August 20th, 2012 (F1plus / Grace Cunningham).- It’s hard to believe that 55% of the 2012 F1 season has already passed and as we, as fans, endure the lengthy summer break which thankfully has been filled with exciting sport thanks to the Olympics I’ve had time to reflect back on the season we have seen so far and give the drivers a ‘slightly past halfway’ grade report.
Driver's score ranges from A+ to D- and they relate more to their driving and a bit less to the support of their vehicles. For us driving for a Toro Rosso and having a great race might give the driver a A score while driving for poorly in a McLaren may render a C-.
Fernando Alonso | A
The Spaniard has taken the season by storm by constantly outperforming the potential of his Ferrari and securing the top spot in the championship despite the Ferrari difficulties. He became the first driver to win more than one race in the season and has subsequently won three races this season which nobody else can equal.
Mark Webber | A-
A slightly less smooth season for the RBR team in 2012 thanks to new technical regulations has thrown away the team’s dominance but one driver is impressing with his reliability and consistency. Mark Webber. His two wins so far in the season have been impressive drivers (Monaco and Silverstone) and has only finished out of the points in one race out of 11. Not bad for a number two driver.
Sebastian Vettel | B
2012 has been an unfamiliar ground for the young German who has been used to his qualifying dominance in previous seasons has only qualified on pole twice in the season and has failed to score points in two of the races so far. His only DNF did however come courtesy of a component failure denying him of a strong victory in Valencia but his un-PR friendly comments have caused a few ripples in the media world this season
Lewis Hamilton | B+
A tricky season for the Brit whose aim was to be consistent but after two non-point scoring races neither of which were due to the Brit (one courtesy of a Maldonado incident and picking up a puncture due to racing incident debris) his position is a little bit out of place in accordance to his performance so far this season. Four pole positions (one which was taken away from him due to a technical irregularity) and two wins are a testament to his effort so far. If McLaren can sort out their strategical mistakes he could be a strong contender for the title.
Kimi Raikkonen | B
The Iceman has become Mr.Consistent in his F1 return as he is currently the highest ranked driver who is yet to win a race and currently lies ahead of three race winner drivers in the table. His strategical and ‘never give up’ attitude has ensured that he is right up there with a fight for the title however aside from his battle with Alonso in Valencia he has not been in a position to take his first win for Lotus.
Nico Rosberg | C
A disappointing season so far for the German who showed promise with his first ever F1 race win in China early on in the season. He has finished outside of the points on three occasions and has picked up just 52 points since his win, with just two points picked up in the last two races before the summer break.
Jenson Button | C+
A great first race of the season was a misleading start for Jenson after taking his first win he has only managed to pick up 51 points in the last 10 races in comparison to his team mate who currently lies 41 points ahead of him. Struggling with understeer, oversteer, lack of grip and balance Button is need of a technical shuffle and new start to the second part of the season to aid McLaren in the WCC battle.
Romain Grosjean | B
Romain Grosjean has impressed in the first half of the season showing fantastic racing finesse however a series of incident prone races have lead him to be further down the table than his performances suggest. A component failure in Valencia took away an opportunity to claim his first F1 win but throughout his struggles a smile has been permanently fixated on his face and many fans are grateful for his enthusiasm and passion in which he beams out for all to see.
Sergio Perez | B-
A podium for Perez in Malaysia and Canada proved the Mexican’s potential as he out performed his more experience team mate whilst also showing guts and determination to better his position in every race. Perez may seem hot headed over his comments regarding Maldonado in Britain but many respected him for saying exactly what he thought which aligned with a lot of fans fears. Several 11th place finishes and two DNF’s have meant that Perez is now 29 points behind Grosjean in the WDC table.
Kamui Kobayashi | C
A disappointing beginning to the season for a driver who in 2011 provided excitement with his wheel to wheel overtakes and untamed overtakes. Three retirements, three finishes outside of the points and only two race finishes in the top 5 is certainly not what was expected from Kamui. In 2012 there seems to be the sparkle missing from Kobayashi’s driving and I hope to see it return for the second half of the season.
Pastor Maldonado | D
Maldonado has made several rookie mistakes this season… despite no longer being a rookie. Ending his race with just one lap to go in Australia, a silly decision in Monaco qualifying, an avoidable incident with Perez in Silverstone and an error in judgement in Valencia has left Maldonado’s first part of the season tarnished with incidents. Despite winning for his first time in Formula at the Spanish GP he has only 29 points from 11 races whilst his race etiquette has been called into question. The Venezuelan needs to impress in the second half of the season to change those opinions if he is to secure a future in F1.
