Shades of warfare at Mercedes was the biggest storyline of the Monaco weekend, but let’s make our way through the eleven teams and hand out the points for Team Mate Battles.
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.
Kamui Kobayashi was not a happy man after the race. Not only was he passed by Bianchi at La Rascasse in a move that has put Marussia leaps and bounds ahead in the championship, he was passed in a move that Kamui himself probably would have tried himself if the roles had been reversed. Kobayashi is no stranger to slight contact during overtaking moves, and while he felt Jules’ move was overstepping the mark, the stewards saw no reason to investigate. In a sport that isn’t shy of handing out needless penalties, that says a lot.
Unfortunately for Kamui, he claimed his Caterham was undriveable after the encounter and the race data bears that out…Having been ahead of Marcus for the first half of the race, once Kamui lost position to Ericsson following his clash with Bianchi, he lost almost a full two minutes over the remainder of the race, finishing 3 laps behind the Mercs.
Ericsson had an entertaining, if completely brainless, end to his qualifying when he lost control and slammed into Massa, who was charitably dawdling off the racing line to let the Caterham pass. With a grid penalty ineffective to use on a man who qualified last, the Swede (sporting a very nice tribute helmet to Ronnie Peterson) was forced to start from the pitlane, and things didn’t improve from there. Ericsson lost almost a second a lap to Kamui over the opening 23 laps of the race, and while he wasn’t particularly fast this weekend (1.6 seconds slower than Kamui in qualifying), he kept his nose clean during the race and held off the charging Kimi Raikkonen over the final two laps to finish 11th ahead of the Finn. Race points go to Kamui though, as there was the possibility/probability that it could have been him finishing where Bianchi did.
Fastest lap: Marcus Ericsson (4-2 to Marcus Ericsson) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Kamui Kobayashi (15-3 to Kamui Kobayashi) (after Round 6)
Race: Kamui Kobayashi (25-5 to Kamui Kobayashi) (after Round 6)
Caterham: 42-12 to Kamui Kobayashi (Total After Round 6)
Marussia’s first points were very much a team effort, and required Max Chilton to use his powers of foresight for the benefit of the team. Chilton’s clash with Kimi Raikkonen under the safety car went unnoticed on camera, and largely unnoticed by the stewards (much to Raikkonen’s annoyance), but if Chilton hadn’t done that, then Kimi’s Lap 74 move on Magnussen wouldn’t have occured, and Marussia wouldn’t have scored points. Excellent team tactics, and very nice of Max to sacrifice himself for the good of the team.
Joking aside, this weekend saw Jules Bianchi put in the kind of attention-grabbing drive that he needed in order to separate himself from Max Chilton, who had been running Jules closer over the opening races than Jules would have liked. Faster than Chilton in all the practice sessions, he took 19th spot in qualifying, but started from the back due to a gearbox change. Getting past Max proved easy when Chilton failed to get off the line well, the Lotuses had their opening lap misfortunes, and Jules cleared Sutil & Ericsson to run 16th at the end of the opening lap. While retirements and incidents up ahead played a huge part in getting into the points from there, Jules made a great, if slightly rude move on Kamui Kobayashi at La Rascasse, following Raikkonen who had just passed the Caterham.
That overtaking move may have been the moment that transforms the fortunes of both backmarkers teams for next season. Marussia are unlikely to fall below tenth in the championship now, regardless of whatever Sauber manage, as Caterham don’t look as sharp this season as the Banbury boys. With the extra boost of a possible ‘Column 1’ payment (ranging 30-50 million dollars), will Chilton’s money be required in 2015?
Fastest lap: Max Chilton (5-1 to Max Chilton) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Jules Bianchi (12-6 to Jules Bianchi) (after Round 6)
Race: Jules Bianchi (15-15 to each) (after Round 6)
Marussia: 28-26 to Jules Bianchi (Total After Round 5) (Jules takes the lead for the first time)
It was somewhat unusual to see Williams trailing both Force India & McLaren at this race, considering their respective performances so far this season. Neither car made it into Q3, although there is the slight possibility that Massa may have managed it if he hadn’t been wiped out by a needlessly out of control Ericsson. However, considering that Bottas had been quicker throughout all the practice sessions, it’s not likely that Massa would have been significantly quicker than the Finn.
