F1 Winter Break
My Top Five drivers of the Season
My Top Five drivers of the Season
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Nov 2010   |  2:27 pm GMT  |  287 comments

I’m delighted to say that the JA on F1 2010 season Review Book is published today. I’ve offered a signed copy to the first ten readers whose Top Five drivers of the Season match my choice.

We’ve had a great response from readers sending in their Top Five, with just under 1,000 entries. Thanks to everyone for taking part.

The 2010 season was really enjoyable for fans and insiders alike. There was quite a buzz in the paddock all season with the various battles going on between teams and between team mates too.

When compiling a Top Five list, the considerations I use are; what were the driver’s peaks, in terms of outstanding performances. Similarly what were the troughs, in terms of costly mistakes or underperformances. I also look very closely at consistency across the season.

Then I also take into account the performance of the car and how that stood relative to the opposition. That means looking at the relative pace of the cars through the season and the results that were achieved with it.

No driver achieved a faultless season – the pressure was very high, the level of competition was intense and so they all made some mistakes. But there were some outstanding performances across the board and unlike last season, where it was hard to fill the top five positions, this year there were probably eight to ten drivers who had really good seasons.

There is no room for favouritism in a list like this, nor any points for historical achievement; this is all about who did the best job in the 19 race F1 season.

With that in mind here’s my Top Five.

1. Sebastian Vettel
Vettel came of age in 2010, winning the world championship in a tense season long battle, despite the fact that it looked at times as though the title had got away from him. His record of 10 pole positions tells you that he had the fastest car this year, which is undoubtedly true, but also that he used it to good effect and invariably got the job done on Saturdays.

He didn’t always get it done on Sundays for a variety of reasons, but his race performances were consistently strong. The wins in Malaysia, Japan and Abu Dhabi were really good and he showed that he can dominate a weekend, which is what you need to do when you have a car advantage. His main mistakes were clearly in Spa, where he took out Button and in Turkey, which was more debatable given Webber’s part in it, but he took himself out there and cost his team mate a probable win.

His weakness was impetuousness, the start in Silverstone, the botched pass in Spa and I agree with Alain Prost’s assessment that winning the title will probably make him calm down a bit

He suffered quite a bit from reliability problems on his car, particularly with the engine. He would have won in Bahrain, Australia and Korea with better reliability and that would have made winning the title rather more comfortable.

It was a tough championship to win and he got the job done, you can’t take anything away from him there.

2. Fernando Alonso
It was very hard to decide whether Alonso should be ahead of Hamilton and no doubt this will prove an emotive issue among some readers. Alonso had a slightly faster car for most of the season and finished 12 points ahead of his great rival.

The reason I put him ahead is partly because he passed Hamilton twice on track in the final races, showing his intent. Then also because of his five wins and five podiums, to Hamilton’s three wins and six podiums and partly because he seemed to me to be more of a force throughout the season. Apart from Turkey, where he struggled, he was always competitive, always pushing.

His peaks were mighty, that last gasp qualifying lap in Abu Dhabi was pressure driving at its best, so was the win in Monza. I also thought his pass on Massa in the pit lane in China showed what a competitor he is. It set the tone for the season.

He made some big mistakes, which is uncharacteristic of him and which showed him struggling at times to cope with the emotional pressure inside Ferrari. He only got on top of that once the team had sided with him in the infamous team orders decision in Germany.

One of Alonso’s worst mistakes was the crash in practice at Monaco which compromised his weekend. There were others, like Spa and the jump start in China. But the real damage to his title hopes was done in a series of races in early summer where he fell foul of the safety car. In Valencia he was very hard done by, in Silverstone he was pushing his luck by passing Kubica illegally and tried to stall for time, then very unlucky that the Renault retired so he could not give the place back.

There were some bad team mistakes, like misjudging timing during qualifying in Malaysia and of course the infamous call to pit in Abu Dhabi.

He hasn’t made many friends this season and has probably lost a few fans as a result of his attitude at times, which was a bit disappointing for anyone who knows him, but he remains F1’s benchmark driver and he edged it over Hamilton this year for me.

3. Lewis Hamilton
Lewis drove very well at times this year, his wins in Montreal and Spa were brilliantly crafted in particular.

Many people expected him to bury Jenson Button this year, but that didn’t happen – he finished 26 points ahead, which is the equivalent of a race win, more or less. His average grid slot was P4 to Jenson’s P5.5 (not counting Malaysia, which gives a skewed reading) and he was usually, but not always, the faster driver. As you’d expect he was faster especially when the car was a bit unstable, after the difficult introduction of the exhaust blown diffuser in the summer.

He provides a lot of entertainment for F1 fans, his overtaking all year was tremendous, but it was often due to qualifying below where he should be, mostly the fault of the car or team, but not always. The McLaren didn’t develop as strongly as in the past, which held him and Button back and Lewis found himself fighting without the right weapon quite a few times. But he always gave it 100%.

He was a consistent points scorer but also, like Vettel and Alonso, he had a very dominant run, in his case the six races from Monaco to Germany, where he scored 108 points, averaging 18 points per race. Vettel did 105 between Italy and Abu Dhabi, while Alonso did 111 in the same period.

He made some strange mistakes this year, particularly the costly accidents with Massa in Monza and Webber in Singapore. He also allowed himself to be overtaken by Alonso twice in the closing stages of the season. And another point against him is the way Button outsmarted him in Australia and China as well as on set up in Monza.

4. Mark Webber
If you had asked a couple of years ago, few people would have said that Webber would fight for a world title right down to the last round. The Australian is a great competitor but had always seemed to struggle to match his speed with consistent points scoring. That all changed this year as he went on a run in the spring and kept on scoring big points. It reminded me very much of Nigel Mansell who also came good in his mid 30s. The question now is, can he do it again next year?

It cannot have been easy to operate this season in the Red Bull environment, where everything is controlled from Austria and they so clearly have the team set up for Vettel for the future. But it would be a mistake to think that this is the whole story; Red Bull is a different beast from anything we’ve seen in F1 before and part of the game for them was the decision to let the drivers race each other at all costs and all the attention that drew. You have to admire them for that. The decision not to prioritise Webber in Brazil, as most race teams would have done, was fully vindicated by Vettel winning the title at the next race. It could so easily have cost them the title.

Red Bull was the biggest story of the year and if it hadn’t been for Ferrari team orders, it would have been pretty much the only story this year. That’s the way they like it.

So Webber’s regular cries for help and barbs about being a “Number two driver”, although genuine, were all part of the game.

In terms of peaks, his performances in Spain, Monaco and Hungary were as good as anything anyone managed all year. He was more consistent than the others, except when it counted in the last three races. Up to round 17 he averaged 13.7 points per race. If he’d kept that going in the final three races he would have won the title with 260 points. However he let his average slip to just 7.3 points. One of the main reasons for that was crashing in the rain in Korea.

5. Robert Kubica
It was a very close one between Kubica, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button and if I was carrying this list on, I’d put them in that order. The reason I’d put Kubica a fraction ahead of Rosberg is that he finished just six points behind in the table in a car which was slower for most of the season. I’ve checked the data with various engineers and the Mercedes was faster on the whole.

His peaks were higher too; his driving in Monaco was sublime as was his nouse in Australia where he finished second to Button. He was always on it, basically.

There were some limited peaks in car performance like Monaco, Spa (where they got the F Duct) and Suzuka. But for most of the season he was carrying the car.

Another factor in Kubica’s favour is his performance in races relative to qualifying position. Whereas both he and Rosberg did consistently well at finishing ahead of where they qualified, a key indicator of a top driver in an average car, his positional gains were greater.

To be fair that’s partly due to Rosberg hitting a glass ceiling – not being able to compete with Red Bulls, Ferraris and McLarens, but it’s also an indicator of what Kubica was managing to do with the Renault

Both drivers murdered their team mates this season, Kubica by a bigger margin but then he was up against Petrov, whereas Rosberg had Michael Schumacher to contend with.

We’ll go through the Top Five lists from fans and the first ten that match the list above will be contacted for us to send them a signed and personalised copy of the book.

And please be sure to let me know your thoughts on my list in the comments section below.

All photos by Darren Heath

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A brilliant choice James... interesting that you omitted Jenson Button, I thought he did quite well... although there are around 8 drivers that did a truly top job and it's difficult to leave out any one!

Well done to the winners.

Thanks for all the competitions James, adds an extra something special to the site!


Interesting article:


Although, Alonso is my favourite (and yes I like Hamilton too!), Alonso is put at the top. But despite favourites, I still agree with James' list with Vettel at the top and Alonso at 2nd.

@Alchemy I think you're spot on. You might be an Alonso fan but I sense you've tried hard to be balanced on your views.


Apart from the order of Vettel/Alonso the rest of the team principals' list is exactly the same mine


Hi James, on reflection, I agree with your list and think the criteria and data used to support your list make's it very hard to refute your Top 5 selection.

I just wanted to add that I think Alonso was clearly better than Hamilton in 2010 and I'm not sure why the fan sentiment has any factor. As Brits we seem to love bashing any dominant overseas F1 driver like Schumacher or Alonso which overlooks their abilities.

As you mentioned, Alonso made decisive overtakes on Hamilton, resisted overtakes form Hamilton which isn't easy to do and outscored everyone else in the latter part of the season. I just wish the fan base would be calmer towards the dominant overseas F1 rivals as without them the competition wouldn't be anywhere near as exciting.


@Peter C

But it is so amusing, isn't it?

And of course, my Dad is bigger and stronger than yours (and than Damian's). And my Hero overtook TWICE his Hero LOL.

Speaking seriously, this is the only place where I can discuss with well informed F1 fans - Damian J and you are among those, of course - on a respectful and enjoyable way. I like the chance we are given of expressing different points of view, no matter our likes and dislikes are openly so different. I have learnt more about the sport from this site than from any other source. Many things from James' articles; many others, from the readers' comments.

So, let's keep talking, discussing and enjoying. It's still a long way to March 2011.


You’re right we all have our favourites and it’s great we can generate a lively debate. Galapago is right that both drivers had new cars to get used to but we can’t ignore the fact that Alonso also had a new team and new systems to get acclimatised to.
I actually don’t care if hamilton is more naturally talented than Alonso. But ranking Hamilton above Alonso in 2010 would be simply wrong based on many other factors than overtaking. Let’s not forget tyre/engine management, championship position and other adversities to be overcome.
We also mustn’t forget James is on the front line, he has all the data, he speaks to everyone including the engineers and has first hand evidence. If Hamilton fans (believe it or not I am one myself) just need to get over Alonso being ranked higher in 2010. Let's move onto the next competition set for us.


Yes, I agree with you entirely.

What DOES exasperate me is when posts appear with no objectivity - when someone's favourite driver can do no wrong & everyother driver/team is rubbish.

They are ALL opinions, but are very often expressed as incontravertible facts.

Roll on 2011 season !


Amen to that. Lots of interesting and insightful content to come over the winter. Keep it here!



You seem to forget that Alonso has not been a prolific overtaker and has been inept at passing back markers suach as in Canada. Hamilton and Button simply walked past Alonso while he dithered!

Alonso was also overtaken by Hamilton in the preceding race. So in the first half of the season Hamilton was far superior and has demonstrated some quite breath taking overtaking. Just look at the many passes Hamilton has made. Contrast that with Alonso whose overtaking has been mostly with drivers in the lower field when he has had to come through the field from his own mistakes!


Children, children, please behave!

My Hero once overtook your Hero. It's all water under the bridge now. Over. Done. Finished.

Anyway, I bet my Dad's bigger than your Dad.



And Lewis has passed Alonso twice! All drivers have to get used to a new car because there is so very little testing when the technical regulations are changing so much from season to season. So it’s a poor excuse to suggest that it was because Alonso was “getting used to a new car”, the reason for his varied mistakes in the first half of the season.

And you might also wish to remember that 7 of those 12 points were a free gift from Massa! Given that Alonso was in a much better car than the McLaren for most of the year, his overall result was disappointing, only tempered by low expectations after such a poor start to the season!


You seem to forget that Alonso passed twice Lewis (not precisely a "driver in the lower field", is he?)in the very last races of the season, where it was time to deliver. Contrast that with Hamilton, whose overtaking was in the early stages of the championship, when many drivers (especially certain Spaniard driving a red car) where still getting used to their new cars. So in the second half of the season Fernando was far superior... 😀

Depite you don't like him (and I fully understand that, many times he looks that he is playing the pantomime villain on purpose), you have to admit that his second half of the season was fantastic, and that at the end of the season he finished 12 points ahead of Lewis.


i agree with you but i think we as f1 fans should be happy with the level of drivers we have at the top of f1 today. alonso hamilton kubica vettel are all truely as good as anyone ever in my book and rosberg webber button massa and others are very good support acts. hopefully michael can get sorted again so we have 5 aliens like the moto gp next year


The list looks about right to me; it's never going to be possible to have a top give that pleases everyone, but it's hard to fundamentally disagree with any of your choices.

One thing though: everyone talks about how Jenson 'outsmarted' Lewis in Australia, and with set-up in Monza. No-one ever dwells on the fact that Lewis chose to run a different set-up to Jenson at Korea, and ended up finishing the race ten places ahead of him; or that the decision Button made in Australia outsmarted twenty three drivers, not just the other bloke in the McLaren. A bit unfair to consider those "points against him".


ANd he's forgeting the driveshaft failure at the Hungaroring and the transmision failure at Susuka, make those into finishes and the gap from Lewis to Jenson is much bigger. You also didnt take into account he extra 7 points Alonso got gifted.


I agree. I also think that the much ballyhooed 'mistake' in Singapore was not a mistake, but a racing incident, if anything, Mark was more at fault with that one.

Lewis had completed the overtake, Mark just didnt concede the corner


The list feels pretty weak to me. The wdc seems to always get the number 1 spot in these polls regardless of the circumstances. Seb was not the best driver on the grid for me, he did not manage to over take anyone, had the fastest car by a clear margin and a team mate in the twilight of his career. James says that he takes the car etc into account but I don't think so. VET, ALO, HAM? RB, FER, MCL? ie the 3 fastest cars in the order of the relative pace in this top five? While the WDC deserves the title he is not by default the best driver of the season because of this - yet always ends up so in these polls. I would like to see a little more than the standard answer from someone like JA.


Thanks James, I guess that's it in a nutshell. We can only imagine how difficult it is to win a wdc with all the competeing pressures both on and off the track and Seb had as many if not more of those than most. And that's without getting into the sheer tallent required.

Look forward to reading the book as always.


I agree, James, that there is more to it than the speed of the car and that is my point exactly. Your number one driver had the fastest car bar none, your number 2 driver generally had the second fastest car and your number 3 driver had the third fastest car. My point is that the wdc is always given the number one spot because it is apprently 'polite' or 'politic' to do so and the guys in the fastest cars always feature at the top of the list. Heiki did good things with the machinery at hand as did Kobayashi, Barrichello etc - it could even be argued that they made fewer mistakes this year than the top drivers. Is it about the most successful, prominent, visible drivers or the BEST drivers in actuality?

Still that's the fun of fantasy lists I suppose, no one is right or wrong it's all a matter of opinion. Thanks for the article as always.


Don't underestimate how hard it is to actually win a WDC, fastest car or not. Look where Webber is in the same car. It was close this year and clinching it, getting the job done, attracts bonus marks in my view


I agree to some extent with Wayne. But nonetheless, great reading James.

James, it would be great to hear your top 5 mid field drivers of the year.


I fully agree with you! With, in average 1 sec per lap faster cars in qualifying and still much faster in the race trim, and after dumping more then 90 points, of which at least one half was due to his own errors and stupid mistakes, I really doubt Vettel was the best driver out there. Best car - yes. Best driver - car combination probably. But driver - no.


There is more to it than the speed of the car, as I explain in the text.



I think you've got it just about right here. However, I think you've made an error when mentioning Vettel's wins in "Malaysia, Japan & Korea".

Looking forward to the book (my girlfriend has ordered it for my Christmas present so I have to wait another month before I can read it!).


wow I got the order right....heres hoping I was one of the top ten! 😀

good luck to all the rest


1. Seb Vettell - World Champion

2. Fernando Alonso

3. Lewis Hamilton

4. Mark Webber

5. Robert Kubica

Argue with you James for sure.


