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We know what the best car is. We know who really is putting in the big ones, but who is the best driver so far this year. This sort of poll has to be subjective, so I have reduced to 7 drivers who have shown something special.
But what do you think. There are a heck of a lot of lurkers on this site these days, so will be interesting to see how many we get. Roo, that does not mean you should click 50 responses!
The subjectivity of 'best driver' has the effect of polarising opinion around personality, agressiveness, fairness (or lack of it), and of course, getting to the front from down the back.
The guys with the best cars can be as good as good as good, but will always be marked down because of the car. Hamilton exploded in to F1, but he was in a Macca - the best car on the grid at the time. Schumaker was a revelation at Benetton, and a cheat at Ferrari. Vettel became finger boy because as everyone knows, it takes nothing to pedal the Diffuser-blown RB around. So says the wisdom of the masses. Goodness, even Fred gets to be laused for 'lifting' the half-dead TOIT way above where it should be, according to the mob.
So Rosberg? Or Britney as Webber called him - still gives a chuckle when I think of "Britney's in the wall mate". - anyone could do that; easy; second rater with a lucky drive.
It is pretty much impossible to judge who is the 'Best'. So what kind of subjectivity works better than others?
I would rule this way, this year:
Hamilton: Awesome natural talent, but the wisdom of a goldfish. The Cole Trickle of F1. His races in Germany & Hungary were very insightful here. He drove fast, but he also played bumper cars whilst doing it. Has no clue what makes the thing tick, and doesn't want to know. Seduced by his own 'Brand'. I look forward to forgetting all about him.
Rosberg: Very fast, and a thinker. Can't handle pressure very well, and loses talent quickly when back in the pack. Looks at every race through the prism of the the WDC. That alone takes him out of any best driver calcs because his racing has to be governed by that, and therefore he is not a true 'racer'.
Ricciardo: A true revelation, such as F1 needs every now and then. Blindingly quick over a lap, and his years in the lower teams has paid big dividends. A very intelligent guy who thinks before he says anything, and seems to have spent all that time studying his opponents and their tactics, both on the track and on the screen. An uncanny ability to make dives and lunges without compromising the other driver, or hitting anyone. I mean anyone. He hasn't hit a soul since he has been in the formula. Compare that to Maldonado, Perez, Grosjean, and the other raw talents that don't seem to get it.
Hulkenberg: A combination of Frentzen and Fisichella. quick, steady, reliable (well, the Fish was reliable up until the last couple of seasons), and the perennial nearly man. Unlikely to ever get the break that would give him the chance to win a WDC, but probably could.
Bianchi: Hard to say too much because you don't get to see too much. Seriously quick, that's for sure, but until he gets into a firefight, we wont know.
Alonso: The greatest driver of his times? Maybe. Let us never forget that he let Macca go to avoid ruining his rep when Lewis threatened it. Let us also never forget the Renault debacle. The 'inspired crash' by Piquet Jnr casts a pall over that whole racy period by Renault. If Flav was doing that, what else was he doing that made things look different to what they are? Undoubtedly great he is, but is he really the best one out there today?
So when you come down to it, one guy is delivering results, and exciting the fans like no other. He is doing it with style, and without pissing anyone off. He refuses to play mind games in the press with the other kids, and wants to win this race, not the WDC. He is the kind of guy who would rather race with someone for the pure enjoyment and adrenaline of it, than crush their spirit. And for goodness sake, he is a countryman. Good on yer Dan.
Oh Dear! On edit I forgot Bottas: A clever driver who has speed and some smarts. More like Rosberg than Ricciardo, he knows how to get the job done without too much fuss. We saw him against Ricciardo in other formulae, and the latter appeared to have the best of him. So far this year is making the most of every opportunity and definitely a star of the near future if the car is right. Unlikely to excite people though, so keep safe.
[Edited on 1-8-14 by Lease]
The Mercedes duo is very convincing but they are too busy fighting eachother. I can't stop myself ftom wondering if two others could maybe do even better. But others would probably do the exact same thing.
However, if you consider "best driver up to date" to be the one who appears to be best of the rest, there is no denying that it has to be Ricciardo.