Belgian GP: Driver Ratings

By on Monday, August 25, 2014
Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

We rate the drivers for their performance at a scintillating, and controversial, Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps

1 | Sebastian Vettel | Red Bull-Renault | Q: 3rd | R: 5th | 7/10

Vettel’s underwhelming title defence took another turn for the worse in practice when a burnt exhaust led to him sitting out the second session as a precaution. Nonetheless, he excelled in wet conditions to line up a fine third on the grid. He challenged Hamilton for the lead of the race at the start but went off and from there he never had the pace of Ricciardo. Fifth was a poor reward for what the weekend promised.

3 | Daniel Ricciardo | Red Bull-Renault | Q: 5th | R: 1st | 10/10

Ricciardo naturally expected Red Bull to struggle and that appeared to be the case throughout practice, with the Australian hampered by a brake issue. Fifth on the grid was a good effort, although he was caught out at Blanchimont. But in the race he drove with gusto and sliced into the lead, which he maintained. Once again Mercedes slipped up and once again he was there to pick up the pieces.

44 | Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes | Q: 2nd | R: Ret | 6/10

Hamilton’s qualifying travails continued as a glazed brake cost him performance and he had to settle for second, behind Rosberg. He took the lead at the start but Rosberg’s misjudgement gave him a puncture and meant he had to go almost a whole lap at a slow pace. He lost ’40 to 50’ points of downforce, meaning that even if there was a Safety Car, he’d have had no chance of points.

6 | Nico Rosberg | Mercedes | Q: 1st | R: 2nd | 6/10

Rosberg claimed his fourth successive pole position of the current campaign after edging out Hamilton in qualifying. He made a poor start but profited from Vettel’s error and had a go at Hamilton. He messed up, but he got lucky. Debris got caught in his antenna but it had little effect as he drove on to second place. Sometimes champions get lucky…

14 | Fernando Alonso | Ferrari | Q: 4th | R: 7th | 8/10

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Alonso was one of few drivers capable of taking it to the Mercedes drivers across the weekend and fourth place in qualifying merited a fine effort. But his race was compromised by his five second penalty due to his mechanics still tending to the car at the 15 second mark. That dropped him into traffic, while Kevin Magnussen’s tactics and hitting Vettel dropped him to eighth.

7 | Kimi Räikkönen | Ferrari | Q: 8th | R: 4th | 9/10

Räikkönen was closer to the front than previously in 2014 although eighth place in qualifying was lower than he might have been. But in the race he gradually claimed positions and an early stop enabled him to emerge as Ricciardo’s closest challenger. This slightly offset him and ultimately he was beaten by faster cars; fourth a very good result in a difficult car.

8 | Romain Grosjean | Lotus-Renault | Q: 15th | R: Ret | 5/10

Grosjean was a driver who aimed to profit from wet qualifying conditions but he looked uncomfortable under braking and spun at La Source. At the start he his Bianchi and then collected debris which ruined what little performance the car had in the first place.

13 | Pastor Maldonado | Lotus-Renault | Q: 17th | R: Ret | 3/10

Maldonado was able to save a slide through Eau Rouge yet exiting no-name corner presented itself with a sterner challenge, oddly. Spin at Bus Stop compromised his qualifying effort. His race lasted only a lap due to XXX. A thoroughly miserable weekend.

22 | Jenson Button | McLaren-Mercedes | Q: 10th | R: 6th | 7/10

McLaren Mercedes

McLaren Mercedes

Button played what he called the ‘long game’ as he extended the life of his tyres and reaped the rewards towards the end of the race. Unfortunately he was edged out by McLaren team-mate Kevin Magnussen and as a result lost a position to Vettel. Nonetheless, sixth was a fine effort.

20 | Kevin Magnussen | McLaren-Mercedes | Q: 7th | R: 12th | 6/10

Magnussen put on one of his best showings of the season at Spa but his defensive driving against Alonso left a lot to be desired. No-one wants easy passes, but equally Magnussen moved twice (on more than one occasion) and then put the Spaniard onto the grass. He was also given two penalty points for his actions.

