Malaysia may not have been quite as controversial as last year’s race, but it still threw up some interesting team-mate comparisons. Let’s see how the Team Mate Battles played out in Malaysia.
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.
Friday was a little better for the Caterham boys than it had been in Australia, with Marcus Ericsson clocking up the most laps of anyone in FP1, but suffered in FP2 with intermittent power problems. Kamui had the same issue in FP1, with his engine cutting out randomly, which was found to be an energy store problem. Between that and an oil leak, Kobayashi didn’t get any real running on Friday.
Saturday saw problems again for both drivers, with FP3 curtailed for both. With the weather changing for Qualifying, it wasn’t particularly surprising that the more experienced Kobayashi easily had the measure of Ericsson, who was driving in the wet for the very first time in an F1 car. Kamui was a second clear of Marcus, when the Swede dropped a wheel onto the kerb and promptly crashed. A fairly silly accident, but one that Ericsson will learn from.
Kamui’s race was excellent, never falling behind his team-mate, and at one point was even in the points, running as high as 9th place. Marcus made a great start to climb up to 16th, right behind Kamui at the start, and did quite well throughout the race. A delay in his first pit stop meant he emerged behind Chilton & Vergne, but holding off Kimi Raikkonen for a handful of laps was a handful of laps that the Ferrari shouldn’t have been stuck behind the Caterham. Having jumped ahead of Chilton through the final round of stops, Ericsson held off the Marussia to cross the line in front by 0.1 seconds, having suffered with ERS problems in the closing laps. A great effort from Ericsson, but Kobayashi’s superior experience, and pace on this occasion, means he’s earned the points on this occasion.
Marcus gets the point for Fastest Lap, but it is worth noting that the Caterhams ran a split strategy, Kobayashi on a 2 stopper, and Ericsson on a 3, meaning the Swede had the benefit of fresher tyres and lower fuel load in the closing laps. His fastest lap was 0.2 seconds clear of Kobayashi’s fastest, which was set on Lap 53 with considerably older tyres…great pace from the Japanese driver.
Fastest lap: Marcus Ericsson (2-0 to Marcus Ericsson)
Qualifying: Kamui Kobayashi (6-0 to Kamui Kobayashi)
Race: Kamui Kobayashi (5-5 to each)
Caterham: 11-7 to Kamui Kobayashi
Jules Bianchi may not have been to blame for the collision with Pastor Maldonado, but he was the guilty party in the collision with Vergne on the run up to Turn 3, the collision that gave him the puncture and rendered his Marussia unstoppable. Squeezing over on the Toro Rosso to try getting a better racing line is all well and good, but if the other car isn’t budging, it’s probably not the best idea to keep moving over.
Bianchi’s race was almost immediately over as a result, the Marussia struggling back to the pits after the collision with Pastor, but he was retired after the 8th lap due to suspected brake problems.
Max Chilton’s weekend was reasonable, having missed most of FP1 due to an electrical problem, he responded by being quicker in FP2 & FP3. He was outqualified by Bianchi, and blamed a mixture of traffic and lack of ERS on his clear lap. Max avoided the trouble at Turn 3 (made easier by being plum last at the time), but finished the race, his 21st consecutive finish.
Fastest lap: Max Chilton (1-1 to each)
Qualifying: Jules Bianchi (3-3 to each)
Race: Max Chilton (10-0 to Max Chilton)
Marussia: 14-4 to Max Chilton
It’s very clear that Felipe Massa has gone to Williams expecting to be treated as the veteran No.1, and possibly mentor to Valtteri Bottas. Unfortunately for him, Bottas appears to more than have the measure of the Brazilian. Williams may not quite be the same team they were in the 90’s when World Champions were seen as disposable, but the hard hearted ethos of ensuring that the team comes first remains, and this was plain to see when Felipe was ordered out of the way of the charging Finn.
The story of the weekend was that the two drivers were close on pace throughout the practice sessions, as well as Q1, but Q2 went in Felipe’s favour, the Brazilian extracting 0.3 seconds more from his FW36 than the Finn. The penalty for Bottas for blocking Ricciardo was a little harsh considering the conditions would not be favourable to good mirror visibility, but nonetheless, Valtteri lined up 18th…an attributed lack of downforce hurting Williams in the wet.
Both drivers gained places at the start, but it was Valtteri who made the most of the early laps to be right behind Felipe by Lap 4. The trouble started on Lap 7, when Massa radioed in shouting about Bottas attacking him. The team ordered Valtteri to hold back, an instruction he obeyed, although he calmly replied to inform his team that he felt he was quicker than Felipe. The first round of pitstops saw Felipe pit first, and the resulting undercut gave him a lead of around 7 seconds over Valtteri by the halfway point, the Finn having to find a way past Daniil Kyvat at the same time. Bottas’s race pace was stronger than Felipe’s and he slowly closed back in on his team-mate before the second stops.
