Team mate battles: Who?s ahead at the mid-point of 2015? | 2015 F1 season

Posted on Jul 31, 2015

Daniil Kvyat, Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2015Half of the season is behind us and the driver market for 2016 is beginning to fall into shape.

As always the first benchmark for any drievr seeking a promotion for next season is how well they are performing compared to the only other driver who has the same equipment as them.

Who?s stolen a march on their team mates so far this season? Who is out-performing the driver in the other car but not getting the breaks when it comes to reliability? And what about that all-important fight over the championship at Mercedes?

Four key pieces of data have been used below to compare how each pair of team mates performed during 2014: who qualified ahead (ignoring penalties and sessions where either driver did not set a time), who finished the race ahead (ignoring non-classifications), how many racing laps each spent ahead of the other, and who scored the most championship points.

Toro Rosso: Max Verstappen vs Carlos Sainz Jnr

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Hungaroring, 2015Toro Rosso?s ?horrible? unreliability ? to borrow a word from their team principal ? is partially masking what a good job Carlos Sainz Jnr has done this year against his much-hyped young team mate. While taking nothing away from Max Verstappen, the fact of the matter is Sainz has been non-classified on four occasions this year due to technical problems, twice as often as the team?s other driver, and has lost several points finishes as a result.

The most recent example was last Sunday, when Sainz?s car expired again while Verstappen took advantage of the carnage in front of him to take fourth place.

Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo vs Daniil Kvyat

Daniil Kvyat, Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2015Last year Daniel Ricciardo caused a sensation by beating four-times world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel in his first year as a Red Bull driver. Now new team mate Daniil Kvyat is showing signs of doing to Ricciardo what he did to Vettel ? make the most of another disappointing Red Bull-Renault.

Ricciardo hasn?t had the rub of the green at times: in Hungary he was plainly the quicker of the two but an unfortunate tangle with Nico Rosberg while disputing second place dropped him behind Kvyat at the flag.

Williams: Felipe Massa vs Valtteri Bottas

Felipe Massa, Williams, Silverstone, 2015The Silverstone race thrust the battle between the two Williams drivers centre stage as the pair unexpectedly found themselves battling for the lead of the race. Valtteri Bottas was unimpressed at initially being told to hold station behind Felipe Massa, which he believed cost him a chance to overtake his team mate.

However the margin of superiority Bottas enjoyed at Williams was clearer last year. Massa has hit back, particularly in qualifying, although Bottas was compromised by a back problem. While Massa seized an advantage on the Saturday scoreline, so far Bottas has only narrowly out-performed him in the races. The potential future Ferrari driver would surely prefer to have a more emphatic margin of superiority over the ex-Maranello man.

McLaren: Fernando Alonso vs Jenson Button

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Shanghai International Circuit, 2015Don?t let the race result scoreline fool you: McLaren have only got both cars classified on two occasions this year so this is far from the disaster for Jenson Button it may seem like at first glance.

In fact the Honda-powered MP4-30?s performance has been so variable and its dependability so poor that drawing comparisons between the two world champions driving it is a bit of a fruitless exercise. Swapping drivers for next year must be low down on this team?s list of priorities, though that hasn?t dissuaded the rumour-mongers from linking Button to moves to the new Haas F1 team, the World Endurance Championship, and even the Top Gear studio.

Force India: Nico Hulkenberg vs Sergio Perez

Last year Nico Hulkenberg had a clear edge on Sergio Perez at Force India, and in their second season as team mates the gap has widened. The Le Mans 24 Hours winner has been especially impressive in qualifying, where Perez still seems to have difficulties with tyre warm-up.

Manor: Will Stevens vs Roberto Merhi

Roberto Merhi has been at a disadvantage compared to Will Stevens because of the difference in weight between the two. But in recent races the gap between the pair has shrunk and Merhi has increasingly been found ahead.

Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel vs Kimi Raikkonen

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2015While it?s true that Kimi Raikkonen has borne the brunt of Ferrari?s technical problems ? never more clearly than at the last weekend in Hungary ? that is not the only reason why Vettel has out-scored him by more than two to one so far this year. Qualifying remains a significant weakness for Raikkonen while Vettel appears rejuvenated following his dispiriting 2014 campaign.

Lewis Hamilton aside, Raikkonen could not have gone up against two tougher drivers in the past two seasons. Nonetheless he has clearly been found wanting, and it?s small wonder some of the other drivers who are performing better compared to their team mates are being linked with his seat.

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg first teamed up 15 years ago when the pair were karting. Hamilton has consistently come out on top over a season, but Rosberg?s superiority in qualifying last year ? which won him the inaugural FIA Pole Position Trophy ? came as a surprise.

Hamilton, usually renowned as a qualifying specialist, has restored the Saturday scoreline to something more like what we would expect ? much to Rosberg?s dismay. The number six driver will need to take pole position in all of the remaining races to keep Hamilton from winning the trophy this year.

But although Hamilton has almost always enjoyed the advantage of starting first, he has slipped up once or twice on race day. Even so the points difference between the pair flatters Rosberg somewhat, and is partly so close because even when he fails to beat Hamilton the worst he can expect is to finish second.

Lotus: Romain Grosjean vs Pastor Maldonado

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Red Bull Ring, 2015Pastor Maldonado has out-scored Romain Grosjean on penalties seven to three, but is lagging behind where it counts. Lotus is another team which has suffered some reliability problems, but the qualifying scoreline shows Grosjean has been decisively quicker than his team mate over a single lap.

This is all the more discouraging for Maldonado considering the fact that Grosjean is the only one of the pair who has to give up his car to Jolyon Palmer during first practice on most race weekends. The PDVSA backing Maldonado brings to Lotus is increasingly looking like the main reason he?s there.

Sauber: Marcus Ericsson vs Felipe Nasr

Felipe Nasr, Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 2015With almost a full year of F1 under his belt Marcus Ericsson should be showing Felipe Nasr the way, even if the latter had the benefit of a handful of Williams test appearances last year. But it?s Nast who?s impressed most so far and given the team their best result of the season to date: fifth in Australia.

Both drivers have already been retained for 2016. In Ericsson?s case, it?s hard to avoid drawing the conclusion that Sauber need money at least as much as they need talent at the moment.

Over to you

Which drivers have impressed you most compared to their team mates so far this year? And how do you think the battles will unfold over the rest of the season?

Have your say in the comments. You can also find the same data for previous seasons here:

2015 F1 season

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