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Top 10 worst F1 Driver of the Day picks

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Top 10 worst F1 Driver of the Day picks
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Jan 13, 2019, 1:56 PM

Since the award's introduction in 2016, Formula 1 audiences have usually got it spot-on with their selections for Driver of the Day. Below are 10 times when they did not.

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10) Daniil Kvyat, 2016 Chinese Grand Prix

10) Daniil Kvyat, 2016 Chinese Grand Prix
1/11

Photo by: Andrew Hone / Motorsport Images

Grid: 6th
Race: 3rd

A very harsh pick to kick off the list, Kvyat's China podium was the undisputed highlight of his tortured 2016 season.

He was the right kind of opportunistic at the start, pulling off an audacious move which Vettel – who'd checked up into Raikkonen as a result – branded “suicidal” but the rest of the world seemed to enjoy. From then on Kvyat drove a professional race to third.

So it's not that he was a bad pick – it's that his teammate would've been a better one. Daniel Ricciardo took an early lead and then shrugged off a puncture to brilliantly fight through the field, outperforming fellow back-of-the-pack chargers Raikkonen and Hamilton.

When in clean air, he more than halved the gap to his podium-finishing teammate. Kvyat was good, but Ricciardo was better.

Better candidates: Daniel Ricciardo (P4)

9) Lewis Hamilton, 2018 British Grand Prix

9) Lewis Hamilton, 2018 British Grand Prix
2/11

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Grid: 1st
Race: 2nd

The benchmark driver of the current F1 era, Hamilton has made top-shelf performances his norm – which is probably why so many of his comfortable wins have been overlooked for rivals' flashier drives when it comes to Driver of the Day.

At Silverstone this year, he picked up the award with a second-place finish rather than a win, recovering well after Raikkonen's opening-lap hit to end up just two seconds off victory, aided by a mid-race safety car.

The damage limitation was superb, but was only necessary because Hamilton had bogged down from pole position at the start. Even if Raikkonen hadn't barged him out of the way, the fact he was having to defend third place – with Vettel and Bottas getting ahead off the line – already signified a difficult home grand prix.

Better candidates: Sebastian Vettel (P1), Nico Hulkenberg (P6), Fernando Alonso (P8)

8) Kimi Raikkonen, 2018 Italian Grand Prix

8) Kimi Raikkonen, 2018 Italian Grand Prix
3/11

Photo by: Alessio Morgese / Luca Rossini

Grid: 1st
Race: 2nd

If you're going to defend the lead hard from your championship-contender teammate, you might want to win the race. Raikkonen couldn't pull it off.

Admittedly the Finn got very little help from the tyres or the strategy, and ultimately his performance was about as good as could've been expected.

But his status as an Italian GP standout doesn't hold up to scrutiny, especially compared to race winner Hamilton – who helped Vettel into a costly error at the start of the race and picked off Raikkonen masterfully in the end.

Better candidates: Lewis Hamilton (P1), Romain Grosjean (DSQ)

7) Daniel Ricciardo, 2017 British Grand Prix

7) Daniel Ricciardo, 2017 British Grand Prix
4/11

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Grid: 19th
Race: 5th

Driver of the Day voters love nothing more than a top car fighting its way through the field, even though the spectacle itself usually has all the excitement and drama of regular highway traffic.

Ricciardo at least mixed it up in the 2017 British GP – one of his many races affected by grid penalties – by going off track and undoing his early progress when Grosjean shut the door at Woodcote.

He did eventually clear all the midfield cars to bank the best possible result in fifth, pulling off some perfectly lovely passes en route. But, really, anything else would've been underachievement.

Better candidates: Lewis Hamilton (P1), Nico Hulkenberg (P6)

6) Sebastian Vettel, 2017 Mexican Grand Prix

6) Sebastian Vettel, 2017 Mexican Grand Prix
5/11

Photo by: Andrew Hone / Motorsport Images

Grid: 1st
Race: 4th

Edged by Verstappen off the line, Vettel was a touch optimistic in trying to grab the position back and left himself exposed to an attack from Hamilton – before tagging the right-rear tyre of the Mercedes with his front wing.

This necessitated a pitstop and dropped him to the back. He drove a sensible recovery race after that, and pulled off a particularly sumptuous overtake on Perez, but couldn't keep his title hopes alive.

The Hamilton collision was a racing incident, but Vettel was certainly more at fault than the Briton.

