Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Class of the Field

About Class of the Field

What is the big difference between F1 success and an also ran? The squishy organic thing controlling the car. Although most of us think we can emulate our heroes at the local kart track, we clearly cannot. Class of the Field sorts the men from the boys, looking at who made the most of the machinery to hand to secure that vital win or elusive point.

Vettel best of the rest as Rosberg secures maiden title

Sebastian frightens Mercedes on way to rare podium

Sidepodcast: Vettel best of the rest as Rosberg secures maiden title

by Adam Barton

The marathon 2016 season is finished, and the final round followed a pattern that seemingly everyone but Mercedes expected. Lewis Hamilton had a clear pace advantage throughout the weekend over the rest of the field, but he needed luck, help or a little ingenuity to secure a fourth world title. He tried everything, but came up just short, running against team orders and helping to set up a thrilling finale to the season.

The Hulk unleashed

Was the backwards move perfect to release the 'real Hülkenberg'?

Sidepodcast: The Hulk unleashed

by Adam Barton

The Mexican Grand Prix was a race that will be remembered for the stewarding precedents it set, as well as a bizarre battle for third but more importantly it kept the title battle alive for another race. Lewis Hamilton may have got away with it into turn one but it likely made minimal difference with his pace. And it was those further back who made the most of their machinery.

Verstappen back on top form

Flying Dutchman splits Mercedes in standout drive

Sidepodcast: Verstappen back on top form

by Adam Barton

The focus was on the front but the action was further behind with great overtaking moves and tense tactical battles in the midfield. 13 thousandths made a big impact on the championship battle, as Nico Rosberg secured pole and Lewis Hamilton made a terrible start, slightly impacted by a damp gridslot, from which he would never fully recover and taking the championship hunt out of Lewis Hamilton’s hands.

Shoeys all round!

Ricciardo cashes in as his luck finally changes

Sidepodcast: Shoeys all round!

by Adam Barton

A chaotic race where it appeared all teams were making it up as they went along to fit to Virtual Safety Car windows went from an intriguing battle to a key moment in the championship as Lewis Hamilton’s engine went up in smoke, creating a 28-point championship swing, proving it’s better to have your misfortune at the start and recover than late on. Hamilton had been the class of the field all weekend but there were others who starred and delivered crucial points, with machinery that didn’t let them down.

Ricciardo shines again but can’t silence the tifosi

Strong drive secures more than expected but Ferrari and Mercedes prove out of reach

Sidepodcast: Ricciardo shines again but can’t silence the tifosi

by Adam Barton

Monza may have been spared the dramatics but it could prove a significant weekend in the championship. In fact, there were 100 metres that could prove decisive. Buoyed by a strong damage limitation display at Spa, with three new fresh engines to use, Lewis Hamilton looked on form and blew his teammate, let alone the field, in qualifying on Saturday, securing pole by an emphatic near half second. But in the vital moment, his luck was out, and he faltered at the start, dropping down to sixth and, on a track where Mercedes were so dominant, a fairly automatic win for Nico Rosberg.

Alonso storms through the field

Fernando scores unlikely points as McLaren’s redemption continues

Sidepodcast: Alonso storms through the field

by Adam Barton

While it may not be endurance racing, the Belgian GP really did feel like a sprint, with drivers desperate to hit the front early. As it happened, the chaotic first six laps led to a stalemate for the rest of the race, as everyone attempted to stretch out their stints beyond their optimum and few daring to risk an aggressive strategy. That said, with so many drivers out of place, there were still some good performances in Belgium.

Ricciardo pushes Mercedes to breaking point

Aussie continues to show the pace of a future world champion

Sidepodcast: Ricciardo pushes Mercedes to breaking point

by Adam Barton

There may not have been masses of wheel to wheel action in Germany but there were still some fascinating battles and some great drives throughout the field as it became clear who was fully focused right until the summer holidays. Unfortunately it also showed that while Rosberg was giving it everything, making aggressive moves to reduce the loss to Hamilton, his mind, and clearly that of his chief mechanic had started to wonder a day early.

Ricciardo’s efforts finally rewarded

Aussie proves he can take the fight to Mercedes when luck isn’t against him

Sidepodcast: Ricciardo’s efforts finally rewarded

by Adam Barton

While Hungary has tended to go against the grain, with better races than expected, Sunday was a bit of a return to the norm. It wasn’t terrible, with close racing and tactical battles but overtaking on track was clearly an issue, leaving many to use strategy and quick pitstops, like Renault, to jump up the field. As ever though, the cream rose to the top and there were several strong performances resulting in good points.

