Team-Mate Wars: Belgian GP

Monday 25th August 2014

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Nico snuggles up at Spa

Nico snuggles up at Spa

In F1, the first thing you have to do is beat - and not collide with - your team-mate.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg 3 - Lewis Hamilton 9

Race: Hamilton
Lewis may have wasted his opportunities in Qualifying, but that was all swept away five seconds into the race after Hamilton got an immaculate launch away from the line and took the lead.

What happened after that is well documented, but Rosberg shaped to make an overtaking move that only the very best can pull off, and although he's brilliant at qualifying, moving past people on track is not one of his strengths (i.e. Vergne/Hungary). He wasn't even close.

Afterwards, in the Mercedes debrief, he said he left his car there to 'prove a point', presumably because he always comes off worst in mano a mano combat with Lewis. But in reality he wasn't remotely close enough to expect any car in front to allow him width through that turn.

The team are acutely aware that it cost them a 1-2 and now we have the post-race 'confession' shenanigans to play out. Because if Rosberg's mindset is that of the envious child, then it brings Monaco swimming starkly back into focus. If he's prepared to let the cars hit each other, then he's obviously of the mindset to park his car at Mirabeau in Qualifying - it wasn't that long after Bahrain.

We may not have seen the end of it yet. Because the FIA can still go back to the race result if they are made aware of information following the race. That's what happened with Alonso vs Vettel at the season finale in 2012 in Brazil where Vettel was thought to have overtaken under yellow flags. He didn't, and everyone at Red Bull breathed out.

This is a story that will be filling the pages from now till Monza.

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo 10 - Sebastian Vettel 2

Race: Ricciardo
Dan got a different kind of win and proved that he can do it as the 'hunted' rather than the 'hunter'. He timed his tyre life to perfection at the end of the race. His last lap was a PB, and Nico Rosberg was only lapping a second a lap quicker by that stage. Sebastian got the better of him in Qualifying, making it Dan 7 vs Seb 5, but Vettel's early-race wobble allowed Dan through and he was gone. So just when you thought that Sebastian was going to start turning the tide, Daniel cranks it up a gear. And the thing is - Mark Webber was going to be offered another year on his contract...

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso 10 - Kimi Raikkonen 2

Race: Raikkonen
A Safety Car at Spa may not have brought Lewis Hamilton back into the mix, but it might have given Kimi Raikkonen a podium. Both Ferraris looked like they were saving fuel to get to the end. Raikkonen, who was only P7 at the end of Lap 1, made the undercut work for him superbly well and he stormed through in the first half of the race. With a 60% likelihood of a Safety Car the fuel might have been eked out, but there were no spectacular offs at Eau Rouge despite many high-speed shimmies.

McLaren
Jenson Button 9 - Kevin Magnussen 3

Race: Button
Post-race there were quite a few saying what a great race Kevin Magnussen had at Spa, but he looked more like an accident in the braking zone waiting to happen. Martin Whitmarsh told 'Checo' to "get his elbows out" last year and it looked as though the ghost of MW had returned to issue the same instruction to Magnussen. Whereas he was blameless for the German shunt which took out Felipe Massa at Hockenheim, there were at least four moments in the Belgian Grand Prix when he looked to be trying a lot harder than Nico Rosberg was 'to prove a point'. Twenty seconds on his time but no points on his licence looked light.

Jenson Button may not have hooked it up in qualifying, but put a memorable move on Alonso on his way to P6, Kevin wasn't so accommodating. Perhaps in the future the term 'Great little battle' should be used as a euphemism for 'my team-mate really p****d me off'.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas 7 - Felipe Massa 5

Race: Bottas
Felipe Massa will have his own reasons to feel aggrieved about Nico Rosberg's intentional contact with Lewis Hamilton. Because parts of Hamilton's shredded tyre spent the first half of the race jammed into Felipe's floor making it very unstable. It wasn't really picked up in the BBC commentary, but Felipe fell back very sharply into the domain of the Sauber and the Toro Rosso. And part of it looked to be wrapped around Nico Rosberg's race aerial at one stage and what a fantastic irony that would have been if it had ripped out all communication with the Mercedes pits.

