2017 Spanish Grand Prix Winners & Losers

In F1 the first driver you must beat is your team-mate.

FERRARI

Sebastian Vettel (P1) 5-0

WINNER 8/10

Kimi Raikkonen (RETIRED, Lap 1) 0-3

N/A

MERCEDES

Lewis Hamilton (P2) 4-1

WINNER 9/10

Valtteri Bottas (RETIRED, Engine) 1-4

DRIVER OF THE DAY (Russia)

LOSER 5/10

RED BULL

Daniel Ricciardo (P3) 3-2

WINNER 7/10

Max Verstappen (RETIRED, Lap 2) 2-3

N/A

FORCE INDIA

Sergio Perez (P4) 5-0

WINNER 7/10

Esteban Ocon (P10) 0-5

WINNER 7/10

WILLIAMS

Felipe Massa (P13) 5-0

LOSER 5/10

Lance Stroll (P16) 0-5

LOSER 2/10

MCLAREN

Fernando Alonso (P12) 3-0

LOSER 6/10

Stoffel Vandoorne (RETIRED) 0-3

LOSER 2.5/10

TORO ROSSO

Carlos Sainz (P7) 4-2

WINNER 7/10

Daniil Kvyat (P9) 2-4

WINNER 6.5/10

HAAS

Romain Grosjean (P10) 3-2

WINNER 7/10

Kevin Magnussen (P14) 2-3

LOSER 6/10

RENAULT

Nico Hulkenberg (P6) 5-0

WINNER 7.5/10

Jolyon Palmer (P15) 5-0 REJECT OF THE DAY

REJECT OF THE DAY (Russia)

LOSER 1/10

SAUBER 

Marcus Ericsson (P11) 1-2

LOSER 5/10

Pascal Wehrlein (P8) DRIVER OF THE DAY

WINNER 9/10

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2017 Bahrain Grand Prix Team Mate Wars/Winners & Losers

In F1 the first driver you must beat is your team-mate.

FERRARI

Sebastian Vettel (P1) 3-0 DRIVER OF THE DAY

Brilliant performance. Pitted on lap 11 to avoid losing more time behind a sedate Valtteri Bottas and never relinquished for his second win of 2017. WINNER 10/10

Kimi Raikkonen (P4) 0-3

With persistent understeer issues and a poor start, it was always going to be another uphill battle. For a second consecutive week, Ferrari refused to pit him sooner for his second pitstop. P4 was the best Kimi could hope for (again). LOSER 7/10

MERCEDES

Lewis Hamilton (P2) 3-0

Lost too much time behind Bottas. WINNER 8/10

Valtteri Bottas (P3) 0-3

Won his first pole and lead the first stint, but struggled with constant overheating issues. LOSER 7/10

RED BULL

Daniel Ricciardo (P5) 2-1

Did well to recover from his earlier tyre issues, despite seeing his team-mate crash with brake failure. WINNER 7/10

Max Verstappen (RET, Brakes) 1-2

Did well to launch himself into P4 before brake failure. WINNER 7/10

FORCE INDIA

Sergio Perez (P7) 3-0

A great drive from his lowly starting slot of P18 WINNER 8/10

Esteban Ocon (P10) 0-3

Progressing well. At least he’s doing better than other youngsters in the field. WINNER 7/10

WILLIAMS

Felipe Massa (P6) 3-0

Great performance. Did well to hold off Kimi in the earlier stages. WINNER 8/10

Lance Stroll (RET, Collision) 0-3

Not at fault for the Turn 1 collision between himself and Carlos Sainz. LOSER 5/10

MCLAREN

Fernando Alonso (P14, Power Unit) 3-0

Difficult to gauge his performance with once again more issues with Honda. WINNER 7/10

Stoffel Vandoorne (RET, Power Unit) 0-3

LOL. N/A

TORO ROSSO

Carlos Sainz (RET, Collision) 2-2 REJECT OF THE DAY

Unlucky to break down in qualifying. Exacerbated his woes with a foolish divebomb on Lance Stroll on lap 13, which was 100% avoidable on the Spaniard’s part. LOSER 2/10

Daniil Kvyat (P12) 2-2

A rather average display, where the Russian struggled to dispose of Jolyon Palmer’s Renault & Fernando Alonso’s McLaren. LOSER 5/10

HAAS

Romain Grosjean (P8) 2-1

A return to form. WINNER 7/10

Kevin Magnussen (RET, Electrics)

A return to mediocrity. LOSER 3/10

RENAULT

Nico Hulkenberg (P9) 3-0

A strong performance all-weekend, but it’s tough to gauge how well the German is doing against his shambles of a team-mate. WINNER 7/10

Jolyon Palmer (P13) 0-3

Consistently a second slower per lap than his illustrious team-mate. Yes, his fastest lap was just two-tenths slower than Hulkenberg’s, but it remains a mystery how the Briton was retained for a second season at Enstone. LOSER 4/10

SAUBER

Marcus Ericsson (RET, Gearbox) 0-1

A steady race ended by mechanical failure. LOSER 5/10

Pascal Wehrlein (P11) 1-0

In a backdrop of speculation over his mindset relating his injury-related absence, the 22-year-old German silenced his critics. WINNER 7/10

2017 Chinese Grand Prix Team-Mates Wars/ Winners & Losers

In F1 the first driver you must beat is your team-mate.