Button stars in changeable conditions one last time

Mixed up grid and unknown tyres keep everyone guessing until the final lap

Sidepodcast: Button stars in changeable conditions one last time

by Adam Barton

Another fascinating race in 2016. Who knew that not having the fastest cars at the very front would spice up the action, with a Mercedes and a Ferrari starting further back and a Force India, McLaren and Manor further forward than expected? And even despite cars being out of position on the grid, the strategies came together in a scintillating climax. Rosberg tried and failed to prove a point, while others capitalised on their opportunity to secure an unexpected result.

Bottas puts Williams back on track

Sterling drive brings much-needed points for the Grove squad

Sidepodcast: Bottas puts Williams back on track

by Adam Barton

Another 2016 race, another intriguing tactical battle as all 11 teams sat on the knife edge between preserving the tyres to eke out a one stop strategy and getting aggressive and using the grip advantage of stopping an extra time. In the end, it depended on your scenario and whether you committed to your strategy; the two stop strategy appeared the fastest option in a vacuum but at the end of the day, Hamilton overtook Vettel to win the race using a one stop strategy as Ferrari once again failed to convert a guilt edged opportunity into victory.

Ricciardo out of luck in Monaco

Polesitter puts in spectacular performance but fails to win

Sidepodcast: Ricciardo out of luck in Monaco

by Adam Barton

Usually I try to dig deeper for the best drivers down the field for this piece but Sunday’s Monaco GP was a clear example of the cream rising to the top. There were some decent drives from further down the grid, and the concentration of the 15 finishers was immense to keep the cars on track in tricky, changing conditions, but there were some truly sensational drives at the top of the field.

Verstappen shocks the world

Mercedes calamity and poor Ferrari strategy pave the way for Verstappen to become youngest ever winner

Sidepodcast: Verstappen shocks the world

by Adam Barton

What a race! For the first time in a long time, no one knew who would win throughout the Grand Prix. Would a two-stop work for Verstappen and Räikkönen before their tyres fell off a cliff? Could Max keep his nerve? How fast would Ricciardo be on fresher tyres in the final stint? In the end, it was the teenager who came out on top and to be fair, the Mercedes incident had no impact on the Red Bull/Ferrari fight, though it did highlight it and raise the stakes with a rare opportunity of a win, rather than just a podium, as Mercedes failed to score a point for the first time since the 2012 US GP.

Great Dane-ish performance by K-Mag

Magnussen and Alonso secure first points of season with outstanding drives

Sidepodcast: Great Dane-ish performance by K-Mag

by Adam Barton

The Russian GP and indeed the World Championship took a major turn at 3:48pm local time on Saturday when it became clear that Lewis Hamilton’s MGU-H had failed, leaving him stuck in tenth on the grid, with Nico Rosberg in a perfect position to profit with an easy pole and odds on for the win with the pace advantage Mercedes had. However, there was still intrigue with Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel coming through the field, and then more intrigue after the second corner as Daniil Kvyat triggered mayhem, knocking Vettel out of the race and hampering several of the front runners, which opened the door for the lower midfield to fight for points.

Red Bull resurgence can’t stop Rosberg's dominance

Two very different races see Milton Keynes squad close gap to Ferrari

Sidepodcast: Red Bull resurgence can’t stop Rosberg's dominance

by Adam Barton

It really would help if the championship contenders formed an orderly queue behind Nico Rosberg rather than tripping over each other. China saw a sixth straight win for Rosberg, as he became the fourth driver in history, and the third German, to achieve such a feat. But he knows better than anyone that the fight is far from over, so long as the chasing pack can cobble together some consistency, reliability and even a little luck.

Romain disproves beginners' luck theory

A second race of good form for the Haas driver

Sidepodcast: Romain disproves beginners' luck theory

by Adam Barton

The expected farce on Saturday, with Williams running cars in Q2 “for the good of the sport”, was once again rescued by a stonking race in the desert night. F1 seems to have stumbled across a good idea introducing three tyre compounds and increasing the variability of strategy, though it’ll be interesting to see how long the variation lasts as teams revert to the mean. Ultimately though the first two races have been exciting because over half the field have been putting in strong performances, undoubtedly motivated by the potential drives up for grabs at Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren, but here are the best performances from Bahrain.