The rivalry between the two team mates at Mercedes will almost certainly decide the outcome of the world championship.
Meanwhile Red Bull’s four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel must be pining for the days when Mark Webber occupied the adjacent garage as Daniel Ricciardo is proving a much tougher nut to crack.
But the largest gap between two team mates so far this year has occurred at the only team which boasts a pair of world champions.
Here’s how all of the drivers stack up against their most important rival of all – the only one who has the same equipment as them.
A clear leader
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso vs Kimi Raikkonen
Fernando Alonso is the only driver to have finished in front of his team mate in every single race this year – and ultimately that’s the most important metric of all.
It’s been a tough return to Ferrari for Kimi Raikkonen so far but there have been encouraging signs of progress in recent races. Hungary produced his best result of the season so far – sixth – but Alonso has only failed to finish higher than that once all season.
Marussia: Jules Bianchi vs Max Chilton
Lotus: Romain Grosjean vs Pastor Maldonado
Reliability is having a greater effect on the balance of power between team mates this season, and nowhere is that more true than at Lotus. They’ve only got both cars to the finish on four occasions and repeated failures in qualifying, particularly on Pastor Maldonado’s car, means we only have qualifying times to compare from seven race weekends.
Romain Grosjean holds sway at the moment, but the ‘laps spent ahead’ tally indicates Maldonado may be a tougher team mate than he’s looked like so far.
Caterham: Kamui Kobayashi vs Marcus Ericsson
F1 newcomer Marcus Ericsson was always going to have a tough time given the circumstances at Caterham and being up against an experienced team mate. His race pace has been adequate but his season has been punctuated with crashes.
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel vs Daniel Ricciardo
One of the most absorbing intra-team contests this year, as Daniel Ricciardo has stepped up from Red Bull’s junior team and given their four-times world champion the toughest test yet from the opposite side of the garage.
Red Bull unreliability explains part of the gap between the two – Sebastian Vettel has clearly suffered the most. But both of Ricciardo’s eye-catching wins came on days when Vettel’s car was still running.
Williams: Felipe Massa vs Valtteri Bottas
After four years being ground under Alonso’s heel at Ferrari, Felipe Massa has another tough team mate on his hands at Williams. The pair are more evenly matched, but it’s to the credit of Valtteri Bottas that in only his second season he is showing so well against one of F1’s most experienced drivers, albeit one who suffered first-lap misfortunes in Australia and Britain.
McLaren: Jenson Button vs Kevin Magnussen
Kevin Magnussen is yet to recapture the high of the second place he scored on his debut, but that was always likely to be the case as the shortcomings of the latest McLaren have become more apparent.
Jenson Button has gradually asserted his superiority over his junior team mate, though as always he is at his weakest in qualifying.
Force India: Nico Hulkenberg vs Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez’s podium finish in Bahrain – still Force India’s best result of the season – means he has contributed more than a quarter of the team’s points. Without that it would be hard to justify not putting this in the “clear leader” section, as Nico Hulkenberg has usually shown him the way this year.
Too close to call
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg
With a more reliable car, Lewis Hamilton might be showing Nico Rosberg a clean pair of heels in the championship as well as in the in-house battle between the two drivers.
But that’s not to do Rosberg down – it isn’t just car trouble which explains why Hamilton hasn’t out-qualified his team mate since May.
Sauber: Esteban Gutierrez vs Adrian Sutil
When it comes to qualifying Esteban Gutierrez has been clearly the more impressive of the two Sauber drivers, a fact which may well be related to his team mate’s struggles with the minimum weight limit.
On race day Sutil has usually got the best out of the car, which in the case of the C33 is not very much. But they were closer to the points than ever in Hungary.
Toro Rosso: Jean-Eric Vergne vs Daniil Kvyat
Jean-Eric Vergne is another driver who might be enjoying a greater margin over his team mate if his car hadn’t let him down too much. But GP3 champion Daniil Kvyat has earned just praise for how quickly he has got up to speed with Formula One.
Over to you
Which of the team mate battles has surprised you this year? How will they change over the second half of the season?
Have your say in the comments.
2014 F1 season
- Bianchi’s fight for life ends nine months after Japanese Grand Prix crash
- Mercedes’ Bahrain battle “too dangerous” – Warwick
- Streiff’s comments on Bianchi crash investigation prompts legal action from FIA
- Is stewarding improving? Analysing 2014’s penalties
- The Complete F1 Fanatic 2014 season review
Images © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Lotus/LAT, Red Bull/Getty, McLaren/LAT, Sauber, Daimler/Hoch/Zwei