2012 F1 season preview
The first person every driver wants to beat is his team mate.
Five teams have kept the same line-up for 2012 – while the rest have tweaked their driver pairings.
Who will come out on top in each? Cast your vote on all 12 below and have your say in the comments.
For drivers who have been team mates at the same team before, you also compare their championship scores.
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel vs Mark Webber
Vettel and Webber are the longest-running partnership in F1 today – this will be their fourth season as team mates.
It was nip-and-tuck between the pair of them in their first two seasons together. But last year Vettel dominated his team mate, emphatically winning his second world championship.
The pressure is on Webber to raise his game and get back on terms with Vettel in 2012. But can he do it?
|Sebastian Vettel||Mark Webber|
McLaren: Jenson Button vs Lewis Hamilton
It’s unusual to see two world champions sharing a team – so the pairing of Button and Hamilton gives McLaren the strongest driver line-up in F1.
Their two seasons together has shown up their contrasting strengths and weaknesses: Button kind to his tyres but weaker than his team mate in qualifying; Hamilton fast and combative but sometimes careless.
In terms of who’s finished ahead, they’re tied 1-1 as they embark on their third season together. Can Hamilton reassert himself in the team where he had never been beaten until Button came along?
|Jenson Button||Lewis Hamilton|
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso vs Felipe Massa
To say things are a little one-sided at Ferrari would be quite an understatement.
Alonso has easily had the beating of Massa since they paired up two years ago. In that time the twice-champion out-qualified Massa 29-7.
There’s no escaping the fact that Alonso has enjoyed the preference of his team. Never more clearly than when they forced Massa to hand over victory in Germany two years ago.
But the vast majority of the time Alonso has exerted a crushing superiority. Massa faces an enormous challenge to reverse that in 2012.
|Fernando Alonso||Felipe Massa|
Mercedes: Michael Schumacher vs Nico Rosberg
Schumacher spent his comeback season in the shadow of his younger team mate.
Last year Rosberg easily had the beating of his team mate on Saturday – out-qualifying him 15-2 – but in the races the pair were much more closely matched.
Will 2012 be the year the old master finally shows his young team mate how it’s done?
|Michael Schumacher||Nico Rosberg|
Lotus: Kimi Raikkonen vs Romain Grosjean
Lotus’s driver pairing both last started an F1 race in Abu Dhabi in 2009. But the similarities end there.
Raikkonen’s credentials are as good as anyone’s, but the 2007 world champion was not at the peak of his form when he slipped out of the sport two years ago. Will he, like Schumacher in 2010, take time to get back to his best in new surroundings?
Grosjean may not have capitalised on his fleeting F1 chance with this team in 2009 – but he made a strong case for a full-season drive by winning the GP2 championship comfortably. Can he give Raikkonen a surprise?
Force India: Paul di Resta vs Nico Hulkenberg
Force India have what is surely the most exciting driver line-up on the grid.
The VJM05 will be piloted by a pair of sophomore drivers who distinguished themselves with some excellent performance in their rookie campaigns.
Di Resta may have the advantage of having been racing last year, but Hulkenberg kept his eye in with several practice session appearances for Force India.
How this one unfolds could be the making – or breaking – of either driver.
Sauber: Kamui Kobayashi vs Sergio Perez
Sauber’s preference for young, upcoming drivers served them well in 2011.
With a year’s more experience better things are expected of Kobayashi and Perez, and the competition between the two should be closer than before.
|Kamui Kobayashi||Sergio Perez|
*Missed two races due to injury.
Toro Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo vs Jean-Eric Vergne
An all-new and highly inexperienced driver pairing at Toro Rosso as they play another round of ‘Red Bull Idol’.
The pair have come up through the ranks with Vergne a year behind Ricciardo, emulating his wins in British Formula Three and rookie season runner-up placing in Formula Renault 3.5.
Ricciardo has some useful extra experience at this level over his team mate, but even so both face a steep learning curve in their first full seasons.
Williams: Pastor Maldonado vs Bruno Senna
Maldonado fared well alongside Barrichello in the uncompetitive FW33 last year, particularly in qualifying.
His new team mate Senna blew hot and cold in a brief stint at Renault.
Both have good reason to think they should be able to beat the other – but which one will?
Caterham: Heikki Kovalainen vs Vitaly Petrov
Petrov was an 11th-hour addition to Caterham’s ranks alongside Kovalainen.
Kovalainen has had two solid years with the team, generally proving quicker than former team mate Jarno Trulli.
With the team striving to break into the midfield in 2012, which of their drivers is best equipped to get them there?
HRT: Narain Karthikeyan vs Pedro de la Rosa
HRT have gone for a decidedly mature driver line-up, pairing 35-year-old Karthikeyan with 41-year-old de la Rosa.
While former McLaren driver de la Rosa is undeniably more experienced, Karthikeyan had more seat time last year when he did half a season with the team.
That could stand him in good stead as the team feel their way with the new F112.
Marussia: Timo Glock vs Charles Pic
For the third year in a row Glock is sharing a team with a rookie driver.
Neither of Charles Pic’s predecessors – Lucas di Grassi and Jerome D’Ambrosio – are still racing in F1, which indicates the extent of the challenge he faces at Marussia.
Having had precious little pre-season running, Pic has a mountain to climb to get on terms with the experienced Glock.
Which drivers do you think will beat their team mates in 2012? Explain your choices in the comments.
2012 F1 season preview
- The 2012 F1 season in 20 questions
- Who will win the battle of the team mates in 2012?
- Marussia seeking a lift from last place in 2012
- Another season at the back looms for HRT
- Time for Caterham to join the midfield in 2012
Browse the 2012 F1 season preview
Images ?é?® Red Bull/Getty images, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Mercedes, Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Fore India/Sutton, Sauber F1 Team, Red Bull/Getty images, Williams/LAT, Caterham/LAT, HRT F1 Team, GP2 Media Service