Driver Performance at the Spanish Grand Prix

WELCOME to my fifth driver performance scoring chart of the 2012 Formula One season which covers how I thought every driver did in the 2012 Gran Premio de Espana:

SEBASTIAN VETTEL

After his Bahrain dominance, Sebastian Vettel had a quiet time in Barcelona, as Red Bull continue to try and understand the tyres behind their 2012 package.  Looked ominously fast on Friday and in Saturday practice but the pace disappeared in qualifying and the team elected to do some battery runs rather than competitive laps.  Held off Kamui Kobayashi on the first lap, then had to battle a nose change after debris damaged his old front wing and a drive-through penalty for ignoring yellow flags.  Gained late positions on Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to recover to sixth and maintain a joint championship lead.  7/10

KIMI RAIKKONEN

Looked dangerous on Friday, given the prestigious pace of the Lotus on long runs.  Qualifying was slightly lacklustre, which now leaves him behind Romain Grosjean 4-1 in those rankings.  Fine start had him challenging for the lead into turn one, then settled into a quiet pattern, keeping a safe distance from the first two, probably too safe.  Attacked brilliantly in the final stint and would have passed Fernando Alonso if the race ended a lap later and his general frustration on the podium suggested another case of what might have been.  9/10

ROMAIN GROSJEAN

Romain Grosjean achieved his third successive points finish, although there still were some nervous moments during the race.  A slow start had him side-by-side with Sergio Perez which led to contact on the exit of turn two.  Grosjean survived this and another collision with Bruno Senna later, that trimmed the Lotus of some front wing parts.  Once past Nico Rosberg, drove into the distance to finish a commanding fourth and this, despite losing the whole of FP3 after being grounded by a fuel pressure problem.  Looking like the complete Grand Prix driver now.  8/10

MARK WEBBER

Battled a heavy cold and an oversteery chassis all weekend and Mark Webber carried a long face around the paddock throughout.  A trip into the gravel in FP2 highlighted his struggles although it was more the team’s fault than his in failing to make the final part of qualifying.  Dismal start left him languishing in 15th and a nose change like his team-mate Sebastian Vettel put him out of the points reckoning.  Will want to improve in Monaco.  5/10

LEWIS HAMILTON

The words luck and Lewis Hamilton don’t fit into the same sentence so far in 2012.  Hamilton was flying around Barcelona and dominated qualifying to take McLaren’s 150th Formula One pole position.  Unfortunately, human error meant the team told Hamilton to stop on the track after his flying lap, as he didn’t enough fuel to both return to the pits and give the FIA a required sample after qualifying.  The stewards took a stringent approach and sent the Brit to the back of the grid.  On an almost impossible two stop strategy, Hamilton did well to battle back and finish eighth and ahead of team-mate Jenson Button, on a circuit where overtaking is difficult at best.  When the luck changes, he will win races in 2012, he just needs to stay cool and positive as he is at the moment.  9/10

PAUL DI RESTA

Force India brought some signficiant upgrades to Spain but struggled to challenge for points, despite the best efforts of both drivers.  Paul di Resta started 12th and operated around the points for the majority of the race.  Race pace was slightly slower than Nico Hulkenberg for the first time this season and a struggle on the prime tyre allowed the Toro Rosso cars to overtake in the closing laps, leaving the Scot in a disappointing 14th place at the finish.  Final result wasn’t justified with his hard working efforts as ever.  7/10

NICO ROSBERG

Nico Rosberg had his usual mundane race, staying out of trouble and picking up points on a circuit that seemed to highlight that despite winning in China, Mercedes GP still have work to do, especially in hot track temperatures.  Started sixth after one qualifying attempt and benefited from a tangle between Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez to run fourth for the first stint.  Tyre wear again played a factor and had nothing in reserve to defend fifth from both Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastian Vettel on the final stint.  Seventh was about the maximum possible.  7/10

FERNANDO ALONSO

I’m starting to run out of superlatives to describe Fernando Alonso’s performance in 2012.  Alonso is maximising the potential of the F2012 and doing even more, which leaves him joint leader of the championship on 61 points.  Another stunning effort in qualifying saw him haul the car onto the front row and a perfect start had him leading into the first corner for the second year running.  Ferrari kept him out longer on his second set of tyres, which cost him the lead and a late vibration on his last set cost everyone a grandstand finish.  Apart from this, another exemplary performance from the Spaniard.  9/10

