Team mate battles 2017: Four drivers dominating at mid-season

2017 F1 season

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Four drivers can take maximum satisfaction from their performance over the first half of the 2017 season.

Analysis of all the drivers’ qualifying and race performances from the 11 grands prix before the summer break reveals who’s had the strongest start to the year and who needs to raise their game as teams weigh up who to keep and who to drop in 2018.

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Ferrari: Vettel leads the championship charge

Kimi Raikkonen was a much improved driver last year and even out-qualified Sebastian Vettel over the balance of the season.

If he’d carried that momentum into the first half of 2017 he could be leading the championship right now – he’s certainly got a car capable of doing so. But a resurgent Vettel has put Raikkonen back in his place. This is starting to look like 2015 again.

As the summer break approached and with questions over his future growing ever louder, Raikkonen produced a timely upswing in form. Over the past half-dozen races he’s been a better match for Vettel in qualifying.

His form against Vettel is similar to Esteban Ocon’s against Sergio Perez at Force India, with one key differentce Ocon’s points-scoring rate has been considerably better.

Which Ferrari driver finished ahead?

Sebastian Vettel Q
Kimi Raikkonen Q

McLaren: Alonso carries uncompetitive MCL32

Stoffel Vandoorne faces the combination any new F1 driver must dread: a very competitive team mate and a very uncompetitive car.

Honda made a great leap backwards over the winer with their power unit, leaving McLaren to toil at the tail of the field once again. Fernando Alonso has vast reserves of talent and experience to draw on but while Vandoorne has demonstrated his ability in junior categories, he’s having to learn quickly in F1.

The team had a better showing in Hungary where Vandoorne got his first point of the year. He may not have the chance to repeat that until Singapore. And while the qualifying battle is being won conclusively by Alonso, Vandoorne’s deficit to his two-times championship team mate is closer than other drivers have to less illustrious team mates.

Which McLaren driver finished ahead?

Fernando Alonso Q
Stoffel Vandoorne Q

Williams: Massa’s reversal

Williams originally intended to pair Lance Stroll with Valtteri Bottas in 2017. The rookie should consider himself lucky that didn’t happen, as he’s taken a beating from Felipe Massa in qualifying, who in turn was hammered by Bottas on Saturdays last year.

The good news for Stroll was he had by far his beat weekend of the season on a day when Williams were in contention for a podium. Despite being passed by Bottas on the line he came away with third place in Azerbaijan, aided in part by Massa retiring with a broken damper.

That weekend was also the only time Stroll out-qualified his regular team mate, as Paul di Resta substituted for the unwell Massa in Hungary.

Which Williams driver finished ahead?

Felipe Massa Q
Lance Stroll Q

Renault: Palmer’s future in doubt

It seems inevitable Jolyon Palmer will have to make way for Renault’s next choice of driver, whether or not that turns out to be Robert Kubica.

There’s no ignoring the fact Palmer has had some reliability problems so far this season, but opportunity after opportunity to prove himself on a par with Nico Hulkenberg has been squandered. Palmer is the only driver on the grid who has failed to beat his team mate on merit in qualifying and has only got within seven-tenths of a second twice, on the two shortest tracks of the year.

Perhaps inevitably, there are now rumours Renault are trying to prise him out of his contract for the remainder of the year.

Which Renault driver finished ahead?

Nico Hulkenberg Q
Jolyon Palmer Q

The team mate comparison data for the other six teams will be published here tomorrow.

2017 F1 season

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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48 comments on “Team mate battles 2017: Four drivers dominating at mid-season”

  1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    7th August 2017, 12:48

    Felipe has lost so many points in Spain,Canada,Baku(minimun 2nd),Russia & he has been stalled at 23 points!!! Hulkenberg’s qualy record is insane & it will be interesting if he will manage to outqualify Palmer in every race! Kimi started really badly but now he is bexoming better.It will be interesting to see how those battles go in the end.

    1. Kimi is not allowed to battle his teammate.

      1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
        7th August 2017, 19:53

        Its not about battling Vettel,its just from Australia-Spain he wasnt good at all & afterwards he somehow improved his performances :/ He could have won in Monaco,for many reasons he didnt.Generally a very unstable(performance wise) from Kimi

    2. Agreed, Felipe has been very unlucky, he even had a chance for the win in Azerbaijan, let down by his team.

      1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
        8th August 2017, 21:01

        That race…So annoying for a Massa fan!! Everything were going so well & disaster stroke in the first 15 seconds exiting the pits after a 30 minutes break :/

  2. petebaldwin (@)
    7th August 2017, 12:55

    That is pretty damning on Kimi isn’t it….? You’d expect that sort of result for VAN/ALO, STR/MAS or HUL/PAL because there are huge differences in skill and experience but to see Vettel that comfortable against Kimi suggests that either Seb has made big improvements this year or Kimi is slowing down even more towards the end of his career.

