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Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Dec 2012   |  9:59 am GMT  |  394 comments

We have been running our annual end of year opportunity for readers to tell us who were their top five drivers of the season and this year we had a larger entry than in 2011; just under 800 entries.

This is probabiy due to the fact that the competition between the leading drivers was so close this year, with several outstanding performances.

As a fun sideline prize, three entries which match my selection, will be selected at random to receive a free signed copy of our review book of the season; James Allen on F1 2012: The Year of Living Dangerously, which is now on sale in our Online Shop.

As is reflected in most people’s entries, it was the most difficult choice between the top three drivers in the four years that we have been running JA on F1.

But here is how I see it:


1. Fernando Alonso
Less than the width of a cigarette paper separates Alonso and Sebastian Vettel this season. After a 20 race duel for the title they were separated by just three points.

In terms of race performances, getting the job done and all-round consistent skill and commitment, it’s impossible to separate them. Alonso did incredibly well to recover podiums from unpromising situations, while Vettel showed many times that he too can come through the field and cope with setbacks.

The cop-out would have been to make them joint first, but there was a small distinction between them, which was important for me; it was that Vettel was out qualified by his team mate Mark Webber eight times. Webber is a better reference point team mate than Felipe Massa, but nevertheless Alonso easily outpaced Massa until the final couple of races. It was odd that Fernando struggled with qualifying in the last two rounds, but it was the only question mark over an otherwise exemplary season.

His title hopes were killed by the two start line accidents in Spa and Suzuka. He was blameless for the Grosjean incident at Spa. He had a hand in the Suzuka incident, but when you are taking risks at the start on that scale and fighting to make up so many places, race after race, you can’t get it right 20 times out of 20. You are bound to drop one!

History will show that Vettel was the champion, but historians will have to dig a bit to find that the Ferrari was 1.5 seconds off the pace at the start of the season and struggling for consistent pace all season. This means that he had a mountain to climb.

I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea and in the internet age, it’s easy for fans to find others who share their view and demonise a driver. But, whatever you think of him, he’s one of the greats and we are fortunate to have a driver like him to provide a reference point for all the other drivers.


2.Sebastian Vettel
This is the first time in four years of JA on F1 that the champion has not been the Number 1, but it’s incredibly finely balanced and the reason is given in the section above. Vettel’s third championship in a row was the hardest to win in many ways, but he gave something away to Alonso at the start of the year as he adapted to a car without tons of downforce from a blown diffuser. He made a mistake in Malaysia, tripping up over a back marker and losing a podium there. And he was out qualified eight times by Mark Webber.

On the plus side, of course, he got the job done and clinched the title. He held his nerve brilliantly on the final day when he was 17th at the end of the first lap and he proved any doubters wrong with his ability to come through the field, pass cars and cope with problems.

This doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve to win the title; both men did, but Vettel has the satisfaction of knowing that it was he who got the job done.

Vettel and Alonso are the two most intelligent drivers in F1; Vettel is a shade faster in qualifying, but Alonso is a shade more consistent over a race and a season. There’s little to separate them and with Lewis Hamilton and other strong performers around at the moment, there’s little doubt that F1 is in a golden period for drivers.


3.Lewis Hamilton
Again, it was almost impossible to separate Hamilton from the others because in pure driving terms this was his best season in F1 to date. He didn’t get the job done and win the title, largely because of points dropped due to reliability and operational errors, like early season botched pit stops. McLaren are a fantastic racing team, but they always give too much away to the opposition. And this year – like 2007 – was a perfect example of that.

After a difficult year in 2011, where he was angry, out of sorts and lacking focus and joy in his work, Hamilton’s driving was more free this year and it was great to watch. His win in Austin, beating Vettel with his one opportunity of the whole race to pass was the highlight of the season. He scored seven poles (not including Spain) and four wins. But he didn’t always carry himself like a champion and he knows that.

To be a great driver, you have to be great in all areas and he still has some growing to do there.


4. Kimi Raikkonen
I have to be honest, I didn’t think Kimi would be as consistently strong this year as he turned out to be. He completed all but one of the racing laps in the 2012 season and was in the points at every race except China, where a good result slipped away when he went off-line on worn tyres in the closing stages.

The Kimi who left F1 in 2009 was tired, disaffected and out of love with the life of a Grand Prix driver. His motivation was clearly down after winning the 2007 title, he was being beaten by Felipe Massa and he wasn’t enjoying the expectations of life as a Ferrari driver.

To come back after two years on the sidelines and perform as he has is remarkable and is fantastic news for the sport.

His fine season was capped off with a win in Abu Dhabi and the award for Best Line of the Season – “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”

Lotus was probably the most consistent car this year, but not the fastest in qualifying. Kimi’s best qualifying was 3rd in Spa and he only started in the front two rows on four occasions. As he got back up to speed, Kimi was out qualified by his hot headed team mate main Grosjean in ten races, but his race performances were fantastic and it’s great to have him on form and in F1.


5.Jenson Button
This was almost as tough a decision as the top three. Many fans went for Nico Hulkenberg, who had a very strong end to the 2012 season, with 44 points scored from Spa onwards. This was great to see and he has grown a lot as an F1 driver this year. But he admitted to me himself that in the first half of the season, where he was beaten by Paul di Resta, he was still finding his feet after a 2011 season as a tester. Sergio Perez was another contender with his three podiums, but he was erratic, especially in qualifying and from the announcement of his McLaren drive onwards he didn’t score another point, which is a real concern for McLaren next year.

Also Mark Webber was a consideration with his two fine wins in Monaco and Silverstone and a greatly improved qualifying performance, outperforming Vettel eight times. But his race performances were not as strong, largely due to continued issues with poor starts and in six races he finished below his qualifying slot, which is never good.

So Button edged it, despite his five race wobble from Spain to Silverstone, because he scored three top quality wins at the beginning, middle and end of the season, with Spa the real highlight.

From Germany onwards, when the McLaren came good, he performed consistently well. His weakness is still qualifying strongly and driving around problems, which could be an Achilles Heel when he leads McLaren next year, but he knows that and will be working all out on it.

The signs are that the new 2013 Pirellis warm up very quickly, so they may suit Button’s style quite well.

Were selling out quickly; the JA on F1 2012 yearbook – The Year of Living Dangerously, priced at £10.99 is a 256 page large format paperback with stunning Darren Heath images, a Foreword from BBC TV’s Jake Humphrey. Make sure there’s one in your Christmas stocking, as the cupboard will be bare in January at this rate. Signed copies are available to order via our online shop now.

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394 comments

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1

Lotus most consistent car??

the car that only thrive on softer compound and hot conditions???

And fallen off pace since summer break??

Maybe you should mention lotus 's "AWESOME" strategy as well that prefer his driver to drove on worned out tyre longer and has no clue about what undercut means.

2

James, as always, great logic. Can't argue a thing.

3

Raikkonen needs a setup that allows him to manage a positive front end, correcting the slide on exit, and nailing the throttle early. This was absolutely not a characteristic of the Lotus. He is still the fastest driver in f1. In Abu Dhabi qualifying the two lotus drivers were similar in the first two sectors, then Raikkonen pulled half a second out of the bag. He should've been ahead of Hamilton on the list.

4

yea, the lotus understeer badly....

5

Over the season, yes, if you look at the pace analysis and discuss it with F1 engineers

Both cars qualifying P4-P6 most places, Kimi finishing P5/6 or higher most places, I'd say that was pretty consistent.

6

So I wonder considering comments, words and actions from Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton throughout the season. why is Hamilton being held to a different level?

my conclusion is that this is bcos Team sport means just that: TEAM. If McLaren backed Lewis up as much as Ferrari & RdBl did Alo & Vet no one wld put Lewis 3rd on the list with his driving this season.

IMO This is y Mclaren don't:

1. The frenzy focus on Lewis mishaps dilutes scrutiny of Team mishaps (fair

enough-sure Lewis wldnt begrudge that himself)- one wonders whether Button will be happy to take the flak when the team misfires- China pitstop or Hungary strategy call suggest not.

2. Cultural misfit btw Urban & Middle class background means limited

understanding & mis cued communications btw Driver & PR Corporate requirements. The so called long term links have been a blessing but one suspects a bit of a curse too with the expectations and taken for granted(in a familiarity breeds contempt way) and back-biting briefing that has gone on.

3. (More Importantly in my view)Mclaren Mgt r remarkably thin-skinned & unable

deal with any hint of confrontation. Cue Whitmarsh avoiding Steward's Office in

Spain, worrying MORE bout how embarrassed HE was over incident rather than

rallying to limit incident damage or even his sharing the blame for Valencia on Lewis

when any strong TP wld have been a. in with Stewards (to beg steal borrow the

'right' decision )b. Blaming Maldo 100% for much lesser a driving error than

actually caused Lewis' DNF (Whitmarsh choosing not to upset Williams rather than

make statement that wld deter drivers from over-racing Lewis, we will never know

whether more assertiveness over Maldo in Valencia wld have calmed Hulk in Brazil

eh?).

7

James with regard to your last comments on Lewis I take it you are referring to twitgate.

in which case the Dailymail blog comes to mind: http://duncanblog.dailymail.co.uk/2012/11/lewis-hamilton-must-play-by-a-different-set-of-rules-but-theres-no-hidden-agenda-.html

Let's do something no other media outlet has - analyse Lewis' tweet faux pas

which it seems James uses as a qualifier to mark Lewis down.

1. Spa post quali

2. Button follow unfollow

i. Detractors say malicious but I say he was having a conversation with his

fans. NO Malice.

ii. OK posting Telemetry come on!

Mclaren were already sharing Driver Telemetry on their own website as part of their “fan Racing experience” (which is where he must have gotten idea from ). they quietly got rid of that addition but one wonders why they did not speak out louder in his defence(see my point about smokescreening- there was something going on with how the set-up decision was taken before quali and this took the focus off of that) BBC's Anderson confirmed nothing secret was divulged. Most importantly for someone who follows Lewis & despairs over how readily apologises other issues. In this instance him not apologising was very telling!

iii. Ok so why post on twitter? I say a. Cos he was trying to speak direct with

his fans re- quali gap b. False sense of security with that mode of conversation simply cos he was coming off Auntie's illness & death which he had shared with fans on twitter and media had 'pretended' not to see!

2. Follow&Unfollow: I put this down to a rash impulse following on from Jenson

public criticism during Spagate (which wld have been unwarranted to his mind)&

Japan bowling/Race thingymajigy - u don't go and arrange a 'TEAM' Race- xcluding

ur own team mate, when traditionally same teammate has always organised bowling, without mischievous intent. Same way u don't immediately “follow” a "prospective" team mate, not yet in ur team, having refused to follow current one for the 3 yrs u were together except u r making another statement. But then Lewis apologised AGAIN! for getting the mechanics of what happened wrong which closed off any scrutiny into what Jenson's intent had been.

8

Being stuck behind Force India and Mercedes for 4 races in a row, Kimi had to get out of his skin to make the overtakes stick, due to both of cars were way quicker on a straight line.

First part of the season, maybe, second part was damage control.

9

James I can tell in your words that you are finally coming around to the fact that Vettel is now the best driver in F1, but you still don't like saying it, the problems he had in Malaysia and Austin was that HRT's fault, it would have gained him a podium and a race win, he basically has the qualities of Alonso, Hamilton and Button combined without their deficiencies, Kimi should be ahead of Lewis this year due to the fact that Mcalren had the fastest car this year.

10

Agreed. I'd honestly put Hamilton 2nd above Vettel this year. Take into account car and team faults and Hamilton would have sneaked the title! Vettel is no doubt brilliant in a good car but the jury is out until he has a season with a car that's not up to scratch. Yes Redbull had some difficulties this year but look at their dominant 4 race winnig streak, awesome car yet again!

11

Were you watching the same sport as everyone else?

12

No, I don't say that.

I think we have three exceptional drivers in their own ways.

13

What did you make of De la Rosa's performances this season, James?

14

Hard to say. Poor car, difficult year

15

A very difficult task James but there's nothing really to debate about your list. Personally I think Hamilton DROVE better than Vettel this year but that can be argued either way. Keep up the good work.

