2017-18 CRYSTAL SCORE

2017 & 2018 were seasons where Mercedes Petronas would encounter increased opposition from Scuderia Ferrari. With 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg announcing a shock retirement once he sealed his driver’s title, it was left to quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel to fight Lewis Hamilton. New technical regulations permitted teams to build cars 2 metres wide. The title fight in both seasons would follow a similar pattern: Vettel & Ferrari would start the opening races strongly before Hamilton & the Silver Arrows would catch up. However, catastrophic driving mistakes for the German and weak technical developments allied with operation errors for his team paved the way for his British rival to wrap the titles by Mexico in both seasons.

Using the Crystal Score system, I will mark down every driver with a score out of 10 and then rank every driver with a points score average. This Crystal score will consist of all of the driver’s eligible points accumulated, which are then divided by the number of races they clocked up a score.

Jolyon Palmer- 2017: 4.79 (67/14) E (20th) REJECT OF THE YEAR

After a solid rookie 2016 campaign, the Briton was caught out horribly with the 2017 new regulations. It proved to be the season from hell, as crashes in Australia, Russia and skirmishes in Italy & Malaysia was the tip of the iceberg. In addition, Palmer’s relationship with Renault deteriorated rapidly and he found himself hammered in terms of all-round pace by new team-mate Nico Hulkenberg. Once it became clear the 25-year-old was not even in the same postcode as his German counterpart, the team prioritised new parts to their team leader and mechanical issues affect Palmer’s outings at Baku, Silverstone, Spa & Monza. Despite a superb drive in mixed conditions at Singapore, where he achieved a career-best of 6th, Jolyon was handed his P45 by Japan and was replaced by Carlos Sainz.

Daniil Kvyat- 2017: 5.08 (66/13) D- (19th)

2017 was supposed to be the season where the young Russian revived his flagging reputation, but it seemed as if the humiliation of being demoted to Toro Rosso early in 2016 had demoralized him more severely than initially thought. After scoring points at Melbourne & Catalunya, Kvyat would suffer technical failures at China, Canada and Baku. However, he certainly did not help his own cause with collisions at Monaco, Austria & Britain- the last of these in which he smashed into team-mate Sainz on the opening lap- eventually wore out Helmut Marko’s patience. Therefore it was no surprise to see Daniil replaced by Pierre Gasly for Malaysia and despite Sainz’s late-season departure to Renault, Brendon Hartley would also fill in the remaining races. Fortunately, Kvyat will be returning to Toro Rosso as a race driver for 2019 after a year of testing for Ferrari.

Lance Stroll- 2017: 5.79 (110/19) D (17th)/ 2018: 6.00 (114/19) D+ (20th) REJECT OF THE YEAR

The much-derided Canadian made his GP debut in 2017, where major question marks over his readiness for F1 were raised very quickly. Numerous scrapes and barges was the story of his opening races, which enhanced his image as a “pay driver”. His home race at Canada would prove a substantial turning point, however, as a punchy drive with effective overtakes saw Stroll clinch his maiden points finish for 9th. Although some derided his maiden podium at the subsequent Baku race as a fluke, it was a solid display of Stroll’s nerve under pressure despite Valtteri Bottas nipping past on the finish line to relegate the 18-year-old to 3rd. Lance would then pick up five further points finishes during 2017 and qualified 2nd at a wet Monza, but it was inescapable how often he outpaced by veteran team-mate Felipe Massa for the majority of the season. 2018 would see Massa replaced by Sergey Sirotkin and a dreadful new Williams chassis, but Stroll’s attitude would also prove to be problematic. In spite of a steady performance to grab 8th at an attrition-affected Baku race, his Monaco race was characterized by his petulance on the team’s radio. Being out-qualified 13-8 by Sirotkin once again placed the spotlight at his father’s money, which has been transitioned towards the newly-purchased Racing Point outfit. Of course, 2018 Reject of the Year will be joining his father at the rebranded Force India team for 2019.

Sergey Sirotkin- 2018: 6.33 (114/18) C (19th)

Whilst some may find themselves forgetting that the 23-year-old Russian ever raced in F1, it’s safe to say the Moscow-native did not disgrace himself. Entering GP racing with a heavy dose of SMP money behind him, Sirotkin gradually came to grips with Williams’ recalcitrant FW41 and impressed at times. His Monaco qualifying performance was arguably the highlight of his season, where he clocked the 13th fastest time behind Vandoorne’s McLaren and ahead of both Saubers and Haas, as well as Hartley’s Toro Rosso and team-mate Stroll. Sirotkin scored what will most likely prove to the only point of his F1 career at Monza, whereby the season’s end his sponsors announced he would not be returning for 2019 due to their dissatisfaction with Williams’ dreadful developments.

Brendon Hartley- 2018: 6.53 (111/17) C (18th)

New Zealand’s sole representative has provided a solid, if unspectacular display of himself during the past two years. Unfortunately, it became a frequent sight to see Hartley outperformed by team-mate Pierre Gasly by a large margin. Helmut Marko made his displeasure at the Kiwi’s lack of speed very loud in the media and there were rumours Brendon would be dropped mid-season. Alas, Hartley would complete 2018 with Toro Rosso, but just three points finish has seen him dropped in favour of Kvyat and Alex Albon. However, it was rather poignant to see Honda’s farewell message to Hartley, as it appeared the Japanese engine supplier believes his knowledge and experience will be heavily missed.

Marcus Ericsson- 2017: 5.32 (101/19) D (18th)/ 2018: 6.61 (119/18) C (17th)

The Swedish journeyman commerced 2017 with a 3rd season with Sauber, much to the consternation of the F1 fan base. He would complete his second consecutive season with scoring a point, in a year littered with apathy and basic driving errors at Singapore and Japan. Despite persisting with an image as one of the sport’s most underwhelming drivers, it was found that Ericsson’s average qualifying deficit to team-mate Pascal Wehrlein was only 0.049 seconds. However, that it did not stop pundits slamming his re-signing for 2018 at Hinwil, especially now as Alfa Romeo announced themselves as new sponsors of Sauber. 2018, though, proved to be a huge leap in form for Ericsson, who scored six times and his points total of 9 clinched him 17th in the drivers’ standing. It is rather curious, however, that the 28-year-old has been dropped by Sauber in spite of his best season in GP racing, but he will be racing in Indycar for 2019.

Stoffel Vandoorne- 2017: 5.94 (101/17) D+ (16th)/ 2018: 6.75 (135/20) C (15th)

Belgium’s biggest prospect had so many experts anticipating his full-time debut for 2017, but McLaren’s newest protege has been a major flop. Whilst poor equipment has undoubtedly stunted his progress, there’s been far too many occasions in the last two years where Vandoorne failed to make an impression. To illustrate his struggles further, 2018 saw him whitewashed by Fernando Alonso in qualifying, becoming the first driver since Nelson Piquet Jr. to suffer such a fate. (Of course, he too happened to be the Spanish double world champion’s team-mate). Only twice did the Belgian finish in front of Alonso during these two years and his best drive was arguably his 7th place at the 2017 Sepang race. With Vandoorne having already departed to race in Formula E, it’s unlikely we will see the 26-year-old race in F1 again.

Pascal Wehrlein- 2017: 6.00 (96/16) D+ (15th)

Whilst no-one doubted the 24-year-old German’s ability, the Sauber driver’s commitment and passion was something that left insiders unimpressed. Ultimately, despite scoring at Barcelona & Baku, it was felt by many that Wehrlein was doing the bare minimum to narrowly defeat his journeyman stablemate Ericsson. Inevitably, his Mercedes affiliation costed him his Sauber ride for 2018 thanks to Alfa Romeo stepping in to fund the Swiss outfit. With George Russell joining Williams for 2019 and Esteban Ocon reverting to a reserve role for Mercedes, Pascal split ties with Mercedes and now races for Mahindra in Formula E.

Romain Grosjean- 2017: 6.18 (105/17) C- (13th)/ 2018: 6.65 (133/20) C (16th)

Oh Romain. It’s obvious the Frenchman joined Haas as a springboard into a Ferrari seat, but the past two seasons have put paid to his chances of ever clinching a ride at any top team. It’s arguable that Grosjean’s decision to leave Renault in 2015 has proven to be the wrong choice, especially if 2018 constructors’ standings is a harbinger for future success for his former team. For every potent result he produces, there’s always a subsequent performance that makes you wonder how the Swiss-born driver was handed an opportunity to race in the top tier of motorsport in the first place. Whilst Grosjean maintained his dominance in qualifying over team-mate Kevin Magnussen, it’s clear to see the Frenchman has been the cause of his own failure to capitalise on promising positions. He will continue to race for Haas in 2019, but if he repeats his antics of 2018 which left him pointless after the opening eight races, it’s probable it could be his final year.

Kevin Magnussen- 2017: 6.125 (98/16) C- (14th)/ 2018: 7.00 (147/21) C+ (14th)

Denmark’s most famous name in racing has proven himself as one of the most aggressive drivers in F1 during the past two seasons. However, despite making few friends, K-Mag has displayed massive progress and his early 2018 form even prompted rumours of a potential move to Ferrari. Scoring five times in 2017, he entered 2018 with commentators demanding better consistency and cleaner driving. Whilst Magnussen improved his driver’s standing position from 14th to 9th between these past two years, his sportsmanship is still questionable. Bizarrely, however, the Dane only has two points on his superlicence, but we feel that’s a major blot on the judgment from the stewards. Despite a dip in form towards the end of 2018, it is expected by many that the 26-year-old could end team-mate Grosjean’s career in F1 for good if he really turns up in 2019.

Pierre Gasly- 2018: 7.00 (119/17) C (13th)

New Red Bull driver Gasly has impressed when his car has proven competitive, with 2018 providing five points finishes for the Frenchman. Making his debut at 2017 Malaysia, he’s only had two team-mates in Carlos Sainz & Brendon Hartley at Toro Rosso thus far. Therefore it is difficult to judge how Pierre will fare against 2019 team-mate Max Verstappen, but if he can produce performances similar to his 2018 Bahrain drive to 4th, he may be prove to be respectable. However, there have been reports from team insiders that Gasly needs to be instilled with “discipline”.

Carlos Sainz- 2017: 6.56 (105/16) C (12th)/2018: 7.30 (146/20) B (11th)

It is difficult to decipher whether the 24-year-old actually displayed any improvement in 2018 or his 2017 season was only strong in a superficial sense. It’s probable there is a significant margin in talent levels between two of his most recent team-mates Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat: the German has been stupendous on his best days, whilst Russian’s erratic displays saw him dropped for 2018. Whilst the Spaniard did a marvelous job of earning 7th in the constructors’ standings for Toro Rosso in 2017, it must not be understated he was just as invaluable in contributing to Renault’s 4th place in 2018. My opinion is that Sainz is one of F1’s most consistent drivers, scoring 23 times in the past two seasons, but he will be filling Alonso’s shoes of leading McLaren in 2019.

Felipe Massa- 2017: 6.76 (115/17) C (9th)

Brazil’s most recent representative drove his farewell season in 2017, where he had the advantage over Lance Stroll without even sweating. Whilst Massa drove as precisely as he could, bad luck would see him lose a possible final career victory at Baku. Despite finishing 3 points ahead of Stroll, it was clear Massa had been superior but Williams began shopping Felipe’s seat around with cash issues arising. It was a wise decision on the Brazilian’s part to announce his retirement for good late in 2017 and he would achieve 7th at his final home race, which was a much better send-off than the tear-jerking scenes of the previous year when he spun in torrential conditions. Massa now races in Formula E.

Sergio Perez- 2017: 6.75 (135/20) C (10th)/2018: 7.40 (148/20) B (10th)

The past two years have proven to be a checkered affair for the 28-year-old Mexican, who has blended impressive displays with moments of hot-headed madness. However, he must be commended for saving the Racing Point team last August when it appeared the team would be shut down following Vijay Mallya’s legal issues back in his homeland of India. By placing the team in administration, Perez and his sponsors were able to facilitate Lawrence Stroll’s purchase of the team, but it meant the team’s constructor points was wiped out for the first 12 races. Nevertheless, Perez and Esteban Ocon succeeded to make up for these lost points by sealing 7th place for the Silverstone-based outfit in the remaining nine races. Unfortunately for Perez, he has been consistently out-qualified by Ocon and there have numerous collisions between the pairing: 2017 saw them tangle at Montreal and Spa, whilst 2018 saw Perez slam Ocon into the wall on the opening lap at Singapore. It should come as some relief that Perez’s new team-mate will be Lance Stroll, who should not pose any threat, but with the Mexican accelerating towards the age of 30, he may overdrive in 2019 in the hopes of catching the glances of the top teams.

Esteban Ocon- 2017: 6.95 (132/19) C+ (8th)/ 2018: 7.58 (144/19) B (9th)

It’s been a couple of promising, but rather erratic, seasons for the 22-year-old Frenchman. The jury remains undecided whether Ocon is worthy of a Mercedes seat any time soon, but his qualifying speed has been mesmerising to say the least. Ocon has clocked up 28 points finishes in the past two seasons, but he has found himself consistently outscored by veteran team-mate Perez 162-136. Despite this, their partnership has proven to be the sport’s most evenly matched with Ocon finishing ahead of the Mexican 16 times to Checo beating the Frenchman 15 times. If Bottas struggles in 2019, don’t be surprised to see the lanky Normandy native appear mid-season as Hamilton’s new team-mate.

