The best ever? 2010 season review

2010 had it all, as far as the sport of Formula One goes. Rivalry, both inter and intra team. Drama. Action. Shunts. And five of the best drivers ever, locked in a wonderful dogfight, even to the point where four of them were still capable of taking the title at the final round of the season. Fans could ask for nothing more. Here, forumula1.com presents its definitive review of the season that many commentators are calling the best ever.

Red Bull-Renault: Constructors’ Championship: 1st

The Red Bull-Renault RB6 is one of the greatest F1 cars ever, without a doubt. Evolving from the ashes of the supremely quick but fragile RB5, the ‘6’ was the product of top designer Adrian Newey’s fertile brain and aerodynamic genius. Its principal recommendation was its use of the hot exhaust gases, channelled over the diffuser to generate extra downforce. This was an idea that glued the rear end of the car to the racetrack and basically made it unbeatable, particularly at twisty tracks like the Hungaroring and Monaco. Its ‘flexi’-front wing drew the ire of McLaren in particular – but it was within the rules, and so it was another masterstroke from Newey. The sleek aerodynamic beauty of the ‘6’, coupled with a very competitive if sometimes temperamental Renault engine, secured its position as the dominant car in the field. Even its relative lack of reliability – failures in Bahrain, Melbourne and Korea were ones that seemed particularly ill-timed – should not detract from a supreme machine that was, quite simply, unbelievably quick. Car: 9/10

The team’s management could have good and bad things said about it, and most observers would probably point out that the man management, on occasion, left something to be desired. On the positive side, team principal Christian Horner had finally woven together threads of talent that now saw his team strong favourites for the titles, after years of hard graft. The only way they could blow it, as teams have done before when presented with the open goal that a car of that quality gives you, was to suffer inter-team personnel issues. And blow it they so nearly did. The farce of Istanbul, where management blamed Webber (or at least refused to blame Vettel) for the two crashing on lap 40 was a spectacular misjudgement, that could only ever lead to allegations of favouritism of Vettel. The other big decision, to take Webber’s front wing off at Silverstone and give it to Vettel, was more understandable, but coming after Turkey, also looked bad. Overall, no-one really knows what the state of play was inside the team, but the point is that the whole conflict might have been better managed than it was. If you can manage two forces of nature, that is, like Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. And the Red Bull management kind of did, in the end, finishing the seasons with both titles.
Team: 8/10

Sebastian Vettel: Drivers’ Championship: 1st
Sebastian Vettel won the world championship this season, becoming the youngest world champion ever and fighting off some of the stiffest competition the sport has ever seen. For all this, you might say he had a wonderful season; you might think he kept his head when others didn’t; you might imagine his car was the most reliable; you might pay tribute to his improved driving. But the funny thing was, none of these things are actually true. Vettel had a challenging and difficult season, one that had the result gone a different way, might be put down as that most patronising of things: a ‘learning experience’. He certainly didn’t keep his head – the ill-fated move across Webber in Turkey was bizarre and presumptuous, the psychological warfare he employed at times with Webber was questionable, and the ‘sleeping’ incident at Hungary and the crash into Button at Spa made him look infantile. Neither was his car reliable. He had virtually guaranteed himself wins in Bahrain, Australia and Korea when the car let him down. That is a big load of points to lose, in this most tightly-contested of championships. Nor, it could be said, was his driving much improved. For the first time and to the surprise of many seasoned onlookers, Mark Webber was his equal and sometimes better. Though you should assign that to Webber’s own improvement, Vettel looked no better than he had done in 2009 or 2008, and was even rattled by Webber’s pace. So what won Sebastian Vettel the 2010 title, then? The answer is pure, simple, and poetic: speed. The boy from Heppenheim was quite simply the fastest driver this season, overall. He did not so much as beat his rivals in Valencia, for example, but leave them wondering how on earth they would ever be able to challenge him. It is as well that Vettel suffered the misfortune he did and had such a good and threatening team-mate, for if he hadn’t, the title would have been wrapped up a great deal earlier. He can only get better, which is the scary thought. 9/10

