Team-Mate Wars: Australia

Date published: March 31 2011

Vitaly Petrov was a surprise winner over Nick Heidfeld while Sauber and Force India’s rookies came to the fore…

Vitaly Petrov was a surprise winner over Nick Heidfeld while Sauber and Force India’s rookies came to the fore…

Red Bull
Season: Webber 0 Vettel 1
Race: Vettel
Not the toughest call of the season, Vettel carried on where he left off in Abu Dhabi. And so did Mark. It was odd to see such a massive difference between the two drivers, especially when Webbo is so good around the toughest street track of them all, Monaco. Vettel came up with quote of the race weekend after the Red Bull team presented David (Quagmire) Coulthard with a cake to celebrate his 40th birthday. Sebastian carefully wiped a bit of goo that had got plastered on DC’s face. “That’s chocolate cake,” said David.
“No,” said Sebastian, “I think it’s something else. I know that when you get old you have difficulty holding thse things in…”

McLaren
Season: Hamilton 1 Button 0
Race: Hamilton
Lewis actually helped put the kybosh on Jenson’s race by getting too much wheelspin and being slow away. Directly behind him on the grid Jenson was delayed and that allowed Petrov up the inside, then Massa too etc. You’d have thought McLaren would have had the experience to let Massa back past Button as a precautionary measure, but maybe that’s the kind of decision they’re uncomfortable with because they can’t leave it to a computer. Although even a computer would have recalled the Alonso vs Kubica at Silverstone incident last year and bleeped ‘give it back’.
Lewis Hamilton was in cracking form and with a broken floor obviously had to avoid all kinds of kerbs in the final part of the race, so it could have been a lot closer to Vettel at the front. And now we have the DRS, just keeping hold of road position isn’t always going to keep you in P1 at the end of the race. Even if DRS doesn’t deliver, it has the potential to deliver and that can make races just as exciting.

Ferrari
Season: Alonso 1 Massa 0
Race: Alonso
Felipe got a mega start, but ultimately he didn’t have the pace to stay in front of his team-mate. Listening to Jarno Trulli’s comments after the race it seems like the Pirelli tyres are a fickle thing and need very careful handling or, for the team to luck into the perfect set-up. Thus the difference between Alonso and Massa was pronounced while Vettel and Webber were even further apart. Felipe’s robust defence against Jenson Button showed that he is not going to be sidelined easily, which is great news for McLaren (and Red Bull) in the longer term. Alonso, though, on this performance looked to be the senior partner.
The track conditions in Malaysia will be wholly different and from what could be the coldest GP of the year we move to what may be the hottest. So judging the tyres is going to take quite a few races yet.

Mercedes
Season: Schumacher 0 Rosberg 1
Race: Rosberg
Nico Rosberg got the jump on Michael in qualifying but both Mercedes drivers were victims of others’ misjudgements in the race. After a long winter season of listening to others predicting great things of Schumi for 2011 – on tyres that really suited his driving style – it will have been very satisfying for Nico to carry on as he had been doing in 2010.

Renault
Season: Heidfeld 0 Petrov 1
Race: Petrov
The Pirelli lottery certainly divided Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov, with Heidfeld snuggling up to the new teams and Petrov sensational in Q3.
Heidfeld would have been in the points had he not been clouted on the opening lap but there was no way he was going to get within a sniff of Petrov. But even Nick will have been pleased to see the potential of the car. Whether it can sustain that pace in the heat of Malaysia remains to be seen. A system whose main drawback is potential overheating might fare well in ambients of 17C but what about 43C…?

Williams
Season: Barrichello 1 Maldonado 0
Race: Barrichello
A weekend to forget for Williams with some embarrassing excursions for that nice old boy, Mr. Barrichello. He is marvellous, he really is, he’s got most of his own teeth and he can still have a go with the lads on that old race track. He’s not so good on the brake pedal as he used to be, bless him, but talk about fighting spirit…

Force India
Season: Sutil 0 Di Resta 1
Race: Di Resta
Di Resta outqualified Sutil and in the race it looked like Force India got him to move over. Paul explained gracefully that they were on different strategies, but we know what that meant.

Sauber
Season: Perez 1 Kobayashi 0
Perez
KK did fantastically well in qualifying and the Sauber team look to have taken a step forward in 2011. You know it always helps when you calibrate your wind tunnel properly. Sauber have always been a team who like to stop the least and grind out results and Sergio Perez was the beneficiary of this approach, starting the race on hard tyres and seeing how far they would run. It was how long he got his subsequent set of tyres to last that was the eye-opener – on a lighter fuel load and with a small degree of rubbering-in he took them to the end of the race. And he wasn’t that far off Jenson Button’s pace.

Toro Rosso
Season: Buemi 1 Alguersuari 0
Race: Buemi
Buemi showed his intent by getting into Q3 for the first time since 2009. He had a bit of a ding-dong with the Force India boys in the race and got away with a passing manoeuvre that really should have been ruled illegal by the stewards.

Lotus
Season: Trulli 0 Kovalainen 1
Race: Kovalainen
Trulli may have lasted longer, but Kovalainen qualified higher and was up to 15th on the opening lap. After testing this winter, Lotus had high hopes of having a crack at the midfield boys, but on the evidence from this weekend the gap looks as big as ever. We didn’t get tyre chaos or first race/street race unreliability for them to take advantage

Hispania
Season: Liuzzi 1 Karthikeyan 0,
Race/Qualifying: Liuzzi
For those who thought it was a bit of a poor effort for HRT to turn up in Australia without having turned a wheel, may I just point you in the direction of Paul Stoddart. Minardi have done that in the past, the only difference being that when they turned the key on Friday, the car started. Liuzzi was faster than Karthikeyan who will need a lot of practice to get anywhere near the Italian.

Virgin
Season: Glock 1 D’Ambrosio 0
Race: Glock
Not a disaster by any means, the Virgin team’s first target was to beat the 107% rule, which they did. If it goes on like this you can’t think that Timo Glock would want to hang around.

Lotus versus Virgin
Lotus 1 Virgin 0
Lotus didn’t have to work too hard to get the Newbies victory in Melbourne but are way off duking it out with