Valtteri Bottas- 2017: 7.45 (149/20) B (7th)/ 2018: 7.05 (141/20) B- (12th)

It’s been a tale of two contrasting years for the Nastola-native: 2017 was a steadfast breakthrough season with three victories and a strong 3rd in the drivers’ standings, but 2018 was one mixed with ill fortune and fading motivation. Both seasons did follow a similar pattern, where Bottas was much quicker and closer to Hamilton in the first half of the season compared to the second half. However, whilst the Finn was rewarded for strong performances in 2017, a lack of aggression at Bahrain and disaster at Baku denied him further eye-catching results in 2018. It’s safe to say if Bottas was following team-orders at Hockenheim and Sochi in the hopes of prolonging his stay at Mercedes beyond 2019, he is in desperate trouble. It is one of major urgency Valtteri improves for 2019, especially his impotent run of four consecutive P5 results to conclude 2018.

Nico Hulkenberg- 2017: 6.71 (114/17) C (11th)/ 2018: 8.07 (121/15) A- (3rd)

It’s been two virile seasons in terms of result for the 31-year-old German, who will have the prospect of facing Daniel Ricciardo at Renault for 2019. Due to suffering 13 retirements in the past two years, it is a credit to Hulkenberg that he dragged himself into a top 10 position in the drivers’ standings for both seasons. In addition, his 2017 season was interrupted by numerous technical issues that saw him strolling to weak finishes as his French team adapted to the new regulations. With the far more effective Carlos Sainz replacing Jolyon Palmer as his team-mate for 2018, Nico has lifted himself to another level and likewise Renault improved their constructors’ position from 6th to 4th.

Charles Leclerc- 2018: 7.89 (142/18) B+ (7th)

Ferrari’s newest signing and youngest driver in almost 50 years had a fabulous rookie season at Sauber. Every superlative that can be said about the 21-year-old Monegasque has already been written, but the statistics tell us that he destroyed team-mate Ericsson with ease. However, it remains to be seen whether he can match or even beat quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel in 2019.

Kimi Raikkonen- 2017: 7.50 (120/16) B (6th)/ 2018: 8.00 (152/19) B+ (5th)

Whilst many panned the Iceman’s 2017 as an unadulterated disaster, 2018 was in truth an upgrade, rather than any major strides forward, for the 2007 world champion. Collisions with Bottas wrecked his races at Barcelona and Baku in 2017, a year which also saw Kimi cynically wiped out by Vettel at Singapore and then being denied the chance to start the Malaysian GP thanks to power unit issues. There were also some who believed Ferrari deliberately pitted the Finn early at Monaco & Hungary to allow Vettel to leapfrog and maintain his lead at both races respectively. 2018 would see more missed opportunities for Raikkonen, as a botched pit stop at Bahrain, an engine failure at Spain and a mediocre outing at Canada snapped the now-deceased Sergio Marchionne’s patience. Austria & Italy would see Kimi cruelly denied victory, the first of which saw Max Verstappen unpenalized for shoving Kimi on lap 1 and the latter saw Raikkonen’s rapidly-degrading tyres lose an emotive win in front of the Tifosi in what was his final Italian GP as Ferrari driver. Gracefully, COTA would see Kimi reborn in the USA and achieve his first victory in five years. Hopefully his return to Sauber will see the Finn in a more dignified position.

Fernando Alonso- 2017: 7.73 (116/15) B (3rd)/ 2018: 7.76 (132/17) B (8th)

The feisty Spaniard continued to display his credentials of one of the sport’s greatest drivers in his final two seasons of F1, but the results proved to be woefully lacking. In between his efforts to drag his underpowered McLaren to points finishes, it became a regular occurrence for Alonso to bemoan his machinery and Honda’s lack of progress in 2017. So 2018 was supposed to be the year in which the best chassis on the grid would finally allow the double world champion to win races again, but as you may know all hopes were disintegrated by Catalunya. The car’s non-linear progress was found to be sidetracked by the McLaren’s distractions with their dalliances in sports car racing, their production car operation and their flirtations with setting up a full-time Indycar program. Thankfully, Alonso’s whining and attacks on F1 will finally disappear in 2019.

Max Verstappen- 2017: 7.62 (99/13) B (5th)/ 2018: 8.05 (152/19) A- (4th)

The temperamental Dutch youngster has shown himself to have the credentials of not only becoming a F1 legend, but being one of the sport’s most thrilling drivers on- and off-track. Whilst Max has out-raced and out-qualified team-mate Daniel Ricciardo regularly, their Red Bull car’s disgusting reliability has stopped them from potentially challenging for more race wins. Unfortunately, Max’s weighbridge skirmish with Esteban Ocon following their 2018 Brazil race collision shows the 21-year-old needs to develop control of his emotions.

Daniel Ricciardo- 2017: 7.73 (116/15) B (4th)/ 2018: 8.19 (131/16) A- (2nd)

In terms of average race performances, the Crystal Score ranks the Honey Badger as the third-best average driver over the past two years. However, it appears the consensus on the Australian is that he has probably reached his peak at 29-years-old, so it is wise move for Ricciardo to move to Renault. It is visible Max Verstappen will only get better and the performance gap between the split pairing of Max and Dan will certainly grow and leave Ricciardo humiliated. 2017 would witness Ricciardo on the podium nine times, including a plucky win at Baku, whilst 2018 consisted of two wins at China and Monaco that proved to be the Australian’s only podium appearances of this season! Sadly, once the news of Ricciardo’s move to Renault became apparent, Red Bull gave him the cold shoulder and conspiracy theories over his reliability woes proliferated. So here’s to hopng 2019 bears better fortunes.

Sebastian Vettel- 2017: 8.16 (155/19) A- (2nd)/ 2018: 7.95 (167/21) B+ (6th)

2017 Belgium: Vettel led Hamilton by 7 points. 2018 Britain: Vettel led his Hamilton by 8 points. Those stats tell a story of two title campaigns that fell apart in similar dramatic fashion, when you consider the deficit by the end of both seasons. However, the way they collapsed differs monumentally when both campaigns reached Singapore: 2017 witnessed the German pull off one of the most idiotic defensive manoeuvres ever seen in F1 history by clattering into Kimi, Max and Alonso. 2018, on the other hand, saw Ferrari carry new technical updates which failed and handed the development initiative to Mercedes. Whilst 2017 would be further hamstrung by Ferrari’s power unit suffering reliability woes as they attempted to close the power deficit, 2018 witnessed Vettel’s reputation hang by a thread thanks to numerous collisions and driving errors. Hence the new Ferrari management’s decision to hire Charles Leclerc as his new team-mate, but it is certain the harmony between Vettel and his departing team-mate Raikkonen will be missed in the political slaughterhouse that is Maranello.

Lewis Hamilton- 2017: 8.40 (168/20) A (1st)/ 2018: 8.62 (181/21) A (1st)

Britain’s most successful GP driver has been simply unstoppable. Take your pick of his best races in the past two year: in 2017 he came out on top in duels with Vettel at Spain, Belgium and USA, whilst 2018 saw him steal four improbable victories at Germany, Hungary, Italy & Singapore when the odds were stacked against him. He has dismantled new team-mate Valtteri Bottas with devastating ease, but Lewis may be praying Bottas shows some improvement to help him fend off revitalised driver partnerships at Ferrari and Red Bull respectively. In addition, it’s unlikely Hamilton will be welcoming of Esteban Ocon if the Frenchman does find himself promoted to a Mercedes race seat, considering Ocon’s past history of clashing with Sergio Perez.

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2005-2006 CRYSTAL SCORE REVIEW

2005 & 2006 was the beginning of a new dawn for the sport of Formula 1. There were sweeping new regulation changes, which saw the size and the height of the wings adjusted to reduce cornering speeds and attempt to encourage overtaking. 2005 would see Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso engage in a year-long battle, where the Spaniard emerged as the sport’s then-youngest champion. 2006 would witness the legendary v10 engines replaced by new, smaller v8 power units and Alonso would take on Michael Schumacher. This season was the end of an era, where Schumacher partook in his final campaign for his beloved Scuderia Ferrari before announcing his initial retirement from F1. It was also the final seasons of headline grabbers such as the feisty Juan Pablo Montoya and the opinionated Jacques Villeneuve, as teams looked to the future.

The Crystal Score marks every driver a score out of ten for every race they complete. Under various circumstances, a driver may avoid being marked down a score if an external factor in a particular race ruins their results. The driver with the highest average score ranks the highest, whilst the lowest score likewise is ranked the lowest.

Robert Kubica made his career debut at 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, where he finished 7th before a disqualification for an underweight car. He clinched his maiden podium at Monza later that year, but he is not included in the year rankings because he competed in fewer than eight races required to feature.

In addition, Alexander Wurz made an appearance for McLaren as an injury replacement for Montoya, where he finished 3rd in a phantom podium finish at 2005 San Marino thanks to Button’s disqualification. Other substitutes in 2005 included Anthony Davidson at BAR-Honda, Ricardo Zonta at Toyota (but failed to start the infamous Indygate) & Antonio Pizzonia making his final appearances for Williams.

2006 would witness a merry-go-round for the second seat at Super Aguri, with the inept Yuji Ide replaced by Franck Montagny and Sakon Yamamoto for the remainder of 2006. None of them completed a sufficient number of races to attain a ranking.

Patrick Friesacher 2005 (20th- 5.14 (36/7) D-)

The 24-year old Austrian F3000 hotshot struggled in his 11 appearances for Minardi. He scored points with 6th at Indianapolis, but he also finished last. Once his sponsorship ran out after Silverstone, Friesacher never returned to GP racing without making any impression.

Narain Karthikeyan 2005 (19th- 6.00 (84/14) D+)

India’s first ever F1 driver caught the eye with dazzling speed and car control in his early outings, but his complacency saw him slip back. Once team-mate Tiago Monteiro adapted to their Jordan chassis, Karthikeyan struggled and was fortunate to clinch 4th at the infamous Indy race where Michelin withdrew their affiliated cars. The Cucumber Challenge would not return to F1 until 2011.

Robert Doornbos 2005 (18th- 6.20 (31/5) C-)

The 24-year-old Dutchman, who raced under a Monegasque license, replaced Friesacher for the remainder of 2005. Despite being an upgrade on the Austrian, Doornbos likewise never threatened Minardi team leader Christijan Albers. Robert would return for the final 3 races of 2006 with Red Bull, but again failed to impress and his short-lived career in F1 ended.

Takuma Sato 2005 (21st- 4.20 (42/10) E-) 2006 (19th- 6.15 (80/13) C-)

Japan’s banzai specialist would take a monumental nosedive in 2005, as sporting and political issues began to rear their ugly head. BAR’s 007 chassis proved a handful and Sato never recovered when the team were disqualified from Imola and subsequently banned for two races. Takuma proved his own worst enemy as he accidentally hit the kill switch at the start of British GP and then found himself at the wrath of Michael Schumacher & Jarno Trulli with his erratic driving. The 2005 Reject of the Year was then handed a reprieve when the new Super Aguri team was created, utilizing a modified Arrows chassis from 2002. 2006 would witness the revival of Sato’s career, as steady improvements to the car saw him grab an impressive 10th at the season-ending Brazilian GP ahead of numerous better-funded midfield runners.

Tiago Monteiro 2005 (14th- 6.33 (114/18) C) 2006 (22nd- 6.00 (72/12) D+)

Portugal would witness their maiden F1 podium, as countryman Monteiro would cash on the withdrawals from the Michelin-shod teams to achieve Jordan’s final F1 podium. Tiago would then clinch his first true point earned on merit in treacherous conditions in Spa and completed 18 of the 19 races held in 2005. The 29-year-old would remain at the newly-branded Midland team for 2006, but he would be outshone by new stablemate Albers. Therefore Monteiro is graded as 2006’s Reject of the Year.

Christijan Albers 2005 (17th- 6.21 (87/14) C-) 2006 (21st- 6.10 (61/10) C-)

Serving his apprenticeship in DTM racing, the 26-year-old stamped his authority as one-to-watch in 2005, where he grabbed 5th at Indy. He annihilated Friesacher and Doornbos and a move to Midland would materialise for 2006. Despite no points in the Toyota v8 powered M16, the Dutchman would beat new team-mate Monteiro with ease. Albers continued into 2007 with rebranded Spyker outfit.

Pedro de la Rosa 2006 (18th- 6.33 (38/6) C)

McLaren’s dependable test driver made a cameo as Montoya’s stand-in at 2005 Bahrain, where he finished 5th and a fastest lap despite showing signs of race rust. 2006 would, however, witness the Spaniard complete the remainder of the season as Montoya’s permanent replacement post-Indianapolis. de la Rosa clinched the sole podium in unpredictable conditions at Hungary, taking 2nd behind maiden GP winner Jenson Button.

Nico Rosberg 2006 (17th- 6.33 (57/9) C)

The 2005 GP2 champion would make his F1 debut for Williams, who would use the same Cosworth engines that powered his father Keke to championship glory back in 1982. However, despite an impressive GP debut at Bahrain, where he clinched 7th and a fastest lap, the Finnish-German rookie was hammered by his veteran team-mate Mark Webber. Despite a poor rookie year, Rosberg’s diligence and commitment would see him handed a second chance for 2007.

Scott Speed 2006 (11th- 6.67 (100/15) C+)

America’s last full-time GP driver drove a solid rookie season for the new Toro Rosso team, which was borne from Red Bull buying out perennial backmarkers Minardi. He lost his first point at Melbourne for ignoring yellow flags and racked a reputation for hotheadness. Regardless, he did impress his employers by occasionally beating the senior Red Bull drivers and continued into 2007.

Vitantonio Liuzzi 2006 (10th- 6.71 (94/14) C+)

The final F3000 champion was gifted his big break by the new Red Bull team at 2005 San Marino, where he scored a point. However, he would be dropped after just four races as question marks over his commitment and motivation saw him on the sidelines. 2006 would see him move to junior team Toro Rosso, where he again scored a point at Indianapolis. The Italian easily had the measure of team-mate Speed and would continue as team-leader for 2007.

