Team-Mate Battles – Bahrain GP

An intense race in Bahrain saw most of the drivers battling with their team-mates at one point or another, so who gets the points at each team? It’s time for Bahrain Team-Mate Battles.

Click here to read 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:

Friday wasn’t a great day for Marcus Ericsson. Not only was he slower than Kamui Kobayashi by almost a second, he was 0.3 seconds slower than Caterham reserve driver Robin Frijns, who made his practice debut for the team in FP1. 0.5 off in FP3 became 0.8 seconds in qualifying, Kamui starting from 19th, and Ericsson from 21st.

Kamui didn’t have a great start to the race, something he attributed to his Caterham being set to maximum energy and boost release, although it wasn’t clear if this was the fault of driver, car or the team just overlooking something. Regardless, it put Kamui behind Marcus in the opening laps, but once he had the issue sorted, he quickly got back past Marcus and set off after Jules Bianchi.

It was quite an uninspiring race for Caterham, with neither driver able to achieve much, Ericsson being forced out of the race due an oil leak caused by an issue with his MGU-H, and Kamui, who looked as though he was going to be able to pull off a two stop strategy against his team-mate’s three, being forced to save fuel after the safety car. He was ‘unable to keep pace’ with the pack and finished 25 seconds behind the next driver up the road, Pastor Maldonado. Disappointing from Caterham, who fall to last in the Constructor’s Championship, thanks to Marussia’s results.

Fastest lap: Marcus Ericsson (3-0 to Marcus Ericsson)
Qualifying: Kamui Kobayashi (9-0 to Kamui Kobayashi)
Race: Kamui Kobayashi (10-5 to Kamui Kobayashi)

Caterham: 19-8 to Kamui Kobayashi (Total After Round 3)

 

Marussia:

For the first time this season, Jules Bianchi looked to be enjoying the advantage he had for most of last season at Marussia. Quicker than Chilton in every practice session, he outqualified the Englishman by 0.6 seconds, and spent most of the first stint battling with Adrian Sutil in the supposedly quicker Sauber.

Max qualified plum last, and while he maintained his 100% finishing record in Formula One, he did nothing exciting or of note this weekend. He made the most of incidents and accidents ahead to finish in 13th spot, reclaiming 10th spot in the Constructor’s Championship for Marussia, but was lacking the spark that Jules seemed to have this weekend.

It all went wrong for Jules 10 laps into the race, however. His first contact with Adrian Sutil up at Turn 4 was, at best, 50-50 in terms of fault, and, at worst, completely the Frenchman’s fault, considering that Adrian had every right to squeeze the Marussia. Luckily, the impact was only a glance, and both managed to continue. But only for another half a lap or so, Jules desperately throwing the Marussia up alongside Sutil into the braking zone of Turn 1. A late dive from too far back, as well as the Marussia twitching, resulted in a much heftier collision. Sutil out on the spot, and Jules limping around for the rest of the race with a damaged floor and loss of rear downforce.

Points go to Max for not ruining his own race, but Jules looked much more on form in Bahrain than he had at the previous two rounds.

Fastest lap: Max Chilton (2-1 to Max Chilton)
Qualifying: Jules Bianchi (6-3 to Jules Bianchi)
Race: Max Chilton (15-0 to Max Chilton)

Marussia: 20-7 to Max Chilton (Total After Round 3)

 

Williams:

Up until this season, it looked as though Felipe Massa’s ability to propel his car off the grid might be due to some Ferrari trick, but his start on Sunday showed that the Brazilian has an uncanny knack for unlocking the capabilities of traction of whatever car he drives. There was very little to separate the two Williams pilots throughout practice and qualifying, and it was only Q3 that Valtteri put some clear air between himself and Felipe to qualify in 4th, although would start from 3rd.

That 3rd place was immediately relinquished to Felipe, courtesy of his stunning start from 7th on the grid. Bottas dropped to 5th, but stayed in touch with Felipe, and made use of the undercut to get ahead during the first stops. Maintaining his lead through the second stops, Massa stopped just ahead of the safety car interruption to regain his position over Bottas. Despite the Finn’s best efforts over the closing lap frenzy, he couldn’t get back past Felipe.