Bottas strode calmly on to another podium, the true recipient of the phrase 'ice-cool Finn' which is always a better moniker than the 'not very much to say, Finn'.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne 5 - Daniil Kvyat 7

Race: Kvyat
Jean-Eric would presumably like to have proved his team wrong by outqualifying and outperforming the driver STR will be keeping on next year. But he didn't. Another hugely impressive display from Kvyat.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg 8 - Sergio Perez 4

Race: Perez
Force India were probably hoping for a lot more around a circuit where they have traditionally punched above their budget. The biggest mystery of all was Nico Hulkenberg's failure to get out of Q1 on Saturday, normally you could have bet your house on him shining in mixed conditions. It was just the sheer cold that got to him. In the race, Checo and Nico made steady progress up the order, but it was Sergio who maintained his grid advantage.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean 8 - Pastor Maldonado 4

Race: Maldonado
Neither Lotus looked like approaching the points at Spa. Grosjean didn't recover from an early-race encounter with Jules Bianchi. In the flurry of action at the front of the race, the Saubers and Lotus cars were rarely glimpsed.

Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez 5 - Adrian Sutil 7

Race: Sutil
The Saubers circulated at the back with Adrian Sutil maintaining a slender advantage over Gutierrez. If the factory-engined Ferrari teams were struggling, it was always likely that their underfunded shadow would do the same.

Caterham
Marcus Ericsson 1 - Kamui Kobayashi 10 - Andre Lotterer 1

Race: Lotterer
It was embarrassing for Marcus Ericsson to be outqualified by Andre Lotterer by a second on his (presumably) one and only Caterham outing. Thankfully for Marcus, Andre disappeared soon after the start and no further comparisons were available. He did manage to stay ahead of a Marussia till the very last knockings of the race.

Marussia
Max Chilton 4 - Jules Bianchi 8

Race: Chilton
Max had a rare old duel with Marcus Ericsson at the end. While Dan Ricciardo finished off his race with a 1:52.9, Max crossed the line with a flying 2:00.4. He didn't pick up the OffonF1.com award for Slowest Lap - that fell to Fernando Alonso with a majestic final 2:02.987 (without losing a place, mind).

Star of the race
Lewis Hamilton 4, Daniel Ricciardo 4, Sergio Perez 2, Jules Bianchi 1, Valtteri Bottas 1,

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lewis Hamilton 4, Daniel Ricciardo 2, Valtteri Bottas 2, Kamui Kobayashi 1, Sebastian Vettel 1, Nico Hulkenberg 1, Fernando Alonso 1,

Sat on the Naughty Step
Pastor Maldonado 3, Max Chilton 2, Christian Horner 1, Kevin Magnussen 1, Ecclestone 1 (for suggesting it would be no problem to lose cars off the grid), Kimi Raikkonen 1, Charlie Whiting 1 (safety issues in Germany), Perez 1 (the totting up system), Nico Rosberg 1 (Proving-a-point-gate)

Media Watch

Eddie Jordan talking about who the McLaren team can recruit to improve their results. "The DNA is not stacking up - we don't know who at McLaren is going to supply the goodies."

Allan McNish talking about Jenson Button's ability in the wet, "He seems to be able to relish in these conditions."

Before the race Lee Mckenzie (who's coming across more like Jennifer Melfi the psychiatrist in The Sopranos these days) had a good interview with Felipe Massa who revealed that his wife gets very stressed when she sees him in big accidents, but not his son: "My son doesn't care - he just say, "Daddy rolled over."

STBO Award
"First things first, you certainly need brakes round here." Eddie Jordan

Andrew Davies

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