Rubens Barrichello 2005 (15th- 6.29 (104/17) C-) 2006 (15th- 6.47 (97/15) C)

2005 would witness Ferrari’s no.2 suffer a tumultuous year, as the new, recalcitrant F2005 saw the Brazilian distinguish his passion for Maranello. Scoring four podiums in the first half of the season, Barrichello’s form would tail off significantly as he scored just three more times post-Indy. Clinching a move to Honda was meant to be a breath of fresh air for Rubinho, but he struggled again as he found the car’s development tailored to new team-mate Jenson Button’s smooth, progressive style. Despite improving his championship position from 8th to 7th, 2006 would bear no podiums, but Barrichello remained at Brackley for 2007.

Jacques Villeneuve 2005 (16th- 6.29 (88/14) C-) 2006 (14th- 6.50 (52/8) C)

The 1997 champion would race his final two years in F1 for Sauber, whose team-boss Peter found himself regretting his decision to sign the French-Canadian. Outpaced by Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld, it came as little surprise when BMW team principal Mario Theissen dropped Villeneuve for hot prospect Robert Kubica.

Christian Klien 2005 (12th- 6.73 (74/11) C) 2006 (16th- 6.40 (64/10) C)

Despite an underwhelming 2004, the 22-year-old Austrian would return to race for Red Bull and produced steady, if not spectacular performances. He scored five times and produced a career-best of 5th in China for 2005. His improvement would see him continue for 2006, where he would score just twice and suffered the ignominy of being outclassed by Toro Rosso on occasions. With his interest shifting to Indycar racing, Red Bull decided to cut him loose for the final three races of 2006. Klien would have to wait until 2010 to make his return to GP racing.

Giancarlo Fisichella 2005 (13th- 6.69 (107/16) C) 2006 (8th- 7.00 (112/16) B-)

The highly-rated Roman disappointed viewers, who had been anticipating Fisichella pushing for victories in a top car. Sadly, the Italian found himself torn to shreds by a merciless Fernando Alonso and Fisichella was forced to make do with just two wins and eight podiums. Unable to cope with Renault’s stiffly sprung set-up, Fisi found himself driving within his capabilities, but he would assume the role of team leader for 2007 when Alonso departed to McLaren.

Jarno Trulli 2005 (6th- 7.00 (91/13) B-) 2006 (13th- 6.55 (72/11) C)

Toyota’s new team leader started 2005 strongly with three podiums in the opening five races, as Trulli followed Alonso home in 2nd at Sepang and Bahrain. Unfortunately, the Italian struggled to build on these astounding results, as he fell into the midfield scrap and finished both seasons behind his resurgent team-mate Ralf Schumacher.

David Coulthard 2005 (7th- 7.00 (98/14) B-) 2006 (12th- 6.58 (79/12) C)

Having seen his reputation to zero after nine loyal years at McLaren, the Scotsman would see a revival of form at Red Bull. Scoring nine times in 2005, a drive-through penalty at Nurburgring would cost the Austrian outfit their maiden podium. 2006 witnessed Red Bull switch from Cosworth to Ferrari engines, but installation issues would hinder reliability and handling, leaving DC to score five times. However, the attrition at Monaco gifted DC the chance to acquire the Milton Keynes-based team’s maiden rostrum appearance.

Juan Pablo Montoya 2005 (4th- 7.27 (80/11) B) 2006 (20th- 6.14 (43/7) C-)

Little did anyone know it, but these would be the Colombian’s final years at the top tier of motorsport. A shoulder injury forced Montoya to miss two races early in 2005 and his subsequent form saw him obliterated by new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who was driving in a league of his own. Montoya would eventually recover and racked up his final career victories at Silverstone, Monza & Interlagos, but 2006 saw him struggle again. Falling out of love with F1, he slammed the sport for lack of competitiveness and wheel-to-wheel combat and Ron Dennis released the Colombian early when Montoya signed a deal to race in NASCAR behind his back.

Nick Heidfeld 2005 (9th- 6.89 (62/9) C+) 2006 (9th- 6.86 (96/14) C+)

Quick Nick displayed some satisfying performances at Williams, as he grabbed three podiums at Sepang, Monaco and Nurburgring. Sadly, however, a training injury mid-season would see sidelined and his BMW ties steered him back to Sauber, where 2006 would see further solid results. Faring with flying colours against Webber, Villeneuve and Kubica as his team-mates, Heidfeld picked up his sole 2006 podium in difficult conditions at Hungary.

Ralf Schumacher 2005 (10th- 6.88 (117/17) C+) 2006 (7th- 7.00 (77/11) B-)

Michael’s younger brother started life at Toyota slowly, but once he regained his mojo, there was no stopping Ralf. Appearing on the podium twice in 2005 at Hungary and China and once again in 2006 at Melbourne, the 30-year-old edged team-mate Trulli.

Mark Webber 2005 (8th- 6.92 (90/13) B-) 2006 (5th- 7.40 (74/10) B)

Australia’s sole representative suffered two frustrating years at Williams, where the loss of BMW for 2006 would witness Webber cope with decreasing resources. Bad luck and mechanical failures would cost the 29-year-old numerous strong finishes and possibly even his maiden victory at 2006 Monaco. The Australian would later complain of the team’s reluctance to listen to his advice and Webber would swiftly return to Milton Keynes, this time to race for Red Bull in 2007.

Jenson Button 2005 (5th- 7.08 (85/12) B) 2006 (6th- 7.36 (103/14) B)

JB would face a much tougher challenge in 2005 and 2006, as the transition from BAR to Honda- thanks to the EU’s new tobacco laws- proved tricky. Being disqualified at Imola and being handed a subsequent two-race ban was possibly a reason why Button again attempted to engineer a misguided to the declining Williams squad. However, once news broke out that BMW and Williams would split for 2006, the prospect of customer Cosworth power units forced Button to cough up a whooping £16 million to buy himself out. Despite clinching just five podiums in these two arduous seasons, the Briton finally won his maiden victory in an uncharacteristically wet conditions at 2006 Hungary.

Felipe Massa 2005 (11th- 6.87 (103/15) C+) 2006 (4th- 7.63 (122/16) B)

Continuing at Sauber for 2005, Massa progressed further as he outpaced champion team-mate Jacques Villeneuve. This saw him rewarded with a drive at Scuderia Ferrari, pairing him with a certain seven-time world champion. His over-ambitious driving saw him clinch just a single podium in his first nine outings for the Reds, but once he settled down he became the revelation of 2006. Consecutive podiums at Indy, Magny-Cours and Hockenheim silenced the doubters, but it was his maiden victory at Istanbul that wowed onlookers. Winning again at the season finale at Interlagos, Massa received a contract renewal for 2007 as Kimi Raikkonen’s new team-mate.

Michael Schumacher 2005 (3rd- 7.77 (101/13) B+) 2006 (2nd- 8.76 (149/17) A)

The final two years of Schumacher’s years at Ferrari would witness further gallant performances, but also the initial signs of his decline. 2005 would deliver a single victory in controversial circumstances at Indy, where the maestro tactfully refused to celebrate. Despite a noncompliant and slow F2005, Schumacher would somehow drag himself into 3rd in the drivers’ standings, albeit a very long distance behind Alonso & Raikkonen. 2006 would witness a return to form, as the German clinched the final seven victories of his heralded career, but crashing out at Melbourne and his penalty at Monaco would cost him dearly. The Scuderia’s legendary reliability would too finally display signs of cracks, as engine failure at Suzuka cost him a likely win. The season finale at Interlagos would see Michael relegated to starting 10th thanks to another mechanical failure and an early puncture in the race ended Schumacher’s hopes of bowing out as an eight-time champion.

Kimi Raikkonen 2005 (1st- 9.11 (164/18) A+) 2006 (3rd- 8.14 (114/14) A-)

2005 was undoubtedly the greatest year in terms of driving excellence for the Iceman. Equipped with the elegant MP4-20, it was unfortunate that McLaren’s horrendous relaibility and slow start to the season would cost Kimi dearly in his title aspirations. Seven wins and five poles could have been more had it not been for three 10-place grid penalties and mechanical failures whilst leading at Imola, Nurburgring and Hockenheim. 2006 would prove to be Raikkonen’s final year at Woking, as the Finn’s patience finally wore out and he signed to join Ferrari. He dragged the woeful MP4-21 to three poles at Hockenheim, Hungaroring and Monza, but he ended the season winless.

Fernando Alonso 2005 (2nd- 8.61 (155/18) A) 2006 (1st- 9.12 (155/17) A+)

Spain would witness Alonso crowned a double world champion. Effortlessly dispatching new team-mate Fisichella with frightening ease, the 25-year-old utilized the Enstone-team’s car’s prodigious reliability and consistent speed to come out on top. Key to his success was Renault’s mass dampers, which stabilized the chassis’ suspension and ride, but FIA would clamp down on this by 2006 Hockenheim. After holding Raikkonen in the previous year, Alonso experienced a closer battle with Schumacher in 2006 as Ferrari’s mid-season resurgence would see both drivers equal on points after Monza. It also seemed ominous that Michael announced his retirement around this time, as it appear Alonso had fully inherited the German’s never-ending favour with the racing Gods. Winning at Suzuka, the Spaniard sealed his second championship with a P2 finish at Interlagos.

2004 CRYSTAL SCORE review

2004 was the crowning jewel of Michael Schumacher’s glittering career, racking up his seventh world championship. Despite this season having a superficial appearance of one-sided domination, the competition for best-of-the-rest behind the German was arguably more fierce than 2003. This was the year when Jenson Button and his BAR team came of age, as the British driver accrued ten podiums and delineated himself as a star of the future. Renault brought themselves closer to the front, but internal strife would hit the Enstone-based team as one of the drivers was sacked before the season’s end. McLaren & Williams took five steps back, as poor chassis designs would destroy their title ambitions before the grid even landed in Melbourne. In addition, FIA implemented new engine regulations which mandated every car entry’s powerplant must last an entire race weekend without being changed. Any engine changes in between any practice session, pre-qualifying and pre-race would incur a ten-place grid penalty. Essentially, 2004 would see the sport take its initial steps towards manufacturers creating mechanical parts built for longevity- something which is now commonplace in modern F1.

Using the Crystal Score system, I have graded every participating driver with a score out of ten for every race where they complete at least 75% distance. If a driver fails to finish a race because of a mechanical failure or an accident via no fault of their own, their score for that particular race is excluded from their season’s average score and is considered invalid and void. However, numerous exceptions can be made to rule if a driver is struck by bad luck or if they are involved in unsporting behaviour. Drivers may be excluded from registering a score if they finish in a lowly position due to a problem unrelated to their driving or they may be awarded a score if they had produced an amazing performance before retiring at 75% distance. From every eligible point score, their scores are added up into an aggregate score and then divided by the number of races they had achieved a score. For example, Bjorn Wirdheim scores 75 points for his season’s total score, whereby his score of 75 is divided by the 11 races he finishes. This gives him a CRYSTAL SCORE average of 6.82.

Five reserve drivers would appear during this season; first was Timo Glock who scored on his GP debut at Canada and then replaced Giorgio Pantano during the final three rounds at Jordan; second was Marc Gene who stood in for Ralf Schumacher, but his weak performances saw himself replaced by a third reserve in Antonio Pizzonia, who scored six points for Williams; fourth was Ricardo Zonta who drove five races for Toyota and the final substitute was Jacques Villeneuve who filled at Renault for the last three rounds, but scored no points. This list only includes drivers who started at least ten races.

20. Giorgio Pantano 5.00 (30/6) E+

Despite a highly-decorated karting career and multiple wins in Formula 3000, this Italian starlet never looked comfortable as a F1 driver. Some believed Pantano was chucked into the deep end as he found himself up against a rejuvenated Nick Heidfeld, but the 25-year-old Padua native should have done a lot better. It is difficult to ascertain why he underperformed so badly, but one rumour hinted at pressures from his family to quit F1 early. They were the sole financiers of his F1 foray, so it was most likely they knew Giorgio would struggle Jordan’s dreadful EJ14. If you type in “Pantano 2004 San Marino lap” on Youtube, you will witness the Italian hanging on for dear life in a car struggling with severe oscillations in its cornering rotation. He would never raced in F1 again, but his four years in GP2 delivered a series title.

19. Gianmaria Bruni 5.625 (45/8) D

Back when Italy had a surplus of GP talent, Minardi’s new signing produced a pitiful sole campaign at the top level of motorsport. Whilst he comfortably outpaced team-mate Zsolt Baungartner, his mentality was rather ill-suited to the intensity of F1 and reports of Bruni falling out with team members surfaced. Unlike his team-mate, the Italian failed to score a point and never raced in F1 again, but has found success as an endurance racer for Porsche.

18. Zsolt Baumgartner 5.63 (59/11) D

Despite his reputation as a wealthy dilettante with no business in Formula 1, this Hungarian journeyman impressed onlookers with his diligence and willingness to learn. His humble outlook would pay dividends when the notorious attrition rate of Indianapolis gave Baumgartner the only point of his short F1 career. It was also noted that his qualifying lap at the season ending race at Interlagos was faster than Rubens Barrichello’s 2003 pole lap in a Ferrari, proving how much the sport had developed in just eighteen months. This Minardi driver made up for deficit in talent with a graceful presence in the paddock, which has served him well as he now occasionally gives VIP guests a run-out in F1 Experiences’ two seater car.

