Team-Mate Wars: Spanish GP

Wednesday 14th May 2014

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Team-Mate Wars: Spanish GP

Team-Mate Wars: Spanish GP

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg 0 - Lewis Hamilton 5
Race: When Lewis released the second clutch paddle for his launch off the Barcelona grid he already knew that he'd got Nico for the first corner. By then the second Mercedes was already visible in his mirrors and so that was the most dangerous phase of the race over with. Job done?

By Lap 2 he had a 1.6 gap, by Lap 3 a 1.9 second gap, by Lap 4 a 2.0 gap - surely this was going to keep on growing as Lewis added increment after increment to his lead and disappeared over the horizon? But by Lap 8 it was still only 1.9 (no backmarkers in the way to blame) and approaching the first pit-stops on Lap 16 it was just 1.7 seconds.

This wasn't going to be another China, this was going to be Bahrain. What fueled the proximity was the constant coaching of both drivers about where they could go faster compared to their team-mate equipped with the same machinery. In the end Rosberg never got close enough to make a move and almost everyone in front of them in the closing stages dived out of the way as though they were carrying the plague.

Rosberg said he needed another lap to get past Lewis, but the Alonso vs Maldonado duel of 2012 showed us that you can get very close without being in a position to overtake despite having the willpower of 100,000 Spaniards on your side.

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo 4 - Sebastian Vettel 1
Race: Ricciardo
Ricciardo qualified in front of Vettel again to make it 4-1 in the Saturday battles. He didn't conjure the best get-away from the line but considering how many places he could have lost in the drag-strip down to Turn 1, fourth on the opening lap was nothing to worry about.

Of more concern to the Red Bull team was his team-mate who had only crept forward from 15th to 14th and looked like facing a long afternoon of it. As it turned out, Red Bull's strategy for Vettel was perfection, pitting early and making use of the big spaces in the field where he could use the speed of the car. Daniel was bottled up behind Bottas, but again, no big deal because once he was past he wasn't going to catch Rosberg and all Bottas wanted to do was hold onto 4th.

Secretly Dan will probably have thought that this was a race where he could grab a healthy wedge of points more than his team-mate and it didn't happen. On combined race and qualifying pace Red Bull are the undisputed No.2 team now.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso 5 - Kimi Raikkonen 0
Race: Alonso
They qualified 6th and 7th and finished 6th and 7th, crucially, it was Alonso finishing 6th and Raikkonen 7th. There is now an 'edge' starting to show through on team radio. Raikkonen asked why his team-mate was brought in for tyres first during the race but tactfully glossed over it after the race. Considering how many times we saw Kimi locking up on the opening laps it was a surprise that his tyres were in better shape than Alonso's.

Are Ferrari giving Alonso preferential treatment (the love that he wanted at McLaren and never got) and desperately trying to sign Adrian Newey because they know without it they are going to lose Alonso next year? Because you can't see him hanging around with the prospect of another season like this one.

Kimi's braking problems look to have lessened and it was the differing strategy that switched the Ferrari duo more than anything else.

McLaren
Jenson Button 4 - Kevin Magnussen 1
Race: Button
You get the impression that Ron Dennis has had a word in Jenson Button's ear and told him not to be such a misery after races. To finish 11th after starting 8th and have five cars with Mercedes engines further up the road is not a great advert for the brand. Especially when you've pre-announced that the Barcelona changes are going to see you challenging near he front. Eric Boullier has said that turning a big team like McLaren round is like turning round a Supertanker - but this is more Exxon Valdeez than anything else.

After the race you expected Jenson to be Mr Gloomy, but he was desperate to find some positives for once. As for Kevin Magnussen, his opening lap looked jumpy and he was moving around a lot. Having bounced against a few people already he needs some gentle words, i.e. the catchphrase of the late great Michael Winner.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas 1 - Felipe Massa 4
Race: Bottas
In Qualifying Bottas got the result we all thought that Massa was going to achieve. Felipe would hardly have dreamt when he left Ferrari that at Barcelona he would be outpacing both their cars, but in Q2 he was quicker and up until Q3 it looked likely.

