F1 Winter Break
My Top 5 Drivers of 2012
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Dec 2012   |  9:59 am GMT  |  394 comments

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

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

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

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

But here is how I see it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just came back to re-read this and one statement stands out for me –

” McLaren are a

fantastic racing team, but they always give too much away to the opposition.”

True if you look back over recent series, but not always. Bruce Maclaren built his team in the lucrative Can Am series. They were virtually unbeatable because their professionalism and preparation were far beyond the competition. Bruce would be turning in his grave now.

I think too much is made of Ron Dennis’ move. Maclaren are no longer leaders in any facet of F1. They’ve lost their edge and can only go down hill from here. I’m sure that is the itch that Hamilton needed to scratch-and did so.

Maclaren aren’t the modern merc silver arrows any more. They aren’t the most professional team either. Following Williams down the ranks perhaps.

Can we have a story on the big picture at Maclaren? Is there a rot they can stop?


Thanks for the driver review James. It’s always interesting to read articles on your blog. I don’t get the frustration over Jenson. It has been his least succesful season since he started driving for McLaren but he’s had some great wins and drives this season. The TPs seem to agree with you on the driver ranking for 2012. I wonder how many people would object to JB’s ranking if he wasn’t Hamilton’s teammate. People expected Jenson to get beaten badly by Hamilton and when it didn’t happen the bashing started and it’s been going ever since. It’s getting old now.


James, Thanks for an interesting article with great justification for your ranking. There are also some great comments here. The debate over Button’s 5th place in the ranking makes for interesting reading to be sure.


I like how everyone highlights the fact Kimi completed all but one lap of 2012.

The irony is , had he achieved that early on in his career he would have won more titles.

That being said I would rather like him at Lotus than Mclaren; they are as unreliable as they were when he was driving for them.


JB wins Autosport “British Driver of the Year”

JA votes him top 5 with this performance stats:

Lewis Beat team mate in qualifying 16/20

Lewis Beat team mate in race 9/13

Lewis Races finished 15/20

Lewis Laps spent ahead of team mate 638/958

Rule Britannia!


Lewis finishes age ah of JB in the Top 5 list…

It’s more of a reflection of the job JB did relative to all the other drivers, surely?


Absolutely James. So should your relative performance to your team mate- to account for the confounding effect of the car/team performance; thus to round up the top 5 position, the leading driver of the next tier of teams should fill that slot. Unless there was nothing to choose between 2 drivers in a top team.

Mike from Colombia

One team mate at 3 and the other at 5 implies that the second driver must have been harrying the first driver throughout the season….never happened.


Hi James

Last year you did a F1 fans world championship. I thought it was great and drove a variety of discussion points especially on drivers below the top 5. Any chance of doing it again



Yes, funnily enough I was looking at that yesterday as a prelude to launching it for this year.

Stand by!




James I believe the question of which 5 drivers were the best DRIVERs of 2012 have not been correctly answered. Voting purely on how any of the following four kimi, hamilton, vettel and alonso drove during the 2012 season must not be encumbered by anything else, other than how the above individuals drove. So if the team screwed up on not putting enough or too little fuel in the car has nothing to do with how that driver drove the race. I am not saying it will not have an emotional effect on that driver, but what is being looked at is how that driver drove with that circumstance.

If the team built the second/third/fourth/whatever fastest car does not count, it’s how that driver drove that second/third/fourth/whatever fastest car that is being looked at.

Having established what is the criteria that we are using to ascertain who were the top five drivers (personally I’m only interested in the top 3 alonso, vettel and hamilton; what kimi did was great in that he was off and came back, but it was not exceptional). Negating all extraneous circumstances from Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton’s year who did the most with what they were given? I’ve added up all the different outside influences and on just how he performed when the lights went out to the signal man waving the flag Vettel slightly outdrove Alonso and Hamilton outdrove them both.