FERRARI

Sebastian Vettel (P2) 2-0

Drove as well as ever, although might have had a realistic chance to win if Ferrari had called Kimi to pull over earlier. WINNER 9/10

Kimi Raikkonen (P5) 0-2 DRIVER OF THE DAY

Screwed over by his strategists, who should have pitted him at least five laps earlier for his 2nd pit stop. Drove valiantly under the circumstances. WINNER 9/10

MERCEDES

Lewis Hamilton (P1) 2-0

Won pole and won the race easily. WINNER 9/10

Valtteri Bottas (P6) 0-2 REJECT OF THE DAY

A poor start was exacerbated by the Finn embarrassingly spinning during a safety car period. His fightback was staunch, but his race was one of damage limitation. LOSER 3/10

RED BULL

Daniel Ricciardo (P4) 2-0

After two tricky initial stints, a tweak to his front wing allowed the Aussie to catch his young team-mate, but to no avail. WINNER 7/10

Max Verstappen (P3) 0-2

A wet start saw the Dutchman fly through the field in the opening laps, so his starting spot of P16 proved irrelevant. WINNER 7/10

FORCE INDIA

Sergio Perez (P9) 2-0 WINNER 7/10

Esteban Ocon (P10) 0-2 WINNER 7/10

WILLIAMS

Felipe Massa (P14) 2-0

In spite of a strong qualifying position of P6, the veteran struggled for pace. Williams appear to have a chassis that has raw pace, but is lacking drivability. LOSER 4/10

Lance Stroll (RET, Collision) 0-2

The young French-Canadian has a lot to learn in F1 and it showed on lap 1, when he collided with Sergio Perez. His immediate retirement left him plenty to reflect on weekend where despite breaking Q3 for the first time, his qualifying pace eroded over the hour paradoxically. Remains half a second slower than Massa. LOSER 3/10

MCLAREN

Fernando Alonso (RET, Driveshaft) 2-0

Retaining a sunny disposition, the grizzled Spaniard drove in his words, “Even better than Melbourne”, but once again his tools failed him. WINNER 9/10

Stoffel Vandoorne (RET, Fuel Pressure) 0-2

Wasn’t able to show his full potential with an early departure from the race. With an ill-handling chassis and unresponsive power unit, the young Belgian still trails Alonso half a second per lap. LOSER 4/10

TORO ROSSO

Carlos Sainz (P7) 2-1

A dodgy start on slicks was exacerbated by a spin, where his recovery saw him tag the outer barrier. Luckily his suspension remained intact, so his determined drive to P7 proved his status as a star of the future. WINNER 8/10

Daniil Kvyat (RET, Hydraulics) 1-2

Early retirement meant the Russian had no chance. Outqualifying Sainz and breaking Q3 is move in the right direction. LOSER 5/10

HAAS

Romain Grosjean (P11) 1-1

Never looked comfortable all weekend. LOSER 4.5/10

Kevin Magnussen (P8) 1-1

An exemplary performance from the mercurial Dane. WINNER 7.5/10

RENAULT

Nico Hulkenberg (P12) 2-0

A brilliant performance in qualifying was scuppered by poor strategy. LOSER 5/10

Jolyon Palmer (P13) 0-2

Considering the fact that the Briton is almost a second slower per lap than Hulkenberg, it can be viewed as a positive he finished one positioned behind the German. LOSER 5/10

SAUBER

Marcus Ericsson (P15) (1-1 vs. GIO)

Meh. LOSER 4/10

Antonio Giovinazzi (RET, Crash) (1-1 vs. ERI)

Crash once and you’ve made a mistake, but crash twice and you’re careless. Not a good way to entice opportunities for a race seat in the coming future. LOSER 3/10

2017 Australian GP Winners & Losers/Team Mate Wars

In F1 the first driver you must beat is your team-mate.

FERRARI 

*Sebastian Vettel (P1) DRIVER OF THE DAY 1-0

Drove brilliantly all weekend to silence his critics, who denigrated him severely during his disappointing 2016. A definite championship contender. WINNER 10/10

Kimi Raikkonen (P4) 0-1

A tough weekend, where he blamed set-up and understeer issues. The Finn will hurting over his lacklustre showing, where familiar foe Max Verstappen threatened to pounce in the closing stages. LOSER 6/10

MERCEDES

Lewis Hamilton (P2) 1-0

Like last year, the Englishman stormed to pole (his 62nd of his career), but again race day saw his hopes of a winning start thwarted. Whilst last year was lost through a poor start, this year was lost due to his Mercedes pit crew committing a blunder in the timing of his only pit stop. With a car which still suffers in the wake of leading opposition, Hamilton openly admitted the race was lost there and then. LOSER 8/10

Valtteri Bottas (P3) 0-1

The Finn proved steady, if not spectacular. His opening stint was rather sedate, but his second stint proved he was capable of being more dynamic, if not rather obedient. WINNER 7.5/10

RED BULL

Daniel Ricciardo (Ret, Fuel Pressure) 0-1

Did anything go right? Crashed on his first flying lap in Q3, broke down on the formation lap with a jammed sensor and parked up adjacent to Turn 4 on lap 26. Although it’s not clear whether his qualifying crash affected any surrounding hardware within his chassis, Ricciardo is already ten points behind his highly-regarded Dutch team-mate. LOSER 4/10

Max Verstappen (P5) 1-0

A very solid drive from the prodigy hailing from Maaseik. WINNER 7.5/10

FORCE INDIA

Sergio Perez (P7) 1-0

A good performance considering the weight issues affecting the chassis. WINNER 8/10

Esteban Ocon (P10) 0-1

A decent debut outing, topped by his marvellous manoeuvre on Fernando Alonso, which saw him three-wide alongside Hulkenberg. WINNER 7/10 

WILLIAMS

Felipe Massa (P6) 1-0

After what appeared to be unremarkable final season in 2016, the returning Brazilian proved he’s still as good as ever, albeit assisted by the higher downforce levels he thrives upon. WINNER 7.5/10

Lance Stroll (Ret, Brakes) 0-1

An arduous introduction to the top tier of motorsport. Many believe he should be preparing for a season in Formula 2 and the 18-year-old French-Canadian did nothing prove his doubters wrong. A heavy crash during practice was followed by a cautious performance in qualifying, where his aim thereafter was to complete the race distance. If there is solace, former world champion Jenson Button qualified in the penultimate grid position on his debut for the Grove-based team. It’s a long journey to the top. LOSER 3/10

MCLAREN

Fernando Alonso (Ret, Broken Floor) 1-0

The wily Spaniard made no secret of his disgruntlement of the apparent decline in the team’s progress over the winter, but his race pace was as phenomenal as ever. P10 was looming until damage to his suspension saw him swamped by Ocon & Hulkenberg. WINNER 9/10