16

Good question in regard to MSC and management. I suspect he has good management skills and would use his time at Ferrari as an example. He had to manage his team from mid grid to the most dominant team in history (when I say his team I refer to his side of the garage). Now MSC's side of the garage clearly then impacted on development, driver choice and the wider management of Ferrari. However that was as a driver...to do it purely as a manager will present fresh challenge, not leafy managing his own expectations of other drivers in a non testing era.

I also think that any deal with MSC or 'edging out' issues will have been well recified prior to public announcements. F1 business people and MSC are very savvy.

17

Not so sure about the 'win win': handling Lewis - not as a driver but as a person - will be one of the bigger challenges for Mercedes next year, and for sure Haug could have played a big role there as he is probably the one that knows Lewis the best from back in their McLaren days...

Rumour is also that Haug was one of the key players in talking the Mercedes upper-management into the Lewis deal, so looks as if Lewis is already losing some internal support even before he joins his new team.

18

Schumi will never take over for anyone at Merc. He was edged out by Merc which totally destroyed his relationship with them.

19

I wonder if Schumi would. He does like that debriefing, technical stuff. But does he have the management knowledge to lead something like that? Does he want/need the stress?

You'd think he'd be inspirational to the team. But if that was true they would have been inspired to give him a decent car one of the 3 years he was there.

20

Schumi to replace Haug for sure, that was my first thought when I saw this story as well. How could they pass that up? They keep a massive name connected to Merc and the guy knows a thing or two about racing cars as well. Got to be win win.

21

Schumi takes over for Haug maybe? 🙂

22

Haug out at Mercedes!

Good or bad for 2013?

23

Yes, Lotus were - Bahrain and Hungary aside - consistently 3rd or 4th fastest (usually 4th), which isn't all that useful with the current points system rewarding wins and podiums.

Also, I'm a big fan of your site but Button as 5th best is beyond a joke. He was so far off Hamilton's pace at pretty much every race and only looked quick at a few, in the fastest car!

24

Jenson is my favourite driver. I think he's a great bloke a d very accomplished driver. Especially when you consider just how good you have to be to break into F1 and then consider how much better you have to be to stay there! But...I agree he was not the fifth best this year. Had it have not been for his disappearance for five races then I would have rated him at 5. But he vanish and other drivers in lesser machinery did not.

However I don't agree with the English bias comment. JA and F1 in general is certainly not English (or indeed British) biased. These kind of comments detract from this forum.

At the end of the day JA's top five is an opinion like the rest of ours.

It's hard to pick a fifth driver because a lot of contenders had poor spells. I would choose Hulkenberg though. The second half of his season was much better but that's taking into account a year off racing. I was very impressed.

25

I'd hold that comment until we see Button and Perez next year in the same car. Button is going to stomp him. It's easy to say Hulk because it's easy to forget the first part of the season. Button had some very good drives, even beating Hamilton from P2 at the first race. He had an amazing Spa and a typical Button victory in Brazil. Button is one of the best overtakers on the grid. He had a slump as James pointed out, but he had a good start and end to the season. People don't give Button enough credit. I do expect him to challenge for the championship next year.

26

I agree, no way Button is in the top 5. Perhaps James English bias coming out a bit here, other top 4 pick themselves.

Perhaps James should have looked a bit further down the grid to find his fifth best driver. Lots of strong performances from guys in the midfield who never get any recognition.

27

I'm a huge Button fan but sadly I agree to some extent. He was not the 5th best driver this year. Perez, hulkenberg were both much better. Button should have been a solid 7th this year. Better than Webber and the rest but not the top 6.

28

Button has turned into Coulthard at McLaren. He's a capable second tier driver.

29

+1. Buttons stats (3 wins) look ok due to Ham's mechanical retirements, Lewis could have easily won 6/7 races. Anyone that actually knows the details knows that Button got seriously shown up this year, he won't win another championship. I really don't think he has the hunger to win another championship compared to Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso..possibly even Raikkonen. He'll probably end his days at Mclaren, winning the odd couple of races every year and finish 5/6th in the championship

30

"Lotus was probably the most consistent car this year, but not the fastest in qualifying."

...

"The signs are that the new 2013 Pirellis warm up very quickly, so they may suit Button’s style quite well."

I hope we see Button and Raikkonen being more competitive next year. This year was very much a 'Get to the front and run away with it, in clean air and away from the incidents.'

James, when we will see a technical/rules article from you? For example - (when will the blown exhaust be outlawed? And will this lower Vetell's performance?

31

Answers to your questions:

-January 2012; and

-Only for the first few races until the Coandas got up to snuff.

(There, that was easy).

32

Hey James, I guess the book would have looked pretty silly if Hamilton hadn't even made your top three.

Can't wait to read next year's book ... I just you can include more about the positive influence of Nicole.

33

The book is not about Lewis, but about the whole season. And the cover was chosen because of the big move to Mercedes and not because of Lewis's performance, so I think the book and the top 5 shouldn't have anything with eachother.

34

Ferrari wasnt really that bad. With sublime straightline pace and great launch setting, it always place the car on the position to make up palces lost in qualifying.

Unlike rbr and lotus that struggle to fight for position due to low straightline speed.

35

Alonso had a very good car in race trim for most of the season. The tire lottery at the start helped him, as did weather conditions. He was able to capitalize on his chances. The logic of more poles from Alsono than Massa is sound, but indeed I hold Webber in high reguard when it comes to qualifying. Vettel did claw his way back into the championship and won it all. I would actually put him above Alonso, but I can't argue much with Jame's logic either.

36

List is pitching Alonso ahead of Vettel cause he was marginally 3 points behind Vettel. If it had not been Massas sacrifices for Alonso after he got his form back, Alonso would had been behind by atleast 12 more points then I believe everyone would have had second thoughts including James in publishing the above list.

And when it comes to Drivers Championship I dont feel there should be any "team work" to support one driver over another but driver's own merit and skill to finish the job. I am surprised JA didnt give any credit to Massa in above justification for Alonso's "podiums in unpromising situation".

I lost lot of respect for Alonso after seal break incident in Austin even though it was a Ferrari decision. And if Massa outperforms Alonso in the 2013 season and this kind of thing continues to happen then I will be left with zero respect for Alonso.

37

James Allen,

any theory or actual info on why Massa seemed to have equal, if not better at times, speed than Alonso in the last races ? There seems to be a good number of people who think he choked (I highly doubt it) and hoped you could chime in with some valuable info.

38

Gary Anderson explained it rather well in the BBC website. And it makes sense to me. Alonso didn't choke, but Ferrari updates did not work.

39

It was a Ferrari decision but Alonso was really happy about it, and even expressed so...

40
Alberto Martínez

That´s the way they set-up their cars based on their targets: overtaking vs great qualifying. In many GPs Toro Rosso was the fastest in straighline speed and they didn´t finish a race in the first positions. The same did Williams with Senna to recover positions with a top straightline speeed

41

lotus tried that setup for longer 7th gear, guess what, the car was terrible. Lacking serious acceleration and traction, cant reach top speed fast enough.

Straightline speed wasnt determine by 7th gear, more on how fast your car can reach it than the rest.

42

Also worth pointing out that the Ferrari wasn't 1.5s off the Red Bull, it was 1.5s off the fastest qualifying car. As we all know the Ferrari was weak in qualifying but far stronger in race trim. 3 races into the season and Alonso was only 3 tenths off Webber and out qualified Vettel.

So to say the Ferrari was 1.5s off the pace doesn't really paint a true picture, especially in recent F1 seasons where race pace has taken a far more important role than that of qualifying. I believe the Ferrari early season qualification issues were down to the Marenello team not understanding how to get the best from the tyres/car. Hence some races they qualified ok, others less so.

That's not to say Alonso didn't do a good job, just saying that 1.5s off the pace is as false a position as saying by the third race Mercedes were half a second faster than everyone else on the grid.

43

Agreed

44

Exactly, the Ferrari was always around the fastest car in race trim, a fact deliberately overlooked by fans of a certain driver desperate to lionise his achievements and denigrate these of others.

You also completely overlook the unfair advantage he hes with the whole team concentrated on him and a patsy teammate just circulating to help him.

How much longer do we have to tolerate this [mod] ?

45

No idea what you are talking about mate. Pop over to SKY sports, that's more your style I think.

46

"How much longer do we have to tolerate this [mod]?"

I'm afraid I've got some bad news for you, sir. I've read somewhere that "certain driver" whose fans are "desperate to lionise his achievements" has a valid contract with Ferrari until the end of 2016.

So it looks like we'll have to tolerate this at least for the next four years...

47

He's just a pussycat with 9 lives

48

Ha!

Does a lion require lionizing?

49

Why is it Alonso's fault that Massa had a terrible first part of the season?

Why is it Ferrari's fault that they backed the driver who was leading the championship rather than the one who was in 10th place or something?

How much longer we need to tolerate this? For ever! This is a TEAM sport and a business. There were always team orders in F1 and whoever says otherwise is a fool and should open its eyes.

The same applies to those who think these companies and sponsors pour millions and millions of $$$$ into this sport just to please the fans.

50

No one is discounting how well Alonso did, but at a certain point the achievement is built so large that it crumbles from it's own weight.

How many times do we hear about the dog of a car that was the Ferrari? Even though it was FASTEST in the wet and the second race of the season was wet and 2 other races in the first part of the season were heavily impacted by rain.

The biggest thing is this idea that Alonso wrung everything from the car, as if he was the only one who did that. But Hamilton and Vettel wrung everything from their car as well. The same could be said of Kimi as well.

They say F1 is 80% the car and 20% the driver. But the car isn't only about "fastest". It includes reliability and operational elements. In that sense, the car Alonso was driving was superior to the McLaren. You could even make the argument it was on par or better than the RB8, when combining reliability and operational elements.

Vettel lost one race due to reliability and one race to operations (Abu Dhabi - of course, he would have benefited from the reliability problems of the McLaren). Not to mention that Alonso benefited from the reliability issues of the Redbull when it happened to Mark--India and Texas Alonso gained points due to Webber's Kers issue.

And coming into the home stretch, with Massa out qualifying Alonso in Texas and Brazil, and needing to sacrifice his grid spot (Texas) and position at the end of the race (Brazil), it can't even be said that Alonso himself was getting everything out of the car that was there to be had. (And I'm quite okay with Massa playing the team role, but Massa was getting more out of the car than Alonso).

That's where the backlash comes from. Alonso was great, but when he's saying himself he's one of the greatest (his comment that to be considered a great in F1 you need a season like he had) and that he was perfect (he wasn't and no one has ever been), just kind of wears thin. He's like the relative who comes for a visit but then stays too long.

52

Well put, I am so very tired of people dismissing Alonso's driving. We are in a golden era of driver talent with no less than 4 all time great drivers lining up on the grid in cars that are simply amazing. It is time to let bygones be bygones and to start enjoying the spectacle that was F1 in 2012 and hopefully F1 in 2013.

The Ferrari was NOT the fastest car, period. Ferrari and Alonso wrung every last bit of performance from that chassis, they were as close to perfect (operationally) as anything I have seen in racing.

53
6 Wheeled Tyrrell

+1

54

LOL, that Ferrari was never fastest in race trim at any track.

55

Hockenheim is a good example of the Ferrari in race trim. Stuck it on pole in the wet, won it in the dry.

56

Monza it was. Alonso would have got pole had he not had an anti roll bar failure.

Apart from that you are correct, although when it was wet Ferrari was quickest (Alonso won at 2 races affected by rain) so to all the people that BANG ON about his 'miraculous driving' early in the season, ie:Malaysia... His car was the best in those conditions in that race, like it was silverstone + hockenheim quali. And the hot head Perez should have won Malaysia anyway but he panicked. God help Mclaren, now they have 2 average drivers

57

The Ferrari really didn't get respectable till mid-season though. It was very slow in the first few races and Alonso was a magician to lead the Championship after the fly-aways (I think).

58

I do agree with this James, if we look at the big picture without bias, these really are the top 5 of the year, they took out the best of their cars whenever they could, and rarely fumbled.

On a side note James, will we see an update with - The Edge of greatness, for schumi's 3 years and perhaps a tribute article of why his comeback dint work as hoped? I'd love to see that article.

Thanks Much!

