Vettel’s recovery run earns him Driver of the Weekend

2014 Spanish Grand Prix

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After a fine drive from fifteenth on the grid to finish fourth – on a track with a reputation for being difficult to overtake on – Sebastian Vettel was voted as driver of the weekend for the first time this season.

Vettel received 51.9% of the vote, and with race winner Lewis Hamilton only receiving 20.5%, this is the biggest margin between first and second so far this season.

Another driver who did not finish on the podium was voted among the top three: Romain Grosjean, who took 11.0% of the vote after scoring Lotus’ first points of the season, and despite finishing lower than he qualified.

1. Sebastian Vettel

Started: 15th
Finished: 4th

Vettel switched chassis back to one used during testing before the weekend in a bid to cure some handling issues he’d been having with the RB10. Unfortunately the car ran no longer on Friday than it managed during the pre-season tests, breaking down after four laps in first practice and requiring a change of wiring loom, meaning Vettel missed the second session as well.

Despite these setbacks Vettel looked set for a solid qualifying on the second row – likely fourth behind his team mate who had actually got some running in – but was struck once more by mechanical gremlins in Q3 when his gearbox failed. The resulting five-place grid penalty meant Vettel lined up 15th.

A mediocre start saw Vettel gain just one place and he sat behind Jenson Button for twelve laps before making an early first stop, all but confirming a three stop strategy. Red Bull and Vettel could not have played it better however – he made the most of his new tyres to set faster laps and leapfrog a number several of his rivals.

Vettel also passed Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas to secure the fourth place he probably should have started from.

After suffering so much with problems out of his control on Friday and Saturday, to drive like he did during the race to fight his way back to fourth was a brilliant demonstration of what a great driver he is.

Despite finishing a long way behind his team mate, Vettel impressed me this weekend, he had minimal running on Friday, was extremely unfortunate to line up 15th due to gearbox issues, and still came through for fourth place, finally beating a Mercedes to fastest lap along the way (although this may have something to do with his three-stop strategy!)

What’s more he showed himself to be able to perform clinical overtakes when he had to, without which his strategy couldn’t have worked, so in my opinion he is a worthy Driver of the Weekend.
G Breese (@Breesegp)

A serious charge up the field on a very difficult overtaking circuit with a car down on horsepower. I don’t think he’s the best driver in the field, or even second best, but he’s undeniably extremely good.

Still really want to see him fight for race wins and the title in a car less dominant then the ones he’s racked up his wins in.

2. Lewis Hamilton

Started: 1st
Finished: 1st

By his own admission Hamilton’s Friday was his best for a very long time, however come Saturday he seemed to have lost his way. Nico Rosberg took the initiative in Q1 and Q2, and for the second year running it looked like he would steal pole from under his team mate’s nose. But it wasn’t to be, and Hamilton duly claimed his fourth pole position.

After a clean start Hamilton looked comfortable during his first stint. But after his first pit stop the handling woes returned and Rosberg began to close in, setting up a tense final few laps. Nonetheless Hamilton soaked up the pressure exerted by his team mateand held on to take his fourth straight win.

I think Hamilton edges it over the weekend. He had a fundamentally poorer balance than Rosberg on Saturday and Sunday and yet won the race from pole at a track where Nico trounced him the year before.

His pole lap was sheer driving artistry, both in the way he neutralised the wheelspin on car that, on the basis of the snippets of onboard footage with Rosberg, was not translating its torque onto the tarmac as sweetly as Nico’s, and in the way he effortlessly ironed out the ‘passive’, i.e. not throttle-induced, oversteer triggered by tailwinds and cold rears.

Perhaps the very fact that Hamilton, if probably on the recommendations of his engineers, went the wrong way on set-up infringes upon his case, but I would say the occasional set-up woes Hamilton suffers is but one factor on an increasingly short list of Lewis’ weaknesses.
WilliamB (@William-Brierty)

I gave the nod to Hamilton because this is driver of the weekend not the race. The two Mercedes were that close that I think had Rosberg got pole the exact same race would have happened between the two only with Rosberg on top. So to me they are that close that each driver needs practically a perfect weekend to prevail. I think Rosberg lost out in qualifying when he was on a hot lap when Vettel’s car conked out and they red flagged the session briefly. Had that not happened I’m not convinced Hamilton would have beaten Rosberg in qualifying.

