As we continue to count down the F1 Fanatic Driver Rankings for 2015, here are the five drivers just outside the top ten.
15. Kimi Raikkonen
|Beat team mate in qualifying||3/19|
|Beat team mate in race||1/16|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||155/1009|
|Kimi Raikkonen 2014 form guide|
Key stat: Qualified three places behind his team mate on average – the worst of any driver
The statistics make painful reading. There was no contest between Ferrari’s two world champions this year, and no driver was as comprehensively routed by his team mate as Kimi Raikkonen was. But there are few tougher drivers to go up against than Fernando Alonso – just ask Felipe Massa.
Raikkonen had some reacclimatising to do on his return to Ferrari, and it was abundantly clear he never fully got to grips with the F14 T. A series of technical glitches during practice didn’t help matters.
On more than one occasion he seemed on the cusp of solving his problems. He took sixth in Hungary despite not making it beyond Q1 following a tactical error. Next time out at Spa – where Raikkonen always thrives – he finished ahead of Alonso for once and took his best finish of the season with fourth place.
He might have done better in Monaco, where a podium finish was likely until he was hit by Max Chilton. But much of the rest of the time he simply couldn’t match Alonso in qualifying or the races.
For the most part the anticipated duel between the pair seldom materialised. When it did it was usually won by Alonso, such as in Spain where he used a three-stop strategy to pass his two-stopping team mate for sixth. The pair traded blows in the final two races as well, and both times Alonso again prevailed, but at least by the end of the season Raikkonen was looking more of a match for his team mate.
Please James Allison, give Raikkonen a car with a responsive front end next season.
My favourite driver but even I can say his results this year were really poor. There really wasn’t much of a competition against Alonso, which was one of the disappointments of the season. How much longer will he stick it out?
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14. Daniil Kvyat
Key stat: Became the youngest driver ever to score in F1 on his debut in Australia.
|Beat team mate in qualifying||12/19|
|Beat team mate in race||5/11|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||377/806|
|Daniil Kvyat 2014 form guide|
The speed with which Daniil Kvyat has been promoted to Red Bull’s top team following a single season in F1 invites the view that he stunned everyone with his speed in 2014. That was not quite the case, but nonetheless this was an impressive rookie campaign which ensured that when the opportunity presented itself he was Red Bull’s best choice.
Problems with the Renault power unit limited Kvyat’s testing but he was unfazed when faced with wet weather conditions for his first qualifying session in Melbourne. Despite a brush with the wall he took the car into Q3 and delivered points on his debut.
Qualifying was a key strength of Kvyat’s: he reached the top ten on his first visit to Monaco but there, as in Austria and Germany, he retired in the races. While Kvyat slipped up at times – such as his needless tangle with Sergio Perez at the Hockenheimring – more often than not the car was to blame.
Reliability was a major bugbear for Toro Rosso and in Kvyat’s case as well as dropping out five times he took grid penalties three times due to power unit problems. In Italy a fine drive was completely overshadowed by technical problems: having qualified 11th he was moved back to 21st, but he made up places in the grid, passing Jean-Eric Vergne and was poised to move into the points when he suffered a brake failure.
At home in Russia he qualified a fifth – the best for him and the team – but in the race both drivers struggled with tyre performance and fuel consumption. Kvyat was promoted to the same starting position in Abu Dhabi, but his car let him down early on.
He ended the season with nine points, which compared to Vergne’s 22 was a poor reflection of how well Kvyat drove in his debut season. However Red Bull had already announced a more fitting reward.
In my opinion he is the best rookie of 2014. Yes, a lot of mistakes and sometimes he didn’t get the best out of the car, but he had a lot of eye-catching drives.
Maybe he needs another year in Toro Rosso to be a bit more consistent, but the pace is definitely there.
13. Kevin Magnussen
|Beat team mate in qualifying||9/19|
|Beat team mate in race||3/17|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||369/1102|
|Kevin Magnussen 2014 form guide|
Key stat: Took second place in Australia, the best result for a debutant since Jacques Villeneuve in 1996.
Making your grand prix debut for a top team alongside a world champion is a tall order, and though Kevin Magnussen usually finished behind Jenson Button he adjusted well to the pressures of racing in the top flight in 2014.
Magnussen stunned on his debut, bringing his McLaren home third for a podium finish which got even better when Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified, promoting him to second. Unfortunately it was a result the car seldom proved capable of replicating from then on.
In the next races Magnussen tended to risk too much at the start and paid the price. It was a bad habit he hasn’t entirely shaken by the end of the year.
After niggling technical problems in Spain (during qualifying) and Monaco It promised to come good in Germany where he qualified fourth, only to have his race spoiled by Felipe Massa in a spectacular collision for which the stewards rightly cleared the McLaren driver of blame.
