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Top 200 Drivers of 2022 (Part III)

by Sean Wrona

C+ drivers (100th-51st)

Drivers are listed with their previous year's position or tier in parentheses. Drivers who did not appear on last year's list have NR for Not Ranked.

100. (66) Lucas di Grassi

di Grassi remains one of the most consistent drivers in Formula E history. Sam Bird's mediocre season in 2022 left di Grassi and Jean-Éric Vergne as the only two drivers to finish in the top ten in points in every single season, and di Grassi hasn't even ever finished worse than 7th in the championship in eight seasons. This year he finished 5th in points but I do consider 2022 to be one of his blandest and most mediocre seasons, as I do think his points finish overstated the level of his performance this time. He was the only Formula E winner of 2022 who did not have a TNL and he ranked tied for 10th in lead shares, 11th in cumulative races led, and 12th in my teammate model. He is the most borderline of borderline selections and he was outperformed significantly by his teammate Edoardo Mortara, who won four races and led in both lead shares and cumulative races led. To di Grassi's credit he did tie Nick Cassidy for the most fastest laps and ranked tied for 3rd in fastest races. He even had a faster average speed percentile than Mortara did, but is that really a good thing? Having a worse passing record than a teammate with a slower average speed is not very praiseworthy. As I write this, I think I've convinced myself that he should have been in tier C instead, but what's done can't be undone (and I may change it later.)

99. (86) Valtteri Bottas

This is another borderline entry I think I may have messed up on simply because I wanted to make sure I had more Formula One drivers in my top 100 than drivers in any other open wheel series (I have ten F1 drivers and nine Formula E drivers on my top 100 list, not counting the one driver who competed in both as a Formula E driver.) It was an extremely top-heavy season in F1 this year as outside the top seven drivers in points there was a significant dropoff and I don't think anyone else was particularly special. The other reason I think I may have made a mistake hre is that I did not list Zhou Guanyu in my C- tier since I did list Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher, who many analysts rated lower. If I'm going to argue Zhou is not top 200, I'm coming to realize I'm probably overrating Bottas. Bottas certainly utterly dominated Zhou, beating him 9-2 in shared finishes and scoring eight times as many points, but admittedly Zhou is a rookie so that shouldn't be much of a surprise. Bottas did rank 9th in my F1 teammate model this year, just nosing out Lewis Hamilton, but it's worth noting that my model is probably still underrating George Russell (as it tends to underrate drivers in the middle of a skyrocketing ascent) while again, Bottas competed against a rookie. What does best justify Bottas's placement on this list is that he did beat Zhou by a larger margin in terms of speed percentile than Pierre Gasly beat Tsunoda or Sebastian Vettel beat Lance Stroll, to pick two drivers I could have picked instead, but granted, Gasly and Tsunoda were rookies and I did list them and didn't list Zhou. What finally convinced me this was probably wrong was when I looked at Bottas and Zhou's overtake records and noted that Zhou actually had a better passing record of 62-63 to Bottas's 34-53, but this is what happens when I do the top 200 list one stage at a time rather than doing it all at once. Now I realize Zhou should have been on the list and Bottas should have been in tier C. When I'm actually working on the book, I'll figure out what drivers to swap in for Bottas and di Grassi since I am now convinced those are mistakes. I am fully confident the other 98 drivers I have listed belong on the top 100 and have no doubts about them.

98. (NR) Nathanaël Berthon

In addition to Lucas di Grassi and Valtteri Bottas, I think I made the wrong choice with regard to which WTCR driver to include in my top 100 besides Mikel Azcona. While I knew none of the other championship contenders were even close to him in 2022, I chose Berthon over the very similar Néstor Girolami, and as I write this, I think that was a mistake too. Girolami should have been here instead. Both Berthon and Girolami tied for second in lead shares and tied for third in CRL, with Girolami nosing out Berthon for a distant second in the championship far behind the champion Azcona. The main advantages Berthon had over Girolami were that he did make a pass for the win and had a 1-0 lead change record while Girolami got passed for the win once and had an 0-1 record, not to mention that Berthon was significantly faster with a speed percentile of 65.90% to 42.12%. I guess I decided I couldn't justify placing a driver with below average speed in the top 100 although I did do that in the case of Alessandro Pier Guidi. However, if two drivers are comparable by most metrics and one of them had a significantly slower car, that driver is probably the better choice. What was puzzling about Girolami is that he managed to win three poles while being below average in speed, but at least Girolami did beat his teammates in every single metric, while Berthon's teammate Gilles Magnus actually had more wins, beat him in cumulative races led, and nearly matched him in speed. I came to the conclusion while writing this that I had made the wrong choice here as well. Again, this is what happens when I write the list one chunk at a time rather than doing it all at once. When I re-edit the list for my book, I will make some slight adjustments here.

97. (NR) Daniel Juncadella

The trio of Juncadella, Jules Gounon, and Raffaele Marciello won the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, the second most prestigious sports car series in Europe. Their championship included a win in the 24 Hours of Spa, and all three drivers were very prolific in a bunch of other sports car series as well. The Spa race also counted for a different championship called the Intercontinental GT Challenge and Juncadella won the championship in that series as well, which included another win in the Indianapolis 8 Hour. Marciello also shared in the Indianapolis win while Gounon won the Bathurst 12 Hour, which also counted towards that series, so all three drivers had two wins in that series as well even though they were not always teammates. It was difficult to decide how to rank these three drivers although I know they all did enough to make the top 100. I decided to rank Juncadella last because even though he won the two championships, the aforementioned two wins at Spa and Indianapolis were his only wins, while Gounon and Marciello also had several other wins, especially in the German ADAC GT Masters series, where Marciello won the championship and Gounon won the most races. However, although he did not win races elsewhere, Juncadella still had some other significant accomplishments. He also competed in IMSA, where he made three starts in the GTD Pro class and two starts in the GTD class. Despite only making five IMSA starts and collecting no wins, he had the fastest average speed twice in the GTD Pro class at Laguna Seca and Mosport and once in the GTD class at Road America. I am only really docking him for the lack of wins, but he was definitely one of the lowkey flashiest sports car drivers of the year. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, I have been unable to find lap times for the Stéphane Ratel Organisation, which would help me figure out which driver was faster in their European starts. It wouldn't surprise me if Juncadella was faster than Gounon and Marciello, and if I knew that I'd rank him higher. Since I don't have that information, I opted for the other two because they had more wins.

96. (NR) Sacha Fenestraz

The young Frenchman exploded to international stardom this year with his first wins in both of Japan's major league series, winning his first Super Formula race at Sportland SUGO and his first Super GT race at Fuji Speedway. Although his 6th place finish in Super GT was not his best championship result, he did finish 2nd in the Super Formula championship, far surpassing his previous best rank of 13th in 2020. He was the highest-rated Super Formula driver in my open wheel teammate model in 2022 counting only the Super Formula races. However, he made a spot appearance in the Formula E finale at Seoul, which pushed him behind Ritomo Miyata for the season in my model. Additionally, Fenestraz was the only driver to make a pass for the lead in multiple Super Formula races this season, passing both the champion Tomoki Nojiri at SUGO and the WEC champion Ryō Hirakawa at Fuji. The only reasons I rated him so low on this list were that even though he finished 2nd in the Super Formula championship, Nojiri nearly doubled him in points, and although he did narrowly beat Hirakawa for 2nd in the championship, I think Hirakawa's WEC championship and Le Mans win are enough to counteract that, and those are worth far more than Fenestraz's single Super GT win (not to mention that Hirakawa won another Super Formula race also.)

95. (C) Marcus Ericsson

Ericsson reached the pinnacle of his success this year in IndyCar upon winning an Indy 500 that it's safe to say pretty much no one expected. Because the 500 is the only race that awards double points and also because there was a lot of parity as well as inconsistency among the top IndyCar title contenders in 2022, that led to Ericsson shockingly leading the IndyCar points standings for the majority of the season even though he hardly factored for the lead anywhere else and wasn't even particularly close to a top five driver in terms of performance. In fact, by most metrics he was barely a top ten driver. He ranked 9th in speed, 9th in lead shares, 11th in cumulative races led, and 9th in my teammate model. By almost all metrics of performance he significantly trailed his teammates Scott Dixon and Álex Palou but they didn't overtake him in the championship until the last few races of the season. This is why the Indy 500 shouldn't award double points, guys. Ericsson had the kind of season that I probably would have left off the top 100 had his win come anywhere else, but the fact that he won the Indy 500 instead of any of the other races is what led me to put him here barely. I realize I put Hélio Castroneves higher in 2021 but he had also won the 24 Hours of Daytona the same season, while Ericsson's one IMSA start at Daytona was extremely mediocre (he ranked only 23rd in speed percentile.) Ericsson had no poles, no races where he led the most laps, no fastest laps; the season entirely comes down to the 500 win for better or worse. And at least this time he did pass Pato O'Ward for the win rather than lucking into it by the stupidest circumstances imaginable like both his 2021 wins, but he still had a lot of help as the Ganassi cars were overwhelmingly dominant all day: Palou led most of the opening stint of the race before he pitted when the pits were closed and failed to make it back since it was extremely difficult to pass at Indy this year except for the lead, then Dixon led most of the second and third quarters before speeding in the pits. Even Tony Kanaan managed to post a 3rd place finish after being seemingly irrelevant for years. He primarily won because he had the fastest car and the two better Ganassi drivers either got screwed or screwed themselves. He certainly did earn it, but it won't stand as one of the most impressive or memorable Indy wins ever by any means, and it was annoying to see that carry him to the points lead for so long. Nonetheless, I do think this was probably the best season of Ericsson's career (with the possible exception of 2016, the only other year he rated higher in my teammate model) and likely the best one he'll ever have, and I should acknowledge the 500 win and push him over the line into this tier.