Williams seemed disappointed with their results from a race that was not weather affected, not even releasing a post-race statement to pore over. An uninterrupted race would have resulted in a bigger advantage to Force India, who arguably would have finished 3rd and 4th with no safety car, although the Williams would have been able to battle Red Bull to the finish for the 5th and 6th positions. As it was, Vettel, despite his issues at the end of the race, was able to hold off Massa and Bottas. With so little to separate the boys from Grove, I considered splitting the race points between them, but Massa edges it for starting behind Valtteri and ending up in front. Plus, that start deserves some sort of reward!

Fastest Lap: Felipe Massa (2-1 to Felipe Massa)
Qualifying: Valtteri Bottas (6-3 to Felipe Massa)
Race: Felipe Massa (10-5 to Valtteri Bottas)

Williams: 14-13 to Valtteri Bottas (Total After Round 3)

 

Toro Rosso:

Daniil Kyvat was faster than Vergne in all three practice sessions, and then outqualified his more experienced team-mate. Kyvat stayed ahead through the opening corners, before Vergne was eliminated in a collision with ‘a Lotus’ (more on that in the Lotus section).

Kyvat’s pace was insufficient to gain another points finish, despite the retirements up ahead of the two McLarens. Running close to Kimi Raikkonen in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs, Kyvat had a sniff of some points, but ultimately lacked the edge required, although that is more the fault of the STR than his. Kyvat, in his third race weekend, looks to have already reached Vergne’s level of performance.

Fastest Lap: Daniil Kyvat (3-0 to Daniil Kyvat)
Qualifying: Daniil Kyvat (6-3 to Jean-Eric Vergne)
Race: Daniil Kyvat (10-5 to each)

Toro Rosso: 16-11 to Daniil Kyvat (Total After Round 3)

 

Sauber:

With Adrian Sutil’s pre-race admission that he would be driving in Bahrain without a water bottle, we can assume that it was dehydration that caused him to want to race Romain Grosjean in Q2. It more than likely was a misunderstanding, as it looked like Sutil had moved offline to allow Grosjean through at the same time as Grosjean making a move to pass the German. Whatever it was, it didn’t realistically prevent either driver from qualifying any higher, but did result in a grid penalty for Adrian.

Adrian’s race didn’t go particularly well either, getting embroiled in a battle with Jules Bianchi almost from the very start. Both pitted for the first time within the first ten laps, and with the pair touching at Turn 4 on Jules outlap, it was clear that neither was giving way easily. At the end of the same lap, Bianchi threw his car up the inside of the Sauber at Turn 1, and their collision occured, putting Sutil out on the spot. To be fair, Bianchi dived from a long way back, and with the Marussia twitching under braking at the apex, fault for the crash lay more at the Frenchman’s door than at Sutil’s.

Esteban, by comparison, had a solidly unspectacular race, running in fifteenth place and due to stop again when his world got turned upside down by Pastor Maldonado. It was still early enough in the race for Sutil to possibly come back and finish ahead of Esteban, but wasn’t particularly likely considering that he was under genuine pressure from a Marussia on the same tyres, and with Gutierrez pulling away reasonably comfortably throughout the opening laps.

Fastest Lap: Esteban Gutierrez (3-0 to Esteban Gutierrez)
Qualifying: Esteban Gutierrez (6-3 to each)
Race: Esteban Gutierrez (10-5 to Adrian Sutil)

Sauber: 14-13 to Esteban Gutierrez (Total After Round 3)

 

Force India:

Nico Hulkenberg didn’t have a great Saturday. A tardy lap in Q2 resulted in him being knocked out, but he owned up to the mistake afterwards. Sergio Perez had no such issues, producing a great performance in qualifying to end up in 5th spot, elevated to 4th when Daniel Ricciardo was moved back for his penalty.

