Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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Phil
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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This is an interesting topic. I hope it can remain civil.

My thoughts.

(all IMO)

Lewis > Alonso (based on 2007, but not by much, but also considering this was Lewis's rookie season)
Lewis > Button
Lewis > Rosberg
Lewis > Bottas

Alonso > Kimi
Alonso > Massa
Alonso > Button

Bottas > Massa

Vettel > Kimi
Vettel < Riccardo (not by much, and perhaps to some degree also due to the car not to his liking)
Vettel < Leclerc

Verstappen > Riccardo (not by much to be fair, but enough in all areas)
Verstappen > Sainz

Considering this, I think Lewis, Alonso and Verstappen are top tier. The big question would be, how does Lewis fair against Verstappen and vice-versa? I think it'd be close, because both drivers show the ability to perform extraordinary out of difficult cars. I personally still rate Hamilton higher on the basis that he has faced fiercer opposition in multiple champions to single champions, where as much of Verstappen's image as a killer of team-mates is against drivers I don't rate that highly (Gasly/Albon). Therefore, I think Verstappen's sheer talent might just be slightly exaggerated, just as some might think Hamilton is not that great using Bottas as a yard stick.

Alonso is a tricky one, because I think Hamilton is better, but Alonso has shown extraordinary performance against pretty much everyone since. I therefore think all 3 of them are within the same "tier".

Vettel is interesting too, because he underdelievered against Riccardo, although one must say under difficult circumstances too (a car not to his liking). Riccardo, I feel ran Verstappen close, even if lacking that raw speed Verstappen has. On this basis, I'd conclude Verstappen > Riccardo > Vettel.

Leclerc I think is one of the big talents of the future. He utterly dominated F2 and I think 2019 (not 2020) showed his skill vs Vettel when he went on to take pole after pole but also withstood the pressure of being hunted by Hamilton in multiple races. He is also continuing to impress in 2020 in dragging a car well into the points in what easily and evidently a very difficult car. Having said that, Vettel and Leclerc were very close in regards to their qualifying match-up. According to my calculation, the difference was

2019 Leclerc : 11 vs Vettel : 9 (55% / 45%)
--- Total avg diff : -0.070
--- Total avg per km : -0.005

Despite this (or because of), I'm not sure I've seen enough to put him into "tier 1". Next year will be telling when facing off with Sainz - someone who has gone against Verstappen and not done such a bad job. Under the assumption that Leclerc is tier 1 material, I would expect him to be better than Sainz and with a comfort margin.

Anyway, putting all the above in context; in my opinion:

Tier 1
- Hamilton
- Verstappen
- Alonso
- Rosberg

Tier 2
- Leclerc
- Riccardo
- Bottas

Tier 3
- Vettel

Kimi, Massa are below tier 3.

Strangely, I had Rosberg in Tier 2, but have decided to put him into tier 1. Maybe 1.5 would be more to the point. One reason for this is because Rosberg was fricking fast in qualifying. He outqualified Lewis in 2014 and the margins were always very close. I also think Rosberg could also challenge Hamilton during the race. He certainly had more grit as a racer than Bottas does and I think this is Bottas's biggest shortcoming and also something that puts Hamiltons performance into perspective; He is relentless and as such, I can only pull my hat for him for that 2016 championship. Contrary to others, I also don't think those performances from 2010 to 2012 were a fluke against Schumacher. Rosberg was that good. From that group within tier 1 probably the slowest, but I genuinely think he'd present trouble for anyone driving against him. Getting under someones skin (aka Hamilton in 2014-2016) is also part of what makes him that good and is a skill. To be fair, the fact that the Mercedes was so dominant in those years might have helped Rosberg hide his subpar performances. I think Bottas faces far higher scrutiny because he is racing against Hamilton in an era where the margins between teams have been smaller. Overall, I think Rosberg > Bottas at this point. Perhaps not in qualifying where Bottas is really close, but overall, I think Rosberg was the fiercer competitor and this puts him above for me.

