Following the fantastic Hungarian Grand Prix, it’s time to look at how each team and driver got on – It’s ‘Hot Rod or Hot Dog’ – our performance analysis where pick our best driver from each team too. First up, it’s the Top Dogs…
- Hamilton – Quali: 2nd – Race: 4th
- Button – Quali: 3rd – Race: 1st
A lot of people would have liked Jenson Button to win this, his 200th grand prix, but who seriously saw it coming?
Underestimating Button is foolhardy: just when you think he’s hit a lull he delivers a performance like this, inch perfect in his driving and with a poise and balance in the car that surpasses that of any of his rivals.
But what really got this win on track was qualifying. By sticking it in third he was able to run at the front all day long, not faff about passing Felipe Massa or a Mercedes. Often his weak point, his Saturday afternoon lap was key this weekend.
Oh, and he was mega in the race too. In fact Jenson’s perfect weekend was only tempered by being pipped to Badger’s coveted Top Dog award by Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bumei. Reports that he collared our editor and remonstrated with him over the decision are believed to be wide of the mark.
Lewis also deserves praise for his race. Untouchable in the early laps, he hunted down and passed Vettel before building a commanding lead. He looked the likely winner for much of the event, and were it not for a (in this writer’s opinion pretty justified) penalty for his clutch-dumping post-spin recovery and a poor tyre call he probably would have made it back-to-back victories. On such fine details are grands prix decided.
Badger’s Best: Button
- Vettel – Quali: 1st – Race: 2nd
- Webber – Quali: 6th – Race: 4th
Another dreadful result for Red Bull, who had to be satisfied with pole (Vettel) in qualifying and second (Vettel) and fifth (Webber) in the race. The crisis rumbles on and there is much to do in the summer break.
Seriously, a very good weekend, not least for Vettel who ended it with an increased championship lead. He was decent in the race, uncomfortable in the wet but fast as ever when the circuit dried. He could probably have pushed a bit more for the win but there was really no point taking the risk. He’s one step closer to the title.
Webber qualified badly, got yet another poor start and joined Lewis in bolting the wrong tyres to his car when a bit of rain hit the circuit. It’s now a year since he won a race and recent race performances haven’t suggested he’ll end that any time soon, as much as we’d love him to. Still, he remains at the head of the battle for runner-up in the championship – scant consolation, but consolation nonetheless.
Badger’s Best: Vettel
- Alonso – Quali: 5th – Race: 3rd
- Massa – Quali: 4th – Race: 6th
A mixed bag, though one from which Fernando Alonso ultimately emerged with a podium, decent points and a grumpy look on his face. Team-mate Massa finally beat him in qualifying (not that 10-1 makes good reading for the Brazilian) but Alonso had redressed the balance by turn one, passing his team-mate off the line.
From there he was at times very fast – witness his almost sideways performance during the first stint – but also prone to mistakes – witness his sideways-becomes-backwards moments. Ferrari got brave/stupid with their mid-race tyre strategy but in a break from tradition it was not them who bolted the wrong rubber to their cars the moment rain began to fall.
And so Fernando came home a very respectable and, in all honesty, somewhat fortunate third. This was amongst Alonso’s worse races of 2011 but he leaves it with a podium finish and with strong points in the battle to be world championship runner-up. Not bad, really.
Massa meanwhile was decent and deserves some praise for finally outdoing Fernando on a Saturday. His race saw the odd spin and as the event progressed he became the guinea pig for his team-mate’s tyre choices. Not a nice position, but I’d happily settle for it in return for a Ferrari driver. Decent performance, nothing special – and that’s 2011 Felipe Massa.
Badger’s Best: Alonso
- Sutil – Quali: 8th – Race: 14th
- Di Resta – Quali: 11th – Race: 7th
Force India make their second successive Top Dogs appearance by dint of Paul di Resta’s superb run to seventh place, giving the Scot victory in the battle for non-top three supremacy. The team have made a significant step forward which is a great sign for a team whose (comparatively) small resources have sometimes seen them fade as a season progresses.
It’s also sent Paul level with Sergio Perez in the battle to be rookie of the year. Goor work. After qualifying a slightly disappointing 11th (considering Sutil was 8th) but delivered his best drive yet come Sunday afternoon. Seat safe for 2012, surely, Paul’s progressing nicely.
Sutil meanwhile had a top qualifying session but a disastrous opening lap saw him drop to the rear of the field. He actually did fairly well to fight back to 14th, but ultimately it was a ‘might have been’ day.
Still, there’s definite progress here, with Force India now beating Renault on both qualifying and race pace – top marks.
Badger’s Best: di Resta