I agree with your top five James, give or take a few reasonings. Although, I think you meant, "Vettel won Malaysia, Japan and Abu Dhabi" instead of Korea and "Alonso won 5 races" rather than 6. Good entry, none the less!

I've really enjoyed how you've provided reports and insights through out the season - you've managed to make the complicated world of Formula 1 very much easy to understand without making it look dumbed down and/or overly simplistic. Not an easy thing to do, I'm sure!

Also, I very much appreciate your unbiased views and how you've managed to remain objective all through out. The most fascinating thing about it is that although you were very much objective, you still managed to throw in your own opinion on a subject and sound passionate. Usually objectivity can lead to an article being bland and boring, but yours definitely were not!

Hope you've got more interesting articles in store for us through out the winter break, aside from the usual testing news of course!


Hello James, Alonso only had 5W right err 4 if you count the Fernando is faster than you scam.


So he won 5 races then....! Thats what the record books will say, I thank you...


I don't think it was a scam. It was Massa's decision. Alonso would have caught him anyhow.

Massa's just a cry baby who couldn't face the humiliation of being run off the road or turning the engine down due to not being able to match Alonso's performance without extracting more from the car.


@Damian I do believe Ron favoured Hamilton due to various comments made in 2007 and in 2008 when Lewis finally won as he said '2007 should have been Lewis' year'. Regardless drivers drive for the team and they are paycheck drivers regardless of whom is favoured. I think team orders or team influenced driver decisions are inevitable given what's at stake in this sport.


Let's not get into all that again.


@ Galapago555,

If Ron hired Alonso and intentionally favoured Hamilton in 2007 which I don’t believe but you clearly do, then how is Massa’s situation at Ferrari any different from Alonso’s drive at McLaren in 2007? Both drivers have a choice, either to be a “pay check” driver or walk! I guess team orders would make Ferrari “nasty” by the same measure in spite of the bull about it being a “family” within the team!


It may have seemed at the time that the heavy emphasis of the message from Smedley was meant for the world at large, but IIRC at the FIA hearing it was made clear that this was just the last of many and so the emphasis was meant for Massa so he would comply.


@Damian J,

Ironic or not, the fact is that both Rob and Felipe were not loyal to their team whit their behaviour in the Hockenheimring. You have not refuted that point, precisely the one that we are discussing here.

About Fernando at McLaren: I have no evidence that he desobeyed what the team told him to do. Do you? And he was positively wronged by the team, that hired him to be their #2 driver.

And finally, may I add that infamous "we are not racing Kimi, we are racing Fernando" said by Ron Dennis. So, who was the nasty guy?



"I hope that both Felipe and Rob are dismissed by Ferrari. It’s just a question of being loyal to the Company you are paid by, and simply doing your job."

That is so ironic. Massa is wronged by Ferrari and you think he is just an employee and yet when you think ALonso is wronged by McLaren....it's big nasty nasty McLaren. Why don't you hold the same opinion with Alonso asa McLaren employee who should do his job as he is told - Loyalty to the company?


@Wayne - but we all heared Massa's engineer giving instructions in such a blatant way, crying the whole world they were so unfairly forced to yield to Fernando due to team orders... He was clearly trying to make as obvious as possible that they (Rob and Felipe) were just doing what the team have told them to do...

I hope that both Felipe and Rob are dismissed by Ferrari. It's just a question of being loyal to the Company you are paid by, and simply doing your job.


Lol, really Alchemy? I didn't hear Massa crying over the radio but I sure did hear Alosno. Were you actually watching this race at all?


Don't forget that the FIA gearing found that Massa's engine was turned down and Alonso's was turned up at that point.


James-great work, as usual, and thanks for your thoughtful and insightful analysis all year long.

Regarding your Top 5 Drivers, I mostly agree, but would have switched Alonso and Vettel. Your stated criteria indicates that you took "performance of the car and how that stood relative to the opposition" into account. In that case, Alonso should just pip Vettel to the top because the driver outshone the performance of the car. This is a Top Drivers list, after all.

Regardless of the disagreement, JA on F1 is easily the benchmark F1 website, and thanks again for your work.


And how do you prove that?

Faster car doesnt necessarily mean better car.

In Korea and Bahrain Alonso had better car because his car was more reliable and Vettel made less mistakes than Alonso


I think that the number of pole positions achieved by both Vettel and Webber is a clear indication of the cars relative performance to the rest of the field. On the occasions that pole was won by another driver, I think that you can attribute mistakes, weather or shear driver brilliance versus the competitor car being the class of the field as the Red Bull was all season.


Well said Adil, thank you!


Totaly agree with your reasoning about the top two, and the importance of driver skill, and car performance relative to the rest of the field. While not taking away anything from Vettel, his car was undoubtedly the class of the field.

Great reporting regardless by James, enjoy reading your articles!


I couldn't agree with you more (no, I'm not fishing for the book, though I'd love signed copy).


Nice! 100% agree with you! By the way, I love your website!



Vettel no.1? Schumacher in his younger years would have wrapped up the title a lot earlier. Vettel doesn't have a measure on a younger Schumi (think back to his controversial years, 1992-1995 when he showed the establishment that he had speed and agility - overtaking class)

Vettel is very good but he doesn't make my top spot. Webber was very good too, but again he didn't cut the mustard.

Without a doubt, Alonso was the fastest driver on the streets this year. The only driver of the bunch who anyone can compare to greatness.

Yes he had the Ferrari, but so did Massa (is everyone forgetting how quick the Brazilian actually is??), and he beat our small south american friend, comprehensively.

Bring on 2011.


Not a bad selection, Button could be a contender for fifth - he had his qualifying woes but raced very well against Hamilton when people said he would be crushed at the start of the year.


This issue of Jenson being crushed by Lewis bugs me. I am a big Lewis fa by the way.

I believe in the very first instance Jenson was grossly underated. Secondly, when does a beating your team mate become 'crushing' your team mate. I mean sometimes the difference in qualy pace was embarassing Silverstone, Hungary, Korea, Japan.

During the race, Lewis took the car as far as he could, Jenson was way behind but due to no refuelling and the difference in pace between the top 3 and the rest he fights his way to the top 5 (Massa preventing it from being a top 6) he gets lauded.

I remember him trying to chase Lewis so hard at Hockinheim that he went off track.

The guy is fast but he was beaten and as a WDC the beating he got was just about right as anything more and he would have had to be reported to the WDC commission and probed for his right to own a title.

Also, I believe Macca in trying to satisfy drivers with polar opposite driving approaches just delayed. There were a number of races where Lewis said 'throw the parts on' but because Moaning Jense said this and that they took them off and they were back to where they started e.g. Interlagos and Silverstone.

Jenson is smooth, fast, can manage tyres, is dependable, doesnt take risks and brings the car home. You'll win WCCs with that but Lewis will always be the cutting edge of that team. Always.

Now JB fans, get at me. I'm home.


Remember Montreal, the TV producers showed us the difference in tyre wear with Jenses as good as new while Lewis tyres were worn. Jense puts in a couple of fastes laps, Mr Legards rambles about an oncoming onslaught from Jense and what does the kid do, deads the argument with 3 or 4 stonking laps to open up about a 3 second lap. Game Set and Match.

I could go on but...hey


If I was trying to win the book, I imagine my top 5 would have probably looked something like this, and it is well reasoned, although I cannot agree with Webber being in the top 5.

I really like Webber, and of the three (non miracle requiring) contenders in the last race he was the one I most wanted to win.

However when I looked back and analysed the season as whole, I feel that he was dominated in raw pace by Vettel almost as badly as Massa was by Alonso. The sheer speed of the RB6 over its competitors hid that, as well as circumstances, errors and attrition hitting Vettel in key races. But bar Spain, Monaco, Silverstone, Spa and Monza Vettel left Mark in the shade.

Red Bull certainly let him down with some unfavourable team decisions, Australia, Turkey and Silverstone spring to mind - but Vettel also suffered, albeit not so badly.

And while his fighting spirit enabled him to bring himself up to the front in the middle of the season, he fell apart when the pressure mounted: dropping the car in Brazil and his abysmal qualifying session in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi was perfect symmetry for the start of the season, when he qualified 7th in the fastest car on the grid, and finished 8th.

I was at the front of the line handing out criticism of how Red Bull handled the Webber/Vettel relationship, and often laughed when Vettel ended up with egg on his face but I feel that circumstances ended up making the Vettel/Webber gap look much narrower than it actually was. Had Vettel had Webber's reliability he would have finished 80 points clear of everyone else; that is the yardstick that Mark should be measured against, and as such he came up short.


I agree Ben. I agreed with James top 5 except for Webber, I picked Kobayashi as some of his overtakes were epic, picked him as my fifth for sheer excitement!


Well said, agreed totally with your view on Webber/Vettel.


I think you'll find the qualifying margin between Mark and Vettel was negligible. In fact I would go as far as to say that Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa would be envious of it. While I can't give you the average differential in quali lap times between the two, I can tell you that the average grid position diferential bewteen the two was 0.5 for the year in favout of Vettel.

Vettell averaged 2. Webber 2.5. "Dominated in raw pace"...Not so much.

The others drivers I mentioned where closer to an average of 2 spots behind.

Truth be told... Webber humbled "the next Schumacher" whereas Button, Massa AND Schumacher all got their buts wooped. Well Button got convincing defeated if you ask me.

I would love to know the average quali time differential if James could help out with that perhaps?


It is a good point, the one that you raise regarding their qualifying performance.

However, Mark Webber has always dominated his team mates in qualifying. Every team mate he has had (apart from Vettel) he has always outqualified them at at higher ratio than any other team mate that person has had (and that includes beating Coulthard at a higher ratio than Hakkinen managed).

The difference in times may have been small, but if we take Turkey, Silverstone and Malaysia out of the equation (as these sessions were affected by unusual circumstances and thus are not a direct comparision) then Vettel outqualified Webber 11:5

To beat a driver who is very strong at qualifying 11 to 5 is a very convincing margin, regardless of the differences in lap time.

The other caveat to bring in to this argument is that there are no points for Saturday. People are very vocal about Vettel's race craft, but we saw Mark crash out of two races due to unforced errors, as well as suffer from mysterious drops in race performance in several races, such as Bahrain and Abu Dhabi where (along with Singapore) he was no where in qualifying either.



Your argument is totally illogical. Sebastian absolutely dominated Mark in qualifying (13-6) and your method of using an average position differential between the Red Bulls is short-sighted; you haven't thought it through.

The Red Bull was quicker than all the other cars on most circuits, correct?

So, Webber would actually have had to have done pretty badly to be anywhere lower than second.

For this reason, you shouldn't apply the average position differential as a method for comparing Sebasatian & Mark - it doesn't work. Sebastian could've beaten Mark by half a second and Mark still could've qualified ahead of everyone else. If Jenson was half a second off Lewis, or Schumacher half a second off Rosberg, they may have been as much as 10 grid places lower than their team mates.

You are correct that the gap between Seb and Mark was often less than a tenth but that's Formula One, Seb was faster nearly 70% of the time. Then there were occasions when Mark was way off - Bahrain and Abu Dhabi providing very neat book-ends and examples.

It gets even worse when looking at Mark’s race pace, where he was faster than Sebastian in no more than 4 of the 19 Grand Prix this season: Barcelona, Monaco, Silverstone, and Spa.

One could argue Mark was quicker in Hungary but that’s too tenuous for me; Sebastian was quickest all weekend and but for his error behind the safety car, he would’ve won by long way. Instead, he found himself tucked up behind Fernando’s Ferrari, which might even have stolen the win had it not been for a sequence of hot laps from Mark in a car that was over a second-per-lap quicker in equal hands.

So, Vettel beats Webber on qualifying performance, on race pace, on race wins and on points scored, despite suffering 2 terminal mechanical failures versus none for Mark. I find it very difficult to even build an argument for Mark being Red Bull’s Driver of the Season, let alone the whole paddock’s.


@ AndyNeo

I hate to nit-pick but you've actually read the table wrong:


What the data states is that on average Vettel beat Webber by 0.05 seconds, not the other way around.

However, what is clear is that they were most evenly matched team mates of all in terms of average time gap in Q3.

Despite this, we all know that it ended up 13-6 in Vettel's favour and the fact is that Sebastian proved unquestionably that he was faster, albeit by a small margin.

Interestingly, using the same data, Michael Schumacher was actually closer on average to Nico Rosberg than Felipe Massa was to Alonso and was only 1 tenth off Jenson Button's average performance relative to Lewis Hamilton.


Ha...well search and ye shall find. I went scouring the web for some stats on average quali performance for 2010.

My source states that Webber actually beat vettel overall on average. Which seems strange and I guess inconsequential given the actual pole figures. But what it does illustrate is that my point is accurate. He wasn't dominated over the course of the season. In fact it averaged out that he was 0.05 faster than vettel over the course of the season in Quali 3. (If F1fanatics stats are correct)

My source:http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/statistics/f1-2010-statistics/

I will give you one thing Ben. 10-5 is a convincing defeat in anyones book. I think it balances out a little though. Webber can actually pass a car on track without crashing!


Have to agree. While Button, Massa and Schumi are all good drivers, their respective team mates showed them what's what.

Webber, while consistently slower than Vettel, raced better than he'd ever raced before, was only a fraction behind Vettel and got a strange run of luck (for him) that saw Vettel fail to score a few times.

It was Vettel's Championship bar a few mechanical problems.

It was Webber's Championship bar a blameless accident in Singapore and a goof in Korea.

And it was Alonso's Championship bar Ferrari snookering themselves in the final race.

A terrific season. Let's hope Webber does it for us Aussies next year.


I know Jenson did not have a brilliant year especially when compared to his team mate and that he gave himself too much to do on Sunday as a result of a poor Saturday, but do you really think he was 7th best this year James ?


Not bad but just like how you said hard to twist Lewis and alonso but i'll go straight with lewis no doubt ,the team let him down not his talent or his driving skills however at somepoint we were asking ourself if alonso was a true racer ...


I think Lewis proved in 2009 with a below par car he could get some good results and showed real talent again towards the end of the season - Alonso did the same in 2010.


I think from all the known commentators your top 5 is the most balanced, best reasoned and un-biased I have read, and I have read them all.

My top 5 is a bit different (Kobayashi is in there instead of Webber, being in an dog of a car and getting so many points and thrills for us viewers, and Hamilton is above Alonso for being in a lesser car and battling a teammate which Alonso didn't) but I agree with yours in the way you put it, looking at the bigger picture.

Great insight all season by you and entertaining comments by your readers, cheers for that.

Roll on 2011!


i almost agree to your list, but would have liked to see webber at 3 and ham at 4 .... ham is good driver but i dint see that domination like alo, vet n webber (in that order) did in some of the races.

And thanks for all the insights you've provided for whole season, i really enjoyed reading them blogs.


And besides, its easy to dominate in a car as fast as the RedBull was.


He didnt dominate in Spa? And Canada?


Button would likely have won Spa if it wasn't for Vettels overtake


in canada, if not for problem with back markers, alonso would have won that race. in spa his car was faster, mclaren was by miles faster in wet, and he almost made fool of himself by going wide almost ruining his race, i dont call that domination, domination is what alonso did in singapore and monza ,mark did in monaco.


Being hounded by Vettel all the way to the finish is domination but being on pole, managing your tyres and finishing the race with the fastest lap is not?

Honestly, the one eyed fans on this site crack me up.

Lets just agree that all our fav drivers have flaws.

Lewis - Prone to brain fades and red mist and cant stand losing but who can?

Nando - Cant stand competition in the same team and needs to be loved.

Webber - Not battle hardened in title challenges.

Vettel - Can swerve dangerously to protect a lead and does not have the best race craft

Jenson - A thinker but incapable of pushing the car that extra bit to extract the maximum.

Also, can be too cautious.

Just my humble opinion


I have posted on this before, but I would not include Webber in this year's top 5. For the same reason that I would not include Massa or Button. All three had team mates who were consistently faster in the same car.

It is certainly true that Webber was probably one of the drivers that most exceeded expectations. But does this make him a top 5 driver in 2010?

With Webber removed, I have your list James, with Kubica in front of Hamilton. I think Kubica had some incredible drives this year.


Yipee, i got it right, dunno if i was one of the first 10 to do so though 🙂 happy anyway


I thought that Kobayashi would have been worth a consideration for fifth.



