Team-Mate Wars: Melbourne

Tuesday 19-March-2013 23:35

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

Red Bull Racing
Race: Vettel
Season: Sebastian Vettel 1 - Mark Webber 0
Vettel did little wrong apart from failing to find a way past Sutil which cost him second place in the race. Mark Webber's dreadful start was more down to his ill-communicating ECU, the clutch bite point and a lack of KERS for 20 laps. Who'd have thought it, a KERS issue with Mark's car. That hasn't happened since...erm...probably the last time that Helmut Marko helped engineer the car.

Race: Button
Season: Jenson Button 1 - Sergio Perez 0 14
One race around a non-typical race circuit doesn't ruin your whole season. The talk of a switch back to the MP4-27 is certainly premature because the team would have to crash-test it again and there are front aero tweaks that they'd have to make as well. Jenson was putting a brave face on it.

Race: Hamilton
Season: Lewis Hamilton 1 - Nico Rosberg 0
The Rosberg vs Hamilton battle is going to be one of the most watched team-mate battles of the season. When he was having a barge or two at Michael Schumacher, Nico looked like he was fighting more for himself than a team result, safe in the knowledge that they were aiming for the occasional star result and not a title challenge. Now, with the prospect of running a lot closer to the front, in theory he should be a bit more circumspect about imperilling his team-mate for the sake of points. We shall see. In Melbourne Nico had the clear edge in the wet and Lewis had the sound grip of things in the dry - the thing we were denied in his early retirement was how much longer he could have made his tyres last in the second stint.

Race: Massa
Season: Fernando Alonso 1 - Felipe Massa 0
What a difference a year makes. Massa almost got his dream start by outqualifying Alonso and getting cleanly ahead into the first corner. Using his customary guile Alonso made the call to come in early and effectively jumped three cars. The fact that Massa is so reliant on instructions from his engineer means that he is most likely to stick to Plan A. From a political standpoint in the team, Rob Smedley can't really appear to be dreaming up non-optimal strategies to beat the No.1 contracted driver, so Felipe has to stick to the script.

Race: Raikkonen
Season: Kimi Raikkonen 1 - Romain Grosjean 0
Raikkonen's victory was a rarity. Not because it was a Lotus win, or a Kimi comeback victory, but because it was a win from seventh place on the grid. In the last ten years only two other wins have come from that far back in a race that wasn't punctuated by a Safety Car. He said it was one of his easier wins, and that's true, he did all the hard work in the opening laps getting past Rosberg in Turn 1 and Hamilton on Lap 2. Towards the end of the race you could see him speeding up and slowing down in response to Alonso's lap time.

Grosjean said he had mystery car issues, but he's still very much on probation so an error-free first grand prix is not too bad a result.

Force India
Race: Di Resta
Season: Paul di Resta 1 - Adrian Sutil 0
Now this may take a degree of explaining , but basically Di Resta qualified in front of Sutil and caught him up at the end of the race as Sutil's tyres fell away, but was told not to overtake him. So even though Sutil finished in front of Di Resta, the arbitrary hand of TMW gives the result to the Scot who said he felt "robbed". It was of course a tremendous comeback for Sutil, and he'd never ever led a race before. On Sunday he led twice.

Race: Hulkenberg
Season: Nico Hulkenberg 1 - Esteban Gutierrez 0
Hulkenberg had no chance to exploit his P11 in qualifying but he would probably have had a lot of fun with Adrian Sutil had his car not developed a fuel leak.

Race: Bottas
Season: Maldonado 0 - Bottas 1
Pastor Maldonado got sent to the figurative OffonF1 Naughty Step. Not for taking so much grass in qualifying that you could have attached a gang mower to the back of his FW35 and done half the circuit, or the fact that he made a mistake in the race and buried the car to its axles in gravel, no, it's for slagging the car so much that you could see his attendant Press Officer visibly sigh.
"The car is very bad," snapped Pastor, cue the sigh.
"Was that a problem, Pastor?"
"The problem is that it is very slow." He knows how to motivate people.

Bottas used the experience of his 15 Friday runs to edge past his team-mate, perhaps another reason for the Maldonado malcontent.

Toro Rosso
Race: Vergne
Season: Daniel Ricciardo 0 - Jean-Eric Vergne 1
This year it gets serious for the Toro Rosso duo because two seasons is about as long as Franz Tost's patience lasts before the drivers get spat out of the other end of the Red Bull talent machine. Jean-Eric almost scored a point until a late-race trip across the gravel dropped him from 10th to 12th. Daniel Ricciardo got nudged on the opening lap, saved his car from tank-slapping into others but spent the rest of the race recovering.

Race: Bianchi
Season: Jules Bianchi 1 - Max Chilton 0
It was sad to see Luiz Razia having his F1 chance snatched away from him at the last minute. His replacement may not have brought so many dollars to the team, but Jules Bianchi already looks a contender of scaring the lower end of the midfield. Given that he has a half a season of Friday running behind him, the Ferrari protege should have no problem in producing a TMW ratio akin to that of Alonso vs Massa, but Max Chilton is going to progress thanks to his presence in the team. Even if he ends up getting mullah'ed.

Race: Pic
Season: Charles Pic 1 - Giedo van der Garde 0
Poor old Tony Fernandes. The owner of the Caterham team has spent millions on his QPR team and it's bottom of the Premiership. Now he's spent millions on his F1 team and they are bottom of the F1 Constructors' table. Before they had HRT and Marussia propping them up, but now they are plum stone cold last and on the evidence of the first race, they might be there for a bit. At least they can't get relegated.

The Kimi's Disappointed File: "I was a little bit disappointed about qualifying."
Ed note: Great to have a 'disappointed' in an official Lotus press release but also to include his favourite increment, the 'little bit'. Also watch out for his favourite adjective 'nice'.

Quotes of the Race Weekend
Lewis Hamilton: "I was having breakfast and I had a little giggle with myself knowing that I was going to get into the car."

Sam Michael, McLarenAsked if he was disappointed about the speed of the car he said with a touch of waspiness: "I don't have any time in the day to be disappointed, I'm just concentrating on making the car better."

Star of the Race
Sutil 1

Overtaking Move of the Race
Raikkonen 1

Dull vs Exciting GPs
Exciting 1 - Dull 0

Sat on the Naughty StepMaldonado 1

Frank Hopkinson

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