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Team-Mate Battles

Team Mate Battles – Austrian GP

Lewis Hamilton gave away another couple of points to Nico Rosberg, both in the Driver’s Championship and the Team Mate Battles. But what about the rest? Let’s run through all the teams for the Austrian Battles.

These are the rules to which the drivers are being judged.

Points system:

1 point is awarded to the driver who sets the faster lap.

3 points are awarded to the driver who performs best in qualifying.

5 points are awarded to the driver who performs best on raceday.

 

Caterham:

Caterham showed up in Austria, which is always a good thing for a team to do, and even better was the fact that they were pretty close to the pace of the Marussias. Having been well off both Marussias in the early practice sessions, Kamui was able to take the fight to Jules Bianchi in Q1, but ultimately fell short by 0.2. Marcus Ericsson was a full second slower than Kamui in Q1, but his race pace was considerably closer, finishing only ten seconds behind his more experienced team-mate.

Kamui made a poor start from 20th to fall behind Marcus, who had cleared Chilton, but was leading the Marussia/Caterham battle by the end of Lap 1, climbing to 18th when Vettel fell by the wayside. Holding off Bianchi looked to be a possibility, but Caterham had embarked with the intention of doing a two stop strategy, switching to a one stop when it became clear Jules was doing so. Unfortunately, Caterham hadn’t extended the length of their first stint sufficiently, meaning Kamui struggled with tyres towards race end, and he was passed by the Frenchman on track with 12 laps to go. Marcus stayed behind Kamui for the entire race and ran out of tyres even quicker than Kobayashi, resulting in a second stop on Lap 43 for another set of tyres. He felt that he had a chance of beating Max Chilton home, and a slow second stop due to a passing Ferrari in the pitlane meant he was prevented a chance of passing the second Marussia, but thats purely ifs and buts.

Fastest lap: Marcus Ericsson (5-3 to Marcus Ericsson) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Kamui Kobayashi (21-3 to Kamui Kobayashi) (after Round 8)
Race: Kamui Kobayashi (35-5 to Kamui Kobayashi) (after Round 8)

Caterham: 59-13 to Kamui Kobayashi (Total After Round 8)

 

Marussia:

With their Canadian contretemps put behind them, there was no sparks between the two Marussia drivers in Austria. Mostly due to the fact that one of the drivers was clearly quicker at this circuit. With the exception of FP2, Jules was faster than Max Chilton in every session, outqualified him by 0.3 seconds, and spent the race slowly pulling away from the Englishman to beat him home by 34 seconds. Comprehensive! Jules stayed patient throughout the race and didn’t exhaust the tyre life of his softs trying to keep up with the supersoft shod Kobayashi in the early .Sp5rl!47rs, stating that he ‘kept faith’ in his strategy. This paid off, as he caught and passed Kobayashi in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs, and was closing in on Lotus’s Romain Grosjean when the chequered flag came out, finishing only seven seconds down.

In terms of relative pace, Marussia looked less good than they have in recent races compared to their immediate rivals Caterham & Sauber, but this may be due to the Austrian circuit being less rewarding to a decent downforce package, as evidenced by Red Bull’s struggles. With the Red Bull Ring being similar to Bahrain in that its a series of long straights with only a handful of corners, engine power is more important than it was in Monaco & Canada, and the comparatively weak Ferrari unit fared little better than the Renaults. This offers Marussia some peace of mind for when they return to a circuit with more high speed sweeping corners, which Silverstone is primarily made up of.

Fastest lap: Jules Bianchi (5.5 – 2.5 to Max Chilton) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Jules Bianchi (15-9 to Jules Bianchi) (after Round 8)
Race: Jules Bianchi (25-15 to each) (after Round 8)

Marussia: 42.5 – 29.5 to Jules Bianchi (Total After Round 8)

 

Williams:

After the Mercedes drivers, the Williams boys are probably the next pair in line to be extremely closely matched in every area. But is it Massa matching his relatively inexperienced, promising team-mate, or is Bottas matching his well-regarded, race winning, championship challenging rival? Based on Austria, you’d have to say that it is Bottas who appears to have that little bit extra when it counts. He is not quite yet the polished article, as he threw away what should have been pole position on Saturday, but he made up for it on race day.

