Who is the best Formula 1 driver of all time? It is an impossible question to answer.
When F1 fans regularly fail to agree on who the best driver in a single race is, extending the period is not likely to create consensus.
But it’s not about consensus, and as we approach 2020, we thought it would be an appropriate time to consider, and rank the best F1 drivers of the past decade.
10. Mark Webber
The Australian was extremely misfortunate in the early years of his career at Jaguar and Williams, but eventually got his chance after eight seasons in the midfield when Red Bull became a frontrunner in 2010.
Nine wins and 13 pole positions in five seasons followed, but Webber could never quite match the sister car of Sebastian Vettel.
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His best chance by far was in 2010 when he led Fernando Alonso and Vettel by 14 points after 16 of 19 rounds. A crash in the wet in South Korea all-but ended his chances and at season’s end, Webber finished third in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Probably the roughest and hardest worker on this list, Webber was a fine driver, especially in qualifying and with his back against the wall, but fell short of the greatest prize in F1.
9. Daniel Ricciardo
The heir apparent to Webber’s throne at Red Bull, Ricciardo must have wondered what he was getting himself into as Vettel’s teammate for 2014.
However, the Australian wiped the floor with the German, taking three wins in the process before being beaten by Daniil Kvyat the following year.
In 2016, he was again the best non-Mercedes driver in the pack, finishing with seven podiums in the final 11 races.
The move to Renault was a gamble, but one he insists he has no regrets about taking, and regardless of how the team’s 2020 season goes, he will surely be one of the first names on every team’s shortlist for 2021.
8. Valtteri Bottas
Bottas showed signs that he was destined for stardom even through Williams’ miserable 2013, qualifying third in Canada and running to eighth in Texas, but really began to deliver in the following year.
The Finn produced some stunning drives through 2014, racking up six podiums and coming close to pole on several occasions on route to fourth position in the championship.
When he’s in a reliable car, the 30-year-old is capable of beating anyone and impressive wins at Suzuka and in Austin in 2019 demonstrate this.
7. Jenson Button
Over the course of 17-plus seasons in F1, Button’s career was either feast or famine. Simply put, he either finished in the top 10 of the championship (as he did 12 times) or no higher that 15th (as he did five times).
The standout year of the decade came in 2011, where he became the first teammate Lewis Hamilton lost to and finished second in the standings.
Perhaps if McLaren were not quite so extreme and he hadn’t fallen off the grid completely at Honda, he could have ended with more victories.
6. Kimi Raikkonen
Raikkonen wasted little time proving he’d lost none of his speed during his two-year hiatus when he returned at Lotus in 2012.
The Finn took third in the championship and enjoyed a famous victory in Abu Dhabi to close the season. His win to open the 2013 season remains the most recent win for anyone outside of the ‘big three’ teams.
Difficult times ensued in 2014/15, but ‘Iceman’ began to look more like his old self as he racked up track time for Ferrari.
The introduction of new cars by Scuderia in 2017 certainly helped, resulting in a strong 2018 that saw him rack up 12 podium appearances, one of which was a victory in Austin, fending off Hamilton and Verstappen in the closing stages.
5. Nico Rosberg
Rosberg’s only two teammates through the 2010s were the two greatest drivers in F1 history. The German defeated Michael Schumacher fairly comfortably through their three seasons together (2010-12), as well as taking Mercedes’ first win back in F1 at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix.
The German narrowly lost out to Lewis Hamilton in 2013 and took him to the wire in 2014, too. He managed 22 wins in those seasons, 19 of which came when Mercedes were dominant.
It’s also worth noting that in the head-to-head against teammates after his debut season, he only ever lost to Hamilton.
4. Max Verstappen
Few drivers come into F1 and make the impact that Verstappen has. None have come into the sport as young as him, making his debut for Toro Rosso in 2015 at the age of 17.
The Dutchman has an arrogance about him that accompanies his brilliance which has helped him garner an abundance of loyal fans.
Real greatness can be proven by an ability to adapt and overcome setbacks. Verstappen did that in early 2018, recovering from a string of incidents – to be expected of a driver only his early 20’s – to end the year as one of the most consistent performers on the grid.
His excellence on the track continued throughout 2019, beating both Ferrari drivers to third in the standings with an inferior car.
3. Fernando Alonso
If you were to predict this list at the start of the 2010’s, you would be hard-pressed not to place Alonso at the very top.
It’s astonishing to think the Spaniard ended the decade without adding to his two world titles, scoring just 11 wins in a nine-season period.
Following his ill-fated year in 2010, Ferrari presented what seemed like a match made in heaven.
Sadly, it didn’t work out that way. He came extremely close in 2010 and more impressively in 2012, when Ferrari seriously lacked pace to fight with Red Bull.
If you wanted someone who could squeeze every last tenth of the second out of the car, he was your guy.
2. Sebastian Vettel
Vettel’s star power may have diminished in the closing stages of this decade, but that does not detract from there being a time when the whole F1 world looked to be his for the taking.
His last-gasp title win in 2010 set him up for a stunning run of form through the next three seasons, with 2011 and 2013 – the latter seeing him at his unstoppable best, winning nine races in a row – being the stand-out years.
Mistakes have certainly crept in over the past two seasons at Ferrari, but few can argue with his dominance at the early part of the decade.
1. Lewis Hamilton
Where to begin…
Of the 10 seasons this decade comprises of, Hamilton was a title contender in eight of them, and won five. He has won consistently through that period, and gone from a one-time champion to a six-timer, one short of a record once thought unbeatable.
He has enjoyed the kind of dominance seen by Vettel in the early part of the decade, but with far greater consistency.
The debate over the greatest driver of all-time may never end, but in the 2010’s? It’s easy, Hamilton takes top spot by a country mile.News Now - Sport News