Team-Mate Wars: Brazilian GP

Wednesday 27-November-2013 00:15

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

Red Bull Racing
Race: Vettel
Season: Sebastian Vettel 18 - Mark Webber 1
Is counting Seb's victories against Mark a bit of a pointless exercise now? No top-level partnership in the five-year span of this feature has ever been so one-sided. Christian Horner said a very nice thing in that he thought Mark had chosen exactly the right time to retire... Lest we forget, back in 2009 at the end of the season it was Vettel 8 vs Webber 8, in 2010 it was Vettel 12 vs Webber 7.

Mark still showed some of the old flare, overtaking Lewis Hamilton on Lap 2 with the kind of aggression and precision that makes F1 such a joy to watch, but the one or two-tenths he's lost in qualifying handed Seb a much greater advantage than the time itself. It gave him a clear road ahead and took off the pressure. The one thing that Vettel has rarely had is pressure and as Fernando Alonso warned in a pre-Brazil BBC interview, "there are interesting times ahead for Sebastian."

Race: Button
Season: Jenson Button 13 - Sergio Perez 6
Checo's gearbox penalty was probably the difference between them both having strong races and them both spending 71 laps banging wheels with each other. Which probably would have happened if they'd started where they qualified in P14 and P15. The gearbox penalty came directly from Checo's impact with the barrier so there's no reason to feel sorry for him. Jenson looked racy again.

Race: Hamilton
Season: Lewis Hamilton 12 - Nico Rosberg 7
We're going to treat Lewis's bang with Bottas as though it was a mechanical failure, there's no way Bottas should have been trying to unlap himself on the outside of one of the most difficult corners in F1.

If Bottas is up for that sort of thing then he might want to consider other great, fast corners to unlap himself around - perhaps the outside of Copse at Silverstone, or Parabolica at Monza or maybe Blanchimont at Spa. It was uncharacteristic of Valtteri but a huge error of judgement compounded by stewards who looked like they wanted to be seen to be giving Mercedes a drive-through after they gave Massa a quite legitimate drive-through.

Apart from that, Hamilton had a strong race and was clearly quicker than his team-mate. Both Mercs suffered from a lack of traction at the beginning of the race as Vettel, Alonso and Webber marauded their way to the front. Blame the lack of dry running.

Race: Alonso
Season: Fernando Alonso 16 - Felipe Massa 3
Massa got another great start and was probably too polite in the Senna Esses when maybe earlier in the season he'd have tried to run side by side with Mark Webber. He decided to bank his gains and slotted in behind. He fell victim to his repeated crossing of the white line, got a drive-through*, but after that wasn't fast enough to haul in Sergio Perez, so it's unlikely that he would have held off Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso showed yet again that he doesn't need a grumbling Finn in the other car to try his absolute hardest. There's no other setting on the box. Okay, maybe he didn't resist Webber quite as much as he could the second time round, but that might have been down to straightforward pragmatism and not taking life out of the tyres in a vain pursuit of a place he was never going to keep.

*Rob "sometimes wants to punch" Felipe...

Race: Grosjean
Season: Finns driving for Lotus 10 - Romain Grosjean 9
Given that Kovalainen could manage just two P14s in Austin and Interlagos, they might as well have stuck Davide Valsecchi in the car. In fact they probably should have rung up Chanoch Nissany and seen if he had a few bob and was interested.

Grosjean was expected to do well in the race, but his engine was also expected to do a lot more laps, and when it headed for the beach early that was that for 2013.

Force India
Race: Di Resta
Season: Paul Di Resta 12 - Adrian Sutil 7
Paul Di Resta outperformed Adrian Sutil by a much wider margin than he did the last time they were together. In 2011 it had been Di Resta 10 Sutil 9. Take away the couple of unusual late-season mistakes from Paul in 2013 and it would have been a thoroughly dominant season for the Scot.

At Interlagos the Force India team proved that a three-stop strategy (Adrian) was virtually the same as a two-stop strategy (Paul). Paul finished two places (but only two seconds) in front thanks to his ability to keep Esteban Gutierrez behind him, something that Adrian failed to do. Although Sutil may just have been sizing up the car he'll (very likely) be driving next year.

Race: Hulkenberg
Season: Nico Hulkenberg 18 - Esteban Gutierrez 1
Considering the fireworks Hulk normally produces in Brazil, this was a very quiet performance from Nico, banking the points and moving on.

Race: Maldonado
Season: Maldonado 12 - Bottas 7
Maldonado had already got the better of his team-mate before his team-mate wanted to play Eddie-Irvine-in-Suzuka-1993.

Torro Rosso
Race: Ricciardo
Season: Daniel Ricciardo 12 - Jean-Eric Vergne 7
Both Toro Rossos qualified well. Neither Toro Rosso started well, but Ricciardo was least worst and hung in there for a point. Judging from Daniil Kvyat's very encouraging Friday pace at Interlagos it's going to be a challenging time for JEV next year.

Race: Bianchi
Season: Jules Bianchi 17 - Max Chilton 2
Bianchi was never going to be challenged at Interlagos, but Max has the satisfaction of faring at least as well as Esteban Gutierrez and Mark Webber. He may be a pointless F1 driver, but he's got a record that nobody's going to take away from him.

Race: Pic
Season: Giedo van der Garde 7 - Charles Pic 12
Charles was ahead of Giedo when he struck problems. The gap was narrow, though, just 2.5 seconds on Lap 42, with van der Garde 10.4 seconds in front of Bianchi and Chilton, just leaving the airport car park in the hire car.

The Kimi and Heikki Are Disappointed File: "Both Sundays turned out to be pretty disastrous. I guess I have to admit that maybe there was a bit of lack of routine and rustiness."

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

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

Dull vs Exciting GPs
Exciting 14 - Dull 5

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

Media Watch
DC explaining what happens when the tyres lose temperature in the wet. " You see the drip grops away..."

To sign off at the end of the year, the whole BBC crew assembled in front of camera to bid farewell (the woefully underused) Tom Clarkson, Ben Edwards, David Coulthard, Eddie Jordan, Suzi Perry, Lee Mckenzie and Gary Anderson. They were all wearing the Mark Webber T-shirts - all except Gary - as Mark hadn't managed to produce an XXXXL.

Suzi Perry still doesn't know the difference between her scuderia and her tifosi. Talking about the fractious relationship between Montezemolo and Alonso this summer she came out with: "there have been a few cracks in the tifosi."

Which is probably why, when they managed to get hold of Rob Smedley, he said to her, "haven't you got a better question, Suzi?"

But the one we liked most from Suzi was: "This is the very end of a new era." EJ would have been proud of that one.

Andrew Davies

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