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Team-Mate Wars: Abu Dhabi GP

Tuesday 5th November 2013

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The 'Curious Incident of the Tyre Stop in the Night time'

The 'Curious Incident of the Tyre Stop in the Night time'

Because in F1 the first person you have to beat is your team-mate...

Red Bull Racing
Race: Vettel
Season: Sebastian Vettel 16 - Mark Webber 1
A win over your team-mate by more than thirty seconds is pretty impressive. Winning by that margin in a dry race twice in a season hasn't happened since 1995 when Michael Schumacher did it three times. Of course there were extenuating circumstances, Mark got trapped behind slower cars on a circuit where it's hard to overtake and lost time there; whereas Vettel was never impeded. The other side to that story is that Webber was hammering along at the close of the race to keep in front of Rosberg and Grosjean whereas Sebastian was poodling along to keep his engineer happy. He took fastest lap on Lap 51 and then Rocky carefully failed to inform him that Alonso had put in a 1:43.608 on Lap 53.

Rocky has to find new ways of telling Sebastian to slow down every race, which is the intriguing nature of their relationship. The moment that the timing screens turn to purple while Vettel is leading by a margin, you know to listen out for team radio. This time we got: "Sebastian, it's all about being smart from now" as early as Lap 39. Other less patient engineers from competing teams might say "just ****ing slow down!"

McLaren
Race: Perez
Season: Jenson Button 12 - Sergio Perez 5
It's rare for Sergio to be stronger than Jenson in both qualifying and the race, but we never got to see Jenson's true race pace after a most un-Button-like first turn bump. It's hard to remember a first lap accident that Jenson caused all on his own, this season or any season. He got hit in Korea and he got hit in India, but this one came from him. Perez put in another strong drive and there are arguments as to whether Sutil should have been allowed to keep his position in front of him having taken a short-cut across the chicane while vying with Maldonado. Sergio got past him in the end, but by then he was a long way back.

Mercedes
Race: Rosberg
Season: Lewis Hamilton 10 - Nico Rosberg 7
More first lap misery for Lewis after what was a great getaway from the line. Austin is coming, and that's nice and wide. If a lane opens up for him, as it did for Alonso last year at the Circuit of the Americas, he'll be away and hopefully we'll see a return of the old Lewis. As BBC technical expert Gary Anderson talked about during the race, Lewis's lack of sympathy in preserving the tyres is costing him dear. It's almost like the early season with the steel-belted Pirellis. Rosberg got a great start and pushed Webber all the way. Ever since he got a good result against Michael Schumacher, Nico's enjoyed Abu Dhabi. It's nice to know that at least two drivers like it.

Ferrari
Race: Alonso
Season: Fernando Alonso 14 - Felipe Massa 3
Massa outqualified Alonso again and was outracing him for a long way into the GP. Then we got to the Curious Incident of the Tyre Change in the Night Time, when they brought Massa in early and gave him medium tyres, instead of letting him go a few laps longer and take on the fast ones that he'd been so impressive with in the early stint. If he could make softs last for 18 laps on full tanks, why did Ferrari think that he couldn't manage 16 laps on softs with a fuel load that was diminishing to nothing?

Mass and Alonso could have finished 5th and 6th but finished 5th and 8th instead. If Ferrari lose a place in the Constructors' Championship by four points or less, then fingers should be pointed.

Forget about the overtaking-outside-the-track-limits issue, Fernando Alonso did an amazing job in keep his car under control as it bounced over ferocious kerbs while rejoining the track in front of Vergne. It was a masterpiece of a) car control, b) determination c) pain management d) car robustness. Having withstood a 25g bounce that necessitated a trip to the medical centre afterwards, he then went on to set three successive fastest laps at the end of the race. Still motivated...?

Close observers will also note that he managed to do all this without his mascot pig in the garage.

Lotus
Race: Grosjean
Season: Kimi Raikkonen 10 - Romain Grosjean 7
The shorter wheelbase looked the way to go in qualifying, but then we had the issue of the too-flexy floor, Kimi's relegation to the back and a Gerhard-Berger-like, half-overtaking move into Turn 1 that in Berger's day normally put the other car out.

Grosjean had been predicted to challenge Vettel on his Friday pace, but never got near him. He might well feel retrospectively aggrieved about his penalty in Hungary for overtaking outside the circuit's limits, now that Alonso's got away with one. In Hungary he had to go out wide to avoid Felipe Massa's front wing (see the onboard) and couldn't have kept to the track, just as Vergne occupied the line in Abu Dhabi. We want to see more overtaking not less.

Force India
Race: Di Resta
Season: Paul Di Resta 10 - Adrian Sutil 7
Paul DiResta outqualfied Sutil and outscored him. Both drivers stuck to their defensive task as if their careers depended on it. Both drivers had their own 'pilot fish' for the last ten laps of the race, but while Sutil couldn't keep his behind, Di Resta scored an impressive P6 in front of Lewis Hamilton.

Sauber
Race: Hulkenberg
Season: Nico Hulkenberg 16 - Esteban Gutierrez 1
Another poor race for Gutierrez and another poor race for the team who contrived to deny Nico Hulkenberg a top ten finish. But hey, he's so outta there. Sauber may not get the $10m hike for finishing 6th in the constructors instead of 7th, but they've got the luxury of Sirotkin's investment, a potential Maldonado windfall, or more money from Telmex with Gutierrez. Whether that will be curtailed by an anticipated lack of a Mexican GP in 2014 we'll have to see, marketing men like to 'lever their sponsorship' and the absence of a visit to the Rodriguez Brothers Circuit in 2014, denies them that opportunity.

Williams
Race: Maldonado
Season: Maldonado 11 - Bottas 6
Bottas managed to keep faster cars at bay on worn tyres for a lot of the race, but ultimately fell victim to an overlong tyre stop - not made any easier by Williams' recent penalties for failing to secure wheels. Maldonado was right in there and with better luck could have scored a point.

Toro Rosso
Race: Ricciardo
Season: Daniel Ricciardo 10 - Jean-Eric Vergne 7
Daniel managed to finish in front of JEV more though a Toro Rosso miscalculation than anything else. Jean-Eric's tyres fell off the cliff after the team tried to turn a two-stop into a one-stop and it didn't work.

Marussia
Race: Chilton
Season: Jules Bianchi 15 - Max Chilton 2
Bianchi re-established himself in front. As he needs to.

Caterham
Race: Van der Garde
Season: Giedo van der Garde 6 - Charles Pic 11
Van der Garde for a change.

The Kimi is Disappointed File: "Obviously it's not the funniest moment or the happiest moment when we have (financial) difficulties like this."

Star of the Race
Vettel 4, Grosjean 3, Alonso 2, Hamilton 2, Hulkenberg 2, , Sutil 1, Brawn 1, Perez 1, Rosberg 1,

Overtaking Move of the Race
Raikkonen 6, Vettel 2, Grosjean 2, Alonso 1, Button 1, Bottas 1, Webber, Hamilton 1, Perez 1, Massa 1

Dull vs Exciting GPs
Exciting 13 - Dull 4

Sat on the Naughty Step
Van der Garde 2, Sutil 2, Stewards 2, Maldonado 1, Vettel 1, Red Bull 1, Gutierrez 1, Hulkenberg 1, Grosjean 1, Hembery 1, Webber 1, Massa 1, Bianchi 1, Raikkonen 1,

Media Watch
Jenny Gow on R5: "We've got some cycling Olympians in the Force India garage including Lizzie Armistead and Sir Ben Ainslie..."

Andrew Davies

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