Anish

59

I agree,

The correct top 5 from an exciting season.

Can't wait for 2013!

60

Of course it is the correct top five, look at the WDC standings!

James has just got the order wrong. But right in terms of promoting his book.

62

Not sure about the book update.

Yes will do the Schey article

63

Awesome, good or bad, it's part of history because he is the greatest

64

@dan more reliable than opinions

65

Says who, statistics?

66

i like kimi, but the fact thar he was bit by grosjean in qualy, stops me from putting him 4th.

67

Hi James,

I agree with your ranking. I think you mean next year in terms of Jenson's achilles heel, rather than last year.

How do you think Sergio Perez will get on next season?

John

68

To be honest I disagree with Jenson. The top 4 are the same as mine, but Jenson underperformed all season, especially Monaco/Canada. He was on the same level as Lewis in Australia, Malaysia, and occasionally after, but on the whole he was slower, and beat Hamilton much due to Hamilton's car failures. Lewis beat him despite having so many troubles.

Massa was playing the role of Alonso and himself for the last few races, and had some stunning drives since Singapore.

69

Good reasons. Can't argue with that. Had Perez as no.5 but had considered Button. Perez wasn't great at the end of the year but was impressed with the strong drives he did have. And Hulkenberg was good but I didn't notice him much in the first half of the season. Roll on 2013.

70

NIce selection of course James, and even better very nice reasoning...

This will send the JB doubters into orbit however...but I agree with the choice - I saw his Melbourne win from the inside of Turn 1, and his performance was incredible...he had so much more control in the Turn 1 through Turn 2 chicane than other drivers...never ran wide out of 1, which almost everyone was doing from time to time. He just looked bloody smooth and efficient, that it was obvious that he was a very gifted driver...of course, that was a street circuit that warmed up the tyres very well...

71

"The Kimi who left F1 in 2009 was tired, disaffected and out of love with the life of a Grand Prix driver. His motivation was clearly down after winning the 2007 title, he was being beaten by Felipe Massa and he wasn’t enjoying the expectations of life as a Ferrari driver."

Not true. That is what Ferrari and press wanted everybody to think, but it's not true.

This article explains what really happened:

http://f1bias.com/2012/04/05/truth-about-kimi-ferrari-santander-2008/

72

Whatever else, Kimi was definitely being outperformed by Massa in the same car despite being paid (reportedly) three or so times as much - his position was untenable, no matter what way you look at it.

73

That's what F1 is. If the car does not suit your driving style, your slow. In my opinion that is what greatly helped Massa.

When Massa got injured, the suspension was changed back to Kimi's liking, which is why he managed to win in Spa in 2009.

74

@wox i've been watching f1 for just over 40 years.

also the pass wasn't in eau rouge it was on the straight after it, He hit the kers button & drove easily past fisichella thanks to the 80bhp boost.

didn't get my facts from reading amateur articles, i got it from watching the races. on the tv coverage that weekend they said kers was a 7 tenth advantage due to the acceleration boost it gave exiting slow corners onto the long straights.

not trying to say kimi didn't deserve that win or anything, i was just pointing out that it had more to do with kers than any changes to the suspension.

75

first of all, kimi was famous of being an overtaker on eau rouge since 2004 with or without Kers. 2nd, kers offer 3-4tenth boost inexchange of excessive weight that hampered the car aerodynamically which cost more than 3-4 tenth. The best car didnt have KERS implanted on them, because it wasnt worth it.

Watch more races before comment after reading some amateur articles.

When fisi went to ferrari, he cant even score 1 points.

76

"which is why he managed to win in Spa in 2009.

It was KERS that helped him win at Spa in 2009, The car wasn't that good all weekend & he qualified a bit further down the order.

KERS + running wide at Turn 1 helped him get upto 2nd & then he used KERS to easily drive by Fisichella on the straight at the restart.

Though the rest of that race his pace was nowhere through sector 2 but KERS was allowing him to pull away in sectors 1 & 2 which was preventing Fisichella from been close enough in the places where overtaking was possible.

Remember only Ferrari/McLaren were running KERS in 2009 & at Spa KERS was said to be a 7 tenths advantage as it gave extra acceleration out the slow corners & could be used to boost out of eau rouge (As he did to pass fisichella).

77

I am confused. Kimi wasn't driving Massa's car did he? What has Massa's car to do with Kimi's car?

They can have different setups on the suspension for each car, right?

78

Wasnt michael said something about car development went to the wrong path off kimi favor?? The infamous suspension.

Is that how they treat their no.1??? lmao

It was more apparent in 2009 after massa 's injuries and they halted the car development. Kimi went on to win 1 race and 4 more podiums in that same car without any updates. Just showed that Ferrari nvr really pay attention to kimi.

79

This correct.

Kimi's 2009 season was extrmemely consistent and rewarding despite the car. Ferrari openely confessed that they'd stopped developing the car in July, but Kimi continued to bring the podiums and points in. In fact there are reports that Ferrari's engineers have confessed that Kimi always finished races much higher than their pre-race preditctions and simulations, and that they just couldn't beleive how fast and consistent his driving was.

Clearly Kimi is not 'political' enough for Luca Di. Kimi has said time and time again throughout his whole career that he hates politics and PR, he's only in F1 cos its the pinnacle of GP racing, clearly his personality clashes in a big way with Lucs Di... And I'm not bagging on Alonso, but guess who is the most political and manipulative driver in F1 today...?

80

What you have to ask yourself Andrew is why did his situation become "untenable" he was happy in Spain 08 ( there are interviews) won that & Spa it was about that time Ferrari were talking to Santander. If your Boss was about to sign a massive contract and it Only came with your replacement and your boss was saying you were not motivated when you were very motivated and winning races - how would you feel? Politics- lies that's all it ever was. Sure Massa had a good year but how many has he since ??

81

Andrew Munro you are a very naive person that still did not address any of the points- if you were about to be fired and you knew about it and were hearing BS in the newspapers about your motivation-so that Ferrari could save face-how would you perform. In the end he received €34m euro and was just pleased to get f... out of there. Despite all this he was still matching Felipe till 2009. Kimi was/ is a true gentlemen and never cried foul he honoured his contractual arrangements and his silence- something lesser drivers couldn't handle- this is what simple people like you do not understand- you need someone to beat on their chest & claim they are the best- like what Ferrari presently have- yet they still hasn't won both titles have they !

82

Massa scored a podium too (in his last race before the accident) and scored more points than Kimi when he had his accident. He suffered from Ferrari's blunders too, like being left stranded in 18th place in qualifying in Malaysia.

Even if you argue they were fairly evenly matched, the point stands - Ferrari were paying Raikkonen a fortune compared to Massa and he was at best matching him.

83

Outperform kimi by first half of 2009??? statistic nvr tell you kimi was hamepred by Team blunder decision such as pitting him earlier for wet tyre when the track was still dry etc and realibility.

Kimi was much more impressive than massa by scoring the team 's 1st point, 1st podium, qualified 2nd in Monaco.

84

By the time Spa rolled around Massa was already on top of Kimi, having matched him pretty closely for most of 2007 and the first half of the year. He outperformed Kimi during the first half of 2009 as well.

I'm a big Kimi fan but there's no excusing the fact that he was outperformed by Massa for a season and a half before Massa's accident, you can blame the car or politics or magic suspension or whatever but the results don't lie. Alonso bringing Santander money with him to Ferrari was a bonus, nothing more.

85

It was from where I was standing, watching him closely and talking to him and the people around him. That's my view

86

James

So you read Kimis feelings?

Good luck with that.

You talked with the guys around him, Ferrari guys? Yeah, thought so.

Did you watch the racing that year?

I've never seen anyone so outdriven and crushed as the almost racewinner Fisichella.

What he did with that wreck of a car was beyond sensational and he lacked motivation? Seriously.

How things was offtrack for him does not have anything to do with his motivation when racing. Or would you want a driver motivated outside of the car, talking smack, grinning, bashing your team and engineers and then go out and not care on the track?

Kimi is not good at PR for himself or anything and Ferrari took advantage of that with their machine. Sad but true.

Ferrari fell like a knife in butter after Todt left. When Montezemolo and Domenicali went hayway thinking they were goods but turned out to be mortals. Reality bit them.

Todt left the team as double champs. Then the downward spiral begun.

And those 1.5 seconds in the beginning of this year? Have you read the race result times(beginning of season)? No, thought so. It was a couple of tenths, at most.

Points are made on sundays.

87

James Allen: "It was from where I was standing, watching him closely and talking to him and the people around him. That’s my view"

James, did you ever stop to think that the reason he appeared that way is because of the heat he was getting from within his own team? Because there is plenty of evidence that points towards exactly that. And my buddy wrcva summed it up very well in the piece that was linked to before: http://f1bias.com/2012/04/05/truth-about-kimi-ferrari-santander-2008/

88

the question rather is what was root cause and what the result.

they didn't dump Kimi because he lacked motivation.

probably he lost motivation after he figured they will dump him.

89

There was press talk of Alonso being signed during the Monaco weekend of 2008, at which time Raikkonen was leading the WDC.

There's a lot which doesn't make sense about the whole thing, but a simple explanation for why he wasn't happy at the end could just as easily be that he was told his contract wouldn't be renewed just six races after winning the WDC.

90

On a similar type of issue, I read an article in F1 Racing Magazine recently by Pat Symonds about Michael Schumacher.

Symonds expresses the opinion that Schumacher was basically forced out of Ferarri in 2006. He claims that MS would not have left Formula 1 racing if it was entirely in his own hands. This, Symonds says, is why he returned in 2010. Pat Symonds never elaborated any further concerning his claims.

I find this to be astounding considering what Schumacher had done for Ferarri (five championships and very nearly a sixth in 2006). James, could you shed any light on this? Who could have wanted Schumacher out back then and why?

91

Also interesting was the fact that Symonds thought that Benetton were robbed at the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix.

Hard to think they were robbed of anything in 1994, in fact quite the opposite.

92

Ferrari shoved schumi out the way for Kimi, just like they did with Kimi to make room for alonso...

93

Yes, I mean it's not hard to see that. There are certain organizations which never fires people. They just do certain things to make their employees certain decisions.

I think Luca used similar tactics. But it's not unreasonable to question the wisdom behind the decisions he made. Not just that, why didn't he let Ross become team principal. I think he wanted an Italian team.

94

James has a detailed account of that in his book 'Edge of Greatness'. It's a great read!

95

Maybe his "motivation" to be in F1 was cut by the fact that Ferarri had already set the wheels in motion for him to be dropped. That's something you can't hide form an honest man & we all know Ferrari don't play fair. It is still one of the dumbest decisions in F1 history because 3 years on it got them precisely what they deserve -NOTHING. Oh the irony -his first year back Kimi was fighting for a championship and Lotus were ahead of Ferrari for half the year- can you imagine if Grosjean even finished some races! That's not a sign of anyone that lacked "motivation" just someone that don't like lies!

96

Thanks for your answer.

It must have been hard being pushed out of the team right after you won the championship. As Todt left the management, it seems that Kimi had no supporters. At the same time Montezemolo was very eager to replace him with Alonso and the piles of money from Santander.

You have to agree, it's quite a hard situation to work when most of the team wants you gone and the car isn't developed to suit your driving style. To me, that is why Kimi seemed to lack pace. Not motivation itself.

I think that Kimi has said in an interview that there never were any problems with his motivation.

97

Maybe he had problems in his first half of his last year at Ferrari but the last half after Massa was out of the picture he was simply making brilliant result in a car which didint get much uppgrades at all that fall. Kimi even won in that non uppgraded car and made a experienced driver like Fisichella look like a third grade driver.

I also remeber Massa and his Father complaining about Kimi not being social and so on. And I believe that Kimi made Massa show his best just because Kimi didnt put all focus on himself meaning dictating the the team and claiming all focus, i havent seen Massa recover since the Kimi years at Ferrari.

Pls give some more light to this.

Regards Magnus from Sweden a F1 fan since -95 and thankful reader of this site.