One last thing; the most impressive thing about Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso is that they perform extraordinarily in difficult circumstances. This is what influences my personal order of these driver the most and in this area, all of them excel.

Disclaimer: This list of mine isn't definite btw and subject to change when more data is available.
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El Scorchio
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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Moore77 wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:33 pm
Wynters wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:02 pm
Sieper wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:16 pm
I do believe Leclerc is up there with the better drivers but are these podiums any less Lucky then Gasly's win. Hardly imho. In Austria he overtook 1 driver. Rest just fell away.
It's a valid point but I think there's a danger of underplaying what he has achieved because he's not battling at the front of the grid as we've been conditioned to expect a Ferrari to be. You can only overtake who you have in front of you. In this case, he overtook Norris (in the car currently sitting 3rd in the WCC) and kept both him, Sainz and Ocon behind him. At Silverstone, Bottas fell out of the top 10 so Leclerc didn't need to overtake anybody,..but he kept all those other cars behind him for the race. A race in which Vettel finished 11th.

Verstappen qualifies third and generally only needs to overtake one car in order to be (correctly) hailed as having delivered a great drive. Is the gap between the Red Bull and the Mercedes any greater than the gap between the Ferrari and McLaren?

Imagine there were three Mercedes cars. Every podium Verstappen got would be (correctly) hailed as a great drive by an exceptional driver. For Leclerc, there are 10 'Mercedes' cars. The Ferrari is awful this year.

However, he's certainly got his flaws too. I don't think he's as good as Hamilton or Verstappen at the moment. But I don't think he should be outside the conversation for any position below those two. I'm not sure I would rank him 3rd, for instance, but I'd certainly consider it.
Once again, great post Wynters. The only part that I differ, is the last part. It's difficult to say, Leclerc isn't as good as Hamilton or Verstappen, unless there is a real fight there between the three. Unlike Hamilton, neither Verstappen, nor Leclerc have gotten into championship contenders from the Season 1. This is Verstappen's 6th year in F1 and 5th year in Red Bull, which has consistently been a podium contender. If this comparison would have been happening in 2017, does anyone would have said Verstappen was in the same league as Hamilton? Would anyone have rated Hamilton among the greats in 2011, despite having 4 years in F1 and with a title? With Leclerc having had one season with the top car, where he clearly outshone his team mate and won 2 GPs on merit, it's hard to say if he is or he is not on par with Hamilton and Verstappen.

To his credit, he hasn't had a clumsy race yet and has always been clean and brought home great haul of points. That in itself is a considerable achievement for someone who spent only one year at the sharp end of the grid. Driving in a chaotic mid-field, full of drivers who are overzealous to win a GP at the first corner, it shows his temperament and awareness. Remember the first 3 to 4 years of Verstappen and compare to that of Leclerc's!
I think you can just tell if a driver has 'it', though. Not necessarily to be an all time great or THE best at any sport, but you could tell from pretty much the very first time or few times Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel and Leclerc all got in a car and raced that they were destined for great careers. (You'd say the same for Alonso, Senna and Schumacher as well) There are times it doesn't work out for whatever reason, but you just know.

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Big Tea
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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One thing we can not judge by using historic comparisons is the 'mind games' behind them. It is seen as part of the sport, but as a driving ability comparison it is difficult to know how a driver would have been in a different team or with a different partner. An example, Massa. Had MS not been his Ferrari team mate, he could have possibly become multiple world champion and been perceived completely differently. He was good enough for a few seconds and baring some luck for Lewis.
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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214270 wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:16 pm
(I assume it’s not random and some form of weighting has been applied to the standings) LAT is listed as 19th with RUS 20th.
Both have had P11 finishes as their highest finishes, but Latifi has had 2 of those compared to Russell's single P11 finish. That's why he's ahead in the official standings.