Now to all those people who have their favourite driver and believe this is slagging their favourite, take a step back and look at this from a driving point of view and you will see the math does add up in Hamilton’s favour. Remember all these guys are at the top of drivers on the planet. So this is not who is the greatest driver on the planet at the moment. nor is it who is your favourite. This is of the drivers that drove in the 2012 F1 season who were the top five drivers based solely on how they drove in 2012. Another way of looking at it if all the team screw ups, and all the accidents, and all the DNFing for whatever reasons did not occur who would have the most points based on how he DROVE? That’s my two cents/pence.


If only the so called ‘professional’ journalists could take such an analytical approach to driver of the year.

I remember Jake Humphrey asking Ecclestone in an interview at Brazil who he thought deserved to be champion, Ecclestone replied after some thought – Hamilton. Humphrey assumed this was a joke gave him a patronising look and laughed.

Of course James Allen apparantly seems to think that twitter comments are as important as achievements on the track so his rating is ‘justified’.


These posts make a lot of sense. Truly in terms of driver performance Hamilton was well ahead of both Alonso and Vettel. Alonso drove well, he was consistent, no more thasn Kimi was by the way, but he choked up when the chips were down, as he did in 2010. He was outraced by his teammate in the last two races of the season and made a fatal mistake in Japan. The collission was entirely his fault because he muscled Kimi off track in order to take his racing line. He was gifted the win in Valencia- why is it that everyone stated that Kimi was gifted the win in Abu Dabby but that Alonso was not gifted the win in Valencia- and had a car that was not as bad as everyone thinks. I recall that Kimi had an exceptional season in 2003 and almost won driving a car noticeably slower and less reliable than the Ferrari, and lost the championship by a mere two points. Yet he was not even considered driver of the year. Alonso is, in my opinion, greatly overrated as a driver. He lacks the speed and the racecraft of Kimi and Lewis and the effectiveness of Vettel. As for his development skills, which was the reason that Ferari mentioned to justify dropping Kimi, well, when Fisicella left Renault the car went from bad to worst, and the development of Ferrari in his three years with the team is nothing to write home about.

Mike from Colombia

I think Alonso drove great. But Hamilton has not been given the credit he deserves as a driver and has been marked down for behavioural reasons.

Hamilton is the only driver that Alonso and Vettel would not want as a team mate and have effectively vetoed….I think that that says a lot on its own.

Mike from Colombia

I also thought this was about driver performance and not good-blokeyness. Hamilton had a faultless season and I am surprised that he only comes in third for venting, albeit carelessly, his frustrations on Twitter.

Perhaps the greater sin in the eyes of the media was that it involved Button. Would the same fuss had been made if it involved Hamilton and say Kobayashi?

If a driver makes another driver, who is ranked

no 5 on the list, look ordinary on many occasions then how can he only be ranked no 3?

Vettel has thrown his toys out of the pram more than once. Alonso tweeted “No tengo milagros, Yo hago de las leyes correctas mis milagros” and he has not had any detractors for implying that Vettel and Red Bull broke the rules.

When someone had at least 7 clear wins within their grasp and is only let down by the car or events beyond their control then how can they be deemed not to be the best performer of 2012? Someone who dragged that car onto the front row more times than anyone else.


Button at #5 is utterly perplexing. He was invisible for the greater part of this year.

As the most reliable benchmark is your team mate it’s impossible to ignore than Hamilton picked him apart in qualifying and Button’s record in the races is flattered by Lewis’s abysmal reliability/operational stats.

Hulk, Perez or even Maldonado has a greater shout for fifth. Button was the pinnacle of mediocrity in the best car on the grid. James, you surprised me with that one.

Otherwise, it’s a pick-’em for top 4. ALO, VET, HAM and RAI were all close to faultless.


