Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen feature in part two of the mid-season 2015 driver rankings.
12: Nico Rosberg
|Beat team mate in qualifying||1/10|
|Beat team mate in race||3/10|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||220/633|
It’s easy to forget how closely matched Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were in their first year together at Mercedes in 2013. And last year while Hamilton cleaned up in the races, Rosberg surprisingly won the qualifying battle.
This year it seems Rosberg has run out of answers for his team mate. While Rosberg has been close to Hamilton’s qualifying pace at times (and ahead once), more often than not their pair have been separated by more than three tenths of a second. Rosberg even allowed Sebastian Vettel to get the better of him on two occasions.
He converted his sole pole position into a win in Spain, got lucky in Monaco, and beat Hamilton away from the line to win in Austria. It may seem odd to place a driver with three wins outside the top ten, but given the scale of Mercedes’ car advantage a bad day at the office for Rosberg usually means second place.
Not unreasonably, Rosberg seems fixated on seizing whatever points he can from Hamilton whenever the opportunity presents itself, hence his conservative preference for a final stint on the medium tyres in Hungary. Had he opted for softs instead, it’s doubtful he would have ended up fending off an attack from Daniel Ricciardo which ended up with him suffering a puncture. There’s a lesson in that.
11: Daniil Kvyat
|Beat team mate in qualifying||4/10|
|Beat team mate in race||4/7|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||189/498|
Following his rapid promotion from Toro Rosso, Kvyat’s first races with Red Bull didn’t go well. His RB11 didn’t even make it to the grid in Melbourne, several problems delayed him in China, in Bahrain he was eliminated in Q1 and he was passed by Carlos Sainz Jnr on the last lap in Spain.
This prompted Helmut Marko to voice his concerns over Kvyat’s performance, and whether by cause or coincidence he seems to have raised his game since. Fourth in Monaco behind two Mercedes and a Ferrari, while playing the team game, was arguably even more impressive than his somewhat fortunate podium in Hungary. He might have been in the top three at Silverstone, too, had he not spun in the rain. And at the Red Bull Ring, ironically a track ill-suited to his car, it’s doubtful he could have finished higher than eighth.
The race scoreline against Ricciardo flatters him slightly, but nonetheless he’s made a very creditable start to his Red Bull career.
10: Romain Grosjean
|Beat team mate in qualifying||9/10|
|Beat team mate in race||2/3|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||282/375|
Few drivers are dishing out pain to their team mates as consistently as Grosjean. Pastor Maldonado is no slouch over a flying lap, yet Grosjean has beaten him on nine Saturdays out of ten so far this year and usually reaches Q3. Not bad for a driver who’s regularly had to sit out first practice.
He’s scored points in the races so far, and opportunities in the other five races were largely missed due to reasons beyond his control, whether car problems (Australia) or contact (Monaco and Britain). But his blunder in Canada looked like an error the incident-prone Grosjean of 2012 would commit and wasted his best starting position of the year so fear.
9: Max Verstappen
|Beat team mate in qualifying||4/10|
|Beat team mate in race||1/4|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||290/462|
Separating the two Toro Rosso drivers is no easy task. Verstappen has arguably been more impressive given how much less experience he has than Sainz, but this is purely a ranking of how they’ve performed so far, so Sainz gets the nod.
Verstappen, however, has the greater points tally. He has also been the more uneven performance, with higher highs and lower lows, which is perhaps to be expected. Second in practice on his first visit to Monaco was astounding stuff but in the race it was Verstappen who crashed and Sainz who took a points finish from the pit lane.
Both drivers have suffered from the STR10’s poor reliability: in China Verstappen was classified 17th after a late engine failure ruined a race in which he had performed the kind of stunning late-braking passes which were his calling card in Formula Three last year. Silverstone was a low point – he spun out early having started on the harder tyres – but in Hungary he (mostly) stayed out of trouble for an excellent fourth place. If he’s already this good, how much better is he going to get?
8: Fernando Alonso
|Beat team mate in qualifying||4/7|
|Beat team mate in race||2/2|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||178/256|
Ranking McLaren’s two world champions involves a considerable margin for error as the MP4-30 has not permitted them to do much in the way of racing. Good as he’s been in the car, Alonso’s been even better out of it, gritting his teeth through endless press conference questions drawing his attention to how much better his former team are doing these days.
