Strengths and weaknesses of each driver

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    Prisoner Monkeys

    So, after watching Abu Dhabi over the weeked, I got curious: what are the strengths and weaknesses (as you see them) of each driver on the grid.

    For example, Jenson Button is very gentle on his tyres an can make risky and/or unorthodox strategies work (he could, after all, see which tyres the six cars in front of him were using in Hungary and adapt his strategy accordingly), but sometimes he accepts the position he’s in too readily rather than pushing to catch the next guy. Sebasian Vettel can instantly respond to a challenge from a driver behind him, but is poor at managing the relationship between himself, the team and his team-mate (or perhaps he was too naive to know what was going on between Marko and Webber). Fernando Alonso is blindingly fast and can make bad strategies work when he needs them to, but is too quick to dismiss drivers who he does not see as a threat. Vitaly Petrov is unafraid of anyone on the circuit and is seemingly immune to the pressures the likes of Alonso and Hamilton apply. Nico Hulkenberg is very quick over one lap (and will probably inherit Jarno Trulli’s title of the sport’s best qualifier if he gets into a top team), but he overdrives the car far too often, trying to seize opportunities when none exist. Lewis Hamilton is unique in that his strength is his weakness; he never, ever backs down and will try to win the race on the last corner of the last lap even if he’s a minute down – but he doesn’t recognise when it is smarter to back off (like Monza 2009) and be content with what he has. He also cannot improvise a strategy the way Button can.

    Your turn.



    Lewis Hamilton is too happy to blame the car rather than knuckle down when things aren’t perfect. But he’s a brilliant overtaker.

    Kamui Kobayashi is brave and fearless in his overtaking but has no idea about strategy – the car gets run for far too long sometimes and he loses time.

    Heikki Kovalainen is reliable and solid but might be lacking that ruthless streak.

    Tonio Liuzzi can be quick but far too prone to errors. It’s like he’s not paying attention and sometimes he’s disinterested in qualifying.


    Dan Thorn

    Felipe Massa is prone to pulling spectacular form out from nowhere, but sometimes mysteriously struggles.

    Hekki Kovalainen could well be another Fisichella – outstanding in midfield teams with little pressure, but struggles when the spotlight is on him.

    Jaime Alguersuari is consistant and has good race pace, but doesn’t seem to realise it yet.

    Rubens Barrichello is an excellent team player who can make good strategic and set up calls, but tends to have erratic race pace.



    I’ve just done this year’s top 5:

    Vettel: blindingly quick in qualifying- in my opinion better than anyone else currently. He’s also good at looking after his tyres, especially as the Red Bull car can be quite hard on them. In terms of managing the press and TV, etc, he’s also excellent- always got a smile on his face, always happy to talk, etc. His biggest weakness is his overtaking and general “race craft”, however this will improve with time, just like Hamilton did.

    Alonso: two World Championships don’t lie- he’s a brilliant driver and somehow finds performance in a car that really isn’t up to the pace. However he can be inconsistent at times, although having said that, he’s also capable of being extremely consistent the next minute. However his biggest failing is his personality, frankly. It’s all well being determined, aggressive, driven, etc. but he’s managed to be both one of the best and one of the most hated drivers on the grid. He’s not very sporting, even with his team mate, and on several occasions he’s just become a downright cheat.

    Webber: much more consistent than his team mate, probably owing to his years of experience. One of the better racers on the grid, but falls down slightly in terms of outright pace. He doesn’t seem to cope particularly well with pressure either, especially when you consider all his experience. I also think he’s got a bit of the “Alonso factor” about him as well- he hasn’t been the best team player on occasions.

    Hamilton: like Alonso, he seems able to make a poor car drive a lot better than it should do. He’s super-aggressive when he needs to be, and one of the best, if not the best racer on the grid today. On another note, he seems to really know what he’s talking about in terms of the mechanics and engineering behind the car; I’m not saying the other drivers don’t, but I think he knows more. Having said that, he’s not the best at managing his car during the race- on plenty of occasions he’s got over-enthusiastic and destroyed his tyres.

    Button: smooth driving style means he can make his tyres last better than pretty much anyone else. But he’s not the most consistent driver- he just seems to struggle terribly every now and again. Mostly this is because of his driving style not suiting the car.



