Standings: Vettel 2, Webber 1
Though neither driver’s race was spectacular, it was Vettel who managed to avoid making contact with any other drivers. Red Bull don’t appear to be the team to beat at this point in the season, but it was unsurprising Vettel finished in the top four. Generally speaking, the #2 drivers didn’t do much to impress in China and it’s hardly shocking the top-five finishers were the lead drivers of their respective teams. Another lap and Vettel might have finished second, not fourth, but a solid place ensured he goes to Bahrain with the championship lead still in his hands. It’s tight up the front and anybody could be leading the title chase after 57 laps at Sakhir.
Standings: Alonso 2, Massa 1
Alonso’s performance was brilliant. With the perfect car and a perfect strategy, he delivered a perfect race. The Spaniard glided his car to the front and made the most of the opportunity to come home ten seconds in the lead. After the pain of the last three years, it must’ve been satisfying to be a pit-stop ahead of Vettel in the late stages of the race. Massa was anonymous throughout and looked very much like the driver of 2010-2012. Felipe still heads his team-mate in the standings, but if Fernando can manage more performances like he did in China, the Brazilian won’t be leading for long.
Standings: Button 3, Perez 0
Jenson worked his strategy wonderfully, placing the McLaren where others might not have expected it to finish. A master of tyre preservation, the 2009 World Champion a star of the race in his effort to drag a result out of his MP4-28. Perez looked decidedly average all weekend and his two points from three rounds creates a worrying unknown about the Mexican driver. It’s all looking very late-2012 at the moment and Sergio will need a result soon if he doesn’t want to end up having a season like Kovalainen had in 2008 or 2009.
Standings: Raikkonen 2, Grosjean 1
Kimi was the lead driver in the Lotus garage all weekend. While the Finn was in the hunt for victory, his team-mate once-again struggled trundled around in the lower points. It’s becoming a worrying feature of Grosjean’s 2013 campaign and one that won’t help his cause to secure a 2014 seat. He’s fixed the first corner issues he had in 2012 to the detriment of his outright pace. Any more results like these and it’ll start to become very reminiscent 2009 for the French driver.
Standings: Rosberg 0, Hamilton 3
Nico lost out to a roll-bar failure through no fault of his own, but it’d have taken an impressive performance to have beaten Hamilton in Shanghai. Mercedes still haven’t ironed out their mechanical problems and will be embarrassed if it’s what costs them a title challenge in the end. Rosberg and Hamilton were involved in an incident at Bahrain last year and Nico will be looking to get one up on Hamilton for the first time in 2013 next weekend. If he can go the three days without any issues, Rosberg could show himself to be a fighting force at Sakhir.
Standings: Hulkenberg 2, Gutierrez 1
Hulkenberg had an impressive race and was looking strong at the front of the pack for the short period before his pit-stop. Though he finished with only a single point, there was little more that could have been expected of the German driver. Esteban made an embarrassing error which resulted in him plowing into the back of Adrian Sutil, ending both drivers’ races. With three races gone, the Mexican driver will want to start showing his mettle or 2013 will be a decidedly unimpressive debut season.
Paul di Resta
Standings: di Resta 2, Sutil 1
di Resta’s race was one of mixed emotions. In the early stages he was caught out twice and was forced to leave the track to keep his car in one piece. The Team Mate Battles point may have gone the other way had Gutierrez (above) not slid into the back of Sutil, but that wasn’t Paul’s fault. A strong race left the Scot in eighth come the chequered flag and put him two points ahead of his team-mate. Sutil will be disappointed to have suffered two retirements in as many races and will want to claw back that deficit in Bahrain. He’s never scored a point in the Arabian nation and will need to correct that if he wants to enter the European leg of the championship with an advantage over di Resta.
Standings: Maldonado 1, Bottas 2
Williams had another anonymous race, with their drivers finishing 13th and 14th to end a disappointing weekend. The Finn was eliminated in the first session of qualifying while Maldonado placed himself 15th before Webber’s penalty, but it was Bottas who came out in front after 56 laps. The pair was lucky to not be lapped and Williams will want to start taking serious action on the car in time for the Spanish Grand Prix. Bahrain will be another disappointment.
Standings: Vergne 1, Ricciardo 2
Ricciardo pushed himself higher than anybody expected in both qualifying and the race – Button’s “Ricciardo? Wow” post-qualifying comment highlighting the impressiveness of the Toro Rosso driver’s achievement. It was the Australian’s best result of his career and importantly puts him five points ahead of Vergne. The field is close at the moment; a couple of races like those from either Toro Rosso driver could see them vaulted into the top-ten in the standings. Vergne was compromised after his incident with Webber and was unhappy with the Red Bull driver’s antics, but he’d have been hard-pressed to have caught and passed Ricciardo before the race was over. There’s a big rivalry between these two and a Red Bull seat up for grabs. Expect some exciting racing in the events to come.
Standings: Pic 3, van der Garde 0
Caterham struggled once again, but van der Garde was only 0.046 behind Pic in qualifying – his closest result of the season. A Marussia separated the two at the conclusion of the race and it was Pic who had made the most of his machinery during the event. Van der Garde’s performance in qualifying may be a sign of things to come and it’ll be impressive if he can stay that close (or go one better) in the next few races. Caterham finished last and third-last and are starting to be embarrassingly slower than Bianchi’s Marussia. They need to show potential sponsors they are able to get them noticed and these results aren’t going to impress anybody.
Standings: Bianchi 3, Chilton 0
Once again, Bianchi has shown himself to be a step ahead of Chilton. The Ferrari Academy driver is using all his skill and experienc to great effect and it’s making Marussia look like they should’ve picked a different second driver. A deficit of .8s in qualifying doesn’t look good on anybody’s report card and as the team pick away the advantage of the teams in front of them, Chilton will want to be getting a lot closer in order to take the chances when they come. Australia, Malaysia and China have all been Bianchi-dominated affairs; who would bet against it being another in Bahrain?