Nico Hulkenberg

Photo: Sahara Force India Media
Photo: Sahara Force India Media

Regular readers of Top Dog know that we hand out this accolade for a performance that stands out above all others. In this new formula of motor racing, it’s clear that despite the changes, there’s still a mixture of driver performances that are the same as last season.

Dominant 2-car team? Check. That would be the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who have assumed that mantle from Red Bull. How strong were they? Engines Powertrains were turned down at a third of the race distance. Blimey.

Plucky challenger for race wins? Well, it used to be Fernando Alonso (who seems ecstatic with 4th place now) and has transferred to Sebastian Vettel, who is driving the now underdog Red Bull team forward and upwards to their previous heights again. He even has an unlucky Australian teammate. See, it’s like nothing ever changed.

All three were contenders, but we’ve looked elsewhere.

Nico Hulkenberg finished 5th in Malaysia, overtaken by Alonso’s Ferrari towards the end of the race. The young German had made a two-stop strategy work in his favour, and was the fastest man to try to, and to get 5th means another strong points finish in 2014. He even led a few laps. Bonus.

The feat is magnified as Force India turned out to be the second fastest Mercedes runner this weekend. They’re in good company too; they beat both the Mclarens (who were on the podium in Australia) and both Williams, who were everyone’s red-hot pre-season dark horses.

Congratulations Nico, you’re our Top Dog for Malaysia.