretty good, when taking in account he got into an F1 car first time in qualifying at Bahrain. When the car does not break or hit by a flying Trulli, he has a knack for getting the car pretty far in the races, so he might be the first of the new team guys getting a (very) lucky point, and he seems a really nice guy. But nothing special so far.

Compare Karun Chandhok?s form against his team mate in 2010

23. Lucas di Grassi

Lucas di Grassi, Virgin, Shanghai, 2010

Di Grassi had to use the original version of the VR-01 – with the too-small fuel tank – for longer than team mate Timo Glock.

Now with three races in the new car under his belt he is showing signs of progress, out-qualifying Glock for the first time at Valencia.

Driving for Virgin has certainly proved a test of his adaptability. At Montreal he had to drag his car around the final laps while stuck in gear.

Hard to quantify due to the poor reliability and poor car, allied 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.

Compare Lucas di Grassi?s form against his team mate in 2010

22. Bruno Senna

Bruno Senna, HRT, Valencia, 2010

There have been some conspicuous low-points for the rookie with the very conspicuous surname. Crashing out on the first lap at Barcelona was one, failing to pit with a broken front wing at Valencia another.

But he’s been quicker than his team mate, much as he was when the two were at iSport together in GP2 two years ago. As HRT have got within striking distance of Virgin, Senna has been the one leading the attack.

Retired five times in seven races and finished 16th in two races. If he wants to have success like his uncle he will have to leave HRT fast.
Ciaran Walsh

Compare Bruno Senna?s form against his team mate in 2010

21. Vitantonio Liuzzi

Liuzzi and Massa tangle on the first lap

F1 returnee Liuzzi had a poor string of qualifying results in the first half of the year: 0.5s off Adrian Sutil in China, 0.8s in Spain and a full second in Turkey.

His race performances were some way off Sutil’s too, notably in Istanbul, where Liuzzi fell back from Jaime Alguersuari very quickly. This fuelled rumours that the team would replace him for test driver Paul di Resta.

But a change of chassis in time for the Canadian Grand Prix seems to have bolstered his confidence and put him back on terms with his team mate. He bounced back from a first-lap tangle with Felipe Massa to finish ninth, passing Sutil off-camera and barging past Michael Schumacher on the final lap.

What exactly has Liuzzi done in his 14 races for Force India to deserve a place in F1? Or, for that matter, in his entire F1 career? Admittedly, his qualifying performance at Montreal was impressive, but ultimately it will be useless if he cannot sustain that form over the second half of the season.
Ned Flanders

Compare Vitantonio Liuzzi?s form against his team mate in 2010

20. Vitaly Petrov

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Montreal, 2010

It was clear from pre-season testing that Renault were looking more to Robert Kubica to drive the development of the R30, giving him priority on dry-weather testing days.

Although that policy has been vindicated by the car’s performance it’s made Vitaly Petrov’s job as a rookie even harder, as testing time is limited to begin with.

He’s shown some verve in his wheel-to-wheel racing, for example with Hamilton in Sepang and Alonso in Istanbul. And he’s gradually getting closer to Kubica in qualifying, though he remains the only driver who has not yet out-qualified his team mate this year.

Montreal was a disaster, with a jump start and collision with Pedro de la Rosa leading to a pair of penalties, after which he spent the final stages of the race unable to pass Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus.

Hasn’t shown anything special, but he keeps improving and learning and he’s getting experienced – just like Sebastien Buemi last year.

Compare Vitaly Petrov?s form against his team mate in 2010

19. Nico H???lkenberg

Nico H???lkenberg, Williams, Valencia, 2010

H???lkenberg has often shown up well against Rubens Barrichello in qualifying, beating him in the rain in Malaysia, qualifying within 0.004s of his team mate in Montreal, and matching him in Valencia despite not running the team’s F-duct.

He scored his first point at Sepang despite having to change steering wheels during the race and was on course for more points in Valencia before his car let him down.

But there have been some unnecessary first-lap tangles – notably at Istanbul and Monaco – and at Shanghai he seemed completely flummoxed by the changing weather conditions.

Still, it’s not hard to imagine him ranking much higher come the end of the season.

I expected a lot from him, probably too much really considering he’s a rookie. Hopefully once he gets used to the car and being in F1 he might improve.

Compare Nico H???lkenberg?s form against his team mate in 2010

18. Pedro de la Rosa

Pedro de la Rosa, Sauber, Montreal, 2010

It’s been a somewhat anonymous return to F1 so far for de la Rosa, mainly due to his C29’s lamentable unreliability.

He read the conditions well at Shanghai was well-placed in the early stages before retiring with another bout of car trouble.

But his qualifying pace hasn’t been a match for the inexperienced Kamui Kobayashi.

Not too far off Kobayashi considering the three year break. Exactly what Sauber and Kamui need.
Dan Thorn

Compare Pedro de la Rosa?s form against his team mate in 2010

17. Jarno Trulli

Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Montreal, 2010

Now one of F1’s most experienced drivers, you have to wonder if Trulli has much patience for a stint with a new team in a slow car at this late stage in his career.

Running true to form Trulli has done well in qualifying, usually taking the ‘new team pole position’, but his race pace hasn’t been as strong.

He was out-qualified for the first time by a team mate at Monaco this year, then made an ill-advised lunge at Chandhok late in the race, taking them both out.

I love Jarno, but I think the time for retirement is fast approaching. He’s not driving terribly (most of the time) but his team mate is outperforming him and it just doesn’t seem like his heart is really in it any more.

Compare Jarno Trulli?s form against his team mate in 2010

16. Kamui Kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Valencia, 2010

Kobayashi’s run to seventh at Valencia was eye-catching even if it was aided by a strategic gamble that paid off big-time. Yes, he had the benefit of very fresh and very fast tyres when he went past Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi but these were still well-judged passes made from a long way back without any contact.

