Formula 1 2017: Rating the drivers
Sky F1's commentary double act of Martin Brundle and David Croft wrap up F1 2017 with a driver-by-driver review of the men behind the wheel and assess how each of them has fared...
Last Updated: 29/11/17 1:38pm
All the drivers appear on an alphabetical team-by-team basis...
Championship position- 2nd, 317 points
Brundle: Sebastian had a bittersweet year. His pole lap in Mexico, some of his great overtakes - not least in Canada - and his general performance are balanced against the error of judgement in Singapore, his clumsiness in Mexico, and his craziness in Baku. He's done a very good job but the wheels came off his championship crusade around Silverstone, and the statistic that he's never lost a championship he led at some point is no longer valid. From being 25 points ahead after Monaco, there was a stage when Hamilton was 66 points ahead - the one that got away for Seb.
Croft: What might have been. Sebastian had the fastest car on many occasions, led the championship for most of the season and suddenly it crumbled away. It was his fault at times and Ferrari's at others. You win as a team and you lose as a team, so both Seb and Ferrari have to take equal blame.
Championship position- 4th, 205 points
Brundle: Kimi showed good speed this season but he's been missing something in the races. It often looked like he had all the ingredients - pace, longevity, tyre management - but then we got to the end of the race and he was a long way back. He's still doing a good job, especially as the oldest man on the grid, and I think it's one of his strongest seasons in a while but it's not been good enough in the company he keeps at the front of the grid.
Croft: Would Kimi have had a better season had he won from pole in Monaco? Would that have given him the spark he needs? He's been lacking at certain times. You want him to do really well but have we seen the best of Kimi Raikkonen already? Is he just a number two? Sadly, form suggests the latter.
Championship position- 8th, 87 points
Brundle: Outstanding. Esteban's pace grew through the season and his finishing ability throughout his single-seater career has been excellent. He's a real talent for the future and set for a very long career in F1 - but as his team-mate Perez knows, it's when you suddenly get in the most powerful spotlight that it matters most, although I don't doubt he will continue to improve.
Croft: I wasn't surprised by what I saw this season. Ocon pushed an experienced campaigner to the point where you can argue that Perez felt threatened by him. Esteban set a new record for the most consecutive finishes by a rookie. But more importantly, he got in the points.
Championship position- 7th, 100 points
Brundle: Displayed great speed and race craft but l think he was a bit shocked by Ocon for a while. The pair of them wanted their heads banging together, in the same way they banged their cars together, because the way they took lumps out of each other in Baku and Spa cost some big results. I'd really like to see Sergio back in a frontrunning car with his extra knowledge and maturity.
Croft: Didn't do anything wrong in terms of his driving but was up against a very, very good team-mate. Did Sergio underestimate Esteban? We saw some very good drives from Sergio but I don't think it was his best season even though he finished in the championship exactly where he finished last season. Nothing to be downhearted about, although in Spa his desire to stay ahead of Esteban probably didn't do the team any good in the long run.
Championship position - 13th, 28 points
Brundle: A decent turn of speed as usual but he doesn't seem the easiest guy to handle - although l don't know if the edited highlights from his car radio give an accurate picture of Romain! He demands a lot from his car and when it won't give it to him he either can't or won't drive around it. Still very worthy of a good GP seat.
Croft: Spent an awful lot of time moaning about his car. But Romain finished just one point off his season tally of 2016 so you could argue he is simply doing what he did last year. There is an untapped potential in Romain but we don't see it enough - there should be more from him.
Championship position - 14th, 19 points
Brundle: Shown speed and scored points but there were also mistakes. He's got himself a 'bad boy' reputation but that needs to generate positives rather than negatives. I can understand why Haas have kept Romain and Kevin for 2018.
Croft: He says the bad boy reputation is unfair but far too often he got himself in bother with the other drivers. Kevin's entry into F1 - when he finished on the podium in his first race - simply hasn't been seen since. He's a good solid driver but next year is a massive season for him. He has to beat his team-mate in 2018.
Championship position - 15th, 17 points
Brundle: He's been outstanding. I wonder if he would have won the championship this year if he was driving a Ferrari - but the fact of life is that he somehow navigated his way out of the Ferrari three years ago. The McLaren team deserve credit for handling Fernando so well this year. He demands a lot of the team's resource and management, but letting him do Indy was genius.
Croft: Arguably the driver of the year. Amid all the friction with Honda and coming and goings behind the scenes, he managed to put all that aside when he was out on the track to produce some drives that engine didn't deserve. He has been so unlucky that so much of his good work has gone unrewarded and eleven times he didn't see the chequered flag. Did that unreliability demotivate him? No, l think it served to motivate him even further to prove just how good he is.
Championship position - 16th, 13 points
Brundle: Having Alonso anywhere near you on the race track, let alone the other side of the garage, would be a challenge for any driver but Stoffel handled it well. He struggled in the beginning, as so many of them do, but he kept his head and started to show Alonso-matching speed. A solid job.
Croft: Had an awful start to the season and awful run with grid penalties - 283 places is ridiculous - but he slowly but surely found his feet. He won GP2 with a flourish to come into F1 with a big reputation and we are now starting to see the best of Stoffel - or the better of Stoffel.
Championship position - 1st, 363 points
Brundle: Outstanding. It's as if he went away at the summer break and thought 'I had better start concentrating on this now'. When his mind is in the right place he is unbeatable and he came back from his 'holidays' with a vengeance, as did Mercedes. He's a very worthy four-time world champion and a contender in any discussion about all-time greats.
Croft: Broken records, won races and the championship. What a season. Relished the scrap with Vettel, performed brilliantly - particularly on Saturday when he was frequently magnificent - and even if it wasn't a perfect season the records he has broken and winning the championship is justifiable reward for one of the great drivers in F1. Lewis is a class act behind the wheel.