Mark Webber: Drivers’ Championship: 3rd
Sadly enough for Webber, 2010 may well have been his best ever opportunity to become world champion. For the first time in his Red Bull career, he had developed a steeliness and a speed which fully entitled him to his four wins of the year. Highlights were Monaco, Spain and Britain from the four. He was spurred to new heights by perceived injustice, but also had done his homework. As has been documented elsewhere, Webber realised early in the season that he was losing time to Vettel. He and his race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam studied the data and worked out what to do. Mid-corner, the discussion went, this RB6 is better than your instinct tells you, Mark. Floor the throttle, there, then, and trust that the car will do the rest. So he adapted his driving to that end. It had the beautiful added advantage of sending more of those precious exhaust gases over the diffuser, meaning yet more downforce. The braver you were, the faster the car would go. And Mark Webber has never been short on bravery. What was more, his very public fallings-out with the team didn’t overly affect his efforts on track. He was consistent, as well. What let him down in the end, then? The stupid move on Hamilton in Australia? That mistake and retirement in Korea? The spectacular crash in Valencia? Inferiority to Vettel in Japan and Brazil? A inexplicable lack of speed at the death in Abu Dhabi, almost definitely. A real pity, because you might argue that with all his hard graft and determination, Mark Webber would have been the most deserving of the title contenders. 8/10

McLaren-Mercedes: Constructors’ Championship: 2nd
MP4-25 was a very long car. So long, in fact, that when McLaren were trying to get in the lift at Woking to bring it to Vodafone brand HQ they couldn’t fit it in. It was quick, as well, and a darned sight better than their previous offering to the sport. What was really special about this McLaren, though, was its wonderful ‘F-duct’, that McLaren with typical contrariness called something like an acceleration optimising device. It allowed the driver to control the airflow over the rear wing, ‘stalling’ it so that there was effectively no drag from it along the straights. A simple but clever idea that immediately made them the cars to fear in a straight line. It permitted Lewis Hamilton, for example, to make some wonderful overtakes early in the season before the others had managed to copy the idea. A good car, then, with a great feature. But particularly in the latter third of the season, MP4-25 was too infrequently a match for the Red Bull or, for that matter, the Ferrari. The Abu Dhabi race showed that even with an excellent modification package, the car was still inferior to the Red Bull. McLaren, famed for their development, had come up short this season on that front. Car: 6.5/10

Martin Whitmarsh is growing into his role at McLaren, after having taken over the day-to-day running of the race team from Ron Dennis. He is always a courteous and enlightening interviewee, and looks every inch the respected elder statesman of the sport that he has become. Two things prevent him getting excellent marks for the season, however. The first is that his griping over that flexible front wing of the Red Bull did not sit well with the neutral viewer, particularly after the FIA tightened its tests, Red Bull passed, and Whitmarsh was still complaining. He would have done better, some said, to concentrate on his own team. The second thing was that he was excused too much of a conflict between his drivers by Button’s qualifying performances, which were decidedly weaker than those of Hamilton. Turkey, where the two so nearly came together on track in what would have been an awful echo of Red Bull’s disaster, was a potential crucible of mistrust and division. It was handled adequately; Lewis was told his belief that Jenson would not attack was erroneous and it was all assigned to a misunderstanding. But thereafter Button’s usual position behind Hamilton meant that Whitmarsh was spared the nightmare that Horner was faced with. The happy state of affairs within the team might not last next year, Martin, if Button can pull off some more like Australia. Team: 7/10

Lewis Hamilton Drivers’ Championship: 4th
2010 has to be up there with Hamilton’s best seasons of his short career in Formula One. There were truly inspired performances like Belgium and Canada which added to his tally of wins, mind-blowing overtaking like in Australia and China, and a confident and assertive victory in Turkey. He showed again that he may not only be the quickest natural talent in F1 but also that he is without doubt the most entertaining – that a race or a title contest with Lewis Hamilton in it is not over until the fat lady well and truly loses her voice. There were errors, though. Monza and Singapore stick out like sore thumbs; Monza was his own fault and Massa could not have avoided the incident, and Singapore showed him that Webber was not going to be intimidated this year. A chaste lack of ability to get past Kubica in Abu Dhabi was not his wont. Falling off the road in Korea and Brazil watching his nemesis Alonso in his mirrors was also uncharacteristic. Hamilton will be back at the very front before long, though, and his rivals better watch out. 7/10

Jenson Button: Drivers’ Championship: 5th
Button did a good if unspectacular job in 2010. World champion the year before, he had made a mistake by coming to the hornet’s nest, many said. But he drove with a relaxed assurance that had as its foundations a conviction that he had achieved what he set out to do as a kid, and that anything on top of that would be an unexpected bonus. The call to change tyres in Australia paid off fortuitously, but the drive as a whole could not be criticised; nor could the excellent win in China, which must rank as one of his best. Thereafter Button faded, in particular in qualifying, where he lost out to Hamilton 14-5. He stayed in contention for the title mainly through racecraft, a forte the significance of which cannot be discounted amongst hot-headed young men like Vettel and Hamilton. He would of course have had a hatful more points if aforesaid hot head Vettel had not wiped him out in Spa. But Button was the least of the title contenders, both in appearance and in result. 6/10

