Who's hot and who's not so far in 2013?

As the Formula 1 paddock puts its feet up for a couple of weeks, the mid-year break afford us the opportunity to pore through the statistics and evaluate the form of the twenty-two drivers over the first ten races of the season.

In an exclusive two-part series, our correspondent Josh Kruse ranks the ‘Class of 2013’ – his top-ten-ranked drivers will be published tomorrow…



22. Esteban Gutiérrez

Esteban Gutiérrez Esteban Gutiérrez Esteban Gutiérrez

Somebody has to come last and unfortunately for Gutiérrez, a poor start to his maiden F1 season warrants wooden spoon honours. A mix of rookie mistakes and underperforming against already established Nico Hülkenberg has resulted in somewhat of a lacklustre debut.

Even though Sauber has failed to deliver results that most of us had expected, Gutierrez has struggled in the teammate challenge, being knocked in Q1 on six occasions and showing poor racecraft come Sunday.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Sauber Ferrari C32
Qualifying: Gutiérrez 1 – 9 Hülkenberg
Race: Gutiérrez 1 – 5 Hülkenberg*
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 18th
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 11th Best Qualifying: 14th
Fastest Laps: 1 Points: 0 Retirements: 3

* Gutiérrez has retired from one Grand Prix to-date in 2013, although was classified as he had completed over 90% of the race distance


21. Giedo van der Garde

Giedo van der Garde Giedo van der Garde Giedo van der Garde

Giedo van der Garde is another driver who has jumped into a team with a more experienced teammate in Charles Pic. Although he’s 28 years of age, so it’s not like he has little experience in racing, let alone F1.

He’s been part of the McLaren Young Drivers Programme and reserve driver for Super Aguri, Spyker and Caterham. With these credentials he shouldn’t be letting Pic dominate the intra-team battle. When they’ve both seen the chequered flag, the Dutch driver has only beaten his teammate once to-date.

Van der Garde’s notable highlight came with an excellent fifteenth-placed qualifying position at the Monaco Grand Prix, keeping his head in damp conditions to show some good wet-weather nous.

But his racecraft has been rather lacking, particularly his ability to obey the blue flags. Undoubtedly his worst weekend came at Canada, turning into a charging Mark Webber, and then repeating the dose with Nico Hülkenberg just a few laps later.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Caterham Renault CT03
Qualifying: Van der Garde 3 – 7 Pic
Race: Van der Garde 1 – 6 Pic
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 21st
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 14th Best Qualifying: 15th
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 0 Retirements: 2

20. Max Chilton

Max Chilton Max Chilton Max Chilton

It’s no secret that Chilton landed his Marussia drive due to the hefty sponsorship he brings the team, which most people are against. But this ranking system won’t take into account how drivers earned their spot in the field, rather on how they perform and the value they add to the grid.

Chilton is in a similar position to Gutierrez. He too is pinned against a more experienced driver (Bianchi) who had a few outings in an F1 car prior to joining the Marussia F1 team.

Even with the sizeable task that came along with the Marussia seat, Chilton has struggled to challenge Bianchi’s pace, both in qualifying and race trim. While he’s yet to post a DNF, he’s also never managed to beat his teammate when both have finished.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Marussia Cosworth MR02
Qualifying: Chilton 1 – 9 Bianchi
Race: Chilton 0 – 8 Bianchi
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 22nd
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 14th Best Qualifying: 20th
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 0 Retirements: 0

19. Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado Pastor Maldonado Pastor Maldonado

Prior to the last race in Hungary, Pastor Maldonado found himself lost with the backmarkers and fighting a believed star rookie in Valtteri Bottas.

Yes, it’s fair to say that Williams haven’t been as competitive as they were last year, but given the fact that the Venezuelan has had two more years with the team, that should mean that he’d handle a new young talent and establish himself as the number one driver.

