1st. Fernando Alonso (164 points)
There can be no doubt in anybody's mind that the Spaniard has
driven superbly so far this year - and having been the only man to
finish in the points at each of the first eleven races, he now
enjoys a sizeable championship lead. Alonso's consistency and
outright speed (along with admittedly peerless luck) have seen him
overcome Ferrari's early performance deficit, and now both car and
driver look well placed to add to their three wins. The thirty-one
year old is indisputably in the form of his life, grimly determined
to secure that elusive third title.
2nd. Mark Webber (124 points)
This veteran campaigner remains something of a mystery: last
year he was nowhere relative to his dominant team-mate, yet this
season he appears to have regained the smallest of edges. Two wins
at real driver's circuits (Monaco and Silverstone) confirm his
calibre, but strangely they have been his only appearances on the
rostrum. To the casual observer it appears as if Webber frequently
falls adrift when not in contention for the top prize, but his
ability to consistently place inside the top ten has put him left
him in a good position for the remainder of the campaign.
3rd. Sebastian Vettel (122 points)
What a difference even a few months makes. The German's monopoly
on success is temporarily suspended, and he is stranded in a pack
of rivals scrabbling for his crown. To be fair the double world
champion has not driven at all badly this year, but when your
winning formula is based on pole-to-flag pre-eminence it can be
difficult to deal with an evaporation in car performance. Vettel's
frustration has often shown when he has not enjoyed the best of
luck, but when left unhindered he remains an absolutely relentless
threat at the front of the field.
4th. Lewis Hamilton (117 points)
We've witnessed an intriguing side to the twenty-seven year old
this year. Mentally, recent seasons have been tough on the Briton -
but these days he is determinedly upbeat. His driving has improved
correspondingly, and the former world champion has enjoyed two wins
in a near-vintage campaign behind the wheel. Unfortunately his
title hopes have been dashed by a series of mistakes and sloping
performance on the part of McLaren, although more recent form
suggests that both driver and team will pose a seriously
rejuvenated challenge in the next nine races.
5th. Kimi Raikkonen (116 points)
Given that glorious comebacks are currently somewhat out of
vogue, you could be forgiven for having low expectations of
Raikkonen going into this season. However, his performances have
been revelationary - his unconventional attitude belies formidable
raw speed and surprising strategical awareness which has brought
him to within touching distance of victory more than once. A
persistent and baffling lack of qualifying form has proven costly,
but five deserved podiums see him linger on the fringes of the
established frontrunners in the championship table.
6th. Nico Rosberg (77 points)
After well over one hundred attempts, the highly rated Rosberg
is now a winner - and few can dispute that his raw talent justifies
that tag. He claimed his maiden triumph in impressive
circumstances, controlling the Chinese Grand Prix from pole
position. But that was when Mercedes were an emergent force - since
then the team has gone backwards, and the German's results have
steadily followed suit. Having demonstrated the ability to pluck a
fantastic result from a strong footing, he has returned to the
relative anonymity of the pack in the face of difficulties.
7th. Jenson Button (76 points)
Having made a terrific start to the season, the former world
champion has since been blighted by terrible inconsistency. Some of
his issues can be laid at the door of McLaren, who have been
frequently errenous and occasionally mediocre. However, the Briton
often finds issue where other drivers don't: all too regularly he
complains of trivial set-up problems which go on to dictate his
weekend. It seems that Button requires acutely optimal conditions
in order to thrive, and that sort of perfection has been all too
rare for him to mount a serious title challenge.
8th. Romain Grosjean (76 points)
Nothing has come as a bigger surprise than the triumphant
revival of Romain Grosjean's career. The Frenchman looked decidely
humdrum upon his last appearance two-and-a-half years ago, but has
been nothing short of sensational this time around. His pace over
one lap is particularly strong, and as the season has progressed he
has looked increasingly dangerous over a race distance - although a
maiden win has remained beyond his grasp. His lower points total
can be attributed to a handful of early rookie mistakes and a
frustrating lack of reliability.
