F1 2014 mid-season review: The drivers

F1 2014 mid-season review: The drivers

The first half of the 2014 Formula 1 season has been action packed, with plenty of drama and surprises. As the sport settles into its summer break, Dan Paddock takes a look at how each of the 22 drivers have performed so far.

Sebastian Vettel – 7/10

It has been a sour first half to the season for Sebastian Vettel, who has struggled in direct contrast to his team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo. In truth, the German has looked out of sorts at the wheel of the post-exhaust-blown diffuser Red Bull all year long. Despite this, Vettel must be relatively pleased with his 88 points after what was an utterly dire pre-season. Historically, the German has always shifted up a gear after the summer break. Do not be surprised to see his form improve over the coming months.

Daniel Ricciardo – 10/10

Ricciardo has excelled from the word go, taking a podium on his Red Bull debut – that was cruelly stripped from him – and has outperformed his four-time champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel comprehensively over the first 11 races of the season. He has been beaten to the flag by Vettel just once all year, in Germany. Ricciardo has proved that behind the smiley exterior lies a fierce competitor – racing wheel-to-wheel and winning against Alonso in Hungary and Rosberg in Canada. He has far exceeded all expectations.

Nico Rosberg – 9/10

Despite his pre-season doubters, Rosberg leads the drivers’ championship after 11 rounds, with four wins in his pocket. He has been consistent under pressure, in what is his first taste of a battle for the title, and has, despite growing tension within the Mercedes camp, looked the more relaxed of the two team-mates in recent races. That his fourth place finish in Hungary was a disappointment goes to demonstrate the standards the German has come to expect of himself this year.

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Lewis Hamilton – 9/10

After a failure forced him out early in Australia, Hamilton went on to rack up four wins on the trot in serene style. However, frustration seemed to set in following ‘that’ incident on Saturday in Monaco, and Hamilton made qualifying errors at the Red Bull Ring, as well as at home at Silverstone. Two storming drives through the field in Germany and Hungary, after starting at the back owing to car faults, have just kept him in touch with his team-mate in the title battle.

Fernando Alonso – 9/10

Two podium finishes seem scant reward for the Spaniard efforts, in what has been another underwhelming year for Ferrari. As he has so often done in the past, Alonso has driven beyond the means of his inferior equipment, taking the Ferrari to places it does not deserve to be, his podium finishes case in point. Despite another year of disappointment, he has plugged on, and has utterly obliterated his team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen. Sublime as ever.

Kimi Raikkonen – 4/10

I do not think it is unfair to say that Kimi Raikkonen’s return to the Scuderia this year has so far been appalling. 12th in the championship, and a best finish of just sixth is hardly the sort of return either party was expecting ahead of the season. Some have questioned why the Finn has simply not packed it all in, such has been the level of disappointment in the opening part of 2014. Blew his best chance of a podium finish with a botched pass on Kevin Magnussen at Monaco.

Romain Grosjean – 6/10

After a series of breakout performances at the tail end of 2013 that promised so much, Grosjean has found himself hampered by a poor car this year. Despite this, the Frenchman has, for the most part, keep a lid on his frustrations. Picking up Lotus’ first points in Spain was a highlight in an otherwise depressing season. Small mercies, he has faired better than his team-mate.

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Pastor Maldonado – 5/10

While he has been outclassed by his team-mate in the early part of the year, which was probably expected given the new environment, Maldonado has performed reasonably solidly so far, in what is far from a good car. He is still yet to score points, having thrown away his best opportunity in Spain with a needless crash during the opening part of qualifying.

Kevin Magnussen – 6/10

Stunned on his debut with a podium finish, but disappeared in the following races as McLaren experienced an early season wobble. Since then the Dane has fought back to establish himself as a consistent points scorer. He seems to be visibly improving week in week out and a strong end to the season might just cost his team-mate his drive come the end of the year.

Jenson Button – 6/10

Button has got on with his job at McLaren this season in a consistent, if not spectacular manner, with a fourth place finish at home at Silverstone a high-point, despite question marks looming over his future at the team. Solid and dependable, but is he the man Honda want to lead the team in 2015?

Sergio Perez – 7/10

After a year from hell with McLaren, Perez has set about re-establishing his reputation with Force India with a series of fine drives in the early part of the season. Despite being generally outclassed by his team-mate Hulkenberg over the first 11 races, Perez has flourished in races when he has been able to demonstrate his excellent tyre management, with a stunning third in Bahrain a particular highlight.

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Nico Hulkenberg – 8/10

Once again, Hulkenberg has knuckled down and delivered, collecting points in 10 of the first 11 races before a mistimed pass on his team-mate took both he and Perez out of the race in Hungary, the only real blot on his copybook so far this year. Expect to see him linked with a swathe of top drives as we enter the final stretch of the season.

