Chinese Grand Prix: Driver Ratings

By on Monday, April 21, 2014
Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Rating the drivers for their performance at the 2014 edition of the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit.

1 | Sebastian Vettel | Red Bull-Renault | 5th | 6/10

This was far from vintage Vettel. The German driver was not comfortable with the car all weekend and his frustrations appeared to get the better of him during the race. His curt response of “tough luck” when asked to cede position to Daniel Ricciardo was indicative of a man not at ease with his current predicament.

3 | Daniel Ricciardo | Red Bull-Renault | 4th | 8/10

With every race that passes, Red Bull’s decision to hire Ricciardo looks increasingly logical. Ricciardo was on top of Vettel throughout the weekend and kept a level head in the race when he was behind his team-mate. He tried to hunt down Fernando Alonso but there weren’t enough laps left.

44 | Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes | 1st | 9/10

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Considering his raw pace and experience of top cars, it’s somewhat surprising that Hamilton’s win in China was the first time he’s racked up three in a row in the sport. He eased to pole in wet conditions while in the race he stormed away and was untroubled, although a wide moment means it can’t be deemed a completely perfect performance.

6 | Nico Rosberg | Mercedes | 2nd | 7/10

Rosberg’s words spoke volumes after Bahrain as he vowed to ensure he was not beaten again by Hamilton, but in qualifying the German was a little ragged as he ran wide at the hairpin before spinning at the final corner. His race was little better as he dropped places at the start, hit Valtteri Bottas after being delayed by the errant Felipe Massa and lost telemetry. But he still finished the race in second to preserve his championship lead.

14 | Fernando Alonso | Ferrari| 3rd | 9/10

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Good news stats fans! Alonso’s fifth place in qualifying was his 31st of his career which is a new record. Alonso made a typically strong start in the race and was fortunate to continue unscathed when a Massa-shaped object walloped into his sidepod. Alonso had a brief look at Vettel for second but jumped the German during the pit stop phase. Resisting Rosberg, however, was futile.

7 | Kimi Räikkönen | Ferrari | 8th | 5/10

When Ferrari dispensed with the services of Felipe Massa they probably hoped for Räikkönen to be a regular threat to Alonso. That has so far failed to materialise and China was another difficult event for the Finnish racer. Missing FP1 hurt his progress but a poor qualifying performance led to a challenging race as he circulated in the lower reaches of the top 10.

8 | Romain Grosjean | Lotus-Renault | Ret | 7/10

Lotus F1 Team

Lotus F1 Team

Grosjean has been leading Lotus forwards well this season and his performance in qualifying was well received as he lined up inside the top 10. He was in the hunt for points during the race but a gearbox problem slowed him, he ran through the gravel and promptly had to retire the car. It was a disappointing ending to what had been an encouraging weekend.

13 | Pastor Maldonado | Lotus-Renault | 14th | 4/10

Perception can be a funny thing. When Räikkönen shunted in Australia because he was too busy focusing on his steering wheel, the reaction was somewhat different. Yet we hold different drivers to different rules, rightly or wrongly. Then again, there were few excuses for Maldonado’s pit lane faux pas in the next session. At least in the race he passed Esteban Gutiérrez without hitting him but this was another miserable performance.

22 | Jenson Button | McLaren-Mercedes | 11th | 6/10

McLaren-Mercedes

McLaren-Mercedes

Button complained of the front tyres shuddering during qualifying, which obviously isn’t conducive to good cornering speeds, which consequently left the Brit out in Q2. His race was little better as the front end was lacking grip (good news that the next race is, er, at a front limited track) and forgettable aside from a sublime move on Jean-Éric Vergne at turn two.

20 | Kevin Magnussen | McLaren-Mercedes | 13th | 5/10

Magnussen suffered similar problems to Button on his first visit to the circuit as he endured a fairly miserable weekend. He cut a downbeat figure in his post-race interview, a vast change to a month ago when he climbed onto the podium on his debut.

27 | Nico Hülkenberg | Force India-Mercedes | 6th | 8/10

Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

It was another impressive weekend from Hülkenberg as he was a comfortable top 10 contender throughout. He benefited from Massa’s demise and held off the advances of the sister Williams of Bottas to collect sixth place. His lofty championship position is no fluke - the question is now whether he and Force India can sustain this performance when Formula 1 returns to Europe; there's little evidence to suggest that they can't.

