Sergio Perez, Force India, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017

Team mate battles 2017: The stars of the midfield

2017 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Esteban Ocon has shown signs of being a serious threat to team mate Sergio Perez which could give Force India more headaches in the second half of 2017.

Perez has the upper hand over Ocon for now, while Carlos Sainz Jnr and Pascal Wehrlein are also winning the battles in their teams.

Force India: Perez’s new threat

After three years carving out a solid reputation for himself by gradually overwhelming Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez is now cast in the role of team leader by seniority and superiority. However rookie Esteban Ocon is showing every sign of being capable of eroding the latter.

Although he has unquestionably been the superior of the two drivers, Perez simply cannot shake Ocon off. This is a question of margins: Perez has out-qualified Ocon nine times, which is the same as Felipe Massa’s score against Lance Stroll. But while the Williams rookie has averaged 0.7 seconds off his team mate’s pace, Ocon has been within two-tenths of Perez.

For Perez, the gap is too close for comfort. It probably goes some way to explaining why, when Force India tried to split their strategies in Canada, he was unwilling to co-operate by letting Ocon through, even when Force India offered to give him the position back later.

Ocon is only 11 points behind Perez going into the second half of the season. He has the added advantage of prior F1 experience at all the remaining tracks. If he can end the season ahead of Perez in the championship that will be a massive result for the 20-year-old.

Which Force India driver finished ahead

Sergio Perez Q
Esteban Ocon Q

Toro Rosso: Kvyat keeping up in qualifying

It’s not been a great season so far for Daniil Kvyat, who is on the rough end of a fairly one-sided contest at Toro Rosso.

His qualifying form is his one saving grace, however, and could explain why the team is expected to keep him for another year. He is usually able to match team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr on Saturdays. Now he needs to successfully convert a few more of those points-scoring opportunities in the second half of the year.

Which Toro Rosso driver finished ahead

Carlos Sainz Jnr Q
Daniil Kvyat Q

Sauber: Wehrlein holds sway

The two Sauber drivers usually only have each other to race against. So it was tough for Marcus Ericsson that on one of few occasions the C36 was able to score points he had to let Pascal Wehrlein through.

This was in Azerbaijan, prior to which the team robustly rejected claims that former team principal Monisha Kaltenborn had been shown the door partly because the team’s owners wanted to favour Ericsson. If they have been doing, it’s not helped much.

Which Sauber driver finished ahead

Marcus Ericsson Q
Pascal Wehrlein Q

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  • 27 comments on “Team mate battles 2017: The stars of the midfield”

    1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
      8th August 2017, 11:36

      Ocon is really impressive,despite that 9-2 in qualy in favour of Perez. I saw a rumor in Twitter that Renault is trying to get Ocon for 2018.If this happens,it will have a domino effect,as Wehrlein will go to F.I & we will all have the chance to see what Pascal can do in a much more competitive team.

      1. If it happens Pascal had better do well. I have been underwhelmed by his performance this year. A good showing against Perez could go a long way towards keeping a spot in f1 and moving up. Then again, Renault already has two good drivers waiting behind palmer (please let Kubica drive) and the hulk has been performing very well this season.

        1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
          8th August 2017, 11:55

          The big advantage of Ocon is that he is French & Renault wants a French driver. Ocon vs Kubica might be the fight for the 2nd spot

          1. Can you share facts regarding Renault wanting a French driver? This is the 2nd time this has been mentioned today, and this looks completely made up to me.

            1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
              8th August 2017, 20:59

              As i said above,i saw only an Tweet about Renault wanting Ocon.As its silly season i liked to share that “info” & knowing that Ocon is French,drove some FP for Renault last year,it has some truth on it.Based on todays summer rumors,F.I will have a new sponsor & driver,Lawrence & Lance Stroll 🙄 Its summer,so many things can be made up but as a fan its nice to see multiple & “extreme” possibilities!

            2. Total’s former boss De Margerie‘s death has been a huge blow to Grosjean who seems to have had a rapport with him. De Margerie seemed strongly into F1 and getting french drivers in Renault seat. I don’t believe Abitboul has the same kind of mentality, nor has Gosnh.