Russell is still yet to be beaten by a team mate in F1 qualifying, however, suggesting he's been the fastest of him and his team mates to date. Yes, Kubica wasn't the driver he once was, but that's not Russell's fault. You can only drive against whoever is in the other car.
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Moore77
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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El Scorchio wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:12 pm
Moore77 wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:33 pm
Wynters wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:02 pm
It's a valid point but I think there's a danger of underplaying what he has achieved because he's not battling at the front of the grid as we've been conditioned to expect a Ferrari to be. You can only overtake who you have in front of you. In this case, he overtook Norris (in the car currently sitting 3rd in the WCC) and kept both him, Sainz and Ocon behind him. At Silverstone, Bottas fell out of the top 10 so Leclerc didn't need to overtake anybody,..but he kept all those other cars behind him for the race. A race in which Vettel finished 11th.

Verstappen qualifies third and generally only needs to overtake one car in order to be (correctly) hailed as having delivered a great drive. Is the gap between the Red Bull and the Mercedes any greater than the gap between the Ferrari and McLaren?

Imagine there were three Mercedes cars. Every podium Verstappen got would be (correctly) hailed as a great drive by an exceptional driver. For Leclerc, there are 10 'Mercedes' cars. The Ferrari is awful this year.

However, he's certainly got his flaws too. I don't think he's as good as Hamilton or Verstappen at the moment. But I don't think he should be outside the conversation for any position below those two. I'm not sure I would rank him 3rd, for instance, but I'd certainly consider it.
Once again, great post Wynters. The only part that I differ, is the last part. It's difficult to say, Leclerc isn't as good as Hamilton or Verstappen, unless there is a real fight there between the three. Unlike Hamilton, neither Verstappen, nor Leclerc have gotten into championship contenders from the Season 1. This is Verstappen's 6th year in F1 and 5th year in Red Bull, which has consistently been a podium contender. If this comparison would have been happening in 2017, does anyone would have said Verstappen was in the same league as Hamilton? Would anyone have rated Hamilton among the greats in 2011, despite having 4 years in F1 and with a title? With Leclerc having had one season with the top car, where he clearly outshone his team mate and won 2 GPs on merit, it's hard to say if he is or he is not on par with Hamilton and Verstappen.

To his credit, he hasn't had a clumsy race yet and has always been clean and brought home great haul of points. That in itself is a considerable achievement for someone who spent only one year at the sharp end of the grid. Driving in a chaotic mid-field, full of drivers who are overzealous to win a GP at the first corner, it shows his temperament and awareness. Remember the first 3 to 4 years of Verstappen and compare to that of Leclerc's!
I think you can just tell if a driver has 'it', though. Not necessarily to be an all time great or THE best at any sport, but you could tell from pretty much the very first time or few times Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel and Leclerc all got in a car and raced that they were destined for great careers. (You'd say the same for Alonso, Senna and Schumacher as well) There are times it doesn't work out for whatever reason, but you just know.
To slightly deviate and point out, sometimes, just knowing might be wrong. For instance, Danil Kvyat was preferred over Antonio Felix Da Costa in 2014 with an argument that, Kvyat was simply better at handling tough situations. That was what Marko had told, but then we know, how it turned out.

More often than not, Success becomes the yard stick for talent and greatness. For instance, how often does one hear about James Hunt in the same league as we speak about Fangio, Lauda, Senna, Prost, Schumacher and Hamilton? Heck, our memories are so short, we even consider the likes of Button as strong drivers and forget Piquet. What would happen if Verstappen doesn't win any WDC or just wins one and nothing more? 2 decades later, would he be counted alongside Hamilton?

The point is, Hamilton is spoken about because of the success he has had along with his talent, just like Schumacher, Prost and Senna. Verstappen is being currently put in the same league as Hamilton, even without considerable success in terms of wins, because we witness his drives (especially in the last 20 odd months). Leclerc also need time at the front to establish himself in that league. Until then, it's hard to say if he doesn't belong in that league.
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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Russel has become F4 Gp3 and F2 champion all in his first year. In F2 het competed with Norris, Albon and Nyck Devries. Norris was also great last year at MCL and Russel made best possible with the horrible Williams.