If the race was judged purely on the first half of the race, then the race points would undoubtedly go to Nico Hulkenberg. A ferocious opening tirade from the German saw him slice his way up to sixth place, including passing Fernando Alonso. The first round of pitstops saw Nico able to leapfrog ahead of Sergio, but the Mexican fought back to reclaim the initiative on Lap 26. Hulkenberg was wrong footed while attempting to pass Massa, the Williams driver being a little over aggressive by failing to leave Nico enough room on the inside approach to Turn 4. Sergio made the most of Nico’s hesitation to pounce and get back ahead, and there he stayed until the end of the race.

Perez sealed his podium by robustly holding off Hulkenberg immediately after the safety car. With the Red Bull’s running softer tyres until the end, Nico was unable to hold off Daniel Ricciardo’s attack, but his defence allowed Sergio to have enough of an advantage to stay in third place to the flag.

Sergio responded excellently to Nico’s brilliance in Melbourne & Malaysia, and showed that he is capable of producing fantastic performances, just as he has done in the past. But can he do it as consistently as Hulkenberg?

Fastest Lap: Nico Hulkenberg (3-0 to Nico Hulkenberg)
Qualifying: Sergio Perez (6-3 to Nico Hulkenberg)
Race: Sergio Perez (10-5 to Nico Hulkenberg)

Force India: 19-8 to Nico Hulkenberg (Total After Round 3)

Scuderia Ferrari S.p.A.

McLaren:

At no point over the weekend did it look like Kevin Magnussen was equal to, or ahead of Jenson Button. Behind the Briton in all three practice sessions, he was 0.4 seconds off in Q3, Magnussen in ninth and Jenson in 7th for his 250th Grand Prix.

K-Mag never looked comfortable during the race, falling down to 11th on Lap 1, and attempting a silly move on Kimi Raikkonen into Turn 5, throwing his McLaren into a gap that didn’t really exist. Both escaped without serious damage. Jenson maintained position in the early .Sp5rl!47rs, and pulled off a beautiful move around Bottas on Lap 10, showing his experience and trust in Bottas to back off at the appropriate moment. While a clutch problem put paid to both of their races, Jenson looked as though he was able to hang on to the Force Indias, and could have kept up a podium battle til the end of the race.

Immediately prior to the safety car, Kevin and Jenson had both pitted for the final time, Kevin for his third stop and Jenson for the second, and the gap between them was a full 40 seconds with 17 laps to run. With both running medium tyres for the final stint, it’s likely that this gap would have been maintained or grown, based on their relative race pace up until that point.

Instead, the safety car came out, Magnussen retired from 12th place, and Jenson got overtaken by most of the field straight after the safety car before he retired as well, both victims of their clutches giving up.

Interestingly, McLaren opted to swap Kevin into the car for testing immediately after the Grand Prix, instead of Stoffel Vandoorne, citing a desire for ‘driver continuity’, but may be to allow the Danish rookie to figure out where things went wrong over the Bahrain weekend.

Fastest Lap: Jenson Button (2-1 to Kevin Magnussen)
Qualifying: Jenson Button (6-3 to Kevin Magnussen)
Race: Jenson Button (10-5 to Jenson Button)

McLaren: 14-13 to Jenson Button (Total After Round 3)

 

Lotus:

Little was made of the first collision of the Bahrain Grand Prix, for some reason. Jean-Eric Vergne was taken out by ‘a Lotus’ on the run up to Turn 8 on Lap 1, the Toro Rosso driver stating afterwards: ‘When I then found myself next to a Lotus, I got squeezed more and more and when he realized I was about to overtake him anyway, he just closed the door. That is why our wheels touched and my car took off, out of control.’ He also said, on team radio, that ‘the Lotus tried to kill me’.

No more was said about the incident, and post race press releases don’t state which driver it was, although assumptions were made that it was Pastor Maldonado. While this is perhaps understandable, a careful rewatching of Lap 1 suggests to me that it was actually Romain Grosjean who took out the Toro Rosso, although I stand to be corrected on that.

