09 November 2010

End of season report cards - Sauber and Toro Rosso

Since this year's midfield (Mercedes, Renault, Williams, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso) do not conveniently split into two equally sized groups (at time of writing 1 point separates Williams from Force India in the fight for 6th place in the constructors' championship). I am therefore dividing the group into 3 and write my season-reviews for the Sauber and Toro Rosso drivers here:

After each driver's name I will list their points total, their percentage of the team total (for races in which they drove) and their best three results.


Kamui Kobayashi: 32 points, 73%, 6th Britain, 7th Europe, 7th Japan
Kamui startled observers in his 2 races for Toyota at the end of last season, with aggresive driving against several of the sport's biggest names. He has repeated that this year, to a lesser extent. He has also completely outdriven Pedro De La Rosa, presumably forcing the Spaniard back into retirement, despite his many years as McLaren's favourite test driver. His standout performance was in Valencia, where he was on a contrarian strategy and ran in 3rd position for most of the race before a late pitstop and some desperate/delightful overtaking manouevres secured him 7th place from 18th on the grid.

Pedro De La Rosa: 6 points, 22%, 7th Hungary, 11th Belgium, 11th Turkey
Pedro had the worst start to the season of any driver in terms of reliability. He was unfortunate to be unable to start the Malaysian Grand Prix from 12th on the grid. Nothing, however, will spare him from the accusation that he was comprehensively outdone by a driver of little pre-F1 pedigree. He was therefore replaced by Nick Heidfeld after the Italian Grand Prix. Sauber's revival since this date also undermines his claim to be an excellent development driver.

Nick Heidfeld: 6 points, 35%, 8th Japan, 9th Korea, 17th Brazil
Despite having already run out of fresh engines before he even took the seat, Nick has more-or-less matched his teammate in his 4 races to date. The differences between the drivers can be put down to better/riskier strategies that have paid of for Kamui. He has probably done enough to prove that he is good enough for a senior race seat, but sadly, like many drivers, he doesn't bring the money that is needed for so many of them. It looks like he'll leave F1 with two records: most consecutive races without retiring (2008-9) and most starts without a race victory.

Toro Rosso:

Sebastien Buemi: 8 points, 73%, 8th Canada, 9th Valencia, 10th Monaco and Japan
Sebastien has been fairly anonymous all season, bar the occasional contact with other drivers. He has certainly outperformed his teammate, which is the first thing to do in Formula 1, but he hasn't shown anything exceptional that proves he should stay in the sport, given the stable of Red Bull drivers who would love his seat. Must do better.

Jaime Alguersuari: 3 points, 27%, 9th Malaysia, 10th Monaco, 11th five times
Thanks in part to superb reliability (only two retirements) Jaime holds the distinction of finishing just outside the points most frequently. Indeed he has more top-11 finishes than his teammate, but such things count for absolutely nothing in Formula 1. Given how well the season started, the lack of experience throughout the team (which has only recently been forced to design its own cars), perhaps the team needs some more experienced drivers, who could develop the cars throughout the season. Still very young, but may soon be another driver with "an excellent future behind him" (see also Jan Magnussen, Tommy Byrne, Anthony Davidson, Markus Winkelhock inter alia)

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