98

Totally agree. If that situation had happened to a British driver then journalists like James would be all over it with in depth analysis and investigative pieces but because it happened to a quiet, unassuming Finn, they all ignored it and only reported the most superficial facts, simply saying that Kimi lost motivation when he became WDC rather than considering that the fact he was going to be replaced for finanical (Sandtander) reasons might have had something to do with it! I think a lot of it has to do with journalists not wanting to become persona non grata with Ferrari. Kimi has been 100% consistent saying he has never lacked motivation and always does his best. I for one take him at his word on that. He is a simple guy and I don't think he would bother to lie about it.

99

We're you reading this site in 2009? Clearly not

100

I am just glad that Ferrari didn't kill his love for wheel-to-wheel racinng forever with that episode.

Relief its over & Kimi is back racing in F1. A natural talent & great character!

101

The top 3 were certainly all brilliant this year. If I have one criticism of Vettel, it's in the immature habit of calling Karthikeyan names and questioning his right to be there (Malaysia and USA). Although it's in the heat of the moment, it's unwarranted and undignified in my opinion.

Mind you, I was intrigued by the allusions in the podcast to Alonso's questionable political behaviour that the public don't know about - please do tell!

102

You forget the comment from Vettel on Senna (and his uncle) were not brilliant in any way. It was for german television just after the race (Brazil).

103

What did he say?

104

Wow, I didn't know, that is pretty awful. Vettel seems like a decent guy, but that is unbecoming.

105

Something like "The grave of Ayrton Senna is right here in Sao Paulo. Maybe someone has to take him there and tell his uncle what his nephew did today".

It was immediatly after the race in german RTL interview. I'm pretty sure it was not meant as a joke and even if so I think its rather tasteless.

106

Tell me you wouldn't do the same in the heat of the moment! I sure would. I would also assume that there is much more swearing and name calling over the team radios than ever gets broadcast to the public, likely can't censor it fast enough.

107

I've always wondered why teams don't swear more over the team radio to stop sensitive information being broadcast!

108

+1 I would like to know what you were referring to?

109

"The cop-out would have been to make them joint first, but there was a small distinction between them, which was important for me; it was that Vettel was out qualified by his team mate Mark Webber eight times. Webber is a better reference point team mate than Felipe Massa"

Webber also gets equal equipment and opportunity to fight for victory. So we're comparing Apples with Pears here I feel.

110

The equal equipment part is correct, but doesn't Seb get better balast options due to the weight difference?

Also, it appeared that Red Bull began making experimental strategy calls in the second half of the season with Mark.

111

Hence his comment: " not bad for a number two driver" I suppose....

112

that was pretty funny, helped too by the puncture Vettel received at the start of the race (and came back from dead last to 7th w/o any DRS).

Though I wonder why Webber didn't go back to that same line after losing it in the rain in Korea 2010, or the awful performance in Abu Dhabi where a win would have given him the championship, or even running second would have required Vettel to yield.

Nor did he bring it up this year after his start in Abu Dhabi - when the whole team wanted him to win and there was no thought of needing to help Vettel at all, when he could drive entirely for himself, and yet... But count on fans to bring up that quote over and over again.

113

Ok, so you can bring up some races where Webber did not perform as good as Vettel. What is your point?

I may be mistaken, but wasn't the Silverstone drive a result of a mid-race Safety Car? Impressive none the less, but somewhat irrelevant.

114

Yeah, Sebastian and Mark get exactly equal equipment and opportunity to fight for victory...

As for example when it comes about new front wings.

115

Paul, could you please give some examples of when Ferrari didn't give Massa the same equiptment as Alonso in the first 10 races of 2012?

Don't think I have not noticed how evasive you are. You throw the statement but without giving any examples or facts to back it up. You might be right, but I don't recall anything like what you are suggesting.

Awaiting your reply. Thanks

116

No one on this site, barring James perhaps, would know that. Who has this or that is usually just fun speculation, unless announced by the team.

117

Button was obliterated by Hamilton, I can't see how he was anywhere near the top 5...

118

+1 Seriously, had Hamilton and Button each finished every race and not been affected by team errors/reliability issues, Hamilton would have had something like 320 points to Button's 175, and 8 wins to Button's 2. He also had 8 poles to Button's 1, and outqualified him 17-3 on the season. Also, does nobody remember how TERRIBLE Button was in Malaysia, Spain, Monaco, and Europe? As in, qualifying 5+ tenths down and Lewis and lapping seconds per lap slower (especially in Canada) terrible. He was Massa-like bad in those races. I don't think I'd even include him in my top ten.

119

Completely agree. And Mclaren let Lewis down (AGAIN).

120

Agree, 17-3 to Hamilton in qualifying and 7-3 to Hamilton in races both finished and to top it a 5 race streak were Button was nowhere.

I wonder where Jenson would be rated if he wasn't easily the most likeable driver on the grid.

121

+1 to both

122

Indeed. That 5 race wobble was more than just a wobble. Fighting Caterhams in Monaco when Hamilton was in the lead pack, was lapped by Hamilton in Montreal... It was terrible.

I disagree with the praise Raikkonen recieves, but at least I see where people come from with him. Button had a few good races, several awful races and the rest were decent at best.

123

I think You're right, that's what i think.

124

No offense James, but it's hard to take you seriously after putting Button as number 5. You said Hamilton was the 3rd best driver of the season and went on to state that the reason that he wasn't a championship contender was due to McLaren's unreliability and operational problems.

You then went on to say that Button being within 2 points of Hamilton was a good reason to call him the 5th best driver in 2012, completely disregarding your point regarding Hamilton. Without the operational and reliability problems, Hamilton would have beat Button worse than Alonso outperformed Massa. How can a man who was out-qualified 17 to 3 be the 5th best driver of the year?

125

Shhh, Button is looking for a ghostwriter for his Autobiography.

126

you do also realise that Button had to retire from 3 races due to the 'McLaren’s unreliability and operational problems' that was mentioned. It was'nt just Hamilton who suffered, so to finsh with-in 2 point of his team mate is a pretty good job. Really bored of people slagging Button off and being very selective about what facts they want to see, just so they can have a dig at him..

127

very strange comparison. did Button retire 3 times from race leading positions like Hamilton?

128

Quote: GT_Racer: "Even at the Spanish Gp where a lot of Hamilton’s fans insist he’d have won without the penalty, His race pace was nowhere, Even in friday practice his long run pace was poor as a result of how he/the car was working the tyres."

Hamiltons race pace was nowhere? I`m not sure both of us saw the same race (Spanish GP). The race I saw was a race in which (Button qualified 10th, Hamilton qualified 1st the day before, but had to start last place) still ended the race in front of Button.

The race I saw was a race in which Hamilton spent most of the time in not clean air and lost additional 3 seconds in the pits, because of (yet) another cock-up of the pit crew.

I hope we are referring to the same race, dude. Because if you didnt see that, then there is no point whatsoever taking you even seriously as an F1 fan 🙂

129

whats strange about it? its still losing points. The point is, McLarens errors cost them both dear. Jenson, isnt as fast as Lewis over a single lap, but he is also nowhere near as bad as some like to make out. i just really think there are some very blinkered opinions on here...

130

Button's problems stemmed from the Pirelli's, In trying to figure out how they worked he & his engineer started changing pretty much everything with the car setup. Rather than help this just got them confused as they changed too much all at once & couldn't figure out which changes were fixing or introducing with problems.

When they went back to basics, They identified there errors, Figured out how best to get the tyres in operating range & his performance improved.

What were the problems with the tyres? His smooth driving style.

He couldn't get the tyres into the working temperature range, He then went for aggressive setups to generate more tyre temps but this simply started generating handling problems & caused more problems with the tyres.

Also regarding Lewis driving round these problems & adapting, He both did & didn't.

Early in the year his driving style/setups were switching the Pirelli's on in qualifying yet not in the races. Lewis had a lot of poles/front row starts early in the year due to great qualifying pace yet his race pace saw him fall backwards as the tyres were either wearing too quickly or not getting into the right temperature range.

Even at the Spanish Gp where a lot of Hamilton's fans insist he'd have won without the penalty, His race pace was nowhere, Even in friday practice his long run pace was poor as a result of how he/the car was working the tyres.

131

Button was great all year, underrated for most of his career.

132

You seem to forget that he won 3 races this year. And apart from the 5 race slump, was consistent.

133

You realize 5 races is 25% of the season right?

134

And if Mclaren had sorted out the handling issues Button would have been further up the field. You can't really state one without accepting the other.

135

sorry, but if Hamilton could sort out the handling issues, why not Button? Button had the best car in 2012 and he screwed it. Blaming our team doesnt go down too well. If Button has a good setup Button, Button takes the credit for fine tuning, so if he messes up his setup he should be blamed. not McLaren.

136

I think it's unfair to blame all the handling issues Button experienced on McLaren. There were instances when Button - and only Button - found the car undriveable. Canada is the best example.

For me, that's his biggest weakness. As Nick Heidfeld brilliantly observed in one of the Sky shows, he only has one style of driving and cannot adjust it to suit his car (unlike Vettel, Alonso or Hamilton).

If McLaren don't make the top 10 in Australia, how does anyone know if it's the drivers or the car?

137

Sorry mate but 'handling' problem is set up issue which many drivers including De la Rosa know how to drive around it...by your logic if hamilton wasn't in the team that mclaren was a backmarker in at least 5 races.

138

Normally I would agree but Hamilton was able to stay competitive while Button had problems. Why?

Button not being able to deal with the handling issues shows he clearly WASN'T in the top 5 best drivers of the year.

139

Button didn't suffer half as much bad luck as Hamilton. I don't remember Button breaking down whilst dominating a GP, it happened to Hamilton twice.

I agree with Hisham on the point about James using certain facts to justify his placement of Hamilton and then dissregarding them to justify Button's placement. Pretty shoddy 'jornalism'. Button shouldn't be anywhere near the top five after spending nearly a quarter of the season in no man's land.

140

+1

I'd apply that same logic to those who'd rated Perez as the 5th best. His 6-race drought at the end of the year happened while Kobayashi went on the podium in Japan, and scoring 6th and 9th (could've been 7th) in the sister car.

That's a pretty huge discrepancy when comparing teammates.

Likewise, given what he had to work with, Button really should've done better.

141

If Button had not been incapable of driving around them, then it wouldn't have mattered. Hamilton wasdoing just fine during those few races.

142

While I can't fault your rankings, James, I have to say it is somewhat out of the ordinary that a driver who finishes 3rd in the WDC after two years out of the sport, in a car that finished 5th in WCC the previous year, ahead of 4 of the 6 drivers competing for the big three teams, is ranked below his WDC standing when drivers are reviewed! I think it says more about the wealth of talent we've enjoyed this season than about the driver himself, but it's still somewhat of a shame for Kimi (if he cared).

143

My choices were similar, with Perez no.5

Can't argue with Button as no.5, though

So, we have 5 champions in top 5 places, which is quite right, to be honest.

144

With all due respect, James, but I have to disagree with you. I can't believe how people can name Alonso #1 when Alonso choked in the decisive races. He was worse than Massa, which means he could have done better but didn't. He could've been the champion if he didn't underperform. In this case, you can't put the blame on the car; it's his own fault. He lacked a champion's mentality.

145

Sein,

I have to agree with you. If the poll had been taken during the mid-season break, I would have put Alonso ahead of Hamilton and Vettel. However, after Alonso's last win in Germany, Alonso's form seemed to tail off, which became even more apparent with Massa's late season improving form. In Montreal (before the break and a race I attended) Alonso and his team's decision to stay out on worn tires was laughable as he dropped from 1st to 5th. Hamilton and McLaren got it perfect there and even Vettel and RBR decided on a late tire change for damage limitation. For me, Alonso was 3rd best after Vettel and Hamilton.

146

Well Sein - I reckon you should start

147

For me Vettel "choked" worse than Alonso in the last races... he made two mistakes on lap 1 (contact with Senna and hitting the banner behind SC) in Abu Dhabi and that horrible start in Brazil (plus he was outqualified by Webber there just like Alonso was outqualified by Massa, so if you're blaming Alonso for this performance, you should't forget about Vettel) - nice recovery there by SV, but he put himself in trouble. Alonso was simply slower than Massa in the last races. Cut the man some slack - he'd been beating Massa for whole season and driving magnificent races. You can't keep that level of concentration for the whole season, cause it's just too hard. Overall, Alonso made fewer mistakes than Vettel and he made the difference when it mattered. Vettel is a fantastically fast driver, but IMHO he needs the fastest car to show it. When the car is equal to other cars and you have to extract something more, Vettel is doing a good job (and is often beaten by Webber as at the beginning of the year), while Alonso is doing a great job in such situation. Just my opinion.

