(Image copyright Otago Daily Times)
Sebastian Vettel: Classic form. Focus. Clean air. No mistakes. Blistering pace. The three-time World Champion continued to inch up the rankings in the record books by securing his 39th pole position and moving on to win this grand prix. Vettel looked somewhat frustrated at the RB9’s pace in the beginning of the season, but the unrelenting young German proved why yet again, his iron-clad determination is the crucible in which his championships are forged.
Lewis Hamilton: The 2012 Canadian Grand Prix winner drove hard but faded slightly this weekend. I cannot imagine that Lewis is anything but disappointed with being the “best of the rest” (behind Alonso, that is) at this point. He drove exceptionally in qualifying despite a bobbled flying lap late in Q3, but the Mercedes’s pace just cannot match that of Red Bull. In his usual style, Lewis drove the wheels off his W04 and battled hard with his former McLaren teammate, Fernando Alonso. Lewis is fighting and fighting hard. There is no denying it. Patience, patience, Lewis!
Mark Webber: The elder statesman at Red Bull drove a gritty, tough weekend to a solid finish. He battled hard with Alonso and his typically bullish form was on display. Whether Mark’s pugnacious driving style reflects a positive outlook or ongoing frustration with his teammate is tough to decipher. Perhaps Mark Webber is back to being, well, Mark Webber. His consistency and commitment to Red Bull will be tested as the summer drives on and as competition for his seat heats up.
Nico Rosberg: The recent successes of the young German waned in Montreal. Nico was searching for grip, locking up, and will need to face the reality of the W04’s lack of pace and balance. Rosberg put in a respectable weekend, but he will need to endure the reality that the W04 simply cannot compete with Red Bull on a regular basis yet.
Fernando Alonso: The brilliant Spaniard (and unofficial No. 1) driver at Scuderia Ferrari put in a hard day’s work in Montreal, but showed once again why he deserves another championship if he can continue to claw into Vettel’s lead. Alonso’s ever-aggressive, but calculating maturity makes him the most exciting to watch. He is a predator that will continue to stalk Vettel waiting, and hungry to capitalize on any missteps. Alonso will continue to make good decisions as he did in Montreal, but the question is whether luck or the mechanical reliability of Red Bull’s RB9 will reveal a chink in Vettel’s armor.
Kimi Raikkonen: The Iceman (and Lotus for that matter) missed the mark in Montreal. He was neither a threat in qualifying nor during the race. Kimi struggled, plain and simple. Unless Lotus pull together some impressive finishes soon, it could be tough for the Finn to keep his cool and his focus. Hopefully, Kimi’s eyes and focus don’t stray far from the E21 and over to Milton Keynes, where Webber’s seat will once again be the subject of speculation as the season progress. Kimi needs to taste victory and a real chance at a title to validate his F1 commitment.
Felipe Massa: The Brazilian Scuderia driver’s confidence took another big hit with his Q2 crash in wet conditions, but he rebounded during the race in strong form. Despite a freshly built chassis from Maranello for this weekend, Massa has struggled to establish consistency in another F1 season under close scrutiny. For Massa, Montreal once again validated his determination and ability to wring out a bit of good from a poor start. Redemption from his qualifying accident was sweet this weekend, but will the balance sheets in Maranello forgive the resources and chassises the Brazilian has consumed thus far in 2013? Felipe must gather his nerves and remember to put the team and consistency ahead of himself to give Ferrari a push in the all-important Constructors’ Championship.
Paul DiResta: On the anniversary of Sahara Force India’s 100th Grand Prix, the Scotsman did a bang-up job finishing 7th after starting 14th on the grid. Smile, Paul. This is a real shot in the arm for DiResta, who has the car and the opportunities this season to validate himself and the team’s hard work. Take a bow, Paul, and go out and do it again at Silverstone! Attaboy!
(Image copyright Sahara Force India F1)
Sergio Perez, Jenson Button, and McLaren: I lump these drivers and team together because this organization cannot find a foothold this season. Perez has been aggressive, arguably stupid (Monaco), and inconsistent. Button has struggled incredibly with tire degradation and handling. McLaren, as a whole, are uncharacteristically lost at sea. The team needs to regroup, and do it quickly. As one of the most brilliant, meticulous teams on the grid, they must collect their emotions and frustration as they develop the car and try to salvage a respectable season. Frustration cannot get the better of their collective determination, or their 2013 season will be a foregone conclusion.