I will use general stats like speed, hardpoints, internals power plant etc. to decide which ship is the best. Luckily there isn't one best ship but rather ship that fits your role better and not.
Point system i use is very simple - best in each cathegory receives 4 points, second place - 3, third - 2 and last 1 point.
|Price||22 (3)||5 (4)||57 (1,5)||51 (1,5)|
|Internal compartments||248 (3)||56 (1)||292 (4)||70 (2)|
|Speed||341 (4)||240 (1)||260 (2)||295 (3)|
|Weapons||2M 2L (2,5)||2L (1)||2M 3L (4)||1H 4M (2,5)|
|Shields||292 (1)||340 (2,5)||350 (2,5)||450 (4)|
|Mass||400 (4)||230 (1)||350 (3)||250 (2)|
|Jump||26 (3)||22 (1,5)||28 (4)||21 (1,5)|
Overall best is Python, which is not surprising at all considering it's also most expensive and multi-purpose ship, meaning you can use it for many roles. So if you want to fight NPCs or trade (especially with outposts) then Python should be your top choice.
If you are into PvP then i would pick Imperial Clipper, Fer-de-Lance over the Python. Clipper and Fer-de-Lance are faster than Python and Fer-de-Lance has better shields IF you compromise with weapons, but still it depends on your enemies and what other ships you have in your wing and what enemies are you up against.
And this is what you should never forget, while wing compiled of Imperial Clippers might work like a charm against specific enemies overall i would advise to have mixed wings compiled from Anaconda for support and rest slots fill with Python/Fer-de-Lance/Vulture/Imperial Clipper depending on what you are up against.
Clipper wing is great hit and run because they can dictate when the battle starts and when it's over, while if you have an Anaconda then you must stick around it otherwise the ship becomes useless if enemies are out of its reach, but one thing is clear - Anacondas and Pythons are not a killers because they are too slow and Imperial Clipper/Fer-de-Lances are the ships that will land the last shot, so if you are in for a kill you must have something fast enough to catch up with fleeing enemies and preferable something big to mass lock them.