Ferrari Constructors’ Championship: 3rd
The Ferrari F10 was deeply beautiful, a machine of which the marque can be justifiably proud. The deep red of the colour scheme, which early on in the season abandoned that ridiculous barcode, accentuated the curves of a machine that with its ‘coke bottle’ rear end and high nose was the best looking car on the grid. It was not shabby on the race track either, with its mixture of speed and reliability one of the main reasons why Fernando Alonso was still in contention for the title at the last race of the season, after having appeared to be out of the running mid-season. Its fairytale start in Bahrain could not be maintained, but by Germany it was back in the running and more than often was the superior of the McLaren. A glorious one-three in Monza was the stuff of legend…it was somehow right that such a pretty Ferrari as the F10 won there. Overall, not as quick as the Red Bull, but then not much was. Car: 7/10

Within some sections of the F1 media, there is a cruel and possibly slightly racist belief that a culture of red wine and spaghetti reigns at Ferrari – that is, they are too Italian and disorganised to win anything by themselves. Those who espouse this questionable theory point to Ferrari’s various eras of dominance and the other nationalities that were in charge at those points. Such people had a field day when Ferrari lost the drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi through a terrible call to pit Fernando Alonso earlier than they should have done. This misses the point, though, particularly as some of those culpable for that decision were not Italian at all. Moreover, the team showed a remarkable fortitude to come back from the wilderness mid-season and the magnitude of Maranello’s collective effort should not be underestimated. There is one massive issue that precludes them scoring highly here, though, and that is the team orders fiasco. It was clearly team orders in Germany, when Felipe Massa was informed that his team mate was faster than him. As has been written already in this space, received wisdom is that de facto team orders exist anyway in F1, and so the debate centres around the manner in which they should be deployed. And that manner is definitely not the way Ferrari did it at Hockenheim. It was cheap and nasty, and they were right to be fined. But what is fascinating is that that is the way Ferrari work. The team is more important than the driver; always has been. It contrasts sharply with the way the ‘British’ teams do things, but it could so nearly have come off this season, when Alonso having a rear gunner going into the final few rounds looked to have put him in the box seat. That it did not come off was unfortunate, but Ferrari, because of their philosophy and passion, are a real force to be reckoned with. And will continue to be with an Italian at the helm. Team: 6/10

Fernando Alonso: Drivers’ Championship: 2nd
What a season from Alonso. It is very difficult to think of anything the Spaniard lacked himself, where he could have done better or been stronger or faster. The performance in Bahrain lacked nothing, although he was lucky to profit from Vettel’s demise. Then his charge faded, though usually for reasons beyond his immediate control. The nadir was Britain, where he first collided with Massa and then was given a drive-through for overtaking Kubica illegally. Not his finest hour, but what followed, an incredible seven out of nine possible podiums including three wonderful victories, should go down as one of the great championship fightbacks of all time. Perhaps the lack of daring in Abu Dhabi was his undoing. Maybe he should have held it together in the rain at Spa. But overall his season had the fewest personal flaws. 8/10

Felipe Massa Drivers’ Championship: 6th
It was, in truth, a bizarre season from Massa. The man had suffered a near-fatal crash the year before, and it is tempting to subscribe to the school of thought that says that he would have lost some pace as a result of that. Whether that is true or not, time will tell, and as far as 2010 went it is a moot point anyway. Massa was simply the inferior of Alonso this season, and if he didn’t know it before, it was rammed down his throat in China, when Alonso barged past him in the pit lane entry AND had the mental fortitude to let the team know that it was he who was coming in first. Audacity from the Spaniard that the Ferrari mechanics loved. Massa did not give up, to give him his due, and there were occasional fleeting glimpses of the 2008-spec Felipe, such as his performance at Hockenheim…prior, of course, to the incident. Rob Smedley, the faithful race engineer, came over the radio, to inform him that Alonso was faster, and Massa, who had been racing Alonso well and bravely, moved over. That might be the seminal moment of Massa’s career, where he became the whipping boy not only of one driver in one generation (Schumacher) but also of Schumacher’s successor as the best, Fernando Alonso. It certainly neatly crystallised his 2010 effort, and seemed to take the wind out of him. It is to be hoped rather than expected that the Felipe Massa of 2008 will return next year. 5/10

