A particularly interesting day in the Battle of the Team-Mates, which has evolved into War of the Team-Mates at some teams. Who gets the nod, and the points at each team this week?
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.
Jules Bianchi is rapidly making a name for himself*, by consistently putting his car at the head of the ‘bottom pack’. Another impressive qualifying session saw him only two and three tenths behind the Williams of Bottas, and the Toro Rosso of Ricciardo respectively. No mistakes again from the young Frenchman, setting a fastest lap that was quicker than that set by the likes of Sutil, Ricciardo, Di Resta, Maldonado, and only six tenths of a second slower than the fastest lap set by Kimi Raikkonen. To finish thirteenth and hold off Maldonado as long as he did shows he is firing on all cylinders. A rookie at the backend of the grid has not impressed this much since Alonso in 2001, and if any teams further up the grid get tired of any underperforming drivers this season, Bianchi could be a look in for the seat. Chilton didn’t do anything wrong to say anything negative about him, but his team-mate is showing what the car is capable of. Chilton doesn’t look quite as capable right now.
Fastest lap: 1-0 to Jules Bianchi (2-0 in total to Jules Bianchi)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Jules Bianchi (6-0 in total in Jules Bianchi)
Race: 5-0 to Jules Bianchi (10-0 in total to Jules Bianchi)
Marussia: 18-0 to Jules Bianchi
*How does one pronounce his name? The Sky commentators keep saying ‘Bee-anky’ which doesn’t sound quite as cool as ‘Bee-an-chee’. Even if the former is correct, I’m going to go with the latter. F1 drivers need to have cool names.
Charles Pic put in an assured weekend, which will come as little comfort to him with rumours and speculation that Kovalainen may be returning to take his seat, despite him being the better driver at Caterham right now. The gap advantage isn’t quite as vast as the one Bianchi currently enjoys at Marussia, but Pic appears to have around half a second a lap pace advantage on single lap pace. In fastest laps, Pic was quicker by two tenths and outqualified Van Der Garde easily by six tenths. In the race, Pic was unlucky to be struck in the pits by the unsafely released Toro Rosso, but still finished ahead of his team-mate. Easy stuff for Pic at this early .Sp5rl!47r.
Fastest lap: 1-0 to Charles Pic (2-0 to Charles Pic)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Charles Pic (3-3 each)
Race: 5-0 to Charles Pic (10-0 to Charles Pic)
Caterham: 15-3 to Charles Pic
Toro Rosso had a reasonable weekend and took their first point of the season with JEVs 10th place. Ricciardo outqualified Vergne quite easily, but immediately set about trying to ruin his own race by flying off the road on his installation lap to the grid. This led to some damage on his car which came back to bite him late in the race with exhaust issues. Vergne put in an assured drive, despite his team attempting to play dodgems in the pitlane with Van Der Garde. Tenth is not really a reason to celebrate for the Baby Bulls, but there are signs that they aren’t as lost as last year.
Fastest Lap: 1-0 to Jean-Eric Vergne (2-0 to Jean-Eric Vergne)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Daniel Ricciardo (3-3 each)
Race: 5-0 to Jean-Eric Vergne (10-0 to Jean-Eric Vergne)
Toro Rosso: 15-3 to Jean-Eric Vergne
Hulkenberg had the race he should have had in Australia this time out, and put in a good race. Gutierrez was faster in Q1, but Hulkenberg stepped up in Q2 and placed his car just behind the Lotuses. The Hulk kept up with the pack of Grosjean, Raikkonen and Massa throughout most of the race, and even managed to hold the Lotus of Raikkonen behind him for quite a while. He was fortunate to not get a penalty for a borderline unsafe release in front of Kimi, and we even heard the unflappable Finn getting quite flapped when the German driver was a little bold in squeezing Raikkonen tightly on the approach to Turn 4. Gutierrez had a quiet race but, again, finished the race, which is always important as a rookie.