Williams employed a risky strategy with Massa during the race, opting not to pit the Brazilian driver under the safety car on Lap 26, something that almost everyone else did. As a result, the Brazilian worked his way up to 5th before his pitstop on Lap 46, emerging in 11th place ahead of Jules Bianchi. Due to not stopping at the same time as everyone else and getting clogged up in pit traffic, Massa spent the least amount of time of anyone in the race in the pitlane, almost two seconds quicker than what Valtteri managed.
Massa quickly caught the train of Bottas, Gutierrez & Raikkonen, but despite running tyres that were twenty laps younger than those in front, was unable to pass, and had to wait for all three to suffer their various misfortunes to come through to take 7th after Magnussen also lost out towards the end.
Bottas had gone for the more conventional strategy of stopping on Lap 26, and looked as though he could absorb the pressure of holding off the train behind him when his Mercedes engine let go at Loews hairpin. Race points go to him though, as he appeared to have Felipe covered until then.
Fastest Lap: Felipe Massa (4-2 to Felipe Massa) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Valtteri Bottas (9-9 to each) (after Round 6)
Race: Valtteri Bottas (25-5 to Valtteri Bottas) (after Round 6)
Williams: 36-18 to Valtteri Bottas (Total After Round 6)
Kyvat’s arrival at Toro Rosso seems to have given Jean-Eric Vergne the hurry up, as the Frenchman produced one of his best weekends yet. The bad news for him is that Kyvat was there, right behind him, at pretty much every .Sp5rl!47r. While Vergne held the upper hand through FP1 & FP2, Daniil closed in to be just 0.030 seconds slower in FP3, before both made it into Q3. Kyvat survived an accident at the chicane that could very easily have been like Perez’s 2011 accident at the same point, but after pitting for a new nose, the young Russian shook off the incident and promptly beat Jean-Eric in Q2.
Vergne himself had gone quickest in Q1, and ended qualifying in 7th place, with Kyvat a very impressive ninth place. Expectations were high for the team after such a good qualifying session, STR saying ‘today is a great boost for the team’ on Saturday evening. Unfortunately, the race didn’t work out for either driver, as the team suffered their first double retirement since Spa 2011. After getting through the opening laps in 7th and 8th place, JEV ahead of Daniil, it quickly became apparent that Kyvat had a problem. He retired with an exhaust failure after only ten laps.
Jean-Eric put in a great performance to be running in 6th place after his pitstop under the safety car, before being passed illegally by Kevin Magnussen. Things were to get worse for Vergne then, as he got word that he had received a drive through penalty for his dangerous release from his pitbox. The release saw the Toro Rosso launch into the path of Magnussen, with the Dane having to take avoiding action, and Vergne narrowly missing some Williams mechanics alongside. The drive through penalty put Vergne down into thirteenth spot, and while recovery was still possible, his exhaust also let go on Lap 52, putting an end to an otherwise excellent performance.
Fastest Lap: Jean-Eric Vergne (4-2 to Daniil Kyvat) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Jean-Eric Vergne (12-6 to Jean-Eric Vergne) (after Round 6)
Race: Jean-Eric Vergne (20-10 to Daniil Kyvat) (after Round 6)
Toro Rosso: 30-24 to Daniil Kyvat (Total After Round 6)
Adrian Sutil looked as though he was set to repeat some of the magic he found on the streets during 2013, pulling some spectacular moves in the early .Sp5rl!47rs of the race on the likes of Grosjean, Ericsson & Chilton. The reason he had to pull those moves was due to him hitting the rear of Grosjean’s Lotus on Lap 1 when the traffic suddenly slowed going through Mirabeau, but he had started to recover nicely when he lost control of his Sauber at the chicane. A relatively heavy impact with the barrier put him out of the race, the German driver unscathed, but it was a lost opportunity for Sutil, considering he was closing quickly on Jules Bianchi at the time.
Also a lost opportunity for Gutierrez, who made a silly error at La Rascasse under pressure from Kimi Raikkonen. Without that mistake, Esteban was undoubtedly looking at a decent points haul. He knew it too, the Mexican driver apologizing for his error afterwards: “It was probably the most painful mistake in my career. I touched the guardrail in Rascasse on the entry to the corner and spun, that was the end of the race. Today we had a great chance to earn some points. It is very disappointing. I really want to say sorry to everyone in the team because they all did a great job today.”