During the closing .Sp5rl!47rs, it has been well publicised what happened, Bottas fully catching up to his team-mate, and Felipe being given an order to allow Valtteri through, an instruction he ignored. It is purely hypothetical whether Bottas could have done anything about Button immediately ahead of Felipe, as the Finn didn’t appear to throw everything he had at Felipe, and Williams ordered both drivers to cool their cars when it became obvious that Felipe wasn’t obeying. Doubtful that Felipe would have ignored a similar order from Ferrari, which renders his post race ‘Is it fair to do the best we can?’ just a tad hypocritical, considering his past.
Fastest Lap: Felipe Massa (1-1 to each)
Qualifying: Felipe Massa (6-0 to Felipe Massa)
Race: Valtteri Bottas (10-0 to Valtteri Bottas)
Williams: 11-7 to Valtteri Bottas
Jean-Eric Vergne maintained a very slight edge over his team-mate for most of the Malaysian weekend, but the gap got smaller and smaller as Daniil learned how to drive the Sepang Circuit in an F1 car. 1.4 seconds was JEV’s margin over Kyvat in FP1, 0.7 in FP2, and Kyvat 0.2 quicker in FP3, before JEV outqualified the Russian rookie on Saturday by 0.3 seconds.
The race was doomed immediately for Jean-Eric, when his engine went into a protective mode as the race started. Ricardo Penteado, Toro Rosso’s Renault support engineer, attributed this to the high air temperature, and while JEV had enough power to remain with the pack, he was fighting with Bianchi & Maldonado at the back when Jules squeezed over on his compatriot. A damaged front wing resulted in a first lap pitstop, and with further engine issues affecting the Toro Rosso, he retired from 19th place on Lap 18.
Kyvat put in a good showing, vying with the two Williams drivers & Button in the first quarter of the race, but the superior pace of their cars eventually put the young Russian behind them, although still in the points. In the closing laps, Kyvat came under pressure from Romain Grosjean and a recovering Kimi Raikkonen, but didn’t put a wheel wrong and kept the final points position. For now, Daniil has a 100% points scoring record in F1, not a bad way to start your career.
Fastest Lap: Daniil Kyvat (2-0 to Daniil Kyvat)
Qualifying: Jean-Eric Vergne (6-0 to Jean-Eric Vergne)
Race: Daniil Kyvat (5-5 to each)
Toro Rosso: 11-7 to Jean-Eric Vergne
An overweight car is making life a little bit more difficult for Adrian Sutil, as he is a full 12 kilogrammes heavier than the comparatively wispy Gutierrez, but while he waits for the new lightweight Sauber chassis to arrive, he is doing a decent job of staying at or above Esteban’s pace. The German driver was quicker in all three FP sessions, but made a strategic error in Q1, as Sauber decided to gamble on taking to the track later, as they assumed the track was to dry out as the session progressed.
This was a mistake, as the track didn;t improve, and so Sutil (who didn’t blame the team for the gamble, suggesting he was fully onboard with the risk) lined up behind Gutierrez.
Both drivers opted for a three stop strategy, although they ran different compounds in the second stint, Esteban running the mediums and Adrian on hard tyres. Adrian got past Esteban on Lap 19 and opened up a slight gap before their second stops, which saw both take on the hard tyre. The gap stayed around 3-5 seconds for the next 10 laps or so, when Sutil’s car just turned itself off leaving the last corner. Pitting for the third time, Esteban’s car refused to select a gear, and he was also out, only minutes after Adrian’s retirement, meaning Sauber’s first double retirement since Monza 2011.
Fastest Lap: Esteban Gutierrez (2-0 to Esteban Gutierrez)
Qualifying: Esteban Gutierrez (3-3 to each)
Race: Adrian Sutil (10-0 to Adrian Sutil)
Sauber: 13-5 to Adrian Sutil
Are Force India Mercedes’ fastest customer team? Right now, it looks like that may just be the case, as Nico Hulkenberg put in another sterling weekend. The Force India’s pace was such, that Nico finished over half a minute clear of the nearest McLaren, in a race uninterrupted by incident or accident.
The two stop strategy employed by Force India was reminiscent of a Lotus 2013 effort, and Hulkenberg came within 4 laps of pulling off 4th place, a result that would suggest Force India are ahead of Ferrari at the moment. However, with 13 miles to go, 3 stopping Fernando used his fresher rubber to catch and pass the German. Assuming Kimi Raikkonen would have been not too far off Alonso’s pace, that would mean that Nico arguably would have been scrapping with the other Ferrari for his eventual 5th place.