Better candidates: Max Verstappen (P1), Esteban Ocon (P5), Kevin Magnussen (P8)

5) Kimi Raikkonen, 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix

5) Kimi Raikkonen, 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix
6/11

Photo by: Sutton Images

Grid: 14th
Race: 6th

A two-time Hungarian GP Driver of the Day, Raikkonen was an alright pick in 2017, even as a pure sympathy vote – as the Finn diligently towed the party line behind a hobbled Vettel and kept the Mercedes cars at bay.

He was a less inspired choice the year before. Having made up for a Q2 exit with a handful of passes and good pace, Raikkonen ultimately completed the usual top six after failing to find a way past Verstappen.

The Dutchman was somewhat overzealous in his defence, but Raikkonen didn't look anywhere near completing a move.

Better candidates: Lewis Hamilton (P1), Daniel Ricciardo (P3), Fernando Alonso (P7)

4) Sebastian Vettel, 2016 Mexican Grand Prix

4) Sebastian Vettel, 2016 Mexican Grand Prix
7/11

Photo by: Sutton Images

Grid: 7th
Race: 5th

Vettel secured back-to-back Driver of the Day honours in the Mexican Grand Prix, and on both occasions he was a dubious pick – more so in 2016.

Yes, he drove a strong race to get within striking distance of third-placed Max Verstappen and, yes, he had every right to be incensed with the Dutchman refusing to yield position after cutting the track, especially given as Ricciardo was coming up behind.

But Vettel's late chop to keep position from Ricciardo was a lot worse than Verstappen's disobedience. The German was fortunate to stay in the race, and well-deserving of the penalty that relegated him to fifth.

Better candidates: Nico Hulkenberg (P7), Valterri Bottas (P8), Marcus Ericsson (P11)

3) Fernando Alonso, 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

3) Fernando Alonso, 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
8/11

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Grid: 15th
Race: 11th

Driver of the Day isn't exactly serious business, and you'd have to be a real Grinch to object to Fernando Alonso winning it on what is likely to be his farewell F1 race.

Bagging three consecutive penalties for cutting the track while trying to catch Kevin Magnussen for the final point is hardly driving excellence. But, in Alonso's defence, it definitely is hilarious.

Better candidates: Lewis Hamilton (P1), Carlos Sainz (P6), Charles Leclerc (P7)

2) Sebastian Vettel, 2018 French Grand Prix

2) Sebastian Vettel, 2018 French Grand Prix
9/11

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Grid: 3rd
Race: 5th

Vettel locked up and speared Bottas off the track in the first corner of the French Grand Prix, incurring a slap-on-the-wrist five-second penalty and the much more costly wing damage that forced him into an unplanned stop.

It definitely wasn't the costliest error of the Ferrari driver's campaign, but it was arguably the most egregious, and one which meant title rival Hamilton was free to stroll to an easy victory.

He recovered to beat the 'Class B' cars and Bottas - who had come off worst in the first-lap clash – to mitigate the damage, but that didn't make up for the error.

Better candidates: Max Verstappen (P2), Carlos Sainz (P8)

1) Max Verstappen, 2016 United States Grand Prix

1) Max Verstappen, 2016 United States Grand Prix
10/11

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Grid: 4th
Race: DNF

As a 17-time Driver of the Day winner, Verstappen's propensity for winning the award has evolved into a running joke, even a meme. And this can seem a little unfair – most of those wins were clearly warranted, borne out of his knack for eye-catching performances while driving for a relative underdog team (emphasis on 'relative').

But then there was the 2016 COTA race, where Verstappen drove a relatively unremarkable race before having a brainfade and pitting when his team wasn't ready. He retired with a gearbox failure right around the halfway point.

He takes first place in this list because it is impossible to see any reason why he was named Driver of the Day within the actual US GP.

Better candidates: Daniel Ricciardo (P3), Carlos Sainz (P6)

Driver of the Day statistics

Driver of the Day statistics
11/11

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Wins by driver:
17 - Max Verstappen
13 - Sebastian Vettel
7 - Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton
3 - Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas
2 - Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean, Fernando Alonso
1 - Lance Stroll, Nico Rosberg, Kevin Magnussen, Charles Leclerc, Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly

Wins by team:
25 - Red Bull
16 - Ferrari
11 - Mercedes
2 - McLaren, Haas, Force India
1 - Toro Rosso, Sauber, Williams, Renault

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy