Following on from the driver predictions featured before the Bahrain Grand Prix, it’s time for F1 Badger to have a look at how the team mates fared…
So, the much-heralded Ferrari turned out to be pretty good, didn’t it? Much to the relief of the men driving it it looks as though, having finished first and second, both Alonso and Massa are in for a successful season. Having out qualified Alonso on Saturday, Massa would have been confident going into the race, but a mistake going into the first corner let Alonso gain the racing line and he simply never looked back. Massa stayed close to Alonso until the last part of the race, but didn’t look capable of challenging him – ominous for Felipe.
Badger’s best: Alonso.
The car doesn’t look quite there yet, but given McLaren’s improvement last season there’s clearly a lot more to come. Hamilton drew first blood, out qualifying Button reasonably convincingly (0.4 seconds) and then putting in a very solid race performance, even accounting for his gain as a result of Vettel’s problems. Button conceded after the race that he thought he’d conserved his tyres too well before his pit stop and, while that may have accounted for some of the difference from Hamilton. In truth he never looked like challenging his team mate all weekend. A definite ‘must try harder’ for the World Champion.
Badger’s best: Hamilton.
Well, the car’s quite nippy, isn’t it? As proven by Vettel’s brilliant qualifying performance, Red Bull and Adrian Newey seem to have produced another cracker. His great form carried into the race as well, but sadly his challenge for victory was derailed by a significant loss of power in the last part of the race. Despite this setback (well, fourth isn’t too bad…), his weekend was still significantly better than that of his team mate, Mark Webber. After a mistake in qualifying saw him start sixth, his race was mostly spent tracking Jenson Button in the McLaren and he was never really close to getting on the same bit of track as his team mate. His inability to pass Button ruined his race performance and he’ll certainly be hoping for better luck in a couple of weeks at his home race.
Badger’s best: Vettel.
Well, well and, indeed, well. That’s a turn up for the books, eh? The first race of Schumacher’s return and it was Rosberg who stole the show: first by out-qualifying Schumacher and then, just to top it off, outracing him as well. Schumacher never looked like getting the better of Nico and this one has to go down as a bit of a surprise. Schumacher’s admission afterwards that he found one-lap pace hard to come by indicated why he wasn’t able to challenge during qualifying but, for someone renowned for outperforming his car, this wasn’t a vintage performance. Schumacher would have considered this an important marker to lay down for the season and, given Nico’s performance, the seven-time World Champion has some catching up to do.
Badger’s best: Rosberg.
A hotly tipped ‘dark horse’ team which didn’t disappoint, Force India seems to have moved well and truly up into the midfield in time for this season. With Sutil and Liuzzi qualifying tenth and twelfth respectively, the team had a very sound position to race from. Sadly for Sutil, a spin at the start demoted him to second last so the rest of the race was spent trying to make up the places he lost. Finishing twelfth, while not what he would have wanted, isn’t bad considering the handicap he found himself with. Liuzzi, on the other hand, had a very good race and showed what could have been done if Sutil had managed a clean race. Finishing ninth and being ‘the best of the rest’ after the big four teams is no small achievement and this column has nothing but praise for the Italian.
Badger’s best: Liuzzi.
The car looks ok, the drivers looked solid so, all in all, not a bad weekend for the Williams team. Hulkenberg was firmly placed behind Barrichello in both qualifying and the race: two places and 0.5 seconds adrift in qualifying, followed by four places and about a minute behind at the end of the race. Barrichello was full of praise for Hulkenberg after qualifying but, whether that’s because he knows he has the measure of him, or he honestly considers him the next big thing isn’t yet clear. Let’s see what he says if, having got used to F1, Hulkenberg beats him a few times. A battle to keep an eye on.
Badger’s best: Barrichello.
The car looks surprisingly decent. A ninth place qualifying performance by Robert Kubica set him up well for the race and put him top of the ‘best of the rest’ on the grid. However, a spin on the first lap put paid to any suggestion of finishing any higher. An eleventh place finish was a respectable end considering, like Sutil, his handicap from the first lap. Petrov only managed 13 laps before his suspension broke, but professed happiness after the race (well, he would, wouldn’t he?) saying he was faster than he expected and that the car was “brilliant” to drive. It would be a great surprise if he managed to get close to Kubica this season, but it’d be nice if this correspondent had to eat its words before the end of the season.
Badger’s best: Kubica
Not a great weekend for the Toro Rosso team. Their car doesn’t seem particularly quick, as evidenced by the presence of Alguersuari with all the new boys, going out in the first round of qualifying. In fact, they were pretty anonymous throughout the race, although their presence at eighth and tenth in the fastest lap classifications indicated the car isn’t a complete donkey. Buemi’s retirement three laps from the end meant that they had to settle for Alguersuari’s thirteenth place. Given that he finished the race and put in a faster lap than Buemi, Alguersuari just shades it this time.
Badger’s best: Alguersuari
A very good start for Lotus. During a race in which the other new teams didn’t even complete half distance, Lotus nearly got both their cars home in one piece. As usual, Trulli out qualified his teammate, only to finish behind him in the race. That said, given he retired with hydraulic problems on lap 46, it wasn’t necessarily his fault. It has to be said that neither Trulli or Kovalainen got much of the TV coverage, however, what they did, they did well and were close to one another, with their fastest laps only 0.2 seconds apart. Their presence at the top of the new teams bodes well for both drivers.
Badger’s best: Kovalainen.
Qualifying: De La Rosa
Race: De La Rosa
This correspondent is angry with Sauber. The team came out of winter testing with a satisfying level of buzz about the car, but it turns out it’s not really very good at all. Let’s just hope the sponsorship came through, eh? Both cars were out by lap 28 with hydraulic failure, Kobayashi only managing 11 laps before retirement. De La Rosa, much to this correnspondent’s surprise, had the measure of his teammate all weekend: practice, qualifying and the race all showed he was the happier in the car and, crucially, driving faster. Let’s hope Kobayashi, from whom a lot is expected, can up his game next time out in Australia.
Badger’s best: De La Rosa
Much the same as Sauber and Williams, experience won out in Virgin this weekend. Glock was nearly a second faster than his teammate in qualifying and finished top of the new teams; he also managed to complete fourteen more laps than Lucas Di Grassi which, given Di Grassi only managed two laps, isn’t necessarily a ringing endorsement. The fact is, with their cars so fragile, the drivers are going to have a tough time showing anyone what they can do. What Virgin would give for Lotus’ seeming level of reliability?
Badger’s best: Glock
Not the ideal start for the former Campos team. Indeed, Karun Chandhok hadn’t driven a lap in the car until he went out in qualifying which, although some seemed to think it madness, the man himself dealt with well and with stoic good humour. He seems like a thoroughly nice chap into the bargain as well, so good on him. Senna out qualified his team mate by 1.7 seconds and managed 16 more laps which, given Chandhok managed the grand total of one lap, shouldn’t boost his ego greatly. Both drivers will hope for greater reliability as the season progresses and the chance to have a shot at the two bigger new teams.
Badger’s best: Senna (although an honourable mention for Chandhok’s give-it-a-go attitude).
Driver of the weekend:
Rosberg. Managed to avoid all the hoopla around Schumacher’s arrival and put in a very solid qualifying and race double act. Maintaining this over the season won’t be easy, but he’s given himself the best start possible.