F1 Winter Break
My Top Five drivers of the 2009 season
My Top Five drivers of the 2009 season
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Nov 2009   |  1:21 am GMT  |  218 comments

Thank you very much to the 1,100 readers who took part in the Top Five drivers of the year competition. I’m delighted that we got more than 1,000 entries!

There were plenty of interesting entries, Luca Badoer popped up a couple of times, while several Kimi Raikkonen fans put their man in all five positions!

I put a lot of time and research into my selection, going back through my race weekend data, looking at fuel corrected figures for qualifying and so on. I’ve also sounded out some of the F1 engineers for their data analysis of the drivers’ performances over the season.

As a result, here is my Top Five, together with my reasons.

1. Jenson Button – It was between him Hamilton and Vettel as to who would be one, two and three. I remember telling a 19 year old Button in Macau that F1 is all about “consistency at a high level’ and I had to give Button P1 because he showed it this year (mostly!), scoring points in all but one of the races. His peaks were very high; he won six races out of seven at the start of the year, pressing home his car advantage with the double diffuser early on and leaving nothing to chance. He also had to make some bold passes along the way. Unlike Vettel he did not make costly mistakes in races and unlike Hamilton he had to deal with the constant pressure of a championship fight. Most of his problems in the second half of the season were in his head and affected him in qualifying mainly, but he still dug in on race day and scored points. Many of his problems however were also to do with the way the car developed (or didn’t!).

2. Lewis Hamilton – Hamilton performed miracles in a car which was 2.5 seconds off the pace at the start of the year and even after a major update kit transformed it from Germany onwards, it was still some way off the pace of the Red Bull and the Brawn and yet he wrung two wins and four pole positions out of it. Even at the start of the season he was fourth in Australia and Bahrain in a car, which looked horrendous when watched from trackside. He damaged his image over the lying scandal in Melbourne, but I think he has emerged from a tough year as a far better, more humble and more mature driver than he was in 2008

3. Sebastian Vettel – I can assure you that there is not a shred of national bias in my choice of the top two. They just did a more complete job and that was the difference. Vettel was outstanding this year, the good things he did were every bit as good as anything Button or Hamilton did and I’m sure that the team principals put him top in their Top 5 because he is so exciting for F1. His four wins were superb, especially the drives in China and Silverstone. He is still a bit raw, still hasn’t got on top of tyre management and he made a number of expensive mistakes which cost him the championship. But he’s a really exciting talent and a fantastic person to deal with. If he continues to mature as he has these last two seasons, he will claim a place in the sport’s premier league.

4. Mark Webber – the Aussie had by far his best season in F1, getting the pole that mysteriously had escaped him, but also two long overdue wins. He was unbeatable in Germany and controlled Brazil. The reason he makes my top five is because for the most part he did the car justice. Fuel corrected Vettel was faster 10-7 in qualifying, which isn’t as dominant as people make out. There were also quite a few races where he started behind Vettel, but beat his exciting team mate to the finish. People also forget also that he wasn’t fit for the first couple of months of the season after his broken leg and shoulder. He reminded me of Nigel Mansell at times this year. On the downside, he went awol a couple of times in the closing stages of the season, but all the contenders for P4 and P5 in my list did that and the others were more inconsistent.

5. Kimi Raikkonen – This was an incredibly hard choice. There were many contenders; Massa was doing better than Kimi before his accident, but didn’t complete the season; Alonso did well with a poor car, but nothing miraculous and his team mates are no kind of benchmark; Barrichello had some great days, but was easily beaten by Button when the car was the class of the field; Rosberg was fantastic through the middle of the season; Kubica had some miraculous days, but others when he was outperformed by Heidfeld. So Raikkonen gets the nod. People say he had a quiet start to the season, but he was impressive in Bahrain and Monaco. But his performances from July onwards in a car which Ferrari had stopped developing, were astonishing. Even the Ferrari engineers don’t fully understand how he managed to get some of the podiums he did based on the performance of his car, compared to the opposition. He had a sniff of a win at Spa and he took it, holding off a clearly faster Force India car. Loses out on consistency, but gains on miracle achievement.

The five winners, who picked the same top five as me are:

Matt B
Richard Thurbin
Nathan Smith
Joe Sumegi

We will be in touch via email to get addresses.

Loads of people went for the same top four with either Barrichello or Alonso at P5. A few people had the same five drivers, but Rob Collins had Raikkonen and Webber the other way around, as did Evan, Jon Wilde and June Lee.

If you missed out, then please get yourselves a copy of the book anyway. All copies purchased through this site will be signed. Click on the book cover on the right of the page.

I will be at Motor Books at 13/15 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4AN (0207 836 5376), just off Charing Cross Road on Saturday 28th November from 3pm for a book signing so come down if you are in town doing your Christmas shopping.

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Can't disagree, an informed and well justified choice.


now that's done, hows about the biggest dissappointment of the year?

My vote is for Grosjean. With an hounourable mention to that other french guy.


No Badoer takes the position!

He has set an all time record... he got overtaken in the pits! I mean how on earth, with a pit lane limiter on, do you get overtaken? Will this achievement EVER be repeated? 🙂


Good choices. Well justified. Thanks for a great review of the season.

Well done to the winners. I didn't know where to even start thinking.


'the miracles' - http://www.formula1.com/results/driver/2009/828.html - he had 3 point scoring races .

Vettel lacks tyre management skills - dont remember a race where his pace dropped , if anything he pushed all the time ( and showed the pace ) - even when the team tells him to stop.

Kimi - first half of the season poor - he outqualified Felipe almost every race , got unlucky on race strategies - got ferrari's first points/podiums . yet Felipe looked better of the two before the accident .

i guess if the final results arent a criteria for some , it should be the same for others .

P.S u said tuesday and it is there on tuesday ... good work 🙂


In Australia, Vettel ruined his tyres too. That allowed Kubica to catch up with him and ultimately they crashed.


Hamilton would have scored in all the races after Silverstone if he hadn't been unlucky:

Germany - Puncture on lap one

Belgium - Hit by a rookie

Italy - Crashed on the last lap (his fault but it was a strange crash)

Abu Dhabi - Mechanical failure

Given that he had a good chance of winning Germany and Abu Dhabi, and a sure 3rd place at Italy, I think it's pretty fair 😛


Vettel really struggled in Monaco with rear tyre wear.


ah thanks ... the one race i wasnt home to watchmissed ,( just about caught the podium ceremony)

is it just that race ? ...


Im pretty sure that Monaco was a race where Vettels pace dropped off dramatically after taking too much out of the tyres, then he crashed trying to make up for his previous mistake.


That's brilliant James, great to hear that, gonna pick up a book from the site so if it will be signed :).

One question, in all your years of F1... what's your most coveted piece of F1 memorabilia you have acquired on your journey? Any good stories behind them? I'm sure alot of us would like to hear it and make an interesting read for the off season.


Good idea. I'll do that. I've not done a lot of memorabilia gathering, but what I have is very special. One of them is the results sheet from the 1991 Brazilian GP, the first time Senna won his home race, signed by Ayrton. He was very emotional after that win.


Wasn't Senna in a lot of pain after that race? Seem to remember that he had trouble lifting the trophy on the podium.

I think its often difficult for non-F1 fans to appreciate the effort that drivers put in during a race because their faces are covered by a helmet. I have shown the in-board footage of him crossing the finishing line after that race to people who don't follow F1 and they have found it to be mesmerising. A real insight into the determination of the man.

Don't know if its pain or elation that he is expressing when he is screaming (perhaps a combination of both?). Any insights into that race?



Ok, £9



and something else ... Rosberg had a car with the DD all the while , it looked promising ... and yet the results dont speak for it . So much so that one of the press releases looked like they werent blaming the car . If u sniff something ,u take it ... thats how champions are . Singapore was really odd for a guy with 4 years experience and looking for a win


Congratulations to all 5 winners, hope you all enjoy your prize!
Great post James, upon reflection MW does deserve a top 5 place but his driving style doesn't excite me & never has done hence why i chose Alonso.
Hope we will still be hearing from you with more driver updates.
Forgot to ask, please can you briefly explain what the formula change in 2013 actually means. Having a blonde moment as not read about this so far. Thank you as always for your hard work & opinions 🙂


so its just coincidence that the british commentators think the british drivers were the best this season? ok 😛

button drove around like a coward mouse since turkey. not worthy of being called champion in any way shape or form. just lucky he had the best car in the first 7 races and a reliable car for the rest of the season.

the car and ross (by favoring him in strategy) won him the championship.

only 3 drivers drove around like champions, vettel first, second raikonnen and third hamilton. none of them are from my country..;p


The thing is, if the two halves of Button's season were switched around, with him having a mediocre beginning, with him then clinching the title by winning 6 of the last 7 races, everyone would be saying what an amazing job he/Brawn had done to turn things around - it's just a matter of perspective.

