With the summer break duly underway, it’s the perfect time to pick the top five drivers from the first half of 2014 season. These drivers probably adapted themselves better to the new generation of F1 cars than others, no matter at which end of the grid they were racing. Some of the young drivers proved their mettle in these new cars, making their experienced teammates look rather average. However, the same couldn’t be said about the likes of Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg who continued to shine and prove why they are considered as one of the best drivers on the grid.
5) Fernando Alonso
Points - 115
Standings - 4th
Best result - 2nd(Hungary)
Another season, another less-than-competitive car(and this year, an underpowered engine). The story at Ferrari has remained more or less the same this year. Another thing that hasn’t changed is Alonso’s ability to eke out strong results from a poor car. In a car that’s only fourth or fifth fastest, Alonso has qualified the F14T in top 10, six out of 11 times. On Sundays too, his magic is evident with two strong podium finishes including a second place result at last month’s Hungarian Grand Prix where he fended off Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in the closing stages of the race to secure his best result of the season. He remains the only driver to have scored points in every race so far and this consistency has taken him to fourth place in the drivers championship, well ahead of four time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas - both equipped with better machinery.
4) Valtteri Bottas
Points - 95
Standings - 5th
Best result - 2nd(Britain, Germany)
Valtteri Bottas had already impressed the paddock with some fine drives in 2013. All he needed was a strong car with which he could get the results. And that’s exactly what Williams have delivered the Finn this season. And boy, he’s made of most of it - securing three podiums in a row between Austria and Germany and finishing in the points in each and every race he’s made it to the chequered flag. And he has no plans to stop, with winning a Grand Prix very much in his mind. F1 surely has found a new star in him.
3) Daniel Ricciardo
Points - 131
Standings - 3rd
Best result - 1st(Canada, Hungary)
Red Bull’s decision to promote Daniel Ricciardo to energy drink brand’s flagship team was met with slight skepticism, with many arguing that he was slower than Jean Eric Vergne in race trim. However, at the very first race of the season in Australia, he piloted the RB10 to second place, only to be disqualified on an issue out of his control. The Australian made up for that in the next 10 races and now sits third in the championship behind the Mercedes pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. In fact, he’s the only non-Mercedes driver to have stood on the top step of the podium this season. At both occasions, he made some brave manoeuvres during the closing stages of the race to secure the winner’s trophy. It would be interesting to see how he performs when he’s fighting for the world title and when Vettel gets on top of his issues.
1) Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton
Points - 202, 191
Standings - 1st, 2nd
Best result - 1st, 1st
Many would argue that Lewis Hamilton has had the edge over Nico Rosberg in wheel-to-wheel battles and the only reason that he’s behind the German in the standings is because he has had more of reliability problems. But it would be wrong if we totally ignore mistakes on the Brit’s part during a couple of qualifying sessions this season. Hamilton has fought for the championship before and it’s surprising to see him make mistakes under pressure, especially in qualifying which is supposed to be his strength. Nevertheless, he should be given credit for beating Rosberg in one-on-one duel at multiple occasions and for coming back from the rear of the grid at the last two races of the season to finish on the podium.
As far as Rosberg is concerned, he’s done everything right this season. He may not have the raw pace of his teammate, but he’s shown great levels of consistency. Furthermore, he has improved his game and rose to the challenge. But most importantly, he hasn’t tumbled under pressure like his teammate Lewis Hamilton or Mark Webber in 2010 for that matter.