This hasn’t been the case so far, as Maldonado has at times found himself trailing his new teammate, especially in qualifying, where he has historically excelled. He’s been knocked in Q1 on four occasions so far in 2013.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Williams Renault FW35
Qualifying: Maldonado 4 – 6 Bottas
Race: Maldonado 3 – 3 Bottas
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 16th
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 10th Best Qualifying: 13th
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 1 Retirements: 3

18. Charles Pic

1Charles Pic Charles Pic Charles Pic

Charles Pic has done well so far in the season. He’s seen off his nearest rival in teammate Giedo van der Garde, having the upper hand in both qualifying and races.

And when Caterham were struggling at the tail end of the grid, losing out to Marussia, he stepped up as a number one driver and started to deliver. He also delivered the team’s best finish of 14th in Malaysia. That being said, a lot of the credit for Caterham’s improved performance has to go to the development work being carried out by ex-driver Heikki Kovalainen.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Caterham Renault CT03
Qualifying: Pic 7 – 3 van der Garde
Race: Pic 6 – 1 van der Garde
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 20th
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 14th Best Qualifying: 18th
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 0 Retirements: 1

17. Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa Felipe Massa Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa’s year has been far too inconsistent, especially for a Ferrari driver.

His season started off promisingly, outqualifying teammate Alonso three weekends on the trot and landing a podium finish at the Spanish Grand Prix.

But since a crash-ridden Monaco Grand Prix – there he had three accidents at Sainte Devote over the course of the weekend, his 2013 campaign has been more whimper than bang (crashes aside). Not once has he managed to finish ahead of his teammate.

The amount of mistakes he’s made have been costly for the team and his career. Massa binned his F138 in three consecutive practice sessions over three weekends, hardly a good incentive to keep him on for 2014. Then there was that embarrassing spin at the Nürburgring…

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Scuderia Ferrari F138
Qualifying: Massa 3 – 7 Alonso
Race: Massa 0 – 7 Alonso
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 7th
Wins: 0 Podiums: 1 Best Qualifying: 2nd
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 61 Retirements: 2

16. Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas Valtteri Bottas Valtteri Bottas

Although Valtteri Bottas was expected to impress in his debut F1 season, I don’t think many people predicted him to outperform his much more experienced, race-winning teammate, Pastor Maldonado.

It’s really difficult to gauge his performance given the Williams FW35 is a truly wretched machine, so comparing him to Maldonado is really the only way to go.

Undoubtedly, his biggest highlight came with that exceptional qualifying lap in the wet to land third position on the Canadian Grand Prix grid, but predictably the car didn’t have the pace come Sunday when it was dry. He has regularly out-qualified Maldonado, and challenged him in races, putting the Venezuelan under pressure to perform. It took Maldonado a few races to get to grip with the car and started to even up the results, which will give the Finn a serious challenge in the second half of the season.

So why the low ranking if he’s managed to beat Maldonado more often than not. Simple: for a driver piloted as one of the stars of the future, he just hasn’t impressed enough.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Williams Renault FW35
Qualifying: Bottas 6 – 4 Maldonado
Race: Bottas 3 – 3 Maldonado
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 17th
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 11th Best Qualifying: 3rd
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 0 Retirements: 1

15. Jean-Éric Vergne

Jean-Éric Vergne Jean-Éric Vergne Jean-Éric Vergne

Prior to the Young Driver Test announcement, Vergne’s year had been quite bittersweet. In almost identical circumstances as last year, Vergne has struggled in qualifying but performed better in races.

His teammate Daniel Ricciardo has started to challenge him more in races this year, which reflected well on the Aussie, proving to the senior team that he is worthier of the vacant 2014 seat than the Frenchman.

