Another weekend, another great race. As soon as the tyres started to degrade faster than the teams expected, it was clear we, the loyal viewing public, who are too often expected to sit through dross (I’m looking at you Valencia) were going to be in for a classic race. There is some justice in the world after all.
*For the purposes of this article, qualifying positions will be calculated as if Mark Webber had started in second place and had not been demoted to seventh.
- Qualifying: Hamilton (1st) Button (5th)
- Race: Hamilton (1st) Button (2nd)
Another barnstorming weekend for Hamilton and yet another 1-2 for the McLaren team, who are really making hay while the sun shines. Fizzy energy drink teams take note.
After Button’s early season form (out thinking rather than out driving Hamilton), he really needs a weekend where he outpaces as well as outraces the boy wonder. Jenson’s qualifying performances could really use some work as well, if he’s taking notes. That said, we’re not unremittingly negative down here in the Sett, and think Button did a really good job to get up to second and was the quickest man on track in parts of the race.
Now, let’s turn to the man who’s taking the fight to the Red Bulls, a certain Mr. Hamilton. All of his stupid facial accoutrements aside, he drove brilliantly throughout the weekend, putting together a hat trick of first place finishes across Practice 3, Qualifying and the Race. Although it looked like he may have been hamstrung by strategy early in the race, the decision to start with the soft tyres really paid off as the race progressed. I know people don’t like it when everyone, especially in Britain, goes mental for Hamilton but the simple fact is that he’s a great racer and very, very fast. A bit annoying though, granted. Alright, very annoying. On a complete side note, where did Nicole get that child from?!
Badger’s best: Hamilton
- Qualifying: Alonso (4th) Massa (7th)
- Race: Alonso (3rd) Massa (15th)
A much better weekend for the Ferrari team, although that goes without saying. Things couldn’t really have been much worse than their performance last time out in Turkey. We’re going to get tired of saying this again and again, but Massa was well beaten by Alonso. Maybe we should just start saying that if he isn’t? Would that work better?
Massa described his race as “horrible”, which seems a pretty fair description to us. After his opening turn tussle with Liuzzi and subsequent bump, his race really fell apart, stuck with the Force Indias for the majority of the afternoon. Given that, when in clean air, he was able to turn the boards purple, he would have been a lot further up given a fair wind. We at Badger don’t think he would have been stuck in traffic for so long had he been Hamilton or Alonso. Incisiveness Felipe, incisiveness is the key.
Alonso, fresh from qualifying twelfth in Turkey, looked like he was driving a totally different car. Indeed, after the race, the Spaniard was bemoaning the fact that he was unlucky with traffic and talking as if he could have won. What on earth did Ferrari do in the two week gap?! While this weekend was important, what really matters to Alonso’s championship challenge is the success, or otherwise, of the upgrade package due in Valencia. At least they’re looking upward again.
Badger’s best: Alonso
- Qualifying: Webber (2nd) Vettel (3rd)
- Race: Vettel (4th) Webber (5th)
Given their performances in qualifying, only beaten by Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren, both Vettel and Webber will have been disappointed to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
There’s a theme developing, isn’t there? Webber has started to take the fight to Vettel on a consistent and, one would assume, entirely unwelcome basis. Faster in qualifying again, the Australian was demoted thanks to a gearbox change (can one of our knowledgeable readers explain why some car changes are punished and some aren’t?), starting in seventh. His race was ruined by tyre choices, having to run unfavourable compounds at difficult times of the race.
Vettel was, according to the rather cryptic radio messages from Christian Horner, “managing an issue” – does not being fast enough count? Well done to him for rightfully putting the team in their place when they told him he had a problem and that he should save fuel, as well as pass the cars in front. There’s optimism and then there’s that.
Overall, this weekend did nothing to assuage doubts that Webber has Vettel worried – is the boy wonder as good as everyone thought?
Badger’s best: Vettel
- Qualifying: Rosberg (10th) Schumacher (13th)
- Race: Rosberg (6th) Schumacher (11th)
He never had to put up with this nonsense at Ferrari did he? Another weekend in which Mercedes underperformed and are definitely slipping back into the eager clutches of the Renault and Force India teams. Is Ross Brawn trying to pull another rabbit out of the hat for next year’s car?
The worst qualifying of the season for the team set the stage for an underwhelming race. The sight of Schumacher going backwards in face of the onrushing Force Indias will have been one to set Mercedes hearts a flutter. Even if he was only in that position due to a puncture sustained earlier in the race, will things get worse before they get better?
On the team mate front, it was a welcome return to primacy for Rosberg, although if he couldn’t beat Schumacher this weekend, when could he? Badger thinks there needs to be some more edge in all these battles, but particularly this one. Come on guys, start havin’ a go at each other. Let’s get thoroughly undignified.
Badger’s best: Rosberg
- Qualifying: Kubica (8th) Petrov (14th)
- Race: Kubica (7th) Petrov (17th)
Another Renault weekend, another Kubica whitewash. This one wasn’t even particularly close. Does anyone else think Petrov’s getting an easy ride? Just because your team keep saying they’re desperately happy with the way you’re performing, doesn’t mean you should escape all suitable scrutiny. To be honest, bar the odd good performance, Petrov’s been pretty rank in a good car.
