Australian Grand Prix: Driver ratings

By on Monday, March 16, 2015
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

20 drivers went to Australia, 18 qualified, 15 started, 11 made it to the flag with only five of them on the lead lap. Here, takes a look at how each driver fared in Australia

44 | Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes | G: 1st | R: 1st | 10/10

Hamilton admitted that he was still chasing the set-up on his W06 Hybrid on Friday but he responded in emphatic fashion by romping to pole position before cruising to victory. Every time Nico Rosberg got closer, he just eked out a gap and kept his team-mate at bay.

6 | Nico Rosberg | Mercedes | G: 2nd| R: 2nd | 8/10

Rosberg was on top on Friday but an error on his first flying lap in Q3 put him on the back foot and while he recovered to second, there was some deficit to Hamilton. He followed the Briton in the race but he was never a serious threat to his rival.

3 | Daniel Ricciardo | Red Bull | G: 6th | R: 6th | 9/10

A year ago Ricciardo stunned on his way to second but this year a litany of Renault problems left him hobbled as he finished a lapped sixth. Ricciardo dragged what he could out of the recalcitrant RB11 but his pained face after the race hinted at what lies ahead.

26 | Daniil Kvyat | Red Bull | G: 12th| R: DNS | N/A

Kvyat’s Red Bull debut was utterly miserable as Renault glitches affected the RB11 all weekend, limited his running and left him way down the order. Then on his way to the grid the gearbox broke and he didn’t even get to join the action.

19 | Felipe Massa | Williams | G: 3rd | R: 4th | 8/10

Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing

Massa took advantage of errors from Ferrari’s duo in Q3 to line up in third place and he maintained his position during the first stint. But emerging from his stop behind Daniel Ricciardo cost him time and he duly slipped to fourth, unable to mount a challenge to the Ferrari driver.

77 | Valtteri Bottas | Williams | G: N/A | R: DNS | N/A

Bottas felt something go in his back during Q2 and a couple of scruffy efforts in Q3 suggested that all was not right. He was checked out in hospital and diagnosed with a very small tear in the annular part of a disc in his lower back. He wanted to race but the doctors ordered him to rest.

5 | Sebastian Vettel | Ferrari | G: 4th | R: 3rd | 8/10

Vettel’s 2014 woes seem all but a distant memory as he switched to Ferrari with aplomb and finished on the podium on his debut. There was a slice of luck in the result, but in speaking Italian on the rostrum he no doubt endeared himself to the loyal Tifosi.

7 | Kimi Räikkönen | Ferrari | G: 5th | R: Ret | 7/10

Räikkönen was often cast adrift in 2014 but it’s already clear that he can work with the SF15-T, which is good news for his legion of fans. In the race he was unfortunate as contact at the first corner from Carlos Sainz Jr gave him damage, while his left rear wheel was not attached at his second stop due to damage from a cross-threaded wheel nut. That last problem was game over.

20 | Kevin Magnussen | McLaren | G: 17th | R: DNS | N/A

McLaren Honda

McLaren Honda

Magnussen’s crash in second practice hardly helped his predicament but considering the pace and reliability of the car this was an ordeal more than an audition. He was set for a race marooned at the back of the pack but the engine expired before he could even get going.

22 | Jenson Button | McLaren | G: 16th| R: 11th | 9/10

There was a sense of gallows humour about the entire McLaren predicament but the Briton performed outstandingly in trying circumstances. He fought tooth and nail against Sergio Pérez despite having limited knowledge of the car and experience on heavy fuel, tyre wear etc.

27 | Nico Hülkenberg | Force India | G: 13th | R: 7th | 8/10

Force India only debuted its 2015 car at the final pre-season test and during Friday practice TV onboards showed the car to be a bit of a handful. Nonetheless, Hülkenberg performed with his usual strong pace without being noticed by anyone – seventh was a just reward for his efforts.

11 | Sergio Pérez | Force India | G: 14th | R: 10th | 4/10

Pérez lost out at the start and stewards deemed that he passed Marcus Ericsson behind the safety car – and had to cede not only that position but drop behind Button. He took an eternity to pass his former team-mate and that ruined his race; it was hardly an encouraging sign for the team.

33 | Max Verstappen | Toro Rosso | G: 11th| R: Ret | 8/10

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Verstappen belied his critics as he looked at ease in Formula 1 from the outset, stunning in Q1 before a mistake dropped him out in Q2. He started on the Prime tyres and his pace was encouraging, but an engine failure shortly after his pit stop denied him a chance of a charge on the Options.

55 | Carlos Sainz Jr| Toro Rosso | G: 7th | R: 9th | 8/10

Sainz delivered a consummate performance on his Formula 1 debut despite a couple of issues. The first was a software glitch which cost him pace at the restart while the second was more vital as he lost 32 seconds at his pit stop. He salvaged ninth, but it could easily have been seventh.

8 | Romain Grosjean | Lotus | G: 8th | R: Ret | 7/10

Grosjean had a couple of grassy moments in practice but it was a welcome return to Q3 on Saturday, with the Lotus clearly a step up on 2014. But a switch from Renault to Mercedes still resulted in problems as his car developed an engine problem on the formation lap and he retired soon after.

13 | Pastor Maldonado | Lotus | G: 9th | R: Ret | 6/10

When a car went spinning into the barriers at Turn 2 it was almost inevitable that it would be Maldonado, such is his parodic reputation. However, this was simply a racing incident and Maldonado was unfortunate that he was the one pinged into the wall.

9 | Marcus Ericsson | Sauber | G: 15th| R: 8th | 6/10

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber F1 Team

This wasn’t necessarily a sub-par performance from Ericsson but considering the job Felipe Nasr did, he was made to look ordinary by his new team-mate. He was off the pace in qualifying and a trip through the gravel in the race cost him time. Nonetheless, his reward for finishing was his first ever points in the sport.

12 | Felipe Nasr | Sauber | G: 10th | R: 5th | 10/10

Nasr was often wayward in GP2 but this weekend in Australia he was outstanding. Despite missing the first practice session he looked at ease in the vastly improved Sauber and after rocketing off the line he maintained his position throughout the race.

*Neither Will Stevens nor Roberto Merhi qualified for the race

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