Team's Number 1 & Number 2 drivers

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    Most teams seem to have a favoured driver. Can you pick up any examples or quotes to show that there is a clear number 1 and number 2 driver?

    Nico Hulkenberg & Sergio Perez at Force India

    At Abu Dhabi 2014, Nico Hulkenberg was running Behind Sergio Perez. However the team decided to use the ‘undercut’
    for Hulkenberg to get sixth position.


    I hope you don’t mind me asking, but do you mean out of the current teams and drivers, or any combination throughout history? I can think of a fair few examples just from the last few years.


    Well Michael Schumacher was famous for this, with Rubens Barrichello and Eddie Irvine both having to yield for him on numerous occasions.

    Massa had his gearbox seal deliberately broken (I forget which race) to take a penalty which allowed Alonso to gain a grid placing.

    Mario Andretti was designated No.1 driver in 1978 in the all-conquering Lotus, so Ronnie Peterson could never challenge him for a win.

    You could say Nelson Piquet Jr, by deliberately crashing off in Singapore for the benefit of Alonso, made him the ultimate No.2 driver …

    And those are just off the top of my head!


    Replying to Jonathan, any combination in history!


    Massa had his gearbox seal deliberately broken (I forget which race) to take a penalty which allowed Alonso to gain a grid placing.

    It was in Austin, I guess in 2012. @junior-pilot

    Webber seemed like Red Bull’s 2nd choice more often than not, although nothing has been said explicitly to confirm it.


    I think it’s often down to which driver performs better. If you look at Ferrari in 2007 and 2008, Raikkonen and Massa each helped the other’s title bid once. Many midfield teams deploy team orders simply because they try different strategies in a race.


    Thanks for the clarification, bob. I can add a few examples and add to what others have said so far.

    Massa and Alonso have already been mentioned – I think this is probably the most obvious example of recent years where it could not be more clear that Alonso was the favoured driver (frankly, I can’t blame Ferrari as his performances were for the most part clearly superior) to me the 2010 Germany race was the event that summed up their entire four years as team-mates. As Rob Smedley was forced to tell Massa over the radio:

    ‘Okay. So, Fernando. Is. Faster. Than. You. Can you confirm you understood that message’.

    Ironically, in that year’s Australian race Ferrari should probably have said something similar to Massa who was holding up Alonso – Massa finished third with Alonso fourth and I seem to remember second placed Robert Kubica commenting at the time that defending his position would have been more difficult had the other Ferrari been behind him – given that Alonso lost the title by just 4 points in the end the loss of at least 3 points, possibly 6, came back to haunt him. It is rather easy to say this with the benefit of hindsight though.

    Of course, another example of a team having clear number 1 and number 2 drivers (with Alonso again being a beneficiary) was Renault in 2008. I read an interview with Nelson Piquet Jr in F1 racing before Crashgate was exposed where he said ‘Why I would I deliberately crash to help my team-mate win?’. Ahem! Still, you can’t argue Alonso had the beating of Piquet – it was a crushingly dominant 18-0 in the Spaniard’s favour in qualifying that season.

    Massa helped Raikkonen win the 2007 Brazilian GP to ensure that the Finn took the world title, the following year Raikkonen gave second place to his team-mate to improve the Brazilian’s hopes of winning the crown at his home race. However, don’t forget that Massa won Turkey 2007 from Raikkonen and likewise Raikkonen won Spain 2008 from Massa, so the team had no problem with letting the drivers race. It would have been difficult to justify the leader moving over though in either case – in fact, after Spain 2008 I thought Raikkonen looked the most likely candidate for the WDC (after two wins and a second place in his first four races) and at the 2007 Turkish race Massa was still in with a shot at the world title and actually 1 point ahead of Raikkonen after the race.

    In a less obvious example of number 1 and number 2 drivers, David Coulthard has spoken in the past of how he felt Mika Hakkinen was the ‘favourite son’ at McLaren and this perception is probably at least partially due to the use of team orders at the 1997 Spanish GP and 1998 Australian GP where he had to concede victories to Hakkinen. Coulthard made a sarcastic remark along the lines of ‘I’ve finished doing my charity work now’ after handing the lead back to Hakkinen at the latter race. Having said that, there were races where David did lead Mika home in a 1-2, such as the 2000 British and French GPs. Then again I can remember Webber leading Red Bull 1-2 finishes ahead of Vettel in 2010, and look how that turned out, and I think it became clear who the favourite son was at that team!

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