Atlas F1 The Atlas F1 Top 10

It's that time of the year, where the Atlas F1 team vote on who was the best driver of the passing season and which Grand Prix was the most memorable. Same as last year, we've expanded our survey and included regular contributors of the journal. Sixteen voters participated. They each selected five drivers and three races, awarding the best driver five points, all the way down to one point for the driver in fifth place. The best race was awarded three points, all they way down to one point for the race in third place. Collecting together everyone's votes accumulated to a list of the Top 10 drivers of 1999, and the Top 10 races of the season. Here are the results and the voters' reasoning:

The Atlas F1 Top 10 Drivers of 1999

  1.  H.H.Frentzen 67 3 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 5 4 5 1 5 4 4 5
  2.  R.Schumacher 60 1 4 4 4 3 3 5 5 4 5 1 4 3 5 5 4
  3.  M.Hakkinen 33 5   1 1 5 1     3 3 4 2 2 3 1 2
  4.  M.Schumacher 30 2   3 2   5 2 1 2 2   5   2 3 1
  5.  E.Irvine 20 4       2 2         2 3 4     3
  6.  R.Barrichello 12   3   3             3     1 2  
  7.  J.Herbert 5   2           3                
  8.  J.Alesi 4             3     1            
  9.  M.Gene 3   1         1   1              
10.  G.Fisichella 2     2                          
  =  J.Villeneuve 2               2                
  =  D.Coulthard 2         1               1      

The Atlas F1 Top 10 Grands Prix of 1999

  1.  Europe 30   3 2 2 3 3   3 3 3 3 3     2  
  2.  France 28     3 3 2 2 3 2 2 2     3   3 3
  3.  Malaysia 11 3           2         2 1 2   1
  4.  Canada 7   1 1                     3   2
  5.  Austria 5 1       1 1 1               1  
  6.  Australia 4   2   1       1                
  7.  Great Britain 3                 1       2      
  =  Japan 3 2                   1          
  =  Italy 3                   1 2          
10.  Monaco 2                       1   1    

Michele Lupini (ML)

1. Hakkinen; 2. Irvine; 3. Frentzen; 4. M. Schumacher; 5. R. Schumacher

Mika was my man of the year. He made errors and lost some face from a lack of commitment once, but he won the championship brilliantly in Japan and is now among the all-time F1 greats. Eddie gets my vote thanks to his tenacity. He lifted his game to fight at the front, driving beyond his ability to carry Ferrari's challenge on, finishing every race but one. Heinz-Harald has come of age - winning two races in another consistent season. A deserved third in the title is a good reflection on his year. Michael showed absolute brilliance on several occasions, especially in Malaysia. Sorely missed by Ferrari, he returned to bag their first makers' title since '83. Ralf came on in bounds, showing fine form from the start of the year. Considering his equipment, he was in a class of his own in the group with that engine.

1. Malaysia; 2. Japan; 3. Austria

Malaysia has to be the race of the year. From Schumacher's dramatic return, to Ferrari's tactics, described by Hakkinen as brilliant, to the week of fiasco thereafter, Malaysia is the race everyone will remember. Japan was highlighted by the drive of the year by Mika. It may have been boring, but it was significant. Austria was a Ferrari masterstroke pulled without the master's presence - more than likely Eddie's greatest race.

Marcel Schot (MS)

1. Frentzen; 2. R. Schumacher; 3. Barrichello; 4. Herbert; 5. Gene

Frentzen showed he has greatly matured and has become a championship contender although his car was inferior to that of Ferrari and McLaren. And just like Frentzen, Schumacher JR. showed great potential. If it wasn't for his tyre blowing up, he would have steered the terrible Williams to victory at Nurburgring. Rubens Barrichello had a great start to the season but unfortunately for him, Johnny Herbert went on to take Stewart's first victory. A victory which, although largely due to people crashing out in front of him, Herbert had managed to clinch by keeping cool and using his experience to bring the car home first. And last but not least - Marc Gene, who brought Minardi its first point in six years. He was able to beat the experienced teammate Luca Badoer in qualifying on several occasions and qualify the worst car of the season 15th at Hockenheim. A worthy debut.

