Which F1 driver was the best performer during the Australian Grand Prix weekend?
Review how each driver got on below and vote for who impressed you the most during the last race weekend.
Australian Grand Prix driver-by-driver
Lewis Hamilton – This weekend was a bit like Hungary last year for Hamilton in that he appeared to have everything under control until the lights went out on Sunday. He topped the times throughout practice and qualifying, but had wheelspin at the start and lost further places after Rosberg but him up at turn one. Having fallen to sixth, he pounced on a chance to pass Massa but found Verstappen hard to pass. The delay meant he dropped more than a pit stop behind Vettel at one stage, but the stoppage allowed him to regain lost ground. He had to follow the Toro Rossos for a while, but once they pitted he shot past Ricciardo with DRS and Vettel’s extra pit stop moved him up to second.
Nico Rosberg – Win number four in a row for Rosberg was not achieved in the same manner as the three at the end of last season. He didn’t quite have the pace of Hamilton in the run-up to the race and needed a second run in Q3 to beat Vettel. He got ahead of Hamilton at the start – he said he did not intend to force his team mate wide – but was passed by both the Ferraris. An early first pit stop got him ahead of Raikkonen and brought him onto Vettel’s tail, but it was switching to medium tyres during the stoppage which won him the race.
Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari were comfortably the second-quickest team and Vettel easily out-qualified Raikkonen. A shock opening win looked to be on the cards as Vettel out-dragged the Mercedes pair and was followed by his team mate. The red flag was exactly what he didn’t need, but Ferrari’s unwillingness to take a chance on the medium tyres exacerbated the disadvantage. Vettel never looked like being able to pull far enough ahead of Rosberg to win after the restart, and lost second to Hamilton too.
Kimi Raikkonen – Shadowed Vettel, running the super-softs as long as he and the team dared in the first stint. But after the restart a fault caused an airbox fire and forced him out.
Felipe Massa – Out-qualified Bottas but was pipped to fifth by a few hundredths of a second by Verstappen. Massa’s car looked a handful in the early laps and Hamilton passed him with little difficulty. It was no surprise to see him come in early for a set of softs but Williams exchanged them for the medium compound during the stoppage. That set him on course for fifth place – Ricciardo had little trouble passing him on super-softs towards the end but as the rest were bottled up behind Grosjean it mattered little that Massa’s pace dropped off as severely as it did.
Valtteri Bottas – Said he struggled for grip in qualifying and failed to make the eight-car cut for Q3. A gearbox penalty meant 11th on the grid became 16th, but by the time the chequered flag had fallen he had recovered all that and more to finish eighth. As is often the case he seemed to get crowded out at the start and lost a position. After that he produced a strong pass on Palmer and made the most out of a solid Williams strategy and a quick pit stop on his way to the points.
Daniel Ricciardo – Made it into Q3 but was unable to beat any of the other cars. Hulkenberg passed him at the start but Ricciardo produced a surprise attack at turn three on lap four to regain the place. He rose as high as second place after the stoppage while running on soft tyres, but his final pit stop dropped him out of the podium places. He took Massa for fourth place.
Daniil Kvyat – Having scored points on his 2014 debut at Melbourne Kvyat has failed to even start on his next two visits to the track. This time an electrical problem halted him as he arrived at the grid.
Nico Hulkenberg – A fast start got him ahead of Perez and Ricciardo into eight, though he was soon passed again by the latter. He was the leading driver on the track to start on softs but didn’t stretch out the stint, preferring to pit for mediums on lap 16. This proved the right choice, but the timing of the stoppage meant he dropped behind Grosjean and he was unable to overtake the Haas driver.
Sergio Perez – Started one place ahead of his team mate but fell behind Alonso immediately and had to follow the McLaren for the first stint. “Being stuck in the dirty air destroyed my tyres,” he said. It was a case of deja vu at the restart when Button got in front of him, and towards the end he had to manage high brake wear and dropped out of the points.
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Kevin Magnussen – Having been pipped by Palmer in qualifying, first-lap contact sent Magnussen to the pits for a fresh set of tyres but the red flag allowed him to get back on the lead lap, albeit in last place. By the end of the race he was just 2.2 seconds behind his team mate.
