Max Verstappen took a shock win but which drivers performed to their best during the Spanish Grand Prix weekends?
F1 Fanatic’s new driver-by-driver race weekend ratings assesses the full field:
Lewis Hamilton – Looked out of sorts in practice, complaining about tyre pressures, but moved towards Rosberg’s set-up in time for qualifying. After a stumble on his first lap in Q3 he produced a superb lap to take pole position. When Rosberg came at him at turn one on the opening lap Hamilton naturally covered the inside line, though it proved in vain. It’s therefore surprising he expected Rosberg to leave the inside unprotected at turn four – he didn’t, and the pair crashed.
Nico Rosberg – Impressed throughout practice but was beaten to pole position by Hamilton. Grabbed the lead at the start but his power unit was in an incorrect setting – likely because of an error on Rosberg’s part, which left him vulnerable on the approach to turn four. He defended as firmly as the rules allow, but the consequence was a collision which ended both drivers’ races. A needless accident in more ways than one.
Sebastian Vettel – Said Ferrari were mystified by their loss of pace in qualifying after they’d been within a few tenths of Mercedes in practice, and seemed to be hardest hit of the team’s two drivers. He got off the line well came out of turn one with only the Mercedes and Ricciardo ahead, but let Verstappen and Sainz get the better of him on the run to turn four. He soon re-passed Sainz after the start and closed on the Red Bulls, but although switching to a three-stop strategy got him ahead of Ricciardo it meant he lost out to Verstappen and Raikkonen.
Kimi Raikkonen – Beat Vettel to fifth in qualifying but struggled away from the line, losing three places immediately. Having re-taken Bottas before the Safety Car came out he got by Sainz when the race resumed. He was a few seconds behind the leading quartet in the middle of the race, but at the end hew drew close onto Verstappen’s tail. Try as he might, he couldn’t get close enough to attempt a pass.
Felipe Massa – Had one shot to get through Q1 but fell well short of his team mate’s time and missed the cut. But thanks to a solid driver, smart strategy and more impressive work by the Williams pit crew, he probably only finished two places lower than was possible. An early pit stop put him on a three-stop strategy which gave him more time in clear air.
Valtteri Bottas – Left Massa well behind as he took seventh on the grid. However a cautious run through the first two corner cost him places to Raikkonen and Sainz. He jumped back ahead of Sainz via the undercut, and although he probably wouldn’t have been able to keep Raikkonen behind it would at least have made his race more interesting. Picked up his pace too late in the final stint to pinch fourth from Ricciardo.
Daniel Ricciardo – Responded perfectly to the challenge of his new team mate in qualifying, using just a single lap in Q3 to put him comfortably in the shade. It’s hard to see what more he could have done in the race as Red Bull’s strategy decision made the difference between the two drivers.
Max Verstappen – Gets full marks despite being edged by Riccirado on Saturday due to his stellar drive on Sunday. Verstappen’s lap one pass on Vettel and coolness under pressure from both Ferrari drivers displayed immense maturity for a driver of comparatively few race starts.
Nico Hulkenberg – Narrowly missed a place in Q3 as he wasn’t able to find a balance he was completely happy with in the upgraded VJM09. He lost three places at the start and was running outside the points when his car developed an oil leak.
Sergio Perez – Force India’s only representative in Q3, Perez took ninth on the grid which became seventh at the start. He finished there too, holding off Massa at the end despite having six-lap-older tyres. Did well to make a two-stop strategy work with such an early first stop.
Kevin Magnussen – Was satisfied to reach Q2 while his team mate went out in the first round. However poor pace for both cars on the medium tyre forced Renault to use the hard at times – they were the only team to do so. Magnussen swapped his for softs at the end and had already passed Nasr oin his final lap when he attempted to pass Palmer too, causing contact which he was later penalised for.
Jolyon Palmer – Sat out first practice while Esteban Ocon drove his car and was delayed by a puncture in the second session. He only narrowly missed a place in Q2. Delivered what he called his best performance to date in the race, stretching out his stint on hards until the end unlike Magnussen, but points weren’t in the offing.
Daniil Kvyat – Like Verstappen, Kvyat had to acclimatise quickly to a new car. He used an extra set of soft tyres early in qualifying which led to an unsuccessful bid to accompany Sainz into Q3. He had to surrender places to Hulkenberg and Palmer early on as the stewards ruled he’d taken them under the Safety Car. A late switch to soft tyres allowed him to keep pace with the leaders and pass Gutierrez for the final points place with four laps to go.
Carlos Sainz Jnr – Was very pleased to take eighth on the grid in front of his home crowd. A rapid start and excellent pass on the outside of Vettel moved him up to third by the Safety Car. Despite firm defending with Raikkonen, the red cars inevitably passed Sainz with his year-old motor. His early pit stop dropped him behind Haryanto which meant Williams were easily able to get Bottas out ahead of him. It didn’t look like the car had more in it.
Marcus Ericsson – Unsettled in the car in Friday, Ericsson felt he made significant progress overnight but couldn’t get the Sauber above 19th. Rated his race as one of his best in F1 so far after using a three-stop strategy to come home nine seconds ahead of his two-stopping team mate. The pair almost tangled at one point, however.
Felipe Nasr – Oversteer confined him to 20th in qualifying with only the Manors behind him. Felt a two-stop strategy meant he spent too long on the medium tyres. But though he lost a place to Magnussen on the final lap the Renault driver’s post-race penalty gifted it back.
Fernando Alonso – Grabbing a place in Q3 represented progress, even if it meant he was the lowest driver on the grid who had to start on old tyres. He slipped behind Button at the start though and that confined him to his team mate’s pace until a power unit problem forced him out.
Jenson Button – Troubled by a loose rear on his car in qualifying and didn’t join Alonso in the final ten. However a rapid start put him in the hunt for points. Although he still found the car lacking grip he delivered nine place, passing Gutierrez close to the end.
Pascal Wehrlein – The Manor’s lack of downforce was revealed by its clear position at the top of the speed trap. Wehrlein felt the team could qualify no higher than the back row and he was proved correct. Despite tyre degradation worries he made a two-stop strategy work but lagged behind the midfield.
Rio Haryanto – Disappointed to qualify last despite being content with the progress the team made with their upgrades. Manor are now quick enough that they can delay the leaders and Haryanto gave Ricciardo and Button headaches during the race.
Romain Grosjean – Complained vociferously about his car during practice and reversed almost all of his recent set-up changes. Despite that he moved up to tenth at the start and points seemed to be a possibility again. However another front wing breakage sent him into the pits and he late retired with brake problems.
Esteban Gutierrez – Felt he got the most out of his car in qualifying but was pipped by Grosjean again. A gamble on a long final stint on mediums didn’t pay off – his tyres faded which allowed Button and Kvyat to edge him out of the points.
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