Some were close, some weren’t in the same stratosphere … F1 teammate fights were many and varied this season.
THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM
It’s the battle within the battle in Formula One. Sure, every driver wants to win the world championship, but only one does that each year, and often the season starts with three-quarters of the grid knowing that being number one overall is out of the question. But what about being top dog within your own team? Now that’s something worth battling for …
We’ve had all kinds of F1 teammates this season; drivers at front-running teams who played little more than support roles (whether they wanted to or not); teammate fights that started one way before wildly swinging in the other direction; tandems where the drivers played nice and worked together to move their squad forwards; and teammates in name only, as the dustbin full of broken carbon fibre bits from on-track skirmishes mounted by the race …
Here, in constructors’ championship order, is how all 10 sets of F1 teammates fared against the driver in equal equipment in 2018.
In 2017, the first year of the Lewis Hamilton-Valtteri Bottas axis at the sport’s benchmark team, Hamilton took nine wins to Bottas’ three, and both had 13 podiums as Hamilton snared the title, Bottas finishing third and just 58 points adrift. This year, as Hamilton upped his game, Bottas couldn’t keep pace, despite being denied a pair of wins through horrid luck (a late puncture while leading in Azerbaijan) and, in hindsight, heavy-handed management (being told to gift a win to Hamilton in Russia for a title the Briton eventually won by 88 points). Hamilton’s fifth championship might have been his best yet; the gulf in almost every metric to his teammate will cause Bottas to do some soul-searching over the northern hemisphere winter.
Qualifying H2H: Hamilton 15, Bottas 6
Race H2H (both finished): Hamilton 16, Bottas 3
Best result: Hamilton 1st (11 times), Bottas 2nd (seven times)
Points: Hamilton 408 (1st), Bottas 247 (5th)
Podiums: Hamilton 17, Bottas 8
Avg. grid position: Hamilton 2nd, Bottas 4th
Avg. race finish: Hamilton 2nd, Bottas 4th
Sebastian Vettel’s season was one of high highs (five wins in the first 13 races) and deep lows (numerous on-track mistakes and zero wins in the final eight races), while Kimi Raikkonen’s year was more steadily consistent without ever threatening to challenge his teammate on raw pace, as their qualifying chasm suggests. Both had 12 podiums, but when you consider that eight of the Finn’s were for third place, it’s plain to see Vettel was Ferrari’s undisputed number one for the fourth and final year of this pairing.
Qualifying H2H: Vettel 17, Raikkonen 4
Race H2H (both finished): Vettel 9, Raikkonen 8
Best result: Vettel 1st (five times), Raikkonen 1st (once)
Points: Vettel 320 (2nd), Raikkonen 251 (3rd)
Podiums: Vettel 12, Raikkonen 12
Avg grid position: Vettel 3rd, Raikkonen 4th
Avg. race finish: Vettel 3rd, Raikkonen 3rd
Red Bull Racing
Judging this early in 2018, Daniel Ricciardo held sway, and it wasn’t close – the Australian won two of the year’s first six Grands Prix, while teammate Max Verstappen was spinning, hitting rivals or barriers, and generally finding new ways to squander points. From then on, the Dutchman delivered; 37 points behind Ricciardo’s tally after Monaco, he out-scored him 214 points to 98 the rest of the way, aided to some degree to Ricciardo’s six retirements (to two) for the remainder of the campaign. One-lap pace was all Verstappen too, finishing the year well ahead of Ricciardo despite qualifying behind him in two of the final three races.
Qualifying H2H: Verstappen 15, Ricciardo 6
Races H2H (both finished): Verstappen 8, Ricciardo 3
Best result: Verstappen 1st (twice), Ricciardo 1st (twice)
Points: Verstappen 249 (4th), Ricciardo 170 (6th)
Podiums: Verstappen 11, Ricciardo 2
Avg. grid position: Verstappen 7th, Ricciardo 7th
Avg. race finish: Verstappen 3rd, Ricciardo 4th
Carlos Sainz doesn’t lack for raw pace, so it says much for how good Nico Hulkenberg was this year that the German out-scored, out-raced and out-qualified the Spaniard in their one full season as teammates before Sainz heads to McLaren for 2019. The points gap between them, on pace, should have been far greater, but seven retirements for Hulkenberg to his teammates two made the difference 16 points and three places in the standings. After making mincemeat of Jolyon Palmer and seeing off Sainz in his first two Renault seasons, the arrival of Ricciardo will up the stakes for Hulkenberg in 2019.
Qualifying H2H: Hulkenberg 13, Sainz
Race H2H (both finished): Hulkenberg 7, Sainz 4
Best result: Hulkenberg 5th, Sainz 5th
Points: Hulkenberg 69 (7th), Sainz 53 (10th)
Avg. grid position: Hulkenberg 11th, Sainz 10th
Avg. race finish: Hulkenberg 8th, Sainz 9th
Kevin Magnussen scored 60 per cent of Haas’ 93 points that saw the American team achieve its best constructors’ championship finish (fifth), but the contest between the Dane and teammate Romain Grosjean was closer than that. This was the closest qualifying head-to-head on the grid (11-10 to Magnussen, with an average gap of just 0.009secs), and while Magnussen scored more often, Grosjean finished better when both drivers saw the flag. This is a well-matched mixture of styles and personalities, which probably explains why Haas is one of just two teams (along with Mercedes) to retain the same drivers next season.
