Posted on December 27, 2013
XPB.cc

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 great response with just under 600 entries.

As a fun sideline prize, the first five entries which match my selection, will receive a free signed copy of our review book of the season; James Allen on F1 2013: Winning at All costs, which is on sale now in our Online Shop.

The number one driver was easy to choose this year, but the next four are tricky as few drivers put on a consistent display all season long. To me there isn’t much to choose between P2 and P5 in the list and the margins are finely balanced.

But here is how I see it:


1. Sebastian Vettel

Unlike last year there was no-one else in it. Vettel set new standards in 2013 and improved significantly before our eyes as the year went on. Considering he was a three times world champion before the year started that’s quite a thing to say. He’s only 26 and on the evidence of this year, is now beginning to hit his peak.

Of course some detractors will say that their granny could have won the title in that Red Bull, particularly with the way it developed in the second half of the season, as Renault created some magic engine maps which harmonised with Red Bull aero developments in the diffuser area.

But it was the way he did it which lift him to a level above. The combination of Vettel and the RB9 was an unstoppable force – man and machine in perfect harmony in way that is rarely seen in F1.

His opening stints in Singapore and Abu Dhabi in particular were some of the best I’ve seen in 25 years in the sport; precise, consistent and devastatingly fast. To leave the field for dead at almost 8/10ths of a second per lap takes more than just a quick car.

Vettel has in the past had weaknesses in his game, which he has now virtually eradicated. It will be fascinating to see who has the fastest car in 2014 and – if it isn’t the German – to see how he adapts.

I also liked the way in 2013 he clearly listened to some of the negative feedback from F1 fans – he dropped the annoying “finger” celebration and also showed more of his undoubted humour. The introduction of the donuts celebration, previously frowned on in F1, showed that he is human and also his power within the sport as he has now blasted away a taboo there.


2. Fernando Alonso
This was a tough one. Alonso disappointed at times this season – it’s not been often in the last ten years that you could say that – as his motivation clearly dimmed a little in the second half of the year when it was clear that the title would again elude him.

He was anonymous in Monaco and Felipe Massa outqualified him eight times, so by his standards (and certainly his 2012 standards) it wasn’t a vintage year.

He also made a bad mistake in Malaysia, damaging his nose on the opening lap and not pitting to change it.

Normally this catalogue of negatives would not make you the number two driver of the year, but you have to recognise that he still – somehow – managed to finish runner up in the championship, ahead of the second Red Bull driver and both Mercedes and Lotus drivers in what was clearly not the second fastest car over the season. For that reason alone, he deserves to be considered ahead of the other candidates. It was a conjuring trick.

The Ferrari looked promising in the opening races, he was on the podium in Australia, won in China and Spain, but then they really dropped the ball and lost the development path. The car was regularly qualifying outside the front two rows of the grid and yet Alonso kept coming through to salvage points and podiums.

His calculated strategy of giving the team a chivvy up in July while there was still time for them to do something, fell on deaf ears and instead Ferrari’s president chose to publicly attack him. This was clearly an error. Things have not been the same since and although Montezemolo is now showering him with praise, it’s too late. Alonso is running out of time to win the third world title, which is his lifetime goal.

Next season, if he feels he has a better option for 2015, he will almost certainly take it.


3. Kimi Raikkonen
Again a very tough one. But Raikkonen surely deserves it for his consistency – prior to his falling-out with Lotus he had scored a win (his second for the team) and seven other 2013 podiums, including six second places. Romain Grosjean came good at the end, but second was the peak of his achievement, whereas Raikkonen was doing it consistently and was on a real roll in the early part of the season in particular, with a string of second places from China to Spain.

The Lotus was a very good car this year, but not the fastest. It was one of the most consistent across the whole season, with an impressively short blip after the Pirelli tyre compounds were changed post Silverstone. Without that Lotus and Raikkonen could have challenged for greater honours this year.

He wasn’t the fastest in qualifying, but, like Alonso, his race performances, strategic thinking, precision and patience were vital ingredients in success in 2013 spec Pirelli era racing.

Although his move to Ferrari for 2014 was one of the main stories of the year, it was sad the way things ended with Lotus. Owed something in the region of €20m, he tried to settle for around €5m and even that proved a challenge for the financially strapped outfit.


4. Nico Rosberg

This is where it gets really tricky as Hamilton, Rosberg, Grosjean and Hulkenberg all have a claim to be best of the rest, with various outstanding performances through the year. All of them had peaks and troughs though, some car related, others linked to their own performance.

Rosberg edges out Hamilton for me because he was a bit stronger across the season and was possibly able to get more from the car in the races than his team mate, for whom the advent of Pirelli tyres has been a huge handicap to his driving style. Although Hamilton’s peaks were probably higher, especially in qualifying, he faded a few times, whereas Rosberg kept adapting and plugging away and outpointed Hamilton strongly in the final four races. This is an interesting reversal because Rosberg has tended to fade in the closing stage of the season through his F1 career.

Rosberg also retired three times due to technical failures, so lost the chance to score more points which might have taken him above his team mate, who only had one retirement.

Rosberg’s run of poles and wins in April, May and June was the high point of his year, but his end of season form hints at a potent challenge from the outset next year if the Mercedes is a championship-worthy car, as many suspect it might be.


5. Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton, Grosjean and Hulkenberg are hard to separate here. Hulkenberg performed miracles in the Sauber from September onwards, but so did Sergio Perez in 2012 and look what happened with him this year. The Sauber is an unreliable form guide, in other words.

Grosjean was mighty impressive in the closing stages of the season with podium finishes in Korea, Japan, India and USA. He ended up with six podiums to Hamilton’s four and Rosberg’s five, but he was overshadowed by his team mate in the first half of the season. That said, he was asked to give up track positions to Raikkonen on a couple of occasions and could therefore have had more from the year.

Hamilton edges it with his consistently fast qualifying performances (up to the last three races, at least), his win in Hungary and he could have had a second win at Silverstone without the spectacular tyre failure.

* We will go through the entries and get in touch with the five winners who will each receive a copy of the JA on F1 2013 book “Winning at all costs”

Buy your copy of the JA on F1 2013 Yearbook today. Copies will be despatched to most countries around the world. To be sure of getting a copy of the Limted Edition book before stocks run out click on this link: JA on F1 2013 Book

My top five F1 drivers of the year 2013
309 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: JEZ Playense
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:20 am 

    Gerrad Lopez was recently complaining about a lack of respect for him and his team. He still hasn’t or won’t pay Kimi.

    What a disgrace!

    [Reply]

    Box Box Box Reply:

    +1

    [Reply]

    Marybeth Reply:

    I do not understand how Grosjean is paid by Total at Lotus, & Kimi isn’t…?

    [Reply]

    Mitchel Reply:

    Le Francais, innit?

    [Reply]

    KGBVD Reply:

    You mean Swiss?

    Clarks4WheelDrift Reply:

    French Petrolieum patroleum petroleum… French oil company wanting a French driver for their marketing, promotion and profits etc.

    Grosjean is basically a pay driver and Total allowed him his second chance back at Lotus/Enstone/Renault in F1 after his stint as Alonso’s teammate at Renault.

    Not sure how much they pay though?

    [Reply]

    Marybeth Reply:

    Thank-you. :) Being on the USA side of the pond, there are things that go right by me. :)

    KGBVD Reply:

    Romain is Swiss.

    deancassady Reply:

    But from our perspective, JEZ, and I know I am assuming, Lopez, on a quarter, a QUARTER of the budget, was challenging Mercedes, Ferrari, and the closest team to challenging Red Bull, over the course of the year.
    I am a big Kimi fan, more on that, in a moment, and he earned the pay, clearly, but he also gets his mojo by racing in the top classes, he loves it; he should take a certain percentage of the team, but it looks really dicey for Lotus, at the moment.
    So the short of it is, yes, it is disgraceful, but really it’s disgraceful to the entire category, isn’t it? As for Lopez, at least they shone brightly, and challenged at the front, and did it, amazingly, on a quarter of the money!
    It’s too bad, because he did good little job there, getting that team up; don;t forget, it was LOPEZ, who insisted on Kimi; pretty smart.
    So you could look on it, as regardless of the transfers between the millionaires, they brought us a good show, non?

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    and the closest team to challenging Red Bull, over the course of the year…

    Eh? Where did they finish in the WCC?

    [Reply]

    deancassady Reply:

    what does that mean?
    Lotus finished a long way in front of McLaren.
    If Kimi had run the last two races, who knows if they could have beat Ferrari, likely.
    Your comment is shallow rhetoric, not considering the qualitative progression of the season.

    The relevant point is the financial structure of F1; when a team achieves 4th in the team championship (way ahead of McLaren)they should be in the clear financially. Clearly, this has not happened to Lotus.
    So what incentive do entrants into the ‘sport’ have, to struggle and make gains, but never see the financial light of day?
    There is a severe structural problem, and if it is not fixed, then there will be no meaningful F1 anymore, just a bunch of corporations playing a corporate version of survivor, with a battalion of pay drivers.

    Tim Reply:

    In your original post you stated that Lotus were the closest team to challenging Red Bull (unless I misunderstood you). I was noting that was a rather odd claim to make, as they finished fourth in the WCC – meaning two other teams , by definition, were closer challengers. You may consider that shallow rhetoric but, one things for sure, I’m not wrong!

    cka_bob Reply:

    But, Tim, looking at the points Mercedes, Ferrari & Lotus were pretty much all joint 2nd, a long way off Red Bull and way ahead of Mclaren. Cleary they came 4th but it’s quite clear to see the point Dean was making:

    1 Red Bull Racing-Renault 596
    2 Mercedes 360
    3 Ferrari 354
    4 Lotus-Renault 315
    5 McLaren-Mercedes 122
    6 Force India-Mercedes 77
    7 Sauber-Ferrari 57
    8 STR-Ferrari 33
    9 Williams-Renault 5
    10 Marussia-Cosworth 0
    11 Caterham-Renault 0

    I know Reply:

    Tim, Lotus mat have finished fourth, but if there ever was a point during the season when it looked like RB wouldn’thave it all their own way, the challenge came from a surprisingly strong Lotus, not from Ferrari.

    Bring back V12's !!! Reply:

    Haha agreed, along with the fact that they chose to sign Maldonado over Hulk. Lotus have no one to blame but themselves for the miserable year they are going to have in 2014. I would like to see Grosjean succeed as I think he has matured and seems like a nice guy but I doubt the Lotus car next year will be able to compete with the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

    [Reply]

    Clarks4WheelDrift Reply:

    Not so sure about that:

    Ok, they have little dev cash and morale must be taking a hammering over possible company collapse but:

    The Renault will be no slouch,

    Bulls aside, they eventually got on top of the mid-season tyre change far better than Merc, Ferrari and McLaren.

    I think the work from this year will carry on to next year not too bad, Allison going may not be fully felt till ’15.

    RomGros confidence will carry over to ’14.

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    Have Renault confirmed they will be the engine suppliers for Lotus in 2014? I thought that was still up in the air.

    Rayz Reply:

    +1

    [Reply]

    Gregory Reply:

    in many ways it was unrealistic as they spent way over their budget. Toto Wolff later confirmed this.

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: goferet
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:21 am 

    Whoops, I don’t know how I forgot about Kimi in my top 5 picks especially taking into account his consistent podium finishes in the first half.

    Okay, I revise my list to match that of our JA on F1 for he has seen it all and best of all, has done so from close quarters and therefore, most definitely knows whats what.

    Yes, it was a hard decision to pick the drivers from P2-P5 but at the end of the day, I think this is the right order all things considered.

    Now what the above list tells me is that Alonso/Kimi + Rosberg/Lewis will be the blokes to fight it out for the WCC honours in future for on paper and on the ground they’re clearly the strongest group of pairs with the Rosberg/Lewis partnership having the slight edge because there’s love in that team.

    And as the saying goes >>> still waters run deep.

    P.s.

    So Vettel won 13 races in a year with 13 in it.

    Exactly what kind of worms has the wonder kid opened here, not forgetting Schumi too won 13 in 2004 and then it was never really the same again i.e. More bad luck than good.

    [Reply]

    Rockie Reply:

    He won 11 in ’11 as well another thing with Vettel is all the historic things in F1 does not stop him on his march forward.
    In ’12 the same was said no one wins more than 2 championships in a Newey car Vettel has 4 no one goes into a close championship ahead and wins it he has done it as well.
    What we have seen this year is well explained by James about Vettel,
    “Vettel has in the past had weaknesses in his game, which he has now virtually eradicated.”

    [Reply]

    R. Reply:

    People will get a waking call one day about Vettel. He is driving the fastest car so he doesn’t have to push the limits so there is no mistakes. Also this gives him the psychological confidence. One day when the car will be on the same levels as others his true abilities will show up in the fullest. There is a reason why Hami, Alonso and Kubica doesn’t judge Vettel abilities as their level. Even when at BMW Kubica said directly he is a better driver than Vettel. And there is a reason why Vettel out of 7 attempts never won RoC when there is even equipment, no race engineer, same outside conditions, no Newey, no perfect pitstops etc…

    [Reply]

    Rockie Reply:

    I think your post is filled with so much bitterness!

    Vettel has never failed with a good car.
    You mention Hamilton, Alonso and Kubica the first two had a title winning car in 07 and blew it spectacularly especially Alonso a defending 2 time champ was out performed and out driven by a rookie.
    This guys you mention rely more on the car than Vettel we keep hearing we need a better car to fight the redbull, but with Vettel having a better car its a negative for him all, not put in the context others want better cars as well.
    The harsh reality is none of them can put a season together like Vettel has done.

    Bartholomew Reply:

    Vettel and Schumacher won RoC every year between 2007-12.

    R. Reply:

    Yes, they won coz they are pretty good, so their average is over other team’s averages, but alone they can’t do it coz they are not the best. Team is not the same as alone. Loeb won 3 times out of 5, Vettel out of 7, he won none, what does that tell you if you can’t explain it by bolid, strategy, no race engineer, weather as all those are the same for everybody. See, Vetttel wins only in RBR bolids, and don’t tell me about him winning once in STR as there are many examples of lucky single wins for other drivers in bad conditions. Just look for them and you will find, no kidding.
    And Alonso relying on better car, well, that is the funny thing, not even worth mentioning, read around and find what the engineers are saying.
    As to Alonso beaten by Hamilton, funny coz Hamilton got protection from Mclaren and played as a spoiled youngster and the hole season was not a pure fight on the track but a messy soap opera behind the scenes, and that alone is enough not even looking at the points where that too I don’t see beaten. So all those hypothetical defending tactics is pure lies or statistical forgetfulness, where you purposely forget that it is not only the driver but the (driver+team+strategies+bolid). And no, I am not Alonso fan. Just an engineer that does designs for a living and does analysis daily. Statistics without real interpretation based on analysis is meaningless, but fans do it all the time, not only Vettel’s fans !!!
    Just think about it …

    JF Reply:

    Hamilton lost in the fastest car of 2012

    KRB Reply:

    Rockie, Vettel was in the RB5, no?

    Podiums: RBR 16-15 Brawn
    Poles: RBR 5-5 Brawn
    Fastest laps: RBR 6-4 Brawn
    Laps led: RBR 302-405 Brawn

    Those stats for the RB5 vis-a-vis the BGP01, are better than the MP4-23 vs the F2008.

    “He’s never failed in a great car” still works.

    KRB Reply:

    @Bart, he obviously means the individual event.

    Vettel @ RoC:

    2007 – lost to Kovalainen in Rd of 16
    2008 – lost to Seb Loeb in QFs
    2009 – lost to Schumi in SFs
    2010 – lost to Felipe Albuquerque in SFs (5-5 in total for that RoC, both individual and team)
    2011 – lost to Schumi in QFs
    2012 – lost to Grosjean in QFs

    Six attempts to date, not seven (2013 event was cancelled).

    Note that I don’t consider the RoC as representative of anything. Interesting, but that’s all.

    R. Reply:

    I don’t know what it has to prove that he never failed in the great car, especially that there is more to great car than simple statistics. Just as example poor race engineer and it will gets you nowhere, and this can be different even in 2 great cars, or another example strategists making no mistakes or even fastest pitstops. RBR really is an assembly of great engineers and mechanics, at this point the best group. But as we know it in life sooner or later they will be offered more money in other teams and slowly will fall apart, which by the already started. We’ll see then what Vettel statistics will look like when this group is not in place.
    See because Vettel can’t show anything individually in RoC, best thing is to say “I don’t consider the RoC as representative”, typical of purposeful forgetfulness, but if he won 3 out of 5 like Loeb did, did I am 100% sure it would be reminded in every post by Vettel’s fans.

    ferggsa Reply:

    I agree on the strong pairings (hopefully in strong cars)

    The list also tells us VET can win on his own, regardless of superstition and statistical probability (hopefully in a not so strong car)

    I am also really looking forward to HUL & PER in an improved Force India, while GRO might be riding a less strong Lotus unfortunately

    Happy Holidays and don’t go on leave again without informing the site

    [Reply]

    goferet Reply:

    @ ferggsa

    Hahaha understood.

