Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix treated us to one of the more exciting season-openers in the last few years as Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel proved themselves as real advocates for a strong championship fight.
But just how well did all the other drivers perform during the tense blast around the brilliant Albert Park? We break their performances down below, starting with Formula 1’s playboy.
Lewis Hamilton – 8/10
Poor old Lewis didn’t quite have everything go right for him during the Grand Prix. Although he drove with brilliant class and elegance as he usually does, it just wasn’t quite fast enough for a prancing horse. He would rank higher, but his negativity toward overtaking Max Verstappen, which arguably cost him the race, certainly tarnished my relatively positive view of him.
Valtteri Bottas – 9/10
In his first race for Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas proved beyond any doubt that he had the pace to challenge Hamilton. Although he held third for the majority of the race, he certainly caught Hamilton at an alarming rate in the second stint. As Martin Brundle pointed out, his fastest lap, set on Lap 56, points to a potential order to hold station against Hamilton – proving just how fast the Finn really is.
Sebastian Vettel – 10/10
I don’t think anyone can complain about Vettel’s performance today. He took the brilliant SF-70H and waited patiently behind Hamilton. Tops to Ferrari for running a stunning overcut which ultimately won them the race. But, Vettel continued throughout to pass traffic with patience and ease, leading to a stress-free and incredibly well-deserved victory. Driver of the Day was well deserved
Kimi Raikkonen – 7/10
We didn’t hear much of Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday, as he quietly brought his car home in P4. However, this P4 proved extremely useful as Ferrari have now taken the Constructors Championship lead. Although, Raikkonen didn’t have the pace to keep up with Bottas, despite Vettel proving he could match Hamilton. Vettel may have been quick this weekend, but Raikkonen didn’t look like he was in a race winning car at any point in the race.
Max Verstappen – 9.5/10
Red Bull and Verstappen have got an extremely high rating from this race because they were daring enough to try something new. He was the highest finisher who ran a Ultrasoft/Supersoft, strategy, a move which allowed him to close up on Kimi Raikkonen. In the end, Verstappen may have finished 5th, but did reaffirm Red Bull can hold onto Ferrari and Mercedes after a weekend filled with trouble and doubt.
Daniel Ricciardo – 6/10
Ricciardo didn’t do anything wrong on Sunday, but his uncharacteristic crash on Saturday continued to haunt his devastating race. The new gearbox failed on his way to the grid and thus the Aussie was out of contention early on. His day would see two more reliability problems and eventually a retirement, disappointing the home fans.
Sergio Perez – 7/10
Perez, like Raikkonen, drove a quiet race, coming home in 7th place. However, for the majority he was under pressure from the ever-closing Toro Rosso’s of Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat. But, he held his nerve superbly and came home in a well-deserved P7.
Esteban Ocon – 8.5/10
Ocon has scored highly for his fantastic move against one of the sports best drivers, Fernando Alonso. Whilst in the process of this, he had to deal with the ever-closing Nico Hulkenberg – it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a decent three-wide battle. He brought home his first Formula 1 points in P10, a race I’m sure he won’t ever forget.;
Felipe Massa – 9/10
Australia was a proving ground for Felipe Massa. His P6 finish is an effective statement of, ‘I’m not too old.’ His race was also quiet, as Verstappen in the Red Bull quickly pulled away from him in the opening laps. The positive for him is that he stayed on the lead lap, proving the new Williams has at least some decent pace.
Lance Stroll – 4/10
Money may have bought Lance Stroll a seat at Williams, but it didn’t buy him success. His weekend featured a crash on Saturday, a poor qualifying effort and eventual retirement from a race he looked out of his depth in. The pressure on him in China will be far more immense now.
Carlos Sainz – 7/10
The Toro Rosso boys didn’t get up to much during the Australian Grand Prix, with Carlos Sainz coming home in a convincing P8. He was entangled in a race-long battle with Perez, who jumped the Toro Rosso in the pit stops. Sainz said post-race he “lost rhythm” when he had to let the leaders through, costing him valuable time on Perez ahead.
Daniil Kvyat – 7/10
Kvyat finally looked like he was interested in Formula 1 this weekend. After what would’ve been the toughest year of his career, he’s started this one fresh with a comfortable P9. His rating may have been higher if he could catch and pass Sergio Perez in the closing stages of the race, but the Force India was just too superior.
Stoffel Vandoorne – 6/10
After an unplanned stop on Lap 9 to fix a frozen HUD, it was clear that Stoffel Vandoorne would spend the day at the back of the field. He did run off deep at Turn 3 once, a mistake that only cost him even more time. At least he made it to the finish, even if he was two laps down.
Fernando Alonso – 9/10
Had it not been for bodywork damage on Lap 50, Fernando Alonso may have scored points in the Australian Grand Prix. He drove like the World Champion he is, even commenting after the race it was a “little surprising” to be running in the points for the majority of his time on track. He had some memorable moments, especially defending against both Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg in the same corner. It takes some special car control to continue to fight against two superior cars when you’re three wide!
Nico Hulkenberg – 6/10
The Hulk seemed to be having a pretty good weekend up until Sunday. He qualified a brilliant P11 for Renault and then failed to capitalize in the race. He would go onto finish 11th, albeit with only Giovanazzi and Vandoorne behind. Things just didn’t come together for him today.
Jolyon Palmer – 4/10
It’s highly likely Palmer cried all the way back to Britain following the Grand Prix. After a crash on Friday, reliability struggles in qualifying and then a race which was over by Lap 15, not much could’ve gone worse for Palmer. His crash on Friday set the negative mood of one of his worst races in F1.
Romain Grosjean – 8/10
It’s been a while since we have heard a positive Grosjean in a competitive Haas. But his amazing pace from Saturday, which saw him qualify a stunning P6, only lasted 13 laps on Sunday. A blazing power unit stopped him from making any progress on the Williams of Massa ahead. He drove brilliantly all weekend and was let down by reliability once again.
Kevin Magnussen – 2/10
Magnussen struggled in Australia and had ruined his race, and Marcus Ericsson’s, by Turn 3. After all drivers negotiated Turn 1, Magnussen collided with Ericsson after taking to much speed (and kerb) into the tight corner of Turn 3. He found himself in the gravel with Ericsson spun around. Both drivers continued, but suspension failure (likely caused by the crash) would end Magnussen’s day on lap 46. After a poor qualifying, he ruined his own race in an overall poor weekend.
Marcus Ericsson – 7/10
It’s hard to really give Ericsson a rating. His race was ruined by the aforementioned collision with Magnussen. Unfortunately, on lap 21 Ericsson suffered a terminal hydraulic failure caused by the Turn 1 accident, ending his day prematurely.
Antonio Giovinazzi – 10/10
Antonio Giovinazzi only found out on Saturday morning he’d be driving a a Formula 1 car (of which he’s had limited experience with on a circuit he’s never driven before) the very next day. After just an hour of practice, the first Italian on the grid since Jarno Trulli completed his maiden race and finished in a respectable P12. Words can’t properly convey the exceptional performance he put in, but a 10/10 rating can.
Be sure to tell us in the comments whether or not you agree with our ratings!
By – Steven Walton