    1. I’m quite sure Kimi didn’t reverse “slowing down at the end of his career” last year to only have “reversed” it to 2015 levels since in 2014 he ‘proved he wasn’t as good as *insert random driver here*’.

      I think nobody will contest that Kimi isn’t as good as he was from 2003-2008, but I find it strange people expect him to. Sebastian is 7 years younger than him and despite being a massive Kimi fan, Sebastian is probably a more complete driver regardless.

      Let’s not forget Felipe has the measure of Kimi in qualifying during 2007-2008 as well, getting 12 poles to Kimi’s 5. More recently, even Romain Grosjean got to 9 to Kimi’s 10 better qualifyings in 2013. So the qualifying stat should hardly be surprising.

      As for the races, Kimi was eliminated on turn 1 in Spain and was the victim of Force India’s antics in Azerbaijan. There’s no use in talking where he would have finished had neither happened, but that’s two non-scores that had nothing to do with his own driving.

      If Kimi were to be set aside by Ferrari, I would understand it. He’s no longer performing to the maximum of his abilities. But to see him put down in the comment section on every F1 related website is starting to get on my nerves.

      1. Don’t forget that Kimi would have won both the Monaco and Hungary races had not Ferrari “managed” their drivers… …so what you’re seeing is more the result of Vettel being the designated No 1 driver at Ferrari than a genuine performance difference between them. Yes, Vettel has the edge but is nowhere near as far ahead as these stats suggest.

        1. Yeezy918 (@)
          7th August 2017, 16:34

          Monaco, Kimi failed to pull away in clear air, he got undercut.

          Hungary, I very much doubt he was told not to pass Seb, rather he just plain couldn’t due to the nature of the track. Alonso is the only person who managed a proper pass in that entire race.

          Im no tifosi but I see no foul play by the Scuderia in either case, just Kimi not getting the job done.

          1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
            7th August 2017, 17:02

            @offdutyrockstar in Monaco he was fuming, so clearly Kimi thought the team had behaved badly. They pitted him so that he came out in traffic, he said there was no need to pit him at that point (his tyres were fine), they should have waited for a clear space. Also, after pitting him they told Seb to turn the engine up, so it’s pretty obvious that the two were just pacing themselves up to that point. I struggle to remember a time when Kimi looked more angry than during that podium ceremony, he knew he’d been duped.

          2. Yeezy918 (@)
            7th August 2017, 17:27

            @thegrapeunwashed thats a fair point, if indeed they did let Seb turn his engine up as Kimi pitted. I initially thought he had been done over but then read some race strategy reports afterwards which suggested Vettel had been held up and was able to unleash his true pace once Kimi was out of the way. Kimi himself then admitted later that the team had not disadvantaged him but I recognise he may have just been told to tow the company line and let it go.

          3. @offdutyrockstar, in the case of the Hungarian GP, we heard Kimi complaining over the radio that he wanted to stay out for longer on the supersoft tyres instead of switching onto the softs. Given the difficulty of trying to pass on track, Kimi was effectively asking if he could be given the opportunity to get ahead of Vettel through strategy – something that the team did not give him the chance to do.

          4. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
            7th August 2017, 20:21

            @offdutyrockstar, I double-checked and it seems there was nothing broadcast to prove Vettel was allowed to turn the engine up – but his pace was so much faster at that point it’s a reasonable inference. Certainly Raikkonen was convinced he’d been done.

            There’s no question that Raikkonen is not at Vettel’s level, but because Ferrari have repeatedly screwed his strategy to help Vettel out, his results aren’t a fair reflection of their comparative performance.

          5. @thegrapeunwashed Every racing driver will turn up the engine during the pit window. It’s not as if Ferrari had to remind Vettel to do so. Actually, both Vettel and Räikkönen were pushing like mad during that stage of the race. Vettel was slightly faster and helped by traffic he was able to jump (overcut) Räikkönen. Was it a team order? Maybe, but Räikkönen also had himself to blame for not pulling out any significant lead before the round of pitstops.

          6. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
            8th August 2017, 10:26

            @f1infigures Every racing driver? Raikkonen hadn’t turned up his engine in the pit window, he was called in and boxed immediately. But Vettel wasn’t called in, he was allowed to turn the engine up to maximum and stay out until he’d built a large enough gap – that’s not fair to Raikkonen.

            Raikkonen might not have built a big gap before pitting, but if he was lapping in a lower engine mode he was only concerned with hitting his lap time targets, achieving a win with the minimum fuss and minimal strain on the engine and gear box, i.e. he wasn’t racing Vettel at that point. But as soon as his pits, the team changes the race strategy – how is that fair to Kimi? Had Raikkonen been aware that he was racing his teammate from the start he’d have run a different strategy up to the first stops.

