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Spanish Grand Prix – Who was your Driver of the Day?
Spanish Grand Prix – Who was your Driver of the Day?
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 May 2011   |  7:04 pm GMT  |  144 comments

An action packed race in Spain means there are plenty of contenders for Driver of the Day, but who do you think deserves the accolade?

Sebastian Vettel
Saw his run of five consecutive pole positions come to an end when teammate Webber pipped him by 2/10ths in qualifying. Jumped the Australian at the start but lost the lead to a fast starting Alonso. But a superior strategy got him ahead of race leader Alonso at the second stops. Despite no KERS he held off a late charge from Hamilton to secure his fourth victory in five races this season.

Lewis Hamilton
Started third but lost out to Alonso at the start. Couldn’t get past Webber so McLaren decided to try a different strategy which saw Hamilton stay out until lap 22 while Alonso and Webber pitted. It proved inspired as the Brit got past them both to run second. Pulled away with Vettel in front and got very close to the German in the closing laps but Vettel was able to hold on.

Fernando Alonso
Delighted the home crowd when he accelerated from fourth to first at the start. Led the first two stints of the race as the Ferrari had a great exit out of the final corner and into the straight, preventing the chasing pack from utilising their DRS. Lost out on strategy and then struggled badly with lack of grip on the hard tyres and faded in the final part of the race, eventually finishing one lap down in fifth.

Jenson Button
Had a terrible start, dropping from fifth to 10th on the first lap. But while his rivals went for a four-stop strategy, Button gambled on just three-stops and this time he was able to build enough of a cushion so it paid off. He was able to utilise the soft tyres for longer and managed to pass both Webber and Alonso who were struggling for pace on the hards. That lifted him up into third place – his second podium of the season.

Michael Schumacher
Didn’t use a set of soft tyres in Q3 and started 10th. Made a lightening start, leapfrogging Button, Rosberg, Massa and Maldonado to run sixth. Mercedes race pace was well short of McLaren and Red Bull. Struggled to keep up with the leaders and was passed by Button. However, he leapt ahead of Petrov and managed to hold off teammate Rosberg to finish sixth and score his best result of the season.

Nick Heidfeld
Didn’t set a time in qualifying because of a car fire earlier in the day and started the race dead last. A reverse strategy, starting on hard tyres and then running softs plus the advantage of all new sets of tyres he saved from qualifying allowed him to cut through the field. He caught the two Mercedes drivers in the closing stages before settling for eighth place – three places higher than teammate Petrov who started sixth.

Sergio Perez
Had a strong qualifying session to finish 12th fastest, two spots ahead of his more experienced teammate Kobayashi. Made a clean getaway and showed good race pace to finish ninth, one place ahead of his teammate, and score his first points finish in Formula 1.

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I can’t believe people are really giving proper credit for Vettel’s overtake on brand new tyres against cars with trashed tyres!

And attacking is easier than defending? Sheesh some people have never raced before.

It’s very easy to block and make your car as wide as possible. Attacking/overtaking is far more difficult hence the special auroa that surrounds it.

And as DC said the only reason Hamilton could not overtake is because McLaren set his 7th gear ratio too short and was hitting the limiter.


Alonso – because it extracted the best from the poor package, and from the lack of soft tires. The hard compound was very bad.



Apologies for writing again, but a new question came to my mind:

Do Renault and Red Bull run the same engine maps? Is their throttle working the same way?

I understand that the way it works is by timing the fuel injection too late (after the spark), so it is not burned in the cylinder, but in the exhaust, due to heat contact. Could the more “extreme” system (assuming its Renault and Red Bull) mean that far too much fuel is now being burnt in the exhaust?

Could this have led to the fire in Nick Hiedfeld’s car on Saturday? Obviously, not being on the throttle, he was on the “overrun” at the time.


There really is no choice other than Vettel.

Button really doesn’t deserve a mention. He had what was undoubtedly a much fastest car than Vettel’s, but finished way behind.


Faster on hard tyres on similar strategies. He’s getting a mention for his recovery drive and being able to make a 3-stopper work, just as Alonso gets one for his start despite getting lapped.


When you consider that only four cars finished on the same lap as the leaders, it is clear that there is nothing particularly remarkable about his “recovery drive”.


What was maximum distance for used softs on the last stint? Hamilton’s pace on his first set of hards seemed decent I was wondering whether he could of stretched it out a few more laps and gone onto softs for 15-laps or so.


He had already used all his softs. Remember, 4 stops means 5 stints. He might have been able to stretch it a little so that his second set of hards would have been fresher in the closing laps of the race, though.


What happened to Webber? He was way off the mark!

I voted for Vettel because of his determined overtakes and drive. He did keep his cool to a great Hamilton (who also drove a stellar race).

Good to see Michael and Alonso up there. Unfortunately they were not in a wheel to wheel battle.


That picture of Seb looks like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

I voted for him, so I’m safe. I think…

Douglas Jefferson

James, how is it that Red Bull is so superior to McLaren (and everyone else) in qualifying, but in the last few laps of the race, which most simulates qualifying, McLaren is able to hold their own? With the cars being in parc ferme after qualifying the teams should not be able to adjust them for the race.


RedBull are able to use the DRS throughout the qualifying lap. They have tuned their car for maximum speed during qualifying and it has worked very well for them thus far.

McLaren aren’t able to use DRS as much during qualifying, but come race day they are closing the gap to RBR.

I would say that in 1 or 2 races the RBR will continue to sit on pole, but McLaren will probably be faster during the race. Only time will tell if they will be fast enough to get more wins.

David Hamilton

BTW, James: I think you’re incorrect to say that Heidfeld ‘settled’ for eighth place.

Nick started their last lap about 2.5 seconds behind Rosberg and had been closing at just under 3 seconds per lap for the previous 5 laps. At the line he was only 0.4 of a second behind Nico and 1.3 behind Michael.

Had they not all been lapped (and so didn’t have to do the full 66 laps), it is certain that Nick would have overtaken Nico at least, and been all over Michael before the end of the lap.

The only ‘settling’ involved was down to the lack of a straight between Nick catching Nico and the chequered flag!

Steven Pritchard

Would I be right in thinking the Redbull can leave their DRS wing open in places (i.e. corners) other teams dare not in qualify, because of their incredible downforce?

