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Spanish Grand Prix – Who was your driver of the day?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  14 May 2012   |  1:38 am GMT  |  206 comments

Pastor Maldonado secured the first victory of his career at the Circuit de Catalunya and gave Williams their first victory in 132 races but there were a number of good performances all the way down the field. So who was your driver of the day?

Pastor Maldonado

Wasn’t really on the radar in the Friday practice sessions, however the team could see that the race pace was strong. Showed good pace in final practice on Saturday to lead many drivers to suggest Williams would be strong in the race. Kept a cool head to comfortably make it into Q3 and then produced the best lap of his career to provisionally hold pole before Lewis Hamilton usurped him at the end. Was promoted to pole position after Hamilton’s penalty. Tried to hold off Fernando Alonso at the start, but the Spaniard was able to get down the inside at Turn One. Kept his head, and looked after his tyres in the early part of his race before the team tried the undercut at the second round of stops. By pitting earlier, he managed to leapfrog Alonso. Was impressive as he looked after his tyres in the final stint after intense pressure from Alonso and held on to secure his first victory in F1. A popular win.

Fernando Alonso

Appeared in good spirits on arrival at the venue of his home race and gave the fans something to cheer about by topping the times in first practice. Easily made it into Q3 and held pole position until Maldonado and Hamilton bettered his time. Was promoted to second as a result of Hamilton’s penalty and made a great start to lead into Turn One for the second time in two years. Stopped two laps later than Maldonado at the second round of stops, a move which saw him lose time and the lead. Pressurised the Williams driver for the lead but lost ground in the closing stages before holding off a fasting finishing Kimi Raikkonen to finish second. As a result, he retook the joint championship lead alongside Sebastian Vettel on 61 points. Given the car he’s had to work with that’s some achievement.

Kimi Raikkonen

Arrived in Barcelona as one of the favourites for victory after a supreme performance in Bahrain to finish second. Showed strong race pace in Friday practice but struggled to find the right set-up and qualified fifth, which turned into fourth after Hamilton’s penalty. Passed his team-mate at the start but couldn’t keep up with Alonso or Maldonado during the first three stints. By making his final stop later than those in front, he had more life in his tyres and was able to reduce a 20-second gap to 0.6 seconds at the end however it was not enough to gain a position and he finished third for his second successive podium. The Finn is now 12 points behind joint championship leaders Alonso and Maldonado.

Kamui Kobayashi

Made it into Q3 in qualifying, but was forced to watch on the sidelines after stopping out on track with a fuel leak. Started ninth after Hamilton’s penalty and made a good start to run seventh early on. Looked after his tyres well but was baulked by traffic and struggled to make progress. As the race wore on, he put good moves on Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg to lift up into fifth – and equal the best finish of his career – but admitted after the race that a podium was possible.

Lewis Hamilton

Solid in practice but came into his own during qualifying. Eased through Q1, got everything right on his first run in Q2 so was able to save a set of tyres and then blitzed his final lap in Q3 to secure his third pole of the season. Described his lap as one of the best he’d ever driven. However, he ran low on fuel on his in-lap and was told by his team to stop on track which resulted him getting disqualified and sent to the back of the grid. Remained in good spirits and a good start saw him make five places up on the first lap. Showed he could look after his tyres by doing a 31 lap final stint, making a two-stop strategy work – everyone else did three – and finished eighth to score valuable championship points.

Nico Hulkenberg

Struggled for pace in qualifying and could only manage 14th, one place behind Force India team-mate Paul di Resta. Had a good start, but struggled to make much progress early on. A good, clean strategy from the team helped him rise up the field and into the points and then spent much of his race holding off the Red Bull of Mark Webber. Produced some great skills to keep the Australian behind and held on to score a point for tenth – his second points scoring result of the season.


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1

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2

can you tell me james?

3

my vote goes to vettel for making some great moves after getting drive through pealty and getting the nose change…..can anyone tell me that what was the issue with two red bulls nose which had to be changed????did it touched some part of road at turns???(saw tht in some pictures)….also tell me hats wrong with the red bull speed and whats the developments red bull doing ???