17. Christian Klien 6.00 (84/14) D+

There were three things noticeable about the young Austrian as he made his GP debut: one was which he was a runner-up in the previous Formula 3 Euro Series campaign, another was that he wore earrings and the last was that he carried sponsorship from Red Bull to his Jaguar seat. Sadly, the latter two of these attributes made the louder headlines, as the 21-year-old found himself lagging behind Australian team-mate Mark Webber. A tough learning spell eventually saw him rewarded with sixth at Spa-Francorchamps, but despite completing 15 races, barely any pundits were impressed. So it was very fortunate his sponsor Red Bull were announced as the purchasers of the ailing Jaguar team, meaning Klien would race again in 2005.

16. Olivier Panis 6.23 (81/13) C

The unfailingly luckless Frenchman finally had his hands on a reliable chassis, but sadly Toyota produced an overweight lump thanks to their conservative philosophy. Malaysia would see Panis come to loggerheads with his team, as the pitwall inadvertently called him for a pit stop late in the race, only to find no mechanics had even bothered to warm up! To exacerbate matters, the 37-year-old was found to be infringing the pit lane speed limit, so he had to return back to the pit lane for his drive-through! A disqualification at Canada for failing scruntineering plus three points finishes was the tale of a miserable final campaign for Panis, who bowed out at Suzuka. He would continue as Toyota’s test driver for the next two years and now runs his own sports car team with World Cup winner Fabian Barthez.

15. Cristiano da Matta 6.29 (44/7) C

The second season of 2002 CART Indycar champion’s foray into F1 was a disaster, as he only scored once at Monaco. His relationship with Toyota disintegrated as tensions boiled over the development of the chassis and the Brazilian’s days were numbered. In contrast to his successful rookie campaign during the previous year, da Matta was outqualified 7-4 and outscored 5-3 by team-mate Olivier Panis. Da Matta, however, did finish in front of his Toyota rival four times in the five races they finished together, but Japanese bosses decided to cut him loose after Hockenheim. Cristiano returned to Indycar the following year, but a life-threatening accident during testing in 2006 ended his motorsport career prematurely.

14. David Coulthard 6.43 (90/14) C

2004 was the Scotsman’s final year at McLaren and he bowed out without a podium in a lackluster campaign. Whilst the MP4-19 was so bad that the Woking team built a B-spec chassis that appeared from the French GP onwards, DC looked a pale shadow of his former self. His only real highlight was qualifying 3rd at Magny-Cours, but the race itself was a disappoint as he finished 6th ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. From this point onwards, his Finnish stablemate would annihilate him into submission and Coulthard’s best result was 4th at Hockenheim. Despite some believing the 13-time GP winner’s stock had dropped to zero, a last-minute rescue package by Red Bull meant the 33-year-old was handed a reprieve and joined the Milton Keynes-based organisation for 2005.

13. Felipe Massa 6.57 (92/14) C

The Sao Paulo-native made a return to racing after a year of testing for Ferrari, but Sauber’s hotshot proved he still needed a lot of rough edges ironing out. The 23-year-old proved a feisty combatant in the midfield, with huge crashes in Canada and America proving Massa was still vulnerable to overstepping the limit on occasions. Nevertheless, 2004 was a vast improvement over his debut season two years prior and the Brazilian was rewarded with a contract renewal at Hinwil for 2005.

12. Nick Heidfeld 6.73 (74/11) C

2004 would provide a renaissance for the beleaguered Monchengladbach-native, who had appeared to dose off at Sauber in the previous year. With a wretched Jordan EJ14 chassis allied with an average Cosworth engine, Quick Nick mesmerised onlookers with a dazzling display of speed, qualifying in the top 15 seven times. He achieved a best qualifying result of 13th at Nurburgring and even managed to outqualify Jaguar and Sauber on occasions. The German easily had the beating of rookie team-mates Giorgio Pantano & Timo Glock and Heidfeld scored 3 points when brutal attrition at Monaco & Canada presented opportunities for points. Sadly, it was also Jordan’s penultimate season in F1, as team owner Eddie sold his shares to the Midland Group, but Heidfeld was rewarded with a Williams seat for 2005.

11. Takuma Sato 6.82 (75/11) C+

Receiving huge praise from journalists for efforts in 2004, it has to be said the Japanese driver’s performance was overrated to an extent. It was possibly due to fans taking a real liking to amicable 27-year-old, who was the first truly exciting prospect to emerge from the land of the rising sun for some time. Sato’s campaign was actually a topsy-turvy year, where he had races of mouthwatering speed at Nurburgring & Indianapolis, but eventually settled into a supporting role to Jenson Button in the latter half of 2004. Moments of overcommitment were also present, as Sato blew his engine spectacularly at Monaco after a blindingly quick start, collided with Barrichello at Nurburgring when he was running 3rd and got involved in the first lap pile-up at Spa-Francorchamps. US GP would finally see Sato’s determination come to fruition, as he clinched his maiden podium behind the Ferraris. Honda’s star asset was handed a second year at BAR.

10. Ralf Schumacher 7.00 (42/6) C+

The 29-year-old would suffer an annus horribilis, as his crash at Indianapolis would see the German out of action for six races after sustaining back injuries. 2004 would see Williams produce an average chassis with the infamous hammerhead nose, which brought no performance benefits and it was dropped when Ralf returned for the inaugural Chinese GP. Starting the season with four points finishes in the opening seven rounds, Canada saw Ralf clinch pole and finished second behind brother Michael, only to have his result rescinded thanks to his brake ducts being found to be too large. He would rack up his only podium of 2004 with second, but Ralf had had enough of Williams’ poor progress and moved to Toyota for 2005.

9. Giancarlo Fisichella 7.00 (119/17) C+

2004 was a satisfying year for the 31-year-old Italian, who finally had the opportunity to drive a reliable car. Despite this, Fisi failed to register a point in the first four rounds, but once Sauber began to reap the benefits of their 100% sized wind tunnel, the Italian could not stop scoring. A highlight of his year was his drive at Britain, where he claimed 6th after starting last. Felipe Massa proved to be little threat whatsoever, as Fisichella outscored 22-12. As a reward for the Roman’s excellent displays, Fisi landed a seat at Renault for 2005.

8. Jarno Trulli 7.14 (100/14) B-

2004 had all the ingredients to be a sublime season for Trulli, but his relationship with Flavio Briatore fell apart after being caught napping on the final lap by Rubens Barrichello at Magny-Cours. It’s rare for a GP winner to be sacked in the same season, but that was the fate of Jarno in this campaign. From winning at Monaco, the 30-year-old Italian was handed his marching orders at Monza. The first half of the season showed Trulli at his scintillating best, outpacing his highly-lauded team-mate Fernando Alonso and his new-found consistency made some believe Trulli had turned over a new leaf. Sadly, the Italian never scored again after his French debacle and signed a late season deal to join Toyota, with Trulli driving the final two races of 2004 for the Japanese team.

7. Mark Webber 7.20 (72/10) B-

The 28-year-old Australian endured a difficult second at Jaguar, as Ford’s commitment was waning dramatically and Webber was left forlorn with little to show for his mighty speed. He equaled his career-best qualifying 3rd twice at Sepang and Suzuka, but car issues saw him retire from both events, with the latter leaving the Queanbeyan-native requiring medical treatment. Scoring just seven points, Webber once again crushed his team-mate, with Christian Klien doing little to worry him all season. With the Milton Keynes team’s future uncertain when Ford announced they would be looking for a buyer near the season’s end, Webber clinched a deal to race for Williams in 2005.

6. Juan Pablo Montoya 7.36 (103/14) B

2004 was an apathetic season for the Colombian, who had already shifted to his focus to 2005 when it was announced late the previous year that Montoya had signed a contract with McLaren. That apathy was intensified further when it was obvious Williams’ FW26 chassis was uncompetitive and difficult to drive. With team-mate Ralf Schumacher sidelined with vertebrae fractures mid-season, Montoya became team leader, but did find himself outqualified by Antonio Pizzonia at Hungary despite the Colombian carrying less fuel! Eventually, Juan Pablo ended his final season at Williams with victory at Interlagos and clinched 5th place in the drivers’ standings after scoring 58 points.

5. Fernando Alonso 7.62 (99/13) B

2004 was more of a quiet season for Spain’s rising hero, who struggled earlier on as he was outpaced by resurgent team-mate Jarno Trulli. However, Magny-Cours would see a dramatic reversal of fortunes, as pole position and 2nd place in the race for the 23-year-old Oviedo native was in stark contrast to his Italian rival losing a podium on the final lap to Barrichello. Despite Renault struggling with a more conventional 72 degree engine based on their old title winning specs from the 1990’s, Alonso would pick up four podiums but ended the year winless. That left doubts on whether Alonso was capable of beating new team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella in the following season.

4. Kimi Raikkonen 7.82 (86/11) B+

Expected to mount a more intense title challenge for 2004, it was pertinent when McLaren’s MP4-19 first ran in practice at Melbourne that the 24-year-old Finn was in major trouble. Suffering five engine blowouts in the opening seven races, there were concerns over whether offers from rival teams might distract Raikkonen, but the new B-spec chassis rescued the Woking-based team’s year. Scoring pole position and second at Silverstone was a harbinger of what came next, which was a fortuitous victory at Spa-Francorchamps for the Iceman. Four podiums, however, was a paltry return for the highly-rated Finn and eyes were set on the prospect of a sizzling rivalry between Kimi and new team-mate Montoya for 2005.

3. Rubens Barrichello 7.88 (134/17) B+

Despite venerated team-mate Michael Schumacher entering 2004 with nothing left to achieve after wrapping his sixth world title during the previous year, Rubens was still stuck as number two. Whilst the jovial Brazilian claimed he now had a better chance than ever of fighting for a championship, despite producing his statistically most successful year at the Prancing Horse, he was still not a threat to Michael. Two wins, four pole positions and fourteen podiums was a respectable display, but it did nothing to stop his German team-mate advancing towards his seventh crown.

2. Jenson Button 8.33 (125/15) A

Entering his fifth season still without a podium, the 24-year-old Frome native finally broke his duck at Sepang, where he held off Barrichello in the closing laps. Ten podiums was a fine return for Button, who impressed critics and his reputation of being a playboy was finally beginning to diminish. Scoring 85 points, he finished 26 points ahead of Fernando Alonso to clinch a well-deserved 3rd in the championship, but mid-season would witness a bizarre development occur. News broke out at Hungary that Jenson had announced his intentions to return to Williams, despite BAR’s astonishing progress. It was left to FIA Contract recognition board to resolve matters, ruling that the Brackley-based team had priority and the Briton would have to race for the Honda-powered team in 2005. Highlights of a glorious breakthrough season include Button securing his maiden pole at Imola, hounding Jarno Trulli for victory at Monaco, holding his helmet strap in place at Hockenheim whilst holding off Alonso for 2nd and chasing Barrichello at China.

  1. Michael Schumacher 9.12 (155/17) A+

There are simply insufficient superlatives to describe Schumacher’s five year domination with Ferrari in the early 2000’s. Breaking his own record for wins in a season with 13 during 2004, the 35-year-old ended the year with 83 career wins in total. Melbourne would witness Schumacher and Barrichello destroy the opposition without a bead of sweat and it would set the tone of the remainder of the campaign. The F2004 was not only fast, but incredibly reliable and user-friendly. Thanks to the work of Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and many illustrious technical minds, the “Made In Italy” brand reigned supreme. The likes of Hakkinen, Coulthard, Raikkonen & Montoya had tried with all their soul and spirit to defeat the Maranello boys; however, only Kimi Raikkonen succeeded to drag Schumacher towards a final race decider in the previous year during the early 2000’s.

2003 CRYSTAL SCORE review

2003 would see some of closest racing Formula 1 had seen since the late 1990’s. A major overhaul of the regulations shook up the sport and nearly produced a shock world champion. The old qualifying format with a single one-hour session of 12 flying laps was replaced by a single-lap format with one car occupying the track during every run. The new qualifying format was split into two sessions: the first session took place on Friday with the championship leaders coming out first and the backmarkers last, with minimal fuel loads. The slowest from the first session would therefore come out first for the second session on Saturday, with the fastest Friday qualifiers appearing last, but this second session came with a twist: cars had to carry their fuel loads and the tyres they would start the race with. Pit-to-car telemetry was restricted and a new points system was implemented, with points now going down to eighth place. A key change of this new points system, however, was the gap between first and second places was closed to within a couple of points, with eight points given to 2nd instead of six, but the race winners would remain being awarded with ten points.

Using the Crystal Score system, I have graded every participating driver with a score out of ten for every race where they complete at least 75% distance. If a driver fails to finish a race because of a mechanical failure or an accident via no fault of their own, their score for that particular race is excluded from their season’s average score and is considered invalid and void. However, numerous exceptions can be made to rule if a driver is struck by bad luck or if they are involved in unsporting behaviour. Drivers may escape being scored points if they finish in a lowly position due to problem that was unrelated to their own driving or they may be awarded a score if they had produced an amazing performance before retiring before 75% distance. From every eligible point score, their scores are added up into an aggregate score and then divided by the number of races they had achieved a score. For example, Allan McNish scores 75 points for his season’s total score, whereby his score of 75 is divided by the 11 races he finishes. This gives him a CRYSTAL SCORE average of 6.82.

There were four reserve drivers who appeared late in the season due to injuries and sackings during 2003. First of these was Denmark’s Nicolas Kiesa, who drove the final five races for Minardi when Justin Wilson departed for Jaguar. Kiesa made no impression, despite entering F1 with a few promising F3000 displays and never returned to GP racing after the season ended. Second was Zsolt Baumgartner, who remains Hungary’s only F1 driver to date. He made his debut at his home race at Hungary thanks to Ralph Firman’s ferocious practice impact, but he failed to excite any fans as his subsequent appearance at Monza saw him follow team leader Giancarlo Fisichella home in 11th place. Third to appear was Marc Gene, who deputised for a concussed Ralf Schumacher at Italian GP, where the Spaniard finished a respectable 5th place. The final substitute was Takuma Sato, who made a cameo at his home race at Suzuka, finishing in 6th place as Jacques Villeneuve’s replacement.