Stoffel Vandoorne (P13) 0-1

Finishing last was not what the 2015 GP2 champion had in mind for his full-time F1 debut. Appears to be unable to invoke enough temperature in this year’s Pirelli compounds, allied by a defective MCL32 chassis and oscillating Honda power unit. A laborious season awaits. LOSER 4/10 

TORO ROSSO

Carlos Sainz (P8) 1-1

Another promising drive of the Spaniard’s blossoming career. WINNER 7/10

Daniil Kvyat (P9) 1-1

Easily his beat drive since returning to the Faenza-based outfit. WINNER 7/10

HAAS

Romain Grosjean (Ret, Water Leak) 1-0

Decimated his new team-mate for pace and consistency all weekend, pulled off a fabulous qualifying result (P6), but saw his car crippled by all-too-commonly occurring mechanical gremlins. LOSER 6/10

Kevin Magnussen (Ret, Suspension) 0-1

Gunther Steiner signed the 24-year-old Dane because he felt K-Mag would be a more reliable bet for points than the heavily-maligned Esteban Gutierrez. However, Magnussen spent the weekend still learning how to adapt to VF-17’s brakes. His collision with Marcus Ericsson saw him lucky to escape a penalty in the race, before his failing suspension truncate a disappointing outing in the Dane’s debut for Haas. LOSER 2/10

RENAULT

Nico Hulkenberg (P11) 1-0

With an extremely weak team-mate, it will be excruciatingly tough to track the German’s progress this season (unless Palmer beats him, then it will be clear that Hulkenberg is struggling). A solid debut for his new Renault, he will be disappointed that the thick turbulence in the wake of Ocon’s Force India prevented a points finish. WINNER 7/10

*Jolyon Palmer REJECT OF THE DAY 0-1

Palmer is clearly only in F1 because Magnussen accepted Haas’ offer to join them for 2017. Crashed in practice, blamed anyone but himself for an abysmal qualifying display and overheating brakes was the tale of the Briton’s sorry Melbourne weekend. LOSER 1/10

SAUBER

Marcus Ericsson (Ret, Hydraulics) (0-1 vs. GIO)

A reasonable qualifying result of P14 was scuppered when Kevin Magnussen smashed into Ericsson’s right sidepod at Turn 3 on lap 1. The consequent hydraulics-related damage meant the Swede retired on lap 21. LOSER 4/10

Antonio Giovinazzi (P12) (1-0 vs. ERI)

A sensational debut GP2 season, where the Italian narrowly missed the title to Pierre Gasly, was richly rewarded with a stand-in drive for the stricken Pascal Wehrlein. It was a performance where he proved his selection was richly deserved. WINNER 7/10

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 1 & 2: The Squire & the Master

  1. Max Verstappen (5th, 204 points- Red Bull-TAG Heuer/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 8.5

The list of superlatives are never ending for this sparkling Dutch prodigy. He has won Racing Acid‘s Driver of the Year award partly due to no single driver having a truly flawless season, but his invigorating performances have revived interest in a series which has alarmingly become renowned for stale and processional driving. Max started his year in a Toro Rosso, but controversy over Daniil Kvyat’s collisions with Sebastian Vettel in consecutive races at Shanghai and Sochi elevated him into the senior squad.

Melbourne saw the Dutchman start his season in an irascible fashion, where his pleas to his team to order then-team mate Carlos Sainz to waive him past were ignored. He’d outqualified Sainz to start a then-career best of P5, but questionable strategy and tyre wear issues saw him drop behind his canny Spanish team-mate, in a race interrupted by Fernando Alonso’s horrendous smash. Bahrain, however, saw Verstappen return to his halcyon days of yesteryear, where he finished an almighty P6 ahead of Kvyat’s Red Bull and both Williams cars.  Again he’d outqualified Sainz, although perhaps he had been assisted by the severely-maligned elimination format, which was canned at the consequent Chinese Grand Prix. Despite Sainz qualifying ahead at Shanghai, Verstappen finished five seconds ahead with P8 as his race result. Russia saw Max beat Sainz in qualifying again, but the race saw him retire with power unit maladies on lap 34, whilst running an impressive P6. In comparison, Sainz could only finish P12, one lap down.

With apprehension developing over Kvyat’s performances in the senior squad emerging, Helmut Marko and the Red Bull board exploited his latest collision with former Red Bull champion Vettel as perfect timing to bring Verstappen into his seat in time for Barcelona. The Dutchman qualified a steady P4 behind new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who’d admitted relishing the prospect of dicing wheels with the F1’s hottest teen. The race witnessed the inexplicable sight of the Mercedes drivers colliding at Turn 4 on lap 1, leaving Ricciardo leading Verstappen, whose ex-team mate Sainz followed them in the heady heights of P3. Inevitably both Ferraris overtook Sainz, with the race unfolding into one of pit strategy. Thanks to Red Bull’s adroit gamble to place Max on a two-stopper, with only Kimi Raikkonen following his lead as Ricciardo and Vettel chose three-stoppers. The final twenty-three laps witnessed a nail-biting encounter between the Dutchman and the wily Finn, who could not compete with the Red Bull’s superior exit speed. The chequered flag would witness one of the most astonishing fairytales completed, as Max succeeded in winning in his first time out with Milton Keynes-based squad, a feat never completed before. In doing so, he broke many records, some of which will almost certainly will never been touched again thanks to the FIA’s age restrictions, which had been implemented subsequently in response Max’s startling Grand Prix debut at just 17 years of age.