After being outqualified by Romain by 0.009 seconds on Saturday, Pastor made the better start to lead his team-mate after Lap 1. Both Lotus guys ran a three stop strategy, and it was Pastor’s race pace that proved superior, the Venezuelan pulling out around 15 seconds on Grosjean over the first 37 laps, before they both made their third and final stops.

That was when Pastor decided to try a slow speed re-enactment of the Yuji Ide/Christijan Albers flip from Imola 2006. Obviously impressed by the Japanese rookie’s superlicence-losing antics, Pastor didn’t bother slowing down a whole lot for Turn 1, despite a Sauber being right in front of him. With no real effort taken to avoid Gutierrez, if questions aren’t going to be asked of the Venezuelan’s attitude towards his competitors, then maybe they should be asked of his spatial awareness. While Grosjean may have been a menace in 2012, there was never any doubt that the Frenchman was aware of his problems, and he made an effort to change his behaviour. If both drivers were responsible for race ending collisions on Sunday, neither owned up to them.

Points go to Romain for not ruining his own race through idiocy.

Fastest Lap: Romain Grosjean (3-0 to Romain Grosjean)
Qualifying: Romain Grosjean (9-0 to Romain Grosjean)
Race: Romain Grosjean (15-0 to Romain Grosjean)

Lotus: 27-0 to Romain Grosjean (Total After Round 3)

 

Ferrari:

This section had to be rewritten on Wednesday evening, due to the emergence of the news that Kimi Raikkonen apparently drove for most of the Bahrain GP weekend with a broken chassis. Fernando Alonso noticed the problem after jumping into the chassis the Finn used, for the second day of testing, and found the car problematic.

Strangely then, it was with this chassis that Raikkonen outqualified Alonso for the first time, although Fernando did report that he seemed to be down on power as qualifying proceeded. Both pilots managed top ten starts despite having problems of some sort, which suggests that the Ferrari is decent in terms of single lap pace at this point.

Where it isn’t decent is in terms of straight line speed, and both Alonso & Raikkonen looked distinctly unhappy during the race as they were passed quite easily down the straights. Raikkonen’s start could be described as dreadful, his unwillingness to take major risks allowing other drivers to bully their way past. Fernando Alonso was one of the drivers who took advantage of Kimi’s caution into Turn 1 and was a little rude on the exit, running Kimi wide and causing the Finn to drop back behind Nico Hulkenberg as well.

Their pace was close for most of the first half of the race, Raikkonen falling five seconds behind in total by Lap 27, when Fernando pitted for the second time and took on medium tyres. Raikkonen delayed his second stop in what looked like a possible consideration of a two stop strategy, but the safety car 7 laps after his second stop for medium tyres put paid to any possible benefits of such an attempt. With both Ferraris running soft tyres to the end, they both ran close together to the end of the race, finishing just a second apart.

Unless Ferrari state otherwise, there is no way of quantifying how a damaged chassis may have affected Raikkonen’s pace. Certainly, the damage wasn’t sufficient for Raikkonen to notice, and it was only Alonso’s direct comparison of his chassis against Kimi’s that allowed Ferrari to spot the issue. Race points go to Fernando for his better handling of Lap 1, as well as the likelihood that he would have finished ahead of Raikkonen regardless of their strategies being affected by the safety car.

Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen (2-1 to Fernando Alonso)
Qualifying: Kimi Raikkonen (6-3 to Fernando Alonso)
Race: Fernando Alonso (15-0 to Fernando Alonso)

Ferrari: 23-4 to Fernando Alonso (Total After Round 3)

 

Mercedes:

If they’d really wanted to, and the safety car not come out, the Mercedes drivers could have lapped the field in Bahrain, such was their level of dominance. There was very little to separate the two drivers over the whole weekend, but one can’t help but get the feeling that Nico Rosberg really should have put this one in the back of the net.