Michael Schumacher | C
2012 has been a difficult season for the seven time world champion as he struggles to make the most out of his Mercedes car. After suffering a variety of mechanical failures he has amounted to SIX DNF’s in 11 races and has only 29 points on the board; an unfamiliar position for the driver who is so used to dominating the sport. His attitude to driving has admittedly changed since his original career in F1 but not in a bad way; his mature approach to his difficulties this year has won him appreciation from those who previously were not fans. Will he remain in the sport for another season is a question on everybody’s lips but his impressive pole position in Monaco and podium in Valencia showed a glimmer of the German we used to know.
Paul Di Resta | C+
The young scot has been battling with a car that has been disappointing in its rate of development in comparison to the other midfield teams such as Sauber and Williams but his consistency has ensured that he continues to pick up the points that are vital for Force India in the WCC battle. A great weekend for Force India in Valencia was a highlight after finishing 7th just one spot behind his best finish in the 2012 season (6th in Bahrain) but he has frequently been the unlucky 11th position in qualifying and races just missing out on crucial and valuable points.
Felipe Massa | C
Felipe Massa continues his fight to return to form but his recent showing of pace may be too little too late as his future at Ferrari is hanging in the balance. Six finishes out of the points (including 1 DNF) is a poor showing of performance against his team mate who is currently leading the WDC title battle in the same car.
Bruno Senna | C
Despite having slightly less performance in his races Bruno Senna is only a mere 5 points behind his race winning team mate proving that consistency sometimes really is key. Despite having 5 finishes outside of the points I am positive that as he adapts and develops with the team and car the Brazilian will prove his ability that his famous uncle once stated.
Nico Hulkenberg | C
Having taken a year out of an F1 seat many fans, including myself, were glad to see the ‘Hulk’ return to F1 however so far his performances have disappointed me after thinking he would be much higher up in the table. Six finishes outside of the top 10 in race trim have certainly affected his positioning against team mate Di Resta and hopefully Force India can pull something out of their bag for the remaining part of the season.
Jean Eric Vergne | C-
After the hype that surrounded Vergne at the beginning of the season I was expecting a lot from his performance but he has not quite lived up to my expectation. Vergne has frequently been the unlucky 7th driver to miss out on Q2 and has only finished inside of the points ONCE in the entire season. However he has managed to keep the car (which seems to be a lot to handle) on the track with only DNF to his F1 career so far.
Daniel Ricciardo | C-
The Aussie had a good start to the season after scoring 2 points at his home grand prix but from there on things have not gone quite so well for him. A great performance in Bahrain saw him qualify 6th but after a poor start he stumbled across the finishing line in 15th. With the weight of his career on his shoulders time will tell whether he can produce some more points for the team as they struggle in the constructors battle.
Heikki Kovalainen | C+
Since Caterham’s introduction to the sport in 2010 Kovalainen has been their Mr.Consistent and is never failing enthusiasm and determination to bring the team forward in development to create performance should be commended. A 13th place in Monaco was a great result for the Finn and I believe he has the potential to become the first point scorer for the Caterham team.
Vitaly Petrov | C+
Petrov at the beginning of the season struggled to adjust to the car but a fantastic 13th place for the Russian in Valencia showed his potential alongside his team mate to push the team forward. Two retirements and one DNS (Silverstone) have hampered his season but hopefully the second part of the season will improve his positions as he continues to adapt and fit in with the team.
Timo Glock | C
Timo has had a rollercoaster season so far with a DNS due to a stomach bug, a retirement in Canada but yet a 14th place finish in the first race of the season. As Timo continues in his quest for a point after joining the team in 2010 his consistent race pace will certainly help to push the team forward however his team mate is beginning to become more of a qualifying threat as he adjusts to the world of F1.
Charles Pic | C
Despite finishing 15th in Australia three retirements in the first 6 races did not bode for a good start for the young rookie but as the season continued he began to adapt his driving style and approach to the new environment which enabled an improvement in his performance. A 15th position, three 20ths and a 19th whilst performing at a stable level in qualifying is certainly helping the Marussia team as they battle to finish ahead of HRT in the WCC standings.
Narain Karthikeyan | C-
A tough beginning to the season after failing to qualify for the race in Australia was certainly not how Karthikeyan wanted to kick start his season. Out of the 10 races he has been racing in he has three retirements, several 22nd’s and a 15th place in the Monaco GP highlighting the mixture of results and inconsistencies of his performance.
Pedro De La Rosa | C-
Pedro also failed to qualify for the Australian GP and from there on in things have been a struggle. His highest finish was at the Monaco GP and has had a total of 3 DNF’s which is considerably less than many anticipated from the team after worries over the rate of development at HRT.
With 9 races left of what has been an incredibly unpredictable and exciting season of motorsport it will be interesting to see whether my opinions and grades for the drivers will change considerably by the end of the season. Until then… enjoy the racing and my race by race grade reports.