The fierce midfield fight is the focus for part two of our driver analysis, otherwise known as the Chasing Dogs.

Mercedes

  • Nico Rosberg: Quali – 6th, Race – 7th
  • Michael Schumacher: Quali – 10th, Race – 15th

rosbergYou can’t help but feel that Mercedes were to the midfield what Team Lotus were to the “new” teams – ie, far ahead of the cars behind but not quite able to challenge those in front. If Norbert is reading this he won’t like it, but unfortunately Mr Haug it’s the truth.

Nico couldn’t keep a fully charged Adrian Sutil behind him and finished 7th, which is there or thereabouts for the German marque, while Michael Schumacher had a bit of a trip back in time and went wheel to wheel with Senna – only it was 2011 and not 1993.

It’s the end of the year and people will see that Nico finished in front, but don’t be fooled: Michael was closer this year than last. And now the team has more technical directors than HRT have staff, they are bound to produce a car worthy of these two to challenge for top honours, right?

Messrs Brawn, Costa, Willis and Bell – your challenge has been set.

Badger’s Best: Rosberg

Sauber

  • Kamui Kobayashi: Quali – 16th, Race – 9th
  • Sergio Perez: Quali – 17th, Race – 13th

kobayashiIf you’d been paying attention to the timing screens on Sunday you would’ve noticed the titanic struggle between Kamui and the Toro Rossos in a scrap of points at the bottom of the top 10. We say watching the timing screen, because the BBC failed to pick up on it. Shame.

Kobayashi started 16th but finished 9th, passing Buemi in the first stint and putting in fast times to stay that step ahead of the plucky Italian outfit. While Buemi and Alguersuari fell back, Kamui got in front of Petrov and got those all important points. 7th on the constructors – done.

Sergio did all right for the Swiss squad, kept his nose clean and stayed in close proximity to the Toro Rossos. That was it. No contest really.

Badger’s Best: Kobayashi 

Renault

  • Bruno Senna: Quali – 9th, Race – 17th
  • Vitaly Petrov: Quali – 15th, Race – 10th
petrovHold the front page. Vitaly Petrov is a polished Grand Prix driver. There, we said it. Unbelievable.

Remember last year? The Russian did nothing but ring up a repair bill the size of Maldonado’s sponsor purse and generally just fund Renault through the season. This year though, he’s been a bit of a revelation. There’s been that podium at the start of the year, and now regular points. It’s like he’s a different driver.

But then there’s Bruno. The guy just can’t get a consistent weekend together, and that’s probably hurting his chances of staying at the newly re-reborn Lotus (is that even a term?). Of Petrov, Senna, Grosjean and Sutil, who all have a chance of taking the seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen, who would you pick?

Badger’s Best: Petrov

Toro Rosso

  • Sebastian Buemi: Quali – 14th, Race – 12th
  • Jaime Alguersuari: Quali – 13th, Race – 11th

alguersuariSo, close but no cigar for the little Italian team. Which is ironic, considering they were eventually beaten by cigar lover Peter Sauber.

It was the right thing to do to split the strategy for both drivers in terms of weather set-up; Buemi went for more wing in case it rained, so was naturally slower than Jaime all weekend, with the Spaniard going for the dry. And….that was pretty much it really.

No offence to Toro Rosso, but after Kobayashi jumped them both, there was nothing for them to do but fall behind Petrov and finish line astern. No glory for them this year, but considering they pretty much started from scratch in 2009, it’s a big improvement.

As for the drivers, it’s crunch time for the Red Bull brass for who stays and who goes. Just like Renault, there’s plenty of competition for seats with Vergne and Ricciardo knocking on the door, but both the current drivers have proved they can be fast and score points, and ultimately that’s what they want, right?

To gamble or to continue? That’s the question here.

Badger’s Best: Alguersauri (thanks to a coin toss)