4

James, did Schumacher have a problem with his DRS in the race?

With the famed double DRS of the Mercedes, why did Michael fail to make the pass on Senna earlier on the straight? Senna was after all struggling on his tyres and I’m pretty sure did not have use of DRS on that lap.

5

I didn’t hear them say anything about DRS problem

6

Although I am a Ferrari fan and proud of it, it was a tough decision between Alonso and Maldonado!! The F2012 has not been what we were hoping for; but, Alonso takes it places we never dreamed! Maldonado’s totally unexpected win comes on the day of Frank Williams’ birthday and that’s a great thing! In the end, I went with Maldonado; but, by a verrry slim margin.

By the way, I find it interesting to read the comments regarding the “exceptionality” of Hamilton’s drive! Yes, it was a very good drive; but, as has already been expressed, he has one of the better cars on the grid, to fight with. Yes, he has shown maturity; but, it’s been a long time coming! What is very entertaining is the short-sightedness of his fans who seem to believe he is the only driver in the history of F1 who has overcome all the odds stacked against him!

In fact, I would venture to suggest that most of Hamilton’s fans were not nearly as complimentary of Schumi’s performance when he started in the pitlane and finished sixth, way back when. Then again, some his fans don’t realize that F1 had heroes before Hamilton came on the scene!

7

There was no one else but Pastor. Lewis drove the race i expected him to. I honestly expected to see a shaky error filled drive from Pastor and his control astonished me.

Having watched F1 religiously for the last 20 or so years I have to say i’ve never loved it more. I look forward to each race weekend still really having no idea who is going to make it work. These guys are all in the same boat now and it’s really highlighting how many talented drivers there are in the field this year. I really have no issues with the rubber going away, or the fact people can overtake each other, it’s creating fascinating battles across the field and giving the director a lot of options to keep us entertained. This was not a boring Spanish GP and I certainly don’t miss the years of the Schumacher Procession.

8

I love your site James Alien.

9

Thanks!

10
Lachlan Mackinnon

Great to see Lotus in the hunt after 5 races, however I can’t help but think they haven’t maximised on their opportunities with the machinery they currently have at their disposal. James (or anyone who can tell me), who at Lotus is ultimately responsible for strategy decisions?

Thanks!

11

It’s not just that. These decisions are finely balanced

12

Alonso. Not only for this race but for all the season until now.

I cant see any driver who would get so many points with such a car.

13

“I cant see any driver who would get so many points with such a car.”

How about his team mate, Massa? Oh wait….:D

14

Maldonado all the way, pretty simple decision, had a strong car and made the most of it, holding off Alonso for 20-odd laps when he could have buckled.

Alonso did well too, Raikkonen looks on great form and makes a mockery of the notion that drivers can’t leave the sport and come back after a couple of years away. Hamilton did a solid job with a genuine back-of-the-grid drive, not assisted by stacks of new tires like all the others we’ve seen.

15

James, Since Lewis Hamilton was essentially treated like he did not come on the track to qualify on saturday, was he given new tires to race with on sunday? Or did he have the double whammy of starting from the back with some sets of used tires?

16

He didn’t receive any new tires, he started from the back with the tires he qualified with.

17
James Clayton

Used tyres.

18

Pastor was fantastic but we need to see that happen more often. As such my vote goes to Alonso, that Ferrari is clearly difficult but Fernando continues to push it up higher in the points than it really deserves. This is a quite scary/impressive performance….. Massa is not that slow!!

19

Couldn’t split Lewis from Pastor .Kimi a close second. As for Schumacher running up the back of Senna which idiot here blamed Senna ?? Come on man wake up! MS had a cars width either side of Bruno even veering left then slowly back to centre. I see the tension building in MS and karma coming back to get him. He should retire permanently! At least get Kamui show him how it’s done- next best driver in Spain !

20

I agree with this completely. I was a big fan of MS’ return to F1, but to be honest, after nearly 2 1/2 years in the saddle, I am yet to be wowed.