So while I think Vettel is a very strong candidate for driver of the race, I don’t think he was the driver of the whole weekend. I think that was Hamilton who did just enough to win by half a second, starting on Saturday.

3. Romain Grosjean

Started: 5th
Finished: 8th

Despite having broken into the top ten in qualifying last time out in China, Lotus looked to have improved tenfold in Spain, with both cars regularly in the top ten during practice. Grosjean demonstrated this in qualifying with fifth on the grid, somewhat of a shock to the team who had locked out the back row just four races ago.

Grosjean also looked to set to at least maintain his position during the race, but faulty engine sensor left him down on power and vulnerable to the Ferraris on the straights. Nonetheless Grosjean can take heart from the fact he scored Lotus’ first points of the 2014 campaign in an ever dramatically improving car.

Romain Grosjean delivered the sort of performance that he showed for a lot of last season. While his team mate was blaming walls for being too close and smashing into Caterhams, Grosjean out-qualified the arguably quicker Ferraris and finished in the points despite a problem. Top job.

2014 Driver of the Weekend results

AustralianKevin Magnussen (48.38%)Valtteri Bottas (24.49%)Daniel Ricciardo (14.05%)
MalaysianLewis Hamilton (54.3%)Nico Hulkenberg (24.0%)Sebastian Vettel (6.5%)
BahrainLewis Hamilton (49.2%)Sergio Perez (25.7%)Daniel Ricciardo (16.6%)
ChinaFernando Alonso (47.7%)Lewis Hamilton (30.7%)Daniel Ricciardo (7.8%)
SpainSebastian Vettel (51.9%)Lewis Hamilton (20.5%)Romain Grosjean (11.0%)

2014 Spanish Grand Prix

Browse all 2014 Spanish Grand Prix articles

Image © Red Bull/Getty

35 comments on “Vettel’s recovery run earns him Driver of the Weekend”

  1. rosberg still yet to make the top 3. interesting.

    1. That’s expected, as Hamilton did a better job. What I find strange is where’s Bottas? Cold blooded in qualifying and the race.

  2. Oh boy, it SOOOOO clear that this is a German website, clearly favoring Vettel. Hamilton won and didn’t put a foot wrong and STILL, he only gets 20% of the vote ? What does he have to do to be recognised for the great uber-driver he clearly is ? Oh how I hate all of you german biaised voters. I am fed up with this Hamilton Bashing taking place only because he is not German. [Sarcasm intended]

    1. Last race it was a Spanish website :P

    2. @tango
      I see Vettel is starting to gain some popularity (On F1Fanatic at least) now that he has to struggle a bit, if Mercedes keeps making dominant cars like the W05 it won’t be long until Hamilton gets his own hatedom (Provided Rosberg doesn’t have anything to say about it), especially on other F1 websites who aren’t quite as… rational as we are in general.

      1. it won’t be long until Hamilton gets his own hatedom

        You think he doesn’t already?!

        1. @matt90
          Well not as prominent as Vettel at least… perhaps I should say, a hatedom because he’ll be winning almost all the time.

      2. I think it’s more a case of people favoring a great fighting race in the pack (more driver related) to a dominant display (maybe more car related), especially when the later becomes the norm, and all of that, independantly from who the dominant / fighting driver is.

        I was just poking fun to the nearly iconic messages who always florished when Vettel won comfortably but only got a small proportion of the votes for DOTW.

  3. The drivers in the table above are the best in the sport currently.
    Just shows what a good gauge for driver skill this piece is.

    1. quite true, I’d had Rosberg to the list and for now, it would be quite complete

      1. I wouldn’t. Hes been qualified 4-1 and only had 2 front row starts from 5 events whereas Hamilton has had 5. Hes also been beat 4-0 in races finished by both drivers. Hes a good driver and has shown how quick he is, but in a sport where a 10th of a second is huge, hes just not quite on the “great” level yet, and I’d easily put him below Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel.

        1. Actually I’d add Bottas, I’ve a feeling he’ll give some great performances this year and get his name in there

          1. Doh! He’s there already in Oz! Nevermind

        2. I don’t know, in two occasions, margins relative to Lewis were quite thin

  4. Have a strange feeling that we wnt be seeing much action from the FI drivers anymore

  5. I see Vettel is starting to gain some popularity now that he has to struggle a bit, if Mercedes keeps making dominant cars like the W05 it won’t be long until Hamilton gets his own hatedom (Provided Rosberg doesn’t have anything to say about it), especially on other F1 websites who aren’t quite as… rational as we are in general.