Having been outdragged by Rosberg to Turn 1, Bottas swept back past on the run to Turn 2 in a move that looked suspiciously easy, possibly suggesting some settings trickery. From there, Bottas kept pace with the front-running Felipe through the first stint, jumping him during the stops thanks to a pitstop that was more than a second quicker. Massa, who had stopped first had been unable to make use of the undercut due to emerging in traffic, and that defined the rest of Felipe’s race. The Brazilian complained afterwards that he had to look after his tyres throughout and was unable to focus on attacking as much as he’d have liked. Valtteri, having been unlucky in Monaco & Canada with his engine and brake problems respectively, didn’t suffer quite as much as Felipe and was able to bring the fight to Mercedes for a little longer, but ultimately lost out to the slightly superior pace of the second Merc. 1st to 4th for Felipe, and 2nd to 3rd for Valtteri, a very respectable showing from both with Bottas gaining the upper hand on this occasion.

Were Williams right to concentrate on running their own race and not try taking on the Mercs in a head to head battle? It may have been slightly disappointing to Williams fans that they opted for the safer, more boring option, but realistically it was the correct decision. Running a riskier longer last stint may have given them track position, but as Perez demonstrated, when the tyres go, there’s nowhere to hide. With Perez & Fernando Alonso remaining in touch throughout the race, taking the fight to Mercedes may have resulted in a Ferrari podium. Williams may have squandered some racing opportunities so far this season, but they chose this battle wisely. Based on their rate of improvement, their time may come by the end of the year. Quite a turnaround from the disappointments of 2013.

Fastest Lap: Valtteri Bottas (5-3 to Felipe Massa) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Felipe Massa (12-12 to each) (after Round 8)
Race: Valtteri Bottas (35-5 to Valtteri Bottas) (after Round 8)

Williams: 50-22 to Valtteri Bottas (Total After Round 8)

 

Toro Rosso:

It all felt a little bit like 2008 in Austria, with Toro Rosso being in the same ballpark as Red Bull, and even threatening to beat them. While not exactly a ‘home’ race for the Italian branch of the UK based Austrian owned team, it was important that the extremely tentatively linked squad had a good race in front of their owner, and they felt they did…surprisingly. Despite their cars making up 66.6% of the total retirements from the race (bigger brother Vettel being the other 33.3), both drivers were pleased with the updates brought to the STR9. Jean-Eric was impressed by the new aero updates brought to the car, which should help out more at Silverstone, but struggled throughout the race with his rear brakes consistently locking.

He started behind Daniil, who was 0.6 seconds faster in Q2. He then fell ten seconds behind Kyvat over the first 24 laps, including through the first pitstops, before Kyvat fell off the road with what looked like a rear suspension failure. The brake issue eventually claimed Jean-Eric too, who stopped on Lap 59.

While Toro Rosso were roughly on the pace of Red Bull, that’s a reflection of just how poorly the Bulls performed as opposed to Toro Rosso moving forward. At the moment, it’s very difficult to see Jean-Eric Vergne hold onto a seat for next season, unless he lucks out and Sebastian Vettel opts to leave the Red Bull stable. And based on Toro Rosso’s recent history of unsentimentality when it comes to holding onto drivers, even that is only a bare crumb of comfort.

Fastest Lap: Jean-Eric Vergne (4-4 to Daniil Kyvat) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Daniil Kyvat (15-9 to Jean-Eric Vergne) (after Round 8)
Race: Daniil Kyvat (25-15 to Daniil Kyvat) (after Round 8)

Toro Rosso: 38-34 to Daniil Kyvat (Total After Round 8) (Kyvat retakes the lead)

 

Sauber:

Sauber have surely won the ‘Amateur Mistake of the Year 2014’ for their monumental blunder in Spielberg. Astonishingly, releasing Esteban Gutierrez without his right rear wheel attached wasn’t the error, it was radioing their driver immediately to warn him and tell him to stop. Unfortunately, Sauber decided to pass this crucial message to Adrian Sutil, who was blissfully and happily blasting along the pit straight at the time. Slamming on the brakes to bring his C33 to a halt, the team quickly realised their error and told him to carry on, while Esteban seemed to have figured out he had a problem by himself and stopped just out of his pitbox.

