Team-Mate Wars: Sepang

Wednesday 27-March-2013 13:49

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

Red Bull Racing
Race: Webber
Season: Sebastian Vettel 1 - Mark Webber 1
Fixing the score on TMW is so much easier than changing things in real life. In the race Mark had a fairly fortuitous start when a great big lane opened up on the inside going into Turn 1, but he used it to maximum advantage. It may have taken him a lap to get past Alonso with a deranged front wing but he made the perfect crossover between Inters and slicks. His second set of hard tyres lasted him just twelve laps which shows how just hard he was pushing early on. It would be interesting to know if that was all part of the plan, or just to keep in front of his team-mate, who took on mediums earlier and made them last seventeen laps.

We've all seen how the race panned out towards the end, but Vettel's a logical guy and there may be some extenuating circumstances as to why he did what he did - that he can't reveal without breaching Red Bull confidentiality. Autosport journalist Mark Hughes believes that in the middle of the race - when we had the "Mark's too slow" outburst - that Webber was trying to back Seb up into the two following Mercedes, the cause of the two Red Bulls' 2010 crash in Turkey.

So, on the surface Vettel looks like he acted like a spoilt kid and jeopardised a Red Bull 1-2, but there is a fair degree of unresolved needle that goes back to Brazil which we'll fully investigate this weekend. Whatever the background, it's generally advisable to do what the team tells you - and although Vettel has revelled in ignoring Rocky's instructions to slow down and produced fastest laps at the end of races in the past, this indiscretion had bitten him fully on the arse.

Race: Button
Season: Jenson Button 2 - Sergio Perez 0
Such was the improvement in the McLaren between Australia and Malaysia that Jenson was hoping it would stay dry for the race. He and Checo weren't that far off the leaders' pace, even if they were lucky to have the Force India cars committing hari kari. Jenson suffered from McLaren's own finger trouble en route to what would have been fifth place. He thought he could have got more on a three-stopper, but Perez's tyres were three or four seconds off the pace at the close, prompting his last-minute fourth pit-stop.

Race: Rosberg
Season: Lewis Hamilton 1 - Nico Rosberg 1
Hamilton won the qualifying battle again, but Rosberg won the long game and even though he finished behind his team-mate, it was only courtesy of the iron-fist of Ross Brawn. The way Hamilton was talking after the race you'd have thought he was quite willing to move over and let Nico pass him. So if that were the case, why did he start trying re-overtakes when he knew he was short of fuel. Lewis admitted that the team were saving fuel from early on.

Rosberg wasn't exactly bulging with spare fuel either but it woukd have been interesting to see how close he could have got to the Red Bulls if he'd been unleashed.

Race: Massa
Season: Fernando Alonso 1 - Felipe Massa 1
Massa has now aced Alonso four races in a row in qualifying - which is not great news for Ferrari prodigy Jules Bianchi. That second seat looks well and truly occupied for some time to come. Massa lost places at the start by not challenging his team-mate as hard as he could, but at least he didn't hit anyone.

As for Alonso's bump with Vettel - the PF1 Bangs and Crashes Committee also thought that Sebastian's pace through the apex of Turn 2 was surprisingly tardy, which caught Fernando (and his wing) out. Were it to happen again then maybe somebody other than a Red Bull team member should look at the telemetry. Given that's the kind of impact that can puncture a tyre it's unlikely he did it deliberately, but even so...

Race: Grosjean
Season: Kimi Raikkonen 1 - Romain Grosjean 1
Two races and two E21s returned to the garage intact, Romain is on a roll. What's more, he outpaced Kimi Raikkonen in the race and unlike his team-mate kept the car on the road through the fast chicane for all of the laps. Plus he breezed by both Perez and Hulkenberg while Raikkonen struggled. By the end of the race it made no difference because they were 6th and 7th - but had the Force Indias been around Grosjean's margin of victory over his team-mate would have been more apparent.

Force India
Race: Sutil
Season: Paul Di Resta 1 - Adrian Sutil 1
A tale of misery and woe centered around the elusive Force India captive wheelnut. Most particularly, its reluctance to part company with the Force India wheels during pitstops. Sutil outqualified Di Resta - thanks largely to the team failing to get Paul out in time in Q2 because of faulty rain radar. From the moment Sutil was delayed at the first stops their running was compromised, so although Paul overtook Adrian on track, mechanical issues were already kicking in.

Race: Hulkenberg
Season: Nico Hulkenberg 2 - Esteban Gutierrez 0
Hulkenberg had a bit of a fighty race, ploughing forward in mixed conditions but struggling when it got fully dry.

Race: Bottas
Season: Maldonado 0 - Bottas 2
Bottas ran much closer to the front than the first race, which mustbe encouraging. Maldonado was far more complementary about the FW35 this weekend but spent more time than most investigating areas of grass and gravel. Having run through the gravel painted with the Malaysian flag it looked like he'd been driving on hundreds and thousands.

Torro Rosso
Race: Vergne
Season: Daniel Ricciardo 0 - Jean-Eric Vergne 2
Vergne may lose out to Ricciardo in qualifying but in the race he picked up the point that had been heading his way in Melbourne. With things going pear-shaped at Red Bull - can anybody imagine Webber signing for another season - the first eight races of the year are going to be very important for these two.

Race: Bianchi
Season: Jules Bianchi 2 - Max Chilton 0
Max is making Jules look very good - the last time somebody looked this good in a back-of-the-grid team it was a Minardi driven by a Senor Alonso.

Race: Pic
Season: Giedo van der Garde 0 - Charles Pic 2
There were rumours doing the rounds that with Caterham struggling so badly, they might be forced to jettison Giedo and bring back Heikki Kovalainen. Certainly with KERS and Bianchi in the rival car they look up against it.

The Kimi is Disappointed File: Qualifying was "...not very good in the end, not very good on the intermediates. It is what it is."

Quotes of the Race Weekend
Martin Whitmarsh revealed that the team have abandoned the wind tunnel for some pasture next door : "We've made some changes in the field and seen an improvement."

Mark Webber "You need to have strong people all the way through the team."

Star of the Race
Sutil 1, Brawn 1,
Overtaking Move of the Race
Raikkonen 1, Grosjean 1
Dull vs Exciting GPs
Incandescent 1 -Exciting 1 - Dull 0
Sat on the Naughty Step Maldonado 1, Vettel 1

Andrew Davies

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