1. Europe; 2. Australia; 3. Canada

The European Grand Prix was the pinnacle of Formula One drama. This one had it all, from Diniz' horrible first corner accident to Irvine's messed up tyre-change to Ralf Schumacher's three wheeled lap to leader after leader crashing out in the wet. In Australia, the season opener, the expected championship candidates didn't surface on top due to technical problems and gave the men behind them the chance to shine. This all resulted in Eddie Irvine's first victory and six teams finishing in the top six. As for Canada - a great performance for Ferrari went unrewarded. Mika Hakkinen took maximum profit in a race that had no less than four safety car situations, making sure the field stayed close to eachother and taking care of some interesting battles.

Mark Alan Jones (MJ)

1. Frentzen; 2. R. Schumacher; 3. M. Schumacher; 4. Fisichella; 5. Hakkinen

The two drivers who really reached out and grabbed me by the throat this year weren't eyeing each other off with a glittering trophy emblazoned 'World Champion' at Suzuka. This time last year, Heinz Harald Frentzen and Ralf Schumacher were in the other's team and keen to be out of them. Who would have thought the transition would be so successful for both of them? As for the rest? Well Michael Schumacher's drive at Sepang was arrogant mastery. Mika Hakkinen's drive to win the world championship at Suzuka was exactly what he needed to do, but it should have happened so much sooner, and Fisichella raced well early in the year in a car that has been diabolically short of grip all year but his spot in the five could have gone to Barrichello, Herbert, Irvine.

1. France; 2. Europe; 3. Canada

Best race? The fantastic French race with HHF winning and Barrichello driving so well so long. Then the race nobody wanted to win at Nurburgring for sheer "What the..." value and the Canadian GP, although the toll on driver safety there had me really thinking of slotting in Spa again.

Alex Law (AL)

1. Frentzen; 2. R. Schumacher; 3. Barrichello; 4. M. Schumacher; 5. Hakkinen

If the Drivers' championship rewarded consistency, then Frentzen would have won it by a country mile. He has grown in an environment which suits him, and Jordan are reaping the benefits. Ralf Schumacher has been brilliant in a car that has run hot and cold all year. Barrichello might not have won a race yet, but he has a championship in him and his move to Ferrari is a good reward. Michael Schumacher takes fourth on the strength of his return to racing in Malaysia and Japan - he has grown another set of fangs now. Hakkinen takes fifth because he won, but he wasn't as dominant as he was last year at certain critical moments, although the car failed more than he did.

1. France; 2. Europe; 3. Australia

Any Wet-Dry race is always fun to watch and showcases driver skills. In France we saw the lead change as many times as the weather in Melbourne, Australia, in a day! It was also some inspired driving from Frentzen. The 'Ring just loses out because too many people slid off or retired with something. Australia takes third because it WAS the Comedy of Errors. Drivers slipping and sliding all over the track in practice, then McLaren forgetting that Hakkinen has to be disconnected from the lighting rig, the Stewart engine barbecues on the start-line, the dual McLaren retirement (two cars in two laps entering pits, exit stage right), Schumacher racing at the back, and Irvine's win (I never drunk sooo much Guinness in two hours... "burp"!)

Roger Horton (RH)

1. Hakkinen; 2. Frentzen; 3. R. Schumacher; 4. Irvine; 5. Coulthard

I did not consider Michael Schumacher as he missed seven races during the season. With his exclusion, Hakkinen picks himself as the top driver. Despite falling away in the second half of the season he still only made two major driving errors all year - hardly a disaster. When he finished he usually won, the hallmark of a champion. Frentzen just gets the nod ahead of Ralf Schumacher on the basis of his two race wins but it was close. Both had a hugely impressive season given the equipment at their disposal. Irvine's consistency just gets the verdict ahead of Coulthard who continues to be the enigma of Formula One. Just how can a driver race so well at Spa - the ultimate drivers' circuit - and in relative terms given the speed of his McLaren, struggle elsewhere?

1. Europe; 2. France; 3. Austria

It's no coincidence, perhaps, that the two best races - at the Nurburgring and and Magny Cours - were both rain-affected. Both saw numerous race leaders and passing manoeuvres, especially the French race. Both are surely what motor races are supposed to be about. The Austrian race saw a tight fight between Irvine and Coulthard for the win - right down to the flag. Mika Hakkinen's fight through the field was arguably the finest drive by any driver all season. Sustained on-the-limit driving with some breathtaking passing moves.