Sutil had outqualified Esteban by 0.5 seconds and stayed ahead in the first stint, and pulled away massively in the second half of the race, finishing over a minute ahead of the Mexican driver despite his unscheduled halting on track. With Esteban picking up a ten second stop go penalty, this added to the pain of his already extended first pitstop, and Gutierrez ended up spending almost a full minute longer in the pitlane compared to Adrian. Even writing off that minute, Adrian’s race pace would have handed him a 20-25 second gap over his team-mate, a decent showing from the German driver, considering both ran the same tyres strategy. Adrian also set the quicker racing lap for the first time this season.

Giampaolo Dall’ara & Monisha Kaltenborn threw around words after the race, words such as ‘inexcusable’ and ‘unacceptable’, which sums up Hinwil’s fall from grace in 2014. Whilst their engine supplier is undoubtedly playing a part in their lacklustre season, Sutil is failing to put any consistently meaningful distance between himself and Esteban, a driver who was distinctly underwhelming last year. Is the Sauber C33 really a car that struggles to get out of Q1, or is it a car that would be making it into Q3 on occasion in the hands of a more esteemed driver? After years of running drivers who they could barely hold onto due to their apparent skills, Sauber have been backed into a corner where there’s no visible sign of a driver who could springboard them back even a little. Could we see Simona de Silvestro turn out in 2015 in an attempt to woo some sponsors keen to piggyback the gravy train of the first modern female driver?

Fastest Lap: Adrian Sutil (7-1 to Esteban Gutierrez) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Adrian Sutil (12-12 to each) (after Round 8)
Race: Adrian Sutil (25-15 to Esteban Gutierrez) (after Round 8)

Sauber: 44-28 to Esteban Gutierrez (Total After Round 8)

 

Force India:

While Perez brought home the goodies at this race and beat Nico home, it was partly due to the Hulk’s willingness to play the team game. Sergio losing out in qualifying to Nico before taking his grid penalty meant that he could choose his tyre strategy and he went for the tactic we’ve come to expect from the Mexican, running as long as possible on the harder tyre. With Nico forced to start on the used supersofts he used in Q2, he had very little of a gap over Sergio when he pitted on Lap 9. Sergio, who took the lead as the others pitted, stretched his legs on his now older soft tyres and built his gap over Hulkenberg from 19 to 22 seconds over the next ten laps.

This lead wasn’t enough to come out ahead of Nico, and the Mexican spent 3 laps staring at the back of his fellow Force India, before the following radio exchange took place:

Sergio Perez: Nico in front is a problem. Can you get him out of my way?
Pits to Sergio: Just push up to his DRS and I think you’ll find a way past. OK? Push up to his DRS.
Sergio: Losing a lot of time with Nico.
Pits to Sergio: I think you should DRS him now. I think you’ll DRS him into turn three.

Pits to Nico: Perez is in your DRS, Perez in your DRS. Perez on a different strategy to you.
Nico: Clarify that message for me.
Pits to Nico: Copy that, Nico. Message for you: Perez in your DRS.
Nico: Just let me know do you want me to let past or not?
Pits to Nico: Copy that yes, strategy different, let him past.

The full pit radio transcript of the race is available at F1Fanatic.co.uk, check them out, they’re a fantastic website.

Nico promptly did let Sergio pass, which allowed Sergio to make the most of his strategy to finish in 6th place, including a nice pass on the similarly powered Kevin Magnussen on Lap 66. Nico got mugged on the final lap by Daniel Ricciardo, in a great move from the Australian. Nico made it as difficult as he could, but wasn’t able to keep the Red Bull from sweeping around the outside into Turn 4.