Much as Alonso deserves full credit for keeping himself and Ferrari in title contention for as long as he did through sheer determination and pace, it does seem to have been overlooked how much of a factor luck was in that as well. The only reason Alonso WAS in contention by Brazil was because misfortune befell his rivals more often than not. In order to demonstrate this, here are the races where Lady Luck played a factor in how many points both contenders scored:

– Malaysia: Vettel tangles with Karthikeyan in an incident for which Karthikeyan is later penalised, and drops from 4th to 11th after a pitstop to change a punctured tyre. +12 points to Vettel

– Bahrain: Alonso potentially disadvantaged by Rosberg’s blocking techniques. Without these, he would likely have finished ahead of Rosberg and therefore 5th instead of 7th. +4 points to Alonso

– Europe: Vettel dominating race until alternator failure. Alonso lucky both to inherit lead and to have a fast-charging Grosjean retire for the same reason. +25 points to Vettel and -7 to potentially -10 points to Alonso.

– Belgium: Alonso completely blameless in first-corner crash. Assuming Massa’s performance was reflective of the car’s pace, at the very least +10 points to Alonso and potentially +12 points assuming he could have beaten Hulkenberg.

– Italy: Vettel again loses points due to an alternator failure, this time from 6th place. +8 points to Vettel.

– Singapore: Vettel fortunate to inherit lead from Hamilton, and Alonso likewise fortunate to inherit podium following Maldonado’s retirement. -7 points to Vettel and -3 points to Alonso.

– Japan: Alonso retires from race due to first-lap puncture after contact with Raikkonen. Again assuming Massa’s pace is representative of what Alonso could have done, 2nd place would have been possible. +18 points to Alonso

– Abu Dhabi: Vettel suffers fuel pump problems preventing a fuel sample being provided, relegating him to the back of the grid. Team permitted to make setup changes resulting from this, but would likely have finished ahead of Alonso without this based on grid positions and pace. +3 points to Vettel and -3 points to Alonso

– United States: Vettel unfortunate to catch Karthikeyan in the Esses, but such is motorsport. Alonso benefits from another Renault alternator failure to take podium from Webber, who on pace would otherwise have beaten him. -3 points to Alonso

Taking even the most conservative of the options available, Vettel lost 41 points this season owing to misfortune compared with 16 for Alonso, once the points Alonso gained from the misfortune of others are deducted. Add those onto the points tally and it’s not even close – the title could have been settled as early as Abu Dhabi or possibly before.

Does that take anything away from what Alonso achieved? Of course not – ifs, buts and maybes count for nothing and he still drove out of his skin to take the opportunities when they arose. However, to disregard the role fortune played in races is to not have a complete picture, and it’s why in light of the above I regard it as very much honours even. For me, Vettel and Alonso would tie with Hamilton as driver of the season, as I really think there was nothing to choose between them.


HI James! It will be interesting to see how do you rank the rest of the drivers. I remember your reports on Speedvision in USA, in 90-s. But been a Russian it will be interesting to know what do you think about Petrov? With “pay driver” status many people in Russia belive that he is sort of modern Ganni Lavagi. And it’s real hard to find a real professional information in a media. It will be nice to have your personal vision of Petrov’s years in F1. I’ll be glad to translate it and present to Russian audience. Thank’s


Petrov got that result in Brazil which made $millions for Caterham. They stick with him, I hear.

Bruno Senna is also in the running there.


ESPN and ESPN2 it was actually from 1993 to 1996.


I still have a tapes from that time, but what do you think is Petrov modern Ganni Lavaggi? Regards


Hi James,

One comment and one query on your article.

My understanding for bits of media cobbled together was that Alonso had a different aero package to Massa at Austin due to limited parts availability. With the track evolution there and parc ferme conditions, with Ferrari’s recent history of unsuccessful aero upgrades it might have been easy for Ferrari to have made the wrong call. In Brazil, I heard that Alonso ran a wet set up along with two other drivers. So there could be a car issue behind Alonso being slower.

