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Chinese Grand Prix – Who was your driver of the day?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Apr 2012   |  3:56 am GMT  |  141 comments

Nico Rosberg converted his first pole position in his debut win to give Mercedes their first win as a constructor since 1955 in a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix that saw a fast and frantic final 10 laps for second through to 10th. Who was your driver of the day?

Nico Rosberg

Pulled out what he called the ‘perfect’ lap in qualifying to secure his first pole position in 111 attempts and set up an all-Mercedes front row for the first time since the team returned to F1 in 2010. Made a clean getaway and then pushed to get a gap before the first round of stops. Showed considerably better race pace than expected and controlled the race at the front to secure his debut win and Mercedes’ first since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button

Struggled for to get the tyres working all weekend in the cold conditions, but looked fast in Q2. Decided to go out late in Q3, but by then the temperature had dropped and he ended up fourth on the grid. Made a good start, rising to third and then second when Michael Schumacher retired. Looked to be in with a chance of catching Rosberg until a problem at his last stop dropped him into traffic and he ultimately finished second.

Lewis Hamilton

Looked ominously quick on Friday, but a gearbox change meant he would have to take a five-place grid penalty for the race. Qualified second and started seventh. Made a good start but struggled to clear the traffic and lost a lot of time behind the Sauber of Sergio Perez. Made some good moves on Felipe Massa, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel to rise up to third – a position he has claimed in every race this season – to assume the lead of the world championship.

Mark Webber

Decided to take the new model of the Red Bull rather than revert to older version like his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel and it appeared to pay off when he qualified sixth, five places ahead of the German. Struggled with traffic and made a few mistakes which saw him run off track, but managed his tyres well and put a brave move on his team-mate on the final lap to take fourth place to increase his lead over Vettel in the drivers’ standings.

Bruno Senna

Entered the weekend full of confidence after a sixth place in the Malaysian Grand Prix – his first points for the Williams team – but looked off the pace early on and missed out on Q3, qualifying 14th. Almost clashed with his team-mate Pastor Maldonado at the start but recovered well and made a two-stop strategy work to rise up to seventh, one place ahead of his team-mate.

Romain Grosjean

Arrived in China on the back of two retirements despite showing good pace in the Lotus. Made it through to Q3, but didn’t set a time and started 10th. Kept his nose clean at the start and then managed his two-stop strategy, rising to fifth. However, cars around him had more life on his tyres and he lost one place to ultimately finish sixth for his first point of the season.

Kimi Raikkonen

Looked to be struggling for pace early on in the weekend before the team managed to get the car more to the Finn’s liking. Qualified fourth and maintained the position early on before making his way up to second place as he was on a two-stop strategy. However, the move backfired as his tyres fell off the cliff and he dropped to 10th in one lap before ultimately crawling home 14th.

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  1. SH says:

    Rosberg clearly had the fastest car at this track (much like Vettel for most tracks last year), which for me always devalues the win. E.g. if a Ferrari or a Sauber had won that WOULD have been something special.

    I’d like to give DOTD to Webber, just for passing Vettel on the second-last lap. Wonder where Webbo will be driving in 2013? (apart from ‘over Vettel’s bottom lip’)

    1. Wild Man says:

      I wonder what Mark thought when he saw SV in front of him with 15 laps to go? How did he do that? When is he going to pit? Shades of Monza 2010?

      I re-joined watching with about 15 laps to go & wondered the same thing. They must be pitting soon. With about ten laps to go, it became obvious they were going to try to go the distance. When would they fall off the cliff?

      When KR was forced onto the marbles, that was the end of him. Looks like the tyres did not recover from that little incident. RG did not have that problem (not sure how many laps he did in final stint). Channel 10 announcers noted that KR had done 22 laps when he fell of the cliff. MW would have done 21 laps by end of race & appears to have timed it just right. But he did let LH past him. I also expect that there was no way MW was going to let SV finish in front after all the hard work he done in the race.

      1. Wayne says:

        While I voted fro Rosberg, I cannot wait for fickle media to start pronouncing him as the new messiah due to this one win. For the record, HE HAS NOT, having won a single race, ‘answered’ or ‘proven’ his critics wrong as yet. However, let’s hope he does so in short order, the more drivers that join the “Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Button” (substitute your own drivers here) Premier division the better it is for the sport.

        I am far from being a Vettel fan, but, a drive from 17th to fourth might have deserved a mention or was that ALL strategy?

    2. matthew cheshire says:

      I’d give it to Rosberg for driving as well as anyone but also didn’t let nerves stuff his first big lead.

      But Webber very close second. He still dumped places on the start.

      And where is he going to go?? He’s clearly put his hand up for Ferrari and needs to outshine Perez. I’d bet on that because it must be attractive for them to get a driver who can help development and guaranteed to get on with Alonso. They need all the development help they can get. Perez will still be there later, he’s on their books.

      Interesting if RB need to offer a new contract mid season- if Vettel is still wobbly. Wouldn’t Webber enjoy snubbing them while he leads the team on points?? Not bad for a number 2.

      1. Lezza says:

        Matthew,
        Evidence please for MW hands up for Ferrari.

      2. matthew cheshire says:

        MW first acknoledged the rumours in Canada last year- “I would decide in the coming months about my future, but it is also true that Ferrari is always something special.”

        He had said previously that all drivers dream about driving for Ferrari.