      2. If Renault gets Ocon, then what do they do with Hülkenberg, Kubica, Sainz, Alonso? A lot of drivers connected do those two seats. We might need Monisha Kaltenborn to sort this out.

        1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
          8th August 2017, 12:39

          Kubica is a big risk(health wise)Sainz-Alonso might have reject Renault already… Time will tell us

    2. F Truth (@offdutyrockstar)
      8th August 2017, 11:44

      Keith, are we getting another teammate comparison later today for the rest of the teams? Just because this was on the bottom of yesterday’s article. Thanks

      The team mate comparison data for the other six teams will be published here tomorrow.

        1. F Truth (@offdutyrockstar)
          8th August 2017, 12:12


    3. that force india hurts my eyes

    4. Huh. The Ericsson-Wehrlein advantage is smaller than I thought it would be. Is Wehrlein only unlucky compared to the Swede, or is Ericsson simply not that much slower over a weekend? Quali difference is big, but race finishes doesn’t separate them too much.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        8th August 2017, 12:16

        As I have described below, I don’t think Ericsson is far off Wehrlein in a weekend performance at all overall this year.

      2. That’s probably also the case @chrischrill because, as keith mentions, the Saubers often are left to fight over the last two spots, some way behind the others.

      3. Wehrlein’s qualifying advantage is more apparent and not so much real. No less than five times has Ericsson’s final effort been compromised by yellow flags when someone crashed during the last minute of Q1. Up to and including Azerbaijan, after which Wehrlein led 5 – 1, his avge qualifying advantage was a mere 0.105 seconds. But lap 66 of the Hungarian GP should be an eye-opener. After keeping Ericsson out on softs for 62 laps, Ericsson was finally allowed to change to super-softs and he set what for a Sauber was a blisteringly quick lap:

        Vettel (lap 66) – 1.21.454
        Alonso (lap 66) – 1.21.730
        Ericsson (lap 66) – 1.21.752 (10th fastest overall)

        Wehrlein’s fastest race lap 1.23.573 on lap 50 on 20 laps old softs was 1.821 slower which in itself is a pretty good effort with a car heavier on fuel. These two drivers are pretty evenly matched so that either Wehrlein is nowhere as good or Ericsson nowhere as bad as has been supposed.

        1. That race pace model is very interesting.

    5. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      8th August 2017, 12:13

      I think that the 2 Sauber drivers performances either shows Wehrlein isn’t as good as we thought or that Ericsson is a fair bit better. Wehrlein has clearly been better in qualifying although not usually by a big time gap. But the races have been rather even. Both have been up and down. Wehrlein did get the points although he was lucky to get that in Baku as he actually ended up damaging his team mates car slightly with an attempted overtake. Ericsson was then instructed to let him through with the promise of a position swap if Wehrlein couldn’t pull away. The return didn’t come even though Wehrlein had only pulled away by a couple of seconds. The reason may have been because Vandoorne was closing in. But that was a point Ericsson was more deserving of IMO. If Ericsson had been on his strategy in Spain, he will likely have picked up 1 or 2 points too. It was a very risky strategy that did work out well. He was 11th after all so almost certainly could have done better with Wehrlein’s strategy. However, in most races Ericsson has finished behind, is hasn’t usually been that bigger gap. But I think there have been over 3 races where Wehrlein has finished over 30 seconds behind Ericsson. One of them was in Russia where they pitted as close to eachother as they could and used the same strategy too I think. The points don’t show it, but overall in the races this season, I think they have been equal. But Wehrlien is better in qualifying. But I don’t know if either are actually good enough for a better team. Both have had crashes. Wehrlein cost himself the start of the season and has had a huge crash in qualifying for Canada. He also had a huge crash in practice recently too. Ericsson crashed in Monaco in qualifying and in the race too. Both are inconsistent and in my view both do occasionally have stand out races. It’s just been a little unlucky that Ericsson’s better performances usually have been out of the points. Although it didn’t look like Ocon was better than Wehrlein when they were both at Manor, I am almost convinced that Ocon is a fair bit better now. If Wehrlein is as good as Ocon, then I don’t think Ericsson would be far off his level either.