Alonso’s season reads as a litany of car-related failures and the occasional other aggravation: in Austria he made a superb start only to be shunted into a barrier by an out-of-control Kimi Raikkonen.
However in the last two races McLaren’s gradual gains and favourable circumstances have allowed him to deliver: a point came at a wet Silverstone, then in Hungary a well-timed tyre change led to an unlikely points finish. When this car comes good, Alonso is surely going to deliver in a big way.
7: Carlos Sainz Jnr
|Beat team mate in qualifying||6/10|
|Beat team mate in race||3/4|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||172/462|
Apart from in Canada, where the need to save fuel left Toro Rosso out of the hunt, Sainz has delivered points every time his car has gone the distance without letting him down. China was the only other occasion he saw the chequered flag while placed outside the top ten, and that came after a substantial delay due to a gearbox problem.
Ninth on his debut at Melbourne would have been higher had it not been for a slow pit stop, and he followed that up with eighth in Malaysia. That he hasn’t improved on that yet is largely down to the STR10’s poor finishing record: he was on course for points in each of the last three races when his car let him down.
Sainz hasn’t been flawless – missing the weighbridge in Monaco undoubtedly cost him a better result than he eventually got – but his performances thus far make Red Bull’s hesitance to promote him to F1 in the first place all the more surprising in retrospect.
6: Felipe Massa
|Beat team mate in qualifying||6/10|
|Beat team mate in race||4/9|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||247/573|
On his best days, we’ve seen glimpses of 2008-vintage Massa at Williams, which is a heartening sight after his 2009 crash and those long years in Alonso’s shadow. These high points included leading in Silverstone – where his pace on the hard tyres and intermediates was better than Bottas could manage – a podium in Austria and fourth in Australia.
Massa was particularly unlucky to suffer a problem with his turbo in qualifying at Montreal, a track which suited the Williams well. In Monaco, where the FW36 was well off the pace, he still out-qualified Bottas.
Massa’s slight margin over Bottas in qualifying is partly down to his team mate’s early season back trouble, but Massa’s consistent performances are threatening to take the gloss off the occupant of the other Williams. Only in Hungary did he really look sub-par, failing to make any kind of impression in a race where big points were possible.
Extended notes on each driver
Click below to read more about each driver’s performance in every round so far this year:
Australia – Having led the way on Friday Rosberg seemed to be put off his stride by a gearbox problem in final practice, then suffered a few hiccups in qualifying and ended up well off Hamilton’s time. It wasn’t representative of the gap between them, but if the Mercedes wasn’t so much faster than anything else it would have been more of a problem. The gap between them in the race was never that large, but whenever Rosberg tested Hamilton a response came immediately, confining him to second.
Malaysia – Was bumped back to third on the grid by Vettel despite having the advantage of being the last Mercedes driver to run on a drying track. Mercedes tend to carefully manage which driver has that benefit, so it was a surprise to see Rosberg dropping back behind Hamilton after they had taken to the track. He finished where he started after using a similar strategy to Hamilton, and gained on his team mate during the second half of the race.
China – Only just missed out on beating Hamilton to pole by four hundreths of a second on Saturday. Kept pace with Hamilton during the race but once again was never close enough to mount a serious challenge for the lead. Was very open after the race about his views that Hamilton’s tyre saving pace had left him unnecessarily at risk from Vettel, but Rosberg was never required to defend his position.
Bahrain – Bumped back to third on the grid by Vettel and said after qualifying he’d tried too hard to preserve his race tyres in Q2. Having lost a place to Raikkonen at the start he took both the Ferraris in the first stint to take up second behind his team mate. When Vettel jumped back in front of him by pitting early Rosberg was always able to take the place back on the track, but he fell victim to a late attack from Raikkonen when he suffered the same braking fault as Hamilton, albeit slightly earlier.