    Maybe next time I will send out a memo.

    Happy holidays to you too.

    [Reply]

    Ross McDougall Reply:

    Why Sutil over di resta money!!!!!!!

    [Reply]

    JF Reply:

    James put Alonso 2 on driving.. He is a great driver no question, but his lack of class over the years lowers him in my opinion. Raikonnen will teach him next year.

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: AlexD
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:23 am 

    Not a fan of Vettel at all….at all! But, I have to admit he was the best this year, absolutely. I would also put Alonso second, Kimi third. I think that I would give 4th to Hulkenberg and then Rosberg and Lewis. Lewis…really showed to me that he is not a driver of vettels of alonsos kalibre. He is an on and off driver and this is what is is doing consistently. Talking too much…too much of his super star life style. He should learn from vettel.

    [Reply]

    Bart Reply:

    Not a fan of Vettel either but have to admit even Alonso could learn something from Vettel (work ethics probably).

    Interestingly, Webber thinks Lewis isn’t on par with Fernando and Seb. He might struggle a bit in 2014. However, in January he came to a new team, with new people and the car that wasn’t to his liking (brakes), and still beat his super-motivated teammate.

    [Reply]

    RodgerT Reply:

    You may have point about Alonso, but I don’t think it’s a matter of work ethic as he seems to work quiet hard on his fitness. Maybe a matter of focusing some of that energy outside of himself is what he could learn from Seb.

    [Reply]

    Bart Reply:

    Sure he works very hard, he even has got a simulator at home, in Spain. He wouldn’t be where he is if he didn’t, would he?
    Still I think Vettel is super focused on one thing exclusively – on helping to make his car go faster. I heard Gary Anderson say that Alonso was sitting comfortably in his chair until very late in FPs when everybody else had already done a couple of laps and collected a bit of data. According to GA, Alonso could foucs more on driving than on managing the team. That’s interesting, I think, and perhaps explains some things.
    Havng said that, I think if Adrian Newey had been in the team, perhaps Alonso would have benefitted greatly from working with him and there would be no doubts about his work ethics.

    I hope James Allison will help get Ferrari and Alonso back on track. It would be fascinating to see them fight on par with RBR and Merc.

    aveli Reply:

    interesting post indeed. i noticed you are more interested in hamilton’s lifestyle than his driving.
    i found out that hamilton looks like hamilton, walks like hamilton, eats like hamilton,drinks like hamilton, deficates like hamilton,has sex like hamilton, smells like hamilton, urinates like hamilton, makes decisions like hamilton and drives like hamilton. it looks like he has no interests in living his life the way others want him to so why not just allow him to do things his way?
    i have also noticed how well he has driven his f1 cars since 2007.

    [Reply]

    AlexD Reply:

    I honestly do not care what he does. I am not following him. I was happy to see him do well, he is fun to watch when he has a good day. I only expressed my thoughts why I believe he will never win his second title….he is not consistent. He is too distracted and this will always put him ona. Back foot compared to super dedicated Vettel or Alonso. They are relentless…he is not.

    [Reply]

    aveli Reply:

    i am glad you think he will never win. are you wishing he will never win? i know what’s happened but i do not know what will happen and can’t wait to find out.

    Bring back V12's !!! Reply:

    I think Lewis would be faster than both Alonso and Vettel if it were old school flat out racing like it was in the 70s/80s/90s. He is more like a Senna type driver who knows only one thing and that is speed.

    I acknowledge there is more to racing than just simple speed, but F1 really should be having a long hard look at the joke that it has become. Lewis should move to Indy where he can actually have fun and RACE!!

    [Reply]

    Bart Reply:

    ’80 and ’90 – you mean the old school turbo that required special driving techniques that were quite different from the ones used in Schumacher’s era? I think f1 was “mindless” flat-out driving only in the refuelling era

    [Reply]

    Rufus Reply:

    This is an interesting point of view.

    I agree that Lewis style is very much about all out speed though I do think he has been much more controlled in the last two years.

    I’m not sure if it is true that he would have done so much better in the past. Until recently reliability in Formula One wasn’t great and previous champions knew when to go flat out and when to back off. When I first started watching Formula One in the 1980′s drivers had to drive to conserve fuel and so often slowing down at the end of the race was a must.

    Perhaps the best era for Lewis was the age of sprint races from one fuel stop to another, which really were flat out. Even then its clear from the way Ferrari and Schumacher conducted themselves that it was crucial to back off to ensure the race finish. It wasn’t always but they took no chances which contributed to the amazing reliability record they had.

    On the point of Ayrton Senna he was for sure one of the fastest drivers ever but there was more to his greatness than simply speed. In the race he was generally quicker than the others at the start and when he was in the lead he was able to control the race and conserve the car.

    This was true in particular after 1988 following the lessons learned at Monaco and Monza that year, which cost him two wins. If you look at highlights of races from 1989 – 1990 you’ll see that Senna would slow down and conserve when he needed to. For example Spa 1989 and Monaco 1990. Of course when it came to wheel to wheel racing it was a different matter.

    My personal thought is that Senna with his genius for car control would have handled the 2013 tyres better than Lewis.

    For me Vettel reminds is more comparable to Senna than Lewis because of the way he qualifies and then sees off the opposition in the first few laps leaving himself free to control the race.

    [Reply]

    AlexD Reply:

    So he is born at the wrong time? Guess what….he needs to deal with what is available today, just like any other driver. They all adapt….conditions will never adapt, people will need to learn to adapt

    [Reply]

    Bart Reply:

    Couldn’t agree more
    “They all adapt….conditions will never adapt, people will need to learn to adapt”

    ManOnWheels Reply:

    I beg to differ. You have to let drivers do what they feel is best for them. If Hamilton thinks this is the kind of life style he needs to feel positive and comfortable, he will perform best on the track when he is doing so. Some people work best when they’re focussing very hard, tackling every detail until they’re confident they can’t do no more, some work best if they let go and ease off once in a while, not worrying too much, relying on their instincts.

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: MySunShine
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:24 am 

    wow…20m debt but Kimi settle for 5m??

    Its a shame really, landslide started since the ferrari announcement.

    Although kimi amended himself in abu dhabi, such a shame the damage floor led to grid penalty.

    Better year in 2014. In Kimi i believe.

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: Irish Con
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:25 am 

    James this is the question I would love answered. Alonso’s 2012 season or vettels 2013 season? Which was better. Personally I still think Fernando was better in 2012 than Seb this year but by the smallest amount possible.

    [Reply]

    Rockie Reply:

    Only if you like mediocrity would you compare Alonso’s season with Vettel’s, Vettel got the maximum from the car this season, or to put it in perspective for Webber to out-qualify Vettel he had to stick it on pole both times!
    Get a season review DVD and you would realise Alonso’s season was not that good even when he had the better car Maldonaldo beat him on pure pace in Barcelona!

    [Reply]

    Rod Reply:

    Irish, I think your question is as good as it is unanswerable.

    I’m crossing my fingers for a more leveled car performance across the board. See if we can separate the greats from the rest more clearly…

    [Reply]

    Messrine Reply:

    I agree but the amount is large!

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    I feel it is hard to compare them but I’ll give it a go – Vettel mastered getting everything out of the car this season, while Alonso won in Valencia by maximising every opportunity, and in Malaysia and Germany through skills in wet weather. I think Vettel is at a higher level in driving, but because of that and with the lack of wet races, he couldn’t demonstrate what Alonso did in 2012.

    If we look at the errors made across the season : Alonso spinning off in qualifying in Australia, taking too much of a risk at the start in Japan, versus Vettel not dropping the odd tenth in qualifying to lose a place on the grid (Monaco, Hungary), that favours Vettel in my mind, but then Alonso was in the position of having to risk more.

    It is difficult to remove the team from the race results, but in 2012 there were a few results that got away from Ferrari and Alonso, in particular Monaco and Canada. There were small windows available, but both races could have been won by Ferrari, and possibly Spain too. For me it is harder to spot where Vettel could have done much better in 2013. Spain if Red Bull had committed to a 4 stop strategy? China if Vettel could have found a way to stay ahead of Hulkenberg in the first stint. Hungary with a better qualifying lap?

    To use James’ words, a lot depends on how much weight you put on Alonso’s conjuring trick in Valencia. Vettel never had the opportunity to demonstrate anything like it. But for the rest of the season I think he was at a higher level.

    [Reply]

    Yago Reply:

    I think you are under stimating the car factor. When drivers are driving cars way above those of their oponents, they can look better than what they really are, as Button in 2009 (other example is Mansell, who is judged mainly by an impressive season in a car that was way above his opposition, but I guess people here is not going to like this statement!).

    Fernando Alonso was at a higher level in driving than Vettel in 2012, by a big amount in my view. There is no way a driver can improve that much during a winter to suddenly overcame that performance gap. The same way Alonso has not been as dissapointing this season as James Allen suggests. In my view, people under rate the effect of car performance, and I think you are doing it also.

    But of course I could be wrong and Vettel haimproved that much. The thing is that, again in my view, this season can not be a proof, let’s wait until Alonso can compete with a similar car and then let’s see what happens.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Hi Yago,

    It is impossible to be certain, but I believe we should take the comments from the team about what Vettel has done as significant, especially when it fits with track side commentators, be it Mark Hughes or Darren Heath.

    There’s Vettel’s ability to adapt his driving style and handle an unstable car under braking that has been noted, and I cannot recall a time where he over-used the tyres.

    I could go on. I’m not a fan of your argument around the best car, Button and Mansell, as it assumes that people can only watch scoreboards and are unable to make assessments about driving talent by watching. To be honest I found James Allen’s comments about Hulkenberg a little surprising, suggesting that Nico might have been under-delivering, and yet he was as a fan of Alguersuari.

    Mansell had a lot of fans based on how he raced ‘il lione’ was a name from his Ferrari days before his WDC. While Hamilton is a Senna fan he drives much more like Mansell, and that is part of why they have so many fans. Piquet was more strategic in his thinking, but fans love racers. With different luck Mansell could have won the WDC in 86,87 and 91, because the car was good enough. He wasn’t at Prost’s or Senna’s level, but if he wasn’t giving away 15 kg to Senna and probably 20+ to Prost it could have been a different picture.

    With Button, 2009 was a good example of confidence in and comfort with the car. There were times when Button matched, or bettered Hamilton for pace in qualifying, which Hamilton noted, Brazil 2011, was one I recall (rather than Hamilton making an error), so to me it is more that Button has a small operating window. Ross Brawn indicated that in 2009 Button was operating at a very high level – Jackie Stewart said Ross told him ‘getting more out of the car than Schumacher when everything was right’. You can choose to regard comments like that as hyperbole or add it to a larger picture as to how you assess drivers.

    There are many views that are hard to prove. As a general point, I try not to suggest why a person has an opinion if they give no evidence. There isn’t much point me getting into a discussion with Elie about Raikkonen, especially as 2014′s pairing with Alonso will tell us so much more.

    Cheers,
    Martin

    Brace Reply:

    Seb’s 2013 was impressive, while Alonso’s 2012 was inspiring and I’d always take inspiring.

    Impressive is impressive, but that’s just about that. Machines can be impressive, but only humans can by inspiring. Inspiring is something that gives you belief that you too can conquer the world against all odds. It’s what the legends are made of.

    [Reply]

    H.Guderian Reply:

    +1.000.000

    [Reply]

    Rockie Reply:

    You have got it the other way round Vettel was inspiring, even Infiniti went with the mantra “Vettel and Infiniti Redbull racing together making performance more inspiring”,also people forget in 2012 he won 4 straight races to turn a 44pts deficit to a 10pt lead and his drive back from the spin in Brazil if that’s not inspiring then wonder what is?

    [Reply]

    NickH Reply:

    Not comparable. You must believe the hype that the Ferrari was ‘slower’ than a Caterham in 2012. Vettel’s season way ahead. Before you say the ‘Ferrari slowest car on the grid in 2012′, it wasn’t. it was also the best car in the wet, which allowed him to win in Malaysia, get pole in Hockenheim + hang on to win. The only other race he won was Valemcia, where Vettel and Grosjean both broke down

    [Reply]

    Anil Parmar Reply:

    No one said Alonso had the worst car on the grid in 2012…

    Also it certainly wasn’t the best car in the wet. At both Silverstone and Germany the red bulls posted quicker split times but were unable to bring it together on 1 lap, unlike Alonso.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    A car can be faster in a sector without being faster over one lap…

    With the kindest will in the world, Ferraris strongest performances last season were in wet conditions.

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    Don’t forget, Alonso had already passed Grosjean when Vettel broke down.

    [Reply]

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    Don’t forget he needed a safety car and a bad McLaren pitstop to get anywhere near Grosjean ;-) .

    Bring back V12's !!! Reply:

    Agreed! Vettel’s year this year compared to Alonso’s 2012 is like comparing a marathon runner in the Sahara desert and another one in the alps of Scandinavia. Of course one is going to appear so much more successful, break records and smash the competition!!

    Not trying to take anything away from Vettel but I rate strong performances against the odds more than when everything is working flawlessly. As James said though, machine/man was in perfect harmony this year for Vettel.

    [Reply]

    Peter Freeman Reply:

    I don’t think your picture is quite accurate. You see, that intense look on Adrian Newey each week is not that of a man anxiously monitoring the data and the progression of the race as every one thinks. No its the look of a man trying to figure out how on earth his driver is managing to make the car HE gave him go that fast! 2013 was not simply “everything working flawlessly” as you suggest, but rather a driver delivering something extraordinary and at times (such as in Singapore) on another league altogether. While Alonso was good in 2012, his results were largely boosted by the retirement/failings of others (most notably the McLaren team.) What Vettel did in 2013 was on another level altogether.

    [Reply]

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    There are no Alps in Scandinavia.

    [Reply]

    KRB Reply:

    Plenty of Alf’s or Alph’s though!

    aditya-now Reply:

    I concur, Alonso’s 2012, Senna’s 1993 and then Seb’s 2013. The three most vintage seasons that come to mind in the modern era.

    [Reply]

    Clarks4WheelDrift Reply:

    Two out of three of them had to battle and overtake throughout their amazing seasons. Therefore only two of these three are vintage to me.

    Vettel 2013 is comparable only to Schumi 2004, both great seasons for them.

    [Reply]

    Peter Freeman Reply:

    The reputation of Alonso’s 2012 season is a mystery to me. Yes he did well, but it was only thanks to McLaren’s bungling that he came second and not third. Had McLaren not themselves let Hamilton down, he would have scored 100+ more points, points which had he scored, would have come off of Vettel and Alonso. So had McLaren not dropped the ball, Hamilton would have won the 2012 championship by quite some margin. Of course this did not happen, but not through the fault of Hamilton or his driving standards in 2012. No, in fact Hamilton’s driving standards were above those of Vettel or Alonso but yet somehow this has gone un-noticed and instead Alonso has been credited with an ‘incredible’ 2012 season. Was the 2012 McLaren fast? Yes, perhaps just a little faster than the 2012 RedBull. To judge this I looked at the points scored by Button and Webber 188 vs 179 respectively. However Hamilton’s performance, not Alonso’s was the outstanding performance of 2012.

    [Reply]

    John Wainwright Reply:

    I do agree with you on this. I rate Alonso very highly (I particularly love his relentlessness)and yes his 2012 season was very good but the car wasn’t the ‘dog’ many make it out to have been. I personally feel 2012 was Hamilton’s best season in F1 so far(?).

    [Reply]

    Aaron Noronha Reply:

    Hmm i already done an analysis on this forum before so i’ll save you the details and tell you that even if the points Hamilton lost because of retirement/accident/car trouble were given back to him and the corresponing points taken away from Alnoso and Vettel for those races where they benefited because of it. And if Alonso and Vettel too were duly compensated for the races they crashed out/retired. The champtionship would still look the same with Vettel and Alonso finishing in 1&2 and Hamilton coming in third. Considering that the Mclaren was the slightly faster car over the season it doent really reflect well on Hamilton

    [Reply]

    Peter Freeman Reply:

    Aaron Noronha I based my 100+ points to Hamilton in 2012 on James Allen’s analysis posted in an article on this site. I think James is an accurate and reliable enough source to reference on this, however you may rate your own analysis as highly as you wish.

    Aaron Noronha Reply:

    Peter please read the report again
    “Of course, as in any title battle, Hamilton hasn’t been alone in suffering setbacks and both Vettel (alternator failures in Valencia and Monza) and Alonso (first-corner collisions in Spa and Suzuka) can also both justifiably point to probably more than 30 points being lost through misfortune. Nonetheless, with around a century more points to his name, Hamilton would be well within striking distance of the pair of them with a car capable of winning races.”

    If you still need help in understanding what i mean.
    Vettel 281 points, Hamilton 190. Gap 281-190= 91.

    Hamilton points with the 110 points he lost as per the article added to his total of 190 will be 300.(300-281=19 points in favor of Hamilton)

    Points Vettel lost
    1)in Malaysia 12 points(4th place)(puncture because of Narain Karthikeyan.
    2)In Valencia 25 points(retirement from P1),
    3)In Monza 10 points(5th)
    4)In Abu Dhabi 10 points(would have finished 1st if he wasnt sent to the back of the grid instead finished 3rd)
    Total points lost = 57
    New total 281+57 = 338(38 points gap over Hamilton although if Hamilton had not retired in Singapore his lead would have been only 31 because of finishing 2nd place in singapore
    behind Hamilton.