He’d already scored a point in Istanbul despite wearing his tyres down to the canvas in the closing stages.

But crashes in Melbourne and Montreal were not helpful for a team that is struggling to finish races anyway. As a result, Kobayashi has completed the fewest racing laps of any driver so far this year.

Disappointing start to the season with many failures and crashes have him down in 13, but his race in Valencia has me impressed. At first I thought that he would be a disappointment, but his race in Valencia is just what we want in F1.

Compare Kamui Kobayashi?s form against his team mate in 2010

15. Jaime Alguersuari

Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, Montreal, 2010

Has struggled to match his team mate’s pace in qualifying – he’s 8-1 down – but has had some good races.

His spirited defence from Michael Schumacher at Melbourne almost held out until the end of the race.

He passed H???lkenberg at Sepang and went on to finish ninth, and claimed another point at Barcelona, albeit after an unnecessary collision with Chandhok.

He had another run-in with the HRT driver at Shanghai, forcing him to make one of his half-dozen pit stops that day.

Went from invisible, to impressive, to over-aggressive in record quick time. I’m still not convinced he’s actually got the speed to be a true contender, his race pace is better but the form guide shows you quite how big a deficit he’s got to his team mate in qualifying. It is coming down though.

Compare Jaime Alguersuari?s form against his team mate in 2010

14. Timo Glock

Timo Glock, Virgin, Montreal, 2010

At the beginning of the season Virgin and Lotus were closely matched on pace and Glock would usually race the green cars until his VR-01 expired. Even at Spain, where the T127 received a major upgrade, Glock finished just 1.5 seconds behind Trulli.

Like his team mate, he’s had to drag the car to the end of a race while stuck in gear – at Istanbul, where he still came home ahead of di Grassi. At Sepang he reached Q2 thanks to the mistake of the McLaren and Ferrari drivers in failing to go on track early enough.

Hate to see him in such a dog of a car, move to Renault!

Compare Timo Glock?s form against his team mate in 2010

13. Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Valencia, 2010

Schumacher was my pre-season tip for the title – my guess being that the reigning constructors’ champions would build the best car and Schumacher would have the beating of Nico Rosberg. Clearly I was wrong on both counts.

His form has not been as dramatically bad as some have painted it as. Particularly his drive at Montreal, where his defensive tactics were entirely legitimate and his poor finishing position owed more to a puncture and bad strategy.

The comeback started poorly, with a particularly uninspired performance at a damp Shanghai while his team mate finished on the podium. After that it briefly it looked as though he’d rediscovered his pace. He ran well at Barcelona and Istanbul – finishing highest of the non-McLarens/Red Bulls in the latter.

But Schumacher seems increasingly perplexed by a car that is falling further off the pace, while his team mate continues to bring it home in the points.

Well. This is a bit… embarrassing. The only driver from the Big Four teams not to have made it yet to the podium, he’s had more bad than good moments. He’s not faring too badly considering he hadn’t been racing for three years prior. But considering everything he’s achieved, his goal this year must surely have been to at least contest for the championship. He can’t even beat his team mate right now. Will things improve? Perhaps. But sometimes, I wonder what on earth he was thinking by coming back. It’s almost like a… well, a mid-life crisis.

Compare Michael Schumacher?s form against his team mate in 2010

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116 comments on “2010 half-term driver rankings (Part 1)”

  1. Heikki Kovalainen in the top 12 then. ;) A good decision I think, outperformed his teammate and has made the best out of the new teams

    1. The only low point of Heikki’s season so far would have been that prang with Webber at Valencia, even if it was legit racing for position…

  2. i think schumi deserves a slightly higher position…than 13th….bcoz he had lot of poor strategies and unluck which includes valencia too..and even unfair penalties…

    1. I agree, things certainly haven’t gone his way, almost every race something happens outside of his control.

      But….. Even as a Schumacher fanatic, I can see that he hasn’t put himself nor the car where the Mercedes team should be. So I can see why he is in 13th.

      He’s not doing badly, it’s just he hasn’t picked up the results.

  3. Chandock should be higher i think. after all he is 20th out of 24 in the drivers standings. and is 2nd in the ‘new teams’ drivers standings.

    1. Yeah i agree with you. I think Chandhok and Di Grassi should be swapped around.

      Also like to add that even though I dont disagree too much with Kobayashi’s place, I do feel he has been a victim of his own success at the end of last year. You have to remember that he is still a rookie in a very unreliable car. Those crashes in Montreal and Australia were what you would expect from a rookie and in the other races he has had very little chance to shine due to the car.

      Maybe people have had their expectations of Kamui a little too high.

    2. I agree – Chandhok has been doing well in the ‘new teams championship’ and should be at least joint 23rd!

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        6th July 2010, 22:09

        The thing about Karun is that he is such a thoroughly nice chap and an excellent communicator he ought to be marked more highly.
        From what I have heard and read, he makes himself generally available and does not spout the corporate PR speak with a “for sure” thrown in every other sentence.
        Once his driving days are through (not for a long time, I hope) I am sure he has an excellent career ahead of him as the voice of F1 in India.

        1. Never mind India, he’s been the voice of F1 in Asia – he was the F1 analyst for our TV coverage, and a very good one at that.

          I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the corridors of power, though, after his term ends – he may lead India’s racing association in future.

      2. I tend to agree. But it’s so hard to judge with those slower teams. Altough Heikki deserves a high position!

        1. Agree with everyone.

          I think Karun should be a place higher at least. He’s caught on pretty quick considering he didn’t have any winter testing. Performance-wise, the scale tilts toward Senna, but its not lopsided. Senna may have out-qualified Karun in more race, but he hasn’t brought the car home as much as you’d expect.

