Formula One 2015 Driver Ratings: Part One

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From Albert Park to Abu Dhabi with everything in between, the Formula One season has come to a conclusion with a very similar result to last season with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes taking the honours. Whilst some team mate battles were very one-sided, others ended up being much closer than expected and there was the odd surprise too. Be sure to keep an eye out for part two tomorrow. Here are my Formula One 2015 driver ratings and rankings. Disagree? Be sure to leave your comments below.

Formula One 2015 Driver Ratings

Lotus-Mercedes

Lotus

No. 8 Romain Grosjean
Position: 11th
Highest Grid Result: 5th
Highest Race Result: 3rd

Grosjean’s second half of the season was not quite as strong as his first half, but it was still strong nonetheless. His weekend at Spa, where he qualified fourth but started ninth due to a gearbox penalty, only to finish a brilliant third in the race was one of his finest weekends in F1. He scored in every other race he finished in the second half of the year, and trashed his team mate 17-2 in qualifying, the most devastating of all of the qualifying battles. He did, however get involved in the odd crash, hence why his rating is a little bit lower than at the midway point.

Rating: 7.5/10

No. 13 Pastor Maldonado
Position: 14th
Highest Grid Result: 6th
Highest Race Result: 7th

Pastor Maldonado scored in three consecutive races in the second half of the season – a personal best. Other than being wiped out by Fernando Alonso at Abu Dhabi, being forced off the track at Monza and damaging his suspension (which was judged to be his fault) at Spa, he has kept his nose pretty clean. With nine retirements, he has had the most of any driver this season, but he has been hugely unlucky. He seemed to lack that extra little bit in qualifying, but ultimately whilst there has been improvement, he has been somewhat outclassed by his team mate again this year.

Rating: 5.5/10

Toro Rosso-Renault

Toro Rosso

No. 33 Max Verstappen
Position: 12th
Highest Grid Result: 6th
Highest Race Result: 4th

Verstappen delivered probably the best performance by a Toro Rosso driver since Sebastian Vettel in 2008. The amazing overtakes continued in the second half of the season, the qualifying performance improved and the level of maturity shown by the teenager has certainly improved as the season has gone on. He hasn’t had a perfect second-half of the season however, Abu Dhabi was a complete disaster, and he ignored team orders at Singapore. But he also produced sensational results, including another brilliant fourth place – this time in the rain at Austin. Verstappen was clearly the rookie of the year, and has a very bright future ahead of him provided that he doesn’t get too big for his boots.

Rating: 7/10

No. 55 Carlos Sainz
Position: 15th
Highest Grid Result: 5th
Highest Race Result: 7th

We must remember that whilst Verstappen suffered three retirements due to technical problems, Sainz suffered a staggering seven – more than any other driver. He also beat his team mate in qualifying so the 31-point gap difference between the two is a little bit skewed. Whilst Sainz didn’t necessarily produce the dramatic lunges down the inside that his team mate did, his methodical method to overtaking was highly impressive – his first lap at Abu Dhabi is an excellent example of this. However crashing out at Russia and Austin before the race had even begun (FP3/Q1 respectively) did not do him too many favours. Sainz has also been incredibly impressive, but just not quite as impressive as Verstappen.

Rating: 6.5/10

Sauber-Ferrari

Sauber

No. 9 Marcus Ericsson
Position: 18th
Highest Grid Result: 9th
Highest Race Result: 8th  

The driver to score the smallest percentage of points towards his team’s total this season was Swede Marcus Ericsson. However the statistics show that it was in fact closer than the table points towards. Ericsson had a pretty strong second half of the season, following from where he left off prior to the summer break. He managed to score in the three races between Hungary and Italy where his team mate failed to score, but some bad luck at Sochi where he hit a Force India facing the wrong way (not his fault) cost him a potential decent result where his team mate finished sixth. Ultimately it was very close between the two drivers in the end, but he was just edged by his team mate this year in terms of performance.

