Driver Performance at the Chinese Grand Prix

WELCOME to my third driver performance scoring chart of the 2012 Formula One season which covers how I thought every driver did in the 2012 UBS Chinese Grand Prix from Shanghai:


The surprise winner of the Malaysian Grand Prix performed admirably again in Shanghai but for little reward.  He produced the maximum to scrape into Q3 by just one hundreth of a second.  In the race, he raced well and was matching the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber throughout but a poor final stop and a moment running wide whilst fighting Sergio Perez meant he finished only ninth behind the Williams drivers.  Nevertheless, still in the thick of the championship battle.  8/10


It was always going to be difficult for Perez to match his Malaysian performance and he seemed to struggle against the higher expectations in China.  Made the third part of qualifying again but was left back in eighth, some way behind team-mate Kamui Kobayashi.  He raced better, though his pace disappeared when Sauber moved onto the medium tyres.  Out of luck this time in points, losing out to Kobayashi despite a vicious attempt by the Japanese in having him off the road.  Sauber’s race pace meant the Mexican always was fighting a losing battle.  6/10


If a sticky wheelnut hadn’t held him up in the third and final round of pitstops, Jenson Button might well have won in China.  Until that point, it was always going to be a tight one to call between him and Nico Rosberg.  Struggled with the balance on Friday, Jenson elected to look more at race setup, meaning he wasn’t a factor in the pole battle.  A great start upto third from fifth on the grid was the setting stone and an aggressive pass on Sebastian Vettel towards the end set him up for a deserved second place.  8/10


Hamilton’s victory ambitions took a nosedive from the beginning of the weekend, as he carried a grid penalty from damaging his gearbox in Malaysia.  Qualified an excellent second before the drop to seventh and made it upto fifth from the start.  Only a stint behind Felipe Massa cost him a potential shot at the victory but stayed cool in the heat of battle and a rostrum place was a great effort.  Only a bit more luck required before he starts winning again.  9/10


Vettel’s exit from the second part of qualifying was a huge surprise, his first departure from before Q3 since Brazil 2009.  Not happy with the car, he took an older exhaust set-up to team-mate Mark Webber and looked lost in the midfield after a horrific start relegated him to 15th.  Stuck behind the Williams cars, he elected to pit earlier and almost made the tyres last on a two stop.  Ran out of grip in the closing stages to fall to fifth but good effort considering his troubles all weekend.  7/10


Mark Webber has managed to adapt to the RB8 this year and is performing consistently well, although his ultimate pace might still be missing.  Was strong in defence against Kimi Raikkonen and was in the mix for a podium.  Pleased to have outpsyched Vettel on the penultimate lap to record his third successive fourth place finish.  Only a poor start cost him a chance at beating the McLarens.  8/10


Scored points in the first two events but strong reliability from the top teams meant di Resta’s opportunities to score in China were limited.  Beat Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying by nearly half a second and raced solidly but this time, had to settle for 12th – probably the maximum the chassis had this week.  6/10


The first two races of Rosberg’s season were disappointing to say the least but Nico was absolutely faultless in China.  At a track when he has always gone well at in the past, his performance makes you think why has it taken him 111 attempts to register his first Grand Prix win.  His flying lap to secure pole position was flawless and one of the best you will see this season.  A perfect start and a race performance that was full of dominance, control and assurance.  Even without his poor pitstop, Button would have struggled to beat Rosberg.  World class.  10/10


Senna still needs to get things upto speed in qualifying but he is producing some strong race efforts.  Backed up his sixth place finish in Sepang with seventh place in Shanghai.  He was 14th on the grid, although closer to Pastor Maldonado on pace.  A bruising first lap saw him have contact with both Felipe Massa and Maldonado, leaving him slightly less efficient on aerodynamic parts.  Worked hard to stay in contention and got as high as sixth before overwhelmed by Romain Grosjean in the closing stages.  8/10


Kimi Raikkonen looked all at sea in China at times and other occasions, looked very aggressive and up for the fight.  Qualified a surprising fourth considering his lack of pace on Friday.  Ran second until the closing stages but was on a strategy that never even looked likely to come off.  His alarming drop through the field wasn’t his fault due to the state of his tyres but losing out so quickly would have disappointed the Finn.  Lessons should be learned by Lotus for this experience.  6/10


There were no points for Felipe Massa in China but it was a much better performance after a miserable first two events.  12th was probably the best he could achieve in qualifying and was only 0.2secs slower than team-mate Alonso in qualifying.  A two-stop strategy was the wrong one for a points scoring performance but consistent race pace and even led the race for a lap.  A step in the right direction.  6/10