Jan Nottmeier (JN)

1. M. Schumacher; 2. Frentzen; 3. R. Schumacher; 4. Irvine; 5. Hakkinen

Granted that Michael Schumacher was out of action due to his leg injuries, but I feel his performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix warrant my choice for top driver of the year. As for Frentzen: Many people, including myself, thought Frentzen was finished after being axed by Frank Williams at the end of the 98 season. But his performances this year have proven me wrong. Ralf Schumacher did not have a competitive car this season, but he always showed his willingness and ability of driving the car up to and above its potential. Well done Eddie Irvine. If you consider the amount of pressure on him from Ferrari brass, that he kept his nerve and lead the WC until the last race of the season was more than we could have hoped for. And then there's Hakkinen: indeed, a major disappointment but he gets the score for eventually doing getting the job done.

1. Europe; 2. France; 3. Austria

The European Grand Prix had everything: wet weather racing, dry weather racing. Ralf Schumacher leading the race with his first win well in hand.... only to have a flat tire cost him his 1st race win. Johnny Herbert garbing Stewart's first and only race win. The French Grand Prix was like two races in one. Dry weather at first, then wet. And then there was Austria - a masterful Ferrari team effort, with Mika Salo helping Eddie Irvine to a significant win, sending the message clear to McLaren that even without Michael Schumacher around, the title chase will not be all that easy.

Tom Keeble (TK)

1. R. Schumacher; 2. Frentzen; 3. Alesi; 4. M. Schumacher; 5. Gene

There's little to choose between Ralf Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen for the "driver of the year" award - they both put in sterling performances and consistently scored points for their teams. However, with an underpowered Supertec driving the Williams, Ralf gets the nudge. Alesi definitely figures as the driver who could be relied upon to provide overtaking in races - he has passed more cars this year than anyone else. Michael Schumacher will feature in anyone's lists - despite losing half the season. His comeback race was masterful and confirms his continuing talent. Marc Gene crept into my top five, as he performed highly credibly in his first year of Formula One.

1. France; 2. Malaysia; 3. Austria

Picking the top races is more arbitrary. France was mayhem personified and highly memorable; Malaysia saw a master driver in action. The Austrian GP had Irvine picking up where Schumacher left off, whilst Hakkinen drove like a World Champion should.

Don Capps (DC)

1. R. Schumacher; 2. Frentzen; 3. Herbert; 4. Villeneuve 5. M. Schumacher; = Diniz

Ralf was the revelation of the season (such as it was), HHF looked solid, Johnny always tries hard, Jacques gave 100% even in a hopeless cause, Michael was - well, Mickey, and one should mention Pedro Diniz, who is better than he is given credit for.

1. Europe; 2. France; 3. Australia

As for the races, Europa on the ersatzRing, France, and Oz were the best of a mediocre lot.

Marcel Borsboom (MB)

1. Frentzen; 2. R. Schumacher; 3. Hakkinen; 4. M. Schumacher; 5. Gene

Frentzen and Ralf Schumacher should both have the first place because they both had a fantastic 1999 season. Sadly for Ralf, he didn't win at the Nurburgring. Hakkinen - because he is World Champion; Michael Schumacher for his great comeback after he broke his leg; Marc Gene for scoring a point for Minardi, and because he surprised me on many occasions.

1. Europe; 2. France; 3. Great Britain

Both the European and French Grands Prix are my choice because they were very unpredictable and so many drivers had a chance to win then at a given moment. The British Grand Prix because it more or less decided the Drivers' Championship for 1999.

David Wright (DW)

1. R. Schumacher; 2. Frentzen; 3. Hakkinen; 4. M. Schumacher; 5. Alesi

Ralf Schumacher showed blistering pace, no less obvious than at Monza where he set the fastest lap of the race with a Supertec powered car, combined with all-weather skills shown at Magny-Cours and Nurburgring. Heinz-Harald Frentzen returned to pre-Williams form, showing speed with consistency throughout the year. Mika Hakkinen could and perhaps should have been #1, but his two crashes while not under any apparent pressure and his lack of fight at Spa and Sepang sees him in this position instead. In different circumstances, Michael Schumacher may have been rated higher, but then a driver who has missed nearly half the season should be lucky to make any such list - his performance in Malaysia would've been magnificent in any circumstance, let alone after a 3 month layoff. Finally, Alesi makes this list not for where he finished, but how he got there. Many a time Jean seemed to be passing cars, setting fast laps, only for his car to let him down - hopefully his move to Prost won't see an end to this.

