Team-Mate Wars: Korean GP

Date published: October 18 2012

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

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

Red Bull Racing
Race: Vettel
Season: Sebastian Vettel 12 – Mark Webber 4
The biggest surprise of the weekend, apart from the shock of NOT seeing Lewis Hamilton attempt Gangnam Style, was Vettel failing to get pole. The King of Korea, the man who (ultimately) led all but 12 laps in three races had to settle for P2. He didn’t stay there very long, obviously. Less than 200 metres. The fact that Mark was racing him all the way into Turn 3 was proof enough that he’s not going to roll down and give points to Seb. Red Bull have said there aren’t going to be team orders at the moment which means they must either be very certain about their alternators for the rest of the season or they’re mega confident about their chances in the remaining four races.
It’s fair to say that the characteristics of the track were unlike most on the calendar – which is why Williams faded and Toro Rosso were strong. Ferrari looked very close to them at Yeongam, and for the sake of the GP-loving neutral who wants the championship decided at the last corner in Brazil, let’s hope that’s the case. But it might be illusory.

McLaren
Race: Hamilton
Season: Jenson Button 5 – Lewis Hamilton 11
Sutton Images caught some great photos of Lewis speaking to some of his fans in Korea. (You can see one here in the Postcards From Korea feature) He’s obviously a subject of great adoration as someone had lined up about 20 huge Union Jacks on the grandstand in the pit straight, most of them with LEWIS emblazoned across the front. And the drive he put in at Yeongam was worthy of those 20 flags. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh couldn’t believe how he drove the car and was able to resist Raikkonen for so long given his problems, and the fact that he did it with a big sample from Carpetland attached to his sidepod for the last few laps only added to that respect.
It was a shame it was Lewis who picked up the astroturf carpet because he was already struggling, it would have much more interesting if one of the front three had got two clicks of carpet to run with till the flag. (Presumably there was no problem with Lewis’s car being underweight in post-race scrutineering…)

Mercedes
Race: Rosberg
Season: Michael Schumacher 8 – Nico Rosberg 8
Nico gets this one on the basis of better qualifying and a better start – he was well clear of Michael and was in a four-way tussle with Button and the two Saubers when Kobayashi cannoned into him under braking for Turn 4. Michael had a relatively quite race with his new overtaking buddy Paul di Resta.

Ferrari
Race: Massa
Season: Fernando Alonso 15 – Felipe Massa 1
While many Alonso fans might query whether Felipe should still have the big fat zero – and he did qualify behind Alonso again – the fact is that “Fernando, Felipe is faster than you”. Even when asked to drop back to 2-3 seconds Felipe kept indulging himself in a bit of frottage, rubbing his front wing lovingly against Fernando’s gearbox. That’s because while the Brazilian was putting in consistent laps, Fernando’s were up and down. Some of that might have been the way they hit traffic, but not all of it. And we know there was radio traffic from Felipe asking if he could have a crack at Webbo.

Lotus
Race: Raikkonen
Season: Kimi Raikkonen 13 – Romain Grosjean 3
Kimi Raikkonen’s spent the last few grands prix biding his time and it was no different in Korea. It’s surprising he didn’t enjoy himself more in Korea, because there were no great demands on his time from corporate commitments, no masses of autograph hunters in the paddock/industrial park, less journos than usual because it’s not close to Seoul, just emptiness and solitude for him to contemplate. A place to balance his yin and his yang (the new vodka from Suntory). The ‘wild man of the forests’ was actually a bit timid in his approach to overtaking Hamilton and presumably thought he’d got the job done at Turn 3, only to have Lewis rocketing back at Turn 4.
Grosjean was playing it equally straight and needed to.

Force India
Race: Hulkenberg
Season: Paul DiResta 8 – Nico Hulkenberg 8
Hulkenberg had the edge in qualifying, the edge in the race and the edge in being the first Force India driver to move up to a (slightly) faster team. He enjoyed a race-long battle with Grosjean, who clearly had a faster car but who was acutely aware that he was on parole, and that parole might be revoked. Paul DiResta was back to being trademark gloomy, something that he does a lot more convincingly than being post-race happy.

Sauber
Race: Perez
Season: Kamui Kobayashi 5 – Sergio Perez 11
Last race it was Romain, this time it was Kamui who got to sit on F1’s naughty step. His opening lap accident was every bit as bad as anything Grosjean has done. Perez looked similarly inexperienced, taking an impossibly tight line into Turn 1 and thumping straight into the back of Nico Hulkenberg at the apex. He tried a couple of tentative overtaking moves on Michael Schumacher and was lucky he could back off in time. You can see why the team might be keen to have someone less exciting in one of the seats.

Williams
Race: Maldonado
Season: Maldonado 7 – Senna 9
Maldonado’s race strategy looked like it wasn’t going to come off, and didn’t. More qualifying woes for Bruno Senna.

Torro Rosso
Race: Vergne
Season: Daniel Ricciardo 8 – Jean-Eric Vergne 8
A great race for both Toro Rosso drivers who will have enjoyed being able to mix it with McLaren for once. Vergne came home in front of Ricciardo but it was more down to strategy than talent, they were just seconds apart at the flag. Startlingly JEV made it out of Q1 and with the clock ticking down to zero was suddenly sitting in P6. Ricciardo made up his five-place grid penalty for a change gearbox on the opening lap – picking up six places – although three of those were courtesy of the hero of Japan.

Caterham
Race: Petrov
Season: Vitaly Petrov 7 – Heikki Kovalainen 9
With his future looking as bleak as a trip to the gulags, Vitaly picked up a vitally important TMW victory over Kovalainen, beating him at a place where he impressively dented the barriers in his debut season.

Marussia
Race: Glock
Season: Timo Glock 10 – Charles Pic 6
I know we go on a bit about Pic and Glock being the Czech puppets. Hello Pic. Hello Glock. But seriously, Charles Pic has got the head of a ventriloquist’s dummy – the mop of uncombed hair stuck on his head, the eyes staring out unfocused. There was a time when he was beginning to make inroads into Timo’s