          I think if Karun is given a better car, he can show his worth a little more..same goes for Senna.

    3. miguelF1O (@)
      7th July 2010, 3:47

      yes completly agree at this point he is the surprise he is beating senna maybe the dissapointement lucas di grassi is not shining aswell and trulli came alive last weekend beating kov on qualli some people say that alguersuari and buemi are very quick young drivers and a bit surprising but shouldnt they be a bit higher this year they made the car on their own anyway it is aero as good as redbull so they should be quicker

      1. miguelF1O (@)
        7th July 2010, 3:51

        and… why is vitantonio liuzzi so down on since monaco he has been showing some of the most impressive driving i have seen looking onboard he seems very smooth and efective of course that only the case on the tracks he nailed the set up but that was the case on monaco canada

        1. But is it enough?

          The car has pace to be in or on the limit ot q3, Sutil is generally faster and finishing in front of him.
          Qualli in Montreal was great, the start was a disaster (although Massa was more to blame for that) but Liuzzi made it up by having a fantastic drive through the field.
          Valencia was nothing special, so not conclusive but pretty far behind his teammate.

    4. Personally both Chandhok and Di Grassi have impressed me more than Senna – Senna admittedly has generally been faster in qualifying, but the other two have done better at driving sensible races, having a good scrap when the opportunity arises but still bringing home the car – which Senna for various reasons (of which many weren’t his fault!) has failed to do on a number of occasions.

  4. Love Journeyer’s comments on Schumacher. I expected better of Schumacher, but yes, he has been disappointing. Especially at Shnaghai where the wet weather should hev been his happy hunting ground and at Valencia, where he and Ross Brawn should have been doing what Kobayashi did.

    I still think its too early to call off his comeback. I still believe by the end of the season, he will show his true fighting colors (which were on partially on display at Barcelona, Monaco, Istanbul, Montreal), but I speak more out of heart than head.

    I agree, for Montreal, he was ridiculed by the British press more than what he deserved. I mean, look at the move between Kubica and Michael done just after Michael’s pit-stop. Michael is on the outside of the chicane, and has jumped it and gone over grass, Kubica is on the inside, and is free to brake the car in time and carry along the circuit. No way, is he forced to follow Schumi on the grass. Yet Martin Brundle goes on and on about “Schumi’s dirty tactics”.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      6th July 2010, 22:19

      But the thing is that Schumi is “The Master” and as such he ought to know better about on-track shenanigans.
      But this year, perhaps in a car that doesn’t suit him as well as his teamate, he is not doing as well as anyone (let alone himself) expected, and he looks so brittle and vulnerable.
      Not ‘old’ or ‘incapable’ but apparently unable to adapt to new circumstances in the first half of the season.
      How about Part 2?

      1. I would say that Shumi is “The Master” of on-track shenanigans. The problem is that now he is even failing in doing that properly… but I believe people are being to harsh on him. In a season lacking on controversy, he is at least providing some comic relief – something to laugh about between races.

        1. Yawn… Will anyone fix this broken record?

    2. …and the British press accuses Schumacher off pushing Kubica off the track while he was on the outside – if he could have done that he should be ranked first here.

  5. Great article Kieth, but i think that Petrov is a little under-rated. But other than that all the rakings are fair.

    1. Who would you put him in front of that he’s behind?

      1. I would have him in front of Pedro de la Rosa and Nico Hülkenberg.

        By the way, this is what I love about the driver rankings each year, it is a great topic for debate.

        1. No way is Petrov doing better than Hulkenberg. Look at where Kubica is with that Renault and see how poorly Petrov has performed in comparison.

          In comparison Hulkenberg is much closer to Barrichello. It’s just because the Williams is such a poor car (or poorly powered car) that Hulkenberg is slightly behind Petrov in results.

          Personally I’d put Hulkenberg well before De La Rosa

          1. I agree with Pat, Maybe Rubens isn’t on Kubica’s level, but he isn’t that far off, and Hulkenburg is already showing that he can be as quick as Rubens.

            The Engine isn’t so bad, It’s no Merc, but it gets the car around.

        2. I was just logging in to post the very same suggestion. I think Petrov has looked pretty good. de la Rosa has been uninspiring to say the least. Hulkenberg has showed a few flashes, but has made lots of mistakes.

        3. I would do the same. If you give the credit to Hulkenberg just for being close to Barichello, than just see how close is Barichello to Kubica and you’ll see the big picture. It’s pretty hard to shine with a teammate who doesn’t make significant mistakes and is widely regarded as one of the best on the grid(I can easily imagine Kubica in top 3 of the ranking). As for De La Rosa, he isn’t a rookie so the level of expectations should be a little bit higher. In that respect, he didn’t do very well. Also purely on points, Petrov did better than both of them, although I know that Renault (surprisingly for some) is one of 4 best cars on the grid.

        4. I think some people perceive Petrov is doing better than Hülkenberg because of three things:

          1. The Rensult is doing better than expected
          2. The Williams is doing worse than expected
          3. Hülkenberg was expected to do better than Petrov

          However looking at how far Petrov has been off Kubica’s pace compared to the difference between Hülkenberg and Barrichello, I think Hülkenberg’s doing better.

          That said, both are clearly improving.

      2. I’d put him ahead of Hülkenberg, de la Rosa, and probably Trulli… Yes he’s the only driver who hasn’t out-qualified his team mate so far, but Kubica’s also the only driver so far this year who really has never made any notable mistakes (with the possible exception of his chicane mishap with Schumacher in Canada), so it would be difficult to compete. No other rookie on the grid is paired up with a top driver…

        1. Why on earth is Hulkenberg 19:th? He has matched Barrichello very well in qualifying, and Barrichello is one of the best, in my opinion every bit as good as Kubica, and perhaps even better.

