Spanish GP driver ratings

Lewis Hamilton had declared he wanted to deliver the “ultimate performance” this weekend and the reigning world champion did just that as he returned to his dominant best in Barcelona.

His advantage may only have been four hundredths of a second in qualifying, but nobody could get close to Hamilton come race day as he streaked away by nearly a second a lap early on and finally claimed victory by over 20 seconds.

The Briton admitted victory had silenced doubts that were beginning to creep into his mind over whether he had lost speed to his rivals and labelled it a “rejuvenating experience”. And there still appears to be more in his locker as he conceded he was still not totally comfortable in the W09 and had more areas in which he could improve.

The question now is whether Hamilton and Mercedes’ resurgence is here to stay or whether it was circuit-specific.
Rating out of ten: 9.5

How Valtteri Bottas must be ruing that four-hundredths-of-a-second difference to Hamilton in qualifying. The importance of pole can never be underestimated in Spain, as Bottas saw when he was then beaten off the line by Vettel.

Perhaps fortunate that Ferrari opted for a two-stop, Bottas never seemed to have the pace displayed by Hamilton and is still waiting for his first F1 2018 victory. But his consistency, especially on worn tyres at the end of the race, will be much-appreciated by Mercedes as they sealed their first 1-2 of the season.
Rating out of ten: 8

Given the incident-filled start to the season he had endured, Max Verstappen arrived in Barcelona with more than a little pressure on his shoulders. So no wonder he described his first podium finish of the year as a “nice turning point” after delivering a result slightly above fair expectations given Red Bull’s third-row starting positions.

The Dutchman had to rely on a little good fortune to climb the rostrum – namely Sebastian Vettel’s long second pit stop and then not sustaining more severe wing damage after tagging Lance Stroll – but it was a much-needed measured and consistent performance from the faster Red Bull driver over the weekend. Now onto Monaco, where a similarly controlled weekend could deliver even more substantial rewards.
Rating out of ten: 8.5

This must be starting to feel a little familiar for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari. Last season’s once-promising title challenge was ultimately derailed by incidents and errors and things have started to go a little awry again in the three races since the German’s back-to-back wins at the start of this campaign. A 17-point championship deficit is not yet a major concern, but the numbers have not been going the right way for Vettel since Bahrain.

Aside from marginally overshooting his pit at his second stop, which probably cost him third place to Verstappen, Vettel himself did little wrong at Barcelona with questions instead placed both internally and externally about the SF71-H’s sudden loss of pace. “Today was a not good day and it’s important we understand why,” said Vettel post-race in a blunt assessment that pulled no punches.

Monaco should be better but it’s suddenly an event that takes on must-win proportions for Ferrari’s number one.
Rating out of ten: 7.5

A frustrating afternoon for Daniel Ricciardo. He clearly had the pace for more than fifth – pumping in fastest lap after fastest lap at the end of the race – but also never truly looked like challenging cars ahead of him.

A spin after the post-Virtual Safety Car race restart cost him the chance of joining the Verstappen-Vettel battle for third and the Australian must now dust himself off for a Monaco track he, and Red Bull, tend to embrace.
Rating out of ten: 6.5

Kevin Magnussen had probably the loneliest race of his career but it was another supreme weekend from the Dane in F1 2018, his needless block on Charles Leclerc in practice aside.

With team-mate Grosjean making mistake after mistake, Haas have been reliant on Magnussen to bring home the points they feel their car deserves and his eight points here lifted them two places to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship.

A fine Q3 lap ensured he took the ‘best of the rest’ tag on Saturday with P7 ahead of Fernando Alonso and then he kept his head down on Sunday to seal P6 after Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement.

But Magnussen could now do with a weekend without a visit to the stewards in Monaco. His ‘potentially dangerous and unnecessary’ swipe across Leclerc on the straight in first practice earned him a reprimand, fresh off the back of his 10-second penalty for his clash with Pierre Gasly in Baku.
Rating out of ten: 9

Two impressive races in a row for Carlos Sainz and the Renault driver is beginning to again show the maturity and consistency that makes Red Bull value him so highly. Sainz couldn’t have finished much higher than seventh here but, perhaps more importantly, he’s finally got the qualifying monkey off his back after out-pacing team-mate Nico Hulkenberg for the first time on a Saturday this season.
Rating out of ten: 8

Five races, five points finishes for Fernando Alonso and it was another fine drive from the Spaniard to recover a top-10 finish he thought would be “impossible” after the third corner.

Alonso had been planning to make up ground on the opening lap as the only driver starting on the supersofts, but he instead found himself slipping back as he had to avoid hitting a Red Bull and Carlos Sainz’s Renault and then found himself taking evasive action to avoid the spinning Romain Grosjean.

But he pulled off the overtake of the afternoon with a sweeping move past Esteban Ocon around the outside of Turn Three on the Safety Car restart before catching Charles Leclerc sleeping on the Virtual Safety Car resumption to snatch eighth place.

The upgraded McLaren certainly appears more competitive and with Alonso in this form and engine power less crucial in Monaco, who knows where he can drag the MCL33 to around the twisty street circuit next time out.
Rating out of ten: 8

Barcelona was no Baku for Force India, so there appeared to be a sense of relief from Sergio Perez after the race that he and the team managed to come away with something from the weekend – even if it was only two points.