Spain – Collected a reprimand early in the weekend for entering the pit lane on the wrong side of the marker bollard, but other than that rarely put a wheel wrong. He beat Hamilton to pole position for the first time this year with a tidy qualifying effort and made a clean start to hold his advantage at the start. From then on, with Hamilton stuck behind Vettel, he was in cruise mode.
Monaco – Touched the wall at Tabac during first practice, which seemed to put him off his stride a bit. Said he “went a bit over the limit” in pursuit of a third straight Monaco pole – and the result was second behind Hamilton. He slipped back during the race and was surprised to see the lead fall into his lap at the end. Managed the restart well, and took the victory.
Canada – Pole position was within his grasp but he had the misfortune to be allocated a duff set of tyres for one of his runs in Q3. Although eager not to appear to be making “excuses”, Rosberg said the inferior set left him short of grip, and he lined up second. He pressed Hamilton hard in the second half of the race, despite his brakes reaching a “critical” state at one stage, but had to settle for the runner-up spot.
Austria – Before he spun at the last corner of his final flying lap in Q3 Rosberg had found the missing time to his team mate and had a good chance of taking pole position. However he made an excellent start, took the lead from Hamilton and had got a hold on first place when the Safety Car came out. Thereafter his run to victory looked reasonably straightforward, though a graining tyre gave cause for concern in the closing stages.
Britain – Gearbox problems impaired his practice running on Friday and Saturday but he was clearly very quick. However having been a tenth of a second off Hamilton on his first run in Q3 Rosberg couldn’t improve on his final run, blaming a loss of grip on one of his front tyres. Having been passed by the two Williams drivers at the start he spent the first stint stuck behind Hamilton, and the pit stops failed to get him in front of either of the Williams drivers, though he came very close. Despite a brief off at Woodcote when the rain fell he quickly picked off Bottas and Massa, then slashed Hamilton’s lead. But he stayed out a lap longer than his team mate on slick tyres, which ended his bid for victory.
Hungary – The team apologised to Rosberg after his “difficult day” which they said was down to an error in setting his car up which went unnoticed. He bounced back in final practice to end up within a tenth of Hamilton, but in qualifying he was puzzled by persistent understeer and ended up over half a second off his team mate. After Hamilton took himself out of contention Rosberg was unable to close on the Ferraris – he was 22 seconds behind before the Safety Car period. Seemingly preoccupied with staying ahead of Hamilton, a conservative call for medium compound tyres under the Safety Car blunted his challenge late in the race. A lack of circumspection in his battle with Ricciardo was heavily penalised – the puncture dropped him to eighth, and spoiled what could have been a profitable day.
Australia – Wasn’t able to accompany his team mate into Q3, and then failed to start the race at all following a gearbox problem on his first lap. A disappointing start to his first grand prix for Red Bull.
Malaysia – Fared slightly better with Red Bull’s brake problems and finished ahead of Ricciardo despite being tipped into a spin by Perez at one stage. He felt this was the most they could take from a race in which both Red Bulls finished behind their Toro Rosso siblings.
China – A weekend of problems for the Russian with brake issues on Friday, followed by a loss of power in qualifying that left him 12th on the grid. Lost places at the start as one of only two drivers to start on Medium tyres and unnecessarily cost his team mate and himself time by fighting before his Renault engine blew on lap 15, ending a forgettable weekend.
Bahrain – Failed to make it out of Q1 after spinning in final practice. He gained two places at the start but lost them on the next lap to Massa and Maldonado. However from then on his recovery drive picked up pace and he brought his car home in the points, re-passing the long-running Massa with three laps to go.
Spain – Also missed out on some running on Friday and Saturday, but managed to out-qualify Ricciardo for the first time this year. He made a very poor start, however, dropping back five places. Although he got back in the hunt for points he lost ninth to Sainz on the final lap after the pair tangled at turn one.
Monaco – Described himself as feeling comfortable at the wheel of the RB11 for a change and qualified fifth behind his team mate. That became fourth at turn one – a position he held at the end for his best F1 finish so far.
Canada – Out-qualified Ricciardo for the second time since they became team mates. Realistically he was never going to be able to keep Massa and Vettel behind in the race, but he had to keep his foot down to stay ahead of the recovering Grosjean.