20. Antonio Pizzonia 5.25 (21/4) D

Jungle boy made his GP debut for Jaguar after displaying unrelenting commitment as a test driver for Williams, but Pizzonia did not display the attributes required for a F1 race driver. Up against the ruthless Mark Webber, it can be argued Antonio was treated poorly by Ford’s management, who apparently admitted they wanted to replace the Brazilian by as early as Spanish GP! Early accidents at Sepang and Interlagos did not help his confidence and it was clear the team’s management were not interested in supporting Pizzonia. It came as no surprise when Justin Wilson was signed as the Amazonian native’s successor post-Silverstone, but Antonio would return in the following two seasons as a stand-in at Williams.

19. Nick Heidfeld 5.83 (70/12) D+

A real sense of stagnation crept in for Quick Nick, who appeared demotivated by his surroundings at the Hinwil-based outfit. With his former team-mates Massa & Raikkonen off to greener pastures as Ferrari test driver & McLaren lead driver respectively, the German was a pale shadow of his former self. Heidfeld edged veteran team-mate Frentzen 8-7 in qualifying, but the new rules mandating cars required to carry fuel and tyres into the race means it is difficult to ascertain which driver possessed greater one-lap speed. Sadly, Heidfeld scored just thrice, with points at Sepang, Nurburgring & a 5th place at Indianapolis, but he was upstaged by his retiring team-mate, who scored 13 points to Nick’s meagre 6. It appeared Heidfeld would disappear without a whimper, but a last-minute deal to race for Jordan in 2004 was struck.

18. Jos Verstappen 5.9 (59/10) D+

Jos the Boss returned to GP racing with Minardi after a year on the sidelines, but the 31-year-old Dutchman was now past his best. He outqualified rookie team-mates Justin Wilson 7-4 and Nicolas Kiesa 5-0, but his legendary race pace was beginning to evaporate. The extraordinary Brazilian GP had seen Verstappen running ahead of eventual race winner Fisichella on an identical strategy, but the Dutchman would spin off 31 laps in. Jos would achieve an unrepresentative provisional pole at the Friday qualifying session in France, but this was achieved thanks to the drying conditions that benefited the backmarkers who were last to appear. The Dutchman would quit Minardi at the end of 2003, slamming the lack of professionalism at Faenza and attempted to urge Eddie Jordan for a seat for 2004, but the Irishman did not reciprocate any interest. Jos would never race in F1 after 107 starts and 17 points.

17. Ralph Firman 6.00 (48/6) D+

Representing Ireland, the Norfolk-native carried St Patrick’s Tricolor as his nationality but did little justice to it. Perhaps his six years in Japan had diminished Firman’s feel for European tracks, but it was felt by many that Eddie Jordan had picked him out of sentimentality rather than merit. Ralph displayed some promise at Spain, where he scored the only point of his career, but his season spiraled downhill swiftly afterwards. The EJ13 chassis had little development as the team’s limited funds restricted any potential for further points finishes and Firman’s horrifying accident at Hungary saw him unable to race there and Monza. Sadly, with Jordan requiring pay drivers to continue the team’s existence, the Irishman would never race in F1 again.

16. Jacques Villeneuve 6.29 (44/7) C

Like Heidfeld, the French-Canadian also appeared out-of-sorts in his fifth year at British American racing. With the team management changed beyond recognition from its original setup, Villeneuve labeled new team-mate Jenson Button as a “boy-band member”. With Honda now increasing their involvement in the Brackley-based squad, JV found himself outpaced consistently by JB and rumours of Jacques stepping down at the end of the season came true. Takuma Sato was announced as 2004 race driver and even replaced Villeneuve for the season finale at Japan, where Jacques allegedly called head management that he would depart the team earlier than expected. The 1997 world champion would spend most of 2004 on the sidelines, but returned at Renault late in the season.

15. Olivier Panis 6.29 (44/7) C

JV’s fellow French speaker and ex-team mate moved to rivals Toyota for 2003, but it would prove to be yet another season to forget for 1996 Monaco winner. Reliability woes once again scuppered Panis’ hopes of a strong season and he struggled to keep up with new team-mate Cristiano da Matta. He did show some of his old speed by qualifying 3rd at Indianapolis, but the Frenchman would be left frustrated by Toyota’s dreadful strategic decisions. Panis would continue for another year at Cologne-based organisation.

14. Cristiano da Matta 6.33 (76/12) C

2002 CART Indycar champion would be the latest arrival to try his luck across the Atlantic and the Brazilian made a decent account of himself. Outscoring older team-mate Panis 10-6, da Matta even led British GP for 17 laps, albeit thanks to an impromptu safety car which appeared after Neil Horan ran across the track with a banner. Da Matta would be classified in 13 race finishes and he impressed onlookers with his consistency and adaptability.

13. Justin Wilson 6.43 (45/7) C

This Sheffield native made his GP debut for Minardi, where he impressed pundits with his determination and never-say-die attitude. The 25-year-old retired from the first 4 races, one of which he was forced to retire due to severe cramp at Malaysia. Once he got over his reliability woes, 2001 F3000 champion began to outpace team-mate Jos Verstappen and he switched to Jaguar post-Silverstone. Despite succeeding to cram his 6’4″ frame into R4 chassis, Wilson failed to impress Ford as he was annihilated by new team-mate Mark Webber. With Ford decreasing funding, Wilson could not fund his F1 adventure any further from his “Invest In Wilson” company and he left the sport to go Stateside. After clocking 7 wins in the Indycar series, the Briton was tragically killed at Pocono in 2015.

12. Ralf Schumacher 6.62 (86/13) C

2003 would prove to be an exasperating year for the younger Schumacher brother, who started the season under fire from Frank Williams for his wavering commitment and marital issues. However, by mid-season, Ralf would hit a strong run of form with 2nd at Canada and two wins on the bounce at Nurburgring & Magny-Cours. Three pole positions in the space of four races would indicate at Ralf’s improvement in qualifying trim, but any further improvements were curtailed with his own inconsistency. Lamentably, the 28-year-old was the culprit of a start-line collision at Hockenheim, where he collected Rubens Barrichello, Kimi Raikkonen and a few backmarkers. This landed him an initial punishment of a ten place grid drop for Hungary, but an appeal saw this replaced by a hefty fine instead. A testing crash at Monza ended the German’s title challenge and concluded his season with two underwhelming drives at Indy & Suzuka.

11. Jarno Trulli 6.73 (74/11) C

The Italian qualifying master suffered another year of mediocre race performances, where he was outraced by newly-promoted team-mate Fernando Alonso. Despite scoring ten times over 2003, criticism began to mount against Trulli as it was apparent his enormous potential was not delivering results. It appeared on occasions the 29-year-old was the architect of his own downfall, but a plucky 3rd place at Hockenheim produced what was only the second rostrum appearance of his career thus far. Nevertheless, he would continue at Renault for 2004.

10. Heinz-Harald Frentzen 6.75 (54/8) C

It would be the final season at the top tier of motorsport the tomato ketchup namesake and despite his deteriorating motivation, he did produce moments of his old magic. Starting the season well with 6th at Melbourne and 5th at Interlagos, the mid-season pace of Sauber’s new C22 chassis was found to be lacking. A long slump was ended at Indianapolis, where Frentzen made use of Bridgetone’s adept wet compounds and scored his final podium behind Schumacher & Raikkonen. Along with team-mate Heidfeld finishing 5th, this fluke result secured Sauber a rather fortunate 6th place in the constructors’.

9. David Coulthard 6.90 (69/10) C+

This Twynholm-native suffered a depressing season, as he started the year off in fine style with what would his final career victory at Melbourne. Misfortune at Sepang & Interlagos, however, saw DC cast into a supporting role as the Scotsman struggled to come to grips with new one-lap qualifying format. He later picked up podiums at Hockenheim and Suzuka, but his disappointing mid-season form saw him classified a poor 7th in the drivers’ standings. Whilst being stuck with a two-year-old McLaren did little to help Coulthard’s progress, it’s arguable that he cost them a chance at the constructors’ title as the Woking-based team finished just 16 points behind Ferrari.

8. Jenson Button 7.10 (71/10) B-

Briton’s next GP superstar had an adequate season, as his move to BAR-Honda saw him greeted to consternation from new team-mate Jacques Villeneuve. No love was lost when a miscommunication from the pitwall saw Button stacked up behind his Canadian team-mate in Melbourne. As 2003 progressed, however, JB had Villeneuve’s number through most metrics and steered the Brackley team into his direction. A brilliant performance for Button and new team-mate Takuma Sato at Suzuka saw them lift BAR into 5th in the constructors’ standings.

7. Rubens Barrichello 7.18 (79/11) B-

Brazil’s premier racing driver produced an audacious account of himself, where he showed signs of being able to keep Michael Schumacher honest a lot more regularly. Barrichello would succeed in outqualifying his German team leader six times and picked up two exquisite victories at Silverstone and Suzuka. 2003 proved to be the clearest example of Ruben’s utility as a number two to Schumacher: he would regularly pick up the pieces when the maestro was having a bad day and prevented Raikkonen & Montoya from making deeper inroads on Michael. Having been the target of opprobrium for some time, Rubinho had validated himself as worthy of a top seat in this season.

6. Giancarlo Fisichella 7.25 (58/8) B

Despite being saddled with an underfunded and gutless car, the Roman continued to reiterate himself as one of the sport’s best midfield drivers. It was scarcely believable that Fisichella was able to mix it with better-funded opposition with his Ford-powered EJ13 chassis, but that’s what the Italian pulled off. Whilst some may point at the monsoon conditions that was unleashed at Interlagos as a way of detracting from his maiden victory, the Jordan driver dragged his machinery to one of the most improbable upsets ever. Though he was fortunate to escape being collected by his spinning team-mate Ralph Firman earlier on, Giancarlo held on as various front runners including Montoya & the Ferraris fell by the wayside and pounced when Raikkonen went wide before entering Juncao. Unsurprisingly, the car was never developed properly for the remaining races, so Fisichella grew tired of Eddie’s excuses and departed to Sauber for 2004.

5. Mark Webber 7.31 (95/13) B

The 27-year-old Australian sophomore produced an even better season than his rookie year at Minardi. He obliterated stablemates Antonio Pizzonia & Justin Wilson with consummate ease and impressed paddock insiders with his vocal leadership. Whilst the new points system brought Webber up into 10th place in the drivers’ standings, at least the Queanbeyan-native had a championship position reflective of his excellent season. Scoring points seven times during 2003 he was not, however, without his off-days, as a bogged-down start at Imola wasted a strong qualifying slot of 5th. He would later dispose a potential point finish at Hockenheim when he crashed late in the race when he was chasing Jenson Button. Webber qualified in the top ten seven times and achieved a best grid slot of 3rd twice at Brazil & Hungary, but bad luck and Jaguar’s weak trackside operations meant his full potential was not fully unlocked.

4. Michael Schumacher 7.47 (112/15) B

2003 was the year when Ferrari’s greatest ever driver won his record-breaking sixth world title, but the season itself was one of his most erratic. Despite winning six races, five poles and five fastest laps, the maestro struggled mid-season as his bespoke Bridgestone tyres began to lag behind his rivals’ improving Michelin rubber. Schumacher began the season in a scruffy manner, losing out in scrapes with Raikkonen & Trulli at Australia & Malaysia and then uncharacteristically spinning off in Brazil. The following five races saw the German claim four victories and re-capture the championship lead, but he would never lead the title race by more than nine points at any stage. A late-race collision with archenemy Montoya at Nurburgring saw Schumacher’s season spiral and it was only thanks to team boss Jean Todt making a complaint to FIA over Michelin’s expanding compounds post-Hungary that saved their year. From being lapped by Fernando Alonso, Schumacher returned to winning ways three weeks later at Monza in front of the adoring Tifosi. Rain at Indianapolis would see Montoya ruled out of title contention mathematically and fellow rival Raikkonen struggling on the new Michelin compounds, as Michael won again and placed one hand on his sixth crown. However, Suzuka saw the German forced to run in treacherous wet conditions and qualified 14th. The race itself was reflective of Michael’s year as a whole. It was chaotic as he hit brother Ralf and others, but also unleashed F2003-GA’s undoubted pace to cap off a lofty record-breaking championship triumph as the red baron stumbled home in 8th. It must be noted, however, had 2003 used the old points system of 6 points for 2nd and points be allocated down to 6th, Schumacher would have sealed his title at Indianapolis with a race to spare.

3. Fernando Alonso 8.09 (89/11) A-

2003 was the Oviedo-native’s first real chance to display his full range of driving talents in a competitive car and boy did he show it. After a steady return to racing at Melbourne with 7th, the entire paddock was stunned when the 21-year-old became the sport’s then-youngest pole sitter at Sepang, albeit on a light fuel load. He led the first 13 laps before pitting and his two-stop strategy landed his maiden podium finish of 3rd. He followed up this up with another podium result at Interlagos, but this time he was absent from the rostrum. He was taken to hospital for a check-up after being winded from a crash that truncated a GP held in appalling conditions, which was partially the result of trying avoid Mark Webber’s wreckage. His home race at Catalunya saw packed grandstands and he did not disappoint with a career-best of 2nd in a scintillating display dicing with the Ferraris. Undoubtedly the highlight of his season was his maiden GP victory at Hungary, where he won by over 16 seconds against Kimi Raikkonen. Starting from pole for a second time that season, Alonso led every lap but one during pit stops and he was never troubled whatsoever. Markedly, though, there were streaks of the Spaniard’s querulous and confrontational nature beginning to emerge, as Ross Brawn revealed on ITV F1 about personnel at Renault confiding to him about Alonso’s tendency to air his frustration publicly. Regardless, Fernando had crushed his more experienced team-mate Jarno Trulli and displayed a level of driving consistency akin to someone ten years older.

