2016 Mid-season Driver Ratings


Points Scorer
Since we've now passed the mid-point of the season and are entering the summer break, it seems like a good time to have a mid-season driver ranking thread, and these sorts of threads always seem to be popular so why not?

I'll kick things off with my own list, and I will include statistics on each driver's team mate battles to try and explain/justify my rankings (which are based partially on intuition and partially on said stats). Qualifying stats completely exclude events where a driver was prevented from setting a representative time due to mechanical failure, e.g. China and Russia qualifyings are not counted at all in the Mercedes battle. Race stats exclude any race where either driver suffered a mechanical DNF.
For the back markers I will be using the modified points system that I have posted before, since the current system doesn't allow any meaningful comparison between them otherwise. Due to the fact this system has little to no impact on cars that regularly finish inside the points I will only refer to it when dealing with back markers.
Note also that I am creating this list under the assumption that the Manor and Sauber are broadly similar cars.

With that out of the way, here is my list. I don't expect everyone to give a full list, but I am.

23. Esteban Gutierrez
Gutierrez continues to be wholly underwhelming, with Grosjean dominating him 28-0 in points (29.42 - 3.32 under my system). Curiously the head-to-head tally is much closer, with Grosjean ahead 8-4 in qualifying and Gutierrez actually ahead 5-4 in races. This probably makes 2016 Gutierrez's strongest season to date.

22. Rio Haryanto
Haryanto has been dominated by the Sauber drivers and his team mate Wehrlein, the latter leads 7-5 in qualifying, 9-1 in races and 1-0 in points. Under my modified points system Haryanto has scored just 0.76 points; this compares to 2.30 for Wehrlein, 1.92 for Nasr and 1.74 for Ericsson. If the rumours of him loosing his seat are true then it will be no big loss.

21. Jolyon Palmer
Palmer has ran Magnussen fairly close in the head-to-head tallies, with the latter leading 6-4 in qualifying and 5-4 in races. Under my modified points system though Magnussen leads 8.18 - 2.07 thanks to his excellent 7th place finish in Russia and fewer mechanical DNFs. Considering how badly Magnussen was outperformed by Button, scoring less than half his points, and Palmer's own fairly mediocre junior career, things don't look good for Palmer which ever way you look at it.

20. Daniil Kvyat
Kvyat had a shaky start to the season with Red Bull, but since being demoted to Toro Rosso he has completely fallen apart, setting the fastest lap in Spain being pretty much the sole highlight. He has been dominated 6-2 in qualifying, 6-0 in races and 26-2 in points by Sainz.

19. Kevin Magnussen
Across their time together Button beat Magnussen 11-9 in qualifying, 14-3 in races and 116-55 in points. Kevin has done little this season to show he has improved much beyond that.

18. Felipe Massa
Massa was closely matched with Bottas in 2014 and 2015, but so far this year Bottas is showing him the way. Bottas leads 10-2 in qualifying, 5-5 in races and 58-38 in points. With the Williams falling back into the pack Massa has increasingly looked completely lost, it may be time Felipe moved on.

17. Nico Hulkenberg
Hulkenberg needed to cement his status as the lead Force India driver this season. He has done so in qualifying, beating Perez 7-4 in qualifying, but qualifying is always where Hulkenberg has had the advantage; in races the pair are tied 5-5 with Perez ahead 48-33 in points. As seems to becoming traditional now, Hulkenberg is closely matched with Perez until the opportunity for a great result shows itself, at which point Perez is the one who goes out and grabs it.

16. Romain Grosjean
Although he has scored all of Haas' 28 points this season, the head-to-head tallies with Gutierrez have been much closer. This is not a good thing for Grosjean considering Gutierrez has historically been atrocious, and his constant moaning on team radio has gotten old. I was one of many who thought Grosjean had positioned himself ideally to be Raikkonen's replacement in 2017, but his iffy season combined with Raikkonen's improved form put paid to that very quickly.

15. Felipe Nasr
After a very impressive debut season in 2015, scoring 3 times as many points as Ericsson and being ranked as highly as 5th by F1Metrics' mathematical model, 2016 started terribly for Nasr, being completely dominated by Ericsson early on. In recent races he has started to turn things around, although Ericsson still holds the advantage in the head-to-head tallies (see below). Both drivers are only able to be ranked based on Ericsson's rookie season alongside Kobayashi.

14. Marcus Ericsson
After being beaten convincingly by Kobayashi in 2014 and Nasr in 2015, 2016 has been a much better performance by Ericsson. He leads Nasr 6-5 in qualifying and 5-3 in races. Under my modified points system Nasr has scored more points (1.92 vs. 1.74) but has also suffered fewer mechanical DNFs. On a points per race basis the pair are dead even, with Ericsson ranked ahead based on the head-to-head tallies.