    Alonso
    Lost at least a 2nd or 3rd in Japan and Belgium would have had 34 or 30 point more which would have taken his total to 298 or 302.

    Which actually validates my point that even if things were different in last years season, he wasnt consistent enough to win the WDC in a car that was on a average faster than the Redbull over the season.

    [Reply]

    Peter Freeman Reply:

    I did the analysis, took all the races you mention and the ones mentioned on the JAonf1 report, put positions back, added and deducted the positions and the points and I was not surprised, Hamilton would have won by quite a wide margin.

    Alonso would have come third and by a fair few points back, so my surprise over the raving about Alonso’s 2012 is correct. He did well, but it was due to inherited positions and points that he came so close and actually it was a very good and valiant effort but not the stuff of legends. Of course this kind of “what if” analysis is never what REALLY would have been as we simply can’t know, but for what its worth I have attempted at ‘putting back’ the points and positions of Vet, Alo and Ham.

    Here are my adjustments:

    Malaysia: Vet +12 (11th to 4th)
    Bahrain: Alo -2 (7th to 8th) Ham +11 (8th to 3rd)
    Spain: Vet -2 (6th to 7th) Alo -3 (2nd to 3rd) Ham +21 (8th to 1st)
    Monaco: Vet -2 (4th to 5th) Alo -3 (3nd to 3rd) Ham +5 (5th to 3rd)
    Euro/Valencia Vet +25 (DNF to 1st) Alo -7 (1st to 2nd) Ham +15 (DNF to 3rd)
    Belgium: Aol +15 (DNF to 3rd) Ham +12 (DNF to 4th) [I gave Alo a place ahead of Ham here, although that would have been unlikely as the Mcl was faster than the Ferrari]
    Italy: Vet +10 (DNF to 5th)
    Singapore: Vet -7 (1st to 2nd) Alo -3 (3rd to 4th) Ham +25 (DNF to 1st)
    Japan: Alo +18 (DNF to 2nd) Ham -2 (5th to 6th)
    Korea: Ham +11 (10 to 4th)
    Abu Dhabi: Vet -3 (3rd to 4th) Alo -3 (2nd to 3rd) Ham +25 (DNF to 1st)
    Brazil: Vet -4 (6th tp 8th) Alo -6 (2nd to 4th) Ham +18 (DNF to 2nd, assuming Hulk won the race)

    So the end result is this:

    Vet add 29 to his actual 281 = 310
    Alo add 6 to his actual 278 = 284
    Ham add 144 to his actual 190 = 334

    Brace Reply:

    It’s only thanks to Grosjean punting him that he came 2nd and not 1st.

    [Reply]

    Peter Freeman Reply:

    See my post to the comments above

    Aaron Noronha Reply:

    With due respect to you, i must remind you that you been over compensating and gracious with your points to Hamilton with his accidents and crashes and team errors but fail to extend that same benefit to Vettel.

    If you are gifting points than in Abu Dhabi without the penalty Vettel would have finished 2nd if not 1st. And in brazil wihtout the crash he would have won the race.

    Since you been gracious to gift Hamilton points you should extend the same benefit to Vettel Kindly check the live timing archives on fia offical website. He was half a second faster on a damp track after the 1st lap crash and almost 8/10th to a second faster at the end of the race when it started raining. He only was driving slow when the track was drying because his broken exhaust was overheating and his engineers had warned him to turn his engine down so it wouldnt catch fire. Btw even in Malaysia before his accident he was cathing Hamilton and might have passed him. Lets us give the benefit of that position to Hamilton and give Hamilton 3rd in Brazil behind Vettel and Hulkenburg or even 2nd if you deemed fit. Here’s how it will pan out

    In Abu Dhabi give Vettel 6 points(to compensate for your -3 and 3 extra points of finishing 2nd over 3rd) and 21 points for brazil(25-8)+4(the points you deducted)for finishing 1st. That would be plus 56 points for Vettel thus swinging it in his favour by 337 to 334(assuming hamilton finished 2nd in brazil some how overtaking Nico in the end.

    Hamilton would definitely beat Alonso but would still be beaten by Vettel. So even though he might have ended 2nd in the WDC standings. he would never end up as 2012 WDC.

    Now if you intend to give him some more points I would suggest you just give him 25*20 500 and crown Hamilton the WDC lol.

    [Reply]

    Peter Freeman Reply:

    Aaron I took the races and the points you gave me and calculated on those! However yes you are right Vettel does need to be ‘given back’ position and points for Abu Dhabi as the penalty for the fuel irregularity was his team and not him. However the incident in Brazil between Vettel and Sena was a racing incident and therefore does not qualify in this ‘what if’ scenario as this is an attempt to ‘undo’ incidents not of the drivers making but ‘team and others’ faults. So the incident at Spa that tool out Ham and Alo counts as that was directly Gro at fault, but the Vet/Sen incident can’t be clear;y said to be the fault of Sen and therefore ‘robbing’ Vet of point he would have scored otherwise. Am I wrong?

    However I will say this for our analysis, it shows how close Vet and Ham were in 2012 and it shows that Alo has been incorrectly attributed with a ‘legendary season as without the mistakes of others he would have been some 40-50 points off the leaders. A good effort on his part, but not what it has been made out to be.

    As for Vet don’t get me wrong, I am not running him down, in fact I believe he is now the best on the grid. In 2012 I believe Ham could have beaten him, but in 2013 Vet upped his game considerably and is now head and shoulders above the rest. Having said that Ham has not hit his peak, and should he or someone else manage to really focus him he and he has the right car, he could unseat Vet in a WDC or two. Same could be said for RAI I think. ALO in the right car could give Vet a run as well (although I do admit I do not like Alo, his roles in sygate and crashgate put me off him for good, but he sure can drive.)

    Aaron Noronha Reply:

    Sorry was on holidays but as i said before you giving hamilton too much leeway compared to Vettel in the European GP the crash between Hamilton and Pastor was racing accident too. Though paster was given a post race penalty. Hamilton rightfully refused to blame him because Hamilton was struggling with tyre wear and should have ceded the position to Pastor. They were side by side while breaking and hamilton did squeeze him off(rightfully) but did leave enough space for pastor(he should have anticipated it). The team letdowns for Hamilton should be applied for Vettel too. In brazil his team dint ensure that Webber was informed before the race that he must not race Vettel at the beginning. After all it was the squeeze at the first corner that caused Vettel to be in a Vulnerable position and have a crash on the first lap. My point being if you are blaming the team for strategy errors you should blame both teams. Webber was only asked later during the race to cede the position back to Vettel. Compare that to Alonso and Massa. Anyway lets bury this argument. Whats ifs? buts etc arent going to change the result. In the end Vettel was the WDC. To say Alonso Deserved it or Hamilton Deserved it, is like saying Kimi, Hamilton, and Vettel lucked into their first WDC’s. Who ever believes that conveniently fails to realize that the WDC isnt about a drivers result for a single race, rather his performance over the entire season.

    Now I completely wholeheartedly agree with you that last year Alonso was made into a Demi God without the media scrutinizing the race data. Few people mention Kimi Winning in Australia this year. The car gap in qualification to P1 was about 1.3 seconds. While Alonso’s Q2 time last year was only .8 second off Hamilton’s Q2 lap time during qulification(Alonso dint make it into Q3). And i have already mentioned numerous times that the range of the Ferrari along with their lightening fast starts made them the most lethal cars on Race day. If any one watches all the races of 2012 again you’ll notice a recurring theme where the Ferrari and the Lotus would be able to pick up other cars during the race because their tyres wouldnt wear off as much as their competitors.

    Alonso got so full of himself that this year must have been a wake up call for him and his team. I mean if he could produce Miracles in a car that was allegedly according to him 1.5 seconds slower than the Redbulls and Mclarens than how come this year when his car was almost equal to 3/10th down(at least to mid season) he dint show the same consistency. I believe a driver is as good as his car. The difference between the top 4 drivers in qualification on Saturday in the SAME car maybe withing 100th to 200th of a second depending on the tracks but what sets the best apart is their performance and consistency to adapt on Sunday.

    Like you I too dont respect Alonso for pretty much the same reason. Although more than crash gate his Spy gate blackmail of Ron Dennis to make sure he got preferential treatment over Hamilton really did it for me.

    Happy New year and Cya around buddy, Cheers

    [Reply]

    Gregory Reply:

    Raikkonen in 2003 was more impressive than Alonso 2012.

    [Reply]

    dimitris Reply:

    Lewis in 2009 was also impressive, and so was Kimi, they both won races and podiums driving tractors. In fact Kimi has said that he did his best driving in 2009.

    One question: Would Alonso, Lewis or Kimi not have won the WDC in 2013 if they drove the RB in place of Vettel and possibly achieve the same, if not better results? I do not want to demean what Vettel did, I rate him among the top five all time greats, along with Fangio, Jimmy Clark, Senna and Schumacher, but the car he drove in the second part of the season was among the very best in the history of F1 racing.

    [Reply]

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    “Would Alonso, Lewis or Kimi not have won the WDC in 2013 if they drove the RB in place of Vettel”
    Yes.

    “and possibly achieve the same, if not better results?”
    No.
    Before the summer break, before the Red Bull came into its own, Vettel already had a 38 point lead. That was not a lead build from having the fastest car, but a lead built by the sort of driving that earned him all this praise from the experts in the sport.

    KRB Reply:

    Martijn, you seriously believe that ALO, RAI or HAM wouldn’t have won in the RB9?!?!? Or am I reading your sentence incorrectly?

    The RB9 was still the best car to be in, over the first 10 races. Any of the 3 drivers mentioned would immediately swap cars with Vettel for the first 10 races.

    Vettel’s done well with the car, no doubt. He’s one with the car, like Mansell in 1992 (big Nige basically only stopped via car failure that year). But for me I still can’t say that the other 3 couldn’t have achieved the same or better.

    Rockie Reply:

    Most people saying Alonso’s 12 started watching in 07 that’s why?

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: John M
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:38 am 

    Good to see Kimi’s performances recognised and not overlooked as people tend to forget the first half of the season and over-value the second.

    [Reply]

    C Lin Reply:

    Exactly.

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Olivier
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:44 am 

    James, how would you rate Webber? There’s no mention of him when you talked about the best of the rest group? Multi 21 and Vettel’s out of this world performance must have destroyed him mentally … still, I enjoyed watching his battles in the race.

    I for one likes Vettel’s finger celebrations. It would be wrong if he would drop this to not upset the fans. I as a fan would like to see the drivers as they truly are. I might get frustrated because a particular driver wins everything, but that doesn’t mean the driver should apologize and adapt his behavior …

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Aleksandar
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 12:20 pm 

    Raikkonen
    Vettel
    Hamster
    Alfonso
    Rosberg

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    Not sure that Top Gear presenters were eligible picks, and in any case you might have missed the cut off date ;)

    [Reply]

    John M Reply:

    Even as a Kimi-fan Vettel is obviously driver of the year. Yes, best car, best team but he was as close to flawless as you’re going to get over an F1 season.

    Vettel was a bloody MACHINE.

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: Warren G
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 12:20 pm 

    The big difference between Perez 2012 and Hulkenburg 2013 is that Hulk qualified AND raced strongly when the car was up to it, while Perez benefitted from poor quali but good race strategy usually involving new sets of tires for each stint. He drove well to get his results, but he didn’t perform miracles as such.

    [Reply]

    Rod Reply:

    I agree and would not equate Perez with Hulkenberg. After his good races in 2012 Perez all but faded into mid-field. I guess it was what had to happen. I feel the Hulk is way more complete a driver than Perez.

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: Bryce
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 12:25 pm 

    Hamilton at 5 and behind his teammate, that will most probably upset plenty and get this thread going.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    …but it will silence any that say that James is biased.

    [Reply]

    Rod Reply:

    Agree. I for one never understood the hype with Rosberg. He seems always to drop places due to his lack of fighting spirit. Sure, he’s had a few good ones, but I don’t think he compares in any way with Hamilton.

    [Reply]

    John Wainwright Reply:

    I’m a big Hamilton fan, too old to be a “fanboy” , and to be honest I think Lewis has had an outstanding season in regards to the lack of expectation when we all heard of his move to Merc. However, I think James sums it up well and overall Nico has been very consistent and, in my opinion, had his best season so far in F1. I’ve never really been convinced by him in the past but this season has reversed my view somewhat. In conclusion, as a Hamilton fan, I’m pretty happy with his first season at Merc but I do concede that Nico has been the strongest of the two over the whole season.

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: KRB
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 12:37 pm 

    I can’t argue with your list, as it only differs from mine (and the team principals’) by flipping HAM and ROS. But one of the reasons given for opting for ROS first did disappoint, as it was a hobby horse for the serial Hamilton detractors, even though it’s clear that on the “bad luck” front, they were even at best (HAM shading it in my opinion). This was the paragraph:

    Rosberg also retired three times due to technical failures, so lost the chance to score more points which might have taken him above his team mate, who only had one retirement.

    Rosberg retired from an effective 6th in AUS, an effective 9th in CHN, and 9th in HUN (best was a possible 8th there). So in total that’s 12 points he missed out on. BUT, that disregards his great fortune in seeing first HAM (puncture), then VET (gearbox), fall back or out with incidents (or even WEB having Grosjean pains on the run down to the first corner, putting him out of position), which allowed him to win the race! That at the very least is a +10 benefit in terms of points, plus a -13 for HAM (and -18/-25 for VET). Add in JAP, where HAM looked set for a decent race (a likely 4th), and where ROS finished 8th, and it should be clear to all but the most pig-headed that Hamilton’s luck ledger was as usual in a credit position, whereas Rosberg’s bad luck/good luck account is a saw-off (12 points lost at AUS-CHN-HUN vs. 10 pts gained at GBR and 2 pts gained from HAM’s DNF in JAP).

    [Reply]

    goferet Reply:

    @ KRB

    Good points.

    Unfortunately Lewis’ misfortune which includes plain bad luck or team’s mistakes are all attributed to Lewis and hence we have situations were people think he’s inconsistent and yet as shown by 2012, it was the team that was inconsistent.

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    Maybe James didn’t want to hand out the prizes to Canada only.

    I had Lewis ahead of Nico by same logic as you.

    [Reply]

    KJ Reply:

    I fully agree with you; I also would have put LH 4th and NR 5th. Besides all the points mentioned above, LH was also driving with a damaged chassis at some point which was not detected until some time later.

    [Reply]

    Andrew M Reply:

    I agree, the “Rosberg’s retirements cost him points and without them he would have been ahead of Hamilton” line is a total myth as you perfectly demonstrated, and I genuinely can’t understand how you can put him ahead of Hamilton in the list given he was outqualified, outpoled, outpointed, outraced and only won more races due to inheriting the win at Silverstone (twice!).

    [Reply]

    Kris Reply:

    Strongly agree with this.

    Rosberg was the most-anonymous and least-deserving winner of a grand prix (Britain) since Heiki in Hungary all those years back.

    I really don’t get Rosberg ahead of Hamilton. Guy in his fourth year with the same team and outscored by a newcomer to the team. Also, what does it mean to finish stronger (after the season’s results are pretty much decided) than being worse in the middle part of the season (when all is still to play for). I’d look at it slightly differently and consider a lot of Rosberg’s points advantage to have been secured during what they call “garbage time” in American sports.*

    *That’s written knowing that there was a lot to play for from the perspective of WCC, so it can’t be considered garbage time in the truest sense of the word.

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    You even forget Brazil, Lewis was taking P3 there over Fernando. He ended up on p9- not a technical retirement but kinda of in the same boat as Japan. We Lewis fans pay closer attention to the details. Having an opinion is good, but it’s important to look at the full picture to make for an educated opinion. I know I try to do that, even when sharing opinions on other drivers.

    [Reply]

    We Reply:

    And Button beat Hamilton on points in 2011 and also over 3 seasons combined. SO you will now claim Button is the better driver using your argument.

    [Reply]

    madmax Reply:

    After his Monaco pole Rosberg had 6-7 qualifying sessions in a row disrupted through no fault of his own.

    [Reply]

    Vinola Reply:

    Best factual post here, not the breezy sweeping statements some tend to write.

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: KRB
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 12:46 pm 

    Is that for real about Kimi, offering to take 0.25 on the dollar?!?!! That’s mighty gracious of Kimi, and absolutely ridiculous that they couldn’t even manage that! Who in their right mind would work for Lotus now?! I think Lotus is going to fall back quite a bit this season. Only a dominant Renault engine would keep them in podium territory.

    [Reply]

    ferggsa Reply:

    Pastor Maldonado

    [Reply]

    Rod Reply:

    It’s a pity that they’ve lost not only Kimi but Allison as well. These people are game changers and therefore expensive. Boullier should move away too. He’s clearly a very talented guy and staying at Lotus is probably a bad idea.

