Dunbar: The Drivers – F1 Half Time Review Part 2


This is part 2 of our open-wheels F1 half time review. Last time we looked at how the teams had been doing in the first half of the 2014 season, this time we’re looking at the drivers – who’s on top, who’s upside down, and who’s in the wall.

The championship looks like this:

01           Nico Rosberg

02           Lewis Hamilton

03           Daniel Ricciardo

04           Fernando Alonso

05           Valtteri Bottas

06           Sebastian Vettel

07           Nico Hulkenberg

08           Jenson Button

09           Felipe Massa

10           Kevin Magnussen

11           Sergio Perez

12           Kimi Räikkönen

13           Jean-Eric Vergne

14           Romain Grosjean

15           Daniil Kvyat

16           Jules Bianchi

Then the order of the guys without points (I never know how they work this out – but I’m sure there’s a clever system):

17           Adrian Sutil

18           Marcus Ericsson

19           Pastor Maldonado

20           Esteban Gutierrez

21           Max Chilton

22           Kamui Kobayashi

Pointless drivers

Starting with the no-points drivers, it’s fair to say there are no real winners here but I personally like Gutierrez and think he deserves more credit than he gets. Kobayashi is a relentlessly positive voice in press briefings, I’m glad he’s happy because I think if I was driving in that car I’d be less generous and smiley. Let’s hope we see both these two in Indycar some day.

Maldonado, not a fan, sorry, and if there was a drinking game involving him spinning or wrecking, I’d be drunk every Sunday night.

Ericsson hasn’t made any impression on me, nor has Sutil. Max is a nice character, and is reliable, but he just isn’t showing enough speed. Still, he has a rich dad so we may see him in Indycar one day as well.

Drivers with points

Moving on to those who have scored points, in 16th we have Jules Bianchi with two. This is like a win for a team like Marussia, he literally may as well be leading the championship. True he had a rather, err, brutal approach to passing at Monaco, but the points are fantastic for him and fantastic for the team. Jules is a Ferrari academy driver and recently tested well in the car Räikkönen has been struggling with. (More of that later). He is one to watch for the future.

Kvyat, as I mentioned in the previous post, is having a great rookie year and impressing a lot of people. Let’s hope it continues and he doesn’t start to become accident prone. I’m seeing a bit of that starting to appear.

Grosjean. Yawn. He has points but he is stuck in a bad car sadly. He deserves better, but will he ever get what he deserves? With all the new drivers coming up he’s already past the ‘up and coming’ phase. Dangerous place to be. Let’s hope he can turn it around from Spa onwards, but Lotus really aren’t giving him the equipment to do that. Still, he is beating his team mate.

Vergne. Yawn again. I don’t know how he’s being doing, haven’t really noticed. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. Red Bull are brutal so maybe the exit door beckons here too, even though he is winning his team mate war at the moment.

Aside: There’s a real sense with F1 drivers that you’re either on the way up, on the way out, or paying to drive. It’s a tough place to be, and I think we’re going to see some good drivers lose their seats in the 2014-2015 off-season. (STOP PRESS: He is to be replaced by 17 year old Max Verstappen next year – read all about it on Will Buxton’s blog)

Kimi. Kimi, Kimi, Kimi. Everyone’s favourite former Camping World Truck Series driver is really not coming up with the goods this year. He is struggling to master the Ferrari. It reminds me of when an in-form Giancarlo Fisichella moved into the Ferrari and couldn’t get any performance out of it. The great thing with Kimi though is that he doesn’t care. So nor do I. I’m just happy he is still in the sport. However I would LOVE to see him in the Indy 500 someday. Fingers crossed for that. Fingers crossed also that he has a better second half of the season, he is showing signs of progress.

Perez. He’s doing OK, but not as well as Hulkenberg in the team mate wars. Solid enough though. Let’s hope he can inspire his side of the garage to better things in the second half.

Magnussen is being talked about as a future star, but he isn’t ahead of Jenson on points yet, so I’m going to reserve judgement until we see how he does over the full season. He still has work to do, but he seems popular with the team and will be here to stay I suspect.

Massa. Luck does not come to Felipe often. As I said in the previous post I have a lot of time for Williams in 2014 and I really want Felipe to do well. He shows promise but he has been on the end of too many crazy first lap incidents, usually not his fault, but the old adage that you make your own luck suggests he must be doing something wrong. Fortunately he has a long term deal with Williams so he has plenty of time to prove himself. I think he is happy there too.

Button. A sad season for Jenson with the loss of his father, who attended every race, just before the season started. I can’t help feeling that the old Jenson has gone and his heart isn’t fully in it. Hopefully he will press on and do even better in the second half of the season so he can rise further up the standings. He still looks good when he’s running on the right strategy.

Hulkenberg. He is soundly beating Perez, and making the Force India perform better than it deserves to, a bit like Alonso with the Ferrari. One day he will get a top drive, then look out! A nice guy too.

Vettel. Remember all those who said Vettel was only as good as his car, couldn’t handle it when he wasn’t in front etc. Yeah, now he is down in 6th and his new team mate is in 3rd. Whoops! I must admit I’m enjoying that a little bit. It’s not that I dislike Vettel, but I never really felt he acknowledged how lucky he was to have such a good car.

Bottas. Frank Williams is incredibly generous with his praise of Bottas, and it’s not surprising given the way he has been performing. A true star and I hope that Williams keeps a consistent team and goes on to win a championship with Bottas or Massa in 2015.

Alonso. Fernando is quietly getting on with the job of making the Ferrari look much better than it deserves to look. Let’s put it this way – do you think a) Räikkönen has forgotten how to drive or b) Alonso can drive anything because he’s a genius. I think the difference between the two owes more to b) than to a). Wonder if he’ll stay with the red team or move to somewhere less political. I’d be prepared to bet he’s jealous of Massa.

Ricciardo. If he is unhappy with his first Red Bull season you can’t tell it from his face. It is astounding work to be that far ahead of your multiple world champion team mate and that capable on track. Daniel is aggressively easy going and I bet that makes Vettel pretty mad.

Hamilton. Formula 1’s glass half empty man has, on more than one occasion, had me shouting at the TV. “Cheer up mate, you’ve got the best car on the grid”. Despite having the best car and better natural speed than Rosberg he hasn’t had the luck to stay ahead at the half way point of the season. There are a lot of conspiracy theories suggesting that the German team favours their German driver, but as a commentator said ‘Mercedes are hardly going to pay millions to secure the best driver on the grid just to sabotage his season’ Good point.

Rosberg. He hasn’t been doing everything right, but he’s been doing enough right to get ahead and stay there. He has also been more professional than Lewis. Deserves a real shot at the title, and, with double points in the final race making the whole thing almost as much of a lottery as Chase, the he has that shot.

Next time: Looking ahead to the second half of the season.

Tony Tellez

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