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Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton: who is the greatest driver of this generation?

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Raw Speed:

Like most things in Formula One nowadays, speed is difficult to judge as it is largely dependent on the car. However, a good way to judge the raw speed of a driver is their pole position record, or more specifically, their pole percentage record.

Lewis Hamilton leads the way on this one: with 49 pole positions (third behind Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher) and with a percentage of 30. 06%, Hamilton has made a name for himself as the greatest qualifier of his current generation, and one of the best of all time. During the race for pole position, drivers put their all into that one lap: on maximum speed, optimum tyres, optimum weight – everything to get that little bit extra out of the car. There are a lot less variables involved in a race for pole, than in a race, and so qualifying is a good way to judge pure speed as a driver: Lewis Hamilton wins this one.

Sebastian Vettel is not too far behind, though. With 46 poles with a percentage of 29. 87%, Vettel is only fractionally behind the Englishman. However, it is important to note that Vettel’s statistics are built almost solely on his time at Red Bull, where he had the benefit of a superior car for four consecutive years.  It is the kind of dominance Hamilton is enjoying now, but as of yet, has not had the amount of time in a superior car as the German has, and this therefore paints a slightly false impression. If Hamilton were to have another two years in a dominant car, the gulf between himself and Vettel in terms of qualifying performance would be far greater than it is, and so there is, in my opinion, little doubt that Hamilton is the fastest over a single lap.

Fernando Alonso is the slowest of the three, but his strength as a racing driver does not lie in his raw speed, but is more about his tactical and consistent racing ability which has given him success over the years. However, as his qualifying record suggests, he is a distant third when it comes to raw speed.


  1. Hamilton
  2. Vettel
  3. Alonso
2015 Best ever Fernando Alonso Ferrari formula 1 lewis hamilton McLaren mercedes Racing Red Bull Sebastian Vettel

About Dan Culyer

I am a 17 year-old sport fanatic - particularly when it comes to football, formula one, tennis and swimming/ water polo! I am a part-time sports journalist, as well as a fully qualified football referee! I particularly enjoy doing in-depth opinion pieces, with detailed analysis of players, teams and tournaments!

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