          1. A bit too many unforced mistakes from his side to be rated better and not getting us excited on occasion (like Kobayashi did).

    2. I’d also put Petrov ahead of Huelkenberg – fine, Nico has been closer to his team-mate than Vitaly but when you look at the respective performances of the two, there have been more moments that have made me sit up and notice Petrov than Huelkenberg. Considering his pre-F1 promise, he has had a very disappointing first half of the season.

  6. “Schumacher was my pre-season tip for the title – my guess being that the reigning constructors’ champions would build the best car and Schumacher would have the beating of Nico Rosberg. Clearly I was wrong on both counts.”


    I thought you had your finger on the pulse, Keith ;-)

    He was never going to beat Nico in the first half of the season (and I said that back in Feb), over full season maybe (but not now.)

    Therefore, it was very unlikely he would be a contender for the championship unless it was between him and Nico… unlikely given the strength and depth this season.

    Thirdly, I did expect Mercedes to be better but not one of the top two, which really hasn’t help Shumi ease into the season, otherwise things might have been a bit different.

    1. Not quite fair to accuse Keith of vapors, but he could have looked deeper. Before the season, question marks loomed over Ferrrari and McLaren, and RedBull looked no less prone to damaging gaffes as before. Add to that, the eminence of Ross Brawn paired again with Schumacher, and a few suitcases of Deutsche Mark from Mercedes, and you had a very strong paper team.

      However, many pointed out that the Brawn GP01 finished the year in less than stellar fashion and that it was coasting on old Yen. Many pointed out that Schumacher, just like every other major sports champion to attempt a “comeback,” would never rise to his previous heights. People thought that Rosberg would again underachieve.

      None of these calculations were correct. And frankly I fear that Schumacher’s ranking here is leavened by some remaining faith in pre-season assumptions, rather than performance on the track.

      1. ‘Vapors’?

        1. 3 a : something unsubstantial or transitory : phantasm b : a foolish or fanciful idea.

          Regarding Schumacher, when I tell my children I saw Schumacher race, and they ask me what it was like, I will tell them:

          He won from pole in the fastest car, which once went literaly years between mechanical break-downs, or, if his teammate was ahead, things were arranged to address the situation. There was some Finnish guy who gave him a bit of trouble when the Ferrari wasn’t so great, but then he quit. Finally, A Spanish guy came along and started winning, then Schumacher ran off to do insurance commercials, and the guy took Schumacher’s place.

          And they will not say, wow, Dad, tell us more. It’s like kids asking about how great it was that the PRI managed to stay in power in Mexico for almost 50 years. You didn’t have to be there to know it wasn’t that thrilling.

          Kidding aside, he was, you know, just a man. There is no need to prostrate before him. If he doesn’t deliver on the track, he should go. How many drivers this year have the team boss having to give excuses for him at pressers and having to redesign the car to suit him? That was once Heidfeld’s situation and Nick now races on Playstation.

          1. Wow, Are you going to say the same about Senna or Villeneuve?

            And not only that, but a nice low blow at nick as well…

          2. Sorry, a childhood of getting up when it’s dark to see one guy “manage the gap” for 50 laps was not exciting. Not at all. His seige and defeat by Fernando Alonso was akin to the Berlin Wall falling in Formula One. It was a great day. Lest we forget, while his accomplishments will never be bettered, by the end of this reign he had decisivly been proven human. And there are now a fair handful of guys with skills comparable to Alonso’s, and one of them is in the other car. So the idea that he will somehow rise up and smite all of Hamilton, Button, Vettel, Rosberg, Alonso, Massa is fanciful.

      2. Don’t write Michael Schumacher off yet.What his critics seem to forget is that he “chose” the long haul with Ferrari,he could have easily gone to a winning team,such as Williams at that time.But no,not MSC,he preferred to “work” for his furure trophies.It took a couple of years to whip Ferrari into shape again,and have the great Ferrari team work “with” him,but after that?….well what happened then is written in stone.
        It really annoys me when so called sporting people, who should know better,so brusquely writing off great Champions who return to the sport they love.
        For goodness sake,have they and you,yes “YOU” so called F1 fans on this forum, have you so quickly lost all the memories of these great Champions? ~~ winning events over and over again,with the World cheering them on.I feel honoured just to be able to watch them again in action,especially in Formula 1,where many of the great names have sadly passed on through being killed doing what they loved to do.
        Please do remember that Michael Schumacher is a living legend,and, thankfully,we are still able to see this legend again in action.It may not be to your liking at the moment,but please,for the sake of F1 racing,you could at least show respect to the greatest F1 driver of all time.You owe this much to your children,and grandchildren,when you will be able to tell them,hopefully with pride, that you actually saw him race.

        1. That is precious. He came to Ferrari with the whole technical team that made Benetton the leading car in F1. The reason why they did not pick up where they left in 1995 is that half of the guys moved to Ferrari in 1996 and the other half in 1997. But tall tale remains that it was Schumacher that made Ferrari a winning team. Shumi is only a legend in cheating – in that he has no peer. And all that to be able to beat the likes of D. Coultard, Jack Villeneuve, R. Barichello, E. Irvine… in short the who-is-who of the Most Mediocre F1 Drivers of All Time. I am glad he is back. He is doing so poorly that J. Todt and Bernie feel the need to come to his defence (when you are truly great, people don’t need to say it: it is self evident). I guess it won’t be long before the FIA needs to add a specialist in geriatry to the medical team..