Less impressive was Sergio Perez’s effort over the weekend. Disregarding his failure to start the race due to his car continuously selecting neutral on his way to the grid, Sergio never looked remotely near Nico’s pace, having never got closer than 0.5 seconds off in FP2. The gulf was over a second in FP3 & Q1, and this gap may reflect the lack of running Perez had in FP1, due to a fuel system problem. Regardless of fault, the young Mexican must respond, and fast, before Nico stamps his authority all over him.
Fastest Lap: Nico Hulkenberg (2-0 to Nico Hulkenberg)
Qualifying: Nico Hulkenberg (6-0 to Nico Hulkenberg)
Race: Nico Hulkenberg (10-0 to Nico Hulkenberg)
Force India: 18-0 to Nico Hulkenberg
Very little separated the McLaren pair throughout practice, although FP3 almost ruined the weekend for them, with both cars suffering a sensor issue which could have prevented them from running in qualifying. Luckily for the Woking squad, the mechanics did a great job to get both cars back up and ready for Q1, although the rain delay might have helped a little with that!
Considering that it was Magnussen’s first competitive crack at driving an F1 car in the wet, he did a surprisingly good job to outqualify Jenson, who normally excels in those conditions. Button held up his hands after qualifying, saying that the call to remain on inters in Q3 was his call, when the track was more suited to the wet tyre, which Magnussen had switched to after his initial run on the inters. Kevin’s off track excursion at the end of Q2 did some slight damage to the floor of the McLaren, and the Dane reckoned afterwards that he may have been able to get a position or two higher had he not done so.
Magnussen may have been right with Jenson through qualifying, but messed up at the start of the race, clipping the back of Raikkonen’s Ferrari on Lap 2. The resulting damage meant a front nose change at his first pitstop, as well as a stop and go penalty, but he kept his head down and finished in 9th place. Jenson was able to get ahead of his team-mate after Magnussen & Raikkonen touched, and stayed ahead for the rest of the day, finishing a respectable, if underwhelming, 6th place. Eric Boullier highlighted after the race that Kevin had apologised sincerely to the team on the slow down lap, showing that the young Dane is willing to accept responsibility for his mistakes, always an admirable attribute in a driver. But what could he have done had he not hit Raikkonen?
Fastest Lap: Kevin Magnussen (2-0 to Kevin Magnussen)
Qualifying: Kevin Magnussen (6-0 to Kevin Magnussen)
Race: Jenson Button (5-5 to each)
McLaren: 13-5 to Kevin Magnussen
Lotus still looked a disaster on Friday, suffering almost every type of engine and power related problem you can think of during Practice, resulting in another poor preparation for Sunday’s race. Both cars ran long enough to qualify on Saturday, but Maldonado got knocked out in Q1 and blamed Ericsson’s crash and resulting red flag as the reason for failing to set a time good enough for Q2. Grosjean made it through into Q2, and said after the session that Q3 had been possible but for a wrong strategy call which saw the Lotus driver remain on track with older tyres, as other drivers changed to fresher rubber.
Maldonado’s race was over before it began, the Venezuelan the unwitting victim of Jules Bianchi’s wayward Marussia, and an unrelated turbo issue forcing him out only a few laps later. Romain Grosjean put in a polished performance to be on the cusp on 10th place in the closing laps, but an ‘inexplicable loss of downforce’ from his rear diffuser meant that Romain had to defend his 11th position from former team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, as opposed to harrying Kyvat for the solitary point position.
Another clean sweep for Grosjean, but it will be enthralling to see whether this particular Team-Mate Battle will tighten up as the consistency and reliability of the E22 improves, as it is seemingly currently pot luck whether the car stays running for any reasonable length of time.
Fastest Lap: Romain Grosjean (2-0 to Romain Grosjean)
Qualifying: Romain Grosjean (6-0 to Romain Grosjean)
Race: Romain Grosjean (10-0 to Romain Grosjean)
Lotus: 18-0 to Romain Grosjean
It was all looking quite good for Kimi Raikkonen by the time FP3 wrapped up, the Finn seemingly much more comfortable in the F14 T than he had been in Australia. So much so, that he was comfortably up at the sharp end of the practice timesheets, and ahead of Alonso in all three practice sessions. This was the first time that Alonso’s team-mate at Ferrari had had the measure of him throughout all three practice sessions, so optimism for the Kimi camp ahead of qualifying.
