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Featured F1: Mid-Season Driver Rankings Part Three

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Chris, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. Chris

    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium

    The third and final part to our Mid-Season Driver rankings is finally here and this time we take a look at the top five drivers so far this season.

    If you missed (or just want to re-read) our first two articles, you can check out Parts One and Two.

    We're just seven days away until lights out at the spectacular Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium for Round 13 of the Formula One season. The title battle is still hotly contested, and there are still plenty of sub-plots to eek out as the season progresses. I for one, cannot wait.

    Lewis Hamilton left Germany with a 19 point lead over teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg, and with momentum well and truly on his side of the garage, Rosberg will have to dig deeper than ever if he's to claw back that deficit. Speaking of Rosberg, let's get our rankings underway, shall we?

    The season could not have gotten off to a better start for Nico Rosberg. Four wins in the first four races combined with reliability issues and racing incidents being suffered by his teammate, Nico Rosberg went into the European 'season' looking in clear control of the championship; it was his to lose.

    The major turning point for Rosberg's season was undoubtedly the first lap crash between himself and Lewis Hamilton at the Spanish Grand Prix, eliminating both drivers. Irrespective of who you apportioned the majority of the blame to, that incident has clearly caused drop in Rosberg's confidence when racing wheel to wheel as he's taken only one win in seven races. A severe under-performance when you consider the machinery he's in.

    Seventh place in Monaco being the low point in his season (aside from Spain of course) as he struggled for pace in both the wet and dry conditions. Hamilton behind him in third for the first 14 laps was clearly not suffering the same lack of speed which then forced Mercedes management into a tough situation as they let the race lead slip away to Daniel Ricciardo. Rosberg was forced to swallow a bitter pill: Let your championship rival, who you've got a significant points lead over, get past you on team orders. As Hamilton drove off into the distance, Rosberg seemingly could not find the pace as he battled with the mid-field runners. A poor exit from Anthony Noghes on the final lap saw him relinquish sixth place to Nico Hulkenberg in a race that can only be described as a disaster as his teammate went on to win the race with a bit of help from Red Bull.

    The pair would clash again in Austria on the final lap of the race after Hamilton attacked on the outside of turn two. Rosberg broke deep and forced his teammate off the track causing contact and a broken front wing for the German as he limped home in fourth place. He would later take post race penalties along with license penalty points for his overly aggressive defense on Hamilton. In Germany he was penalised again for a very similar move against Max Verstappen, only this time it was Rosberg attacking on the inside. Rosberg's confidence as a racer has surely been shaken, and now that he's allowed what was once a 43 point lead turn into a 19 point deficit, the momentum is well and truly on the other side of the garage.

    Despite winning the first four races and a qualifying pace that's still among the best in the business, an incredibly poor latter half of the first eleven races means he has a significant amount of work ahead of him if he's to finally crack the Hamilton code.

    It's been a groundbreaking season for young Max Verstappen. He started the season with Toro Rosso and as he piled on the impressive performances (aside from a radio outburst in Australia after a tactical error that resembled the young rebellious teenager that he is, rather than the 10 year veteran he appears to often portray), his management team - otherwise known as Jos Verstappen Inc. Ltd. Pty. - piled on the pressure off the track to the big boy Red Bull team. Whilst we'll never know absolutely what was said, it was most likely along the lines of "My son is much better than that Russian kid you've currently got. Promote him now or we'll take our talents elsewhere".

    Once he got his chance, Verstappen immediately proved that he has what it takes to win a Grand Prix by taking the chequered flag in Barcelona. His first race with Red Bull. One could argue that Verstappen had that race served up to him on a silver platter, sure. But it's one thing to lead a Grand Prix, it's an entirely different thing to convert that into a win, and Verstappen showed for all the world to see that he has got what it takes. His race-craft is sublime, a light touch on the wheel and gentle on the tyres, however he's been largely trounced by his more experience teammate in qualifying sessions who has become rather renowned for his unbelievably fast qualifying speed. In the races though, Max has handled his business and well and truly held his own against Ricciardo.

    Germany provided crystal clear evidence that Verstappen is a megastar in the making. There wasn't a huge crowd at the German GP, but the majority of the people who rocked up were Verstappen fans. Flags, T-shirts and a sea of orange. This kid will be world champion some day, but the Honey Badger on the other side of garage will undoubtedly have something to say about that.