But of course in the race, DRS is not available to use all of the time, so this levels the playing field.

Star of the race? Vettel. Made some authoritative passes when he needed to, placed his car perfectly at the end of the start finish stright (not all about red bull being better in faster corners you know). Winning a bad race is a sign of quality (and this coming from me who is not Vettel’s biggest fan).


I imagine that as McLaren and (hopefully) Ferrari close the gap to RedBull that this difference in strategy will begin to pay MacLaren and Ferrari dividends.

RBR seem to have gone for a higher overall downforce package. Once MacLaren and Ferrari get their top speed back, the new DRS and KERS combination may swing things away from RBR come race day. Of course, they only need to tweak their setup a bit to increase their overall speed, at the cost of high speed cornering and in turn their ability to secure pole position.

As the development war continues I think we are going to see some interesting races!


In quali Seb had the wing open before and during the final turn – I didn’t see anyone else doing this; not even Webber in the other Bull. [Although if someone else saw something different, I’m happy to be wrong]


Yes that is correct


Question: would anyone would be happy for Hamilton to have won this race on account of the DRS?

The DRS had very little bearing on the outcome of yesterday’s race and, yet, we saw some pretty good racing with plenty of overtakes. Even Mr Brundle has now started questioning the benefit of anything other than the rapidly-degrading tyres, on air.

However, had it been working better, it would have most likely allowed Hamilton to pass Vettel for the win.

P.S. I voted for Vettel – he had to overtake several cars and he did so quickly and in supreme style.

P.P.S. Why did Schumacher choose to not run in Q3 in order to preserve tyres, if he had no intention of using new options late in the race (where they would have offered the greatest potential)?

P.P.P.S I can’t wait for James’ strategy review later in the week.


James what is it with you and praising alonso all the time?! There was a driver who in the 90’s started 7th was up to 2nd at the 1st lap and struggled with grip too! that does not deserve a “driver of the day”

just calm down!


I praise any driver who does well, whether it be Alonso, Vettel Kobayashi or Di Resta.


I voted for Alonso out of prejudice in the pole.

But out of fairness it has to be V E T T E L.

Who says he cant overtake when he’s not at the front. And he held Hamilton at bay with his damaged KERS.


Would love to say that Driver Of The Day was Webber as he overcame an apparent “Just Follow Him And We’ll See What Happens” strategy on a track where overtaking was difficult to finish not far from the podium but that would be silly….

James : Do journalists get any access to the “Strategy Men” to ask “Why did you do that to him?” (or similar)? Similarly, do you know how much “input” drivers have into such strategies during the race itself ?


Certainly. I have a lot of access for the UBS Strategy Report I do post race. Drivers have input, but with these tyres it’s as much about reacting as anything else.


I still can’t my head around a lot of the front-runners going soft-soft-hard-hard; I was convinced they’d go back to the softs for their final stints!?!?


Because of durability. To go with softs would mean an extra stop, a fifth!


I wonder whether going Soft-Soft-Hard-Hard and then Soft for the last few laps, would of been better, for say Hamilton?


Hi James,

Teams didn’t have enough sets for a fifth stop to go back to softs: soft (at start), soft (pit 1), soft (pit 2), hard (pit 3), hard (pit 4) was the only real option.

To have a further pitstop would have meant another set of hards and the benefit in laptime would have been far too low to get away with the 19 seconds or so for the tyre change.

Teams have 3 sets of option (soft) and primes (hard) so they could only have run softs if they’d stayed out longer on the hard tyres between stops 3 and 4.


If I’m not mistaken, all the frontrunners who did 4 stops did use all 3 sets of softs, and 2 sets of hards. Likewise, Jenson on a 3 stopper also used all 3 softs, but only one set of hards. I don’t think anybody did 2 sets of each.


Sure James, sure… I’ve been banging on about the durability\degredation of the tyres and this being more important than KERS and DRS etc (although of course these do contribute) to the entertaining Sundays we are seeing, since the start of the season.

To answer my own question, from thinking about it more… 4-stopping means using all 3 three sets of the softs and then 2 lots of the hards… which I had made an oversight on (whoops!).


I voted for Nick Heidfeld after his superb drive through the pack from last place on the grid.

What I find odd is that Mark Webber was voted driver of the race, and had praise heaped on him, for his race from 18th through to 3rd in China. But Nick doesn’t get this appreciation even though his performance in Spain was “better”. By better I mean that the improvement between his starting and finishing positions was one better than Webber’s.

F1 commentators (by this I really mean Marti Brundle) and fans seen to have a weird myopia when it comes to Nick Heidfeld. Is this because he is a nice, self-effacing guy? Is it because he is another German driver? I really don’t understand it. I just hope he delivers a good performance this year and silences more critics.

David Hamilton

Agreed. I did laugh-out-loud at Martin Bundle’s comment on lap 23 that he’d have expected Heidfeld to have been “doing better by now”.

Heidfeld had only just finished a 21 lap stint on the hard tyres, when most around him were on the softs, and had got up to 17th despite that handicap. I can’t see how he could possibly have done better under the circumstances.

I realise that the commentators are trying to look every direction – track, TV and timing screens – but shouldn’t someone in the production team be keeping an eye on the big picture and making sure our ‘dynamic duo’ are properly informed?


Good to see the +ve comments on Koby’s race (basically he did a 2 stopper from his 1st lap puncture) but I wonder if Sauber actually underperformed this GP. The Saubers’ put in pretty decent fastest lap times. If they had qualified into Q3 I think they could have mixed it with Alonso, Schumi and Rosberg for 5th or sixth. So I think Koby should have had the race that Alonso had.

Alonso was mega in quali and off the line but he has to be seriously worried about the hard tyre pace of the Ferrari.

Vettel probably just takes driver honors; Schumi should be happy with his performance too.

David Hamilton

For the life of me I cannot understand why Schumacher is in your list, especially when excluding Kobayashi.

What did he actually do? He got a good start and then trundled round for 65 laps making sure he wasn’t overtaken. Which was helped by the fact that Rosberg was handicapped by a defective DRS and broken radio.

I suppose the big news was that it wasn’t a catastrophically bad race for him, unlike some that he’s had since his return.

I’ve been following F1 for long enough to remember how exciting Michael was when he burst onto the scene. That now seems a very long time ago…


It’s a shame that the McLaren/Brit bias needs to come up again!


