22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Richard
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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This is meant to be a place for mild inconsequential musings about your list of personal favourites, something to while away the winter days. The topic is inherently subjective and based on your emotive responses to your favourite drivers. Please keep it that way.

Think - "I like these drivers and that's just the way it is"

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Lurk
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Understood. Sorry for the disturbance...


I didn't do my list yet so I'd say:

Tier 1:
Alonso
Hamilton
Raikkonen

Tier 2:
Button
Rosberg
Vettel

Tier 2.5:
Franchitti
Hulkenberg
Montoya
Webber

Tier 3:
Alguersuari
Buemi
Di Resta
Glock
Grosjean
Kobayashi
Kovalainen
Maldonado
Massa (could be 2.5 or out of the list, depends of his form)
Montagny
Perez
Pic


Schumacher and Kubica not in the list because Michael is retired and Robert cannot withstand a whole F1 GP.

bill shoe
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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richard_leeds wrote:This is meant to be a place for mild inconsequential musings about your list of personal favourites, something to while away the winter days. The topic is inherently subjective and based on your emotive responses to your favourite drivers. Please keep it that way.

Think - "I like these drivers and that's just the way it is"
My original intention was to ponder all the good drivers who weren't filling the last 12 grid spots due to the increasing ranks of pay drivers. I was kind of suprised that it turned into a discussion about the leading drivers, but the discussion was decent quality so fine.

The pay-to-play phenomena is slowly but steadily killing auto racing, and F1 is indeed the pinnacle of racing in this regard. No other sport allows this kind of blunt money participation. Some sports (golf, yachting, horsemanship?) are expensive and therefore they only fill their top ranks with the best of the people who could afford to try. But you can't buy your way into the finals of those sports. F1, in contrast, is happy to cash the check as long as you don't actually drive your car against the back of a f@cking lorry.

Say what you want about Lance Armstrong being a liar and cheater-- he didn't buy his way into the Tour de France. From a moral perspective cheating may be worse, but from a sporting point of view, buying the participation seems clearly worse. We have 10 or 12 drivers buying their way onto the grid in 2013. We know these pay drivers and their teams are ashamed of it because they never say in a simple way that the ride was bought. How far up the grid can pay drivers go before you give up on F1? 16 out of 22? 18 out of 22? What's your number?

Richard, I understand you want to trivialize this thread by refering to it as "mild", "inconsequential", and "emotive". I think your post is the most emotive and least substantive one in this thread.

Stradivarius
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Formula 1 is not a sport which can be compared to Golf, Cycling or most other sports in all aspects. Usually it is the competitor/athlete/player who makes the difference and the results are mostly based on their qualities, such as strength, stamina, skill and so on. Formula 1 is first of all about the equipment. It is all about developing a car which is quicker than the others (while still reliable). In order to develop a winning car a team needs to spend a lot of money and especially during times like this there may not be a lot of ways to bring in the money.

Another fact which makes a difference here, is that although there is a constructor's championship, the most important and prestigious championship is the driver's championship. So the teams don't really need more than one top class driver in order to achieve their goals. In many cases, I guess a pay driver will contribute more positively to both championships than a good second driver would, as he in principle makes the car faster by financing the development.

By the way, I agree with the comment from richard_leeds with regards to the driver evaluations. You never really know how two drivers compare before they have raced each other in the same team (and even then there might be disagreements, ref. Hamilton and Button who are put in two different categories after very similar results over 3 years at McLaren). In the opening post, one of the drivers in category B have more race wins and more titles than all three of the drivers in category A together. So in my opinion it is obvious that the evaluations are substantially affected by emotions, rather than facts. You can always make assumptions about the car and the team-mate in order to "prove" that a driver is either great or over-rated. For example, you can say that Red Bull is by far the best car and Webber is a bad driver, thus Vettel's results are not that impressive. Or you can say that Ferrari had a very bad car in 2012 and that Massa, a great driver, proved that by getting nowhere most of the season. Thus Alonso is the best driver the world has ever seen. In my opinion things are not so clear-cut as some seem to think. Look at the first 5 races of 2012 and compare Alonso and Massa. Then look at the last 5 races and repeat the comparison. It is quite inconsistent if you ask me. If you want to see how Alonso performs in a bad car, look at his performance in 2009. (And then re-evaluate the 2012 Ferrari.)

beelsebob
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Sailing is actually the one outlier here... Sailing similarly is in large about equipment, and lesser about the actual athletes. It's very common there for the people sailing in top line competitions to simply be the ones who can afford to build the hugely expensive custom yachts to do it.