Monaco is the circuit that Adrian Sutil first caught the eye of the F1 community, going quickest for Spyker at a very wet practice session in 2007, and it looked as though the 2014 race was set to be kind to him, as he was comfortably quicker than Gutierrez through FP2 & FP3, before losing out in Q1 by a miniscule 0.04 seconds. Adrian is simply not doing enough to show that he is a step above Gutierrez, a driver I was quite harsh on during last years Team Mate Battles. Considering some of Esteban’s performances this season, allied with the relative performance of the Saubers, I believe that the young Mexican has significantly raised his game compared to his rookie season, and is outclassing his much more experienced team-mate. While not hugely highly-rated, Sutil was regarded as a safe pair of hands up until this year, and unless he turns things around very soon, we may soon see the back of Adrian.
Fastest Lap: Esteban Gutierrez (6-0 to Esteban Gutierrez) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Esteban Gutierrez (12-6 to Esteban Gutierrez) (after Round 6)
Race: Esteban Gutierrez (20-10 to Esteban Gutierrez) (after Round 6)
Sauber: 38-16 to Esteban Gutierrez (Total After Round 6)
It’s a pity that Sergio Perez left the door open for Jenson Button to attack into Mirabeau on Lap 1. While Button wasn’t blameless in the collision, Sergio left himself open to such a move, especially when you consider the density of traffic on the opening lap around Monte Carlo. Unfortunately for Perez, his early retirement was in stark contrast to another excellent performance from Hulkenberg, and up until the race there had been very very little to seperate the two.
Perez lead the way in all three practice sessions, albeit by very small margins of 0.1-0.3 seconds. That 0.1 second edge ended up being a deciding factor in qualifying, as Sergio got into Q3 ahead of Nico by that very amount. Both drivers felt they could have done more with their qualifying, and it was nice to see Nico not make excuses and admit that he couldn’t really have achieved any more from his Q2 effort.
The Hulk had already gotten past Perez when Sergio and Jenson got together at Mirabeau, and from there, produced a great race to claim fifth place. Running the ‘harder’ soft tyre from the start meant that Nico had to take on the supersofts a little earlier than he would have liked at his one pitstop on Lap 26, meaning a massive 52 laps on the softer tyre. Despite coming under serious pressure towards the end from the train of McLarens and Raikkonen, he weathered the onslaught to finish fifth, yet another race that proved Nico can handle serious pressure from behind. Canada is next, one of the races that Perez outperformed Button at last season, and he’ll need to produce another cracker in Montreal to arrest the growing advantage that Nico is building up.
Fastest Lap: Nico Hulkenberg (4-2 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Sergio Perez (12-6 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 6)
Race: Nico Hulkenberg (20-10 to Nico Hulkenberg) (after Round 6)
Force India: 36-18 to Nico Hulkenberg (Total After Round 6)
McLaren Mercedes Media
While Kevin Magnussen has won at Monaco pre-F1, if you had to guess a McLaren driver that wouldn’t get into Q3, there would be nothing unreasonable or illogical about guessing the young Dane. A tricky car in the early part of 2014 due to a lack of downforce didn’t hamper the Woking squad as much as usual though, due to the track requiring mechanical grip moreso, something the McLaren doesnt seem to lack.
Kevin, just ike Daniil Kyvat, seemed to enjoy the tight confines of the Monte Carlo circuit, and immediately went quicker than Jenson in FP1. While Button went 0.5 seconds quicker in FP2, Kevin responded in FP3 with a lap 0.013 seconds quicker than Jenson. Such tiny margins continued in Q1, with Jenson going less than 0.1 seconds quicker than Magnussen. Q2 was to finally separate the pair though, Jenson getting caught out by catching up on a Toro Rosso on his final run in Q2 and ruining the lap. No such issues for Kevin, who set a lap 0.3 seconds quicker to get into Q3, and ultimately landing himself 8th spot on the grid.
Despite starting 4 positions ahead, Kevin never opened out much of an advantage over Jenson, 10 seconds being the maximum, just before the first safety car. Jenson was lucky to still be in the race at that point, having been the man that whacked off Sergio Perez’s right rear wheel at Mirabeau on the first lap. While this may have been a slight error of judgement on Button’s part, that was the only blemish of an otherwise faultless race. Jenson was the only man to respond to Sutil’s crash at the chicane, pitting just before the safety car came out, something that Lewis Hamilton wished he could have done.