JENSON BUTTON

No balance, a lack of speed and not at the races.  Jenson Button had a poor weekend and left Barcelona with two points but chin down on the ground.  Moaning about the lack of rear end grip from FP1 on Friday, his frustrations were clear on the team radio throughout the event.  Exited qualifying in the second session thanks to radical track improvements, although his Sunday pace would suggest he would have struggled to make the cut anyways.  Spent most of the race fighting Kamui Kobayashi and a poorly balanced car and will be annoyed to be passed by Sebastian Vettel twice and the world champion had a problematical race too.  This is one event Button will want to forget in a hurry.  6/10

FELIPE MASSA

After improvements in China and Bahrain, Felipe Massa returned to his Australia/Malaysia form in Barcelona.  Absolutely hopeless and exposed against team-mate Alonso, suffering the indignity of being lapped by his team-mate in the race too.  Blamed traffic for winding up slowest in Q2; the team increased the pressure with a Twitter status suggesting they were unimpressed with his Saturday efforts.  Super first lap had him upto 11th before a drive-through ruined the hopes of scraping a point.  Claimed his penalty was unfair but the way he responded in the second half of the race was pitiful and dismal.  Similar performance in Monaco might see Massa ending up visiting the job centre next Monday.  Very poor!  4/10

SERGIO PEREZ

Pace in practice suggested a fantastic qualifying session and fifth place on the grid was fully deserved.  The Mexican looked comfortable on both sets of tyres but his race was effectively over three corners in after an unfortunate touch with Romain Grosjean punctured a tyre.  The slow trip back to the pits was damaging and a poor pitstop, contributing to a transmission failure later on ended his day prematurely.  His race pace was quick though, so it was a case of what might have been for Sergio in Spain.  8/10

KAMUI KOBAYASHI

Kamui Kobayashi has been a mixed bag so far in 2012.  We’ve seen aggressive moments in Malaysia and more passive driving in Bahrain as an example.  He was on form in Barcelona and matched his best ever career result.  A hydraulic problem at the end of Q2 left him a frustrated spectactor in Q3 and back in ninth on the grid.  Made up for Perez’s scrappy Sunday with some committed attacking passes on Jenson Button and in the later stages, on Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.  A way behind Romain Grosjean at the chequered flag but decisive on his way to fifth place.  9/10

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER

Button, Webber, Massa and Schumacher’s performance were all brutally exposed by their team-mates in Spain.  Lucky to make Q3, before team elected not to run him as they felt not much could be achieved apart from the eigth place he would eventually start from following Lewis Hamilton’s penalty.  Got upto sixth in the first stint before getting up close and personal with Bruno Senna.  Misjudged his braking point into turn one, taking both out of the race.  He called Senna an ‘idiot,’ the officials rightfully disagreed and slapped him with a grid penalty for Monaco.  Awful performance.  5/10

NICO HULKENBERG

It wasn’t noticed by many, especially in the light of Pastor Maldonado’s success but Nico Hulkenberg produced a calm and matured performance by himself and it was only to register a solitary point.  Hulkenberg had made a rocky start to 2012 but had the edge on Paul di Resta for most of the weekend, even though the Scot edged him out to 12th on the grid.  Kept Lewis Hamilton behind in the early stages and the way he dealt with the pressure that Mark Webber put on him throughout the last 30 laps was impressive, considering the Force India just wasn’t fast enough for points this weekend.  A great effort and will no doubt help his confidence for future events.  9/10

PASTOR MALDONADO

There was a bit of luck in the way he achieved pole position after Lewis Hamilton’s penalty following qualifying but his performance on Sunday was no fluke.  Maldonado was in superb form all weekend and was a contender for a strong result from the moment he went second fastest in FP3.  His qualifying lap was stunning and deserved his front row start.  A faltering start cost him the lead to Alonso but Pastor didn’t let this fluster him and kept the Ferrari more than honest. Clever strategy placed him ahead of Alonso after the second stops and under pressure, managed his final set of tyres to great precision.  Deserved fully all the plaudits for a remarkable performance.  10/10

DANIEL RICCIARDO

The Toro Rosso team are in danger of being cut adrift from the tight midfield pack and it is becoming difficult to read the performances of their young drivers apart from against each other.  First time this season that Jean-Eric Vergne got the better of Daniel Ricciardo in both qualifying and the race, which will leave the Australian less than amused.  Will be pleased to have beaten Paul di Resta and Felipe Massa though and keeps his 100 per cent reliability record up in 2012 too.  6/10  