Monaco would foresee F1’s youngest race winner granted a scathing humbling, though, as a crash in qualifying saw him start in P21. He would make steady progress in the treacherous conditions that bestowed the Monte Carlo circuit the following day, but after having switched to slicks once the track dried sufficiently, he crashed out of the race for a second consecutive year at the Principality. Montreal would witness Ricciardo maintain his superiority in qualifying, but it was Max who would grab the headlines again when he pressured championship leader Nico Rosberg into an embarrassing spin, clinching P4 in the progress. A visibly downcast Ricciardo finished ten seconds behind in P7. The complexities of F1’s varying track layouts began to expose the Dutchman’s lack of experience when the circus visited a new track in Baku, Azerbaijan. Qualifying would see his Australian team-mate grab P2 after Perez’s gearbox change, whilst Max languished in P9. The lack of horsepower from the Renault engine combined with substandard tyre management would prove costly for Ricciardo, however, as the more powerful Mercedes and Ferrari engined cars inevitably beat him, leaving him to finish P7, just one second ahead of Verstappen. Despite freak wet-dry conditions in qualifying, Verstappen again lost out to Ricciardo. The race would witness a mesmerising return to form for the youngster, though, as he drove to P2 having driven the last 56 laps on soft compounds and a gigantic 25 seconds ahead of his team-mate. Verstappen finally succeeded in outqualifying Ricciardo at Silverstone and the race witnessed a fascinating battle between the Dutchman and Rosberg. Controversy over Max’s blocking became apparent as Nico implored his team to complain to FIA and demanded a punishment to be applied to the then-18 year old. Unfortunately for the German, gearbox selection headaches emerged, so a post-race penalty was applied to him for having received radio assistance to reset his system, gifting Verstappen a mightly P2.

The next five Grands Prix would prove to be a struggle for Verstappen. Ricciardo would outqualify him in four of these five races, with Belgium being an exception. The race at Spa would witness some truly belligerent driving from the Dutchman, as his poor start saw him exploited the full use of the inside kerb to wallop the Ferraris. After all three dropped outside the top ten, Verstappen unscrupulously swerved in front of Raikkonen on the Kemmel Straight on successive laps, whilst later pushing Perez off the track at Les Combes. It was a miracle the Dutchman would emerge from the weekend unpunished, but the damage to his reputation was appearing. After all, the critics were unforgiving when Ferrari fans were furious when Max chopped off Raikkonen twice in the braking zone at at Hungary. The German race also saw further altercations with Rosberg, whilst Monza and Singapore witnessed uncharacteristically abject performances from the Dutchman. On the weekend of his 19th birthday, Lewis Hamilton’s untimely engine failure would present an opportunity for Max to win his second race of the season at Sepang, but after an exhilarating tussle through turns 5 and 6 with Ricciardo, he was forced to settle for second, gifting Red Bull their first 1-2 in three years.

The final five races witnessed a return for the Dutchman. Suzuka would display a ruthless execution of defence from him, as Hamilton would emerge as the latest critic of Verstappen’s exploitation of the grey areas within the sporting regulations. Austin would witness communication issues between Max and his team, as the Dutchman arrived in the pits a lap earlier than scheduled, but this proved academic with his farcical attempts to pull his stricken vehicle off the track. It arguably wrecked Ricciardo’s prospects of catching Rosberg for P2, but Mexico would witness even further controversy in the closing laps. Once Max learned of the news he’d have five seconds added to his race time, he proceeded to delay an irate Vettel, permitting his team-mate to catch them. Vettel, a major of Verstappen’s antics throughout 2016, would ironically replicate the Dutchman’s weaving when Ricciardo attempted to overtake him. Max would cross the line in P3, but it would be Vettel who appeared on the podium, only for officials to award the last spot on the rostrum to Ricciardo hours later.

Interlagos would momentously foresee the greatest performance of Verstappen’s short career thus far. In a display of dazzling car control, despite spinning on the start-finish straight, Verstappen would exploit his fresh wet compounds to overtake car-after-car to finish P3, but again not without controversy. It was agonising to see the Dutchman seemingly escape from punishment after pushing his frustrated rival Vettel off the track on the exit  of turn 12, but quite simply the only other driver on his wavelength that day was race winner Hamilton. Abu Dhabi would see Verstappen spin on the first corner on lap 1, only to somehow stretch his flatspotted supersofts until lap 21 and then drive remaining 34 laps on new softs to finish P4 ahead of Ricciardo and Raikkonen.

It was utterly devastating in its execution. There is simply plenty more to come from the newest superstar of Formula One.

2. Fernando Alonso (10th, 54 points- McLaren-Honda) 8.0

Mr. Consistency once again excelled in 2016. Speculation over his future at McLaren again arose when news of Rosberg’s retirement broke out, but the Spaniard and manager Flavio Briatore are adamant that his future remains at the Woking squad. A P6 at Russia, a pair of P5s at Monaco & Austin and four P7s at Hungary, Belgium, Singapore & Malaysia once again illuminated the 35 year old’s status as F1’s most hard-nosed competitor. Not much else needs to be said.

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 3 & 4: The Champion & the Tyro

3. Nico Rosberg (1st, 385 points- Mercedes) 8.0

“Is he a deserving champion?” asked many Lewis Hamilton and non-LH44 fans alike when the 31 year old German crossed behind his triple world champion team-mate when the chequered flag waved at the conclusion of this season at Abu Dhabi. In short, yes he is a deserving champion. Not one of the sport’s greats in the vein of Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher or even contemporary Kimi Raikkonen, but he accomplished his life ambition. Many Hamilton fans must ask themselves this question: if Nico Rosberg truly was a poor driver, then surely it must reflect Lewis’ past two championships in a miserly fashion. The truth is that Rosberg was an above-average midfielder in his Williams, who only scaled the heights intermittently with his drives at Melbourne and Singapore in 2008, then gradually raised his game and confidence through beating Schumacher and consequently escalated the intensity of his aggression and commitment to defeat Hamilton. Nico definitely fails to fit the purists’ ideal fit of a venerated hardened racer; often articulating over fine details that would evoke an ordinary man with tedium, but his meticulous planning of his approach towards race paid dividends.

Undoubtedly, he was a beneficiary of impregnable reliability, but it must be remembered how Rosberg suffered a gearbox and an electrical failure respectively at Britain and Singapore during pivotal moments back in 2014, as well as his concoction of mechanical issues during the infamous double-points finale at Abu Dhabi. His luck was equally as bad in 2015, where he suffered the ignominy of being tagged by Daniel Ricciardo at Hungary, where an almost certain P2 became P8 due to the resulting puncture. Finishing behind an erratic Hamilton did his morale no good and this was followed by untimely engine and throttle breakages at Monza and Sochi, forcing an early surrender of his 2015 challenge. For Hamilton, he suffered engine and brake failures during the races at Melbourne and Montreal, as well as brake failure and a fire during qualifying at Hockenheim then Hungaroring respectively during 2014.