Please note that Hamilton's DNF in Singapore came about because Webber, not Hamilton, made a mistake.

One could only fault Hamilton there for presuming that Webber would act rationally.


I agree, Mark was clearly annoyed and could easily have avoided the contact (/ram!)...again!

Another point I noticed regarding that incident was that surely usually that kind of contact would cause more damage to Webbers car. I started wondering if the Mclaren was the fragile car?


Webber is as entitled to the track as Hamilton is. Hamilton got self righteous (as do his fans sometimes apparantly) and paid the price. No penalty for Webber says it all, really.


Webber straddled the kerb but Hamilton did not leave him enough room otherwise they would of not made contact and Hamilton would still of taken the place. The front of Hamilton's car was also only just ahead of Webber's and Webber was on the inside so it is ridiculous to expect Webber to concede the position Hamilton sure would not of. Webber was not 'outsmarted' at all either he was just held up by DiGrassi which allowed Hamilton to have a run at him.

I don't think the Mclaren was a particular fragile car it is just that car components are designed to take incredible forces only in certain directions so if they are exerted in a direction they are not designed to take then they break much more easily and I think that what happened to him in both Singapore and Monza.


And what would acting rationally be? Giving Hamilton his place? It was a racing incident, Hamilton perhaps should of left a bit more room like Kubica did on Sutil.


'racing incident' Gross incompetence more like. Hamilton's mistake was to assume Webber had the psychology to recognise being out smarted by a faster driver instead of a childish 'if I can't be first nor can you'. The guy's career can be summed up as smash bang wallop, definitely not a champion driver imo of course.


With the exception of Webber I agree with your list.

From what I have seen you could put Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel in any order for the top three and few can argue, they were all very close, and as Vettel got the WDC, might as well put him top.

After them, i'd put Kubica followed by either Button or Rosberg.

Webber might win the most improved award but it would have been a whitewash by Vettel if you discount the mechanical errors, even with his mistakes.


Interesting article. As always, I enjoy your analysis. I, personally, think you were a touch hard on Webber who was consistently very quick (though slightly less so that Vettel) and made very few mistakes - and, no, I do not consider Turkey to be among them. His biggest weakness all year were his poor starts. I would have swapped Webber and Hamilton around, but I generally agree with everything you've said. Thanks James.


Vettel made far too hard work with the best car out there. Watching him driving through the backmarkers reminded me of a Playstation game with the Cheats ON. He has shown himself to be prone to mistakes and cannot pass for toffee. Lovely guy, but this is a driving contest, not a popularity contest.

Alonso again showed his flawed side, yes he is fast, but there is an air of desperation about him and again we saw what an unpleasant character he is who does not care how he wins. Likewise his team, they shamed the sport, as usual, believing they are somehow entitled to something others are not. Damning and sad for the sport. He only passed Lewis when Lewis made a mistake and run far wide, he never overtook him, they were nowhere near each other, he just passed by him. An very important difference.

Lewis did actually overtake Alonso, for a race lead too, it is the only genuine overtake for the lead all year I can remember. He consistently drove the wheels off the McLaren and finally silenced the fools who claim he cannot look after tyres. Overtaking ? for me the arbiter of the true star, Lewis is clearly head and shoulders above all the other drivers out there. Without Massa or Webber hitting him he would have been Champion, but the 2 mistakes he made and a generally lackluster last few races cost him.

Webber 4th ? Seriously, how many drivers out there would have done a far better job with such a dominant car ? Too much little man whining, he needs to learn to keep it zipped.

Kubica, often entertainingly thuggish overtaking and racing, what fun it would be to see him in a Ferrari sticking it to little Nando, I wonder how much Santander can afford to pay them to keep him out of the seat ? To "do a Kimi" ...Have Santander got any money left ? It is the pairing I would like to see. Not for Alonso's benefit either, in case anybody wondered.


Wow...Seems like all the Webber bashers are out in force today.

One of the best moments of the year was Webber's Silverstone victory.

"Not bad for a No 2 driver" What guts!!!

"little man whining"...I think not. Anyone who would prefer him to "keep it zipped" is an advocate for F1 to be bland and sterile.


One wonders how Hamilton would fair with Kubica as a team mate then.....

Hamilton made four mistakes,two when he ran off,two because he forgot Alonso was right behind him.


Maybe a bit better than Alonso would. Lewis seems to understand that 'team leader' has to be earned and not asked for.


I think Alonso has proved enough after just one season he is the number 1 driver,and has certainly lead rather than followed.


Dissapointed that Button and Rosberg did not make it into the top 5 but still a good thought out list.


Screw my dissapointment I got it right and I pretty sure it was 2nd correct guess.


Why Lewis Hamilton was supposed to blow jenson away? Is Jenson Button a rubbish driver? Sebastian Vettel who's the fastest driver on the grid (according to many people), didn't blow his teammate away either. Lewis often outqualified his teammate by more than 2 tenths. In Abu Dhabi almost 4 tenths. I don't understand why people are criticized him because he didn't "blow" Jenson away. Unless they think Jenson Button is a poor driver, i don't get it.


Exactly. James I agree with your list and respect your work but you are always hard on hamilton. You always have to overly justify why he did not do something to appease the radicals on her who hate him with him not blowing button away. What are you on about James?. Moat people said it would be a tough battle and Button is a world champion. Hamilton smashed him 14-6 in quali and beat him worse than vettel beat webber and would have had 50-65 more points if not for his DNF which were not his fault bar Monza. Monza was the only serious mistake he made which cost him points but you do not mention this. you cannot call a 50-50 move in Singapore as a mistake as you are not a racer and would not understand such a move. Who has more pedigree? Button or Webber. Its just back seat driving James. Vettel just about beat webber and had a superior car all year to everyone else.


Very straight forward and predictable order I suppose, the usual suspects. Disagree with Seb being number 1, it feels like people award the wdc the number 1 spot be default. I was hoping for a braver decision on that one considering Seb never really had to fight for it, or overtake anyone.

Constantly surprised that Heiki isn't getting a look in for this poll. Seems like the car dictates the driver order as well as everything else in F1. With the 5 top drivers here in the same order as the strength of the cars on the grid.


Not a bad shout on Heikki. Always difficult keep one eye on the back runners.

I think Lotus will do really well next year. A proper design timescale on the car, Renault engine, redbull geartrain. I think they'll give some of the mid team guys a run for their money for sure. Whatever they are called.

Although he wouldnt be getting many votes from Audi R8 drivers today 😉


Good article and I'd have to say I agree on the whole. The main 4 all made similar amounts of mistakes so putting them in order of their championship standing makes sense (bar Webber who I just feel crumbled under pressure). Maybe a mention for Kobayashi just for making a name for himself and comfortably beating 2 pretty well established team mates. Bring on 2011.


hi James , i have a small issue with my order of your book , where should i sent an email for a clarification?




From a spectator's point of view, I need Kobayashi up there. Is he as good as the guys you mentioned above or Rosberg and Button. Probably not or not yet ? But he's a driver you and we enjoy watching. He's the fresh air of F1.

I don't think that it was that close between Alonso and Hamilton. Alonso was much better this year. His mistakes came early on in a team he wasn't settled in yet. Only Monaco FP mistake was a huge mistake which came later in the season. He showed huge speed in an injured Ferrari in Malaysia and he showed his trademark relentlessness and leadership. The pressure at the end of the season unleashed the beast inside him and he was flawless, committed, fast and aggressive.

The problem with him is that he needs to lead a team to deliver. If he's on equal terms with his team mate, it kind of spoils him of some of his abilities. He's not the same driver anymore.

Hamilton start to the season wasn't great either. He did some great overtaking moves. The one around the outside of Rosberg in Australia was the overtaking move of the season. The number of overtakes he managed though were hugely helped by McLaren having the F-duct while other didn't. His inability to overtake the Hulk in Brazil showed that once that advantage was lost, overtaking was as hard for him as it is in F1.

His main flaw in my view is a lack of brains involved in his driving. It always seemed that if someone was going to pull something up his sleeve, it was Jenson never Lewis.

The other flaw Lewis showed in all seasons GP2 included is that the end of the season pressure gets to him. He needs to chase, never be chased. His showings in Brazil while he had a healthy lead over Raikonnen and Massa were unworthy of a world champion. This year he wasn't in that position.

Webber like Mansell needs an enemy to motivate himself. He's clearly not as good as Vettel. The Aussie showed flashes of speed but when it mattered he faltered. His good days are as good as anybody but his bad ones are awful.

Vettel won but the flow of commentaries after he clinched the title suggested that he'll improve thanks to his title. That's a proof of the number of mistakes he managed this season. He should write a book "1000 recipes to loose a race". The fact that he managed it in the end shows how quick he and his car were. If Alonso or Hamilton were in that car, they would've won the title a long time ago.


Agreed on Kamui. Excellent season after a bit of a shaky start.

The thing which continually surprises is how some people who are continually winners in junior formula dont do as well in F1, and some that arent seem to thrive in the arena.

My favourite race was suzuka. His sauber should have had bumpers on it. I've not seen driving like that since Nascar.


My only major disagreements with that list are having Vettel at the top; Webber there at all (although Webber having written the foreword to James's book cannot have hurt his prospects unduly...!); and no Button.

Btw, I assume Kubica's 'nouse' is a misspelling for his 'nous' rather than for his 'nose'... ;-)?


fair enough, James. I would put Alonso first, but hey - it would be strange :-). It also would be strange if RBR wouldn't had won it, with such a mighty machinery. It would be strange if Alonso had won it. I cannot recall a WDC with a car third in the constructors. so, weird season by all means 🙂 see ya next season


For me Lewis was by far the better driver over Alonso and should be 2nd placed. Not only did he have the 3rd fastest car for the majority of the season but he too was challenging (albeit slightly) right up to the 19th round. Furthermore he was very sporting throughout the season helping create a harmonious working environment with Jenson Button unlike Alonso who tries to divide his team and cries like a baby when he can't pass a Renault (see he petulant fist shake). Lewis can beat Schumachers record as long as McLaren provide him with the equipment.


I don't think anyone agree's with you here! Hold on to that Anti-Alonso sentiment because it's not helping your analysis.


You just reminded me of a point I wanted to mention a long time ago : the harmony between Lewis and Jenson.

The only reason this harmony exists is because LH was quicker than JB. If the situation was the opposite Lewis would've been rabid with anger and people would've noticed how harmonious the Vettel Webber pair is instead.

We saw flashes of that at the start of the season when JB outsmarted LH. The radio call from LH to his team complaining about the "terrible idea" about the team pitcall in Australia is a proof of that.

Luckily for him and McLaren, Jenson wasn't fast enough and is unlikely to be in a regular basis. But if McLaren manages an easy handling car next year in most circumstances, JB will give him a run for his money and you'll see the real LH. Don't forget how angry he was in his first year after Monaco when he thought (wrongly) that the team favored Alonso and it was only his rookie year.

Deep inside, LH thinks that he's the best driver out there and he digs huge strength from that self-belief. If a driver shows him that he can beat him regularly pace wise, all that inner strength will vanish. He is made of the same metal as Alonso. They're ALPHA males who can't afford another male in their own territory the same way Schumacher, Senna and Prost were. Prost pushed it to the limit by putting in his contract with Williams that Senna couldn't come while he was there.

Sadly though, JB won't threaten LH next year. If anything the gap will increase. I was disappointed by JB attitude when asked about loosing his title after Brazil, he said I'm no longer the raining world champion but I'm still world champion. When Senna won his 1st title, he said that it wasn't enough, that he wanted to win more, to belong to the history of the sport. With Jenson, you feel that a single world championship is THE ACHIEVEMENT and anything else is a bonus.

As for Hamilton being better than Alonso this year, I don't see on which basis did you reach that conclusion. Both did mistakes, both did brilliant races but Alonso led his team towards victory, he made them believe in him, work with and for him. That's the difference in my view and that's what makes Alonso the better of the two this year.

McLaren philosophy anyway never allowed a driver to lead them even someone as closely linked to the team as Lewis. Ferrari on the contrary needs that leadership. Their multiple world champions always had that ingredient : Lauda, Schumacher and maybe Alonso.


Re: your reply to my other post (above). What would I say if I didn't like Hamilton?

I would say exactly the same thing in fact as I tried to be impartial in the previous post, just presenting my observations concerning the attitudes and images of the drivers :).

To be honest, I didn't like Hamilton even a year ago and I still don't like him totally (I don't like his image of an always smiling and cheerful boy with a perfect girlfriend, because I don't buy it, so it does not surprise me at all that you don't like him because of that). But, because he's such a great driver, I started to respect and like him (as a driver) and so I don't pay that much attention to the annoying (in my opinion) smiles and beautiful image any more (yes, he loses his head from time to time on the track, but it's so characteristic for him and some of his mistakes, like the Canada crash in 2008, are just so epic that it would be a shame if he started to be totally flawless - I like the fact that you can be never sure if we'll see the mature Hamilton or the "crazy" Hamilton). Yet, I like Alonso a lot more - I think he's still more mature as a driver (despite his mistakes in the early season this year) and I like him outside of the track much more than Hamilton. Alonso seems more genuine to me, even though he provokes some haters with his attitude and behaviour from time to time - I still prefer this "rough" but (I think) true image and keeping his personal life to himself as much as possible, to the PR smiles and life for show (Hamilton's attitude).


I take it these are opinions, when you say "JB won't threaten LH next year.If anything the gap will increase".

It's just as though you are stating a fact, in which case can I please know the source?

Good Ferrari, bad McLaren !


I simply have visions of JB future. Seriously though, I don't see him eventhough I would like to see him do it. Among the title contenders the ones I like most are Button and Vettel. Hamilton is last by a big margin but he's much more talented than Button that's it. For me, driving a F1 car is about pushing a car even if its handling isn't great which JB struggles to cope with.

I never criticized McLaren in my comment so why saying that "Good Ferrari, bad McLaren !" quote. I even said that Ferrari needed a driver to lead them while McLaren doesn't which is a strength of McLaren.


I quite agree with you :).

I think Hamilton was great but Alonso was better. Alonso made some uncharacteristic errors at the beginning of the season and Hamilton at the end. That's why I praise Alonso higher - Hamilton was perfect when there was no pressure, while Alonso was making mistakes, but when it started to matter and the pressure increased, Hamilton lost his head a few times, while Alonso showed his mental strenght, proving what he's made of when it really mattered (plus like you said he was a great leader for the team). I ommit the Petrov incident (which I didn't like at all) because I concentrate on driving and results and that was a case of a hot head after the race and not during it.

I think you're also right about harmony at McLaren and Hamilton turning petulant when something goes wrong for him. I would just add one thing to that (and that's only my opinion): Hamilton is more of a PR creature - he's like a prepared product, smiling to the cameras, showing his girlfriend and so on. I don't say it's bad (I actually really like him), but that's just a different kind of attitude. Hamilton wants to win but he also wants to make a good impression and have a good PR, because that's how he's been "trained", so he will do all those PR actions and smile so that everybody will see what a bliss life at McLaren is. Alonso on the other hand, wants to win and he doesn't seem to care that much if he's charming or not. He could be smiling and walking around with his wife just like Hamilton, but I don't think he's interested in that. He's interested in racing and winning and not necessarily in PR and good press.

And so they have different images, while inside I think they are very similar.


what a lovely comment


What would you have said about Hamilton if you actually disliked him ? The arguments you put are exactly the reasons why I don't like him.


Oh come on, how often will this have to be corrected. Whatever you thought about Alonso's gesture (and I didn't condone it either), the simple fact is that it was not a fist.


It was what it was - emotion. No harm in that! sure we'd all be annoyed staring at the back on Petrov.

Fair play - he let the emotion out. No harm done.

Alonso will be un-stoppable in 2011 now he has the emotion of Ferrari under control.


It looked very unpsorting to give a hand gesture to Petrov when he did. Whether it was a hand gesture, a Spanish flick or something else, it was inappropriate and so does not diminish what he did despite your appeasement of his bad behaviour!


"I did not condone it" = appeasement. Yeah, right. I just would like us to act like adults and stick to the facts.


Aah, so close to matching you.

I had put Kubica 4th and Webber 5th.

While there is no denying that Webber was in a team that clearly favored his team-mate, he was never given an inferior equipment. Not only was Webber in the fastest car of the season, he was also in the most reliable car. One 5-place grid penalty at Canada, and his list of reliability woes ends there.