Anybody else felt like the tv race director had a bad day at the office yesterday?

Great drives from Kobayashi and Nick heidfeld (who I voted for as driver of the day).

Lewis is absolutely on form at the moment, and looks like the only one who can stop seb (pending a big improvement).

I am looking forward to Monaco immensely. Especially as Pastor Maldonado is a bit of a specialist round there too. Will be interesting to see what happens on the retardation issue, as Williams are one of the quicker cars without that technology.


It definitely should be Vettel. The passes on Button and Massa were key to the race win. Managed Hamilton at the end as well. Lewis drove a great race too and kept Vettel on his toes. I’m beginning to think it’s a two horse race already.

Great start from Alonso probably one of the best starts in the last few years. Schumacher also had another amazing start gaining 4 places. He must have gained the most this year from his starts.

Webber is gone I’m afraid. Finally pipped Vettel to pole and blew it. He’s just not fast enough this season and it looks like he’s now a solid number 2. Hopefully he can turn it around but I dont see it.


I think it’s 50/50 between Hamilton and Vettel, both drove superbly and i didn’t notice any mistakes from either of them. Both managed the undercut really well to get them out in front albeit slightly differently, Vettel in clearing the traffic fast and aggressively and Hamilton for driving consistently fast whilst looking after his tyres well enough to pump out faster lap times at the end of his stints then the guys on fresh tyres. In the end though i feel the only way Hamilton was getting past Vettel on this circuit is if Vettel had made a mistake on the final corner, whilst there seemed to be plenty of overtaking for a change here it appeared to be down to the difference’s in tyre phases and i cant remember many overtakes by cars on comparable strategy’s and most of the position changes at the front occurred during the pit stops, but Vettel kept his cool under intense pressure and never made that mistake. he also gets a plus for managing the balance issues he must have got from his KERS cutting in and out, but so does Hamilton for pushing the downforce beast at the most downforce dependent track.

To tough to call this one!!


There is a lot of argument about who had the fastest car between Seb and Lewis. The answer is simple. They both did!

Lewis was faster in the low speed and that allowed him to catch Seb. But Seb was faster where it matteted, in the high speed. The only real place to overtake when there isn’t a tyre differential is turn one off the start finish straight. But the high speed corner onto the straight was Red Bull territory. Lewis didn’t have the downnforce to stay close enough.

On another circuit I’m sure Lewis would have had a better chance at a pass.

They both drove very well, no mistakes and pushing to the last corner. But it’s the circuit that played it’s part here. Let’s not forget that.


You could easily imagine a scenario where Vettel wins 12 or 14 races this year and never gets Driver of the Day. Sports fans love underdogs, and hate people who make it look easy. The good news is Vettel’s success is attenuating all the Hamilton hatred which was around in 08/09. Furthermore, people don’t actually hate Vettel, they just try to ignore him or minimize his results, so it’s a win win. Hopefully Vettel won’t mind if he never gets driver of the day and has to settle for measly old World Champion instead.


Spot on! I thought i was the only one that could see Hamilton’s arrogance?

Seems as though he doesn’t like Vettel spoiling the Alonso & Hamilton showdown. Maybe Prost vs Senna (as Hamilton labelled himself), will become Prost Vs Senna Vs Schumy showdown…


Looks like Hamilton will be the closest challenger this year.

He needs to continue picking up the points before this season turns into a one horse race.

Alex of Sydney

Vettel made 2 awesome passes after his pitstop on Massa and Button, if he didn’t he would have been 2nd. Qualified and spent the last part of the race without KERS, and defended brilliantly.

Hamilton’s top speed was 317kmh, Vettels 302kmh, despite better corner speed, that’s a huge advantage.

Typical trash talk by Hamilton, he can’t acknwledge that Vettel is on his way to becoming an awesome driver (maybe there already). His quote is implying that Vettel can’t drive and is only winning because of his car…

“Now I’m already looking forward to Monaco – it’s a circuit where high-speed downforce is less critical and where the driver can make a difference, so it should be a strong track for us.” Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton can’t acknowledge that Vettel is on his way to becoming the greatest driver of his era. Cant handle that Vettel will eclipse Hamilton in almost all stats very soon.

Hamilton Vettel

Races 76 67

Podiums 39 24

Pole Positions 17 19

Race Wins 15 14

+Youngest ever F1 Champion, Pole sitter, Race Winner etc (something that Hamilton can never get back).

David Hamilton

I don’t know where you get your numbers from. FIA race speed trap has Lewis at 320.8 km/h and Seb at 311.9.

That’s a difference of 8.9 km/h, not the 15 that you claim.

Also, bear in mind that those figures don’t reflect anything other than the maximum speed on the straight (Perez managed 330.1 km/h!)

Alex of Sydney

The FIA speed trap records the fastest time during the entire race, which as you quoted was 320kmh vs 311 for Vettel. I was referring to the last part of the race (without KERS), which clearly showed a massive top speed advantage to Hamilton 317kmh vs 302kmh for Vettel. Takes more than a 9 kmh difference in speed to close up that fast.

You cant compare Maclaren to a Sauber, atleast the Maclaren would be arguably the 2nd best downforce set behind Red Bull.

I think all would agree that it takes a top driver to handle the pressure and position drive perfectly for the last 15 laps, with a car less than a second behind hounding you on every lap.

David Hamilton

So Hamilton, with slipstream, KERS and DRS was quicker than Vettel down the straight? Nor really a surprise.

Nor is it a surprise that Hamilton couldn’t get past, given the Red Bull’s superior traction out of the last corner, and lower downforce that a following car has through that corner. That was my point in mentioning the Sauber: the top speed of the car tells you nothing about how quick the car is.

They’re both great drivers – and the passes by Vettel were very impressive, BTW – that’s what makes watching them race so fascinating. We’ll only ever really get to find out how they really compare if they ever drive the same car, which I doubt will happen.

Of course, the one F1 driver who has driven the same hardware as Vettel is Paul di Resta, who beat Vettel to the 2006 F3 Euroseries title. Now that he’s finally in F1, it’ll be interesting to see if that three-way fight you were talking about becomes a four-way fight…

Finally, can we cut the garbage about Hamilton being ‘arrogant’. Having met the guy (back when he was ‘only’ European Karting champion), that just doesn’t match my personal experience.