Mercedes GP: Constructors’ Championship: 4th
Nico Rosberg: Drivers’ Championship: 7th
Rosberg was in an unfavourable situation at the start of 2010, it has to be said. Under the distinct impression that his team mate was going to be Jenson Button, a man with not such a great record against team mates and one whom Rosberg might have expected comfortably to beat, he in fact came up against the best driver ever. Or at least that was the way it looked. Rosberg appeared glum, if resilient, at pre-season press conferences, and when you looked at the Ross Brawn-led team behind him, your heart bled for the young man whose performances at Williams in 2009 were nothing short of remarkable. But those with faith in Rosberg were to be rewarded. He was fast right out of the blocks and in Malaysia he was second on the grid and third in the race. A second podium followed in China, and consistency became his byword, with eleven points finishes in the fifteen races that remained. Misfortune prevented strong finishes in Japan and Korea, where Mark Webber was his assassin. Another excellent podium was won in Britain in a car that was, as the season wore on, more often in competition with Renaults than with the big three teams that Mercedes had hoped to fight with at the start of the year. Rosberg grew comfortable in his role as Schumacher’s superior, and his confidence will have grown tenfold by the season’s display, even if he will be hoping for more rapid machinery next year. 7/10

Michael Schumacher Drivers’ Championship: 9th
It is difficult to know what to make of Schumacher’s comeback season. Should he be judged on the magnificent performances of yesteryear and his previous career? Or should he be afforded some slack, and evaluated on his results? On neither front does the prognosis look good, unfortunately. Hyperbole at the start of the year, where Brawn’s form of 2009 and Schumacher’s belief in his own ability had led the team to talk about winning the title, did not help matters, and it quickly became obvious once the season started that the championship was not on the cards at all. Beating his team mate Rosberg was going to be task number one, at which he manifestly failed. He moaned softly to the BBC on a number of occasions that he was really struggling to get heat into the front tyres, that the car was not giving him what it ought to. There can be no doubt that the MGP W01 was an unwieldy beast, but the shout quickly went up in the blogosphere that the old Schumacher used to drive round problems in cars. His wonderful talent of the previous incarnation shone through even in the terrible Ferrari F310 or in the Benetton B194. In fact at one point it started to look like the 2010-spec Schumacher was playing out a tragedy of self-immolation in front of our eyes; the spending 20 laps behind Jaime Alguersuari in Australia, the woeful inability to defend against thrusting overtakes in China, the unseemly crash into Nick Heidfeld in Singapore. Yet it also seemed that the ugly side of Schumacher, like a bad taste in the mouth, had gone nowhere. What on earth he was doing ushering Rubens Barrichello horrifically close to the pitwall in Hungary, only he will know. Poor Felipe Massa also had his front wing knocked off by the grandfather in Canada. As the season drew to a close, it looked a little like Schumacher might be returning to better form. Spa was combative, and Japan and Korea were adequate if unspectacular. His saving grace will have to be those new Pirelli tyres next season, because he cannot, for the sake of his own dignity, repeat 2010 next year. 4/10

Renault: Constructors’ Championship: 5th
Robert Kubica: Drivers’ Championship: 8th
Kubica had a wonderful year, by his own high standards. Those who had been a little disappointed by his 2009 showing will have been mightily cheered by the gutsy performances the Pole put in from one weekend to the next in 2010. He was aided and abetted by a very good little car in the R30, the development of which had apparently been unaffected by the shenanigans behind the scenes during pre-season. A solid group had been moulded together by Eric Boullier in the meantime and Kubica was exactly the driver they needed at this point to put in the hard work. Australia was the first showing of what he could do – a charge to second from ninth on the grid was just reward for his speed. He was then classified no lower than eighth for the next seven consecutive races, including another podium in Monaco; a remarkable run that only ended in Britain where his season started to unravel somewhat. But Kubica fans will be cheered immensely by this season’s showing, and by the suspicion that the word ‘Ferrari’ will more often be used in the same breath as his name if he continues to deliver the goods. 8/10

