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F1 drivers' half-term report

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 07-08-2016 skysports.com
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Lewis Hamilton Best result: 1st (Monaco, Canada, Austria, Britain, Hungary, Germany); Championship position: 1st, 217 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 6-6

Lewis is at the height of his powers. The ups and downs have really just been the circumstances of racing. He can still have an off-weekend, as we saw in Azerbaijan, but generally his peaks are as high as they've ever been.

He can always pull it out when he needs to.

Nico Rosberg Best result: 1st (Australia, Bahrain, China, Russia, Europe); Championship position: 2nd, 198 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 6-6

Nico has relaxed into his game. Maybe since Austin last year he's had a bit of a reboot and I think he's now relaxed in himself. He knows the stuff Lewis can do that he can't do, but his reasoning is that he can still take him on and beat him.

I think he's quite accepting of that and it's actually brought more of an evenness to his game. He's able to bounce back from setbacks. He's not the wheel-to-wheel guy that Lewis is, but that's him. You can only be who you are and that's who he is.

Daniel Ricciardo Best result: 2nd (Monaco, Germany); Championship position: 3rd, 133 points; Qualifying score v team-mates: 11-1

With different team choices, Daniel could have won both Barcelona and Monaco. It wasn't down to him he didn't win those races, it was just how it fell strategically.

He was absolutely on fire in that Monaco weekend. He's had one off-weekend but, overall, he'd be my choice as the number one driver over the first half of this season.

Max Verstappen Best result: 1st (Spain); Championship position: 6th, 115 points; Qualifying score v team-mates: 4-8

Max is an extraordinary driver - and he's still developing. He doesn't really have a weakness.

The nearest you could say is one-lap pace, which is a trait that goes right back to his karting days. It's not the fact that he can put in a blinding, super lap it's just the fact that he can just do loads of them. He can put himself in places that others can't, can do amazing passes, he's amazing in defence - he's just got everything covered.

He's an extraordinary performer, but in Daniel he's up against a fantastic qualifier and that puts you on the back foot straight away. I'm sure it'll develop more evenly as Max's experience and data bank builds up.

Sebastian Vettel Best result: 2nd (China, Canada, Europe); Championship position: 5th, 120 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 8-4

We definitely haven't seen the best of Sebastian so far this year. He's done some great races, but he's been patchy. The form of the car has been patchy as well but, for example, at Hockenheim he seemed irritated - even verging on angry - at the team's inability to make the right calls, to put him out in the right bit of track, and things like that.

His driving has looked scrappy. It's unusual, but it is a trait within him. He can have off-weekends when it's not going well for him. When things aren't operating well around him it seems to impact on his personal performance.

Kimi Raikkonen Best result: 2nd (Bahrain, Spain); Championship position: 4th, 122 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 4-8

Kimi is still the second driver at Ferrari. He might be ahead on points, but that's down to the circumstances of the mechanical retirements Seb's had and other issues.

Although Kimi has had a couple of terrible races, in Monaco and Canada, since he's been re-signed for 2017 he's relaxed a little bit and Hockenheim was probably his strongest performance of the year up to the race.

It is still in there somewhere, but very particular sets of circumstances seem to be required. He doesn't seem to like short-sharp corners or bouncing over the kerbs, which you sometimes need to do for lap time. He's a very particular driver and when you get the right sets of circumstances he looks great. But I don't think we're going to see the driver he was at McLaren again.

Fernando Alonso Best result: 5th (Monaco); Championship position: 13th, 24 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 8-3

Fernando is at the top of his game. He was out-qualified by Jenson last year when it was possible to make a comparison - where one or the other didn't have a problem - and Alonso felt a bit embarrassed and said "I'm not at my best and will be next year".

In a competitive car he would be winning races, some of his performances have been extraordinary, but you just see little snapshots of what's possible. He's still absolutely the driver he was.

Jenson Button Best result: 6th (Austria); Championship position: 15th, 17 points; Qualifying score v team-mates: 3-9

When he's having an on-day he's as good as ever. At Hockenheim he was masterful in how he controlled Alonso who used up all his resources trying to pressure him, leading him to fall four places behind JB at the end.

But he's been a little less consistently excellent compared to last year.

Valtteri Bottas Best result: 3rd (Canada); Championship position: 7th, 58 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 10-2 Felipe Massa Best result: 5th (Australia, Russia); Championship position: 9th, 38 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 2-10

If you look back to this time last year and look at his stats, Bottas has annihilated Massa in terms of qualifying pace. That's happened at the same time the car has been slipping backwards from the front of the field, so it's gone relatively unnoticed. But that's more the function of the car and Bottas is doing a very good job.