9th. Sergio Perez (47 points)
The much-touted Mexican has repaid the faith placed in him by
Sauber in fairytale fashion, securing two podiums for the team this
year. This success is rooted in his impressive ability to manage
tyres, a skill which the wily Swiss team has utilised to stunning
effect on multiple occasions. However, it remains unclear whether
Perez possesses any other weapons - his record of six non-points
finishes from the first eleven races suggests that both consistency
and raw pace remain issues which he must look to tackle if he is to
10th. Kamui Kobayashi (33 points)
It's been a curious year for the Japanese, who's own
achievements have been thoroughly eclipsed by those of his headline
grabbing team-mate. Nevertheless, the twenty-five year old has
produced some notable performances of his own - three top six
finishes are testament to his speed and guile. But whilst his
driving this year has been far from shabby, there have been none of
the spectacular deeds we have come to expect of him. In a car which
is arguably the team's best yet, many fans will feel he could have
done more to haul himself up the order.
11th. Pastor Maldonado (29 points)
In just his second season in the top flight, the twenty-seven
year old has become a pantomime villain. His increasingly erratic
performances have caused other drivers to openly question his place
in the sport. Yet for all the broken carbon fibre for which he is
responsible, the Venezuelan has stunned the paddock with copious
amounts of raw speed - his astonishing victory in Spain will live
long in the memory. There have been impressive qualifying
performances since then, but the lack of points only confirm the
fact that Maldonado is a diamond in the rough.
12th. Michael Schumacher (29 points)
Few drivers have endured such torrid luck as the seven-times
world champion. In a campaign in which he has shown glimpses of his
illustrious old self, the car has let him down - repeatedly
bludgeoning him out of contention. Although the forty-three year
old has not been able to match his younger rivals at every stage,
his pole in Monaco and later podium in Valencia go some way to
silencing calls for his immediate retirement. If all the stars were
ever to align, the German retains the competitiveness to be a
serious contender at the front of the field.
13th. Paul di Resta (27 points)
After an exciting rookie year, the former DTM champion has shown
steady improvement in his second season - he has already matched
last year's points haul in a car that is arguably inferior to its
predecessor. Moreover, having had the role of unofficial
team-leader thrust upon him, di Resta has maintained a small margin
over much vaunted team-mate Hulkenberg. His solid but unspectacular
style has brought him five top ten finishes, revealing his all
round competency and ability to extract a result even amidst the
most frenetic of midfield battles.
14th. Felipe Massa (25 points)
There are not many pre-watershed words that can be used to
describe the Brazilian's disastrous campaign to date. In a year in
which he has faced real pressure from the outset, the Ferrari
driver has chronically underperformed. There have been rare flashes
of form - fourth place in Britain comes to mind - but on the whole
Massa has lacked pace, fight and consistency. Now thirty-three
races without a podium, it is still disconcerting to see the
championship leader's team-mate languishing amongst the also-rans.
Something is clearly very wrong.
15th. Bruno Senna (24 points)
He has been roundly lamented this year, but in truth the
Brazilian has done a solid job considering the challenges he faces.
Banished from opening practice at almost every race, the
twenty-eight year old has understandably struggled in qualifying -
but six points finishes from eleven races are a firm indicator as
to his potential. Although there have been none of the standout
achievements of his team-mate, he has proven himself a considerably
more balanced and consistent presence. It is at the very least
apparent that he is more than just a famous name.
16th. Nico Hulkenberg (19 points)
Given the level of adulation that surrounded Hulkenberg during
his sabbatical, the former GP2 champion's return to the grid has
been disappointing. It is not that he has been particularly
inadequate, but rather ineffectual. In a car that possesses few
real strengths, the German has at times struggled to make his mark
in a highly competitive midfield. Nonetheless, there are signs of
hope - a mildly fortuitous fifth place in Europe was a timely
reminder of his quality behind the wheel, and he appears to be
incrementally gathering form as the year wears on.