Vitaly Petrov: Drivers’ Championship: 13th
Vitaly Petrov is a bit of an enigma, as far as his rookie year performances go. There were definitely highlights: outqualifying Kubica in Hungary and going on to finish fifth, doing the same in Abu Dhabi qualifying, not to mention frustrating Fernando Alonso with some quite excellent defending during that race. There was also some neat overtaking in China. But you can’t quite escape the impression that there were too many mistakes from the young Russian. Spa would have been a major one, when that kerb was always going to be treacherous. Crashing into Hulkenberg in Japan and on his own in Korea, where he was in seventh place, would be others. Then there were the normal rookie mistakes, like clouting the kerbs too hard and damaging suspension arms, like he did in Bahrain. It is believed that his place in the Renault team is more secure than it might be because of his commercial potential and ability to attract team sponsors; not because he pays his own way, as is mistakenly sometimes thought. A valuable driver who makes errors too frequently, though, can be a hindrance rather than a help. If he stays next year, which is not yet guaranteed, he will have to cut out those mistakes. 4/10

Williams-Cosworth: Constructors’ Championship: 6th
Rubens Barrichello: Drivers’ Championship: 10th
A good season from Barrichello, whom you might have consigned to the dustbin of history after his departure from Brawn at the end of 2009. But the most experienced driver ever is not finished with this sport just yet. His tactical and developmental nous brought the Williams team to a solid Force India-beating level of performance that, although a far cry from their glory days, will nonetheless be moderately satisfying. Barrichello has lost none of his speed, either. Ten points finishes is a very creditable return and the fourth place in Valencia was the high point. He may take some of the credit for Hulkenberg’s pole lap in Brazil, too: it was Rubinho that called first to say dry tyres were the best option. You can’t buy that. 7/10

Nico Hulkenberg: Drivers’ Championship: 14th
Hulkenberg’s maiden season in F1, and what might well turn out to be his only one, was not by any means an embarrassing one for a rookie. Nor was it particularly bad. Not many rookies can say they had a pole position when their car was determinedly midfield, and whatever Patrick Head and Rubens Barrichello had to do with it, Hulkenberg still had to go and put the car on pole in Brazil. And he did, by more than a second. Apart from that he also had a respectable seven points finishes, and might have had more if he had not been taken out by Kobayashi in Australia and Petrov in Japan. He did look shaky when playing with the big boys in Italy, but he could be cut some slack for that. Surely he deserves a seat next year? 5.5/10

Force India-Mercedes: Constructors’ Championship: 7th
Adrian Sutil: Drivers’ Championship: 11th
Sutil, by turns, frustrates and delights many F1 fans. His Korean debacle is an example of the worst Adrian Sutil, who pings off other F1 cars seemingly indiscriminately. But he is actually a very competent driver who managed nine points finishes this year, including fifth places at wet Spa and Malaysia. It’s still somehow quite difficult to envisage him being snapped up by a bigger team, though, which is a bit of a pity considering that he seems to have all the ingredients necessary to be a podium chancer or even a race winner. 6/10

Vitantonio Liuzzi: Drivers’ Championship: 14th
A disappointing season from the Italian; quite possibly the ammunition his critics need finally to eject him from the sport. Maybe the general perception of his ineptitude comes from his retirements towards the end of the season, but it is more than that: Liuzzi seems to be too often the car struggling to get out of Q3 and compares very unfavourably with his team mate on that front, losing a whopping 16-3 to Sutil over the course of the season. It will be a surprise if he is back on the grid in 2011. 3/10

Sauber-Ferrari: Constructors’ Championship: 8th
Kamui Kobayashi: Drivers’ Championship: 12th
Kobayashi this season fully justified Peter Sauber’s faith in him after the withdrawal of Toyota left him high and dry. He was quite excellent at some races: an amazing seventh in Valencia was achieved by overtaking none other than Fernando Alonso, as well as Sebastien Buemi, on the last lap. There were also wonderful drives to sixth in Britain and seventh in Japan, and he was gutsy and determined at others like Brazil. In some ways he didn’t look like his 2009 self at the beginning of the season, but he has more than proved his worth since. A very entertaining and promising prospect. 7/10

Pedro de la Rosa: Drivers’ Championship: 17th
De la Rosa was replaced after the Italian Grand Prix, and his sole points finish was seventh at the Hungarian race. Quite why he was sacked, the reasons are lost in the mists of time and team management, one would hazard. He certainly didn’t seem to be doing that bad a job in a mediocre car. But de la Rosa, for all his charm, has never quite seemed to be the finished article as a driver. Testing for Pirelli is his current job, and his old job testing for McLaren or even Hispania beckon for the future. 5/10