Yes, it was disappointing that his season turned out the way it did, but on the flipside, he consistently scored points even when he wasn't at the front and nobody stepped in to take the opportunity to haul him in, even when it was being handed to them on a plate, so over the course of the season he did do the best job.

And no, I'm not a Button fan


It's not our fault that British drivers are the best!

Jokes - but seriously, everyone talks about Button only winning "because of the car" and then underperforming in the second half of the season.

If the first part is true then why didn't Barricello get the same number of wins, or at least the same number of P2s?

And if the second part is true then why did Ross say that they stopped developing the car and knew the others would catch up, because they knew that they would still have enough to win?

You can criticise Button for allowing the pressure to get to him, but the fact that he still won despite that shows some strength of character if nothing else.

Vettel is great, but inconsistent unlike Button, Raikonnen spent half the season in bed and Hamilton did well in what started as a bad car though was tarnished by the lying scandal (though that has nothing to do with his drives). For me Hamilton's biggest error is his crash in Monza - shouldn't have happened as he was no way near second place.


Rubens Barichello is a wonderful benchmark, I must say! 😛

The truth is that a driver of Lewis' or Fernando's caliber would have sealed the WDC in a much easier manner and at least 2-3 races earlier.

Button made hay when the sun was shining and that is all great.

But if anyone asks me who is the weakest WDC in 19 years of my viewership, I can't think of anyone else apart from Jenson. That has more to do with his overall career though.


Dude, u are not seeing the facts here... the first 7 races decided the championship.. this clearly shows the car advantage Brawn enjoyed..

Ok lets come to why not barichello extracted much from the car:

1) how many races in those first 7 did barichello's car stalled or close to stall during the race starts. he himself said there is some thing fishy goin on with his clutch :).

2) He also had problems with the car under braking especially the rear end. And after changing to different brakes compared to button's in the midseason, he started to perform better. Didnt he?

Vettel: I thnk the "Renault" engines were to be blamed here... Ok in monaco he struggled very badly agreed, but didnt RedBull bring some radical changes to the car there?

Raikkonen: He has outqualified massa this season from the season beginning... so when was he in bed? And seeing what he did with that red-brick(F60) this year is really great (please ask badoer or fisi abt this) 😉

Hami: Equally good as Kimi this season, in extracting most out of their cars (Hate to say this). Matured a lot this season and acted like a champion.

To Charlie (Thats you): How many points did button score in the first 7 races and the rest of the races? 60 (from the first 7 races) + 35 (from the rest) = 95. When was the last time you saw a champion who scored most in the early races and defended the rest of the season and yet win the championship? From the time i started watching F1, i have seen champions firing all cylinders and finding their way up the ladder. None like our great Button..

Lets keep our fingers crossed and see what magic can our Champion do at McLaren.


Yes, Monza was a huge mistake by Hamilton. If I remember it right, he spent about five laps catching two seconds and then tried to catch another two seconds in one lap.


I'm glad you recognised that Raikkonen won with an inferior car to Fisi! The Force India was very quick that day, Fisi did a great job that weekend but it's strange that we hardly see wins from 6th on the grid, let alone an overtake for the lead and no one makes a big deal out of it!

I think Webber had a decent season, his two wins were great and his first half of the season was excellent considering his leg injury, but I don't feel he deserves to be in the top 5 for this season. He looked set to set a title challenge to Button after his win, but after that it all fell apart. That run of 4 or 5 non scores really hurt him, he had a season similar to Raikkonen last year. Both were doing well until mid point of the season and just a few races destroyed their season, although for Raikkonen it was more of a blow to his rep because of the expectations on his behalf.

It's quite amazing how Vettel wasn't too far off the title despite his mistakes and reliability issues! He really turned it around at the end of the season.


well, well, well. Almost spot on.

I have to disagree on Webber. Rubens, in my humble opinion, has been fighting until Brasil. I just do not see the Australian here.

Congratulations to the winners.


Webber??? James...

Codswollop as my Grandfather used to say!

Congratulations to all the winners.


As an Aussie I'm pleased to see where you rated Webber, so thanks for that. Next year will be the real test as he will have no injury related excuses. I'd have picked Lewis over Jenson, but you were there and I was watching the boob tube, so I'm probably biased by the commentary. I hope you will be doing the commentary for someone somewhere next year - back on the starting grid beat for SpeedTV I hope?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Thanks for doing this James. Great format for your Blog - no random user-created threads with posts full of insult trading. I congratulate you on the atmosphere of intense, but polite debate that you have created. Only problem is ...what will we do when you're back on TV and don't have time for all of this?!!

James, I have heard on TV several times about how Hamilton is not too popular with some of the drivers. Why is this exactly?

Is it because of they believe he has been privileged, perceived arrogance, questionable track manners? As a Hamilton fan, would love to have more insight..


That's too big a topic for a brief answer, let's just say shades of Schumacher


I'd be interested in this one too. Obviously some of it is jealousy, given that he is probably the first person since Jacques to jump into a championship winning car in his first and second seasons in F1 (whilst some in F1 never get a winning car). That said I can also see his track manners causing issues. Monza 2008 sticks out like a sore thumb on that front, the press would have had a field day if Schumacher had driven people off the track like that, I think even Martin and James were expecting a penalty for him that day.

It'd be faciniating to see what the other drivers concerns are, if it's just because he's fast (if so why are there no such issues with Kimi or Alonso?).

He really has divded opinion in F1 with both his on track performances and his off track comments and actions like his initial refusual to join the GPDA.

I wonder if Lewis will look back in years to come on several things like Michael has with his regrets around Jerez 1997.


no one gives a fart about Raikkenon not involved in the GPDA though.

Every driver pulls a controversial move once in a while, at least Hamilton genuinely believes they're ok not because "Raikkenon would have done the same".

Raikkenon and Alonso were the Schumacher challengers, how could the rest of grid hate them? They all hate Schumacher. And everyone was busy getting jealous and bitter about the 7XWDC in the Schumacher era.


Hamilton has a win at (almost) all costs mentality, just like one Mr M Schumacher!


Yeah....he's better than everybody else...and they know it.


I read your list and went "Whoohoo! That's my list" - only to realise that I had had a last-second change of heart and switched my selections when posting!

Agree entirely with this list though. What a fascinating season it's been!



You and me both 🙁


James am disappointed in you, it'd be fair to say that I'm a biased Kimi Raikkonen fan but how can you rank Lewis above Kimi? In Abu Dhabi the McLaren was clearly the best car on the grid nearly 3/4's of a second faster than the Red Bull's in qualifying and around 1/2 a second after fuel adjustments. While the Ferrari was an absolute dog of a car the whole year and the guy still drove out of skin after it was announced Ferrari had dropped him. The 5 are fair but Kimi should have been above Lewis.

Congrats to the 5 winners, well done


I think you'll find the car was clearly the best car on grid in Lewis' hands...which is kind of the point of Lewis being in 2nd place in James' list. I believe Heikki is a better driver than most perceive him to be, but couldn't match the raw pace of Lewis...if it was just the car then HK would have been a lot higher up the pecking order too.


Ok but to suggest that the gap in qualifying at Abu Dhabi between Hamilton and Vettel was all driver and no car. There is no doubt that Hamilton is a better driver than Kovalainen, but to use the same precedent Fisichella highest quali in a Ferrari was 14th while he had a pole in a Force India. In other words the Ferrari was a DOG. Kimi also out qualified Massa 5-4 including at Istanbul. Like I said in the original post I am a biased Kimi and for that matter Ferrari fan. Kimi should have been above Lewis


Well Heikki had a problem in quali at Abu Dhabi (gearbox was it? cant remember), but yeah I doubt he would of gotten it onto the front row anyway


Your first sentence says it all!


Maybe so and I've admitted that I'm a Raikkonen fan but you've got the only 2 Englishman on the grid as one and two. So I don't believe it's only my opinion that's biased. That said Button at the top is fair he dominated the season. But Kimi should still be ahead of Lewis. P.S. please replace Eddie Jordan on the TV next year


I can't help but feel that this list is slightly biased.

I agree with Button being the number 1 but I don't see how Hamilton is number 2. Sure he had a very good end to the season but his car improved so much that he became the front runner. Hamilton finished 1 point ahead of Kimi in the WDC, yet in my opinion drove a better car than Kimi for most of the season and he made more mistakes than Kimi over the whole season, yet Kimi is placed 5th in the list.