          7. @thegrapeunwashed
            Well maybe trying thinking you can beat Vettel with “minimum fuss” was Raikkonen’s mistake. Of course he was racing his teammate, Vettel was 2nd and in DRS range looking to win. KR had 30+ laps to build a gap with clear air in front of him. He didn’t.

          8. @thegrapeunwashed
            Maybe Kimi thinking he could beat Vettel with “minimum fuss” was his error. Of course he was racing his teammate, Vettel was 2nd and in DRS range looking to win. KR had 30+ laps to build a gap with clear air in front of him. He didn’t.

    2. Seb has made big improvements this year or Kimi is slowing down even more towards the end of his career.

      @petebaldwin I don’t agree Seb had to improve much to beat Kimi to this extent. Vettel is just the superior driver on every front. If anything days when Kimi is faster it’s often very easy to find why, and it hardly ever is Kimi raising the pace.

      Kimi is still a very complete driver and most likely still also better than 70% of the drivers on the grid, yet Vettel is just better and he’d mot likely do this to most drivers.

      1. Don’t buy that. Alonso crucified Kimi as team mates more so than he ever did to Massa. Can think of a number of drivers who could give Kimi a brutal time.

        1. Kimi’s and Alonso’s driving styles are complete opposites. It’s hardly surprising 2014 Ferrari suited Alonso much, much better than Kimi. It would’ve been intriguing to see another year of RAI-ALO at Ferrari. My guts tell me Kimi would’ve out-scored Alonso after tight battle.

          1. Pretty sure it would have been a blood bath again.

          2. @huhhii No chance Kimi would outscore Alonso. It’d be an achievement for him to get within 100 points of him.

          3. Don’t listen to what your gut tells you then.
            Even if it were just a ‘feeling’ ;)

          4. @huhhii, it reminds me of the sarcastic epithet that, if you were listening to what your gut was telling you, most people would be wondering what orifice it was talking out of…

            Whilst I do not wish to come across as harsh, even though the 2014 car was difficult to drive, Kimi’s relative performance against Alonso was, however you cut it, poor.

            He was out qualified 16-3 that year – the worst record in the entire field – and had one of the largest average time deficits to his team mate in qualifying that year (over half a second slower on average).

            His performance in race trim was just as bad as his qualifying performance – in races where both drivers finished, Alonso beat him 15 times to 1 for Kimi, the worst performance on the grid by a significant margin (even drivers like Gutierrez performed more strongly than Kimi did).

            As for his relative points score against his team mate, again he underperformed expectations there – out of the top twelve drivers on the grid, he had the worst relative points haul (34% of Alonso’s points). Massa might have been mocked for being “past it” or for underperforming against Alonso, but in 2013 Massa had a stronger relative performance against Alonso than Kimi did (46% of Alonso’s points haul).
            Even in 2012, where in the final races Massa was intentionally taking grid penalties to help Alonso maximise his chances in the WDC, Massa still managed a better relative points haul against Alonso than Kimi did in 2014.

            With that poor performance in mind, I really struggle to see how Kimi could have beaten Alonso if they had been paired together in 2015 – he might have performed a bit more strongly, but I cannot see how he could have overturned such a large performance gap in a relatively short period of time.

          5. I admire your staunch support of Kimi, but I’m afraid your gut might be a little biased on this one. There’s no possible way Kimi would have beaten Alonso given another season.

    3. (@petebaldwin) (@offdutyrockstar)
      Keith practically runs an official Vettel fanboy page, and is either too ignorant or willfully naive to assess how Kimi is being treated. Appalling strategies, rubbish reliability, and generally the classic Ferrari No. 2 treatment. They’re blatant about it, it’s how they’ve always run a team – because it works.

      And when you think Vettel is still barely beating him, when Kimi is WAY past his prime, it’s pretty damning for Sebastian ‘I got slaughtered in 2014’ Vettel.

      Keith, buddy, you should think about getting some sponsorship from Ferrari for all this PR.

      1. hahahaha, yeah yeah yeah.

        And when Alonso and Raikkonen were teammates it was all Alonso’s doing, right?

        All this shows is YOUR preference/dislike. Vettel beat Raikkonen with the same difference in terms of pace in 2015 as Alonso did in 2014.

        But nice try though.

      2. Also, barely beating him? Really? Barely?!

        Vettel is leading the WDC. Kimi is P5… He’s not even close and he wouldn’t be close even if he had won Monaco and Hungary.

