Cider's Season - Driver Ratings


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Cider’s driver ratings with a scrumpy metaphor:

5 Flagons – A true Wurzel
4 Flagons – A farmer
3 Flagons – A gardener
2 Flagons – A hanging basket owner
1 Flagon – A muddy puddle

(As I’ve decided not to award half flagons, the drivers are also listed in my order of performance)

So, to get the post season debate going, I’d thought I’d give the drivers an overview based on nothing more than my subjective performance of them this year. Let the debate begin:

5 Flagons

Lewis Hamilton – The only real choice for the top award. While he may have been shaded by his team mate in qualification it made no difference on the Sunday. 11 wins in a season got the job done in style. Yes he had the car of the year but you’ve got to beat your team mate in the same car and you’ve got to avoid making mistakes over a race weekend. What made the real difference though was the noticeable change in attitude throughout the year. The Hamilton of old would visibly be emotional to the point of being openly moody, upset and rattled. Baring the forgivable outburst in Monaco, he’s got his head down and let the driving do the talking, especially from Spa onwards. World title number 2 in the bag. Job done.

4 Flagons

Nico Rosberg – Nico has suffered in the past from being labelled quick but not actually tested against the quickest drivers (see the Schumacher Merc years as an example). This season, he’s proved he’s quick. Saturday was his and his alone on genuine merit throughout most of the season. The difference between him and his team mate however, was on race day. Rosberg couldn’t convert that speed into a race winning position on a number of occasions. Maybe not through lack of race craft but through the pressure of not being quite able to shake off that second Merc in his rear view mirror. There were a number of talking points throughout the season, especially the “did he / didn’t he” of Monaco and Spa, then the very public telling off by his own team after Spa which may have contributed to his over all performance but we can have no doubt now, Rosberg is a top quality driver.

Daniel Ricciardo – Hands up who thought this guy, who was broadly similar in pace to JEV, would be toast at the hands of Vettel and “his Red Bull team”? I will admit I was one. The surprise driver of the season who, with his infectious smile, proved that, though they may have had issues at the time, the Mercs weren’t the only team who could stand on the top step. To capitalise on the issues of your rivals you have to first get yourself into a position to do so. Ricciardo was always in that position when it mattered. If the Red Bull in conjunction with Renault can develop more speed for next year then Ricciardo will be right in the mix.

Valtteri Bottas – Convincingly out performed his team mate for much of the season and showed a great deal of pace and ability throughout the year. With the strongest engine on the grid in the back of a tidy chassis, he maximised the opportunity and took Williams back to consistent podium finishers with a run of 4 podiums in 5 races mid-season. Putting his debut season behind him, sliding into the Merc powered Williams this year must have been a joy. Surely Williams can capitilise on the boost that finishing third in the championship will give them and kick on from here. Another driver like Ricciardo that has all the signs of being right up there next year.

Fernando Alonso – Another driver who has been given a train wreck of a car and expected to do wonders with it. As predicted, Ferrari have slipped back toward the bad old days of hiring and firing various staff in order to find a way to get back to the front of the grid. Among all of this, Alonso has managed to find his way to the exit door while reminding the team what a strong driver they are losing. Totally beating his team mate for virtually the whole season and doing a grand job with an awful car. His two podiums and multiple top six finishes are a constant reminder of just how good he can be regardless of how bad the car is.

Jenson Button – Let’s be honest, that McLaren is rubbish. Button made it look a lot less rubbish throughout the year. Coupled with the fact that he had no idea (and still doesn’t) if he would be in F1 next season and more recently, a couple of team issues to add to his woe and he has performed remarkably well for a driver who is supposed to be in his final days in the sport. Has he done enough to be given another year? I would say yes all though there would be no shame in him leaving now as he would have his head held high.. Despite only seeing the podium once and behind his rookie team mate at that, he’s popped up into the top six on a number of occasions this year when you would have thought the neither he or the car would have been able to do that.

3 Flagons

Felipe Massa – Leaving Ferrari to be replaced by his former team mate and joining Williams may have seen like a huge come down for the one time World Championship runner up however it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps initially he struggled a little to adapt to his new team and certainly he spent the bulk of the season in both race and qualification time looking at the exhaust pipes of his team mate, he still managed to put a Williams back on pole and he took a well deserved podium in Brazil. Next season it will be interesting to see how much further he can take the car.