    If there's one thing that Sebastian Vettel will be mulling over during his mid-season holiday, it's the fact that this season could have yielded so many more points than it actually has. Strategy errors in Australia and Canada cost him the win and an early finish to his Russian GP was brought about because of the clumsy driving of Daniil Kvyat.

    Similarly with Max, Germany showed us why Vettel is considered one of F1's 'Big Three'. A generally poor weekend by his standards where he struggled for pace during practice and qualifying, he was outclassed by Raikkonen as the optimal car setup eluded him. His championship pedigree shone through during the race however as he came home in fifth place ahead of Kimi despite being slower than him all weekend.

    Whilst he may have extracted the most Ferrari could hope for out of the car that day, he cannot be happy with the current trajectory of the Scuderia's performance. To start the season they were comfortably the second quickest car and by the end of the German GP, they've had that place firmly taken away from them by Red Bull. Ferrari have clearly switched their focus to the 2017 season and the big challenge for Vettel will be remaining motivated for each race knowing that he does not have any chance of winning unless incredibly abnormal circumstances arise.

    A three-time world champion with two on the trot. Lewis Hamilton has been at the absolute top of his game, and even though he's had the fastest car, he's squeezed every last bit of performance from the Mercedes. This year, he's looking to obtain his fourth championship in yet again the fastest car and yet again he's got the measure of his teammate. What could possibly go wrong?

    Well, for the first five races of 2016, very little went right. Mechanical failures, driving reprimands, first lap incidents and that unforgettable (or forgettable if you work for Mercedes AMG Petronas) crash between himself and teammate Nico Rosberg. He's also been relatively off his game in Qualifying as his German teammate has once again proved to be no push over at the game of 'I'm faster than you'.

    Since then however, Hamilton has been next to unstoppable. In the seven races since the Spanish debacle, Hamilton has won six of them, and often in a Prost-esque fashion: Winning the race in the slowest possible time and putting as little stress on the car as possible. During his drive to the chequered flag in Hungary it was clear that he was holding back, and I believe he was playing games with Rosberg to back him up into the Red Bulls.

    It was plainly clear that Hamilton had more pace in the car, yet he won the race by taking as little out of the car as possible. In Monaco he and Mercedes concocted a beautiful strategy gamble by staying on the extreme wet tyres until the track was dry enough for slicks. He was massively helped by Red Bull's tyre cock-up on Ricciardo's car, but there's no denying that Mercedes' strategy of going from Point A to Point C gained Hamilton a boat load of time and ultimately helped in taking the win in a thrilling race.

    It's a foregone conclusion that he'll take a grid penalty in the second half of this season which will give Rosberg a bigger chance to regain ground, however even then, the title for Rosberg looks like a long shot as an on-the-ball Hamilton is a scary proposition for anyone to have to deal with.

    We're all thinking it, so I'll just come out and say it: Daniel Ricciardo is the fastest driver over a single lap in Formula One right now. The qualifying performances he's put in this season have been some of the greatest pieces of driving I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. And for my money, he's one of only three drivers who make Formula One really worth watching. However, on a Sunday he may hold the rights to calling himself the least lucky driver in F1.

    He lead the early laps of the Chinese Grand Prix before a rear puncture on the back straight took him out of contention, he got the short end of the stick when Red Bull split their strategies in Spain despite the fact that he was leading and controlling the pace beautifully, and then came Monaco. He managed to put it on Pole with what I think was the greatest single lap I have ever seen. Lead the race in changing conditions and was miles quicker than anyone else.

    On intermediates he was behind Hamilton just before the Brit pitted for slicks. The over-cut lap that Ricciardo put in was mega, gaining him easily enough time to pit on the next lap and retake the lead of the race. Unfortunately a huge miscommunication on his pit stop dropped him behind Hamilton. As he arrived in his pit box, the tyres came off, but nothing went back on. Daniel lost over ten seconds as his pit crew scrambled to get some wheels on his wagon. When he emerged from the pit lane, Hamilton raced him to St. Devote (a testament to just how fast Ricciardo was on the previous lap), however on hotter slicks, Hamilton had the pace and the grip to take the lead, and eventually the race win. Ricciardo's pace was superior all weekend to that of anyone else, yet he did not win. For the first time ever, we got a glimpse at Ricciardo's dark side.