That was as good as it got though, as the deluge began before qualifying and changed the dynamic of the weekend for Raikkonen. Having looked sharp and poised in the dry, he looked twitchy and uncomfortable in the wet, and while Kimi was only slightly slower than Fernando in Q1 & Q2, he was over a second off the pace in the crucial Q3. Alonso lined up 4th, and Kimi a ‘surprised’ 6th.
Alonso’s race was similar to Australia, in that you can’t really imagine a scenario in which he could have gotten the car any higher than he did, without introducing different circumstances like a wet race or safety car. Alonso finished 4th behind the two Mercs and Vettel, and his relentless pursuit of Hulkenberg in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs was quite fun to watch. Kimi had made a reasonable getaway to be alongside Alonso into Turn 1, but had nowhere to go. He challenged Alonso around the outside of Turn 3 again, but ran a little wide on the exit, handing a place to Hulkenberg.
The slight contact from Magnussen’s nose came at the worst point of the track that it could have, Raikkonen being forced to trundle slowly around the entire lap before pitting for new tyres. Rejoining 30 seconds behind the next nearest car, in plum last, with mild rear damage on Lap 3 isn’t a particularly good way to set about scoring a decent result, and so he didn’t. Game set and match to Fernando in Round 2.
Fastest Lap: Fernando Alonso (2-0 to Fernando Alonso)
Qualifying: Fernando Alonso (6-0 to Fernando Alonso)
Race: Fernando Alonso (10-0 to Fernando Alonso)
Ferrari: 18-0 to Fernando Alonso
There was absolutely nothing wrong with Nico Rosberg’s weekend, consistently running at or near the top of every session. The only problem was that he couldn’t quite match Lewis, who clearly had the measure of Rosberg once things got serious on Saturday. In fact, this weekend saw Lewis take his first ever Grand Chelem, such was his advantage at Sepang. Qualifying saw Lewis around 0.5 seconds quicker in Q2 & Q3, and during the race, the gap just grew and grew. From around a 9 second lead at the halfway point, it was 17 seconds at the end, and with so little pressure on Hamilton during the race, it could be thought that he had the ability to run quite a bit quicker if required.
The same can’t really be said for Rosberg, who came under serious pressure from Vettel after the second stops. Rosberg had jumped ahead of Vettel on the run to Turn 1, and almost handed second place to Daniel Ricciardo when the rear of his Mercedes got squirrelly leaving Turn 2. He held on though, and also withstood the pressure from Vettel to score a relatively comfortable second place, meaning Mercedes scored their first 1-2 since 1955.
Although all was sunshine and happiness afterwards on the podium, both Mercedes drivers are vying to become top dog at the team that simply must capitalise on it’s early season performance. Red Bull look like they are closing very quickly, and the Brackley squad have not traditionally been strong season developers, unlike the Milton Keynes crew. Nico can’t afford to be put in the shade as consummately by Lewis as he was in Malaysia, and both he and Lewis know it.
Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (1-1 to each)
Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton (6-0 to Lewis Hamilton)
Race: Lewis Hamilton (5-5 to each)
Mercedes: 12-6 to Lewis Hamilton
All joking aside, the series of unfortunate events that Daniel Ricciardo suffered in the final third of Sunday’s race was utterly reminscent of a typical Mark Webber race. Pretty much the only thing that separated Ricciardo’s misfortune from a typical Webber effort at ‘How many calamities can befall one driver in an hour and a half?’ was Daniel’s RB10 refusal to spontaneously combust.
While Daniel remains completely pointless after two rounds of the championship, he must (and will) take heart from the fact that he is running Sebastian very close so far. With Vettel competing on a somewhat more equal footing in Malaysia, he overcame his new team-mate’s strong opening lap to catch and pass Ricciardo on Lap 4, and gradually pulling out a lead of 17 seconds over Daniel when the Australian’s woes began on Lap 40.
The real challenge for Daniel will not be keeping with Sebastian on an individual session or race basis, it will be coping with Vettel’s apparent mental strength and Alonso-like relentlessness over the entire season. Vettel harried Nico Rosberg for most of the race, something which, by rights, he shouldn’t quite be capable of doing just yet, based on the cars relative performance. Ricciardo is off to a good start comparatively, and looks a much more formidable opponent to Vettel than Webber has in any season after 2010. Also on the plus side, the pair still seem to be getting on well, with Vettel praising Ricciardo’s driving after Sepang.
Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (1-1 to each)
Qualifying: Sebastian Vettel (3-3 to each)
Race: Sebastian Vettel (5-5 to each)
Red Bull: 9-9 to each
- Team-Mate Battles – United States GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Russian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Japanese GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Singapore GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Italian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Belgian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – German GP
- Team-Mate Battles – British GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Austrian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Canadian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Monaco GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Spanish GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Chinese GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Bahrain GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Malaysian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Australian GP