Team-Mate Wars: Monza


Lewis and Seb edged further ahead of their team-mates, but it was Michael Schumacher who enjoyed a first at Monza

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

Red Bull Racing
Race: Vettel
Season: Sebastian Vettel 9 – Mark Webber 4
Neither Red Bull had a storming race, but that was true of all the Renault-engined cars – Lotus and Williams were further back than they had been of late, with Maldonado further back in the car park and Grosjean back in Enstone. Vettel made the most of the equioment he had but looked powerless to resist Alonso for long. Most F1 drivers are funny when they’re angry but with an airy little wander of his RB8 through Curva Grande, Sebastian managed to turn Fernando into Maria Callas. A right old diva. After the race when the drivers are sauntering between interviews in ‘the pen’ and affect an air of “I wasn’t really bothered” do they not realise we’ve heard them screaming into race radio?
Vettel took his retirement with a certain sangfroid, but the increasingly cadaverous-looking Mark Webber is beginning to be a worry. He looks constantly resigned to not getting a good outcome – an attitude he’s backed up with results. Singapore is just what both drivers need.

Race: Hamilton
Season: Jenson Button 4 – Lewis Hamilton 9
Lewis Hamilton was in control at Monza. It may well be that Button’s fuel pick-up problem was brought on by barrelling his MP4-27 just a little too excessively over the punishing Monza kerbs. They might also have been responsible for doing in Fernando’s anti-roll bar (rarely a victim of fatigue) on Saturday. Lewis steered clear of all this and finished the race with time in hand, plus life in his tyres. His win made for an awkward post-race scenario with him having to give out the traditional love to his team – oh and by the way I might be buggaring off to Mercedes.

Race: Schumacher
Season: Michael Schumacher 7 – Nico Rosberg 6
With Mercedes going their own way on strategy – and all the top teams not copying them – you began to think that this was another one of those afternoons where Ross Brawn’s team goes from bad to worse. Except it all came right and Schumi and Nico came roaring back through the field on their new tyres with a vengeance. Most significantly, Michael has now taken the TMW lead over Nico, which is a first in his three-year return. What a way to do it – in front of his beloved former tifosis. And what’s more he looked good for it, pushing pushing pushing through Saturday qualifying, a slide here, a wheel off the edge at the Lesmos and qualifying in P4. Even if the rumours are contrary, he’s not driving like a man contemplating retirement.

Race: Alonso
Season: Fernando Alonso 13 – Felipe Massa 0
Alonso beat Massa. We knew that Fernando would find a way past Felipe the minute he got behind the Brazilian, what was interesting was the language Rob Smedley used to prepare his man for the moment when (continuing the opera analogy) the fat lady was going to sing. They should maybe think about entertaining the worldwide TV audience by using different phrases other than “Felipe, think about how you’re going to manage your tyres”. How about “Felipe, check out Fernando’s great new rear wing paint job.”

Race: Raikkonen
Season: Kimi Raikkonen 10 – Romain Grosjean 3
A relatively low-key race for Kimi who was never going to be challenged by Jerome D’Ambrosio, whose biggest challenge, apart from the heavily telegraphed custard jokes from the Sky team, was staying reasonably near the Finn. It was his bad luck that this was one of the few races of 2012 where the Lotus wasn’t a genuine podium contender.

Force India
Race: DiResta
Season: Paul DiResta 7 – Nico Hulkenberg 6
Having deserted him in Belgium, the squirming clich