2015 saw just one mechanical failure with his power unit malfunctioning at that year’s peculiar Singapore Grand Prix. In the realms of 2016, other than his flabbergasting engine disintegration, his gearbox change during qualifying at Shanghai was his only mechanically-issue which impeded him in the hunt for the WDC. The wheel-to-wheel collisions of the two Mercedes drivers cannot be ignored; tensions initially arose at Bahrain 2014, when a thrilling fight emerged when the safety car withdrew, as both pushed the boundaries of legality within track limits. Monaco saw Nico’s infamous swerve to the left at Mirabeau after his pole lap, forcing the mandatory yellow flags to annul a final attempt for Hamilton to clinch pole. Hungary was marred by Lewis’ staunch refusal to give way to Rosberg, with some believing his selfishness lost a potential victory for Mercedes and his German team-mate.

Many therefore saw Rosberg’s slice at Hamilton’s rear left tyre as revenge at the consequent Belgian race; however, others claimed team orders at Monza had forced Rosberg to drive wide at Variante del Rettifilo to permit victory for Hamilton. Hamilton then pulled off magnificent overtaking manoeuvres at Suzuka and Austin, dismantling Rosberg’s pride and took a merited 2nd WDC. The following season saw less confrontation on the track, but more bitter verbal recriminations between the pair. Nico aimed accusations of egotism after China, slamming Lewis for “driving too slowly,” but it wasn’t until Suzuka when Rosberg would take another swipe at Hamilton’s antics. The Briton cunningly hugged the inside at the first corner, then gradually moved to the outside whilst manoeuvring his car through the optimum racing line. Likewise a stubborn Rosberg refused to give way, but ran wide of the rumble strips at the exit, consequently dropping to P4. Acrimony re-emerged when Hamilton clinched his 3rd WDC at Austin, as the race start saw Lewis blatantly understeering into turn 1 so that Rosberg would be forced onto the run-off to avoid a costly collision. The post-race pre-podium dressing room saw Hamilton throw a cap to Rosberg, only for the German to petulantly chuck it back into the re-crowned champion’s direction.

This season saw the two arch-rivals finally crash each other out of a race at Barcelona, although there was no clear intention from either to destroy each other’s Grand Prix in an unsporting manner. Austria saw arguably the last true confrontation before this season’s finale at Abu Dhabi, where Rosberg clearly attempted to block Hamilton from overtaking at the hairpin by taking the widest line possible. If there is any argument of bad luck that can be made in favour of Rosberg, his impaired brakes forced him to finish a lowly P7 at Monaco, whilst Hamilton’s understeering manoeuvre at Turn 1 at Montreal forced Rosberg off the road, where his Mercedes F1 W07’s inability to drive well in heavy traffic became prevalent and his spin whilst defending P4 from Max Verstappen left critics in hysterics. Silverstone witnessed late-race gear issues for Rosberg, who required urgent assistance via team radio to fend off a rampant Max Verstappen, but the dubious regulations of radio messaging reared its ugly head, leaving Rosberg penalised by time penalty which saw him cede P2 to the Dutchman.

The German’s poor start followed by another arbitrary penalty for desperately running Max Verstappen off the hairpin at Hockenheim exacerbated his woeful month of July, where Hamilton became the first driver to win four races in a calendar month. His stirring performances from Belgium to Japan saw him win four races to regain the WDC lead, whilst Malaysia saw a champion’s fightback, where after being punted at Turn 1 by a foolish Sebastian Vettel, his fierce and ruthless overtaking of mid-pack cars followed by his audacious manoeuvre on Raikkonen was punished by another arbitrary penalty, albeit rendered academic when Nico succeeded to pull a 13-second gap over the Finn at the chequered flag. Some were left underwhelmed by the German’s four consecutive P2 finishes in the last four races of his career, but by this crucial stage it would have been foolhardy and naive to push further than required.

Nico Rosberg will not be remembered as a gung-ho, guns blazing, crowd-pleasing, Roy of the Rovers type of champion. He will be remembered for his cultured persona, subtlety and due diligence in difficult circumstances to maximise his equipment and application of his driving aptitude to achieve his objective and retire from F1 as a fulfilled man. He will not be remembered for his passion, as his countless long faces and lethargic performances during his vapid seasons have displayed his need for perfection, which maybe demanded a level of attainment beyond reasonable expectations. Apart from memorable incidents, he breached the unwritten rules of being a ballsy, old school racer with innumerable radio requests such as asking details of Hamilton’s driving lines during a wet Q3 at Malaysia in 2015 or when he selected medium compounds during the Hungarian race that same year, feeling best to cut into Hamilton’s WDC lead rather than pursue Sebastian Vettel for a vital race victory. 2016 witnessed a more single-minded Rosberg, but he did profit from a noticeable descent in commitment from the other side of the garage, whose mindset has been patently divided by non-F1 excursions.

It is palpable to see that he retired when he realised he no longer stomached an appetite for another fight; the prospect of a hard-charging novices such as Verstappen and Stoffel Vandoorne sniping at his heels, and facing questions from a merciless media over and his worthiness of his champion status haunted his conscience. It may sound like a cliché, but he was simply too humble and nice to cement his reputation as a domineering, unrelenting, winner-takes-all racer in the vein of many contemporaries. Ultimately, the fatigue of possessing the indelible objective of defeating an all-time great team-mate, friend and enemy who had won every battle until now, was a beckoning to call upon a ceasefire.

