This article, and one to follow, will rank this year’s drivers depending on how well they have done, in my opinion. I was planning to have this up before the Hungarian GP, but a delay forced me to move it back, but it’s up now:
(All facts and figures were written before the Hungarian Grand Prix)
25: Sakon Yamamoto
It would have been very funny, except for the fact that his comic driving is coming at the expense of Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna, who have been forced to give up their driver seats at certain races. He is only here because of extra sponsorship, which the team needs, and he is completely wasting their time, never getting out of last place, and miles off the pace of anyone else. In Germany, he started the race with the pit limiter on dropping him miles back, then later hit the engine fire switch instead of the brake bias lever, causing him to retire. An absolute joke.
24: Lucas di Grassi
At the start of the season, Lucas and Timo were unable to finish races, mostly because of Virgin’s terrible reliability, but also because of the fuel tank, which was too small to last until the finish. A fix for this only came for Lucas in Turkey,and since then he has not been granted much opportunity to prove himself.
Timo Glock has been leading the attack against Lotus, to no prevail, while Di Grassi has mostly been behind Timo, as shown by the fact that he has been out-qualified 10 times by Glock this season so far. While he has not been terrible, he needs to show his potential to stay in F1.
23: Karun Chandhok
Karun is probably the nicest driver you will ever meet in the paddock, although unfortunately has not been given the car to prove himself in the races. The Hispania car is miles off the pace, and Karun has only Bruno Senna to race for position. Mostly, Bruno has won, leaving Chandhok further down the order. However, recently the team have decided that they don’t need performance as much as money, so Chandhok has been ditched in favour of Yamamoto, leaving Chandhok on the sidelines, and now unable to gain experience.
22: Vitantonio Liuzzi
In no way has Liuzzi justified his race seat this year, and with a car like the Force India, it is a complete waste of time with Vitantonio there. One good qualifying performance in Canada is all he has mustered, and a first-lap collision with Felipe Massa took him straight out of contention, although he was able to grab a point.
He has been out-qualified 9 times out of 11 by Adrian Sutil, and has been completely off the pace compared to his team-mate. In some races, h was up to 0.8 seconds slower, and Force India cannot afford this any longer. Paul di Resta is waiting on the sidelines, and after a few impressive Friday Practice runs, has gained good experience to deserve Liuzzi’s place.
21: Pedro de la Rosa
There has only been one points-scoring position so far this year for de la Rosa, while rookie team-mate Kamui Kobayashi has (deservedly) taken all the glory with impressive performances and excellent strategies. Pedro was on course for points in Valencia, but a 5-second penalty after the race brought him down to 12th. It has taken him until Hungary to get himself on the points board. Put simply, he is not on the pace enough to justify his race seat.
His experience must have helped the team out in testing, but in the races De la Rosa has been unable to deliver the goods when the opportunity arises, unlike Kobayashi. Because of poor reliability, he has only finished 5 races, 4 of these have been outside the points. In my view, Pedro won’t be able to keep improving in the car like Kobayashi, and if Sauber are to move up the grid, they need a younger and certainly faster driver. Nick Heidfeld would do fine.
20: Timo Glock
When the opportunity arises, sometimes the Virgin cars have the opportunity to challenge the Lotus cars. In these cases, it has been Timo Glock leading the charge. While the fuel tank saga held him back for the first quarter of the year, since then he has continued to out-qualify his team-mate and consistently finish well.
While Lotus are developing next year’s car from now on, now is the time for Virgin and Glock to seize the initiative and get ahead of Lotus, and extend the gap to Hispania.
19: Jaime Alguersuari
One good points performance is not good enough to prove your place in Formula 1. For the Toro Rosso drivers, consistent points finishes is what is required, and Alguersuari hasn’t scored a single point since Spain, while team-mate Sebastien Buemi has led a race, got more points-scoring positions, and better finishes than Jaime.
A 9th and 10th is all Jaime has to his name, giving him a total of 3 points, while Buemi has 7. With the Hungarian Grand Prix approaching, it has now been exactly a year since Alguersuari entered F1, and he has not proved himself yet. He has been out-qualified 9 times so far by Buemi, and is falling out of contention for the 2012 Red Bull seat.