Nick Heidfeld: Drivers’ Championship: 18th
Replacing de la Rosa, Heidfeld had fulfilled his intention of getting back to a race seat after testing for Mercedes and then Pirelli through most of 2009. He immediately showed that he had lost none of the speed which makes him…a midfield and unspectacular F1 driver. Perhaps a tad unfair: he was eighth and ninth in Japan and Korea respectively, meaning that he wasn’t that far off Kobayashi. But Sauber have not decided to keep him on in 2011, although that Pirelli experience may mean another team will offer him something. 5/10

Toro Rosso-Ferrari: Constructors’ Championship: 9th
Sebastien Buemi: Drivers’ Championship: 16th
You wonder, in idle moments when there you realise there is still over a hundred days to the next F1 race, where Sebastien Buemi’s career is going. Ensconced in the Red Bull stable, you’d think he might make a decent number two who wouldn’t make waves at Red Bull when Mark Webber retires. Or he might jump ship to another midfield team. But either way, he hasn’t set the world on fire yet. Decent performances in Canada and Valencia this year serve as indication that he is not clueless, and might do good things in a quick car. Don’t hold your breath. 5/10

Jaime Alguersuari: Drivers’ Championship: 19th
Alguersuari is still only a boy, and so it isn’t fair to pass too heavy a judgement on him just yet. (How can someone born in 1990 be a fully formed F1 racing driver?) He is also a DJ, and it seems that there is more of a rhythm in that part of his life than there is in F1. He drove well this year in Malaysia, Spain and Abu Dhabi to take points finishes, but he didn’t score anything else all season. He’ll have to up his game again next year if he wants to make progress. 5/10

Lotus-Cosworth: Constructors’ Championship: 10th
Heikki Kovalainen: Drivers’ Championship: 20th
Kovalainen did well this year to finish 12th in Japan, and 13th in Australia and Korea. Although he did not have much competition, the Finn was consistently the brightest driver in a new car, and Lotus Racing, or 1Malaysia, or whatever it is they want to be called now, must be congratulated heartily on their efforts in 2010. Kovalainen is likely to help the nascent team’s development, but they must invest in a talismanic driver if they want to be serious contenders. 6/10

Jarno Trulli: Drivers’ Championship: 21st
Although Trulli’s flickering star occasionally still shines during qualifying in particular, you have to wonder why he doesn’t retire to his vineyards. Once Toyota withdrew, why would you go to a project that will need a long-term developmental driver, and for the foreseeable tool around at the back of the field? In 2010 his best result was 15th, and though it was definitely more to do with the car, he has to think about where it is all going. Outdone by Kovalainen this year, Trulli is only damaging his reputation by staying on in the sport. 4/10

HRT-Cosworth: Constructors’ Championship: 11th
Bruno Senna: Drivers’ Championship: 22nd
With a name like that, people are surely only ever going to be disappointed in you. There can be no doubt that most of Senna’s unedifying performances this season are down to a car that frequently had pieces fall off it, which cannot be confidence-inducing. But his being outqualified by Christian Klien was seriously disappointing. Let us hope for much better next year. 4/10

Karun Chandhok: Drivers’ Championship: 24th
That Chandhok was replaced at HRT by drivers eminently less capable than himself was one of the more unfortunate stories of 2010. 14th places, in Australia and at Monaco, are testament to his ability. His erudite and insightful comments for the BBC were all fans had of him after Britain, though. A travesty, even if needs must. 6/10

Sakon Yamamoto: Drivers’ Championship: 26th
Yamamoto drove well in Korea to finish 15th. But he will probably never be world champion. 4/10

Christian Klien: Drivers’ Championship: 27th
As HRT drivers went this season, Klien wasn’t that bad. A couple of decent qualifying performances mean that he is not a spent force. Though he too will not challenge the statisticians overmuch, you fear, in the coming years. 4/10

Virgin-Cosworth: Constructors’ Championship: 12th
Lucas di Grassi: Drivers’ Championship: 23rd
It is very hard to pass comment on a driver whose team a) designed their car entirely with CFD, and so it wasn’t very good, and b) didn’t build the car with a fuel tank big enough to finish a race. Di Grassi is highly-rated at Renault where he used to test, but he couldn’t or wouldn’t show any of his talent this season. Crashing on the parade lap in Japan was the nadir. 4/10

Timo Glock: Drivers’ Championship: 25th
Glock managed to give off a generally positive impression this season, which is odd, considering that on paper his results are worse than di Grassi’s. It might be the run of six finishes he enjoyed mid-season. Or it might be that he just looks the part a bit more. Neither is evidence of future glory. 4/10