After showing you how I feel the teams stack up for the start of 2013, I now give you all 22 drivers in the preseason driver power rankings. Please note that during the season we will only give the top 10 ranked drivers as it is frankly a pain the ass to do this for 22 drivers. Especially when we will forget half of them exist in about two weeks’ time! I will give a full update during the three week summer break and will have a full roundup at the end of 2013, but from here on out we will cover the top 10 and maybe some notable changes. Enjoy and feel free to add you own list in the comment section!
1) Fernando Alonso – After just missing out on the 2012 championship, Alonso will be ready to take the fight to Vettel and Red Bull. Was rather quiet during testing but was towards the top of the time sheets when on track.
2) Sebastian Vettel – Can the golden boy Vettel make it four titles in a row? The German was unhappy after testing, but has real class inside the car. He answered a lot of critics last year, and will be the main challenger to Alonso yet again.
3) Kimi Raikkonen – Kimi has been Kimi during the offseason. Laughing off questions from the media about his drive for the title. The Lotus started strong last year and with a GP win already secured since coming back, he will be setting his sights on the title straight away in 2013.
4) Jenson Button – Credit where credit is due. I posted years ago that Button going to McLaren was the dumbest thing of all time. Crow tastes like….horse meat. Anyways, Button is the new number one at McLaren and will be looking to get back on track in 2013. His consistency early on during the campaign is never in question.
5) Lewis Hamilton – Surprisingly I wanted to put Lewis higher on my preseason list because of his impressive testing for Mercedes AMG. Then I remember what happened last year when Mercedes tested well. Not so fast Mr. Hamilton. The pressure is on Lewis regardless of his “rebuilding” time with Mercedes. I don’t doubt his ability to muscle a car and think he will finish top five in OZ.
6) Felipe Massa – If Massa wants to avoid a trip to IndyCar, this year has to be it. Massa enjoyed an amazing second half of 2012 and looks to be back on form for the first time since 2009 when he was nearly killed. I lend that performance boost to Ferrari really turning up the heat on Massa’s place within the team. Maybe they should do it right out of the gate in 2013?
7) Mark Webber – I don’t look for this to be a great year for Webber. The reason I say so is if he thought the team supported Vettel before, there will be no question after his offseason antics. Granted the man was standing up for himself, but you have to pick your battles. Webber will be a non-factor early on.
8) Nico Rosberg – From the highest highs to the lowest of lows. That sums up Rosberg’s 2012. After winning in China, he was forgettable. The field is ultra-competitive and I could have put him a couple places higher, but I will wait for him to impress before bumping him up the ranks.
9) Sergio Perez – I have yet to really buy into Perez and his move to McLaren. Like Rosberg, I could have easily placed him higher on the list. Especially for the early part of the season. Yet, I think I will wait and see how round one plays out before moving him. No doubt McLaren will deliver a decent car, but how will he handle it? That’s my question.
10) Nico Hulkenburg – Should have won his first race in Brazil last season in all reality. A silly mistake cost him that. Now with a pretty good Sauber team, I think Hulkenburg will have a couples troubles early on, but look for his stock to rise after a few rounds with his new team.
11) Romain Grosjean – After what happened last season I cannot in good faith rate him high. I will say this though, look for Grosjean to jump a couple places early in these power rankings. He knows he has to deliver and I truly think he learned his lesson after last season.
12) Pastor Maldonado – I am not sure if Pastor has learned however. The FW35 seems to be a step forward, but Maldonado will need to mature as a driver if he wants to take advantage of that step. He will have his hands full with Bottas as a teammate.
13) Paul di Resta – A couple pretty good performances last year, but outclassed over the last half by Hulkenburg. Paul needs to beat Sutil soundly this season if he is to remain relevant. Crying about the McLaren deal took away a little credibility during the offseason.
14) Valterri Bottas – Highest placed rookie of the class. I think Bottas will prove a valuable signing for Williams truth be told. I would not be surprised if he finishes ahead of Pastor in the points. This guy learned under a guy named Hakkinen…need I say anything else?
15) Jean-Eric Vergne – Ready for another season with the Red Bull junior team, Vergne has proven to be a quality racer but fails to deliver single lap pace. May be his last shot with STR to make an impression for a sport on the Red Bull senior team.
16) Daniel Ricciardo – Nearly identical situation for Ricciardo only he can deliver a faster quali but lacks a bit in race craft. Same situation as well with STR and a shot at the Red Bull varsity squad.
17) Jules Bianchi – Last second deal at Marussia means that Bianchi has a real chance to show something here. He has only two days in the Marussia and has Chilton as a rookie teammate. That just adds to the difficulty. I think Bianchi is a strong rookie though and will show some real leadership as Marussia looks to do battle with Caterham for that tenth position.
18) Esteban Gutierrez – Unknown quality but I will give him a bump over Chilton and van der Garde as a rookie. Sauber usually hires decent talent (see Perez) but I am not so sure of Gutierrez.
19) Adrian Sutil – Over a year outside of a racing machine because of legal issues. This guy is not Kimi or Michael. Many think he will perform strong for Force India. I am not convinced.
20) Charles Pic – Pic struggled a bit last year and surrendered Marussia’s tenth in the constructor’s title. I don’t see much in his form changing now that he is with Caterham.
21) Max Chilton – Young upstart rookie from Britain. The only issue is this guy has not set the world on fire in the junior championships.
22) Giedo van der Garde – This guy getting into F1 gives me hopes that at 28 I still have a shot. Yeah yeah I know he had issues before getting in as a reserve driver and what not, but being a 27 year old rookie means he will need to deliver quickly. Caterham seem to be very happy so far, but I think he is just a bit in over his head.