Nico Hulkenberg – Everyone’s favourite nearly man. While the record books show that Perez took the teams only Podium spot of the season it was Hulkenberg who kept on bringing home the points to the extent that McLaren were genuinely worried they may have lost 5th place in the championship to Force India. It looks more likely with every year that Nico will miss out on a top seat at the sharp end of the grid.

Jean Eric Vergne – What this man has done to upset the Red Bull bosses is anyone’s guess. Show someone who has no idea about F1 the raw facts and they would say there would be no way the senior squad could pick anyone other than JEV to replace the outgoing Vettel this year. He has scored over 2/3rds of the teams points and after suffering some early season retirements has almost always brought the car home ahead of his team mate. Will he be retained for 2015? Like Button he has done more than enough to justify it but as we know in F1, that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

Sebastian Vettel – What can you say? He made it onto the podium on four occasions and when his car finished it was always in the points and no lower than 8th. That by any other drivers standards would a pretty good season but for a four time World Champion it sits oddly on his records to date. If his team mate had been several places in the standings behind him then you could say that he was getting the best out of the car but clearly he wasn’t. Taking the biggest plunge a driver can make in joining Ferrari when they are at a low ebb could see Seb given a new challenge and let him push on but it could also provide more fuel for the “it was a Newey car” crowd. Whatever the reason this season, Seb has not found the same level of performance that he clearly has.

Kevin Magnusson – A podium on his debut may have flattered the team and the car but even without Ricciardo’s disqualification bumping him one slot up, it’s still a mighty achievement emulated by very few Formula 1 rookies. Maybe following that our expectations were a little high but Magnusson got on with the job in a solid way bringing home some useful points. There were a number of little and not so little incidents throughout the year that took a little off the edge of his debut season. None the less, he seemed to cope with the pressure of driving for a big team.

Jules Bianchi – It may seem strange that a driver who only managed to score two points all season scores 3 flagons however, he took the neat and tidy Marussia to new heights with those two points. He consistently topped the time sheets at the back end of the grid and gave both Sauber and Lotus the occasional fright. Enough has been written about his accident but it is true to say that F1 has lost a real talent from the grid.

Two Flagons

Sergio Perez – To the delight of his team he scored Force India’s only podium spot of the year and managed to finish in the points on another 11 occasions putting further pressure on the McLaren team in the constructors championship. He never really got near Hulkenberg for most of the season and the usual bumps, scrapes and incidents prevented better finishes and led many to question once again, would he be in the car
next season.

Romain Grosjean – What can you do when you’ve got a poor car? The best you can is the answer. The same engine that powered the Toro Rosso to consistent points finishes also powered the former factory team to just 3 points finishes all season. I don’t doubt for one second that Romain wasn’t trying but you would have expected him to beat Adrian Sutil regardless of how bad the car was.

One Flagon

Daniil Kyvat – Next year he will line up alongside Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull. Out performed by Vergne at almost every race and bringing in less than a third of the total Toro Rosso points this season you have to ask yourself why? In terms of converting potential to performance I haven’t seen it this season. Can anyone else explain it ??

Adrian Sutil – Every year he pops up onto the grid and every year we ask ourselves why? The Sauber this year was without a doubt one of the poorest cars of the year, especially given the teams around them had to suffer the Renault engine. To be beaten in the standings regardless of the circumstances of Monaco by a Marussia says it all. Sutil out performed his team mate but that it’s a bit like saying a Penguin out performed a Kiwi at a flying contest.

Pastor Maldonado – Already the outright holder of the Andrea De Cesaris memorial award for driver most likely to be remembered as having crashed in a race even though he didn’t, Maldonado continues to show why money is more important than talent in F1. That Williams race win slides further and further into the memory to the point at which no one will believe he actually did it. 2 points. That was his season.

Marcus Erricson - It seems a little harsh to put him all the way back here but for a driver who has found his way out of the Caterham frying pan and into the Sauber fire you would have wanted him to show signs of being faster than Kobyashi a lot sooner than he eventually did. He may go on to surprise everyone but so far there has been little evidence that this will be the case.