        If you have a day free you can google Webber Ferrari and trawl a thousand rumour reports (ok that’s not evidence but time wasting).

        Have a read of Webber’s BBC blog on 14 March. How can you not read that as “hey Ferrari, Adrian has spoken with me for ages and told me all the problems with your car” Not subtle.

        And Webber’s red Mugello top. Surely he has a bunch of old Williams and Jaguar gear if he wants to wear something else….

  2. Mike J says:

    Rosberg. JA summary tells it all!

    Close for second between Hamilton ( great drive from 7th with penalty) with plenty of overtakes and Webber (20th after first stop). Senna after them.

    Actually with all the overtakes, wheel to wheel racing and different strategies there wasn’t a bad driver yesterday.

    (James . You see anything wrong with Perez move on Kobi James…pushed him a long way!)

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I thought it was a bit strong! Kobi had no problem with it -publicly at least..

      1. Kobayashi seems like a very level headed racer, and all around nice guy!

  3. Horoldo says:

    Webbers wheel to wheel racing was the highlight of the race for me. Awesome racing by everyone. Did anyone else hold their breath when Hamilton moved up the inside of Massa?

    1. Sudha S says:

      Very much so. After what happened last season,fingers crossed that nothing would happnen. That move probably validated the fact that Hamilton has turned things around this season after a horrible 2011.

  4. It’s pretty hard to go past Nico this week.

    A lap that’s .5 faster then 2nd in such a close championship this year was really an amazing lap.

    Then he handled the race like he’s won many times before. He didn’t let the pressure get to him loosing the lead to Button and took a commanding win. Great victory indeed.

  5. tom in adelaide says:

    Not sure how Kimi made it into the list ahead of Vettel?

    Rosberg was an easy choice for me though.

    1. Kay says:

      Kimi don’t call others cucumbers but instead makes everyone happy, that’s why =)

    2. **Paul** says:

      Ditto. Rosberg did have a quick car here, but his long run pace was certainly no better than the McLarens.

      Vettel and Webber both had stonking drives IMO, and Rosberg apart they surely had to make the list? It’s well known that the Red Bull is at least 4 tenths off in qually trim and a couple off in race trim. So for Webber and Vettel to be so close behind Hamilton over the line was very very impressive. Probably more so for Vettel than Webber even given Seb was in 14th or so on Lap one ? Lets not forget neither of those guys could overtake on the straight with any easy because of the cars low top end.

      Not really sure how Lewis made the list? He made a good start then Jenson just pulled away from him. Jenson might have had a long-ish shot at the race, but Lewis wasn’t looking likely.

      For me McLaren are still under-performing on Sundays, dominate car, 1 win, 3 thirds in three races. Maybe Bahrain will be different.

      1. newton says:

        It’s certainly one of the best, but it’s pushing it to call the McLaren dominant. Oh, and you missed a second place ;-)

    3. Rishi says:

      I almost felt wary going for Rosberg when his was a Sunday afternoon drive while everyone else battled in the pack. But even after qualifying I didn’t think he would win and it was a textbook performance, so I concluded he deserved the vote. Good to see a new winner in F1 too.

      The nature of the race, I suspect, made it hard to single out some of the drives. That said, I do agree with you: I would have put Vettel on the list rather than Raikkonen. Strategy is a team game and even then requires a drop of fortune but still 5th place after his poor start was a good recovery.

      1. Brian says:

        I also agree on the Vettel point. Go back and watch that last stint for Vettel and you can see how conscious of his tires he is as he would constantly peep the front of his car out from the bad air behind Kimi to keep his car and tire temps in the optimal operating range. It was really prominent in this race because you can see that of everyone in that train, he was the only one doing it.

        Even if Vettel is lacking in racecraft, his ability to think and manage all his variables is what sets him apart in my mind.

  6. Doug says:

    Nico for me … did no wrong. Seb from 11th to 5th was pretty cool too. Never seen a cliff like the one Kimi fell off.

  7. Anthony says:

    How can people vote for Kimi instead for Grosjean? I mean… the guy got the 2-stop strategy working and got a 6th place! Something the former world champ couldnt

    1. Kay says:

      The pit was to blame for the tyre performance drop, not Kimi.

      1. Anthony says:

        how so? Grosjean had the same car and the same strategy and the same pit crew

      2. John tsoutis says:

        Apparently Kimi had a set of used hard tyres for the last stint, this is e reason why he hit the cliff in terms of performance so suddenly when others did not. Not sure why that strategy call was made, I assume he didn’t have a new set left at the end of the race. I reckon gambling on a set of softs with 10 to go may have been the wiser choice, he would have been very fast with that combination.

      3. DanWilliams says:

        RG did a longer 1st stint, then an even longer 2nd stint then KR. This meant that RG drove on his 1st and 2nd set of tyres longer (but not over the cliff) and then spent a shorter amount of time on his last set. Whereas Lotus kept bringing KR in early (for a 2 stopper anyway) in his 1st and 2nd stints which left him to try and finish the race on his ‘worn’ intermediate tyres in the 3rd stint with 28 laps to go. Maybe Lotus originally were planning a 3 stop for KR but then decided at the last minute to leave him out to finish the race after 2 stops…

      4. Optimaximal says:

        Nah, it was Kimi’s fault.