148

Yeah Vettel choked

149

Choked on a cucumber. This will be his thing for the rest of his career. A pretender that will continually be exposed by cucumbers.

150

You are serious??

Lets put it around then:

Vettel could have been champion 3 races before the end if he didn’t underperform in Malaysia, China, Monaco, Great-Britain and Brazil compared to Webber. In this case, you can’t put the blame on the car; it’s his own fault. He lacked a champion’s mentality.

151

Alonso drove well, is a master in manupulating the media & playing politics so no surprise many pick him as #1.

152

Not from where I was standing - i.e. there

154

James.

Do you think it's reasonable to suggest that Lotus will be a big contender for both championships next year?. The new sponsorship deal with Coca Cola (Burn) and the announcement that another major company is set to come on board later this week, with the team, is surely going to help their cause for developing throughout next year?

From fist signs, things look really good for them next year.

As long as Grosjean gets his act together!

155

Lotus' performance will not necessarily just come from sponsorship and throwing more money at it. F1 has proven time and again a smart group of people, who can innovatively invent and adapt their cars to the rules best should shine. Lotus can do this, for sure, if their designers / engineers are smart enough. Plus, they have Kimi, possibly top 3 fastest drivers.

156

The new sponsor is Honeywell and yes, they are working hard behind the scenes to raise this team up.

Budget wise they still won't compete with Red Bull and Ferrari, but I have the highest respect for James Allison and his team of engineers so I'm sure they will be there or thereabouts, if not perhaps title contenders

157

sorry for being off topic!

158

Hard to disagree with this. Congrats on releasing another book and congrats on running one of the finest - if not THE - finest F1 blog. I love the podcasts and the fact that you stay away from the dirtiest of paddock rumors. PS: But it would be fun to have a story on the most outragious rumors you hard in 2012.

Have a brilliant christmas James. And the same goes to all you other guys visiting this blog.

159

The best rumour I heard, in my own head, was that Sebastian was going to have a small amount of pyrotechnics wired into his overalls so every time he does The Finger, he fires sparks into the air.

Actually, that's a damn fine idea; what's his email...?

160

Thanks for the laugh 🙂

161

I agreed completely with James who is always fair and unbiased with his assessments which is one of the reasons why I totally respect your work.

As for Alonso, I used to love anyone who beat him but not this time.

I mean how can you not like this guy even if you are a hater. He was a true fighter.

He never said anything bad about the tank he was driving. He never whined (which he is known for).

"It ain't about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep fighting. That's how winning is done". I think he has developed that admirable attitude and I am sure he will win more fans.

162

Thank you for remind us about this. Alonso never complained about his car and he was so entitled to do so and in exchange he kept being optimistic and positive. That was very impressive. Even more than his driving this season.

163

Mr (abrev).. You got to be Joking !!Fernando was the best driver in 2012. But the way he kept going on about the car- I just wanted to stick my foot down his throat.!

164

Elie, what exactly did he say and wasn't true?

My point, and maybe I didn't expressed well enough, was that he wasn't blaming it on the team and didn't lose it over the radio or something like that, like Vettel did.

He was saying things like "that's all we could achieve today" and stuff like that, mostly in qualy because Sunday was always better in terms of performance, but those things were true.

165

Fair enough: he has been much better in this respect while at Ferrari.

166

Yeah I am impressed with his attitude. For me he is no lesser champion then Vettel.

167

@breezy just because I praise Alonso what makes you to think that I don't consider Vettel as good?

Oh and FYI the points and that so called wdc none of that stuff is legit. You can't possibly know who is better without them having the same car. It's a joke, wake up.

168

Luckily for the rest of us the WDC is decided by points and not you.

169

Are you being sarcastic

170

Of course not. In his interviews he was only saying we need to improve, but no other complaints. He was very positive the whole season, even in the last 3 races when he was down on Vettel on points. He had no outbursts like Vettel either.

171

Never whined?! He complained about the pace of his car at every opportunity.

172

Mate, if you consider that whining, you Sir are whining the fact that he was whining.

It's all mind games man. Lewis said he is more worried about Alonso, and Alonso said the same thing about Lewis. Then he said "oh you know it's Adrian Newy that I am fighting". We all know what that means.

173

Your Top Five seems spot on James. But the clincher between Alonso and Vettel for mr would be to imagine if they had swopped cars for 2012. I think Alonso would have wrapped the title up much earlier in the year, and i do not think Vettel would have scored as many points with that Ferrari.

174

Totally agree : Either Alonso or Hamilton would have clinched the title earlier in the Red Bull.

Both of these World Champions have the ability to adapt their driving styles to counter problems with the handling of the car that is clearly beyond Seb and Jenson.

It's the same skill that Frank Derney said Michael Schumacher possessed during one of your podcasts.

Can anyone be considered a truly great driver without it ?

175

Thanks James,

You picked my top-5. I would agree as well that the hardest was JB. But I think he deserves it.

176

Can't fault the top 4 who were clearly separated from the rest, but I can imagine the fifth place being more difficult to decide with number of drivers having some impressive races but none as consistent as the top four throughout the season.

One bit I don't agree is that I would say Alonso was this year way better than Vettel. Here is why: If you look at the first half of the season, where the car was not much to Vettel's liking, his driving was average and as you say he was often out-qualified and outraced by Weber. Only once the car turned superior to the rest and more tailor made for Vettel, he switched on. Even then, he has made some terrible mistakes that he was very lucky to get away with (crashing two times in Abu Dabi, bad start and accident with Senna in Brasil - these 2 races qould have easily been 0 points). At the same time, during first half of the season Alonso extracted absolute maximum out of the car at his disposal and did place it in positions where that car had no place to be. Throughout the 20-races long season his only mistake (if it could be called so) was tangle with Kimmi in Suzuka and being out-qualified and out-paced by Massa in the last few rounds. As close to perfect as it can possibly get.

177

James I am happy with your rating

I have not matched your rating though (I had Vettel @ 3 and Hulkenburg @ 5)

Fernando Alonso NO 1 (The undisputed King of Formula 1)

178

Bare in mind that this is just the subjective view of Mr. Allen. We're all biased. The unbiased top 5 can be found from the 2012 final standings.

179

Here we voted for the performance each driver had with the equipment at his disposal. Unfortunately you don't get points for your performance, but for the results.

For example if De La Rosa would have finished the season in 10th place, he would've been the driver voted here, but not the champion in the final standings.

My 2 cents

180

I just don't see the point. It's just subjective speculation. Driver performance must be based on quantifiable data.

181

The point is exactly that, this is subjective. We are getting JA's opinions based on how he see's it. The objective is to speculate as to who drove the best all season long when you disregard car performance.

I personally don't agree with JA's top five but then I don't have to. I respect his opinion and points but I feel from what I observed that the top five is thus

Alonso

Hamilton

Vettel

Rikkonen

Schumacher

You won't see many lists like that but the opinion based on - spanking ur team mate - car failures - car competitiveness - quallifying - race performances - overtaking and defending.

Yes I reckon Schumacher had some great drives this year in a season destroyed by failures, stratergy errors and a poor car.

But that's all just fun and my humble opinion!

182

I agree with MISTERs meaning here. You can't quantify performance on data alone, a lot of drivers don't have the equipment to run up the numbers. For example, it may take a masterclass in driving to keep an HRT on the road, let alone score points. Who knows, certainly not we keyboard jockeys.

183

James you were way too soft on Vettel. Your main distinction between them was team mate qualifying?

I have a better one. Alonso finished within 3 points of Vettel in a car that was significantly slower for at least 75% of the season, and with equal number of finishes. That says it all really. Just imagine if Alonso had been in that Redbull? It would have been over by Spa.

It also must be noted that Vettel was struggling for pace for the first half of the season compared to Webber, who you assume is a better reference that Massa, which is common opinion which I find amusing considering Massa has achieved more in F1 and beaten better team mates than Webber, who is a 36 year old journeyman, who has been flattered by sitting in the fastest car for pretty much the last 4 seasons.

A fact which does tremendous things for the perceptions of a driver.

Hamilton should have been 2nd. Just because Vettel won the title does not mean he should be applauded for making such hard work of a title he should have cruised to. He is just another Mika Hakkinen. A good driver flattered by great cars. Not in the class of the true greats. This will of course be exposed one day if he ever has the guts to leave Newey or gets a real quality team mate, which I find unlikely. He seems like the type just interested in statistics, in the childish belief that is what greatness is all about.

184

At the end of the day Vettel won the title, not Alonso, Webber, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Kimi or Grosjean who all had cars to compete for WDC. If that isnt enough for some, though luck.

Alonso and Hamilton have also alot more to prove, if held by the same idiotic ueberstandard that Vettel is at all times.

185

you must be smoking to claim lotus can compete for wdc when its pace was only working one xtreme hot circuit and soft compound. Not to mention since summer break, their car development has failed tremendously compared to top 3.

Ferrari is the most consisten car that consistenly fighting for podiums and wins, even massa was faster than alonso since summer break.

186

I guess you meant Massa was faster than Alonso in the last two races, no since Summer break. Also Gary Anderson has explained in the BBC website why Alonso was struggling at the end of the season. It makes sense to me what Anderson has written, but maybe we don't want to listen an articulated opinion that can diminish our ones.

187

"He should have cruised to?"

With 6 champions on the grid, tyre gamble for the first third of the season and not the fastest car?

Get a grip man, this year was not 2011.

188

Seriously Vettel had the fastest car yet again. Look at the downforce levels they were pulling out yet again. Even Paul Hembry said their tyre performance was the best on the grid because of their immense downforce helping hem not slide the car. The pirreli's don't like slip, red bull due to all that downforce were able to drive fast within adhesion and just destroy everyone. Vettel made so many driver errors this year he made them look like they were having car problems.

People say Button can't drive around car issues.... Now we know Seb can't either lol

189

RB was not the fasted car this season, Mclaren has that honour, they lost the title, they weren't beaten. Ferrari was competitive in the races.

190

They were often the fastest car in qualifying when Hamilton was driving.

If you judge them on Buttons performances then they were a long way from being the fastest car!

191

I've read that article JF but I don't agree with JA reasoning. I must agree that the McLaren was fastest at some races but on the whole the Redbull still had the best package for the whole season. They certainly did throw away some great opportunities McLaren, but look at the 4 race streak. Hamilton only just looked like he might have won in Singapore before gearbox failure. That was down to his street brawling skills not the car. Webber vs button is a better example of the pace of Redbull vs McLaren at a race weekend!

193

How do we know Hamilton has not been 'flattered' by the McLaren? Or Senna or Schumacher or anyone? The same rule has to apply to everyone (however valid or invalid it is to begin with).

Statistics is the only objective way to determine greatnes (especially in the period from the 80's to the present). Everything else is subjective opinion.

194

No one knows that the ferrari was that much slower though. When Massa came back to form , the Ferrari didnt look that slow at all. In fact Massa could have won 2 races at least Korea and Brazil if only he was allowed to. Also finished on podium in US if not for the "bump up your teammate" penalty.

I could equally say that, Alonso was severely under performing in that red car due to whatever issues and Massa showed him up when he got his own issues sorted.

About RBR being the car to have - Just take a look at Webber s standings and you will know that it wasnt the best car - actually probably not even the second best car. This is despite Webber not being treated like a Massa to Vettel.

195

Alonso under perfomed ?

Webber out qualified vettel 9-11

Webber has beaten vettel on pure pace through out the first half of the season (Bahrain a exception)

Webber led the championship standings until summer break. Where was vettel ? 5th

Webber has dominated and showed up vettel how to win with out quickest car (Example Monaco and Silverstone)

Webber did everything he could with no support from RBR

RBR do dramas with webber stating we allow fair racing (Why webber suffer always from Poor starts, Faulty kers, Dodgy pit stops)

Please take off your blinkers

Who is massa ? What he showed up to alonso ?

Had alonso drove the way massa did from australia. Ferrari would have suffered a huge Humiliation this season (Given the status and budget)

All credit to Fernando alonso (Genius, Wizard) for the fighting spirit despite poor ferrari

196

Button over hulkenburg for. 5 th this year is a complete joke. Some of buttons races this year were completely rubbish. If massa had of done them he would of gotten dogs abuse. Canada and Monaco were terrible. And he was so average in Abu Dhabi it's unreal when Hamilton was walking the race in the same car. He has had some great races also but no way he was better than hulkenburg this year.

197

Agreed. How is it possible that Button deserve such high appraisal? When the team could not figure out the tires, he was lapped and completely shaken and confused. I could remember his interview showing a complete lack of confidence. When the team gotten better with the car, so did he. To me, he is just another driver. Team McLaren deserved that 5th spot way more than Button does despite they don't even qualify.

Out of the new comers (Kimi excluded), I chose Maldonado because he really shown some capability. Hulkenburg is also pretty good. Grosjean and Perez are rubbish. Grosjean is fast only when the track is empty.

Perez do not have natural speed as Kobayashi can easily outpace him. He is gonna be another Jensen Button type.

198

All the P5 contenders were inconsistent RBS year but Buttons peaks were higher than the others in my view

199

And we have to respect that!

Everybody has an own opinion..

I fully agree the top 4!

200

And the lows where very low.

201

Well James,

you had Button, I had Hulk. We agree 4 outta 5. I don't even agree with my wife 80% of the time!

I really enjoy sitting down to breakfast & reading your articles. Especially on a cold winter's morn' like today.

Thanks.

Regards,

Tim

202

You always have a nice thing to say, which I admire. Keep posting Tim

203

I agree with the top 4, but not Button at 5 (should have been Hulkenberg in my opinion).

His mid-season form was awful and I for one was sick of hearing him complain about the car. Hamilton managed to consistently challenge at the front, so why couldn't he?

"The signs are that the new 2013 Pirellis warm up very quickly, so they may suit Button’s style quite well."

Another year, another tyre that is supposed to suit Button's style. Heard this so many times it's untrue. If he's one of the best in the field, why can't he adapt to the tyres like the rest of them do?

I think 2010 summed up nicely where Jenson sits on the grid. The Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren were all title-challenging cars, and Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Webber all got to the last race in with a mathematical chance of being champion. Jenson wasn't good enough.

Add Kimi to the potential challengers for next year, and McLaren should be very worried indeed that Button is the man expected to lead their charge in 2013.

204

@Pukka

Explain to me how a car isn't title challenging if its driver is in with a mathematical chance of winning the title at the last race?

It is therefore challenging for the title is it not?

205

The car was not title challenging. The drivers were. They were in comparison to the Red Bull poor cars that had no right to be winning races but the skill of the drivers (coupled with the terrible driving of the RB drivers at certain races, see above for more details) led to it being a close fight.

206

JF agreed 2010 was tight but again more down to Seb and Webbo actually fighting each other for points alla Lews vs Alonso 2007 was it...

RB was by far the fastest car that year.

And Carl H, yeah Redbull will always have issues with Monza for ultimate pace because to the philosophy behind their car. Massive downforce that works best at 95% of tracks creates massive drag that creates big problems for Monza. Look at their speed traps!

207

A top 3 car that is so far off the pace should not be a title challenging car. 2010 should have been what 2004, 2002, 1996 were with the battle between team mates, such was the dominance of the red bull. Your comment about Ferrari and Mclaren been comfortably quicker at a number if races is hilarious. The only example of that is Monza. Even in the other two races where red bulls weren't on pole that was extremely marginal and due to the brilliant driving of Hamilton in Canada and alonso in Singapore.

208

Sorry Pukka, can't agree with you, 2010 was tight.

209

If a driver is able to challenge for the title then by definition the car is title-challenging. If you put Alonso or Hamilton in a Force India would they come close to winning the title? No, you need at least a top three car.

I notice fom your comments above you conveniently overlook races like Monza where the Ferrari and McLaren were comfortably quicker than the Red Bull.

210

The 2010 Mclaren was by no means a title challenging car... And neither was the Ferrari until the latter stages.

211

I take it you didn't watch the 2010 season. It was tight.

212

+1 Pukka, well said

213

HAHAHA you joker! It was only tight because Hamilton, Button and Alonso are flippin good drivers and Vettel and Webber made some massive errors.

Button at Melbourne and China. Hamilton at Canada and Belgium, Alonso at Germany and Signapore. All brilliant wins where the RB drivers should have won at.

Vettel crashing into Webber at Turkey AND first corner Silverstone AND Button in Spa AND been too far behind the safety car in Budapest.

Webber crashing at Korea and Valencia.

It's incredible to think that had Hamilton not had that last lap tyre failure in Spain whilst running second or Alonso's strategy not been so bad in Abu Dhabi they both could have won the title... Just have to look at the number of poles to see the dominance of the Red Bull.

One pole for Hamilton in Canada, Two for Alonso in Italy and Signapore. The rest all Red Bull...

Obviously you weren't watching close enough.

214

The only reason Alonso is not everyone's cup of tea is because the man has the audacity to be a nationality other than British, the temerity to be intelligent and the arrogance to speak multiple languages. Certainly not what we want for our Sun reading Mansell / Hamilton fans. I'm surprised Button has so many British fans, he ticks a couple of the above boxes!

215

Nationality has nothing to do with it. And I don't read the Sun.

216

So what is it to do with?

217

Christos, what he did to Hamilton in Hungary 2007 was merely right a wrong.

He may well have reacted badly when he found out McLaren were going to appeal their points penalty but not his grid penalty (we'd all smile and move on without a word in similar circumstances, would we?!) but is has been proven a long time ago that Hamilton caused all that in the first place. I believe on the morning of the Grand Prix, Hamilton gave an interview in which he confirmed 'my boss isn't very happy with me'.

218

A lot of people lost faith in Alonso for what he did in Hungary to Lewis. It's not just British press creating a story. Read the court case manuscript it's freely available on the web.

I also was an Alonso fan back from the Renault days and lost my respect for him in 2007. He has since earned it back. He's maturing into a very respectable man now and represents himself well and Ferrari. There will be a lot of fans of F1 that simply like Hamilton and won't care much for Fernando as a result.

No need to have a cow people!

219

Haha your so right. The UK is desperate for sporting success in football, F1, tennis...everything basically. Unfortunately the truth hurts. This doesn't apply to everyone, but it's amazingly consistent to hear how England are one of the favorites at every World Cup, followed by the inevitable failure, then the inquisition into how on earth the failure occurred. Here's the answer...good doesn't beat great. Hamilton is good. He's not been recognized as the number one Formula One driver in all his years mainly because a Spanish driver has held on to that title despite not winning the championship. That should say it all really.

220

We do know what happened in 2007, it all came out at the F1 hearing into McLaren. It's pretty well publicised, I'm not going to trundle it all out again. If you don't believe it happened then fine, I'm not going to argue with you.

Just because the British press have taken a line doesn't mean they've brainwashed people (like me) into forming the same opinions - I supported Alonso against Schuey in 2006, I couldn't care less about Monaco 2007, it was only events later in the year that turned me against Alonso. I wasn't even a big Hamilton fan until he took pole at the British grand prix, which was well after Monaco.

I know Hamilton isn't a saint, I even say so in my post, just that in my opinion Alonso exhibits behaviour that I dislike more often and on a grander scale.

Although threatening and blackmail are in certain circumstances criminal offences, just because no charges were brought Alonso in this case doesn't mean they didn't happen.

221

I think Hungary 2007 is well documented, you're both partly correct.

I'm 41, I've been watching F1 since '78 properly and I'd say Alonso is the 2nd or 3rd best in my watching. I like the bloke.

However, I'm not in denial of his earlier hot-headedness and of his 2 bad moments, I'd say you missed the first Andrew, his outburst after his penalty in qualifying for Monza 2006.

2007 is a different matter. I would be intereted in James Allen's take on events but I believe that it's clearly documented Alonso was being eased aside by Dennis as early as Monaco 2007 (which Alonso won) with the "be nice to Lewis" comment. By the time they got to Hungary, it's well known that Alonso had no support from the McLaren management and was unsettled by this.

So he blocked Hamilton. It's also documented that Hamilton defied team strategy in Q3 to gain an advantage and Alonso simply righted that wrong. It was intra-team.

That too was the conclusion of the stewards. Then, Lewis Hamilton Snr made a complaint. The stewards then penalised both McLaren (points) and Alonso (grid position). Given the lack of support, how would you feel in Alonso's position when the team chose to protest the team penalty but not the driver.

Yes, he was wrong to threaten to "bite the hand that fed him". Which is why he apologised to Dennis the next morning.

I don't think you're really representing his comments this year. His widely accepted as having given a near perfect performance this year and I've never heard him say anything but positive things about the team.

His interview with Brundle in Austin is one such example.

I'd like to hear more about how people in the paddock view him and why as he's a mercurial but charismatic racing driver. But he's my idea of a racing driver and I stand by what I say, if Johnny Englander has a problem with him because, for example, he can speak English or Italian on the radio to Andrea Stella, that for me says much more about Johnny Englander than Fernando Alonso.

222

Andrew Munro, the big problem about mentioning 2007 is we don't know what happened. The British press started portraying Alonso as a pantomime villain since Monaco 2007 and Dennis and Hamilton are not saints. You have mentioned a few things that were published in this country, but i believe threathening and blackmailing are criminal ofences and i've never seen these charges pressed on Fernando. If you have evidence, please post them.

It's funny since Alonso arrived to Ferrari, Hamilton hasn't finished any WDC above him.

223

2007 has a lot to do with it, the way he dealt with Hamilton matching his pace was particularly distasteful in my mind (blocking Hamilton in the pits, trying to blackmail Dennis and throwing the whole team under the bus).

More recently, his steadfast assurance after every qualifying session that everything had gone "perfectly" grated with me, especially when Massa had outqualified him. I appreciate he may have been trying to remain upbeat and convey a positive message, but his comments didn't come across that way to me; they were more about saying what a good job he was doing as opposed to the team around him.

Of course, all the top drivers have their moments of petulance (except for Kimi I think), but Alonso's just seem worse than the others, more consistent and self-aggrandising over the course of his career.

In spite of that I recognise that Alonso is an all-time great and I ranked Alonso as no. 1 in my list, so I can't be that biased against him.

224

Visit your site every day James - would you concider yourself a grandee of F1 journalism? I would. Shame you're not on BBC TV team in my view. Merry Christmas JA.

driving was more free this year

Freer

1 or 2 syllables take 'er'

3 or 4 takes 'more'

Thank God the 'going forward' has died out.

225

I have no problems with the top 4 and it honestly would make no difference if the orders were jumbled up whichever way - its that close.

Wish you hadnt chosen Button. He was just a bit too much "out of league" with the top 4. And we have at least 5 others who would have made the fifth place before Button.

226

I kind of agree that Button is the questionable one in the list but who would you pick and why?

227

Intersing choice with Button. For me, his struggles with the set up for the tyres in the second quarter of the year really count against him. I thought Hulkenburg looked quite strong for most of the year, and it's also worth remembering that for the first haf of the season the Force India was only an outside contender for points at most races and only started to come on strong after the brake. I'd say that beyond the top 4 it was consistency that set the drivers apart, rather than the strength of their peaks,and in that respect Hulk was way ahead of most of the field.

228

Thanks for sharing your view. I guess one thing we can all agree is that it's fun to watch the top four drivers in the sports at the same time and a much closely matched season. I was really hoping for Schumacher to have a great season. But I admire him more even if his come back did not work out like Kimi's. I wish him well.

229

On an outside shot I'd almost give Schumacher the no 5 spot this year.

If you take away undeserved penalties, team mistakes, and seven car failures plus of course a terrible package for most of the season he actually drove and qualified well this year. He made Rosberg look very average.

Put it this way, Schumacher in either the McLaren, Redbull or Ferrari. What sort of season would he have had then? I reckon a pretty dam good one!

230

Question:

Where Alonso would have finished by the side of a real teammate, uncooperative and snapping away points if possible?

Position 3 to 5?

231

Maybe, Massa doesn't have the pace to compete with Fernando over a whole season.

232

Maybe? That's a pretty safe maybe... If anyone wants to take a bet that Massa in the same team would end a season higher than Alonso and neither of them have some unforeseen accident like 2009 then I'd bet my manhood on it...!

233

Where vettel would have finished if he drove F2012 instead of RB8 ?

Position 9 to 10 ?

234

I agree that Vettel would not have fared as well with that car as Alonso did. But P9-10? Even Massa managed to finish P7 in it! Vettel would've been up there in that car, w/o question. Say P3-P4.

235

About the same as Alonso, maybe a bit higher as Vettel is a better qualifier. Hamilton as well. All of these guys will get the most of a car.

236

P1. Or P2 if Alonso had the RB8.

I just can't understand how people still manage to find every way possible to down talk how good Vettel is. Him Alonso and Hamilton are clearly the top 3 far and away, and whilst it is subjective who is the best of the 3, you have to be seriously blind not to accept that the trio are oh so close.

Accept that, and F1 becomes a little bit more interesting seeing these 3 go at it, rather than constantly going "yeah yeah, Vettel didn't do good, 'twas just the car, this season is bad due to his domination".

237

+1 Hamilton was clearly superior to vettel, as was Raikkonen...

238

There are so many opinions and Vettel is this, Alonso is that, Hamilton was there...

We kinda all know how good Alonso is, agreed???
We kinda all know how good Lewis is, agreed???
For me I don't know how good Vettel is...!

That doesn't mean I'm antiVettel or that I think he is not great, I just don't feel like I know he's great like I do the other two.

Basically we have seen what Alonso and Lewis can do in good cars and bad ones. Vettel is yet to face a championship campaign where his car is not dominant for at least most of the campaign IMHO

239

Yes Brian Drian

I am massive alonso fan, However i have tons of respect for lewis talent and ability

Whereas vettel ? [mod]

241

Top 4 ok, but not entirly convinced about button, given the pace of that Mclaren Button didn't performe well, for me Hulkenberg, perez or Maldonaldo were the better drivers, if Hamilton didn't have all those problems i think he could have over 300 points which button could ever dream of.

242

Interesting that you mentioned Maldanado! Most people forget that as much as he had bad moments he showed some pretty amazing pace this season. He could be a surprise next year if Williams can produce a decent car!

But agreed Hulkenberg, Perez, Maldonado had great moments.

button had 3 wins though, yes his engineers helped him get completely lost on setup for 5 races but he won 3 races. 3 good ones too, very Button esk victories.

I'd even consider Schumacher for 5th when you look into it. Spanked Rosberg, 7 failures, strategy problems and a terrible car for the most part (tyre eating chassis) he did good for an old bloke

243

Alonso was the best driver this year -BY FAR-. Vettel was a distant second (or even 3rd, with hamilton 2nd). I 've said it before. Alonso was the one who inspired fans almost in every race with his relentless fighting, maturity and team spirit. Vettel never had the charisma to inspire and he needs to grow up a bit before he could even get close to having it.

The team bosses vote shows Alonso was by far the best driver of 2012:

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/104812

244

I find Alonso's comments often immature. For example, his comments several days after the season ended questioning the race result in Brazil. Compare that with what he said after Brazil 2007

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/63581

245

"What my team boss stated in China, saying that they weren't racing against Raikkonen but against me, was a declaration of intent."

I would not call that immature, but perfectly normal reason to run away from there. And now they also lost Lewis. Fantastic team management.

246

@funny guy adam

Well, FYI your friend "Ron" was team principal and we all know how his management, and of his successor, ended. McL had ALO and HAM, THE BEST TWO DRIVERS on the grid today, and lost them both in their prime time. How immature was that ?

247

Your Alonso quote further proves my point.There was the traditional McLaren set up in 2007 where both halfs of the garage raced each other. Ron managed Lewis side and Martin Fernando's side. With Kimi to far ahead to catch the race was between the two McLaren drivers.

248

Yes - Alonso did inspire the fans with the odd camera work , samurai tweets about how slow his car is , by getting his teammate 5 place grid drop when ahead of him and pushing ferrari to embarrass themselves by chasing fan videos of Yellow flags.

Vettel on the other hand simply beleived in beating him on the track. I know who I would chose to get inspired from. 🙂

249

You are fundamentally wrong on this.... you do not "chose" to be inspired. You simply get inspired. Alonso’s was never a favourite of the majority of the fans. They would not chose to get inspired by his driving this year. They just got inspired.

This has not happened with Vettel at any of his 3 championship years. Unfortunately the car has been "bigger" than him. Or he has been "lesser" that the car. Take your pick.

250

+1 i'll even it up for you

252

This is actually true though about the yellow flags, Ferrari seeking clarification about it after they had watched it.

The thing that struck me most about that episode was Alonso would have watched it also, so it beggars belief that for all the praise he receives had he been in JEV's position Vettel would have gone past him as he couldn't see the marshal waving the green flag.

253

Interesting they have the same top 5 as James as well...

254

and Massa makes it into the top 10!

255

Yeah that's a joke

256

Tend to agree with your top 5 there James. As you say the top two in particular are so close that it is almost unfair to have to pick one above the other. Alonso for me just, just shades it due to some fantastic performances, even if I do feel the problems of Ferrari were exaggerated somewhat. it pains me to say it as I don't like Alonso but he was the best driver/racer this season.

Vettel has also been absolutely supreme this season too though which shouldn't be overlooked and people need to stop making excuses for why he has won 3 titles and start seeing him as the real deal (which to be honest should be a given for a triple world champion). Banning the blown diffuser won't make a scrap of difference, in the same way banning Traction Control never stopped Kimi, banning the mass damper never stopped Alonso or the Pirelli's never stopped Hamilton.

257

Hahahahaha, matched my top 5, and I'm laughing because I got slagged for including Button.

258

Button 5th wow.

You clearly have a better insight than any of us but I can't fathom how Button was 5th best this year.

You clearly know something we don't.

As I see it it's a racing driver's job to maximise their equipment, Button didn't come close to doing that.

Am I missing something.

259

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who shares this opinion. Button had his highs, but his lows were embarrassing, to be frank. It's no surprise that, when McLaren realized Hamilton was serious about moving to Mercedes, they offered him something like 4x Jenson's salary to stay. If McLaren had two Jensons this year in their cars, they'd have finished a distant 4th to Lotus in the WCC.

260

You are both being a bit harsh but I also doubt Button was the fifth best this year.

Button's problems though were quite simple to fathom but difficult to sort out. The inherent smoothness of his driving let to tyre heat up issues, engineers compensated with the setup but consistently got it totally wrong. Leading to the tyres using slippage via the differential to generate heat, the Pirellis did not cope with tyre slip well as that sent them into thermal degradation very quickly. 5 races later they put the setup back to almost Melbourne spec and low and behold, fine...

This is why Redbull became so dominant this year. When they bolted on the Valencia update that gained them a whole HRT in downforce on top of wht they had already had before they were able to drive fast within the limits of adhesion and baby the tyres as a result. This gave them a great package. Vettel just had an inconsistent year with his driving compared to previous year, a few more errors than he's used to

261

James I very much expected you to pick what you picked, but aside of Alonso I can't agree with your 2- 5.

Lewis Hamilton led Abu Dhabi and Singapore and was certain to win both those races. He also was favoured to win Brazil. He even out qualified Vettel 7-6. This was his best driving year in F1 bar none!

Red Bull struggled earlier on but if Mark Webber can win 2 races and out qualify his team mate more often over the first 6 races it tells you bucket loads about the cars genuine pace even if it was not quite an MP4-27 & by Singapore it was ballistic. So whilst Sebs win was great I think it is still a little overrated. I mean comeon a whole second faster at some tracks.

Lotus could not change tyres better than 4.5 sec earlier on . Kimis return was nothing short of incredible- which for some reason I never doubted after his winter tests. And the car was slower pace wise than the top 4 by Spa. Kimi came 3rd and he absolutely was the 3rd best driver without any doubt.

Jenson Button where did he finish ?? & where did his team mate finish even when Lewis had much more car / team failures??. Jenson was at best 6th maybe even 7 th in the fastest car on the grid.

Hulkenberg- even for someone that admitted to you he was not up to speed the first half ( what does that tell you of Kimi then) - he still beat Saubers and tussled with Lotuses & was fighting the top 4 on occasions in Force India- I alway thought we hadnt seen the best of this kid and I expect his name to rise - he definitely deserved 5.

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I'll be honest, I didn't even consider Button for the top 5 this year - I mean he had three great victories certainly, but he only beat Hamilton in one or two other races all season, that's not enough in my view.

"But he didn’t always carry himself like a champion and he knows that.

To be a great driver, you have to be great in all areas and he still has some growing to do there."

Any chance you can expand on these statements i.e. what would Lewis have to do to be ahead of Vettel and/or Alonso this year?

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Good job I ordered the book then !

Can't argue with your ascertion that it was finely balanced. I put Hamilton above Vettel and Jenson and Mark Webber as equal fifth.

Turning to the subject of Alonso I'm not a great fan because of concerns that started with his behaviour during his season at McLaren but he was undoubtedly the star of the 2012 season.

However, some worrying comments from guests in your December podcast have cast a longer shadow over his reputation for unsporting behaviour which really need explaining.

There must be some pretty damaging stuff out there if Alonso has been up to unsporting antics in the paddock that your guests feel they can't share with the audience or discuss on air.

I note that nobody else dismissed or contradicted these comments so they must be well know to them all and are true.

Perhaps someone can enlighten us - over to you, James ?

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Perhaps some of the guests in the December's podcast don't like Alonso very much.

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I wouldn't read too much into that

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Great stuff, James. Nice list.

Re: Webber - it would be interesting to take his performances and apply Vettel's grid +/- score throughout the season, working out (approximately, of course) where he would have finished had he not had so many dramas with his starts. They've been so poor for so long, and there's so little between him and Seb otherwise.

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Your choice exactly the same as the team bosses poll released in autosport.

I guess the people who know, well, they really know.

We all just think we know!!

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& you think team bosses don't have their favourites

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James

Sorry to go off on a bit of a tangent, but have Lotus retained Grosjean yet? If not, do you think they are seriously considering dropping him?

Thanks

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There are plenty if people in F1 who don't want him back, including some drivers

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Wow James!!! very interesting information you are giving us here. I´m afraid I have to agree with the people who don´t want him. He has shown he is dangerous not just for other drivers but for himself

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Why would the non-drivers want him gone (other than those mechanics/engineers that were forced to work overtime after his crashes)?

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Wow, that's very revealing. I hope there's a chance of Kamui or Sutil getting that seat.

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"Less than the width of a cigarette paper" used to be my favourite sentence back when you were still commenting on TV, it still is 🙂

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I need some new lines!

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It's interesting to note that the actual width of a standard sized generic cigarette rolling paper is ~35mm.

The image conjured in the mind is one of the thickness of the paper used when reading this line.

Another oft used line in such comparisons uses the "hair's breadth" or "within a whisker" a human hair is about 50 microns across. A super slim, silver cigarette paper is 20 microns thick. (and about 35000 microns wide)

As far as new lines go - there is probably a good one to be found involving the ratio of points Alonso had to Vettel (about 99%) Kimi's taste for ice creams and a 'well known' variety of icecream.

I suspect if you used "the depth of a flake" though - noone would have the slightest clue what you meant though...

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Maybe you could work 'fluidic' into a line. Oh, hang on....

😉

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Hi James, slightly off topic, but do you think we could get a surprise announcement on the driver market? It seems strange that a few seats remain unconfirmed (particularly Grosjean at Lotus), and with so many decent drivers available, I am wondering if someone else will get the Lotus seat, so that the team can capitalise on it's performance and what Kimi has shown can be done - someone with a bit more consistency and point-scoring ability.

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I have the same top 5.

Staying hopeful...

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Button is my favourite driver, but even I could not include him in my top 5. Looking at the season overall, he did a decent job (3 great wins, close on points to his team-mate), but when you look at each race, he was consistently out-qualified and that period of poor races in the middle was dire. I can't complain that JA put him at 5th, I'm just pleasantly surprised. Spot on with top 4 (I had Hulk at 5th).