27 | Nico Hülkenberg | Force India-Mercedes | Q: 18th | R: 10th | 5/10

Hülkenberg struggled for confidence under braking in wet conditions and as a result condemned himself to one of the worst qualifying results of his career. It pretty much scuppered his weekend as while he had pace, he became stuck in the train of DRS-ed cars and this hurt his tyre wear.

11 | Sergio Pérez | Force India-Mercedes | Q: 13th| R: 8th | 7/10

While chaos reigned around him, Pérez managed to stay out of the scraps and have quite an easy drive to ninth position. It wasn’t the most standout performance of his career, but after a couple of below-par races it was a welcome return to form.

99 | Adrian Sutil | Sauber-Ferrari | Q: 14th| R: 14th | 6/10

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber F1 Team

Sutil was typically feisty as he dragged his Sauber into Q2, although further progression was impossible. He raced in his typical position in the race but ironically it was Massa’s Williams which ruined his race; the Williams was slow around the corners but so quick on the straights that Sutil was stuck.

21 | Esteban Gutiérrez | Sauber-Ferrari | Q: 20th | R: 15th | 6/10

Gutiérrez lost a heap of running in practice through dint of having to give up FP1 to Giedo van der Garde and consequently having his car exit stage left at Blanchimont in FP2. The car gave up again in Q1, rendering Gutiérrez to a lowly grid slot. From 20th he ultimately had no chance of points, although pace on Primes really hurt him.

25 | Jean-Éric Vergne | Toro Rosso-Renault | Q: 12th | R: 11th | 5/10

Vergne was rapid in Q1 but he remained in the garage for the first half of Q2 due to an exhaust issue and as a result was unable to finish higher than 12th. He slipped back at the start and from there he was helpless to progress due to straight line speed. Being stuck in traffic exacerbated tyre wear. A frustrating afternoon.

26 | Daniil Kvyat | Toro Rosso-Renault | Q: 11th | R: 9th | 7/10

Kvyat had one of the more peculiar moments of the weekend when he gesticulated furiously after being knocked out in Q2 and spun (both hands on the wheel, Daniil). But in the race he performed well and managed to hold off Hülkenberg during the closing stages, despite the Force India driver being on fresh Options.

19 | Felipe Massa | Williams-Mercedes | Q: 9th | R: 13th | 6/10

Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing

Massa expected to be higher up the grid although a combination of wet weather and traffic in Q3 rendered him to the lower reaches of the top 10. Unfortunately for him in the race he ran over debris, thought to come from Hamilton’s car, and that ruined his performance. Without that, fourth was possible.

77 | Valtteri Bottas | Williams-Mercedes | Q: 6th| R: 3rd | 9/10

Wet weather in qualifying meant that sixth was the best Bottas could do but from there he was one of the few frontrunners to stay out of trouble and he drove with aplomb, albeit after a poor start. Pass on Vettel around the outside of Les Combes; pass on Räikkönen felt like a changing of the guard.

17 | Jules Bianchi | Marussia-Ferrari | Q: 16th | R: Ret | 7/10

Give a talented driver a sniff of an opportunity and he’ll take it, as Bianchi did during wet conditions in Q1. But at the start he was clipped by Grosjean and that scuppered any hopes he had of a good result. From there he drove admirably but the damage was done. Gearbox woes ended his day early.

4 | Max Chilton | Marussia-Ferrari | Q: 19th | R: 16th | 5/10

After a peculiar Thursday in which Chilton ‘voluntarily’ stepped aside for Alexander Rossi, he voluntarily stepped back into the Marussia after first practice. He tried to get into Q2 but lost out on a final run due to a power problem, while in the race he passed Marcus Ericsson at the end to claim 16th.

45 | Andre Lotterer | Caterham-Renault | Q: 21st| R: Ret | 7/10

Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team

One of the most surprising driver moves in recent years, this. He fared well in qualifying, considering that he had little experience of the car in such conditions. Unfortunately his race came to an end after just two laps due to a sudden loss of power. It was nonetheless a fine debut weekend in difficult circumstances.

9 | Marcus Ericsson | Caterham-Renault | Q: 22nd| R: 17th | 5/10

Ericsson has not endured the best of seasons but even by his standards, the deficit to the capable but F1 inexperienced Lotterer was inexplicable. He fought Chilton across the duration of the race and while he passed him early on, he ultimately lost out to him by just over half a second.

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