Esteban Gutierrez – To replace Perez’s points and cash then bring in another Mexican or so the plan went. His season was summed up perfectly by the Sniff Petrol article. He came, he lapped, no one noticed, he went home.

Kamui Kobyashi – Not the worst Japanese driver in the history of F1 by any stretch but certainly worst Japanese driver this season. Not last by virtue of having spent most of the season ahead of Max Chilton.

Max Chilton – Thanks to the large check I’ve just been slipped Max was actually the driver of the season. Nah, I couldn’t do it. He had a slightly better engine and certainly a better car than the Caterham and yet he may as well have changed his name by deed pole to “And in last place Max Chilton” to save time. The only highlight of the season was his first DNF.

So, that’s my ratings, what would you say ??
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Felipe was certainly on for another Flagon or two if the season started in Austria. He did a great job turning his nightmare start around.

D Ric might have been 5 Flagon worthy? Absolutely stunning season from the bloke.

Really enjoyed the write-up c_a_t !!!
Cider’s driver ratings with a scrumpy metaphor:

5 Flagons – A true Wurzel
4 Flagons – A farmer
3 Flagons – A gardener
2 Flagons – A hanging basket owner
1 Flagon – A muddy puddle

(As I’ve decided not to award half flagons, the drivers are also listed in my order of performance)

So, to get the post season debate going, I’d thought I’d give the drivers an overview based on nothing more than my subjective performance of them this year. Let the debate begin:

5 Flagons
Lewis Hamilton

4 Flagons
Nico Rosberg
Daniel Ricciardo
Valtteri Bottas
Fernando Alonso
Jenson Button

3 Flagons
Felipe Massa
Nico Hulkenberg
Jean Eric Vergne
Sebastian Vettel
Kevin Magnusson
Jules Bianchi

Two Flagons
Sergio Perez
Romain Grosjean

One Flagon
Daniil Kyvat
Adrian Sutil
Pastor Maldonado
Marcus Erricson
Esteban Gutierrez
Kamui Kobyashi
Max Chilton

So, that’s my ratings, what would you say ??

I didn't understand but Kimi was so special that he has no place in your rating?
Compare Vergne vs Kvyat:
qualification: 7 - 12
race: 6 - 5

Seasons in the team:
Vergne - 3
Kvyat - 1

And is Vergne - 3 Flagons but Kvyat - 1 Flagons?

It is strange.
How did Hulkenberg compare on points with he whose name we must not mention, who had a bad start to the season, from Canada onwards?
olegg when viewed like that it does seem strange but for me, it comes down to points finishes. When you're in the midfield pack, points make prizes and in those terms, who has got the most out of the car over the length of the season? In terms of Qually, look at Rosberg / Hamilton for the importance of the finish on a Sunday.

The idea is to get some discussion so all opinion is valid and welcomed. :)
I didn't understand but Kimi was so special that he has no place in your rating?

Kimi has to be my biggest disappointment of the year. Was really looking forward to his battle with Alonso at the start of the year. Too many races this year Kimi has been, well...... (enter your own negative word)
Ok, you inspired me cider_and_toast :) I will try not to repeat anything you said!

5 Flagons
Hamilton - WDC and thoroughly deserved. Grew up this year.
Ricciardo - Comprehensively beat 4-time WDC team mate and raced wheel-to-wheel like no other. The smiling assassin.

4 Flagons
Bottas - Took what came his way and made very few mistakes. Calmness personified.
Alonso - Made Kimi look rubbish. Let's see how Seb does there...

3 Flagons
Rosberg - Lost the title when he picked the wrong time to stand his ground at Spa. Needs to be more ruthless in races.
Button - If McLaren cannot afford his experience next year, they're paying Alonso too much. Points mean prize money.
Massa - Took a while to recover from the shock of having another quick team mate. Found his speed towards the end.
Hulkenberg - His early season form was a 4 and his late season a 2, so 3 is about right. Where did he go?
Perez - His early season form was a 2.5 and his late season a 3.5. Took time to settle.
Bianchi - Scored points in a Marussia. Sad ending.

