Well, what a season 2008 turned out to be. The end result it seemed was a collection of drivers running away from title glory rather than striving to achieve it.
There were, of course, many stories that emerged throughout the season as some drivers flourished, while others put a stop on their future careers.
Let’s start with my top five drivers, shall we….
5. Fernando Alonso
Yes I believe he is arrogant, selfish and childish. His season as Mclaren forced my opinion of him to change. But then he came back to the forefront with a simply stunning second-half performance, giving us the slick and stylish Spaniard we had seen in his early years, outperforming his Minardi and winning the titles at Renault.
In a weak and disappointing Renault, he comfortably obliterated the poor excuse for a team mate in Piquet Jr. and recorded unexpected back-to-back victories in an end of season bout of points.
Perhaps Renault can work tremendously over the winter period and produce a car that will gift us with the Alonso of past glories. After all, a more competitive car breeds an electric and possibly unbeatable Fernando.
4. Felipe Massa
The boyish Brazilian will never be one to excite me or produce any sort of fanatic behaviour from me; he is clumsy, reckless, and to a certain extent, inconsistent.
However on certain occasions in the 2008 season Felipe has led me to believe that there is a star waiting to jump out and dominate the sport. His home Grand Prix proved what he can do when he leads from the front.
He can produce Schumacher-style dominances in such circumstances, and I applaud him for this revolution of pace and control that he has shown at various points of the season.
Of course, however, as his performance in Great Britain showed us, he still has a long journey to embark upon before he can portray the duration of a season free of careless errors at race weekends where he does not take charge.
3. Lewis Hamilton
I do not believe Hamilton was at his best this year. He was lucky, very lucky to win the title.
A foolish decision by Toyota gifted his title success, although in saying that he deserved it more than Felipe Massa last year, which in a way makes up for the disappointment of losing to a faster Kimi Raikonnen in 2007.
All he needs to make him a force to be reckoned with is a few extra laps in circuits where he fails to deliver and maybe then he can win a title without taking it to the Sao Paolo track where he so frustratingly flops.
2. Sebastian Vettel
An average first half of the season was followed by the thunderous win in Monza, in turn putting his name well into the public eye and F1 history books. He became the youngest winner in F1 history and also made Heikki Kovalinen look like a flailing tortoise.
His decision to transfer to the arguably slower Red Bull team is baffling, as it may relegate him back to the midfield. However, this man has the ability to outperform a car and a fast teammate in Bourdais.
Surely, though, this man will be taken away from the factories in Milton Keynes before long.
1. Robert Kubica
If BMW hadn’t decided to halt work on the 2008 car to concentrate on the 09 car, then possibly Kubica would have had more of a look in for the title than he ended up having.
As Massa, Hamilton, and Kimi created misfortunes, Kubica brought about a great level of consistency that progressed in a similar style to Lewis Hamilton last year.
It was not the wins that brought Kubica glory, it was the run of podium finishes that gifted him a championship lead with not a single win to his name midway through the season.
Then of course he got his break, albeit a lucky one (although not in the same lucky vein as Heikki) with victory in Canada. In doing so, he also shifted the BMW team from a team of equal driver quality to a lead driver and secondary driver.
Such was his revelation of pace this year. Kubica more than anyone deserves to be a champion in the future, but as always, the question is will he get the chance to prove it.
Quite simply, he was the standout driver of the year.
But what about the drivers who had the opposite of seasons! Here’s the three I’d give the heave-ho….
3. David Coulthard
I’ve supported this man since I was 8 years old; in the aftermath of Senna’s death, a new British superstar emerged into F1. After an average first two seasons, he began to rally points in a string of podium finishes, pole positions, and the odd win here and there, giving the British press some optimistic thoughts on a follow-up champion to Damon Hill.
Yet he just could not reach the top step on the podium at the end of every season and before we knew it he fell dramatically from grace and was shipped off to Red Bull to spearhead their newfound status.
The Red Bull team, however which transformed into a great force with DC at the helm, produced performances not before seen by a Milton Keynes based team.
Until this season.
Maybe he just gave up. Maybe he just lost his spark. With two points finishes, both gifted to him in unusual circumstances, this was DC’s worst season by a country mile, even more drastically worse than his depressing final season at McLaren.
2. Heikki Kovalinen
Look out for me slating him a lot in the future. McLaren lost the constructor's title due to Heikki.
Embarrassed by Vetell in Monza, embarrassed by a debut win even the likes of Adrian Sutil and Sebastian Bourdais would reject, Heikki showed little signs of any pace at any time during the season.
Never mind, Heikki, the winter is long, as your working schedules will most likely be.
1. Nelson Piquet Jr.
Some drivers come into F1 with such high expectations, both from themselves and critics alike. Some smash through and grab the highest accolades, like Hamilton and Villeneuve. Some falter spectacularly: Alessandro Zanardi anyone?
If Kovalainen was lucky to win a race, Piquet Jr. was even luckier to be in a seat in the Renault team. On a couple of occasions he showed some promise, but throughout, he showed little reason to warrant a seat for 2009. At times, he was simply abysmal in comparison to his electrifying team mate.
To continue like this would surely be the kiss of death on his F1 career.
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