Category Archives: Qualifying and Races

Fernando Alonso dominates Spanish Grand Prix, while Mercedes crumble

Fernando Alonso has taken a commanding victory at the Circuit de Catalunya, taking an emphatic win in front of his home crowd. The Spaniard picked off Sebastian Vettel at the first set of stops, then quickly dealt with Nico Rosberg to assume control at the front, and never looked back.

The Mercedes drivers had an utterly torrid afternoon, only going backwards after the race began. Rosberg somehow held off 5 different drivers for the first stint, but was then swarmed by Alonso, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in a series of corners. After that, he slid further down the order, and never challenged the frontrunners again.

Lewis Hamilton suffered even more, losing positions as early as lap 1. He finished the race in a miserable 12th place, getting lapped just before the end to inflict even more pain. He angrily exclaimed “I just got passed by a Williams” and “I can’t drive any slower” during the race, demonstrating how poor Mercedes’ race pace still is.

Vettel and Raikkonen proved to be Alonso’s only challengers this afternoon. Vettel held off the Ferrari in the opening stint, but could do no more as his Red Bull suffered adversely from heavy tyre wear. Raikkonen showed potential, briefly taking the lead on a different strategy, but couldn’t extract the raw pace to catch Fernando. He finished 2nd, ahead of Felipe Massa, leaping up from 9th at the start, and taking advantage of an early pit stop on lap 9 to obtain his first podium of the year.

Mark Webber had another atrocious start, falling all the way down to 12th by the first lap, but like Massa he took advantage of an early first stop to move up the field. Nevertheless, he never looked remotely on the pace, and 5th place was quite lucky in retrospect.

Paul di Resta took an impressive 7th-placed finish, and even put Rosberg under considerable pressure in the final laps. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were 8th and 9th, but Perez was left fuming after he was instructed not to pass Jenson in the final laps. Daniel Ricciardo took the final point, after a brief scare where he was being caught by Esteban Gutierrez.

Nico Hulkenberg had a race to forget. He pitted 4 times for tyres, once for front wing damage after a clash in the pit lane, and a stop-go penalty for said incident. 

With this result, Alonso moves to within 17 points of Vettel, but Kimi Raikkonen is only 4 points off the lead. Felipe Massa overtakes Mark Webber for 5th, and it has become crystal clear that Lewis Hamilton has effectively dropped out of the title race.

Vettel wins in Bahrain as Alonso recovers from misfortune

Sebastian Vettel has taken a comfortable win in the Bahrain Grand Prix, while rival Fernando Alonso fought his way back up the grid after suffering mechanical issues early on.

Alonso’s DRS jammed itself open on lap 8, forcing the Spaniard to pit for quick repairs. However, the exact same thing happened on the following lap, and the Ferrari driver’s race was ruined.

Vettel took the lead from Nico Rosberg in the opening laps, after an enthralling battle with Alonso and the Mercedes. Both drivers disposed of Nico, and after Fernando’s DRS failure, Sebastian was unmatched for the rest of the afternoon. At the back, a first-lap clash between Giedo van der Garde and Jean-Eric Vergne put the Toro Rosso out of the race on the first lap.

Rosberg later slipped further down the order, being carved up by the midfield and falling to 6th place.

Paul di Resta and Kimi Raikkonen emerged at podium contenders throughout the race, utilising 2-stop strategies to slip ahead of the Mercedes cars after the first round of stops. However, Di Resta was caught by Romain Grosjean in the closing laps, and the Scot will have to wait a while longer for his first podium finish. Teammate Adrian Sutil incurred a puncture on the first lap after contact with Felipe Massa, and could only recover to 13th place.

McLaren saw a fascinating inter-team battle develop, as Sergio Perez fought bravely with Jenson Button all afternoon. They clashed wheels on more than one occasion, earning Sergio some criticism from Jenson on the radio. Nevertheless, they stayed out of the barriers, and Perez took a commendable 6th place by the end of the race.

He became embroiled in another battle near the end, between Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber, who had absolutely no pace in comparison to his teammate. Both drivers found their way past the Red Bull on the final lap, leaving Hamilton in 5th position.

A lack of pace and a puncture resulted in no points for Felipe Massa, finishing 15th. Alonso found himself almost a minute behind the leaders after his two early stops, but bravely fought his way back to 8th place by the chequered flag. He was briefly as high as 6th, but was punished by the resurgent Perez near the end.

