2012 half-way driver rankings: 2nd – 1st

In the last of 4 articles, I rank the 24 drivers from the 2012 season so far in terms of their performances.

After the three previous articles, we are left with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Without delay, here is the final post:

(Note: I can’t post any pictures for the moment because of my useless internet connection, sorry about that)

2nd: Lewis Hamilton

Previous ranking: 6th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “Wonderful passes in China and Germany were a demonstration of how good a driver he is.”

2012 has seen a new evolution in Lewis Hamilton – no longer is he getting caught up in unnecessary crashes, or off-track whingeing. His pace is further improved, and with a new consistency, he may be able to finally make his way back to the top.

In the opening races, what surprised me the most, amidst the action-packed racing, was Hamilton’s consistency. Three third-places in three races didn’t set the world on fire, but allowed him to slowly move up the standings. He then began to suffer from a series of misfortunes – none of which were his fault – and he has not been able to recover his championship position yet.

He has, though, been able to show us why he is such a feared driver. He remained calm to pass Fernando Alonso in Canada, taking a well-overdue victory, then decisively held back the Lotuses in Hungary. Nothing dramatic, just well-disciplined racing.

His form against Jenson Button is as impressive as ever: 9 times he has qualified ahead of Jenson, by over 0.4 seconds on average. He keeps this pace into Sunday, beating his fellow Brit 7 times so far, and unsurprisingly holds a good lead in the championship.

Hamilton is the only driver to get into Q3 for every single qualifying session so far this year, and that speaks volumes.

1st: Fernando Alonso

Previous ranking: 1st out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “While his championship challenge failed to materialise, he pushed maximum performance out of a lifeless car, and put that Ferrari where no other driver could.”

The last time I did this review, I was unsure whether to put Alonso or Vettel at the top. There is no such doubt this time.

Roll back to Australia, and you can see how dreadful a car the F2012 is. I am adamant that no driver in the field could control it – not even Alonso, who his the grass and spun into the gravel in Q2. Nevertheless, he survived, and managed to beat the Lotuses and Saubers in the race, a seriously impressive drive.

Despite the horrible car, it only took one more race for Fernando to take control of the championship. Where other drivers faltered, he powered through the soaked Malaysia track, luckily holding off the charging Sergio Perez. Since then, Alonso’s fearsome pace has been undeniable.

I can only describe his thrashing of Felipe Massa as a total massacre. He has out-qualified the Brazilian in every single quali session. He has beaten Massa in every single race this year. He has spent all but 15 laps ahead of the other Ferrari. All of this has combined to make Alonso the undeniable leader of the Ferrari team.

He has been willing to take risky strategies to win more races. He took tyre gambles in Canada and Silverstone, and though neither fully paid off, they displayed his fighting spirit. It took until the final few laps for the Spaniard to surrender the lead in Montreal and Britain.

After his initial struggles, he has been able to compete in Q3 9 times, compared to 4 times by Massa. Despite an incredibly inferior car, he has been able to pull out a 40-point lead in the championship, the most astonishing feat I have ever seen in my time watching Formula 1.

With this season, I has absolutely no doubt that we are in a golden age of F1. We have some of the best drivers ever seen in this sport’s illustrious history, and leading them all is this spirited and incredibly talented Spaniard. At this stage, for Alonso never to get a third title would be a tragedy.

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