I think that he is in full damage control mode, blaming Senna for MS running up the back of him! He knows that Rosberg has won Mercedes’ first race and that has put a ton of pressure on him. I’m sorry, but complaining about tyres is all smoke and mirrors to deflect his own shortcomings.

21

Yeah the silly thing is – he has outperformed Nico many times. It’s not like Fermando / Felipe . I actually think MS has done well all things considered. I just hate his attitude & what he has gotten away with in the sport its very very wrong. He is not getting h

22

Oops ! He is not getting his way anymore and it will bite him hard if he dont accept that. Even an underperforming Nico is ahead. I don’t get the lack of fight with Nico he can be outstanding some days and just gives in other times.(despite tyres)

23

I can understand your thoughts on MS, but remember there’s a ton of ‘marbles’ off the racing line, and taking that line would have just given back the position back 2 corners later in most likelyhood. I’m still divided on it, though, as I think it brings out an issue with the current rule that hasn’t till now surfaced at braking points at ends of long straights. But, then again, MS’s racecraft should know about the rule, the marbles, and be prepared for all the potential circumstances. I did feel Senna’s move was a tad late, but MS was going for the move regardless of the issues that restricted it.

24

Pastor – It has to be. Great from Lewis but it was a real wow moment when Pastor qualified and won the race under pressure from Fernando and we all know whether we like him or not he is a top top driver.

25

How long before we start hearing rumors of Pastor going to Ferrari? 😀

Btw, Kobayashi seems to have improved on his qualifying performances. What do you think James? Driver improvement or just a manifestation of the car’s improvement?

26

Hello James! Great to see the Williams Team back on the top step of the podium. Many years back, along with a friend of mine, I met Frank Williams once, just an hour or so after the USGP at Watkins Glen during the 1979 season. We had stopped off at a 7-Eleven store to pick up a few things and there was Frank picking up a few of the same items. My buddy and I both said hello, but Frank just went on chatting to us as if we were all old High School buddies or something…. He seemed to be a wonderful person. I’m really happy for him. Following the Chinese GP I wrote to your sight how I thought Lewis Hamilton was doing a superb job of adjusting his race-craft to suit the Pirellis. His drive yesterday was total vindication of that approach. Due to his pace and speed, with the right strategy, I think he would have blitzed the field if he had started from pole and made it to the first corner in the lead. Well James! What do you think of the next Monaco GP? I say, keep an eye on Maldonado a confirmed Monaco master from the lower formulae. If I’m not mistaken, I think he was running in sixth place, late in the race last year, when he and Hamilton had that coming together at St. Devote. Along with Lewis, who should be absolutely flying in controlled anger, at the thought of all those lost points so far this season–I’m looking for Lewis on pole and a supremely confident Maldonado somewhere on the first three rows. Can’t wait for qualifying!

27

Bruno Senna, for changing direction twice just before breaking early just as a much faster car with DRS open was about to pass him, then somehow convincing the stewards he was innocent.

What is it about the word SENNA that excuses poor driving etiquette?

On the side note, these tyres are making the season farcical. There is absolutly no way Williams jumped Red Bull, Mclaren, Merc and Ferrari. It’s like every race is a wet race, and that’s not what F1 is about. Let’s go back to fastest driver in a fastest car wins please. I’d rather be bored than switching off entirely.

28

Phil

I thought this year’s rules prohibit change of direction more than once when defending, and Senna was defending.

Schumacher thought Senna was defending the inside line, so he went to the racing line where there’s more grip and you can brake much later. When Senna moved back to the racing line the crash was inevitable.

If the stewards thought Senna’s two moves were ok, then it was a racing incident, Senna thought Schumacher was going to go on the inside so he moved to the racing line for grip, while Schumacher thought Senna was defending on the inside and went to the outside to overtake through better braking and grip (Senna was on used tyres and Schu on new). It would have been a simple misunderstanding between drivers.

