We’ve named our driver of the race, but what about the rest of the runners and riders from the Spanish 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

vettelFor once qualifying did not belong to Vettel, as team-mate Webber swept to his second successive Spanish pole position. The fact that he was two tenths quicker with KERS whilst his team-mate went without is probably worth noting though, being as the power boost system is believed to be good for a  two to three tenth advantage over the course of a lap.

It didn’t matter in the end anyway, with Vettel beating Webber in to turn one as Fernando Alonso careened by both and then taking the lead following the second round of pitstops. Oh, and he passed three cars during one banzai lap following his first stop. Oh, oh and he didn’t put a foot wrong as Lewis Hamilton pressured him for the final laps of the race. In conclusion, he was awesome.

I’m not usually this hyped by Seb, but he was a bit special in Spain, which should go down as one of the best of his 13 career wins to date. But enough about that…

Webber, meanwhile, looks sunk. He can’t beat Vettel from behind, can’t beat from in front and probably couldn’t beat him if hovering above the German in a heavily armed fighter jet complete with bespoke Vettel-seeking missiles. We’d like to see that, sort of, but what we’d like to see a little more is Webber having a strong showing against him team-mate in a race. It looks unlikely, and unless he wins in Monaco it’ll probably be time to stop thinking of Webber as being involved this world title battle. Tough but fair!

Top Dog: Vettel

McLaren

If anyone was equal (and perhaps superior to) Vettel in Spain it was Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren man took P3 in qualy before dropping behind Alonso at the start of the race, but that masked his true pace. He eventually managed to get amongst the leading trio, then made it a duo as he and Vettel scampered in to the distance.

 

And jeez, as a youngster like Lewis might say, didn’t he do well to hang on? Ringing every last thosuandth from the McLaren he somehow hung on to Vettel, but never came quite close enough to make a move. Yes, he had KERS and Vettel didn’t, but the Red Bull’s pace over the McLaren at Circuit de Catalunya was worth more than the few tenths the systems offers. Respect to Lewis, as the man himself might say whilst in conversation with another young person.

 

Button. Button, Button, Button. A fair-to-strong showing from him, the man who has to go his own way, as JB used a three stop strategy whilst all around him were pitting four times. That helped him out after a poor start that dropped him in to the clutches of some bloke called Buemi, but as the race progressed the Brit was able to climb the order and eventually complete the podium. Not too shabby.

But finishing half a minute down on his team-mate? That’s not good. Jense is becoming the perfect number two. And really, does he mind that much?

Badger’s Best: Hamilton

Ferrari

alonsoFernando Alonso’s getaway on Sunday afternoon – part fleeing bank robber, part barely-in-control rocket ship – was a highlight of the Spanish Grand Prix, not least for the large numbers of his adoring public who packed the Circuit de Catalunya grandstands. After that Fernando was equal to the threat of Vettel behind him, though you can’t help but feel Seb was biding his time ever so slightly.

It all went wrong for the Ferrari after his second stop, as losing track position to Vettel dropped him further and further down the order. Running ludicrously long on the prime tyres would eventually lead to him being lap – bet that was a bitter moment.

Still, Fernando was a strong performer in Spain, and his heroics treated us to the sight of Alonso-Vettel-Hamiltion running nose to tail. It was a bit special, with the top three men in F1 at the moment (don’t try to deny it) all on the same few yards of concrete.

Massa by comparisson had little to offer beyond several lock-ups, a spin and ultimately a trundle in to the gravel with terminal gearbox woes. ‘Woe’ is probably the key word floating about Felipe at the moment. He can’t be happy at the Scuderia in these circumstances, and you wonder whether he’ll seek an exit bfore the end of his contract.

Badger’s Best: Alonso

Mercedes

The only way for Michael Schumacher to bounce back from his Turkish nightmare (why don’t they name a chocolate after that?) was to complete three tasks in Spain: Out-qualify team-mate Nico Rosberg, not hit anyone (not even Vitaly Petrov) in the race and then finish ahead of aforementioned team-mate. He got round to achieving two of the three, so congrats to the seven-time champ on that.

Schumacher made it to Q3 (something of a notable achievement for him) and then elected not to run so as to save a set of tyres. That worked well enough, but what really made his day was the start, where he picked up four positions on the opening lap. From there he was solid, didn’t hit anyone (no, really, not even Vitaly Petrov) and held Rosberg at bay. A strong showing, but he needs to keep it up.

Nico meanwhile had a decent run, but whilst a team-mate out-qualifying and finishing just behind Michael Schumacher was considered a miracle a few years back it’s now classed as a bit of a poor showing. Blondie will be back though.

Badger’s Best: Schumacher