2. Juan Pablo Montoya 8.54 (111/13) A

2003 would prove to be arguably be the Colombian’s best season of F1, but 3rd place in the championship for a second consecutive year was a bitterly disappointing result. Relations between his team Williams and their engine supplier BMW was beginning to degenerate, as it became clear Williams were struggling to improve their aerodynamics without their former star designer Adrian Newey. Melbourne would see Montoya bottle a probable victory with a late spin, but he would salvage 2nd. Sepang would see him unlucky to be struck by an errant Antonia Pizzonia, leaving Juan to finish three laps down in 12th. Interlagos, Imola & Catalunya would all serve to heap up the pressure at the Grove-based team, but Austria would finally see Montoya back at the front. Unfortunately, an untimely BMW engine paid price to a win that could’ve mended Anglo-German relations earlier, but Montoya would pull off an amazing eight-race run where he finished on the podium every time and won at Monaco & Hockenheim. Scoring a gargantuan 64 points in this eight-race cycle, the 27-year-old entered Indianapolis just three points behind championship leader Michael. Sadly, an early collision with Rubens Barrichello would see the Colombian slapped with a drive-through penalty and a premature cessation of his title hopes. It’s amazing to think, however, if anyone had predicted that this would be Juan Pablo’s best season ever, they would’ve been laughed off. Despite securing only a single pole position all year, his consistency in the races had improved exponentially and better reliability at Austria & Japan could’ve seen Montoya crowned Colombia’s first world champion.

  1. Kimi Raikkonen 8.79 (123/14) A+

2003 would be the year when the Iceman legend would become established. Starting the year with an updated 2002 McLaren spec chassis, it was remarkable the Finn remained in title contention until the finale. It was made even more astonishing by the fact that Kimi’s maiden career win at Sepang would be his only win of the season. His consistency was breathtaking, however, as Raikkonen claimed seven 2nd places and dragged his MP4-17D to pole position twice at Nurburgring & Indianapolis. Sadly, it was the former of these two races that would witness a major blow to the Iceman’s title hopes as he suffered an untimely Mercedes-Ilmor engine failure whilst leading European GP. Highlights of Raikkonen’s 2003 included his battle with Michael Schumacher at the season-opener at Melbourne, dominating Brazil until his late race mistake gifted Fisichella a shock win, holding off Barrichello’s Ferrari at Austria and leading British GP briefly before Barrichello & Montoya overhauled him. To illustrate the inferiority of McLaren’s chassis to Ferrari’s title winning cars, Kimi led only 138 laps to Michael’s 303 in front plus Kimi completed 136 laps fewer than Ferrari’s lead driver in race mileage. Despite a season worthy of David vs. Goliath, Kimi was not without his faults as mistakes on his qualifying laps at Spain & Canada left him starting last on the grid. Spain saw Kimi smash into the back of Antonio Pizzonia’s stalled Jaguar unsighted, whilst Canada would witness the Iceman sustain a puncture whilst slicing past backmarkers, but gallantly fought back to sixth. However, the second half of season would see Kimi struggle with an aging chassis that saw limited development. McLaren continued working on the troublesome MP4-18 machine which was eventually scrapped by Monza due to chronic overheating issues and failed crash tests. Whilst many pundits herald Fernando Alonso’s 2012 campaign with Ferrari, I personally believe Kimi Raikkonen’s 2003 season was marvelous in its own merit.

2002 CRYSTAL SCORE review

2002 was a season of pure domination. Michael Schumacher and Ferrari stepped their game up to another level, leaving the likes of Williams & McLaren a very long way behind. It was a year that promised strong challenges from Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher, but a lack of aerodynamic efficiency from their Williams chassis trammeled the benefits of having a BMW engine producing unprecedented levels of horsepower for a naturally-aspirated V10. McLaren, on the contrary, had a neat MP4-17 chassis that was restricted by a powerpuff Mercedes engine that was also unreliable and left David Coulthard and newly-signed Kimi Raikkonen frustrated. Renault returned as a factory team with Jenson Button & Jarno Trulli proving to be the best of the rest, but the gap between the top teams and the midfield ballooned dramatically in a year that rang alarm bells for the well-being of the sport. Ferrari won the constructors’ title with 221 points- exactly the same number of points as the rest of the other teams combined!

Using the Crystal Score system, I have graded every participating driver with a score out of ten for every race where they complete at least 75% distance. If a driver fails to finish a race because of a mechanical failure or an accident via no fault of their own, their score for that particular race is excluded from their season’s average score and is considered invalid and void. However, if a driver retires from a very strong running position (i.e. leading the race or running in a podium position in a midfield car), a score may be given to reflect that driver’s promising performance to improve their score. On the contrary, if a driver finishes a race well below their expected finishing position due to an incident, a collision or a late-race mechanical issue through no fault of their own, their score will most likely be considered invalid and void. Any bad and unsporting driving, however, may see a driver given a low score to reflect their poor performance even if they fail to complete 75% race distance. From every eligible point score, their scores are added up into an aggregate score and then divided by the number of races they had achieved a score. For example, Fernando Alonso scores 70 points for his season’s total score, whereby his score of 70 is divided by the 10 races he finishes. This gives him a CRYSTAL SCORE average of 7.00.

Before starting the countdown from the worst to the best driver of 2002, it must be noted that Anthony Davidson is excluded from this list. This is because he appeared in only two races at Hungary and Belgium, standing in for a struggling Alex Yoong, who was considered to miles behind the standards required for the top level of motorsport.

22. Alex Yoong 3.50 (28/8) F

Driving for Minardi since 2001 Italian Grand Prix, Malaysia’s only F1 driver to date delivered an anaemic display of himself in his 14 months at this level. Backed by the national lottery organisation Magnum, Alex failed to qualify three times due to lapping outside the permitted 107% rule at Imola, Silverstone & Hockenheim. After achieving his best career finish of 7th at the season opener at Melbourne, Alex would find himself lapping on average two seconds slower than his rapid rookie team-mate Mark Webber. The Malaysian was whitewashed 15-0 in qualifying by his Australian stablemate and his three DNQs saw him dropped temporarily for Anthony Davidson, as Paul Stoddart stated Yoong needed to recover his confidence. Davidson, meanwhile, did an admirable job in his absence, lapping 0.6 seconds slower than Webber in qualifying for Hungary and Belgium; however, the Briton spun off in both races. Despite some improvement on his return in the last three GPs, Yoong never raced in F1 again but has achieved regular wins in A1 GP and sports car racing.

21. Enrique Bernoldi 6.00 (12/2) D+

Driving a second season for Arrows proved to be fruitless exercise for the Brazilian, who would be rewarded with unemployment sooner than expected. Only once did Bernoldi outqualify new team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who proved to be a much tougher benchmark than Jos Verstappen. Enrique would finish just two races at Monaco & Nurburgring; in the meantime, he was forced to endure being disqualified for infringing procedures at Melbourne and then deliberately qualified outside the 107% rule at Magny-Cours to save spare parts at the team. Eventually, Hockenheim proved to be Arrows’ final GP appearance and so too ended the short career of Enrique Bernoldi.

20. Takuma Sato 6.20 (62/10) C-

Japan’s next big prospect proved to be rather green in his debut GP season, as he was prone to big mistakes and massive collisions. Having started racing at the ripe old age of 19, the 25-year-old was clearly lacking the knowhow to deal with cars possessing over 800 BHP, having won the British Formula 3 series in the prior year with cars with just a third of the power. Sato retired from 7 races, whilst his parent company Honda announced they would not be providing engines to Jordan from 2003 onwards. This left Takuma in a tough position, as it was clear Eddie wanted a reliable driver to replace him whilst BAR signed up Jenson Button to partner Jacques Villeneuve for the following season. Sato spent 2002 being outraced, outscored and outqualified by the experienced Giancarlo Fisichella by a significant margin. However, the season-closing Japanese GP provided home comforts, where Takuma scored his first points with 5th place. 2003 saw the Japanese prospect as BAR’s test driver, where his new team now had exclusive use of Honda powerplants.

19. Mika Salo 6.37 (73/11) C

The returning Finnish veteran was back in GP racing after a year of testing for the new Toyota, but his final season of F1 would prove to be a miserable farewell. In spite of a promising start of two points finishes at Melbourne & Interlagos, Mika’s motivation was clearly slipping as he struggled to guide the Toyota through their first ever season. Whilst Salo comfortably outpaced rookie team-mate Allan McNish, team boss Ove Andersson criticised the Finn’s apparent negativity and punished both drivers with their P45s come the end of the season.

18. Pedro de la Rosa 6.38 (51/8) C

2002 proved to be an annus horribilis for the Spaniard, who never got to grips with Jaguar’s flexing R3 chassis. The season saw relations between himself and Ford’s head management becoming rapidly strained, as nine retirements and no points left de la Rosa seeking a testing role at McLaren for 2003. Whilst bad luck colourised his 2002 campaign, Pedro was outqualified 10-6 by retiring Jaguar partner Eddie Irvine, who delivered one more great result at Monza before bowing out.

17. Allan McNish 6.57 (46/7) C

Whilst he had little in the way of results to show for it, the 32-year-old Scottish multiple Le Mans winner produced a decent account of himself in his lone season in F1. Whilst McNish was thrashed 15-2 in qualifying by his illustrious team-mate Mika Salo, Allan suffered eight retirements and found himself unable to start the final race at Japan after a monstrous crash in qualifying. The Scotsman achieved a career-best of 7th at Sepang, where a delayed pit stop scuppered his chances of a points finish. 2003 would see McNish spend the season testing for Renault as their Friday practice driver, where he contributed to their improved performances.

16. Nick Heidfeld 6.64 (93/14) C

After a strong 2001, the 25-year-old German delivered a modest 2002 season. Heidfeld once again edged his younger team-mate, this time Felipe Massa, but likewise it was perceived that his experience providing him the upper hand. In addition, team-orders at Hockenheim meant Nick was allowed to finish ahead of Massa, although rumours around paddock felt this was done due to Sauber’s lack of faith in the erratic Brazilian. Heidfeld saw the chequered flag 14 times in a 17 race season, but the days of him being held up as a hot prospect for top teams was quickly dissipating.

15. Heinz-Harald Frentzen 6.67 (40/6) C

Despite making just 12 GP starts, the 35-year-old German made a adequate account of himself. 2002 saw him race the wheels off his Arrows, but his team was struggling to make ends meet with their new, but expensive Cosworth engines. Frentzen scored twice at Spain & Monaco, but dwindling funds meant no development could be done to achieve better results. Crushing his Red Bull-affiliated team-mate Enrique Bernoldi, it remains to be seen what Heinz-Harald could have achieved had Arrows had the funding to maximise the potential of its neat A23 chassis. Frentzen would return later in the season to deputise for the suspended Felipe Massa at Sauber, but finished a lowly 15th at Indianapolis. Frentzen would race full-time for Sauber in 2003.

14. Olivier Panis 6.83 (41/6) C+

The Frenchman’s second season at BAR proved to be lackluster, with just two points finishes at Britain and Italy. The season started poorly, as the Brackley team’s 004 chassis suffered both oversteer and understeer throughout qualifying runs. Reliabilty was a headache as Panis retired from the first seven races, so it was inevitable when relations between Panis and BAR deteriorated. Changes in management distracted the team from addressing their internal issues sufficiently, with Dave Richards replacing Craig Pollock mid-season. Inevitably, attention shifted to 2003 and Panis was replaced by Jenson Button. Olivier, however, had an ace up his sleeve and landed a seat at rivals Toyota instead.

13. Felipe Massa 6.88 (55/8) C+

2001 Euro Formula 3000 champion entered F1 with many plaudits, but ended the season being the butt end of many jokes. Eight retirements was not what the doctor entered, although Massa did impress when things were working well and scored thrice at Malaysia, Spain & Europe. Nevertheless, his on-track behaviour became increasingly erratic and a needless collision with Pedro de la Rosa at Monza saw the Brazilian become the first driver in the sport’s history to be punished with a ten-place grid drop penalty. However, this punishment was only applicable for the next race at Indianapolis and Massa himself, so Sauber were able to place their 2003 signing Frentzen in his seat for US GP. 2003 saw Massa serve as Ferrari’s test driver.

12. Mark Webber 7.00 (70/10) C+

Australia’s first driver to race at the top level of motorsport for eight years made a fabulous account of himself, whitewashing team-mate Alex Yoong in every metric possible. The 26-year-old immediately caught the attention of teams up-and-down the paddock with an awe-inspiring debut at his home race at Melbourne. He held off Mika Salo’s significantly faster Toyota to score Minardi’s first points in three years with a scarcely-believable 5th place. Despite not scoring again, Webber replicated Alonso’s dazzling speed from the previous season by outqualifying Jaguar, Arrows & Toyota on occasions. Such performances were rewarded with a move to Jaguar for 2003.

11. Jarno Trulli 7.00 (49/7) C+

The Italian’s move to Renault from the fabled Jordan team gave onlookers the appearance of a sideways move. Whilst Trulli held onto his reputation as qualifying master, his race pace was not up to scratch. He was not helped that he suffered the brunt of Renault’s reliability woes in comparison to team-mate Jenson Button. However, it was not until the last three races where Jarno managed to get the upper hand in the races on the Briton.