Webber in my opinion should not even be in top 5, and should not be higher than Kimi. Considoring he drove a much better car over the whole season and only managed to collect 1 more win and 3 more podiums than Kimi.

My top 5 list.

Button - Drove excellent in the first half of the season, struggled a lot in the second half but overall did the best job out of the pack.

Kimi - An ok start to the season but in my opinion was the best driver in the second half. F60 was a dog of a car that struggled most of the season to get in Q3 and was nowhere near a podium capable car and certainly not a race wining car. Kimi out drove the car in my races.

Hamilton - Bad car at the start of the season, but when the car improved Hamilton delivered. Overall made a few costly mistakes during the season and the liegate was a disgrace but got over that well.

Vettel - Fast car with not so good reliability, made a few driver mistakes during the season which destroyed his WDC chase. Overall a good season but could have delivered more in my opinion.

Rubens - Bad start of the season but kept his head high even when his team mate was wining everything. Started to deliver more than Button in the second half and was unlucky with car reliability.

Other impressive drivers this season were Rosberg & Massa.

Sorry for my bad English, hope you guys understand what I am trying to say 😀



>>Rubens – Bad start of the season but kept his head high even when his team mate was wining everything.

What! Rubens was moaning and bitching about inequality on "his side" several times and how the team lost him the race at the German GP! It was Ross Brawn he held his head high by not responding to such childish remarks.


I agree with you, I don't see how Kimi is below Hamilton and Webber


It's because it's opinion, hence why it's called "My Top 5 Drivers". Even if it had been "My 1 Top Driver" you'd have people disagreeing.


Fair enough, but Damien ONLY talks about Kimi this, Kimi that..blah blah blah!!

Get over it...move on!!


Damien - When I read your posts 2 words come to mind

1. Sour

2. Grapes

Now move on and rather focus on 2010.


Sour Grapes about what? It's a bit banter and if you read my posts I'm open with the fact that I'm a Ferrari and Raikkonen fan, and that I was slightly biased. And with 25 drivers having raced this year there is 53130 possible combinations of top 5 drivers so like Med said below the chances of everybody agreeing are remote to say the least.


I agree.

Kimi must be higher than Hamilton as Hamilon had a race winning car while Kimi at best had thrird or lower car on the grid and yet the difference is only 1 point. If instead of Kimi it was Alonso or Hamilton, people (including the team principals and journos) would have voted him in top-3. After all even the so-called professionals are human beings who are fallible at times.

There is a general misconception that whatever Kimi does even if it is better than his other co-drivers he is still "underperforming". This idea has been propagated so much that even the facts are disregarded.


Congratulations to the winners and to you James (1.100 participations was very good).

Your Top Five choice looks very reasonable.

My choice was very close to the winner one, the main difference was the order, and I didn´t include Webber in the top five. My fourth place went to Rosberg.

I noticed that many of us were very close, and maybe that means something...

Best regards



James, I'm crushed! So close yet so far away...Kind of like Fisichella at Spa. Keep up the good work.




Your site has been fantastic, particularly the lively blogging. Roll on 2010!


when are the bbc going to replace jonathan ledgard with you. you are a better Commentator. your choice of the top five drivers was spot on as well



f1 without kimi is so plain n suck..


But at least we won't have to listen to him in the press conferences next year!



so you watch f1 because f the press conferences??


Great list enjoyed the reasons for which you chose them espically Kimi, i feel he deserves a world championship winning drive next year but not looking to good.

F1 needs you back in commentating




Did you do a top 5 last year?


Not that I can remember, may have done one for ITV-F1, but not here.


No James, I can't recollect you doing that last year for itv.


Hi James,

Once again great column always a pleasure to read. That said I disagree with Hamilton in P2; I agree that some of his drives this season were extraordinary and that his maturation over the course of this season is astounding. However I wouldn't rank his overall season performance as 2nd best of the entire field. Yes he got the best out of a dog of a car at times however how often did we see a start of a race and a KERS equipped car jump the field only to form a procession due to a lack of genuine overtaking (not going into the ins and outs of this)?

Some great drives by Hamtilton and a great learning year for him but 2nd overall - hardly. I suppose though he is British...


I didn't see any processions as you put it, after a KERS equipped car "jumped the field". I did see a few drivers, and I mean this without malice, who simply did not possess the killer instinct to overtake a car in front of them.

Webber came up with the perfect solution to over taking a KERS equipped car, which required a combination of patience, persistence and a go for it attitude. Sadly, many of the drivers on the grid lack one or more of those qualities and thus, just can't pull off a good, safe overtaking move.

The simple facts are, when the McLaren was still a complete dog to drive and Hamilton was pushing it as hard as he could putting it where it really didn't belong in the points. And while it's true that the car had improved by leaps and bounds in the second half of the season, it was by no means a top-three car. If it were, I think Heikki would have been a podium contender too. The difference really was Hamilton's never say die attitude and skill (ignoring his little pity party after having is race after a simple racing incident with Webber in Germany).


I feely feel that Nico Rosberg did a more complete job than Kimi or Mark. True consistantsy over a whole season, and fewer mistakes/off days. Do not be blinded by P1 finishes.


You HAVE TO include Rubens in the top 5 if you give Jenson the top spot. Rubens is arguably as close to Jenson as Webber is to Vettel. When Raikkenon had a benchmarch in his teammate, he wasn't better than Massa. Fisi was as useless as a yardstick as Grosjean to Alonso, how can you include Raikkenon but exclude Alonso?


You make a valid point

But i cannot disagree with James choice. I got the first four in the right order and had to toss a coin between Kimi and Rubens unfortunately it came down the wrong way


What is your opinion of Autosport having Robert Kubica as their 5th best driver of 2009?

Any early predictions for 2010?



One question remains - if Kimi Raikkonen did so well in that Ferrari to the point where even the engineers were impressed, then why were Ferrari so keen to get rid of him?

The mind boggles. While I don't care for his attitude sometimes, the man will be truly missed if he doesn't get a drive next year 🙁


There's still hope, Mercedes may sign him, that's what I'm waiting for.

Gavin, you ask "...why were Ferrari so keen to get rid of him?"

Especially when they paid so much to get him there in the first place. Makes no sense.


Couldn't agree more Gavin!


Nice top 5 James - But didn't Mark break his leg & not shoulder?


He broke both - he just didn't say much about the shoulder. On Australian TV he mentioned that Barcelona was the first race he did without painkillers.


He had both leg abd shoulder injuries.

I think Mark publicly decided not to dwell too much on the broken shoulder as this wasn't as visible as the leg i.e. he could not walk properly in Melbourne.

Let's hope he can start the 2010 season in one piece!


Thats a fair choice, have to say I expected you to pick Vettel as number one, so much for second guessing!


Damn. I really thought Alonso would make it as he made his teammates no kind of benchmark.

Oh well then, I'll have to pre-order!

Thanks for the compettion James - it was quite fun.


Very good analysis. Your top 4 was the same as Mark Hughes although in a slightly different order. It suggests that choosing number 5 was actually harder than determining the top 4. Fully respect your opinions and Mark Hughes.

For an observer who has watched every GP this year on t.v. (race and qualifying) but only attended the British GP I cannot hope to give such an informed opinion as yourself or Mark. However, I am pleased that I chose the same top 4 albeit in a different order. To choose number 5 and indeed a complete top 10 you really need to conduct a thorough analysis and be present at every race pouring through all the details. Consequently my opinion as well as many others must be influenced to a certain extent by the views of both yourself and Mark, and other journalists/commentators.

I have no concerns that national bias has taken place here because I know that you criticise Jenson and especially Lewis where appropriate.

Alonso is considered the number 1 driver in F1 today. However, could that accolade change in 2010 and Lewis becomes the best? What do you think James?

Finally, any chance of a top ten of the decade now that it's nearly over? Especially as during this decade you have emerged as one of the most respected voices in F1. You could also do a top 10 GPs.


Top 10 drivers:

1. Schumacher

2. Alonso

3. Raikkonen

4. Hamilton

5. Hakkinen

6. Button

7. Massa

8. Montoya

9. Vettel

10. Webber

Top 10 GPs:

1. Brazil 2003

2. San Marino 2005

3. Brazil 2008

4. Japan 2005

5. Malaysia 2005

6. Brazil 2009

7. Singapore 2008

8. Monaco 2004

9. Turkey 2006

10. Belgium 2004



Great idea. If I have any books left before Christmas I'll do that.