  6. Funny, but when Hamilton has his “set up woes”, he still manages to deliver. By his own admission, he is always striving for perfection; This is why he says Rosberg was faster than him in Bahrain and Spain. For him, anything less than perfection is simply not good enough. Some people may sneer at this attitude, but it is what winners are made of; and it is what made him beat Rosberg in Bahrain and Spain. Irrespective of his flaws (who doesnt have them), Lewis’s attitude to his performance makes him my kind of guy. ALWAYS strive for the best – NO MATTER WHAT.

    1. ALWAYS strive for the best – NO MATTER WHAT.

      I seriously doubt there’s a single F1 driver that doesn’t strive for that. Such a mindset is the minimal requirement to being in such a high category of any sport.

  7. How did you people not get Bottas into the top 3?

  8. Glad to see that the rest of the F1fanatic fanbase is starting to appreciate Seb’s skills as much as us RBR fans have for years now ;).

    1. It is not the first time Vettel has been chosen driver of the weekend in this website, so …

      1. I was just joking around. English needs a “sarcasm” or “just joking” kind of punctuation.

        1. my bad, yes, it should :)

    2. I gladly forward you to my comments above @rcorporon

  9. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    21st May 2014, 14:30

    Nice to see we agree yet again @Robbie

    1. @william-brierty Well I’m sure you know great minds think alike…or is it that fools seldom differ?

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        21st May 2014, 17:06

        @robbie – If fool seldom differ, how do explain the fact that some fools vote UKIP whilst other fools vote Liberal Democrat (sorry if you don’t live in the UK in which case you won’t get that joke)? Put simply, the language of logic is seldom spoken but always recognized…yes, that is me saying that you and I are some of the most logical analysts on this site…

        1. @william-brierty Sounds logical to me. We are actually in the midst of a provincial election here in Ontario, Canada. It’s between the Liberal party, the Progressive Conservatives, and the New Democratic Party, with the Green Party as a minor player….imho the Liberals need to go…we need change badly…that’s my shot to anyone else on here from Ontario.

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            21st May 2014, 19:51

            @robbie – You’ve probably never heard this, even in Canada, but I follow Canadian politics quite closely (literally decades ago when I did my MA I wrote an article about the implications of Canadian cultural duality on overall electoral patterns; “sigh” indeed); politics is something of a second passion for me. Canada has a roughly similar democratic calender to the UK, so in the UK we will vote in local elections (our version of provincial elections) tomorrow, and although we might be in very different parts of the globe I can sense we might both be voting for ultimately similar parties (because NDP policies bare a striking resemblance to those of the Liberal Party)…

            As exciting as Vettel plunging down the inside of Bottas at T10? No. But still interesting…

          2. @william-brierty That’s very interesting. Since I find, no doubt to no surprise, that governments squander a lot of tax dollars, and we have had 10 years now of a Liberal party that has wasted literally billions, and the NDP is famous for being tax and spend folks, I’ll be voting PC or Progressive Conservative as they promise no new taxes, and a reduction in spending and in the size of government. I think that is what we need badly right now. More dollars in the hands of the ordinary folk to then spend in the economy and help it grow and create jobs that way. But ya, not as exciting as Vettel plunging down the inside of Bottas…

  10. A suggestion for a title for this author’s own column on this site…Downton Alley.

  11. I can’t see how he won. If you take Daniels finches almost 30 seconds in front of Bottas. That gives the Red Bull an advantages of almost 0.45 seconds over the next best team after Red Bull. If he did not finches 4 with that advantages it would have been a disaster. On the day the had almost the same advantages over the other teams as the merc had over them.

    1. But RIC had about 0.45 seconds advantage over VET in Q2 (the last time VET got anywhere near RIC), so VET was perhaps only about as fast as BOT. From this I suppose you might arrive at two different conclusions:
      1: Vettel was in a slower car than his team-mate – one that was about the same speed as the 5th place car but he outdrove his own car and thoroughly deserved driver of the weekend, or
      2: Vettel was again slow compared to his team mate but had a much quicker car than everyone he overtook.

      1. True that is up for the people to decide but for me it was point two you mad if you take in to account that he ended up almost 2.6 seconds in front of Bottas after he only over took him in the last few laps but i need to find on with lap he past Bottas to find out how much faster the car was then Bottas and that should give as a good indecision on wit one of the two it was

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