Kobayashi gets ready for some crashing... © 2010 Sutton Images

Sauber

  • Qualifying: Heidfeld (11th) Kobayashi (14th)
  • Race: Kobayashi (7th) Heidfeld (8th)

A very strong weekend for the Sauber team, which is just as well really considering they have a Japanese driver and attracted a lot of extra sponsorship.

Nick Heidfeld gave an interesting insight into life as a late-season replacement driver after qualifying (in which he very nearly made it into the top 10, incidentally), saying he was still learning how to get the most out of the tyres and, as a result, that he had changed his driving style after Singapore.

His strong weekend continued with a run to eighth place during the race, proving again that if you’re looking for consistency and strong performances across a weekend then Heidfeld’s your man. It’s just a shame he won’t be driving for Sauber next season – he would have been a real asset.

Kobayashi, in contrast to Heidfeld, was brilliantly mental yet again. When he gets out on track, something changes – a little thing we at Badger like to call the “loon switch”.

After a self-confessed mistake in the last sector during Q2, an out of the mainstream tyre strategy gave him the impetus to show what he can do. After running for a long first stint on the hard tyres, he put the soft tyres on late in the race and started overtaking people left, right and centre into the hairpin.

Varying between the wild, the optimistic and the sublime, his moves really brought the race to life and demonstrate that while team bosses like metronomic pace and predictable race craft, fans like drivers who are prepared to throw it about a bit. Wonderful.

Alguersuari got so much into the spirit of things, he decided to bash into the Japanese a couple of times just to show he could do it too. Just good, solid fun.

Badger’s best: Kobayashi

Williams

  • Qualifying: Barrichello (7th) Hulkenberg (9th)
  • Race: Barrichello (9th) Hulkenberg (ret)

Another strong performance by the Williams team in qualifying meant that they were ideally placed for the sort of race finish scored by the Saubers. Hulkenberg felt he could have been higher up the grid, but for an alleged block by Hamilton (no action was taken by the stewards).

Unfortunately, Barrichello suffered from a lack of grip and a vibration throughout the race, coming home ninth. Hulkenberg’s race was over even sooner, going out on the first lap after Petrov hit him at the start.

Unfortunately there’s not much more to say that hasn’t been said already. Barrichello’s very reliable and continues to defy his years; Hulkenberg needs to pick up the pace and start performing. Nothing that hasn’t been said before or won’t be said again before the end of the season.

Badger’s best: Barrichello

Toro Rosso

  • Qualifying: Alguersuari (16th) Buemi (18th)
  • Race: Buemi (10th) Alguersuari (11th)

Considering where they ended up in qualifying, the weekend has to be put down as a success for the Toro Rosso team.

Buemi complained about being blocked by an HRT in Q1, suffering the ignominy of going out with the new teams. Alguersuari just couldn’t get the setup right and ended up sixteenth.

The race was a different story, with Buemi catching Barrichello at over a second a lap towards the end on the soft tyres but just unable to get past. The fact he was disappointed about not finishing 9th shows just how far his expectations had changed.

The only notable incident in Alguersuari’s race was his desire to keep Kobayashi behind him, saying “I hope my team principal is happy that I was very determined”. That’s certainly one way to describe it.

Badger’s best: Buemi

Lotus

  • Qualifying: Trulli (19th) Kovalainen (20th)
  • Race: Kovalainen (12th) Trulli (13th)

A fantastic weekend for Lotus. Even thought they qualified in their usual positions at the top of the new teams, their race performance was a different matter.

Kovalainen described it as “wicked”, “fantastic” and “amazing”. We’re not sure, but we think he had a good time. What’s even more impressive is that he started the race on the soft tyres to try to get a gap to the cars behind him, got the gap and came out ahead of his nearest rivals. Job very much done.

Both drivers praised the pace of the car and the amount of grip they were able to find. Kovalainen was only lapped once which, at that end of the field, is apparently a big thing.

The only downside for Trulli was that he developed the by now standard hydraulic problem towards the end of the race. This isn’t going to go away this season, is it?

Badger’s best: Kovalainen

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