F1 Top Ten 2008

Here is my top ten list of drivers for the 2008 F1 season. Disagree? Let me know!

2008 FIA Formula 1

1. Hamilton (P1 – Champion)
The fastest driver over the full season. He made some elementary mistakes such as the Montreal pitlane, on other occasions he destroys the field, such as in the rain at Silverstone. On the whole he was the better of the two championship protagonists.

2. Kubica (P4)
Was consistent throughout the year, the only exceptions being when Heidfeld also struggled which means you can put those occasions down to car or team problems, and not driver. Even after BMW stopped developing the car in order to concentrate on ’09, he took it into the middle of the title fight until a couple of rounds remaining, when most observers tipped the top four points places as a Ferrari/McLaren lockout. He’d have done so even without Raikkonen’s troubles. The BMW wasn’t as good as the McLaren or Ferrari yet Robert managed to keep himself in the title fight until surprisingly late in the season.

3. Massa (P2)
Felipe has improved significantly over the last 12 months and is nothing like the driver he was when at Sauber a few years ago. He’s applied himself to learning from Michael Schumacher and the lessons are paying off. I still tend to under-rate him and have to actively think to include him in any list like this. I wonder if his fellow drivers do the same?

4. Raikkonen (P3)
Kimi didn’t seem to be all there this year. Somehow he made little to no impression in several races yet comes away tying the record for most fastest laps in a season. This points to not being able to run with the car when it has a heavy fuel load or cold tyres (or maybe both). When the car is fast, light, and has hot sticky tyres he’s able to push with the best of them – unfortunately for him he was invariably too far behind by that stage of the race.

5. Alonso (P5)
Had a fair-to-middling first half of the season when you often forgot he was there, then suddenly he came alive to win two races and finish strongly in a host of others. I’m not sure if he’d finally got over the McLaren fiasco in his head, or if Renault made some improvements (or maybe both) but something definitely clicked to once again allow Fernando to look like the champion driver he is.

6. Heidfeld (P6)
‘Quick Nick’ had another good-but-not-quite-good-enough season. He’s had quite a lot of those now, which is a shame as he’s shown a lot of promise ever since he first arrived in F1 all that time ago and I’ve always rated him even when others haven’t. He just struggles to sustain it over a season. Ought to have matched Kubica more often than he did. Perhaps that shows just how good Robert really is?

7. Vettel (P8)
An excellent season! There were times he completely embarrassed the ‘main’ Red Bull team in what is basically the old Minardi team running customer cars. I guess it shows Stoddart was kind of right, the team DID have it (whatever ‘it’ is), when it comes to the operations and strategy side anyway. Sebastian showed his talent throughout the season, even as the other Seb has noted this was as much down to the car suiting the German and not the Frenchman. It doesn’t matter what the car advantage is, you still have to do the job as my next choice demonstrates.

8. Kovalainen (P7)
Very disappointing. He shouldn’t be finishing 7th in points in a McLaren and I’m tempted to drop him further back because of it. As I said above, it isn’t any good just driving a quick car, you still have to put the performances in and Heikki just didn’t manage it. This is a shame as he struggled last year in the Renault too. He had what I’d call a Coulthard kind of year, with Hamilton taking the role of Hakkinen. Just like DC he’s quick on his day but always seems to fall back for some reason, or always have the bad luck in the team.

9. Rosberg (P13)
I’m a Williams fan. The team are not where they should be. Both Nico and Kazuki did a good job in a less-than-great car, and were fighting among the Red Bulls and Toro Rossos quite often. Williams have invested in the flywheel KERS while everyone else has gone to batteries, I think it’ll help them enormously! I’m looking forward to watching their improved progress next year.

10. Barrichello (P14)
Rubens didn’t read the script. After closely matching Button last season, this year Jenson was supposed to come along and wipe the floor with him as he got every more disheartened. In reality Rubens thrashed Button and dragged the shitbox of a Honda to finishing positions it had no right being – the highlight being 3rd at Silverstone which was achieved entirely down to his strategic calls and his right foot. Note that he made the call on the tyres, not the team. Lesser drivers wait for the team to call them in.