94. (NR) Felipe Drugovich

It's always hard to compare minor league drivers with drivers in major league series. Ryan McCafferty convinced me I overrated all of them in 2021 and I was really unsure whether I thought Drugovich belonged in the top 100 or not. I did put Oscar Piastri in the top 50 last year, but I now think I probably overrated him because Formula 2 drivers simply are not in the same stage of development and it probably makes no sense to put him over that many F1 drivers. But at least Piastri was a marquee prospect who won the F2 championship in his rookie season. It took Drugovich three years to win his title, when the drivers who eventually turn out to be elite are usually one and done, much like college basketball players these days. Drugovich did beat Rinus VeeKay (before he Americanized his name) by a pretty large margin to win the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 Championship in 2017-18 and they're about the same age so Drugovich is probably slightly better now, although I suspect VeeKay has made it closer since I do think you have to elevate your game more in IndyCar than you do in Formula 2. Since I placed VeeKay in tier C, that implies Drugovich should probably be here (and I was very impressed he did blow out Theo Pourchaire, who I expected to win the championship after he dominated Christian Lundgaard in 2021.) However, I'm still not great at identifying prospects yet or especially determining how they fit in the general racing landscape on a list alongside pro drivers, so I admit this could be way off. I do think all the other sites who put F2 champions in the top 50 (particularly those who didn't win the championship as rookies like Drugovich) are ranking them way too high though.

93. (C) Mikkel Jensen

A mid-season addition to the WEC Hypercar class, he and co-drivers Paul di Resta and Jean-Éric Vergne debuted for the new Peugeot team at the fourth race at Monza. Jensen was the fastest of the six drivers for the two Peugeot cars by a massive margin, posting an average speed percentile of 69.37%, while di Resta, the second fastest Peugeot driver, only had a speed percentile of 44.92% and Vergne's was even lower at 35.71% (in a year Vergne still finished in the top five in the Formula E points and was one of the highest-rated drivers in my entire open wheel teammate model.) Jensen was in fact the third fastest driver in the class and was even faster than all the Toyota drivers except for Mike Conway and Sébastien Buemi. The team only finished one of the three races they started and did not win the other. However, Jensen's sports car exploits did not end there as he also won two races in the IMSA LMP2 class including the 12 Hours of Sebring (where he led the most laps) and the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, which allowed him to win the Michelin Endurance Cup for that class alongside his teammates Scott Huffaker and Ben Keating. He and Keating also won the qualifying race to win the class pole for the 24 Hours of Daytona as well. Finally, he won a race at Spa in the LMGTE class of the European Le Mans Series and finished 2nd in that championship as well. Now that he is finally getting more and more opportunities in the most prestigious classes, one of sports car racing's biggest up and comers seems poised to take the next step in an attempt to carry Peugeot to its first Le Mans win since 2009.

92. (NR) Brittany Force

The daughter of the NHRA's greatest driver John Force, Brittany elected to compete in the premier Top Fuel class, while all the other members of her family drove Funny Cars. In 2022, she had probably the best season of her career to date, winning her second Top Fuel championship and leading the series with five wins. She also set the all-time Top Fuel speed record with a run of 338.17 mph at the Midwest Nationals. She dominated the series for most of the season as she led the points entering the NHRA's Countdown playoffs and still held on to win the title, unlike Robert Hight, who led the points entering the playoffs before losing the championship to Ron Capps, which is the main reason I chose to list Force over both Hight and Capps. Of all the three Force daughters, Brittany's 2022 was probably the best season performance for any of them and therefore the best season for any of the Force family other than John Force himself.

91. (C-) René Rast

After a mediocre stint in Formula E, Rast returned to his usual stomping ground in DTM but was nowhere near as dominant as he was in the past. The man who won 24 races and three championships from 2017 to 2020 only finished 3rd in points in 2022 and won one race. Although I still think the DTM field is quite solid, the series seems to have lost considerable respect after it switched from being a German touring car series to a GT sports car series in the year Rast was away. For these reasons, I don't rate this season as highly as I would have in the years when the series was taken more seriously. Rast was still fast as he led the series with three poles and ranked 2nd in speed to the winless Mirko Bortolotti. However, Rast had an unusually low 1-4 lead change record and an 0-3 record on TNL lead changes. I was going to place him in the C tier for quite some time before bumping him up at almost the last minute because he did have some impressive sports car accomplishments this year. His most impressive highlight arguably came in the 24 Hours of Daytona, where he did post the fastest speed in the LMP2 class in a field that also included Rinus VeeKay, Colton Herta, Louis Delétraz, Pato O'Ward, Ferdinand Habsburg, Mikkel Jensen, and Ryan Dalziel, but it was the O'Ward/Herta team that actually won the class. Additionally, he was also a solid performer in the WEC's LMP2 class, winning two races alongside teammates Robin Frijns and Sean Gelael. Although Frijns was the most dominant driver on the team, Rast was the fastest, ranking 4th in speed in a very deep class behind only António Félix da Costa, Will Stevens, and Ferdinand Habsburg. He also gave the team its only TNL and I primarily decided in favor of Frijns instead of Rast both because Frijns was the full-time WEC driver and Rast missed one race (which Frijns still won) and also because I think Frijns's Formula E accomplishments were marginally better than Rast's DTM accomplishments, but it was close.

90. (C) Christopher Bell

By a lot of metrics, Bell was one of the best NASCAR drivers of the year and he certainly did have his best ever NASCAR season but I also think he was this year's most overrated driver for a number of reasons, so this will require some explanation. By most baseline statistics, he appeared as clearly the best Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He was the only JGR driver to make the Final Four, he won the most races, he ranked 3rd in speed (higher than any of his teammates), and he was also the most consistent (which led to him leading my teammate model) and was one of only three drivers to have four TNL this year. However, I have ranked him below two of his teammates. The fundamental reason is that he has a couple of major deficiencies that have been rarely acknowledged so far. Despite all the speed he has, he is a shockingly weak passer. The members of the auto racing Discord where I spend far too much of my time have had a meme where they post an icon of a pair of eyeballs to indicate drivers who "watch" the driver they are chasing rather than attempting to make a pass. They used this predominantly to criticize William Byron, but began using it for Bell as well after the Michigan race where it seemed like he was faster than Denny Hamlin but did not attempt a pass. What was surprising to me was realizing that what I thought was merely a stupid meme was actually backed up by the data. I already mentioned in my Byron entry that he ranked only 10th in lead shares and 7th in cumulative races led despite ranking 4th in speed, indicating that he was underachieving in terms of passing for the speed of his car. Bell was arguably even worse, ranking 6th in lead shares and 11th in CRL with the 3rd fastest car. He only made seven passes for the lead all season while his three teammates combined for 64. In the first half of the season, it was even worse: while Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr., and Kyle Busch combined for 42 passes for the lead, Bell made one. And it's particularly shocking that he led less than any of his teammates in terms of CRL with the fastest JGR car, which indicates another problem. It's odd for a driver to already have four wins and to have never led the most laps in a race, but Bell has still never done so, which is surprising but true. I'm not even sure he has been the best driver in a race. All four of his wins were ultimately decided by either strategy and/or pit stop exchanges. He has never been the most dominant driver in a race. Chase Elliott was in position to win both of Bell's road course wins before a couple of dubious cautions led to unnecessary chaos. Truex was easily dominant at Loudon before his crew chief messed up by taking two tires, while Hamlin was easily dominant at Martinsville before his pit crew kept giving up positions. Although I don't use the term anymore, he is the king of the "strategic assist" race. In all his wins, he seems to blast through the field after leaving the pits as the first driver on four fresh tires after the previously dominant driver was unlucky or let down by strategy, but he doesn't seem to have the ability to dominate and pulverize the field in the way a contemporary like Tyler Reddick does. Right now he seems like a rich man's Alex Bowman or a poor man's 2003 Ryan Newman where he does deliver in the clutch (which is why I did still rank him in the top 100 and didn't rank the very similar Byron there) but he doesn't seem to do as much in "normal" races lacking in chaos, and he seems to really struggle with passing people when he doesn't have a tire advantage, even when he does have a speed advantage. His consistency is a major asset, but I really think the fact that he was so much more consistent than his teammates was mostly luck this time. Ryan McCafferty of RJMAnalytics has a formula for calculating luck and while all four JGR drivers had bad luck, Bell's was easily the best and it makes sense. Hamlin was let down by slow pit stops all season, Truex's crew chief made terrible calls, and Busch's exit from JGR was tumultous and ended in a cloud of nasty hostility (as how could it not?) The #20 team was the only JGR team that seemed to be operating on all cylinders this year and Bell significantly benefited from that, but as with Byron, I think his team was better than he was.

89. (17) Alessandro Pier Guidi

Like Christopher Bell, this is probably another placement that will shock some people. I know he is one of sports car racing's biggest stars and in 2021, he certainly was one of the absolute best sports car drivers in the world. He did successfully defend his WEC championship in the LMGTE class alongside teammate James Calado, but he was nowhere near as strong as he was in 2021 in general. First off, he and Calado won one fewer race than in 2021 and didn't win Le Mans while they did in 2021. More notably, Calado outperformed him by most metrics. Calado made three passes for the lead in 2021 while Pier Guidi made none and Calado also led Pier Guidi and all others in the class in CRL. Most shockingly, despite winning the championship Pier Guidi had an average speed percentile of 45.37% in the class. He only ranked 7th of the ten regulars in speed and was the slowest GTE Pro driver at both Sebring and Bahrain (admittedly, he was the fastest at Fuji.) It is that speed ranking that gave me pause, particularly considering there were faster drivers in the class that I didn't even consider for the top 200 like Gianmaria Bruni and Miguel Molina. Most surprisingly, Pier Guidi competed in all four races in the Asian Le Mans Series and failed to win once with a best class finish of 13th, but I have to figure his car must have been very slow. He, Calado, and Antonio Fuoco did collect another win at the Gulf 12 Hours in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, but for a man who had six wins and two championships across various series in 2021, this was kind of a letdown. Having said that, he still defended his championship even though he wasn't the team leader this time, so he was certainly still very good but I think the weak speed average prevents me from considering him to be great.

