5 F1 Drivers Who Improved in 2013

Fraser Masefield@@fmasefieldContributor INovember 27, 2013

5 F1 Drivers Who Improved in 2013

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    While there is little doubt that the 2013 Formula One season belonged to one man in particular, Sebastian Vettel is not the only driver who had a season to be proud of.

    Judging by improvements made on the previous season in terms of points scored and racecraft, here are five drivers who saw their stocks rise this year.

5. Daniel Ricciardo

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    2013—14th—20 points

    2012—18th—10 points

    By the midway point of the 2013 season, there appeared little to separate Ricciardo from his Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Eric Vergne.

    But Red Bull Racing saw serious potential in the Australian, not only in his driving, but in the way he handled the media and announced that he would replace countryman Mark Webber as Sebastian Vettel’s teammate for the 2014 season.

    His best result was a seventh place finish at the Italian Grand Prix.

4. Nico Hulkenberg

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    2013—10th—51 points

    2012—11th—63 points

    One driver’s star that shone more brightly in 2014 is the now highly rated German Nico Hulkenberg.

    It appeared a downward step for Hulkenberg to move from Force India to Sauber, but he proved otherwise with a strong end to the season that saw him get 44 points in the final eight races.

    At the time of writing, Hulkenberg remains in contention with a drive at Lotus although a return to Force India and staying with Sauber remain two other likely scenarios.

3. Nico Rosberg

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    2013—Sixth—171 points

    2012—Ninth—93 points

    Having had the better of Michael Schumacher for three seasons at Mercedes, a much stronger test was expected from new teammate Lewis Hamilton in 2013.

    So it eventually transpired, but not before Rosberg made the entire early running for the team, as he followed up a first victory in Monaco with victory at Silverstone two races later.

    Rosberg only failed to finish in the points on three occasions during the season and was just 18 points behind Hamilton by the season’s end.

2. Sebastian Vettel

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    2013—First—397 points

    2012—First—281 points

    It seems strange to label a man who already had a hat-trick of F1 titles under his belt a greatly improved driver after winning his fourth successive title. But Sebastian Vettel pulled it off.

    In 2012, Vettel edged past Alonso to win the title by just three points, but in 2013 the German was in a class of his own as he dominated the final nine races of the season to equal Alberto Ascari’s previously thought unbreakable record.

1. Romain Grosjean

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    2013—Seventh132 points

    2012—Eighth—96 points

    Having received heavy criticism from a number of drivers for his accident-prone driving in 2012, the 2013 season marked the coming of age of young Frenchman Romain Grosjean.

    Grosjean had already secured podiums in Bahrain and Germany before a strong finish to the season saw him finish third in Korea, Japan and India and second in the U.S.

    So improved was his driving that Mark Webber lavished praise on Grosjean at the U.S. Grand Prix on BBC Sport a year after labelling the same driver a “first lap nutcase”.

    This time last year you would have squeezed Romain into an error but he's getting more experienced now and he's become a good grand prix driver. You can see he's putting a weekend together. Not just two good laps on a Friday. Hopefully his bad days are over and he can have a good career.