Although I don’t fully agree that Vettel is on the way to becoming the “best driver of his era”, I do think that you have made a good point.

Hamilton thought the F1 world revolved around himself…until Vettel came along. What a way to spoil the party. Man, can you imagine Hamilton in Webber’s seat next year?


LH will have to face it, when he moves to Red Bull and finds out in 2012!


Don’t think you need all the vitriol there!

Catalunya is a track where the car is the biggest factor, that is well known. It’s highspeed corners and direction changes mean you need a good car…

I think you’re seeing arrogance where there is none.


Bulls’ fast cornering speed can be considered as other cars’ KERS. Bulls + KERS should have win the race long before first pitstop. Vettel just made it perfect.

Without the superiority in qualifying, I’d vote for Vettel. Otherwise, mine goes to Hamilton.


Definitely,the driver of the day should go for Fernando Alonso,who drove a car 1.5s slower on options and 2.5s slower on primes.

He gave us a fantastic start.Just listen to the crowd!And he fended off Red Bulls for the entire two stints with a fairly slower car with his strong mind,which was unbelievable.

If they were Bridgestone tires,Fernando should have been the race winner.

So why wasn’t he the driver of the day?


Its interesting that 11% of the people voted for him but almost none have commented. I’d say thats the rusted on Alonso brigade. He could drive the car into a sandpit on the first corner and they’d demand he be given the trophy. Alonso drove well for 1:40 seconds all weekend. He qualifying lap and the start of the race. For the rest he was a rolling chicane.


Agree with Jeff.


I base my comments on the oft repeated adage that having your prey insight is in itself a motivating factor.

In todays world that is offset by the enhanced aero of the leading car but now we have DRS and the balance of power is once again changed

In todays case the RB advantage was diminished by the continuing KERS issues so the beating the McLaren which was the better car today so the sum of it all means that certainly today Vettel drove the Race if the Day!


All I can say is THANK HEAVENS for Lewis Hamilton! Without him, it really would be a snooze-fest at the front!!


Amen to that.


As a McLaren fan, I need to say how happy I am that the hard work from every single staff member of the team is showing results. The MP4-26 looked in great shape today! great, great job Jenson and Lewis.

Sebastian drove a brilliant race, mature driving at its best is how I can describe it. But even thou he did win the race, I don’t think he deserves the driver of the day award on top of Mr. Kobayashi.

My thoughts are with Kamui, superb driver that can’t stop impressing me. A real racer, a quite talented driver stuck in a middle team. Sadly as someone mentioned before, his chances of moving to a better team are going to be less now that my fellow countryman Sergio (Perez), has come to the championship with a huuuge sponsorship backing him up.

Sergio did a good job, better than expected perhaps. Nick (Heidfeld) did an amazing job, also coming from the back as Kamui, struggling to pass from last position to the points in a really complicated circuit.

Felipe is a great guy, but his time as a Ferrari driver (to me) has come to an end. I’ld love to see Kamui filling that place. Lets see if Alonso can handle that.

Matt Cheshire

How can Vettel be so low in this pole? I was hoping Hamilton would win it, but I can’t see how he can be judged by so many to have driven a better race than Vettel given the circumstances and the result.

Is this a real appraisal of the driver performances by fans or just a popularity contest?


It says a lot about the strength of a driver when people talk like it’s a sea change when he doesn’t get pole and only wins by half a second instead of 10 or 20.


Kobayashi was up there with vettel and hamilton.

its 50/50 between the top two.

i think kobayashi goes to redbull next season considering how vettel was questioned about being teamed with him.


For me it has to be Kobayashi. While Vettel’s excellent job on his pit outlap in clearing Button and Alonso very quickly was key to his victory, as was his strategic use of KERS and his tyres, I feel Kobayashi was more impressive overall.

Heidfeld had the “luxury” of coming through the pack from 24th from the standing start, but Kobayashi had to pit early while the pack zoomed off, foregoing a good set of the soft tyres and disrupting his strategy. To come back from that position to contend with Heidfeld for the majority of the race was an excellent performance.


For those who think Vettel won by virtue of the faster car – give us one argument why, in RACE trim, the McLaren with it’s KERS and double podium (inspire of being 4th and 10th on the opening lap) was inferior to the Red Bull.

I think it’s a case of lack of discernment over qualifying vs race trim, and historical conditioning (ie Red Bull was faster yesteryear, therefore it is probably faster today).

I believe even the normally astute Martin Brundle fell for something of this kind. I agreed with DC’s counter-analysis in parc ferme.


surely if it was driver of the weekend alonso would b right up there more because we now know how good his lap on saturday was tonight after seeing how bad the ferrari was this weekend. has to be there worst performance since turkey last year. and his start was best start since kimi at barcelona in 2006 and then did the most he could after that.


Not true i’m afraid. 1 lap with low fuel in q3 is one thing but race pace is completely different.

Read Alonso’s post race comments


how is it different when he was out performing his team mate by a second a lap and doing the most and probably more than that ferrari deserved. he can only do the maximum he can whatever the car is capable of which he did.


Hamilton earned his driver of the day. Ran 4th in the opening stages but he and McLaren maximised their opportunity brilliantly. Unlike Vettel, Lewis had a lot of work and calculations to work through to clear Webber and Alonso in the first place and clearly with a car that isn’t as good as the Red Bull (yes Vettel didn’t have KERS for some portions of the race but that was irrelevent) did wonders in set up work to make it quicker than Vettel’s team. That is why Lewis deserves driver of the day.


How Alonso held webber up so lewis breezed passed them in the pitstop phase not to all that said lewis was driver of the day, has it occured to all that lewis did not overtake anybody on track today!


Between Vettel and Hamilton it’s definitely Vettel for me. Why? Simply because Vettel finished in front of him. Yes, Hamilton drove brilliantly, so did Vettel.

Alonso? not a chance. Yes, he did have an awesome start.. but Schumacher also had an awesome start too. Unlike Alonso, he finished ahead of his starting grid.

Between Button and Heidfeld? This is a hard one… would be easier if you throw Kobayashi. Basically Kobayashi edging out Button a bit with Heidfeld as the third choice for driver who needed to cut through the field. Why? Because Kobayashi have a puncture and he still finished in 10th! not to mention that he basically drove only using 3 sets of tyres! Button edging out Heidfeld because he got more pressure compared to Heidfeld… he started 5th and ended up 10th on the first lap and finished in the podium.