88. (NR) Erik Jones

If Christopher Bell is today's Ryan Newman (a driver who does have a lot of speed but struggles with passing and lucks into most of his best results), then Jones is today's Sterling Marlin. Like Marlin, Jones doesn't have a big image or a flashy personality, he's a master of drafting tracks and Darlington, he probably won't be a Hall of Famer, and he just consistently delivers solid performances that often don't knock your socks off by the eye test but are generally more impressive than you think when you look at more advanced analytics. Marlin was probably my biggest revelation when I invented my TNL statistic and realized despite only winning ten times, he was the only driver with that many wins who was the TNL in every single win and he had 17 TNL in all, which drastically changes the way his career should be perceived (while he'll never make the Hall of Fame because his results weren't there, Marlin's performance was comparable to several drivers who either have made and/or will make the Hall of Fame, but that will probably never be acknowledged.) Jones is very much like that, as like Marlin (who twice had the best lead change percentage in Cup) he's an amazing passer. According to NASCAR's loop data, Jones made a series best 4,297 passes for position in 2022, nearly 400 more than 2nd place Aric Almirola. He also ranked 6th in pass percentage and ranked tied for 2nd with Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson for passes for the lead with 29. This is pretty overwhelming performance for a driver who only ranked 20th in speed in the Cup Series in 2022. In a way, he's almost the exact opposite of Bell, the driver who replaced him at JGR in that he sometimes struggles for speed and relevance, but his dueling is always better than his speed. Jones ranked 15th in both lead shares and CRL, which doesn't sound like a lot but trust me, beating your car's performance in both of those metrics by five positions is very impressive. He led in lead shares at both Talladega races, which ranked him tied for 4th in races with the most lead shares and even beat Denny Hamlin by that metric, who only did so once! (Don't pass him, Jones.) He probably would have won the spring Talladega race if his drafting help hadn't crashed behind him on the final straightaway. All of this in a Petty car, a team that through its various iterations has struggled for most of the last 25 teams. Jones probably delivered the #43 car its best season since the Bobby Hamilton era. Anyone who still had doubts that he was something special this year must have to give it up for his win in the Southern 500. Yes, he was lucky that Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Busch's cars broke down and he didn't make a pass for the lead, but he still pushed himself beyond the level of his car that day (he only ranked 8th in speed, the lowest speed ranking for any winner this season on a non-drafting track.) After being unceremoniously dropped by JGR after 2020, it was a kind of poetic justice to watch him inherit the lead after two of their cars failed while holding off Hamlin, the driver he was ordered not to pass after he was fired, and one of the best moments of the season. Upon bringing the #43 car back to victory lane after some people had considered him a borderline reject a couple years ago, he won major plaudits from the old school fans who care more about tradition, narrative, and emotion than cold number-crunching. He's a driver who managed to unite the new-school statheads and the old-school gearheads. Although it was a tough decision between Bell and Jones since they had very similar seasons in terms of performance when adjusting for equipment (albeit with almost completely opposite strengths), I wanted to opt for the driver who did more with less rather than the driver who did less with more.

87. (NR) Ferdinand Habsburg

The son of the Austrian emperor Karl von Habsburg is a driver I probably snubbed for 2021 as he was on the winning WEC LMP2 championship team (including a win at Le Mans) and also on the winning overall Asian Le Mans Series team, but I chose to include Robin Frijns and Ye Yifei on the list and excluded him, which was probably a mistake. This year Habsburg dominated the LMP2 class in the European Le Mans Series to win his first championship there, including four wins in six races alongside his teammates Louis Delétraz and Lorenzo Colombo. He also won one WEC event at Monza with teammates Rui Andrade and Norman Nato. Habsburg was the fastest driver on his team and third-fastest overall in the LMP2 class behind only the championship team drivers António Félix da Costa and Will Stevens. However, for all his success, I think Louis Delétraz was really the linchpin of the team, particularly because he was clearly the best driver in the IMSA LMP2 class in 2022. Although Habsburg was barely faster than Delétraz in the 24 Hours of Daytona (the only IMSA race he entered), it was Delétraz who fought for the win in the final stint before Colton Herta knocked him off the track to win. I didn't have time to look up lap times for the European Le Mans Series before I finished this analysis, so I might revise this if I find out that Habsburg was faster than Delétraz but from my understanding Delétraz was generally regarded as the team leader.

86. (5) Sébastien Ogier

The driver who won eight of the last nine World Rally Championships from 2013-2021 announced his retirement from full-time WRC competition for 2022, but did make a handful of appearances in a limited schedule and did win the Rally Catalunya, giving the Toyota team its only win from a driver other than the champion Kalle Rovanperä. Although Rovanperä became the team leader in 2022 and significantly outperformed all his teammates, Ogier came fairly close. In the rallies where Rovanperä and Ogier both competed, Rovanperä scored three wins to Ogier's one, but they each beat each other three times, so they were fairly close and Ogier definitely outperformed the other full-time drivers Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta as usual. But I still had to rate him significantly lower simply due to the lesser overall production. Ogier decided to step out of his comfort zone and race in the WEC's LMP2 class in 2022 for three races, but his debut foray in sports car racing did not go very well, as he finished 16th in the championship with a best finish of 6th and he ranked as the 5th slowest driver, so that didn't really add much of anything to his year (unlike his perpetual WEC champion predecessor, who actually had a much more successful year.)

85. (NR) Maxime Martin

One of the reasons I really downgraded the World Touring Car Cup drivers this year compared to most previous years is because it seems like a lot of the most talented drivers from that discipline have switched to electric touring cars. The FIA's eTouring Car World Cup seemed to have far deeper competition in 2022, including many touring car champions including Norbert Michelisz, Jean-Karl Vernay, and even this year's WTCR champion Mikel Azcona, who finished only 5th in the eTCR series (although I still think he was one of the best touring car drivers this year since his WTCR dominance was massive.) Martin finished an impressive 4th in the championship in that series beating all three of those established touring car champions including Azcona and also scoring a win at Zolder to boot. He was the leader of his Romeo Ferraris team as he finished higher than all three of his teammates: former DTM champion Bruno Spengler as well as Giovanni Venturini and Luca Filippi. Having said that, even though the competition was seemingly a lot stronger in that series than the traditional WTCR series, the fields still only had twelve regulars in them, so I don't want to rate this accomplishment too highly especially when three other drivers beat him in the championship. Martin also scored two wins in the IMSA GTD class alongside teammate Roman de Angelis, who went on to win the championship. Martin did not share in the championship because he did not start every race, but he was significantly faster than de Angelis, ranking 4th in speed among regulars in the class; the pair did win at Watkins Glen and Mosport but Martin never made a pass for the lead while de Angelis did.

84. (C-) Brendon Hartley (DOWN)

Hartley won the WEC Hypercar championship with co-drivers Sébastien Buemi, one of sports car racing's most dominant veterans, and rookie Ryō Hirakawa, making his transition from Super GT while still competing in Super Formula. Hartley was the second-fastest driver on his team and the third-fastest driver for Toyota in general. Although he failed to make a pass for the lead, he did have a TNL and ranked 2nd in cumulative races led while being the only driver to lead the most laps and win a pole in multiple races. And his team did win Le Mans. Honestly, the reason I rated both of his co-drivers higher is that both of them had open wheel accomplishments as well, with Hirakawa winning twice in Super Formula and Buemi ranking 6th among Formula E drivers in my teammate model even though he no longer has cars fast enough to win. The other two drivers take it over Hartley on versatility in my opinion, particularly when you consider that Hartley's own open wheel career was seemingly more lackluster (to be fair, he is still rated higher than Hirakawa in my open wheel model currently by a large margin, but his transition to F1 did not go well.) However, he remains an important contributor to the Toyota operation and seems likely to remain a perennial WEC championship contender and contender for Le Mans race wins for several more years.

83. (C-) Philip Ellis

Like Maxime Martin, Ellis also competed in the IMSA GTD class and was almost unambiguously the best regular driver in the class even though he ony finished 5th in the championship alongside teammate Russell Ward. Ellis led the way with four natural races led, a 4-0 lead change record (tied with Robby Foley for the best in any IMSA division), two wins, three TNL, 2.4 lead shares, two fastest laps, and a speed percentile of 84.74%, fastest of all regular drivers in the division. He was clearly the class of the field and one of the better IMSA drivers in general, but I did have to dock him a little both because he didn't win any of the marquee events (he and Ward only won at Road America and VIR) and also because it seems the competition in that class this year was fairly shallow, and many of the one-off drivers were faster than any of the regulars. In seven of the twelve GTD races, the fastest driver was a non-series regular (Antonio Fuoco twice, and Jules Gounon, Daniel Juncadella, Daniel Morad, Nicklas Nielsen, and Sebastian Priaulx all once) so I suspect if Ellis had had to compete against any of those drivers more regularly, he would not have been that dominant. Regardless, even though it seems like the best drivers were outsiders, for a series regular to lead in that many different categories in one sports car class is still worthy of significant praise.

82. (46) Martin Truex, Jr.

In the future, I suspect a lot of people are going to remember Truex's year as being a lot worse than it actually was because he failed to win a race and thereby missed the playoffs after Ryan Blaney nosed him out for the last playoff spot at Daytona in a comical battle between crashed race cars, but in actuality, while Truex certainly did drop off, it probably wasn't by as much as you think. One of the best passers of the last decade kept it up with an impressive 20-11 lead change record in 2022, the best lead change percentage of the season. Despite missing the playoffs, he actually ranked third in lead shares, trailing only Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano and beating all other Hendrick, Gibbs, and Trackhouse drivers by that metric. He had a 2-0 record on TNL lead changes so he was still pretty clutch, unlike his teammate Kyle Busch who was 0-5 on TNL lead changes. However, it's worth noting that both of those races were after the playoffs began (the Southern 500, where he had a mechanical failure, and Homestead, where he was TNL sort of on a technicality because he made a pass for the lead before Kyle Larson, who had dominated all day, retook the lead on the last pit stop exchange.) He even had his best-ever performances on drafting tracks, including a couple Daytona 500 stage wins and battling for the win at Atlanta in a frenetic battle with Chase Elliott and Corey LaJoie. He was still very good this year, full stop, even if he didn't quite approach the greatness of his late 2010s. The problem was that James Small is one of the worst crew chiefs for a prominent team of the last decade. Small repeatedly let Truex down over and over by bad strategy, whether it was pitting on the final caution at Las Vegas when it looked like he had a chance to win, taking two tires at Loudon, which allowed his teammate Christopher Bell to bust through the door, or pitting on the final caution at Nashville in a race Truex had taken the lead five times on track, which relegated him to a 22nd place finish. He wouldn't have even needed those extra points at Daytona if only one of those three outcomes were reversed, and none of them were Truex's fault. He was clearly the second-best of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers this year, playoff bid or not and Ryan McCafferty agrees. While he did seem to be slipping to me when I was watching the races (particularly at Las Vegas, where I thought he would pass Kyle Busch and he kept failing to) that isn't backed up by the data, as his passing numbers were better than his 8th place average speed ranking (although he did only rank 10th in cumulative races led so he did underachieve there.) One downside to his season is that it did seem like he was significantly less consistent than he used to be, ranking 15th in my teammate model behind all three of the other JGR drivers, which is evidence that he's slipped, but he hasn't fallen off a cliff yet in the way Kevin Harvick seems to be doing right now. I think the reason for Truex's failings in 2022 is more on the crew chief than the driver.