Championship position - 3rd, 305 points
Brundle: Handled the early pressure well, and took an early win, but went on the missing list after August - although I'm not sure if he went missing or rather Lewis turned up with his A-game. Saturday in Brazil when he took pole position after Lewis put it in the fence was a brilliant day for him because it showed he could lead a team when required. He disappointingly failed to seize the chance in Brazil on race day but made amends with a classy victory from pole in Abu Dhabi.
Croft: It all looked so good in the first half of 2017 but he couldn't find an answer to the form of Lewis Hamilton. That's no disgrace, but is he there to win a championship or be a number two? Saying that, the way he coped in Sochi, when Vettel was coming back at him, was absolutely superb. He's a thoroughly nice guy but nice guys don't always come first so maybe he needs to be a bit nastier on occasion.
Championship position - 5th, 200 points
Brundle: Stunning overtakes and great races. He's a burglar who steals victories - every time somebody leaves something on the table, he hoovers them up. But Daniel has been destabilised by Max, who has claimed the high ground within the team and it's an issue. In the same way that Daniel stole the team off Vettel, Max has done the same to him. But Ricciardo has the speed and skill to fight back, if he wants to stay in the long term.
Croft: He's beaten his team-mate but is that because he's driven better or because Max has had more bad luck? At times, Daniel has been sensational and pulled off, without doubt, the best overtaking moves of the year. Baku was justifiable reward for his talent. But another driver facing another crucial year for his future in 2018.
Championship position - 6th, 168 points
Brundle: An incredible season. He kept his chin up despite a very unreliable car and then put in some blinding performances. In Mexico he was sensational: he got his elbows out at the first corner to shove two multiple champions out of the way, and then played games out front because he was bored by his own dominance. Needs to find more consistency, but no doubt here's a champion in waiting.
Croft: So unlucky this year - there were three first-lap crashes and none were his fault - and his season never really got going until the second half. Since then he's picked up victories and a new contract, and shown incredible speed. The world is at his feet - let's look forward to the future with a smile.
Championship position - 10th, 43 points
Brundle: Still an enigma. There's a vast amount of talent and speed which he's never really been able to translate into the results he deserves. And now he's starting to run out of time - Nico needs a very strong 2018. He has all the right ingredients but he just can't make the souffle rise.
Croft: Nico has out-qualified his car on many occasions this year and been a solid driver for a solid points-paying position in the championship. He's done everything Renault expected of him this year.
Championship position - 9th, 54 points
Brundle: I'm a big fan. In Austin, on his Renault debut, he was the real deal with his pace and move into Turn 19. Like his dad, he's a real competitor. I'm not sure he has the absolutely raw talent of a Verstappen or a Hamilton but he's a fighter and that bodes very well.
Croft: Mega in Singapore when he finished in fourth, the lad is incredibly talented. He spent much of the season wanting out of Toro Rosso, he's got his wish and shown brilliance along the way. Now he has to take the fight to Nico in 2018 and prove why he should be regarded as one of the top drivers in F1.
Championship position - 20th, 0 points
Brundle: Difficult to know. He's had an ok season but he's just not had the machinery to show anything.
Croft: Hasn't scored a point since Italy 2015. A lot of that is down to the car but, and I'm sorry to say this, he's had four years of F1 now and where is the progression?
Championship position - 18th, 5 points
Brundle: As above. And the problem for both Pascal and Marcus is that they have left themselves exposed for the team to try someone else who suits financially or politically.
Croft: For the second year in a row he has scored all the points for his team and probably won't be with that team for next season. Pascal has talent but he's one of many drivers in the history of F1 who can say they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sadly, I don't think we will see him again in F1.
Championship position - 19th, 5 points
Brundle: I still believe Dany has a lot of speed and talent, but his head needs managing. In a different environment, there could be a lot more to come from him and I would have given him serious consideration at Williams. There is a lot of untapped potential there.
Croft: He never recovered from losing the Red Bull drive in Spain last year. Often looks demotivated and if he has the world's problems on his shoulders - and his driving can reflect that. He is a fine driver but he needs help.
Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley
Championship position - Gasly: 21st, 0 points; Hartley: 23rd, 0 points
Brundle: They are in the honeymoon period when everything is new and everyone is 'doing well considering'. We will need to judge them at the end of next season. They both show solid race pace.
Croft: This is very much a learning exercise. We will make a proper call on them next year because Toro Rosso haven't so much limped to the flag in 2017 as crawled. Let's hope both drivers enjoy a penalty-free start to the new season so they can show what they can do.
Championship position - 11th, 43 points
Brundle: A solid year. His fighting drive in Brazil means he leaves the sport on a high. It's the right time to go but he should look back on this season, and his career, with great satisfaction. It's not easy for Williams to be certain they can find somebody better.
Croft: Gave it one last go but it hasn't been his greatest season. He's never previously had a season in which he failed to finish in the top five. What was his motivation and what did he have to prove? It will be a shame to remember Felipe as the Felipe of this season.
Championship position - 12th, 40 points
Brundle: It's a bit 'feast or famine' with Lance. In Baku he was excellent, dialled-in and in the groove, but he tends to be aggressive in the car, which is why he can be hit and miss. He has a very distinctive style which sometimes works with a particular tyre-track combo. He has to calm the inputs in the cockpit. A decent first season though.
Croft: On the face of it, it's been a very good season. Take away the podium in Baku, however, and it looks rather different. In the wet he's a very good driver but there have been too many Q1 knock-outs and he never seems entirely relaxed behind the wheel. There's always a tension. He needs time to mature but for a rookie season he can be proud of what he's done.
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