1. Nico Hulkenberg
ART Grand Prix 2009
Championship position: 1st
It took a few races for Hulkenberg to gel with the GP2 car, but once he did he was pretty much unstoppable. The pole and two wins in Germany were the obvious highlight, but even on his off weekends - Monza in particular - he still managed to score points. To win the title as a rookie against such an experienced field seemed like a big ask, but Hulkenberg was more than up to the challenge.
2. Vitaly Petrov
Barwa Addax 2009
Championship position: 2nd
With Romain Grosjean having started the season as title favourite, Petrov began the year being viewed as the guy in the 'other' Barwa Addax car. That only lasted as long as the third round in Turkey, where he pulled out a win and a third, and as the races went by the Russian increasingly looked like the team's lead driver even before Grosjean moved on to bigger things.
3. Romain Grosjean
Barwa Addax GP2
Championship position: 4th
That Grosjean was able to finish the season fourth in the standings despite only contesting six rounds before getting the call-up from Renault F1 to replace Nelson Piquet illustrates his basic speed, but further scrutiny of the numbers makes for some bewildering reading. He scored two wins and a second in the first three races - and never got near a podium again. The crash in the sprint race at Monaco stands as a stark turning point in his fortunes, although it is probably taking things too far to imply a connection between the accident and the slump in his results. Suffice to say that based on Grosjean's form in his final races, Hulkenberg would have won the title whether the Swiss driver had stuck around or not.
4. Lucas di Grassi
Racing Engineering 2009
Championship position: 3rd
Experienced, quick, intelligent - and for precisely those reasons, frustrating in 2009. Going into his fourth season with the team that had just taken Giorgio Pantano to the 2008 title, di Grassi really should have been setting the terms for anyone else with an eye on the 2009 championship rather than spending the season playing catch-up. Quite how things played out as they did is a bit of a mystery. di Grassi will point to some bad luck, but he also cost himself points with mistakes such as the crash at Spa. Eight podiums from the season was a decent haul; unfortunately only one of them was a win - and that was in a sprint race.
5. Jerome D'Ambrosio
Championship position: 9th
It might seem a bit odd to rank the Belgian this highly, but that's as much a reflection of a generally murky season as anything else. However if you consider that DAMS finished level on points with iSport - a team that won three races to DAMS' zero - and that d'Ambosio was responsible for two-thirds of DAMS' points, his efforts should be acknowledged. He rarely made mistakes either, although being locked in the midfield often exposed him to errors made by others.
6. Giedo van der Garde
Championship position: 7th
After a frustrating start to the season, the 2008 World Series by Renault champion had an epiphany in Hungary - much to the relief of the iSport team - and looked like a different driver for the rest of the year. Still has his doubters, but if he can carry his late-2009 form into 2010 then they should be silenced.
7. Alvaro Parente
Ocean Racing GP2
Championship position: 8th
There are absolutely no questions about the Portuguese driver's raw talent. But talent is only part of the package, and when it comes to Parente, it's hard to pin down what the missing ingredient was in 2009. Certainly the fact that the fledgling Ocean squad was still finding its feet didn't help - the cars' characteristics had a nasty habit of changing dramatically from one weekend to the next. Parente's stellar performance in Spa was proof of what he is capable of, but it would have been good to see it more often.
8. Luca Filippi
Super Nova GP2
Championship position: 9th
It might seem a bit harsh to rate Filippi this low given that he finished fifth in the championship. But once you take into account that this was his fourth season and that he'd rejoined a team with the pedigree of Super Nova, the fact that he failed score as many points as Grosjean despite contesting eight more races suddenly looks a touch underwhelming. The double podium in the Algarve - capped off with a win in the sprint race - was good, but it was too little, too late.
9. Pastor Maldonado
ART Grand Prix 2009
Championship position: 6th
The Venezuelan started the season strongly, racking up two sprint race wins in the opening four rounds and clearly establishing himself as ART's leader. Then Hulkenberg clicked, and Maldonado never looked vaguely the same thereafter. Luck wasn't always on his side - the disqualification at Valencia for a minor technical breach was unfortunate and ruined his weekend. But that was offset by too many late-season weekends where one ART car was out in front, and the other wasn't in the same postcode.
10. Roldan Rodriguez
Piquet GP 2009
Championship position: 11th
The Spaniard had to fight off stiff opposition to claim the final spot on the top 10 list. It was indicative of the nature of the 2009 season that there were several other drivers who could stake a reasonable claim to the place - Andi Zuber, Sergio Perez, Alberto Valerio, Javier Villa, to name a few. So what clinched it for Rodriguez? It wasn't consistency. He was as erratic as anyone over the course of the season, although there was a definite upswing in his performances in the second part of the year. The distinction was that when things went wrong for Rodriguez, he was less likely to be the architect of his own downfall.
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