4. Carlos Sainz (12th, 46 points- Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 8.0

On the subject of drivers being viewed as a replacement for F1’s departing new WDC, this young Spaniard’s name has been framed. His debut season in 2015 displayed flashes of speed, but not the same level of virtuosity of a certain highly-esteemed Dutch prodigy. Thankfully, the agony of being Verstappen’s team-mate ended early this season, when Daniil Kvyat was demoted to the junior team after his embarrassing double collision with Vettel at Sochi. From thereafter, Sainz has flourished with flying colours with numerous scintillating drives. A smattering of P6s at Spain, America and Brazil have underlined his reputation, whilst dominating a deject Kvyat, who either lost motivation or is a genuine inferior talent to Sainz. The Spaniard broke in Q3 nine times in a chronically underpowered STR11 chassis, which relied upon a 2015-spec Ferrari power unit, succeeding to qualify a career-best P6 twice at Silverstone and Marina Bay. He outscored Kyvat 42-4 in points and outqualified 11-6, which represents a real headache for the willowy Russian during the winter break, who has this year’s GP2 champion Pierre Gasly snapping at his heels as reserve.

He may not command the overnight sensation status that his illustrious ex-team mate has attained, but he is preparing himself well to be the Dutchman’s future championship contender. With the likes of Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll & Stoffel Vandoorne, as well as Lando Norris, Charles LeClerc and Mick Schumacher to emerge eventually, F1 has a bright future ahead of itself. Let’s hope Liberty Media capitalise upon this.

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 5-8: What-Ifs & Maybes

5. Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 380 points- Mercedes) 8.0

In a season of fine margins, Hamilton excelled on his best days, but struggled persistently with his Mercedes F1 W07’s clutch. This meant his slow starts at Australia, Bahrain, Italy, & Japan costed him any chance of victory at those races, but his hampered start at Spain lead to one of the sport’s most infamous collisions in its history. His relationship with embattled team-mate Nico Rosberg had already plummeted to point zero long before, though, so conspiracy theories escalated when the German waived Hamilton past en route to his Monaco victory, the Briton’s first of the season. Debate over whether whom benefited from favouritism swung continuously throughout 2016, but throughout the four-year partnership of Rosberg & Hamilton at Mercedes, mechanical failures and poor starts were incredibly close statistically. In addition, his abysmal performance at Singapore, where Daniel Ricciardo outqualified him and Kimi Raikkonen overtook him and would have beaten if it was not for an unnecessary third stop, and his crash at Baku followed by radio restrictions compounding software issues, meant Lewis did not come even remotely close to driving a flawless season. His fans may point to his qualifying record (12-9),  superior win count (10-9) and total of podiums (17-16), as well as his engine failure whilst leading at Malaysia, but Hamilton’s WDCs in 2014 & 2015 contained fewer driver errors and his annihilation of Rosberg on his best days was much more devastating than this season.

6. Daniel Ricciardo (3rd, 256 points- Red Bull-TAG Heuer) 7.5

All-in-all, a topsy-turvy year for the Honey Badger. He defeated new team-mate Max Verstappen 11-6 in qualifying, but the Dutch prodigy improved swiftly throughout 2016. The Australian will not be needed to be reminded, but he faces by far the toughest winter of his career. In his first two weekends at Spain & Monaco with Verstappen as his team-mate, he lost his chances due to pit strategy and then slow pit reactions in the latter, where his post-race demeanour was that of an uncharacteristically ashen-faced loser. His performances in the first three Grands Prix at Australia, China & Bahrain displayed exemplary consistency, clocking three consecutive fourth places. If it was not for an early puncture in China, where he had been leading, the Australian could have claimed four victories in 2016. Sadly, Ricciardo began to appear staid and ordinary, as Max increasingly grabbed the headlines with stellar drives.

7. Sebastian Vettel (4th, 212 points- Ferrari) 7.5

By the quadruple world champion’s standards, 2016 was a mediocre, unfulfilling season. He suffered his fair share of bad luck (engine failure on the formation lap at Bahrain, clobbered by Daniil Kvyat at Russia, a sudden tyre blowout at Austria and countless times he lost positions due to Ferrari’s pit strategy), but his racecraft came under scrutiny thanks to squeezing Raikkonen at Shanghai and Spa, where Red Bull’s Kvyat and Max Verstappen were involved in collisions with the Ferrari pair at these respective races. In addition, his outlandish dive bomb on Rosberg at Malaysia was absurd to say the least, adding weight to his critics’ belief that his once potent mojo is terminally waning. His flagrant criticism of the driving of Kvyat and Verstappen became major talking points, so rival fans sneered in amusement at the 29 year old’s radio rants, especially during his meltdown in the closing laps of Mexico. These messages became a regular nuisance for his Ferrari pit crew to hear, as his apparent annoyance at the slightest hesitation from backmarkers to yield when blue flags were being signalled, went viral on social media. There is no doubting the German’s passion, but his patience and concentration is becoming a source of concern, as some would not be surprised if he was to follow compatriot Rosberg into an early retirement from F1. He lost the qualifying battle 11-10 to his ageing team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, so it appears Vettel will need to up his game if he wants a fifth world championship.

8. Kimi Raikkonen (6th, 186 points- Ferrari) 7.5

The Iceman enjoyed a remarkable resurgence during 2016, where the Ferrari SF16-H provided better handling characteristics with the design team reverting to a traditional pushrod suspension design. His season began ominously with a fiery turbo failure at Australia, as viewers were stunned to see flames smoke from the Finn’s airbox as he exited his vehicle. From thereafter, Raikkonen was able to enjoy a season that was not marred by mechanical failures, but poor luck remained a perennial headache. He was twice squeezed excessively at the first corner by Vettel at the start of races at Shanghai and Spa, leading to compromised races with a damaged car and Ferrari’s discombobulated pit crew did Kimi no favours with pit strategy. Despite a general reversal fortunes, the lack of progress and ingenuity in the development of Ferrari’s chassis meant the 2007 world champion was restricted to just four podium finishes, which should have been five if it was not for an unnecessary stop to fit used supersofts at Singapore. At the age of 37, it remains to be seen if the Iceman has the energy left to muster one last championship fight in 2017. For Kimi to challenge, he will probably need a deterioration in the relations between best friend and team-mate Vettel and the Ferrari hierarchy, as well as a refreshed car design and team structure. His taciturn, apolitical, yet endearing, personality could help him in the notoriously intense political turmoil at Maranello to reach his goal of a second WDC.