With Vettel amassing a comfortable 10-second lead by the end, he increases his championship lead to 10 points, ahead of Raikkonen, Hamilton and Alonso. However, it is apparent that no one driver is a clear favourite for the title yet.

Rosberg takes surprise Bahrain pole

For the second race in a row, a Mercedes driver will start from the front spot on the grid. This time, it was Nico Rosberg who took the honours, as Lewis Hamilton struggled with less pace and a gearbox penalty.

Sebastian Vettel is in a prime position to attack from 2nd place on the grid, while the Ferraris are 3rd and 4th. Penalties for Hamilton and Mark Webber have elevated Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil to 5th and 6th places. Here is what happened in qualifying:

Q1

Thankfully, we didn’t see a repeat of what happened in China, as most drivers partook in the majority of Q1.

Fernando Alonso had noteworthy pace on the hard compound tyres, going faster than medium-clad Sebastian Vettel. It was immediately apparent that Lotus’ pace had slid away, as Kimi Raikkonen struggled to keep his car on track under braking, repeatedly locking up and going off the track.

Both Williams drivers set the exact same time to a thousandth of a second, but Maldonado set his time later, so he was demoted further down the order, and was eventually knocked out of Q1.

Charles Pic put Caterham ahead of Marussia for the first time this season, while Esteban Gutierrez will start from 22nd after a penalty from last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Pastor Maldonado – 1:34.425

18) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:34.730 (+ 5 positions)

19) Charles Pic – 1:35.283

20) Jules Bianchi – 1:36.178

21) Giedo van der Garde – 1:36.304

22) Max Chilton – 1:36.476

Q2

Paul di Resta put Force India firmly in the spotlight, initially leading proceedings, and eventually taking 4th place in Q2.

Romain Grosjean was all set to partake in Q3, until a mistake on his final Q2 lap put him under pressure. Jenson Button was all too willing to pounce, and was audibly delighted on the team radio afterwards.

Sergio Perez yet again failed to make the cut, while Nico Hulkenberg demonstrated Sauber’s lack of pace this weekend.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Romain Grosjean – 1:33.762

12) Sergio Perez – 1:33.914

13) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:33.974

14) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:33.976

15) Valtteri Bottas – 1:34.105

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:34.284

Q3

A quick lap by Rosberg at the start of Q3 was enough to state his intentions. Alonso and Hamilton duly slotted behind in the first set of lap times.

All 10 drivers went out on track for the final 5 minutes, providing a closely-fought battle for pole. Only Jenson Button ended up not setting a time, the McLaren making a mistake on his sole lap.

Alonso also aborted his final run, leaving Vettel and Hamilton to chase the second Mercedes driver. After Nico improved his lap time again, Vettel could only get within a quarter of a second, while Hamilton could only muster 4th place.

Felipe Massa qualified 6th, but has been elevated to 4th because of other drivers’ penalties. He will start on the hard tyre, interestingly, and it will be fascinating to see how he matches up to teammate Alonso tomorrow.

The Force Indias were 7th and 8th, and Kimi Raikkonen had no pace whatsoever in Q3, a full second off Rosberg’s time.

Times from Q3:

1) Nico Rosberg – 1:32.330

2) Sebastian Vettel – 1:32.584

3) Fernando Alonso – 1:32.667

4) Lewis Hamilton – 1:32.762 (+ 5 places)

5) Mark Webber – 1:33.078 (+ 5 places)

6) Felipe Massa – 1:33.207

7) Paul di Resta – 1:33.235

8) Adrian Sutil – 1:33.246

9) Kimi Raikkonen – 1:33.327

10) Jenson Button – No time set

Points standings after Chinese Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 52
2 Kimi Raikkonen 49
3 Fernando Alonso 43
4 Lewis Hamilton 40
5 Felipe Massa 30
6 Mark Webber 26
7 Nico Rosberg 12
8 Jenson Button 12
9 Romain Grosjean 11
10 Paul di Resta 8
11 Daniel Ricciardo 6
12 Adrian Sutil 6
13 Nico Hulkenberg 5
14 Sergio Perez 2
15 Jean-Eric Vergne 1
16 Valtteri Bottas 0
17 Esteban Gutierrez 0
18 Jules Bianchi 0
19 Charles Pic 0
20 Pastor Maldonado  0
21 Giedo van der Garde  0
22 Max Chilton  0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull 78
2 Ferrari 73
3 Lotus 60
4 Mercedes 52
5 McLaren 14
6 Force India 14
7 Toro Rosso 7
8 Sauber-Ferrari 5
9 Williams-Renault 0
10 Marussia-Cosworth 0
11 Caterham-Renault 0