81. (98) Renger van der Zande

van der Zande remains a pillar of Chip Ganassi's IMSA operation even though his teammate switched from incoming F1 driver Kevin Magnussen to outgoing IndyCar driver Sébastien Bourdais. It's not surprising that the team did better in 2022 than in 2021. Bourdais has a much greater pedigree in sports car racing than Magnussen does, even though Magnussen was the fastest driver in the 24 Hours of Daytona this year. Not to mention that Bourdais was always the better driver in general (his current rating in my open wheel teammate model is .172 to Magnussen's .002... granted, Magnussen certainly had the more successful F1 career.) van der Zande also benefited from the fact that he was now in his second year with Chip Ganassi Racing and was firmly established there, so he improved from fourth in the championship to third and won three races instead of one. The pair were fairly evenly matched. Both drivers made two on-track passes for the lead and they were nearly tied in cumulative races led, with van der Zande barely nosing Bourdais out. Bourdais did dominate van der Zande in terms of TNL and lead shares, so I have ranked him higher (particularly since he became the leader of a team when his co-driver had more experience there), but van der Zande was significantly faster, with a 75.89%-53.48% speed percentile advantage in the races. van der Zande was the second fastest regular in the IMSA DPi class behind only Earl Bamber, and he was even faster than the champion Tom Blomqvist and the most dominant driver Filipe Albuquerque. Nonetheless, I decided to take Blomqvist, Albuquerque, and Bourdais ahead of him because I thought Albuquerque and Bourdais had too much of an edge in terms of dominance and controlling a race while Blomqvist seemed to be punching above the quality of his slower cars.

80. (C) Nicolas Lapierre

Impressively, Nicolas Lapierre and his teammates Matthieu Vaxivière and André Negrão managed to finish 2nd in the WEC Hypercar championship despite his Alpine Elf team having a major speed disadvantage to both of the Toyotas for the entire season. This is in spite the fact that Vaxivière (the fastest Elf driver) had a speed percentile of 41.96%, much slower than even the slowest Toyota driver (José María López, whose speed percentile was 55.90%.) I did criticize Alessandro Pier Guidi earlier for having a below-average speed percentile but the difference there is that he did so for a team that won the championship (and had also won the championship the previous year.) I'm a lot more generous towards drivers who struggle for speed for a fledgling organization (see also Erik Jones.) Furthermore, the Alpine team had never won an overall WEC race until 2022, where they won twice (tied with both Toyota teams for the most wins during the season.) Negrão was not really a major contributor to the team in my opinion but Vaxivière and Lapierre both were and it was a tough decision between them. I ended up ranking Vaxivière higher because he had the fastest race in their win at Sebring, he led more, and he (barely) had a faster average speed, although Lapierre was certainly close as he had a pole and a TNL while Vaxivière did not.

79. (26) Anton de Pasquale

The two Dick Johnson Racing drivers on the Supercars tour were fairly evenly matched in 2022. On the surface, it looks like Will Davison should be rated significantly higher because he beat de Pasquale in almost every single statistical category even though de Pasquale narrowly edged him out for fourth in the championship. Davison had 3 wins to de Pasquale's 1, 3 TNL to de Pasquale's 2, 3.5 lead shares to de Pasquale's 2.4, 3.77 cumulative races led to de Pasquale's 2.97, 9 poles to de Pasquale's 4, 3 fastest laps to de Pasquale's 0, 2 fastest races to de Pasquale's 0, and Davison ranked 3rd in speed with a speed percentile of 77.59% to de Pasquale's 76.18% (fourth.) Why do I still have them so close then? Because Davison was a terrible passer with a lead change record of 3-12 vs. de Pasquale's lead change record of 4-5. That almost erases the gap between them in all other categories in my mind, although admittedly that is probably inflated because Davison actually even won more poles than Shane van Gisbergen did, which meant SVG kept passing him repeatedly in the actual races far more frequently than he did against de Pasquale. Having said that, Davison was also the only driver to pass van Gisbergen multiple times for the lead the entire season. Okay, that decides it.

78. (NR) Matthieu Vaxivière

As I mentioned in the Nicolas Lapierre entry, Vaxivière, Lapierre, and their teammate André Negrão scored an unexpected second place in the WEC Hypercar championship for their Alpine Elf team, placing higher than the much faster Toyota entry of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and José María López primarily because the team won the season-opening event at Sebring after López crashed while leading. Vaxivière was the fastest driver in that race and was narrowly the fastest driver on the team over the entire season as well. Although Lapierre had a pole and a TNL while Vaxivière did not, the latter led more, and his Sebring race where he led the most laps and set the fastest lap in addition to his fastest race speed was clearly the team's highlight of the year.

77. (C) Will Davison

I already covered this in the Anton de Pasquale entry, but Davison outperformed de Pasquale in almost every statistical category but de Pasquale did beat Davison in points and he did post a far better lead change percentage, so I do think Davison was barely better (especially because he only barely led in most of those categories.) Nonetheless, this was certainly one of the best seasons Davison has posted in a very long time; his three wins were his highest number in a season since 2012, when he won eight times. His ability to duel with Shane van Gisbergen is also worth noting, as I just mentioned earlier. SVG had a remarkable 15-4 lead change record in 2022 and Davison was the only driver who managed to pass him twice for the lead all season. Admittedly, he passed Davison six times (mainly because Davison kept winning poles and losing the led afterward), but that still isn't too bad considering how highly I am going to rate van Gisbergen's season. I do think both Dick Johnson Racing teammates were overrated a little bit by the strength of their equipment (Chaz Mostert had a slower car than them and certainly outperformed both Davison and de Pasquale), but they were clearly both solid regardless, even though both of them have had more spectacular seasons in the past.

76. (C) Jean-Éric Vergne

Vergne had a strange year in Formula E in 2022 as he did continue his streak of finishing in the top ten in every single Formula E season and also ranked 2nd among Formula E drivers and 4th overall in my open wheel teammate model in 2022 despite going winless for the first season since the 2015-16 season while his teammate António Felix da Costa did win. Vergne was rated so highly in my model because he beat da Costa 9-3 in shared finishes (and it helped him that he failed to finish the race da Costa won) but although Vergne did finish 4th in the championship to da Costa's 8th they were only separated by 22 points and you could actually make the case da Costa outperformed him. da Costa beat Vergne in lead shares (by a fairly substantial margin since he had a TNL and Vergne did not), in cumulative races led (barely) and they tied with one race with the most laps led and two poles. Despite da Costa seeming to have the edge by several of these statistics, he actually had the faster car and this is a rare instance where a driver had an exceptionally high rating in my teammate model yet I think that his teammate was stronger. It didn't help that his crossover in the WEC Hypercar class didn't go very well, as Mikkel Jensen absolutely dominated him in terms of speed percentile in the last three races after their Peugeot team started up in the middle of the season, beating him 69.37% to 35.71%, although Vegrne did have a fastest lap. da Costa on the other hand was a dominant driver in his LMP2 class, which is the other reason why I rated him higher. I think this is a case where I have to completely ignore my teammate model and the points standings and acknowledge da Costa was better. Having said that, finishing 4th in the Formula E points standings (even without a win) is usually enough to justify a spot on the top 100 list, especially since I don't think Vergne and da Costa had very fast cars this year (their Techeetah team had previously won three driver's championships and two teams' championships in a row and this year neither of them had a fastest lap or a fastest race.)

75. (NR) Antonio Fuoco

Some people might be surprised that I actually ranked him over his AF Corse Ferrari teammate Alessandro Pier Guidi in the WEC GTE class considering Pier Guidi is generally regarded as one of the best sports car drivers in the world and Fuoco is not usually mentioned, especially when considering that Pier Guidi's car won the championship while Fuoco's finished 3rd. But I genuinely think Fuoco outperformed Pier Guidi as he had a 2-1 lead change record in the class and 2 natural races led while Pier Guidi's lead change record was only 0-2 with 1 natural race led. Although Pier Guidi was more dominant in the races and did narrowly beat Fuoco in both lead shares and cuulative races led, Fuoco was perhaps surprisingly the fastest of the four AF Corse drivers and indeed faster than both drivers on the championship team (Pier Guidi and James Calado, but I think Calado was the best overall.) In addition to his season-ending WEC win at Bahrain, Fuoco was also highly productive in the IMSA GTD class, where he scored a class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring with co-drivers Roberto Lacorte and Giorgio Sernagiotto. In both the Sebring race and the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, Fuoco set both the fastest lap and fastest race. His overall speed percentile in the IMSA GTD class of 99.20% was greater than any driver in any IMSA class who made more than one start. I did still narrowly rate Calado higher because he did win the WEC championship, but Fuoco is close and seems to not get the hype he deserves in the sports car world.

74. (NR) Jules Gounon

Gounon claimed two major sports car endurance wins in 2022 with a win in the 24 Hours of Spa with Daniel Juncadella and Raffaele Marciello, which carried them to the championship in the GT World Challenge Endurance Cup as well as another win in the Bathurst 12 Hour with a completely different set of teammates (Kenny Habul, Luca Stolz, and Martin Konrad.) Since he was the only common denominator across these two teams, it means he was clearly a team linchpin and not a driver who was along for the ride piggybacking over a faster driver's success. Additionally, Gounon also won a series-best four races in the ADAC GT Masters German sports car series (although he did not win that title) and a British GT win as well.