However Magnussen became a focus of their attention in Belgium. In an otherwise firm-but-fair defence against several top drivers he went too far while racing Fernando Alonso, forcing the Ferrari driver off on the straight, and was deservedly penalised. Another penalty in Italy was a borderline call.
Russia provided a better indication of his potential. Relegated to eleventh on the grid by a gearbox change penalty, he recovered to finish fifth behind Button. Even so, this was only the second time all season he brought the car home in the top six.
While he may have been out-performed by his super-experienced team-mate Button, for a rookie Magnussen was remarkably quick and showed no fear when it came to fighting with the big boys of the sport, even if it occasionally drew the eye of the stewards.
I fully expect McLaren to retain him for next season alongside Alonso, even if the statistics may swing in Button’s favour. Keep an eye on Magnussen, he’s got a lot left to give yet.
12. Jules Bianchi
|Beat team mate in qualifying||12/15|
|Beat team mate in race||8/11|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||528/701|
|Jules Bianchi 2014 form guide|
Key stat: Scored Marussia’s first (and likely only) F1 points in Monaco.
The tragedy of the 2014 season was that not long after Jules Bianchi had shown the world what he was capable of, he became far more famous for a crash which left him with terrible injuries.
Bianchi’s ninth place in the Monaco Grand Prix ultimately guaranteed Marussia a best-ever ninth in the championship which should have guaranteed their F1 salvation. Sadly it did not.
It was not a result Bianchi inherited merely by watching cars in front of him fall by the wayside. A gearbox change penalty meant he started the race 21st. He got his elbows out at the start and was 16th at the end of lap one, but the crucial moment came 34 laps later when he made a bold and opportunistic pass on Kamui Kobayashi at Rascasse. Bianchi finished eighth on the road, but a five-second penalty for not lining up in his grid box correctly bumped him back to ninth.
Until that point he’d had a scrappy start to the season, colliding with Jean-Eric Vergne in Malaysia and Sergio Perez in Bahrain. He often found himself battling with Kobayashi for best among the backmarkers, and in China he only finished ahead of his rival because Kobayashi’s late pass was nullified because the chequered flag was accidentally shown too early.
He followed up Marussia’s best result with their highest grid position, starting 12th (and highest Ferrari-powered qualifier) at Silverstone. Inevitably slipped back in the race, but after Raikkonen’s crash he was called up by Ferrari for testing duties.
We can only speculate whether he would have got the break with a top team he deserved for 2015, but Bianchi clearly demonstrated he deserved it before the crash in Japan. Even in the laps before the impact, despite fading light and falling rain, he was one of few drivers on track whose lap times were getting quicker.
Until Monaco his season wasn’t great, but his drive in Monaco was the drive of the year. Fully deserved for him and the team. We all hope he’ll get back from his injuries.
11. Romain Grosjean
|Beat team mate in qualifying||11/15|
|Beat team mate in race||5/10|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||405/714|
|Romain Grosjean 2014 form guide|
Key stat: Grosjean’s best qualifying position – fifth in Spain – was six places higher than Maldonado managed all year
Few drivers faced as tough a test of their motivation in 2014 as Romain Grosjean did. Last year he produced a coming-of-age performance, leading races and standing on podiums. This year he toiled to drag his Lotus-Renault E22 beyond Q1 on the occasions it didn’t break down.
Worse, just when it seemed Lotus had turned their car into a points contender their progress stalled, and the ban on Front-Rear Inter-Connected suspension sent them back to the drawing board.
Before that happened, Grosjean produced one of the single best performances of any driver all season at the Circuit de Catalunya. At a track where aerodynamics mattered more than straight-line speed and traction, he qualified fifth and brought the car home eighth, only losing out to the Ferraris and Sebastian Vettel as he battled problems with his car’s power unit.
The latter was the story of his season, and it was hard not to feel a little sympathy when a furious Grosjean cursed his “bloody engine” on the radio after qualifying 16th in Singapore. Despite these frustrations he was usually the quicker of the two Lotus drivers, and had he not been hit by Vergne in America he probably would have been their only points scorer.
Difficult to rate his season after he has had such an awful car, but scoring most of Lotus’s points and outracing Maldonado significantly.
How the rankings are produced
Among the data referred to in producing the ranks are notes on each driver’s performance at each race weekend, compiled data on car performance, direct comparisons between team mates and each driver’s form guide.
Over to you
What’s your verdict on how these five drivers performed in 2014? Have your say in the comments.
2014 F1 season review
- The Complete F1 Fanatic 2014 season review
- F1 Fanatic’s must-read articles of 2014
- F1’s most popular drivers and teams of 2014 revealed
- F1 defies critics as fans praise 2014 racing
- The Stats and Facts highlights of 2014