Nico said after the race that it was obvious that Sergio had better race pace, suggesting that even if both had run the same tyre strategy he would have been beaten by Sergio. Perez is repairing his damaged reputation very nicely over the last couple of races, let’s see if he can keep it up.

Fastest Lap: Sergio Perez (5-3 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Nico Hulkenberg (18-6 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 8)
Race: Sergio Perez (25-15 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 8)

Force India: 48-24 to Nico Hulkenberg (Total After Round 8)

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

McLaren:

Clearly, recent racing experience at the Red Bull Ring, as opposed to F1 racing in the distant past at the A1 Ring, counted in the battle of the McLaren drivers this weekend. Kevin Magnussen looked far closer to the driver he was at the season opening Australian race than many of the more recent races, and the young Dane outqualified and outraced the Briton on this occasion.

0.3 seconds advantage in Q2 meant Magnussen went into the final qualifying session, where he planted his MP4/29 on the third row. He maintained 6th place on Lap 1, despite losing position to Lewis Hamilton, when he got past Daniel Ricciardo. McLaren told us after the race that they approached the race with a ‘pincer strategy’. This meant Kevin started on the more conventional option tyres, then running primes to the end, while Jenson started on the primes, and ran options for the final stint. Interestingly, this was the same strategy Perez used to great effect, which suggests that Sergio really was aided quite a bit by Hulkenberg’s willingness to let him through.

Jenson was never in a position to be offered such generosity from Kevin, Button losing positions and falling to 13th on Lap 1 after being pushed wide at Turn 1 by the aforementioned Hulkenberg. He embarked on quite a long duel with Kimi Raikkonen in the second and third stints, but it was the elder statesman who came out on top of that particular battle.

Jenson’s home race in Silverstone is next, the first home race for Jenson without his much loved father, and all of us here at FormulaSpy hope that if you are attending the British GP, you can wear pink, or tweet #PinkforPapa over the weekend to show support for the Button family over what is sure to be a difficult weekend.

Fastest Lap: Kevin Magnussen (6-2 to Kevin Magnussen) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Kevin Magnussen (12-12 to each) (after Round 8)
Race: Kevin Magnussen (30-10 to Jenson Button) (after Round 8)

McLaren: 43-29 to Jenson Button (Total After Round 8)

 

Lotus:

The stricken Lotus team had another fraught weekend in Austria, with both drivers struggling with their E22s throughout the weekend. Balance was an ongoing concern, one which resulted in severe tyre graining for Romain Grosjean. Both drivers had brake issues during the race as well, but it was Pastor Maldonado who took the advantage and held it together for the entire race.

Qualifying went Pastor’s way for the first time, the Venezuelan going 0.7 seconds quicker in Q2, before Romain decided to start from the pitlane due to taking a gearbox change. Deciding to run the majority of the race on the soft tyres, Grosjean pitted on Lap 3 to get rid of the supersofts, but due to the graining of his tyres, his pace relative to Maldonado was quite poor, and got worse and worse as the race progressed.

A gap of 30 seconds on Lap 55 became over a minute by race end 16 laps later, showing the extent of the lack of pace Grosjean had. Pastor had a relatively lonely race, beating Sutil to 12th place by almost 30 seconds.

Fastest Lap: Pastor Maldonado (6-2 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Pastor Maldonado (21-3 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 8)
Race: Pastor Malonado (30-10 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 8)

Lotus: 57-15 to Romain Grosjean (Total After Round 8)

 

Ferrari:

Some of Raikkonen’s Canadian woes were explained prior to the Austrian Grand Prix, with Ferrari stating the Finn had had an undisclosed engine issue in Montreal. With such issues ironed out, maybe Kimi’s performance relative to Fernando might be a little closer on a track both drivers were familiar with from their early days in the sport?

No such luck for Kimi fans. If anything, the Finn looked even more mediocre than ever, as Alonso produced a stunner of a race that saw him as the only non-Mercedes engined car to finish in the top 7, and saw him hunting down Felipe Massa in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs. Starting from 4th, Fernando was powerless to stop Lewis Hamilton from coming through, and stated afterwards that he felt he could easily have been lapped by the Merc-powered cars had they been able to use the speed they displayed on Lap 1 for the entire race.