Kubica on the other hand was driving the 5th fastest car and had the most unluckiest of reliability failures at Suzuka. And he managed to out-perform the car - Australia, Monaco, Abu Dhabi - more often than Webber did. Webber faltered under the pressure of the championship in the final races. Unfortunately, Kubica was always driving freely without any pressure. I guess that is why you have rated Webber over Kubica.


Haha amazingly I was right again! I was spot on last year too!

Not sure if I was one of the first to be right or not though.

I have to say James, you have an excellent taste for picking the best drivers. Great minds etc.


Two years in a row James. Is he hacking your laptop 🙂


If I win it again next year I am going to demand that James recommends me as an analyst for McLaren.


One question? Are you related to James in any way? 🙂


Hi Andy,

Unfortunately not! If I were I wouldn't need to cheat to get a free copy!

I am hoping he has seen my excellent F1 taste and decides to offer me a job as his assistant!


It is uncanny, two years in a row..


Hi James,

Thanks for providing such a great insight this year. It really helped compliment the amazing things we saw at each GP.

Might it be possible for you to do some analysis of the top 3 teams cars and show how their differences gave them advantages over the others. I've seen and heard lots of talk about the flexi wings and f-ducts but nothing were cars were compared next to each other.

Many Thanks


my top 5

1. Robert Kubica

2. Lewis Hamilton

3. Fernando Alonso

4. Seb Vettel

5. Rosberg


I'd love to see Nico Rosberg in a car capable of winning a championship. It's a tough call between Kubica / Rosberg but I think Kubica just edged it onto that list.

Equally, it would be fantastic to see Hulkenberg and Kobayashi in top cars - although they've not always performed consistently - they're at least adventurous drivers and exciting to watch them racing.



I was close. I had Webber and Kubica swapped.

Nice analysis James. Thanks for all you work on the blog. It's one of the best out there.

Grats to the winners (assuming there are a few).


Fantastic article as always! One question, of the top five how close were they all in your opinion. If Alonso hadn't stuffed it in practice, if Hamilton hadn't crashed into Massa, if Webber hadn't crashed in Korea, etc... how easily could you swap them all? It was such a fantastic season, the top 3 teams were so close and Kubica always seemed to be nearby in a sub-par car. In my opinion the top 3 are almost interchangeable this year (Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton), almost. I think your analysis is pretty spot on though.

One more question though... Of these top 5, Kubica is really the only one not to make any major mistakes. Shouldn't that put him at the top? He drove sublimely in every race. I hope he gets a better car under him next year.

Anyways, great article. I have enjoyed your weblog all year. I have also enjoyed the comments, they are the most genial and sane to be found online when it comes to debating F1.


Vettel did well this season but the driver that really came of age was Rosberg. He had stellar year making the most of any given situation.

The big question for me is what sort of a season would the other top drivers have produced at Renault?

Alonso is a mighty driver but could he do what Kubica did this year? After Mclaren he performed well at Renault,still not as good as Kubica this year.

Vettel is great from the front in the fastest car.He seems to struggle a little with overtaking and could not lead a team out the trenches like Kubica has.

Hamilton is the outstanding talent of his generation and could drive the wheels off any old shed.

What Hamilton lacks Button has by the lorry load, its that thing called nous.If uncle Ron could make two become one it would be the best driver ever.

Webber is a top drawer performer making hay whilst the sun is shining. Maybe he lacked the bottle or perhaps it was other things, next year will show us.

In short my driver the season is Polish Bob because I dont think any other driver could do what he has done at Renault.Bobby in the Red Bull would have been game over by Silverstone.


I'd place Kubica ahead of Webber.

Webber had a fast car all season, which he did good things with. When it came down to it, in Abu Dhabi, he gave up - threw in the towel. The guy showed he is a quitter when things get tough.

No doubt in my mind, proven by his performances, that Kubica would've finished where he needed to in order to secure his first WDC. Kubica is probably in the top 3 drivers in Formula 1, up there with Hamilton and Vettel.

I'd also place Alonso behind Hamilton as Hamilton didn't have help within his team, ie: No. 1 status. Only after Alonso became the preferred driver did he stop committing stupid errors. That shows weakness. It is because of that weakness that I'd place him No.4 in the talent pool.


I completely disagree with your ranking, putting Alonso second in your ranking who was with second fastest car says it all about your dislike for Hamilton. James, so you forgot that Hamilton passed Alonso in canada and valencia, right? Alonso only passed Hamilton twice when it was completely obvious that the Maclaren car was undrivable and in those occasions Button did not even make it to Q3 and was been passed at will by the mercedes guys. That Hamilton (with all the DNFs) didn't beat Button ( the current world chapiom at the time) with 500 points to satisfy you makes it a waste time to write here.


Great Points!

Hamilton masssively out performed Alonso in the first half of the season with an inferior car. He overtook Alonso in two different races and both in a manner that made Alonso look quite second rate, especially in Canada where Alonso was completely inept in passing backmarkers allowing Hamilton and Button to overtake.

Everyone is just remembering the second half of the season. Short memories. Quite depressing to see so many myopic comments...no doubt only because their favourite team simply uses red paint on its cars!


I totally agree with this last comment, the first part of the season seems to be totally overlooked by some people. Laughably, Alonso being passed while lapping the backmarkers was often put blamed on the pesky cars being lapped, not Alonso making a mistake in allowing Lewis past while lapping.


I remember Lewis calling the backmarkers, monkeys also


great comment too!

even in the second half of the season he still outperformed Alonso, from silverstone onward when Maclaren introduced their infamous Blown Diffuser their car became completely unstable.Button were on different occasions struggling to make it into Q3. as soon as maclaren got everything together hamilton outperformed Alonso in ABU dhabi immediately.

Alonso lost the WDC because of his own fault. 1) Hamilton outqualified him to second with an inferior car ( ferrari was a good straight line speed and downforce car)

2) Button overtook him at the start ( purely his own fault)

3)he was unable to pass Petrov.


How on earth can you say Hamilton out performed Alonso,if he had he would have lead the championship rather than Alonso,regardless of the "team orders" in Germany.

Alonso was conservative at the Yas Marina circuit,neither Hamilton or Button really cared who won the WDC at this point,basically they were to far behind.

Alonso let Button through because he didn,t want to attack,for risking an accident.

Renault were using new engines and had at least 4kph better top speed,strange how Hamilton couldn,t get past Kubica either.


Utter nonsence!


Agreed, I don't remember James being ant-Hamilton considering the enthusiasm during his TV career in 2007! Alonso was far more consistent than Hamilton and pulled it together more often than not in comparison.


Dude get over it, Alonso not only outranked Lewis in 2010 for a blog journo opinion he also outscored Lewis in the official championship. Game over. Lewis made loads of mistakes too but I won't bother dissecting these as I don't have the time. It's not like anyone is saying Lewis is a rubbish driver, is it?


How on earth can you say Alonso was far more consistent than Hamilton??? Let's look at just how bad Alonso has been in the first half of the season.

- A false start in China.

- A crash at Monaco in free practice.

- Falling asleep behind the safety car in Monaco, allowing Schumacher to pass.

- Inept at overtaking backmarkers in Canada allowing Hamilton and Button to pass Alonso and back markers with ease!

- Fixated with Hamilton's race in Valencia to the point where he was totally distracted from his own race and was passed by Kobayashi on a circuit notorious for diffculty with overtaking!

- Failed to give back position to Kubica after a chicane cut at Silverstone. Inexcusable after the well publicicsed travesty of Spa 2008!

Alonso was indeed consistent... in making mistakes!


I think the Vettels title is fully deserved but to much thanks to Adrian Newey. Vettel made some painful mistakes, even though he is very quick off course.

But I go for Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg. No race winners this year, but that's due to the car. Both very quick, and reliable. In a RedBull they would have won races and challenge for the title.

Then Alonso who had the least competitive car of the titlecontenders and then Vettel. But that's just me.


good choice! Any idea when your book will be available in Germany (amazon.de etc.)? Do not have a credit card yet...


Not a bad writeup there James. I am not the type to give out compliments willy nilly, but yeah nice summary.


I had rosberg in front of kubica....gutted!!!! Don't disagree with your analysis i just thought Rosberg did a better job against schumi and that for me was the difference. Next year will show a lot of how Rosberg has done this year! Great fun though!


I am happy to see Kubica in the top five. I believe however that Rosberg deserves the top 5 spot too. Maybe in place of Hamilton, because Hamilton made us expect high of him and this year he did not live up to his name, I'd say. As to Webber, he is definitely top 5 this year but at the same time he must take the title of the biggest disappointment as he simply crumbled when he supposed to deliver - not for his team or fans, but for himself.


Thank you. Fantastic, in-depth explanations as to why this driver and why not that driver. Also you have covered all the bases for the whiners and whingers - too much depth of analysis for anyone to complain.

I particularly like the last sentence regarding Kubica and Rosberg murdering their teammates!

Doesn't it raise Petrov's esteem to be compared to one of the greats in such a way!!!


Hi James, I agree with your list. It made for great reading except where you mentioned "The wins in Malaysia, Japan and Korea were really good and he showed that he can dominate a weekend". I seem to recall his engine blew up in Korea.

Something else I noticed is about Alonso, "Then also because of his six wins and five podiums". I think he won five times namely Bahrain, Hockenheim, Monza, Singapore and Korea.


Correct, he won five times.


i got to agree overall, tho id say for the most part the mclaren was quicker than the ferrari.

it was only really late part of the season that the ferrari was quicker. but then again at the final race it was along way behind the mclaren again.

it appeared more the drivers and the team not getting the best set up out of the mclaren. they got lost with their balance by throwing too many upgrades at it too soon. which blurred their progress. uptil then and we are talking silverstone/hockenhim they were really on red bulls case and way ahead of ferrari.

i feel it was lewis destroying the updates at germany and then again in suzuka practice that lost him the title. i think without those mistakes he may of been able to keep his head above water at the critical times.

the other errors in racing were not helpful, but i feel the practice was may of been more critical and without them he may not of been over pushing in the races


Not at all what i expected.

I thought Kubica did an amazing job and would have ranked him higher than Hamilton this year. Due to Hamilton's mistakes.

Also I think Rosberg was brilliant throughout and deserved a top five slot.

Guess you can't argue with Vettel, he did win the championship after all, feel bad for Mark though.


Well, Kubica made a mistake in Spa that cost him second place. They all made mistakes.


Actually difficult to refute your reasons, James. Surely, as you say, many readers will vote for Lewis before Fernando. Some others (as myself) voted for Fernando as #2, just after Seb. But I think that the numbers 1, 4 and 5 of the list are unquestionably spot on.

It would be interesting to have the results of your question to the readers re the Top Five list, and check what the preferences of the readers are, compared to the final WDC standings. I bet that Vettel, Webb and Kubica will be on that "Five top voted" list. Probably so wll be Lewis. Not so sure about Fernando: you love him or you hate him, and as you say he has been not especially good at making friends this year...

Looking forward to get my copy of the book!!

Still 14 weeks to go 🙁


That would be great to see - the top 5 most voted drivers in the poll.

I'd guess

Fernando, Lewis, Mark, Seb, and (ahem) Yamamoto right? 😉


James Im wondering if I can ask you about two things.

Firstly, what you mean when saying Alonso "has probably lost a few fans as a result of his attitude at times"
As an Alonso fan, Ive found there have been fewer 'awkward' moments this year because of things he's said or complaints that were hard to justify. I feel like he's conducted himself well on most occasions, bar the Petrov gesture, and handled the many disappointments throughout the year positively rather than bashing other drivers or his own team.
You may point to certain minor things like saying Valencia stewards manipulated the race but I don't give too much weight to "hot-air" comments, plus I mean other drivers seem to have these (you recall Lewis chiding his team's tyre strategy over the radio in Aus).
I think those that were predisposed to disliking Alonso would have enough mud to throw at him but I think the casual viewer wouldn't have complaints and I think the Ferrari fans (of which there are so many) have warmed to this measured Latin temperamented driver in 2010.

Secondly, on what basis are you arguing that Ferrari gave Alonso a better car than McLaren gave Hamilton?
Obviously the constructors table, as one objective reference, doesnt agree and by quite a margin.


It really is n't difficult to spot why Alonso has lost supporters. Emotional outbursts at Hamilton at Valencia and a hand fist wringing at Petrov at Abu Dhabi! Unsporting gestures don't win popularity!

Ferrari supporters have no option to warm Alonso because who else could they look to when you look at Massa's performance. But can you blame him after he was cheated out of a legitimate win at Hockenheim by Ferrari. The team can't necessarily have it both ways!

And Ferrari came third behind McLaren in the WCC because of a Massa's contribution even though the Ferrari was overall a faster car than the McLaren..


As Ross Brawn once said to Barrichello, "if you can't pick up the pace then you'd better let Jenson have a go". It was Massa's decision.

I think Alonso has gained supporters not lost them. I actually hated Alonso when he first came onto the scene as I was a Kimi fan and he made comments against him.

But I couldn't ignore his performances. At least he cares about Ferrari and it's no wonder he does win the Ferrari fans over. Besides, who wants a corporate robot? His gesticulation and outbursts are what we need to add more colour in a show like F1.


You've taken the Brawn comment completely out of context. Barrichello wasn't leading at the time!


I made a whole case study of the birth of Alonso anti-fans and I forgot about the most important aspect that is the whole team orders thing (Re: Nando's comment above). And that definitely was one more point to the list. From my perspective I can tell you that in general opinion (again - conclusions taken from F1 fans' comments from various Internet pages in my country) it was presented by the media (and perceived by fans) as only Alonso's and nobody else's idea and fault (I'm not talking about very specialised F1 pages but about pages with general sports information). So if anybody could be impartial, after reading all the negative comments without much consideration, it was difficult not to start disliking Alonso. Yes, I know team orders is not a good thing, but I don't want to start the whole argument all over again or justify anybody, only say that every controvertial situation has different sides and aspects, but this one was presented in the easiest, most obvious and straightforward way: Massa = poor victim, Alonso = bad villain. Most popular media often base on these black/white stereotypes, so if Alonso was almost always presented as the bad guy (despite the fact that he was praised for his driving skills), the general public got an image of a totally bad sportsman.


McLaren had two drivers fighting for the championship, so they were scoring more points together. I like Massa, he seems a nice guy, but he wasn't scoring as much points as the car really allowed him to. McLaren was faster in the mid-season and Ferrari in the beginning/end. While both Hamilton and Alonso were pushing to the limits till the end of the year, not both their team mates acted this way. Button was trying his best (in most cases I guess), while Massa seemed not to care too much about fighting in the second part of the season. So McLaren's and Ferrari's WCC positions do not actually reflect the potential of their cars. Had Massa tried as hard as Button throughout whole season (and didn't have some bad luck either like the crash in Japan or the pit stop problems in Brazil) scoring as many points as the car let him, Ferrari would have probably come on top of McLaren.

When it comes to Alonso and him not making friends and fans - I think that his fans (including myself) like him despite all his weaknesses and controversies (and maybe even because of them), while there are also lots of haters who would use any possibility to bash him (and he's giving them some reasons from time to time unfortunately). And as he's back on top in a top team, his doings (and wrongdoings) are much more visible than they were when he was in Renault last two years, simply because he's one of the leading drivers. Thus, if somebody wants to criticise him, he will be better heard (and listened) than if he was criticising some midfield driver. And if anybody (if that's possible) was still impartial towards Alonso, then it would be probably easier not to like him than to like him (because from what I see, people who criticise Alonso are much louder than those praising him and I don't live in UK, while I think in UK this trend would be even stronger), because if you're impartial towards somebody and see (even a few) his controvertial moves and then hear all those critics it's more obvious to join these opinions than to start liking the driver. E.g. I myself think that Alonso was very loyal towards Ferrari this season and I don't think he's ever blamed them really, which was very important especially after the race in Abu Dhabi. But believe me, I've heard impossibly many comments saying that Alonso blamed his team for many mistakes in the season (I don't think I remember him saying even once that something was entirely team's and definitely not his fault) and especially for loosing the WDC. So I guess that it was easy for somebody who wasn't Alonso's fan to start disliking or even hating him (I know that does not apply to all people). You know, bad news always sell better than good news and every field of life (not only sport) needs a villain, so e.g. almost all (sport) Internet sites in my country wrote that Alonso didn't congratulate Vettel, but I haven't seen or heard anybody even mentioning that he went to Red Bull garage to congratulate the team, because the bad attitude is much more "attractive" for the mass reader than doing something good. I often read comments under articles and from them I learnt that here in my country many people started "hating" Alonso after this season, because of the arguments I listed above (that everybody writes bad things about him and not necessarily the good ones, so if you don't make an effort to learn more on the subject, you will learn that Alonso is the worst man in the world from the newspapers and Internet here ;-)).