          1. Oh please, Antifia, if you have nothing to contribute to discussions than insults in Schumacher’s direction, then go somewhere else.

            9th in championship at the moment= poor performance. Seven titles on the other hand= legend of F1 racing. Even the most myopic of F1 fans would accept that.

          2. Also don’t forget that it was around 1997 when the first breakaway loomed.That’s when Ferrari was given their veto and 80 million a year bonus by FIA and FOM.

            That Fiarrari deal helped them tremendously.

          3. Make no mistake – Brawn, Byrne and co. wouldn’t have gone to Maranello without Schumacher in place there. Any way you look at it, it’s Schumacher that made Ferrari a winning team.

            Also, here’s a thought for you – had Schumi not been in F1, how many wins/titles would people like DC and JV have won? Or even Rubens? We’d probably be calling them World Champions, no? But Schumi is THAT good, that dominant over the others of that era.

            Also, for someone to be great, others have to say he is. I can’t exactly call myself great, can I? It is other people who can say that, not me. ;)

          4. @Journeyer – i am actually used to calling at least 1 of them a World Champion as is, J. Villeneuve did win the ’97 championship after all.

            I don’t think he was a mediocre driver. I have seen him in CART at its peak and his drives in F1 were very good as well, he did have a first season that was second only to Lewis Hamilton’s. Sure the desicion to do B.A.R. after not agreeing with Williams anymore, was dumb and after that he sort of lost his way, but the first 2-3 years were very good.

          5. Hey David A., keep your hair on…don’t like no frils comments about Shumi-the-cheat, don’t read them. About his performance, in a season in which there are 4 top teams, one can say that he is 9th out of eight…rsrsrsrs… that is pretty poor in my book.

          6. Journeyer, this is one of those situations in which the same argument seem to be good to back up totally opposite positions, I guess. I agree with with – on top of having champions of the caliber of D. Hill and JV, we would probably also have DC, Montoya and Rubens up there. Mind you, D. Hill would be a 3 times champ and Rubens would have 2 titles to his name. The only thing is that for me it is nothing but the confirmation that we had the most terrible F1 drive line up in its history between, say, 1994 and 2003. Shumi was fishing in a barrel – and still had to cheat…

          7. @Antifia- I admitted that he’s been poor. I don’t have an issue witht that. It’s your other troll-like behaviour that is ridiculous.

    2. I too expected Schumacher and Mercedes to do far better than they have. But with the benefit of hind sight should we really have expected it? Last years Brawn was designed and developed using the huge resources and budget of Honda. The Mercedes team also has a huge budget at the moment, but they came very late to the party. When this years car was being designed and developed Mercedes money wasn’t there and the car was being designed on a shoe string Brawn budget, probably the smallest budget of all the established teams. It was also being designed specifically for Button who has very different requirements and driving style to either of the Mercedes drivers. In the light of that is it so surprising they are struggling?….. but even so they shouldn’t be going backwards which is how it seems at the moment.

      1. I’m sure I read recently that Brawn was struggling with the Merc bean counters questioning every single spend down to a pack of washers type thing – the budget is smaller than people would expect.

  7. BTW, really enjoyed reading this article.

  8. Love these rankings. There’s no right or wrong but just good old F1 debate. I love the comments that were included too.

    I usually try and always fail to try to keep my Felipe soft spot out of debates but I have to say thank you Keith for not putting him on these rankings! :) However, if you miss him out all together for being quiet at times this season I won’t be amused :p

    1. So did you fear Massa might end up in this ‘column’ then? I agree that he is not doing great, and has a rather uninspiring season so far, but the car has also been letting him down a bit. I was very happy to see him so close to Alonso before, and behind that Valencia SC.

  9. (Alguersuari) went from invisible, to impressive, to over-aggressive in record quick time

    … and now he’s back to being invisible again. He needs to recapture some of his early season form or he’ll be out as quickly as it takes to say ‘Ricciardo’

  10. It looks to me that the driver’s qualifying pace has been taken into consideration more than race results. At the end of the day, it’s race results which matter the most.

    Drivers like Chandhok and Liuzzi may have bad qualifying pace, but they both have better race results Petrov and Trulli, for their standards.

    1. On the last line of my comment, it’s meant to say “better race results THAN Petrov and Trulli”.

      1. Unfair, Heikki is presumably in the top 12, and Trulli has a better quali record than him !

  11. ” Particularly his drive at Montreal, where his defensive tactics were entirely legitimate and his poor finishing position owed more to a puncture and bad strategy.”


    Keith you don’t often get it wrong but this is a doozy!

    MS’s drive in Montreal was like Arnoux in the late 80’s, desperate and only a shadow of his former glory.

    1. He didn’t do anything wrong at all. Kubica had room to make the corner and Schumacher’s moves in front of Massa were completely in line with what other drivers have done before and had gone unpunished.

      I’m not sure what all the fuss was about, other than that people aren’t accustomed to seeing Schumacher lose places like that.

      1. Well, he did repeatedly cut the last chicane to avoid being passed. Again, it’s still legal, though I expect the officials to install better speed bumps on the outside of that chicane to penalise future transgressors…

      2. The fuss is that he committed more of those “semi”-legal moves in one race than the average driver makes in a year.

        Besides, the moves he made have been punished on other occasions too.

    2. I’m totaly with Keith on this one, Ted.

      1. How could he not be a “shadow of his former glory” with a puncture, on a bad strategy, and in an average car?

        1. Totally agree with u!
          i want to see him next year in a car he helps develop. if he still dsnt deliver, then i agree that he is past it, till then, we can only hope.

        2. Nico got on the podium in the same car (albeit earlier in the season).

          And I always say this: 1996 – 3 wins, 3rd in the championship, in what was an average car – at best.