I would just comment No5, Massa was only having stronger support from team and car setups advantage. If Kimi was at Ferrari clear no 1 as was Schumacher, and as was he from Hungary on, he would be two times champion by now.. Having said that it tells it self who would be looser from that.. and why Kimi had to left. I wonder would Bernie ever figure that it was not sportsmanship of man who dominated early 2000s but rather coincidence of technology-media events, internet, and so on that brought more funs closer to F1. He, Briatore and WWeber were absolute disgrace for F1 and wrong for million of funs. Persons like Raikkonen, Vettel, some degree Kubica are just how they should be.


What are you talking about. Ferrari never favoured Massa, he was just simply quicker in 2008 and 2009,



no. Kimi said they changed the car to match his style after Massa got injured


you mean he's not allowed to have his own setup? and had to use the same setup as Massa? what nonsense.


No, Kimi said they found another way to set up the car.


Changed what style?????????????/

They stopped development after Valencia.

You clearly don't understand F1,

Massa was better so just accept it.


I'm yet to see anyone with journalistic credibility state that Ferrari favoured Massa with set-up. Kimi said fairly early on that the 2008 car didn't suit his style, and later that 2009 was better, but in 2008 there were plenty of races (e.g. Malaysia, Spain, France, Spa) where Kimi was quick. Kimi fans in denial just seems much more likely.


A fun little game.


Hi James,

Very few people will ever agree with a top five selection in order, however my 2 cents are as follows!

When you cite that "Alonso did well with a poor car, but nothing miraculous and his team mates are no kind of benchmark", and then allocate the final slot to Kimi, both seem a contradiction in terms.

Kimi was once again comfortably outshone by his Brazilian team mate over the first half of the season in advance of this untimely accident in Hungary.

It was only then that Kimi started to deliver, however this was in a heavily updated car, in which Massa never got the opportunity to prove what he was capable of. Based on the preceding 20 races, it is likely that Massa would have potentially been scoring regular race victories whilst Kimi was "merely" finishing on the podium.

Referring to your earlier comment, "His team mates are no kind of benchmark", this transpires as highly contradictory in Kimi's circumstance when compared with Luchow Badyouare regularly winding up 2 seconds off 2nd last place, and Fisi who openly admitted he couldn't come to terms with Kers braking for love nor money.

In contrast Alonso delivered a podium in Singapore in machinery that resembled a stock car in all but in name and poled in Hungary albeit in a light car. He regularly out qualified his machinery to make it into Q3 with the exception of a handful of occasions, whilst his team-mate(s) languished down in the final slots of the grid.

I think Webber in P4 is also generous, considering he disappeared off the radar for 5 races from Valencia through to Japan inclusive, his 2 races victories notwithstanding. For me it's Nico, for consistently outgunning his often quick but inconsistent team mate. His mid season series of fourth and fifth places whilst almost winning in Singapore before a white line infringement in machinery that really was not entitled to be anywhere near the leading protagonists.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts.

P.S Hope BBC see the light and install you back in the commentary booth next season!


I don't think Nico outperformed the car - Williams did a better job this year than they have in a while; if you remember, they were the Friday practice champs for the first couple of races.

If anything, his white line infringement was one of the worst mistakes of the season - I was on the edge of my seat up til that point, wondering if he'd find a little bit more pace to take the win.

Hopefully Rosberg'll have a known quantity as a benchmark next season because I'm still unsure of where he stands in ability.



I'm not sure I grasp your point.

The gong of Friday practice champs for the first couple of races was not indicative of a good car, moreso that Williams ran light fuel and fresh boots, a configuration Sam Michael openly admitted to at the time. Given the relative close proximity of pace setters to tail enders this season, practically any team were capable of achieving the same feat with a similar set up.

I do agree it will be interesting to see where Nico benchmarked against a known commodity. Whether that will be Heidfeld or A N Other who knows.........


I suppose I didn't really phrase my argument too well - granted, Williams were doing low fuel specials to get those times, but since they were consistently doing it at the beginning of the season when they haven't before, it suggested there was some fundamental pace in the car (to begin with at least, though like you said, it could also be explained by the close spread, though James' post about engine performance, suggesting Williams were losing 3/10ths on theirs, also backs up the idea of the car having some pace).

I'm not knocking Nico, in fact, as a Williams fan, he was the one I was supporting this year, I'm just not convinced that he put the car in a position above where it deserved to be on performance alone.

Then again, perhaps Nakajima was a true reflection of the car's pace and Rosberg was performing miracles. Hopefully, next season we'll see, but at the same time, it'll be in postions behind the Williams....


Well I've done my analysis already, perhaps take another read. But you underestimate what Raikkonen achieved second half of the season.



i tend to agree with the vast majority of what you say, particularly on Kimi. Over rated and over paid.

Sorry James!


Everyone says Kimi didn't perform for 50% of the season. Button did the same but had a much better car so he could still get points with a bad drive.

Kimi deserved a place on that list, even if I think it should have been higher.

James cannot be wrong as it is his opinion, and I can see why he has chosen who he has chosen.


And that's the great thing about opinions. Everybody's got one!

Re Kimi, for argument's sake, let's surmise that he did drive the wheels off the Ferrari in the second half of the season. The point still remains that he only performed for 50% of the season, not the full season.

It is for this very reason that Brawn are loathe to employ his services for 2010. Yes, he can be sublime when in the mood, but the problem is, he rarely is, unless threatened with losing his seat, where his sudden uplift in performance miraculously coincided with the increasing rumours of Alonso defecting to Ferrari.


I don't understand why Hamilton has been rated so highly. He did a good job when the car was at its best, but no more than would have been expected of him. And at the start of the season he was woeful - remember his spin-fest in China, or clouting the barriers at Monaco when he should have been aiming for the front of the grid? If Vettel was marked down for his mistakes I don't see why Hamilton should be afforded any more leniency.


He was in for a podium at the first race of the year, in a car that was 20 seconds off the pace, until he gave his place back and decided to lie about it.

China - still finished in the points

Monaco - finished 8 places ahead of where he started

Even when the car was at its best, it wasn't *the* best - he did put in some impressive performances.

Still can't stand him though


Let alone binning it on the last lap in Italy.


I choose the same drivers but in different order 🙂


Personnaly did not placed Weber but Barrichello, but makes sens. Still amazing to think one of these 5 may not have the seat he deserves next year...


Button first, yes. Hamilton second and Vettel third though?

Early part of the season Hamilton really didn't do that much for me. Yes the car was bad, but with the exception of Bahrain, where his car really wasn't that bad (thanks to KERS), he did very little with it for my money. Even at Bahrain I'd rate Alonso's performance as superior, bringing home a car that was a good half second down on the McLaren home only 3 positions further back.

That's the kind of drive that meant Alonso made my list, along with the fact he made the top 10 all but 4 times this season, a frankly amazing feat given the car he had. Also going back to Hamilton binning it in Monza was idiotic, he was never going to catch Button, had some very safe points (ahead of a Ferrari) but still pushed so hard he threw it off the track. Whitmarsh was fuming about that one, he knew it could have cost them a place in the Constructors.

I'm not saying Lewis shouldn't make the top 5, he should as he put in some good drives. Likewise, Vettel at number 3? The guy is ultra ultra quick when he's leading and does a great job in qualifying, but has anyone seen him overtake anyone on the track? Good as his wins were he never managed to win when he didn't have the very very best car (Which Button managed in Bahrain and Kimi managed @ Spa).

Different strokes for different folks I guess!


That's top ten in qualifying for Alonso, not in the race I hasten to add.


Agreed on Alonso Paul!

It is still true that in order for great drives to be acknowledged, you need to be toward the front


I think you've got that absolutely spot on James. Some on Jenson's drives in the races this season were fantastic and he thoroughly deserves top spot. I also think you're right to Hamilton second. I've not always been a huge fan of Lewis outside the car but his drives this year were incredible. I think he has grown massively through this season. Vettel would have been higher but for the mistakes he made, he's a good driver to watch though and I think next season (depending on the Renault engine) he will be strong. A a big Webber fan, I think if he had started the season fully fit then he would have finished ahead of Vettel. Kimi remains an enigma doesn't he? Amazing on some days, non-existent on others. I'd take that over boring and consistent any day of the week. Going to miss Kimi next season


Interesting that we all watch the same events, but have different viewpoints.

You're right: JB did score in most races. But, in my view of things, he underperformed the car by picking up fewer points than the car was capable of in the second half of the season.

Lewis, as you say, did well with a car that was much improved by the team. But, in my view of things again, giving Lewis an accolade as second best driver, is like lauding Thierry Henry for his part in France beating Ireland. His cheating/lying in Oz is enough, in my opinion, for Lewis' whole season to be tainted.

