During idle office chat, someone raised the question “Who is the second best Formula 1 driver?”
It’s pretty obvious that 5 time world champion Lewis Hamilton is the best Formula 1 driver on the grid. I even say this not being particularly fond of him. Even so, his record speaks for itself.
233 starts, 75 wins, 138 podiums, 84 pole positions and 41 fastest laps. Yeah, he’s quite clearly number one.
So who’s second best? The answer didn’t come to me as quickly as I thought it should have. Last season I would have said Fernando Alonso without hesitation but this season it’s not so easy.
Objectively, four time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel is probably the go to choice. His record of 52 wins, 113 podiums. 55 poles and 36 fastest laps is nothing to be ignored.
Vettel and Ferrari seemed such a good combination. Sebastian following in the footsteps of his childhood hero to the team with the prancing horse.
While there has been success it has not been as consistent and as frequent as neutral Formula 1 viewers would have hoped.
In the past Vettel has shown that pressure causes mistakes, such as at Canada in the Red Bull in 2011. These types of mistakes have been more frequent since around Hockenheim 2018. This coupled with odd strategy calls from the Ferrari team themselves in some races have seen Vettels stock diminish quite drastically.
If he has the momentum of a few races on the top step I feel Vettel could beat the combination of Lewis and Mercedes over a season. But Lewis and Mercedes are too clinical in almost every sense to allow that.
Max Verstappen burst on to the scene at 17 years old. Lots of people questioned the wisdom of putting him in to a race seat. Though he rewarded Red Bull upper management with…
- Youngest driver to compete in Formula one
- Youngest driver to lead a lap in Formula one
- Youngest driver to score points
- youngest driver to score a podium
- Youngest driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix
- Youngest Multiple Grand Prix winner
He’s gone on to show brilliant skill such as in the rain soaked Brazillian GP where he gathered the car up from being totally sideways. His aggression is also fantastic to watch. But, because of this aggression I don’t feel as if he is ready for a season-long battle Vs someone as experienced as Hamilton. I think the relentlessness of Hamilton over a season would expose frustration and mistakes in verstappen. Not too dissimilar than that which Vettel sometimes shows.
Before the beginning of this season, I wouldn’t have included Valtteri Bottas specifically in his own section. He seems the perfect number 2 to Lewis. Fast enough to provide a good haul of points for the silver arrows but not so fast as to distract the number 1, Lewis Hamilton. That is, until the beginning of this 2019 season.
At the time of writing Valtteri is actually leading the driver championship after Baku. Will it continue? Who knows! But Bottas has always shown flashes of outrageous speed and potential. He’s just never been consistent enough for anyone to consider it a challenge for the outright title.
I personally hope we’re in for a season long fight much like the 2016 season between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. But it’s too early to tell.
If Bottas takes it to Hamilton all season, though, he could be considered the second best on the grid as no other driver, save Nico has managed such a sustained challenge to Lewis.
The young guns
There are so many staggeringly talented young drivers coming through. A colleague chose LAndo Norris as his second best on the grid. I feel it’s too early for Norris, Russel, or even Chales LeClerc to be considered the second best. This is simply because of the amount of time they have been in the series. There is a lot to prove. As an example the Baku weekend seemed to be there for Chales LeClerc to take. He put it into a wall. I put that completely down to experience and balancing driving aggression/speed for where it counts.
That’s not to take away from Charles, he is clearly a staggering talent and I completely think he will be a world champion in the future.
I have no idea. I still can’t decide. You still have Daniel Ricciardo who many hold in high regard and lets not forget Nico Hulkenberg who is also a Le Mans winner. So many superb drivers.
So who do you think is the second best?
Let us know in the comments!