With Lewis Hamilton deservedly taking the F1 World Championship this season, it’s time to look at just how well each driver drove in what was a very exciting season. Here’s the first part of our drivers’ rankings.
22. Esteban Gutierrez
No points and no drive for next year is how the Mexican finished his second season in F1. The Sauber may have been a slow, heavy car but Gutierrez should still have produced more competitive performances.
His poor concentration in Monaco threw away his, and the team’s best chance of points and summed up the disastrous season. It’s doubtful we’ll see him back in F1.
21. Kimi Raikkonen
What happened to the Ice Man? He was out-qualified by Fernando Alonso 16-3 and at times was over a second slower. The Belgian GP was also the only time he finished ahead of his team-mate.
Raikkonen finished 12th in the overall standings, a long way short of the team’s expectations. Although he has said 2014’s car doesn’t suit his style; that can only count for so much. He’ll need a vast improvement in 2015.
20. Marcus Ericsson
Numerous spins and crashes and tediously slow qualifying pace tell the story of Ericsson’s maiden season in F1. Even Andre Lotterer – standing in for team-mate Kamui Kobayashi in Belgium – showed just how far off the pace Ericsson was.
Financially, he is one of the most backed drivers in F1, the main reasoning behind his move to Sauber for 2015. He needs to improve or Sauber will be in for another point-less year.
19. Max Chilton
Despite a solid debut season in 2013, Chilton struggled to keep up with his rivals this year. Although he could generally be relied upon to bring the car to the finish, there was sometimes a lack of raw speed which meant he was more often than not, the last car across the finish line.
Marussia are attempting to return to the grid as Manor next year, but it’s unclear whether Chilton will be part of the new venture.
18. Pastor Maldonado
Poor Maldonado must be cursing his luck right now. After switching from the uncompetitive Williams last year to race-winners Lotus, he has ended up right back where he started.
Williams have moved forward and Lotus have moved sharply back. The car was very unreliable, and often qualifying would be a success if they made it into Q2 without any problems. He undoubtedly has the speed but now he needs a car to match.
17. Kamui Kobayashi
The popular Japanese driver returned to the paddock after a year out of the sport. Known for his aggressive driving style, Caterham were hopeful he could lead them to their first points in F1, since joining the sport in 2010.
Sadly this was not the case as Kobayashi could never competitively battle the midfield teams. His season was unremarkable, though he did prove he could still do a good job with a faster car.
16. Adrian Sutil
Like Gutierrez, it was a poor season for the Sauber driver. There were occasional flashes of speed, like getting himself into Q3 in America but these were few and far between.
His decent qualifying pace was generally undone during the race as often he finished further down than where he started – if he finished at all – he had eight DNFs over the season. His saving grace is that he was quite comfortably faster than his team-mate.
15. Daniil Kvyat
After a promising start to the season, the young Russian unfortunately faded badly in the second half. Next year we will see him racing for Red Bull but since the announcement was made, he has failed to pick up any points.
He’s still only 20 years of age so there is still much to learn and he will have to do it fast in order to win races next season. He now needs to prove the Red Bull team made the right call in choosing him over Jean-Eric Vergne.
14. Romain Grosjean
A frustrating year for what is undoubtedly a very quick driver. Lotus’ dismal reliability often meant Grosjean and Maldonado were playing catch-up before qualifying even began.
Grosjean showed marginally more speed than his team-mate, but comparisons are hard to find as both drivers suffered rotten luck most weekends. A better Lotus car in 2015 should see him much higher up the grid.
13. Kevin Magnussen
The Dane’s first race in F1 could hardly have gotten better with a podium in Australia. The team’s early promise wasn’t going to last however, as McLaren slipped into the midfield battle quickly.
Magnussen showed a lot of quality in qualifying, yet his race pace was sometimes found wanting and team-mate Jenson Button regularly finished ahead of him. McLaren have made no announcement as to who will partner Fernando Alonso next year, and Magnussen’s advantage over Button is his potential, rather than current ability.
12. Jean-Eric Vergne
With the first half of the season plagued with reliability issues, much of the spotlight was on Vergne’s younger team-mate Daniil Kvyat. When Vergne learned that he wasn’t chosen to join Red Bull in 2015 it seemed to spark the Frenchman into life, as he drove exceptionally well in the final rounds.
Some great attacking drives have unfortunately not earned him another year at Torro Rosso but it’s unlikely this is the last we will hear of the talented driver.
11. Sergio Perez
A mediocre season for the ex-McLaren driver. A fantastic third place finish in Bahrain was his highlight, but aside from that he generally had a solid-if-unspectacular first season at Force India.
He lost the qualifying battle to Nico Hulkenburg 11-8, however rumours around the paddock are that the team have been more impressed with Perez behind the scenes. He’ll hope to do even better next year.
Jason Coulter,Pundit Arena