So for me, ultimately it’s between Vettel, Schumacher, or Kobayashi. Since you don’t have Kobayashi in the pool, it’s between Schumacher and Vettel. In the end I would give it to Vettel. I would give it to Kobayashi if you have him in the pool. Of course I’m still not casting my vote hoping that you’ll put Kobayashi in there.

As for Perez, I don’t know. You seem to put him because it is his first point finish and the fact that he was ahead in quali and the race vs Kobayashi. The thing is, Kobayashi quali was hampered by a Force India and at the race he suffered a puncture that effectively dropped him dead last and Kobayashi still finished only 4.7 behind Perez. FYI, Kobayashi was around 14sec behind Perez after Perez made his 1st stop.


James, sorry to ask this within this article but I have a question re Red Bull and KERS.

More than once I’ve heard an explicit instruction not to push the KERS button when it’s failed, even though the charge is full. Common sense would suggest using the last burst even if they can’t recharge it – so why is it so important to the team that they don’t?


Rumour has it that Adrian Newey refused to make any concessions at all for KERS when designing the RB7. His view was very much “I’ll design the car the way I want, you can fit KERS around my work afterwards.”

As Newey designs are well known for being quite marginal on cooling anyway, I think it’s quite likely that the system is getting too hot and above a certain temperature, there’s a failsafe to stop that deactivates it. That would certainly tally with Vettel’s comment that he just kept on pushing the button and it either worked or it didn’t.


Red Bull’s KERS problems arise from cooling.

Red Bull have a smaller and less effcient battery unit than some other teams. Without going into too much of a physics lesson, the RB unit which is very compact, generates more heat than the larger KERS units seem to do.

A remedy would be to open up the bodywork in areas to provide air coling (on top of the liquid cooling)but newey has refused to do this because of the adverse effect it would have on the airflow over the bodywork.

I imagine the RB’s are constantly changing the charging rates/strengh throughout the race to avoid overheating. when the risk of overheating occurs they are told to turn the kers off and adjust the break bias.


My guess would be the batteries. LiPo cells get hot when charging and discharging. The quicker they discharge the hotter they become due to internal resistance. If they overheat, combustion will occur. Safer to let the battery cool down, and not use the charge.

Also would explain the intermittent on – off availability of the KERS if the battery temperature rises then drops.

Further, LiPo cells can become damaged due to heat and being charged or discharged past their operating voltages. Might further explain the fragility of the RB KERS.


It’s the charging discharging cycles that heat up the batteries and electronics in the KERS system. From the little I know of electronics (physicist) and what the announcers over here in the US were explaining that the system automatically shuts down if a critical temperature is reached and can’t be turned back on as a fail safe to keep the batteries from catching fire. I imagine as the announcers suggested that his engineers saw that critical temp approaching they were getting Vettel to not use the system to let it cool and keep it available near the end of the race to defend position.


I thought about this too and I think the battery heats up during recharge and I think they automatically recharge. So if it is discharged the battery could overheat when it recharges. I could be wrong though.


This use/not use Kers is rather curious.

Makes me wonder if their marginal on something like cooling or battery life and they just have to use it sparingly.


You are guessing that the problem is that they can’t charge. What if the problem is overheating of the battery packs or the motor controller?

If heat is the problem then discharging the KERS may overheat and permanently damage the component. Better to not discharge or charge and wait to see if the components cool off for later use than to burn them out.

Of course I don’t know the specifics of the failure either. Red Bull seem to be keeping that to themselves.


So when Hamilton wins he is driver of the day and when he is a close second he is driver of the day… When is Vettel allowed to be driver of the day?!

He drove his tail off today in a car lacking KERS


When he drives for Mclaren 🙂


Vettel for me. A very Schumacher-esque drive; well defended with a KERS-less car. His driving has matured this year, and whilst not visually exciting, very clean and very quick.

Aside from him, Kobayashi and Schumacher for solid points if lacking in overtaking. Schumacher seems to be evolving his tactics; stellar start….


Actually it wasn’t KERS-less. He indeed lost his KERS in the middle of the race, but towards the end of the race KERS was available again for Vettel.


Quite right; I meant to say a partially KERS-less car. Thanks for the correction 🙂


to me its becoming more and more clear that seb, lewis and fernando are the best out there by quite a margin at the minute. if kubica returns as good as he was before the injury for me he is as good as any of them. we truely are spoiled at the minute i think because the b list of drivers is good also


Vettel and Hamilton were the stars of the race,but Vettel narrowly edges it for me.

As somebody earlier posted it is easier to attack than defend.All it would of taken for a backmarker to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and Lewis would through quick as you like.

For a change this season Seb was in an actual no holds barred fight on track against a car that was atleast the equal of the Redbull in the race.

It’ll be great to see if Maclaren can sustain their progress and really give Redbull a run for their money.

P.s. I think James has given Perez a little too much credit for leading home Kobayashi.

Fair dues to Sergio he did race well,but Kamui caught traffic in quali and was unlucky to pick up a puncture that put him dead last and +20secs down on the next guy.


The back-markers didn’t actually do Hamilton any favours today and gave Vettel breathing space on a few laps.

I thought the Hispania was going to take him out.


You mean like when Trulli brake checked Vettel There at the end and Hamiltons gap went from 1sec to .3? Yeah backmarkers didn’t do much to help Hamilton today.

By the way James the backmarkers seems really fighty today, cutting off front runners several times, that just the nature of the track or are they just gettin fed up being lapped all the time? I remember Seb commenting about this once last year when he got into a tangle with a lapped Toro Rosso. There seemed to be a lot of backmarkers crowding front runners today.


Very true!


One more thing. Hamilton said by himself that McLaren was faster today:

“I was pleasantly surprised by how fast we were today. In race trim, I actually think we were quicker than the Red Bulls, except through the really high-speed stuff….”


Yes but with DRS advantage and KERS advantage for much of the race. And with Lewis.


KERS problem or not, the Red Bull is faster than the McLaren.

Seb did not use it during qualifying and was almost a second quicker than the McLaren(You could argue that Lewis would have been closer if not for his lock up), so quite clearly it was NOT a straight fight.

