Romain Grosjean topped the first Driver of the Weekend poll of 2016 following his fine drive to sixth place for new team Haas.
Grosjean claimed a decisive 61% of the vote, winning Driver of the Weekend for the third time following his lauded performances in last year’s Belgian Grand Prix and the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.
Romain Grosjean’s Australian Grand Prix weekend
As a brand new outfit Haas arrived in Australia with more work to do than their rivals. Friday’s disrupted wet running was more of an obstacle for Grosjean’s team.
On Saturday the skies cleared but Grosjean suffered another setback – Manor’s Rio Haryanto drove into him within moments of the final practice session beginning, damaging the floor of the VF-16 and causing further delays.
Haas were among the first casualties of F1’s controversial new elimination qualifying format. As with team mate Gutierrez a few moments earlier, Grosjean was on course to significantly improve his time when the axe fell and put him out.
Come Sunday however, their luck changed. A clean getaway and start from Grosjean saw him avoid trouble, and from then on he kept pace with those ahead and picked up places as his rivals pitted. He lost just one place throughout the entire race, on lap 12.
The red flag – which ironically his team mate was partly responsible for – came at a perfect time for Grosjean. Haas took the opportunity to switch him on to the medium tyres which, unusually, meant he completed the race without making a pit stop.
When the Toro Rossos ahead made their pit stops Grosjean found himself running sixth. He kept Nico Hulkenberg behind with little difficulty – despite the Mercedes-powered driver getting within DRS range – and by the end of the race had drawn slightly clear to cement a remarkable sixth place for Haas.
Outstanding performance with a rookie team. This result speaks volumes about how good the Ferrari engine is, but obviously this also comes from his talent. If he manages to smooth his sometimes impulsive side, he can definitely be a top driver.
No one really had that “perfect” weekend, but in the end I chose Grosjean. Holding the position on the first race with a car that expected to be slower that the rest of field except Manor and he never looked under pressure at all.
Grosjean though delivered a result way beyond what the car should have. Sure there was some luck involved getting the track position, but his driving kept onto it. Alonso-esque.
More than half of you picked Grosjean as Driver of the Weekend, but not everyone was convinced.
As much as I like Grosjean, and am delighted about Haas’ sixth place, I don’t think his luck and defending was special enough to earn him a Driver of the Weekend.
ColdFly F1 (@coldfly)
Australian Grand Prix winners and losers
Sebastian Vettel made a lightning start and was in the hunt for a victory until Ferrari made a questionable strategy call. He was voted second. Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton, however, picked up just 2.4% of the vote despite dominating the weekend until the race start.
Vettel made a rocket start, didn’t set a foot wrong when it mattered. Would have wrapped up the first race had Ferrari put on the mediums on his car.
This is Driver of the Weekend, not Driver of the Sunday, and as far as I can tell Hamilton was class of the field all weekend apart from the start of the race. After the mistake he recovered to second.
Elsewhere Verstappen scored just 2.2% after his radio tantrum, Rio Haryanto picked up just four votes compared to his table-topping ‘official’ vote on F1.com and Jolyon Palmer got just 3% despite many positive comments.
Another reason to applaud Verstappen was that move on Palmer. As people have pointed out Palmer was caught out of position. But Verstappen went deeper on the outside than I (and I bet Palmer) even thought possible and somehow managed to power out and make the move stick.
It’s such a shame he went on tilt.
Ah, the real Driver of the Huzzah award. :)
Where it won’t be a fan vote resulting in a landslide Rio Haryanto win…
Palmer gets my vote after out-qualifying his higher rated team mate and some very good and sensible defensive driving as faster cars came up behind him on fresher tyres.
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