Austria – Got into Q3 but also had to take a ten-place grid penalty, leaving him 15th on the grid. Collided with Perez at the start and had to replace his front wing, but other bodywork damage made the car “very tough” to drive, and he finished 12th.
Britain – A spin late in the race when the rain returned certainly cost him a better finish – at least fifth, probably fourth in front of the Williams drivers. Until that point he’d been on great form, qualifying seventh behind six faster cars and using an early pit stop to jump ahead of Hulkenberg.
Hungary – Out-paced Ricciardo in practice but was disappointed with his qualifying effort which left him seventh. After locking up heavily at the start of the race he was ordered to let Ricciardo through, which he was not happy about, but he caught a lucky break when he switched to soft tyres before the Safety Car came out. Although he had to run a long, 36-lap stint on them and picked up a ten-second penalty for going off the track while passing Hamilton, Kvyat steered clear of the unfolding chaos to grab a career-best second place.
Australia – Was quick in the new Lotus when it ran, but lost most of the first practice session and retired at the end of lap one in the race with a power unit problem.
Malaysia – Q3 was the first time he’d driven the new Lotus in the rain which explains why the team chose to begin the session on full wet weather tyres. However they did not get their timings right and Grosjean missed out on setting a quick lap on intermediate tyres at the end. He was also penalised ten places by the stewards for skipping the pit exit queue in Q2. Another driver who didn’t pit during the Safety Car period, Grosjean climbed to third but was passed with ease by the Mercedes. He was later knocked into a spin by Perez which cost him the chance of a points finish.
China – Sat out first practice as Jolyon Palmer drove his car. Consistently in the top ten on the timing sheets all weekend and qualified a decent eighth. Kept his nose clean at the start and managed his tyres well throughout the race but could do nothing to help catch the Williams ahead. Crossed the line a solid seventh for his first points since Monaco last year.
Bahrain – Continued his record of getting the Lotus into Q3 at every race this year, but in the race his two-stop strategy appeared inferior to his team mate’s three-stopper – though Maldonado’s early exit from qualifying meant he had more fresh tyres. Nonetheless Grosjean repeated his China result of taking seventh place, still on the lead lap.
Spain – As usual it was Grosjean who sat out first practice while Jolyon Palmer drove the Lotus. Grosjean’s run in second practice was then disrupted by technical problems including a dramatic rear bodywork failure. Despite having reached Q3 in the first four races, after Friday he was pessimistic about their chances of getting beyond Q1. He made it, but couldn’t progress beyond Q2. Lost places early in the race after running wide at turn one, lost time when he overshot his marks at his second pit stop, and lost fourth gear as well, but took points for eighth.
Monaco – A five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change left him on the back foot, but he failed to out-qualifying Maldonado for the first time this year. Surprisingly his Lotus withstood the battering it took from Verstappen well enough for him to reach the chequered flag, but the time lost dropped him out of the points.
Canada – Lotus were quick from the word go in Canada and Grosjean could even afford to feel slightly disappointed with fifth on the grid. He said his out-lap preparation had been compromised after Lotus sent both cars out of the pits simultaneously for their final runs. He was on course to deliver fifth place in the race when he tripped over Stevens’ Manor while lapping his rival, picking up a puncture. That dropped him to tenth, which he held despite his five-second time penalty. To his credit, having blamed Stevens initially for the contact Grosjean later accepted responsibility.
Austria – Having enjoyed the luxury of getting to drive his car in first practice for a couple of races Grosjean was relegated to spectator status again this weekend and will continue to do so until Singapore while Lotus give more seat time to Jolyon Palmer. When he did get in the car he was hampered by reliability niggles, and having reached Q3 was unable to set a time. Got hung out wide by Sainz at turn three after the restart, which allowed Perez through, and shortly afterwards he ran wide at turn eight. A good points finish was still on, however, until his gearbox failed.
Britain – As usual he spent first practice watching Jolyon Palmer drive his car, but he lost more track time in the second session by spinning off at Luffield. Puzzled by his car’s balance in Q2, he registered his lowing qualifying position of the year. Pinned between Ricciardo and Maldonado at the start of the race, damage from the collision forced him out.