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN

Barcelona has never been a happy hunting ground for Heikki Kovalainen, with painful memories of his horrific crash in 2008 perhaps still lingering in his mind whenever he competes here.  Outqualified for the first time in 2012 by Vitaly Petrov.  Better in the race and avoided problems to edge out his Russian team-mate, although the Caterham is still approximately 0.5secs off the midfield pack.  6/10

JEAN-ERIC VERGNE

The Frenchman went better this weekend, on a track that he knows well from his testing and Euro Series days.  Bruno Senna’s error in Q1 meant he got into Q2 for the first time since Melbourne and used this fortune to beat Ricciardo in qualifying for the first time this season.  Perfect start had him upto tenth, ahead of both Force India’s and Mark Webber and only some slower pitstops than Force India and a partial Webber recovery denied Vergne a point.  This weekend though will give him a much-needed boost, especially in his battle for supremacy with Ricciardo.  7/10

BRUNO SENNA

Pastor Maldonado’s stunning weekend highlights that Bruno Senna had a complete mere in Spain.  Traffic ruined his first qualifying effort and then he looked down at his delta on the soft run and spun into the gravel, leaving him high and dry in 17th on the grid following Hamilton’s demotion.  His pace in practice hadn’t been that good before this mistake anyways.  Williams put him on a two stop strategy but afternoon ruined when Schumacher used him as brake and put Bruno in the gravel.  Then his car was wrecked by the garage fire afterwards.  Will need an upturn and improvement in fortunes, particularly in qualifying from now on.  5/10

VITALY PETROV

Vitaly Petrov outqualified Heikki Kovalainen in Spain, the first time he achieved this feat in 2012.  Struggled in the first stint of the race but matched Kovalainen from mid-distance and a faster race lap than Hulkenberg’s points scoring Force India will give the team a lot of confidence.  Reliable and improvements in KERS had aided this upturn and until they can get right in the mix, all Petrov can do is match his team-mate.  7/10

CHARLES PIC

For the second successive race, Pic got the better of Timo Glock in qualifying and by nearly half a second in the process.  A spin on the second lap dropped him to the back of the field and ignored blue flags which earnt him Fernando Alonso’s wrath and a drive-through penalty.  Mechanical failure ended a sorry Sunday but continues to do a good job all round.  6/10

TIMO GLOCK

Timo Glock is a real enigma, as you don’t know which version will show up in the paddock.  Will be disappointed to be so far off his team-mate’s pace in qualifying but a more committed race effort that earnt him another finish.  Tough to judge race performance, considering Caterham seem to have taken a big step forward following the Mugello test.  6/10

NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN

A problematical weekend.  Sat out FP1 so test driver Daniel Clos could get some running.  An electrical problem lost him Friday afternoon too and another technical problem ended his qualifying early, meaning he missed 107% cut.  Done a time significant in FP3 to get the special dispensation but it was all for nothing when he toured around at the back before a loose wheel saw him park up on lap 22 following a faulty pitstop.  Luckless all weekend.  6/10

PEDRO DE LA ROSA

New package for his home race and did his maximum efforts throughout but with the team falling further behind Marussia and Karthikeyan’s reliability dramas all weekend, little de la Rosa could compare himself against.  6/10

Total scores after 5 events: Fernando Alonso 42, Lewis Hamilton 41, Sebastian Vettel 39, Romain Grosjean 39, Kimi Raikkonen 39, Pastor Maldonado 38, Jenson Button 37, Sergio Perez 36, Mark Webber 35, Nico Rosberg 35, Paul di Resta 35, Kamui Kobayashi 33, Michael Schumacher 32, Vitaly Petrov 32, Nico Hulkenberg 32, Bruno Senna 31, Daniel Ricciardo 31, Charles Pic 30, Heikki Kovalainen 30, Timo Glock 29, Jean-Eric Vergne 29, Pedro de la Rosa 24, Felipe Massa 23, Narain Karthikeyan 22

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About Simon Wright

Hello, I am Simon, 23 and studying a BA Hons in Journalism (3rd and final year) at the University of Northampton.

Posted on May 23, 2012, in Features. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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