In a new feature for the 2016 season, we look at the intra-team rivalries on the grid and decide after each grand prix just who came out on top – catch up with the Australia entry HERE.
Remember; the first person you must beat in Formula One is the guy in exactly the same car as you.
Lewis Hamilton 0 – 2 Nico Rosberg
Race: Nico Rosberg
There will be a lot said and even more made about the fact that Rosberg has a healthy championship lead this early on in the season. In Bahrain he controlled the race from the front and look assured in keeping Raikkonen at arms length, mainly because he benefitted from the Turn 1 fracas more than anyone else. Add in the fortune from Australia and Nico’s having a lucky start to the year.
But, as the saying goes, you make your own luck. There a tiny flaws in Lewis’ starting procedure that have cost him positions this season, while Nico’s have been better. Vice versa, Lewis is seemingly unbeatable when it comes to Saturdays – the record breaking lap in Bahrain is pure testament to that. But Hamilton’s Sunday performances have both been labelled “damage limitation” by the man himself – he’s got to head to China with the impetus of beating Nico there, or face falling further behind. It’s all reminiscent of 2014, which went down to the wire after getting very, very ugly indeed.
Lastly, it’s all very well saying that Nico has won five straight races, and that every driver that has done that has gone on to win the championship, but there’s a plethora of drivers that have won a pair of races at the start of a season and not. There’s a long, fascinating way still to go.
Sebastian Vettel 1 – 1 Kimi Raikkonen
Race: Kimi Raikkonen
Another Bahrain GP, another bottle of rosewater for Raikkonen. That’s the Finn’s fifth runners-up spot in Sakhir, and he could have been caught and passed by Hamilton if it hadn’t of been for the level of damage the Mercedes was running after Turn 1. He had to fight for this finish too; after the start he was way down in 5th place. Vettle still has the edge in qualifying though, this time just two-tenths.
As fast as the Ferrari seems to be on paper, the reliability issues are a source for concern. We’ll never know if Vettel could have taken the fight to Rosberg as the race wore on – as Rosberg had it easy from Raikkonen – but the team has to be thankful that Kimi’s return to the podium helped them still look like viable contenders this season. Could you imagine if he’d had a more lacklustre race and finished 7th?
Daniel Ricciardo 2 – 0 Daniil Kvyat
Race: Daniel Ricciardo
As fast as Kvyat may seem – and he is a fast racing driver, let’s be clear – if you put him into direct comparison with Ricciardo he starts to look a bit, well, average. In the three competitive sessions we’ve had this season so far he’s not been fast enough in qualifying to challenge the Toro Rossos, let alone his teammate, and pulled off some great overtakes to finish ahead of the Williams drivers.
But then you look at how Ricciardo is maximising the Red Bull package and see exactly what could be possible for the team. Two 4th places in the first two races, in a season where they thought they’d be humbled by most of the midfield pack, and it all feels a bit 2014 all over again. It just needs the right circumstances and the Honey Badger could be smiling on top of the podium again.
Romain Grosjean 2 – 0 Esteban Gutierrez
Race: Romain Grosjean
Thanks to the combination of an aggressive tyre strategy and a superb drive from Grosjean, Haas looked less like a brand new team and more like an established one. As much as it was a gamble to leave Lotus/Renault for this seat, it’s paid off handsomely for the Frenchman, especially with a seat on offer at the bigger brother team of Ferrari when Kimi eventually goes. That’s some absolutely stunning foresight, especially when you look at Renault’s plight further down the field, and even more when you realise Haas were only beaten by multi-championship winning teams on Sunday.
“The American Dream” is what Romain called his 5th place finish, which is step up from “feels like a victory” after 6th in Australia. At this rate of improvement they’ll be taking victories by Monaco.
Max Verstappen 1 – 1 Carlos Sainz
Race: Max Verstappen
And normal service is resumed for the plucky little Italian outfit; Max pulled off some gutsy overtakes that bagged him a healthy handful of points, while Carlos suffered from a puncture and all the bad luck the team could muster.
Focusing on Max a bit more, these are the kind of performances he needs to string together a bit more to carry on being the next hot property on the grid. The overtakes can be, and usually are, awesome to watch, but the consistency of performance if what teams notice more than anything else. The raw edges need sanding down a bit more, and this was a good start.