        His little excursion over the marbles tipped the tyres over, as they seem incredibly sensitive at the end of their life – if you manage them, they can be eked out but get a little sideways happy or aggressive and they punish you badly.

      5. Kay says:

        He was pushed wide by Vettel, not exactly his fault.

      6. James Clayton says:

        Source?

      7. James Clayton says:

        No Kay, nothing there that states it was the team who decided to pit Kimi early. No radio transmissions in the race either.

        JA has also responded to several comments in previous articles when the poster has questioned the teams strategy, reminding the OP that it may well have been Kimi’s call to pit early.

        There’s no real evidence either way, but seeing as Kimi is inexperienced on the Pirellis, and we all know how he likes to ‘do his own thing’, I’m more than willing to accept the possibility that it was his call to pit for tyres too early….

    2. DK says:

      Grojean ‘ last set of medium was 5 laps newer than Kimi’s.

    3. Nathhulal says:

      Everybody Prefer Blondes ;-)

    4. etcyu says:

      Kimi was running on used medium tyres genius…..and the team pitted him earlier for the fresh medium stint …i duno what happen to their head!! Grosjean in opposite pitted on lap 32 or 33…..he only need to run 23 lap while kimi need to run 28….go figure

      1. Anthony says:

        it is kimi’s fault anyway, he couldn’t make his tires last so he could pit later, as grosjean did.

    5. I think people are just pulling for Kimi… Not a true reflection of Grosjean’s performances, which have been very good thus far.

  8. alan passingham says:

    Great race lovivg the Gayton boys grid walks best race by far helmet cams are a brilliant idea make all drivers have them keep it up

  9. Kris Grzegorczyk says:

    I wouldn’t have voted for him but surprised Vettel isn’t on this list… 11th to 5th ain’t half bad.

    1. Nathhulal says:

      Colonel Saito: Do not speak to me of rules. This is F1! This is not a game of cricket!

  10. kc says:

    I thought Webber’s drive went surprisingly unnoticed. Was flailing in 9th after the first lap, but after bravely stopping early, found himself in 4th, and after undercutting Hamilton for the last stop actually found himself in (effectively) 3rd. In fact, if Vettel had stayed out of the way, I reckon Webber might have finished on the podium, which would have been incredible given his first lap.

    1. Andrew Kirk says:

      KC agree with you, great drive by him! He is always brave enough to roll the dice first and not sit and wait for others to do so. That said needs to work on his starts! Still losing places!

  11. SK Anand says:

    Dear James,

    Without doubt, it will be Nico. There was not a single mis step from him and Mercedes GP team. And perhaps with this victory, he should be a different driver, and perhaps become more consistent.

    It will also be very interesting to see how Mercedes GP take this victory. The next race will be at Bahrain, where the temp – ambient and surface temp would be much higher than shanghai, though with a couple of straight section, the circuit could be good for Mercedes.

    Do you thing Mercedes has solved its tire wear issue, or will Bahrain with it dusty and higher temp play into Red Bull and Mclaren.

    While we savor the mercedes victory, the icing would be when we have the meister on the podium, and fairly instinctively i feel it should happen fairly soon.

    The other thought that i had, if is Mercedes improves and becomes a title contender, will that also mean, that Lewis Hamiltion could move to merecedes in 2013 and take the seat of MS? Would love to hear your views on it

  12. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Nico – Driver of the weekend. I would have put old man Schumi in there if he had finished in 2nd.

    James – any reason why there was no podcast this week?

    1. James Allen says:

      Chequered Flag Sunday you mean? We recorded it in the back of a minibus on a dash to the airport! Should be live now

      1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        Thanks James. Just listened to it. Cudos to yourself and Jamie.

  13. Juice says:

    Nico “Britney” Rosberg: the perfect qualifying lap, he controlled the race without any drama and Mercedes’ first win in 57 years. If Kimi could have held on or Button didn’t have the bad pit stop, this decision would have been harder.

  14. TheBestPoint? says:

    Nico all the way.
    Hamilton second. His race was more exciting than u write.

    1. Jeb Hoge says:

      If I could have, I’d have the McLarens tied for the vote behind Nico.

  15. William says:

    If you win your first race, you must be the driver of the day!

    Currently Räikkönen 26 votes, Grosjean 2 votes. How did that happen? Räikkönen 4 to 14, Grosjean 10 to 6. Did I miss something?

    1. Hawkbill says:

      I think Kimi diehard fans voted for their favorite driver :D

    2. etcyu says:

      we look at the race overall…unlike you who only look at results~~ differences btw those who watch race and those who look at wikipedia

      1. William says:

        I saw the race, though I have small children, so I didn’t manage to park my but in front of the TV for 96 minutes but I can’t remember any stunning moves by either one, which leaves it down to the result.

  16. Shane says:

    Awesome race! Nice to see Rosberg get a win. There was so much going on that it was easy to forget that he was alone at the front, lapping comfortably. I was also pleased to see Webber do so well. Sad to see Raikkonen fall off at the end. Also, what happened to Sauber? Bad start for Kamui, but to finish P10 & P11?

  17. Timwahoo says:

    Webbers pass on vettel was the highlight

    Good to see Nico perform under pressire (for once). I considered him a choker. Then again how much pressure was there once Michael retired.

    Webber got my vote. Hon mention to Button

    1. ? says:

      Passing a car with no tires left was a highlight?

      Lol.