Armed as he was with telemetry and data to help him understand Lewis’s pace from Malaysia, it looked like he’d done all the hard work on Saturday, when he surprised Lewis Hamilton by going 0.3 seconds quicker after their first runs in Q3, and, under pressure to respond, Lewis made the crucial error into Turn 1 on his second attempt. Advantage to Nico, both mentally and in terms of track position, but he lost it immediately in the race by failing to hook up his start as well as Lewis. He lost out into Turn 1, although he stayed right with Lewis, Hamilton unable to break away.

Was the splitting of the two strategies a ploy to ease the pressure on Lewis Hamilton from Nico? Toto Wolff was quick to point out to Sky after the race that this wasn’t the case, as the two strategies would have ultimately worked out ‘a few tenths apart’ at the end of the race, but this could be read as being disingenuous. Truthfully, there may have been very little to separate the two drivers by race end, but all the work would have had to have been done by Nico Rosberg, first to close the gap that Lewis had built up, and secondly to find a way past in the limited time that he may have had once he’d caught the sister Mercedes.

With only one safety car interruption in the previous nine Bahrain Grand Prixs, Mercedes would not have counted on Lewis’s advantage being wiped out considerably earlier than it may have been. Regardless, it was, and Lewis put in a stunning show of defence against a DRS enabled, and more suitably booted Nico Rosberg. If Nico would have preferred to be the one out front with a gap and slower tyres in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs of an uninterrupted race, then he shouldn’t have been beaten into Turn 1.

Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg (2-1 to Nico Rosberg)
Qualifying: Nico Rosberg (6-3 to Lewis Hamilton)
Race: Lewis Hamilton (10-5 to Lewis Hamilton)

Mercedes: 17-10 to Lewis Hamilton (Total After Round 3)

 

Red Bull:

Sebastian Vettel’s weekend all started to fall apart on Saturday in FP3, when he spun off into the gravel. Only minor damage to the RB10, but sufficient setup time lost to prevent a comfortable Qualifying. With Seb failing to set a great time in Q2, he was knocked out as the flag fell, unlike his team-mate. Ricciardo nailed his laps in qualifying to take third spot, and it was a shame to see him have to start from 13th, considering he’d already served a penalty in Malaysia for the loose wheel pit release.

While people who aren’t particularly fond of Sebastian Vettel will have been delighted to see Sebastian beaten home by Daniel, Christian Horner admitted after the race that Vettel had had a power problem in a straight line, as well as a DRS that didn’t work in the early part of the race. While the DRS came back, the power issue was enough to prevent Vettel from overtaking a single car into Turn 1.

Not to take anything away from Ricciardo’s drive, which was determined, steely, and made the most of every opportunity that arose. Vettel played nicely to allow Ricciardo through when they were running different tyres on Lap 16, but that won’t have stung as badly as Ricciardo’s bold statement after the safety car. Ricciardo passed Sebastian Vettel fair and square in a move that would have occured even without the safety car intervention. The interruption made little difference to the RBR driver’s battle, as both had just pitted for the second time when the Maldonado/Gutierrez incident occured. Separated by just over a second at the time, Daniel was able to get by after racing resumed, and while Seb’s straightline speed was good enough to keep up with Daniel, he wasn’t able to get back ahead.

Ricciardo then wrongfooted Nico Hulkenberg and set off after Sergio Perez, but ran out of time, a single lap possibly the difference between Perez & Ricciardo swapping places, such was the Australian driver’s pace. Sebastian didn’t do anything in particular wrong, but Daniel gets the race points for a great drive.

Fastest Lap: Daniel Ricciardo (2-1 to Daniel Ricciardo)
Qualifying: Daniel Ricciardo (6-3 to Daniel Ricciardo)
Race: Daniel Ricciardo (10-5 to Daniel Ricciardo)

Red Bull: 18-9 to Daniel Ricciardo (Total After Round 3)

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Thomas Maher

Co-owner, Chief Editor and a journalist for FormulaSpy.com - Ireland's only accredited F1 & Formula E website. Enjoy my work - https://www.buymeacoffee.com/MidcHN8

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