13. Pascal Wehrlein
Due to both Manor drivers being rookies it is very hard to rate either driver relative to the rest of the grid. Wehrlein has been the much stronger driver, scoring 3 times as many points as Haryanto under my modified points system and scoring Manor's only point of the season under the real points system. Under my system Wehrlein has also scored slightly more points than the two Sauber drivers, Nasr and Ericsson, and is ranked just ahead of them based on the assumption that the two cars are roughly comparable in performance.

12. Stoffel Vandoorne
I debated even including Vandoorne after having driven just 1 race. He impressed in said debut race, outqualifying Button and scoring McLaren's first point of the season. He is ranked based on his points per race score of 1 being roughly half of Button's and a third of Alonso's.

11. Sergio Perez
Perez continues to prove himself to be a capable mid-fielder, with another 2 podium finishes under his belt and his advantage over Hulkenberg growing ever bigger. His 2013 season still looms over him like a dark cloud, as it isn't clear how much better or worse he is now than he was then, although it has to be said that scoring 67% of Button's points isn't exactly a poor performance.

10. Valtteri Bottas
As mentioned under Massa's entry, Bottas has had a fairly healthy margin over Massa so far this season and is becoming quite the qualifying specialist. In qualifying he has had a median advantage of 0.323% and a mean advantage of 0.497% over Massa this season; this compares very favourably to Alonso as Alonso had a median advantage of 0.404% and a mean of 0.321% across his 4 seasons with Massa. Race performances still fall someway from Alonso-level, but Bottas continues to improve year by year and has solidified his position at the front of the mid-field.

9. Kimi Raikkonen
After 2 thoroughly underwhelming seasons in 2014 and 2015, this season has been a much needed return to form for Raikkonen. He currently leads Vettel in the points table, but has suffered fewer mechanical DNFs and overall less bad luck, on a points per race basis he has 92% of Vettel's points. Even so, his improved pace is evident, the deficit in qualifying being only half what it was last season. His improved form secured him another year at the team, but one can't help but wonder how well one of the other mid-fielders would fare in his seat.

8. Carlos Sainz
Sainz is part of the ever growing group of highly talented Red Bull-backed drivers that are infuriatingly hard to rate relative to the rest of the grid. Sainz has performed quite well this year, scoring 2.73 points per race. This compares to Verstappen scoring 4.33 points per race during his short stint at the team this year, and Kvyat's abysmal 0.33 points per race since his return to it.

7. Nico Rosberg
Rosberg built up a commanding championship lead very early in the season, through a combination of good performances and good luck. His lead has since evaporated at an alarmingly fast rate, and 2016 now looks to be business as usual at Mercedes with Rosberg scoring 91% of Hamilton's points so far. Rosberg does continue to showcase his incredible qualifying pace, but he still can't live with Hamilton in races.

6. Jenson Button
2016 has been typical Button - somewhat anonymously putting in extremely good performances week in week out. This season Alonso leads their battle 8-3 in qualifying, 3-3 in races and 24-17 in points which, considering how poor cars exaggerate the points gap between drivers, is a very respectable effort from Button. While he looks set to lose his seat to the hugely impressive Vandoorne, Button would still be a huge asset to any team that picks him up (take note, Williams).

5. Sebastian Vettel
Vettel must be starting to understand how Alonso was feeling towards the end of his own 5 year stint at Ferrari, although Vettel himself must shoulder some of the blame for that. He is overdriving the car big time, being visibly ragged just about all the time and really isn't beating Raikkonen by as much as he should. Vettel currently leads 8-4 in qualifying and 6-2 in races, but Raikkonen leads 122-120 in points. As mentioned in Raikkonen's entry, this is partially down to a greater number of mechanical problems for Vettel, but even so it is far from the one-sided white-washes that Alonso and Vettel pulled off against Raikkonen in 2014 and 2015.

4. Max Verstappen
The mid-season switch to Red Bull certainly paid off, didn't it? At Toro Rosso he looked to have a decent edge over Sainz as he did last season, whilst at Red Bull he has been extremely closely matched with Ricciardo, which is elaborated on below. Verstappen's overall tally alongside Sainz is 12-9 in qualifying, 7-6 in races and 62-22 in points, although he suffered fewer mechanical DNFs than Sainz.