The Frenchman is on a real learning curve and Grand Prix racing is a tough business.  His second successive exit in the first part of qualifying will have concerned the Toro Rosso bosses.  He decided to start from the pitlane and in a car that is at the moment, back of a congested midfield, performed ok to beat his team-mate in the race and finished 16th.  A car improvement required before regular points happen.  3/10  


The only retirement in the race and he was blameless here in that regard thanks to a loose wheel at his first stop.  However, he was put in the shade by his team-mate all weekend and will be disappointed with natural speed.  A front row start thanks to Hamilton’s penalty but half a second off Rosberg in qualifying and was nowhere near him in the race.  Want an improvement in Bahrain on his speed across a race stint.  7/10


A weekend to forget for Hulkenberg as he was completely put in the shade by team-mate di Resta in a car that is struggling against the likes of the improving Sauber and Williams teams.  Made a poor start from 16th and contact on the first lap with Heikki Kovalainen didn’t help matters.  Did well to fightback and beat the Toro Rosso’s but lack of impact on the weekend’s activities.  4/10


Excellent qualifying pace in the first two races but poor errors had hindered Grosjean’s progress so far.  Got it right in China to finish a competitive sixth and another lap longer, might have got the better of Sebastian Vettel too.  Made Q3 but ran out of option tyres and elected not to run in Q3.  Dropped behind fast starting Massa at the start and was part of the congested midfield group throughout.  Feisty in combat against both Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado paved the way for him to score his first ever championship points.  9/10


13th on the grid was disappointing for Maldonado, having made a couple of mistakes on his best lap.  Hit team-mate Senna in the first corner and dropped behind him and Paul di Resta.  Came out second best to his team-mate and Grosjean in a robust tussle for position later on but held off Fernando Alonso to record an impressive eighth, his best ever result.  7/10


The best ever performance from a Japanese driver in qualifying since the days of Takuma Sato at BAR, Kobayashi had a tough Sunday with a struggle to show his Saturday speed.  Struggled to make decisive moves in the traffic after a poor start saw him lose four spots, including one to his team-mate.  Only the tyre troubles of Raikkonen got Kamui into the points.  7/10


Looked competitive in his backyard and strong race pace in Malaysia but looked very fallible in China.  Outpaced team-mate Vergne in qualifying but beaten by the rookie in the race.  Not a weekend he will remember fondly when looking back at his season so far.  4/10


Petrov is in a position where he can’t quite get onto the midfield but is installing some form of consistency that was always missing in the Renault days.  Still slightly off Heikki Kovalainen’s qualifying pace but matching the Finn’s race pace and when he ran into mechanical problems and raced creditably to finish, although still shy of the struggling Toro Rosso’s.  7/10


Another tough weekend for Kovalainen, hampered by reliability concerns throughout.  Got the maximum out of the Caterham in qualifying and ran ahead of Petrov in the race before issues with a wheel nut forced him into the pits for two successive laps.  Kept going which in the tough circumstances wasn’t bad.  6/10


Started 22nd and finished 21st, produced his usual efficient performance and keeping Marussia within sight is creditable considering HRT’s financial struggles at the back of the grid.  5/10


Pushed Petrov hard in qualifying but an unbalanced race setup left him trailing around with finishing the only target, which was achieved with the minimum of fuss.  6/10


Often seen as a roadblock and when the HRT looks a handful in the corners, there’s little he could do but get some more race mileage under his belt.  Target achieved but very mediocre and unobtrusive as ever.  3/10


Charles Pic is doing a similar job to Jerome D’Ambrosio was last season.  Not far off Glock’s pace on a Saturday and set a faster race lap on Sunday – plus another race distance under his belt.  6/10

Total scores after 3 events: Fernando Alonso 25, Jenson Button 25, Lewis Hamilton 25, Mark Webber 23, Romain Grosjean 23, Sergio Perez 22, Pastor Maldonado 22, Sebastian Vettel 22, Nico Rosberg 22, Kimi Raikkonen 21, Michael Schumacher 21, Bruno Senna 21, Timo Glock 19, Paul di Resta 19, Vitaly Petrov 19, Daniel Ricciardo 18, Kamui Kobayashi 18, Charles Pic 17, Jean-Eric Vergne 16, Nico Hulkenberg 16, Heikki Kovalainen 16, Felipe Massa 12, Pedro de la Rosa 10, Narain Karthikeyan 9


About Simon Wright

Hello, I am Simon, 29 and currently work as a Picture Researcher & Product Editor for Topps Europe Ltd. In my spare time, I run the Premier League at 25 Website. I graduated from the University of Northampton in 2012 with a 2:1 degree in BA Hons Journalism.

Posted on April 18, 2012, in Features. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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