Formula 1 drivers of the decade – 10-6

Finley Crebolder
F1 moving away from need for unanimous agreement on rule changes.

F1 moving away from need for unanimous agreement on rule changes.

There were 66 F1 drivers in the 2010s. 25 made the podium, 12 won races and three became World Champions, but which ten stood out?

It’s a tough question to answer, but we’ve given it a go. Starting with the bottom half, this is what we decided…

10. Jenson Button

Having won his first World Championship in 2009, Button joined McLaren in 2010 aiming for more. If you’d have told him at the time that he wouldn’t get them, he’d have been disappointed. However, he generally did the best he could with the machinery he had.

In his first three seasons with the British team, he won eight races, including a stunning victory in Montreal in 2011. That season proved to be his best of the decade as he finished P2 in the standings and comfortably beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton. 2012 was also positive as he finished it just two points behind Hamilton with three wins to his name.

After that, McLaren’s fall from grace begun and there was little Button could do to stop it. He managed to snatch a last ever podium in 2013, but once McLaren took on Honda engines, he was stuck at the back of the grid and thus bowed out at the end of 2016.

9: Valtteri Bottas

Bottas joined the grid in 2013 but, in a poor Williams car, he initially struggled to show what he was capable of, finishing in the points just once in his first season.

But this changed in 2014. Driving far better machinery, he finished P4 in the championship, just over 50 points ahead of experienced team-mate Felipe Massa with six podiums to his name, before maintaining this form for the next two seasons, beating the Brazilian in both and scoring three further podium finishes.

The Finn was rewarded for his performances when he was handed a seat at Mercedes in 2016. Since then, he has proved to be a more than capable number two, winning seven races.

That being said he has struggled to consistently match Hamilton, but in all fairness, most drivers would.

8. Sergio Perez

Perez is the only man in our top 10 who failed to win a race in the 2010s. Nevertheless, he makes the cut for his ridiculous consistency and his ability to constantly make it onto the podium in cars that didn’t belong there.

The Mexican joined the grid in 2011 and after a solid first year, came into his own in 2012. Driving a Sauber, he got three podiums and was agonisingly close to a win in Malaysia. This form earned him a move to one of the big boys, but for various reasons, things didn’t work out at McLaren.

He returned to the midfield scene after just one year, joining Force India, and has been excellent ever since. In that time, he has been beaten by a team-mate only once and has stood on the podium five times, considerably more than any other driver outside of the top three teams.

7. Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi may not have enjoyed a massively successful return to Ferrari, but his early decade form at Lotus was more than enough to earn him the seventh spot in this list.

Having spent two seasons away from the sport, the Finn returned to the grid and was as good as ever. In 2012 he scored five podiums before capping off an excellent season with a dominant victory in Abu Dhabi. He was just as good in 2013, winning the first race and finishing P2 six times.

He was then re-signed by Ferrari and things went downhill. He did little to break free from his role as a number two driver and support for Sebastian Vettel, failing to win a race in his first five seasons. He finally did so in Austin in 2018 before moving to Alfa Romeo where he has enjoyed a solid first season.

6. Daniel Ricciardo

The Honey Badger joined the grid halfway through 2011, driving for HRT, before becoming a Toro Rosso driver at the start of 2012. It wasn’t until he moved to Red Bull in 2014 though, that he showed just how good he is.

Replacing fellow Aussie Mark Webber, Ricciardo was better than anybody expected. It took just seven races for him to get his first win, and not satisfied he picked up two more before the end of the season.

He kept up the impressive form for four more seasons at Red Bull, making some stunning moves and taking four more wins, proving he was more than a match for Max Verstappen.

Feeling he could achieve no more with the Austrian outfit, he took a risk and joined Renault for 2019.

The team failed to give him the car he was hoping for, but he still got the most out of it, finishing second of the midfield drivers. If he can find his way back into a worthy car, he’ll surely be a title contender in the 2020s.

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