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Lurk
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Depends of the competition. Americ's cup is a good exemple but I think most events are spec-boat or have a handicap point system.

Richard
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Setting aside the subjective best drivers list, the issue of pay drivers is interesting.

What is a pay driver? Is it someone who would not be in F1 if they didn't bring sponsors to the team? I'd say that applies to everyone outside the top 5 teams. For example before Sutil had his nightclub incident there was doubt over his seat with Force India in case he didn't bring in enough sponsorship.

Even the top 5 teams consider the sponsorship benefits of one driver ahead of another. We hear Merc & McLaren mentioning the benefits of British or German drivers. That's a signal that the associated sponsorship was a factor in choosing that driver over another. So one could say that sponsorship was a major factor in selecting Button & Rosberg. It was their get out of jail card so they could escape the sponsorship peril.

Finally Torro Rosso is an exception as the RB Young Driver academy.

So lets do a tally:

A - Selected on merit - Alsonso, Vettel, Hamilton & 2 Torro Rosso drivers

B - Drivers who'd always be in F1 but got their seat because they fit the brand (aka sponsorship). They are relativity substitutable with another from the category below - Massa, Button, Webber, Rosberg.

C - The rest for whom weak sponsorship = no drive. Note that Massa, Button, Webber, Rosberg could be in this group but for the luck of being picked as a number 2 for a big team. Kovalainen & Barrichello are good examples of a drivers dropping from B to C.

So we have 3 on merit, 2 apprentices, 4 with a get out of jail card, and 13 anxiously worrying about sponsors for survival.

....

The real question is if those drivers worrying about survival are blocking more talented drivers. I'd say yes to all of them. They all got into F1 by persuading sponsors to support them through karting and the F1 feeder series. There will be other talented drivers who for some reason couldn't raise the cash to race in a competitive car in their teenage years.



pay their way with sponsorship. Even the top teams consider the sponsorship that come with a driver.

mnmracer
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Well, as I've said before, I am convinced that the vast majority of drivers that would be all-time greats, make it into Formula One, regardless of pay-drivers or sponsorship. Of course everybody needs at least some form to get started, but looking at the humble backgrounds of f.i. Alonso and Vettel, I think it even more proofs that cream rises to the top.

Although I can believe that some potential top-but-not-all-time-great drivers have not made it because of finances (Robin Frijns, please don't become one of them!), I do still believe that looking into that category, they do represent some of the best drivers out there. Lower then that, and it becomes really tough to call, and although I'm a big fan, I'm sure someone better than Kobayashi is not in F1 because of sponsorships, but I believe in general, it wouldn't be that big of a difference. Also consider that the gap between the best and the 'worst' drivers of today, has (most likely) never been so small. The gap between the best 20 F1 drivers in the 90's was considerably bigger than today.

Do I think someone of the level of Vettel/Alonso/Hamilton is not in F1 today because of sponsorships? I do not think so.
So, can it be that some better drivers are not in F1 today? Sure.
But would those better drivers have been considerably much better? Barring 1 or 2 (statistically, not actual examples), I don't really think so.

Richard
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Thanks mnm, that's a neat summary of what I'm thinking.

The great drivers will shine through which is how Hamilton & Vettel were spotted at a young age.

The current crop of mid ranking drivers seem more homogenous than previous generations. It is no longer possible for gentlemen drivers to hand over cash so they can race in the their home GP.

IMHO the homogeneous nature of those mid and lower level drivers is an indication that they are substitutable with comparably talented drivers not in F1 who didn't get the lucky break.

beelsebob
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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richard_leeds wrote:Setting aside the subjective best drivers list, the issue of pay drivers is interesting.

What is a pay driver? Is it someone who would not be in F1 if they didn't bring sponsors to the team? I'd say that applies to everyone outside the top 5 teams. For example before Sutil had his nightclub incident there was doubt over his seat with Force India in case he didn't bring in enough sponsorship.

