Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Driver of the Day: China

In a new feature for the site for 2012, after every race I will be making nominations for driver of the day, before then deciding the winner of the award.

A long time coming? Definitely. Was it something I always thought would happen? No. It's fair to say that in the past I have been very critical of Rosberg. However it would be wrong to give him anything but heavy praise for his weekend in China. His pole lap was brilliant, and everything about the race was perfect. The getaway off the line really couldn't have gone any better as he cruised away and left all his challengers for dead. That was only the beginning of this special drive. Rosberg absolutely controlled the race. Even with some signs of tyre degradation he held on and won very very comfortably in the end, not cracking when Button started chasing him either. A fabulous first race win for Rosberg.
Button made one of his best starts for a very long time to be third at the end of the first lap. After his first stop he made light work of traffic, impressively making his way through quickly to optimise his chances of victory. Sadly for him he couldn't have a shot at winning the race though. He was setting brilliant pace, taking massive chunks out of Rosberg's lead, on one lap over two seconds. He was poised to challenge the German for race victory such was his brilliant pace. However, it all went to pot at his final pit stop, where his left rear wheel just would not go on. The stop was nine seconds, and it blew away any chance for Button to win the race. The 2009 Champion said "It's disappointing not to have been able to challenge for the win, but it was a fun race with tons of overtaking and lots of battling. More important, it's been a great day for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes because we're now leading both world championships. It's very important to be consistent, and it's nice to be back on the podium, but there are just a couple of little things we need to improve upon to make life even better for ourselves."
It has been a very long time since Lewis Hamilton topped the World Championship, but after another consistent and calm race in China, he now sits proudly at the helm. After a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change he was seventh but made a really good start to move up to fifth. He spent a busy race usually trying to pass another car. The most impressive thing though was how careful he was in his approach to these other cars. Whereas last year it's quite likely he would've ended up in an accident, this year he made his way past professionally. The new championship leader said "It was a tough race, though: I'd love to have been able to challenge Nico, and I think maybe I'd have been able to if I'd started on the front row, but we still managed to move forwards from the start I had a lot of fun overtaking people too. I reckon I got everything out of the car that I possibly could. It's also a major positive to know that we've got a very consistent car. We just have to make sure we keep moving forwards, that's all. Mercedes AMG, Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Sauber are all up there - that's a serious championship and it's going to make for great racing for the fans to watch."
When Red Bull redesigned the exhausts going into this race Webber opted for the newly designed one, unlike his team mate Sebastian Vettel who went back to the old-spec. This was certainly a good decision from Webber. He out-qualified Vettel by some way and was sixth on the grid. However once again he made a poor start and was behind Alonso. However early on the first lap he put a daring move on the Spaniard, before he changed his strategy. Being the first to pit, he went onto the medium tyres and set blistering pace. He was the one to set this benchmark and soon everyone was on them. But despite a nervy moment in the air at Turn 13, Webber made an aggressive three-stop strategy work, and passed his team mate two laps from the end to take a worthy fourth place, which is where he's finished in all three races this year. Webber said of his race "Trying to get the balance right for the whole race was very tricky. In the end, fourth was not too bad; it wasn't the maximum, but it's very tight between the teams at the front. At some points of the race, I saw P13/ P14 on the board, so I have to be satisfied with fourth place."
After completing just four laps in the first two races of 2012, Grosjean badly needed a good result and that's exactly what he got with sixth place and his first ever Formula One points. Grosjean made his two stopper work well, and time lost at the pit stop and an error at Turn Seven meant he could've finished even higher. A good pass on his team mate too. Grosjean said "It was a very good race, I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately I made a little mistake fighting with Mark (Webber) but overall it was a good performance. The car felt great and the team did an amazing job to give us such a big improvement from Friday, so I'm especially happy for the guys to be able to finish the race and get some good points on the board. To be up there fighting with McLaren and Red Bull is a great feeling and I'm happy to have got my season started properly. We've had high hopes since P3 on the grid in Melbourne, and now after a few setbacks it's time to aim higher."
Di Resta may have finished outisde the points, but only just. He was very close to the Saubers and was in many ways unlucky not to finish in a points paying position. He made up four places after another disappointing qualifying session and was one of the many drivers who passed Raikkonen late on. The Scot said "It was an extremely close race today and although we were able to keep ourselves in the hunt, we were just missing the pace to catch people and make up any more ground. So it was a bit like the race in Australia where there were lots of cars running very close to each other and a lot of guys nursing their tyres. I think we made some good calls with the tyres and there were lots of different strategies playing out around us. It was also incredibly slippery offline with the marbles making things very tricky. So we go away from here knowing that we are not too far away from the other teams and determined to get the car dialled in nicely for Bahrain next week."


After every Grand Prix this season I will be awarding a driver of the day, with the winner this time Mercedes' Nico Rosberg.

No comments:

Post a Comment