Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Istanbul, 2011

Team mates compared: the balance of power after four races

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

In Formula 1, your biggest rival is your team mate.

How are the drivers doing up against each other after the first four races of the season?

Compare their performances so far below.

Red Bull

Mark Webber was more than able to keep Sebastian Vettel honest last year, but there’s been little sign of that so far in 2011.

Granted, Webber’s had his share of misfortune, mainly with the Kinetic Energy Recovery System. But nor can you say he’s made anything like as much of his opportunities as Vettel has.

Not only is Vettel quicker over a single lap, but he’s able to make his tyres last longer as well. Istanbul was the first race where Webber didn’t make one more stop than his team mate, but Vettel admitted afterwards he didn’t need to make that fourth stop.

Telling stat: Vettel is the only driver to have spent every lap of every race this year in front of his team mate.

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Istanbul, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Istanbul, 2011

As last year, Lewis Hamilton has the upper hand in qualifying to the tune of a few tenths of a second, but Button isn’t far behind in the races.

As was expected before the season began, Button has been able to do fewer pit stops than Hamilton in some races. It paid off in Malaysia, but not in Turkey.

Telling stat: Button has made one pit stop fewer than Hamilton in two of the four races so far.

Ferrari

Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Istanbul, 2011
Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Istanbul, 2011

Fernando Alonso has consistently out-qualified Felipe Massa this year. But good starts by Massa saw him pass his team mate on the first lap in the first three races.

Massa was expecting the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli tyres to suit his driving style better this year. Although he’s not been on Alonso’s pace there are signs of progress.

Following speculation he might not see out his Ferrari contract in 2012, Luca di Montezemolo voiced his confidence in Massa this week.

Telling stat: Massa is a third of a second slower than Alonso on average this year and hasn’t out-qualified him for ten races.

Mercedes

The competition between Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg was the subject of an article here earlier this week.

So far in 2011, Rosberg is maintaining the advantage he had over Schumacher last year.

Telling stat: Rosberg has spent 84 laps inside the top five, Schumacher just one.

Renault

Vitaly Petrov, Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Istanbul, 2011
Vitaly Petrov, Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Istanbul, 2011

Last year Vitaly Petrov lagged further behind his team mate than almost any other driver.

But with a year’s experience and Nick Heidfeld having taken the place of Robert Kubica, Petrov is fairing rather better.

There’s not much in it, though: they’ve taken a podium each and banged wheels while fighting for position in Istanbul.

Telling stat: Petrov?s average start position is 7.75 to Heidfeld?s 12.25

Williams

Pastor Maldonado’s qualifying performance against Rubens Barrichello is respectable so far for a rookie up against the most experienced driver of all time.

Barrichello has an edge in the races, though, and Maldonado has found the chasing Lotuses too close for comfort at times.

Telling stat: Maldonado is yet to complete a racing lap inside the top ten.

Force India

Paul di Resta, Force India, Shanghai, 2011
Paul di Resta, Force India, Shanghai, 2011

Adrian Sutil was seldom troubled by Vitantonio Liuzzi last year. But rookie team mate Paul di Resta is looking a very different proposition.

It took Sutil until the fourth race to out-qualify Di Resta for the first time. The pair have been more closely-matched in the races and this looks like being one of the more interesting inter-team contests of the year.

Telling stat: Di Resta?s average lap time advantage of 1.1 seconds is flattered by Sutil?s spin in Melbourne. But the rookie is still 3-1 up in qualifying.

Sauber

Sauber have by far the least experienced driver pairing in F1 this year. Kamui Kobayashi, now in his second year, has finished in the top ten in all three races so far, though the team’s disqualification left him point-less there.

That hit rookie team mate Sergio Perez even harder as he had gambled on a one-stop strategy – in a race where others made three – to finish seventh.

But he hasn’t been able to finish in the top ten since then.

Telling stat: Both drivers have used different pit-stop strategies in each race.

Toro Rosso

The pressure is on Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari as Daniel Ricciardo is waiting in the wings to grab a seat at the team – either next year or sooner.

Last year the balance of power shifted from Buemi to Alguersuari over the course of the season but so far this year it has shifted back to Buemi. He mounted a strong run to ninth in Istanbul, while Alguersuari has had trouble making his tyres last.

Telling stat: Alguersuari has needed one more pit stop than Buemi in two of the three races he has finished.

Lotus

It’s at least as one-sided between Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli as it was last year – possibly even more so.

Kovalainen is comfortably ahead, although Trulli has been beset by power steering problems which, despite improvement, he does not think the team have yet got fully on top of.

Telling stat: Kovalainen in four-nil up in qualifying over the acclaimed one-lap specialist.

HRT

No surprises here: Vitantonio Liuzzi has Narain Karthikeyan easily handled, the Indian driver having been out of F1 for five years prior to his return,

Telling stat: Karthikeyan has been the slowest driver in Q1 in every session this year.

Virgin

Lumbered with an uncompetitive car for the second year in a row, the last thing Timo Glock needed was a competitive young team mate snapping at his heels.

But Jerome d’Ambrosio has out-qualified Glock twice so far and looked as least as handy as the MVR-02 will allow in the races.

Telling stat: The most closely-matched team mates in qualifying, setting times within a tenth of a second of each other on average.

2011 F1 season


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