    [Reply]

    C Lin Reply:

    And Lotus can get away with that?? Ridiculous!

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Andrew Carter
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 12:53 pm 

    No Hulk, thats a surprise.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    Agreed.

    [Reply]

    AndyFov Reply:

    Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber-Ferrari, 6 points.
    The Hulk, Sauber Ferrari, 51 points.

    I’d have put him in my list too. In fact I did.

    Lewis had a nondescript year, something’s happened to his capacity to excite.
    I remember it more for his dips in form, he acted like he’s been broken by his opposition’s dominance.

    Still, I appreciate the difficulty in whittling it down to 5. F1 seems to have about 8 top 5 drivers at the moment.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    “F1 seems to have about 8 top 5 drivers at the moment”

    Classic! :)

    [Reply]

    timothy clarke Reply:

    that’s almost an Eddie-Jordanism!

    Torchwood Five Reply:

    I felt that Lewis acted like he was more broken the longer the ex-girlfriend was away, rather than anything the opposition were doing.

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Alexander Supertramp
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 1:04 pm 

    “To me there isn’t much to choose between P2 and P5 in the list and the margins are finely balanced.”
    I couldn’t agree more and I also agree with P1-3.
    Putting Rosberg ahead of Hamilton though, I disagree ;) .

    P.S. My GF ordered your book as a christmas present sometime around december 11 and got it delivered way on time for christmas, great service (I live in Belgium).

    [Reply]

    Rod Reply:

    You’re lucky! I ordered one for my son for Christmas but still doesn’t arrive. No biggie but it would have been nice to have it under the tree…

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Chromatic
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 1:10 pm 

    A look at some of the hackneyed lazy opinions touted on some other websites shows how uniquely fair minded and balanced this assessment by James is

    [Reply]

    kent Reply:

    very true. most of us in the audience have partisan, subjective opinions based on our favorite drivers or teams; after ,we are fans- but that’s why we need James’ objective views so much.

    [Reply]

    C Lin Reply:

    Agree, that’s why we keep coming here!

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Veteran
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 1:16 pm 

    Hamilton should not be there in my opinion. Really weak performances besides qualifying. Couldn’t handle the car the way he liked hid. Braking issues. Mental issues and lack of motivation. Cannot understand your Hamilton pick.

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    Well, some people will say that they don’t understand your opinion. It wasn’t Lewis’ best year, but that’s only because he is Lewis and we expect a lot from him- probably so do you. But new team + 5 poles (4 in a row)+ 4 podiums (1 beautiful win) + 189 points qualifies for the top 5. If he had been more consistent he would have challenged Kimi + Fernando for P2-3. Well at least that’s my opinion of course.

    [Reply]

    Chromatic Reply:

    Hamilton did falter markedly after the tyre change, but I’m not sure that it was specifically a pirelli issue that caused the drop in form. I agree it was a combination of several things.
    .
    Button is the other ‘champ’ whose performance was below par, but he has the cast iron excuse of driving the worst McLaren since 2006.

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: ann pantal
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 1:21 pm 

    Not happy. Mark Webber should be there.

    [Reply]

    John Nicholas Reply:

    Why? All of James’ picks won races this season. Webber, in the fastest car for at least 1/2 the season, had the best opportunity out of the rest of the field (Vettel excluding) and didn’t take it..

    [Reply]

    Rich B Reply:

    no he shouldn’t

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    I disagree, not a lot of drivers have been outperformed by their team mate that badly this season. Huge difference in performance.. Perhaps you mean top 5 f1 personalities, in which case I definitely agree.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Why? Never finished ahead of his team mate all season. Out qualified Vettel once on merit and once with a KERS advantage. He would be better if the tyres were stronger, but in my view he isn’t quite there with the Pirellis. Considering that Webber only just beat Raikkonen, Hamilton and Rosberg in the championship in a car that could win the WCC with just Vettel driving it hardly looked like a great season.

    [Reply]

    ann pantal Reply:

    Wow. Didn’t expect any reaction. I’m just a huge Webber fan. But I do agree with your comments. Still. He’s a top bloke.

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Anon
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 1:24 pm 

    Rosberg above Hamilton… Trolling for article views? You may say Rosberg had more DNFs but how many points did he lose through those DNFs? Hamilton probably lost more points at Silverstone alone than Rosberg did through all his DNFs, Hamilton 25 to 12 and Rosberg went from 15 to 25 which is a 23 point swing. The table and the qualifying head to head doesn’t lie.

    [Reply]

    Juzh Reply:

    Hamilton was 4th in silverstone.

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    “Hamilton 25 to 12″= P1 to P4

    [Reply]

    aveli Reply:

    you know this is done to sell that book.

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    Wash your mouth out with soap this instant! :-)

    [Reply]

    aveli Reply:

    :-)

    Rod Reply:

    Agree.

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    I agree, I feel James missed the ball on that one. Anyhow, we are talking about p4-5, Lewis should be fighting for P1. Who cares about 2013, transit year!

    [Reply]

    luqa Reply:

    Hamilton should be fighting for P1.
    As a fan, I’ve been hugely disappointed with Lewis’ performance the last few years. Too hot and cold, consistently inconsistent.
    The fact he got team orders favouring him very early on (Multi 109) to get a podium in Malaysia this year probably didn’t contribute to his aggressiveness and if anything motivated Nico to up his game. Because of that I don’t have a problem with NR being rated higher by James.
    Lewis needs to up his game, focus on the job at hand to justify his pay check. Otherwise he won’t make it back into the top 5, let alone win another championship..

    [Reply]

    aveli Reply:

    f1 fan yes, certainly not hamilton fan. are you fooling yourself?

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    I’m not sure you’re a fan like Aveli says.. He was very strong in 2012 and like I said 2013 was a transitional year and he was still very good at times. I can understand people sharing you’re opinion, but fans tend to look closer and you seem to base you’re opinion on popular view- e.g. Lewis is not focused,to busy with his girlfriend..
    Anyhow, I’m confident Lewis will manage to show everybody next how strong he still is- and has ever been.


  19.   19. Posted By: Dee
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 1:38 pm 

    A pretty spot on list with fair assessments for each driver. If only Kimi and Lotus’ relationship didn’t go awry and he was able to finish second in the championship as well as putting Lotus in second place, i would have put him on top of the list.

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: Nick Williams
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 1:54 pm 

    Interesting rating James and I think many would agree. I would though have put Alonso at number 1 again as his achievement in finishing second in a car that was the fourth fastest was nothing short of miraculous.

    He is a genius and unquestionably the number 1 driver in the world when taking into account the equipment at their disposal.

    I still find it hard to undestand just how good Vettel is. It’s clear he’s a great but how good exactly? The Red Bull is by some way the best car and on a differenti level to the others so winning 13 grands prix is expected with a car that dominant and a struggling team mate. Mark Webber won zero but then when you look at his career he wasn’t any quicker than Nick Heidfeld for example, so very doubtful that he is an outright number 1 let alone a ‘great’.

    However, when the exhaust blown diffuser effect has been dumbed down or not working well on the Red Bull, then Webber has often been quicker than Vettel.

    If you look at 2012 then Vettel had real problems in the first half of the year until Red Bull got on top of the diffuser effect, and was often outperformed by Webber until the car and tyre interaction was nailed after which Vettel flew.

    So the exhaust blown diffuser effect, which Vettel has undoubtly mastered brilliantly, is by some way the most advanced on the Red Bull.

    Alonso was outqualified by Massa 8 times but very rarely faster through all of the practice and qualifying runs. It seems to often be overlooked how fast Massa is, especially over one lap, and again this shows two things. One, the genius of Alonso when it comes to driving 70 laps, and secondly when looking at Massa’s races, the rue level of that Ferrari.

    Raikkonen in 3rd was predictable but he was consistently outperformed by Grosjean in both qualifying and race in the latter part of the year. So I cannot see how Raikonnen can be ahead of the Mercedes drivers. The Lotus looked for much of the year the 2nd best car in the field so arguably Raikonen underperformed in that car considering his experience.

    So James, just my views on the top guys when considering the cars at their disposal.

    Thanks to you for great insight over the year again so when it comes to the Top 10 of websites that cover the stories of F1, you are my number ..!

    Thanks and looking forward to hopefully a closer 2014 with hopefully a truly competitive Ferrari and Mercedes to take on Red Bull, who have had it too easy from their competitors despite their undoubted brilliance as an all round racing team.

    [Reply]

    Rockie Reply:

    “If you look at 2012 then Vettel had real problems in the first half of the year until Red Bull got on top of the diffuser effect, and was often outperformed by Webber until the car and tyre interaction was nailed after which Vettel flew.”

    Its ok to state an opinion but a lie needs to be corrected when stated as fact, at no point other than Vettel’s retirement at Valencia did Webber lead him in the standings so where exactly did Webber out perform him?
    Before Valencia it was 85pts to 79pts in Vettel’s favour and this was at a time Vettel was weak with the car.

    “I still find it hard to undestand just how good Vettel is. It’s clear he’s a great but how good exactly?”

    Then you can never understand how good he is if you still find it hard now wait till he wins 8 WDC’s or win in a car that is not fast like Alonso or Hamilton have done?

    “Alonso was outqualified by Massa 8 times but very rarely faster through all of the practice and qualifying runs. It seems to often be overlooked how fast Massa is, especially over one lap, and again this shows two things. One, the genius of Alonso when it comes to driving 70 laps, and secondly when looking at Massa’s races, the rue level of that Ferrari.”

    For Webber to out qualify Vettel he had to stick the car up in pole position for Massa who shouldn’t have been in that car if not for nepotism by Ferrari. towards the end of last season it was same Massa qualifying ahead.

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    Yet Kimi’s second half of the season wasnt nearly as weak as Grosjean’s first half….also you gotta take into consideration the change of tyres and the long wheel base that benefitted Grosjean, but didnt suit Kimi so well…but despite that, despite the back-pain from Singapore and not getting paid he managed to get quite good results during the 2nd half of the season, 2 more podiums in Singapore and Korea and might have taken another in Abu Dabhi atleast if his qualifying lap had not been disqualified. And despite missing last 2 races, Kimi still managed to score like 50 points more than Grosjean…..So considering all this I think Kimi’s 3rd place is well earned….Mercedes drivers could be great on some races and then nowhere in next, so I think this is pretty good list from JA, though I personally put Nico Hulkenberg 4th and Grosjean 5th

    [Reply]

    Messrine Reply:

    Agree on Alonso points.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    I believe a better way to understand what goes one with Vettel and Webber and exhaust blowing is to consider Adrian Newey’s comments about Webber being more sensitive to aerodynamic changes and Vettel having a better sense of the mechanical grip and the tyres. This impacts on how they react to changes in the car. The downforce normally doesn’t change too much for a given set of parts and so by race day Vettel has recovered Webber’s initial advantage on feeling the grip level in high speed turns and his advantage in tyre management comes through.

    If you look at 2009 – pre any exhaust blowing ideas – Vettel was the better driver across the season. In 2010 the exhaust blowing took a few races to come and initially Webber had an edge, however there was the cracked chassis problem for Vettel in Spain and Monaco that confounds direct comparisons. But in the second half of the season it was rare that Webber was faster than Vettel. Sometimes, such as Hungary, the qualifying gaps were huge. In some races Webber was very close, such as Japan, in others far away.

    We can skip 2011.

    In 2012 the car initially had problems with the flow attachment through the tunnels that help the diffuser. Changes in wind direction and air pressure could affect whether the tunnels were working properly or not and it led to the car switching from an understeer to oversteer balance mid corner. In qualifying conditions, Webber had a better feel for this, but if you look at the early races, in both Australia and Malaysia Vettel was faster in race conditions. In China he tried the older approach and was slower, and also saw that Newey paid no attention to him. In Bahrain still with a system that he wasn’t comfortable with, but at a track with fewer fast corners, he put the car on pole. Webber had a clear race behind the Lotus and finished 38 seconds behind. Spain wasn’t a good comparison as Webber’s side underestimated the track evolution in Q2. In Monaco Vettel still wasn’t happy with the car and qualified on the hard tyres. In the race Webber did enough to win, but Vettel looked stronger to me, coming through on a reverse strategy to make up several places. Even in Silverstone, where Webber won, Vettel had stronger race pace despite damaging his front wing after a poor start.

    In summary, in early 2012 Webber had a slight edge in qualifying, but Vettel was faster in the races (except for China where Vettel went for a more comfortable but slower car), and in 2010 there is the uncertainty over the cracked chassis as to how much it cost Vettel.

    Vettel had an emotional/psychological advantage within the team, but not a technical one (Webber has said as much himself, btw). But over five seasons he was consistently the faster race driver and almost as consistently the faster qualifier. Put them in 2004 era cars and the gap might be closer.

    In 2005 in qualifying, fuel adjusted, Webber was faster than Heidfeld, mostly from speed in fast corners rather than slow, but Heidfeld got lucky with a few results in Monaco and the Nurburgring. Heidfeld with one season’s advantage did outscore and outqualify Raikkonenn and was a shot at the McLaren seat in 2002. He also kept Kubica pretty honest in 2007, then and Webber noted in 2008 a change in the style of tyres brought Kubica to life, so I’d argue that Heidfeld is hardly rubbish and could easily have won the Canadian GP in 2008 if team orders had played out a different way.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    “In 2010 the exhaust blowing took a few races to come and initially Webber had an edge”

    Eh? Vettel was robbed of wins in the first two races by mechanical failure and won the third. Webbers season was built on wins in Barcelona & Monaco where Vettel had a cracked chassis, Silverstone where Vettel got a first corner puncture and Hungary where Vettel took a DT helping Webber.

    [Reply]

    Elie Reply:

    Raikkonen was 4/10 faster at Abu Dhabi before the technical penalty. He beat Grosjean in Sing & Korea he only lost out at India and after because of strategy error – Lotus keeping him out on track too long to boost Romain to no1 status because they were so badly cut that Kimi left them.
    Grosjean is a cry baby calling for team orders when he was passed & left behind at Korea- he is not winner- just a whiner!

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Yes – although the exhausts were in place from testing, there was a step at Spain with the aero and the engine mapping. Adrian Newey noted a difference between the two drivers in turn 8, where Webber was able to go full throttle and Vettel didn’t. While I noted the cracked chassis, in this case I’ll take Newey’s view on it. And it fits my broader point about this fitting Newey’s view that Webber is very sensitive to aerodynamic changes, and we shouldn’t point to early 2012 as a strong argument for weaknesses in Vettel.

    The way Vettel operates he’s probably tried to develop that feel anyway. So far he has shown he can adapt to a wide range of tyre types in a way only Alonso could argue, vary his driving style like no other driver through his throttle use and handle an unstable car in the same way as Hamilton. On top of that about the only time he’s annoyed his team is when he’s winning.

    [Reply]

    Yago Reply:

    Martin, when has Vettel handled a particularly unstable car? And I wouldn’t say Hamilton is the best handling and unstable car (I assume you referr to a lack of downforce/grip in the rear end), but of course he can do it! Hamilton likes a stable rear end, that’s the way he is more confortable (I know this is the oposite to the common knowledge on Hamilton’s style, but he himself aknowledged it in an interview). This does not mean he does not play with the rear, he does. Schumacher was another driver who played a lot with the rear end, even more, he needed to to be quick. That was kind of a weakness. Andrea Stella has aknowledged it, amongst others.

    The thing is I have not seen Vettel master an unstable rear end. I am not saying he can not do it, just that it is one of those things he still has to prove. If anything, I think during the first few races of 2012 he had troubles precisely with the rear of the Red Bull.

    Martin Reply:

    Sorry – that was meant to be a reply to James. Not sure how you can judge Singapore as an edge for Kimi. Grosjean was ahead when he had to retire. India came down to the length of the first stint and Grosjean had fresh tyres then, while from memory Kimi had used tyres. Without data from the team I wouldn’t judge who drove the better race given the tyre situation.

    [Reply]

    NickH Reply:

    “Raikkonen underperformed in that car”.

    He wasn’t getting paid.
    They changed the car to suit Grosjean.
    The tyre changed suited Grosjean.
    Kimi is going to Ferrari next year and doesn’t give a damn about stupid Lotus who have messed him about despite him dragging them into contention.

    Then in Abu Dhabi he turned up very pissed off and qualified half a second ahead of Grosjean because he had a car he actually liked.

    Not sure how you came to conclusion that he ‘underperformed’

    [Reply]

    John M Reply:

    Agreed. Kimi was superb.

    [Reply]

    Elie Reply:

    Yes well said. We can only dream about what Kimi would have done those last 2 races with a better set up short wheelbase car! Because he was flying all weekend at Abu Dhabi and his run of 8-10 laps were consistently faster than everybody – even the bulls – I watched every lap on live timing app..He was on it !

    [Reply]

    NickH Reply:

    “The genius of Alonso driving 70 laps”. Most clearly demonstrated by his Malaysia performance

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    Or his Monaco performance. Or his Bahrain performance. Or his Korea performance. Or his Suzuka performance.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    I understand in Monaco his front wing became clogged with debris, so corner exit understeer at Portier is going to leave him vulnerable.

