We’ve named our driver of the race, but what about the rest of the runners and riders from the Turkish Grand Prix? In part one of Hot Rod or Hot Dog we look at the front-runners, better known in these parts as the Top Dogs.

Red Bull

  • Qualifying: Vettel (1st) Webber (2nd)
  • Race: Vettel (1st) Webber (2nd)

Still fast, still there and still on top. Welcome to 2011, the year of Red Bull.

Vettel may only be 23 (curse him!), but he’s really very fast. I don’t know if you’d noticed. He even had, shock horror, a bit of adversity to deal with this weekend. During first practice on Friday and on a damp track he managed to spin the car into a barrier. Goodbye, car.

This meant that not only did he lose valuable running time, but he also lost some of the new updates on the car. No nicking them from Webber’s car this time…

vettel

All of this just made his eventual pole position and victory even more impressive. The best part of half a second ahead on Saturday and magestic during the race, he hit form, maintained it and put the victory in his swelling bag of race wins.

Webber had a perfectly tolerable weekend – second place in qualifying and the race. He had to fight a bit harder in the race after slipping behind Rosberg at the start, but it was all fine in the end. It’s just he doesn’t look like he’s going to go past Vettel any time soon. Last season could have been his moment – will he rue it for ever more?

Badger’s best: Vettel

Ferrari

  • Qualifying: Alonso (5th) Massa (10th)
  • Race: Alonso (3rd) Massa (11th)

Well, well, well, well. After a disappointing start to the season, Alonso’s back with a bang.

Give him a car that’s even half decent and he’ll force it round faster than it should be going, which is more than can be said for his team mate. Had Alonso been sitting in the car Massa nearly drove to the Championship in 2008, he would have won it. That’s no great insight.

In this instance, all that would have happened had he had a slightly faster car is that he would have pushed Vettel a little harder, but Vettel could presumably have gone a lot faster had he wanted to – scary.

alonso

A more interesting thought is that someone is going to have to be, at least for the first part of the season, a consistent second to Red Bull in order to maintain some semblance of a title challenge. Why shouldn’t it be Alonso? Especially if Ferrari manage to find some extra speed from somewhere which, if their efforts in the three week gap are to be continued, isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. If McLaren and Ferrari alternate behind Red Bull, we could be looking at a dead rubber towards the end.

Massa managed to disappoint and have problems during the weekend – a heady combination. He simply wasn’t as quick as Alonso, but endured a number of pit stop delays to come home 11th. Is this a driver who should be driving for one of the top 3 teams?

Badger’s best: Alonso

McLaren

  • Qualifying: Hamilton (4th) Button (6th)
  • Race: Hamilton (4th) Button (6th)

Rather a come down after their Chinese success, the McLaren drivers suffered a race where they simply weren’t fast enough to compete with Alonso, let alone the Red Bulls.

Hamilton’s early error allowed Button and Alonso past him and, according to him, stopped him fighting for a second place finish. Dubious.

hamilton

The team mate scrap (see here for a rather excellent article by Jimmy von Weeks on exactly this topic) was hard but fair and, as ever, Hamilton came out on top. He’s just faster, it’s that simple. Button put up a good fight, but the outcome was pretty inevitable.

The only other item of real note was Hamilton’s fluffed pit stop and the nerves of steel displayed by Pete Vale, the Chief Mechanic holding the lollipop. Hats off (if we wore hats) to that man!

Button’s race was defined by his three stop strategy. After getting it so right in China, he and the team went the wrong way on the number of stops – when it comes to F1 at the moment, it seems more stops is always better. Let’s see how many they can realistically do…

Badger’s best: Hamilton

 

Mercedes

  • Qualifying: Rosberg (3rd) Schumacher (8th)
  • Race: Rosberg (5th) Schumacher (12th)

Right, a bit of an odd one this. Both cars looked quick in practice, but only Rosberg was able to show that in qualifying, managing to put himself in between the Red Bulls and the McLarens. Schumacher cropped up in eighth, demonstrating once again that he simply isn’t on the pace of this younger, faster and, dare we say, better looking team mate.

After getting up into second at the start of the race, it all fell apart a bit for Rosberg. He just couldn’t get the car to work fat with fuel and looked like a sitting duck. In years gone by, he’d have been able to make it really difficult for people to come past him. However, in the world of KERS, DRS and other such fripparies there was no chance. He may as well have moved over and let those who were faster than him fly past.

rosberg

Still, fifth is probably a fair-ish result given his pace and is far better than his elder team mate. In fact, is anyone still offering up a comparison any more?

Schumacher endured a dreadful race, flying around all over the place. After boshing himself on Petrov’s car by attempting a stupid defensive move, his race was compromised. Boo hoo. Although he’s not the driver he once was, it would have been interesting to see him scrapping in the midfield in his prime in this car.

Are we in danger of forgetting how great he once was? Is this affecting his legacy? Should we all stop talking about him? Who am I? Why so many questions? What’s that Badger over there? Who are you?

Badger’s Best: Rosberg

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