73. (NR) Ryō Hirakawa

One of this year's breakout stars, Hirakawa made his debut for Toyota's WEC Hypercar operation, replacing Kazuki Nakajima, who retired from competition to take a leadership role at Toyota Gazoo Racing. As a WEC rookie, he and co-drivers Sébastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley won the championship as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Additionally, Hirakawa had arguably his best season in Super Formula, finishing 3rd in the championship and winning two races in a season for the first time. A lot of people would call him the best rookie in major league racing in 2022 and that's a fair argument, although he wasn't my choice. While Hirakawa was new to most of the specific World Endurance Championship tracks and the Hypercar class, he wasn't new to sports car racing in general as he had already won a Super GT championship along with three races in the European Le Mans Series and he had made two starts at Le Mans before. I'm not sure I would even classify him as a rookie. That's one of the reasons I find his season a bit overhyped; the other reason is that both of his teammates had a faster average speed and led naturally while he did not. Admittedly, Hirakawa did have a major highlight at the Fuji race, where his team also won and he had the fastest average race speed (clearly his vast experience there in Super GT cars helped.) Having said that, even though I think Hartley was better in his sports car starts, I did still rate Hirakawa higher because he had Super Formula wins too and he was the only driver to win there twice. The more impressive of his two wins came in the season opener (also at Fuji) where he passed Ukyo Sasahara at the start and made three passes for the lead in the race while only being passed once. Although it was the only race he led naturally, he was also the only driver to make an on-track pass for the lead three times over the entire season in Super Formula and he did it in one race. In addition to finishing 3rd in the championship, he ranked 2nd in cumulative races led. However, he wasn't very strong in my teammate model as he only ranked 6th with a surprisingly low rating of .024. That's not necessarily a disqualification because I don't believe any season has a long enough sample size for the results to average out to the level of performance in the end, and Super Formula seasons are particularly short. I put Jake Dennis in my top 100 last year despite a negative teammate rating and I'm going to point Tyler Reddick in my top 50 this year even though he had a negative teammate rating. Hirakawa was clearly the man at Fuji this year in any kind of car and he had enough qualifications to make this a successful season for him, but I also still have some doubts, and honestly I think the true breakthrough to sports car superstardom in 2022 was someone else.

72. (54) Scott Dixon

Even though he is now in his forties, Dixon still has his moments. Despite having one of the most generic seasons of his career to date in 2022 and a year that almost certainly wouldn't rank amongst even his ten greatest, he continues to perform at a very good level although I now think he will likely never return to the Elite tier on any of my future lists. Dixon won two street course races: one at Toronto where he beat Colton Herta on a pit cycle and one at Nashville where he seemingly won by default after a boondoggle and a series of melees. These wins extended his record for the most consecutive winning seasons to eighteen and he also overtook Al Unser to lead the most laps in Indy 500 history as well as overtaking Mario Andretti to rank second all time in IndyCar wins. All this in a year when he was drastically overshadowed by two of his teammates with Marcus Ericsson winning the Indy 500 and leading the points standings for most of the season and Álex Palou having a series of endless contract squabbles. Dixon sort of fell in the background somewhat (even more than he usually does) but still finished 3rd in points (highest of the Ganassi drivers) and he was also the most consistent and highest-rated Ganassi driver in my open wheel teammate model, ranking 4th among IndyCar regulars and even higher than both Josef Newgarden and Will Power. So why don't I have him higher? Because it seems he has overall taken a step backwards in terms of both passing and leading on track. Despite his two wins, Dixon had 0 TNLs in 2022, which is definitely a rarity for him, but not unheard of (he actually managed to win the IndyCar title in 2018 in a year he had 0 TNLs.) The only race he led naturally in 2022 was the Indy 500, where he did dominate, lead the most laps, and had the fastest average speed, but he totally gave that away by speeding in the pits so I'm not sure I can really reward him for that (in a race the Ganassi cars were overwhelmingly dominant, and Palou seemed to have the measure of him before he attempted to pit when the pits were closed, which unlike Dixon's issue, was not his fault.) While he remained solid, Dixon seemed to be lacking the brilliant flashes of most of his previous years. I considered ranking him much higher just based on his consistency, but then thought about it more and realized that other drivers who I honestly think all had comparable seasons (Will Power, Palou, and Colton Herta) all had electrifying, legendary drives that may have been their best races ever. Dixon didn't really have anything like that in 2022, which is why I have perhaps surprisingly rated him behind all three of those drivers.

71. (27) Robin Frijns

Frijns, who competed simultaneously in Formula E and the WEC LMP2 class in both 2021 and 2022, had a very similar year in 2022 superficially but nonetheless declined somewhat in a variety of ways. For the second consecutive year, Frijns won the most races in his WEC class (three out of six) but he won the championship in 2021 and only finished 2nd in 2022; additionally, he won Le Mans in 2021 but retired from the race in 2022. In Formula E, he beat his teammate Nick Cassidy in the championship despite going winless for the second year in a row, but Cassidy was a lot closer to Frijns in 2022 than in 2021. While Frijns dropped from 5th to 7th in points, Cassidy rose from 15th to 11th in points and won a race while Frijns did not. Bizarrely, despite Cassidy ranking six positions closer to Frijns in 2022, he was actually further away in points as Cassidy lost to Frijns by only 13 points in 2021 (in a ridiculous year where the gap between champion Nyck de Vries and 15th place Cassidy was only 23 points.) This time Frijns beat Cassidy by 58 points in a year with far less parity (but Cassidy also ran much better and tended to have more top level speed than Frijns even though Frijns had more consistent speed; on the other hand again, Frijns actually made passes for the lead while Cassidy is not.) When considering all that, I think Frijns is still better than Cassidy but it isn't by as much as it was, and since he didn't win the WEC title, didn't win Le Mans, and didn't make an on-track pass for the lead in his WEC starts even though he was the most dominant driver in his WEC class, I have dropped him accordingly. But I hope heals up from his wrist injury in the 2023 Formula E season opener.

70. (45) Mattias Ekström

The touring car legend became the only driver to win multiple races in the electric touring car series ETCR en route to a second-place points finish behind Adrien Tambay. The list of drivers he beat in that series is pretty impressive, including Tom Blomqvist, Maxime Martin, Mikel Azcona, Bruno Spengler, Norbert Michelisz, and Jean-Karl Vernay, but I did end up ranking Blomqvist and Azcona higher because they both won championships elsewhere while Ekström, a driver who frequently races in multiple series at the same time, did not do so in 2022. I primarily dropped him because he did win the ETCR championship in 2021 while he did not in 2022. However, he did have a couple other minor accomplishments this year, including beating the perpetual World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson in the quarterfinals at the Race of Champions before losing to Sébastien Loeb and earning a stage win at the "Dakar" Rally (but he only finished 9th in that event.)

69. (23) Álex Palou

I even admitted straight out last year that his championship seemed to be something of a fluke and that he won his first championship before it seemed like he was actually ready to. That happens sometimes (just ask Matt Kenseth.) His championship in 2021 did nothing to make me think he would actually repeat in 2022; I expected a regression to the mean and I wasn't wrong. However, even though he was nowhere near the best IndyCar driver of 2022, I do still think he remained the best Ganassi driver even though Scott Dixon beat him in the championship and Marcus Ericsson won the Indy 500. Early in the season at one point shortly before the Indy 500, I actually thought he was the best driver of the season even though he hadn't won, simply because he was the only driver who seemed to run well every race. That faded in the middle months of the year as his entire season got overshadowed by his attempt to switch from Ganassi to the McLaren IndyCar team, probably under the unrealistic expectation that he might eventually drive for their F1 team (mark my words: that will never happen.) Really, Ganassi, Palou, and McLaren all looked bad in that mess so I'm not really taking sides. I assume Palou also tried to leave because Ganassi was not paying him much (which I'm sure he wasn't) and thought he deserved a significant increase in salary after his championship, the McLaren team seems to screw over every driver who signs with them, and Palou almost immediately rushing to leave the team that thrust him out of obscurity did not reflect well on his character. For most of the summer, he (and really the entire Ganassi team except for Dixon's two strategic street course wins) delivered pretty mediocre results, particularly on the ovals where even Jimmie Johnson beat him a couple times. However, I still ranked him over Dixon primarily because his season-ending win at Laguna Seca is the sort of dominance seen only once in a generation. Despite the fact that he started 11th, he amazingly overtook Will Power to take the lead by lap 27 and controlled the rest of the race on a track where historically passing is next to impossible (just take a look at any of the Herta family's wins there for evidence of this.) Not only that, he won by a baffling 30.381 seconds despite being interrupted by a mid-race caution. That was the largest margin of victory in any IndyCar event in the 21st century (including all the CART and Champ Car races). The last margin of victory that might have been bigger was in 1999 when Mark Dismore lapped the field at Texas but my guess is the laps at Texas were shorter than that so Palou's win might still have been bigger. Although prior to that race, his season looked pretty underwhelming, the Laguna Seca win elevated him to 5th in lead shares and 4th in cumulative races led, leading all the Ganassi drivers in both categories. I also really suspect that if Palou hadn't been penalized at Indy for pitting when the pits were closed that he would have outperformed Dixon on that day and won (and it's worth noting that Palou was unlucky rather than flat out making a mistake like Dixon did.) Since Palou ranked fifth in speed while Dixon ranked third, Palou more or less matched the level of his equipment in terms of passing and leading while Dixon underachieved. That all explains why contrary to conventional wisdom, I continue to think Palou is the top driver on the team. It's no wonder McLaren is after him, but I do think him making that move (if he ever does) would significantly hurt his career.

68. (C) Justin Grant

The second most prolific winner in USAC racing in 2022, Grant was the only driver to win in all three of the premier USAC divisions (Sprint, Midget, and Silver Crown) this year, winning the USAC Sprint championship with six wins along with finishing 2nd in Midget points with five wins and also ranking 5th on the Silver Crown tour with one win. This is nothing particularly new for Grant as he had also won in all three tours in 2017, 2018, and 2021. His 12 wins this year matched his career-best 12 wins in 2021, but I think his 2022 was better and the pinnacle of his career so far as he did capture his first USAC Sprint championship and second overall (he had won a winless USAC Silver Crown title in 2020.) However, despite all that there was another USAC driver this year who had a much more historic accomplishment.