17th. Jean-Eric Vergne (4 points)
Parachuted into a race seat as a replacement for Toro Rosso's
culled starlets, Vergne has done little to justify his selection.
All too frequently the Frenchman is in the embarassing position of
being eliminated in the first qualifying session, and a solitary
points finish is reflecting of his struggle to adapt to life in the
top flight. Those four points (scored in a Malaysian monsoon) do
place him ahead of his team-mate, but otherwise he has acutely
failed to break free of the shackles placed upon him by his less
than satisfactory machinery.
18th. Daniel Ricciardo (2 points)
Placed in the unenviable position of being the last of the
pointscorers, the likeable Australian's reputation is suffering in
the stifling heat of Red Bull's driver furnace. Having started with
a points finish in the season-opener, he has been palpably
struggling to recreate such glories ever since. The twenty-three
year old appears to have the measure of team-mate Vergne
(particularly over one lap), but the scoreboard does not yet
represent this meagre triumph - and so he must overcome his
sluggish car in order to justify the hype that surrounds him.
19th. Heikki Kovalainen (0 points)
For some years the Finn has represented the backmarkers' best
hope of an upset, consistently pushing his slothful challenger to
its limit. This season has been no different, with the thirty year
old consistently snapping at the heels of the established runners.
Little can be said about his performance other than the fact that
he remains consistently quickest in what is effectively a seperate
class - although he is now facing an increasingly stiff challenge
from team-mate Petrov. It is a fascinating partnership which should
spur both to greater heights.
20. Vitaly Petrov (0 points)
Having been cast aside by the rebadged Lotus outfit, the
beleaguered Russian was an eleventh hour choice for Caterham.
Nonetheless, he has repaid their faith with a series of solid
performances. Although initially outperformed by team-leader
Kovalainen, he has closed the gap to the point of negligibility
over the course of the season. Perhaps more importantly, he has
left behind the rash and clumsy style which blighted his hopes and
ultimately ended his time with Renault. Such form suggests that he
will be better for his spell away from the limelight.
21. Timo Glock (0 points)
It feels somewhat criminal that the German has been left
forgotten at the wrong end of the grid, particularly when prior
results pointed to a much brighter future. He now plies his trade
at a decidely stagnant Marussia team, where his key task is to keep
his team-mate and a pair of HRTs behind him. To his credit, it is a
task that he regularly performs with ease - but the MR01 is good
for little else, and the thirty-year old is clearly frustrated.
Given his long term commitment to the project, he can do little
else but wait for a car to match his talents.
22. Charles Pic (0 points)
The Marussia merry-go-round may have selected the twenty-two
year old for the dubious honour of a race seat this season, but his
performances have been just as underwhelming as those of his
predecessors. The Frenchman is expected to do little more stay
ahead of the HRT duo, and it is a job he normally executes with
aplomb - although it must be said that Pic has not been impervious
to their persistent attacks. The gulf to more experienced team-mate
Glock remains large, and past events at the team suggest that he
won't be allowed long to close it.
23. Narain Karthikeyan (0 points)
You can hardly accuse the thirty-five year old of defeatism,
having returned to the grid with HRT after a five year absence only
to be dropped mid-way through the season - and then rehired six
months later. However, you can lay the charge of lackadaisical
meandering at the Indian's door. Attempting to compete with the
rest of the field is futile in the hopeless F112, but Karthikeyan
has fallen spectacularly short of taking the fight to ageing
team-mate de la Rosa. He may be well versed in qualifying the car,
but competing is out of the question.
24. Pedro de la Rosa (0 points)
Credit must be given to the Spaniard for abandoning a secure
development post at McLaren in order to commit himself to the
mammoth task that HRT face. At the age of forty-one, few drivers
would even consider embarking on such an insurmountable challenge.
However, de la Rosa's desire to race clearly continues to burn -
and he maintains the mixture of pace and experience that made him
such an asset to the Woking-based squad. It is rare that HRT
venture outside their comfort zone to challenge those ahead, but he
is inevitably behind the wheel when they do so.