    Malaysia was a bad error or errors, and so were some of your other examples, but Bahrain he showed strong pace given the circumstances. I have heard varying attributions on what was said about the DRS being able to be reused.

    Yago Reply:

    Very good post, thanks. I chose Vettel as driver of the year, but with that kind of car advantage is very hard to compare him with the opposition. However he destroyed his teammate and was amazinhly consistent.

    I agree also on Raikonen not been ahead of the mercedes driveres. I actually placed him in fifth position, behind Hamilton and Rosberg, in that order.

    Another very good point is Vettel’s performance the first half of 2012. Contrarily to what Martin thinks, I think that was a bit worrying, Alonso has never struggled in that way with a car (I mean in some qualifying sessions, as Monaco or Spa, were Vettel really struggled). However I do agree with Martin in that it hasn’t to be just related to blown diffuser mastering, as Vettel showed in 2009 he is very good wiyh no blown diffuser.

    As I say, I found yor post very interesting. Thanks again.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Hi Yago,

    To your earlier question of whether Vettel can cope with an unstable car or not, there are a few things to consider and agree on terminology. You are free to disagree on the analysis of course.

    To me an unstable car in the terms of what Jenson Button doesn’t like is one where during braking the centre of pressure moves forward significantly compared to the centre of gravity, and so the car loses directional stability, it moves away from being like an arrow. It isn’t an understeer or oversteer thing, but more a case of the car being very reactive to cambers and bumps in the road under braking. A driver like Button who wants to do everything smoothly, likes to have the car exactly where he expects it to be, rather than having to chase it. A sensitive driver with fast reflexes can chase all these and still make the apex – which is what I think Hamilton is able to do – or a driver can do what Maldonado does and prioritise apex speed and hence look like your missing the lines a lot without being that slow.

    That kind of aerodynamic instability is not desirable in itself for anyone, but it might be the path to the fastest car.

    My understanding of what Hamilton was very clearly doing in 2007 and what Schumacher did was that they were looking to negate turn-in understeer that is comes from the weight transfer under braking. This isn’t really related to stability, but rather car balance and tyre behaviour. If a driver can get this right it allows him to brake later and still achieve a late apex for a good exit. Schumacher commented that it was rare that he could get the 2010-12 Mercedes to do what he wanted. (Hopefully we get to learn more from him).

    The opposite characteristic of turn in oversteer is what Alonso dealt with in his title winning years at Renault. A book by Michael Krummm, Driving on the Edge, goes into how rare it is that a driver is able to be fast with an oversteering car and he highlighted Alonso’s technique of forcing the car to understeer heavily by overwhelming the front tyres with a very rapid turn-in.

    Dealing with a car that has a natural turn-in oversteer condition is quite tricky for most drivers and Krumm notes that the general approach is to drive within the limit to avoid spinning off eventually. Alonso’s approach was so rare that most commentators assumed that he loved an understeering car – Martin Brundle for all his experience, didn’t pick it for example.

    For the 2006 season in GP2 the cars were modified on the advice of Heikki Kovalainen to make them harder to drive by removing one of the three rear wing elements, which made the cars have an oversteer handling balance. In qualifying it would appear that Piquet Jr was the best at managing that condition even though Hamilton had a clear margin in race pace. It is a reasonable probability that this difference was done to how well they coped with an oversteering handling balance.

    So to Vettel. In early 2012 my understanding is that the Red Bull was aerodynamically inconsistent, changing from under to oversteer mid-corner. This is not the instability that Button talks about not liking. In the commentary about Vettel’s fancy footwork to get achieve the maximum exhaust blowing effect and also rapid rotation of the car in the entry phase of corners, it was noted that Vettel was unfazed by the car moving around – it was something that he would handle without issue or seeking to address as a primary concern.

    I believe that visibly detecting the relative stability of a car is difficult to do. What we tend to see is the driver’s response to the handling balance. It is likely over the last few years that the Red Bull has had varying amounts of aerodynamic stability, so the team has been able to notice Vettel’s reaction to it, and in chasing lap time it is not a consideration for them and Vettel and Webber seem to be comfortable with it.

    To go to your comment above, about the Vettel’s problems in early 2012, the only equivalent cases that I can recall are the Williams and Sauber cars of this year. Hulkenberg drew praise from some journalists for his qualifying performances in the Sauber before the team changed the exhaust design mid season, while Gutierrez and Bottas were just slow and Maldonado was often running off the road. I took a look at the qualifying times that you mention in Spain and Monaco. Spain is hard to judge as Webber was compromised, but in Monaco Vettel was three tenths off the fastest time in Q2 and two tenths off Webber. In terms of grid positions that was going to be bad, but not necessarily in terms of time. That Vettel was able to accept that and find a way to be in contention for the win in the middle of the race is not a total negative.

    I don’t know about Alonso’s and Hamilton’s relative feel for aerodynamic downforce, but I’d argue that they’ve never had the kind of problem Vettel had last year as the cars are more aerodynamically complex now and the Red Bull design didn’t initially work properly. Drawing an accurate comparison with Hulkenberg is difficult as to where to put him relative to Webber and Vettel.

    Cheers,
    Martin

    [Reply]

    Yago Reply:

    Thanks for your post. Very interesting. I am replaying just to share with you something regarding Alonso and aerodinamic inconsistencies. The 2011 and 2012 Ferraris had big problems under braking, generated by inconsistencies in the flow reattachment when the DRS closed. Gary Anderson wrote about it, and his view was that a big part of the problems of the 2011 and 2012 Ferraris in qualifying were related to this issue. He pointed out that it was very difficult for the drivers to be confident and trust the car, as it was behaving differently from one turn to another.

    Over those two years the difference between Alonso and Massa in qualifying was quite big, huge at some tracks. Then in 2013 that difference has reduced considerably, and it could be partly due to the banning of free DRS usage in qualifying (I know there is something on the change made to the front suspension towards the end of 2012 too). One could argue that in 2010 with no DRS the qualifying gap between ALO and MAS was still very big, however that was probably related to the bridgestone tyres and the difficulties of the Ferrari to get the front tyres up to temperature.

    I hope you find it interesting.

    P.S.: If my memory serves me well, there is another qualifying session where Vettel struggled a lot in 2012, and was not able to make it to Q3. It was at Spa. However I can not check it at the moment, but I am pretty sure about it. However these aerodinamic inconsistencies should have been eradicated by then, but still it was prior to the big performance step made by Red Bull at Singapore.

    anonymous Reply:

    Of course they want aerodynamically unstable cars (up to a point). They’re more maneuverable and more configurable and a good driver can get more out of them by driving it outside the performance envelope. A bad driver will struggle with them, though.

    They do that with fighter planes too. Before fly-by-wire, the planes had to be aerodynamically stable (or have a really good pilot, which is an impossible requirement) and therefore somewhat “pushing” but ever since the computers took over the reactions for corrections, they’ve made them aerodynamically unstable for performance reasons i.e. they’d probably escape even a fairly suspecting pilot in a straight line flight without the computer because of the plane over-reacting to normal movements of air.


  21.   21. Posted By: C Lin
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 2:12 pm 

    Great piece James!
    I agree with your top 5.
    My pick was very close, same drivers but I think reverse sequence for no. 4 & 5.

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: John M
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 2:19 pm 

    This is a good list. I’d definitely put Hamilton 4th and Hulkenberg 5th, though.

    Nice to see that you haven’t forgotten the first half of the season – unlike other pundits – and therefore criminally underrated Kimi’s achievements. He was superb in the first half of the season (look at the gap to Grosjean). In the second half of the season, despite the tyres and long-wheelbase Lotus not suiting him at all, he still managed to overcome underpar grid slots with brilliant drives in the races.

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: spactus
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 2:29 pm 

    Some times I think these assessment of Lewis are meant to [mod] Lewiss fan to create controversy to drive traffic.
    your opinion on Lewis and Rosberg is not just intellectually wrong but factually and numerically wrong.
    Lewis has beaten Rosberge in almost every head to head and has beaten him by 26 points,over a race win.Rosberge has 2 wins to Lewis 1,one of which he clearly inherited.
    Lewis had a dip in result at the end while Rosberge had his in the middle and 26 points more for Lewis proves he was more consistence and more adaptable.Unless you saying that Lewis is far SUPERIOR and you expect much more from him.
    How about being new to the team, if anyone was adapting it was Lewis

    James we regard you as a serious unbais jorno so will put this down to,TOO much rum punch yesterday…

    Kimmi persistence unperformance in qually gets ignored.suddenly points tally counts.some consistency please.Name 3 jaw dropping performance by Kimmi this year.
    In a year dominated by tyres most of his exploits were achieve by running longer and doing a stop less, a function of the car.

    when look back at some of the most memorable jaw dropping audacious performaces of this year Lewis is definely in the top 2 .

    [Reply]

    aveli Reply:

    your opinion is good and so is james’ in most parts

    [Reply]

    Rod Reply:

    I think you hit some nail on the head here: “Lewis is far SUPERIOR and you expect much more from him.”

    I’d say enough of propping Rosberg as anything but a mid-field second-rate driver.

    [Reply]

    Rich B Reply:

    “intellectually wrong but factually and numerically wrong” steady on chap, sounds like you’ve had a few too many Christmas drinks and received a dictionary you can’t quite focus on. :-)

    For the record I’d put Lewis ahead of Nico.

    [Reply]

    AK Reply:

    IMO Hamilton had only 1 completely convincing weekend all year long = Hungary ! Rosberg had more DNF, other issues like front wing failure and besides was asked not to overtake Hamilton in the final laps of the 2. race. And in the last part of the season Rosberg was getting the upper hand again which throws a spanner in the works of your theory that Hamilton had to get used to the car and team first to reach its full potential.

    [Reply]

    We Reply:

    Hamilton had a hard time beating an average driver like Rosberg while Rosberg had more DNFs, more bad strategy and teamorders against him.

    Many people started dropping Hamilton from the top tier this season for a reason.

    The top tier is now Vettel, Alonso, Kimi.

    [Reply]

    Marcelo Leal Reply:

    Just think about what you just did to MS when you say: “beating an average driver like Rosberg”…
    This is the crazy thing in trying to make a point. You simply forget everything else, except what makes sense to your opinion.
    In some way, it’s what James did separating the season in beginning, second half, last four races, Monaco, and etc.
    I would like to look at the 2013 season as just the Hungary GP, so my favorite driver would be WDC. But the reality is that we had a 2013 SEASON, and Hamilton finished fourth. The same way the DNFs from the 2012 season did not change the WDC champion for Lewis, the DNFs for this year are part of the sport.
    Oh, and IF Lewis did not finished in the gravels on China 2007.. and IF…
    C’mon!

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    Haha, bit harsh but other than that +1!

    [Reply]

    Malcolm Reply:

    +1…Excellent post spactus

    Another factor which may have played a role in Lewis’s lack luster performances towards the end of the season, and discounted by many, were the 2 cracks found in his chasis in preparation for the U.S. Grand Prix. Hamilton then with a new chasis, clearly outperformed Nico at Austin both in qualifying and during the race. Lewis had passed Nico during the last race at Brazil, when Rosberg was told don’t hold up Hamilton if he was having tire problems. The unfortunate contact for Lewis with Bottas, hurt his chance for any decent finish.
    I personally never felt that Lewis was just going to steamroll Nico, but he clearly IMO outperformed Rosberg in 2013.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Lewis’ jaw dropping performances such as Spain? Korea? India? Driving into Bottas in Brazil? Getting out-paced by Rosberg any time it rained?

    I feel he was better than Rosberg, but more fans would tend to disagree with you about Hamilton being in the top two and might even note his disappointment with his own performance this year. Some high points, but qualifying by nature tends to be more “jaw dropping” by nature and Mercedes through needing to save engines tended to sandbag in practice, so qualifying tended to surprise a little.

    Hungary was an excellent drive in what turned out to be as good a car as any. Britain was looking that way too, but otherwise there were many instances of not quite getting the tyres right.

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    Getting out-paced by Rosberg any time it rained?…

    Remind me, who was on pole in Spa and what were the weather conditions that day?

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    And who got the extra lap in as the track was drying? That would be Webber, Vettel and Hamilton. We can all watch scoreboards, or bring some thought and analysis to the process – and occasionally note what drivers say, such as Hamilton’s comments in Brazil about feel in the wet. Then use that to consider why in Q3 as the track was quicker Rosberg was initially around 1.5 seconds quicker than Hamilton. Something that also happened in Australia and is unlike Hamilton normally in the wet. As drivers get comfortable the performances tend to converge, so Hamilton was able to find the changing limit with more laps, a point aided by the rain waiting, rather than getting heavier, and track position meaning that he got better conditions for his final lap.

    Or you can treat blogs as a point scoring contest…

    Tim Reply:

    Hi Martin,

    scoreboards tell the truth, thought and analysis, in this instance, is merely your opinion presented as if it were fact.
    You are trying to prove you are right and therefore are biased in your conclusions – it’s human nature, people only see and hear what they want too. For example, why was it only LH who benefitted from favourable track conditions when he set the faster time? After all, conditions were changing all the time – surely it’s just as likely that NR had the better conditions when he went faster. But, that doesn’t suit your argument so, either, consciously or unconsciously it gets ignored.

    By the way, regarding treating blogs as a points scoring exercise – glass houses, people who live, stone throwing…..

    Elie Reply:

    So you don’t believe winning in Australia and setting the fastest lap on rubber 15 laps older than anyone was not special???
    You don’t believe driving the whole race at Montreal with little/faulty brakes and holding position – was not special??
    You don’t think passing Button on the outside of t14 in Singapore whilst on injections was not special.? ( Button said he could not believe Kimi did it there)
    You don’t believe passing 5 cars in 3 laps at a monaco ( fresh rubber or not)- special ?

    Kimi is the most “special” driver in the field by a long shot!

    [Reply]

    Vin S Reply:

    Is this a real question- “Name 3 Jaw Dropping Kimi Performance??”
    1- Australia- Win
    2- China- 2nd with a Broken Front
    3- Spain- 2nd (Ferrari Pirelli tested prior, so no chance)
    4- Hungary- 2nd beating Sebastian on dead tyres
    5- Italy- Early hit, Race Time identical to Vettel thereafter.
    6- Singapore- 3rd with Injury on the toughest circuit.
    7- Korea- 2nd, Grosjean got pounced & lesson taught.

    Overall, Kimi finished ahead of Vettel more times than any other driver, including Alonso during 2013 season.

    [Reply]

    NickH Reply:

    Totally agree, Kimi is one of the most naturally gifted drivers if not THE MOST.

    [Reply]

    Mike Martin Reply:

    +1

    [Reply]

    JEZ Playense Reply:

    Jaw dropping performances are like crashes. Eye candy for some, and thrilling publicity for others. Points on the scoreboard are what counts.

    Lewis was beaten squarely by Nico.

    [Reply]

    Andrew M Reply:

    “Points on the scoreboard are what counts.

    Lewis was beaten squarely by Nico.”

    Er…

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    +1


  24.   24. Posted By: Alan
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 2:32 pm 

    Fair assessment but, every race was down to the brilliance of the engineering teams (and their budgets)to deal with the wacky ‘artificial’ rules.
    1.DRS
    2.FUEL SAVING
    3.TYRE SAVING
    4.WINGS
    5.WIND TUNNELS
    6.AERODYNAMICS
    7.SIMULATORS

    Get rid of the lot and have one type of dry tyre (that won’t last a race distance.

    Most important ‘Let the drivers race’!

    Merry Christmas to all.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Carter Reply:

    Why don’t you go watch Formula Vee, thats obviously what you want and not F1.

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: Sebee
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 2:46 pm 

    James goes with the 5 winners! I was so close!

    …but puts Rosberg ahead of Lewis even though Lewis scored more point and gave away a win. Can Lewis fans handle it? Breathe before posting please.

    [Reply]

    aveli Reply:

    why should they not handle it? surely they know that it’s simply an expression of opinion and that it wont affect past or future results.

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    Of course that’s all it is.

    It was just a fun note. While Vettel fans seem logical and efficient, Lewis and Alonso fans are passionate and vocal. :-)

    [Reply]

    KRB Reply:

    Another fun note, surely! While you Sebee are (by and large) logical and efficient, there are many Herr Vettel supporters here that fall someways short (I’m trying to be kind) of that threshold. I’m pretty sure you know and could list those of which I write.

    While there are some in “my camp” that are over-the-top and cringeworthy, I believe the great majority reside in “your camp”.

    aveli Reply:

    why does it only boil down to vettel and hamilton fans? vettels won 4 championships while hamilton has only won a lonely championship. the nearest driver to vettel in terms of championships is alonso wit 2 championships.

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    Frickin’ Sebee (please don’t moderate this as I mean no harm) suckerpunching us Lewis fans over this list, I knew it! But obviously a man of wisdom such as yourself will agree that Lewis should realy be in front of Nico, right?

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    All you have to do is go in the original nomination post to see.

    Oh, and yes, I do accept apologies. :-)

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    Apologies, apologies all around.We got robbed by James, book should have been ours.