11 | Sergio Pérez | Force India-Mercedes | 9th | 6/10

Peaks and troughs can be common in Formula 1 and Pérez’s 2014 has been up and down. After the high of Bahrain he struggled for balance in qualifying in China and was the slowest of the 16 runners in Q2. However, he made competent progress in the race and climbed up to ninth position, but after last weekend it was a disappointing outcome.

99 | Adrian Sutil | Sauber-Ferrari | Ret | 5/10

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber F1 Team

“I just realised the engine was not working properly. At the start I had almost no power. Going into the first corner I noticed there was a problem with the engine. I lost a lot of positions during the first lap and fell back to last”. It really, really, really isn’t his season. Sauber’s slimmer car for Barcelona should help, but points will be difficult to achieve.

21 | Esteban Gutiérrez | Sauber-Ferrari | 16th | 5/10

Gutiérrez was ragged during the closing stages of Q1 and while some of this can be attributed to a brake-by-wire problem, a few mistakes were costly. It may still be early into his second season in the sport, but the Mexican seems to drive a qualifying lap as if the car controls him, rather than the other way around. His race was abject, although that owed much to the limitations of the Sauber C33.

25 | Jean-Éric Vergne | Toro Rosso-Renault | 12th | 6/10

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

After a couple of below-par races (which were not his fault), the Frenchman was back on form in qualifying as he made it through to the top 10 in qualifying for the third time in 2014 – little surprise considering it was in the wet. But in the race he made a poor start and this compromised his afternoon from the outset as he was stuck behind Button and couldn't extract the maximum from his option tyres.

26 | Daniil Kvyat | Toro Rosso-Renault | 10th | 7/10

Kvyat profited from a good start after a slightly underwhelming qualifying performance, while he was also able to make his tyres last for longer than some of his rivals. He had a good battle with Button, which was eventually settled in his favour and he collected his third lot of points in four races.

19 | Felipe Massa | Williams-Mercedes | 15th | 7/10

Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing

Massa once again rocketed away at the start but came a cropper against Alonso as he bounced against the sidepod of his erstwhile team-mate. Massa continued but his race was ruined at his first stop; Williams had the tyres around the wrong way and fixing the error cost him a minute. Another opportunity lost.

77 | Valtteri Bottas | Williams-Mercedes | 7th | 7/10

Bottas was a victim of his team-mate’s speed at the start as Rosberg was boxed in and helpless to prevent his Mercedes from slithering into the side of the Williams. Bottas was pitched sideways and lost a few places, while a telemetry loss compounded his woes. In the circumstances, he did very well to retrieve seventh place.

17 | Jules Bianchi | Marussia-Ferrari | 17th | 7/10

Marussia F1 Team

Marussia F1 Team

Bianchi had a shot at Q2 but a mistake on his final lap left him behind the Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi. He got through on his rival at the start, but the Japanese driver assumed the position soon after. Maldonado then briefly disrupted the battle before Bianchi eventually got ahead and stayed there (although with the help of some dozy officials).

4 | Max Chilton | Marussia-Ferrari | 19th | 6/10

Chilton reverted to early 2013 deficit levels compared to Bianchi in qualifying, which he attributed to a lack of balance with the MR03. On race day it was all about the number 23 for the Brit. He never troubled team-mate Bianchi but he claimed his 23rd successive finish a day before his 23rd birthday, which is on April, er, 21st.

10 | Kamui Kobayashi | Caterham-Renault | 18th | 54/56

Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team

Last lap. Marbles off line. Kobayashi jinks one way, then the other, and gets through on Bianchi. Only it doesn’t count. The officials flew the flag on the wrong lap, so the result was declared after 54 laps, rather than the 56 which were actually completed. Oops. Blue flags were also repeatedly shown to the wrong drivers throughout the race. Not the greatest example in officialdom.

9 | Marcus Ericsson | Caterham-Renault | 20th | 5/10

Ericsson’s tough baptism of fire continued as his CT05 suffered from understeer throughout the race. He dropped behind the Marussia drivers at the start and no matter what he tried, the balance simply wasn’t there.


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