      I didn’t realize that there hasn’t been a single race where Kvyat has beaten Sainz when they are both on track. There have been several occasions where Kvyat has looked better than Sainz. In the race itself, Australia looked much better for Kvyat. Team orders may have been involved but he was on a different strategy to Sainz. At this point, he was much faster than Sainz that the team instructed Sainz to let him by. He then pulled away pretty quickly. This will have certainly been a race where he did beat Sainz when they were both on track. But he ran into problems on lap 50. Had to box because of brake temperatures I think. He then came out and soon did the fastest lap in a Toro Rosso. That isn’t that surprising though as it was very close to the end on a new set of tyres and even Ericsson last race managed the 10th fastest lap of the race I think as he pitted right near the end. But this looked to be about the only occasion where Kvyat certainly looked better than Sainz. Although other than the lockup at the start of Baku, he looked better there too until he had to retire. Same as Palmer, his retirements are making him look slightly worse as he’s had less of an opportunity to perform. But then he’s had less of an opportunity to collect penalty points and he managed to get plenty of them. If Sainz moves team, I still think it is worth the team holding on to Kvyat because of his experience but if Sainz remains, maybe get another driver. But I still think bringing in a new one may be just as bigger risk as keeping Kvyat. They will probably have their reasons as to why they are wanting to keep hold of him.

      1. You write well and raise some good questions. What I’m trying to work out now is whether Ericsson is perhaps not deserving of the criticism often aimed at him? He outraced Nasr big time in 2016, Nasr had really one good race but (Brazil) but Ericsson made one of the drives of the season (Mexico) which awarded him only P11.

        Is Ericsson actually decent, just always stuck in a rather useless car, or is Wehrlein a very mediocre driver? Wehrlein has won DTM, scored points for Manor (only equalled by Jules Bianchi), and was supposedly in the run for a Mercedes drive.

        It would be exciting to see what Ericsson could do in something more midfield. Force India or Williams, perhaps.

        1. With an up-to-date Ferrari engine in the Sauber next year it would be a sensation should Mercedes driver Wehrlein retains his seat and not have to make way for Ferrari protegé Leclerc. In all likelihood, Ericsson will be retained as he is a pretty good benchmark against whom Leclerc can be evaluated and not only because of his close links to Sauber’s owners. But where would Wehrlein go? With Martini’s insistence on at least one Williams’ driver being 25, only Perez fits the bill to replace Massa which would see Wehrlein again paired with Ocon, at “Force 1”. Failing that, Wehrlein is out of F1 unless he has a humdinger of a second half and Mercedes decides to drop someone else or release Wehrlein to Renault.

    6. Don’t forget Esteban Ocon costed Sergio Perez 18 points in Azerbaijan, if we take those into account Perez would be destroying Ocon. Still, he is wiping the floor with him

      1. @aminsarur – Your glasses obviously are the same colour as the VJM10; heavily rose tinted. It could equally well be said that Sergio Perez cost Esteban Ocon 18 (or 15 points) in Azerbaijan. Furthermore, there has been more than one instance where Ocon has been faster in the race but Perez has refused to let Ocon past even if they have been on different strategies as happened in Canada. One thing to remember though – as Keith Collantine rightly points out – is that Ocon did not have any F1 experience of the tracks used in the first half of the season, so let’s wait and see what happens in the second half before we proclaim that one driver has “destroyed” the other or “is wiping the floor” with him!

        1. We will see. WIth or without glasses, Azerbaijan was Estaban’s fault

    7. Looking at the graphic Torro Rosso is having a nightmarish year.
      Five times they both finished but six times they both DNF.
      This is such a harsh result considering the car is well born and could probably battle for fourth against Force India.
      I hope the second half of the season will be better for them.

      1. Mmmh looks like I misread the graphic. Grey zones doesn’t necessarily mean a double DNF.

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