    3. I’m also with Keith here.

    4. I think you should watch some old Schumi and Arnoux races !

  12. SchumacherFan
    6th July 2010, 21:20

    I would have said that most places were right on this. Some may complain that perhaps Kobayashi is to low but he has only done what we saw at the end of 2009 in Valencia, maybe Montreal.

    I would place Schumacher higher, certainly in the top 10 because as others have mentioned, he has had some bad luck and some very porr stratergies which odd because Brawn and co. are masterminds and should know how to make a good race stratergy. Valencia was a very strong performance I thought despite how low he was in the end result after securing the 2nd fastest lap. However some performances haven’t been good enough like Shanghai, that was terrible!

    Overall however, I would promote Schumacher a little bit more because he has had a 3 year break, he’s had a severe neck problem within that time, the rules have changed alot since 2006 and the car cannot deliver the goods to match the likes of McLaren and Red Bull. I think in the 2nd half this year we will see a stronger performance and I think 2011 will be immense for Schumi if Brawn and co. can set the car up right.

    Also today in the BBC F1 gossip column, Damon Hill has said not to right Schumacher ofg.

    1. “Overall however, I would promote Schumacher a little bit more because he has had a 3 year break, he’s had a severe neck problem within that time, the rules have changed alot since 2006 and the car cannot deliver the goods to match the likes of McLaren and Red Bull”

      To be fair, Pedro has been out as well so on that basis perhaps he should be promoted? Although granted under the rules Pedro only lost out in testing in 09 I think it was and he only has a rookie teammate but I think both are suffering but doing fairly well given the circumstances. For me, it;s a bit like Karun who looks like he’s doing ok but it is very hard to judge given the circumstances and there are guys clearly much stronger delivering the goods.

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      6th July 2010, 22:44

      If Schumi has a bad neck problem what the pointed pinacles is he doing back in F1?
      Schumi is supposed to be “The Master” and allied with last year’s champion constructor most of us expected “Ride-of-the-Valkyries” type retribution, and that just hasn’t happened.
      Even his teamate is beating him, so why should Schumi be any higher?

  13. Look at his points compared to Rosberg in same car. He can not cut it in todays F1, without that all-conquering Ferrari, and without endless testing, without traction control, etc. So was he ever that all that talented ? I don`t think so. He won through determination and dedication, fair enough, but often with questionable driving in the best car. Now he has not got the best car, he is not able to test and hone, he is getting frustrated and the questionable driving is rearing its head again. I keep hoping he will prove that he does have the talent to put a modern F1 car at the front of the pack, but if he does not do it soon he should move over and let someone younger have a crack.

    1. “The Master” does not need to mean you are the best driver, but it does mean you are able to control your environment such that it tends to fall into place for you. He has been just that, but maybe now he has less grip on his environment. Not a fan btw.

  14. I don’t think Alguersuari deserves a worse place than Buemi. Maybe he’s 8-1 down in qualifying, but he’s like 6-3 up in race positions, which is what’s counting. And considering he always starts behind his teammate should be a plus.

    And Schumi 13… other than the points with some bad luck and worse car, I really don’t he’s doing worse than Massa or Alonso.

    1. he’s like 6-3 up in race positions

      If you count Buemi’s three DNFs against him, regardless of whether they were caused by factors outside his control.

      1. Great Article Keith! I would agree with most of your ranking so far with the exception of Petrov and Schumi.

        I honestly thought that Petrov was the most impressive rookie this season. I feel that you have ranked him below De la Rosa and Hulkenberg as you as comparing his performances to that of his teammate. Kubica is arguably the best driver of the year so far, and Petrov, although still lagging his teammate in qualifying, has shown that he can make up positions in the race and can race wheel to wheel with the best.

        I would also expect Schumacher to be ranked far lower. Despite his bad luck and poor strategic calls, he has been one of the worst drivers on the grid this year. I would definitely place Kobayashi and Alguesari in front of him.

        1. Those two are guys being largely dominated by their teammates, and while Petrov has had some bad luck (Turkey for instance), a single top 10 finish in 9 races simply isn’t good enough, so I feel that Keith got it right on that one, regardless of whether Kubica has been the best driver this year or not.

          Schumacher has completely disapointed, but putting things in perspective, he has actually had a few good drives (Spain, Monaco, Turkey) as well as some poor ones (Australia, China, Canada). I disagree with your view, or those above claiming he should be higher- mid-table is appropriate to show how average he’s been.

      2. Qualifying isn t everything… Still, when we count those races, where both STR drivers where classified, then it is equal 3:3… Buemi has the better speed on one qualifying lap, but has also anything else to offer? Alguersuari finished all 9 races… So his drivers reliability is 100% He had impressive starts and first laps (25 positions gained, which is 1st place overall !!!) His results are very consistent from 9th postion to 13th… Is again anyone better in this? Algy should be definitely somewhere near Buemi and not 5 places behind…

  15. As a Schumi (big) fan, I think he deserved his position. He hasn’t done a fantastic job, and the car and some strategy gone wrong.
    But I think he will be better in the next part of the season.

    GOGO Schuey !

    Thanks Keith !

  16. Keith, the only change I’d make there is to swap Petrov with Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg has simply been his own worst enemy all season long, and stupid mistakes – like attempting to pass Sutil in Canada and damaging his front wing before speeding in pit lane when he went to get it replaced – have cost him dearly. After all, he’s never finished a race in a position higher than what he started in.

    1. MouseNightshirt
      7th July 2010, 0:20

      “After all, he’s never finished a race in a position higher than what he started in.”

      That’s a huge point right there and I agree fully with PM on this.