      1. Lezza says:

        Think about it a bit more & you might grasp why any Webber pass on Vettel is delicious to a lot of fans with long memories.

  18. Angelina says:

    Nico Rosberg
    For perfect race

  19. Kevin Green says:

    Drive of the day taking all factors into account inc the but for tyre strategy was for me clearly Kimi.

    Great to see Webber’s spring ever increasing again. Good solid drive by Nico but hey he clearly had the car.

  20. Angelina says:

    Why was Vettel not in the list?

    I agree with tom in adelaide

    “Not sure how Kimi made it into the list ahead of Vettel?”

    11th to 5th is certainly better than many other drivers mentioned on the list.

    Thanks Tom

  21. Anand R says:

    James, what was your overtaking move of the race? Maybe that could be another post race feature…

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes looks like we’ll get plenty of great moves this year.

  22. Jason says:

    DOTD goes to Webber for pulling a wheelie in an F1 car.

    1. matthew cheshire says:

      But Webber can do that in his sleep. Look at all the pilot’s practice he had at the ’99 Lemans. No wonder he doesn’t drive a Merc any more.

    2. Will R says:

      Thats nothing, I’ve seen him do a red barron style air show in a CLR-GT1. Definatly been given wings.

      1. Nico
      2. Lewis
      3. Vettel
      4. Grosjean
      5. Webber
      for DOTD list

      THere was a bit of Vettel bashing going on in the comments after qualy. Obviously the haters are hiding now though haha…

    3. +1 , would love to see the telemetry on that. Wonder if he lifted?

      1. Jason says:

        +1 to that as well, James if your at the next round and run into him can you ask if he lifted?

        I don’t think that he did, the flying Bull happened on Lap 37. looking at the forix data for Mark is as follows:

        36 11 1’42.112 -15.724
        37 11 1’40.709 -1.403
        38 11 1’40.725 0.016
        39 8 1’41.520 0.795

  23. Craig in Manila says:

    Great race and great racing.
    Driver of the sunday :
    Senna (14th to 7th on a two-stopper) or maybe Vettel (11th to 5th). As Vettel isn’t listed, I’ll go with Senna.

  24. sumedh says:

    Can’t understand why Vettel isn’t on this list.

    He was fourteenth before the stops, brilliantly executed his two stopper to move to 2nd. And was four laps away from staying there. And even though he lost three positions, 11th to 5th is better than what his team-mate did – 7th to 4th

  25. JB says:

    Nico was mightly yesterday! The pace from the quali was real.
    It is most unfortunate for Schumacher and Kimi, he could be in the podium.
    Everyone else was just average, not worth mentioning.

  26. Paul says:

    Hard to argue anyone other than Rosberg.

    But all credit to Senna for another excellent job. 14 points already, despite being benched for Bottas in Friday practice.

  27. steve says:

    Great to see Nico get the first win, but I am surprised no one in media has mentioned webber’s turn around from last year. Vettel has lost to webber 3-0 in qual and 2-1 in the races and is behind in points.
    Has webber been drinking a diffent flavor of RED BUll

  28. mjsib says:

    Don’t think there can be any arguments about Rosberg being driver of the day. A perfect qualifying lap and then faultless again in the race.
    I just feel sorry for Alonso. He’s driving the 7th fastest car yet has achieved a 5th, 1st and 9th. He’s driving better than he ever has.
    James, do you know whether Ferrari’s b spec car for Barcelona will be able to compete with the leaders?

  29. Millatime says:

    Webber for his wheel to wheel racing and his never say die attitude, and for passing Vettel!

    James, he is such a poor starter and loses places off the line in almost every race. Have you looked into why this is, and what are the paddock saying about it. Would love to know your thoughts on this.

    1. James Allen says:

      I know, we looked at it last year, it always comes up in our Strategy Briefing, where we run a table of who’s winning and losing places at the start.

      1. MISTER says:

        But why is it happening?
        Is his poor reaction to the light going off or low rev or wheel-spin?

      2. Mike J says:

        Mister.
        I have studied his starts this year and i reckon it all in the second stage of his starts. His initial jumps in Aust/Malay and China have been ok, not best but ok. He loses out in the run to the first corner. Maybe KERS is more the problem?

    2. Loko says:

      Heikki Kovalainen told in his finnish blog post last year, its the engineer, which puts params to clutch on start. Its all about clutch program. Only responsibility of the driver is reaction. And we have seen many times on replays, Webber reaction isnt the problem. So, its engineer or Webber´s warm up lap, which fails. Why they are doing it wrong way year after year?

  30. Glennb says:

    I’m a huge Webber fan but I couldn’t overlook Nico’s incredible weekend.
    I knew it was coming for several laps but I still got to my feet when Mark took Seb near the end. Priceless (for me anyway).

  31. AussieWoZ says:

    Nico – hands down! Just as the readers agree according to the poll. A deserved winner!

    My heart goes out to Kimi, he was on track for a strong result until his day was ruined by what was a horrendous strategy call. Does anyone know who’s call this was? I’d be surprised if Kimi thought he could be competitive with those tyres for that many laps?

    1. William says:

      Yeah, it’s odd as he changed after 18 laps the first time around on those tires. With 28 laps to go. Will be interesting to look at the telemetry later.

    2. Geenimetsuri says:

      I think he could’ve made it under different circumstances.

