Completing the second part of our F1 drivers’ rankings for the season, here Jason Coulter runs down the top 10.
10. Nico Hulkenberg
Much the same as Perez, the German had a good, solid campaign, scoring points in each of the opening 10 races which showed his consistency.
There are many who believe Hulkenberg belongs to a team fighting for the championship and his race pace has always been very good. A good season in 2015 may see one of the top teams take a chance on him.
9. Sebastian Vettel
By the former world-champion’s high standards, 2014 will have been a huge disappointment. The Red Bull’s Renault powered engine left them over a second behind Mercedes some weekends which had Vettel feeling frustrated from the first race.
He was also thoroughly beaten by the scintillating form of Daniel Ricciardo, so it’s a good time for him to start a fresh career with Ferrari in 2015.
8. Jules Bianchi
Before his horrible accident in Japan, Bianchi had been having a great year with Marussia. His 9th place in Monaco, including his brilliant overtake on Kobayashi was the team’s best moment in F1.
In other race weekends, Bianchi consistently out-qualified team-mate Max Chilton and very often the Caterham drivers too, showing just how quick he was. We can only hope he makes a good recovery in time.
7. Fernando Alonso
Alonso’s toughest season at Ferrari has turned out to be his last, and it’s also the only year he hasn’t won a race for the the Italian team.
It’s unfortunate for Alonso that he has joined the team in a period of such drastic transition, and he is definitely worthy of adding to his two World Championships. McLaren will probably not be quick enough to challenge next season, but 2016 should see much more positive results.
6. Jenson Button
Short of winning a race, there was very little extra Button could have done this season. Great drives in Russia, Brazil and Abu Dhabi proved the former world champion still has the speed to win races and it would be a massive shame if this was to be his final year.
Team-mate Kevin Magnussen often matched Button in qualifying, but come the race, the Briton was far superior. A quick car and he could still challenge for the title.
5. Felipe Massa
Some people on the paddock believe that with a little more ambition and a little less naivety, Williams could have won a race this year. This was especially telling in Austria when Massa took pole – the only driver outside of Mercedes to do so in 2015.
Eventually Williams settled for a 3–4 finish but it showed just how quick the car was. Early in the year, Massa struggled with reliability and was out-shone by his younger team-mate Valterri Bottas but as the season progressed, Massa began to dominate. Picking up podiums in the final two races will give him a lot of confidence for 2015.
4. Nico Rosberg
Being the inaugural winner of the Pole Trophy is the highlight of the year for Rosberg. He defeated Hamilton 12–7 in qualifying, but there was no doubt who the faster driver was on race day.
The most glaring statistic is that Rosberg failed to overtake Hamilton all season and it’s not one he is likely to forget. He is arguably the quickest driver over the course of one lap, but at times during races he was never likely to pass his team-mate, often too content with second place.
The incident in Belgium where he effectively ended Hamilton’s race showed his petulant streak and he will need to be much more adventurous in future if he wants to be world champion.
3. Valterri Bottas
The Finn has been one of this year’s biggest success stories, grabbing six podiums and finishing fourth in the standings. It’s a massive turnaround in fortune compared to 2013 when he only managed one points-scoring finish – an 8th in Abu Dhabi.
Having the more experiences, Massa should also help Bottas become a quicker, smarter driver too. He has shown himself to be one of the sports rising stars, and with maturity and composure beyond his years, he will be aiming for his first taste of victory next year.
2. Daniel Ricciardo
In an understrength Red Bull, picking up three race wins is a huge achievement. It caps what has been a great year for Ricciardo, as he out-qualified Vettel 10-9 and was generally much quicker in races.
He’s undoubtedly a future world champion, the only question is whether the team can give him the car to achieve this goal in 2015. Off the track, he has been a hit too, being one of the more likeable characters on the grid. The future looks very bright for the talented Aussie.
1. Lewis Hamilton
Perhaps it’s a little obvious giving the number one spot to the world champion, but Hamilton is a worthy winner. Magnificent drives in Japan and Austin both saw Hamilton work hard and have the sheer race-craft to pass Rosberg to take victory – something his rival could never do.
In Germany and Hungary, Hamilton was forced to start at the back of the grid, yet both times he came home on the podium. He was the unluckier of the two title contenders, but despite this he always delivered a result when it mattered. He will be the favourite going into the 2015 season and deservedly so. A worthy champion.
Let us know what you think of our top 10, and any changes you would have made via Twitter or Facebook.
Jason Coulter, Pundit Arena
Featured image By Smo1997 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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