    Tim Reply:

    If I was being cynical, I would say that JA deliberately placed LH and NR in this order to try and provoke a reaction from LH fans and get the comments going.
    We all know more comments = more sponsorship ££££££ – this site doesn’t run for free ;-)

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    Perhaps it is James’ late Christmas present to keep us distracted in the off season.

    Also, you better do your part on the ad side. Click on that TAG logo and check out the new watches! Help with some click through. James has to pay for this growing traffic and data we generate somehow!

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Rich B
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 2:46 pm 

    nico and lewis need to switch places in my view :-)

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    We are preaching in the desert my friend ;)

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: Kweku
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 2:58 pm 

    I don’t think the Ferrari was that slow especially in the 1st half of the season; it couldn’t make the front row due issues with heating the tyres but in the races it had the pace and on several occasions it was a better racing car than the Merc due to the latter’s over-heating problems during the races…and as we saw, it meant the Mercs go backwards allowing the Ferrari to come through!

    [Reply]

    aveli Reply:

    i think ferrari favoured the race in the sitting up than qualifying and overtook a lot of cars during the race especially at the starts. hamilton said it was almost like the ferrari’s and red bull’s engines were more powerful than his.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Luke
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 3:23 pm 

    Thank god no overrated Hulk here. Completely agree with you, James.

    [Reply]

    James Clayton Reply:

    I guess you didn’t read the article aside from the bits in bold, or..?

    [Reply]

    Chromatic Reply:

    In some ways I agree. Hulk, Grosjean, Bottas, all did well at certain times of the season and show lots of promise.

    But the key is consistency of delivery, and clearly it is one of James’s main criteria. It’s what seperates the top three here from the rest.

    F1 is about results and not about promise.

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: PaulL
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 3:44 pm 

    In one sense, nothing suggests the RB9 could win outside Vettel’s hands.

    This is hyperbole of course (Red Bull finished 1-2), but 13 wins to zero is extraordinary.

    [Reply]

    Kris Reply:

    You can look at it in one of two ways…
    - as being an excellent driver working with an excellent car (Vettel)
    - as being one of the most-despicable wastes of a good car ever (Webber).

    The truth is probably somewhere between the two of them, although I sincerely regret the fact that Red Bull didn’t go riskier and try and get hold of Alonso or Lewis to partner Vettel for a couple of years. Would have been heaven for F1 forums and debaters all around the world.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    Why would RB want either? Alonso is the arch politicker and Vettel is better than Hamilton.

    [Reply]

    Kris Reply:

    “Would have been heaven for F1 forums and debaters all around the world.”
    That doesn’t mean the same as RBR wanting or needing to do it.

    And they might have wanted either Alonso or Hamilton (or half a dozen other drivers) because the number two driver was underperforming so desperately. There are not many professions where you could underperform as badly as Mark has since 2010 and still be in a job. With that car, no.2 in the driver’s standings should have been sewn up with races to spare.

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    “With that car, no.2 in the driver’s standings should have been sewn up with races to spare.”

    Only if you’re under the assumption everything’s about the car. If Webber was as bad as some make him out to be, often in a desperate attempt to throw “it’s just the car” at Vettel, Red Bull would not have held on to him, not even as a #2 (which he clearly wasn’t, since they gave a teamorder for him to win in Malaysia).

    A company like Red Bull does not become a company like Red Bull by making idiotic business decisions, so it’s fair to say they didn’t hold on to “a badly underperforming” driver.


  30.   30. Posted By: Elie
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 3:51 pm 

    1 very predictable and can’t argue. Even if I had someone else.
    2. I don’t agree. Fernando dropped the ball several times – Malaysia, Monaco, Silverstone. Also you cannot deny his car was quick at the start of the year. Ferarri also have the best strategies of all teams including Lotus which failed at Germany and Hungary- def Hungary KR may have won.
    3. He was the toughest under tough conditions & proved his mettle. I don’t agree with Grosjean having to give way – Kimi was always going to pass anyway every single time in 2 years ! In fact the team cost Kimi time in Germany to catch Seb.Grosjean is most over rated driver on the grid despite his big improvement. He was sulking on the radio in Korea like a kitten in a drain–what a joke !
    4. Nico did improve a lot and he needed to. But don’t forget Lewis Silverstone tyre explosion cost him a certain win and still ended up ahead of his Mercedes experienced team mate at season end. Nico would be 6 in my book.
    5.Hulkenberg did a better job in the equipment he had than both Mercs as evidenced last 4 races.

    As you say the margins were very close James and we all put different values in different things. But I think the car has the biggest value and got that reason I don’t think it was that big to the no1. I think Bottas and in particular Bianci were good at the back – def deserved consideration!

    [Reply]

    Goggomobil. Reply:

    Well commented,and may I say I for one find
    your comets worth noting.
    To Mr.J Allen selection in his view the top
    five drivers of 2013,one can’t really argue
    about it, the bottom line say it all.
    However one have to put in to the question
    the input the (Car/tyres combination) as
    opose to Driver and overall his strenth in
    the inferior car/tyres combination?.and
    apprise it and to determine does Vettel derserve being as such.
    There is strong rumour if one is to believe
    it,and they claim Ferrari Engine is some
    200 (bhp)more poweful then Renault ?. Well
    Mr J.Allen commented he believed Mercedes F1
    engine is some 150 (bhp)above any of them if
    that being the case Mercedes F1 engine will
    have over 1000 (bhp) at its disposal.
    There could be some truth in it,as Vettel
    has been reported to quote he hoped 2014 new
    Engine regulation do not split teams to much apart,one can scents Vettel is concerned of
    the dominace he had enjoyed lately.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: holly
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 4:01 pm 

    “His calculated strategy of giving the team a chivvy up in July while there was still time for them to do something, fell on deaf ears and instead Ferrari’s president chose to publicly attack him. ”

    Finally someone that understand, it was not an attack on the team, it was his way to motivate the team, thanks James.

    [Reply]

    Rockie Reply:

    But it wasn’t a good way for a team that had bent over backwards for him, if Enzo had been alive he would have fired Alonso its only Ferrari who gets no credit when the car wins as its all about Alonso winning not the team like he does it all himself!

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: Cuba
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 4:03 pm 

    “Hulkenberg performed miracles in the Sauber from September onwards, but so did Sergio Perez in 2012 and look what happened with him this year. The Sauber is an unreliable form guide, in other words.”

    James I respect your picks, but I can’t make sense of this.

    So will the 2013 Sauber not be counted as a form guide next year if Hulkenberg has a bad season in the 2014 Force India?

    [Reply]

    ferggsa Reply:

    I think what James means is that the performance/driveability of the Sauber changed a lot and allowed for better results, even for GUT (albeit on another level), same for Perez with the strategy calls in first half of 2012

    With an average car, neither of them have showed more “miracles”, whether at Sauber, FI or Mc

    I partially disagree with James in the fact that HUL has IMO showed glimpses of talent: Brazil pole, leading Brazil, holding position against ALO/HAM, more so than PER has so far

    I do think they will be a fun pair to watch next year, more so than the Sauber mates

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: ACx
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 4:17 pm 

    How does Vettel get all this OTT praise for beating aging Webber in the best car F1 has known? What extra did Vettel bring that no other driver could have? Are you still trying to suggest the Alonso or Kimi would not have won in that car?

    Still not seen Vettel win from mid grid, even in the best car on that grid. Seen that from other drivers. Not Vettel. You saw your hero Schumacher do that, didn’t you? Thats why you adored him, right? Yet here you are insulting those achievements by lording Vettel for doing nothing more than Damon Hill. In fact, Damon actually put more into his racing, and we fans got more out. Was Hill that great….. No.

    Honestly, enough of this nonsense. I know you journalists and F1 stakeholders have to sell this sport and convince of us that Vettel is worthy, otherwise, what is everyone wasting their time doing? But James, the damn king has no clothes, hence the hiring of Ricardo over Alonso or Kimi. You know, drivers who can race. We have still never seen Vettel actually race. Never. And with DRS we will never will.

    Sorry, over 25 years following F1, more year just watching it, and I have never seen the entire sport in such a mess, with such a substandard WDC. What is going on is rank horrible. And you journalists know it. Its why there are so many articles and silly lists trying so hard to justify Vettel. Meanwhile people try to distract us with BS like double points.

    Seriously, I have already ditched Sky, might ditch F1 completely. This is a joke. I don’t mind Vettel and RBR winning like this, its normal for F1. But this Vettel hype for no reason other than being in the right car is churning my stomach. Can’t people even wait and see if Vettel can win races without pole and the best car? Do you even remember when driver used to do that? You know, “racing”.

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    Lost control of all bodily functions laughing after the first sentence. Sorry.

    [Reply]

    SteveS Reply:

    “the best car F1 has known”

    It would be nice if F1 fans knew a little about F1. That was a very long way from being the best car F1 has known, I can think of at least eight cars which were better.

    [Reply]

    Rockie Reply:

    “Still not seen Vettel win from mid grid, even in the best car on that grid. Seen that from other drivers.”

    This statement shows how Alonso has brainwashed fans like you, if you have the best car you should be on pole if not you have underperformed!

    [Reply]

    James (another one) Reply:

    Are you Vettel’s mother or something? Can you comment on any subject without referring to Alonso?

    [Reply]

    Rockie Reply:

    Not vettel’s mother just tired of reading where underachievement is being glorified. As far as am concerned and also just same way I liked Senna, Schumacher I also see Vettel following the path of the greats I watch F1 for inspiring performances not mediocrity.
    Alonso brought the doctrine of winning from lower down the grid is better than winning from pole in 2005 he had a different opinion on that as Raikkonen had to do that almost every other race due to grid penalty, and just like Alonso in 2012 came up short!

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    “Still not seen Vettel win from mid grid, even in the best car on that grid.”
    Other drivers that have not done this include (among others) Juan Manuel Fangio, Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton.

    [Reply]

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    Not sure if I should praise you for sticking to your beliefs, or condemn you for it. But when you claim that you know so much better than most of the paddock, including journalists, current and former race drivers and champions, and even the team bosses, the problem might be you, not them.

    [Reply]

    KRB Reply:

    Hmm, there was an article recently where most of the current drivers still picked Alonso as the best. This, after a very good season from Vettel. I think Kubica summed it up perfectly, when he said that, b/c of the cars they each have, that Vettel has a tunnel leading straight to victory, whereas Alonso is in a maze, faced with more choices/decisions to make, in order to get to victory.

    I think the team principals got it right, but even there at least 2 team principals picked Alonso as the best driver (ok, say Ferrari was one, who was the other?). Vettel should be first in any list for 2013. He might not have to fight the car, as the others must at times, to get the best out of it. But there’s no doubt he got the maximum, or near maximum, from the car this year.

    [Reply]

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    First, he is not only claiming Alonso is better. He is claiming Vettel is the most substandard WDC since 1986. I’d be hard pressed to find even a single person in the paddock who agrees with that notion on any level.

    Kubica’s words, while favoring Alonso, also did not in any way, shape, or form, back-up this claim of substandard WDC. From the top of my head, he did actually praise Vettel.

    As for the team-bosses vote, last year Alonso also did not get all the votes. Again, not getting all the team-boss votes does not in any way, shape or form constitude anything close to the most substandard WDC.

    So while all your points are correct, it does not excuse the post I was replying to.

    KRB Reply:

    Martijn, I was responding to your point about “most …current drivers”. No serious person would agree with that “most substandard WDC” claim … that’d be Button, no? ;-) JOKES, Button fans!!

    As for last year, I think Alonso had at least 8 of the top votes (out of 12 that year), and likely 9. So of course he wouldn’t get RBR or STR, but who were the other 1-2?

    It is an odd occurrence when the WDC doesn’t win that poll, though not an infrequent one (happened in 2009 with Vettel pipping Button, and 2010 with Alonso barely beating out Vettel).


  34.   34. Posted By: Srikant Mahapatra
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 5:06 pm 

    Good to see Rosberg ahead of Hamilton in the Top 5. I like that you have mentioned he was stronger than Hamilton across the whole season, and that he was very unlucky too with those retirements and other mid-race incidents. I hope Nico wins the World Drivers’ Championship next season. He really deserves it. This year, he has been unlucky at times and has had his chances sabotaged by the team. I hope Mercedes doesn’t indulge in any sort of favoritism from now on. Nico deserves to win races as much as Lewis or any other driver for that matter. He’s talented and has a lot of potential (he’s a GP2 champion by the way).

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: shri
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 5:22 pm 

    Only do not agree with you logic of Rosberg better than Hamilton.

    Hard to analyze and compare Hulk, Bottas and Bianchi due to underperforming cars for large portion / all of the season.

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Jimbob
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 5:50 pm 

    Sorry James but not having the Hulk in your top 5 this season is plain silly – I’d have put him second because he pulled everything out of the Sauber in every race. No other driver but Vettel showed such consistency throughout the season.

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: SteveS
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 6:28 pm 

    It’s amusing that everyone “knows”, or thinks they know, how fast each car was compared to the others. Somebody above claimed that the Ferrari was the fourth-fastest car! Of course all such claims are pure conjecture.

    In general, and especially this year, qualifying position does not correspond well with a cars actual race pace. The Merc’s in particular were beasts in qualifying but suffered badly on the tyres in the actual race.

    On top of that is the indisputable fact that some drivers are markedly better than others at doing a qualifying lap. Alonso struggles at this aspect of the job while Vettel and Hamilton excel at it. So no, you can’t just look at a drivers average qualifying position and say “That’s how fast his car was”.

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: The opposition
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 8:04 pm 

    Too much politics (again) for me in 2013 for being able to really rank the drivers. These guys are SOLDIERS so let them fight on the track FFS. RB whining about the tires, and look what happened. Got what they wanted and took nine in a row. Reminds me of the ‘golden’ Todt+Brawn+Schumi era. Makes me sick! Kimi stands out by being the leader of the unpolitical pack, and by on-track performance.

    [Reply]

    BadBob Reply:

    It wasn’t RB whining about the tires that changed things, it was Silverstone. And I am an actual Soldier.

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: Garrett Bruce
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 8:10 pm 

    Thanks, James – as a couple of folks have indicated above, though, am very curious why there are no comments about Webber and why a driver who finished 3rd in the standings doesn’t even rate an honorable mention.

    Have a great 2014!

    [Reply]


  40.   40. Posted By: We
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 9:15 pm 

    Vettel never stopped his finger celebration though. He does them during the donuts even.

    And he should keep doing the finger because people need to grow up getting annoyed about it.

    [Reply]


  41.   41. Posted By: MelB
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 9:58 pm 

    Respect.

    [Reply]


  42.   42. Posted By: Lone
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 10:03 pm 

    With 9 consecutive wins, no matter how dominant the car was you have to give Vettel the number 1 spot.

    Second though, should go to Räikkonen for performance since the Lotus team, eventhough the car was strong for most of the season, wasn’t on par with Ferrari for team performance in pit stops nor reliability. Not to mention what it means for a driver in team support when they know he’s about to leave the team. Kimi ones mentioned that in his rookie season when he tested new parts he said of the good parts that they were only ok because if he would’ve said they were good they would’ve ended on Heidfelds car instead.

    Alonso third because he didn’t impress in the richest team, along with RBR, with the most resources to improve their car over a season along with them having the arguably best car in the beginning of the season.

    Hamilton fourth just and only just ahead of Rosberg only for the reason that he ended up with more points.

    Rosberg fifth, ahead of Grosjean who in fact impressed when the team got behind him but didn’t adjust to the new tires in the beginning of the season when he started on equal terms with Räikkonen.

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: Alexander Supertramp
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 10:27 pm 

    Lewis Hamilton: 13x top 5 (higher points region)
    Nico Rosberg: 8x top 5

    Lewis Hamilton: 2x out of the points, incl.1 retirement
    Nico Rosberg: 3x out of the points, incl. 2 retirements.

    Times P6 or lower (the lower points regions) Lewis 6x (1 retirement)
    Nico 10x (2 retirements)

    Claiming Nico was more consistent is rubbish, Nico was just better in the last four races. And even that’s not true, Lewis took p4 in Austin and would have finished in front of Nico as well in Brazil weren’t it for the accident with Bottas.

    Yes they were matched, yes Nico was strong at times, but I refuse to agree that Nico was the better driver. Close battle, but Lewis clearly on top. Expect the gap to be bigger next year.

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    Best way to look at it is to look at every single week-end and count the times Nico had the better pace. I count 6 (Monaco, Spain, Singapore, India, Abu Dhabi and let’s say Malaysia). Monaco and Malaysia are still questionable though. That’s 5 week-ends for Nico. I dare to say that Lewis had the better pace in all the other races, but obviously for different reasons did not finish in front. Silverstone, Monza (where Nico was really underwelming), Brazil and probably Japan are definitely examples of race where Lewis had the better pace but ended up behind Nico.