1. Europe; 2. France; 3. Italy

Nurburgring had the ever-changing weather and leaders, as well as Stewart's first (and only) win, Magny-Cours had the downpour and intriguing tactics, while Monza had Mika Hakkinen, with the underdogs making the podium.

Mark Glendenning (MG)

1. Frentzen; 2. Hakkinen; 3. Barrichello; 4. Irvine; 5. R. Schumacher

In a year when virtually every driver has been shifting between flashes of absolute brilliance and episodes of complete amateurism, it is quite a job trying to choose who really stood out. For sheer consistency, the fact that he managed to comfortably split the two McLaren drivers in the final WDC standings, and the extraordinary extent to which he was able to dominate a highly rated teammate, the olive wreath goes to Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Hakkinen, meanwhile, made the job of winning the Championship far more difficult than he needed to, but he still made it home in the end. Barrichello gets third because, probably to a greater extent than anyone else, he wrung as much out of his car as possible over the whole season. Irvine drove a courageous season, but he was helped to a great extent by McLaren's tendency to trip over themselves at every opportunity. Finally, Ralf Schumacher gets the nod because of the almost textbook manner in which his abilities as a driver are developing. Honourable mention to Michael Schumacher, as much for his performance in Malaysia than anything else.

1. Europe; 2. Italy; 3. Japan

Five different drivers led the European Grand Prix. If that wasn't exciting enough, then the Stewart-Prost-Stewart top three was the kind of result that could make even the most hardened F1 fan a little misty-eyed. Hakkinen's sandpit escapade in Monza cleared the way for a fantastic race, during which neither Irvine nor Coulthard were able to fully capitalise on the Finn's misfortune. Suzuka was a classic example of a Championship protagonist stamping his authority all over the world title.

Thomas O'Keefe (TO)

1. M. Schumacher; 2. R. Schumacher; 3. Irvine; 4. Hakkinen; 5. Frentzen

Michael, though a flawed genius, proved by his stunning comeback in Malaysia that he remains the cream of the crop. No other driver on the grid possesses in combination Schumacher SR.'s skills as a test driver, tactician, team leader and all-out racer. Ralf Schumacher demonstrated conclusively this year that he is from his brother's gene pool; he drove a Williams-Supertec to several podium finishes and almost won Nurburgring. He also somehow summoned up the composure to finish third at Silverstone after watching his brother being carried off in a helicopter after SR.'s accident at Stowe. Eddie Irvine gets points for nearly landing the Championship by deftly exploiting everyone else's misfortune. Not so with Hakkinen. Mika has all those poles, wins and back-to-back championships, but was erratic and uninspired most of the season and an emotional wreck by the end of it. Heinz-Harald moves up to the top five because of solid, if mostly soporific, performances and the personal courage it took to drive while still suffering from injuries received in Canada.

1. Europe; 2. Malaysia; 3. Monaco

Nurburgring was an old-fashioned race: anyone could win - even the luckless Johnny Herbert - and the variable weather conditions put the true skills of the drivers on display. Malaysia had a spectacular inaugural race, both the race on the track and in the courthouse. Schumacher SR.'s dominance - pole, fastest lap, and letting Irvine by (twice!) for the win - rendered the rest of the grid mere observers. Monaco was how it was supposed to be, as brilliant as the sun-splashed principality itself with Schumacher and Hakkinen in dragster-like starts, playing chicken and smoking the brakes into Ste. Devote, SR. setting a succession of fastest laps; Irvine pouncing when Mika skidded on Takagi's oil at Mirabeau and had a brief off and the sight of the two red Ferrari's finishing 1,2 as they circled the track on a victory lap in this most incongruous but indispensable place to have a race.