      Now he had to race for almost 30 laps on a single set of tires defending position, instead of ‘coasting along’, saving tires and defending the gap on track.

      So the chosen strategy wasn’t bad as such, merely inappropriate for the situation he was in.

  32. NickyStuu says:

    Nico for driver of the day. I think Button’s a close second: great start, kept his composure after the pitstop mistake, and did what he had to do to get back up to 2nd place.

  33. Skye says:

    For me it’s Rosberg. He drove a perfect race.

    But like a few others have mentioned, why isn’t Vettel on this list? From 11th to 5th is pretty good. And he was running 14th at the start. I thought he was much better that Kimi or Grosjean.

  34. Andy says:

    It’s always difficult to give the driver of the day to anyone other than the winner, unless someone has a real stormer of a race.
    So Rosberg it is.
    I thought Vettel’s comments over the radio were a bit strange – complaining about a lack of straightline speed. The Red Bull has been set up like this for the last two years, their superior downforce and grip made top speed less important.
    It raises two questions:
    1. Why haven’t Red Bull changed their gearing, particularly on a circuit where there is a long straight?
    2. Vettel could see from the practice sessions what his speed was through the speed traps, why didn’t he ask to the ratios to be changed himself?
    Red Bull look like a team that, because they have been so dominant, they don’t know or seem reluctant to change or adapt. For once, Vettel showed his immaturity. Webber got his head down and just got on with it.
    I think Vettel was a little fortunate to finish 5th, he spent the majority of the race between 9th and 14th.

    1. **Paul** says:

      It is odd that Red Bull keep on with the idea of more speed in the corners and less on the straights, as in commentary it was mentioned that Vettel’s car was 19th in the speed trap in qually. That means one of the Caterham/Maurissa/HRTs was faster – which is bloody amazing.

      Tactically it’s fine when you’re out front but when you need to overtake it becomes near impossible to do so without a speed advantage when you’re in the tow etc. To that end both Webber and Vettel did a great job in the race, after the first couple of corners Webber was P9? and Vettel P14?.

      I question if perhaps the only way Red Bull can get the lap time is by setting their car up for the corners, thus dropping wing and increasing gear ratios would make them slower overall, and thus asking for different gear ratios wouldn’t really be the answer?

    2. 2Phat says:

      Increasing top speed isn’t just about gear ratios; changing the ratios only helps if you’ve got the power (and/or lack of drag) to be able to benefit from that.

      1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        He was hitting his limiter in seventh with plenty of straight still to go.

  35. Wheels says:

    There’s been plenty commented on his change of demeanor, but has anyone really noticed how Hamilton has quietly adjusted his driving style to suit the Pirelli’s. Personally, I think he’s still working it all out and, yet, he leads the WDC. I think by the time Spain/Monaco rolls around and his blend of speed, aggression, raw talent and his newly re-crafted race pace are combined, Lewis will shift into a higher gear and be very difficult to beat to the first step of the podium, for the remainder of the season. However, yesterday was Nico Rosberg’s show.

    1. Mike J says:

      Agreed. Hamilton has certainly changed a few things in his approach this year. The 5 place penalty hurt him more than most take into account. 3 thirds is a great foundation in this close year and will do him wonders later in the season

  36. HFEVO2 says:

    What a stunning race !

    Thankfully, this one was live on the BBC.

    Yes, his car may have been the fastest this weekend, but this McLaren supporter has no hesitation in giving DOTD to Nico.

    From Friday to Sunday Nico didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend.

    To make a perfect start under the huge pressure of being on pole for the first time and then to lead the race from start to finish without making a mistake takes extraordinary skill, discipline – and nerves.

    Over a race weekend there are literally thousands of opportunities for the driver and team to make a small mistake or for the car to develop a technical problem.

    Just ask Jenson, Lewis & Michael Schumacher !

  37. John says:

    Has to be Nico. So many drivers talk of the need to get “the monkey off their back” to be able to get their first win so that alone must deserve DOTD. By the way I thought he claimed it was NOT a perfect quali lap – as no lap could be perfect. It also takes a lot of nerve to back off to protect tyres when never having lead a race at that point. On top of that as he coasted along the doubts would have set in – would you want to pit knowing the team had got it wrong for your team mate?

    btw how can anyone object to Vettel’s absence from the list? He chose the wrong car spec, fell even further back at the start and was made to look ordinary by a team mate who couldn’t get anywhere near him last year. Not many drivers did worse than that – certainly no one in a top team! Vettel is only just starting to understand what Hamilton has been through in the last couple of years.

    1. **Paul** says:

      Vettel was close to getting on the podium?!!. 4 seconds over 56 laps and only a couple of seconds behind his team mate? I wouldn’t say Mark made him look ordinary – if anything they looked pretty equally matched.

      1. John says:

        That’s the whole point! Mark couldn’t get near him last year. Vettel was overtaken by someone who drove a similar race and was nowhere near worthy of being DOTD!

        A DOTD HAS to have done something significantly better than his team mate…

    2. Brukay says:

      Strange coment John after all Weber started in front of Vettel did he not I thought Vettel did a great job after all he did along stint on his last set tyres and did not fall off the cliff like Kimi from 2nd to 15th I think it was. How did Kimi get on the list.Come on James what were you watching It seems he does not have many English and Aussie fans.