I personally know that Alonso is not a saint and that's why I like him. I think that every champion is a bit "cruel", nice guys simply don't win and I didn't change my mind this year and I think it would take much more than the Petrov incident and blaming the stewards to make me stop liking the driver (though I see he was wrong here and there), but I'm a fan and if somebody was not a fan then believe me - after this season many started disliking (or even "hating") him.


See, I think one simply has to make a bare assertion that Massa supposedly "wasn't trying", or "was detuned after Hockenheim".

I also argue that Button wasn't a serious championship contender after midseason and I don't think I agree with James - I think he was soundly beaten by Hamilton this year. ALL he had was trying to buy an advantage through strategy or setup. He could never simply keep up on his own ability.

I think his inclusion on the cover of the book is generous, perhaps if would've been harsh on a personal level from a countryman journalist not to include him, but I could see midseason that he wasn't able to keep up - take his qualifying performance at Britain for example.


I compared Massa's results before Germany and after Germany and I don't see his performances dropping rapidly, so I actually don't buy this theory that his performance was so much influenced by the team orders issue (qualifying results before Germany: 2, 5, 21, 7, 9, 4, 8, 6, 5, 7 - Average=7.4; after Germany: 4,6,3,12, 6, 9, 6 - Average=7. I didn't count Singapore GP as he didn't take part in qualifying due to mechanical failure). Massa wasn't just fast enough throughout whole season. I agree that Button (besides few races were he gambled with set up/strategy) was beaten by Hamilton, yet he still remained (mathematically) in the championship race till Brazil. So when you compare Massa's results with Button's results, taking into consideration the cars they had, you will see that Button, overall was doing much better, despite the fact that they were both beaten by their team mates. I used the phrase (about Massa) "wasn't trying" because that's how it seemed to me - he looked so lost and down in the couple of last races, but I don't think it was because of Germany or any other single incident - I think it was the outcome of the whole season - he had nothing to fight for in the end and it was a bit visible in his achievements on the track. He himself said, it was because of the tyres... I don't know, maybe it's true, maybe it's only an excuse (Button on the other hand was using the "lack of grip" excuse much too often), but I think, no matter what the reason was, Massa did much worse than Button (while they both did worse than their team mates) and so Ferrari was 3rd in the WCC despite being a faster car. In the end Massa was 108 (!) behind Alonso and Button had only 26 points less than Hamilton. Ferrari lost to McLaren in WCC by 58 points, so I guess it's quite justified to say that Ferrari lost the 2nd place to McLaren because Massa was just so much slower (no matter the reason why). Had Massa been as close to Alonso as Button was to Hamilton, Ferrari would have come 2nd.


I think the major one for the neutrals is Alonso asking for Massa to be moved over "this is ridiculous" in Hockenheim and then getting away with lieing to the stewards after the race.


I hate to be that guy but you've credited victory in Korea to Vettel. I agree that he would have if not for his engine giving out!

Just want to thank you for all your insight throughout the season - made my experience in an F1 media starved market (Canada) worlds better.




James, the only argument w/ the top-5 list is on Webber. To me he was not a top-5 performer for reasons that have been stated on this site, more than once.

So another year is now officially over (now that the top-5 list is out). Great year and as usual you have done a very good job researching and relaying excellent information and commentary.



A good selection James. For me the two best drivers were Alonso and Lewis. I don't think Vettel was better that these two. The fact the he won the championship with only 4 point with a car which was as dominant as the Red Bulls is telling. It is also not surprising that he got 10pole positions given the dominance of the car and we all know that Webber is not the fastest in qualy. It is, however, surprising that he didnt win this thing much sooner than he did.


It was counted on our forum, Vettel lost 87 points because of mechanical failures, while the other title contenders had not even 25.

So he would have been easily champion 3 races before the end of the season if he had the same reliability as the others.


So did you forget about his engine blowing out multiple times or his thick-headed POME teammate refusing to cede position in Turkey?

Yeah, "if" his engine hadn't let up and the POME had let him pass, Vettel would've won the title much sooner than he did.


Disappointing this comment was left-up, far worse than calling someone an idiot.


There is nothing to debate since Vettel would of won the title earlier without mechanical failures. Don't blame thaton Mark Webber though.


You are right James, it WAS POHM. But since His/Her Majesty no longer rule England, it is POME. (the history of when England shipped the undesirables to Australia is recalled as Old England)

Nando, get over it. If you weren't so hypersensitive you'd be able to debate the points I made.


Why would Webber let him pass? There's no team orders with RBR!


It came out after the race that webbah noted Vettel was faster and closing up quickly. He also asked the team to ask Vettel not to make a move for position. Given that, he should have ceded position to Vettel as it would've retained an RBR 1-2. Instead, he decided to be the thick-headed POME that he is and forced his teammate to remain on the dirty side of the track going into a braking zone.

webbah doesn't have bad luck when it comes to racing, he gets what he creates - stupid accidents. Luckily for him, he was able to escape them all this year without injury. Unfortunately for him, karma reared it's ugly head and caused him to look like a jackass in the last race.


Mark Webber isn't British and it's spelt Pommy, unless you meant to call him a fruit? In the context you've attempted to use the word it's racism and inappropriate.


Nando - it's POME, Prisoner of Old Mother England.

And I used it as another way to say Australian.

Get a grip on life and an education.

Webbah is trash, along with Massa. Both drivers should be replaced by Nico Hulkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi. Whichever team, it doesn't matter.


Actually it was POHM = Prisoner of His Majesty


The STIG should've been up there too.



in response to your question, I always support the british drivers.

I've always liked McLaren and Williams, and particularly have followed Jensons progress since he arrived in F1. I live very close to the Technology centre, I like what McLaren stand for.

I support both Lewis and Jenson, but probably more so Jenson than Lewis given the choice.

I absolutely respect Lewis and his talent, but what frustrated me was he is always very hot headed and I think Jenson is the more intelligent rounded driver. That said, Lewis is quicker in many circumstances.

I feel sometimes he drives the wheels off the car, but doesnt always think about the tyres. So in many cases, at the end of the race they will end up on similar overall pace over a race distance.

I actually follow F1 more than anything (for instance I was jumping up and down when Williams got their pole this year). I just love the sport, and I can (try) to appreciate all of the drivers when they do a good job.

Did you think I was a Lewis fan?


I know you're not the best fan of Rubens, but he did beat the stig this year in top gear 😉

My favourite t shirt of the year was Jenson wearing the t shirt rubens gave him and some of the other drivers saying "I didnt beat the stig"


I liked Jenson for that too. It really was great to see him wear the shirt and show his sens of humour. It's not strange as Jenson is a classy likable guy.

As for Rubinho he's been pathetic as usual. It was almost like he won the world championship. Printing shirts, advertising for the top gear episode in post race forum. I really do hope that next year will be the last of cryinho.

Off topic : Andy C are you a fan of LH or McLaren or both ?


This was a season marked by unreliability all round: from all the top drivers, from their cars and from their teams. It was so competitive that if the car, driver or team made a mistake there was always someone else to take advantage. There was an element of luck involved in getting all three right at the same time so I can't separate out the top 3 drivers (or the next 4). Red Bull built the best car and in the end won the championships they should have. But it so easily could have gone differently.

Top 3 equal:

Sebastian Vettel

He had the fastest car and was fastest in his team, so the championship was always his to lose. Almost managed it too. Still hasn't proved he can overtake his way to a win. Impressed me by his late-season recovery.

Fernando Alonso

The most experienced of the front runners he was let down by his team and at least once by his own decisions. The arch-manipulator (including of the press), he's a horrible sight when he hasn't got his own way.

Lewis Hamilton

The feistiest of them all. Magnificent when the car's good. One of the best overtakers, always up for a race but didn't have the right car often enough.

Next 4 equal:

Mark Webber

Stepped up to the plate when Vettel temporarily dropped the ball. Over the season proved to be not as fast as his team mate. The second fastest driver in the fastest car.

Robert Kubica

Outperformed his car.

Nico Rosberg

Outperformed his car and his team mate.

Jenson Button

Outperformed his critics.


LOL, totally spot on mate. I loved that "JB... outperformed his critics".

I have to agree with you that Sebastian, Lewis and Fernando are on a different class than the others. Also agree about my loved Alonso as a pantomime villian. Obviously he is not trying to play the nice guy.

But your comment comes at his best by the end, talking 'bout Jenson. 😉


The list is absolutely dead-on. When, though, was Seb's win in Korea?

Apologies. 🙂


Great review James! My only contention has to do with Webber, and the timing of his season trough. The last three races were where champions are made, and this is precisely the point where Webber caved in. Based on how he responded during the most critical point in the season, I would rank him below Kubica.


But the ranking is for the top 5 drivers of the SEASON not the last 3 races.


What would also be fun is a list of one-liners we've heard over the course of the season.

The best I've heard was Jenson's "How do you t-bone a car going in the same direction?"

I still chuckle at this one.


Brilliant. I dont know if you saw the BBC end of year programme, but he still doesnt believe it even to this day.

Seb was absolutely on it in quali all year though. Its difficult to remember sometimes how young he is. He is undoubtedly a great talent.


I was suprised Seb does not have a manager. How many other top drivers are managerless? I can only think of Lewis for a short while last year.

A bit like James Milner in football..


You don't need a manager when you have doctor marco on your side.


Berger always did his own management. There aren't too many. Rubens does a lot himself now, with his sister's help


But remember, unlike Barichello, Vettel was brought into Red Bull young and has stayed in red bull, from the jr program to torro rosso through to Red Bull Racing-Renault.

Barichello probably should have a manager don't you think? Heights of ferrari then going honda, then after a championship contending year going to williams....

Vettel wont ever need one, he has been dealt with by red bull (seems a bit of a similiar situation to how flavio used to run things at renault with his managed drivers getting seats with the team and going with engines to other teams). But going back to vettel, once he wants to finsh with red bull he will have a previous history to speak for itself. So money is all that needs to be barted, not seats.

btw nice list James, not paticulary fond of the order, but with so many great performance this year you could even come up with a 2nd list of personal standouts.

Barichello - Hulkenberg was thought of by some to be the finishing of barichellos career. Barichello has beaten him and proved greatly useful in building the car.

Button - the idea of button going to mclaren and running with hamilton for most of it and only finishing 1 race down by the end, after having won the first two mclaren victories this year and runing 2nd to hamilton in most of hamiltons' seemed ludicrus only a year ago.

Rosberg - as you mentioned.

Massa - despit stacking it in, was pulling some half decent performances just before his german gp and then afterwards showing there is still fight in him. A big 2011 awaits

Kobayashi - seeing off a greatly experienced driver in de la rosa and pulling some great overtakes

Alguarsuari (spelling) - wins the award for most mechanical problems at the wrong time (sorry vettel) after doing well in gp's like spain and singapore but falling faul to mechnical gremlins and mechanics' gremlins

Sutil - much less crash happy (bar korea) and some strong performances in a force india


James, I have a few comments about your list and generally lists like that. Preparing my list, I realised that no matter how hard we try, it will always be impossible to make an objective list of the best top drivers. Of course it might be very difficult to justify the choice of some drivers as number one (e.g., with whole due respect, some drivers of the new teams), but then there's this group of a few top drivers, any of which could be number one, depending on the critiria we adopt. I, myself, tried to be objective, but I'm fully aware that my choice wasn't entirely free from my subjective preferences. It's all due to the complexity of F1 and the number of factors influencing performances, that makes it impossible to judge once and for all. Of course the most obvious thing is to put the world champion on top of the list and Vettel is a very worthy champion, who was very impressive with his mature driving in the last few races. I wouldn't put him on the very top simply because I'm not entirely convinced about his racecraft. Yet, he's still so fast and he also grew up a bit during the season, so it's very difficult to argue with such a choice of the best driver of the season. I guess my choice not to putt him on top may be one example of the preferences influencing our rankings.

After composing my list of top drivers (I was actually pleased as I lately found out that my top 5 was exactly the same as top 5 presented on the BBC Internet page) I took a look at the lists of other fans and I realised that, with some exceptions, there are 5 names that repeat in many lists and this were exactly the 5 drivers you picked, only everybody put them in different orders. I was also very happy to learn that I picked the same 5 names as you did. Only that not even one driver in my list is in the same place as in your list ;-). I also think that your top 3 (Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton) occupy top three places in many rankings (only in various order) with Webber and Kubica on places 4-5. So I recon it's much easier and more obvious to pick the top 5 than to objectively put them in an order. Generally, basing on a few such lists and opinions, I think that the top three drivers of your list (Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton) are all number one of this season with Webber and Kubica taking the second place. And I think it would be easy to find arguments justifying the choice of any of these three top drivers as number 1.

p.s. I hope it won't take long for your book to get to my place! I'm getting really impatient, especially now that it's been released.


I'm surprised, given your criteria that your top four are from the big 3.

Since you've named your top 7 as the top 8 in the championship less Massa, I was wondering whether Sutil, Barrichello, Kobayashi, Glock or Kovaleinen would feature next, having "outperformed their teammates across the year" - the closest proxy an outsider has to "hitting the limits of the car".


I guess that's pretty much as I see it. For me, there were more or less three categories: Vettel and Alonso, Webber and Hamilton and Button, Rosberg and Kubica (in finishing order!).

Talking of Button, he is largely absent from your comments and I'd be interested in your views; or was just that raw speed was missing on too many occasions?

How about top teams? I'd say Red Bull, despite its failure to convert poles and win the title sooner it nevertheless had the best car and managed two title protagonists at least as well as most of their predecessors, then McLaren followed by Ferrari. Both, as usual, were guilty of too many decisions, but McLaren shade it for me by making more of a weaker car and, I guess, Hockenheim does still irritate!


Wouldn't disagree with you James

I had


So of your top 5, and the fifth was the only one we differed on, where I know you were torn! I opted for Rosberg over Kubica given who he was up against, a known entity and seven time world champion, albeit one who struggled rediscover his former greatness. Petrov is an unknown, who perhaps flattered Kubica a bit, which in my book tilted the scales in Nico's favour.


James Allen your list was beyond pathetic! Lewis Hamilton was the best driver of the season, it just goes to show your experience in F1 has taught you nothing. LEWIS HAMILTON is going to cause a lot of misery to a lot of people for a long while


T Ram, Lewis is without doubt one of the best drivers in the field, he did have an inferior car to the Red Bull and at times the Ferrari.

However James has got it spot on. He made too many mistakes this year to be classed as the best driver. His early qualifying errors, the setup mistake in Monza and then his collision with Massa. His coming together with Webber, although I do think that was a 50/50 and I don't blame him going for it. He then had is Suzuka practice crash, which put him on the back foot for the weekend. He also allowed himself to be overtaken by Alonso twice due to mistakes. Have I missed anything?

Having said that he did do some stunning races in the middle part of the season and some great overtakes in the earlier part.

Given the car he will be hard to beat, but this year there was just too many mistakes. Third is the correct placing in my opinion.


I think the misery is on Hamilton being beaten by Alonso and Vettel and even worse Webber!


And hopefully giving a lot of pleasure and excitement to many people too!



I am surprised that you have forgotten Alonso's many mistakes this season. Even LdM felt the need to make public statements of support for Alonso because he made so many rookie mistakes in the first half of the season.

Contrast Alonso's many mistakes with Hamilton's brilliance in maintaing a WDC challenge as far as he did in what was clearly a third rated car for most of the season. That was the message coming from the BBC!

Hamilton has two DNF's of which one was yet another typical "Webber shunt" and you are full of criticism for Hamilton!

Are you influenced by red paint on a car also?


Oh shucks, you've seen right through me...


