This year sees a reworking of the Hot Rod or Hot Dog feature. Rather than looking in detail at all of the grid, we’ll be selecting drivers who we think deserve recognition for strong performances and those who, quite frankly, should be ashamed of themselves.

Romain Grosjean

We’ve already done him – have a look here.

Nico Hulkenberg

Formula One World Championship
Photo: Force India

The one thing to remember about the Hulk, we were always used to hearing, was that he had enjoyed exactly the same success and career path as Lewis Hamilton in the lower formulas.  True.  Taking that implication to its natural conclusion hasn’t proved quite so easy, however.

Nico has not set the F1 world alight, apart from one freak glimpse of brilliance at the Brazilian GP of 2010 where he shot to pole position in an under-performing Williams.  On that damp Saturday morning he beat Vettel to pole by over a second!  Even the most docile Badgers got excited.

None of us have been aroused by him since. [ed. Really? That’s where we’re going with this?]

China sums up his season so far: close to impressing, but no cherry [ed. oh goodness].  He did not get above 12th position in the race (where he finished), he extracted no raw pace from his three-stopper and, of those that might be considered to be quicker than Force India, he beat only Kamui Kobayashi. Paul Di Resta’s excellent performance also showed him up a tad.

Not terrible from Hulkenberg, we acknowledge, but not good enough to justify all that hype.  With a season of F1 under his belt and a year of bedding in with Vijay and his crew, we expect more.

Daniel Ricciardo

Image: Octane Photos

The grinning Toro Rosso driver got his car into 6th place – an achievement it’s itself – but his opening first lap was one of the most embarrassing in modern memory. Just how bad was it? His teammate, Jean-Eric Vergne, ran ahead of him. And he started 11 places back, in 17th.

Daniel then couldn’t extract the magic like he did on Saturday, and finished way down the field. So much promise, but points aren’t handed out in qualifying.

Paul di Resta

Formula One World Championship
Photo: Force India

A strong candidate for Badger’s Top Dog award, the Scotsman drove a brilliant race on an off-kilter strategy to rise from 10th on the grid to a career-best-equalling sixth at the flag. This included a spell in the lead as those around him made their tyre stops and a robust fending-off of Fernando Alonso during the final lap of the race – no mean feat given the Spaniard’s unquestionable abilities and dark mood during the Bahrain race. Paul is confidently kicking team-mate Hulkenberg into touch (see above) and further building his reputation race by race.

Pedro de la Rosa

41-year-old Pedro de la Rosa is clearly a glutton for punishment. Why else would he give up a stable, well-paying job in the comfortable corporate beast that is McLaren for a perennially slow team? Patriotism? No-one is that patriotic – Pedro likes it when the going gets tough. In Bahrain, the Spaniard saw some green shoots: he out-qualified Glock’s Marussia and ended up a dizzying 20th on the grid following penalties for Maldonado and Schumacher. He finished where he started, but remained on the same lap as Glock and ended the race just two laps down – in a grand prix uninhibited by safety cars. A solid, if totally under the radar, effort from the old boy.

McLaren’s Left-Rear-Wheel Man

We’re breaking all the rules here, given that this poor chap isn’t actually a driver but, let’s not forget, he had a decisive impact on Lewis Hamilton’s final position. At least he was faster than the stewards in making a decision.