    That last statistic is very important, because it shows Lewis’ main problem, i.e. failing to capitalize on his pace. He has not been driving a red bull, so his pace was never guaranteed. But he has had good pace on more occassions than his results show and he should have taken more points on some occasions. Lewis is always there or thereabouts (13x top 5 in 2013), but small things tend to affect him, i.e. colliding with Nico (brazil 2012) , Pastor (Valencia 2012), Bottas (Brazil 2012), dropping the ball in Monaco in 2013, missing out on q3 in Monza in 2013 while definitely having the pace to challenge Seb for pole (watch Q1),.. That’s the only difference between him and Fernando and now Vettel. Those guys are always in the mix, that’s what Mark also meant a couple of weeks ago in an interview. Fernando and Seb are almost always capitalizing on their pace. Basically Lewis is consistent, but he’s just consistenly ‘good’, while he could/should be consistently ‘very good’.

    Still, I expect him to be very strong in 2014 (yes, WDC). Why? Because Lewis’ first half of 2013 was very strong (only P4 in Monaco should have been better). Still strong in Spa after the break, but that’s the day he realised Seb was champion and there was nothing he could do to stop that. So he lost some performance, his racer’s heart weakened- same thing happened to Kimi and Fernando. If next year’s Merc is up to it, he will fight for that championship till the last corner, simple as that.

    [Reply]


  44.   44. Posted By: Laurence H
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 10:51 pm 

    I think I would put Grosjean ahead of Hamilton. I know he didn’t win a race, but he came good at the same time as Vettel, and so had no chance of winning really. Very consistent, very fast. Versus Hamilton who is just very fast.
    Just my opinion though…

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Look at Grosjean’s first half season again

    [Reply]

    James Reply:

    Didn’t he get a new chassis in Bahrain? The only race he lost his marbles was Monaco, and he certainly wasn’t the only one to do so.

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    Exactly!

    [Reply]


  45.   45. Posted By: nhial
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:07 pm 

    Can we once and for all let go of the myth that the Ferrari is slow? Its not fast in qualifying but its a rocket the moment the red lights go out. Same goes for Lotus. Mercs are fast in qualifying but its almost useless come Sunday. How do rate the cars? By qualifying or how they race and score points?

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: MadGez
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:11 pm 

    Kudos to James Allen for a very level headed and well reasoned top 5. Much better than some of the silly top selections of other seasoned F1 “journalists”.

    My Top 5 is:

    1. Vettel
    2. Alonso
    3. Kimi
    4. Hulkenberg
    5. Lewis (Rosberg in 6th)

    I don’t like him but you have to give Vettel first. I don’t think

    Alonso didnt have a great season by his standard but still good enough for 2nd. I would have put Kimi 2nd but the season fizzled out a little.

    Still he dominated the first half of the season and beat Grosjean more often than not in the second half despite a bad back, tyres not to his liking in quali, a long wheel base car that suited Grosjean more and a team that was against him.

    Hulkenberg was brilliant and certainly not Perez level (which to be fair is still solid as his McLaren year was not that bad considering the bad car he had and how he performed against Jenson).

    Lewis needs to get himself back to his 07-10 levels but he’s still the Merc driver I’d back for the championship and still one of the best drivers around. Rosberg was also at his most impressive.

    [Reply]


  47.   47. Posted By: Craig D
        Date: December 27th, 2013 @ 11:23 pm 

    Ah, I put Hulkenberg in 4th instead of Rosberg, otherwise matched James. Nevermind.

    It was tough choosing this year as – Vettel excluded – no one was had a really consistently exceptional year.

    [Reply]


  48.   48. Posted By: Truth or Lies
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 12:47 am 

    Thanks James for a very honest appraisal.

    I’d concur with Vettel and Alonso’s placing, but I am not sure about giving Kimi P3, but on reflection who else deserved it? Certainly not Hamilton or Rosberg, so unless Grojean got that spot I suppose Kimi makes sense.

    I would put Rosberg somewhere in the final two spots but not Hamilton, here I must respectively disagree. Considering the equipment and resources at their disposal surely Hulkenburg or Grojean did a more commendable job throughout the year, especially if you consider how they overcame difficult starting positions – Grojean started 2013 very much in the last chance saloon and Sauber took 10 races to finally give Hulkenburg a decent car.

    Anyway Happy New Year and best wishes in 2014 :)

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I prioritise consistency

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    Yeah, the Lotus was a ‘dog’.

    [Reply]


  49.   49. Posted By: Alan Cobham
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 12:53 am 

    Amasing how some fans fool themselves trying to bring for no good reasons Alonso into picture. Mind games, as their hero. Gents, Ferrari was a good car, second, its shortcomings are due to driver’s settings skills too, read Alonso, and 3rd,his second position shows how weak is the competition below Seb. Gents suck it up, Vettel is the true master of F1

    [Reply]


  50.   50. Posted By: Michael Allfrey
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 12:57 am 

    My List:
    1. Vettel
    2. Raikonnen
    3. Alonso
    4. Hulkenberg
    5. Rosberg

    My reason for not including Hamilton is due to seeing him consistently loose places after a good grid position.

    Somehow, Grosjean should be in there too!

    Thank you for these opportunities and have a great New Year!

    [Reply]

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    “My reason for not including Hamilton is due to seeing him consistently loose places after a good grid position.” It’s called qualifying well in an average race car..

    [Reply]


  51.   51. Posted By: Bloke 127
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 1:12 am 

    I agree with James’ selection – including Rosberg shading Hamilton. Rosberg was more consistent, and certainly seemed much more focused in the final run in to the season. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Nico mount a stronger challenge in 2014. I sense Hamilton is not the man he was in 2007/2008, and gives an impression of a man who might fall out of love with F1 fairly soon, unless he has a dominant package.

    Grosjean I am really undecided about. I actually wonder what a motivated Kimi could have done with that car in the second half of the season, if his relationship with the team hadn’t fallen apart. Is it really a case of Grosjean suddenly getting his act together, or more a case of the same average driver but an improved car? Next year will be difficult to tell – I dont think Maldonado is much of a yardstick.

    Other contenders for the top table? Hulkenberg possibly, but you do have to start to wonder why he is consistently left behind by the big teams. What do they know, that we dont? Something doesn’t add up with that one.

    Bianchi? Too far adrift of the others to get any sense of wheel-to-wheel capability, and certainly young Mr Chilton is not a benchmark of the top tier.

    So – on balance – agree with James.

    [Reply]


  52.   52. Posted By: Nick
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 1:22 am 

    Rosberg ahead of Lewis???

    LH out-qualified and out-pointed NR, notwithstanding that NR had the benefit of incumbency in the team and a car that was probably designed for him and MSchu.

    [Reply]


  53.   53. Posted By: Leal
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 1:24 am 

    Well, James is clearly trying to create some discussion in this season “hiato”, and as I really like this site, I will participate. ;-)
    As many of you here, I consider James a lot, but his “work” seems to more present in these last days than before. The need to make a point in SV greatness, and using LH to drive traffic is really evident.
    Alonso can lose motivation on the second half of the season, and as he stated, be outqualified by Massa 8 times, and still get second on the list. Hamilton that was dreaming about having a car this year to compete, and in SPA face the cruel reallity at the first straight, may not.
    Hamilton in a brand new car, finishing ahead of a really fast driver, needing to adapt, and adapt, and ahead of him teammate in almost every aspect, in the end gets in fifth place. How may that have any sense?
    James, Hamilton was ahead of Vettel in your opinion last year? Well, if Hamilton had not so many DNFs, he could be the wdc. If you start to shuffle the drivers table with IFs, and changing points and positions… really, this does not makes sense in F1.
    Oh, and Kimi too, he can lose motivation on the second half and be outqualified at saturday and sunday by RG, but stays in third in your list. Oh, Kimi has one victory, and that alone in some “crazy” way is better than LH victory in a new car, new team, and with a car that just “eats” the tyres.
    Yes, I’m a Lewis fan, I could argue about LH even in second place, but behind Rosberg? So, just participating in this thread to have the opportunity to participate on others.

    ps.: James, do not forget next year everything will change, and your golden boy will have the chance to prove you are right, or everyone else. We will be here…

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    1. I have no need to “drive traffic” – these are my honest opinions based on what I saw and experienced this year. Note comments on Rosberg’s final four races

    2. I don’t have a “golden boy”

    There are many other wrong assumptions in your post, but I’ll leave it at those two

    [Reply]

    deancassady Reply:

    Oh James, driving traffic always matters (these days); it’s the nice, enlightened way you present it, that separates you from all the rest.
    Keep doing the great job, into a successful new year.

    [Reply]


  54.   54. Posted By: aveli
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 1:45 am 

    did hamilton sustain a cracked chassis?

    [Reply]


  55.   55. Posted By: deancassady
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 2:45 am 

    My favourite driver is Kimi, but there’s no way around who the number one driver in 2013, isn’t there?!?
    So the difficult clusters after that are really 2nd and 3rd, as a group, and it is equally difficult to argue with the two that James has in that cluster, (though, Kimi is, my favourite driver, and I tire easily, of the Alonso Media Corporation… content distribution).
    The last cluster, again, James has the players, but I’d really have to go with Hulkenberg, for 4th, and I really don’t have Nico Rosberg in my top five.
    My fifth is a is extremely close between Hamilton and Grosjean, but because of the positive trending of Grosjean, and the huge obstacles he’s overcome, to climb up the heap to consistent podiums, I have to go with him.
    Hamilton is Hamilton, and I sincerely believe that, for whatever reason, we are NOT getting the full potential of him, definitely not race-over-race!
    I’d have put Webber of Rosberg, because his benchmark was truly superlative, and Rosberg looked like he had his best year matching a diffident-looking Hamilton!
    He’s got to do better than that to make my top five.

    [Reply]


  56.   56. Posted By: Martin
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 2:54 am 

    It is an interesting list when you consider
    2: significant error in Malaysia, underperformed expectations in qualifying
    3: apart from China and Abu Dhabi, underperformed in qualifying, started to be outshone by his team mate once the tyres changed
    4: often slower than his team mate, just did enough to win in Monaco, got lucky in Britain
    5: Some very high points and some very low points. Using too much fuel in Malaysia, too much of the tyres (Korea in particular). Silly collision with Bottas in Brazil. Unhappy with his own performance at many races.

    Four of the top five hardly giving stellar performances if you look at them in summary. Were the other 17 drivers all worse than this even though they didn’t win? In most cases probably. Webber, Massa and Grosjean weren’t as good as their team mates, although the view of some commentators such as Mark Hughes, seems to be that Grosjean’s high points though rarer, were taller than Kimi’s.

    Hulkenberg is the most obvious one to consider promoting into the top five. To me the comment about Perez isn’t particularly relevant. In all cases we are trying to assess a driver independent of the car, and in part we work on the assumption that the best drivers are in the best cars. In Hulkenberg’s case, as with Ricciardo, the question where the car is qualifying and where it ends up in the race is quite pertinent. With Ricciardo the key deficiency seems to be his pace in the wet relative to Vergne, although in Brazil he was faster in Q2 and Q3. Next year will tell a lot and the comparisons between Kimi and Fernando and Nico and Checo will similarly tell us more.

    [Reply]

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    “the view of some commentators such as Mark Hughes, seems to be that Grosjean’s high points though rarer, were taller than Kimi’s.”

    This is exactly what also made it really hard for me to rate everything below Vettel this year. For instance Alonso and Kimi were more consistantly good, but Grosjean and Hülkenberg had higher peaks.

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Hi Martijn.

    I don’t recall seeing you on the site before but thanks for the comment. I know Senna was agitated by not being #1 in Autocourse’s list in 1990, but in general these lists are for the fans.

    A top five list is generally too short to be that interesting – it is where the fringe drivers, this year Ricciardo, di Resta, Perez, Bottas, Bianchi and van den Garde fit relative to the likes of Webber, Massa, Sutil and Button. With Ricciardo, being an Australian I see a disproportionate amount of coverage and commentary, and while I rate his qualifying speed, it is almost irrelevant given the promotion he’s got. With di Resta it is the opposite – he’s been sacked and there’s a high chance his F1 career is over. For me Perez’s main hope versus Hulkenberg will be weight based, but I could be proven wrong. I have a lingering suspicion Bottas is the next Kovalainen rather than the next Raikkonen. Canada he used a wet set up and made no errors at the right time rather than demonstrating speed. Austin was good but it was one race and the car worked. Bianchi was generally regarded as the star of the back four, but I noticed van den Garde improving through the season. To me your name seems Dutch or Flemish, so there’s some chance you paid more attention to GvdG.

    Maldonado would be my worst driver of the season based on experience and potential, especially with the number of collisions he had in a poor handling car. He did do a few strong drives to 11th through the season. I feel Pic is my runner up for the wooden spoon – with limited visibility he was underwhelming. So I’d end up with:
    Vettel, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Grosjean, Bianchi, Button, Webber, di Resta, Massa, Vergne, Bottas Sutil, Perez, van der Garde, Gutierrez, Chilton, Pic and Maldonado. On a different day I’d come up with a different list, I feel that is a reasonable mix of pace in qualifying, the race, crashes and race craft. Vettel was almost flawless in all of them, and then there was the rest.

    [Reply]


  57.   57. Posted By: Petem
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 5:38 am 

    So hard to pick them. Disappointed that Grojean was not picked when considering last years performance to this years. When he is on he is very exciting to watch and had some great drives equal to if not better than Kimi in my opinion at times.
    I would have moved Rosberg out and had Grojean in and a toss of the coin for Lewis and Webber. Neither was a standout but easily the best of the rest.

    [Reply]


  58.   58. Posted By: owen
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 7:18 am 

    I think the assessment is spot on – I see many other lists and comments on this article put Hamilton above Rosberg. But while Hamilton is a bit faster and could have been better, I would also say that Rosberg was better overall for the reasons mentioned – and is also much less “maintenance” than Hamilton!

    [Reply]


  59.   59. Posted By: dimitris
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 8:09 am 

    I agree with your evaluation James, even though I think second was a toos up between Kimi and Fernando. Kimi drove better in the first part of the season and in the second half his drop in performance was due to the problems he had with Lotus and the tyres change that upset the balance of his car, which by the way it took Lotus seven races to rectify, so his quali suffered.

    I agree that Rosberg drove better than Lewis who did not seem able to come to grips with his new driving environment.

    Grosjean and Gutierez should share, in my opinion, the title of most improved driver of the year, both improved significantly in the second half of the season, and Bianchi should be given the title of rookie of the year, just ahead of Bottas.

    [Reply]


  60.   60. Posted By: Felix Taggert
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 10:16 am 

    James, Rosberg ahead of Hamilton? No way. The table and stats don’t lie.

    As for the rest, I agree with you.

    [Reply]


  61.   61. Posted By: Pierre
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 11:32 am 

    Just checked it quickly James, looks like no one has got your list! A very few (6 to 8 I would say) placed Lewis 4th and Nico 5th. All of those should get a copy of your book…

    We’re all pretty OK with the top 3, but your choice of Nico 4th AND ahead of his teammate is amazing… I just don’t understand how it’s possible you made it… but that’s yours…

    [Reply]

    uan Reply:

    Actually I had Vet, Alonso, Kimi, Nico, Hamilton.

    er, just the wrong Nico lol. (though 9 out the 10 first/last names on the list ;)

    [Reply]


  62.   62. Posted By: Aadil
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 12:48 pm 

    Really??

    Nico Rosberg was the 4th best driver lol?? hahaha!!

    u know what he may have won 2 races and Nico has had many “good” drives but his never set the world a light with any spectacular drives!!!

    His never ever had drives where you look at him and think wow thats extraordinary his never done anything exceptional to set him apart!!

    there is no doubt Rosberg is a good driver but his no where close to being great!!
    All he will ever be is just decent driver!!
    A lucky version of Nick Heidfeld!!

    He may have given Lewis a run this year but lets be realistic!! Is this the same Lewis of 2007 & 2008?? I’m afraid the answer is no!!

    The Lewis Hamilton of 2007 & 2008 was focused, relentless, Determined to win and nothing else!

    Had Rosberg come up against that Lewis it would
    have a total annihilation!!

    My personal opinion is that Romain Grojean & Nico Hulkenburg both drove better this year!

    [Reply]

    deancassady Reply:

    +1
    very good

    [Reply]

    Lol Reply:

    You said “All he (Rosberg) will ever be is just decent driver!”

    And Hamilton had a hard time barely beating Rosberg, so Hamilton is a little bit better than a decent driver?

    See, that’s the dangerous game played by fans of certain drivers. You have to be careful what you say about the teammates and how you say it :P

    [Reply]

    Aadil Reply:

    whats so dangerous?
    and there to be careful about?

    Next time post comments that make sense. Although that seems like it might be a challenge for you!

    Secondly 10 points for u! “James give him a gold star” you actually figured it out!

    Yes on based on current form Lewis Hamilton is just slightly better then decent!

    Rosberg also had a massive advantage!
    he didnt have to get used to a new team or a new car!he didnt have to spend most of the season focusing on acclimatizing.
    Next year Lewis will be much better prepared and he can focus on pure performance!

    its going to be all down hill for Rosberg next year! 2013 was going to be as good as it gets trying to beat Hamilton!

    [Reply]

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    Will you apologize to us next year if your prediction doesn’t come true?

