Sebastian Vettel | Red Bull Racing | 4th | 8/10
It was a bit of a scrappy weekend for the German but he still emerged with a healthy handful of points and the championship lead, albeit reduced. A mistake in qualifying left him ninth, rather than eighth, on the grid and early on he lost ground to Nico Hulkenberg, who was also on the prime tyre. He managed his race well but a mistake when hunting down Lewis Hamilton probably cost him third place.
Mark Webber | Red Bull Racing | Ret | 4/10
A pit lane start, a collision, retirement and a penalty to be taken into the next race and all on the back of the ‘Multi 21’ saga. It’s fair to say that Mark Webber’s weekend in China was a disaster. The qualifying error was not his fault, but running into the side of Jean-Eric Vergne was a misjudgement that scuppered his hopes of pulling off an alternative strategy.
Fernando Alonso | Ferrari | 1st | 9/10
When you consider Fernando Alonso’s form in the 2012 season, it’s difficult to believe that Alonso’s win ends Ferrari’s longest victory drought since 2005-6. The Spaniard’s decisiveness when cutting through traffic was crucial to his success and by mid-distance he was able to control proceedings and set a manageable pace.
Felipe Massa | Ferrari | 6th | 6/10
It was a perplexing race for Massa as he challenged for victory early on but slipped down the order and fell completely out of contention. A late first stop hindered his prospects but it was heavy graining on the medium tyres that troubled the Brazilian. Sixth place – 40 seconds down on Alonso – was not what he expected.
Jenson Button | McLaren | 5th | 8/10
McLaren didn’t make the progress that they had hoped for but a strong drive from Button meant they departed China with 10 points. Button utilised a two stop strategy to achieve the maximum available considering the pure pace of the MP4-28.
Sergio Perez | McLaren | 11th | 4/10
It was a very messy weekend for Perez. He appeared to change line twice while defending against Alonso but to lay the blame solely at his door for the contact with Raikkonen would be harsh. He was close to Button throughout the first stint but he was compromised by woeful pace on the option tyres during the middle of the race, dropping to eleventh.
Kimi Raikkonen | Lotus | 2nd | 8/10
He makes a bad start, collides with Perez and endures 40 laps with a hole in the front wing. Yet still Kimi Raikkonen not only finishes in the points, but he does so in second place. The Finn was fortunate not to sustain terminal damage in the contact – consider Alonso’s nudge on Vettel in Malaysia – and he kept Hamilton at bay for the remainder of the race.
Romain Grosjean | Lotus | 9th | 5/10
The positive side of Grosjean’s season so far is that he’s beginning to lose his reputation as accident-prone. But in China the pace disappeared following the first round of stops and he was anonymous on his way to ninth. It’s good to score more points, but he needs to start finishing a little higher.
Nico Rosberg | Mercedes | Ret | 6/10
It was a tough weekend for Rosberg as he returned to the scene of his maiden victory. A small error in qualifying cost him a potential front row start while understeer dropped him behind Grosjean. An anti-roll bar failure affected the handling of the car and unfortunately the German was forced to retire.
Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes | 3rd | 8/10
Hamilton’s pole lap was exquisite but it was always going to be a challenge to retain his position when the tyres and DRS are taken into account. He did well to maintain third place at the end when under serious pressure from Vettel. A championship tilt will be a difficult task, but it’s been a positive start to his Mercedes career.
Nico Hulkenberg | Sauber | 10th | 7/10
Hulkenberg started the race like a scalded cat and ended up leading when the front runners dived into the pits. A slow first stop cost him a few seconds, as did a problem with his pit lane speed limiter following his second excursion to the pits. Tenth place was scant reward for his efforts but it was a point nonetheless.
Esteban Gutierrez | Sauber | Ret | 2/10
Gutierrez’s indifferent start to his Formula 1 career took a turn for the worse in China. A poor qualifying lap left him in a lowly eighteenth place but although he made a strong start, he woefully misjudged his braking point and hit Adrian Sutil. It’s a rookie error, but progress will be expected once the sport returns to Europe.
Paul di Resta | Force India | 8th | 8/10
After a mixed start to the season, di Resta put in a strong performance in China. He was punted wide by team-mate Adrian Sutil, although by dropping behind the sister Force India, he probably escaped being walloped by Gutierrez.
Adrian Sutil | Force India | Ret | 5/10
With no points in six visits to China – as well as his personal history there – Sutil must hate the place. For the second successive event Sutil failed to make the finish, although as in Malaysia he was blameless. When Gutierrez missed the braking point, he used the Force India to help him stop, resulting in a broken rear wing for Sutil.
Pastor Maldonado | Williams | 14th | 5/10
It’s clear that the FW35 is only just about good enough to fend off the Marussias, but for a Maldonado, you’d expect him to be slightly stronger against team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Pace on the option tyres simply wasn’t there and he struggled to fourteenth place.
Valtteri Bottas | Williams | 13th | 6/10
Bottas’s qualifying lap provided a glimpse of Williams’s struggles as he grappled with an unresponsive car throughout Turn 1 and was eliminated from qualifying. Bottas’s strategy enabled him to pass Maldonado on the penultimate lap, but that was as good as it got.
Jean-Eric Vergne | Scuderia Toro Rosso | 12th | 6/10
Vergne could have left Webber with slightly more room but Webber conceded that he was a little ambitious. The resulting spin cost him time while floor damage limited his progress courtesy of a downforce deficiency.
Daniel Ricciardo | Scuderia Toro Rosso | 7th | 9/10
Ricciardo’s smile probably stretched wider than the circuit after arguably the best drive of his Formula 1 career. He maintained his position at the start but contact forced him into the pits for a front wing change. He adapted his strategy to maximum effect and raced with a verve that threw him into the spotlight of the wider world.
Charles Pic | Caterham | 16th | 8/10
Amid discussions over whether Pic had erred by moving to Caterham, the Frenchman was much closer to compatriot Jules Bianchi in China. He led the Marussia for a large part of the race but his pace tailed off towards the end
Giedo Van der Garde | Caterham | 18th | 5/10
It was another challenging event for the Dutchman, who conceded that it wasn’t a good race. Van der Garde made a good start to briefly lead the battle at the back but he rapidly lost pace and struggled throughout.
Jules Bianchi | Marussia | 15th | 8/10
For the third successive race, Bianchi won the battle between Marussia and Caterham. Perhaps more encouraging for the team though was Bianchi’s proximity to the Williams duo, even if Bianchi admitted it was difficult to hang onto the tyres during the final stint.
Max Chilton | Marussia | 17th | 6/10
Chilton suffered with mechanical issues throughout the weekend but he overcame these issues to put in a mature drive. His start could have been stronger but although he was thirty seconds down on Bianchi, he beat Van der Garde by a similar margin.