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Rookie report - analysing the class of 2015

14 Aug 2015

We’ve reached the half-way point of the season, so what better time to cast an eye over this year’s rookie contenders? There are five newcomers on the grid in 2015 (if you include Marussia’s Will Stevens, who took part in just one Grand Prix last year), spread across three teams - but how is each driver getting on? We explore the stats…
Best qualifying position (before penalties)
Average qualifying position (before penalties)
Best race result
Average classified finishing position (excluding retirements)
Top-ten finishes
Team mate head-to-head
Most common race position
Raced kilometres
Points

Conclusions

In their own ways, each of the rookies has impressed this season. Verstappen’s feisty approach and willingness to indulge in wheel-to-wheel combat has led to him taking an early bath on two occasions, but his extraordinary commitment and confidence - the like of which has rarely been seen in a rookie driver before - have brought rich rewards too.

Take Hungary, where the teenage Dutchman kept a cool head and ultimately profited from others’ misfortune to finish in a season-high fourth place. That result is four positions higher than team mate Sainz’s best, though the slightly more mature Spaniard has performed just as admirably this season, and is ahead of his team mate in several of our categories. It’s also worth remembering that whilst the points differential between the duo looks big now, the difference was just one point before Hungary (where Sainz retired).

Felipe Nasr has also looked very good up against more experienced team mate Marcus Ericsson, even as Sauber’s form has dipped. Indeed, Ericsson’s average qualifying and race positions (14 and 11.9 respectively) are both worse than Nasr’s. Like Sainz, the Brazilian has rarely made an error - a factor that’s contributed to both his impressive points tally and extremely high mileage.  

It’s much harder to judge Marussia’s rookie duo as they are at the back of the field and rarely in direct competition with other drivers, but in general Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi look very evenly matched. Stevens has the edge in the qualifying head-to-head, but it’s worth remembering that Merhi is taller than his team mate and his extra weight cannot be equalised. In race situations this appears to have been far less of a disadvantage.

Overall, none of the rookies looks out of his depth at this level. Indeed, several seem destined for long careers at the pinnacle of motorsport.