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Good to hear, thank you!

If you did do the book update, I'd buy a copy again, and I'm sure a lot of his fans will as well, the best book on him in my opinion.

Anish

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Val from montreal

What a load of rubbish , as the british like to say .... How come some (the most anti's outhere) point out that Schumacher's carreer was only successful because " apparently " there were not so many "top" drivers in the f1 grid for his entire carreer , when at the same time that he was dominating you still had the buttons ,raikkonens, alonsos etc etc .... So that logic applies to Alonso then !! Fernando only won his titles in that same said "weak" Schumacher era but since 2007 ( apparently when the golden age started ) Alonso has'nt won not 1 championship since then ... Could it be that Alonso is also over rated ?? This new " breed" of f1 champions all lost to Schumacher , bar Hamilton and Vettel .... Oh and btw , EOG was burried in my backyard like I promissed .... Your whole romantic fairytale that somehow The Spaniard was sent by the gods to remove the allmighty german off his throne towards the end , is just that, a made-up feel good story to please the masses ....

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I've followed F1 since the 70's. This was as memorable a year as ever. You're all entitled to your opinion. James, you'e picks are very insightful as always. Now on to 2013!

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Well, I too hadn't picked Button in the Top 5. Webber got my vote for his tenacity and perseverance in the face of challenges his team mate was spared.

But I'm looking at a signed JA yearbook on my table that got delivered today so I'm happy.

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If Alonso was at the first spot without winning the WDC, I think LH needed to be in the second place. As you insist Alonso was 1.5 seconds behind the competition at the begining (and for me was just a problem with Alonso himself and his qualifying skills). If you look at the performance of Jenson qualifying during the whole year, you will say that Mclaren was 1.5 seconds out of pace in many races...

Alonso did in some point the best lap at Austin, and could not manage to do a decent qualifying session. When was really important he did many mistakes (starting with Suzuka). Many was talking about his mental games and etc, that Vettel was feeling the pressure... but I think Alonso was the real one affected. If you look at the Austin GP alone, he did a lot of mistakes during the race.

In Autralia he had a huge mistake too, and that compromised the whole qualifying for him... and for me is clear that Massa was "released" when Ferrari needed him. The episode of "Alonso is faster than you" was really bad for Ferrari image. And holding Felipe was their solution for not having this kind of situation anymore. Let's see how this will progress in the next year. Did you forget that Alonso did hold Hamilton on the box in 2007, so LH could not make the pole on him one more time?

LH was the only driver that was out of 6 six and none was his fault. Both Vettel and Alonso at least once was their fault.

Alonso had a resilient car all season, and that is something a few people are taking into account. Seems like the quality of the car is just accounted for Vettel (speed), but resilience is important too, makes a big difference, and Alonso had it all year.

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I wish all my uni exams had been that easy. Only hard question was who came 5th & I reluctantly agree Button would have to get it for the reasons James gave. The only other driver to consider was my Aussie mate Webbber for his 2 wins. Pity WDC is not chosen by a panel of judges but if that ever happens we need James on that panel but everyone else must be Spanish or Italian for balance.

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Did anybody notice that if we ignore the geriatric Schumacher the first 5 were the only WDC winners in the field? Is this a case of cream rising to the top or are we biased due to knowing what they have previously achieved, not only this year?

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Lewis - 1, Fernando - 2 and Seb - 3

Lewis was just superb this year.

Fernando was consistently behind Massa towards the end of the season.

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Agreed, I just hope Lewis will be even better next year. Maybe he'll even manage to make third place. That would be fantastic, wouldn't it.

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James, your comment regarding Hamilton. "To be a great driver, you have to be great in all areas and he still has some growing to do there."

Are you referring to his off-track antics. I really don't see what he did wrong this in terms of on-track. Conversely I was disappointed by some of SV radio conversations to his engineer.

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also vettel insulting other drivers ie calling them idiots.. not the actions of a world champion. but as usual lewis is judged by different standards than other drivers. that is not say he doesnt do some daft things, but so do others!

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Spa...Twitter gate

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Mike from Colombia

Well then what about Alonso and Flag-gate? Trying to protest the result so long after the race was a touch sour and unsporting.

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Look out Alonso's behind you...

Oh no he isn't

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@ James Allen

It was a bad thing, so it must have been Alonso's fault, right?

Some people seem to think anything that happens that's unsavoury with Ferrari is Alonso-inspired. Same with Renault, same with McLaren.

People seem to need him to be a villan.

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Do you know for certain that he was behind it?

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The Hamilton fans are out of touch with reality as usual. I think I would of put Kimi ahead of Hamilton as he has been generally more consistent over the year, Hamilton had three crashes this year (at least better than last). I would put Hamilton slightly ahesd of Button or even with him. Yes, Hamilton had reliablity problems, but so did Button. In the end, it largely evend itself out and the points standings reflect that. Ham fans need to get a grip, he was nowhere close to the top three this year. Button has, through his credit, when he suffered from tyre issues due to the set-up of his car, finished the races where Hamilton couldn't. That was the difference this year - which is why Autosport (not fans) awarded Button as the best British driver of the year. [mod]

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Name a crash that was Hamilton's fault??? Please

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Didn't Button also have three crashes? (Karthikeyen, Kovalainen, Kobayashi)

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WOW JAMES! That's my son William on the main picture. Thank you so much.

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In many ways 5th best driver was sort of like the Silver Spoon Award because Webbo, JB, Hulk and Checo had major inconsistencies whereas the top four wore greatness and could only be separated by a very fine margin.

Hulk and Checo offer great potential. For me, Checo marginally edged it for race/tyre management. His drive to the podium in Canada was for me undoubtedly Drive of the Year.

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Top 4? Absolutely spot on. But Button 5th? Buttons peaks may have been higher than others as you say but his troughs were deeper than most considering the pace of that McLaren.

Alonso extracted McLaren level pace from his Ferrari. Button extracted Ferrari pace from the McLaren. Not deserving of a top 5 placement.

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Ridiculous!I am getting sick of the ''appraisal'' that Button is getting! WDC or not! Maybe its all the taking media to dinner stuff which is showing some glimpse here...!He and Webber underperformed so bad this year. Balance problem, no grip, tyre-whispering issues and he got beaten soundly in 2012. Last year even with problems Lewis Hamilton was still fast, he matured and put up a brilliant performance that people seem not to recognize! is that bs? I don't know! Overcritical about Hamilton, but yet everything bad about Jenson brushed under carpet! I've never seen such driver protected by media like that!.

Well as far as i'm concerned the best 3 drivers are there in no particular order! Looking forward to an exciting 2013!

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Mike from Colombia

Agree 1000% percent.

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When did you start watching F1? Because I certainly remember the media not being so nice to Jenson when he was in his early/mid twenties and deservedly so. He's matured a great amount since then.

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Agree 100%. If Massa or Schumacher had driven this year like Button(driving slowly, lapped by his team mate, crashing into Karthikeyan in Malaysia, crashing into Kovalainen in Monaco), they would have been criticized to the bin, but somehow with Button everything seems to be fine as soon as he shrugs off his shoulders and smiles into the camera. Strange Journalism.

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Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. But I think James has it wrong here. I do not really understand why Vettel was worse than Alonso on account of the eight times he stated a race behind Webber. How many times did Alonso start a race behind Webber? I know that Alonso does not have the same car but comparing how many times one or the other started behind their team mates is actually a little like deciding on which one is better by comparing Webber and Massa while they too are riding different cars. Actually is comparing which is better, Vettel or Alonso, assuming Massa and Webber are equivalent. They are not. So, if we are going to use that criteria I would say Vettel is better because he started ahead of Alonso, Webber and Massa more times than any other way around, because that is the only sensible way of comparing the 4 drivers.

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Agree!

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Tom Daley ..... top diver of 2012!

Lewis Hamilton .... top driver of 2012!

Andy Murray ... top tennis player of 2012!

Rule Britannia.

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Fernando Alonso, jorge lorenzo, spain football team... Spain keeps rulling man.

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Yes The Greatest Football team in the history

313

The pass in Austin was the highlight of the season? Really? Are we talking highlight of the season, or highlight of Lewis' season?

314

That just confirms what Bernie said Vettel is the yardstick in F1.

Hamilton after the race said I just beat the quickest.

Right now for people to big up themselves they have to beat Vettel.

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I think Hamilton's words were "I just beat the supposed best". Having watched the practice sessions, and even qualifying, where Hamilton drove a perfect lap that was still not good enough, it was a mighty win.

Vettel should not have lost that race; he knew it; Hamilton knew it.

The overtake itself wasn't spectacular (not like Hamilton passing Kimi at Monza '07), even if Vettel played a little dirty during it. But it was an overtake that had impact ... it was one of only three overtakes for the lead over the whole year (the others being WEB on ALO in Britain, and HAM on ALO in Canada). It also meant that Alonso didn't HAVE TO WIN in Brazil to win the title.

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Meh. He overtook him, yes. Hardly means it was the highlight of the season though. Can think of several far better moments in the season that that. Does this mean that anyone who overtook Hamilton was moment of the season? What about anyone else overtaking Vettel?

317

You may think of several more "spectacular" moments but the beauty of that pass was that it was the momment that decided a fifty something laps race where two drivers were a second o so apart giving it all while leaving the competition 20 seconds behind. I remember thinking I wish the championship was being decided between these two because right now there is nothing telling them appart. It was racing at its finest. The best I've seen in a very long time. I wanted Vettel to win the championship but, on that moment I couldn't have been more pleased to see the move Hamilton pulled because that is exactly what I want to see when I watch F1 (and I was pretty sure Alonso would loose the championship in the last race anyway) Of course there were spectacular moves being made by people overtaking for 5th or 7th but it is not quite the same. And I agree with roclie of course. All this love between Alonso and Hamilton praising each other on how good the other strikes me as licking wounds. The man they both want to beat is Vettel.

318

I am surprised by your choice of Jenson Button at #5! but otherwise concur on the rest of your list and associated points supporting each.

And, the best part of the article for me is this:

"I know [Alonso's] not everyone’s cup of tea and in the internet age, it’s easy for fans to find others who share their view and demonise a driver. But, whatever you think of him, he’s one of the greats and we are fortunate to have a driver like him to provide a reference point for all the other drivers."

319
Tornillo Amarillo

Button 5th really? Being consistently outperformed by his team-mate?

Rosberg should be better, outpermorming 7-time-champion Schumacher, and doing one pole and one win in a dog car, but I respect your list, after all, Button was 5th in the standings.

I still want a book 🙂

320

Outperforming Schumacher, in points yes. In terms of pace, overtaking and excitement no way. I forgot who Nico Rosberg even was half way through the year.

Remove all the car failures (7 minimum) that schuey had then he'd have spanked what's his name

321

I agree it should have been Rosberg at five.

322

1. Considering that Button was in the fastest car 2012 and didnt have the bad luck of retiring from race leading 3 times, Button has performed weaker than Hulkenberg and Perez and should be placed (even optimistically) amongst the top 6 or 7, but not the top 5.

2. Considering that his car was mechanically more consistent than Hamiltons car, Button had the best car 2012 and he wasnt even a championship contender. UNBELIEVABLE!!

323

I think you need to get a sense of perspective.

This is a Top 5 list of F1 drivers. That's all.

Every day 10 children in the UK are told they have cancer, their families lives are turned upside down. That's serious.

This is a but of fun. Perspective, please.

324

I love this site and comment often, I even won a signed copy of your 2010 year book but... I think you owe that person an apology to be frank.

I hope to see less of this or I'll not be taking part in this site for much longer

325

“Every day 10 children in the UK are told they have cancer, their families lives are turned upside down. That’s serious.”

That is a terrible thing to say, the person is just expressing their (let's face it correct) opinion. He is commenting on a page entitled 'My Top 5 Drivers of 2012'. How is this not having perspective? If that's not having perspective then surely neither is writing this page?

326

"Every day 10 children in the UK are told they have cancer, their families lives are turned upside down. That’s serious."

Yeah James, but you didn't put that up on the site. And if u put up a list (your opinion), of which child/ family is suffering the most, i am sure people would be discussing with the same amount of emotion shown here.

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