F1 2014: Driver rankings part one

By on Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Here it is, F1Zone.net's traditional end-of-year ranking system for the drivers who participated in the 2014 campaign. These are formulated by working out the average rating for each driver after every race, removing some anomalies and then evaluating their season as a whole. In the first part, we rate those bringing up the rear.

24 | Will Stevens | Caterham F1 Team | 23rd, 0 points

Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team

Formula Renault 3.5 race winner Stevens was drafted in by Caterham to race at the season finale Abu Dhabi. He took some time to get up to speed, but acquitted himself well in qualifying and the race, finishing in 17th place and staying out of trouble. His brief flirtation on-track with Fernando Alonso was nonetheless a humorous moment, especially as he flustered the Spaniard!

23 | Andre Lotterer | Caterham F1 Team | 24th, 0 points

One of Formula 1’s most left-field driver announcements in recent years was well received as the highly talented Sportscar racer entered the Belgian GP with Caterham. Despite not having driven a Formula 1 car in a decade, Lotterer did not look out of place and comfortably had the measure of Marcus Ericsson in qualifying. However, his race ended after just a lap when he hit a kerb and caused the car to stop. He rejected a second opportunity to race in Italy after not being assured of the full race weekend.

22 | Marcus Ericsson | Caterham F1 Team | 19th, 0 points

Ericsson’s rookie season was a chastening experience. The Swede, not aided by his height, regularly qualified off the pace of team-mate Kamui Kobayashi and a litany of accidents – the biggest in Hungary - did not help his cause. His drive in Monaco was bittersweet after just missing out on points while matters did improve once Caterham tweaked the brakes, an aspect of the CT05 with which he struggled. 2015 seat with Sauber gives him a second chance to prove he is Formula 1 quality.

21 | Max Chilton | Marussia F1 Team | 21st, 0 points

Marussia F1 Team

Marussia F1 Team

This was a difficult campaign for Chilton, especially in light of events in Japan. Chilton was marginally closer to Jules Bianchi at the start of the year but it was the Frenchman who scored Marussia’s first points. Chilton pushed harder but resulted in making a few errors, the first in Canada which compromised his extraordinary runs of finishes. It remains to be seen whether he’ll return to the sport.

20 | Pastor Maldonado | Lotus F1 Team | 16th, 2 points

Maldonado has become a derisory figure in the sport and his assertion that switching from Williams to Lotus was the ‘best move ever’ came back to haunt him. Lotus struggled and he didn’t react well, making several amateurish errors at the start of the year, most prominently in Spain when he chucked away a potentially strong qualifying result with a crash. But he did improve as the season wore on and largely stayed out of trouble after the summer break, scoring a couple of points in the USA. But if he is to stop becoming a maligned caricature he needs to prove that he can harness his natural speed in a mature and efficient manner – then again, this has been a theme for four years now.

19 | Adrian Sutil | Sauber F1 Team | 18th, 0 points

Sutil moved across from Force India and raised the idea of scoring podiums but in 2014 he didn’t manage a single point. Sauber’s C33 was overweight and hideous to drive at the start of the year, with Sutil’s height exacerbating matters – such was his weight problem that he admitted in Spain to experimenting without food for a couple of days post-China. To his credit, Sutil ploughed on and secured ninth place in the grid in the USA, but that was the high point of a terrible year for him and the Swiss squad. Reliability issues dogged him throughout the campaign – he retired seven times – and an 11th position in Australia and Hungary was his best result. In the latter race he finished an agonising 0.9 seconds behind 10th-place Jenson Button. It was the closest Sauber came to a point.

18 | Esteban Gutiérrez | Sauber F1 Team | 20th, 0 points

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber F1 Team

In his sophomore season Gutiérrez was lumbered with a horrible car which completely masked his progress. After a difficult 2013, the Mexican took a step forwards but with the C33 at his disposal he was unable to show that to the wider world. Sauber’s struggles were hinted at pre-season when both he and Sutil spun off in testing at Jerez. He made what he called the ‘most painful mistake’ in Monaco when he clipped the barriers at Rascasse while comfortably on for points – after a brilliant move on Valtteri Bottas, an overtake which was forgotten after his crash. 12th in Australia proved to be his best result as he spent much of the year in lower midfield anonymity. This was an improvement from Gutiérrez on 2013, but sadly Sauber’s demise came at the wrong time.

