Nasr wins Driver of the Weekend poll on debut

2015 Australian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Felipe Nasr was voted Driver of the Weekend by F1 Fanatics for his fine debut performance in the Australian Grand Prix.

Nasr picked up 60.6% of the vote after bringing his Sauber home in fifth place and collected ten points for Sauber – a team which failed to score a single point last year.

It was an emphatic win for Nasr whose share of the vote was higher than any driver managed last year – the largest share going to Jules Bianchi who took 60.2% at the Monaco Grand Prix after scoring Marussia’s first points.

Felipe Nasr’s Australian Grand Prix weekend

Nasr had never driven the Albert Park circuit before last weekend. As Sauber do not have a simulator he was unable to practice in a virtual environment and the legal mess surrounding the Giedo van der Garde case meant the team missed the first practice session as well. Nasr therefore began his first F1 race weekend very much on the back foot.

Once he did take to the track however, he was immediately quicker than his more experienced team mate Marcus Ericsson, and headed into qualifying having been on the outskirts of the top ten both times he drove the car.

Nasr delivered on that potential in the first part of qualifying, lapping almost a second quicker than Ericsson. He was the sole Sauber driver to reach Q2, where he missed out on a spot in Q3 at his first F1 weekend by less than a tenth of a second.

It could have all gone very wrong at the start but some careful driving and good judgement ensured Nasr navigated turn one safely and despite brushes with Kimi Raikkonen and Pastor Maldonado he stayed on course.

From then on Nasr withstood persistent pressure from Daniel Ricciardo, who Red Bull believed was capable of finding a way past the Sauber, but never succeeded. His final result may have been partly thanks to the misfortune of others, but it’s hard to argue he should have finished any higher than fifth.

The Banco do Brasil backing emblazoned across the Sauber makes Nasr an inevitable target for ‘pay driver’ jibes, but he delivered the perfect response to them by achieving the best ever debut result for a Brazilian driver.

Has to be Nasr. Even with the depleted grid, 5th place on your debut – driving for a team that scored exactly zilch last season – can’t be ignored. Fantastic drive. Also nearly made it into Q3 and beat Ericcson in Q1 by nearly a whole second.

I’ve been super critical of him in the past, especially when he got a F1 seat and Jolyon Palmer did not, but I had to pick Felipe Nasr here.

Nasr thrashed his team mate in qualifying, and was mixing with not just Red Bulls and Toro Rossos, but a Ferrari too. Yes, the Sauber may well be a quick car, but when you take into consideration that he missed first practice through no fault of his own, you must give the guy some massive credit.

Any other race, I’d have gone for Hamilton. But when a driver is making his grand prix debut, a good result carries more merit in my opinion.

All three rookies did a very good job all weekend, but looking at final result, I’m voting for Felipe Nasr. I believe he showed in testing that he has talent worthy of having a shot in Formula One and he proved that on Sunday with an impressive drive.

I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the future of the talent pool in F1 these days.

Nasr, and my word was I impressed. I know he has had a lot of doubters coming in to F1 given that guys who are seen as better missed out on opportunities, but I’ve always felt like he’s one to support. I have no idea why, but I always found myself cheering for him during his GP2 days.

However he showed exactly what he can do. He was quick, out qualifying his team mate substantially (although it is Ericsson). He was also smart, once again quick in the race and much like in GP2, very consistent. All of this meant he was able to hold off to charging cars behind him, one of them a Ferrari. Fantastic job. I just hope he gets to keep going and proving what he can do.

Nasr was the one thing I really enjoyed about that race. He’s had so many detractors, despite the fact he’s won Formula BMW and British F3 titles, along with a hugely competitive GP2 career.

He’s driving for a team with no simulator, and missed first practice (not to mention all of the stress of the court). But ultimately he drove beautifully. Much like his best GP2 drives he was ultra smooth, calm and consistent. He is a driver who shows the virtues of doing the junior ladder properly; he’s actually ready.

Other drivers

With Nasr receiving such a vast number of the votes, there were very few to share between the other drivers. Among the others who stood out were race winner Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari debutante Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton did the best job and won the race. The driver of the weekend should be the most valuable man racing in Melbourne and that was Hamilton.

I actually voted for Vettel. While I think Nasr did an excellent job, and made this a very tough decision, I think Vettel takes the cake, because of the expectations on him. Unlike Nasr, who only really needed to have an OK weekend, coming to Ferrari, especially after a season like 2014, puts a lot of pressure on a driver, and Seb really lived up to it, and did great.

However @Claudioff wanted to vote for one driver who didn’t feature in the poll:

Easy: Alonso for finding a way to avoid what would be the most embarrassing weekend of his career.

