Throughout the history of Formula One, there has always been a group or one individual driver who is regarded as the best. Senna and Prost in the 1990s, Schumacher in the 2000s and now it seems to be Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel in the 2010s. But who out of these top drivers should be regarded as the best in the business?
Personally, I believe it's Hamilton and I have always believed that since 2009. The main reason being is his ability to take a car, which can be 2 to 3 tenths off the pace, and stick it on pole out of nowhere. He has tremendous race pace, as seen this year where Rosberg may have had the upper hand in qualifying, but in the race he rarely had an answer for Hamilton's speed. However, Hamilton is also regarded as one of the more 'immature' drivers on the grid due to his behaviour off-track after a poor race, for example, "maybe it's cos I'm black" in Monaco 2011. But let's not forget Alonso and Vettel have had their fair share of hissy fits, look at Alonso trying to get past Stevens in Abu Dhabi, and Vettel screaming down the radio in Spain 2010. Hamilton is also not the most likeable driver on the grid, with many disliking this gangster look he has going for, but that does not seem to affect his on-track performance which this is ultimately about. The second driver in this elite class I would like to talk about is Fernando Alonso.
When I first started watching Formula One in 2005, Alonso was the man to watch. He had the speed, he had the talent and he had the car. Winning race after race and ultimately destroying Giancarlo Fisichella in both 2005 and 2006 after winning two back-to-back World Championships. He has also produced some magnificent results after that, the wins in Singapore and Japan in 2008 (Considering Singapore was a bit fishy). He has also remained in contention for the championship, till the end in many seasons even if the car wasn't up for the job. However, I do believe he has been overhyped in the last couple of seasons, this season especially. Many have called him 'Driver of the Season' and 'It's amazing what he has done with that car' (noting this is not a rant, just merely an observation), but if we actually look at the results he has scored two podiums this year, in China and Hungary and he hasn't scored a pole position since Germany 2012 or a race win since Spain last year. He ultimately finished 6th this year behind both Mercedes, both Red Bulls and one Williams, which means he can be seen as the 'best of the rest' but I wouldn't call it a notable performance despite the poor car. I will now move on to the final driver of this elite class, which is Sebastian Vettel.
Now, Sebastian Vettel has had an amazing period of success winning four back-to-back World Championships, winning 34 races from 2010 to 2013 and breaking a number of records throughout his period of success. He came into the sport with a bang by finishing 8th in the United States Grand Prix after filling in for Robert Kubica. He then got to his winning ways in 2009 and the domination started in 2010. However, how much of this success can be put down to the car? In the eyes of Fernando Alonso, a lot of it after he famously said "I'm battling Adrian Newey" in 2012. This year has proven to me though, that Vettel isn't in the same league as Hamilton or Alonso as he was absolutely destroyed by his much younger, less experienced team mate Daniel Ricciardo after he failed to win any races. Maybe that's because Ricciardo was in the right place at the right time to score those victories, but when he wasn't winning he was still consistently beating a four-time World Champion in the same car, which I believe was the main reason behind Vettel's departure to Ferrari for the 2015 season.
I am very keen to hear what everybody else thinks, you may agree with me or disagree with me, but let me just make it perfectly clear, this is not a rant at Alonso and Vettel who are amazing drivers, just my observation and opinion as to who is the best, which in my mind is Hamilton.