Hungary – Missing first practice was less of a disadvantage than usual compared to his team mate. Once again his was the only Lotus in Q3 and he also managed to save a set of soft tyres for the race. But he made a terrible start and finished the first lap in 16th, then collected a five-second penalty for an unsafe release from the pits. His race came alive after the Safety Car period, rising to sixth as those ahead hit trouble, before being demoted by Rosberg’s recovering Mercedes.
Australia – Lost most of the second practice session due to a battery problem, but going into qualifying it was nip-and-tuck between him and Sainz for who would be quickest. A mistake at turn four on his last lap in Q2 kept Verstappen from reaching the top ten. In the race he ran as high as fifth during a long first stint on medium tyres, but the possibility of scoring points died along with his engine following his pit stop.
Malaysia – Despite having little experience of how an F1 car handles in the wet, Verstappen took a fine sixth on the grid. He looked cautious at the start, however, and by lap two had fallen to tenth, one place ahead of his team mate. Toro Rosso split their strategies when the Safety Car came out: Verstappen pitted and so by the end of the race he was battling Sainz for position. He prevailed, and seventh place made him F1’s youngest ever points-scorer.
China – A lock-up in qualifying cost Verstappen a place in Q3, by his own admission. Made up two positions at the start despite contact with Kvyat before gradually making his way into the points, pulling off a series of stunning and aggressive overtakes on the two Saubers and Sergio Perez along the way. Was running in eighth before his car ground to a halt along the pit straight.
Bahrain – Toro Rosso reliability remains poor and Verstappen has borne the brunt of it. He hoped the understeer-prone set up which confined him to 15th in qualifying would help him in the race, but as he was unable to run full engine performance and later suffered an electrical failure it proved irrelevant.
Spain – Shared the third row with his team mate but out-dragged him to turn one. Couldn’t keep Raikkonen behind on the first lap, though. Both Toro Rosso drivers were passed easily on the straight by cars with better straight-line speed, but with four laps to go Verstappen lost out to his team mate and he finished just outside the points.
Monaco – Raised eyebrows with the second-fastest time in first practice, then in qualifying was narrowly beaten to eighth place by his team mate and Maldonado. He passed the Lotus driver early in the race, but a slow tyre change spoiled his race. Put an opportunistic pass on Bottas but then collided with Grosjean, incurring a five-place grid penalty for Canada.
Canada – Arrived in Montreal with a five-place grid penalty from Monaco, then copped another ten-place penalty for an engine change, which turned into a ten-second penalty in the race when it couldn’t be applied in full. He made it into the points places by staying out late, but the inevitable penalty dropped him out of contention again.
Austria – On his first F1 race weekend at a track where he has raced before Verstappen got into Q3, qualified seventh, and picked up another place at the start. After that it was a question of how many Mercedes-powered cars could he keep behind. Bottas got him early on, and by the time Maldonado was on his tail Verstappen was having trouble with his tyres, so he had to settle for eighth.
Britain – Very pleased with his car after final practice but was caught out at Village in Q1, spinning off. The team later identified a throttle torque calibration problem which was blamed for his Q2 elimination. He was the only driver to start the race on the hard compound tyres, but after the restart he spun into retirement at Farm.
Hungary – An electrical problem confined him to the garage halfway through Friday practice, but he bounced back to become Toro Rosso’s only representative in Q3. He started poorly, falling to 13th, but after passing Alonso a well-timed pit stop moved him up to ninth. When the Safety Car came out he had not long since changed to mediums, and switching back to softs put him in a strong position at the restart. However he broke the speed limit under the Safety Car period and had to serve a drive-through penalty. Without that, he might have had his first podium finish. Instead he was fourth, his best result so far, though he was fortunate to escape a penalty after tangling with Bottas.
Malaysia – In his first race back after injury Alonso seemed to have a pace advantage over Button during practice, though he was pipped by his team mate in qualifying. Although an ERS failure ended his race well before the chequered flag, there was some consolation to be drawn from the fact he ran as high as eighth before then.