3. Daniel Ricciardo
After a somewhat underwhelming 2015 season where he was narrowly outscored by Kvyat, 2016 has been quite a return to form for Ricciardo. He has been outqualified just once all season long, making a strong claim to the title of best qualifier. He dominated Kvyat so strongly early on that the latter was demoted to Toro Rosso, despite Ricciardo loosing a whole host of points to a puncture in China and Kvyat's own antics in Russia. Looking to Verstappen, over their 8 races together they are tied 4-4 in races, with Ricciardo ahead 7-1 in qualifying and Verstappen ahead 102-97 in points. Crucially though if Red Bull had not completely botched Ricciardo's pit stop in Monaco, it would be Ricciardo leading Verstappen 104-102.

2. Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton's string of horrible starts in the early part of the season, combined with some bad luck, meant he trailed Rosberg early on, but he was able to rapidly close the gap and now leads the championship once again. So far this season Hamilton leads 6-4 in qualifying, 6-5 in races and 217-198 in points.

1. Fernando Alonso
It is difficult to tell whether Button's impressive performances alongside Alonso are indicative of Alonso generally being overrated relative to his rivals - Hamilton in particular - or whether it is because Alonso has begun to suffer from age-related decline. Were it not for Hamilton's own slightly patchy form in the first few races he would have been ranked 1st in my list, as I don't believe 2016 has seen Alonso at his best. That sub-par Alonso/Hamilton are still at the top of my list is a testament to their talents.
1. Fernando Alonso
It is difficult to tell whether Button's impressive performances alongside Alonso are indicative of Alonso generally being overrated relative to his rivals - Hamilton in particular - or whether it is because Alonso has begun to suffer from age-related decline. Were it not for Hamilton's own slightly patchy form in the first few races he would have been ranked 1st in my list, as I don't believe 2016 has seen Alonso at his best. That sub-par Alonso/Hamilton are still at the top of my list is a testament to their talents.

... Or whether Button has been perpetually under-rated.....
Personally I'd have a bit of a problem giving number one ranking to a driver who has admitted to being "bored" during most races this season. Kind of puts a queston mark as to his motivation to put it mildly.
Whilst I'm almost loathe to say this, my driver of the season, so far, has been Perez! He's performed exceptionally well in the Force India. I also think that Haryanto has surprised many! He is at the back, because he's in a Manor, but he has out-performed his (very highly rated) team mate on many occasions.
Whilst I'm almost loathe to say this .



I agree on his quality though. I'd easily have him on my top-five this year. Seems to me he's been making the absolute best of the tools at his disposal more often than not.
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I think it would be fascinating if the Mercedes drivers and those in the Toro Rosso team changed rides for the rest of the season. That would provide a clear indication of just how dominant the Merc cars are.
Perez has had a very good season, but so has Bottas albeit a more anonymous one. I debated as to who of those two to put at the head of the mid-field, eventually settling on Bottas as his advantage over Massa has been entirely genuine, while Perez has had a bit of good luck in his battle with Hulkenberg. I do have a problem with rating either of them much higher than 9th-11th though, as I don't think they are on the level of the leading group of 8 drivers.

I rate Button towards the lower end of that top group, but look at how Perez fared against him. In 2013, on a points per race basis, he scored 66% of Button's points, which incidentally is exactly the same margin as Raikkonen had over Grosjean over their 2 years together. You can say Perez has improved since then and I would agree, but bare in mind he is now facing a much weaker team mate than Button, which may just be making him seem better than he really is. Perez was highly rated in 2012 too, just like he is now, but as soon as he went up against a strong established driver everyone realised he wasn't actually all that special.
The same thing happened with Massa, but in reverse. After leaving Ferrari and being matched against Bottas everybody was raving about how he had re-found his form and was driving better than ever. Yet when examined with F1Metrics' mathematical model his recent seasons have not actually been any better than his seasons with Alonso, in fact his 2014 was rated as one of his worst ever. He appeared to be driving better as he was against a much weaker team mate, not because he was actually driving better.

Like I said though, I do think Perez has improved and wouldn't be surprised if he and Bottas could give the likes of Button and Rosberg a fairly hard time. But the gap between the front of the mid-field and the back of the front runners is just too great for me to believe Perez has completely passed it, never mind climbed into the Top 5.
I rate Button towards the lower end of that top group, but look at how Perez fared against him. In 2013, on a points per race basis, he scored 66% of Button's points,