Qualifying H2H: Magnussen 11, Grosjean 10
Race H2H (both finished): Grosjean 6, Magnussen 5
Best result: Grosjean 4th, Magnussen 5th (twice)
Points: Magnussen 56 (9th), Grosjean 37 (14th)
Avg. grid position: Magnussen 11th, Grosjean 10th
Avg. race finish: Magnussen 10th, Grosjean 11th
For much of 2018, McLaren was only faster on raw pace than Williams, which finished dead last in the constructors’ championship and had its drivers occupy two of the final three places in the standings. So how did McLaren finish sixth overall? Stoffel Vandoorne’s pace was underwhelming but largely representative of what he was driving; teammate Fernando Alonso bent the machinery he was given to his will by out-qualifying Vandoorne in every race (and 37-3 in two years in the same car) and scoring 81 per cent of his team’s points despite six retirements to the Belgian’s two.
Qualifying H2H: Alonso 21, Vandoorne 0
Race H2H (both finished): Alonso 6, Vandoorne 2
Best result: Alonso 5th, Vandoorne 8th (twice)
Points: Alonso 50 (11th), Vandoorne 12 (16th)
Avg. grid position: Alonso 13th, Vandoorne 17th
Avg. race finish: Alonso 10th, Vandoorne 13th
Racing Point Force India
Sergio Perez scored more points than Esteban Ocon for the second year running, and snaffled the only podium for a driver outside of the ‘big three’ teams (Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull) when he came third in Baku, the chaotic type of race he always seems to shine in. So why did Ocon have the Mexican’s measure? The Frenchman’s head-to-head advantage in qualifying was significant, and while both drivers only finished in the same race 13 times, Ocon was usually seeing the chequered flag first. Five non-finishes for Ocon compared to his teammate’s two does much to explain their narrow points gap after 21 Grands Prix.
Qualifying H2H: Ocon 16, Perez 5
Race H2H (both finished): Ocon 9, Perez 4
Best result: Perez 3rd, Ocon 6th (four times)
Points: Perez 62 (8th), Ocon 49 (12th)
Podiums: Perez 1, Ocon 0
Avg. grid position: Perez 11th, Ocon 10th
Avg. race finish: Perez 10th, Ocon 9th
Marcus Ericsson was rarely described as slow in his five-year F1 tenure; inconsistent, perhaps, but there’s no denying the Swede can be rapid. Which is why so many, including Ferrari, were so excited about what Charles Leclerc did in his rookie season alongside Ericsson. After a so-so start, Leclerc finished sixth in Azerbaijan in round four, and didn’t see Ericsson for dust much thereafter. The final qualifying tally and margin between the two (Leclerc was 0.327secs on average faster, the second-biggest gap between teammates behind Alonso-Vandoorne at McLaren) was impressive; spearheading Sauber’s climb from the foot of the constructors’ table as a debutant might have been a greater achievement.
Qualifying H2H: Leclerc 17, Ericsson 4
Race H2H (both finished): Leclerc 6, Ericsson 3
Best result: Leclerc 6th, Ericsson 9th (three times)
Points: Leclerc 39 (13th), Ericsson 9 (17th)
Avg. grid position: Leclerc 12th, Ericsson 16th
Avg. race finish: Leclerc 10th, Ericsson 12th
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Remember what we said about teammates playing nice? That definitely wasn’t the case at Toro Rosso with Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley (just Google their radio exchange in Brazil), while the standings paint an equally nasty picture for Hartley, the New Zealander losing his F1 drive at the end of the season while Gasly was promoted into Ricciardo’s vacated Red Bull cockpit. Gasly scored 88 per cent of Toro Rosso’s points (the largest contribution by one driver to their team’s tally), and his fourth place in just the second race of the year in Bahrain meant this inter-team fight was over early.
Qualifying H2H: Gasly 15, Hartley 6
Race H2H (both finished): Gasly 6, Hartley 4
Best result: Gasly 4th, Hartley 9th
Points: Gasly 29 (15th), Hartley 4 (19th)
Avg. grid position: Gasly 13th, Hartley 15th
Avg. race finish: Gasly 11th, Hartley 13th
How far and how fast did Williams fall in 2018? The year prior, the team finished fifth in the constructors’ championship with 83 points; this season, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin scored seven points total between them as Williams finished last, with one point fewer than the team managed in the first race of 2017 in Australia … It’s tempting to say there were no winners here, but Stroll just gets the nod by virtue of scoring more points (largely through his annual strong showing in Azerbaijan) and retaining a spot on the grid for next year with Racing Point Force India thanks wholly to his father’s acquisition of the team.
Qualifying H2H: Sirotkin 13, Stroll 8
Race H2H (both finished): Stroll 9, Sirotkin 8
Best result: Stroll 8th, Sirotkin 10th
Points: Stroll 6 (18th), Sirotkin 1 (20th)
Avg. grid position: Stroll 17th, Sirotkin 17th
Avg. race finish: Stroll 13th, Sirotkin 15th