But interesting to read and great to know that we all bring different perceptions and attitudes to the same sporting arena. It would be dull if we all had the same way of looking at things.


As my mate once said, "If everyone was like me I wouldn't be able to get into the pub."

It's been very interesting. I'd guess that something like 80% of people had the same three drivers in the top three positions, maybe 30-40% of them had the same top three order as me, but P4 and P5 were wildly different across the many contributors. Barrichello featured strongly, as did Rosberg and Alonso.


It's the old "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" syndrome.

No definite rights or wrongs.

Just each of us with our own views on the 2009 F1 beauty parade: who caught our eye and who let us down 😉

Hope we see a strong 2010 season ... so long as the teams come to the grid with reasonably matched cars, we should be in for a very good season.

Hope Brawn sign a real racer for their second (or maybe their first) seat.


I also think Kubica will emerge stronger from this season. After 2008 he must have been massively disappointed getting in the 2009 car for the first time.

What's your gut feel on whether or not Renault will be in F1 next season? I'd much rather see Kubica in a Brawn than Heidfield, really don't understand Mercedes decision (if true) with that one. Unless of course they want a genuine number 1, number 2 set up.



Surely, Kimi should be higher in your ranking than Mark.

Yes given Mark's injury, allowances should be given for his average performance at the beginning of the year, but it doesn't explain his poor performances at races critical to him staying in the hunt when he was in the best car.

Kimi on the other hand was often the class of the field in a car which debatably the 8-9th worst car of the year coming into the final 5 races. he was consistent and bought Ferrari their only win of the year.

Have a bit of heart James, I'm sure Kimi is one of the drivers who reads your blog.....!! he'll be mortified to finish 5th in your ranking in possibly his last season in F1.


I don't think he'll care a jot!


Haha. As a Kimi fan I can only say that was spot on, James. Lol


Everyone knows Kimi doesn't care what people think. He is who he is and he's not going to change it for anyone. If Kimi did care about what people think he wouldn't have as many fans.


Hi James, regarding new fuel regs, what amount of fuel will drivers have on board for Q3, full tank or a couple of litres ?


I believe and want to see real qualification with fuel on fume.


it makes sense to run final quali on fumes, they have to brim the cars at the start of the race anyway, might as well give us fans a spectacle on a saturday 🙂


That's a good question, there are quite a few ideas going around at the moment ahead of the F1 commission meeting on Dec 9.

I'll post on it.


So much objectivity, that's too much. You should have been a little more patriotic in your choices. You should have put Anthony DAVIDSON in TOP5.

BUTTON best driver, that's a joke I hope !? He was mesirable at the 2nd half of the season and regularly beaton by BARRICHELLO since the brazilian solved his braking issues. For next year, he should start praying...


James, one initial question - at any point during the season do you think Jenson got a better result than he should have? Yes he beat Rubens, but otherwise I can't think of anything like Raikkonen's effort in Spa or Monza or Massa in Silverstone or Germany.

I'm not sure you are being fair to Vettel on tyre management - in Australia and Monaco you couldn't directly compare him to Webber, and the tyres were far beyond normal. In other races, such as Singapore and the finale, he had the edge on Webber in consistency, which suggests tyre management.

The McLaren was weak in fast corners, but if Kovalainen could put it on the front row with a bad lap in Valencia, the car had many good qualities. My sense is that from Hungary onwards, Lewis took most of the opportunities available. His second stint at Monza, which to me was a bit of Rubens-stryle race, was the one to make a difference, a la Kimi in Spa. I may be wrong but a win seems possible during the first stint as the gap was built, but the times in the second stint weren't quite there compared to the first stint.

Put another way, I didn't see 'miracles'. Australia was helped by being on the right tyres and the safety car - strategy calls. Bahrain was identified before the race as an opportunity. Strategy (tyres) and a flawless drive delivered in Brazil. Personally, I think Hamilton edged Button over the season as he didn't have a lull.

If the season had stopped after Germany, would your list have been more like:

1. Button

2. Vettel

3. Massa

4. Webber

5. Hamilton?

On Raikkonen's performance - did he really exceed what Massa did in Silverstone and Germany as far as the Ferrari engineers were concerned? In comparing Alonso to Massa and then to other drivers, that would be interesting to know.

Finally, on ITV site, you wrote that Raikkonen is 'the most talented driver in the field' and that 'Alonso is the fastest driver in a race situation'. You're normally nowhere that definite on this site. I've no reason to disagree with the second statement. The first is harder to judge from the TV. He isn't as dramatic as Hamilton, but that potentially reflects precision and accuracy. I think many of your readers would be extremely interested in you expanding on why you've reached these judgements.

P.s. as an Australian, you have my sympathies for living in England. Proximity to F1 is one of the few compensations.


I agree, I think Massa's drives in Germany Silverstone where really good, and generally unnoticed.


Was it Turkey where the Red Bull had the faster car and Vettel got pole? Jenson forced an error from Vettel, and then lead to the end. Vettel, on the other hand, managed to wreck his tyres within 9 laps at Monaco (and then subsequently crashed into the barriers), sped in the pit lane, and won all his races at Red Bull favouring tracks.


Seems like a reasonable result. And F1 do needs miracles.


Kimi was never slow in the first part of 2009 season.Infact he was matching massa and sometimes was even faster than massa. He got the first podium for ferrari.

He had lesser points than massa but he was not slow.

Some of his races ruined by ferrari's decisions

sending him on wet weather tyres on dry track.

plz dont judge his performance on basis of points scored


Words from the heart of a true an true kimi fan i think people are using points scored to assess how well he drove this season i think ppl just remember a few races n pick dere selection from dat but it beats ma mind how ppl bring alonso into the equation have dey forgotten his line 'i brought six tenths to maclaren' he should ve taken that to renault den


Very good selection, would fully endorse all the comments. All sorts can be going on around Kimi and he just goes out and races, irrespective of what is happening off the track.

As for Hamilton, everything that happened to him this season seems to have made him a far more accomplished driver and he now looks the finished article. I still feel Heiki is a very good driver who suffered because of Hamilton's shadow. Someone who the likes of Mercedes would be looking at now if he had not gone to McLaren.


Hi! James

Do you know anything about kimi's talks with MERC GP for 2010. Are there any talks. is there any chance of kimi partnering rosberg in 2010.

you must be knowing more than us.


Button #1 is ok given that he had very good races in the beginning and good consistency later on to bring the championship home.

But Hamilton #2 really puzzles me. When the car was weak he didnt exactly achieve anything. And towards the seasons end the McLaren was clearly amongst the best - if not THE best - car in the field. So I dont see how Hamilton can be rated better than Kimi, Massa, Alonso and of course Vettel... (some mistakes, yes, but Hamilton had his fair share of them, too).

The rest is ok, so despite Hamiltons ranking I could live with this list. (I wonder how Hamilton will fare in the years to come. I am not convinced that he is really as good as his hype is trying to tell us ..)


If i may suggest you check Lewis' starting and finishing positions in the fisrt few races leading up to Germany....he conistantly finished way ahead of his grid position...in a car that was severly lacking downforce.

In the second half of the season they found more downforce but the problems the car had in the main were inherent and were there until the end of the season, the great results were Lewis finding the speed himself...and sometimes pushing too hard (Monza). It was FAR from the best car in the field....

I am willing to stick my neck out and suggest Hamilton will fight for the championship next year...as in be in with a shout right until the last couple of races...i have no idea if he'll win, the competition will be fierce, but to compete at that level makes him one of the best drivers out there. No question.

IMHO, of course!


Hi james

As for your top 5 choice, i have it right 4 out of 5( not in order though) with Webber stealing it from Rosberg. Webber had 5 non points finnish in the best car of the season under him, i think all in all you know better and i can only say keep it up.


That´s a good top 5 by James, but i´m still happy with may choices, not very different.

Those 4th and 5ft places were difficult to decide and i didn´t look much into the data.

Congratulations to the winners and to James for posting the competition.


I think the team principles were seduced by Vettels speed more than anything. It was the same at the end of 2005 when fernando won the championship. He did the business, but it was that Kimi scooped the most plaudits because his speed was so damn seductive.

Vettel wasn't the best driver this year but definitely the fastest. If Lewis, Kimi or fernando were in the red bull this year, then i believe Button would have found it harder to withstand their consistency and reputation.


Those Newey rockets....

I'm a bit wary of giving the "fastest man in F1" title to anyone after Raikkenon proved to be no faster than Massa. His reputation was also built during the years he's driving Newey's cars at McLaren.