While his defensive driving has occasionally been impressive, his form must improve if he is to prove his potential in Formula 1.
18: Bruno Senna
Having out-qualified team-mate Karun Chandhok 7 times comprehensively so far, Bruno is completing his first steps in F1 well. With a dog of a car at his disposal, showing his potential is nearly impossible, but it is certainly visible to see that Senna is the faster of the two Hispania drivers.
While a 16th place is his highest finish so far, Senna has also suffered more reliability problems, and that has hampered his assault on the Virgin cars. To be honest, staying in HRT after this year would be a complete waste of time, so it is up to Bruno to get the attention of a better team, and jump ship before his chance goes away.
17: Nico Hulkenberg
Before the season began, Nico Hulkenberg was my favourite rookie, and the one driver I was tipping to cause an upset. Unfortunately I was wrong on both counts, as Hulkenberg’s drives so far have been disappointing at best. Two measly points is all he can offer, while team-mate Barrichello has been challenging as high as 4th place in some races.
His lack of maturity has let him down on occasions, such as pointlessly crashing in Friday Practice in Spain. Two 10th place finishes is all he can offer, and so far I can’t see why he would have deserved anything better. He has been out-qualified 8 times by Barrichello, and put simply his pace is not good enough. It seems as if he will be retained for one more year by Williams, but improvement is needed.
16: Jarno Trulli
The “Trulli Train” has not appeared so far this season, to my relief, which means that, even in the races, Jarno Trulli can now race at the same pace with the other new teams. Traditionally, he would qualify well, and then fall away. While this has happened this year when racing with his team-mate, it is not as profound as it used to be.
However, on the other hand, qualifying, where Jarno is supposed to be better than Heikki, has not gone entirely his way. He is currently leading 6-5 to Heikki, but has been consistently been out-performed in the races. Trulli is now one of F1’s most experienced drivers, but I can’t help but feel that his heart is not in it any more, as he is not driving with as much heart these days.
A senseless lunge at Chandhok in Monaco showed that he didn’t analyse the situation properly. While he is not off the pace, retirement seems to be looming for Trulli.
15: Sebastien Buemi
An excellent qualifying record against his team-mate has helped Sebastien Buemi improve in his second year of F1, and he is well on course to challenge for the Red Bull seat in 2012, so long as he continues improving. To do this, more points finishes are required.
That may be difficult with the Toro Rosso car he has at the moment, but 3 points-scoring finishes so far proves that it is possible. He led the race in Canada for a lap, and managed to just about hold off Alonso and Hamilton at the same time, which shows how well he is improving in his second year.
While bad luck hampered the first half of his season, especially in Australia and Spain, he has comprehensively beaten his team-mate, and maybe some good luck could show his real potential in the second half of 2010.
14: Heikki Kovalainen
Heikki has been the best driver out of the new teams so far, and with good reason. He has always been the driver to challenge the midfield, whenever the opportunity arises, and got within 2 tenths of out-qualifying Kamui Kobayashi in Canada. After two troubled seasons with McLaren, where he was well beaten by Lewis Hamilton, he seems much happier at Lotus.
His best finish has been a 13th place, the best of the new teams so far. Without a doubt, I would put my money on Kovalainen to out-qualify some of the drivers in the midfield this year, and maybe get a point.
13: Michael Schumacher
Even before the season, Michael was making his presence felt, by taking the number 3 car off Nico Rosberg, simply to try and intimidate him. However, in the first half of 2010, Schumacher has turned into a laughing stock, as he has been slaughtered by Rosberg, made stupid dangerous defensive moves, and has been knocked out of Q2 countless times.
Schumacher’s tendency to follow Ross Brawn around, wherever he goes, has backfired on Schumacher, as the Mercedes car is not good enough to challenge for wins yet. However, Nico has got 3 podium finishes so far, while Michael is the only driver out of the top 4 teams to not have stepped on the podium this year. Clearly, Michael simply doesn’t have the pace any more, and is embarrassing himself, and his list of records, every race he competes in. He doesn’t have the pace, has simply shoved other drivers off the road, and simply does not deserve the Mercedes seat any more. His lethal move on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary was the icing on the cake of his retirement party.
Part 2 will be up soon.