Who really is the best driver in the world?

Castrol knows the answer
by Vernon B. Sarne | May 3, 2011

Many people were intrigued when we posed the question, "Who's the better driver: Russ Swift or Ken Block?" Of course, you know how Russ totally owned Mr. Block just by giving a witty reply (about how he only requires just a single take to execute a driving maneuver as compared to his much younger fellow driver). Of course, too, we all know this was just harmless ribbing, and that it didn't really answer the who's-the-better-driver question objectively and convincingly.

Which got us thinking: Who indeed is the best driver in the world? In other sports, this kind of debate is relatively easy to settle. Many of the major sports have widely accepted ranking systems, including golf and tennis. That's how we know that England's Lee Westwood is the top-ranked golfer in the world today, while Spain's Rafael Nadal is numero uno in tennis. Other sports have individual awards--usually called "Player of the Year" or "Most Valuable Player"--like in soccer and basketball. But how do you rank racing drivers when there are so many different race series and disciplines in the world? Is a circuit driver necessarily better than a rally driver, for instance?

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This conundrum is solved, it seems, via the Castrol Edge Rankings (which we shall refer to as CER from this point forward). CER was introduced in January 2010 by Autosport International, an annual motorsports car-show event in the UK. Powered by oil specialist Castrol, CER is an attempt to rank some 2,300 racing drivers who compete in 47 championship series in 74 countries. The ranking is updated weekly and can be found at www.castroldriverrankings.com/rankings. Because this is updated weekly, the ranking is constantly refreshed depending on the most recent performance of the drivers.

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The racing series covered by CER include Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, World Rally Championship, GP2, GP2 Asia, Superleague Formula, Formula Renault 3.5, Formula Nippon, Formula 2, GP3, GT1 World Championship, World Touring Car Championship, Porsche Supercup, Eurocup Megane Trophy, Intercontinental Rally Challenge, American Le Mans Series, Le Mans Series, Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, Masters of F3, Macau F3 Grand Prix, F3 Euro Series, AutoGP, Sud-Am F3, Brazilian V8 Stock Cars, Australian V8 Supercars, Australian F3, British Touring Cars, British F3, DTM, German F3, Italian F3, Japanese F3, Super GT, European F3 Open, NASCAR Truck Series, Indy Lights, Grand-Am, Superstars Series, Argentinian TC2000, Spa 24 Hours, Dakar Rally, European Touring Car Cup, and Scandinavian Touring Cars.

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The more popular the racing series, the higher the points awarded to its drivers. Hence, the top 10 series in terms of points awarded are F1, NASCAR, IndyCar, WRC, ILMC, IRC, DTM, Dakar Rally, GP2 and Australian V8 Supercars. Right now, as we write this, the top 20 drivers in the world are:

1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Formula 1 - 25,805 points

2. Mark Webber (Australia), Formula 1 - 21,803 points

3. Lewis Hamilton (UK), Formula 1 - 20,258 points

4. Fernando Alonso (Spain), Formula 1 - 19,981 points

5. Sebastian Loeb (France), WRC - 19,492 points

6. Will Power (Australia), IndyCar and V8 Supercars - 17,966 points

7. Jenson Button (UK), Formula 1 - 17,239 points

8. Dario Franchitti (UK), IndyCar, V8 Supercars and Grand-Am - 16,701 points

9. Carl Edwards (USA), NASCAR - 16,004 points

10. Jimmie Johnson (USA), NASCAR and Grand-Am - 15,774 points

11. Kyle Busch (USA), NASCAR and NASCAR Trucks - 14,933 points

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12. Kevin Harvick (USA), NASCAR and NASCAR Trucks - 14,814 points

13. Felipe Massa (Brazil), Formula 1 - 14,239 points

14. Sebastian Ogier (France), WRC and IRC - 14,234 points

15. Denny Hamlin (USA), NASCAR and NASCAR Trucks - 13,818 points

16. Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland), WRC - 13,704 points

17. Scott Dixon (New Zealand), IndyCar, V8 Supercars and Grand-Am - 13,702 points

18. Ryan Briscoe (Australia), IndyCar, V8 Supercars and Grand-Am - 12,931 points

19. Helio Castroneves (Brazil), IndyCar and V8 Supercars - 12,793 points

20. Nico Rosberg (Germany), Formula 1 - 12,411 points

As you can see, the top four drivers on the list are all F1 pilots--no doubt implying that the best drivers on the planet are in Formula 1. The points system employed by CER is a rather complicated one, and we suggest you head on over to the official website for a more detailed explanation. After you've checked out the details, may we ask if you agree with this system of ranking?

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