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 9-16: Stars, Sloggers and Sayonaras

9. Sergio Perez (7th, 101 points- Force India VJM09-Mercedes) 7.5

A rather mixed season for the mercurial Mexican. One moment, he looked ordinary, but at venues such as Monte Carlo and Baku, he seized his opportunity. However, even at Baku, with two minutes of FP3 to go, he pursued a faster lap where there was no need and landed his car in the barriers. The extensive damage forced his mechanics to fix his car within only two hours before the qualifying session, which leaves a question mark over his mental forecasting and restraint as a driver. Perez is a more complete driver than he was during his miserable season at McLaren, but plotting his potential is tricky for predictors.

He outperformed Hulkenberg in the races, but he lost the qualifying battle 12-9.

10. Valtteri Bottas (8th, 85 points- Williams FW38-Mercedes) 7.0

Before Nico Rosberg’s retirement announcement, I thought I would be writing a standard end-of-season for every driver involved this season. However, with such a huge bombshell dropped, one of his potential replacements has come under scrutiny. This affable Finn drove as well as he could, but fiscal restraints limited his results. He picked up his and Williams’ only podium at Canada, where he maximised the FW38’s straightline speed, but the chassis philosophy showed its age. Winning the qualifying battle 17-4 over retiring Felipe Massa will do his chances of a Mercedes seat no harm, though.

11. Romain Grosjean (13th- 29 points- Haas VF-16-Ferrari) 7.0

The erratic Frenchman had his typical dips-and-troughs over the course of the season; when the car was fine, he exploited it to score great results, but when it had problems, he was nowhere. Come mid-season, he was being beaten for pace by his much-maligned team-mate Esteban Gutierrez, whom he beat 12-9 in the qualifying battle. In many ways, this season proved Grosjean is destined to be a nearly-man of his generation; too good to be running in midfield, but not quite complete enough to be a front-runner. His team-leadership skills were heavily criticised, too, as he allowed his short temper to be his worst enemy, as seen at Lotus. Whatever floats your boat, Romain.

12. Felipe Nasr (17th- 2 points- Sauber C35- Ferrari) 6.5

The sturdy Brazilian had  a rather quiet second season of his fledgling F1 career, however when car issues were not an issue, he smashed Marcus Ericsson to a pulp. His qualifying performance in Q1 at Baku saw him outpace Ericsson by almost 0.7 seconds, whilst Q1 at Hungary saw him ranked 7th in wet conditions. His adept wet-weather driving rewarded with two points in Brazil, but his sponsor Banco do Brasil had already called it quits, so his future may rely upon Bottas vacating a seat at Williams. He lost 13-8 in the qualifying battle against Ericsson, although a prevalent handling issue in the early part of the season played a factor in this.

13. Felipe Massa (11th- 53 points- Williams FW38-Mercedes) 6.5

The popular Brazilian had a consistent, if unspectacular final season of F1. Massa will be remembered for his brilliant 2008 season, where won six races and possibly two more in Hungary and Singapore, if it was not for engine failure and a trapped fuel rig. World champion for 20 seconds until Lewis Hamilton crept passed a dry tyre-shod Timo Glock, an emotive Felipe stood on the podium with courage and grace. A good sportsman will be missed.

14. Jenson Button (15th, 21 points- McLaren MP4-31-Honda) 6.0

Like Massa, Button will be missed sorely, but he arguably had an even more disappointing farewell year. Only scoring five points than he did in last year’s shambles of a car, the Frome veteran intermittently showed his old spark in Austria and Germany, but his peak years are past. Once derided as a playboy, Jenson matured into a heavily-feared hard-charger, who used his brain and guile to compensate for his lack of raw pace. From 2009-12, his wins displayed a verve for fluid thinking under pressure and ability to judge adverse conditions better than anyone else. Sadly, his team-mate Fernando Alonso demolished him 14-5 in the qualifying battle, so it is perhaps best to allow Stoffel Vandoorne his belated full-time debut.

15. Nico Hulkenberg (9th, 72 points, Force India VJM09-Mercedes) 6.0

Year after year, the lanky German is rated as one of the best midfielders in the sport, but this season has been underwhelming. Outraced and outscored by his diminutive team-mate Perez, Hulkenberg will need to up his game to deliver the goods for Renault. It’s becoming a cliche to say Hulkenberg drove well despite narrowly missing out on a podium. His dreadful start from P3 on the grid at Austria sums up the mishaps which have become alarmingly prevalent in the 29-year-old’s driving. For a driver so highly-regarded, winning the qualifying battle 12-9 over a driver not renowned for raw pace is lamentable.

16. Pascal Wehrlein (19th, 1 point- Manor MRT05-Mercedes) 5.5

As you’re well aware, if this year’s world champion hadn’t shocked everyone with his intention to depart the sport immediately, last year’s DTM champion would probably be seeking a second season at Manor or a move to Sauber. With extensive testing experience with Mercedes and Force India, the golden child of Silver Arrows has a satisfactory debut season. His sole point at Spielberg underlined his talent, but he won the qualifying battle by just 7-5 over his paying team-mate Rio Haryanto. He raised his game to beat 7-2 in the qualifying war against replacement Esteban Ocon, but his race performances became static and concerning. Thanks to Rosberg’s announcement, Wehrlein may land the hot seat at Mercedes, but that is hypothetical and many feel his confidence could be destroyed by being paired with a ruthless Hamilton. Due to the dire financial circumstances Sauber and Manor find themselves in, and how Mercedes have admitted dismay over his perceived self-centred and stubborn personality, the starlet may find himself dedicated to solely testing next season.

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 17-21 plus part-timers

17. Marcus Ericsson (0 points- 22nd in WDC, Sauber C35-Ferrari) 5.0

It was never going to be an easy season at Sauber for the Swede, who needed sponsor Ikea to bail out the Hinwil-based squad early this year when wage payments to employees were defaulted for two months. Ericsson had the upper hand on Nasr until Canada, who was stricken by an ill-handling chassis. Their relationship deteriorated when the Brazilian’s refusal to obey orders at Monaco infuriated the Swede, causing Ericsson to take matters into his hands and wallop Nasr at Rascasse.