The problem I had was the change of direction. If what he did was really ok then the rules haven’t really changed and I suppose that’s good for the sport, but it is confusing. Clarification is needed. But to penalise Schumacher for the next race? Why?

P.S. I tried replying to your post directly but for some reason I couldn’t click on it.

29

@ Wu: I don’t think I could agree with your comments less.

At the point of impact, Schumacher was already in the braking zone. He wasn’t going to get the move completed anyway. No, Senna shouldn’t have moved at all at that point, but Schumacher was wrong (as was Webber at Valencia a year or so back) in thinking that Senna was going to brake where Schumacher was going to.

I assume that the stewards looked at telemetry and ruled out Senna brake-testing Schumacher, therefore it was all on Schuey.

Also, I would much rather have these tyres than the non-degrading tyres of old, whereupon there was not much management required.

30

On the tyres, I think this season has been and is going to be even more exciting than 2011. I do like the unpredictability and the show that it is put together at every race.

Why would you prefer a early/mid – 2000’s procession-style race? I remember a friend telling me how he “watched” F1 in those days… He watched the start and the first couple of laps, then he took a nap and he woke to check online who won…

Thank God, gone are the days when drivers like Damon Hill won races and championships simply because he was sitting in the fastest car on the track. To win in 2012 a driver needs the perfect balance of speed, driving skills, mental skills, engine, aerodynamics and tyres.

31

I trust Patrick is enjoying his retirement..

Top marks for whomever put Frank’s current team of engineers together, and to Pastor for keeping his cool.

32

In a positive way, Maldonado. He showed maturity and he didn’t crack under pressure. A well-deserved win after winning the Q2 and nearly winning Q3 (we’ll never know if Hamilton’s fuel was as per the rules)…

In a negative way, Schumacher. Not only that he made a mistake but by calling Bruno Senna an idiot he is not giving a good example.

33
Gareth Taylor

Without a doubt in my mind: Maldonardo. This performance will raise a few eyebrows and no doubt help fuel a new rumour about him replacing Massa next season.

34

Lots of good drives to report from the list but it has to be Pastor Maldonado. Since the mid-1990s (and maybe before) I’m struggling to think of a win that’s been so out of the blue (I can think of candidates, but also of caveats). Barely two months ago Maldonado threw away a top finish at the Australian GP with a costly mistake on the last lap. Here he was imperious and showed grace under pressure in the closing stages. A great result for Williams too after a trying 2011 season.

35

James, what are your thoughts on Lotus? Both drivers are producing great drives, and the car seems to be the most consistently competitive of all the teams. However, the results from the last two races could have been even better. In my opinion they are missing some strategic talent during the races, which is costing them places. With other teams being so inconsistent, Lotus could be a dark horse for titles if they can get their strategies sorted.

36

The win isn’t far away now

37

Let’s be clear about what is meant by “driver of the day”. Is it about where a driver finishes the race or do we also have to consider how he got to that finishing position?

If it’s based simply on the outcome, it’s Maldonado.

If one looks at whole race, including all the challenges the drivers had to face, it’s Lewis Hamilton.

38

Totally agree, ‘driver of the day’ on this site often seems to revolve around novelty value. This year that means race winner (as there has been a different person in every race), last year it was race winner unless the race was won by Vettel.

I don’t see how Maldanado’s drive was anything particularly special, he got overtaken at the start and only got passed Alonso because of the pitstop phase. As I have already pointed out, the Williams was clearly very fast because the quality of Maldanado’s qualifying lap was pretty poor and he still managed second on the grid.

39

My vote for Maldonado was a no brainer! Some other good drives and I wonder how Hamilton might have got on with a 3 stop strategy but he presumably didn’t have the tyres after using more in qualifying.

40

Maldonado all the way. I always knew he had the speed to succeed in F1 (you don’t drive Monaco like he does without being good), but I was never convinced he had the mentality or temperament for it. He’s had a fair few incidents and lapses in concentration in the past, which made the maturity and composure he showed yesterday all the more impressive.

You have to wonder now just how far he can go. Not bad for a pay driver. Not bad at all.

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