In a year as incredible as 2012, ranking the 25 drivers who took part in the races is a tricky challenge, but it’s one we’ve decided to do anyway. The end of season rankings have become a fixture on F1Zone.net over the last couple of years and there have been a few controversial placings. The competitiveness of F1 2012 means this year will probably be no different. In Part One we start with 25th to 16th…
25 | Jerome d’Ambrosio | Lotus F1 Team (Monza only)
It’s only fair to rank d’Ambrosio at the bottom of the rankings because F1’s favourite Belgian only took part in one event. Romain Grosjean’s misdemeanour at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix meant that Lotus turned to d’Ambrosio for Monza and he did himself no discredit by qualifying only seven tenths slower (using Q2 times) than Kimi Raikkonen. Although he was only 13th in the race, d’Ambrosio grappled with a KERS failure and did far better than pure results suggest.
High point: Getting to race at Monza | Low point: KERS failure in the race
24 | Narain Karthikeyan | HRT F1 Team
What can you say? Karthikeyan was thoroughly outclassed by Pedro de La Rosa all season, even if he did gain more publicity – usually for the wrong reasons. His best moment had to have been running as high as tenth during the rain afflicted Malaysian Grand Prix while racing at the Indian Grand Prix will be a personal memory for him.
High point: Running in the top ten in Malaysia | Low point: The rest of the season
23 | Vitaly Petrov | Caterham F1 Team
The very fact that Jarno Trulli (remember him?) took part in the first pre-season test shows this deal was all down to money over talent. Nevertheless, Petrov showed fairly strong pace against Kovalainen, considering the CT01 was not built with the tall Russian in mind. Even though his race pace has been far better than many credit him for, a Russian Grand Prix could come a couple of years too late for him. Nevertheless, how valuable was his 11th place in Brazil..?
High point: 11th in Brazil | Low point: Engine failure before the start at Silverstone
22 | Heikki Kovalainen | Caterham F1 Team
After a couple of seasons of out-performing his machinery, Kovalainen seemed subdued in 2012. But even in such a year, there were stand out moments. Take Monaco, where he qualified just a couple of tenths down on the midfield and a full eight tenths of a second ahead of Petrov. Most Formula One drivers have an indifferent season once in a while, but at the back such a year can be terminal.
High point: Battling with Button in Monaco | Low point: Problems in China meant he was 23rd.
21 | Pedro de La Rosa | HRT F1 Team
A class act at the back of the field; not only is he still driving competently, but his eloquence and determination will serve him well in the future. It took until Monza for Karthikeyan to beat him in qualifying, while he claimed his qualifying lap in Monaco was his best ever. In a season where HRT struggled, he remained continuously upbeat.
High point: Monaco qualifying | Low point: Failing to see the project through – but not his fault.
20 | Jean Eric Vergne | Scuderia Toro Rosso
Vergne was close to the points in Australia and succeeded in atrocious conditions in Malaysia a week later. But his form dipped and despite a strong showing in Monaco, he received criticism for his move on Kovalainen in Valencia. It was a year in which Vergne showed flashes of promise but his qualifying pace and especially the number of times he found himself eliminated in the first segment is a concern. Portuguese racer Antonio Felix da Costa is waiting in the wings and Dr. Helmut Marko is notoriously fickle. Vergne has a 2013 contract and needs to impress.
High point: Composed drive in Malaysia | Low point: Idiocy in Valencia.
19 | Charles Pic | Marussia F1 Team
Pic has beaten the curse of the second Virgin/Marussia seat to move on in Formula One with Caterham in 2013. Pic was by far the most impressive of Glock’s team-mates since the start of 2010, excelling in the Hungarian Grand Prix where his pace against the German all weekend was outstanding. Pic also kept the car out of the barriers, an important and rare trait.
High point: Entire Hungary weekend | Low point: lack of pre-season testing
18 | Timo Glock | Marussia F1 Team
It was another indifferent season for Glock, who remained at the back of the grid with Marussia. The team was denied tenth place in the championship in Brazil when Vergne hit the back of Glock, ensuring that the German’s heroics in Singapore were swiftly forgotten. 2013 promises more, although as Caterham’s struggles testify, KERS isn’t a guarantee of progression.
High point: Fine drive in Singapore | Low point: Food poisoning in Valencia
17 | Bruno Senna | Williams
In a season where the midfield was competitive, someone has to be ranked lower down than they might be in other years. It wasn’t that Senna did a bad job, far from it, as he scored in more races than Maldonado. But his pure pace was frequently lacking, condemning him to a Q2 exit and having to make up too much ground. When he did make it to Q3, he raced well and took home a good handful of points. But that was few and far between and when Maldonado was near the front, Senna was in the midfield.
High point: Strong drive in Hungary | Low point: Messy weekend in Singapore
16 | Daniel Ricciardo | Scuderia Toro Rosso
Although Ricciardo ended the season with fewer points than Vergne, he was frequently in front of his team mate both in qualifying and the races. The STR7 was not a strong car, a fact acknowledged by the team, and the acquisition of James Key will give them hope for 2013. Ricciardo’s starring moment was qualifying sixth in Bahrain, but his Lap One tumble down the order epitomised his season. Like Vergne, he will be under pressure from Felix da Costa in 2013.
High point: Bahrain qualifying | Low point: Bahrain Lap 1
Part Two of the F1 2012 driver rankings will come next week