Jolyon Palmer – Showed little sign of being race-rusty despite having spent last season as a test driver. Showed maturity in a wheel-to-wheel scrap with Bottas, although the Williams driver got the better of him, as did the Toro Rosso pair. There was likely little he could have done to ensure the Renault finished ahead of those cars, and he wasn’t far off a debut point at the flag.
Max Verstappen – It looked like being a very good race for Verstappen until the Safety Car came out. He qualified a strong fifth with only the Mercedes and Ferraris ahead of him, gained a place at the start and held Hamilton off with little trouble in the opening stint. But like Ferrari, Toro Rosso opted against switching to the mediums and paid the price. It was a triple-whammy for Verstappen as he was also called in for his last stop after Sainz, despite running in front of him, and the team then fumbled Verstappen’s stop. He made his displeasure clear in a series of radio messages and a late spin, though harmless, indicated he had let frustration get the better of him.
Carlos Sainz Jnr – A tenth off Verstappen in Q3, Sainz held his position at the start but made a very early first pit stop, undercutting Massa to pass the Williams. He would have had a good chance of beating the Williams had the race run its course without the interruption, instead his late pit stop dropped him towards the lower reaches of the points. he passed Palmer to take ninth.
Marcus Ericsson – Ran little in practice but did a better job than Nasr in qualifying, almost taking his Sauber into Q2. A tyre problem forced him to retire from the race.
Felipe Nasr – Half a second off Ericsson in qualifying, Nasr spent much of the race near the back and was passed by Button shortly before the end. “I think we have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said after the race.
Fernando Alonso – A race which ended with a spectacular crash had begun more promisingly: Alonso moved up to tenth at the start and was hunting for points. After pitting he was several seconds quicker than Gutierrez and it was that speed difference combined with a split-second misjudgement which launched his McLaren into the barriers. Fortunately he was unhurt.
Jenson Button – Button found himself snookered when McLaren took the curious decision to put him on super-softs from the restart. They lasted 12 laps before he pitted for a set of mediums on which he made little progress against other cars on the same rubber, with the exception of Nasr who he passed for 14th.
Pascal Wehrlein – A superb start for Wehrlein saw him leap from 21st on the grid to 14th, but what was arguably even more remarkable was that he held the position until he pitted. Unfortunately this was several laps before the Safety Car came out and as he’d switched to soft tyres he was left at a disadvantage. He reached the chequered flag but finished last.
Rio Haryanto – Surprised many by pipping Wehrlein in qualifying but a penalty for tangling with Grosjean in the pits during practice meant he started last. He ran in front of the delayed Magnussen and Gutierrez’s struggling Haas to begin with but dropped out with a technical problem during the red flag period.
Romain Grosjean – There’s no doubt Grosjean rode his luck to bring his Haas home sixth in the team’s first ever race, but it involved resisting pressure from a pair of Mercedes-engined rivals within DRS range for a sizeable chunk of the race. Grosjean made his sole required change of tyres during the stoppage and looked after his medium tyres well – he even began to pull away from Hulkenberg towards the end.
Esteban Gutierrez – Ran out of time to get a second run done during Q1 which meant he missed the cut. He fell behind the Manors at the start and was stretching his first stint on softs when Alonso appeared in his mirrors. He and his rival were cleared of blame for the huge crash which followed.
Qualifying and race results summary
|Driver||Started||Gap to team mate (Q)||Laps leading team mate||Pitted||Finished||Gap to team mate (R)|
|Carlos Sainz Jnr||7th||+0.148s||25/57||3||9th||-1.153s|
Review the race data
- 2016 Australian Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops
- 2016 Australian Grand Prix lap charts
- 2016 Australian Grand Prix lap times and fastest laps
Vote for your driver of the weekend
Which driver do you think did the best job this weekend?
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2016 Australian Grand Prix
- Elimination qualifying officially replaced by 2015 format
- Halo would have been “welcome” in crash – Alonso
- Alonso takes new power unit after crash
- Third Driver of the Weekend win for Grosjean
- F1 enjoys best season-opening race since 2009