Kevin’s race was very dramatic, nailing his launch to jump up to 6th after Ste Devote, passing Kyvat around the outside. His stop under the second safety car caused him a delay, as he had to wait for traffic to pass, before almost getting clobbered by Vergne leaving his pitbox. While he passed Vergne after the safety car withdrew, it was before such a move was allowed, and while handing the place back, he got passed by Hulkenberg as well. An ERS problem developed on his McLaren in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs, meaning he was caught and passed by Jenson, before Raikkonen decided to lunge at him at the hairpin. A single point wasn’t really a great reward for such a good rookie drive at Monaco, and he doesn’t get the TMB points either, as Jenson’s race was perfectly executed.
Fastest Lap: Kevin Magnussen (5-1 to Kevin Magnussen) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Kevin Magnussen (9-9 to Kevin Magnussen) (after Round 6)
Race: Jenson Button (25-5 to Jenson Button) (after Round 6)
McLaren: 35-19 to Jenson Button (Total After Round 6)
As part of my Monaco preview, I predicted that Lotus would be one of the teams to watch in Monaco, due to their successful Barcelona race and testing. All that promise seemed to ebb away once action got underway on Thursday, the E22 suffering due to poor traction, something that wouldn’t have affected them as much at the likes of the Catalunya circuit. Neither driver had any notable problems or issues in practice, and spent the Thursday practice sessions knocking around the lower midfield.
Things didn’t improve on Saturday, despite the higher temperatures, something that Romain Grosjean felt would help. ‘We were hoping that the warmer conditions might help a little bit today but it wasn’t to be. It was a difficult qualifying session despite the car balance being okay but I think that the car is struggling a bit in slow corners, which is something that we were concerned might be the case.’
Maldonado, despite some cruel expectations, didn’t crash all weekend, but ran consistently slower than Romain. 0.2 seconds separated the pair in Q1 & Q2, with Romain taking 14th, Maldonado 15th. That was as far as Pastor’s weekend went, the Venezuelan’s engine switching off on the grid due to a fuel supply issue. Speculation that Lotus did it on purpose to almost certainly save themselves money on repair bills remains completely that!
Romain Grosjean’s race was far from smooth as well. Suffering a puncture on Lap 1, due to a clash with Sutil, he pitted immediately and caught back up under the safety car, having taken on the soft tyres. Saying afterwards that he couldn’t make progress on those tyres, he pitted again on Lap 23 for the supersofts…just two laps before the safety car came back out on track for the Sutil crash. Despite not having much luck over the opening half of the race, Romain kept his nose clean during the race, and due to incidents and accidents ahead, worked his way back into 9th place. He finished a second behind Jules Bianchi.
Fastest Lap: Romain Grosjean (5-1 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Romain Grosjean (18-0 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 6)
Race: Romain Grosjean (30-0 to Romain Grosjean) (after Round 6)
Lotus: 53-1 to Romain Grosjean (Total After Round 6)
Up until Lap 74 of the race, Kimi Raikkonen had done enough to snaffle the race points for the first time this year, but that was until his rather desperate lunge up the inside of his 2014 nemesis Kevin Magnussen, who oddly enough took the seat of Kimi’s 2013 nemesis. Kimi losing FP2 due to a gearbox issue didn’t seem to set him back too badly, as he recovered to qualify right behind Fernando, albeit 0.7 seconds slower than the Spaniard, who nailed his Q3 lap.
Following on from his competitive Spanish race, Kimi launched his Ferrari off the line perfectly, and did what Fernando usually does so well…perfectly positioning his F14 T to sneak around the outside of Ste Devote. Inheriting third once Vettel was out of the way, all that was separating Kimi from his first podium of the year was a mishap through the pitstops/safety car. And that was exactly what happened, a disappointed Raikkonen reporting after the race that he hadn’t been informed by Ferrari that lapped traffic were coming through under the safety car and getting hit by Max Chilton.
Alonso, much like his 2013 race, looked a more demure character than he usually does. After a typically fiery Saturday effort, Fernando fell some distance behind Ricciardo during the opening .Sp5rl!47rs before himself and Daniel started to close in on Raikkonen before the first safety car. With positions amongst the frontrunners staying the same through the safety car, any chance of Alonso beating Raikkonen home would have been unlikely, particularly as Alonso’s Ferrari developed a serious braking issue in the final quarter of the race, effectively only braking on one side of the car.
Kimi’s run to the flag was decent until he misjudged his attempt on Magnussen, but the clear signs of the Finn finding his feet are there. For the first time, it looked as though Raikkonen had Alonso covered, until luck turned against him. Alonso still enjoys a massive (and growing) Team Mate Battles points advantage, but the reality is that Kimi is closer than the points suggest.
Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen (4-2 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Fernando Alonso (12-6 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 6)
Race: Fernando Alonso (30-0 to Fernando Alonso) (after Round 6)
Ferrari: 46-8 to Fernando Alonso (Total After Round 6)
I could devote this entire section to giving you my thoughts on Hamilton’s state of mind, his apparent emotional fragility, and his unwillingness to accept the apologies of a man who more than likely made a genuine error under pressure on Saturday. All I will say on the matter is that out of the two Mercedes drivers, it is Rosberg who is conducting himself far more admirably than Lewis, handling the ‘fued’ with far more grace and dignity than Lewis is managing. Even after four straight defeats, Nico congratulated Lewis in Spain while at the same time showing his frustration.
Within the walls of the Mercedes camp, Nico appears to be the more popular man. Watch the greeting that awaited the two drivers when they arrived on the start/finish straight post-race. As they climbed from their cars, a large cheer signalled Nico’s return, while Lewis got a lukewarm reception. Former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley stated on Twitter that Lewis didn’t have many friends left at McLaren when he left, and he is possibly beginning to alienate the men and women who work with him every day. Niki Lauda & Toto Wolff’s personalities certainly aren’t the type to accept primadonna-like behaviour, and comments from both men since Sunday certainly indicate that they aren’t in the mood to humour any of Lewis’s histrionics.
There is little point in analysing the two driver’s respective drives. Both were immense throughout the weekend, and Nico got the job done on Saturday, the job being setting the pole lap on the first run, and not the second. Monaco is a risky track to leave it til the dying minute, and Lewis got stung on this occasion. Nico handled the pressure from Lewis beautifully throughout the race, weathering the safety car restarts, weathering the fuel saving phase, and weathering the kitchen sink that Lewis threw at him until something got in his eye once it was evident that Nico wasn’t crumbling. Great stuff from Nico.
Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (4-2 to Nico Rosberg) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Nico Rosberg (12-6 to Lewis Hamilton) (after Round 6)
Race: Nico Rosberg (20-10 to Lewis Hamilton) (after Round 6)
Mercedes: 34-20 to Lewis Hamilton (Total After Round 6)
Poor old Sebastian Vettel, assuming he’s an optimist, can take heart from the simple fact that his car’s reliability is questionable during the same season that there is a team miles ahead. Assuming Mercedes maintain a decent margin out front (and there’s no reason to think they won’t right now) then all Sebastian will have possibly lost is third place in the Driver’s Championship, something that won’t bother him unduly. Seb is now over three full race wins behind Nico Rosberg, and despite his protests to the contrary with a third of the championship over, his championship challenge is almost certainly over unless circumstances at the front change dramatically.
It’s a pity, as Sebastian’s driving since he got his new chassis has been as good as ever. One can point out that he is being matched and beaten by Daniel Ricciardo, but that is more an indication of Ricciardo’s level than it is Vettel’s. Sebastian has proven that he can sustain frontrunning pace and temerity under pressure over successive seasons, which Daniel is still unproven at, but there is little reason to think that he can’t handle it, considering the aplomb with which he has handled his promotion to the big leagues.
In qualifying, Vettel was truly immense. Despite dealing with a relatively serious ERS issue that meant he had to run in more conservative modes, he finished 0.4, 0.2, and 0.150 seconds behind Daniel in the respective Q1-Q3 sessions. As a result, I have decided to give Sebastian the qualifying points.
For the race though, this was a truly tough decision for the TMB points. I considered split points for the two drivers, as Daniel lost out at the start to Seb and Kimi, and would have needed an exceptional drive to get back into that third spot until life was made considerably easier for him by a retirement and a puncture respectively. Lap 3 is, of course, too early to judge how Sebastian may have done, but the hard work of weathering the start and opening lap was done, and with the bonus of a buffer car between himself and Daniel. I’ve given the points to Daniel on this occasion, simply due to the fact he didn’t put a wheel wrong over the race after his tardy start, and that is too much to overlook compared to a driver who only completed three laps, regardless of his position. Much like the Ferrari duel, the points don’t tell the full story of how closely matched the drivers really are at this point.
Fastest Lap: Daniel Ricciardo (4-2 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 6)
Qualifying: Sebastian Vettel (12-6 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 6)
Race: Daniel Ricciardo (25-5 to Daniel Ricciardo) (after Round 6)
Red Bull: 41-13 to Daniel Ricciardo (Total After Round 6)
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- 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