James, I was just wondering why the media continues to banalise some of the great things that Lewis does. This is the third year out of four in a WDC fight, second time he has vanquished a reigning world champion, he finished within a win of the WDC in the third best car. Lewis was running in the top six of every grand prix when the race ended or his race ended (car failures and accidents twice each). With all due respect, what would you merit "blowing away" a WDC? A 14-1 qualifying run to end the season or being ahead of your opponent in 80% of the grands prix. Off the top of my head, Button was faster in race pace in Australia, China and Monza only. Is this not a domination?

I don't get why Jenson is so mollycoddled by the British media. Fernando was cut no slack for joining a new team; Schumi was cut no slack for his slow start after a 3-year hiatus; why does Jenson get this excuse? As a McLaren fan, it is obvious who is the number one. However, you credit Jenson for "outsmarting" Lewis but never Lewis for "outracing" Jenson.

I have the feeling that if the media measured Lewis' season as a 91.44 and Jenson's one as a 91.44, they would measure Jenson by the yard stick to prove he is performing at a high level and measure Lewis with a metre rule to show how he is coming up short. Why is this?



I'd love to say the reason I picked a different order was because I was already getting a book from your top 10 contributors list, and the fact I'm also getting one for christmas also!

TO be honest, without looking at the statistics of every race, you always remember fleeting glances of each race dont you.

I picked the following as I recall. My main omission is Lewis. I will be intrigued to see the Lewis and Jenson thing play out next year. I think Jenson did a good job this year, but he is going to have to really upping his game in quali.

I just think that put Kubica in a top top car and he will be absolutely special. Which is exactly why I doubt he will turn up at Ferrari next season (if Fernando has any sense!)

1.) Kubica

2.) Alonso

3.) Vettel

4.) Webber

5.) Button

The thing that marked out this season, and how it was so difficult to pick the top 5, was just the overall high quality in the top 10. The quality of drivers overall in the top ten is as good as I've seen for a long time (probably since the Senna, Prost, Piquet, Mansell times).

Roll on next year. Lets hope next year we're talking about Paul Di Resta in F1.


how about a prediction on the starting lineup of Ferrari, Renault, Force India and HRT next year.

You'd have better odds of winning the lotto!


Hi Andy C

I generally realy enjoy ur comments on this forum and find them well balanced and insightful. I would like to understand why you omit Lewis from the top five?

I personally think that Vettel, Alonso and Lewis are in a league of their own, i would like to think that given better machinary that indeed Kubica and maybe Rosberg could join them. I do agree that Kubica in a top three car would have been in the fight for this years championship in Abu Dhabi!

I understand why webber makes his usual 4th place in almost everybodys list but i can't understand how Button could be put in the top five. please understand i am a massive Button fan! To me he seemed to lack pace in too many situations this year.

Next years driver line up i think won't be too different where it counts, Ferrari i believe will remain unchanged, Renault too ( or whatever they'll be called ) Force India - Sutil & Derista (DTM champ) seems a waste if they don't promote him from reserve driver to race seat. HRT will they even make the grid?!?!



The reason I didnt include Lewis was that to some extent that he wasnt on top form in my opinion this year. When I watched the BBC review of the year, I realised I'd forgotten some of his moves and races at the beginning, but no worries.

He is undoubtedly a very quick driver. I thought he made too many errors this year (my opinion) and I'm never a fan of people openly criticising their team over the radio. I also think he has a lot to learn about tactics in a race, but at least he is super quick in most races.

Its always interestng to me to see how he is deemed to be very quick, and jenson very slow, but quite often at the end of the race they are close together.

On the basis of the quality of his twitter comments as well (anyone else read those? :-), he wouldnt make it into the top 10..... 🙂


A surprising Top 5 from you James. For me, I cannot think of Vettel as No 1 considering the fact that he never led the championship until the last race. Yes he had some retirements but so did the others. He should have done more with the car advantage he had.

Alonso made mistakes but was opeerating at a level within his team that nobody else matched. Many think the Ferrari was the 3rd best car, as Massa tended to prove. Alonso wiped the floor with him and the Hockenheim move was 100% correct for any team that is going for a title. His Monaco shunt was no worse than other drivers free practice accidents but beacuse he was very unlucky in that the chassis tub was pierced means that everyone ramps up the error factor.

Lewis mainly won when he had a clear advantage with the F-Duct but made some horrendous errors that should not be happening now in his career. His consistency was good but what marks him dowm slightly for me (3rd in my list) is that he gets a bit lost with his car and then moans about it over the radio to his team. He isn't a thinking driver at all and the number of times he destroyed his tyres by going too fast too soon was unbelievable. At this level you have to learn from your mistakes. He's a great driver but not quite in Alonso's class all round. Kubica is a strange one for me. Great one minute and not so good the next and i've noticed that in wheel-to-wheel tussles he rarely comes out on top. I think he a top liner but until he goes up against the best over a championship we won't know. Alonso would beat him at Ferrari over a season so would have thought his best opportunity would be with Mercedes, although Hulkenburg may beat him to that.

Anyway, great season of posts from you James so please keep up the great work.


Glad I can still surprise you! Life would be very dull if you always knew what was coming.


I had your list, but with Hamilton and Alonso's positions reversed.

No big deal, though - I agree that deciding which of the two should have placed higher is a pretty tough call.

It will be interesting to see just how good Rosberg and Kubica are if they ever get truly competitive cars.


I'm not sure I understand putting Hamilton above Webber? Both drivers made mistakes as did all the drivers, but surely Webber had a better season overall? Hamilton is a former world champ, Webber previously a push over, so I thought Lewis under achieved compared to Mark.


Maybe Lewis was placed above Mark because Mark had a far superior car, lost far fewer points due to bad luck, and still managed to finish only two points ahead of Lewis.


I think Webber got more out of his ability, but probably Hamilton's season was slightly better. If only Webber hadn't tailed off after Hungary I think...


Sounds good to me! I'd add that Vettel took it this year because he finished stronger than the others and was the last man standing. This season reminded me a lot of 2007. Real drama but no real overpowering performances by any of the contenders. I think we're all still a little spoiled from the the Schumaker era.


Gee Webber has three ordinary races all year but Vettel has what Turkey, Spa, Germany, Hungary, Silverstone (don't forget the two swerves at the start of Germany and Silverstone that ultimately cost him wins). I hope he sends a big thank you to whoever caused that safety car at Silverstone - can't remember now - as without those points he won after the restart he wouldn't be champion now.

Sorry can't agree with your assessment and Alonso made too many errors for a double world champ binning it in Monte Carlo and Spa and his pass on Kubica at Silverstone. Hamilton made errors but his speed was amazing and you can't question his commitment.


That's a fine list for sure. Was the picture of Vettel looking older than usual used on purpose to illustrate his "coming of age"?

James, you mention that Hamilton, while placing third on your list, didn't bury Button. Now that Button has his rookie year at McLaren behind him, (one where it appears he gained new fans and respect), can you tell us what your opinion or the word in the paddock is on his prospects against Hamilton and the rest of the field are for the future?


Ha ha..."Rookie year at McLaren" Now there's someone struggling to justify their driver's shortcomings.

Hamilton buried Button. He was quicker in every race except Monza. The wins at the start of the year were an aberation. Risky strategy calls that were 50/50 at best.

He tried some risks later in the season that failed dismally.


First of all, Button is not "my" driver any more than Hamilton is, but I think I have a pretty good chance of guessing who YOURS is.

Second, I didn't say Hamilton didn't bury Button, James Allen did. I merely referred to that while asking my question, so if you think it's funny then perhaps you should have addressed it directly to James in your own post, not mine.

Third, by "rookie year" I meant "first year". Same difference. Let's not split hairs over one little word. It was Button's first year at McLaren compared to Hamilton's fourth. No driver is immune to the effects of jumping into a new team, especially a team that has an incumbent driver that has already won a championship there, so my question is a legitimate one.

This is the second time in a row someone has made a mistaken ASSumption about one of my posts. Now that is funny.


Agreed a race wins worth of points ahead is definitely a bury. Peole were saying how he blew alonso away in 2007 when in reality he edged him.


But Hamilton was only a rookie!


Ah, I had the right drivers but wrong order with Kubica up in 3rd ahead of Hamilton and Webber. A very representative list though and I totally agree about Rosberg and Button. They've both done themselves good this year, but a top 5 is a top 5.


The only change I would make to your list is I'd switch Alonso with Hamilton. You admit that Lewis had the slower car all season, yet you still give ALonso the nod. I dont see why. If Alonso beat Lewis by only 12(5) points, and he had 3 DNFs (one was his own doing, he was punted in Singapore, and he had the driveshaft failure at the hungaroring) Just look at Spa, Fernando crashed, and Lewis won(in a slower car). Add to that the fact that Lewis had to deal with his teammate. I think its clear that this season Lewis was the better driver of the 2. Just mu opinion


Because he was more of a force in the championship and it wasn't just about the speed of the car


A force in the championship because of those 7 points!

Alonso was also very lucky with the Redbull's 1-2 failure in South Korea. Without that, and those 7 points, Alonso's challenge would have been dead in the water at that point! Why give Alonso credit for that?

2010 is essentially a story about Redbull dominance and why it failed to wrap up the WDC (between its own drivers) and WCC by the half way stage!


Hello James

As much as I enthusiastically welcomed the whole idea of sharing with you my own top five drivers of each season last year (and looking forward to take part in next year's edition as well) I did not find the idea of rewarding the readers' votes that matched your choice too fortunate. To be perfectly honest I thought it will cause a huge number of entries which will simply try to guess your choice, instead of having independent view on the matter. Much to my pleasant surprise most of your readers did not pursue the prize (as I believe) and some of them wrote a very interesting, in-depth reviews of drivers' performances making it a quite absorbing reading. Aware of that fact I would like to ask you, if any of those voices did make you have some second thoughts? Wouldn't that be more noble (or fair) to reward ten most interesting, independent and well-thought votes rather than applause to an intuition or pure coincidence? Or you just regard yourself as the infallible one and thus applause only those who think alike? Hope you won't take it wrong way, but judging by what I've read in the comments section the readers' cumulative choice may be worth mentioning. I find your top five pretty much conservative... How about readers' votes?


ef jeden

I sort of agree with what ur saying. I got the same top five order as James Allen but i beleive it being a conservative order would suggest to me that would be the most accepted and unanimously agreed upon outcome! Surley that was the point. Most F1 fans would generally agree with the order for the given reasons.

If James was posing the question of who were your favourite drivers of the season, which is the order a lot of people have put down then thats a different thing all together! For example Kobayashi has been such entertainment this year that he would make most peoples top five, but he was not under much preassure or even in contention for more that a few points finishes.

All fun and games though, roll on 2011 🙂


The idea is to give readers their say as to who they thought did the best job and give their reasons for this. There is no requirement to second guess my list, people are free to do what they want. The prize of a book is for people who co-incide with my choice, it's a bit of fun. At other times we do competitions where people make a guess at a gap between drivers in qualifying or guess what seat numbers are on the pair of grandstand seats I have to offer. We try to be generous, sorry if you don't appreciate that.



First of all, thank you for your reply. I do strongly believe that, from the very beginning, the idea behind the “Who is your driver of the season?” pole was to let your readers have their say on that matter. I've no doubt about that. All I was questioning is if rewarding co-inciding entries do the justice to those who not necessary agree with your choice (or order) but wrote very interesting reasoning to back their votes. I thought I'll share this questions with you. I am really sorry if you took this as an open attack. And to be perfectly clear I am not questioning your generosity. I do appreciate your idea of giving away the prizes in general. Why wouldn't I? I am reading your blog since the very first post (or there about) and I do so regularly.

Carlos Eduardo Del Valle

Just ordered my copy. That'll be a cute souvenir from a classic season


James do you not think that a 14-6 quali over Button is not a hammering? The points difference do not mean anything because a man in a car equal to the other only needs to finish behind him and he will be close. The real students of racing acknowledge this. Look at vettel and webber. No one mentions the points difference. Everyone says rosberg destroyed schumi in quali but hamilton did the same to button but they do not talk about this. The fundamentalists will say hamilton out performed and out skilled button. The neutrals will say button performed good but hamilton still proved he was the better man and the radical journalists and supporters will say hamilton failed to blow button away and button outsmarted him. Cmon James. Button made a couple of hail mary pit stops that worked out but he outsmarted everyone at the time. Do not single hamilton out as it looks cheap. After that hamilton destroyed him. He finished ahead of him and led button more than any driver has led his team mate. Check it out James. Points difference means nothing as hamilton did not have a car where he could put distance to button. If he finished 3rd button could take 5th so he could not build the leads he wanted.



I'm assuming your surname is just a coincidence 😉

If points were awarded for Qualifying that would be fine, but last time I checked points were awarded on a Sunday...

That said, had Jensons sidepod bung been removed at Monaco, and Seb hadnt driven into him in Spa, they would have finished very closely indeed.

Are you familiar with the old story about the hare and the tortoise? It is not always about the guy who has the ultimate pace over a small number of laps that wins the race....

Jenson has admitted himself that he struggled in quali against Lewis. That didnt help him in the race. In summary, he leaves himself too much to do...


Andy C wrote:

"That said, had Jensons sidepod bung been removed at Monaco, and Seb hadnt driven into him in Spa, they would have finished very closely indeed."

You are using the "IF he hadn't had his misfortunes" as a tool to help evaluate the relative performance between two drivers, but chose to mention the misfortunes of only one driver.

If you are going to play this game, then you must also mention the 4 points Lewis lost when Mark hit him in Australia, the 18 points lost when his wheel nut came loose in Spain, a probable 18 points in Hungary when his transmission failed (he likely would have inherited 2nd place after Seb's penalty), and another 4 or so when he lost a gear in Suzuka, which,incidentally, Jenson inherited.

The truth is that Lewis lost far more points than Jenson due to bad luck. So if we gave them both back the points they lost through no fault of their own, the gap would actually be much greater.


I'm not claiming to know it all 🙂

I was trying to show that he was not blown away. He finished 1 race win behind.

I like Lewis as a driver and agree he is probably the standout drover for overtaking.


What we want to see from Button to prove his ability is for there to be some races during the season where... on the same day, in a similarly set up car, and where they're together on the track Button put in some qualifying laps and gradually edge away from Lewis Hamilton.

We wouldn't expect it to be every race or even most races because of who Hamilton is, but can he do it AT ALL or is Button's only game to look after his tyres and hope the guy in front loses his speed?

Now, can ANYONE confidently say that Button has or can do this?


I dont think anybody doubts lewis is the quicker driver in terms of ultimate pace.

But what is wrong with a driver being able to look after his tyres and getting to the end of the race, close to the guy who goes out quicker and comes back (im not referring to Lewis, just to the principle).

Surely thats a good driver? Just claiming every one of Jensons good results is down to luck, or a 50/50 judgement does not really fit reality either.


I think it says more about someone's determination, skill, and commitment to extract the maximum pace out of the machinery than it does to swan around looking after your tyres. If F1 doesn't reward those virtues then there's something wrong with F1's rules - and I think there are at the moment. As I've said, we need to bring back refuelling so they can push harder and not have to look after their tyres as much.

I like people who attack and take risks. Button just isn't that driver.


I didnt like refuelling personally, but its individual isnt it.

I just thought it created more pitstops which created the illusion of more passing and lead changes.

I like the fact that a guy can conserve tyres and make up a deficit by using a bit of nouse.

I don't want GP to be about really short sprint races.

Appreciate your comments on risk takers. One of my favs of the moment is Kobayashi.



I disagree quite strongly with your list. Apart from Vettel being at the top, I would not have Hamilton or Alonso near him or Webber.

This is my list:

1. Sebastian Vettel

2. Mark Webber

3. Robert Kubica

4. Nico Rosberg

5. Fernando Alonso

Vettel was undoubtedly the quickest driver all season. Five wins and a four point lead may not be the most convincing display we've seen from a driver in his championship year, but the beauty is in the detail. 10 poles, and at least 3 victories stolen from him due to mechanical errors mean that Vettel could well have won at least 8 Grands Prix this year. Turkey and Spa are incidents for which the amount of blame he should take is highly debatable, but consensus seems to be that Vettel was at fault on both occasions. These are the only two real mistakes that he made. None of the other championship contenders made so few mistakes and had so many points robbed of them due to mechanical failures.

