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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Pérez does it again // Mexican equals compatriots podium record with measured drive

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Force India and Sergio Pérez have never had it so good. The Silverstone-based squad have rarely been able to produce a car capable of delivering podiums on a regular basis, now they have two in three races, and if it weren’t for a minor slip in practice then it could have been so much better for Sergio Pérez.

This was perhaps Sergio’s best ever drive, securing his seventh podium
This was perhaps Sergio’s best ever drive, securing his seventh podiumCredit: Sahara Force India

Cracking Checo drive deliver another Force India podium

Sergio Pérez, Sahara Force India F1 Team: Started 7th, Finished 3rd

In the final seconds of FP3, Pérez was lying in sixth with his teammate up in 3rd. Sergio had been sixth and third on Friday and was pushing the limits on Saturday. He pushed it too far, hitting the wall at turn 15, giving his team a lot of work before qualifying and crucially earning himself a penalty for a gearbox change.

As Force India had shown great pace all weekend the penalty was a real shame as he couldn’t maximise the car's performance. Regardless, Pérez gave it everything he had, progressing into Q3 while teammate Nico Hülkenberg fell by the wayside, nine tenths off the Mexican in Q2 on his way to a disappointing 12th on the grid. Pérez though went on and for much of Q3 looked like he would be on provisional pole, prior to his penalty, until Rosberg beat his time. Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying nightmare ended when he clipped the barrier, creating a chaotic rush final run for everyone, but no one else could beat Pérez’s stunning time, so he lined up seventh on the grid after his best qualifying performance ever.

Sergio jumped Massa on the first lap
Credit: Sahara Force India

Sergio jumped Massa on the first lap and set off chasing the Ferrari and Ricciardo but struggled to make a real impression, eventually dropping back slightly as both Räikkönen and Ricciardo pitted early to try a different strategy. Vettel started to move out of sight but Pérez’s pace and ability to preserve his supersoft tyres gave him the opportunity for a great result.

Eventually the Mexican made his stop on lap 16, coming out in 8th place with some overtaking to do. He was quickly past Massa before Hülkenberg and Bottas made their stops. Ricciardo then made his second stop to move Pérez up to fourth, with a gap and a faster car than Hamilton behind, allowing him to chase the Ferrari for a podium. During this part of the race Checo was easily the strongest driver in the field, reeling in Räikkönen and eventually passing the Finn on the final lap at turn one. He moved up to third on the road, though a podium was already all but assured through a contentious penalty for the Ferrari.

This was perhaps Sergio’s best ever drive, securing his seventh podium, equalling the record for a Mexican driver while Hülkenberg is still left searching for his first.

Irresistible Rosberg performs when it counts

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team: Started 1st, Finished 1st

The championship leader looked in a lot of trouble on Friday and Saturday morning as Lewis Hamilton was setting the timesheets alight in purple with his pace. But as soon as qualifying started, he lost his mojo and Rosberg was imperious, able to set times far faster than anyone without suffering the consistent errors of his teammate. Rosberg left it late to set the pole time in Q3, leaving himself exposed to the inevitability of a yellow or even red flag. In fact the red flag did come as Hamilton clipped the wall, but the flag was slightly delayed coming out - suspiciously soon after Rosberg had set the eventual pole time. Perhaps he got lucky there but once Rosberg was on pole there was no stopping him.

Rosberg was on fire and took a much-needed win
Rosberg was on fire and took a much-needed winCredit: Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix

On Sunday, Rosberg did his best Vettel impersonation, setting stunning laps right from the start to open up a gap to Vettel and then able to manage his pace. The German was even able to keep hold of his supersoft tyres until all other rivals had pitted, changing tyres to avoid a safety car destroying his perfect race.

Hamilton may have been the one that showed blistering pace but as soon as the times counted Rosberg was on fire and took a much-needed win, opening his championship lead back up to 24 points as Hamilton struggled in traffic and in the wrong engine setting.

Nasr finally shows his pace

Felipe Nasr, Sauber F1 Team: Started 15th, Finished 12th

It may not seem like much but Felipe Nasr finally showed some semblance of form for the first time in 2016. While the Brazilian is often viewed as the stronger Sauber driver, Ericsson has been the one to perform, winning the teammate battle so far this year.

Nasr showed he was a threat in Baku qualifying, making it out of Q1 for the first time this season, qualifying 16th before a penalty moved him up further. Ericsson was stuck in 20th, behind both of the Manors and ahead of only the Renaults. Nasr had a good start and was briefly up to 13th ahead of Hülkenberg. The Brazilian was one of those to attempt pitting early to exploit the undercut, coming in on lap seven and resuming in 19th but the soft tyres gave him the pace to attack and soon he was rising up the field.

12th is a step in the right direction for Sauber
12th is a step in the right direction for SauberCredit: Sauber AG

Nasr had all the ammunition he needed as Sauber opted to commit to a two stop. While the Brazilian did have grip, he had to utilise the stregnth of his Ferrari power unit, having to overtake to make the strategy work as once again he dropped to 15th after his second stop on lap 24 with half the race to attack those ahead on fresh soft tyres. Nasr was soon past the Haases and Wehrlein before passing Jolyon Palmer. Alonso's retirement and a good overtake on Kevin Magnussen were enough to reward his best performance of the season with 12th.

It may not have been points but 12th is a step in the right direction for Sauber and it definitely is for Nasr who has really struggled to match his 2015 pace. Is this the start of a revival or simply a track that suited the Brazilian's style? That will reveal itself over the coming races.