Fernando Alonso takes dominant win in Chinese Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso is the third driver to win a race in the 2013 season so far, crushing his opposition to secure the win at today’s Chinese Grand Prix. He took the lead from pole sitter Lewis Hamilton in the opening laps, and utilised the Ferrari’s excellent race pace to build a gap to his rivals.

Sebastian Vettel drove a fine race, using a vastly different strategy to leap up to 4th by the chequered flag, after starting 9th. In the closing laps, he put Hamilton under extreme pressure, but was unable to steal the podium spot.

At the start, Hamilton held the lead into the first corner, while the Ferraris slotted into 2nd and 3rd easily, with Kimi Raikkonen going backwards after his front row start. However, the Mercedes clearly lacked raceday pace, and was easy prey for Alonso and Massa by lap 5.

Fernando got to work on building an unassailable lead, while disappointment was to befall Massa, who pitted one lap too late to ditch his option tyres, and fell down the order, which he never recovered from.

Nico Hulkenberg put on a fine display in the first half of the race, leading proceedings after the frontrunners had pitted. Still on the medium tyres he started on, the Sauber driver managed to hold off Vettel – who also hadn’t stopped – for an entire stint.

Mark Webber pitted on the first lap to ditch the volatile softer compound tyre, but a miserable weekend only got worse on race day. Attempting to pass Jean-Eric Vergne at turn 4, the two clashed, with Vergne’s race ruined and Webber under investigation by the stewards. A broken front wing, botched pit stop, and subsequent wheel falling off sealed his fate.

There was almost a safety car early on, as Esteban Gutierrez ploughed into the back of Adrian Sutil at the end of the back straight. Gutierrez, who misjudged his braking point with DRS engaged, put both cars out of the race, and is also to be inquired by the stewards.

While the majority of drivers opted for a 3-stop strategy, Jenson Button pulled off a clean and consistent 2-stopper en route to a commendable 5th place. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez continued to disappoint in the sister McLaren, clashing with the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen early on, and finishing only 11th overall.

Raikkonen and Hamilton had no answer to Alonso’s dominative drive, and began to squabble amongst themselves for the final two podium places. After several changes of position early on, Raikkonen held off the Mercedes until the chequered flag. Lewis came under massive pressure from Vettel in the final laps – being caught at over 3 seconds per lap – but a small mistake at turn 11 ruined Sebastian’s chances of gaining 3rd on the last lap.

Nico Rosberg had lost out in qualifying, and a failure of the anti-roll bar on lap 22 ended any chances of a good finish for the 2nd Mercedes driver.

Daniel Ricciardo earned significant praise for his performances, taking a career-best 7th position. Paul di Resta, Romain Grosjean and Hulkenberg finished off the top 10.

Alonso’s pace was completely unmatched until Vettel’s option tyre rampage in the dying laps, and he crossed the finish line with a comfortable 10 second gap to Raikkonen behind. While it’s early days yet, it seems like today’s top 4 finishers will be battling away all season long for the drivers’ championship.

Chinese Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton seals inaugural pole position for Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has earned his first pole position of his Mercedes career in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside him on the front row, the first time he has done so since 2008. Fernando Alonso is 3rd, while the Red Bulls had a torrid session, struggling with fuel pressures and the option tyres. Sebastian Vettel is 9th, while Mark Webber drops all the way to 22nd after running out of fuel in Q2.

Here is what happened this morning:

Q1

Q1 saw a suspiciously slow start to the session, taking almost 10 minutes for a single car to venture out on track.

This was due to the option tyre being weaker than Pirelli had predicted, and teams feared they would only be good for one or two flying laps.

Eventually the Mercedes drivers set the pace, almost half a second faster than anybody else. Felipe Massa continued his good run of form,  finishing higher than teammate Alonso, while Webber and Vettel attempted to minimise the amount of time spent on track.