Although the consensus on this site seems to be that Webber does not deserve his place in James' top five, I firmly believe that he was the second best driver this year. Of course he had the best car, and for most of the season Vettel had a very slight pace advantage over him. Vettel is considered the fastest driver on the grid by many, and considering that Webber is 11 years older than Vettel, the average qualifying gap of only 0.05 seconds Vettel had over Webber is very impressive. It is the closest of all teammates, for comparison sakes Button on average was +0.16 slower than Hamilton. Normally I believe statistics in F1 are useless as they ignore elements which are integral to the validity of the statistics, but I believe the current qualifying regulations allow a direct comparison to be made between teammates.

Mistakes in Australia, Valencia and Korea, along with his overall speed deficit to his teammate, are the main reasons I put Webber behind Vettel. However, it also has to be understood how much of an effect pressure has on sportsmen. In James' book, Michael Schumacher: The Edge of Greatness, Eddie Irvine describes the bewilderment he felt at the showdown of the 1999 WDC when qualifying over a second slower than Schumacher. I believe Webber had a similar problem in the closing races, in which he had the disadvantage of the pressure that comes with leading the championship.

Speaking of Schumacher, many criticise him for never having a teammate of his own calibre to compete against, and say that this is a reason he will never be considered a true great of our sport. However, if Webber had won the championship against Vettel, it would have been highly impressive. This is another reason why Webber is ranked above Hamilton and Alonso, who do not have teammates of their own calibre to compete against.

Kubica comes in third on my list for the incredible drives he put in at Monaco and Australia, and for the utter domination of Petrov, who only out-qualfied him twice. Kubica made very few mistakes, and some of the onboard camera shots of him driving at Monaco were very impressive. If not for a pit error at Spa, he would have finished second there too. Most impressive is that the Renault was probably only the fifth fastest car on the grid.

Rosberg comes in fourth behind Kubica for dominating the great Michael Schumacher. Rosberg was more consistent than Kubica, yet did not put in any particularly impressive performances like Kubica. The Mercedes was probably a quicker car than the Renault too.

Alonso only comes in at fifth on my list for the sheer amount of errors he made this season. While he totally dominated Massa (particularly in the second part of the season), one has to wonder whether this domination is purely psychological rather than based on talent, and could be in fact damaging to the team.

Problems in Australia, Malaysia (qualifying), China, Monaco, Canada, Silverstone, Belgium and his inability to pass Petrov to win the WDC were all self inflicted and a two times WDC should not face problems of this nature. Some of the errors Alonso made were truly elementary, particularly in Monaco and Spa.

Wins in Bahrain and Korea came off the back of engine problems for Vettel, and his win in Germany was due to blatant cheating by the Ferrari team. This leaves Alonso with only two truly deserved wins, in Singapore and Monza.

In my opinion, Alonso would not have been a deserved World Champion.

Hamilton is omitted from my list for much the same reason as Alonso is placed only fifth. Very, very silly mistakes in Singapore and particularly Monza led to Hamilton's demise. A win in Monza, a race in which he had the fastest car, would likely have sealed a second world championship success for Lewis Hamilton. Instead, he crashed into Massa on the first lap.


I thought Kubica would've been further up. My list would probably look something like this:

1. Hamilton - arguably pushed the car as hard as he could and was capable of winning the championship in spite of being in the 3rd fastest car, and you know he'll put up a massive fight even if he doesn't qualify on pole.

2. Kubica - This guy is completely fearless, makes no mistakes and carried his team to a much better position than anyone thought. As reliable as quick Nick, only about 10x quicker.

3. Vettel - On raw pace alone, he's a genius. Of course, a lot of it is probably thanks to the car, but the number of poles he's had this season is quite an achievement. Now, if only he was a little more patient when attempting to pass.

4. Alonso - I really dislike Ferrari as a team, but if I wanted to win a championship, Alonso would be a really safe pair of hands. And when he needs to, he can string together a bunch of lightning laps. Season tainted by team order debacle.

5. Kobayashi - He's basically a less experienced Kubica, but showing lot's of potential and improvement throughout the season. Outdriving his car and getting it in positions where it shouldn't be (he's been tangling with superior Mercedeses and Renaults), overtakes like a demon and makes the most of his trademark "start on the hard tires" strategy. Every time he exits the pits with the options, my hairs start to stand and grip my arm rests a little tighter. With more patience and fewer mistakes, he'll be a force to be reckoned with.


Third fastest car if you take Hamilton's word for it. But then if we take Hamilton's word for it he didn't have a working F-Duct in Brazil despite that being factually incorrect according to his engineer ("you are the fastest car in Sector 3"), and also if we take Hamilton's word for it then Trulli forced his way past him at Australia 2009 despite Lewis' every attempt to keep ahead.



For fun I'm posting an alternate's list: those drivers who clearly didn't have much chance this year but proved worthy of being on the grid!

#1 Heikki Kovalainen

- drove the rims off a car for team Lotus. To use james's phrase... murdered his team mate

#2 Filipe Massa

- returning to 'near form' after his accident, and allowing for some reasonable recovery space, probably makes him the favourite among drivers on the grid for best of the rest

#3 Rubens Barrichello

- proved worth his weight in gold to Williams who's fortunes, and final constructors championship standings could have been far worse with out his contribution

#4 Nick Heidfeld

- it is almost criminal that slick 'Nick' hasn't been able to secure a decent drive in 2010 and probably 2011

and last but not least

#5 Nico Hulkenberg

- I was going to place Vitaly Petrov above the 'Hulk" until I reviewed the relative point scoring gap between team mates, both in their rookie season. I expect that despite this, the 'illogic' of F1 will see that Petrov remains on the grid in a top team and Hulkenberg does not.

All in all a great season. Thanks for all the wonderful articles, terrific commentary from readers -- everyone's enthusiasm about commenting about each article was terrific reading throughout the season.


Andrew C.


Totally agree with Heikki. Watching the new teams race tihs year hae been one of the highlights for me this year. How hard they have all worked since the start of the season.

Though, next year I do hope they continue with there progress and make some in roads into the mid-field and maybe get some points!


If F1 was a true sport, I might actually care...

Given the positions are politically fixed, the list is pointless. Much like the non-sport of F1, as a whole.


I don't agree with any of your picks, and I don't see how anyone could. My favorite part is when you claimed "I also take into account the performance of the car and how that stood relative to the opposition" and then did precisely the OPPOSITE. The only thing I agree with you on is Alonso and Hamilton being basically even.

1. Rosberg - Pretty easily number 1, but Kubica was close to him. Rosberg often outperformed his car and his teammate (greatest driver of alltime). Mechanical gremlins cost him lots of points in Hungary and Japan. Webber cost him a podium in Korea. Easily most consistent driver this year. I can't think of any mistakes he made this year.

2. Kubica - Outperfomed car and teammate. Made one mistake in Belgium. A bit lucky to finish second in Australia, but a great drive in Monaco. Same amount of gremlins as Rosberg (Japan & Great Britain).

3. Hamilton - Hamilton gets the nod over Alonso since he scored the same points in a slower car (accounting for teammates and Alonso's "win" in Germany). Crashing out in Monza and Singapore cost him the title and the #1 spot on this list.

4. Alonso - JUST behind Hamilton. Ferrari faster than Mclaren. Alonso gifted win (rightly so) in Germany. Uncharacteristic mistakes early in season.

5. Vettel - JUST behind Alonso. Most gremlins of my top 5. Made three mistakes, although I don't think Turkey was entirely his fault. Should have been on pole in Singapore. As quick as anyone in F1.

There might be merit to moving Alonso/Hamilton/Vettel around in spots 3-5, but I don't think you can argue against Rosberg/Kubica being top 2. Until they're given a car thats fastest (not over a season, but just fastest at one race), how can you say they're not the best? Note that my rankings are not based on who is the fastest.


Ferrari "faster" than McLaren, though they couldn't get within 50 points of them. I'd rather a car that can score above a "faster" car.

It was similar to 2006, the order in the drivers' championship was Renault, Ferrari, Ferrari, Renault despite the fact that two years earlier Fisi outscored Massa as teammates.


Very interesting article. One odd comment about Webber I thought, mentioning that he was getting better as he matured:

It reminded me very much of Nigel Mansell who also came good in his mid 30s.

I don't recall that being maturity with Mansell. It was not until he had been in F1 for many years that he got a decent car; a bit like Button really.


Please James, you just picked Kubica so that you could have a weirdo list and look smarter than us non-journos -- no offense. Everybody picked the same top five, it's even the title of your book for crying out loud!


Not at all. I put a lot more thought into it than that. Explain to me why Button should be ahead of Kubica in the list


I can't work out why you have Hamilton at 3, his 2nd halve of the season was very poor and spa was a near DNF but got away with a win.


Look how the other championship contenders performed in that race (incidents, offs, performance relative to qualitying, etc) and then say that going off but then staying in and winning the race really amounts to getting away with it.


I think reading the ranking the James Allen, it’s well understood the difficulty of a Spanish driver Fernando Alonso to rule as many times in F1.

I remember when James Allen was not hypnotized. He stated without hesitation to Fernando the best. By then, the great rival was not English, was German, but one day came to a F1 an English promise very well supported by Ron Dennis. The next Schumacher headlined the English papers.

That day, from the first, (You can check the newspaper archives) the English media and even persons associated with the FIA, took many controversial decisions. Decisions that would not be, in the absence of a welcome Schumacher’s successor.

There are no rational arguments to support Hamilton or Vettel on that list ahead of Fernando Alonso. Sentimental? thousands. Probably many readers would ask their selves about their sentimental opinion.

F1 it’s not sport. If would be sport, every year would win the best player and F1 would became boring, very boring, and this is forbidden for a very profitable business.

The F1 is not fair and square. This is the big problem. In Spain we say “quien reparte se lleva la mejor parte”, something like “the dealer takes the best part”. That statement could be proved easily. Imagine all controversial decisions that Lewis Hamilton was involved this season, now imagine you don’t know who the main actor is and asking all these maneuvers: waving, overtaking SC, qualifying with less fuel than the rest, etc.

You see James? This is not sport.

My apologies for my English


Instead of complaining about the English media, why don't you complain about the the unfair treatment Hamilton and others receive in Spain just because they are not Alonso?


Why "instead"? My proposal: James Allen interviewing Ron Dennis, Anthony Hamilton and Tony Scott Andrews. I make the questions. If there is something to hide and nothing to be afraid of, there will be no issue at all. Specially interesting to hear Ron Dennis explanations about Monaco's 2007 press conference. (The "Lobby" didn't say nothing about a whiner in that ocassion, instead of that, from that day McLaren rules was changed.)

After that, a rigorous analysis about FOM broadcasting, and all Hamilton's maneouvres this season compared with others in History.

Moreover, we can discuss and show the severity of Spanish media on Lewis.


It's more of a sport than football. Look at Panorama's documentary on FIFA - what a scandal!


But FIFA does n't give more of the sports revenue to Man Utd than other teams because they are wearing red OR give the right of a technical veto to one team only for that matter either!


What did you think before to know the news? Well if you are naïve enough to think from now football is worse than F1, maybe you are English middle class or low.


Interesting choice of Alonso second James...

Above Lewis in a better car when, as you say, he only actually started to perform as he should when Ferrari backed him against his teammate...

Whether Ferrari was right or wrong (sportsmanship aside) the fact that he only really came good with team orders surely puts him below Lewis...

And I am certainly no Lewis fan...

However I agree that Vettel deserves the top drivers spot as aside from anything else he had a number of mechanical DNFs that the others didn't...

But man of the year is not a driver at all...

Man of the Year is Adrian Newey....


Not a better car. Over the whole season it's more plausible to say they were even, notice McLaren finished 58 points ahead of Ferrari. Some say that's because Massa had a poor season but it's just as likely that it's because Alonso was performing extremely well.

Some people will choose to ignore that at Turkey McLaren were 50-odd seconds faster than Ferrari. Over the whole season it was about even.


These are interesting choices; certainly Alonso second raised an eyebrow. While he may have the talent to be an F1 # 1, integrity is lacking – and that is important also in a champion. The consensus in our family is that we are pleased, but not overjoyed, for Vettle. Webber, on precedent, would have made for a more rounded champion, but the dice fell where they did, at the end of a really wonderful season of racing. We enjoyed every moment of the F1 season and your commentary and blog were a great and helpful supplement to the on-goings on track. Best of luck and we all look forward to reading you next year.


I think much of this list is towards where they finished in the Championship and the car. I think Kubica should be a lot higher for reasons already given, Rubens drove the best he has ever and worked the team well and considering the equipment, he exceeded its potential.Kobayashi drove very well and I wish he was in a better car, reliability aside, A great drive from him. Button should be up there as he made so few mistakes and had the challenge of a new team and car to work with. Webber broke under pressure in the last few races, Vettel made a lot of mistakes through out and I'm not sure he can overtake, but was fast all season, Alonso had a poor mid season, but got back on in it and dragged the Ferrari to the front. Lewis made a lot of errors which cost him the Championship.







it's not just about the driver though. Sure vettel was winning and taking poles in the fastest car, but it takes skill and talent in itself to do that all season long. A driver's performance is always relative to the car

Generally, I agree with JA. I personally would have swapped Webber and Hamilton, as Webber had some outstanding mid-season wins and was consistent all season long. Hamilton, while fast, was too erratic to hold up a championship fight. But overall a fair analysis i think. Well done to JA for this blog, great stuff


dang! i got the top five right, but i placed Kubica on 3rd. 🙁


All this nonsense about personality, integrity etc. This is F1 not a personality contest. Senna, Prost and Schumacher have done far worse than Alonso this season. OMG he shook his fist, ban him for life!

Hamilton has overtook a saftey car and his punishment cost him nothing. Had he won the WDC, would it have been a bigger injustice than if Alonso won? Of course it would but no one complains because its our Lewis.

Vettel also significantly damaged his rivals Webber and Buttons bids, was their a public apology? Where was the integrity!!!


There is a difference. A huge one.

Alonso whined he couldn't get passed a rookie, he cried the rookie in another team didn't just let him pass like he was Massa or something 😉

That's just pathetic, no matter how much a fan you are of Alonso, surely you cannot be serious in defending that cowardly behaviour?


He had just lost the WDC - he was going to be upset. He admitted afterwards that Petrov drove a great race.

He is a bad loser, no question. But you show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser 😉


Can't argue with those choices. Now can we do the 5 worst drivers this season? 🙂

1. Massa
2. Petrov
3. Schumacher
4. De La Rosa
5. Yamamoto


Brilliant Call Paul. Just thinking....


At last, James's results are published!

Thank you for the little competition. It adds a bit of excitment at the end of the season.

I'm glad we share the same top two analysis and four out of five overall. But since it doesn't match exactly, I have ordered your book today.

For once, I am going to stand by my initial choice and keep Lewis as 6th in my list.

We can hear Martin Brundle and many other pundits (Peter Windsor etc) claiming Lewis Hamilton is a superlative driver and so on and so forth but he grossly underdelivered in 2010.

I remember the days he'd utterly dominate the F3 Euro and GP2 and did impress me hugely in 2007 against a double world champion. Since 2008 though, and despite winning the title that year, he appears to me less focused on his driving and on his strengths. It is almost as if he was concentrating more in areas where he lacks rather than letting his team do the work for him.

Clearly, in 2010, I was expecting him to crush Jenson in Team Vodafone Lewis McLaren Mercedes. And that didn't happen. The two uncharacteristic errors in Monza and Singapore, the dropping of the pace in Korea, the lack of confidence in Brazil over the radio despite setting purple sectors in the race did not reflect a strong performer. If anything, I feel Lewis performed worse than he did in 09.

Anyway, this is just my thought and am sure a lot of Lewis fans will think I'm insane.

For me the top five drivers remain Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Kubica and Button in that order for the reasons I mentioned in the original post (which too long to be posted here again).


Hi James, i have to say i like reading the feedback/ forum as much as your articles. So much passion! I love how loyal and bias most people are about there favourite drivers. This is what F1 is about to me and something that is really lacked in Australia.


Cannot disagree with this assessment.


James I am pretty sure I did one of the first 10 correct predictions can you confirm this?

Also would like to say this is easily the best F1 website and is keeping me going through the F1-less winter, great job.


Thanks. We're checking the lists


No list can be perfect. Its always hard to justify anyone's top 5 but good job JA u made it a bit pure. Warm ragard for technical insights on website though.


