Team-Mate Wars: Suzuka

Thursday 17-October-2013 08:15

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

Red Bull Racing
Race: Vettel
Season: Sebastian Vettel 14 - Mark Webber 1
Mark Webber got the closest he'd come to upsetting the Red Bull formbook since that fateful day in Malaysia when his team-mate decided to play Toad of Toad Hall. Shan't said Toad. If Lewis Hamilton hadn't had his puncture he might have been the perfect buffer between Webber and Vettel, but Mark moved towards him , he moved towards Seb and that was that. What was most amazing was how Vettel got his tyres to last in the middle stint, despite locking up all over the place

Race: Button
Season: Jenson Button 12 - Sergio Perez 3
Button edged this one but once again it was very tight between the McLaren drivers, so tight that you can't imagine Perez going anywhere else next year. If they brought anyone else in, it's unlikely to be for more than a one-year-contract as they'd want to keep a seat free for 2015 - their first year with Honda. Perez was noticeably good at getting out of the way when the leaders came to lap him - unlike some - so he is paying attention to criticism.

Race: Hamilton
Season: Lewis Hamilton 10 - Nico Rosberg 5
All we can go on is qualifying and a few hundred metres, and Lewis Hamilton qualified as the best of the non RBR9 cars and got a flyer of the start. It wasn't his fault he got nudged by Vettel. In the race Rosberg proved yet again that he struggles to get past slightly slower cars, and this is likely to be his best year against Hamilton. Lewis only became a Mercedes driver long after this car had been devised, next year they are likely to get a chassis and set-up that is far more oriented towards his preferences.

Ross Brawn was interesting before the race in a great BBC interview that few picked up on, when he said that Mercedes "needed a senior point of reference." The strong implication was that he'd stay as the boss, but he wasn't interested in being anything else. At race weekends where people often don't say directly what they mean, this was the big man being very straightforward.

Race: Alonso
Season: Fernando Alonso 13 - Felipe Massa 2
Fernando had to prove that he was faster than Felipe and he duly did. We predicted that Luca Montezemolo would be on the dog and bone shortly after the race, but Stefano Domenicali backed up Felipe Massa. They may both be skating on thin ice. And at least the Ferrari duo look like beating McLaren's 64-race points-scoring streak. Fernando hasn't had a (race ending) mechanical failure since 2010.

Race: Grosjean
Season: Kimi Raikkonen 10 - Romain Grosjean 5
Raikkonen left too much to do on Sunday, but as usual, what a ride for his onboard viewers. Kimi's haul of 'Overtaking Move of the Race' victories is by far the largest total (already) since we started TMW. Grosjean qualified brilliantly, got a great start and was smoother than Vettel - you can easily see him battling for podiums in the four remaining races.

Force India
Race: DiResta
Season: Paul Di Resta 8 - Adrian Sutil 7
Paul DiResta managed to shrug off his run of mistakes on what is an unforgiving circuit, but Force India's drop in performance looks irretrievable now. Sutil looks to be fading out of F1.

Race: Hulkenberg
Season: Nico Hulkenberg 14 - Esteban Gutierrez 1
Gutierrez may not have beaten his much-fancied chubby companero but he's showing the team that there is promise for 2014. Nico needs to keep the gap to Esteban as big as he can because as it narrows, so his stock goes down. Though despite his gross tonnage of 74kg he looks as though he's already got a seat at Lotus provided the Infinity/Quantum deal goes ahead.

Race: Bottas
Season: Maldonado 10 - Bottas 5
Pastor Maldonado was keen to recreate the Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost moment at the final chicane on the last lap, for no real reason other than bragging rights. Bottas was keen that both cars shouldn't be damaged for the sake of a single place and played the grown-up and got out of the way.

Torro Rosso
Race: Vergne
Season: Daniel Ricciardo 8 - Jean-Eric Vergne 7
Not the most stellar of weekends for either Ricciardo or Vergne. Daniel's misjudged pass at 130R ended in a trip down pitlane. But you've got to admire him for trying rather than taking the Rosberg route. Ultimately his strategy didn't work and he had to give best to Jean-Eric Vergne, whose qualifying was ended in Bon Jovi style just after the hairpin.

Race: Chilton
Season: Jules Bianchi 14 - Max Chilton 1
Finally, finally Max breaks his TMW duck at what is THE racing driver's circuit. Max managed to keep his Marussia out of the barriers, unlike his team-mate who seemed to be a regular visitor. He outqualified him and kept his car in one piece to continue his strong finishing record

Race: Pic
Season: Giedo van der Garde 5 - Charles Pic 10
Pic again.

The Kimi is Disappointed File: "Since we changed the tyres it's not so good. I don't like the front tyres."

Star of the Race
Vettel 3, Alonso 2, Hamilton 2, Hulkenberg 2, Grosjean 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

Dull vs Exciting GPs
Exciting 12 - Dull 3

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

Media Watch

Suzi Perry: It's been eleven years since we haven't had a Japanese driver on the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix...twelve in fact."

Suzi Perry: "Tom Clarkson and Lee McKenzie are in the pitlane and David Coulthard and Ben Anderson are your commentators..."

- which was a surprise to both Gary Anderson and Ben Edwards.

The funniest moment of all came after the race when they re-ran the footage of Jenson Button catching Felipe Massa at the end of Lap 51 and passing him as they crossed the line on Lap 52 - the timing screens had their difference as 0.00 after Jenson passed Felipe under DRS. Whoever was running the tape then froze it at that point, with another three laps to go, but that was where Suzi thought the race had finished.

Suzi Perry: "You don't get much closer than on the line!" she exhaled breathlessly.

Andrew Davies

© 2014 - 365 Media Group

Any reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of 365 Media Group is strictly forbidden.