      Considering some of the attrition we’ve had this season, that’s really quite shocking.

      1. It’s easy to say that Hulkenberg’s lack of success has been a by-product of Williams’ poor form early in the season, but just how much of it is down to the car? Take Turkey for instance: it was one of the first circuits he knew that he encountered as a Formula 1 driver, and by that I mean the honeymoon period was over and he should have settled in. Yet he was overtaken by Barrichello late in the race, and I distinctly remember Martin Brundle commenting that Williams had most likely told Hulkenberg to move over and let Rubens have a go. That’s pretty telling.

        Likewise, it’s easy to say that Petrov’s good form in China was a result of a tyre strategy, but reading the prevailing conditions is one of the most important skills for a driver to have. I think the Buemi analogy is very apt: he’s getting in there and he’s getting it done, and while he might throw a disappointing result out – like in Canada – he has the support of the team. In the bad old days of Braitore, the team would have left him to his own devices to try and figure out a way to get half a second all on his own, but now the team seems to be standing behind him, trying to figure out what they can do to help him. I distinctly remember the team quotes after Montreal asking “Did we do enough to support him?”. I also think he’s been unfairly judged. A lot of people were expecting Nick Heidfeld or even Jacques Villeneuve to get that second Renault spot, but as soon as they went with Petrov, it was all about the money. It can’t be easy to be Petrov right now, what with all the talk of his being replaced by Raikkonen when he’s been one of the most impressive rookies given that he has run in the points – or been fighting for them at the time of retirement (read: Bahrain) in every race except Canada. No-one else has come close to that.

        1. Hmm, you do dismiss Hulk too quickly, he has been close to Ruben’s pace in the last few races, and to argue that a rookie isn’t doing well enough, because the most experienced man in F1 is a bit quicker, isn’t a great argument.

          Petrov has done well no doubt about it, but remember he is in what appears to be the 4th most competitive car, and that he is way off the pace of Kubica.

          Petrov is going well, but I don’t think he’s necessarily doing better then Hulkenburg.

          1. In terms of one-lap pace, the Hulk is quick. But over the course of a race, he’s consistently inconsistent.

            As for Petrov, remember what Eric Boullier said: it’s easy to forget that the likes of Hulkenberg and Kobayashi had close relationships with their teams (or, in Kobayashi’s case, with Toyota) for years before they got the call-up to Formula 1. Petrov didn’t. The first time he drove a Formula 1 car was at the first test, and Renault limited his time to give Kubica more running to develop the car.

    2. Hulkenberg has consistently finish just behind (or ahead of) Barrichello.

      Petrov is a horrible qualifier. So what if he makes back op a place or two during the race? He should be ahead of Hulkenberg in that Renault and not behind him.

  17. fulburncams
    6th July 2010, 23:49

    Overall I think a lot of these guys ( Including Schumi ) would benefit from testing, testing , testing. Why this has been as a benefit to be desipnesed with as it so clearly hampers new teams and new/re-turning drivers is beyond me. The cost saving is trivial caomparted to the benefits in terms of performance/reliability/safety. Even Schumi needs to get back into form.. and BTW, I dont even like the guy. One other benefit of testing is that it allows those of us without £500-£1000 in our back pocket to see F1 cars, I remember 4 years ago when Silverstone ran ‘free’ days when you could see F1 cars testing.

    1. A fair point made here fulburncams

  18. Never thought I’d see the day when Schuey was ranked in the bottom half of drivers. While I agree with the bottom 12, I’d swap the order around a bit. Chandhok for a start would be higher up. But overall, agree pretty much with Keith’s rankings.

  19. I also think people expected way too much of Kobayashi at the beginning of the season. His pass on Jenson Button in Abu Dhabi might have won “overtake of the year”, but I maintain that pass was not really a pass at all – Button had just come out of the pits, heavy on fuel and with brand-new tyres that had not even seen half a lap, while Kobayashi was light and with tyres that were used enough to grip without giving way. Kobayashi might as well have passed him in the pits (also, the Raikkonen-on-Fisichella pass was similarly overrated, as Raikkonen just used KERS to do it). As a result, people were expecting big things of Koabayshi, but so far his finest moments have come from the way he had brand-new tyres compared to Alonso or Buemi.

  20. Not sure whether Keith you have put the drivers numbers in random order or not but I think that Vitaly Petrov don’t deserve in number 20.

    Nice work though, I think that Schumacher have the performance under his belt which we saw in Spain & Monaco, He was caught by wrong strategy by his team in Canada & Europe. I still think that he will finish in the top 10 at the end of the season & I hope he continues to race for 2011.

  21. Mr. Zing Zang
    7th July 2010, 4:39

    Hey where’s Jenson Button?!

    1. This is only the first half, places 13-24. You’ll notice Keith’s list is also missing the likes of Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel. The top twelve drivers will be coming in the second part, unless you think Jenson Button should somehow be grouped in the back half of the field.

    2. The first in this three-part series covers the drivers in the bottom 12 positions.

    3. You think he’s only performing on a level with the back half of the grid?

  22. Where would Alonso be if this we done when he was in a Minardi? Or Webber? It’s a difficult exercise. But, logically, a guy driving a backmarker could be at the top of the chart. Kovalainen would be my candidate. And Chandok does not deserve to be DFL, given the number of drivers in decent cars who are doing little and getting crushed by teammates.

    1. Exactly. It’s not easy.

      In Alonso’s case I’d say his race at Suzuka for Minardi in 2001 was among his best performances.

  23. My heart says that Karun and Bruno should both be above Di Grassi, simply because that HRT continues to be an absolute dog of a car, but the order loks right. Maybe its Karun’s “good chap” appeal that has won me over.

