Being Number One is brought to you by TJ13 Courtroom Reporter & Crime Analyst: Adam Macdonald
People in F1 land have been focussing on the now “undisputed” no.1 at Red Bull and what this means for F1 as a whole. However, it is forgotten that this is the case in many of the other teams as well, just in different forms.
Sebastian Vettel vs Mark Webber
A theory for a long time but it is becoming more and more apparent that Mark is just serving out his time at Red Bull. Whilst he impressed early in his career with Minardi, he was left over from the Jaguar days when Red Bull Racing came to fruition. One has to feel that this is Mark’s final year as part of the team, with if it were my choice, Nico Hulkenberg joining from Sauber.
Fernando Alonso vs Felipe Massa
At what point in the year this dynamic would change could be a topic of much debate, if Massa were to find himself far closer to (or even) leading the WDC. In the Texas desert last year was the most telling of recent times, when Massa finished only 7 seconds down on the Spaniard after being enforced to take gearbox penalty to aid him. Felipe is making a return to his 2008, potential title winning form which can only be a good thing for a competitive field.
Jenson Button vs Sergio Perez
It’s a funny time to be working at Woking. On the one hand, the trusted and now veteran, Jenson Button leading the team is ideal along with another ‘soft on their tyres’ driver in Sergio Perez. On the other though, when Jenson is having a bad day then nothing works out for him. At least when Hamilton was there, he could be shoulder the responsibility of the team (as long as he wasn’t tweeting telemetry). The Perez and Button combo is a high-risk, high-pay duo; especially whilst Button is the clear leader.
Kimi Raikkonen vs Romain Grosjean
As seen by Melbourne and Sepang, Raikkonen is the lead driver as he gets the new parts. But who can blame them when you look at Grosjean’s first lap incidents from last year and the fact Kimi won the 2007 WDC, and was in a strong position to push for the 2003 title until the FIA made a radical decision to ban the Michelin tyres he was using.
However, Grosjean has shown he has the raw pace at times like Melbourne 2012, qualifying 3rd, although this team relationship is not expected to change anytime soon.
Nico Rosberg vs Lewis Hamilton
Sepang was an odd race in many ways. If Mercedes didn’t want their drivers to race each other then surely the sensible call should have been to let Nico go, and see if he could have affected the RBs race in any way. There were subtle undertones of the Ferrari days in Ross Brawn’s radio messages so blunt and ruthless.
“Negative Nico”, being my favourite. The jury is still out on this partnership to see whether Mercedes will, in Nico’s words, “remember this one.” A video of the two of them in years gone by below:
Nico Hulkenberg vs Esteban Gutierrez
The rookie Mexican was always going to struggle against the wily teammate that is Nico Hulkenberg. The German will be the one giving the team a direction in terms of development, but Gutierrez, the first GP3 graduate to finish in the top 3 in their first season in GP2 (including 3 wins), he deserves some time to adapt to the F1 world.
Paul Di Resta vs Adrian Sutil
Having outscored Di Resta by 15 point in 2011, Adrian Sutil may feel he has little to prove. However, there are still many who don’t believe he deserves his place in F1 as he has already had long enough to show his potential. He has been the stronger performer in years gone by, but Paul is no longer a rookie.
Pastor Maldonado vs Valtteri Bottas
With the car looking decidedly average compared to last year’s race winning machine, we haven’t yet seen the much talked about explosive pace of Bottas. Whilst Maldonado is still being sponsored by the national Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, he is safe as the number 1 driver.
Following the death of Hugo Chavez, his sponsorship is looking less assured, especially with opposition from those in the Venezuelan congress, even if there is a contract in place until the end of 2015. Feeling nervous are we Pastor?
Jean-Eric Vergne vs Daniel Ricciardo
Almost too close to call, but with JEV being better in changing condition as well as outscoring him in 2012 by 6 points he carries a slender advantage. Interestingly though, Ricciardo is the more consistent with 6 points finishes and just 1 retirement, compared to 4 points finishes and 4 retirements for JEV.
An intriguing battle to be had between these two, as both will be feeling the pressure to deliver this year.
Charles Pic vs Giedo van der Garde
I wonder if Charles is regretting his decision to leave the much improving Marussia team. With van der Garde not really providing him with a competitive other side of the garage, it could be a long year in terms of development, with some suggesting it could be the European leg of the season when the Caterham really takes off.
By this point they could be firmly behind Marussia and without doubt the bottom team in F1.
Max Chilton vs Jules Bianchi
After not managing to secure a Force India seat, Jules Bianchi is on a mission to prove himself this year. Bigger teams will be noticing his efforts and it won’t be long before his name is thrown into the mix for a better drive next year. Max Chilton still seems to nestling into life in F1, but he can rest assured that with the millions of AON dollars behind him he can afford this time to settle in. Watch out for this teammate battle later in the season.
Whether it is a good thing or not to have a number one or not still remains a highly debatable issue. However, establishing this from the start is essential or more and more situations like the Red Bull story from Malaysia creep up on you!