Fernando has had some lonely races recently, and this one was no different, the Spaniard caught in no mans land between the quicker Williams of Felipe Massa, and the slower McLaren of Kevin Magnussen. At half distance, Fernando was over 6 seconds behind Massa, and over ten seconds ahead of Kevin, and he spent the second half of the race concentrating on beating his former team-mate. While he managed to catch Felipe relatively quickly after the second stops, he felt Felipe was merely controlling his pace and was never in true danger of being passed by the Ferrari, something Fernando would have found very difficult regardless due to the Williams’ straight line speed.

Raikkonen was the slowest driver to set a time in Q3, but gained a place on Lap 1, despite being passed effortlessly by Lewis Hamilton. His pitstop on Lap 15 shuffled him behind drivers he had been running ahead of, such as Daniil Kyvat, Hulkenberg & Daniel Ricciardo, and he never recovered from that. He beat Jenson Button home, having been engaged in a strategy duel with him for over half the race, but that was scant consolation for a driver who finished 30 seconds behind his team-mate in an unaffected race.

What did Kimi mean when he called for ‘more power’ over the radio? Does he feel that the Ferrari power unit is lacking? Was it a cry of frustration from a driver who knows he can do better if he can only get what he wants from his racing package? Or did he simply mean that the settings Ferrari had told him to run were overly-conservative, as he complained afterwards that he had been told from as early as Lap 2 to conserve his car?

Fastest Lap: Fernando Alonso (5-3 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Fernando Alonso (18-6 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 8)
Race: Fernando Alonso (40-0 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 8)

Ferrari: 63-9 to Fernando Alonso (Total After Round 8)

 

Mercedes:

Lewis fell more than a race win behind Nico Rosberg by being beaten in Austria, and Nico’s confidence must be soaring sky high at this point. Having taken a drubbing from Lewis in the early part of the season, Nico has sat up, taken stock, kept his head down and is now producing the goods, and more importantly, getting under Lewis’s skin.

Following Lap 1 at the Red Bull Ring, I was convinced that Lewis Hamilton was going to pull off the win, having recovered fantastically from his lowly starting position. Qualifying was another reminder of the biggest chink in Lewis’s armoury, managing to screw up both of his qualifying attempts. History suggests that Lewis Hamilton isn’t fantastic under psychological pressure, and I suggested after Monaco that Lewis may fare better in the role of the hunter rather than the hunted, but Austria didn’t tell us much in that regard.

Lewis looked to have a slight edge over Nico after the practice sessions, and held it through Q1 before Nico responded to go faster in Q2, the first man to dip below 1.09 all weekend. Maybe this shook Lewis slightly, as he then went off on his first qualifying run, before spinning spectacularly on his second. Ironically, this brought out the yellow flags and prevented Nico from having another shot at pole position, and it would have been very entertaining if Lewis had snatched top spot on his run before spinning it, just to see if the same complaints post-Monaco qualifying were made when the roles were reversed.

Lewis made an astonishingly good start to vault up to 4th position on Lap 1, including a pass on Fernando Alonso that looked considerably easier than the Spaniard would usually make it, to be right up behind Nico, who probably thought he’d have a few laps of relative peace at the start before having to worry about Hamilton. Lewis remained there, 1-2 seconds behind Nico for the entire race, both drivers coming past the Williams drivers through the pitstops. Lewis’s stops were slightly tardier than Rosberg’s, about a second slower on each occasion, which possibly stopped Nico from questioning why Lewis was given a potential opportunity to undercut him on Lap 39. As a side note, it’s very interesting to read the radio transcripts, Lewis likes to be kept informed of what’s going on regularly, while Nico asks specifically on several occasions for his race engineer to not talk to him. Make of that what you will.

