June 28th, 2012 (F1plus / Grace Cunningham).- The European Grand Prix was a textbook version of how you should always expect the unexpected in Formula One.
Each driver is out there to prove they are the best in the world and each performance throughout the year totals to create their overall evaluation much like a school exam in which several modules create the final result which brings us on to create this format for a race weekend review: the RACE GRADE REPORT.
F1plus (and Grace) will start releasing the Race Grade Report the following tuesday after each Grand Prix. Driver's score ranges from A+ to D- and they relate more to their driving and a bit less to the support of their vehicles. For us driving for a Toro Rosso and having a great race might give the driver a A score while driving for poorly in a McLaren my render a C-.
Drivers are listed as they finished the European Grand Prix (race result in parenthesis).
Fernando Alonso (1st) – A
Fernando’s strategic and clever driving ensured he placed himself in the best position after the safety restart and then everything fell into place and despite being under pressure at several points ensured he brought home the first driver to win his home grand prix since Brazil in 2008 with Felipe Massa.
Mark Webber (4th) – A
After several car issues held him back in qualifying he battled his way back up to claim valuable points which helped him jump up to 2nd in the driver’s championship. If he’d made it onto the race podium then he would’ve definitely received an A*.
Romain Grosjean (Ret)– A
Grosjean’s pace and performance was undoubtedly one of the best out there on track on race day and in qualifying. After Vettel stopped on track he was on course for his first win which he deserves but technology decided that Valencia was not the time or the race and ended his hopes of scoring points.
Sebastian Vettel (Ret) – A
What else could you give Sebastian Vettel other than an A grade? A stunning pole position and his lead that he gained in the first stint of the race and had begun to build once again after the safety car ; his performance was faultless and then a component failed on his car which he had no control over.
Kimi Raikonnen (2nd) – A-
A difficult race start for the Finn saw him drop back from his starting position but his cool and calm racing attitude was key to his success and his 2nd 2nd of the year… despite feeling that a 2nd place was only okay in comparison to winning.
Michael Schumacher (3rd) – A-
After missing out on Q3 Schumacher had a lot to prove in the race but he proved the doubters wrong as he intelligently played out his strategy ensuring he stayed out of any potential troubles which resulted in his first podium in his return to F1.
Nico Hulkenberg (5th) – B+
After both Force India’s made it into Q3 it looked like their developments were finally coming together which gave Nico an opportunity to show his true inner pace and racing determination in what was a messy race for him as he battled through the ‘Schumi Train’ at the mid part of the race.
Paul Di Resta (7th) –B+
A brave effort from the Brit who battled against his tyres as he pulled off a gutsy one stop strategy and improved by 3 places from his qualifying position.
Heikki Kovalainen (14th) – B+
A great qualifying performance saw Heikki above both Toro Rosso drivers and if it wasn’t for the accident with Vergne Kovalainen could’ve finished a lot higher and potentially in the points.
Vitaly Petrov (13th) – B
Vitaly was 2 tenths of a second outside of the Q2 cut off time but in the race worked his way up to tenth at one point during the race and finished an incredible 13th which will certainly help Caterham beat HRT and Marussia at the end of the year should neither teams score a point.
Lewis Hamilton (19th) – B
Hamilton was posting consistent lap times but could not keep up with Vettel and also lost a place to Romain Grosjean. However he recovered from a difficult pitstop during the safety car period and was on to score another consistent podium position until he was beeched into the barrier by Maldonado after battling against his tyres which had gone off of the cliff.
Nico Rosberg (6th) – B-
Rosberg lost out in the first stint of the race but climbing up from 12th to 6th in the last 10 laps is a feat definitely worth acknowledging. However he was beaten by his team mate who had qualified 6 places behind.
Sergio Perez (9th) – B-
After a podium in Canada the hopes were on Perez to score another large haul of points however the Valencia circuit through up some issues with tyres (an unusual problem for the driver known for making a one stopper work) but managed to work his way up into the points after qualifying 15th.
Charles Pic (15th) – B-
A tough weekend for the Marussia team were slightly warmed by Charles 15th place which keeps them ahead of the HRT team in the constructors championship.
Jenson Button (8th) – C+
Jenson failed to match the form and speed of team mate Hamilton across the qualifying and race sessions. If it wasn’t for the unlikely DNF’s that occurred Button would’ve finished once again out of the points. However he did make it to the end of the race and that is recognised in his grade.
Daniel Ricciardo (11th) – C+
Once again he out qualified his team mate and managed to pull ahead of a few cars on the start however the first lap midfield battle took its toll on the Aussie and after an untimely safety car for his strategy 12th was the best achievable result for him.
Bruno Senna (10th) – C
Bruno couldn’t quite make it into Q3 with the times so closely knit and then into the race in which he was caught up in the incident with Kobayashi in which Bruno received a drive through but he still managed to regain his pace and end up two places higher than he qualified.
Pedro De La Rosa (17th) – C
An average race for the Spaniard who desperately tried hard to impress his home fans however his car was against him in Valencia as he struggled with tyre temperature and overall performance.
Narain Karthikeyan (18th) – C
Narain struggled with his tyres throughout the race and his race only got worse as he received a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. His saving grace was his pace in the last stint of the race and making it to the end of the grand prix.
Pastor Maldonado (12th) – D
A weekend for Pastor Maldonado to forget after involving himself in two accidents; one in which threw away valuable races points and potentially a podium position as a clumsy decision made by him saw him receive a 20 second post-race penalty demoting him to 12th.
Kamui Kobayashi (Ret) – D
After qualifying in 7th Kamui looked to be the better of the two Saubers to score a point in Valencia but in the race after being squeezed off the track by Bruno Senna, Kamui went on to crash into Felipe Massa incurring a 5 grid penalty for the next race.
Jean Eric Vergne (Ret) – D
Yet again a tough weekend for the Toro Rosso rookie who failed to make Q2 and a silly rushed overtake which saw him career into the side of Heikki Kovalainen ending his own race. With a severely punctured tyre he drove far too quickly back to the pits discarding rubber across the track.
Timo Glock (DNS) – Smiley Face Sticker Award
DNQ but gets a smiley face sticker for being a real trooper by trying to battle through his illness during practice.
Romain Grosjean , Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton share the ‘Nearly There’ award for nearly making it onto the podium *