2013 driver combination ratings

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Ok, before we get all excited just keep in mind that this is a cumulative evaluation, for example if your grading on a scale of 0-100 on each driver and Alonso gets 100 and Massa gets… say 10, driver pairing scores 110pts. Also this is not where I think they will end up in the championship, as it’s a driver-combo evaluation not a car evaluation. Sound reasonable?  Fine then I shall begin…

2013 Strongest Driver Pairings AKA- Who’s got the Juice!

 1.  Red Bull -Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber

Everyone is always looking for a weakness in Vettel, honestly I haven’t seen one, except maybe the hair, even if car/team issues bring him down he finds a way to get back up again, he’s very unhappy when this don’t go well (which is good).  He’s an easygoing man for the most part only difference is he’s got loaded weapons in each finger and toe.

Webber has, in fact, the match of speed with Vettel on any given day. The only difference is his low days are much lower, inconsistent and a propensity for little mistakes gradually can send him adrift from Sebastian. If he can be on his game all season he will do very well, this may in fact be the undoing of Vettels 4th in a row, which I’m sure will not upset Mark one bit.

2.  Mercedes –Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg

After what was a very well driven and focused season in 2012 a change of scenery for Lewis wasn’t necessary perhaps, but it can make a difference, one of the top 3 on the grid he is now with a friend in Nico Rosberg and perhaps this can help both focus on moving the car up the grid rather than the inter team competition.

Lewis’s charging style may light a fire under the whole team and perhaps his race craft will rub off a little on Nico as I think Rosberg’s aggression is usually reserved for defense instead of attacking. I think they will compliment each other, which will in turn help the improved Merc do what they came here to do.

3. Ferrari –Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa

Ah Fernando, what a fantastic job last year, but when do we not say that? A bit more flamboyant than Vettel but equally as lethal. This I believe to be his year as the car is better, and so is Massa, which can only help steal those vital points way for the others. Fernando is the best driver on the grid for that Ferrari team full stop, and he drives with the passion of the tifosi behind him, can literally drive on the edge every lap and then some, which is what he had to do last year.

This year he may be able to lighten the grip a bit, which may in fact prove even more productive. Massa was really good at the end of last year, and could indeed win a race this year (as long as Fernando isn’t running 2nd of course).

4.  McLaren –Jenson Button, Sergio Perez

I want to rate Jenson I really do, and he is a very very good driver, but always in the back of my mind is the idea that he’s just a couple of tenths behind the top 3. In the right circumstances he can dominate a race, but it has to be a particular kind of thinking mans race and I’m afraid that the difference is a lot smaller in that game than it used to be.

Sergio was my wonder boy last year and if he had jumped ship mid-season this line up may be further up the rankings. The way he fell off the map at the end of the season after signing the McLaren contract may have been just a case of taking his eye off the ball with dreams of tea and crumpets with Ron, but it can’t be ignored just yet. Hopefully he will fulfill the early promise, but I really did see him as a good fit for Ferrari rather than McLaren. I am fully ready and happy to be wrong on this one.

5.  Lotus –Kimi Räikkönen, Romain Grosjean

Brilliant is all I can say to some of Kimi’s performances last year, really put to bed the sympathy for Schumacher and learning the new cars. Once he got the hang of the Pirelli’s he really showed he knew what he was doing (I know I know). He loves to drive (and a vodka and ice cream on occasion) and that’s about it, but he does have a great mind in the game during a race and knows exactly what is needed, not always possible but he does know. Some say he’s lost a little bit of speed, I’m not so sure about that, I just think he’s channeling his skill to other areas.

Big John is another matter, no doubt about speed but decision making is rather suspect, hopefully the team sat him in the simulator and had him practice the first 5 laps again and again and again. No more chances for this guy.

6.  Williams –Valtteri Bottas, Pastor Maldonado

Valtteri comes in with some very strong momentum, rated highly at the end of 2011, he showed really good pace in Friday P1’s last year. He has good race craft and a humble and smart head on his shoulders, I see him 1 upping GP winner Pastor over the season.

Pastor may have lost his benefactor and hopefully the $$ was all up front or the favor the Williams team extended last year may be short lived. It could in fact be a blessing in disguise as his penchant for incidents needs to be honed in, as he may have to stay on merit rather than cash flow next year. He is fast no doubt and I’m thinking this leopard may not be able to change his spots.

7.  Sauber-Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Gutierrez

Tough call for 7th but the promise that Nico shows was too good to ignore, he could shake things up quite a bit and may be able to drag the Sauber on to the top spot at some point in the season if all goes right. Brazil has been a good showcase for him but he also was so nearly there in a few of the last races of 2012.

Esteban is, I’m afraid, the reason poor Nico is all the way down to 7th, nothing against the guy, but I think he really needed some running last year. He did get a bunch of miles under his belt in pre-season so perhaps he can be higher than I expect him to be at the beginning. I don’t see him as a lot of support for Nico and will be playing a lot with the STR’s.

8. Force India –Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta

The 6-8 slots were about as narrow as a wafer thin mint but you gotta make a decision so the Force India pair line up a last minute change to 8th, not due to any particular failings rather the inability to really star on any occasion. The 2 drivers should rack up some points and could well outscore the Williams & Sauber steams, I just don’t get excited by either of them anymore, and as much as they will get a decent points haul I think all will be done from the bottom half of the top 10.

9.  Toro Rosso –Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne

If James Key can improve the car underneath them we may be able to see something from these guys, it’s always hard to get a good gauge on drivers if they are struggling with a poor car. Ricciardo definitely had the upper hand last year, so lets hope for their sake it’s an improving STR, otherwise that warm seat left by Webber will likely be filled by another on the grid.

10.  Marussia –Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton

Bianchi’s last minute seat at Marussia rocketed them from bottom of the pile. His Ferrari connection and training will be of good use to a team that nearly had some very inexperienced drivers on board. Bianchi’s credentials are indeed worthy of an F1 shot. Max Chilton has probably not been too keen on his rent a driver status but after a very early graduation to GP2 he eventually got the hang of it and would be about where Bruno Senna was on the resume accolades. He could do well and the help of Bianchi is a big plus for him this year.

11 Caterham –Charles Pic, Giedo van der Garde

Charles is now in season 2 of his GP career, and the move to Caterham was a good one except that Maurussia is getting better so it’s more lateral than you would first think, he nearly got a point in Brazil last year and I think he’s proved a fair hand behind the wheel, certainly gave Timo Glock a run for his money both in speed and in inter-team driver politics. Giedo is maybe 3 years too late as far as momentum, and may not be around too long. But he got the sponsors to pony up so he could be a surprise, but looking at the last while in his results I’m not expecting miracles.

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