With the annual mid-summer break now upon us, what better a time to run the rule over the F1 2010 World Championship campaign thus far, with a school report-style rundown of the 'hot-or-not' of the season to-date. If you don't agree - or even if you do - feel free to post your own comments by following the link at the bottom of the story...

Part II will be posted on Friday.

1. Mark Webber - Red Bull Racing (161 points): A
Leading the world championship for the second time as F1 headed into its summer break, Webber is enjoying without doubt the best season of his top flight career. The 'winningest' driver of the campaign thus far, the Australian would potentially have five triumphs to his name now rather than four had he not been swiped out by team-mate Sebastian Vettel in Turkey. Occasionally prone to speaking his mind a little too publicly - witness the spectacular Silverstone fall-out - the 33-year-old is nonetheless arguably the least susceptible to errors under pressure as the title chase speeds towards the home straight.

2. Lewis Hamilton - McLaren-Mercedes (157 points): A
Hamilton has at times performed minor miracles in F1 2010, with a car that has never really been the pace-setter. The 25-year-old's back-to-back victories in Istanbul and Montreal that vaulted him to the top of the title standings were as fine as any that have been seen all year, but there remain the odd lapses - his burn-outs in Australia and overly-aggressive battle with Vitaly Petrov in Malaysia - that remind you that he is still a very young man, and one who has been cloistered for much of his adult life by the team with which he has to all intents and purposes grown up. That aside, exemplary.

3. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull Racing (151 points): A-
Vettel could - and indeed arguably should - be well on his way to F1 2010 title glory by now, but for one reason or another obstacles keep appearing to trip the young German up, whether of his own making or outside of his control. A run of poor reliability early on in the campaign undoubtedly harmed his challenge, whilst his Turkish impetuosity - and somewhat childish finger-wagging response to it once he had extricated himself from his car - betrayed an immaturity and questionable temperament hitherto unseen. His post-Silverstone comments represented another example of the 23-year-old not exactly covering himself in glory, but on pure pace - witness seven pole positions from twelve races to-date - he has been a class act this season. Don't write him off.

4. Jenson Button - McLaren-Mercedes (147 points): B+
Ever the master of tricky and unpredictable conditions, Button's canny Australian and Chinese triumphs early on earned the reigning F1 World Champion the championship lead once more, and for a while, at least, it began to seem as though the 30-year-old might actually gain the upper hand over McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton - something many pre-season observers had opined would never happen. Over time, however, the Frome-born ace has conceded the advantage to his countryman, trailing his fellow Brit eight-four in the qualifying stakes and yet to start from the front row of the grid. With qualifying a clear Achilles' heel, should Button prove able to turn his Saturday form around, he still stands a chance - but if not, his title defence may now be fatally wounded.

5. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari (141 points): B+
After triumphing in the Bahrain Grand Prix curtain-raiser at Sakhir to get his Ferrari adventure off to a dream start, nobody - least of all Alonso himself - would have predicted that it would be a further three months before the Spaniard again ascended the top step of the rostrum, and even then needing to be 'gift-wrapped' victory by disgruntled team-mate Felipe Massa, a misdemeanour for which the Prancing Horse could yet face further sanctions. Not quite at his imperious best this season, that the Oviedo native is still in the hunt for glory is more testament to his consistency and the nature of the campaign more than anything else, but with the Scuderia seemingly now back on-form, he remains a very real threat to clinch the crown.

6. Felipe Massa - Ferrari (97 points): C+
Seemingly a harsh rating, perhaps, but if you look at Massa's performances between the Bahrain opener and the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim that he should have won, it is impossible to pick out a single stand-out drive. That the little Brazilian led the championship early on is something of an incongruity, given that he has still yet to win a race this season and has been routinely out-paced by Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso. Although he insists he is not yet out of the title fight, all the evidence suggests otherwise, and it can only be hoped that the Spaniard's Shanghai pit-lane aggression has not permanently cast Massa into the role of number two at Maranello.

7. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes Grand Prix (94 points): B+
One of the indisputable stars of the season so far, is Nico Rosberg. Three podium finishes in a car that frankly isn't really up to it, a ten-two qualifying record against legendary Mercedes Grand Prix team-mate Michael Schumacher and an impressively stoic determination to keep on plugging away even when things have fallen some way short of expectations for the defending double F1 World Champions this year have seen the young German's stock rise immeasurably. The jury might have been out pre-season about whether or not the son of 1982 F1 World Champion Keke Rosberg was the real deal. On the evidence of his performances for Mercedes thus far, you would have to say that he is.

8. Robert Kubica - Renault F1 (89 points): A+
If Nico Rosberg is one of the stars, then Robert Kubica is the star of F1 2010 to-date, as the most consistent driver on the grid and dragging his Renault R30 to places that it really has no right to be. Podiums in Melbourne and Monaco were just reward for the Pole's efforts, and the Krak?w native has played a key role in helping to re-inject the vitality and hunger into a team that at the end of last season appeared to be down-and-out. Given the limitations of the equipment at his disposal, sixth spot in the standings looks to be the best finish that the 25-year-old can hope for, but wouldn't a win along the way be the icing on the cake of a magnificent campaign..?

9. Michael Schumacher - Mercedes Grand Prix (38 points): C
Should Michael Schumacher have come back to F1 competition this year? That is rather a moot point inside the paddock, for whilst the man himself maintains that he is enjoying his return, for a driver who tore up the record books during his original career at the highest level, this Indian summer three years later and at the age of 41 is proving to be far from the warm homecoming he had anticipated. Regularly outpaced by young compatriot Nico Rosberg at Mercedes Grand Prix, 'Schumi' has at times looked to be a spent force, a sad shadow of his former self, the driver who used to eat his team-mates for breakfast. And the move he pulled on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary was reprehensible to say the very least...

10. Adrian Sutil - Force India F1 (35 points): B
It has been a solid season so far for Adrian Sutil, who has spearheaded Force India F1's challenge on the midfield, and caught the eye by finishing inside the points more often than not. Ably handling the threat posed to him by team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi, in his fourth campaign at the highest level now, the young German is staking his claim to a prolonged future on the grand prix grid - perhaps, who knows, alongside Robert Kubica at Renault - and is gradually erasing his reputation as simply the man who once partnered Lewis Hamilton at ASM Formule 3 in the F3 Euroseries.

11. Rubens Barrichello - Williams F1 (30 points): B+
Age shall not wither, it seems, for the third-oldest driver in the F1 2010 field - and the most experienced competitor in the sport's history full-stop - is once again demonstrating his evergreen qualities, and there appears little doubt that it is Rubens Barrichello's unstinting work ethic and wealth of knowledge garnered from front-running teams that is helping to propel Williams forward mid-season. Similarly proving to be an effective tutor to young rookie team-mate Nico H?lkenberg, the veteran Brazilian's fourth place in Valencia and fifth at Silverstone a fortnight later were the fruit of his labours, and a clear sign that there remains considerable life in the old dog yet.

12. Vitaly Petrov - Renault F1 (17 points): C+
It is somewhat difficult to accurately assess Vitaly Petrov's form as the first Russian ever to break into F1 in 2010, given that the 'Vyborg Rocket' has such a strong team-mate alongside him at Renault in the shape of Robert Kubica, who is routinely outperforming the equipment at his disposal. That the 25-year-old has been fast but wild is beyond debate, but his inconsistency has palpably frustrated his employers at Renault and cast some doubt over the safety of his seat into 2011. Should his recent improvement continue, however, he may yet secure a deserved stay of execution at Enstone.

13. Kamui Kobayashi - Sauber (17 points): B-
For much of the early part of the F1 2010 campaign, many paddock observers were beginning to wonder just what all the fuss regarding Kamui Kobayashi had been about late last year, as behind the wheel of Sauber's mediocre C29, the young Japanese ace began to look, well, pretty mediocre himself to be honest, with not so much as a glimpse of the kind of outstanding form he had displayed in his two outings for Toyota in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. And then came Valencia, the 23-year-old's ultra-late pit-stop and his superb overtaking manoeuvres in the closing stages on double world champion Fernando Alonso and S?bastien Buemi, inching ahead of his Scuderia Toro Rosso rival into the very final corner. All-of-a-sudden, Koba-san was alive again, and Silverstone a fortnight later and the Hungaroring last time out witnessed more of the same. His progress over the second half of proceedings will doubtless be watched with interest.


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