Hamilton – 2 / Bottas - 1
For whatever reason, Mercedes struggled on what has typically been a very Mercedes-friendly circuit. Even back at the beginning of their tenure, the Silver Arrows have generally faired well here and much the same was expected here. But, throughout the weekend heading into the Grand Prix, they were convincingly outpaced by both the Ferraris. The race proved to be interesting with both Silver Arrows benefitting from a cunning strategy, which put them ahead of the Ferrari’s. Of both these Mercs however, it was Bottas who was convincingly faster than Hamilton all weekend. Hammer Time was not on this weekend, but still nonetheless salvaged what could have been a disastarous race. The point goes to Bottas for outpacing Hamilton convincingly and drove a solid race to a well-deserved podium.
Vettel – 2 / Raikkonen - 1
It is becoming more apparent that the Scuderia are becoming the team to beat this year. After qualifying, it seemed only a miracle would stop the Prancing Horse gang. And that’s exactly what happened. Although, up until that point, Vettel was dominating the race – it looked as though the German was on course for victory. Until Max Verstappen found him. But, ultimately it was a good source of reference for what the year will bring for the team and we will more than likely see more dominance from this team in the rounds to come. Vettel gets the point for his performance over the weekend and his drive up until his incident with Verstappen.
Red Bull Racing
Ricciardo – 3 / Verstappen - 0
Ayrton Senna once said ‘If you no longer go for the gap that exists, you’re no longer a racing driver’. But, if you go for a gap that no longer exists, you’re an idiot. That is advice that Max Verstappen needs to take on-board. It has been three races so far and he has been in at least five incidents that have cost him and the team valuable points. Outqualifying your team-mate is good and all, but when you crash in the Grand Prix, it doesn’t exactly help your championship. Ricciardo meanwhile, cruised to victory on what was an extreme stroke of luck for the Red Bull outfit. The point for this round goes to Ricciardo for doing everything right throughout the weekend.
Perez – 1 / Ocon - 2
What’s even going on with these guys? Languishing down the bottom of the mid-pack and they’re STILL fighting. The development of the car has gone down the tube and now, they’ll be lucky if they beat Toro Rosso. Over the weekend, Ocon had the upper-hand and that would carry over into the Grand Prix. The pace, poise and overall skill that Sergio Perez once had has now been shrouded in complete darkness. For whatever reason, he is losing out to his team-mate on a constant basis and now runs the risk of being beaten by his team-mate for the first time since his debut in 2011. The point goes to Ocon for being the fastest Pink Panther over the weekend.
Alonso – 3 / Vandoorne - 0
The Spaniard got lucky this weekend, but Vandoorne should have followed suit. Instead, it’s becoming more apparent that Vandoorne is struggling to follow up on his success in junior formula. Much like Lance Stroll, he’s languishing down the bottom of the pack; going nowhere and not very fast. Alonso got very lucky escaping a penalty where he pushed Vettel off the road. Fickle fans will argue it is racing – but would cry foul when it would happen to their favourite driver. The expectations on the team were indeed unrealistic, but it does beg the question why Alonso made those expectations at all in the first place? Alonso gets the point for outpacing his team-mate all weekend and maintaining a solid position in the standings.
Grosjean – 0 / Magnussen - 3
Haas looked decent up until the point where the safety car came out. When it did, they were thrown down the pack. Magnussen once again put in a very good performance and is starting to become a consistently fast driver. Whether people like his driving style or not doesn’t matter – especially since he really doesn’t crash much. Grosjean complained over the radio mid-race when asked to part the sea for Magnussen. But, it is a team sport and one must abide by the team’s best interest when your odds of a Drivers Championship is about as likely as New Zealand winning the FIFA World Cup. Magnussen gets the point for being the fastest of the Ferrari clones.
Hulkenberg – 3 / Sainz - 0
And just like that, the promise and the hype over Sainz, Jr is gone. In terms of slumps, this is up there with Sergio Perez and the Melbourne Storm. Outqualified, again, Sainz, Jr didn’t show much of anything in the race and instead found himself behind cars which are known to be much slower than his own. Sure enough, Hulkenberg put on a fantastic performance to bolster him up the standings to seventh and now sits behind Alonso in what was a fine drive. Hulkenberg gets the point for this round for being the fastest banana over the course of the weekend.
Stroll – 3 / Sirotkin - 0
Progress of the car looks about as dead as the dodo. What they chose to do about it is a complete unknown. Maybe put Kubica in for one race and force nay-sayers to shut up? Or stick it out and focus on next years car? Either way, in what was looking to be a glum Grand Prix, Stroll had an amazing start and went from 18th to 12th on the first lap – holding out cars much faster than his own. It was an encouraging performance from the Canadian, but there is still more work to be done to convince people that his podium in Azerbaijan was no fluke Sirotkin is also proving to be a decent package – being on the pace of his team-mate more often than less. When the experience factor becomes less of a factor, we will see a little more magic come from the Russian. Stroll gets the point for his amazing start and pace throughout the weekend.
Hartley – 2 / Gasly - 1
Rule number one in motorsport – never, ever, EVER crash into your team-mate. Unfortunately, Gasly found this out the hard way. He may claim Hartley shut the door, but the argument is only valid if the door was ever open in the first place. Alas, it wasn’t. Hartley outpaced Gasly all weekend and whilst the race wasn’t looking too flash at first, the strategy was beginning to play out for the Kiwi. Although, I maintain that of all New Zealanders to break into Formula One, Hartley is the one I am least convinced of. I still do not see him as an F1 driver. Nevertheless, Hartley gets the point for good pace throughout the weekend and NOT CRASHING.
Leclerc – 2 / Ericsson - 1
This one was tough. Leclerc excelled in qualifying, but not in the race. Ericsson did achieve 16th, Leclerc 19th. Why am I going to give Leclerc the point, then? The answer comes in the form of what is and isn’t exceptional. Leclerc’s first race at the Shanghai International Circuit saw him outqualify his team-mate by half a second. And of course, the safety car screwed things up for virtually everyone. I should be noted though, that Ericsson looks a genuine competitor after three years of being a nothing driver bringing in IKEA money and little in the way of results. Leclerc gets the point for his qualifying performance.