Only reason he is not with Mercedes yet, is Toto cannot handle another 2016 season.

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Sieper
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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Wynters wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:02 pm
Sieper wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:16 pm
I do believe Leclerc is up there with the better drivers but are these podiums any less Lucky then Gasly's win. Hardly imho. In Austria he overtook 1 driver. Rest just fell away.
It's a valid point but I think there's a danger of underplaying what he has achieved because he's not battling at the front of the grid as we've been conditioned to expect a Ferrari to be. You can only overtake who you have in front of you. In this case, he overtook Norris (in the car currently sitting 3rd in the WCC) and kept both him, Sainz and Ocon behind him. At Silverstone, Bottas fell out of the top 10 so Leclerc didn't need to overtake anybody,..but he kept all those other cars behind him for the race. A race in which Vettel finished 11th.

Verstappen qualifies third and generally only needs to overtake one car in order to be (correctly) hailed as having delivered a great drive. Is the gap between the Red Bull and the Mercedes any greater than the gap between the Ferrari and McLaren?

Imagine there were three Mercedes cars. Every podium Verstappen got would be (correctly) hailed as a great drive by an exceptional driver. For Leclerc, there are 10 'Mercedes' cars. The Ferrari is awful this year.

However, he's certainly got his flaws too. I don't think he's as good as Hamilton or Verstappen at the moment. But I don't think he should be outside the conversation for any position below those two. I'm not sure I would rank him 3rd, for instance, but I'd certainly consider it.
Very much in agreeance. I do feel the Ferrari isn’t actually bad. It is a better car then last years challenger. Just that they have so much less power, that is causing the real struggle. But on some circuits I don’t feel the Ferrari is that much worse then the Mclaren.
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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NL_Fer wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:35 pm
Russel has become F4 Gp3 and F2 champion all in his first year. In F2 het competed with Norris, Albon and Nyck Devries. Norris was also great last year at MCL and Russel made best possible with the horrible Williams.

Only reason he is not with Mercedes yet, is Toto cannot handle another 2016 season.
This is exactly it. I dont know about the rest of you guys, but I've watched every F3 F2 GP3 GP2 race since around 2012. Most Euro F3 races since 2015. So when a driver arrives at F1, I have usually seen him fighting for championships multiple times so I'd like to think I have a good gauge on their abilities before they even arrive in F1. F2 is about to finish with a few more races, and in the last 5 seasons the stand out drivers were Leclerc, Russell and Norris. no one else in my opinion. Gasly and Gio looked ok, The year before Charles won, Norris looked great, especially as a rookie. Russell did better and was outstanding. 2019 they were all rubbish IMO. this year is again an average field. Ilott probably been the best over the season so far though.
Going back before that, Stoffel smashed it, but he smashed Rossi, Haryanto and Sirotkin. All poor drivers who never should have been in F1. So Stoffel falls in to Gasly and Gio level for me.
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I haven't watched them really in past years (I now frequently do, being home more often), so 'personal view' on current ability (which should span a few years at least, as ability is a more long term view than performance) is limited to F1 drives, as well as peak at wikipedia-race results and second-hand stories on not always fully reliable news outlets. Which is indeed why I put Russell in tier 4/7 currently (on lack of information to justify another score), even though I'm well aware that, based on second hand reports, he probably belongs higher.

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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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NL_Fer wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:35 pm
Russel has become F4 Gp3 and F2 champion all in his first year. In F2 het competed with Norris, Albon and Nyck Devries. Norris was also great last year at MCL and Russel made best possible with the horrible Williams.