Isn't that totally irrelevant - along with any reference as to whatever drivers did before this year - in an article that is supposed to be about the first half of 2016?...
No, because the only way we can rate the drivers relative to each other is to try and correct for the fact the drivers are in different teams. To do that means we have to refer to the 'expected' level of performance of each driver, which means referring to previous seasons. What 2013 tells us is that, at least at the time, Perez was still someway from Button's level. To rate Perez ahead of Button this season requires you to assume that Perez would now beat Button in a team mate battle, and I don't see anything to suggest that is the case.
well in that case we might then claim Massa to the greatest drivers of all time, as he was beginning to match 7-times world champ in the second half of 2006 and the rookie Schumi beat triple world champ Piquet at the end of 1991 etc...
No, because the rest of Massa's career clearly demonstrate that he is not the greatest driver of all time. This includes being beaten by Heidfeld, Fisichella, Schumacher, Alonso and Bottas. The only team mates he ever beat were Villeneueve and Raikkonen, and the rest of Raikkonen's career suggests that was still largely unrepresentative of their relative abilities.

Even in the second half of 2006 Schumacher outscored Massa 62-52 despite suffering the only mechanical DNF in this period. Without that it would've been 72-50, in what was at that point by far the fastest car on the grid and in Schumacher's final ever season.

If you just cherry-pick individual seasons then you can end up with absurd conclusions, that should be obvious, but in the case of Perez I am using the only season where he faced an established top driver. The rest of his career has been spent alongside Kobayashi and Hulkenberg, both of whom are hard to rate relative to the rest of the grid with the best way to do so arguably being comparing them to Perez himself. You could look to Hulkenberg's rookie season alongside Barrichello I suppose, where he scored less than half of Barrichello's points and performed worse than Maldonado did the very next year, but that comparison isn't going to make Perez into a top driver.
i always like to use this paradox...

Damon Hill beat Jacques Villeneuve at Williams.
Jacques Villeneuve beat Heinz Harald Frentzen at Williams
Heinz Harald Frentzen beat Damon Hill at Jordan.

Therefore, Damon Hill's better than Jacques Villeneuve, who's better than Frentzen, who's better than Hill.

So therefore Damon Hill is better than Damon Hill.....
I think it would be fascinating if the Mercedes drivers and those in the Toro Rosso team changed rides for the rest of the season.

Yeah, then we would finally know if it's just been the car flattering Hamilton for the last 10 years! 8-)

And Kvyat couldn't find his way the podium these days even if he was in Putin's pocket.

What a novel suggestion though....:cheer:

On Alonso, if I was a team boss he wouldn't even be in my top 5 drivers that I would want in the car right now.
I'd love it if the drivers swapped teams after each race so that they raced each car twice in a season from the slowest to the fastest.

How cool would that be?

As for the mid-season driver performance list. I can't make my mind up at the moment.
I like this list other than Alonso as number 1 which is a bit silly really. I might put Grosjean up a bit too.
Here's Autosport Magazine's Top 10 average ratings at the mid point of the season:

(Drivers rated out of 10 after each race)

10. Bottas - 7.0
9. Rosberg - 7.1
8. Vettel - 7.3
7. Button - 7.3
6. Wehrlein - 7.3
5. Alonso - 7.6
4. Sainz - 7.8
3. Hamilton - 7.9
2. Verstappen - 8.0
1. Ricciardo - 8.1

That seems a reasonable list to me.
Wehrlein seems a little high; Haryanto has been keeping him honest- And has out qualified him on several occasions...

That being said, when Damon Hill was at Arrows, Diniz kept him honest, but the individual performances at Jerez and Hungary set Hill way above!
I feel a bit sorry for Wehrlein. There seems to be a lot less focus on Manor's achievements this season.

It wasn't so long ago that Bianci was a shoe in for a Ferrari seat thanks to his point for Manor at Monaco. There were sessions that season where Chilton did just occasionally shade his more respected team mate.

The fact that Wehrlein has scored only the second of Manors points in their history and now sit above Sauber in the table on merit has escaped virtually everyone. In facing a closed door at Mercedes he has two options for 2017, either race for another year at Manor or hope for a move to a better, Mercedes engined team.
The only time Haryanto has beaten Wehrlein in a race this season was Silverstone where they both crashed out but Haryanto managed to make it further into the race before doing so. At every other race this season Wehrlein has beaten Haryanto, usually by a large margin, and regularly takes the fight to the more experienced Sauber drivers.

To explain my Alonso placement, given the quality of drivers like him, Hamilton etc. they are pretty much guaranteed to be one of the best performing drivers in virtually every season they drive in. In my opinion, the only way to justify not placing them right near the top of any list is if they have very obviously been having a very poor season (for instance Hamilton in 2011). That hasn't been the case this season, so Alonso must belong near the top somewhere. In my opinion the best 4 drivers this season have been Alonso, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Verstappen, the question is what order to put them in. I think you could realistically place any of those 4 in 1st place so far this year.
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