It’s a highly arduous task to rank Formula 1 drivers based on how they performed in a particular season. One has to take into consideration a plethora of factors such as the car they were driving, whom they were driving against, and what kind of pressure they faced. The basic idea is to remove the car from the equation, given the gulf between the top teams and the backmarkers.
So, here’s Rach F1’s definite Top-Five Driver ranking from the 2016 F1 season. You can vote for your Driver of the Season in the Poll below.
5. Fernando Alonso
Amid never ending questions about his motivation levels, Fernando Alonso continued to deliver in his second year at McLaren.
While the infamous accident in Australia - and the subsequent absence in Bahrain - didn’t do Alonso any favours, he was immediately up to pace in Russia, scoring sixth.
A pair of fifth place finishes cemented 10th position in the drivers’ championship, while McLaren themselves gained three positions over last year primarily due to Alonso’s heroics.
In all, another year outperforming the sub-par machine he was bestowed with.
4. Max Verstappen
While the F1 fraternity had already seen Max Verstappen do wonders in the midfield, he was now - courtesy of an early-season swap with Daniil Kvyat - fighting for regular podium places and victories.
Verstappen was performing at such a level that even Daniel Ricciardo had to up his pace to keep up with the Dutchman.
His wet-weather masterclass in Brazil was unarguably his most remarkable drive of the year and another sign of what to expect from this young rising star in years to come.
That said, there were some rough patches and off weekends, with Monaco being one that comes first to the mind.
3. Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo himself admitted that 2015 wasn’t one of his best seasons in his brief Formula 1 career.
However, an upturn in Renault’s horsepower figures, coupled with the incoming of Verstappen, meant that Ricciardo was back at his very prime this year, regularly featuring on the podium.
Victories in Spain and Monaco slipped through his fingers through no fault of his own, but he was able to get redemption in Malaysia after Lewis Hamilton retired from the race.
His supreme levels of consistency is something that will perhaps give him the edge when he is fighting for the championship in the not-so-distant future.
2. Lewis Hamilton
While it is easy to say that Lewis Hamilton lost the title through technical gremlins, one must not forget some unforced errors on his part.
As Hamilton himself admitted, some of the start issues were of his own making, such as the one in Japan where he dropped down from second to eighth in a matter of seconds. To put it straight, it wasn’t exactly a perfect season from the triple-world champion.
Having said that, Hamilton once again showed that he is unbeatable when everything is going as per his liking. His July sweepover and the end of the season quadruple were a fine example of his brilliance and his ability to completely dominate the field.
A loss to Rosberg - for which he can’t take revenge - will be a big blow for Hamilton, but he is likely to return stronger in the new era of Formula 1.
1. Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg was very much the underdog this season, with all odds favouring teammate Lewis Hamilton.
But Rosberg had already upped his game in 2015 when he ended the season with three wins in a bounce. And the German was able to carry that form this season, taking advantage of Hamilton’s early season-troubles to establish a comfortable buffer in the championship.
While Hamilton was having inconsistent results - either through technical issues or his own errors - Rosberg was quietly collecting points, never really putting a foot wrong.
It was a calculated season from the now-retired 31-year-old, whose philosophy of ‘one race at a time’ paid dividends in winning a title he thoroughly deserved.
Honourable mention goes to Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz Jr for their thoroughly impressive drives in machinery that was good enough for only midfield.
by Rachit Thukral