    Vettel: unproven overtaker but can run away from pole, which he’s pretty good at getting

    Alonso: lets things get to him all too often but can delivery speed and consistency at the same time

    Webber: lacks that last 1% but rarely makes a mistake

    Hamilton: makes at least one rash move a season but makes 99 good ones too, finds times from the car few others could

    Button: cannot get an imperfect set-up to work but metronomic in his consistent pace

    Massa: can produce drives out of nowhere but other days is literally nowhere

    Rosberg: gets things quietly done which makes him unnoticeably average

    Kubica: same as Massa but usually more consistent

    Schumacher: crashes into people but runs rings around them too

    Barrichello: just not fast but takes a car where it’s supposed to

    Sutil: does one impressive thing and then makes us forget about it, usually in the same race

    Kobayashi: poor qualifier but exciting driver

    Petrov: fast but no consistency, except when he’s slow

    Hulkneburg: first too conservative, then too scrappy, lots of untapped potential

    Liuzzi: has an annoying habit of ending his few good days in a wreck

    Buemi: sometimes fast, sometimes slow – the balance shifting as his career progresses

    de la Rosa: forgot this guy was even an F1 driver

    Heidfeld: see Rosberg

    Alguersuari: fast with a good technical mind, just needs to improve

    Kovalainen: bad case of Fisichella syndrome

    Trulli: good on Saturday, bad on Sunday

    Chandhok: he’s nice

    Senna: has his uncle’s history with lapped cars in reverse and not his speed

    di Grassi: I barely noticed the guy

    Glock: not that fast, not terribly slow

    Yamamoto: rich but rubbish

    Klien: can humiliate HRT drivers, but is only good enough for to be a HRT driver



    Vettle = Great qualifyer, great if he leads into the first corner, exceedingly robust defensivley can work against him, unproven or below average in everything else.

    Alonso = Crafty, quick, fantastic under preassure, usually consitant as hell. Consumate champion race driver.

    Hamilton = Faster than his car, always, an added level of maturity in 2010, that did nonetheless desert him in Monza. Possibly lets it get to him at the end of the season.

    Webber = Just not as quick as Vettle. More consistant, looks to be a fading advantage.

    Button = The car must be right, the tyres must be right. But then… Has to make up for his deficiencies and it doesn’t work every weekend.

    Massa = The forever improving, who to a scary knock, an then started going backwards.

    Rosberg = Whoberg? Oh he’s on the podium, that’s funny didn’t really see him there. Huh…

    Kubica = Frighteningly above his car at times, damn solid the rest of the time.

    Schumacher = You just sense it comming back at the moment huh? Still reckon Rosbergs got him.

    Barrichello = Occasionaly pulls it out of nowhere. Otherwise sets the car up like a dream and drives it.

    Sutil = Alright… Don’t crash that much anymore, obliterates teammate.

    Kobayashi = One man hype machine, occasionaly does something rather flashy.

    Hulkenburg = Quick, but a work in progress

    Petrov = 3/20

    Luizzi = Fantastic Karter.

    Glock = Most wasted talent currently in F1. Genuinley rather brilliant little driver, deserves better team.

    Scribe = Bored with this list.



    Vettel: Hard worker, quick learner, likeable character, quick qualifier but also a bit petulant, impatient and demanding

    Alonso: Fit, very fast, involved with the team, but also very demanding and perhaps doesn’t quite realise how people will react to what he says

    Webber: Hard worker, experienced and knows how to use his experience, can take motivation from pretty much anything, but also slower than Vettel and lets it get to him a bit too much and probably (oddly) doesn’t deal with pressure as well as Vettel

    Hamilton: Extremely fit, pretty much best race-craft on the track at the moment, works well with everyone, but also very demanding and a bit impatient which sometimes gets to him

    See, I equate fitness levels with the amount of performance the drivers are getting from the cars that’s not shown in the hands of their lesser peers. Ie. Alonso can wring the car harder than Massa, simply because it doesn’t wear him out as quickly. Same for Hamilton.

    The teams want to work for the likes of Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton because they are either likeable (Vettel and Hamilton to a lesser degree) or are very involved with their work (Alonso and Hamilton to a lesser degree).

    And while I’m sure Webber asks for the things he needs, I don’t think he demands them in quite the same way that Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton do. Which is why he can’t make up that last little bit and why I don’t think he will ever be a world champion (although I’d be happy to be proven wrong on that point). It’s also why I think Raikkonen’s championship was built more on his outright speed than most other peoples’, because he didn’t have that same level of “if you gimmi that I can do it, but with this shit there’s no way”, but rather went in with a “oh, if this is it, I’ll see what I can do with it” (before anyone wants to blast me for that, I don’t think that makes it better than anyone else’s, just different reason for why he made it and then he still needed the rival team to blow itself up as well).

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