      1. John says:

        Maybe you would not see it as strange if you take on board that a DOTD cannot be one who is overtaken by his team mate who was nowhere near good enough to be called DOTD! Vettel may well have driven one good long stint but that is nowhere near enough to match Rosberg’s faultless weekend.

        As for Kimi he is still finding his feet with a team he barely knows, tyres he has little experience of and a 2 year absence. If Lotus had used their experience to better effect in calling their strategy it would have been a close call but not quite enough to beat Rosberg to be DOTD.

      2. Brukay says:

        John I would not question who was driver of the day There was only one choice Nico of course. My main beef is your comment about Weber making Vettel look ordinary. If I remember he started much further up the grid than Vettel Mark also finished the race with fresher tyres than Seb he only caught him on the last lap hardly a hiding. Seb is a much younger driver and far less experienced than Mark but look at what he has done in very short time. I am a kiwi and have a few brothers who live in Australia I can tell you they have claimed Mark as there own and they are still saying there was a conspiracy at Red Bull why Mark was not world champ even though Seb did confirm his pedigree last year my comment regarding Kimi was in regard why he was one of contenders for DOTD after all he did start from 4th you could hardly say he is inexperienced as a former world champ and I think that is why some people on this site questioned that.

  38. BW says:

    So many drivers with outstanding drives with no great effort.. so the title goes to the winner for his faultless drive. Yeah, Rosberg.

  39. Dmitry says:

    Driver of the day for me will be hands down Hamilton.

    Not only because I am his fan, but because finally he seems to get his mind calm and be totally fixed on racing. His performance is once again scintillating, but without recklessness, which plagued him last year. Even penalty didn’t dent his motivation and mood.
    I am sure that if he got in clear air (and didn’t battle through the field all the time during the race), then he would have definitely pushed Button and Rosberg for the win, as I am also sure Mercedes’ pace was more attributed to cool temperature and clean air ahead, so pace wise they didn’t “dominate”, they just were at the right place on track at the right time.
    Of course I am a bit surprised that after 3 races he wasn’t on top of the podium, but I am sure that with such approach he will definitely step there soon.

    1. Will R says:

      Always a lot of “ifs” in a race. Clean air is definatley a big advantage for any car, look at vettel last year. Could the Mclarens of challenged IF they got clean air? Probably! Who would they be challenging though, Nico or Schumi IF he didn’t lose a nut?

      Its awesome to see Lewis has his cool back though!

      1. Dmitry says:

        Agree, probably too many “ifs”.
        I was so nervous when Lewis was behind Massa, I just thought – “Oh no, not again”… but he did it very clean.

        And the episode when Lewis was battling through crazy Lotus-Red Bull pile (with everyone around making mistakes, going off, locking wheels) was simply breathtaking.

    2. f1kings says:

      you are so right with out the grind penalty he could have won . the season is early but consistency through the whole season is the key . they love jenson button , but lewis hamilton he always pushing in qualifying and in the race and i believe lewis hamilton has made more passing moves then anyone in the last three years …

  40. CarlH says:

    Not my vote for driver of the day (that’s clearly Rosberg), but I’m starting to admire Webber more.

    The guy just never gives up. He doesn’t moan when the car isn’t perfect or when he has to try and make a difficult strategy work. He just gets on with it and makes the most of the situation, much like Alonso.

    I really hope all this retirement talk vanishes soon. Why are many people so keen for Mark to retire? He’s only three years older than Jenson, who has just signed a new long-term contract. He’s got a few good years left in him and if he can sort his starts out he can still win the WDC.

    1. Horoldo says:

      Yep totally agree. Redbull only need a small step forward, and Webber will be winning monaco, no probs.

  41. Peter says:

    Why is Kimi on the list? I think, holding up six or seven cars incl. all the big guns for that many laps on the tires he had was pretty good show. He fell of the cliff also because he ran out onto the dirty line and picked up all the rubbish and that was too much for those tires.

  42. Rob Newman says:

    For me the real winner is the Pirrelli. The loser is DRS.

    Can’t understand why Vettel’s name is not here. He had issues but did a very good race with the given car.

  43. Sharp_saw says:

    No Vettel on the list is disappointing.

    I am a Kimi fan and I was very disappointed with what happened with his car going off on the marbles. But after all the problems with the pitstops to plant the car in second on a two stop strategy is a wonderful thing. Its only his third race after his return and I feel that if he continues to improve like this he will be very strong come the second half of the season and may even get regular podiums or even wins. Its all about acclimatizing to those Pirelli tyres.

  44. Richard D says:

    Firstly, I’d like to suggest that the title of this feature should be changed to “Driver of the Weekend” because so much of the time it’s what happens over the whole weekend and not just race day (I think that’s how people vote anyway).

    As to my vote, it has to go to Rosberg as his whole performance over the weekend could not be touched, and it was such a milestone – first pole and first win. We saw very little of him during the race as coverage concentrated upon the action back in the field but he clearly did not put a foot wrong. It’s a great pity that the pitstop error put Jenson back in the traffic and deprived us of a potential fight for rhe win. Who knows what might have happened if Rosberg was challenged and had to make his tired tyres work harder?

    1. LD1 says:

      Agreed.

      James in his summary, takes into account the whole weekend too.

  45. kp says:

    Vettel had a damn good drive but I was delighted Nico took the race.

    Easy to mistake the two of them when celebrating on the rostrum. Perhaps its a German thing.