Even the top 5 teams consider the sponsorship benefits of one driver ahead of another. We hear Merc & McLaren mentioning the benefits of British or German drivers. That's a signal that the associated sponsorship was a factor in choosing that driver over another. So one could say that sponsorship was a major factor in selecting Button & Rosberg. It was their get out of jail card so they could escape the sponsorship peril.

Finally Torro Rosso is an exception as the RB Young Driver academy.

So lets do a tally:

A - Selected on merit - Alsonso, Vettel, Hamilton & 2 Torro Rosso drivers
DiResta too is paid, not there because of sponsorship.

liveforf1
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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forgive me if this isn't the appropriate thread but, am i the only one who thinks Ferrari has the best driver pairing?

with Red Bull seeming to only be supporting one driver then the only other proven pairing with top team experience would be Lewis and Nico. Before Massa's injury we know what he was capable of. He consistently showed speed and challenged for championships. Nico hasn't done that as far as challenging for championships. After the last few races of 2012 and his role being solidified at Ferrari, i think Massa is back.

zonk
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Räikkönen entered Formula One as a regular driver for Sauber-Petronas in 2001. Having previously only raced in very junior open-wheel categories, he was given his Super Licence from FIA after a performance delivery promise by his team boss, Peter Sauber.
He gave the Finn a test with the Sauber Formula One team in September 2000 at the Mugello Circuit. After further tests in Jerez and Barcelona, Sauber signed Räikkönen for the 2001 season; Räikkönen had only 23 car races to his credit.
Despite the protests of a few drivers and influential members of the FIA, including Max Mosley, that he would pose a danger to other drivers, it also caused Red Bull to sell their majority share in the team to Credit Suisse in protest (Red Bull wanted Enrique Bernoldi to take the seat but he wound up at Arrows) He was granted his license and scored a championship point in his debut at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix. Räikkönen was asleep 30 minutes before the race. 8)

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Shrieker
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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In before the lock:

AA (in no particular order)

Alonso
Hamilton
Raikkonen

BA (in particular order)

Rosberg
Vettel
Webber
Grosjean

BB (in no particular order)

Button
Schumacher
Perez
Hulkenberg
Di Resta


CB (in no particular order)

Kovalainen
Massa
Glock

CC (in no particular order)

Maldonado
Kobayashi
Senna
Ricciardo

DC (in no particular order)

Vergne
Petrov
Pic


Just my 2 cents. If Montoya came back i do think he'd go straight into BB with a considerable possibility of promoting into BA.
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Juzh
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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Vettel in the same group as webber haha. Have you been watching f1 since 2009?

xDama
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Re: 22 best (current) F1 drivers

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zonk wrote:Räikkönen entered Formula One as a regular driver for Sauber-Petronas in 2001. Having previously only raced in very junior open-wheel categories, he was given his Super Licence from FIA after a performance delivery promise by his team boss, Peter Sauber.
He gave the Finn a test with the Sauber Formula One team in September 2000 at the Mugello Circuit. After further tests in Jerez and Barcelona, Sauber signed Räikkönen for the 2001 season; Räikkönen had only 23 car races to his credit.
Despite the protests of a few drivers and influential members of the FIA, including Max Mosley, that he would pose a danger to other drivers, it also caused Red Bull to sell their majority share in the team to Credit Suisse in protest (Red Bull wanted Enrique Bernoldi to take the seat but he wound up at Arrows) He was granted his license and scored a championship point in his debut at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix. Räikkönen was asleep 30 minutes before the race. 8)
This.

You know, I absolutely can't get a grip to why certain people downgrade Raikkonen in favor of Hamilton for example. With all respect to Hamilton, the chap was funded and supported by Mclaren since his childhood. He had the absolute best preparation to come in to F1 EVER, he joined a top team from race 1 and yet he's only scored 1 WDC (a chamipionship he won with a good amount of luck). And yes, it's not all his fault, but still, if you look at the results on paper, I'm just not impressed.

I think Raikkonen' career and pure performance is so much more impressive in comparison to what Hamilton did/does. Same goes with Alonso. I'm not going to make a top 22, but at this time, I wouldn't place Hamilton in the top tier.

ALO
RAI
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HAM
VET
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ROS
WEB
BUT
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KOV
MAS
"I race to win, and if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you're no longer a racing driver." - Ayrton Senna