  3. Hulk DNF’ed in Hungary, which makes Palmer’s inner team statistics even more pathetic (HUL finished 80% ahead).

    PS interesting way to abbreviate the countries: AUS & AUS.
    And GRE (Great Britain rather than Greece) is not even a country. It probably should be UNI (like the race later in October)

    1. Unfortunately “finished ahead” here means “classified ahead”, which I think is less informative (why would you compare a car that finishes to a car that retires?). Hülkenberg indeed was only out-driven by Palmer in Austria, while Alonso retired at the end of the Canadian Grand Prix. Actually there have been only two races in which both McLaren finished…

    2. AUS, AUT, GBR? (honestly AU, AT, UK would’ve been better but oh well)

  4. Renault should buy Palmer out of his contract as soon as possible if you’d ask me. At Force India Perez was always there to challenge and regularly beat Hulkenberg. As a team Force India knew they were utilizing the car to it’s full extent. Renault isn’t in that position. Hulkenberg is doing a great job, but he is not challenged. It isn’t driving the team forward. I think Palmer is a disadvantage at both sides of the garage.

  5. I love these teammate comparisons, but I do have one quibble: I don’t think it’s fair to count classified results where one driver didn’t finish the race due to technical problems against them, especially if the driver retired while ahead. I think it would paint a better picture to discount any DNF from the results.

    1. Thanks Dylan, glad you liked them.

      I don’t think it’s fair to count classified results where one driver didn’t finish the race due to technical problems against them

      I haven’t counted those results against them. For instance if you look at the Ferrari drivers the only race where either was not classified was in Azerbaijan, and that race result hasn’t been counted against (or for) either of them.

      1. Just Saying
        8th August 2017, 8:12

        Yes you have Keith.

        As ‘NotAgain’ mentions above ( you left Hulkenberg’s DNF in Hungary in these statistics!

        1. To be fair, Palmer was already ahead of Hülkenberg at that point (before the DNF), because Magnussen ‘squeezed’ Nico off track.

          1. He wasn’t. Palmer was behind Magnussen, Kvyat and Hülkenberg.

        2. Hulkenberg didn’t have a DNF in Hungary, he was classified.

          1. I apparently wasn’t very clear in my original post. I was talking about classified results like that one for Hulk, or Alonso in Canada. If a driver retires from the race – especially due to technical difficulties – but is still classified, it doesn’t feel right to count it as being beaten by their teammate.

            I know counting drivers as finishing if they completed 90% of the race made sense at one point in time – when quite often less than 6 drivers would actually finish – but it doesn’t with modern cars, and I’d be happy to see them get rid of the system. It just leads to misleading statistics, and unless I’m wrong, it’s been well over a decade since a driver scored points just by being classified.

  6. I think this proves that Kimi Raikkonen is one of the most overrated F1 drivers of all time. He is not as talented as his fans say he is, and couldn’t even beat Massa, let alone Alonso and Vettel, who just completely obliterated him in every way possible.

    1. @ultimateuzair

      I’m not going to say that Raikonnen is a Vettel and Alonso beater, because he’s way past his prime.

      However, it should be noted that a #2 driver at Ferrari has never had a chance in hell of beating the #1 driver. If they were given the exact same treatment (input on car design, strategy, equal engineers and no team orders), Kimi could have had 2 wins this season easily. He would not have been trailing Seb by the margin he is, and he would definitely wouldn’t be getting the level of bashing he’s receiving on a daily basis.

      I don’t think he’s as good as Seb, but Ferrari are making him look worse than he is.

  7. Here’s a thought, even if Kimi is been treated as a number 2 for Ferrari, can you really blame them? It’s the first time since 2012 they have a legitimate chance at the title, of course it would make sense for them to back Vettel over Kimi who’s done absolutely nothing of note since he rejoined Ferrari.

    1. @davef1 Kimi s also why Ferrari have little chance of winning the WCC, even if Vettel is the 2017 WDC, Mercedes will take the WCC. Kimi needs to kick on in the second half of the year and start taking points off Mercedes for Ferrari to have any chance of the constructors championship this year.

      1. Actually Valtteri is why, after taking out Kimi in so many first lap incidents!

  8. I agree about Raikkonen. In my opinion, he wasn’t the same after winning the championship. That edge he had, perhaps drive, was gone. Abit like Jacques Villeneuve was post 1997, I would certainly put him in that bracket.

    1. I think Villeneuve peaked between 1998 and 2000/2001, when I think he was pretty good and definitely better than in his championship year. After 2002 he went downhill rapidly, though. Räikkönen’s form is more constant, even though in the previous years he’s never been able to get close to his 2003-2005 level.

    2. He definitely lost that hunger in 2008.

      Right from the 1st race of the season, he just didn’t seem as motivated as seasons before. Ferrari wouldn’t drop Kimi (with a massive payout) if they thought he was a genuine title contender, and it’s not like his talent suddenly deserted him. He definitely lost that focus that the Alonso’s and Vettel’s never seem to lose.

  9. Jonathan Parkin
    8th August 2017, 22:02

    Sorry to add to the nitpicks but Vandoorne didn’t start the race in Bahrain so there should be a white square next to that entry in his row

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