His driving got him in front of Alonso and Webber, and despite the team wasting his brand new set of options by using it in his first stop and bringing him out behind Alonso and Seb. They also brought him in too early on his 3rd stop when trying to mirror and cover off Seb.

The team also lost him precious tenths on 2 of his pits stops (almost a second added together). Despite all this, he harried Seb until the last corner, finishing just 6/10th shy of the Red Bull – and we know Seb was NOT taking it easy. In fact, you could see the relief on Seb’s face when they came in after the race and during the post race conference.

Lewis is the ONLY reason that Macca are remotely close to RBR on race pace, even though they keep letting him down on strategy and pit stops.

Funny to see DC almost choke when Martin suggested Lewis to be his driver of the day as he did not have the best car. Lewis wins this one hands down.


DC is so pro Redbull he can’t hide it ha ha..


So how did Button, with a frankly awful start, so easily beat Webber in a fully functional Red Bull? And why were Lewis and Jenson the people setting fastest laps in clean air? And why did Lewis home in on Vettels car which such ease? And why couldn’t Vettel pull away from him? And why couldn’t Webber catch Button in the last stint?

I’ll tell you the answer for free; The McLaren was the fastest ‘Race’ car today. Qualifying is different RBR still have a good 7/10’s there, but in race trim the McLaren was awesome. I think if JB hadn’t dropped to 11th on lap one (which cost him considerable time) then he’d have got reasonably close to Vettel too.


Erm…..Button ended up in front of Webber via his 3 stop strategy, not through his pace.

And regarding the fastest laps, they were both on fresher rubber than the Red Bulls at that stage of the race.

The Red Bulls were much faster in Sectors 3 and 9, which is what made them faster overall.

Even with DRS and KERS, Lewis could NOT overtake Vettel, so how on earth could his car have been faster????


Here, here!

Without Lewis, this championship would already be over – Monaco and Montreal are two of his best tracks (Montreal in particular) and he now needs to make inroads into Vettel’s lead.


Can’t believe Hamilton is getting 43% and Vettel is only getting 15% (a lot of McLaren fans here, I guess), should be 50-50 in my opinion. They both drove a great race.

There are signs that McLaren was a faster car today (we can’t be sure though) and Vettel had KERS issues again, so I voted for him. Plus he showed he can also win in a ‘chess’ race.

But still, great drive by Hamilton. Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso will entertain us this decade, at least first half…


A tough predicament for Sebastian


Judging a driver’s performance relative to other cars is difficult but with the Red Bull’s immense qualifying pace and staggering speed through the fast corners, it seems illogical to declare that McLaren were faster than Red Bull yesterday, despite Lewis being quicker than Seb at the end of race.

In my opinion, the word ‘package’ is used too often in modern F1 with the media and analysts unwilling to dig deeper. The McLaren in Lewis Hamilton’s hands was the faster ‘package’ at the end of the race and maybe I’m just a fan of polarised opinion but it would be nice to hear someone be as bold as to say:

‘Well actually, maybe the cars were even, or the Red Bull was a little faster but the driver made the difference – Lewis just drove the wheels off his car.’

Qualifying seems to flatter the Bulls and it’s clear that things are more even in race trim but it’s difficult to support the argument that the McLaren is as fast when there are 2 corners in Cataluña where the Red Bull is flat and the McLaren has to lift? That sounds like a different formula to me.

Mark Webber had a frustrating race, struggling to get passed Alonso and I think this flattered the McLarens somewhat. If Mark had some clear air, I don’t think Jenson would have secured third place, despite a very strong drive after an awful start.

History will note that Hamilton and Vettel were in a league of their own yesterday and I don’t think Hamilton really had the machinery to give Vettel the run that he did. He was the faster DRIVER, that’s my belief. And no disservice to Seb; he drove a fantastic race too, I just think Lewis out-performed his car.

In a sport driven by technology we shouldn’t forget that the cars are driven by highly talented individuals and it would be a shame to resign ourselves to the driver no longer being able to make the difference. Surely the World Drivers’ Championship hangs on this.

What are the views of the paddock insiders?

My opinion is that Hamilton and Alonso are faster than Vettel and in equal machinery would chip away at the aura that has grown around Sebastian. Seb is clearly an immense talent – which is underlined by his awesome performances in the wet – possibly the biggest endorsements of his of his skill.

But the Red Bull is faster than everything else at the moment by some margin, even more so than in 2010, so how can we judge his performance in relative terms?

It’s one of the peculiarities of F1 that sometimes winning is not enough. Vettel cannot help that he’s in the fastest car; he can only beat what’s put in front of him and he’s doing that with gusto. But the true mark of a great driver and what really endears them to fans and folk law, is winning in a car that doesn’t have a clear advantage.

Lewis has done this, as have Schumi and Fernando. Until Sebastian proves that he can go head-to-head with Hamilton and Alonso in equal (or even inferior) machinery and come up trumps, there will always be the tiniest of question marks over his achievements.

And how unfair is that? We’ll never know until it happens.


personally i dont think there is a arguement at all who is the best driver this year. seb has been perfect and he could not have done more. i think his pole lap in malaysia when its doubtful that the red bull was the faster car from the mclaren hasnt been given enough credit and his win on sunday was his best drive in f1 in my opinion even better than monza 2008. i also think that only alonso can really lay claim to having had a perfect season in f1 in the past few years. alonso’s driving in 05 and 06 was as good as it gets. if seb continues his year so far until the end of the year he will have matched him. as for lewis i dont ever think we will ever see a season where he doesnt make at least one or 2 just silly errors. for me his best season yet has been 2007 in terms of delivering over the season. 2008 2009 and 2010 all had races where he made very poor mistakes. i do think that lewis peak performances are totally out of this world but. turkey 2008 on the 3 stopper is a favourite of mine of his but i just dont think he will ever have the alonso like perfection at his best.


When did Lewis win in inferior machinery?


Without having to go too far back, one could argue China 2011.

The team made the right call on tyres, granted but what a drive! It’s worth adding that Sebastian was a sitting duck for the final pass, in case I get accused of favouritism.

Lewis has also gone head-to-head with Fernando Alonso in the same team and ended up all square, in his first F1 season.

Further more, he is almost unanimously regarded as the finest racer in the field.