Hey James,

Same list as your, just off by one position swap. My list was:

1. Vettel

2. Alonso

3. Webber

4. Hamilton

5. Kubica

Any chance of a consolation prize? 🙂

Anyway James, keep up the great work. I'm looking forward to the book!


Lets also not forget Alonso new to the team so had a disadvantage compared to most others. Button should have been in the top 5, for his very steady and consistent driving. To be new to the team and only finish 1 win behind Lewis was very impressive, although he is a step behind Lewis as a driver.


Well,I'm one of the winners 🙂

I look forward to reading the book.


YOU are indeed! Well done!


I completely disagree with hamilton's position in the very list. His biggest mistakes, like amateurs do, put him on back of the very real top 5: VET;ALO;WEB;KUB;BUT;KOB. Yes! Kobayashi, who eliminated De La Rosa, and did the show in some races. As well, Koba? in a Sauber?. And hamilton doesn't anything without your kers or F-duct. What a shame for him. Crap! kers will be back next year, for hamilton's happiness, and his fans.


I repeat: Koba is much better than hamilton. very, VERY, better. The british appeal and worldwide hipocrisy make him almost like a god. In fact, him is nothing more than a fool.

If you dislike the truth ,then let you eyes wide shut, or still watching F1 by hamilton's onboard.

Remember: mcladren 2007, don't forget that!


Whilst I don't like the final list, I can see the arguments.

To be honest I am disappointed not to see JB in the top five, and surprised that he is nominally in seventh position. His qualifying has been poor, but his racing has been very good. In general he has made up positions, performed some great overtakes and won two great races (very nearly three but for the damage in turn 1 in Monza). The real key for me though is that I don't think he has made any significant errors in any of the races and remain strong mentally throughout, unlike all of the other main title contenders.

You could say the same about Kubica and Rosberg, but they didn't win any races (and surely Australia would have been a possibility for Kubica?) and they comprehensivley out qualified their team mates. JB was shown the way home in quali by Lewis, but he still only finished 26 points behind. To me that means he made better use of his Sunday afternoons.

I know that he isn't everyone's favourite driver; but where would he be if he qualified better than Hamilton in say three more races? Not WDC but probably higher on everyone's list.


Hello James,

You will probably recognize me as a regular, intelligent poster on here. I came to look at this article after seeing quite a bit of uproar about it on other forums and F1 related sites, thinking it was just the "usual" people going a bit over the top.

Having read the article however, I must say that your analysis of Alonso and Hamilton respectively and the way you have gone about it has left me with a rather bitter taste, more so than anything else I've ever seen you write. Please read on to find out why:-

Firstly, you immediately start an Alonso Vs Hamilton issue when evaluating Alonso, rather than leaving that to the end, or indeed putting that at the start of Hamilton's justification. By doing this, you over-shadow the individual analysis and justification of your driver positions and just start a whole Alonso Vs Hamilton argument. With your acknowledgment of the fact that this is a sensitive subject I'd have thought you'd of put better thought into the structure and arrangement of your analysis of the drivers respectively. Saying that in your defence, it feels like you are so worried about people getting upset that you spend almost the whole of not just Alonso's section but also Hamilton's, trying to justify why Alonso is ahead of Hamilton. By doing that, in Alonso's thread you are often being positive about him and negative about Hamilton and then in Hamilton's section you are being negative about him, whilst still feeling the need to bring up Alonso positives.

If anyone says to me, or said to me in the past that you are bias towards Alonso then I'd laugh and say it was rubbish and I still stick to that so don't worry. However, what I would say is that as a neutral reader, your article has very much come across pro Alonso - and that is just my honest opinion.

I think that if you are going to do a review of the top 5 drivers over the WHOLE season then you need to really consider the whole season and you, in similar fashion to many other analysts have decided to semi-forget that Hamilton was unbelievable for the first 2/3 of the season, up until Monza. He did not make a single notable mistake and completely out-drove his car. Compare this to Alonso who made A LOT of uncharacteristic errors. From Monza on-wards I agree Alonso drove better than Hamilton but he also had a much better car for most of those races.

A few individual points I'd like to highlight:- The two times "Alonso passed Hamilton", I think it is worth recognizing that Alonso had a faster car and especially at Korea, the McLaren was having significant problems with its brakes locking at the end of the long straights, Lewis noted this right from the start of the race and just look at how Jenson was handling it! Quite frankly, Lewis did well not to go off many more times and he was having to brake significantly earlier than those behind (also the reason why Rosberg got him) - therefore I don't think you can really hold this against him. At Brazil, fair enough Alonso pressured him into a mistake, but what about the times this season where Lewis overtook Alonso at Canada (twice) or at races like Malaysia where Hamilton stormed through the field when Alonso got stuck and couldn't overtake in a faster car at that time.

Quite frankly, to try and use over-taking as a feather in Alonso's cap, when Hamilton for the majority of the season was far superior to the whole field in overtaking, is absurd.

You said:- "His overtaking all year was tremendous, but it was often due to qualifying below where he should be, mostly the fault of the car or team, but not always. "

So when exactly did Hamilton qualify below where he should be due to mistakes of his own? Let me think, Australia and erm. . . oh wait, there are no other occasions! Now onto Alonso, when did he have a poor qualifying session? Monaco (didn't qualify), Turkey, Spa, Suzuka (underperformed). I'd certainly say that if you then look at the remarkable qualifying sessions of the two where they out-performed their car then you'd have more positives to Hamilton - look at performances at Spa, Silverstone, Singapore, Suzuka, Abu Dhabi, Turkey, etc.

My point is that in a fair equal assessment, it is not OK for you to pick fault in one driver for a particular area (without also looking over the positives) whilst completely brushing over it for another.

Another thing is that one KEY element you have left out of your analysis is the misfortune of the drivers. In this respect, in a direct comparison between Alonso and Hamilton, Alonso had near bullet proof reliability whereas Lewis lost 30+ points through reliability and if not for this bad luck alone he would be ahead on points.

Finally, I'd like to say that categorically, Singapore was not Hamilton's fault and at worst it was a 50/50 incident. I'm pretty sure EVERYONE including yourself acknowledged this and therefore why do you and other journalists still decide to use it as a "fault" in Hamilton's armoury of this season? If you want him to be boring and never over-take then so be it, but F1 as a sport would be much worse for it and therefore I suggest you ALL stop giving him so much stick about incidents like that because I have seen it in so many other sports where brilliant talents have been ruined. A great example is in cricket right now - Kevin Pietersen is not the same player that he was during his early England career because everyone had such a go at him for being "too aggressive", and he has thought about it so much and tried getting more technical and now he just isn't the same player. If the media get on to Hamilton so much every time he has a "racing incident" then the same may happen to him.

You know what is so bemusing about this whole subject is that EVEN I, find it very difficult to choose between Hamilton and Alonso, in terms of who should be ranked ahead for 2010. I can't even really decide myself and if you'd have put Alonso ahead and justified it in the right way, with complete fairness then I'd of not even had a bad word to say. I really think you should take this feedback on board for the future as I completely love reading your column and have never had a bad word to say about you up till now, so hopefully this will be the last.


Thanks for your comment. I'm surprised that you think I would be pro Alonso or pro/anti- anyone really. Some journos like to carry a candle for certain drivers.

I take as I find, constantly re-evaluate and try very hard to express myself in as balanced a way as possible.

Common sense tells you that it is possible to believe, after studying the information carefully, that Alonso did a better job than Hamilton or vice versa - without that being a biased view. I knew I would have to pick my words carefully because some people take offence at the slightest thing when it comes to these two drivers.

Frankly I find that really tiresome, it's one of the worst thing about being in F1 media at the moment. Things are so polarised between fans of those two.

I run an intelligent site for people like you to gain insights, have fun participating in the various things we do and in the vibrant comments section. If I think Hamilton has done a better job than Alonso in a race/ championship - or vice versa - then I will say so and I will do it in as balanced a way as possible and I really don't care whether people get worked up about it on other forums.



Great points by Luke A.

Here's hoping that you take on board what he said.

It seems that you and others are blinded by a second half season with Alonso's improving performance when McLaren were struggling with their EBD from Silverstone. Up to that point McLaren were taking podium points and wins points when they were only expected to come third!

Hamilton was faultless through most of the season as you know but has a few hiccups towards the end of the season and he is seen as many making too many errors. That was two less than five or six errors by Alonso in the first half of the season!


I think the only way to stop all this heated discussion on who drove better, etc, between Alonso and Hamilton is to put them back in the same team and then it will be much simpler!


I'm not blinded by anything. I saw the season close up from pre-season, to Bahrain to Abu Dhabi


On a rather amusing side note James, if the guys on here need to lighten up then I think this is absolutely hilarious!


F1's very own Wikileaks!

Take a quick read, im sure it'll have you in hysterics.

I personally love these two (please note these are not real quotes!):-

Mark Webber on Seb

"Seb's a good guy to have around the team. You never know when you're gonna need someone to scare the children off. Talk about trick or treat, him and Sebastian Buemi could make a fortune hiring themselves out at Halloween."


Felipe Massa on Fernando

"I have cousins like Fernando who always need to get their own way. But they are six and seven. There's a joke at Ferrari that no-one will go to McDonalds with Fernando any more in case he gets the wrong toy in the Happy Meal..."


Thanks for the reply James. Regarding:-

"I'm surprised that you think I would be pro Alonso or pro/anti- anyone really."

I didn't at any stage say that you were being pro Alonso, in-fact, I said this:-

"If anyone says to me, or said to me in the past that you are bias towards Alonso then I’d laugh and say it was rubbish and I still stick to that so don’t worry. However, what I would say is that as a neutral reader, your article has very much come across pro Alonso – and that is just my honest opinion."

So essentially I was saying that whether intentionally or not, most likely the former, your article has come across as being bias towards Alonso. I'm sure after reading my pretty in-depth analysis of your comparison of the two you can understand that it is conceivable to foresee why it could be interpreted that way and that if it were structured differently it wouldn't 'light the fire' so much.

I do however completely understand what you are saying regarding Alonso and Hamilton and how it is such a sensitive subject and therefore is tiresome to analyse, while trying not to upset anyone. I would like to note though that personally I do not really have this huge thing against Alonso like many Hamilton fans and I actually have more respect for him (in terms of his driving skills) than any other driver on the grid at the moment.

I guess the who qualified better, who overtook better and who raced better is all completely up for debate and there is not a huge margin between them. Equally, Alonso finished slightly ahead of Hamilton and had a slightly faster car on average so on those terms they are pretty much equal. What I would say tips it in Hamilton's favour (personally for me) is that he lost significantly more points through mechanical failure and if Alonso had of suffered similar issues or Hamilton had not, then the result would have been different.

To show that im not bias on this I would use the same theory in placing Vettel ahead of Hamilton, simply because he had even worse luck than Hamilton and even though he had a faster car, he probably just edges it. That is saying a lot when I rate Alonso more than Vettel.. so you see im going by the facts and not by personal opinion.


I am struggling to see the balance in this article.

Things that have to be considered, in a top driver of the year competition is the position of the driver, relative to the performance, and some may say budget, of the team. To put this into perspective, one has to wonder why Vettel is out in front when he clearly had the fastest car in every race of the season and yet still managed to drive this down to the wire. At some races, the car was clearly over a second a lap faster, yet still the leader at the final race of the season was Alonso, in, clearly, the second fastest car on the grid. It’s actually astonishing that you’ve come to this conclusion. The fact is, this is Vettel’s 4th season in F1; he is no rookie. Alonso made an awful lot of mistakes at the start of the season (and end) and yet is second. Webber is no great driver, but did overdrive himself into position, despite appearing as the teams de facto #2 driver. However, he didn’t show that famous Australian mental toughness when it was required and I can't understand him in the top 5, down to being in clearly the best car. I find it quite absurd. Hamilton did very well, with the car he had, but made a couple of race ending mistakes (Singapore, to me, was less his fault) and had a few reliability issues in, what started the season, a slower car than the other ’top’ teams. Rosberg had a stellar season, as did Kubica. I think Alonso also ‘bullied’ his way to a win over Massa, which still rankles amongst genuine F1 fans and I just can’t pick him at #2.

Arguably, Hamilton had the better season than most for consistently qualifying, and finishing, above his weight division. Kobayashi also performed in a higher division than his weight, as I believe with Rosberg and Kubica. These, for me, are the stars of the season. You can see why Button is omitted, despite his start and end to the season.

It’s hard to take you seriously James when you post stuff like this. Rationally, and logically, you simply cannot come to the same conclusions. Vettel clearly had the quickest car all season, by a very comfortable margin; it’s almost akin to congratulating Kim Jong-il for his latest landslide victory at the polls. I would have thought Alonso, Hamilton, not to mention a couple of others would have been smoking their cigars in Europe, rather than in the desert in November.

What a shocking season this would have been were it Schumacher in 98 being given the RBR.

For what it is worth, and yes, I can see how tricky it is. I'd have Hamilton, Rosberg and Kubica in my top 5 with Alonso and Vettel. I'd have Vettel a lot lower because of the above.


Hi James, many of your blogs have been excellent I must say.

But when you cite Alonso's overtake of Massa in the pit lane, or Massa's enforced hand-over of a certain victory in Germany as reasons to rate him higher than any driver, let alone Hamilton, you lose me completely and utterly.

Clearly, Alonso had the team at his disposal from very early in the season at Ferrari.

Meanwhile at McLaren, who in 2007 had to have a Spanish FIA inspector in their garage to ensure that Alonso was given equal treatment (anyone remember that?), Button and Hamilton have been a credit to the sport insofar as neither has been given team favouritism, enabling Button to show he is more than a flash in the pan, and proving that Lewis actively welcomes competition within his own team but still comes out on top on merit.

Yet you completely ignore the equal ops policy at McLaren and instead seemingly criticise Lewis for not trouncing his team-mate.

I have no doubt that if Lewis had the entire team at his disposal as Alonso did, he would now be enjoying a higher final position than Alonso in what you admit was for much of the season an inferior McLaren car, and that Lewis might conceivably be a 2x WDC.

You also ignore Alonso's extremely poor final race, a real anti-climax, which cannot solely be blamed upon the Ferrari pit crew alone, especially within a team that prides itself on being one big family (albeit one with a big brother and a little brother).


Well each to his own opinion...



For once I totally agree with your top 5 drivers choice. lol.

Wishing you & your family a Merry Christmas!


James, regarding the reason and justification you put Alonso in front of Lewis. I agree with the point that his performance this year was perhaps a bit but better than of his closest rival’s. But it seems to me that in those two cases, when Hami was passed by Alonso, the reason was not Lewis’s fault but huge difference in cars' performances in those particular cases. And in my opinion Lewis is a bit but anyway quicker than Alonso in pure speed, just by 0.0.. or 0.00.. but quicker than him. But I guess that ratio: Alonso’s (consistence x speed) is better than Lewis’s (consistence x speed).

And not to judge emotionally and by private preferences and likes, there are science-based researches concluding: reaction time drops proportionally with age, and perhaps that natural law is an issue among F1 drivers too. Since Lewis is 4 years younger than him, that can be a case. And again, perhaps there is kind of peak period in each drivers career when ratio: (consistence x speed) is supreme, and it can be said: mature Alonso is in its supreme peak now.


"The reason I put him ahead is partly because he passed Hamilton twice on track in the final races, showing his intent."

James, Hamilton made an error in Korea and gifted 2nd (and possibly a win); McLaren was vastly inferior in Brazil


A lot of people are praising Robert Kubica. I agree he had a very good season and some superb drives.

The problem is, he has no reference point to be judged by. A rookie pay driver alongside him makes it hard to judge the speed of the car. It also made more comfortable because he did not have the pressure that comes from fighting for the championship, nor the pressure from a teammate.



How can Vettel be number 1 when he did his best to lose it in a car that was 1 second faster than anyone else? And Alonso #2?

These guys made more mistakes than Hamilton all season.

Mark Hughes from Autosport top 5 is far more balanced.

1. Hamilton - out drove the car

2. Kubica - out drove the car

3. Alonso - out drove the car but too many mistakes

4. Vettel - did his best to lose, very poor poles to win ratio conversion. You just know Hamilton or Vettel would have had this season dead and buried long time ago. Struggled against Webber who is not tier 1. Webber actually looked favourite for this WDC, not Vettel.

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