    Going into the second half of the season, Ricciardo will surely lament the fact that he could have at least two wins so far this season and possibly three if China had gone according to plan. Instead his new, young (almost infant) teammate has the only non-Mercedes win in 2016. The Honey Badger will be out for blood come Spa.

    Don't agree with my ratings? Let us know in the comments section where you would've placed the top five drivers!
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  2. I'm a Vettel fan but I have to say I think you have it spot on. The second half of the season should be a cliffhanger if someone could just reel Hamilton in a bit.
    Pity Ferrari have dropped so badly but good to see Red Bull up in front making the British kid sweat from time to time.
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  3. Renault engine improvements defenetly positioned Redbull in front of Ferrari, the desapointement of Vettel is clear. The 4 times world champion is on a motivation low and that is sad for such a brilliant career. This only shows that the driver importance in F1 is only about 50%, the car is equally as important. As for having Ricciardo 1st, that is defenetly not his place. Ricciardo is only performing better because of increased pressure from his team mate. Your team mate is your first rival, and before the arrival of Verstappen, Ricciardo was not impressive.
    Rosberg is a very fast driver but has difficult dealing with pressure, pressure tends to cause stress on him, that is his main handicap.
    Verstappen for a 18 year old is a true prodigy he just needs more experience.
    Hamilton is the master of speed but reliability is his major problem not car reliability but driver reliability, he is slowly improving on that domain but that will never be his strong point.

    My classification
    1. Hamilton
    2. Verstappen
    3. Ricciardo
    4. Rosberg
    5. Vettel
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  4. Wasn't expecting Ricciardo at number one, I thought Hamilton overturning Rosberg's lead would have given him number one but I'm happy with that ranking. I agree that Ricciardo is the fastest over a single lap. Would have put Verstappen ahead of Vettel. I don't think Vettel has had that good a season, despite the fact the could have won two races already if Ferrari didn't mess up their strategies.

  5. Tim.E


    One could argue that Ricciardo doesn't deserve that #1 spot. In qualifying okay he's pouding Verstappen but during the race it's been a fair fight between the two most of the times.

    On the other side I have no clue who else to put at that #1 spot as Lewis hasn't really showed his form he had in 2015 so far.
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  6. Chris

    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium

    Lol, I know you've made your point on this earlier, but you can't take credit away from him simply because the others fell over :roflmao:
    The back end of this first half has been Lewis at his best. His early season mishaps is what solidified Ricciardo as #1 for me. Well, that and the fact that when you look at the statistics, Ricciardo has made fewer mistakes.
  7. Personally I think Ferrari's loss of talent is plain and simply through strategy calls. Ferrari have lost three races this year due to a bad strategy; Melbourne where they put Supersofts on Vettel's car instead of Mediums, Canada where they ruined their race with the VSC, and Spain where they should've won the race easily since Mercedes had gone
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  8. List is fair enough.
    Vettel's 2016 performance is a difficult one to assess objectively - it's quite clear that ferrari are the 3rd quickest car now and some questionable team decisions/bad luck haven't helped.
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  9. Nice to see a RBR driver at the top of the list. He was the only one to break Mercedes's supremacy, he stole the show at most of the races, he drove agressively enough to cause older guys to complain but he never crossed the white line. Hey wait, he's not called Daniel, is he??

    I think Hamilton was the n°1 man in this half-season. He gained points even when he was at bay, he fought back after several misfortunes in the initial races, and he seemed untouchable in several GPs, pushing the limits of the tires like nobody else. Yet, if one considers the Mercedes car is too far ahead of the competition, a RBR driver may have done a better impression so far, but his name is Max. ^^
  10. You forgot Monaco then when Max crashed not once but twice ;)