Ewan Tytler (ET)

1. Frentzen; 2. Irvine; 3. R. Schumacher; 4. Hakkinen; 5. Coulthard

Of all drivers, Frentzen looked most like a champion throughout the year, driving consistently and cleanly, making few mistakes, racing while injured after the Canadian Grand Prix and always acting with dignity. Irvine was consistent, reliable and made few mistakes, but his mistakes at Silverstone and the Hungaroring cost him the championship. Ralf Schumacher drove the uncompetitive Williams FW21 consistently hard and fast all year, even setting fastest lap at Monza. Mika Hakkinen had an imperfect season but he had 11 pole positions, 6 fastest laps and 5 victories. Fifth position was the most difficult choice - Johnny Herbert, Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher and Mika Salo were all candidates but I'm giving it to Coulthard. This was a year of transition for Coulthard when he stopped being a victim of other driver's aggression and drove some spirited races. Despite the mistakes and 5 car failures he had 3 fastest laps and 2 convincing victories.

1. France; 2. Great Britain; 3. Malaysia

Unfortunately there were few classic Grands Prix in 1999 with drivers fighting tooth and nail to the finish. Magny-Cours has hosted some dull races in the past but it hosted the best race of 1999. The British Grand Prix was exciting, only marred by Michael Schumacher's accident. The first Malaysian Grand Prix had some moments of excitement, narrowly beating the Austrian, San Marino, German and European Grand Prix.

Rory Gordon (RG)

1. R. Schumacher; 2. Frentzen; 3. Hakkinen; 4. M. Schumacher; 5. Barrichello

Ralf Schumacher did very well in a car that shouldn't have done well. So did Frentzen, but in a better car. Hakkinen should have had the title much earlier. Michael Schumacher was good as usual, but was also disappointing at the same time. Barrichello showed that the Stewart/Ford/Jaguar has promise. To satisfy any curiosity, Irvine doesn't rate as his performance fell off badly when Schumacher was injured, then picked up when Schumacher returned.

1. Canada; 2. Malaysia; 3. Monaco

Canada was a fascinating race and event that, in my mind, set a number of interesting themes in line. Malaysia was good simply for the drama and Schumacher's drive. Monaco was the best of the rest.

Biranit Goren (BG)

1. R. Schumacher; 2. Frentzen; 3. M. Schumacher; 4. Barrichello 5. Hakkinen

Half way through the season I already knew that Ralf Schumacher and Heinz Harald Frentzen would be my choice of the crop this year, it was just a matter of who will be on top. Eventually, I went for Ralf because he made no mistakes whereas Frentzen did, and more significantly - Ralf was in an underpowered dog of a car, whereas Frentzen was in the third best car on the grid, which at often times was as good as the Macs and the Ferraris. As for the other three, the last few races of the season dictated my choice: Barrichello should have been higher up but lost form; Schumacher should have been higher down but returned in a blaze; and Hakkinen only just made it into my list, for the sheer fact that in the one race it counted the most - at Japan - he got the job well done. Kudos for Pedro de la Rosa and Marc Gene, two rookie Spaniards who managed to impress me in cars that normally don't even finish races, and for Johnny Herbert for his strong finish to the season.

1. France; 2. Europe; 3. Austria

As far as races go, 1999 had several exciting Grands Prix but not that many classic races. I chose the French Grand Prix, the European and the Austrian one because each had some fantastic racing on track, wonderful overtaking manoeuvres, many surprises and oh so much drama - just the stuff that perfect Sundays are made of...

Mike Viveen (MV)

1. Frentzen; 2. R. Schumacher; 3. Irvine; 4. Hakkinen; 5. M. Schumacher

Heinz-Harald Frentzen showed consistency and class in his Jordan this year. Two victories and third in the championship reflect the fact that he is a driver who needs to be taken seriously. Few mistakes, great driving and a great car could seriously give him title chances for next season. Ralf did everything Alessandro couldn't: score points. The Williams car wasn't very good, but still the German could slip into the top six almost all the time. With a better car and engine, although BMW probably has a long way to go, he could win a race or two next year. Mika is World Champion but he made just too many mistakes if you ask me. If he wants to beat Michael next year he has to get his act together.

1. France; 2. Canada; 3. Malaysia

So many exiting races to choose from - 1999 was not a dull season, with a few exceptions of course. The last race at Suzuka was, for example, somewhat exiting because of the Championship but all in all it was just a race with a few good moments. Some were just breathtaking like the Canadian Grand Prix. So no real favourites for me... just a great season.

Atlas F1© 1999 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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