Fastest Lap: 1-0 to Nico Hulkenberg (1-1 each)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Nico Hulkenberg (6-0 to Nico Hulkenberg)
Race: 5-0 to Nico Hulkenberg (5-5 each)
Sauber: 12-6 to Nico Hulkenberg
Dear, oh dear. I started last weekends Williams bit with the same sentence, and the sentiment hasn’t changed. What has happened to the sparky, rejuvenated team of 2012? Bottas was eliminated in Q1, while Maldonado barely made it through to Q2, and then set no time, and started from 16th. In the race, neither driver made an impression, and oddly, Maldonado had the slowest fastest time of the race, even behind the Marussias and Caterhams. He did have a KERS issue during the race which caused his retirement, but at the halfway point of the race when he set his fastest lap, he was barely matching the pace of the Caterhams. Bottas had a better race, setting a fastest lap that was on par with the Lotus drivers. A quiet start to his career, but he appears to be handling the sickly Williams a bit better than his more experienced team mate.
Fastest Lap: 1-0 to Valterri Bottas (2-0 to Valterri Bottas)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Pastor Maldonado (3-3 each)
Race: 5-0 to Valterri Bottas (10-0 to Valtteri Bottas)
Williams: 15-3 to Valtteri Bottas
Sutil looked like continuing his period of superiority at Force India by beating Di Resta in Q1 by six tenths. After Di Resta failed to set a good time in Q2, he was resigned to starting from 15th, while Sutil lined up ahead of the Lotuses in ninth place. They were much more equal in the race, with Di Resta getting a chance to smile under his helmet by passing Sutil. Both cars were compromised badly by their ‘technical issues’ (ie. not being able to guarantee the wheels would stay on, which is usually handy), but Di Resta will take solace in the fact that Sutil didn’t appear to have a pace advantage this time out.
Fastest Lap: 1-0 to Adrian Sutil (2-0 to Adrian Sutil)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Adrian Sutil (3-3 each)
Race: 5-0 to Paul Di Resta (5-5 each)
Force India: 10-8 to Adrian Sutil
The Woking team showed some mild signs of recovery in Malaysia, with both cars running consistently in the top ten. Button sounded positively delighted on lap 36, radioing into his team to say ‘These tyres don’t feel too bad!’, just before being passed by the pursuing Red Bull. Button looked like a team leader, putting in a consistent and fast first half of the race to be fighting for high points positions. Perez was beaten by the driver who replaced him at Sauber, and probably should have been quicker, considering he had no car issues. Still, he scored his first points since being signed by McLaren, but still hasn’t vindicated McLaren’s decision to hire him.
Fastest Lap: 1-0 to Jenson Button (1-1 each)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Jenson Button (6-0 to Jenson Button)
Race: 5-0 to Jenson Button (10-0 to Jenson Button)
McLaren: 17-1 to Jenson Button
Astonishing change in fortune for Lotus this time out, with both drivers starting from solid midfield positions. This time however, neither driver made a particularly good start and traffic played a huge part in holding back a car that appeared to have pace at points, but equally little grip, particularly in the hands of Kimi Raikkonen. His car appeared to have very little traction, and that resulted in him suffering behind other cars for the majority of the race. Grosjean appeared to have a better setup and made use of it, overtaking Hulkenberg in one of the moves of the race in a brave dive up the inside of the Sauber driver. Romain looked distinctly more comfortable this weekend, and may be recovering some of his lost confidence.