Rating: 5/10

No. 12 Felipe Nasr
Position: 13th
Highest Grid Result: 8th
Highest Race Result: 5th

The young Brazilian had a real canny knack of being able to deliver strong results in races with high attrition in 2015, scoring points in just one more race than his team mate, yet ending up with three times as many points. Nasr was able to respond to Ericsson’s strong mid-season charge by delivering a fine sixth at Russia, following that up with ninth in the United States – both races where Ericsson retired through no fault of his own. It has been a fairly respectable campaign by the youngster, who will be looking to build on his strong results by being a touch more consistent in 2016. As a rookie though, he rarely made the clumsy rookie mistakes, which is impressive.

Rating: 5.5/10

McLaren-Honda

McLaren

No. 14 Fernando Alonso
Position: 17th
Highest Grid Result: 9th
Highest Race Result: 5th

Fernando Alonso was the first person to admit that in 2015 he was not at his best, and I think that is a fair summary of his season. Jenson Button proved to be much more of a match than Räikkönen, Massa, Piquet or Grosjean were in Alonso’s previous six seasons. Alonso’s second half of the season was pretty poor. He seemed to get involved in clumsy incidents on occasion – notably at Abu Dhabi with a really silly error at the first corner, and despite running updated Honda software before his team mate could get his hands on it, he failed to score in the second half of the year, whilst Button scored ten points. For the sake of his reputation, he will be hoping that Honda delivers next season, because 2015 was far from vintage Alonso.

Rating: 6/10

No. 20 Kevin Magnussen
Position: 22nd
Highest Grid Result: 17th
Highest Race Result: DNS

Magnussen did not make any starts before being sacked on his birthday via e-mail.

Rating: N/A

No. 22 Jenson Button
Position: 16th
Highest Grid Result: 10th
Highest Race Result: 6th

The second half of 2015 was surprisingly rather strong for Jenson Button. He seemed to be a bit racier in the second half of the year, and it paid dividends by scoring in the high-attrition races at Russia and the United States. However because the Honda was so dire across the season, the points table does not necessarily show the whole story. Like his team mate, Button also found himself hitting things he should not have been. There were a fair few occasions where Button capitalised on his team mate’s misfortune, so whilst I think that he faired considerably better than any of Alonso’s recent team mates, I think Button was not quite as strong across the season, but it was surprisingly close.

Rating: 6/10

Marussia-Ferrari

Marussia

No. 28 Will Stevens
Position: 21st
Highest Grid Result: 13th
Highest Race Result: 13th

Stevens certainly looked less comfortable whilst paired up against his second team mate of the season. Of the nine races in the second half of the year, he beat his team mate just three times – twice Roberto Merhi, and once Alexander Rossi. Whilst we did not see a huge amount of the British driver, he performed solidly across the season, but ultimately he was not the strongest driver at the Manor team this year, and having him on for another season would be very underwhelming.

Rating: 4/10

No. 53 Alexander Rossi
Position: 20th
Highest Grid Result: 16th
Highest Race Result: 12th

The first American in Formula One did just five races in 2015 but he has more than justified his status as a driver capable of competing in the sport. He ran both GP2 (in which he lost the title to Stoffel Vandoorne by a substantial margin) and in F1 in the second half of the year, and certainly looked the strongest of the Manor trio from what we saw of him. He was on the pace instantly, and he was beaten by Stevens just once in the five races they contested together. However, there are a number of names (including Vandoorne) who I would prefer to see race in 2016 over Rossi, but Manor retaining him would be far from the worst decision in the world.

Rating: 5/10

No. 98 Roberto Merhi
Position: 19th
Highest Grid Result: 14th
Highest Race Result: 12th

Having dropped his disastrous Formula Renault 3.5 mid-season, Merhi found himself sidelined for much of the second half of the year. In the four races he did do, he often looked out of sorts, and was often beaten by Stevens. He did however have strong runs at Spa and at Sochi. It seems unlikely that the young Spaniard will return to Formula 1 next year, however stranger things have happened.

Rating: 4/10

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