Here is part 2 of the mid-season review of all the Formula 1 drivers. This article tackles drivers ranked 14th up to 6th.
14 – Felipe Massa
Massa has found himself being beaten by all his rivals
Ranking in 2010: 14th
Review from 2010 ranking: “No race wins, no pole positions, no fastest laps, and no hope for 2012 if he doesn’t improve fast.”
To lag behind Sebastian Vettel in 2011 is to be expected. But to have only a quarter of the German’s points, while driving a Ferrari, is nothing short of laughable.
This year was where the Pirelli tyres would leap Massa back through the field. Nothing of the sort has occurred. Take the Spanish Grand Prix for example – Fernando Alonso tussled for the lead in the early stages, while Massa was being beaten by the Force Indias in the envious battle for 10th.
With less than half of Alonso’s points, and not even a sniff at a podium finish, Felipe has been completely dominated. He has yet to out-qualify Fernando at any point in 2011.
While it would be incredibly difficult for Ferrari to find a driver as talented as Alonso, they need a second driver who can consistently take podiums, not struggle for 6th.
13 – Paul di Resta
Di Resta has had a solid start in F1
Ranking in 2010: N/A
Review from 2010 ranking: N/A
Ragged drives have lost him points, but nevertheless a decent start to his F1 career for the Scot.
Di Resta’s best performances so far have been in qualifying, as he has out-qualified teammate Sutil 7 times in 9 races, with over 0.6 seconds in the average gap between the two.
However, despite spending more laps in front of Sutil than vice-versa, Paul has struggled for results, with only 2 points to his name. He was on course for a large points haul in Britain, before a tyre mix-up ruined his chances.
Poorly-judged moves, particularly in Monaco and Canada, have also cost Di Resta. However, with more consistency and experience, he may be able to challenge Sutil in the driver’s championship.
12 – Jaime Alguersuari
Alguersuari has improved in recent races
Ranking in 2010: 19th
Review from 2010 ranking: “Three points finishes is all he could do, with a car that never really looked like pushing for points.”
Alguersuari came very close to being replaced, but several good drives have rescued his career.
3 points-scoring finishes in a row have kept Jaime his Toro Rosso race seat from going to Daniel Ricciardo. The Spaniard now lies one point ahead of Sebastien Buemi.
His qualifying results have been poor, but in recent races Alguersuari has been able to turn Q1 knockouts into points on race day.
Both of the Toro Rosso drivers’ futures still hang in the balance though, so it will be interesting to see which driver ends the season on top.
11 – Nick Heidfeld
Heidfeld has not performed up to expectations
Ranking in 2010: 16th (Only 5 races)
Review from 2010 ranking: “He will need to work fast just to get a drive for next year.”
Hailed as a consistent replacement for the injured Kubica, Heidfeld has not had the required impact at Renault so far.
The German has only just taken the lead in the championship standings battle with Vitaly Petrov. With 11 years of F1 experience, much more was expected, especially going up against a rookie driver.
Heidfeld has been soundly beaten in qualifying, being knocked out in Q1 on more than one occasion. Reliable driving as always has helped him in the races, but a lack of raw pace is holding Nick back.
10 – Michael Schumacher
Driver errors are still an issue for Schumacher
Ranking in 2010: 12th
Review from 2010 ranking: “Schumacher’s 2011 campaign entirely hinges on the W02.”
Expected to be soundly beaten this year, Michael Schumacher has surprised some by showing much improvement from last year.
While his qualifying record against Nico Rosberg is still extremely poor, race day has allowed Schumacher to make huge progress, often held back by misfortune.
Punctures in Australia and Britain, DRS difficulties in China, as well as being swamped near the end of the Canadian GP, show that Michael’s points tally doesn’t reflect his occasionally great drives this year.
12 points is a gap that could be easily bridged with good luck. Further improvement this year would be the main aim for Schumacher.
9 – Vitaly Petrov
Petrov has improved compared to last year
Ranking in 2010: 10th
Review from 2010 ranking: “2011 should see Petrov improve even more.”
A first-ever podium in Australia, followed by leading Heidfeld for most of this year – 2011 has not gone badly for the Russian.
Consistently out-qualifying Nick, often by huge margins, shows that Petrov has improved alongside Renault this year. However, it is still apparent that neither driver could hold a candle to Robert Kubica, who surely would be dicing it with the Red Bulls at this stage.
The hot-blown diffuser crackdown has hugely hurt the team, so expect to see Petrov and Heidfeld slip down the order. Still, it will be up to Petrov to take the majority of Renault’s points this year.
8 – Sergio Perez
Perez is arguably the rookie of the year
Ranking in 2010: N/A
Review from 2010 ranking: N/A
Already a master of the 1-stop strategy, impressive pace has led many to praise Perez as rookie of the year.
With 7th place in his first ever F1 race, his talent was clearly apparent. Poor luck in Malaysia and China held him back, before another points finish in Spain.
His year was disrupted by a heavy crash in Monaco, ruling him out for 2 races. However, the smash did nothing to faze the Mexican, taking 11th on his return, then a career-best 7th in Britain.
A large tally of points could have been taken in Monaco and Canada, so Perez’s current total doesn’t reflect his excellent performances so far.
Two energetic rookies may not seem like an intelligent combo, but it has worked wonders for Sauber so far. With luck, Perez could even challenge to finish in the top 10 in the championship.
7 – Mark Webber
Webber has been dominated by his teammate
Ranking in 2010: 2nd
Review from 2010 ranking: “Dominant at times, disappointing at others, but still a wonderful campaign.”
While Sebastian Vettel continues to rip up tarmac at the front, Mark Webber seems to be lacking in pace, and is at risk of being overtaken by Fernando Alonso. What’s going on?
It’s not like the days of Ferrari domination, though. Back then, when Schumacher crushed his opponents to win, Barrichello would come around in 2nd place. This year, a single 2nd place is all Webber can muster so far.
In Australia, for example, Mark had absolutely no pace. His first pole position (Spain) was ruined by a bad start, relegating him to 4th after the chequered flag.
Webber has had good moments though. A spirited charge through the field in China saw him take 15 places back after a qualifying disaster.
However, his second pole saw him suffer a similar fate, slipping to 3rd during the race.
On the plus side, the Australian is yet to finish outside the top 5. Still, that doesn’t mean much when your teammate hasn’t fallen lower than 2nd at any point.
6 – Kamui Kobayashi
Kobayashi is as impressive as ever
Ranking in 2010: 9th
Review from 2010 ranking: “Kobayashi has breathed fresh life into Formula 1 with his “unique” [driving] style.
Still as exciting to watch as ever, Kobayashi continues to punch well above his weight with scintillating drives.
If people were asked which car was quicker – the Mercedes or the Sauber – there would be little doubt that the Mercedes has much better pace. Because of this, seeing Kobayashi only 3 points behind 7-time world champion Schumacher will demonstrate how much Kamui is extracting from the car.
6 points finishes in a row is much better and more consistent than many drivers – only the Red Bulls, McLarens and Alonso can claim better records.
While teammate Perez is taking headlines for his special 1-stoppers, Kobayashi tends to take the 2-stop route. Compared to the rest of the grid, both Perez and Kobayashi have taken the least pit stops this year, which is a massive advantage.
Like Perez, a top 10 finish in the championship is well within Kamui’s reach.