Jules Bianchi impressed again, running as high as 16th until the Toro Rosso’s final runs, but he was still within 0.7 seconds of Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Valtteri Bottas – 1:37.769

18) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:37.990

19) Jules Bianchi – 1:38.780

20) Max Chilton – 1:39.537

21) Charles Pic – 1:39.614

22) Giedo van der Garde – 1:39.660

Q2

The second part of qualifying saw most of the focus on Red Bull. They started the session on scrubbed option tyres, landing them 5th and 8th places initially.

But disaster struck Mark Webber, who slowed to a halt at Turn 14 with a fuel pressure problem. It later emerged that Mark’s car was underfuelled, and he will drop to the back of the grid as punishment.

After a disappointing Friday, Sergio Perez was in for more bad form today, as he exited Q2 only 12th, while his teammate easily slotted into Q3.

Daniel Ricciardo impressed with 9th place, well ahead of his teammate, and the first time he has gotten into Q3 since Bahrain 2012.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Paul di Resta – 1:36.287

12) Sergio Perez – 1:36.314

13) Adrian Sutil – 1:36.405

14) Mark Webber – 1:36.679

15) Pastor Maldonado – 1:37.139

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:37.199

Q3

Again, it was a slow start to Q3, with only Sebastian Vettel venturing out on track in the opening minutes. However, he pitted soon after, indicating he was not about to set a fast lap in this session.

Nico Hulkenberg attempted the same strategy, while Jenson Button set a slow lap time on the primes to ensure he was to qualify ahead of the two Germans.

It was surprising to see two of the big names participate, but the other drivers weren’t so conservative. Kimi Raikkonen set the initial pace with a 1:34.7, but this was smashed by Hamilton by nearly 3 tenths of a second.

Nico Rosberg made a mistake in the final corner, and could only manage 4th, behind Fernando Alonso, who avoided being out-qualified by his teammate for the 5th time in a row. Romain Grosjean and Daniel Ricciardo went almost unnoticed in Q3, taking 6th and 7th respectively.

Obviously, Hamilton is in the best starting position for the win tomorrow, but he has some stiff competition breathing down his neck – Raikkonen, Alonso, Rosberg and even Vettel will also be in contention.

Red Bull claim new record with 2.05 second pit stop in Malaysia

Red Bull Racing have officially completed the fastest pit stop ever seen, with a 2.05 second stop being recorded during the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Mark Webber made his second pit stop on Lap 19 of the Grand Prix, and remained stationary for just over 2 seconds. This breaks the previous record, held by McLaren at the 2012 German Grand Prix, of 2.31 seconds for Jenson Button.

Amazingly, Red Bull managed to break McLaren’s record five times during the Malaysian Grand Prix, although not each pit stop was faster than the one before. They are as follows:

Driver Lap Time
Mark Webber 19 2.05
Sebastian Vettel 5 2.13
Mark Webber 7 2.13
Mark Webber 31 2.21
Mark Webber 43 2.26

It is almost certain now that some team – probably Red Bull – will breach the 2-second barrier during this season.

Vettel backstabs Webber to win the Malaysian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has won the Malaysian Grand Prix, but the fallout from today’s events will surely stain what was an impressive 1-2 victory for the Red Bull team.

Mark Webber led much of the race, but was instructed to dial down his engine in the final stint to save fuel and tyres. Vettel, who was close behind throughout the race, was instructed to hold position, but instead locked horns with his Red Bull teammate, and eventually came out victorious.

The podium ceremony was awkward to say the least, with Webber angrily quipping “Multi 21, Seb?” to his teammate beforehand. Mark was also seen gesticulating at Sebastian on-track during their battle.

Mercedes were embroiled in a similar battle, but both drivers decided to respect the team orders. Lewis Hamilton finished 3rd, and was struggling with low fuel with a few laps to go, but Nico Rosberg was blocked from battling his teammate. While clearly unhappy, the two drivers respected the situation to seal a good result for the Mercedes team.

Ferrari failed to capitalise on their excellent grid spots. Fernando Alonso tapped Vettel’s car on the opening lap, then crashed out a lap later after his front wing lodged under the nose during braking. Felipe Massa slipped back, but steadily fought his way back up to 5th position by the end.