I was only one away - I had Rubens instead of Raikkonen.

I can't really disagree with your analysis, insightful as always.

I have to say, I can't wait for 2010. I really do think its a lot harder to predict that even us anorak-fans think. The lack of refuelling is a massive change. I started watching F1 in the mid-80s; the first GP I watched on TV was the 1986 Spanish GP at Jerez where Senna beat Mansell by a whisker. From then on I was a huge Senna fan, and that JPS Lotus was the most beautiful racing car.

The number of races which changed in the last few laps as drivers ran out of fuel or were desperately trying to save fuel. I also seem to remember Alain Prost picking up plenty of wins through smooth consistant driving. Now, isn't there a driver is continually compared to Prost? Ah yes, Jenson Button...

COuple of requests James:

Would love to hear your thoughts on the requirements on drivers in a no-refuelling formula, in terms of approach, and who you think it will suit?

Also, how about a feature on beautiful F1 cars down the years, both in design and livery? Couple of suggestions: the 1986 JPS Lotus-Renault 98T (as mentioned above) and I loved the Brabham BT55 from the same year, the ultra-lowline car.


For me it is the 1983 Brabham BT52. Gordon Murray designed cars that were a work of art as well as being effective.



It's got to be the Maserati 250F, 1957 version, unless you want to restrict it to rear-engined cars.


Martin, good point!

Magnificent car, I agree.

Lotus 25, perhaps anyone?


Hi James,

I have a question regarding Kimi. Jenson won six of the first seven races this year and then started struggling in performance relative to Rubens. The main reason i gathered from the various analysts was that he didnt get on with the development direction of the car as well as Rubens and hence struggled in qualifying compared to his team mate.

Kimi was leading the 2008 championship on points after the first 6-7 races up until Monoco or Canada i think. After that his performance dropped compared to Massa. Kimi fans say he struggled with the development direction of the car and struggled in qualifying which further lead to him not being able to challenge for victories in the races. Most of the media however question his motivation including you.

I think Kimi and Jenson more or less faced the same scenario. Then how can we question Kimis's motivation when he was leading the early part of the championship? Surely it could not have been motivation as any racer would be dying to make it all the way once in that strong a position.



I didn't go for Webber because he was clearly out performed by Vettel and the final standings show this. The same with Jenson against Barrichello. Rosberg did a great job for Williams and it earned him the Mercedes drive for 2010. Be good to see Kimi in the other Mercedes seat.


Woohoo! Well pleased with that! Thanks James!


Hmmmm, mine would have been:

1. Button

2. Vettel (just, as he had some disappointingly annonymous results)

3. Hamilton (he gets the nod because of his better results in a less than brilliant McLaren)

4. Raikkonen (didn't start off brilliantly, but was stellar once he had the backing of his team for results)

5. Everyone else

I can't put Webber in there as he should have done better at a lot of tracks than he did. A bit like Vettel, but worse. Bad luck can only constitute part of it. He will be under pressure next season, mark my words.


Hurrah! Thank you so much James for both the competition and for picking the same Top 5 as me!!

I am absolutely over the moon and cannot wait to read your book! You've absolutely made my day today.

Good luck at the signing event at the weekend, sorry I cannot be there. And please get the job at the BBC alongside Brundle once again!!




Congratulations to the winners. Your list reads like a straight bat; when I really was expecting a lower team googly of some sort! Cannot disagree at all.


I agree with all but Kimi and Webber. I think Kimi did a realy good job and I am not a Kimi lover at all. In fact I thought he was the most overated driver in F1 but have to admit that he did very well in lets face it a horrible Ferrari. Just look at Fisi, he went from hero to Zero. For me Kimi has to be above Webber but other than that its a fair result. Looking forward to next year, Lewis & Button and Alonso & Massa will be interesting to watch and we may have both the Senna and Schumacher name racing, awesome.


Hi James!

Nice choice of top 5, regardless I wouldn´t rank Hamilton as 2nd, maybe 3rd or 4th. Your choice of Kimi says a lot about your professionalism given most F1 british reporters overlap their personal likes vs. being objectives. Thumbs up!

I know the game was to match your selection, but could we have the reader´s selection based on the posts you had and have a comparison with yours?


Mmm, I'll see if I can find a statistician and do a readers' top five...may take a while. If anyone has any ideas how to do a data grab from the 1100 entries we received, let me have 'em



I've processed the post using the method I described. I've of courses deleted uncompleted votes and wrong ones (as 1/ Kimi 2/ Kimi 3/ Kimi 4/ Kimi 5/ Kimi).

I have the result, I can provide it if you want to. First three places are very very tight as you can imagine.

It's a bit fastidious, not 100 % reliable, and to have a result that cannot be contested, I think you should do it (and compare to mine if necessary).


Thanks Pierre, send it through, let's take a look



I've also sent an email to a friend of mine who's an Apple software developer, asking if he knows a soft able to count number of occurrences of a word into a text file. will let you know if I get an answer.

Some small efforts from me to the best F1 website I know. keep going on!


James, that post deserves a free book on effort alone doesn't it?



I do not think there's a miraculous way of doing it unfortulately, and should take a bit of time if you want an accurate result.

I'm not daily using Word so do not know how it exactly performs, but with my own writing software (using a Mac) here is whad I'd do (I've done that once for one of my customer).

1/ Copy-paste the post in a file. Save the file.

2/ Then use the "Find/Replace" function.

For example "Find Lewis Hamilton, Replace (into the whole file) by LewisH". Click OK, then a message should appear telling you something like "are you sure you want to do irreversible action ?" (click yes) and then an other one saying "There's been 226 replacements." So 226 occurences of Lewis Hamilton.

3/ Then do exactly the same for "Lewis".

4/ Then do exactly the same for "Hamilton".

5/ Then do exactly the same for any other possible name used for giving Lewis a vote.

6/ Then do the same for all other drivers (Badoer and Piquet should be very fast to do!)

Seems a bit fastidious but should save you some precious time.

7/ When It's done, unfortunately, I think you'll have to double-check all the file yourself by reading is and split, with these new names, what is a vote from what has been wrote as a comment. Delete all comments, and all "LewisH" that is a comments and not a vote.

8/ Do the same for all the drivers new names.

9/ When it's done, then use again the "Find/Replace" function: "Find LewisH" and replace by "LewisHDone", then a message will tell you how many occurences to replace, so how many people votes for Lewis whatever the name they wrote for this driver! Write the result somewhere in a file or a tab!

10/ Do the same for all other names (for example "KimiRDone", "JensonBDone", etc. For each of them, write the resul of the Find/replace function.

11/ Here you go, you should now have a 98-99 % accurate result and should have saved you time. But the result of our votes shouls be very interesting. I'd like to know it!

Sorry for my english, I'm french. If I'm not understandable, you can send me an email. Pierre

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Sri - re national bias...for many years British motorsport publications consistently placed Michael Schumacher at the top in reader polls.

While patriotic, I think that British fans are amongst the most knowledgeable and objective on the sport. If you're concerned about British bias then just look at all the pro-Kimi posts on this forum!!


I would think a little more important statistic would be the order they appear also.

You have to give 5 points to first, 4 to second and so on.. up to 1 point for fifth. Then after addding total number of points and divide it by total number of votes we will get an average point for each driver. Then the order of top-5 can be obtained with the drivers who get the highest points.

Again we must remember that the voting is being done only by English reading public and so we are ruling out a very large portion of F1 fanbase ;-).


Well no-one's claiming it's the world's poll! We do get a lot of people from non English speaking countries here, but clearly, given my broadcast background in UK, Canada, Australia, USA, the majority of readers come from those countries. I'm noticing a lot of Finns and Poles and an increasing number of French.



What format have you got the entries?

im sure i could knock up a bit of code to ripped the info out



I only have it in the form you see in the comments section below the post.


Hi James,

Was hoping to win your book but too bad didn't get it quite right 🙁 . I have just placed my order hopefully in time to get a signed copy.

Thank you for running the contest, and congrats to the winners.


Your comments about Kimi echo what I have read elsewhere that McLaren's mechanics have said about him i.e. they do not understand how he can wring some of the speed of out of the car that he does...so the only barrier to him being in a top car next season must be his attitude......I have not really read the same comments about any other driver.


Ferrari engineers said something similar, but at the end of the day they fired him. To be honest, I think if the driver is delivering, there's no need for the team to sing his praise, performance speaks for itself. That's why you don't hear the same comments about Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel. Things like being able to give good feedback is one thing, to say he's outperforming the simulator sounds over the top.