As a racing fan, I’m equal parts delighted and annoyed with how Mercedes are managing their drivers. Yes, the drivers are allowed to race, within reason, and the team are right to worry about getting to the head of the field, but why was Lewis Hamilton not allowed to attack Nico with greater gusto towards race end? Fuel data showed that Lewis had saved around a kilo of fuel extra than Nico, something which he is quite consistently good at doing, but he never was given the chance to use it by Mercedes, who insisted on both drivers using ‘Strat 6’. Micromanagement may yet ruin Lewis’s title chances, and it’s yet another argument towards banning team radio.

Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (4-4 to each) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Nico Rosberg (12-12 to each) (after Round 8)
Race: Nico Rosberg (22.5 – 17.5 to Lewis Hamilton) (after Round 8)

Mercedes: 37.5 – 34.5 to Lewis Hamilton (Total After Round 8)

 

Red Bull:

Four titles in a row in an ultra-reliable and ultra-fast Red Bull has been followed by a year of doom and gloom for Sebastian Vettel, even if we aren’t yet halfway through the season. Vettel’s lack of anger at his third mechanical retirement of the year, together with his body language as his RB10 broke down yet again, suggested that Seb’s spark for 2014 has died. There has been hints of it up until now, with Vettel saying after Canada that he was aware that he was being outperformed by Daniel Ricciardo, and that he had to raise his game, something he didn’t achieve in Austria.

A period of uncertainty such as the one Vettel is currently enduring, is similar to the circumstances under which Hamilton was snatched up by Mercedes in 2012, and it wouldn’t be altogether surprising to see it happen with Sebastian. Any team who have a desire to snaffle up a driver who is entering his peak years in terms of age and experience, now is the time to strike. But where to? Rumours of Hamilton’s unhappiness at Mercedes could leave a door open at Merc, but they are merely rumours for now. Ferrari are slightly more likely, should Kimi Raikkonen decide to call it a day at the end of this season, but most likely of all is McLaren. Woking need a talismanic driving force to spearhead their potential return to glory in 2015, and Jenson Button doesn’t appear to be the man they want doing that, judging by their heel-dragging on his contract renewal. Kevin Magnussen isn’t the finished article just yet, and with all the pieces they need for a competitive 2015 in place, Vettel could do far worse than reset his career in the cockpit of a McLaren Honda.

Red Bull appear to suffer an inability to build two reliable cars, as evidenced by the Webber years, and astonishingly it is Vettel now who is suffering the consequences of that. There is nothing really wrong with Seb’s racecraft, but his drubbing to Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying is giving the Australian a big advantage once the racing begins on Sunday. Even worse for Vettel is the fact that it is practicially impossible for him to overtake cars in front of him, due to the Red Bull’s lack of power, something Daniel isn’t suffering with as badly due to starting further forward on the grid.

Apart from FP2, Vettel trailed Ricciardo in every session in Austria by a minimum of 0.2 seconds, and was beaten into Q3 yet again by his less illustrious team-mate. We never got an opportunity to see what Seb could do from 12th place, but based on the relative pace of the sister Red Bull, it probably wouldn’t have been much. Vettel also risked incurring the wrath of Helmut Marko when he pulled back onto the track with full power restored, and promptly ran Ricciardo wide at Turn 3, although it was obvious this was purely accidental and coincidental. Following his pitstop on Lap 20, Vettel’s pace was roughly on par with the leaders before he smacked into the back of a meandering Gutierrez and retired shortly after, mostly due it being completely pointless to continue.

Ricciardo had a humdrum race battling for the lower points positions, but pulled off a great manouevre on the final lap to pass Nico Hulkenberg around the outside, something not many drivers achieve.

Fastest Lap: Daniel Ricciardo (6-2 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 8)
Qualifying: Daniel Ricciardo (15-9 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 8)
Race: Daniel Ricciardo (35-5 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 8)

Red Bull: 56-16 to Daniel Ricciardo (Total After Round 8)

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Thomas Maher

Co-owner, Chief Editor and a journalist for FormulaSpy.com - Ireland's only accredited F1 & Formula E website. Also working in the Irish radio broadcasting industry. Donations: PayPal - paypal.me/thomasmaheronf1 ETH/ERC20 - 0x9d0b8071180AAcB0bD5f0c1d43281768C73e8763

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