Esteban Gutierrez – 3/10

In what has been a shockingly bad year for Sauber, Gutierrez has seemed overwhelmed, and almost lost on occasion. Much was expected from him when he stepped up from GP2 but aside from mistakes, the Mexican has been anonymous in 2014. His blunder in Monaco when he clouted the barrier at the Rascasse whilst running in the points could prove to cost Sauber millions of dollars come the end of the season.

Adrian Sutil – 6/10

Like his team-mate, 2014 has not been a kind year for Sutil, who has battled all year long with a heavy, under performing car. Still, the German has plodded on, coming close to both his and the team’s first points in Hungary with 11th, after a solid drive. Given the machinery, Sutil has done a decent enough job.

Jean-Eric Vergne – 7/10

Vergne has bounced back from the disappointment of seeing his former team-mate  Danilr Ricciardo take the Red Bull seat last season to produce easily his strongest year in Formula 1, even if owing to poor reliability on the part of his car the results do not exactly reflect that. Despite this, Toro Rosso have opted to replace the Frenchman with Formula 3 racer Max Verstappen for 2015. Vergne will need to produce something special in the remaining races if he is to find himself a new home on the grid for next year.

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Daniil Kvyat – 7/10

There were some questionable remarks made when Kvyat snatched the second Toro Rosso seat out from under the nose of Antonio Felix da Costa late last year. However, the Russian has excelled in his maiden year of Formula 1, regularly matching and beating his more experienced team-mate, Vergne. The obvious highlight for Kvyat is the two points he scored on his debut, in doing so becoming the youngest points scorer in the history of the sport.

Felipe Massa – 7/10

Massa’s season so far has been one of promise, but ultimately disappointment. Free from the shackles of Ferrari he stunned the paddock with pole in Austria. Yet, too many times he has encountered problems that have limited his points haul, and he has increasingly fallen into the shadow of his ascendant team-mate Valtteri Bottas over recent races. Needs to find some consistency.

Valtteri Bottas – 10/10

Aside from a silly mistake at the season opener in Australia, when he ran wide at turn ten, damaging his right-rear wheel, Bottas has been practically faultless all year. His run of three consecutive podium finishes in Austria, Britain and Germany have rightfully established him as a major star in the sport. He has demonstrated not only his outright pace, as showcased in his drive from 14th to second at Silverstone, but also his increasing maturity, holding off a marauding Hamilton in the final laps at the Hockenheimring, despite immense pressure from the 2008 champion.

Max Chilton – 3/10

Much was expected of Chilton in this, his second year with Marussia. However, the Briton has fallen into anonymity in the shade of the acclaim for his team-mate, Jules Bianchi. His most notable performance of the season came at Silverstone, when he qualified a career best of 13th in the damp conditions, only to drop back down the grid as a result of a gearbox penalty.

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Jules Bianchi – 9/10

His drive to ninth to score both he and Marussia’s first ever points in Formula 1 will go down as one of the stories of the season. Revelled in the wet weather at Silverstone to drag his car to 12th on the grid in, another standout moment. It is difficult to impress whilst running in inferior machinery, but the Frenchman has done just that, and there are increasing calls to see Bianchi in a better seat for 2015.

Marcus Ericsson – 4/10

It has been a difficult first few months in F1 for the Swede, who has struggled to make any kind of impression at the wheel of the slowest car in the sport right now. There have been offs, as to be expected under the circumstances from a rookie, but aside from that Ericsson has been fairly solid. He was unfortunate to miss out on a point in Monaco, coming home 11th, a result made all the worse by Bianchi’s drive to ninth for Marussia.

Kamui Kobayashi – 7/10

You cannot question Kamui Kobayashi’s performance on his return to Formula 1, as the Japanese racer has, when his car has permitted him, troubled the Marussias, despite the shortcomings of the Caterham chassis, all while dominating his rookie team-mate. Despite this, his seat is under threat, with Audi sportscar star Andre Lotterer the latest name linked with Kobayashi’s seat.

Images courtesy of Octane Photographic 

 

Dan Paddock

Dan Paddock

Dan Paddock is an FIA accredited freelance motorsport and Formula 1 journalist and the recently appointed Grand Prix Editor of Richland F1. Dan joined the site in July of last year as a Staff Writer, fresh off the back of completing a master’s degree in journalism. He has since gone on to represent Richland F1 at the 2014 British Grand Prix, his debut in the Formula 1 paddock. Aside from Richland F1, Dan also writes for Rumble Strip News, as well as maintaing his own modest blog.