Team-Mate Wars: China

Date published: April 16 2015

In F1, the first person you have to beat is your team-mate. And if not, just moan about them…

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg 0 – Lewis Hamilton 3
Race: Hamilton

Not a particularly difficult call, this one, Hamilton was in control from FP1. Having now collected five poles at The Shang, there’s clearly something about the Shanghai circuit that he likes. They’ve even tarmacked over his 2007-championship-losing-pitlane-entry-gravel to banish any negative memories. Last year, the 25-point head start that Rosberg got in Melbourne made things a lot more interesting. But without that marginally split tubing that shorted out a Hamilton cylinder, we’re now getting the season we could have had last year. With a multi-year contract in his pocket, Rosberg looks like he’s settling back into a No.2 role. Even his post-race moans have been watered down this year, they were better last.

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo 2 – Daniil Kvyat 1
Race: Ricciardo

It’s difficult to assess where the Red Bull drivers line up as Kvyat’s car problems hampered him through practice and into Qualifying. Daniil got a much better start, whereas Dan was struggling with his clutch bite point and his launch procedure. Dan passed Daniil on track – eventually  but it was the Russian’s wilful ignorance of a team instruction that is the worrying factor.
Kvyat is not a multi-seasoned pro, grudgingly getting out of the way. This is a guy who’s in his third race for the team. Christian Horner maybe needs to kick someone else apart from Renault.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas 1 – Felipe Massa 2  
Race: Massa

Unusually, Bottas got the jump on Massa at the start, but master-starter Felipe took the place back as they danced around Raikkonen, and that was that for the race. With Ferrari clearing off up the road, Red Bull falling back, and Lotus, Sauber and Force India not having the money to really develop their cars, that no-man’s land between P4 and P7 could be theirs for a long time.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel  3 – Kimi Raikkonen 0  
Race: Vettel

At last Kimi got the start he deserved and was able to keep pace comfortably with Vettel all race. He seemed to be having a good time, (as noted elsewhere) even chuckling to himself as he yelled down team radio for the McLarens to get out of the way. However his pursuit of Vettel ended prematurely with the Verstappen retirement and we never got to see the action we’d all been waiting for, from the moment he cruised into P4.

McLaren  
Jenson Button 1 – Fernando Alonso 2  
Race: Alonso

Button may be winning the Qualifying battle, but Alonso is winning the ‘most optimistic tweets after another disappointment’ battle. In Malaysia he was ahead of Button on race pace, but in China it was Jenson’s uncharacteristic bump into Maldonado that gave him the position. Although you get the impression that both McLaren-Hondas are being driven to a temperature guage.

Force India  
Nico Hulkenberg 1 – Sergio Perez 2  
Race: Perez

Checo outqualified Nico. Something bad happened to Nico’s gearbox.

Toro Rosso  
Max Verstappen 2 – Carlos Sainz 1  
Race: Verstappen

Carlos couldn’t match Max this weekend, the Dutchman qualifying higher than his team-mate and putting on another show-stopping performance of car control. Max’s big problem is that he makes it look so easy. In a way, having a difficult engine for 2015 might be the best thing for him, because it’s one area of learning he can’t replicate on the simulator.

Lotus
Pastor Maldonado 2 Romain Grosjean 1
Race: Grosjean

Pastor’s natural talent took him ahead of Grosjean in the race, and his natural ability to find adverse situations conjured a fall down the field. Grosjean showed that in his hands, the Lotus has the capability of being a regular top-ten points scorer. They need to bank as many as they can while Renault are internally combusting.

Sauber
Felipe Nasr 3 Marcus Ericsson 0
Race: Nasr

Felipe Nasr is looking less like a ‘pay driver’ each race.

Manor-Marussia
Will Stevens 1, Roberto Merhi 0

At last, two cars running – and pretty impressive stuff that the first time they were running they got inside 107%. Will Stevens edged it, but there may be many more names up there by the end of the season.

Star of the race
Felipe Nasr 1 (AUS), Sebastian Vettel  1 (MAY), Lewis Hamilton 1 (CHI)

Overtaking Move of the Race
Marcus Ericsson 1, Valtteri Bottas 1, Max Verstappen 1

Arse of the Weekend
Pastor Maldonado To be fair on Pastor, he wasn’t as damningly critical about Jenson Button’s late braking nerf at Turn 1 than he could have been, but by then he was so far back it didn’t affect his race result. The major mistake that dropped him out of a potential 7th place was coming into the pitlane too fast. He had ‘previous’; having speared off into the pitlane barrier in Shanghai by going too fast before. Once is enough.

Anyone say – “It is, what it is”?:  Nico Hulkenberg

More Media Watch
David Coulthard almost certainly didn’t set out to make this observation about his former team  as waspy as it sounded. Talking about the gripping Button vs Maldonado scrap that hogged the TV cameras’ attention for several laps: “Each team gets  a report on how many seconds of TV coverage they had… If McLaren had any sponsors it would be great news for them.”

Copa española*
1.Felipe Massa 75
2.Felipe Nasr 51
3.Carlos Sainz Jr. 43
4.Sergio Perez 39
5.Roberto Merhi 18
6.Fernando Alonso 12
7.Pastor Maldonado 0
* Points awarded as though only Spanish- and Brazilian-speaking drivers existed. Winner gets a slap-up meal for two (with wine) at Barica Tapas bar, Mortimer Street, London.

Contact Us
Australia:
Nasr-Maldonado, Sainz-Raikkonen, Perez-Button
Malaysia: Bottas- Maldonado, Nasr-Raikkonen, Hulkenburg-Kvyat, Perez-Grosjean
China: Kvyat-Verstappen, Raikkonen-Bottas, Maldonado-Button

Andrew Davies