2015 Australian Grand Prix

Browse all 2015 Australian Grand Prix articles

29 comments on “Nasr wins Driver of the Weekend poll on debut”

  1. I love that Alonso comment in the end. He really did very well indeed to stop himself from embarrassment. But my Driver of the Weekend would have been Giedo Van Der Garde, solely for having the guts to do what he did and gaining £15,000,000 as a result (Can Sauber sign me as a driver? I wouldn’t mind being paid off just £500,000).

    1. @mashiat : Very well said about Giedo.. He is truly the driver of the weekend…

  2. That comment from @Jmc200 about Nasr

    He is a driver who shows the virtues of doing the junior ladder properly; he’s actually ready.

    This is so true.

    1. Haha, cheers.

  3. Driver of the week who took out Maldonado and part of Raikkonen’s wing?

    1. @tonybananas MAL turned in on him; where else could he go?

      1. He went for a gap that didn’t exist

        1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
          24th March 2015, 14:43

          No he didn’t, he was already between Kimi and Pastor a the exit of T1, he had absolutely no where to go.

          Was a racing incident and nothing more.

          1. And Maldonado just happend to be in the racing incident in turn 1.

    2. Why on earth is there an argument about this here? Can we just accept that it was a racing incident and move on?

      1. Yes and then, maldonado does the same and it’s all his fault not a race incident.

    3. those two poor unprotected ladies? poor things of them!

  4. A well deserved DOTW for Felipe Nasr on his Formula One race debut

  5. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    24th March 2015, 14:41

    Nasr may bring significant backing to a team, but he’s also got the sheer speed to back it up. Win:win for any team really.

  6. We always seem to vote a rookie to win DOTW in Aus, but kudos to Nasr, he nailed the start and drove a clean defensive race without buckling under race-long pressure from who I consider the field’s best overtaker.

  7. He did really well considering the reduced time he had to get to know the circuit.
    It seems Williams haven’t lost the knack of picking up-and-coming junior drivers, only for another team to offer them a race seat first, wonder if they’ll regret not still having him in the team in a year or two?

  8. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    24th March 2015, 19:10

    Has Nasr achieved the highest rate in a DOTW? I don’t remember anyone higher than 60.6%

    1. 69,3 was the highest I was able to find. Hülkenberg at Korea 2013.

    2. Hamilton was almost 80% in Germany 2011

      1. Alonso in Singapore 2010 was also above 60% if I remember correctly

    3. @omarr-pepper @bleu @deongunner @todfod This reminds me – I’d been meaning to fix the Driver of the Weekend archive page! You can now find the past polls here:

      1. @keithcollantine A leaderboard format might work great for it.

  9. Well deserved! He had the odds stacked against him and prevailed. I have been following him in GP2 so, I’m not totally surprised. Hope to see him in a top shelf car soon.

  10. I think, he deserve it.

  11. Well deserved, he did an amazing job no doubt about it.
    But it’s quite amateurish to compare his laptimes in the first stint with ERI who was on a different strategy. Of course he was quicker :D

    1. Who are you referring to?
      Anyways, regardless of strategy – when Nasr came out of the pits, he was so close to Ericsson that he was immediately able to overtake him. If you lose enough time during the first stint for your team mate to make a pit stop and still come out ahead of you, there’s no denying you’re significantly slower even on aggregate.
      For this to happen, Nasr had to take somewhere between 20 to 25 seconds from Ericsson (I’d love to give you a more exact number, but the re-designed FIA website is a complete mess, leaving me incapable of finding my cherished statistics) in the 22 laps between the end of the safety car’s lead and his pit stop on lap 25. Which is close to 1 second per lap.
      At the end of the race, after 54 laps of unrestricted racing (Ericsson was lapped and thus finished the race after 57 laps; the safety car came in on lap 3), that gap grew to 60 seconds, which is somewhat more than 1 second per lap.
      If anything, Ericsson’s first stint was more competitive than the rest of the race. Nothing amateurish about it.

  12. @keithcollantine Saw an interesting post on the Vettel Fan Page on Facebook. which basically shows the parallels between the first races of both Schumacher and Vettel with Scuderia Ferrari at the Australian GP.

    Australian GP ’96:
    Schumacher: 27 years
    Qualifying: 4th
    Race: Best cars (Williams) finished 1-2
    Ferrari: Irvine 3rd; Schumacher DNF
    Verstappen DNF because of engine failure
    Only 11 cars finished the race

    Australian GP ’15
    Vettel: 27 years
    Qualifying: 4th
    Race: Best cars (Mercedes) finished 1-2
    Ferrari: Vettel 3rd; Raikönnen DNF
    Verstappen DNF because of engine failure
    Only 11 cars finished the race

  13. He really deserved it.I mean that move he pulled out on Verstappen(not sure of spelling),and keeping the rb11 of Daniel Ricciardo behind,this is just a piece evidence on why we need to keep an eye on this young talented brazillian this season.

Comments are closed.