Vergne needed to respond to the charge Ricciardo brought to races this year by improving his qualifying performances. Sadly for Vergne, he failed to do so, making only one Q3 appearance compared to Ricciardo’s five.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8
Qualifying: Vergne 3 – 7 Ricciardo
Race: Vergne 3 – Ricciardo 1
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 13th
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 6th Best Qualifying: 7th
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 13 Retirements: 4

14. Jules Bianchi

Jules Bianchi Jules Bianchi Jules Bianchi

The young Marussia star has been many people’s pick for the best rookie of the season, and with good reason. He’s come prepared for his F1 venture, and put his previous experiences as Force India’s Friday practice driver to good use as he jumped into the MR02 at the eleventh hour.

He has easily seen off the challenge of teammate Max Chilton, dominating the figures in both qualifying and racing. In his first race of the season at Albert Park, Bianchi’s fastest lap of the race was only two-tenths of a second slower than that of Triple World Champion, Sebastian Vettel.

The Frenchman is also leading the battle at the back of the pack between Marussia and Caterham with an unbeaten finish of 13th at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Marussia Cosworth MR02
Qualifying: Bianchi 9 – 1 Chilton
Race: Bianchi 8 – 0 Chilton
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 19th
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 13th Best Qualifying: 19th
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 0 Retirements: 2

13. Sergio Pérez

Sergio Pérez Sergio Pérez Sergio Pérez

It didn’t take long for Sergio Pérez to find his feet at McLaren, giving Jenson Button a run for his money on more than one occasion.

He’s caused a bit of grief for his teammate, especially in Bahrain when the two were fighting wheel to wheel after Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh told Perez he needed to toughen up after a wild race in China.

After that, he’s been on a mission to make his mark, causing other drivers such as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen to take note and comment on his driving, although not exactly for the right reasons…

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: McLaren Mercedes MP4-28
Qualifying: Pérez 4 – 6 Button
Race: Pérez 3 – 7 Button
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 12th
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 6th Best Qualifying: 7th
Fastest Laps: 1 Points: 18 Retirements: 2

* Perez has retired from two Grands Prix to-date in 2013, although was classified on both occasions as he had completed over 90% of the race distance


12. Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil Adrian Sutil Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil has enjoyed a strong return to F1 after spending a year on the sidelines. It only took a couple of laps during testing for him to get back to grips with Force India’s VJM06 and put in competitive lap times.

He trails teammate Paul di Resta by 13 points, which leaves him needing to improve his Sunday performances, although he has had his fair share of bad luck with a couple of first-lap incidents putting pay to some potentially points-scoring drives. The German has three retirements to his name, compared to Di Resta’s two.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM06
Qualifying: Sutil 5 – di Resta 5
Race: Sutil 3 – di Resta 4
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 11th
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 5th Best Qualifying: 7th
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 23 Retirements: 3

11. Jenson Button

Jenson Button Jenson Button Jenson Button

Usually, one would expect Button to place higher in a ranking system such as this, but given McLaren’s woeful start to the season – and add to it a mix of average qualifying performances as well as inconsistent finishes – this sees him lower down the order.

For a McLaren fan, it would be frustrating to see a best finish of fifth in the opening ten races – particularly for a team of McLaren’s pedigree, size, and resources – it shouldn’t be acceptable.

Added to this, Button hasn’t convincingly beaten his new teammate, either. Sergio Pérez is only in his third year of F1, whereas for Button this is his fourteenth season, which makes him the most experienced in the field.

For the first half of the season at least, Button should have seen off the challenge from the young Mexican, and not ask the team to ‘calm Pérez down’.

THE VITAL STATISTICS
Team: McLaren Mercedes MP4-28
Qualifying: Button 6 – 4 Pérez
Race: Button 7 – 3 Pérez*
Grands Prix: 10 Non-Starts: 0 Championship: 9th
Wins: 0 Best Finish: 5th Best Qualifying: 8th
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 39 Retirements: 1

* Button has retired from one Grand Prix to-date in 2013, although was classified as he had completed over 90% of the race distance.


Tune in to RichardsF1.com tomorrow for Josh’s top-ten-ranked drivers! Who will be ranked Number 1?

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Richard Bailey

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