Bottas got the grid position though and kept it for much of the race, while Felipe had an average start and a race where he failed to make an impression. Rob Smedley, now on the Williams pitwall, will be the perfect judge of whether that was the wrong strategy, or Massa putting in less than 100% in adversity.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne 1 - Daniil Kvyat 4
Race: Kvyat
From the moment his wheel parted company from his Toro Rosso in practice, Jean-Eric was doomed to a bad weekend in the office. Kvyat continued to impress.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg 3 - Sergio Perez 2
Race: Perez
Perez is beginning to edge back at Hulkenberg while the whole team are suffering from a lack of development on the car.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean 4 - Pastor Maldonado 1
Race: Grosjean
The modern tragi-comedy that is Maldonado at Lotus didn't fail to offer us more material in Spain. Sliding off the circuit and impacting the wall at the exit of Turn 3 puts a new interpretation on the phrase 'banker lap'. It was a complete banker lap. The hilarious thing from the in-car footage was him desperately trying, with two hands, to pull the clutch buttons up so the car woudn't stall, rather than steering it away from the barrier. Thus after the impact he may not have had four wheels, but at least he gave himself a chance of driving away.

Then in the race he had a go at the slowest driver in the field and almost damaged his own car again. There is an ongoing debate in the PF1 office as to whether Pastor would make a great addition to the NASCAR field and should he be remaned Billy-Bob Maldonado.

Grosjean, on the the other hand, put in a superb qualifying performance and despite having a car that at times was on five cylinders, at others on six cylinders and wouldn't let on when it was going to do that, got the car home for some points.

Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez 3 - Adrian Sutil 2
Race: Gutierrez
Gutierrez got a great start, up to P11 on the opening lap, but was eventually overwhelmed. Sutil may be adding valuable input to the set-up process of the C33 at weekends, but his weight is still a considerable disadvantage. Even with the new lightweight car he looked like the man most likely to go out in Q1.

Caterham
Marcus Ericsson 1 - Kamui Kobayashi 4
Race: Kobayashi
Having unlapped himself against Vettel in the last race it was fun to see the pair enjoying some close track-time together in Barcelona. This time Vettel was through quite quickly, but you'd like to think they could meet up again in Monaco to share some quality time, along the lines of the fabled Coulthard vs Bernoldi encounter

Marussia
Max Chilton 3 - Jules Bianchi 2
Race: Bianchi
Jules was outqualified by Max, not a great career enhancer, but in the race put quite a bit of distance between the two of them. Which he needed to.

Star of the race
Lewis Hamilton 3, Daniel Ricciardo 1, Sergio Perez 1

Overtaking Move of the Race
Valtteri Bottas 1, Daniel Ricciardo 1, Lewis Hamilton 1, Kamui Kobayashi 1, Sebastian Vettel 1,

Sat on the Naughty Step
Pastor Maldonado 3, Christian Horner 1, Kevin Magnussen 1

Media Watch
It looked like Three-Time Le Mans Winner Allan McNish had caught 'Ronspeak' in Barcelona. Ronspeak, for those who don't know it, is named after Ron Dennis, and it is a way of talking that makes simple sentences sound more complicated and more technical. In Ronspeak you wouldn't say: 'we need to make the car quicker'. In Ronspeak you would say 'we need to optimise the package'.

Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish in FP3: 'You have to receive the information, share the information and then activate on the information.'

Eddie Jordan - the Bard of Bray - was much missed in the opening races, and it was good to see him return. He had a go at creating a new word when he changed his mind mid-sentence. Talking about Seb who was 'certainly behind the fields' he was going to say 'impact' but changed his mind at the last moment, and so we got: 'He can certainly make a big im-performance on this race'.

Andrew Davies

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