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.
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!