    Couldn’t agree more with RedBullRacer in respect of Jarno Trulli. He just doesn’t seem to have that fire in his belly anymore and seems to be more concerned by the grapes in his vinyard that whats going on with his car. The look on his face reminds me of Damon Hill just before he retired…he just looks like he couldn’t be bothered with it all anymore.

    1. I feel the same way about Trulli from his nonverbal comunication/the way he looks.

      And both HRT guys are doing a impressive job with the given equipment, they deserve to be rated higher. But Di Grassi had only little running more than them and had to learn with a new chassis with pretty much completely different characteristics due to the enlarged Fuel tank. So in the end i think it is about right.

  24. “Schumacher was my pre-season tip for the title – my guess being that the reigning constructors’ champions would build the best car and Schumacher would have the beating of Nico Rosberg.”

    Keith, I wouldn’t admit to this if I were you!

  25. I’m bit surprised to see Toro Rosso drivers having at least three places between them since I think they have been one of the closest battles out there. Buemi has been better in qualifyings but Alguersuari has done the job better in races.

    Anyway, I decided to put my prediction for the rest. Let’s see how well I do.

    12. Buemi
    11. Barrichello
    10. Kovalainen
    9. Massa
    8. Rosberg
    7. Sutil
    6. Alonso
    5. Vettel
    4. Button
    3. Webber
    2. Hamilton
    1. Kubica

    1. That’s not a bad list at all Bleu, without painstakingly analysing it, I think it’s pretty much on the money though I might put Hamilton on top and Vettel further up maybe…..hmmm……

  26. One more thing:

    “Kobayashi’s run to seventh at Valencia was eye-catching even if it was aided by a strategic gamble that paid off big-time.”

    The same could be said about Jenson’s gamble in Austraila which was dubbed “a fantastic choice to change to slicks”. I don’t think we should take anything away from Kobi’s drive in Valencia just because he took a gamble on tyres.

    1. Again, not taking anything away from Kobayashi, but I don’t agree with the comparison to Button.

      Kobayashi’s strategy was a complete gamble that was made before the race even began. Indeed, they’d done it before in other races.

      Whereas Button felt how quickly the intermediates were going off and decidedly, correctly and before anyone else, that he could make a switch to slicks work. He deserves credit for that.

      What I would say it at least Sauber had the sense to stick with their tyre gamble in Valencia, whereas Mercedes didn’t with Schumacher in the same race.

      1. It’s interesting, or maybe more worrying to see that those previous tactical masterminds Schumi/Brawn have got it wrong with their choices several times this year.
        Schumi might have been close or on the podium in Valencia if they had sticked with the strategy.

  27. Its a teenie bit difficult to take the listing that seriously when the writer backed MS for the title but to be fair i ant argue with most of the summations, especially Tim O’Glocks, his manager is either hopeless or Tim is a tricky one to handle.

    Im going to stick my neck out for the top 3:

    1. Kubica
    2. Hamilton
    3. Vettel

    1. You’ve been commenting here for ages antonyob, you don’t have to call me ‘the writer’!

      As for picking Schumacher, we all know no-one wins a world championship without a very good car. And hardly anyone wins a world championship without the best car.

      1. Was it ever likely that Mercedes would have the best car this year?

        They were second best in the second half of 2009, and they spent most of 2008 and most of Honda’s money on that car. They clearly struggled to develop the car during the season having laid off so many staff.

        Were they really going to come up with another world beater over the winter break?

        All too predictable in hindsight…

        1. The team were well-funded throughout 2009 and part of the reason they weren’t as quick in the second half of the season was because they’d put so much of their effort into developing their 2010 car. Unfortunately it seems they got the weight distribution for this year’s car fundamentally wrong and that’s a difficult thing to fix.

      2. You can win a championship without the best car. But you’ll need at least the second-best car (Renault in 05, Benetton in 95, McLaren in 86, Ferrari in 79) to have a decent chance.

    2. Can’t really disagree with you mate

    3. I must say, i did not expect Schumi to stun the world by taking both championships and walzing over everyone. That was mainly because i was concerned with the car (rightly so we now learnt). But i did expect Mercedes and Schumi to be a lot closer to the pace and at least threaten for race wins regularly.

      1. “But i did expect Mercedes and Schumi to be a lot closer to the pace and at least threaten for race wins regularly.”

        So did I

  28. Blogger in chief then.

  29. I’d swap Chandhok and Di Grassi and probably Liuzzi and Petrov above Hulkenberg and De La Rosa and been dissapointed with Alguersuari after a good start to the season and well simply Schumacher has been poor apart from spain,turkey and monaco
    great article

  30. Chandhok deserves at least an 18th position or something…he’s done better than his team mate…

  31. This dismissing of MS is ludicrous, his final drive in 2006 was him at his absolute best, a stunning drive. And he out drove the ferrari for 3 years before they made it quick. All racers are flawed, all champions flaws are magnified. Mega champions unless they die or are from the era when everyone just said “jolly good show, well done” have their records questioned, which is fine but lets stop this nonsense.

    Ive no time for MS’ antics but when he wanted to he was asublimely quick driver and he carried that Ferrai team, a trait no driver i can think of has ever come close to matching. Brundle & Coulthard perhaps have reason to dislike him but dont let that colour the facts.

    1. Well said mate,

    2. Did you see spineless Martin Brundle literally “push” Eddie Jordan (while ramming a microphone into EJ’s hand)into the path of Michael Schumacher in Valencia,while Brundle shuffled off and looked the other way.This was a week after he said Michael Schumacher looked like a donkey from behind and he drove like a rookie.EJ looked so embarassed he mumbled something to MSC engineers and then came away sheepishly.

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