“Hot Rod or Hot Dog” is our regular post-grand prix column where we review all of the driver performances in that race.  As part of the process, one driver is declared as Badger’s “Top Dog”; it’s not necessarily the winner and, to be honest, it could be for anything – not having a stupid beard, for instance (not looking at anyone in particular)…

It has to be…Heidfeld

heidfeld

 

The second Renault driver to claim the prestigious Top Dog award in two races but, this time, it’s the one we were all expecting.

After a great start by both Renault drivers, only one of them proved calm, cool and collected enough to run through to the finish (just as an aside, we believed in you Vitaly. We believed. Never again will we be hoodwinked in such a manner). Here’s a hint. He’s small, German and just looks really friendly.

For someone to come into a team at fairly late notice to drive a car designed without his input, Heidfeld’s performance in Australia was still well below par. From such an experienced driver, we expected more.

In Malaysia the contrast could hardly have been more stark. From sixth on the grid, he shot past Webber’s Red Bull (although, to be fair, who didn’t?), Button, Alonso, and Hamilton at the start to be challenging for the lead.

From then on it was Heidfeld at his best: quick, consistent and unflappable. He managed, in changing conditions and a plethora of pit stops, to bring the car home on the podium. Yes, had Hamilton not lost all pace in the final part of the race and yes, had Alonso not broken his nose on Hamilton’s rear end (cheeky Badger) then he wouldn’t have come home third, but he’d put himself in a position to take advantage of precisely those sort of mishaps.

As the man himself said: ” It’s another great result…and it’s clear the team has taken a big step forward this year.” While we might disagree with “a big step forward”, it’s clear the team as a whole have got off to a good start. Nick seems as though he’ll be picking up the points – can Petrov step up and do the same without one-race-on, one-race-off syndrome?