Jenson Button was set to complete a great 5th place for McLaren, but a disastrous pit stop resulted in his front right wheel coming loose, and he dropped all the way down to 14th. Sergio Perez was forced to pit in the final laps, but still scraped a 9th-placed finish.

This article will be updated.

Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying: Vettel eases to pole, Raikkonen penalised

Sebastian Vettel has taken a comfortable pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix, in tricky conditions where rain fell halfway through the session.

Championship leader Kimi Raikkonen initially qualified 7th, but received a 3-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Rosberg. The Ferraris will start 2nd and 3rd, with Felipe Massa out-qualifying Fernando Alonso for the fourth race in a row.

Q1

Vettel came within almost 0.2 seconds of being knocked out of Q1. Himself, along with Mark Webber, showed little to no pace throughout the first part of qualifying, with the Australian only lying 11th, and Sebastian 15th.

There was an interesting split between drivers who were attempting to use the medium tyres to gain grid position, and those who were conserving them for the race. Adrian Sutil was one of the few drivers pushing hard in Q1, setting a 1:36.809 to finish fastest.

Jules Bianchi produced another impressive qualifying performance, coming within 0.5 seconds of getting into Q2. He beat teammate Max Chilton by over 1.2 seconds.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:38.157

18) Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.207

19) Jules Bianchi – 1:38.434

20) Charles Pic – 1:39.314

21) Max Chilton – 1:39.672

22) Giedo van der Garde – 1:39.932

Q2

Paul di Resta was the first driver to go out on track, and was the first to pit – which was a mistake.

Rain fell about halfway through Q2, rendering half of the track unusable on slicks, and the other half bone dry. Intermediates were required, and Di Resta wasn’t able to set a fast time because of this. Despite this, he valiantly tried to go out again, but spun twice in the process.

Once again, the Red Bulls struggled, with Vettel only getting into Q3 by the skin of his teeth. Romain Grosjean was eliminated in Q2, as it emerged this weekend that the Frenchman is not receiving parts that are going onto teammate Raikkonen’s car.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Romain Grosjean – 1:37.636

12) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:38.125

13) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.822

14) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:39.221

15) Paul di Resta – 1:44.509

16) Pastor Maldonado – N/A

Q3

With the rain still falling, Q3 was busy from the offset, as teams feared the conditions would get worse the longer they waited.

This wasn’t the case though, and with several minutes to go, the track had dried to the point where drivers began to consider the slick tyres. Vettel pitted, but took on a fresh set of intermediates. His teammate stayed out, which backfired later on.

Webber briefly went fastest, but was quickly beaten by Lewis Hamilton, and then Fernando Alonso. There wasn’t enough time for him to get a new set of inters, and his current set were too worn for him to set another lap, so he fell to 5th place.

Vettel, meanwhile, went almost a second faster by going out on track at the right time. Raikkonen and Hamilton had one last chance to unseat the Red Bull, but couldn’t improve on their previous times. Felipe Massa then pipped his teammate to 2nd place, for the 4th race in a row.

Raikkonen finished the session 7th, but was demoted to 10th after he was judged to have held up Nico Rosberg near the end of Q3.

Times from Q3:

1) Sebastian Vettel – 1:49.674

2) Felipe Massa – 1:50.587

3) Fernando Alonso – 1:50.727

4) Lewis Hamilton – 1:51.699

5) Mark Webber – 1:52.244

6) Nico Rosberg – 1:52.519

7) Jenson Button – 1:53.175

8) Adrian Sutil – 1:53.439

9) Sergio Perez – 1:54.136

10) Kimi Raikkonen (+3) – 1:52.970

 

 

Australian Grand Prix team analysis: Lotus prove importance of strategic racing

The 2013 season has kicked off with a bang, and already it’s looking good – no one team holds a decisive advantage over the other.

Raikkonen’s victory today was assisted by excellent strategic calls in the pit lane, showing how absolutely crucial tyre management will be in 2013. Let’s have a look at how each team managed in Melbourne:

Lotus

With no response from their rivals after the final set of stops, it is already clear that long distance race pace is Lotus’ strong point. Tyre conservation appears to be particularly manageable, as Kimi completed a 25-lap stint on the mediums without much difficulty.

