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Top 10 Drivers of the Year

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As it seems all the rage to compile top 10 lists at the moment, here are my top 10 drivers of the year:

Top 10 Drivers of 2009

1) Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull
Made a few costly errors which was nearly enough for me not to give him top spot, but was probably the fastest driver out there this year. His performances in China, Britain and Abu Dhabi were 3 of the best of the year. Most agree that he looks likely to go on to greater things in the 2010s, and although this has been said about many who have gone on to flop in the past, Seb does look like a package nearing completion

2) Mark Webber – Red Bull
The inner fanboy in me wanted to put him top but that would probably be unfair on Vettel, who became the first team mate to dominate him in qualifying. Mark was largely flawless throughout the season, with only a couple of performances you could class as poor. However, a run of races where bad luck crept in and the opposition caught up with the RB5 cost him dearly. Was much closer to Vettel than the points table shows

3) Lewis Hamilton – McLaren
The term “character-building season” has been used quite a bit lately to describe Lewis’ 3rd season in F1 but he ended it looking better than ever. The first half of the year was pretty much a write-off, although his annulled drive at Australia was a highlight. From Hungary on, he was one of the men to beat. Won 2 races but probably would’ve won 2 more if not for bad luck

4) Jenson Button – Brawn
Yes, yes, I know, he won the title, but that isn’t everything. The British press have made much of Button’s title success but the truth is his wins were largely down to a car that was streets ahead of the opposition and his poor run of form can only be down to him alone. He made heavy work of what should’ve been a comfortable title success, and with a better team mate, he surely wouldn’t have stood much of a chance. That said, he got the job done

5) Rubens Barrichello – Brawn
I really don’t think there was much to separate Rubens and Jenson over the whole season. Jenson was better up until
Turkey, bad luck or not, but Rubens was better from Silverstone on. It was only really bad luck that made the gap so wide, such as the infamous spring coming off in Hungary qualifying or the endless startline problems that can’t just be down to poor reactions. Having said that, Rubens just wasn’t fast enough earlier on in the year, particularly in quali, when it mattered

6) Fernando Alonso – Renault
It’s easy to forget Alonso this year because his car was such a dog, but what he did with it was superb. He dragged it into the points several times, further than it should have been capable of, with the crowning glory coming with the podium at Singapore. As consistent as ever and rarely made any mistakes – watch out for him again next year, because he’s not finished yet

7) Nico Rosberg – Williams
A lot of people on the internets seem to be defining Nico’s season by that one slip in Singapore that cost him a surefire podium, perhaps even overexaggerating by making it look like it was a potential win. But the truth is Nico was one of the best drivers in the midfield all year, consistently in the points and annihilating Kazuki Nakajima. Fully deserves his seat at Mercedes, although perhaps doesn’t deserve that other German bloke coming in alongside

8) Felipe Massa – Ferrari
In the races that he did drive, Felipe was the better Ferrari driver. Whilst Raikkonen looked scrappy and demotivating, the Brazilian was getting on with the job of driving the worst Ferrari for 16 years. His performance in China summed it up – for a driver written off as dreadful in the wet, it was outstanding, and if not for the car breaking down, he could’ve had a podium

9) Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
Another controversial placing, no doubt, due to the romanticism surrounding the Finn, but he only really “came alive” after Massa’s departure, by which time his exit from Ferrari seemed inevitable. And there will be question marks around how much he did improve – his performances were probably a bit better, but his yardsticks were Badoer and Fisichella. Need I say more

10) Timo Glock – Toyota
Virgin’s new recruit just edges out his ex-Toyota team mate for the last top 10 placing on account of his 2 superb podiums in the East. His quali pace did let him down on occasions, most visibly in Bahrain when he missed out on pole despite having a lighter car, but made up for it in the races. It was very much like the infamous battle between Heidfeld and Webber in 2005 at Williams, although Jarno didn’t have as much bad luck as Mark, so Timo gets the nod

Honourable mention goes to Kamui Kobayashi for his outstanding debut races, but didn’t do enough races to merit inclusion

I will soon follow up with a Top 10 Drivers of the Decade list, which will be done in a slightly different way

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Written by James Bennett

January 1, 2010 at 15:17

Posted in F1, F1 drivers

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