17 | Kamui Kobayashi | Caterham F1 Team | 22nd, 0 points

Kobayashi was lured back to Formula 1 by Tony Fernandes and the Malaysian businessman’s subsequent abandonment of the team left Kobayashi out in the cold. To his credit, Kobayashi was a consummate professional throughout the difficult times and easily had the advantage over Ericsson. He came close to points in Monaco before he left the door open for Jules Bianchi. This was a troublesome campaign but Kobayashi conducted himself well.

16 | Kimi Räikkönen | Ferrari | 12th, 55 points

This was Räikkönen’s worst campaign in Formula 1 as Ferrari struggled badly. Räikkönen spent much of the year unable to cope with the front end of the F14T – an attribute of Räikkönen’s style which can be costly. One-lap pace was regularly down on Fernando Alonso and this left him playing catch-up, getting stuck in traffic, inferior strategies and therefore unable to make much progress. Crash in Britain was amateurish and he was fortunate to escape with only superficial bruises. Here’s hoping a stronger Räikkönen – and Ferrari – will appear in 2015.

15 | Romain Grosjean | Lotus | 14th, 8 points

Lotus F1 Team

Lotus F1 Team

Grosjean’s star was on the rise in 2013 but Lotus regressed horribly in 2014 – a combination of losing their team principal, chief designer, lead aerodynamicist. Add that to previous financial problems and Renault’s issues and the situation was dire. Grosjean battled with what he had at his disposal – fifth place in Spain qualifying was extraordinary. He should have scored more points but he was unlucky while running in the top 10 in China and the USA.

14 | Daniil Kvyat | Toro Rosso | 15th, 8 points

Kvyat was impressive in his rookie campaign as he showed adept car control and strong one lap pace – especially with stunning qualifying laps in Austria and at home in Russia. Points came early on in the year but he dipped slightly mid-season, the situation not aided by a series of reliability issues and some of his inexperience showing through. As the season progressed Jean-Éric Vergne was the more eye-catching driver in the races, so while Kvyat’s qualifying pace is promising, Sunday drives will need to be better in 2015 – and he’ll have nowhere to hide when driving for Red Bull. Eight points was a lowly return considering the quality of the STR9.

13 | Kevin Magnussen | McLaren | 11th, 55 points

Magnussen burst onto the scene in Australia with second position but that was the high point of a challenging rookie campaign. McLaren’s regression stunted his progress, though the Dane did not help himself with a few collisions with rivals. One-lap pace was encouraging, as was his car control on occasion, but towards the second half of the year it was Jenson Button who held the upper hand. Some questionable stewarding also cost him points in Belgium and Italy. This was not a bad rookie season per se, but he didn’t build on his initial stunning drive Down Under. Few would have realistically expected him to beat Button, but for much of the year he was further behind his team-mate than he should have been.

12 | Sergio Pérez | Force India | 10th, 59 points

Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

Perez joined Force India after his troublesome campaign with McLaren and performed ably in the midfield. In a smaller-team environment Pérez cut a more relaxed and comfortable figure and his feisty drive to third place in Bahrain was well-received. Ultimate one-lap pace was usually held by Hülkenberg (though Pérez has never been an outstanding qualifier) while the German also bagged the big haul of points early on. But when tyres required a quirky strategy, Pérez was usually present to deliver the goods – such as in Austria – and as the season progressed he cut a more consistent figure. Silly crash in the USA blotted his copybook somewhat but Pérez was a more assured racer in 2014 and continuity with Force India should aid his progress further.

11 Jules Bianchi | Marussia | 17th, 2 points

The outpouring of emotion and support following Jules Bianchi’s horrifying accident in the Japanese Grand Prix was a testament to the humility and character of the young, talented Frenchman. Graeme Lowdon’s comment that “Jules is an exceptional Formula One driver but he is also an exceptional human being,” was one of the most poignant quotes in the sport’s recent history. That Bianchi ran as high as fourth in that fateful race – albeit during the pit stop phase – demonstrates his prestigious talent. Off-track Bianchi conducted himself with grace and professionalism despite the continuing rumours linking him to a drive higher up the grid. Up until his accident Bianchi had been a fighter on-track, regularly taking the battle to the Sauber drivers, but it was in Monaco where he thrived, securing the team ninth place in the race – and consequently the Championship – after a crucial move on Kobayashi. It was one of the feel good moments of the season – the irony of Bianchi’s points coming in the wealth-laden setting of Monaco not lost on senior management at the time! The wider world will think of Bianchi and think of his awful accident. Formula 1 fans will think of Bianchi and think of his smile and his undoubted talent. Forza Jules.

Marussia F1 Team

Marussia F1 Team

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