Special mentions:
Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato for dragging a turd of a Super Aguri around Albert Park, Sepang, Bahrain and Barcelona all the while wondering if they’d still have a job the next day. After Barcelona they didn’t have a job. Don’t fall into the schoolboy error of assuming these are bad drivers – they are not.

Normally I would include a Red Bull driver in this list. Frankly neither of them did a good enough job, and were regularly beaten by the ‘junior’ team. I expect the big team to trounce the little one next year.

This is a quality field of drivers. We’re lucky in that these days we don’t have the journeyman pay-drivers propping up the field any more, as we did until very recently indeed. No Ricardo Rosset or Enrique Bernoldi now!

2009 will be a very interesting year with all kinds of permutations brought about by the change in rules. Will the slicks and KERS give us more overtaking, will it change the fortunes of any of the teams/drivers? Will more teams struggle to survive? Will Honda get a buyer and if so, who will it be? So many questions!

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “F1 Top Ten 2008

  1. Kohl K.

    Of course I disagree, isnt that the point of blogging. I think if Rubens makes the list Button should and between Kovalainen(or however you spell it) and Vettel are not only overrated by you but by the racing world as a whole!

  2. Too Much Racing

    Button fell short this year, but I agree he has talent. I find it strange when others think he doesn’t, just because he’s in a rubbish car.. But Rubinho did beat him!I rate Heikki K. but he’s testing my loyalty even more than Heidfeld is. On the other hand Vettel is impressing me the more I watch him race. He’ll destroy Webber next year – even without Mark’s post-season injury. And I like Webber!

  3. Kohl K.

    I just think its time some of the old guys like Rubens to step aside in favor of people like Bruno Senna. And I hate to sound a bit like James May but Nick Heidfeld is “just rubbish.”

  4. Too Much Racing

    Yup, Rubens and DC were the last of the ‘old guard’ (though you might throw Trulli and Fisi in there too).Senna and di Grassi both need to be in F1 pronto. There are some other good guys floating about looking for the opportunity, too, and I expect one or three of them to be knocking around IndyCar teams looking for a drive.I still like Heidfeld, but I can never explain why. Maybe because he’s the underdog.

  5. The SpeedGeek

    I’d say that I largely agree with your list, except for Rubens and maybe Rosberg. By my measure of performance (the All-Racing Fantasy League scoring), Rubens and Jenson were within 1 point of each other at the end of the season, and ahead of only the Force India guys and Bourdais (who would have finished ahead of both of the Honda guys if he hadn’t been penalized at Fuji). 16th or 17th in the standings, even in a crap car, does not spell a top-10 performance to me.Rosberg, similarly, did not outscore Kaz by a huge margin, either in the F1 system or in my system. While we can all agree that The Kazmanian Devil spent too much time throwing his car into barriers, I think that Nico did as well, even if he was ultimately faster most of the time. Also, without his rules-assisted 2nd place at Singapore, the final margin between Nico and Kaz would have been tiny.Me? I’ll take Timo Glock (who nearly beat his far more experienced teammate in the standings) and Mark Webber (who made most people forget that David Coulthard wasn’t already retired) in 9th and 10th on my list. Heikki definitely deserves to be ahead of either of them, and so winds up in the top-8 (not to mention that I still do rate him, and think that he’ll do better next year when he gets some better luck and isn’t in a supporting position to Lewis from Round 4 onward).Final thought: I’m not completely sold on either di Grassi (though I probably would be if he’d had a full season in GP2) or Senna (which pains me, given how much I followed and revered his uncle). Neither could ultimately beat Pantano, who most people would say had his shot at F1 and wasn’t good enough (however fair or unfair that statement might be). I’d like to see Bruno or Lucas win the GP2 championship before they get their shot at F1, or at least a season as a full time test driver where we hear regular reports that they’re faster than one of the team’s regular drivers. That’s just my opinion, though…

  6. Too Much Racing

    Glock and Nakajima both very nearly made the list, I’d probably rank them 11th and 12th.Don’t forget di Grassi also raced the 2007 GP2 season so he’s not that inexperienced any more. He’s ready. I’d say Senna needs another half-season.With the current test restrictions the test driver isn’t an option any more, unfortunately.

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