    Ricciardo charged to fourth in China after the puncture in China, Ricciardo is the one who beat Mercedes on raw pace in qualifying in Monaco and should have done the same in the race if RB didn't mess up. Ricciardo should have won Spain before giving the short straw, Ricciardo has out qualified Verstappen 7-1. Ricciardo is better than Verstappen in my opinion
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  11. He is better in qualifying. But on race pace he got beaten by Verstappen @ spain, baku, canada, austria and great britain. Max also overtook Daniel @ austria germany and canada (though RIC was hindered by ROS there). Ricciardo is in a league of his own when it comes to qualifying but on race pace and racecraft he is strugling to keep up with Verstappen already. Definetly the most interesting driver pair on the grid if u ask me.
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  12. He wasn't beaten on race pace in Spain, he got the short straw on strategy. He wasn't beaten on race pace in Baku, as he still beat Verstappen. Daniel still beat Verstappen at Germany, and lost the position at the start. Also if you need to see Ricciardo's race craft, go and rewatch the Chinese GP in particular, where I remember him slice his way through the field after a puncture to overtake the likes of Hamilton, which is no mean feat
  13. Frank

    Administrator Staff Premium

    Ricciardo is great for sure, his qualifying pace is amazing, but in the race he really isn't all that this season, he is good for sure, but his pace isn't the best and I think there are other drivers who show more in the race. I wouldn't have him at the top of the rankings.
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  14. This is proof Ricciardo has race pace and race skills, enjoy :)
  15. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium

    Ahh, what's a good F1 driver ranking without some stirring of the pot? :). Unfortunately, with F1 being 80% car manufacturer, we will never know the answer to this. At least it was not a popularity contest (world), because a certain Fin would have blown them all away.

    Can't say I'd agree with a serial crasher (who can't even rent a car) being on this list. Nor three drivers being in the "top five" who have never won the WDC (if that's a consideration in this ranking). However, the day Verstappen and Ricciardo (at any point in the near future) are so far above Alonso and Button is the day I eat my shoe.

    I do like the demotion of Rosberg, and it's probably not reasonable to boot him down to 15th (as I would have done) since he's a serial runner-up (in a car that 80% of the grid could drive to a WDC). Also, kudos to keeping Vettel high. People forget how the Red Bull he drove was far less dominant (you have to actually finesse a car with strong aero, as opposed to mashing the gas and heading off) that today's Mercedes. Lewis above him passes the straight face test too.
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  16. 80% of the grid against who? This is a weird sentence.
  17. He is saying 80% of the 22 drivers could win the world title in the Mercedes
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  18. I am not saying Daniel is bad, i know he is a very good driver and sure he got some tricks up his sleeve when it comes to racecraft. We all k ow that.

    Of course he got the shortstraw on strategy in spain no one will deny that. But in the first stint Max could keep up with Daniel. And in the second stint max was faster than Daniel. Thats why Daniel was put on the 3 stop cause he was about to hold up Verstappen. In fact the first 27 laps when they were still on the same strategy Max outpaced Daniel 16-11. And that was in his first outing in that car !
    http://en.mclarenf-1.com/index.php?page=chart&gp=960&graf=3&dr1=Daniel Ricciardo&dr2=Max Verstappen

    At Baku verstappen got hindered by Bottas in the crazy ending of q3 wich cost him a good result. Having to start from p9 because of that. That is the only reason Daniel finisht in front on sunday. Who started from p2 coming out of the pit first on the restart and putting in another amazing lap. On race day though Max outpaced Daniel 30-21 closing a gap of 12.5 seconds over the last 28 laps, finishin just 1.4 seconds behind his teammate. They where on the same strategy.
    http://en.mclarenf-1.com/index.php?page=chart&gp=963&graf=3&dr1=Daniel Ricciardo&dr2=Max Verstappen

    At Germany Daniel got the better stategy of the two but they worked together nice to secure a double podium after Mercedes and Rosbergs blunders.

    O yeah dont forget Austria. Where Daniel got straight up annihilated by Max.
    http://en.mclarenf-1.com/index.php?page=chart&gp=964&graf=3&dr1=Daniel Ricciardo&dr2=Max Verstappen

    Since they are teammates verstappen also scored just a bit more points than ricciardo.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  19. Yes, I know that's what he said, but against what other driver in the other Mercedes?

    His assertion is baffling because it makes no sense. Nico Rosberg alone with nobody else in a Mercedes could also drive to an easy championship.
  20. You clearly dont get what this ranking is about. Its not about who is the best driver overall. Its about who performed best and achieved the most THIS season.

    Maybe Alonso and Button did perform better than Ricciardo and Verstappen. Its hard to tell with such a perfomance gap between the mclaren and redbull car. But they havent achieved nearly as much as they did. Even if that is because of their cars you cant possibly put them above them. You seem to fail to understand this.
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