It is with great sadness that we complete our final set of driver analysis for the 2011 season opener, assessing as we are the performances of those luckless souls at Virgin, Williams, Mercedes and Hispania. Deep breaths, folks, and then onwards to Malaysia.

Virgin

  • Qualifying: Glock (21st) d’Ambrosio (22nd)
  • Race: Glock (DNF) d’Ambrosio (16th)

glockAustralia proved to be a trying weekend for Virgin, who looked at risk of not qualifying on Saturday and then found themselves lacking any real speed in the race. The always-reliable Timo Glock  – who’s  still not over his recent surgery – once again led a valiant effort to drag the car up the grid, but he was fighting something of a losing battle and sounded fed up come Saturday evening. He put d’Ambrosio in the shade with a qualy lap one second quicker than his team-mate and will undoubtedly continue to shine when given the chance this season. To his credit Jerome made the finish, albeit after being lapped by Trulli’s Lotus. Plenty of work to do here.

Badger’s Best: Glock

Williams

  • Qualifying: Barrichello (17th) Maldonado (15th)
  • Race: Barrichello (DNF) Maldonado (DNF)

barrichelloContinuing his steadfast refusal to age, Rubens Barrichello ran well in practice only to stuff it up in Q2 by sliding in to the gravel and out of the hunt for a top-ten spot. He then looked fast in the race only to spoil it all by using Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes as a replacement for braking, a move that works well in Gran Turismo 2 but not real life Formula One. He then took a penalty and drove with is tail between his legs until retirement on lap 48.

Maldonado was never that fast in practice, dropped his car in the gravel in FP3 and then qualified a lackluster 15th. He retired early with transmission woes. Rubens edges it by dint of showing more pace, but there’s little joy in this one.

Badger’s best: Barrichello

Mercedes

  • Qualifying: Schumacher (11th) Rosberg (7th)
  • Race: Schumacher (DNF) Rosberg (DNF)

rosbergThe horror – the horror! Well, it wasn’t quite a trip in to the heart of darkness, but after feeling mighty confident on the trip to Australia Mercedes left the race feeling thoroughly fed up. Qualifying was so-so, with Rosberg doing a solid job to be seventh on the grid and Schumacher just missing out on Q3 in 11th. But starting in the pack brings its problems – something Michael knew little of until last year – and the oldest man on the grid found himself pootling in to the pits on lap one after contact with Jaime ‘DJ Squire’ Alguersuari. Race ruined, he called it quits soon after on safety grounds.

Princess Nico meanwhile was doing as good a job as ever until Barrichello speared him like a salmon whilst supposedly defending from Kobayashi. Is that how worried Kamui’s overtaking reputation has people? Regardless, he was eliminated too and the team were packing up far earlier than they’d have liked. Signs for this season: a repeat of 2010.

Badger’s Best: Rosberg

Hispania

  • Qualifying Karthikeyan (24th) Liuzzi (23rd)
  • Race Karthikeyan (DNS) Liuzzi (DNS)

liuzziIt was the first great shock of the 2011 F1 season when Hispania’s untested, underdeveloped car failed to qualify for Sunday’s race, despite Narain Karthikeyan’s best efforts behind the wheel. Truly hilarious jokes aside, we shan’t dwell on this one too much. Tonio Liuzzi is clearly more equipped than his stablemate to drag this car in to a race (he may just sneak on to the grid at Sepang) having qualified a full 1.3 seconds clear of Karthikeyan on Saturday. That still wasn’t enough to get him on to the grid and the team were forced to pack up and go home. They can’t afford many more weekends like this.

Badger’s Best: Liuzzi

Driver character graphics provided by Unlap – purveyors of BadgerGP T-Shirts and more motor-sport themed threads

  • Qualifying Karthikeyan (24th) Liuzzi (23rd)
  • Race Karthikeyan (DNS) Liuzzi (DNS)