10. Eddie Irvine 7.14 (50/7) B-

2002 was the Ulsterman’s final season of F1. Scoring an unrepresentative 4th place at Melbourne, 10 retirements in the next 12 races would scupper any hopes of progress for his beleaguered Jaguar team. An unidentified flexing issue with the chassis was found to be the culprit, but once this was solved, Irvine would score a point at Spa and then his final podium at Monza in front of the Tifosi, who once supported him fervently. Eddie Irvine comfortably beat team-mate Pedro de la Rosa and had high hopes of continuing alongside Mark Webber for 2003, but he would lose his seat to Antonio Pizzonia post-Japan. The Northern Irishman tried to persuade Eddie Jordan to race for him instead, but Ralph Firman was chosen and Irvine retired from motorsports altogether instead.

9. Jenson Button 7.22 (65/9) B

JB would see an upturn in fortunes compared to his previous season, but his relationship with Flavio Briatore continued to decline. Button outraced and outscored Jarno Trulli, but his lack of qualifying speed would again come under scrutiny. It therefore came as no surprise when Renault announced test driver Fernando Alonso as the Briton’s replacement for 2003, so Jenson quickly headed to BAR-Honda for his next drive. Over the course of 2002, JB claimed 7 points finishes and scored 14 points and clinched 7th in the drivers’ standing. He was, however, unlucky to miss out on the podium in Malaysia, as a problem with his suspension saw him lose 3rd place on the last lap to a recovering Michael Schumacher.

8. Jacques Villeneuve 7.25 (58/8) B

Whilst rumours over the Canadian’s future continued to swirl from a return to Indycar to a place at McLaren & Ferrari, Jacques drove solidly in what was a dog of a 004 chassis. JV and Olivier Panis struggled with mechanical and handling issues over 2002, with new technical director Geoff Willis slamming the inner layout of the car’s electrical wiring and its gearbox design. Honda provided an underwhelming engine with poor driveability and the team only broke into the top 10 qualifying positions eight times. Villeneuve took six of these top 10 starting grid slots and beat Panis 10-7 in the qualifying battle, but Jacques took the team’s worst qualifying result of 19th at the Nurburgring. In the races BAR’s team leader was classified in the top ten for nine of the ten races he completed, but it was until the British GP either he or Panis finally scored points with a 4-5 finish that helped BAR salvage 8th in the team’s worst season since 1999.

7. David Coulthard 7.38 (96/13) B

After a promising 2001 where the Scotsman became McLaren’s lead driver, the following season proved one of difficulty for DC. He was beaten 10-7 by new stablemate Kimi Raikkonen, but Coulthard finished ahead in the driver’s standings with 41 points compared to the Finn’s meagre 24 points. The 31-year-old benefited from superior reliabilty, however, as he clinched a fortuitous victory at Monaco ahead of Michael Schumacher’s rampant Ferrari. Despite signs that Coulthard was beginning to decline, everyone assumed the Scotsman would be McLaren’s main challenger entering 2003.

6. Ralf Schumacher 7.42 (89/12) B

The 27-year-old German had a quieter 2002 campaign, which started with bang with a calamitous collision where he leaped over Rubens Barrichello’s rear wing at Melbourne. Sepang would see Ralf back to best, though, as he clinched his 4th career victory after brother Michael smashed into team-mate Montoya. However, Ralf found himself outraced and outqualified by his Colombian counterpart during the second half of the season and the German took no pole positions, whilst Juan Pablo claimed an astonishing seven poles! Nevertheless, the younger Schumacher brother finished 4th in the drivers’ standing, just eight points behind Montoya despite his deteriorating fortunes.

5. Juan Pablo Montoya 7.85 (102/13) B+

Colombia’s great F1 driver showed flashes of his raw speed and tenacious driving style, but he lacked the results to show off his prowess. Montoya started the season in style, where excited the masses by dicing with Michael Schumacher at Melbourne before inevitably settling for 2nd. Whilst Williams’ FW24 chassis proved a lightning fast car over a single lap, their lack of aero efficiency and inconsistent Michelin compounds proved a headache and meant race victories were elusive after Malaysia. JPM’s relationship with the team therefore became strained and he became increasingly prone to temper tantrums. Regardless, he finished best-of-rest with 3rd in the drivers’ standings, but no race wins was a huge stain on an otherwise decent year.

4. Giancarlo Fisichella 8.00 (56/7) B+

The Roman starlet drove the wheels of his underpowered Jordan, where he demolished his new Japanese team-mate Takuma Sato with frightening ease. However, the yellow team produced an average chassis and Honda produced a poor powerplant, leaving Fisi dreadfully frustrated. Three consecutive 5th places at Austria, Monaco & Canada plus 6th at Hungary was all Giancarlo could muster, but it helped Jordan clinch 6th in the constructors’ standing in addition to Sato’s star performance at Suzuka. Eight retirements and a failure to qualify at Magny-Cours, albeit due to a major crash in practice, would restrict Fisi’s results despite the Italian picking up 7 top 10 qualifying results. Giancarlo crushed Takuma 13-3 in qualifying when you exclude his DNQ at Magny-Cours, where Fisi sat out qualifying thanks to his neck injury.

3. Kimi Raikkonen 8.33 (50/6) A

The Espoo native displayed devastating speed at his first season at Woking, hammering elder team-mate Coulthard 10-7 in qualifying, but his massive reliability issues proved to be a major bugbear in his season. Ten retirements plus late-race exit at Interlagos meant it was hard to see whether Raikkonen was overdriving or dealing with a difficult chassis & engine combination that proved third-best over 2002. His races at Nurburgring and Magny-Cours would prove Raikkonen was a star of the future, as he comfortably outdrove both Williamses and team-mate DC to claimed 3rd in Europe and nearly won in France. Sadly, Kimi failed to spot oil from Allan McNish’s stricken Toyota and going wide at hairpin handed Michael Schumacher not only the race win, but the German’s 5th driver’s title.

2. Rubens Barrichello 8.50 (102/12) A

It seems arbitrary to place the Brazilian in 2nd, but it must be remembered that Rubens started the season with three consecutive retirements and two failures to start at Spain & France due to mechanical issues. Once Ferrari eradicated Barrichello’s defective machinery, as he was forced to drive the 2001-spec chassis in the first three races, Rubinho claimed 4 wins, five 2nds and a 3rd to finish runner-up to his all-conquering team-mate Michael Schumacher. Qualifying would see a huge improvement, as he took 3 poles and 8 front-row starts, but Barrichello’s season would be marred by the events of Austria. Having taken pole and led the majority of the race, Jean Todt called Rubens to give up the win and the scenes on the final lap have to be one of the most disgraceful ever seen in the sport’s history. Some may say the finish at Indy was Michael’s way of handing Rubens back his win lost at the A1 Ring, but it’s safe to say we will never know.

  1. Michael Schumacher 9.41 (160/17) A+

With his opposition at sixes and sevens, 2002 would prove to be the crowning jewel in the 33-year-old maestro’s mythical career. He broke Nigel Mansell’s record for wins in a season with 11 victories and set the record for most points in a year with 144 points using the old system, which handed points down to sixth place and 10 points for a win. The German finished every race on the podium and only once did he fail to finish in the top two, which came in Malaysia thanks to a collision with Montoya on lap 1. That spurred Ferrari to bring out the new F2002 for Interlagos, which set Schumacher back on track, as Ferrari’s strong all-round package and bespoke Bridgestone tyres helped the team set new records. With McLaren defecting to Michelin tyres, Ferrari were able to force the Japanese tyre manufacturer to adjust their compounds to the Italian team’s requirements. With testing unlimited in this era of F1, Schumacher and test drivers Luca Badoer & Luciano Burti were able to pound around the team’s own Fiorano and Maranello circuits to perfect the 2002 chassis. With Ferrari ending the season with five consecutive 1-2s, the sport’s governing body FIA began talks on changing the regulations to close the pack up in order to avoid to losing TV viewers in heavy numbers.

2001 CRYSTAL SCORE Review

2001 was a year where Michael Schumacher & Ferrari stamped their authority upon their opposition. With his arch-rivals Mika Hakkinen & David Coulthard stuttering in their McLarens, the Regenmeister gradually crushed everything in his path and set his sights on chasing all-time records. It would be a year where Williams began to bear the fruits of their burdening relationship with BMW, as lead driver Ralf Schumacher and rookie Juan Pablo Montoya made a name for themselves and scored their maiden GP victories. It was also the debut seasons of future world champions Kimi Raikkonen & Fernando Alonso, both of whom were quick to attract the attentions of Ferrari, McLaren & Renault. But it was a season that began with tragedy, as a marshal named Graham Beveridge was killed at the season opener in Australia. He died after being struck by debris from a collision between Jacques Villeneuve & Ralf Schumacher.

Using the Crystal Score system, I have graded every participating driver with a score out of ten for every race they competed in. If a driver fails to finish a race because of a mechanical failure or an accident via no fault of their own, their score for that particular race is excluded from their season’s average score and is considered invalid and void. From every eligible point score, their scores are added up into an aggregate score and then divided by the number of races they had achieved a score. For example, Johnny Herbert scores 70 points for his season’s total score, whereby his score of 70 is divided by the 10 races he finishes. This gives him a CRYSTAL SCORE average of 7.00.

Only 22 drivers are included on this list, as four part-time drivers (Gaston Mazzacane, Ricardo Zonta, Tomas Enge & Alex Yoong) have been excluded for competing in fewer than the minimum of 8 races required to be included here. Starting from the worst driver, I will count down until the best driver of 2001 is revealed:

22. Jenson Button 5.72 (63/11) D

After a scintillating debut season at Williams, the young Briton was brought back down to earth with his move to Benetton. Button had been forced to make way for Colombian hotshot and Indycar champion Juan Pablo Montoya and he suffered a nasty dose of second season syndrome. He was dismantled by his illustrious team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella, who out-qualified Jenson 13-4, outraced him 8-1 and outscored him 8 points to just 2 for Button. JB suffered the ignominy of qualifying 21st in three consecutive races at Imola, Catalunya & Austria and his team principal labelled the 21-year-old as a mile post and a playboy. After scoring his only points of the year at Hockenheim with a season-best 5th place, JB’s qualifying performances improved as he broke into the top ten in the last two races at Indianapolis and Suzuka. Despite Renault’s new 110 degree engine proving gutless, JB retired 5 times and finished 17th in the driver’s championship. The 2009 world champion was 2001’s Reject of the Year, but JB would continue with the newly-branded Renault team for 2002.

21. Tarso Marques 5.83 (35/6) D+

Brazilian journeyman Tarso returned to F1 after 3 years of intermittent appearances in Indycar racing, but just like his previous appearances in 1996 & 1997, Marques showed no signs of becoming Brazil’s next world champion. Lucky to start at Melbourne after a ragged qualifying lap saw him 6.3 seconds slower than Schumacher’s pole time and therefore outside the permitted 107% rule, the Minardi driver would endure a year of being destroyed by Spanish sensation Fernando Alonso. Marques qualified 22nd & last a whopping 12 times, one of which saw him excluded from starting the British Grand Prix due to being outside of 107% rule. The stewards at Silverstone were not so kind and with good reason- after Malaysia, the only time Marques outqualified Alonso during 2001, the Brazilian was outqualified 12-1, often being more than a second slower than the Spaniard. Marques took Minardi’s best finishes of 9th at Interlagos & Montreal, but largely thanks to the huge attritional rate, where under today’s points system Tarso would’ve scored 4 points! After finishing 13th and last at Spa, Marques was replaced by Malaysian Alex Yoong for the last three races of 2001 and never appeared in F1 again.

20. Luciano Burti 5.88 (47/8) D+

If you’re wondering why Brazil struggles to produce F1 talent nowadays, you need to take a look at this Sao Paulo native. Making his Grand Prix debut at 2000 Austria, where Burti stood in for a sick Eddie Irvine, Jaguar gave their 26-year-old test driver his full-time debut as Johnny Herbert’s replacement. However, Luciano struggled as Irvine outqualified him 4-0, before moving to Prost to replace pay driver Gaston Mazzacane. Burti was outqualified 5-3 by Jean Alesi and then 2-0 by Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Luciano took his best result of 8th at Melbourne & Montreal, but mostly thanks to high retirement rate. Burti’s best qualifying positions were 14th at Interlagos & Catalunya, but his worst qualifying results were 21st at Melbourne & Monaco. Burti’s racecraft was questionable, as he was unable to avoid Michael Schumacher’s slowing Ferrari at the start in Hockenheim and his season ended after a monster crash at Spa, where he was lucky to escape with concussion and bruises. Luciano Burti became Ferrari’s test driver afterwards, but never raced in F1 again.

19. Enrique Bernoldi 6.00 (42/7) D+

An early member of Red Bull’s infamous junior driver program, the Curitiba native would prove to be a nuisance to leading drivers when being lapped. Despite outqualifying veteran team-mate Jos Verstappen 10-7, barely anyone looked at Bernoldi as semi-competitive F1 material. A main highlight of Bernoldi’s debut season was his antics at Monaco, where he held up David Coulthard for approximately 40 laps. The Brazilian took his best result of the season with 8th in Germany for Arrows ahead of team-mate Verstappen, but this was heavily achieved due to the high attrition in the final race at the old 4 mile layout at Hockenheim. Thanks to Red Bull’s money, Enrique would race again at Arrows in 2002 at the expense of Jos.