China – Beaten by Button in qualifying to start 18th, but jumped his team mate at the start. Benefitted with a couple of positions after Button and Maldonado collided, but was too far off from the top ten to have any chance of points. Seeing the chequered flag for the first time this season will have been the main target achieved for this weekend.
Bahrain – There was a sharp contrast between the two sides of the McLaren garage in Bahrain. While Button toiled in vain, Alonso gave cause for cheer by taking the MP4-30 into Q2 for the first time, then finishing 11th in the race. Superficially that was no more than Button achieved in Melbourne – but this time there were six cars running behind the McLaren instead of none.
Spain – Had an inconsequential spin at the end of first practice. In qualifying he got his car through Q1, but his race came to an end with brake trouble – unable to stop his car at his pit box, Alonso’s front jack man had to dive for cover as the car missed its marks.
Monaco – His car broke down in Q2 and the race, but in between the two he managed to pick up a penalty for tangling with Hulkenberg at the start.
Canada – Missed most of final practice while his power unit was changed, but despite the Honda’s lack of power he got into Q2 where he claimed 13th on the grid. However he lost places to several rivals early on and was clearly unhappy when told he needed to save fuel. Capping his misery, the car failed soon afterwards.
Austria – Both McLaren drivers accumulated comical 25-place grid penalties. But Alonso, running the team’s new aerodynamic kit including a heavily revised and shortened nose, got into Q2. The upshot of that was he only had to take a drive-through penalty in the race as he could only serve a small portion of his grid penalty. He started well enough that he was up with Raikkonen turn two – unfortunately the Ferrari driver then dropped it into the barriers, taking Alonso with him.
Britain – Both McLaren drivers made it to the team’s home race without incurring more penalties for changing power unit parts, though Alonso came close as the team was reprimanded for accidentally fitting one of Button’s tyres to his car. He spun trying to avoid the Lotus drivers at the start and inadvertently ended Button’s race. The high rate of retirements helped him salvage a point, however.
Hungary – At a track which minimised the McLaren’s shortcomings, Alonso looked set to take full advantage until his car let him down in qualifying. He jumped up to 12th at the start but was passed by Verstappen shortly afterwards. The pair were destined to finish in that order after Alonso made a canny switch to soft tyres during the Safety Car period and muscled past the other, ailing Toro Rosso of Sainz.
Carlos Sainz Jnr
Australia – Qualified an excellent seventh but after making a good start he clipped Raikkonen, damaging his front wing. A disastrous pit stop then cost him half a minute and dropped him out of contention for the upper points places, and with four laps to go Ericsson demoted him to ninth. Nonetheless, he scored points on his debut.
Malaysia – Admitted he was at fault for not reaching Q3 but went on the attack at the start, making up four places. Ran fourth after the Safety Car period but was never going to keep the likes of the Mercedes drivers behind him. But he made his two-stop strategy work – he was the only two-stopper to score points besides Vettel.
China – A tough weekend for the Spanish rookie. Beaten by Verstappen in qualifying before a spin at the beginning on lap two left him last. Recovered to 14th by his first pit stop but a gearbox problem on lap 20 left him stranded on track, costing around 20 seconds. From that point on, points were never a possibility and ultimately crossed the line an unfortunate 13th.
Bahrain – Bahrain was never likely to be a strong venue for the Renault-powered team so it was to Sainz’s credit that he got the car into Q3. Like his team mate, however, he was destined not to finish.
Spain – Having been unsure about his car in practice he found its handling transformed in qualifying and duly took a best-yet fifth on the grid. Spent most of the first stint being overtaken, but kept his cool and at the end of the race his tyres were still in good enough shape for him to pass Verstappen and Kvyat for ninth place.
Monaco – Would have started eighth he had not missed the weigh bridge in qualifying. His team then didn’t take the car for weighing, and the standard penalty of a pit lane start was applied. From there a huge 66-lap stint on soft tyres helped him grab a single point.
Canada – The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was new to both Toro Rosso drivers and Sainz prevailed in qualifying to the tune of two tenths of a second. He got ahead of Ricciardo for 12th, but the day was always going to offer little for the Renault-powered cars. “With all the fuel saving and lift-off we had to do, it was very difficult out there,” Sainz reflected.
