He’s just too good for you

By TJ13 Courtroom Reporter & Crime Analyst: Adam Macdonald.

Winning is one thing, dominating is another
This season had seen Wilfried Zaha, of Crystal Palace; frighten defenders in the Npower Championship (UK football league below the Premiership).  So much so that the chant “he’s just too good for you” echoes around Selhurst Park and other grounds throughout England.  When defenders come up against a man who has already agreed a deal to sign for one of the biggest clubs in the

world and recently crowned Premier League champions, it must be a daunting task.

This got me thinking about what we’ve already seen so far in these 4 races and what we can expect to see for the rest of the year.  With so many rookies on the grid, the dominance is set to change in some cases as drivers become used to the conditions of Formula One.  For this I have picked out 3 teams to review.

Caterham
Poor old Giedo van der Garde.  A rookie at the grand age of 27, and he is being left to fight against Max Chilton at the back of the grid in what was undeniably before Bahrain, the slowest car on the grid.  As he becomes accustomed to life in the fast lane, he will get closer to Charles Pic; who himself must be regretting moving to the rivals.  This problem is worsened with Heikki Kovalainen hanging around in the garage like a traffic warden waiting to pounce at any moment.

Marussia
Max Chilton has been really unlucky to end up against a driver of the quality of Jules Bianchi.  After the uncertainty of who would take that race seat, after Royal Mail managed to lose the sponsor cheques from Brazil for Luis Razia, Bianchi has stunned many in F1 with his pace and maturity.  At times he has even challenged for positions outside of the ‘the usual suspects.’   Max will surely settle in over time, but will do well to beat Jules.  However, with AON backing him, to somewhere to the tune of $15 million his seat is safe, even if it does make him very much a ‘pay’ driver.

Sauber
At this point last year, Nico Hulkenberg was having a difficult time getting up to speed with F1, after being dumped out by Williams, following an impressive performance to take pole at Interlagos 2010 (even if he didn’t even manage to keep the lead into the first corner).  After this, he spent a year working in the Force India factory to better understand the cars, which has proven to be a very sensible move.

This time it is Nico dishing out the misery on Telmex backed, Esteban Gutierrez.  Some have questioned whether Gutierrez is the real deal, having still not scored a point or been close to doing so.  GP2 is very different to mixing it in the big time, and so far he hasn’t shown any of the killer instinct required to be successful.

Déjà vu
So where else have we seen this kind of thing?  I’ve examined a few team dynamics below which were much the same of another driver being ‘just too good’ for another.

Michael Schumacher vs teammates, 1994
None of his teammates got anywhere close to him that year, in a car that finished 2nd in the constructors’ title and was able to win the WDC.  Questions have been raised over the years whether it was a truly fair fight, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding; Jos Verstappen only managed two 3rd places that season, Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto didn’t even manage that.

Mika Häkkinen vs David Coulthard
In 1998 and 1999, Mika Häkkinen looked like he was driving another car to that of his Scottish teammate.  He accumulated 100 points compared to 56 for Coulthard in 1998, and 76 to 48 in 1999; Häkkinen dominated in his MP4/13 and MP4/14.  Coulthard has made repeated references to this during his punditry for the BBC.  Clearly it still plays on his mind even today!

Jacques Villeneuve vs Heinz-Harald Frentzen
The 1997 season saw Jacques score almost double the points to that of his German teammate (81 – 42).  With one win that season compared with 7 for Villeneuve, there must have been times where conceding defeat would have seemed like the easiest option.   Finishing in a distant 3rd position would be hard to take for anyone when they see their teammate winning the WDC.

A Felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.  If the prison sentence is in your mind though, it’s a hard place to escape from!

So how does somebody come back from a body blow like the examples above?  None of Schumacher’s teammates won the WDC, neither did H-HF or Coulthard.  Being dominated in such a way that it becomes humiliating must rest very hard on the mind of a driver.

Felipe Massa has bounced back this year, especially in qualifying, from the body blows he received from Alonso in 2011 and 2012.  Can Mark Webber do the same?  If not, then this would surely be his final year with the Milton Keynes outfit.  Does he have nightmares of the Vettel finger?

Then there are the rookies around who are being shown up against their teammates.  Formula One is a tough sport to fit in with, so maybe being thrown in at the deep end for a sink or swim year is the best thing for them.

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4 responses to “He’s just too good for you

  1. I guess the likelihood of Schumacher not using at least something (launch control at France and ultra fast pit stops in Brazil, perhaps traction control) is a bit like trying to say cycling was clean of EPO and blood doping in the 90s and 2000s, and that Athletics didn’t have drugs problems from the 70s-2000s! Herbert at least won 2 races in 1995 when MSc and Hill collided, so I guess that’s a fairer comparison on pace, if only slightly? Herbert and Brundle always do insinuate that Schumacher dominated the teams while they were there, and that the management backed him fully as the best chance to win, which is fair enough – always back your fastest driver!

  2. I think 2011 saw some considerable beatings handed out. Vettel beating Webber by ~134 points in 2011 (53 points in old money) qualifies as one of the biggest humiliations ever dished out, and Alonso beating Massa by 150 points also (although Alonso was astonishingly good and Massa astonishingly bad (until the last few races..))

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