67. (NR) Rubens Barrichello

The long-time Formula One veteran remains relevant even after turning 50 in 2022, a year when he claimed his second Stock Car Brasil championship in a year he didn't even have the support of a full-time teammate (his most frequent teammate Gianluca Petecof finished only 30th in points.) He also was teammates with Diego Azar in 2022, this year's Argentinean Top Race champion and he beat him by a huge margin as Barrichello's worst finish in that time period was 8th while Azar had a best finish of 20th. Although I did end up ranking one of the Argentinean drivers higher, I would still say Stock Car Brasil is probably more prestigious if Barrichello's ex-F1 rival Felipe Massa could only manage 24th in points while his ex-IndyCar teammate Tony Kanaan finished 22nd. Sure, you could say Massa and Kanaan are both washed up, but it's worth noting that Barrichello is older than both of them (granted, Kanaan was never especially noted for his road racing abilities to begin with.) Even if you don't think Barrichello is a legend based solely on his F1 career because he was badly outperformed by Michael Schumacher (as was everyone else in that era), he seems to be becoming one through sheer longevity as he remains a perpetual Stock Car Brasil championship contender at an age when even most top drivers are no longer winning in anything.

66. (C) Lucas Auer

The DTM veteran finished 2nd in the championship, easily his best points finish in seven full-time seasons. Most impressively, he narrowly beat René Rast, who had won three of the last four DTM titles he conteste before a switch to Formula E. His two wins at Algarve and Hockenheim were enough for him to rank tied for 2nd in wins, tied for 3rd in TNL and lead shares, and he also won two poles, tying him for second in that category as well. He did so despite not having an exceptionally fast car as he only ranked 7th overall in speed. However, I downgraded this to some degree because I think he mostly benefited from the fact that many of the experienced drivers left the series. Alex Albon returned to Formula 1, Liam Lawson gave up on attempting to win the DTM title by switching solely to Formula 2, Daniel Juncadella and Philip Ellis switched to sports car racing, Mike Rockenfeller even made some NASCAR starts, and so on. Admittedly, three of the four drivers Auer finished behind in the 2021 points standings returned for 2022 and Auer beat all of them in the championship, but there were a lot of rookies who joined the series including Mirko Bortolotti, Thomas Preining, Luca Stolz, and Dennis Olsen who didn't do much less than Auer did despite Auer having vastly more experience. I ended up taking one of those rookies over him.

65. (C-) Sébastien Bourdais

Bourdais quietly announced his retirement from IndyCar racing at the end of 2021 and switched to IMSA's DPi class full-time for 2022. How quiet was his retirement? I didn't even realize he had retired until I was doing research for this list - I thought he just couldn't find a ride like Greg Biffle after the 2016 NASCAR season. That's how you should do it. Retiring drivers generally should not draw excessive attention to themselves (Kevin Harvick, take note.) Regardless, Bourdais's switch to sports car racing really seemed to revitalize his career as he was definitely one of the top IMSA prototype drivers of the year. Bourdais ranked second by most metrics in the DPi class with three wins alongside teammate Renger van der Zande, but by most metrics, Bourdais was better than van der Zande, tying Filipe Albuquerque for the most TNL and ranked 2nd to him in wins and lead shares. Bourdais also led the way with four pole positions. However, there was something of an Erik Jones/Christopher Bell kind of situation here because van der Zande was substantially faster in average speed while Bourdais seemed to be the far superior passer, particularly in the Long Beach race where he spun out, lost the lead to Alex Lynn, and then repassed him, which was probably one of his best drives ever. Nonetheless, if I have to choose between a better passer and a faster driver, I will usually choose the former and I did so again here. Bourdais and van der Zande were particularly strong at the street races, winning at both Long Beach and Detroit. Bourdais also competed in the extremely deep WEC LMP2 class, where he was solid and above average in speed but he didn't really significantly factor in any races.

64. (9) Kamui Kobayashi

While Kobayashi wasn't the best sports car driver in the world in 2022 like he was in 2021, he was still quite solid. Although he and teammates Mike Conway and José María López only placed 3rd in the WEC Hypercar class and did not win Le Mans, I don't think any of that is really Kobayashi or Conway's fault as they were let down by López's crash at Sebring and Conway was actually the TNL at Le Mans so it seems like the other Toyota primarily won that race on strategy. Kobayashi himself continued to lead the Hypercar class in multiple statistical categories, including leading in cumulative races led and being the only driver in the class to set two fastest races at Bahrain and Le Mans, where he was the fastest driver. However, unlike 2021, I think Conway was clearly the leader of the team this time as even though Conway was not the fastest driver in any race, he had the most consistent speed throughout the year with a class-best speed percentile of 79.49% to Kobayashi's 60.13% and López's 55.90%. While Kobayashi was electrifying in his IMSA starts in 2021, he wasn't as relevant there in 2022 either as he was only merely above average with a best finish of third and he didn't lead much this time or factor in any race wins. He also was pretty indistinguishable from his teammate Yuji Kunimoto in Super Formula, where Kunimoto and Kobayashi finished 16th and 17th in points respectively in very slow cars with Kobayashi narrowly beating Kunimoto 5-4 in shared races even though he finished behind in points. He was still very good in his WEC starts, but a couple of his teammates were better.

63. (81) Nasser Al-Attiyah

The rally legend started his year off by winning his fourth "Dakar" Rally and since he just added another one in year 2023 a couple days before I wrote this, he remains as strong as ever even in his fifties, but it seems like rally racing is one discipline where older drivers really can compete better than in a lot of others. In 2022, a new championship was created for rally-raids with the pseudo-Dakar event opening the schedule and Al-Attiyah went on to win that championship, which effectively replaced the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, a championship he had won four times before. To do so, Al-Attiyah needed to beat Sébastien Loeb and Loeb did have a really strong year for 2022, but I have to say the field beyond those two drivers was extremely shallow and Al-Attiyah did not win any of the other three rallies. However, Al-Attiyah did win another race in the Extreme E off-road touring car series en route to a sixth place finish in the championship there, and that series had a lot more competition. Loeb did win that championship but that field also included other major drivers like Johan Kristoffersson, Carlos Sainz (Sr.), Tanner Foust, and Timmy Hansen. Regardless, even though the Dakar Rally lost a lot of prestige after it moved to South America, it still is one of the biggest rally races in the world and I still think its winner should usually be in the top 100 on this list.

62. (NR) Raffaele Marciello

As I earlier mentioned in the Daniel Juncadella and Jules Gounon sections, I couldn't really decide which of the three drivers for the 24 Hours of Spa-winning AKKodis ASP Team, since they were all prolific winners in a variety of sports car series this year. I chose Marciello because in addition to sharing the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup championship with the other two drivers, he also finished 2nd in that series's Sprint Cup championship with a different teammate, Timur Boguslavskiy. Gounon only competed part-time in the Sprint Cup and did not win a race while Juncadella didn't compete there at all, so that was the main reason I chose Marciello over the other two, but not the only one. In addition to his main championship, Marciello also won the ADAC GT Masters German touring car championship, but Gounon arguably outperformed him there since Marciello won one race and Gounon won four (Juncadella competed there and went winless.) He also shared a win in the Indianapolis 8 Hour with Juncadella and Daniel Morad. Considering all that, I think the correct order is Marciello > Gounon > Juncadella, but they're all really close and you're welcome to disagree.

61. (C-) Matt Campbell

Although Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet, his Pfaff Motorsports teammate in the IMSA GTD Pro class, have been rising sports car drivers for years and had already been successful sports car drivers for a few years now, the duo exploded into superstardom in their first full-time IMSA season, winning five races including the 24 Hours of Daytona, where Jaminet won a hard-fought duel with Laurens Vanthoor, who won the previous year's IMSA GTD championship for the same team. What made the team's performance arguably even more impressive than Vanthoor's was that Pfaff switched from the GTD class that had a lot of amateur drivers to the GTD Pro class that strictly contains professionals, so Jaminet and Campbell had to face a stronger level of championship-caliber talent than Vanthoor had done. However, even though Campbell was the more proven sports car driver entering 2022, with 14 professional sports car wins to Jaminet's 8, Jaminet was definitely the linchpin of the team in 2022. He led Campbell by a large margin in almost all categories, with 5 natural races led to Campbell's 2, 4 TNL to Campbell's 1, 3.46 lead shares to Campbell's 1.3, 2.16 cumulative races led to Campbell's 1.11, and so on. Having said that, Campbell did rank 2nd to Jaminet in almost all categories so while Jaminet was clearly the leader of the team, Campbell was unquestionably contributing too and he did have a faster average speed than Jaminet did with a speed percentile of 71.75% to Jaminet's 58.63%. Campbell was indeed the fastest of all class regulars in 2022, so while I definitely think Jaminet was the better of the two, both of them were clearly better than anyone else in their class by a large margin for the entire season. Considering that Antonio García and Jordan Taylor had combined for nine wins and two championships in that class the previous two years and they only won once in a year when Jaminet and Campbell (both full-time rookies driving for a team new to the GTD Pro class) utterly dominated, they were clearly two of the best IMSA drivers of the year.

60. (53) Esteban Ocon

Ocon ranked 3rd among Formula 1 drivers and 5th among all open wheel drivers overall in my teammate model in 2022, but that probably says more about Fernando Alonso's decline than Ocon's ability himself, which is still something of a question mark to me. Alonso has been both the highest-rated F1 driver and current driver overall through every iteration of my open wheel model to date, but Max Verstappen has almost caught him (.432 to .429) and will clearly overtake him at some point in 2023. Ocon is essentially benefiting from Alonso being nowhere near as good as he was when he was dominating Felipe Massa and Kimi Räikkönen, although bizarrely, most F1 pundits still seem to think Alonso is an elite driver (and I'll talk about that when I get to him very shortly.) The only thing that can be said is that the pair were very evenly matched in terms of finishes, speed percentiles, overtake records, and races where each driver was faster in speed. Alonso led all those statistics by the faintest of margins, so I did end up rating him higher even though Ocon narrowly beat him in the championship. I took Ocon higher last year solely because of his win, but this year I do agree with the pundits that Alonso was better. I just don't agree that he was in any way massively better, and as with Sebastian Vettel, I think he's being overrated due to nostalgia.