Austria – Was a few tenths off Verstappen’s pace when the track was greasy on Friday, and a similar margin off in qualifying, where he set his car up with rain in mind. It didn’t arrive, but a quick start moved him up to ninth. Made a smart call on his own to stay out of the pits when he was told to, as Nasr in front had gone in, but when Sainz came in his pit stop was slow. A pit lane speeding penalty and an electrical problem finished off his chances.
Britain – “We knew Carlos would be strong as he had already tested here with us before,” said chief race engineer Phil Charles. Sure enough he was the only Toro Rosso driver in Q3, lining up eighth. But he made a poor start and slipped out of the points before an electrical problem ended his weekend’s work.
Hungary – Put Toro Rosso in the top five in final practice but stumbled in qualifying, unhappy with his car’s braking as the track conditions changed, and ended up 12th. Running sixth after the Safety Car period, yet another Toro Rosso failure forced him into retirement.
Australia – Close to his team mate’s pace in practice but didn’t look like out-qualifying the other car until Bottas suffered his back problem. Massa pipped both Ferrari drivers to third, albeit a daunting second and a half off the Mercedes. He didn’t have the pace to keep Vettel behind in the race, but brought the sole remaining Williams home in a useful fourth.
Malaysia – Said the team is still lagging behind in wet conditions after qualifying. He lined up ahead of Bottas and make a good start to take fifth and would have finished there had he not lost out to his team mate at the end.
China – Damaged a front wing during second practice when his rear wing stalled, sending him into the barriers. Impressive lap in qualifying put him fourth on the grid but he lost out to Raikkonen at the start. Ran fifth for the entire race, powerless to catch the leading pack but comfortably the quicker of the two Williams.
Bahrain – Qualified behind Bottas but suffered a greater setback before the race began when a technical problem forced him to start from the pits. He suffered a further setback when he was tagged by Maldonado early on. An aggressive strategy helped him find clear air late in the race, but attempting to nurse a set of medium tyres proved too ambitious, allowing Perez and Kvyat to capitalise.
Spain – Blamed an error at turn three for his disappointing qualifying performance. Started well but ran wide at turn two, losing some of the advantage he gained, but he was able to recover sixth using a three-stop strategy.
Monaco – Qualified better than Bottas but was crowded out at the start, picked up damage, and never really figured in the race from there.
Canada – A problem with Massa’s turbocharger robbed him of power in qualifying and consigned him to a 15th-placed start. Some well-worked passes helped him make up ground, including a superb side-by-side dice with Ericsson, as did the race’s longest stint on the super-soft tyres – 33 laps. He capped a fine damage limitation run by taking sixth place off Maldonado.
Austria – Having brought a raft of updates for the FW37 Williams played their cards close to their chest as usual on Friday, when Massa had a near-miss with Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene in the pit lane. Out-qualified Bottas thanks in part to the yellow flags, taking fourth on the grid. He ran in that position in the race until Vettel’s slow pit stop handed him his first podium finish of the year.
Britain – Williams seemed further from the pace than usual on Friday but it all came good on Saturday as they ejected Ferrari from row two, led by Massa. A brilliant start then propelled him into the lead, but his team mate was clearly quicker at this point and Massa came under pressure. His first pit stop was slightly slow as the team chose to clear debris from his rear wing, but even without that he wouldn’t have stayed ahead of Hamilton (though it might have been less close with Rosberg). When the rain fell Rosberg passed him easily at Village, and he was jumped in the pits by Vettel, falling to fourth.
Hungary – Eighth on the grid meant he was last in the Ferrari/Red Bull/Williams qualifying battle, and sloppy parking on the grid meant a five-second penalty. That dropped him back in the pack, and an early switch to soft tyres (even earlier than Kvyat’s) didn’t work out – a third pit stop was required, which dropped him out of the points.
How the rankings are produced
Among the data referred to in producing the ranks are notes on each driver’s performance at each race weekend, direct comparisons between team mates and each driver’s form guide.
Over to you
How do you think these five drivers have performed so far in 2015?
Have your say in the comments.
2015 F1 season
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- A unique atmosphere: Going to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza
- The Complete F1 Fanatic 2015 season review