The main point of note for Kubica this weekend was the quite frankly ridiculous move he pulled going into the pit lane. While duelling with Sutil along the back straight he dodged round the wrong side to make an entry to the pit lane. Not cool. Why he wasn’t sanctioned for that we’ll never know. Still, it shows he’s got some of that Schumacheresque determination to win, which we suppose can only be a good thing for his long-term World Championship winning ambitions.
Badger’s best: Kubica
- Qualifying: Buemi (15th) Alguersuari (16th)
- Race: Buemi (8th) Alguersuari (12th)
Badger likes Buemi for two reasons this weekend. One: his childlike joy at having what he described as a “normal” race for a change and two, his very patronising chat about Michael Schumacher. Specifically, when he said “I enjoyed some fights, including passing Schumacher which was difficult because, even though we were on the same tyres, with his being older than mine, he is a real fighter.” Describing Schumacher as a “real fighter” seems to us in the Sett as the equivalent to patting his head gently with an ever understanding, ever patient smile. Well done Seb.
Alguersuari was out qualified and out raced by his team mate and, judging from his post race comments, is looking forward to Valencia. That’s right, looking forward to it. Mental. Not much else to say about him really. He’s had a good enough season not to have worry about being beaten by Buemi in one race, so not a problem…yet.
Badger’s best: Buemi
- Qualifying: Liuzzi (6th) Sutil (9th)
- Race: Liuzzi (9th) Sutil (10th)
As our American cousins would say, a “shut out” for Liuzzi over the weekend. A simply fantastic performance in qualifying followed by an incident packed race.
Bumping with Massa on the opening lap certainly didn’t help. Not only that, they couldn’t stop hitting one another. I mean, there’s having an accident and then there’s having a number of small ones until you end up facing the wrong way. Given all of this and the fact that he had to pit to change the front wing and, therefore, the strategy a ninth place finish is very creditable. One swallow doesn’t make a summer though, so he’ll really have to step things up to make himself unsackable.
Sutil endured problems as well, suffering a puncture after clashing with Kubica. Well done to him for passing a stricken Schumacher to get the last point. This was very much Liuzzi’s weekend though.
Badger’s best: Liuzzi
- Qualifying: Barrichello (11th) Hulkenberg (12th)
- Race: Hulkenberg (13th) Barrichello (14th)
Problems, problems and more problems for the Williams team this weekend.
Well done to Hulkenberg for beating Barrichello, a feat he’s managed all too infrequently this weekend. That said, that may well have been achieved by virtue of having fewer problems than is elder team mate.
Hulkenberg only had his front wing changed and a drive through penalty, whereas Rubens had to contend with having a problem on the grid, being hit by Alguersuari (a “2g” impact apparently), and then suffering brake problems. Just what you want at a street circuit. It’s our perception here at the Sett that Williams just keep going backwards during the race. Who’s planning the strategies? Have a word, that’s all we’re saying.
Badger’s best: Hulkenberg
- Qualifying: Kovalainen (19th) Trulli (20th)
- Race: Kovalainen (16th) Trulli (ret)
A great weekend for Lotus and especially Heikki Kovalainen, who managed to finish in front of Petrov’s Renault. Trulli, by contrast, had some sort of issue with his brakes and decided that discretion was the better part of valour. Probably wise.
The best of the new teams yet again and aiming squarely upwards, Lotus are a team you feel are going places. Kovalainen especially seems like he’s having a lot of fun haring round at the back and, if he stays with the team next season may have a chance at getting a lot further up the grid. He really seems to have the better of Trulli as well but, because they don’t get that much TV coverage, it can be hard to penetrate. Can any of our readers help us out?
Badger’s best: Kovalainen
- Qualifying: de la Rosa (17th) Kobayashi (18th)
- Race: de la Rosa (ret) Kobayashi (ret)
Qualifying: de la Rosa bad, Kobayashi worse.
Race: de la Rosa blew up and Kobayashi crashed into the “wall of champions”. Not, in this instance, we suggest, particularly well named.
Words fail us.
Badger’s best: de la Rosa
- Qualifying: Senna (22nd) Chandhok (24th)
- Race: Chandhok (18th) Senna (ret)
This weekend didn’t really tell us too much about the respective drivers and their positions within the team – Chandhok had hardly any running in qualifying and Senna retired early in the race. That said, the team do seem like they’re making progress, although it’s going to be next year, if they’re still around, before they can make any real progress.
If Badger were a betting woodland creature, it’d probably bet that Senna was just shading it so far. Tight.
Badger’s best: Senna
- Qualifying: Glock (21st) di Grassi (23rd)
- Race: di Grassi (19th) Glock (ret)
Glock described his race as “crazy”. A shunt with the lesser Senna and five pit stops will do that to a man.
Also, is it just us or is di Grassi not really cutting it thus far? He’s been getting out qualified by at least one HRT in recent races, which surely doesn’t bode well. At all. That said, he did ok in Canada before a hydraulic failure left him limping round towards the back. When will these Virgins stop being made from starlight and nebula dust?
Badger’s best: Glock
Driver of the weekend
Liuzzi. Never ones to be conventional, we at Badger think this could well have been his coming out weekend. Sixth place in qualifying and a strong performance in the race to claw his way back from a disastrous start; all this makes the square jawed Italian our “hot rod” for the weekend. Enjoy it, son, you’ve earned it.