Hi, top marks for your website, very informative. Pity you drop marks for your choice of putting Hamilton ahead of Vettel though! You make no mention of him putting his car in the wall at both Monaco and Italy! Plus the Australian fudge is a definite mark against him. I would have in 1st Vettel 2nd Button 3rd 4th & 5th would be shared between Hamilton, Raikkonen & Webber


Vettel stuck it into the wall in Monaco too. He also crashed into another driver in Melbourne and Hungary, spun into retirement at Sepang, lost 1st place by going off the road in Turkey, and lost a podium in Singapore by speeding in the pitlane.

So..... What's your point again?


My point is this, as James stated Vettels highs this season were every bit as good as Lewis's but he ranked Lewis higher because he thought he did a more complete job. I was pointing out that Lewis made just as many major mistakes as Vettel. And if you do a bit of research you'll find that Vettel didn't speed in the pitlane.


The point is that Hamilton did not make as many "major" mistakes as Vettel. To my count he made one in qualy and one in a race. Ergo - he did a more complete job. And given the fact that the Red Bull was the class of the field for the second half of the year and also in the wet for the whole year, it makes Hamilton's job stand out even more. Hell - if it wasn't for a faulty brake pad Hamilton would have been tied with Vettel on race wins! That is a fact that cannot be overlooked... and that's before we look at the all important racecraft displayed by the two respective drivers.

On a side note - it's funny that Hamilton constantly gets tarred with the "mistakes" brush - when statistically he's by far one of the most consistent drivers out there. Any thoughts on that James?


He made mistakes in 2008, by his own admission and ironing them out is and has been a key objective. He made a big one in Monza, would he have backed off if he was going for points and fighting for the championship? You'd hope so, but we will find out when he is next in the championship hunt.



you must be kidding with the choice of Button as #1. He only won when he had a very significant car advantage, even over his teammate. Once others caught up in car development he didn't win a single race and only had 2 podiums out of 9 races, and in most of these he was outperformed by Rubens, in equal cars. He is a mediocre driver at best. I recall a recent article of yours where you said that Button needed Brawn more than they needed him. That comment was very accurate and indicative of his perceived value to Brawn (not very high). Whereas a real top-level driver, such as Lewis and Kimi, deserve the rankings you gave them, I could not disagree more on Button's appointment to #1, and that disagreement is based on plenty of facts.


Great list, James!


Wow... That's awesome James, must be great having that mounted on the wall, what a centerpiece.

Just another question... What year was it that you did the documentary on all the old army vehicles and the vintage army vehicle meetings? I had it taped years ago as it was a great watch but can't find it anymore and was hoping someone would have it on YouTube but so far can't track it down. That docu made me want to buy a tank xD and rebuild it lol.


I had the same five drivers but

Hamilton and Button the other way around


Raikkonen and Webber the other way around!

My order in comparison to yours was 2-1-3-5-4.

I was very close.

I finally agree for Button over Hamilton but I disagree for Webber over Raikkonen.

Raikkonen had a fantastic year with a struggling car. He started performing even better at the end despite the lack of support on F60 from Ferrari.


I think you should send me at least some pages from the book 😆

Great work James,

thanks for everything!


Thanks for your great blog this season, James.

May I ask what your plans are for next year? A lot of people (me included) are of the opinion that we'd like to see you in the box again next year!


Buddy that's not the point , we could put 'ifs' to every drivers case . I was just trying to work out ' miracles in a car 2.5 seconds off the pace ' as James put it . In that case the only 'if' is Australia ( which I'm sure everyone agree is a rather 'different' race)


I actually had Vettel higher in my entry than Hamilton but the more I think of it, the more I'd tend to agree that Hamilton had the better season.

I know every point counts but it's incredible to think that, despite the chasm in relative performance of the cars, Hamilton was a broken brake pad away from matching Vettel's win total for the year. Regardless of how good the Mclaren might have been over the second half of the season (and to look at Heiki, i'm still not convinced it was as good as Lewis made it look), there is no way a Mclaren driver should have won as many races as a Red Bull or Brawn driver, as Lewis almost did.

Paige Michael-Shetley

I wholeheartedly agree on your top-3, although I would rate Hamilton's and Vettel's seasons pretty equally.

I agree with Raikkonen at #1.

Webber, I can understand being in the top-5. But in the Valencia-Suzuka stretch, he was completely absent and looking VERY ragged. I think Barrichello deserves to be in the top-5 over him.


I think a lot of people who are saying Lewis shouldn't be 2nd, or should be below Kimi and Alonso, seem to forget when his car was almost the worst on the grid at the first half of the season he was starting races behind those guys but more times then not he finished in front of them.


I must admit I thought about putting Kimi Raikkonen in all 5 positions but didn't. On a serious note, Rosberg was worth a shot at 5th position.


Webber on P4??? Despite early Brawn domination, almost everybody on pitlane agree that RB overall package was equal, if not edged Brawn. Webber should have done better with this car. He performed well only in five or six races.


I completely forgot to enter the competition 🙁

ive pre ordered

Agree with the top 5 i would have Rubens in 6th.

How about top 5 overtakes/battles of the season?

Koby vs Button for me in Brazil


Also if that's the races u r putting up . They all was over for him in the first few laps ( and nothing in F1 is predictible , especially with that kinda on the limit machinery )- monza blame him .( though he tried to make a race out of it - I was less than impressed with his comments -' I'm not surprised it's happened , every lap was like a qualifying lap' - sure it was , but he didn't need to 'promote' himself)


Thanks james. I like the blog and i hope in future maybe you could venture into the technical side of the sport. Like next year we are having significant changes in regulations. It would be nice to get a technical insight onto how this will affect car behaviour.

I tend to agree in general with your choices although i would have ranked Vettel a bit lower because he had a championship winning car and made very silly mistakes.

I think hamilton amazed me this season especially when he had a dog. His drive in Bahrain was sublime with that car and also in australia.

Thanks anyway.


Thanks Jesse, I plan to.


Mate, you're more than welcome to prove your point any time you wish by building a car in my back yard without any help from Ross Brawn and racing your nuts off.

By your logic any WDC worthless unless the guy was driving a bike? So let's give Jenson credit, he deserved the WDC and proved it with some very fine racing, especially in the later parts of the season.

BTW, I'm not Dutch but I'm not a Britisher either. I just think winning the title over an 18 race season is huge & worthy of a bit more respect



Who would you rate as your top 5 drivers during your time as an F1 journalist?

I'd go with (in no particular order) Prost, Senna, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Alonso (sorry Raikonnen, you're #6).




Probably Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Mansell, Alonso

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I agree with Mansell being in the top 5. He managed to do things in a car that nobody else could and on his day was simply awesome. Who could ever forget Silverstone 1987, or Mexico 1990 at Peratalda.

Just watch this....awesome..



disgruntled of York disagrees

(only because I wanted a free copy of your book James)

On reflection Kimi is above Rubens given that the Brawn (car) won the Drivers Championship then Rubens should have come second.

Re the Monaco conference I would love to be there but my budget is more duck pond at Scarborough rather than super yacht marina in Monaco:(

Look forward to the website updates!


Judging by all the comments, it seems that Kimi is by far the most popular driver in f1.

And he's the one who doesn't even care!


James would love to see a breakdown of user submission rankings crossed referenced against country of origin.

Perhaps your web designers can upload a simple form to complete that would automatically compile the results - I am sure that you can beat your 1100 results as most people on here seem to want to see this information....

Keep up the great work....


I don't see Hamilton as a top 3 performer this year. Raikkonen's car was pretty bad but he made it look much better than it really was. Hamilton made some pretty amateurish mistakes that one would not expect from a WDC. (Crashing at Monza comes to mind.) LH has plenty of talent but he is not in the same class as Alonso or Raikkonen yet.


I think the best way to sort out these 2 (KR and LH)is simply looking back not Last season but 2008. Remember Silvertone 2008. The Ferrari is very much on par with the Mclaren. But what happened; LH wins by a mile !!!

In the wet the performance difference of the car is at its minimal; and this is a test of the driver skills..... need I say more.


So the best way to sort out LH and KR is to cherry pick a race in 2008 where LH won and use that as your rationale to say LH is a better driver? Using that rationale, let's go back to 2007 where LH blew a 17 point lead in the championship with two races to go. KR took the championship as we all know. So I guess that using your logic, KR is the better driver. Need I say more? 🙂


Lewis won by a mile becuase Ferrari made a bad tyre choice in Kimi's first pit stop. They didn't change the tyres as they expected the rain to stop. That was perhaps the longest stint of Raikkonen's life. Kimi had hunted Lewis before the 1st pit-stop and it would have a very close contest had that blunder not been comitted.


based on this comment it does show your understanding of F1 how could u say d ferrari was on par with the maclaren the ferrar did not perform well in the wet hence lewis winning by a mile


TBH it's beyond me how you rate Jenson the driver of the year. To LEGITIMATELY rate him first is being a bit blind to the finer details of the season...but I'm not suprised given Button has been in F1 for 10 years and he's ever so deserving in a lot of peoples eyes for whatever reason.