    Either way, both so much more enjoyable to watch than our very own home grown sado, Lewis Hamilton (even if he was much improved this race).

  46. Mitch says:

    Webber got my vote as he flew on sunday, literally, and still managed to pull off a purple sector from it!!! That was seriously cool. He must have missed the memo that it is the motogp guys that do wheelies.

    Ps, kimi showed real guts coming out of the pits to find webber. He didnt give an inch so I think he is getting some votes as he put on a good show.

    Although I voted Mark for thinking he was in the red bull air race (again) and some excellent but overlooked overtakes (the vettel one being the least impressive) I think it was a great race all the drivers put on for us, and hold nothing against the other votes. Dont mind seeing Rosberg having close to tenfold of the other drivers votes .

  47. Spyros says:

    It’s easy to dismiss the winner of the race, who didn’t have to overtake anyone while the rest engaged in non-stop outbraking battles, tiptoeing around bits of tyre away from the racing line… but I can’t.

    This was Rosberg’s weekend. And I absolutely don’t believe that he had as easy a Sunday afternoon as some people make out. He had to manage his pace carefully, to make his strategy work. Raikkonen tried it, and failed. Vettel, too, albeit less dramatically.

    Ultimately, Rosberg succeeded where two former World Champions failed. It’s a shame Schumi couldn’t complete the picture…

  48. james encore says:

    Driver of the day … Nico paired an excellent start with his great qualifying but after the first 5 seconds of the race he just had to keep circulating and not screw up. I like him (and was a fan of his Father), and I’m glad to see him get a win at last, and he and his team deserved the win, but he didn’t *do* much to earn DOTD.
    Kimi ? Did well, but a bad tyre decision (or taking too much out of the them) cost him dearly.
    Webber ? Just for the move on Vettel , on another day maybe
    Any of the Williams or Sauber drivers for the amount of excitement they generated.
    In the end the McLaren drivers both finished in better places than they started, and Lewis was a bit more exciting the Jenson.
    But what a race, and so many good performances.

  49. F1Fan4life says:

    James, I wanted to note, you said Roman Grosjean kept his nose clean at the start. That isn’t true at all. He literally rammed his nose up Alonso’s rear at the first corner. I’m sure he’s a fan but there are better ways to communicate with Alonso Roman. For this obvious reason, given that he crashed out so far this year, he doesn’t deserve to even be mentioned in driver of the day. Was surprised there was no damage from the collision and really he had no one pressuring him, quite an oafish move. Rosberg is the obvious star.

  50. Mr Squiggle says:

    It has to be Nico for me, if you can’t give DOTD ont he back of pole position and maiden win, you are never going to give it.

    James, my sense is the fans are more excited than for a long time

    Everything about this race seemed to show teams/drivers in their best light, stretching themselves to the max, pit calls, strategy…. everything.

  51. CurlyPutz says:

    This is an easy one, Nico all the way for me.

    Little nod to Senna for a good finish again and I thought Kimi was VERY unlucky.

    I still hate these tyres, the marbles were just silly and really reduced the racing line far too much for me.

  52. Andrew J says:

    After a slow start that turned into a great race. Nico was on fire from start to finish – a perfect qualifying and a perfect drive in the race. Consequently, he gets my vote.

    Next up would be Button. Left it late in qualifying and paid the price in terms of grid position but it didn’t take him that long to do something about it. A shame about the problem in his final stop – I think that with fresher tyres he could have reeled in Nico. Whether or not he could have passed him is another matter but I think we were deprived of a battle for the win.

    Third vote would go to Hamilton. Doing a far more steady job than last year, keeping it clean and a trio of third places isn’t bad at all, even if this is the first he worked his way up to rather than falling back. A spell at the top of the leaderboard will do his self-confidence no end of good.

    Honorary mention goes to Webber. I am delighted to see him outshining his team-mate this year, though I’ll be even happier if he stops flying his car!

  53. James Hunt says:

    James, Following the Kimi ‘diehard’ fans votes and question marks why kimi is in the DOTD list, (I am a Kimi fan but voted for Rosberg) i thought Kimi did a fabulous job defending second whilst he had a string of drivers behind him unable to overtake dispite KERS and DRS, but is the fall of the cliff down to Kimi using up the tyres or his pit messing up the laps he was expected to do on them ?

  54. Andrew Kirk says:

    Question James what do you think the chances are that if Schumacher wins a race this year Ross Brawn will call it a day? Already won many a championship both his teams and his drivers also a very rich man. He did mention that his dream or goal at the start of the year was to see Nico take his first win and Michael to add to his 91 tally.

    1. James Allen says:

      If he’s enjoying it why should he stop?

      He has limited ambitions left in F1, but I see him enjoyinhg the challenge

    2. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      The question is what would he do? He’s already realised that he has all the money and toys he will ever need and life without F1 for him is boring. The only challenge left for him would be to take over from Ross as team principal. But I doubt he would enjoy the politics.

  55. Stickymart says:

    KP:
    “Either way, both so much more enjoyable to watch than our very own home
    home grown sado, Lewis Hamilton…”

    I was tempted not to take the bait on this one, but what the hell. I thought Hamilton showed a fair bit of humility at the end of the race in congratulating Nico and his smiles seemed genuine on the, and why not? It may be early days but he has dominated qualifying in every race so far, and is top of the championship, despite not having won a race. Fair enough, in the past he’s been a bit surly but he’s turned things around this year. Just look at the video of his interview r.e the gearbox change. 2011 Ham would have been visably unhappy, instead he was quite chirpy. I do wish people would stop bashing him because of his previous problems, he is a talented driver, and all drivers go through bad patches.