Only reason he is not with Mercedes yet, is Toto cannot handle another 2016 season.
He'd smoke Hamilton.
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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godlameroso wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:06 pm
NL_Fer wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:35 pm
Russel has become F4 Gp3 and F2 champion all in his first year. In F2 het competed with Norris, Albon and Nyck Devries. Norris was also great last year at MCL and Russel made best possible with the horrible Williams.

Only reason he is not with Mercedes yet, is Toto cannot handle another 2016 season.
He'd smoke Hamilton.
Going by their pre-F1 both Russell and Verstappen impressed more, Lewis had a few seasons where he came nowhere in Formula Renault and Formula 3.

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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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SmallSoldier wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:19 pm


What makes people believe that Russell is in that second tier behind the likes of Hamilton / Verstappen puzzles me.


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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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Wass85 wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:27 pm
godlameroso wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:06 pm
NL_Fer wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:35 pm
Russel has become F4 Gp3 and F2 champion all in his first year. In F2 het competed with Norris, Albon and Nyck Devries. Norris was also great last year at MCL and Russel made best possible with the horrible Williams.

Only reason he is not with Mercedes yet, is Toto cannot handle another 2016 season.
He'd smoke Hamilton.
Going by their pre-F1 both Russell and Verstappen impressed more, Lewis had a few seasons where he came nowhere in Formula Renault and Formula 3.
Still, for Hamilton that's a long time ago - it's not really relevant for his current ability anymore. With 5 years in F1, I think the same actually applies to Max. Performance is like the weather, it can differ race to race, and be substantially better one year than another. Ability is more analogous to climate - it won't change over the scope of a year, but it will change over several years, and certainly over the scope of a career.

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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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Wass85 wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:27 pm
godlameroso wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:06 pm
NL_Fer wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:35 pm
Russel has become F4 Gp3 and F2 champion all in his first year. In F2 het competed with Norris, Albon and Nyck Devries. Norris was also great last year at MCL and Russel made best possible with the horrible Williams.

Only reason he is not with Mercedes yet, is Toto cannot handle another 2016 season.
He'd smoke Hamilton.
Going by their pre-F1 both Russell and Verstappen impressed more, Lewis had a few seasons where he came nowhere in Formula Renault and Formula 3.
Excuse me..... Sorry, I nearly fell off my chair. Am I reading this right ? Max Verstappens 3rd place finish in Euro F3 , is BETTER than Hamilon winning Formula Renault UK, Euro F3, and the GP2 world championship ?? What planet are you from!?

Your comment of "came nowhere in Formula Renault and Euro F3" is a little odd #-o Lewis finished 5th and 3rd in those debut season, and thats classed as 'nowhere'. Max finished 3rd in his debut season, and thats classed as better! What ever you've had, I'd love to have some too please! Come on man, be serious for 1 minute.
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Re: Current driver ability (personal opinion)

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NathanOlder wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:03 pm
Wass85 wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:27 pm
godlameroso wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:06 pm


He'd smoke Hamilton.
Going by their pre-F1 both Russell and Verstappen impressed more, Lewis had a few seasons where he came nowhere in Formula Renault and Formula 3.
Excuse me..... Sorry, I nearly fell off my chair. Am I reading this right ? Max Verstappens 3rd place finish in Euro F3 , is BETTER than Hamilon winning Formula Renault UK, Euro F3, and the GP2 world championship ?? What planet are you from!?

Your comment of "came nowhere in Formula Renault and Euro F3" is a little odd #-o Lewis finished 5th and 3rd in those debut season, and thats classed as 'nowhere'. Max finished 3rd in his debut season, and thats classed as better! What ever you've had, I'd love to have some too please! Come on man, be serious for 1 minute.
Are you for real? Are you actually trying to say 5th is now better than 3rd? 😂

Max was clearly the best driver in F3 but lost out on the title due to retiring 8 times whilst Ocon only retired 3 times.

Max also won 10 races whilst Hamilton only won 1, big difference there don't you think?

Your fanaticism is clouding your judgement buddy.