Valterri Bottas 0 – 2 Felipe Massa
Race: Felipe Massa
Remember when Bottas was being touted as Kimi’s replacement at Ferrari? That was only last summer, and in that time he’s either been turfed off the road by his compatriot in races or been, if anything, lacklustre in comparison to teammate Massa.
The Finn’s race was defined by his first corner altercation with Lewis Hamilton – there was the smallest of gaps, but going for it was a bit too ambitious, although Bottas did make the strong point that he was defending at the same time and didn’t really have anywhere to go. Both Williams cars made lightning starts to be 2nd and 3rd going into the first corner, but only Massa came out unscathed from the mess.
The team really does need to start thinking more aggressively when it comes to strategy though. Massa finished a lapped eighth despite being running behind Rosberg for the first stint, but keeping your nose clean definitely has it’s merits.
Jenson Button 0 – 1 Stoffel Vandoorne
Race: Stoffel Vandoorne
Vandoorne’s substitution appearance after replacing the injured Fernando Alonso was one of the main talking points of the weekend, partly because the Spaniard was out of the race, but mainly because Stoffel deserves to be on the F1 grid on pure talent alone.
He obviously had the better weekend thanks to Jenson’s Honda packing up after a handful of laps, but if you think about the details of it all, Vandoorne was busy combatting jet lag after flying in from Japan on Friday while Button was busy making jaws drop by ending up 3rd in Free Practice 2. When he was acclimatised, he outqualified the Brit and put together a solid first outing, with an excellent non-DRS pass on Perez’s Force India and a world championship point on his debut.
Kevin Magnussen scored points early on – and throughout – his McLaren career and gave the seat up, and Stoffel now has to do the same in a shorted window, despite being the top scoring driver in the team. He’s made the impact, but when will we see him again?
Jolyon Palmer 1 – 1 Kevin Magnussen
Race: Kevin Magnussen
K-Mag needed a decent result here and he got it with a gutsy display, after brain fade made him miss the weighing check and start from the pitlane. He was hampered by the limited power of the Renault, but kept his nose clean to finish just one place outside of the points, which is a great result, all things considered. He even put together some excellent racecraft to belie the speed difference of himself to the other cars around him, including a crafty attempt to pass Ericsson while both of them were being lapped by Hamilton.
If the Chinese GP sees both himself and Palmer start the race and get through the first few corners, this could be an exciting duel to see develop.
Felipe Nasr 0 – 2 Marcus Ericsson
Race: Marcus Ericsson
When time are tough it’s a good test of a driver, and no example is better than the tales of both Saubers in Bahrain.
Nasr was the first man out in qualifying and is openly admitting that the C35 doesn’t suit him, which in our eyes is the equivalent of giving up. Contrast that with Ericsson, who had managed to to go 1.5s faster on Saturday and was on for that last point in 10th before he had to conserve fuel, and drove a gritty race to see off his teammate and finish nearly 10s further down the road.
Ignore the financial woes at the team and look at it as a head-to-head fight – which is what this articles are all about – and you can only see Marcus winning this thanks to Nasr’s lack of fight at the moment.
Pascal Wehrlein 2 – 0 Rio Harayanto
Race: Pascal Wehrlein
What a gulf there is between these two. The only positives Rio can take from this weekend was that he wasn’t first out in Q1 and he finished his first grand prix, which wouldn’t be bad if he was driving the 2015 car. But he isn’t, and he has a real star of the future as a teammate in the shape of Pascal Wehrlein, who finished 30 seconds down the road and ahead of four other cars, including both Force India cars who have the same power unit. That’s probably the most impressive 13th place in F1 history.
Nico Hulkenberg 2 – 0 Sergio Perez
Race: Nico Hulkenberg
What a difference two years make. In 2014 Force India were celebrating with rosewater after Perez’s 3rd place finish, and even had the extra joy of Hulkenberg coming home 5th in the same race. Come this weekend, they only finished ahead of Haryanto’s Manor.
Nico’s decision to go for it on Saturday puts him ahead of his teammate, as Sergio’s only contribution to the race was being a target for overtaking by most drivers. Nico could have nabbed a point or two, or at least been in the running for them, if he hadn’t of been caught up in the aftermath of the Bottas-Hamilton incident and had to change his front wing. At least he’s showing a bit of promise, while Sergio seems to be struggling with the car.