    Anyhow, My vote for DOTD would be Rosberg. Still great to see him win a race finally.

  56. David says:

    It seems to be the consensus that leaving it late in qualy cost a few drivers. But Kobiashyi popped up with 4th (promoted to 3rd) right at the end, so track temp can’t be the whole story. Probably more poor laps from webber and button.

  57. Carlo_Carrera says:

    Hands down it was Rosberg, a flawless pole lap and a flawless drive to victory, period.

  58. Tay says:

    Did no one notice Vettel set a pace to recover 12 places? His car is slow in the straights, but he’s still the determined, methodically good driver from last year.

  59. Thabang says:

    It has to be Lewis Hamilton…cutting the competitive traffic up with great patience and skill. Webber too had a stoncking race.

  60. Alain says:

    James, I think you’re right putting Senna on the list (my vote), every other driver were fanastic too but Bruno made no mistakes after his bump at the first corner and drove with a damaged wing for the whole race

  61. Dave Aston says:

    Driver of the day, Rosberg! An awesome drive. I’m really happy too for Brawn, and Haug, such petrolheads. Anyone think Michael can win the championship next year? I hope so, he’ll be 44, what a freak.

  62. Jonathan says:

    I would give it to rosberg…drove consistently and did aswell as anybody else would have done with the car.

    I know its not related to the topic of dicsussion james but here are the chinese grand prix viewing figures for both sky and the beeb for comparison…
    http://www.f1revs.com/2012/04/bbc-sky-chinese-gp-viewing-figures.html

  63. Dean says:

    I suppose putting Kimi’s name on this list is debatable given that it was the wrong strategy, but you have to admit he does bring excitement to races!

  64. Jay C. says:

    Rosberg all the way! Great performance and well-deserved result! Cheers to Brawn and AMG/Merc for a great job as well. A lot of good/great driving in China, and due credit to all. Senna seems to be on an upward climb, but I would also point out that Maldonado has been doing a great job! It was interesting and exciting to see Pastor and Alonso dueling it out! Pastor definitely has more talent than he is given credit for.

    Any thoughts on Maldonado so far this season, James?

    Cheers

  65. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – Williams have been a surprise packet for me this year. Could you shed some light into what might have clicked for them? Have they stopped chasing “hail mary” technology advances and just concentrated on doing the basics right? Is their car perhaps that good that if they had drivers the calibre of Alonso, etc that they could be achieving even stronger results? Or is it just that their strategies are maximising their performance?

    1. James Allen says:

      THey are doing a good job. They’ve done a nice car which is really getting the most out of the tyres at the moment and that’s where others aren’t always getting it right

      1. Dean V says:

        Any idea if the training set by Michael Johnson has helped with their pits stops? I’m curious to see if it pays off.

    2. Eleanore says:

      Senna has described the package as having “gone back to the basics”, and given that his technical feedback has often been hailed as very good, I’d take his word on that. It certainly appears that’s the case, given the overall steadiness of the car’s performance.

  66. Dan G says:

    Im not really a Rosberg fan at all but he deserves the vote for a faultless drive.

    Im a massive Webdog fan but while he drive great and was probably the most entertaining driver to watch all race he made a couple of mistakes that probably cost him a step on the podium.

    ROS got my vote with Webber a close second.

    If Redbull kept pace with MCL during a track like this with low temps and long straights, I think they will be getting a win sooner rather than later.

  67. JohnBt says:

    Tough season to choose the winner and driver of the day.

    For China I’d like to pick Lewis. He’s been very focus,cool and no longer edgy, held on to his position and moved up gracefully to third after pit stops. As an Alonso fan Lewis stands a very high chance of the WDC for 2012.

    Lewis’s consistency is working well for him.

    What a pity Kimi just fell off at the final part of the race, but have to give him credit for moving over without causing any hindrance to the others.

    Nico drove very well too but being at the front without much fight was a bit difficult to say he’s driver of the day.

    Look forward to a safe and trouble free weekend for Bahrain.

    As for James and associates, I’d like to wish you all well and a pleasant Bahrain GP.

  68. bmg says:

    Just a great race to watch, I was actually disappointed for schmy.

  69. dmutie says:

    Pastor Maldonado should be on that list

  70. Thebe says:

    My vote went to Jenson, he is driving very well , he has become a master overtaker , he has really matured as a driver .

    Great fight from where he was in the race , most people have overlooked that, that was a great fight.

  71. Charlie says:

    Nico for a faultless weekend under what I guess must have been increasing pressure as prospect of breaking his duck got ever closer.

    Honourable mentions to everyone else – somebody must have driven a bad race but I didn’t notice who.

    (I was never a Schumacher fan back in the day but somehow it would warm the cockles of my heart if he could join his team-mate in a win shortly)

  72. Simmo says:

    Nico. He did everything right the whole weekend and definitely deserves it.

    Gotta feel sorry for Schumacher, who was on track for a good result until he had that messed up pit stop.

    Also feel sorry for Raikkonen, who was doing so well until his pirelli fell off the cliff :(

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