59. (22) Denny Hamlin

Although all three of the established Joe Gibbs Racing stars certainly had disappointing seasons relative to their expectations, I think Hamlin was clearly the best of them, not Christopher Bell. Bell did end up leading my stock car teammate model in 2022, which is a little better than the Christopher B. who led it last year, but that did nothing to convince me that Bell was actually the best JGR driver; he just significantly benefited from having the most stable team while the other three teams all seemed to be far more error-prone. Hamlin was let down by slow pit stops for the entire season, and after dominating most of the penultimate race at Martinsville, a botched pit stop led to Bell beating him out of the pits, which ultimately gave him control of the race. It's hard to even blame him for his failure to make the Final Four since nobody was anticipating anyone else to wall-ride in that event and clearly the only people who would think to do that are drivers on the offensive; I highly doubt anybody would have ever thought to do that to defend their position, so while Ross Chastain outfoxed him (which was admittedly pretty fun after Hamlin intentionally wrecked Chastain out of the lead at Pocono and generally did more to hurt Chastain in that feud than vice versa) it's sort of hard to blame Hamlin at all for that freak scenario that was almost out of his control. Having said that, given his history he probably wouldn't have won the title anyway and the playoffs have made it so almost no points position other than 1st really matters much anymore. I'm glad NASCAR has finally decided to disqualify drivers for technical infractions, but it must have caught Hamlin out of the blue. He was very unlucky throughout the season, ranking third from the bottom in Ryan McCafferty's luck ranking behind only Kurt Busch and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and worst of any playoff driver. For a driver who has often struggled by a lot of passing metrics since his injury in 2013, he led all Cup drivers in both pass differential and passing percentage in 2022. He led more races naturally (14) and made more passes for the lead (24) than any JGR driver as well, although Martin Truex, Jr. posted both a better lead change record and narrowly beat Hamlin in lead shares. Surprisingly, he only ranked 10th in speed behind both Bell and Truex, but he did outperform that in most passing metrics, ranking 5th in lead shares and 9th in cumulative races led. While it was by no means one of Hamlin's best seasons, he continued to be the leader on his team just as he had been in 2020 and 2021 and he has not yet declined by as much as you likely think.

58. (NR) Thomas Preining

One of the few drivers in my top 200 list who I admit I had never heard of prior to the 2022 season, Preining had a stellar rookie season in the DTM GT Series where he posted the series's best lead change record at 3-0, won two races, finished fifth in the championship, ranked tied for third in lead shares, fourth in cumulative races led, and fourth in average speed. I ranked him perhaps shockingly high because he did better in almost all these metrics than René Rast and Mirko Bortolotti, who narrowly beat him to finish 3rd and 4th in the championship, even though they both had faster average speeds than him. He also matched Auer in lead shares and beat him in cumulative races led and speed even though he was a rookie while Auer was experienced, which is the reason I chose Preining over Auer. Although I still don't know much about the guy, he seems likely to follow previous Porsche Supercup stars like Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell to become one of the best sports car GT drivers in the world.

57. (57) Fernando Alonso

A lot of people still seem to think Alonso is one of the absolute elite drivers in the world. While I still ranked him pretty high and higher than I expected to, I do not believe this. He may be the Peyton Manning of racing - a driver who only won two championships but consistently had a higher level of performance than that when looking at advanced analytics, but all drivers decline and Alonso clearly has done so. This is a guy who used to nearly sweep great teammates like Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkönen or beat other World Champions like Jenson Button and now he's been barely distinguishable from Esteban Ocon? I don't really get what Alonso is doing currently to justify a ranking of 4th from RaceFans. While last year I rated Ocon higher due to his win, I will admit Alonso was better this year. However, it was only barely. Commenters on RaceFans did note that Alonso had a larger advantage during practice sessions, but who cares about those? In the races, Alonso beat Ocon 8-7. He also beat him by an extremely narrow margin in terms of speed percentile (52.22-50.99%). He had a bigger advantage in passing as his overtake record of 71-52 was greater than Ocon's record of 52-40, but percentage-wise, those are basically identical. In terms of individual race speed, Alonso was faster 11 times to Ocon's 10. All of these are extremely close and suggest that they should be very close to each other on this list. I think a lot of his hardcore fans are frustrated that he had several seasons in his prime in the early 2010s where he had championship-level performances in cars that could not win titles, which caused them to be sympathetic and continue to overrate him even when he was declining. However, I think Americans are probably less inclined to do this than Europeans because we watched him miss the Indy 500 in 2018 and be dominated by Pato O'Ward in basically Indy 500 session in 2020. I realize ovals are an entirely different discipline, but when it seemed like he kept performing worse and worse at Indy each time, that really made me stop thinking he was still one of the best drivers in the world. Is he still competent and above average in F1? Sure. Does he still belong? Yes. Do I even think he's as good as drivers like Sergio Pérez and Carlos Sainz, Jr. who are routinely rated below him even now? No, I don't. (I admit Pérez may be debatable and I am going to rank him not much higher than this, but still in the next tier.)

56. (NR) Leonel Pernía

The Argentinean veteran had the best year of his career at the ripe old age of 46. He won the championship in the TC2000 touring car series, which has had a slightly confusing history. The series was known as TC2000 from its inception in 1979 to 2011 before it was renamed Super TC2000 in 2012 with the feeder series being named TC2000 instead, similar to how the term Grand National went from describing the NASCAR Cup Series to what is now known as the NASCAR Xfinity Series. However, in 2022, the series reverted back t oits original name and Pernía won a career-high five races on the tour. He also competed in the more famous Turismo Carretera championship where he finished 6th in the championship and had his first multi-win season. Of all the Argentinean drivers, Pernía won the most races across the three series and was also the only driver to win one of the championships while also winning races in another. He also competed in another even more obscure series called the Turismo Nacional Argentina, where he finished 4th in points with a win (amazingly, that series had 12 different winners in 13 races, probably the best parity anywhere in the world.)

55. (75) Sébastien Loeb

The GOAT of rally racing continued to impress in a variety of forms of motorsports in 2022. He started out the year with yet another 2nd place finish in the "Dakar" Rally, where he won seven stages (more than he had ever won before). Shortly thereafter, he won his first World Rally Championship event in four years when he claimed his 8th win in that series's premier event, tying Sébastien Ogier for the most wins in that rally. However, Loeb was still not done as a couple weeks later, he added a win in the Race of Champions, where he beat Petter Solberg, Petter's son Oliver Solberg, Mattias Ekström, and Sebastian Vettel to win the event four times, tying him with Didier Auriol for the most RoC wins ever, although admittedly that race has fallen on hard times in recent years and isn't attracting the same level of talent it used to (Ekström is the only one of those drivers who seemed significantly relevant in 2022.) Beyond all that, he also claimed the Extreme E championship for electric off-road cars, but admittedly Johan Kristoffersson significantly outperformed him and was extremely unlucky not to win that title. Finally, his win in the Andalucia Rally in October allowed him to finish 2nd in the World Rally-Raid Championship, the series that the "Dakar" Rally is now a part of. For a driver most associated with successes from 15-20 years ago, this was clearly one of his best seasons in years. Having said that, the competition in most of those events wasn't as deep as it was in the past, and in most of them he was also competing against primarily older drivers who were contemporaries of his, so I don't want to overrate his accomplishments too much.

