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My top five F1 drivers of the year 2013
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Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Dec 2013   |  10:52 am GMT  |  309 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 great response with just under 600 entries.

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

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

But here is how I see it:


1. Sebastian Vettel

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


4. Nico Rosberg

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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1

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

2

While a fair bit different than my pick (Vettel, Kimi, Hulkenberg, Alonso and Lewis.), your choice James does make sense after reading how you came to it I would say but for Alonso. I feel he wasn’t as effective as in his previous seasons with Ferrari, but that just me.

Beside that, I would like to give you James, you and your team, my sincere thanks for this great site. I like the way it is moderated, while we are allowed to express our opinions as we see fit, I appreciate the overall level of the arguments, not too subdue and yet not too trashy. The best F1 site by a long way. A great deal of thanks as well to the many contributors to this site, that help making it what it is. To you all I wish good health, happiness and prosperity for 2014. Marc

3

Many thanks

4

Hi Yago,

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

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

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

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

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

To quote from Autocourse last year, with Mark Hughes telling to Pat Fry:

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

Martin

5
Fernando "150%" Alonso

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

6

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

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

Brazil proved that the Ferrari had strong pace still.

Maybe Hulkenberg had a qualifying setup too…

7

edit.

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

8

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

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

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

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

9
Fernando "150%" Alonso

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

10
James (another one)

1. Call up the 2013 race results data.

2. See if you can spot the points in the season at which:

a) Mercedes got a free 1,000km test; and

b) Red Bull demanded and got the tyres changed to compounds they could handle.

3. Reassess opinion of season performances.

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

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

11

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

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

12

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

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

13

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

14

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

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

15

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

Merry Christmas…

16

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

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

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

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

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

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

17

Hi James,

I would argue on the following statement:

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

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

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

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

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

And now we saw who took fruits from that work.

18

+1

good explanation

19

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

20

hoping for truth to be made of your words.

21

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

22

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

23

“Vettel’s legacy will be based off his performance when he doesn’t have the best car.”

I’d say he was doing pretty well in the first half of the year.

24

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

25

Here’s a nice short analysis of Ferrari’s problems in 2013 (it’s in Italian, though)

http://www.f1analisitecnica.com/2013/12/ferrari-f138-la-sintesi-finale-sul-suo.html

26

I have my own short analysis!

“They were sh*t”

🙂

27

I’m surprised you didn’t pick Hulkenberg James. I think Lewis had probably his worst season in F1 in 2013. Qualified well but was going backwards during nearly every race. I know some of that can be put down to the characteristics of the car but there were races where Rosberg was able to hold on to positions while Hamilton was dropping away very quickly.

Hulkenberg performance in the Sauber for me would be 4th and I’d put Rosberg 5th. I agree with your top 3 though and like you said, it’s all very close between the likes of HAM, GRO, HUL, ROS and perhaps even Bianchi. Can’t overlook his performances this season, leaving Chilton look like an amateur in comparison and securing the Marussia team an impressive 13th in Malaysia which turned out to be arguably the most valuable 13th place in F1 history.

28

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

29

I totally agree!

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

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

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

They destroyed our sport

30

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

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

31

Really??

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

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

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

there is no doubt Rosberg is a good driver but his no where close to being great!!

All he will ever be is just decent driver!!

A lucky version of Nick Heidfeld!!

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

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

Had Rosberg come up against that Lewis it would

have a total annihilation!!

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

32

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

33

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

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

34
Alexander Supertramp

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

35

By what measure??

36

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

37

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

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

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

38

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

39

whats so dangerous?

and there to be careful about?

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

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

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

Rosberg also had a massive advantage!

he didnt have to get used to a new team or a new car!he didnt have to spend most of the season focusing on acclimatizing.

Next year Lewis will be much better prepared and he can focus on pure performance!

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

40
Fernando "150%" Alonso

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

41

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

43

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

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

44

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

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

45

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

As for the rest, I agree with you.

46

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

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

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

47

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

48

So hard to pick them. Disappointed that Grojean was not picked when considering last years performance to this years. When he is on he is very exciting to watch and had some great drives equal to if not better than Kimi in my opinion at times.

I would have moved Rosberg out and had Grojean in and a toss of the coin for Lewis and Webber. Neither was a standout but easily the best of the rest.

49

It is an interesting list when you consider

2: significant error in Malaysia, underperformed expectations in qualifying

3: apart from China and Abu Dhabi, underperformed in qualifying, started to be outshone by his team mate once the tyres changed

4: often slower than his team mate, just did enough to win in Monaco, got lucky in Britain

5: Some very high points and some very low points. Using too much fuel in Malaysia, too much of the tyres (Korea in particular). Silly collision with Bottas in Brazil. Unhappy with his own performance at many races.

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

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

50

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

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

51

Hi Martijn.

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

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

Maldonado would be my worst driver of the season based on experience and potential, especially with the number of collisions he had in a poor handling car. He did do a few strong drives to 11th through the season. I feel Pic is my runner up for the wooden spoon – with limited visibility he was underwhelming. So I’d end up with:

Vettel, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Grosjean, Bianchi, Button, Webber, di Resta, Massa, Vergne, Bottas Sutil, Perez, van der Garde, Gutierrez, Chilton, Pic and Maldonado. On a different day I’d come up with a different list, I feel that is a reasonable mix of pace in qualifying, the race, crashes and race craft. Vettel was almost flawless in all of them, and then there was the rest.

52

My favourite driver is Kimi, but there’s no way around who the number one driver in 2013, isn’t there?!?

So the difficult clusters after that are really 2nd and 3rd, as a group, and it is equally difficult to argue with the two that James has in that cluster, (though, Kimi is, my favourite driver, and I tire easily, of the Alonso Media Corporation… content distribution).

The last cluster, again, James has the players, but I’d really have to go with Hulkenberg, for 4th, and I really don’t have Nico Rosberg in my top five.

My fifth is a is extremely close between Hamilton and Grosjean, but because of the positive trending of Grosjean, and the huge obstacles he’s overcome, to climb up the heap to consistent podiums, I have to go with him.

Hamilton is Hamilton, and I sincerely believe that, for whatever reason, we are NOT getting the full potential of him, definitely not race-over-race!

I’d have put Webber of Rosberg, because his benchmark was truly superlative, and Rosberg looked like he had his best year matching a diffident-looking Hamilton!

He’s got to do better than that to make my top five.

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