In Motorsport, there’s always drivers who are punching above their weight either by dragging an underperforming car to very lofty heights, by out-qualifying their team-mates or by impressing race in race out. So who is performing well and who needs to do a bit more as F1 heads into the second half of the season.
Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) 7th: 52pts
Nico Hulkenberg is having a very good season for Renault having only made one big mistake at Baku. His consistent performances are helping Renault stay ahead of the chasing mid-field in the battle for “best of the rest”. He’s reached Q3 6 times and at the times where he has not reached Q3, he’s bounced back in the race to score points. Hulkenberg is staying for next year and there’s no reason why Renault wouldn’t want to keep the German driver.
Kevin Magnussen (Haas) 8th: 45pts
Kevin Magnussen is arguably having his best season of F1. The Dane is in 8th with 45 points – 24 points ahead of team-mate Romain Grosjean. Also helped by the fact that Haas are comfortably a mid-field and on most weekends, the 4th quickest behind the top 3, Magnussen is enjoying his time at Haas. This is the first time that Magnussen has spent a second year with a team. His one-lap pace has been very impressive having appeared in Q3 8 times in 12 races.
Charles Leclerc (Sauber) 15th: 13pts
Impressive. For a rookie driver in his first year in F1, Charles Leclerc is in for a shout for a seat at Ferrari for 2019. In a car which was expected to struggle, it was looking to be a tough year for the Monegasque driver. Helped by the fact that Sauber are now comfortably a mid-field team, Leclerc has amassed 13 points and a best finish of 6th in Azerbaijan. He has reached the final part of Q3 3 times already. If he’s not at Ferrari next year, he’ll be staying put at Sauber or moving to Haas.
Who needs a good second half?
Romain Grosjean (Haas) 14th: 21pts
We have seen glimpses of the very best of what Romain Grosjean can do but we’ve also seen the mistakes that he can make as well. His qualifying pace has definitely improved as the Haas driver has been able to reach Q3 8 times this year but converting that one-lap pace into several laps is proving difficult. He’s become more mature this season with the moaning and whinging has most certainly stopped. Haas are losing patience with the amount of mistakes he is making – with the 4 retirements not helping his case. He’s under pressure to perform and is likely to lose his seat at the American team if things don’t improve.
Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) 16th: 8pts
Stoffel Vandoorne is not having the season he should be having. The Belgian has yet to out-qualify team-mate Fernando Alonso and is struggling with the MCL33. He has yet to reach Q3 and has been knocked out in Q1 5 times so far this year. His last points finish, 9th in Azerbaijan and before that 8th in Bahrain and 9th in Australia. Although, Vandoorne was going very well in Hungary and was set for points until a gearbox issue forced the Belgian to retire. Any driver going up against Alonso is always going to get a hard time but hopefully Vandoorne can turn his season around or he may find himself out of a seat at McLaren.
Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso) 19th: 2pts
The New Zealander has had a tough season so far. A combination of bad luck and inexperience has put a lot of pressure on the Toro Rosso driver. Up against the highly rated Pierre Gasly, Hartley’s seat at Toro Rosso has been under threat for a majority of the season although he is expected to at least finish the season at Toro Rosso. He has scored 2 points so far with 10th in Azerbaijan and Germany. His points finish was Germany was impressive as he survived the rain and held off quicker cars to finish in the points.