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Team-Mate Wars: Sepang Tuesday 31st March 2015


In F1, the first person you have to beat is your team-mate. Andrew Davies’ Team-Mate Wars Returns for its 11th season

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg 0 – Lewis Hamilton 2

Race: Hamilton
The funniest bit of the whole weekend was when Lewis Hamilton was interviewed after Qualifying and claimed not to remember where he passed Nico Rosberg in Q3 on his second set of Inters. The one where Rosberg was slow to get out of his way.

If Lewis really can’t recall what happened on that flying lap, then he’s got a lot of catching up to do to emulate his hero Aytron Senna who could recall every part of a qualifying lap in meticulous detail down to how many ants there were on the Armco at any particular turn. We sensed a small bit of Rosberg friction, but it didn’t amount to anything.

Lewis was better than Nico in the race, but looked like he was pressing too hard too quickly in some of the stints and at the end was always going slower than Nico. Even so, he managed to stay enough in front.

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo 1 – Daniil Kvyat 1

Race: Kvyat
Some stellar qualifying from Dan in tricky conditions – but these days we don’t expect anything less. P4 was still pretty good going for an F1 car with a Renault Scenic engine.

In the race, things got really weird. People started overtaking him. That doesn’t normally happen to the honey badger. What was worse – the 17-year-old overtook him twice, and made it look like it was quite easy.

In the end, Dan succumbed to his brake problems and had to g ive way to team-mate Daniil Kvyat who was also having to manage a lot of technical issues while attempting to speak like the voice of Stephen Hawking on Team Radio. Which is appropriate because both the team’s and the drivers’ prospects of a championship this year are heading for a black hole.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas 1 – Felipe Massa 1

Race: Bottas
This one was a ding-dong all last season and we’ve picked up where we left off. We were denied the Bottas-Massa tussle in Melbourne because of Valtteri’s damaged back and he was suitably heroic/stoic after Malaysia. Asked if it hurt, Valtteri simply said, “the pain is consistent”. Which means it obviously hurt like **** but Valtteri’s a real man.

You can tell how much it hurt Felipe Massa to get beaten by his team-mate because he was rattling on about how he lost two seconds in a pit-stop and ‘my tyres were older’ etc.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel 2 – Kimi Raikkonen 0
Race: Vettel
Kimi is suffering the consequences of tiny tiny mistakes that get amplified into race-scuppering spirals. In Melbourne he could have kept his foot stuck in and kyboshed his team-mate going into Turn 1. Instead he played the team-player, backed off and gave Seb room and was then belted by Sainz etc.
In Sepang qualifying he just missed out on Q3, got wheelspin on the grid from P11 and got a dog of a start, then the puncture. On Friday, let’s remind ourselves that his long-run pace was better than both Mercedes. Yet it’s the German side of the garage that got the win and the adulation. He’s got to be heading back to the podium soon, but take nothing away from Seb, it was a commanding drive.

McLaren
Jenson Button 1 – Fernando Alonso 1
Race: Alonso
Alonso may have lost out to Jenson in Q1, but got ahead in the race and was leading his team-mate when he got the inevitable call. Sadly for Honda the engine allowance isn’t 19 units in a season it’s five . That should just about keep them going till Spain. And of course if they keep using engines they’re going to start picking up grid penalties…and find themselves…well, starting races at the back of the grid.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg 1 – Sergio Perez 1
Race: Perez
The team were off the pace, but had to suffer some pretty marginal calls for race penalties. Checo’s penalty in particular. What was Sergio supposed to do going through the high-speed sweeps? Grosjean tried and didn’t get the move done in time and suffered the consequences. Sergio came home in front of Nico but neither were very happy.

Toro Rosso
Dutch Puppy 1 – Spanish Puppy 1
Race: Verstappen
This must be a brilliant time to be a Dutch F1 fan. Not only is there the unadulterated thrill of watching Max Verstappen tear up the ‘youngest driver to…’ record book every time he takes to the track, they also have…erm…Giedo van der Garde. No, Max is more than enough on his own. This was another outstanding performance, pretty much matched by Carlos Sainz jr (or as DC likes to call him, Carlos Sains as in Sainsburys).

Lotus
Pastor Maldonado 1 Romain Grosjean 1
Race: Maldonado
An unusual TMW award this time, but the TMW committee feels that Pastor’s spectacular start got him into a strong position relative to his team-mate. He was firmly ahead of Romain Grosjean when Bottas gave his tyre a puncturing nerf and he slowed down immediately. Without the puncture he would have been away.

Sauber
Felipe Nasr 2 Marcus Ericsson 0
Race: Nasr
Marcus Ericsson qualified well, got a pretty good start, then threw it all away in the gravel of Turn 1. Felipe Nasr had a much quieter race than his Melbourne debut, and brought out fewer Safety Cars than his team-mate.

Star of the race
Felipe Nasr 1 (AUS), Sebastian Vettel 1 (MAY)

Overtaking Move of the Race
Marcus Ericsson 1, Valtteri Bottas 1

Arse of the Weekend
Marcus Ericsson
Actually finding some gravel to go and get stuck in is pretty difficult at a Hermann Tilke circuit, but Marcus achieved it and robbed his team of a potential points finish.

More Media Watch
Eddie Jordan was reading quite a lot into the ‘look’ that Fernando Alonso gave him as he walked past in the paddock after qualifying:
Eddie Jordan:“His eye contact with me was like, “it’s going to be a long hike from here before we start to make any progress, but we’ve done our best today.”

“I’ve never felt heat like it. And I’m from Scotland.” Allan McNish  And your point is…?

David Coulthard may have been aiming for the word ‘optimistic’ in this sentence when Felipe Nasr left his braking way too late:  “He just got a bit opportunistic going into Turn 14.”

Suzi Perry decided to create new motor car franchises for the struggling team from Woking. “Neither of the McLarens made it out of Q1 yesterday which was very disappointing for the McLaren-Honda Dealer Union…” (???)

Eddie talking about Ferrari not getting together for a team photo like Red Bull and Mercedes.“I think it’s different folks for different strokes.”

EJ was also relieved that both Mercs made it into Q3: “They could so easily have been lost out in all that situation.”***

Copa española*
1.Felipe Massa 50
2.Felipe Nasr 33
3.Carlos Sainz Jr.33
4.Sergio Perez 24
5.Roberto Merhi 10
6.Pastor Maldonado 0
7.Fernando Alonso 0
*Points awarded as though only Spanish- and Brazilian-speaking drivers existed. Winner gets a slap-up meal for two (with wine) at Barica Tapas bar, Mortimer Street, London.

Non-Mercedes Teams**
1.Ferrari 68
2.Williams 45
3.Sauber 24
4.Toro Rosso 24
5.Red Bull 22
6.Force India 14
7.McLaren 2
8.Lotus 2
**Points awarded as though Mercedes weren’t there

Contact Us
Australia: Nasr-Maldonado, Sainz-Raikkonen, Perez-Button
Malaysia: Bottas- Maldonado, Nasr-Raikkonen, Hulkenburg-Kvyat, Perez-Grosjean

***A Mark Blundell tribute quote

Andrew Davies