The bottom line is that the Brawn was a mile ahead of any of the competitors at the start of the season. For Button to not win those races would have been absolutely pathetic, especially considering Barichello had brake issues which meant that he couldn't run the rear wheel fairings (which were worth ~.3 tenths) in the first 7 races or so. So basically it was just a one man race between Button and...Button. Once Barichello changed brake manufacturers and was able to run the rear wheel covers, look what happened...and Ruben's isn't even on your top 5!

When the RedBull came on strong and the Mclaren as well, the BGP-001 was no longer the clear dominant car on the grid...and WTF happened to Button then!? He continually underperformed big time, especially in qualifying where you sometimes have to work around a set-up that doesn't suit your picky driving style (in Button's case).

Vettel would have won the Championship had it not been for all of his engine problems...which Button had none of. And lets not forget how weak the Renault engine was at the power tracks like Spa and Monza. Then's there's also the fact that once RBR became the strongest overall car on the grid, they had to fight off Mclaren and Brawn as well as a few other teams that were competitive here and there toward the end of the season. And this brings me back to the point that the first 6 races were run-aways for Brawn...a MUCH different scenario compared to when RBR became the strongest car of the field (by a much lesser margin to!)

Everything I bring up makes Button's drive look less and less impressive...I'm not at all trying to make excuses for Vettel or anyone else...just pointing out how lack luster Button's performances REALLY were if you want to to look at the DETAILS.

Button had been dropping the ball big time in qualifying the ENTIRE 2nd half of last year, in a car that was still at least the 3rd strongest car on the grid on ANY given track. For him to drag out the Championship as long as he did was one long failure in itself. I mean open your eyes! Raikkonen outscored Button in the 2nd half of the season in a car that was far inferior to the Brawn. Had Kimi been in the Brawn and performed like he did throughout the 2nd half of the season he would have won nearly every race or at least podium'd in every race...and lets not bring up the first half of the season where he could have lapped everyone haha!

I'm just a bit dissapointed by your lack of attention to the details when making your picks.



Agree completely with your top 4. However, I think that Raikkonen is the driver who could least be justified in the top 5, because essentially his ranking is based on half a season - or at least from Hungary onwards.

Before Hungary, he'd scored a total of 10 points, and was looking un-motivated and off the pace, and distinctly the second Ferrari driver.


Well done James, I regret I missed entering the test.

You wrote about Vettel, "If he continues to mature as he has these last two seasons, he will claim a place in the sport’s premier league." While I'm not as close to it as you are, I'm of the mind that he already HAS claimed that spot in the premier level. Immense talent and his openness and joy at being an F1 pilot are a breath of fresh air.

Please come to Austin, Texas for a book signing! Happy holidays.


Niki Lauda and Ross Brawn disagree with James Allen?


I know, I know . . . he doesn't say that exactly. Just TIC joshing ... and adding to the different view points.


First of all, thanks a ton James for all your views all through the season!

2008 and 2009 have been seasons with differences in the way they respectively panned out. But both have been bit mediocre IMO in their own way. Both have been exciting I must admit. In 2008 we saw plethora of mistakes from championship contenders which could have cost them dearly. IMO 2009 had 3 average drivers and an inexperienced talent fighting for WDC.

If I need to come up with an example of 2006. That was an year when we saw a legend and a great driver fighting for championship. In the whole season we saw 1 mistake from Michael in Australia and none from Fernando. Yet they were so much on the edge wringing absolute best from the car lap after lap.

When we compare such season with 2008 or 2009, don't the championships and champions of those season loose the shine a bit?


Well, I had the same 5 but my order was:






I agree with much of your analysis James but think what influenced me a fair bit was the realisation that this would require Rubens to be at best, 6th and I can't help feeling that through the second half of the season in overall performance and speed he had Jenson beaten. It did not seem acceptable for there to be a 1-6 position spread between the two of them. Also I think that Raikonnen's performance was extraordinary given what he was working with. In the end he finished the season very close behind Hamilton, and I think in terms of effort given what he was driving. like Lewis he deserved to be considered ahead of Button (who by my above analysis needed to be a little closer to his team-mate anyway).

Maybe next year! Too bad Canada is a little far away to attend your book signing...


Didn't want my post to get too long but maybe could add this: In your analysis James the word miracle came up twice in describing driver's performances - for Hamilton and Raikonnen. Surely such accolades reinforce my positioning of them at the top of the list? Don't think any other drivers had performances warrenting such praise. Also for the first half of the season the Brawns were clearly superior to the rest of the field, which must discount Button's performance somewhat.

Sorry to keep flogging a dead horse! (And also for the stray period that slipped in between the words 'driving' and 'like' above. Ah the joys of advancing senility!)


James, I can't take out this feeling that you choose combination which were the least, just because you didn't want to send to many free books.



There's no pleasing some people, is there?


That's not true becuase he could have picked something like this:




4.Webber's leg


He picked a top 5 that he thought were the best, no complaints.


But if he picked up that, all would know that he isn't objective. And no one else choose that, so then he couldn't give anyone book. He is smart guy, knows what to do.


I have to agree with your top 5! For sixth place I would have to go with Rosberg. He was also very consistent this season. I hope he can get his first win with Mercedes next season. We are big fans of his here in germany. Go Nico!



So the result of the readers Top10 drivers selection is:

1 Jenson Button : 838 votes

2 Sebastian Vettel : 834

3 Lewis Hamilton : 820

4 Rubens Barrichello : 492

5 Kimi Raikkonen : 420

6 Mark Webber : 382

7 Nico Rosberg : 239

8 Fernando Alonso : 212

9 Kamui Kobayashi : 50

10 Sebastien Buemi : 30

These Top5 are also mine (but different order).

Kobayashi number 9! He has impressed for sure. Any news about him for 2010?


Thanks for doing that. Very interesting.


Thanks Pierre / James, quite interesting and seems very fair, I had a hunch it would be something like that. Agree completely in Rubens position and taking out Webber from the top 5.

Great job James, will keep on reading your site and will recommend it to my other F1 friends in Miami and Dom. Rep. Cheers!


Thanks very much for that.


Cant really disagree with your top 5 James, good work.

Can I make a big request and ask what the readers top 5 was? ie an average of the 1100 votes you received. I'd be interested to see the top 3 particularly.

If its a too big a job then no worries. thanks


Ha!! how weird is that? I just asked for it and it appeared straight away. spooky.

anyway, really interesting list that. Almost the same as my top 5 with Lewis and Vettel the wrong way round.


I see everyone is looking at the Webber thing and those 5 races in particular without any real analysis. 1 of those he had a brake failure, another one a drive through because of a team error releasing him into the path of another driver, and another one the team stuffed his last pit stop, and at Monza was taken out on the first lap. Don't just look at the results and see 5 non-scores, its never that cut and dry despite people thinking it is. I mean, the man did get 8 podiums, 3 fastest laps, a pole position and 2 race wins, not bad for someone who can't even run properly.


That is F1 - like an onion skin, many layered.


Too true James, but i guess people only pay attention to the end results, and as Mark himself always says, that's all that matters and the results don't lie.


Can't say I would disagree with your list James.

Just curious if you've crunched the numbers and determined how the year-end standings would have differed if the FIA had gone with the medal system Bernie's proposed for '09.


Disagree with your top 5 but i respect your opinion James

Rosbeg and Alonso deserved a slot in the top 5, They both drove better then Webber and Button

Without the HUGE advantage, a second to be precise at the beginning of the season, Button would have been nowhere near the top of the standings

As for Webber, Top driver but he should have done more with the car he had, just like Button after his fluky six wins out of seven


Hi James, miss your commentary on F1 get a job with the Beeb !

wanted to know yours views, I suspect Hamilton will destroy JB in qualifying but not in the races where I think Jensons skills as a racer will be decisive, if the cars right we could have another last race decider. Whose your tip for next year


I was at McLaren on Thursday and they are as interested in this as anyone. My own feeling is that Hamilton will qualify ahead more often than not and use that platform to stay ahead, but Button will have his days where he wins out, no doubt about it and will score lots of points and podiums, wins too if the car is fast.

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