My question is on Spa. To me, the McLaren with the right wing on it seemed easily the quickest car. Jenson started well, looked after his tyres and that was it. Yet in Car magazine, Tom Clarkson nominated Jenson’s pole as the lap of year, and you’ve hightlighted this race. The next race at Monza highlighted McLaren’s advantage in low downforce tracks and Hungary in high downforce configuration, so to me the only notable thing about Jenson’s win is that Hamilton’s wing choice was so different. I wonder what I’m missing?




Lap of the year? Give me a break. Lap of the year would be one of Hamilton’s Q3 laps at either Singapore, Abu Dhabi, or Austin. The first two garnered pole, while the last split the Red Bulls which were markedly faster in qualifying trim, and almost secured pole.

I would nominate Singapore, as Hamilton was supreme in qualifying that day. He and Vettel were a cut above all others there.

As for Spa, it was a great win for Jenson, as he was never headed. He was aided vis-a-vis Hamilton by the rain on Friday. Does anyone think that had it been clear running in the free practice sessions, that Button would’ve qualified ahead of Hamilton? If not, then how could it possibly be lap of the year?


Lap of the year is generally a difficult one judge as it is about driver getting the most out the package available.

Maldonado had a few surprise results such as 2nd in Spain and Singapore. Assessing whether there was more or less than 0.5 of second between the Williams and the McLaren on those days is impossible for us to know.

Ricciardo qualifying 6th in Bahrain was a uniquely outstanding qualifying result for any car – something not available to the McLaren or Red Bull drivers.

Jock Clear argued in Autosport this week to Mark Hughes that he felt Rosberg had an exceptionally good set of tyre in China, which he believed was the reason Schumacher appeared to be getting his butt kicked in Shanghai. Clear thought that Schumacher could have turned that around in the remaining two stints. Now Schumacher was 0.57 off pole in China. If we assume the tyres could make 0.3 of that between a great set and an average to poor set, and the rest was driver performance and the cooling track conditions, it raises questions about how much stock we can put in individual laps.

In the first two examples you mentioned, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, Hamilton was clearly the fastest all the time, so it is safe to remove the tyre variable. Both tracks feature lots of short corners that suit Hamilton’s style. Spa is a track that suits Button quite well, so it is a track where I’d give him some chance of outqualifying Hamilton.

With Button at Spa though – you describe it as a great drive. There does tend to be an assumption that winning is a great drive. But it you have the fastest car that can easily pull away from the following cars – a Force India and a Lotus – while using less of its tyres – so you can make one stop fewer and have no need to make any impression on the fastest lap table, is it just a cruise and collect exercise? There were other drivers, such as Vettel, who were able to make a one stop work while fighting in traffic, so I was left wondering, was there something that fans weren’t aware of, or was it a case of Spa being “special” and being more “worthy” than winning at Hockenheim? You could argue that the McLaren was so good that after Hamilton was ruled out through qualifying and Grosjean, that Button was have had to drive quite a poor race to not win.


So I’m not insane for thinking Alonso did better than Vettel this season, as many people seemed to disagree with this. Finely balanced yes, but Alonso was by a small margin simply better.


I beg to differ on your claim that Vettel & Alonso had virtually identical seasons, bar their Q results vs their teammates.

The difference in skill, speed and overall race management between Alonso and Vettel is very non-trivial. Compare what Vettel did when his car was not a full second (plus) faster than the Ferrari, w/ what Alonso did in his car, which even then was slower than the RBR. What was the outcome ? A 40-point lead for Alonso.

It is a joke comparing the best F1 driver of the last decade w/ Vettel, who has only won consistently when he has had the hands-down faster car AND started from pole.

Vettel was not even the 2nd or 3rd best driver this year. That was Kimi, then Lewis. What would Lewis or Kimi have done in Vettel’s RBR ? They would have won the championship w/ 2-3 races to spare.

Oh, and Jenson was good but not 5th best. That would be Nico Hulkenberg.


