Hamilton – 1 / Bottas - 0
In what was a dominant display in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton proved that he is arguably the best driver in the world today. Bottas failed to shake off the stigma that he is merely a rear-gunner for Hamilton. When Bottas crashed in qualifying, it left Hamilton alone up front to fend off the Ferraris. Had it not been for a Virtual Safety Car, perhaps Hamilton may have cruised to victory. However, this sport is built off ‘what if’ moments. One musn’t dwell on what happened, but rather look forward and Mercedes certainly have the pace to repeat the dominant display demonstrated since 2014. Hamilton gets an easy victory after a fantastic qualifying session as well as a good performance during the Grand Prix.
Vettel – 0 / Raikkonen - 1
I know, this is weird. I gave a point to the Ferrari driver that didn’t win the race. However, it was Raikkonen who set the early initial pace and was the one Ferrari who was genuinely on pace with the Merc. Qualifying ahead of Vettel adds an extra something to that as well. The difference between the two in performance over the weekend was marginal. They had both performed to the standard that Enzo would have expected out of his pilots. And the team in particular deserves some credit, with the spaghetti Italian nature of the garage giving way to the force that has even the most calm of personnel down the pits nervous. Raikkonen gets the win thanks to a revival of form and being the better of the two Prancing Horses throughout the weekend.
Red Bull Racing
Ricciardo – 1 / Verstappen - 0
There’s something astutely wrong about what many dubbed as the ‘best handling’ car spinning out of control. Both Red Bull’s struggled on what would be a circuit that would suit the RB14 and the result of that was another missed opportunity for the Milton Keynes outfit. Verstappen showed pace throughout the weekend, but was weak during the race. After letting Magnussen by on the first lap, he would spend the next few laps trying to get past the Ferrari clone. He would spin out of fifth and out of contention all together. Ricciardo on the other hand had a good race. Albeit, the elusive Australian Grand Prix podium was once again missed, leaving the Honey Badger to settle for fourth. Oh, and first blood in team-mate wars.
Perez – 1 / Ocon - 0
What the hell happened? Force India was one of those teams you would expect would get better over time. Because up until now, that’s exactly what they were doing. Instead, it appears that their rivals have caught up. They were just ahead of the Williams on pace, which given Williams lack of improvement in any department, is a red flag. Perez gains the edge over Ocon as it appeared the Mexican had the better of his team-mate throughout the weekend. Nothing much to write home about, on to the next weekend.
Alonso – 1 / Vandoorne - 0
My next article will paint a different picture of Alonso, but he nevertheless proved his worth with a very credible fifth place in the McLaren-Renault. Given McLaren’s history, we shouldn’t have to look at a fifth place as a good result, but this Grand Prix was like Christmas for the team from Otahuhu-- I mean, Woking. Vandoorne continues to raise questions as to why he never appears to contest his team-mate. The excuse of being a rookie is long gone, he’s had time to test the car, and now is the time to prove his worth. Alonso comfortably wins here and already, the year looks to be brighter for the car – and I’m not just talking about the paint. Alonso gets the point for being the faster of the two McLaren’s throughout the weekend and his fantastic result in the Grand Prix.
Grosjean – 0 / Magnussen - 1
Four laps in, the Haas garage was bolstered with great enthusiasm and excitement. I mean, why not? Both cars were in the top six and keeping the Red Bull’s at bay. It appeared that Magnussen got the better of Verstappen when the Dutchman kicked up dirt and smoke at turn one, but in a matter of minutes, the Haas campaign went up in spectacular fashion. In both cases, it appeared that the pit crew had let them down horribly; with Gunther Steiner burying his head into hands. It was set to be a fantastic race for the American outfit and were staring down the barrels of a podium and / or third place on the Constructors totem pole. Again, this ‘team sport’ is plagued with ‘what ifs’.
Hulkenberg – 1 / Sainz - 0
Both drivers have a cult following, but have failed to capture my attention. The Renault outfit do not appear to have progressed as much as I would have thought, but were nevertheless there or thereabouts. It is encouraging, however. Hulkenberg gets the edge for this round, as he appeared to be marginally faster than Sainz over the weekend.
Stroll – 1 / Sirotkin - 0
Both of these drivers performed very well in the junior ranks, with both drivers winning many races and championships between them. But, for whatever reason, the transition to Formula One hasn’t been as smooth as one would expect. It’s a valid argument that a driver entering Formula One should be ready for the challenges that lie ahead. It’s easy to say that from your couch, and many ‘fans’ need to give up the lie they tell themselves – that Kubica was the better option for the second Williams seat. Stroll takes the biscuit for this round, owing to a good qualifying performance.
Hartley – 1 / Gasly - 0
It is difficult to judge between two drivers when both cars rarely ran. This weekend did not yield typical Honda problems until it did reared its ugly head midway through the race; with Gasly’s Honda power unit being littered throughout Sector 3. Both drivers failed to gain attention on the pace front, as well. I expected more out of both drivers, but I suppose one can’t do much with an engine that is noticeably slower than that of their competition. Still though, it is refreshing to have someone other than Alonso whinging about the Honda’s. Hartley gains the point for this round based on qualifying performance.
Leclerc – 1 / Ericsson - 0
I’m not gonna lie, I don’t like Ericsson. But, I am a fair judge of driver performance and I will give credit where credit is due. So, in that case, Ericsson doesn’t deserve any. He has once again proven to be the lesser of the two drivers – something that has been the case throughout his Formula One career. Although, few were expecting him to outpace Charles Leclerc – a driver whom I’ve touted to be the next big start in this sport. He possesses a lot of the attributes that the late Jules Bianchi had; which given their history, is quite appropriate. Leclerc gained his point based on his performance as a rookie, compared to that of his team-mate and his race performance which saw him move from 18th to 13th in the slowest car on the grid.