For the record, I’m a huge Ferrari / Alonso fan, so for me to be singing Lewis’s praises I feel adds further integrity to my argument!


i think if seb won monaco this weekend from starting 2 laps down while fighting a lion he would still have critics. people just dont give him the credit he deserves. like what else do people want him to do.

StallionGP F1

Good point, I wonder what people would be saying if it was hamilton winning like Seb is!


That just isn’t true.

Although this sounds perverse, Seb is in an unlucky predicament. He is being hailed by many as the best in the world – or at least in that elite group with Alonso and Hamilton – and reasonably, is expected to justify his mantle. I think for many people, Sebastian hasn’t done that yet.

The problem is that Seb has been in the best car for this season and last, so it’s impossible to measure the level of his achievement. How hamstrung were Alonso and Hamilton in comparison to the Red Bull last year? We’ll never know for sure.

What we can say, is that the Red Bull has qualified on numerous occasions over the past 18 months, over 1 second ahead of the chasing pack, in both Mark and Sebastian’s hands. When was the last time any other car did that in dry conditions? I cannot remember and I’d hazard a guess that you’d have to go back to the mid-2000s to find an example.

In that context, the only one of Vettel’s wins that stands-up to real scrutiny as a justification for putting him up there with Lewis and Fernando is Monza 2008. A superb drive and a sensational win for sure.

However, if one were to play devil’s advocate… it was 3 years ago, with a topsy-turvy grid, wet weather and another perfect example of ‘run and hide’.

Of course I don’t wholly subscribe to that opinion but ‘run and hide’ is what this whole thing is about. That is the crux.

The critics will say that each of Sebastian’s wins over the last 2 years have involved being in the fastest car – usually by some margin – and a ‘run and hide’ victory. It’s so unfortunate for him because what else is he supposed to do? Anyone would do the same.

But Seb shows every sign of wanting to be compared to the sport’s greatest drivers and not just the current ones. Until he has the chance to scrap, wheel-to-wheel, with the best in the world and in what’s perceived as equal machinery, I don’t think the question mark will go away.


Spot on Matthew.

Couldn’t agree more with the analysis.

My opinions down to a tee.


Torro Rosso, Italian Grand Prix 2008: Vettel


Jep & Vic,

I mentioned Sebastian’s performances in the wet in my original post and said that they are the greatest endorsement of his skill.

Clearly Seb was out-performing his car at Monza in 2008 and I wouldn’t dispute that.

If I remember rightly Schumi won 3 races for Ferrari in 1996 with a car that was so bad it shot a piston on the parade lap in France.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not bashing Sebastian but for whatever reason (largely having the best car in 2009 / 2010) he’s never recreated Monza again.

I’d love to see him win a race in a car that wasn’t the fastest, having to overtake people for position on equal tyres. Then we can all really believe rather than speculate.


It’s a shame you weren’t around to see the Italian Grand Prix in 2008.



great post. Cant disagree with any of that.


Oh how I cheered when SV came out of the pits behind Button, Massa & two Merc’s I think. I thought now they will hold SV up allowing FA/LW to gain some time while he is stuck trying to overtake them.

But alas he past all four in one lap or so & took the win & that’s why I voted him Driver of the day.


Vettel edged it for me hold off me just for not cracking under the pressure against a comparable car on the hard tyres .

Also enjoyed when he came out behind alot of traffic and almost instantly scythed through, I know he was on fresh rubber but I others might not of gotten through so quickly.


Oh this is easy. My driver of the day was none other than the relentless Lewis Hamilton & this is why.

He’s the only driver this season & in this race in particular that has been able to challenge the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel for the lead & this time he finished just .6seconds shy.

Yes, Vettel had KERS (on & off) but we all know on the Spanish track, one can be stuck in fifth gear & still be able to hold on.

Also Hammy unlike Vettel & Co. was able to look after his tyres nicely & that’s why the quick times kept coming in

Besides, the-all-knowing Martin Brundle already said it Hamilton was his driver of the day so who are we to disagree.


I’ll second that!


Coulthard certainly questioned him. Is there any situation were Brundle doesn’t pick Hamilton?




Not my favourite driver, but I have voted for Sebastian Vettel.

He produced a superb race. He waited for his moment to take the lead and then he was able to defend from Hamilton, whose car seemed to work very well today. As long as I know, this is his first win on a race he was not leading on the first corner… would appreciate if someone could confirm/correct this point. If one day he is able not to wave his finger after winning a race, I will start to not only admire him but also to like him.

Especial mentions for Nick Heidfeld, for his impressive come back from last to 8th, and for Jenson Button, whose different strategy worked for this time.


Agreed! I voted for Seb too. I think the thing that really impressed me was that he went on an agressive strategy to get ahead but to make it work he had to overtake some pretty fast cars, he sliced through them in a manner that we haven’t seen in F1 often since 1994, was it 3 cars he overtook in one lap (and not backmarkers either). That was what won him the race.

Vettels defence from Hamilton was faultless and I think Buttons recovery drive showed that the McLaren was the class of the field in race trim today (11th to 3rd easily seeing off Webber), so for Vettel to win with KERS sometimes not working was all the more impressive. Any slight mistake in the higher speed corners and the McLarens superior top speed + best KERS on the grid + DRS would have seen Vettel passed with Turkey like ease.

I think this is quite possibly Vettels best ever win in F1, as he had to overtake on track and hold off a car which in race trim was without any question faster over 66 laps than the Red Bull, ergo he’s my Driver of the Day.

Notable mention to Koby, great drive too.


+1, now he added the frog dance to the finger


What about Kobayashi, who managed to score points despite picking up a puncture in the first lap?


Surely Kobayashi was it? Puncture in 1st lap, he dropped to 24th because of it, 20 seconds behind 23rd and finished 10th, a few seconds behind his teammate?

Magnificent drive. Why people like Massa, Webber or Heidfeld still get seats in fast cars while you have guys like this, is a mystery.


+1 for Kobayashi! I would love to see him next to Alonso or even Vettel next year (McLaren’s lineup is perfect). This guy needs to be given a drive where he can show what he can really do. He is consistently scoring points in a car that is maybe just outside the points on it’s own technical merit. I love watching him drive! Maybe even a Renault would suit him. Imagine him pushing a Renault up onto the podium occasionally!


