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.

Pastor Maldonado

We’ve already done him – read it here.

Sebastian Vettel

Just how fast was Vettel this weekend? On Sunday, he got a bad start, but fought back. He had to undertake a drive-through for ignoring yellows – allegedly – but fought back from that too. Broken front wing needing a change? Not our problem for our World Champion.

Couple in a few fantastic overtakes on Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg (twice) and it was a breathtaking performance. Our only wish was that the race had been 5 laps longer – imagine the scrap him and Kobayashi would have had. Can’t have it all though!

Charles Pic

2012 Spanish Grand Prix - SundayCircuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain13th May 2012World Copyright:Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographicref: Digital Image CG8C4629
Photo: Dunbar/LAT

Last time out in Bahrain Charlie-boy was here for beating his team-mate and looking fast in only his 4th race. Three weeks later, and it’s all forgotten thanks to his direct influence on the race result.

In the crucial phase of the race when Pastor Maldonado pitted, and Fernando Alonso needed to put in a solid in-lap, there was Charlie in his Marussia. After not letting the Ferrari past after three blue flags, the Spaniard finally got past – but the damage was done. At least Fernando shot off the obligatory “I’m not very happy” left-handed wave.

The stewards slapped a drive-through on Pic, but the Marussia gave up at the same time. Must try [to get out of the way] harder.

Nico Hulkenberg

Formula One World Championship
Photo: Force India

Nico Hulkenberg ended a three race pointless streak in Spain by taking 10th, but despite his solid drive it’s impossible not to look at the ontrasting fortunes of the young German and the man who won the race.

Hulkenberg mercilessly destroyed Pastor Maldonado when the two were GP2 team-mates in 2009, then lost his drive to the Venezuelan at the conclusion of the 2010 campaign by dint of Pastor’s hefty backing. Even after Sunday’s result few in the know (Sir Frank included) would argue Maldonado to be the better driver but fate – and the downturn in the global economy – have pointed their careers in very different directions.

Romain Grosjean

0232cb7d8570_0
Photo courtesy of Octane Photos

He had a quiet run – almost invisible, in fact – but Romain Grosjean was again impressive in Spain. He is now vindicating Eric Boullier’s shrewd decision to partner him, not Petrov or Senna, with Kimi Raikkonen this season.

After out-qualifying Kimi, Grosjean got a poor start but recovered to P4 by the flag, 14 seconds off the win and over a minute clear of world champions Vettel, Hamilton and Button. We’d never have predicted it back in January, but Romain could well join the growing list of 2012 race winners some time this season.

Jenson Button

A weekend to forget for the McLaren man. His season has been a touch up and down, to put it mildly. His qualifying performances have, in general, been better than last year – two seconds, a fifth, a fourth and a tenth, with the latter coming in Barcelona. However, his race finishes are all over the place – a first, a second, a fourteenth, an eighteenth and a ninth. Really Jenson, what’s been going on?

Concerningly, the man himself doesn’t seem too sure, apart from that it’s to do with the tyres:

I think we’re struggling in terms of pace and I’m definitely struggling in terms of finding a balance with the car. We haven’t had the pace in the last two races. In reality we don’t understand the tyres.

We still have a good car and I think the next race we could be quick again. But we won’t understand why we are quick. We might pretend to but we won’t understand.”

To fix the problem you need to understand the problem. Good luck with that, Jenson.