18. Jean Alesi 6.31 (101/16) C

2001 proved to be the final year of popular veteran Jean Alesi’s F1 career, where he appeared in 201 races in total. Despite some heroic drives, his consistent qualifying speed was beginning to evaporate, as he would outqualify Luciano Burti just 5-3 and then lost out to Jarno Trulli 4-1 when he left Prost for Jordan. Nevertheless, points at Monaco, a season’s best of 5th at Montreal and a point at Hockenheim helped Prost claim 9th in the constructor’s standings. However, financial issues meant 2001 was Prost’s final year as a F1 team, as no buyers were found in the off-season. Alesi took his final points finish with 6th at Spa, before bowing with a whimper thanks to a huge collision with Kimi Raikkonen at Suzuka.

17. Olivier Panis 6.45 (71/11) C

2000 saw Panis spend the season testing for McLaren, where his mileage and feedback was highly lauded by Hakkinen & Coulthard. His reward was a seat at BAR-Honda, but it would prove to be a trying season for the Frenchman. Despite scoring 5 points after finishing 4th at Interlagos & 5th at Austria and taking 5 top 10 starting positions in the first 8 races, BAR’s decline in performance affected Panis far more than team-mate Jacques Villeneuve. After a best qualifying result of 6th at Montreal, where brake failure wrecked the Frenchman’s hopes of a strong points finish, Panis fell backwards and suffered his worst qualifying result of 17th at Monza & Suzuka. Olivier would continue to race for BAR in 2002.

16. Pedro de la Rosa 6.57 (46/7) C

Brought in by Jaguar for his home race at Catalunya thanks to Luciano Burti’s wretched early performances and Gaston Mazzacane’s early sacking, de la Rosa had a steady 2001. His first Jaguar outing started poorly as the Spaniard qualified 20th and crashed out after 5 laps after a collision with Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Despite 6 retirements, de la Rosa scored points at Montreal and Monza and was beaten 7-6 in qualifying by team-mate Eddie Irvine. His decent performances, along with three top 10 qualifying positions, in an unfamiliar car saw de la Rosa kept by Jaguar for 2002.

15. Jacques Villeneuve 6.64 (73/11) C

Scoring the final two podiums of his illustrious career at Catalunya & Hockenheim, the French-Canadian started what would prove to be a long and steady decline. He outqualified Olivier Panis 10-7 and took qualified in the top 10 eight times, but his race pace was inconsistent. He scored 12 points and claimed 7th in the drivers’ championship, which helped BAR finish 6th in the constructors’, but his commitment to F1 was beginning to wane. Rumours of JV joining Ferrari, McLaren & Williams distracted him despite his long-term contract and he suffered the ignominy of qualifying 18th at Indianapolis behind Fernando Alonso’s Minardi! Nevertheless, Villeneuve continued alongside Panis for 2002.

14. Heinz-Harald Frentzen 6.75 (54/8) C

2001 would prove to be a disaster for the three-time GP winner, as Frentzen was sacked mid-season by Eddie Jordan before his home race at Hockenheim. The German started the season strongly with points finishes at Melbourne, Sepang & Imola, however, a late race retirement at Interlagos where he was heading for a podium began a downhill tumble in form. After San Marino, Heinz-Harald never scored again and he was outqualified 9-1 by team-mate Jarno Trulli. A crash in practice at Montreal saw Frentzen sidelined from the race with concussion, but his Silverstone race performance where he finished 7th behind the two Saubers of Heidfeld & Raikkonen was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Eddie Jordan. After this he moved to Prost (thanks to Alain sacking Alesi), where he qualified a sensational 4th at Belgium, but stalling on the grid would scupper any chance of a great result and Prost’s hopes of surviving onto 2002. Frentzen moved to Arrows for 2002.

13. Nick Heidfeld 7.00 (77/11) C+

It seems harsh to place Nick at 13th, but 2001 saw a litany of strong performances throughout the grid. Rescued by Sauber after an atrocious debut season at Prost, the 24-year-old reminded everyone why he was once so highly rated by Ron Dennis. Despite consistently out-scoring, out-racing and out-qualifying team-mate Kimi Raikkonen throughout the year, it was felt by many throughout the paddock that Heidfeld was relying on his vast experience to achieve his results. He picked up his maiden podium at Interlagos, but a heavy attrition rate was a major contributor to his fortuitous drive in mixed conditions. Despite being a McLaren junior driver during his junior formula career, the German would be shocked when McLaren announced Kimi Raikkonen as Mika Hakkinen’s successor at Monza. Heidfeld continued at Sauber until the end of 2003.

12. Eddie Irvine 7.17 (43/6) B-

The Ulsterman had a decent season despite little progress from Jaguar, as Ford hindered the team’s progress with a merry-go-round of team bosses with Neil Ressler, Bobby Rahal & Niki Lauda taking control at various points during the season. Despite 10 retirements during the season, Irvine clinched Jaguar’s maiden podium at Monaco but the season otherwise was one of major disappointment. Irvine would continue for Jaguar in 2002.

11. Giancarlo Fisichella 7.20 (72/10) B-

The popular Roman drove the wheels off his Benetton in the team’s final season under the Italian clothing’s banner. Despite the car struggling early on in the season, Fisi scored a point at Interlagos, but he would have to wait until Hockenheim to score again. Spa-Francorchamps would provide Giancarlo’s only podium of the season, which would prove to be Benetton’s final F1 podium. Fisichella had the measure of sophomore team-mate Jenson Button, beating him 13-4 in qualifying and finishing ahead of JB 8 times in the 9 races they completed together. However, the Italian had had enough of Benetton’s inconsistent progress and choose to join Jordan for 2002.

10. Jarno Trulli 7.29 (51/7) B

The 27-year-old finally came of age in 2001, as he obliterated team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen and drove his Jordan-Honda to its limit, but 8 retirements limited his capacity for points finishes. Imola saw Trulli run in 3rd ahead of Hakkinen before the first round of pit stops, where he eventually finished 5th. Trulli scored 12 points, finishing 9th in the WDC and outqualified Frentzen 9-1, Zonta 2-0 & Alesi 4-1 in a season where Jarno established himself as a qualifying master. Trulli, however, had had enough of Jordan’s lack of reliability and joined the re-branded Renault Sport team for 2002.

9. Mika Hakkinen 7.50 (75/10) B

2001 would prove to be the final year of the great Finn’s F1 career, where some are still wondering when Mika is going to announce his comeback from what he declared as a sabbatical. However, the year started badly with a high speed crash at Melbourne when Hakkinen was running 2nd to Schumacher during the time of the incident thanks to suspension failure. This sadly brought flashbacks of his near-fatal Adelaide crash in 1995 and from this point onwards, Hakkinen’s 2001 was a real struggle. His last-lap retirement at Catalunya from what looked to be a commanding victory would demoralise the double world champion and team-mate David Coulthard became Schumacher’s prime competitor for the world championship. Hakkinen would finish 7 times behind Coulthard in the 8 races they completed together and outscored 65-37, but Hakkinen would outqualify the Scot 9-8 in their final season as team-mates. Sadly, the renowned qualifying maestro failed to score a pole position during the season, but picked up two more career wins at Silverstone & Indianapolis to crown his glittering career.

8. Rubens Barrichello 7.54 (98/13) B

The Brazilian’s second season at Scuderia Ferrari proved less fruitful than 2000 as Barrichello would firmly become the team’s wingman during 2001. Despite scoring ten podiums, he failed to win a single race as Michael Schumacher outraced him 10-1 and outscored Rubens by 123-56. Ferrari’s no. 2 finished 3rd in the drivers’ championship, but this was poor considering Maranello’s huge progress over the season in comparison to rivals McLaren & Williams. Even worse, Barrichello failed to score a pole and outqualified Schumacher just once, which came at Monza after the events of 9/11 had distracted the new quadruple world champion. Barrichello would continue at Ferrari until 2005.

7. Jos Verstappen 7.55 (83/11) B

Despite scoring just one point all season, the Dutchman’s mighty performances in his tiny Arrows did not go unnoticed. His lightly fueled stints at Sepang & Austria saw Verstappen run as high as 2nd in the early stages, before dropping back to 7th and 6th respectively with a second pit stop required. Unfortunately, the team’s lack of finances meant Jos was dropped in favour of fellow veteran Heinz-Harald Frentzen, which would further besmirch Leafield’s reputation. Verstappen would return in 2003 to race for Minardi.

6. Kimi Raikkonen 7.70 (77/10) B

The fresh-faced Finn entered F1 under a FIA-imposed probation, as team bosses in the paddock were concerned over Kimi’s lack of experience, having started just 23 car races prior to entering the sport. Raikkonen joined Sauber as the reigning Formula Renault UK champion, but an intensive testing programme meant the Finn was prepared in time for Melbourne, where he scored a point on his debut. Despite losing the team-mate battle to more experienced Nick Heidfeld in most metrics, Ron Dennis was impressed and signed Raikkonen as fellow compatriot Mika Hakkinen’s replacement at McLaren for 2002. Highlights of Kimi’s debut season included 4th places at Austria & Canada, plus a 5th at Silverstone, where he hammered Heidfeld heavily in these three races.

5. Ralf Schumacher 7.90 (79/10) B+

Michael’s younger brother would finally make his mark with three remarkable victories at Imola, Montreal & Hockenheim; however, he did become increasingly overshadowed by rookie team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya’s performances as 2001 progressed. Ralf could have achieved more if it wasn’t for his car’s poor reliability, suffering seven retirements, but he would also achieve his maiden career pole at Magny-Cours. Ralf & Williams’ progress was hindered by the returning Michelin’s inconsistent tyres, whose heating issues also frustrated Benetton, Jaguar, Minardi & Prost. Ralf would continue to race for Williams until 2004.

4. Fernando Alonso 8.00 (64/8) B+

Very rarely did a rookie impress this much in a Minardi, but that’s exactly what the 20-year-old Spaniard achieved in 2001. Minardi entered 2001 on a last-minute rescue package from Paul Stoddart and his European Aviation company, but Alonso somehow dragged his recalcitrant car and mixed it with the likes of Benetton, Prost & Jaguar on occasions. He destroyed older team-mate Tarso Marques in most metrics except for their best finishing positions, but they were driving a car incapable of scoring points regardless. Fernando’s mesmeric drive at Suzuka caught attention from keen scouts as he finished 11th ahead of race winners Frentzen and Panis. Throughout 2001, Fernando qualified 18th in a 22 car field six times, despite Minardi’s PS01 estimated to be 4.4% slower than Schumacher’s Ferrari on average. Its aging Ford Zetec engine carried 30 more kilos than that of its nearest rivals, plus it was 160 bhp down on BMW’s engine. Alonso would spend 2002 as Renault’s test driver.

3. Juan Pablo Montoya 8.17 (49/6) A-

Colombia’s biggest Grand Prix prospect did not disappoint as he displayed flashes of the talent that made him a rookie CART Indycar champion and an Indy 500 winner. Despite erratic performances in his early races with numerous collisions, Montoya picked up three second places and a maiden victory at Monza. He also clinched three poles in four races at Hockenheim, Spa & Monza, where he maximised the capabilities of BMW’s potent engine power. Montoya dazzled sporadically with he looked a likely winner in just his third race at Interlagos (before Verstappen took him out), diced with Schumacher at Austria before retiring with hydraulic failure and lost a probable victory at Hockenheim thanks to a BMW engine blow-out. Montoya continued for Williams until 2004.

2. David Coulthard 8.31 (108/13) A

In a year where the Scotsman came to the fore for McLaren, his championship challenge would be scuppered by persistent software issues. Taking 2 wins and 10 podiums throughout the year, DC had been sitting level on 26 points with Michael Schumacher after Imola, but the new launch control implementation would cost his team dear. Stalling on the parade lap at Catalunya & Monaco, David could only savage a couple of fifth places, which swung an advantage to Schumacher that proved to be insurmountable. To deepen McLaren’s misery, Williams’ partnership with BMW began to blossom, but their own poor reliability meant they were incapable of taking points off Ferrari consistently. Mercedes engine failures at Montreal & Hockenheim along with a first lap collision with Jarno Trulli meant Coulthard was forced to surrender his championship hopes at Hungary.

  1. Michael Schumacher 8.40 (126/15) A

The maestro would prove to be in a league of his own in 2001, although the misfortunes of his rivals and near-bulletproof reliability of his Ferrari would help him to build an unassailable points lead by Hungary, where he won the championship with four races to go. He equaled Nigel Mansell’s record of 9 wins in a season and broke Alain Prost’s record for most career wins with his 52nd career victory at Belgium. To further illustrate Michael’s dominance, he took 11 pole positions and team-mate Rubens Barrichello would outqualify the German just once. He scored more than double of his team-mate’s points haul for the season and helped Scuderia Ferrari win the constructors’ championship by 77 points. 2001 saw Schumacher equal Prost’s 4 world championships, leaving the German just one behind Juan Manuel Fangio’s 5 drivers’ titles.

2018 CRYSTAL SCORE End-of-season

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2017 BWOAH SCORE (End-of-season)

Hamilton 168/20= 8.40 DRIVER OF THE YEAR (A)
Vettel 160/20= 8.00 (B+)
Alonso 116/15= 7.73 (B)
Ricciardo 116/15= 7.73 (B)
Verstappen 99/13= 7.62 (B)
Raikkonen 120/16= 7.50 (B)
Bottas 149/20= 7.45 (B)
Ocon 132/19= 6.95 (C+)
Massa 115/17= 6.76 (C)
Perez 135/20= 6.75 (C)

Hulkenberg 114/17= 6.71 (C)
Sainz 105/16= 6.56 (C)
Grosjean 105/17= 6.18 (C-)
Magnussen 98/16= 6.125 (C-)
Wehrlein 96/16= 6.00 (C-)
Vandoorne 101/17= 5.94 (D+)
Stroll 110/19= 5.79 (D)
Ericsson 101/19= 5.32 (D)
Kvyat 66/13= 5.08 (D-)
Palmer 67/14= 4.79 REJECT OF THE YEAR (E)