Fastest Lap: 1-0 to Romain Grosjean (1-1 each)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Kimi Raikkonen (6-0 to Kimi Raikkonen)
Race: 5-0 to Romain Grosjean (5-5 each)
Lotus: 12-6 to Kimi Raikkonen
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg may be old friends (who can forget their post race giggling like schoolgirls at the 2008 Australian GP?) but this year is going to seriously strain their comradery if races like this occur too often. Hamilton outqualified Rosberg, not by much, and appeared to have more pace in the race, with both cars lying astern in full pursuit of the Red Bulls. From the halfway point of the race, it became apparent that Lewis was after using too much fuel in his pursuit and had to back off. Nico had no such issues and remained behind Hamilton, even asking for permission to pass. This was denied. Ross Brawn is no stranger to team orders, and while he may have said there was no advantage to allowing Nico through, this is nonsense. Let’s imagine a failure on one of the Red Bulls on the final lap with the car coasting around to the chequered flag. Now imagine that car manages to hang onto 2nd place because the Mercs are faffing around twenty seconds behind, with a perfectly capable car and driver holding station for no apparent reason. The contract position of both drivers was unclear, but it appears Hamilton wanted an undisputed status, and viewing him on the podium and his visible discomfort means he didn’t intend to be found out quite so quickly. The question remains though…if Rosberg continues to match Lewis, does that reflect well on Nico, or badly on Hamilton?
Fastest Lap: 1-0 to Nico Rosberg (1-1 each)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Lewis Hamilton (6-0 to Lewis Hamilton)
Race: 5-0 to Nico Rosberg (5-5 each)
Mercedes: 12-6 to Lewis Hamilton
Felipe Massa continued his excellent run by outqualifying Alonso again, but it was no surprise that it was Fernando who led the charge against Vettel by Turn 1. And there, promptly, did the charge end. Fernando did very well to hold onto second place for the entire first lap, but with the amount of sparks coming from the car, he should have realised his car was damaged and pitted, regardless of Ferrari’s attempts to get him to do some more laps and come in at the same time as a tyre change. Felipe faded badly during the first half of the race, but came back quite nicely towards the end to take a reasonable fifth place. Whether Fernando could have done better is unclear, Felipe has a habit of raising his game when he is the sole representative for Ferrari, so whether his pace was the ultimate the car could achieve, we can’t know.
Fastest Lap: 1-0 to Felipe Massa (1-1 each)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Felipe Massa (6-0 to Felipe Massa)
Race: 5-0 to Felipe Massa (5-5 each)
Ferrari: 15-3 to Felipe Massa
Right since the end of the race, I’ve been looking forward to writing this article, simply due to Sebastian Vettel and his scant regard for his teams wishes. Your perspective on whether he was right or wrong will come down to your personal perspective on how much of a ‘team’ sport F1 really is. History does not remember losers, history doesn’t remember who came in second, but history does remember winners, and history does remember true sportsmen. Which would you choose? Vettel chose to be a winner today, but in doing so, threw away his image of being a likeable cheeky chappy who happens to be a dominant force in an F1 car. He has announced with his actions that, short of killing his adversaries, he will do anything to win. This is comparable to Senna’s attitude of win at all costs, but Ayrton never particularly tried to hide his ruthless streak. From a driving perspective, we now know that Vettel is possibly the most ruthless driver on the grid, but this streak has made him the most decorated.
Alonso has always said he is not in F1 to be popular or to make friends, and even seems to thrive when he feels mentally under siege. Vettel will now have to contend with this within his own team. Webber and Seb may not have been close friends, but they had a mutual understanding and respect between them. ‘Win at all costs’ is a notion that is viewed romantically by most fans, but is the reality quite as appealing?
The fact remains that Sebastian ambushed Mark today to take a victory that Mark had been assured of by team instruction. Not since Gilles Vileneuve & Didier Pironi at Imola in 1982 has a driver shown such disregard for the wishes of his team. In doing this, Sebastian has won himself an extra seven points. Last years title was won by three. If losing the respect of fans and drivers is the price that Sebastian must pay for potentially winning his fourth title on the trot, then I have no doubt that he will have no problem with that.
Fastest Lap: 1-0 to Sebastian Vettel (1-1 each)
Qualifying: 3-0 to Sebastian Vettel (6-0 to Sebastian Vettel)
Race: 5-0 to Sebastian Vettel (10-0 to Sebastian Vettel)
Red Bull: 17-1 to Sebastian Vettel