Agreed. I’m surprised Kobayashi hasn’t got more attention for his drive yesterday given people aren’t usually reluctant to heap praise on him!

He drove a much more impressive race yesterday than in Turkey IMO (not that Turkey wasn’t a good drive). As has been pointed out, 20 seconds behind 23rd at the end of lap 1 and with a set of soft tyres lost to the puncture. There wasn’t so much overtaking in Spain either, top drive from him.

To finish in the points and only five seconds off his team-mate was extremely impressive.

Carlos E Del Valle

Kobayashi! 20 secs behind Narain on lap 1, and now usual charge through the field. This guy is a classic…


Why people like Massa, Webber or Heidfeld still get seats in fast cars while you have guys like this, is a mystery.

We shall see how long this situation lasts: I see Kobayashi having a bright future. I think a bit harsh to pick Heidfeld today, though, as he did drive an excellent race.


“Guys like this is a mysery” is a strong argument indeed!

I believe the teams are free to choose the drivers they want and Sauber picked up KOB because nobody else wanted him based on his fairly wild F1 debut in 2009 (like sending a compatriot, Nakajima, straight into the barriers in Brazil) or in hope of some cash from Japan. Maybe cultural difference are to blame – I can’t picture Kobayashi in an Italian or a British team; Mercedes will want only German line-up. It’s a case of wrong nationality in a predominantly Anglo-Saxon world of F1. KOB is perfectly suited to Sauber, I see no problem there. He’s fine where he is.

By ze vei, I voted for Quick Nick, he was super duper and people who ignore his drive today are blind.


Indeed I would have picked Kobayashi over Perez. A dreadful first lap and then ending in the points like that.

Oh Oh when will Red Bull realize that its better to replace Webber next season with Kobayashi…!


Red Bull seems to be Vettel’s team. Koba would be there a bit like Barichello in Ferrari or … Webber in RBR.


Erm…Heidfield started last, but finished 8th, 3 places in front of Petrov. even with his sets of unused tires, he really shouldn’t be on the list.

Victor Winarto

I also would like Kobayashi at better team (No offence for Sauber which is a good place if you are not sure/mature enough and it is one of the best driver training centre after Jordan is no longer exist and STR-Minardi is only for Red bull back-up drivers), probably Ferrari if he can manage above Perez who still can surprise us (plus within Mexican’s investment and its emerging market, Ferrari may pick him over Kobayashi who comes from place totally understandable good image for 80s and early 90s but not for today). Renault is another seat I wish for him with both Heidfeld (he better back to Sauber and we can appreciate his uncanny car performance again) and Petrov (he can move to another Renault powered team like Team Lotus and expected also William if Renault is allowed to supply onw more engine) are likely to depart if they can’t perform better than duo Mercedes. Kubica definitely stays, then Kobayashi will be my first choice. Red Bull can be good choice too, but not sure with Kobayashi’s and it will create jealousy for both STR drivers. Also his fighting spirit can make Haug and Brawn to rethink about Schumi decision (German-Japanese drivers for a German team, sound nice for me).


I think Koba would give Kubica run for his money. If Kubica ever gets back.


+1 Plus Kobayashi actually started on the soft tyres on that 1st lap before getting his puncture and only did 3 stops!


Excellent point, Period. May I second this?


Me too, Kobayashi then Vettel then Hamilton then Heidfeld


yes, 2 races in a row where has a puncture yet still gets points….in an average car

possibly driver of the year so far (outside the top 3 lewis/fernando/seb)


Me too: I would put Kobayashi second after Vettel, maybe even tie them for first.


Like i said in the other article, today for me its for vettel, in contrary with previous races where he had the best car in hands, today it wasn’t so. Lewis couldn’t got more of his car, but he didn’t made the pass because of superior driving from vettel while under pressure.

Lewis was able to do some of the fastest laps (less fuel with more laps elapsed of course but..) while his tyre already made a big part of their live, which once again makes me think that Maclaren is the more gentle on tyres of the front runners.


I cannot split Vettel & Hamilton in this race, though I would not say it was superior driving by Vettel that kept him ahead. It was more the RBR cars pace through the fast corners, especially the final corner before the straight allowing him to pull away just enough to prevent Hamilton closing the gap to pass before turn 1.

This takes nothing away from Vettel’s drive as he had to be virtually flawless through these turns for a good number of laps to maintain his lead.

Stunning drives by both Vettel & Hamilton and either make very worthy drivers of the day.


It is much easier to attack than defend, thus the driver of the day is Vettel.


Disagree. Webber in a Red Bull was a much better package than Alonso in that Ferrari. Even on old tyres Webber was lapping faster than ALonso after Alonso’s stop… hell Webber was even faster than the leaders at one point!

Yet Webber oculdn’t get past Alonso so it is harder to attack than defend


Plus to attack you have to be a bit faster than, to defend you only have to be about the same speed.

Given that Vettel could floor it and chuck in his KERS when he was working well before Hamilton could even touch his KERS button Vettel never really had to defend hard (out brake etc…) Just positioning incase


The way I see it, it’s much harder to attack to keep up the pressure lap after lap – all this while on the leading driver’s tail

The only drivers I have seen do this are Schumi & Alonso.

Look, on this Barcelona track, not too much skill is needed to defend, I mean… Where’s the other driver going to pass?

If you remember, Webber too couldn’t get past a very slow Alon-Slow!

It’s funny, when Hammy won in China, the fans overwhelming said Webber (from 18th) was the driver of the day

And now Hammy has a fighting second pushing the race winner all the way & guess what, Hammy still isn’t the driver of the day Lol.

Hamilton will have to do something extraordinarily like lap the entire grid twice (without KERS) before he ever gets that title, me thinks.


Mclaren are the team of the day.


did you look at the results of the vote


He got 42% of the votes today…


Could this be proportional to the number of UK fans visiting the site?

No doubt Hamilton was good today, as always really, but his KERS was working and he had the DRS available (small advantage there). Vettel was at a real disadvantage and held him off. Vettel doesn’t get pressured often as lately he tends to be way out in front so this was a real test and he came through.


Very true regarding Lewis – another phenomenal drive!


For Sure: I think Mclaren had the better race package today especially with the Red Bull KERS not working. Vettel did well to keep Hamilton behind him.

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