    Fernando "150%" Alonso Reply:

    I read here a lot about haw Hamilton takes his time to get use with his new team. And is impossible for me to not think at two similar situation in recent history of F1. Alonso in 2007 at McLaren and 2010 at Ferrari and Kimi in 2012 at lotus (Kimi after two years of whatever he was doing) and both challenged the title straight forward. They both are at the top of the sport and presumably Hamilton too. So why i read so often about this “time to get used to”?

    Nic Reply:

    But Hamilton is a little better than a decent driver. He got lucky in 2007. Watch Vettel and watch a champion.

    [Reply]

    Bryce Reply:

    Lewis is a much better driver than he was five years ago.

    [Reply]

    Aadil Reply:

    By what measure??

    [Reply]

    Bryce Reply:

    Any. Sorry, but to suggest any young driver (especially one’s favourite) does not improve, is utterly ridiculous.

    Alexander Supertramp Reply:

    People have short memories. Lewis is definitely stronger than back in ’07-’08. 2012 is a clear example and I would suggest 2013 is also an example.

    [Reply]

    KRB Reply:

    Without doubt he is. But to get consistent podium runs (e.g. Lewis’ 9 podiums out of the gate in 2007), or the like, it’s simply imperative that you have a title-challenging car, with no other car clearly better. That was the case for Lewis in both 2007 & 2008 (though I would argue the Ferrari was slightly better than the McLaren in both years), and sadly hasn’t been the case since.

    Anyone who thinks a rookie can get 9-straight podiums, yet when that same driver (now a WDC with 7 seasons under his belt) gets nowhere close to replicating that feat, and people attribute that to the driver’s focus or lack thereof, they’re more than likely engaging in a game of equalizing cars that are anything but equal. We like to regard sporting participants as capable of having a significant impact on their direct success (or not). In motor racing, the impact a driver can have is real, but I’m not sure it can be classed as significant. When car performance is close between two or more cars, then of course driver skill will become the prime differentiator. But when it’s not, differing levels of driver skill shrink markedly in their significance to the outcome.

    [Reply]


  63.   63. Posted By: Richard
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 1:10 pm 

    Since the advent of the Pirelli high deg. tyres it has been impossible to say which driver has performed best because the sport, it you can call it that, has become so convoluted that driver performance is probably the least of it. The bare facts are that unless a driver has a good car with first class aerodynamics he does not stand a chance. On top of that unless the car is set up with the best balance compromise the car will not perform well. The Red Bull car has always been good even at the start of the year, and has been honed into an entirely dominant car particularly as we passed into the seasons second half after the change to the previous years tyre construction. what you can say of Sebastion Vettel is that he has been given a unique opportunity and has grasped it with both hands learning how to get the best out of his package. I don’t think his driving skills are any better than other top drivers just that he and his engineers have learnt how to set the car up perfectly for any given event, and given the capabilties of the basic car allows him to romp to victory in their tried and tested formulae. – Unfortunately it means the race season becomes boring so the sport needs to get back to proper, less complicated, racing that allows a more even playing field. This is not to detract from Red Bull achievements, but the races have become a wholely engineering and design lead proposition. In the sport we talk about cost reduction and that will not happen until the sport is made simpler with much reduced aero and greater reliance on mechanical grip.

    [Reply]

    Aadil Reply:

    I totally agree!

    As boring as ppl claim they were I miss the old days!

    It may not have been an overtaking fest but at least the racing was real!!

    I’d give anything to go back to they old days!

    They destroyed our sport

    [Reply]

    Aadil Reply:

    The reason why F1 is in the state it is in today is because the ppl who have been running for the past few year are a bunch of incompetent il advised [mod]
    its like a banana republic!

    The ppl who are currently running it couldn’t careless about the integrity of F1!

    [Reply]


  64.   64. Posted By: Rayz
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 1:17 pm 

    I’m surprised you didn’t pick Hulkenberg James. I think Lewis had probably his worst season in F1 in 2013. Qualified well but was going backwards during nearly every race. I know some of that can be put down to the characteristics of the car but there were races where Rosberg was able to hold on to positions while Hamilton was dropping away very quickly.
    Hulkenberg performance in the Sauber for me would be 4th and I’d put Rosberg 5th. I agree with your top 3 though and like you said, it’s all very close between the likes of HAM, GRO, HUL, ROS and perhaps even Bianchi. Can’t overlook his performances this season, leaving Chilton look like an amateur in comparison and securing the Marussia team an impressive 13th in Malaysia which turned out to be arguably the most valuable 13th place in F1 history.

    [Reply]


  65.   65. Posted By: Bart
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 2:50 pm 

    Here’s a nice short analysis of Ferrari’s problems in 2013 (it’s in Italian, though)
    http://www.f1analisitecnica.com/2013/12/ferrari-f138-la-sintesi-finale-sul-suo.html

    [Reply]

    Aadil Reply:

    I have my own short analysis!

    “They were sh*t”

    :)

    [Reply]


  66.   66. Posted By: Greg
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 4:57 pm 

    He is just as fast as he ever was, Kimi that is. I would not all be surprised to see him go on a massive pole spree next year if the car truly suits him, (less understeer, light steering, car generates heat into tyres). Vettel’s legacy will be based off his performance when he doesn’t have the best car.

    [Reply]

    Bryce Reply:

    Not an ALO fan, but I see him being a couple of tenths or so up on RAI in their coming battle.

    [Reply]

    Martijn Müller Reply:

    “Vettel’s legacy will be based off his performance when he doesn’t have the best car.”
    I’d say he was doing pretty well in the first half of the year.

    [Reply]


  67.   67. Posted By: Greg
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 4:58 pm 

    He is just as fast as he ever was, Kimi that is. I would not all be surprised to see him go on a massive pole spree next year if the car truly suits him, (less understeer, light steering, car generates heat into tyres). Vettel’s legacy will be based off his performances when he doesn’t have the best car.

    [Reply]


  68.   68. Posted By: Gregory
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 4:59 pm 

    He is just as fast as he ever was, Kimi that is. I would not all be surprised to see him go on a massive pole spree next year if the car truly suits him, (less understeer, light steering, car generates heat into tyres). Vettel’s legacy will be based off his performances when he doesn’t have the best car.

    [Reply]

    deancassady Reply:

    hoping for truth to be made of your words.

    [Reply]


  69.   69. Posted By: Nick_F1
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 5:16 pm 

    Hi James,

    I would argue on the following statement:

    “Rosberg also retired three times due to technical failures, so lost the chance to score more points which might have taken him above his team mate, who only had one retirement.”

    Not sure how the things would happen if he didn’t have DNFs. Lewis is very strong even he was not stable in 2013.

    My general statement is that if the cars are all rights for both drivers – Rosberg won’t take an upper hand over Lewis or Schumacher (take a look at 2012).

    From my point of view Lewis is the same kind of driver like Schumacher – he needs to feel a car at 100% first and only then he could deliver what everyone is expected.

    Strong point to Rosberg as he could adjust his skills to “a not sutable car” better than a team mate but this means that his input about the car to engineers goes to a wrong way. That explains a lot about why his “voice” become more stronger now then it was before in 2012 where Schumacher “had drived” the car development with Ross and Aldo for 2013 car.
    And now we saw who took fruits from that work.

    [Reply]

    Aadil Reply:

    +1

    good explanation

    [Reply]


  70.   70. Posted By: uan
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 5:44 pm 

    Hi James, I’d take exception to your comparison between Perez and Hulkenberg in the Saubers.

    Perez got some excellent results via the tire lottery, but never put in a superlative race performance where he needed to follow the same strategies as the front runners. Kobayashi had the best Sauber drive in 2012 (imho) at the Japanese GP with a P4 in qualifying and a P3 for the race.

    Also, more significantly with Perez, after being announced for McLaren his form went straight into the toilet, with a horrible end of the year (with 3 retirements, the one in Abu Dhabi being the stuff of GP2).

    Hulkenberg at FI in 2012 was very good and only a minor mistake caused him to miss victory in Brazil. In 2013, he’s put in some excellent qualifying performances followed by executing in the race (Monza for instance, or Korea). Not to mention he was clearly head and shoulders above his teammate.

    Perez went on to start 2013 pretty much as poorly as he finished 2012. His best performances were in the last 2 races after he had already lost his ride.

    It should be interesting to see them side by side next year. I’d give the edge to Hulkenberg.

    [Reply]


  71.   71. Posted By: nuroz23
        Date: December 28th, 2013 @ 11:36 pm 

    I agree with you James and I think many people seems to make offhand comments here. For example, let’s have a look at Kimi’s season. He was great the first half of the season until tyre change and in the second half Lotus somehow decided to change SWB with LWB on the basis of claim that this version was faster. However, Kimi expressed clearly from first day he didn’t like it, but it was obvious it fit to Romain’s style like a glove, so there wasn’t a point to bring back. At that point Kimi has been also announced as new Ferrari driver for next year and Lotus suddenly started to act against him ( such as accusing and criticising him as greedy in public even though they did not pay him even a single euro) Until summer break, Kimi had out qualified his team mate in consecutive 7 race weeks, but of course people forget easily when things does not suit their own interests. However, heaven knows why, in Abu Dhabi when they turned back into LWB Kimi immediately on it and outqualified Gro again with half of a second. Kimi had already, before Abu dhabi, asked for previous version, but team did not take into consideration his will and just to calm him down after salary issues unveiled, they brought it for him. I think you got the point here. There can be many hidden reality under the surface and you should look at the whole picture instead.

    Merry Christmas…

    [Reply]


  72.   72. Posted By: Rishi
        Date: December 29th, 2013 @ 1:03 pm 

    Good selection overall. I had the same five drivers, but with 2nd and 3rd switched round, and 4th and 5th switched round. I’m pleased that you went on the basis of the whole season because, though I try and avoid this, sometimes particularly us fans can be guilty of focusing on the last 8/9 races rather than the full 18/19.

    Aside from the Lewis v Nico debates above, I imagine Monisha Kaltenborn would object, at least partly, to your comments about the Sauber! In fairness, it’s true that they had a very Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde season; not very competitive until the summer break but having a huge leap forwards after that. That does make it harder to evaluate Hulkenberg, who I put 7th on my list, but all the midfield teams have that inconsistency a little bit and I thought the bigger issue with The Hulk was that his team-mate was so inexperienced, meaning you couldn’t even make a strong comparison that way.

    [Reply]


  73.   73. Posted By: Richard
        Date: December 29th, 2013 @ 3:46 pm 

    Hi james, happy new year. Couple of things. The Alonso thing is getting irritating. He had a very good start to the season because he was in a very good car. Ferrari have admitted they went down the wrong road with development. I actually thought Alonso did o.k, no more no less. How you can put NR ahead of Lewis is baffling to say the least. He out quall, out pointed,ect ect and in a new team!! Yet. You think he did better than LH??? Come on james be a man and admit you are wrong and just wanted a reaction to boost your web site.

    [Reply]


  74.   74. Posted By: German Samurai
        Date: December 30th, 2013 @ 5:50 am 

    How can Alonso be second when he was consistently outqualified and outraced by Hulkenberg in an underfunded Sauber with a customer Ferrari engine?

    Look at Alonso and Massa head to head in qualifying. Alonso should be outqualifying Massa 17-2 like Vettel did.

    [Reply]


  75.   75. Posted By: James (another one)
        Date: December 30th, 2013 @ 12:09 pm 

    1. Call up the 2013 race results data.
    2. See if you can spot the points in the season at which:
    a) Mercedes got a free 1,000km test; and
    b) Red Bull demanded and got the tyres changed to compounds they could handle.
    3. Reassess opinion of season performances.

    Combined with the outrageous penalty given to Grosjean in Hungary for the ballsiest overtake I have seen in ages, for going off track in a manner used by Vettel at least 100 times a season at all points in race weekends, and I have my justification to switch my loyalty away from F1 and on to MotoGP.

    Double points in the last race? When you need desperate gimmicks like that…

    [Reply]

    German Samurai Reply:

    Tyres were changed before Germany, in which the Lotus was the fastest car (despite Vettel holding off for an impressive win with the slower car). Lotus complained hardest against changing the tyres.

    The tyres were changed because the British Grand Prix became farcical and the drivers lives were put at an unnecessary risk. No conspiracies there.

    [Reply]


  76.   76. Posted By: Fernando "150%" Alonso
        Date: December 30th, 2013 @ 4:57 pm 

    It seems Massa had for most races this season quali setup, and Alo race setup. I will come with a link, but you can check this theory yourself.

    [Reply]

    German Samurai Reply:

    I’m not sure about that since he would have finished at least 4th in Brazil if it wasn’t for the penalty, it took Alonso half the race to get past Massa (and Hulkenberg).

    You just have to compare many of the performances of Hulkenberg in the underfunded Sauber with a customer Ferrari engine to see how poor a season Alonso had. He spent about 50 laps behind Hulkenberg in Korea. Would have been beaten by Hulkenberg in Austin if not for Hulkenberg’s last lap mistake. Hulkenberg often out-qualified both Alonso despite having an underfunded midfield team.

    Brazil proved that the Ferrari had strong pace still.

    Maybe Hulkenberg had a qualifying setup too…

    [Reply]

    German Samurai Reply:

    edit.

    “it took Alonso half the race to get past Massa (and Hulkenberg) in Abu Dhabi”

    [Reply]

    Fernando "150%" Alonso Reply:

    I didn’t watch any races after Spa except the last two. The “under funded midfield team” had a very good car after the summer break, and used much better the new tyre compounds. And i don’t know what setup Hulkenberg had. Is easy to say that i don’t know in what races Alonso needed 50 laps to overtake Massa. For the real picture, read the head to head comparison made by JA!

    German Samurai Reply:

    Are you accusing Hulkenberg of using qualifying setups in races now? He nearly passed Alonso on the final lap at Austin? Some qualifying setup LOL…

    Hulkenberg kept Alonso behind for 50 laps in Korea. Some qualifying setup….

    Just look at Brazil. Ferrari would have finished 3-4 despite stopping development after the summer break.

    Ferrari had a better car than Sauber all season long. Alonso fans are really grasping at straws now if they think the Sauber with the customer Ferrari engine was ever the better chassis. Hulkenberg simply has better qualifying pace and race craft than Alonso.


  77.   77. Posted By: Martin
        Date: December 31st, 2013 @ 10:15 am 

    Hi Yago,

    You are right re Spa, but the Red Bull was just slow there in qualifying trim. Vettel was .15 behind Webber who did a good lap on track he’s well suited to.

    The DRS flow reattachment you describe sounds odd to me. I understand the problem but I understood the consequence was that the drivers had to release the DRS earlier relative to the braking point than other cars. Trying to brake while the flow is reattaching would cost much more time than a slight drop in speed as the engine’s power is braked by the increased drag.

    There may have been other aerodynamic instabilities in the Ferrari, but I doubt DRS would have had anything like the effect that the tunnels on the Red Bull did. Initially their effect was speed and pressure and sensitive and so a change in wind direction could have a large effect on what speed they worked for a given corner, so they weren’t very predictable.

    I might be giving Red Bull too much credit, but it has been at the cutting edge of vortex generation around the car to use clever techniques, but initially this one didn’t work too well.

    My understanding of 2012 was that a large part of Alonso’s advantage over Massa was managing a general lack of rear grip and for the coanda exhausts to overheat the rear tyres.

    To quote from Autocourse last year, with Mark Hughes telling to Pat Fry:
    The car [F2012] had a notably big DRS boost and the suggestion is that perhaps this created related airflow reattachment problems. “It’s prone we have a bigger DRS effect that makes the car unstable and then in the race, when you’re not using it, you’re quicker because of that,” said Fry. “But from the analysis we’ve done, I don’t think there’s anything obvious. We just need more efficiency and downforce.”

    I do find the technical side interesting – more so than driver A is better than driver B, but as an analyst I if I start I try to look into it thoroughly. Happy to keep going but the moderator might discourage to much more.

    Still there will be plenty of opportunities in 2014 to get more material for the debate. Cars 7 and 14 might be the initial focus, though.

    I’m a little surprised 12 hasn’t got more interest as it had more of Villeneuve’s wins and the first 14 and the title for Senna.

    Cheers,
    Martin

    [Reply]


  78.   78. Posted By: cometeF1
        Date: December 31st, 2013 @ 6:34 pm 

    While a fair bit different than my pick (Vettel, Kimi, Hulkenberg, Alonso and Lewis.), your choice James does make sense after reading how you came to it I would say but for Alonso. I feel he wasn’t as effective as in his previous seasons with Ferrari, but that just me.
    Beside that, I would like to give you James, you and your team, my sincere thanks for this great site. I like the way it is moderated, while we are allowed to express our opinions as we see fit, I appreciate the overall level of the arguments, not too subdue and yet not too trashy. The best F1 site by a long way. A great deal of thanks as well to the many contributors to this site, that help making it what it is. To you all I wish good health, happiness and prosperity for 2014. Marc

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Many thanks

    [Reply]


  79.   79. Posted By: Nic
        Date: January 12th, 2014 @ 5:22 am 

    Hamilton shouldn’t be there. My five were Vettel, Alonso, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, and Raikkonen.

    [Reply]

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