From thereon, Nasr regained his impetus in race performances, although Ericsson won the qualifying battles 13-8. Neither Sauber driver dominated each other much; Ericsson took an excellent P11 in Mexico, beating both McLarens and his team-mate, but Nasr scored two vital points in Brazil which elevated Sauber to P10 in WCC and $20 million in prize money.

18. Kevin Magnussen (7 points- 16th in WDC, Renault RS16) 4.5

With considerable experience and success behind him, it’s safe to say 2016 was underwhelming for the Dane. He was impeded by the Enstone squad divesting resources into their 2017 challenger, however, more was expected. K-Mag started brightly when he finished close behind Jolyon Palmer after losing a lap due to stalling and his P7 in Russia promised occasional points. However, he scored only once more in Singapore and news of his departure to Haas was announced. Palmer outperformed him in the last few races, perhaps a sign of Magnussen struggling for motivation and consistency. He beat Palmer 12-9 in the qualifying battle.

19. Daniil Kvyat (25 points- 14th in WDC, Toro Rosso STR11-Ferrari/Red Bull RB12-TAG Heuer) 4.5

In yesteryear, the Torpedo’s career would be currently spoken in past tense, but Helmut Marko’s reluctance to promote GP2 champion Pierre Gasly to F1 means the Russian will drive in 2017. Time will tell if Kvyat really has what it takes to carve out a long career in F1, as his feisty dice with Verstappen in Singapore was his only highlight of a depressing season. His first corner move on Vettel at China raised eyebrows, but his clumsy misjudgement on lap 1 at Russia proved expensive, as Dany suffered the ignominy of demotion to the junior team from Catalunya onwards. Losing the qualifying battle 11-6 to Sainz, Kvyat has a crucial winter of rebuilding.

20. Jolyon Palmer (1 point- 18th in WDC, Renault RS16) 4.0

The heavily-panned Horsham driver can count his lucky stars that there is indeed one driver who embarrassed more than he did, as Palmer appeared out of his depth against a developing talent in Magnussen during his early outings. Finishing bog last out of 22 finishers in China granted him the dubious honour of joining illustrious names such as Hermann & Karthikeyan, in being the last man to greet the chequered flag in races where all starters finished. His untimely spin in Hungary costed Palmer his first ever point, but he would make amends in Malaysia. His performances improved steadily, but Magnussen was never going to be a benchmark of his talent. Come 2017, Nico Hulkenberg will prove where Palmer truly stands in the F1 pecking order.


REJECT OF THE YEAR

21. Esteban Gutierrez (o points- 21st in WDC, Haas VF-16-Ferrari) 3.5

Five P11 finishes and a bucketful of excuses later, my bewilderment in Gene Haas’ selection of the 25-year-old Mexican has been proven correct. Considering a much worthier talent in Jean-Eric Vergne was up for grabs, it always appeared the choice of Gutierrez was a commercial one. Losing the qualifying battle 12-9 to Romain Grosjean, faring better than what Pastor Maldonado achieved against the Frenchman at Lotus last year (17-2). However, the Mexican struggled for consistency in races and his observation of blue flags bordered upon non-existent. Was he stunned to have been given a third stab at the highest tier of motorsport? Most of us, including his countrymen, would agree.

At least Maldonado scored 27 points to Grosjean’s 51 in 2015.


 

N/A Esteban Ocon (0 points- 23rd in WDC, Manor-Mercedes MRT05)

The 20-year-old Frenchman’s Grand Prix career may only be nine races old, but he has landed a prize seat at Force India as acknowledgement of his determined drives. He threw away P10 in Brazil, but his subtle style impressed insiders and his ability to learn quick will prove useful. He did lose the qualifying battle 7-2 to Pascal Wehrlein, though.

N/A Rio Haryanto (0 points- 24th in WDC, Manor-Mercedes MRT05)

Never deserved a chance in F1, but out-qualifying highly-lauded Wehrlein five times in twelve races is either credit to the Indonesian’s will or something the German improved upon when paired with Haryanto’s replacement Ocon. Haryanto harbours wishes of a return in 2017.

N/A Stoffel Vandoorne (1 point- 20th in WDC, McLaren-Honda MP4-31)

The 24-year-old GP2 extraordinaire finally made his belated F1 debut in Bahrain thanks to Alonso’s rib injury, thrilling viewers with precise moves on Perez and others in machinery powered by more grunt than his feeble Honda. He outqualified Button in their sole outing as team-mates, so let that be a warning to his grizzled two-time champion team-mate.

2016 US & Mexican Grand Prix Review- Winners & Losers

US GRAND PRIX

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Carlos Sainz (P6, Toro Rosso)

Astute driving from the Spain’s rising tyro. Capitalised upon his pit strategy superbly, although he was undoubtedly a beneficiary of the VSC caused by Max Verstappen. He lost P5 to Fernando Alonso on the final lap, however his compatriot required the track extended run-off to beat Sainz.

REJECT OF THE DAY

Jolyon Palmer (P13, Won’t be at Renault for 2017)

You’re shit.

MEXICAN GRAND PRIX

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Marcus Ericsson (P11, Sauber)

Beat his team-mate Nasr by four places and outpaced the McLaren-Hondas.

REJECT OF THE DAY

Sebastian Vettel (P5, Ferrari)

FERRARI: Charlie said…

VETTEL: Yeah? Here’s the message for Charlie: F**k off. Honestly. F**k off!!

Seb, I know you’ve had a miserable season but you allowed the pressure to get the better of you. To desperately swerve into the path of Ricciardo- ironically replicating one of Verstappen’s questionable weaving brake manoeuvres whilst furiously excoriating the young Dutchman on his radio- was literally unfathomable and hypocritical. Ridiculous and disgraceful of a four-time world champion.

Losers

F1 Authorities (P-Clueless, LOL)

Banning weaving under braking was always going to cause tension amongst drivers and so it proved with the distribution of penalties. Max Verstappen’s driving has verged upon excessive at times, but to apply explicit penalties for such manoeuvres will detract new fans from F1. Verstappen, Sainz & Kvyat received post-race penalties of five seconds added to their race time.Sebastian Vettel received a ten second penalty and two licence points to add to the malaise, but it was well deserved in lieu of the events of the race.