I think we've seen the best of Felipe. He's still capable of turning in a good performance over a weekend and he's very experienced, but I don't think the cutting edge is there anymore.

Nico Hulkenberg Best result: 6th (Monaco); Championship position: 10th, 33 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 7-5Sergio Perez Best result: 3rd (Monaco, Europe); Championship position: 8th, 48 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 5-7

When it's all about putting the car on the ragged edge, Hulk is a bit better at doing that then Sergio, but Hulk just doesn't seems to have got his head around the Pirellis whereas Sergio is superb at it.

It's been a bit of a pattern over their time together at Force India.

Carlos Sainz Best result: 6th (Spain); Championship position: 11th, 30 points; Qualifying score v team-mates: 7-5Daniil Kvyat Best result: 3rd (China); Championship position: 14th, 23 points; Qualifying score v team-mates: 2-10

Carlos is operating at a very high level, he's got more confidence and the performances have become more consistent.

He's made the odd mistake, I think the spin at Silverstone cost him a position or two but lots of people spun there. Had there not been a problem pit stop at Monaco it would have been a podium there and he ended up three or four places back as a result.

There would have been a very different perception of his season had he got that podium, yet the reality wouldn't have been any different. His performance in Hungary was excellent but wasn't really noticed because it didn't involve any wheel-to-wheel stuff. 

What's happened to Kvyat is sad to see. I don't think he was ever going to crack it at Red Bull alongside Ricciardo, I don't think he's that level. But on the other hand he's a much, much better driver than he's looked since being demoted and he's obviously suffering a crisis of confidence.

It's almost an impossible situation for him. How do you get yourself out of that when your team have so publicly demoted you? And he's up against a very tough motivated team-mate.

Romain Grosjean Best result: 5th (Bahrain); Championship position: 12th, 28 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 8-4Esteban Gutierrez Best result: 11th (Spain, Monaco, Austria, Germany); Championship position: 19th, 0 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 4-8

Grosjean seems to have lost the plot a bit since earlier in the year. He's very public in his complaints and doesn't seem to be helping move the car forward. He's dynamite fast but if you're the lead driver you need to be driving the development forward and that car seems to have had the same problems it's had all year, which is braking stability.

It might be a technical thing but he just seems to bring the problem out and complain about it, which is probably counter-productive. I'd probably question what he's doing off-track, but if you give him a good car he'd be electrifying.

Gutierrez is making progress. Will he be given the time to see what his ultimate potential is? I don't know, you don't get much time in F1. You don't get much opportunity to show you're a potential winner.

Kevin Magnussen Best result: 7th (Russia); Championship position: 16th, 6 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 8-4 Jolyon Palmer Best result: 11th (Australia); Championship position: 20th, 0 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 4-8

The Renault is a very difficult car, very under-developed and it's been a bit of a handful. Palmer struggled with it in the early stages but since the car has improved so has he, he's got a much better handle on it.

For two races in a row now he's out-qualified Magnussen, so that's quite an achievement. I'd say Palmer made a bit of a breakthrough in Hungary, as up until then it wasn't looking good. Magnussen must find it hard to remain motivated, but I'm sure if he hangs in there all will come good.

Pascal Wehrlein Best result: 10th (Austria); Championship position: 17th, 1 point; Qualifying score v team-mate: 7-5Rio Haryanto Best result: 15th (Monaco); Championship position: 23rd, 0 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 5-7

Pascal has put some races together. He's terrific on the first lap with some of the moves and defences he's doing and he can really race. 

Haryanto has not been particularly rated but the fact he can out-qualify Pascal on merit 40 per cent of the time maybe either suggests Rio is better than his reputation or that it's something Pascal needs to work on.

Marcus Ericsson Best result: 12th (Bahrain, Spain); Championship position: 21st, 0 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 7-5Felipe Nasr Best result: 12th (Europe); Championship position: 22nd, 0 points; Qualifying score v team-mate: 5-7

Nasr had a confidence crisis but has come out the other end of it now. I think Nasr is way better than his reputation but probably needs quite a lot of support and a helping hand. He was very highly regarded at Williams when he was there, he has potential but he's not always able to access it.

Marcus is very aggressive on the car and he can wring some sort of time from it, but you need to really see him in a more competitive car to gauge where he's really at.

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