+1 Mate.. I could not have put it better myself


maybe you shoud post your top 5 on your blog, then we can read about it there 🙂


The top four were very obvious with a little juggling between Hamilton and Vettel. But I would have gone for Hulkenberg for the fifth best. It’s been an awesome season and I’m gonna watch all the races again before testing begins. Another golden era for F1 which I appreciate being part of it as a fan.


Just happy that Alonso again was considered top dog. The man is due another title, and another, and another…..

Mike from Colombia

Hamilton pays a 20% Lewis Tax for being every performance of his…i.e., a 10/10 performance is only worth 8/10 to most in the media.

Button’s performances receive up to an additional 20% points “Jenson Credit”…a 7/10 performance in absolute terms is worth 9/10 in the eyes of the friendly media.

Kimi Raikkonen pays a Kimi Tax of about 10% because he is unfairly conceived as being “lazy” and not trying…which must be completely untrue. You can’t turn in his type of performances if you are not giving 100%.


Maybe: but on this its Hamilton +50%, Button -50% tax (not to mention Vettel -2000%)


I don´t think people or the media think Kimi is lazy. Kimi in my view has an attittude problem. He has to understand that to be in his situation it´s a privilege. And he is very lucky to do what he is doing. He has to understand he has a duty too. He can´t do whatever he wants any time he wants. I mean if he has to attend an event of any kind he has the obligation to show up, smile and be friendly no matter how much he hates that. Hey don´t get me wrong. Kimi is a great driver in my view. But I also think there are things about his personality and character that I believe he has to make an effort to change a little


He has always done what he is obligated to do, even for team PR. Whats the problem with admitting that he hates the bull$ that comes with it?


His duty is to extract the most out that car (which he does).

All other fake marketing crap, is really just that and unnecessary (who needs it anyway).



Agreed, Lewis has to be faultless to avoid a barrage of criticism from the media. Whilst other drivers SWEAR and use foul language, and no-one even notices…


It isn’t Jenson’s fault that the he takes the media out to dinner once a year.

Perhaps Lewis and Kimi can learn the art of propaganda too?

Scratch my back I’ll scratch yours etc – it’s the world we live in.


Crazy, but right. Very well said!

Heinzman (Fan of: ALO)


Can we do a top five driver girlfriends/wives for a bit of fun?


1. Isabell Reis (Timo Glock’s girlfriend)

2. Isabell Reis (Timo Glock’s girlfriend)

3. Isabell Reis (Timo Glock’s girlfriend)

4. Isabell Reis (Timo Glock’s girlfriend)

5. Isabell Reis (Timo Glock’s girlfriend)

It was tight between Isabell Reis and Isabell Reis for the top two positions but I think the order is just about right.


Is it true that she’s planning to move to a top team for 2013? 😉


Disregard my previous top 5 I agree with yours


You made me look her up… Pleasantly impressed!


James, your logic makes sense, and I actually agree. Funny thing is, I thought Button had a weaker season, but reading your article makes me rephrase that to quiet yet effective!!


Vettel would be first. I put Kimi second. Ferrari put millions into Alonso & Massa had to move over for him and run r&d for him. Lotus went broke & could not do updates at the end of the season, when Kimi won in AD. Alonso would be third at best. He had everything going his way.

You say the Lotus was the most consistent car. Not in Grosjean’s hands it wasn’t. Only in Kimi’s hands. Then Hamilton fourth & Button fifth.


James, Button 5th really… Have a word with yourself!

3 wins aside, and credit due or them, he can’t qualify a fast car anywhere near top slots consistently and hs race performance hasn’t been stunning.

Put Hulk, Perez, Webber possibly even Nico Rosberg in his car and they would have killed him.

I thought this was a DRIVER poll?