But, after tyre-warm up issues exacerbated the VJM11’s issues on his car in qualifying and left him only 15th on the grid, ninth place was a commendable fightback, particularly given Perez had to pick his way through the Grosjean-triggered chaos on the first lap and then suffered damage late on after running over debris from Max Verstappen’s broken front wing.
Rating out of ten: 7

Charles Leclerc is really beginning to show his class at the highest level as he followed up his Azerbaijan performance with another superb display in Barcelona.

The Ferrari protégé was a massive eight tenths quicker than Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson in qualifying as he reached Q2 again and then lined up ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India.

Sunday saw him engaged in an engrossing duel with Fernando Alonso and Leclerc showed some great defensive skills to keep the two-time world champion behind for several laps before Alonso finally prevailed. The 20-year-old can head to his home grand prix full of confidence.
Rating out of ten: 9

“Eleventh is pretty much everything we could hope for today,” said Lance Stroll. And with six cars retiring, that tells you all you need to know about the performance of this Williams. He endured a sloppy weekend but this was actually a good race from Stroll, who enjoyed another storming start and was up to 12th after the first lap.

He couldn’t quite challenge the Sauber for a point – another sign of Williams’ struggles – while he was also at fault for Verstappen’s wing damage.
Rating out of ten: 7

When you crash as heavily as Brendon Hartley did in final practice on Saturday morning, the remainder of your weekend is always going to be an uphill struggle. Missing qualifying as a result of the Turn Nine shunt condemned the Toro Rosso driver to a back-row start and, with the Honda-powered team not enjoying their most competitive weekend in any case, race day was largely about reaching one goal – the chequered flag.

So credit to Hartley for making progress up the field and doing just that, with 12th place his reward after a pass on Marcus Ericsson. Despite scoring his first career point in Baku, the last two race weekends haven’t been the kindest to the Kiwi and he’ll want to nip initial speculation about his Toro Rosso future in the bud with a strong performance on the streets of Monte Carlo next time out.
Rating out of ten: 6

It has taken a little longer than a lot of people expected, but Charles Leclerc is currently in the ascendancy at Sauber after a shaky start to his F1 career, which leaves Marcus Ericsson with work to do to get back ahead of his young team-mate.

A relatively poor qualifying cost the Swede a shot at points this time, although a long opening race stint on the medium tyres briefly brought him into the top 10, where he battled entertainingly with Carlos Sainz. The final stint was tougher, however, with his car not as happy on the softs and he was beaten by Hartley to 12th.
Rating out of ten: 5.5

Another race to forget for Sergey Sirotkin. But can we really be too harsh on the Russian, in his first F1 season remember, when the Williams package is this poor? His unopposed spin onto the gravel while travelling slowly was a tell-tale sign of a car with poor handling, and Sirotkin is still no closer to securing his first point.
Rating out of ten: 5

Did not finish…

Arguably the first weekend in 2018 that Kimi Raikkonen has been thoroughly outperformed by team-mate Sebastian Vettel, and the Finn will be praying Ferrari can save his two engines which failed in Barcelona or grid penalties could soon be on the horizon.
Rating out of ten: 6

Is the pressure starting to mount on Stoffel Vandoorne? McLaren rate him highly, but he is now the only driver who has yet to out-qualify their team-mate this season. Of course, beating Alonso is no mean feat but, as Martin Brundle put it: “If Stoffel wants to keep that drive for next year, he needs to be an awful lot closer to Fernando. There’s nowhere to hide at this level.” Vandoorne won’t have enjoyed the race, eventually suffering McLaren’s first DNF of the season with a loss of drive.
Rating out of ten: 5

Esteban Ocon’s tough start to 2018 goes on as the Frenchman suffered back-to-back DNFs for the first time in his career.

Things had looked promising as, after out-qualifying team-mate Sergio Perez by four tenths of a second, he made up three places on the opening lap and was then involved in a thrilling duel with Fernando Alonso.

But a disastrous pit-stop sent him to the back of the field before an engine issue curtailed his race on lap 31. With just one point to his name this season, the 21-year-old will be hoping his luck changes in Monte Carlo.
Rating out of ten: 7

This certainly isn’t 2012 again, but Romain Grosjean is currently experiencing one of the tougher periods of his career. The results are just not happening for the Frenchman at the moment in the way they are for the impressive Kevin Magnussen in the other Haas, with the on-form Dane leading this particular team-mate duel by 19 points to none after five rounds.

Ironically, it was the dirty air from his team-mate’s car that unsettled Grosjean into Turn Three and sent him spinning in a cloud of smoke, with the stewards saying the Frenchman could have avoided coming back onto the circuit and collecting the helpless Hulkenberg and Gasly. A three-place grid penalty followed…for Monaco, of all places.
Rating out of ten: 5

A weekend in which nothing went Nico Hulkenberg’s way as a fuel pressure problem severely compromised his qualifying – the German suffering his first Q1 exit since the 2015 Spanish GP – before his race ended at the third corner as he blindly hit Romain Grosjean’s spinning Haas.
Rating out of ten: N/A

There are few worse sinking feelings in motorsport than the sight of a spinning car coming hurtling your way, particularly on the opening corners of a grand prix when clear space is at a premium. For Pierre Gasly, like Hulkenberg, the contact with Grosjean’s car was immediate, hard and unavoidable and scuppered what should have been an opportunity to pinch a point or few from 12th on the grid.
Rating out of ten: 6

See the final word on all the Spanish GP action and latest F1 talking points on the next edition of the F1 Report! Make a date with Sky Sports F1 on Wednesday at 8.30pm when the guests are former Ferrari and McLaren engineer Pat Fry and technical analyst Craig Scarborough Get Sky Sports F1.

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