54. (18) Colton Herta

No doubt about it, Herta had a disappointing season. After his very strong 2020 and 2021 seasons, he was expected to be one of the foremost contenders for the IndyCar championship in 2022 and those expectations seemed to multiply exponentionally once F1 teams started clamoring for him early last season. He signed with McLaren as a development driver and seemed poised to make the jump to F1 with the AlphaTauri team for 2023. Only one problem. His IndyCar results nosedived as he finished tenth in the championship, only won one race, and finished behind a teammate for the first time (Alexander Rossi, who narrowly won the tiebreaker for 9th place over Herta.) That meant Herta was unable to collect the Super License points he needed to be eligible to switch to F1, leading to the most annoying racing controversy and months of endless Twitter fodder. The driver pegged as the Great American Hope to mainstream F1 failed while the American driver who actually made it was the relatively obscure brother of an ex-NASCAR Truck driver (no, really.) This led to an unending string of the stupidest racing debates of the year. As for my take on this, I was puzzled why McLaren initially chose Herta in the first place when it has always seemed to me like Pato O'Ward (a driver already on their roster) was better; he beat him in Indy Lights and he's always been more consistent. However, I figured out that what the F1 teams were really looking for is blinding speed on road courses. It is true that Herta in his best races seems to have more top-tier speed than O'Ward, even though he has a lot more bad races. Additionally, Herta may be better suited to F1 than O'Ward because O'Ward is relatively balanced in that he is fast on both ovals and road courses, while Herta is great on road courses and seemingly genuinely bad on ovals for the most part. It is also true that even though Rossi beat Herta in the championship, Herta was generally faster than Rossi and Romain Grosjean on road and street courses for basically the entire year and both of them were respected by F1 teams. While I did think his 2020 and 2021 seasons were elite, he just never struck me as so overwhelmingly great that multiple F1 teams (Alfa Romeo, McLaren, and AlphaTauri) would all trip over themselves to sign him. No IndyCar driver had advanced to F1 since Sébastien Bourdais. Is Herta better than all the drivers who've advanced since? No. No, he isn't. But what he is is American, and the one American IndyCar driver who is clearly and unquestionably better than him (Josef Newgarden) is considered too old by F1 teams. I get that F1 teams are looking to make inroads to become more popular in America (the biggest market with the biggest sponsors), but here's my question. Does the F1 paddock really think American fans care about Colton Herta? I see this same sort of stupidity all the time from IndyCar fans especially on places like TrackForum. I've posted there and I do like the site, but the people there are so unbelievably obsessed with whether or not drivers will "move the needle" (read: make IndyCar more popular.) Because IndyCar's marketing has been utterly terrible since the split and they have never really understood how to promote, the series cannot really make its drivers stars except during the brief period when they had female drivers and the other major drivers did not. TrackForum realizes famous drivers from other series (for instance, Kyle Larson entering the 2024 Indy 500) are necessary since IndyCar refuses to do its own promotion, so anytime a driver is signed they keep asking whether it will "move the needle" or not. It's like neither IndyCar nor its fans want to acknowledge the series does not know how to market its drivers. But it seems like F1 teams are using the same sort of attitude with Herta. They think Herta will somehow move the needle and make F1 popular in America, which has to be the reason they pinpointed him over other drivers like O'Ward. F1 teams apparently think IndyCar has casual fans who aren't watching F1. That might be true. The Indy 500 still has some casual fans, but Herta isn't even a good oval driver and he's never had a competitive run at Indy. He's only strong on the road courses, where he is admittedly very strong, but how many people watch IndyCar road course races who are not watching F1 but would watch F1 if he was in the series? That has to be a very, very narrow niche. Not only will Herta not make F1 any more popular even if he does eventually make it, but I would bet than Logan Sargeant will be more famous by the start of the 2024 season if he is featured in a season of Drive to Survive. F1 knows how to create stars. IndyCar does not (witness Romain Grosjean winning Most Popular Driver in IndyCar for 2021.) If F1 really wants to make inroads in America, they really need to look at developing Larson or Chase Elliott, but that will never happen. So I thought the whole drama around making Herta the poster boy for mainstreaming F1 in America was stupid, but I also thought the backlash Herta got was stupid as well. Obviously, the cavalcade of Europeans who think all Americans are rednecks and would refer to the country as Burgerstan or whatever were overjoyed to watch an overhyped American fall flat on his face. They argued that if Herta didn't get the Super License points he should get no exemption, and he wasn't qualified anyway because he had because he had every opportunity to advance and didn't. A lot of those people even argued Sargeant was better just because he happened to jump through the FIA's random hoops while Herta did not. Let's correct this for the record. COLTON HERTA IS A BETTER DRIVER THAN LOGAN SARGEANT. He always has been and he probably always will be. Even long before he went pro, he actually beat Lando Norris in his head-to-head teammate record in a feeder series (although Norris won the championship and Herta finished 3rd.) Herta's current rating in my teammate model is .208 to Sargeant's .011 (which is actually pretty good for a driver who hasn't made an F1 start yet, but still nowhere near Herta.) And despite having already won seven IndyCar races, Herta is only nine months older than Sargeant, who only barely got the championship result he needed to advance. F1 just overrates their feeder series in terms of how many Super License points they reward because they want to make sure those series remain strong, viable, and profitable. If they actually awarded points based on the actual prestige of the series, it is likely that a lot of drivers would choose cheaper series to compete in, which would weaken F1's ladder and likely cost the FIA some money. Some people seem to take the Super License system as a decree of God as to the proper way to evaluate drivers. It absolutely isn't. Callum Ilott has a Super License and Herta has outperformed him in IndyCar, for instance (and Ilott personally vouched for Herta.) For one thing, Super License points are rewarded entirely based on results when results don't necessarily reflect performance. Even though Herta only finished 10th in the championship, he did better than that in almost every other statistic. He actually led IndyCar in lead shares in 2022, tied for the most TNL with Newgarden, ranked 5th in cumulative races led, 8th in speed, and 6th in my teammate model. By almost every single other metric, he clearly performed better than 10th and was unlucky to only finish 10th in the championship. In addition to dominating the first Indy GP, he also was running away with the second race before a mechanical failure handed Rossi the win. The Andretti team clearly is overextended and doesn't have as fast cars as they used to be, but by almost all metrics except the actual points standings Herta outperformed his teammates. Kevin Magnussen proved that he was fine upon his return to F1, so I'm sure Grosjean could do likewise if anyone gave him another opportunity. Herta was clearly better than Grosjean. Herta is clearly good enough and just failed to jump through a hoop that doesn't take into account equipment strength, that counts the oval races against him when he's a terribl , and doesn't take into an account that luck is an important determinant of championship finishes. While he had a disappointing season (mainly for failing to live up to his hype), it wasn't that disappointing and he's still really good. He's absolutely talented enough for F1 and clearly one of the top 20 open wheel drivers in the world to me, but he is just being penalized for falling outside their little ecosystem because they don't want to give IndyCar the points it deserves because they don't want to lose F1 ladder series talent (or sponsor money) to IndyCar. The whole thing was political so naturally Twitter was all over it. Herta got both overhyped by some and overhated by others as a proxy war for Americans and Europeans screaming at each other on the Internet, and that always generates great revenue for antisocial media applications. Herta is really good, guys, but he's not that good, and he's not popular enough to elevate F1's status in America.

53. (C-) Louis Delétraz

One thing I didn't mention in my Colton Herta rant because it went on so long was that in addition to Herta's (underrated) IndyCar success, he also claimed victory in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Daytona for his second Rolex class win. I honestly didn't want to acknowledge that much in my Herta entry because he won it dirty by shoving Delétraz off the track into the grass for the lead. Although Delétraz was initially annoyed, he admitted on Twitter that he would have done the same thing. However since I think they ultimately had pretty similar seasons, I thought it would be funny if I slotted Delétraz exactly one position ahead of Herta. #justiceforlouis Delétraz, along with his teammates Ferdinand Habsburg and Lorenzo Colombo utterly dominated the European Le Mans Series season with four wins in six races in the LMP2 class, and Delétraz was awesome in his IMSA starts in the same class as well. In his IMSA starts, Delétraz led the class in almost all statistical categories with 4 natural races led (tied for the most with Steven Thomas), a 5-1 lead change record, two wins, two TNL, 1.65 lead shares, 1.28 cumulative races led, 2 races with the most laps led, and 3 fastest laps. About the only categories Delétraz did not lead in the IMSA LMP2 class were fastest races (Juan Pablo Montoya beat him 3 races to 2) and speed percentile (Montoya beat him 93.33%-89.10%). Of course because neither Delétraz nor Montoya started all the races, neither of them actually won the championship but Delétraz certainly had the highest performance there. As I mentioned in my Ferdinand Habsburg entry, I didn't calculate lap times for the European Le Mans Series this season so I'm not sure which teammate was faster but my guess is it was probably Delétraz even though Habsburg was faster in their shared WEC starts for different teams. However, I believe Delétraz was considered the lead driver on the team and I know he made Autosport's Top 50 list while Habsburg did not.

52. (21) Colin Turkington

The four-time British Touring Car Champion had a disappointing season in 2022 as his 4th place championship finish tied for his worst points finish since 2013 and he was beaten by his teammate in the championship (Jake Hill) for the first time since 2015. Hill and Turkington were fairly evenly matched so I wasn't sure how I would go on this one. Hill did beat Turkington by a large margin in shared finishes (19-9) but Turkington beat Hill in almost every other statistical category, with 4 natural races led to Hill's 3 along with beating Hill in lead shares, cumulative races led, races with the most laps led, and poles, but they were pretty close in nearly all categories. Hill was slightly faster and beat him in fastest laps, while they tied with 3 wins, 3 TNL, and 5 fastest races. Ultimately I decided both that Hill's advantage in consistency was greater than Turkington's advantage in dominance and that a past champion like Turkington has a higher standard than a still rising driver like Hill, so I put Hill at the bottom of my elite tier and Turkington at the top of my competitive tier, but it was close. Both of the touring car analysts I consulted rated Hill higher, although honestly there was one driver in the BTCC who I think was better than both of them who was significantly underrated by both analysts, but I'll get to that in the final article.

51. (24) Nyck de Vries

At the same time the Colton Herta drama rocked the racing world, F1 gatekeepers who act like their drivers are the twenty best open-wheel drivers in the world were forced to contend with the unexpected entry of an outsider. When Alex Albon was forced to miss the race at Monza due to a case of appendicitis, de Vries, the defending Formula E champion was suddenly thrust into action, making his debut for the series-worst Williams team. After numerous drivers were forced to start in the rear, de Vries was suddenly elevated to an 8th-place starting position, which was tied for the second-best starting position for the Williams team all year. His ninth-place finish in his debut race matched the best finish for both Albon and Nicholas Latifi all season, and suddenly the former Formula 2 champion who was unable to find an F1 ride was in hot demand. After AlphaTauri was informed that Herta would be unable to race in F1 in 2023, they then went after de Vries and signed him to replace Pierre Gasly. This shouldn't have been as much of a surprise to people as it was. F1 purists think the best drivers are all there, but while my open wheel model certainly has lots of flaws, it does reveal a lot of hidden talents too and de Vries was one of them. Currently through the end of the season, de Vries has a rating of .177 while Albon is at .091 and Latifi is at -.230. de Vries is clearly better than Albon, who is much better than Latifi. de Vries's performance in his one F1 race was indeed consistent with that, as he was faster than Latifi was in any race and faster than Albon was in all of three races. de Vries proved what a lot of people suspected: F1 was ignoring a lot of talent in their assumptions that their drivers were ultimately superior to anyone outside their ecosystem (to be fair though, de Vries was inside their little ecosystem but just couldn't find a ride and never would have if he hadn't lucked into his Monza start.) de Vries's success in F1 along with Antonio Giovinazzi's failure in Formula E prove that the series are maybe closer in talent than you realize. And this was not one of de Vries's best seasons otherwise. He finished 8th in the championship while his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne won the title. Admittedly, they ran closer than that as de Vries had two wins while Vandoorne only had one, de Vries had a better lead change record and had nearly twice the cumulative races led as Vandoorne, even though Vandoorne was substantially faster. Vandoorne was clearly the better of the two, but de Vries did outperform him in a lot of categories so they weren't as far apart as the championship results might indicate. Regardless, an 8th place Formula E driver immediately matching an F1 team's best finish and outperforming most of the lead driver's best races on his debut clearly indicates that F1 does not contain all the world's best open wheel talents (if you ever doubted that.) Because Vandoorne outperformed him in his finishing record, de Vries only ranked 10th in my teammate model (even behind Albon actually because my model decided crushing Latifi was better than losing to Vandoorne), but I don't care. He impressed me, and he did yet more. de Vries also made a one-off appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. While he did not win, he was the fastest driver in the race in a class that featured 81 drivers, including fourteen other drivers who made this list. But racing isn't a meritocracy. de Vries isn't switching to F1 after his Formula E title, but after the year he finished 8th. Just as Kevin Magnussen learned when he unexpectedly returned to F1, opportunities can be random and sometimes a ride can be decided by sheer luck. de Vries got lucky that Albon fell ill and then got lucky again that Herta didn't get the Super License points he needed, but he surely made the most of it. This whole story seems like a good example of chaos theory.

Sean Wrona is the Managing Editor of racermetrics.com, the Webmaster of race-database.com, the winner of the 2010 Ultimate Typing Championship at the SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin, and the ratings compiler and statistician for the Mensa Scrabble-by-Mail SIG. He earned a master's in applied statistics from Cornell University in 2008 and previously digitized several seasons of NBA box scores on basketball-reference.com. He is the author of Nerds Per Minute: A History of Competitive Typing. You may contact him at sean@racermetrics.com.