Their qualifying pace requires work, though. A fourth row lockout may have been enough today, but in future races they will not have the opportunities like they did in Melbourne.

Raikkonen was calm and relaxed as always, and he is now a sure-fire contender for the championship. Grosjean, on the other hand, I’m not sure about. He reported possible damage to his car, but even still he never was close to his teammate’s pace.

Ferrari

The F2013 is eons ahead of the F2012, which is the most important thing for the Scuderia. With Alonso on top form, and Massa resurgent, Ferrari are possibly the biggest threat in both championships.

A smart call to pit early by Alonso allowed him to leapfrog Vettel, giving him his best shot at victory. Massa opted not to follow suit, and paid the price, although you could argue that he should have been able to make the call himself as well.

Nevertheless, both drivers performed very well, and Ferrari now have one of the most solid packages on the grid.

Red Bull

What looked to be a complete domination today failed to materialise, and instead Sebastian Vettel is now slightly on the back foot.

However, a podium finish is enough at the moment, and Red Bull can now stand back and analyse how to repond to Lotus’ and Ferrari’s pace. One issue that needs to be solved is the RB8′s heavy tyre wear, a factor that lost Sebastian a place to Alonso during today’s race.

Webber, meanwhile, had absolutely no impact on the race, and proved once again why he has been unable to win a title.

Mercedes

Clearly playing down their chances over the winter, Mercedes aren’t in the worst position at the moment. A storming performance from Rosberg in Q1, as well as Hamilton’s great race pace, is enough to show the team’s potential.

Tyre conservation is a valuable asset, with both drivers managing more than double the amount of laps on the super-softs than the Red Bulls. Raw pace is lacking, and it will remain to be seen can the team finally keep up in the development race.

Force India

Adrian Sutil’s commendable drive today showed that Force India were not wrong to re-sign the German. He led the race twice, and managed to pull away from Vettel on older tyres – a feat that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Paul di Resta, though, is now under pressure. Having failed to match his teammate’s pace across 90% of the Grand Prix, he will now have to deflect claims that he is only an average-grade driver.

The VJM06 is the perfect tool for him to do it though, as it threatens to worry the big boys at the front.

McLaren

The loss of several high-profile figures over the winter hurt McLaren badly. And with the level of competitiveness at the front, they may struggle to ascend up the order.

Sergio Perez performed decently on his first race for the team, and was able to keep close to Button’s pace. However, it doesn’t mask the fact that the MP4-28 is grossly uncompetitive, and the squad may even look to 2014 to bring the team back to the top.

Toro Rosso

Excellent qualifying performances by both drivers in Q1 was encouraging form. While it failed to materialise into points, the team look more competitive than last year, at least.

Jean-Eric Vergne finished within half a second of Perez’s McLaren at the finish, which is enough to indicate how much the field has changed since 2012. Without a flat-spotted tyre earlier in the race, he could have even challenged Romain Grosjean for a points-scoring place.

Sauber

The plucky underdogs received no luck in Melbourne, with star driver Hulkenberg out before the race even began.

After that, it was up to debutant Esteban Gutierrez to entertain any hopes of a good finish, but it wasn’t to be. Still, 13th place on his first ever F1 race isn’t too bad, so we’ll see how the Sauber really fares next weekend.

Williams

It’s the same story 95% of the time at Williams – full of talk about how much they’ve improved, only to be miles off the pace as usual.

Valtteri Bottas was the last of the midfield drivers to be classified, while a spin for Maldonado ended his race early. How the car actually fares against Sauber and Toro Rosso we don’t know yet, but it’s not looking good.

Marussia

Encouraging news for the struggling team after a topsy-turvy winter – they have made good gains on the midfield, and appear to be outperforming Caterham for the first time ever.

Jules Bianchi is also a hugely impressive driver, leaping up to 13th briefly at the start, and utterly thrashing teammate Max Chilton. I wouldn’t be so bold as to predict a points finish for the Frenchman, but I’d sure as hell imply it.

Caterham

Meanwhile, Caterham are down in the doldrums, with an underperforming car, and neither driver looking like they can match Bianchi at the moment.

Charles Pic performed decently today, but Giedo van der Garde is still an unknown, as I think his pace was masked with his battle against Chilton. Nevertheless, it looks to be another depressingly poor season for the fledgling team.

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