2 Flagons
Vettel - Adapted very slowly to turbo power. Unlikely to be an 'all-time great' now.
Vergne - Struggled to cope with Danny getting RBR drive and a quick new team mate. Is there anything we haven't seen?
Kvyatt - Has speed, but is he Rosberg or Hamilton? Jury's out. To be fair Danny's first year was similar.
Grosjean - Yes, car was a shitbox but that was obvious from pre-season testing. Should he have demanded more?
Magnussen - Quick in qualifying but often in trouble in races. Yes, he's young, but does he have the intangibles?

1 Flagon
Raikkonen - Why did he bother even showing up? Should retire and give his car to someone who wants to be there.
Sutil - Come in #99, your time is up. Unlikely to drive in F1 again.
Guttierrez - If he can't beat Sutil, he's not good enough. Had his chance.
Kobayashi - Can we judge his performance in a Caterham? Yes, and it wasn't good enough.
Ericsson - There because he brings a big pile of dosh. At least he didn't crash.
Maldonado - There because he brings a big pile of dosh but crashed way too often. 1 Flagon for keeping Lotus afloat.
Chilton - The driver least likely to do anything noteworthy. You Bet clause 6 says it all.
I still can't believe I missed Kimi and for what it's worth I was going to put him in at one.

I did consider if Hamilton was the only 5. I think again on reflection that maybe Daniel should at least go above Nico because of Nico's pole to win ratio. Good to see everyone joining in with so good points though. That was what I had hoped for.
To also copy jez101 and cider_and_toast

A handshake and a thanks for coming:
Esteban Gutierrez - A bloated IndyCar grid awaits
Will Stevens - Yeah, you're not good enough
Adrian Sutil - "Safety Car deployed."
Marcus Ericsson - Sauber must need some money.
Pastor Maldonado - A pattern is very much emerging
Kimi Raikkonen - This guy won the World Championship. Goodness me.

A cup of tea and a biscuit of their choice to:
Max Chilton - Who is at least reliable, if still a bit crap.
Andre Lotterer - Battered Ericsson in quali at Spa. Also won Le Mans!
Kamui Kobayashi - Not what his backers paid for.

A hot drink of their choice, and a choice of coffee shop confection to:
Kevin Magnussen - Calm down mate, you might keep all your points!
Sergio Perez - Maddeningly inconsistent, but flashes of brilliance
Sebastian Vettel - Four time champion!?
Daniil Kvyat - Scoring some points would be nice, Dan.
Nico Hulkenburg - I'll be honest, Hulk, I expect more.

A two-course pub meal complete with beer or cheap wine
Romain Grosjean - As many points as Kvyat in that thing!
Jean-Eric Vergne - Point gatherer, not a bad style!
Felipe Massa - Decent end to the season, bit of bad luck.

All our thoughts, hopes and prayers, plus the three-course posh meal when he recovers:
Jules Bianchi - 2 points in a Marussia. #ForzaJules

Three-course posh meal with one bottle of champagne or equivalently expensive booze of their choice:
Nico Rosberg - Far closer to Hamilton than anybody expected
Fernando Alonso - Flattered Ferrari. Again.
Jenson Button - Bizarrely only seems to get on TV when resisting an overtake, but still gets great results.

Five-course Michelin Star meal, open tab to:
Valteri Bottas: Looks like a champion in the making, if he can just get that car off the line!
Lewis Hamilton: Thoroughly deserved title, and he turned out to be the "Prost" of the pair...
Daniel Ricciardo: Won. Not in a Mercedes. Three times. Chapeau, mate.

All meals will be redeemable when I am significantly richer.
Glad to see I'm not the only one who put J.E.V quite high up the list.

As for Bianchi, I think what impressed me even more about Monaco was that it should have been more than 2 points but for the stop go penalty. In that car, in that race, it was genuine pace. Helped by out "Banzai-ing" Kobyashi and some higher than usual attrition but he kept it on the tarmac and held his own well enough to negate a time advantage.

Much like we were deprived of seeing what Kubica could have done in a better car, I know we like to keep positive but we have to be realists, we aren't going to see Jules back in F1 no matter how much we'd like to so we are going to miss another potentially great talent.
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