Well James I agree with you for the most part. I would have rated Hamilton ahead of Vettel but I don´t have a problem with Vettel in sencond place. However I do have a problem with Button at number 5. Don´t get me wrong I like Jenson. He seems to be an old school English gentleman. But I was expecting more from him. He won in Australia but then he went missing in action for the most part until the Germany GP. Other drivers like Hulkenberg or Perez surprised me. I wasn´t execting much from them. Anyway it´s your top 5. You have every right.


How come JA let’s everyone have a say and voice their own top 5, without arguing with each and every one but so many people here don’t show the same respect and feel inclined to state their dissatisfaction with what is after all a personal choice????

Surely if you’re that disappointed your views don’t match, just buy the book


Nice selection, I put Rosberg instead of Jenson but you see them working closer than I do

Could we get a 5 to 10 list from you?

After all there is no racing anyway and we need to have more on line discussions



“I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea…”

I’d rather have a driver who for someone is the best cup of tea, while being the worst for the others, then someone who’s neither here nor there for anyone.

I’ll take him over any other of the top 4 (since I really think we had a top 4 this year, and then everybody else).

If I’d go by personality only, other top drivers would have even less to deserve admiration, as far as I’m concerned.

He seems like the one who is completely comfortable in his skin, even though he has the weight of expectations on his shoulders from the biggest F1 team, one of the biggest brands in the world, with a great belief in himself, rather then arrogance, and (I know it will sound tacky) the biggest heart, because he is not running away from it. He is not distancing himself from other tasks within the team that are not just driving related.

Not only being optimistic on words and attitude, but being motivated and leading the whole team, as you James say, by example, when he had to do so much every race, without being guaranteed much in a way of rewards, is something I’ve seen only 2 times in the last 20 years. Perhaps Senna in 1993 (although I just started watching F1 then, so I can’t be sure of all the aspects of his season) and Schumacher in his early Ferraris.

In his wins, there was no margin for error, because each time he won, he won with such a little breathing space that the smallest mistake from either him or the team would mean a difference between winning or not.

For example, Vettel and Button waited for a whole race for Alonso to miss just one braking point, to get wrong-footed by at least one backmarker, and yet he never did.

You gotta admire him because he was bringing this level of excellence to every race and every session. If he didn’t, many opportunities would have been missed.

This is why I don’t understand why people are making it out to be less of an achievement when you grab the opportunity you didn’t even have a right to hope will come your way.

Staying motivated the whole weekend in that situation is much harder, then being motivated when you can see from the word “go” that your car is gonna be on the front row come Sunday.

Going back to the personality thing.

I never cared for the people I admire to bend over themselves to please the others. I do however, among other things, admire them because they are true to themselves even at the expense of being disliked by many.

As the famous saying goes: “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.”

I admire him because he’s refusing to put on an act just to satisfy hypocritical and shallow public who think they own him or something and who are “offended” by curse words on TV or nudity in art.

We can all be better people then we are, but we need to be better because of the people close to us, who deserve it, people who wouldn’t be damning us for who we are in the first place.

In other words, Alonso owes nothing to the haters, while on the other hand, it’s clear to see that he is being a better man every year for his team.

To close it with one more proverb:

“If you didn’t try so hard to be liked by everyone, maybe you would have been truly liked by few.”

Go Fernando!


You should add the bit about his darker side and also the bit about learning to lose in a dignified manner, wonder if there’s a proverb for a character like that


>You should add the bit about … learning to lose in a dignified manner

Yes, like other top F1 drivers do. Except Scumi, obviously. And except finger boy, who can’t even win graciously. And except Mr “I’m so angry I’m going to tweet my telemetry”, ‘cos that’s not really too gracious either, is it?

So, IMO, that’s all the current top 3 failing to make the grade. Of course, some F1 drivers do and can. Kimi and Jense come to mind. But it doesn’t exactly go with the territory, does it, at least in the modern era? Don’t recall Senna being too strong in that department, either…


Spot on!!!!


Finally someone who can see the big picture.

Great read thankyou

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