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Team Mate Wars 2009 Part 1

Force India – Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella

In 2008, it was Giancarlo Fisichella who generally had the edge over Adrian Sutil. Fisichella made his F1 experience really count and made the most out of the Force India. Sutil struggled with the Bridgestone tyres, particularly in qualifying. He did improve as the season went on though.

This season should be an interesting battle between these two. Fisichella should be able to adapt to the new F1 cars quickly, thanks to all of his experience. He has also driven on slicks before, as they were still the tyre in use, when he arrived in F1 back in 1996.

Sutil clearly has talent but hasn’t shown it often enough. As I mentioned above, a lot of this has been down to the tyres.

The nature of his driving style should suit the slick tyres a bit better. However, he needs to tone down his aggression, as the tyre wear on the rears is going to be a big issue this season in the races.

Overall, I can see Fisichella still having the upper hand in this team mate battle. Fisichella is great at putting in giant-killing performances, when there is no pressure on him. This is unlike when he was expected to deliver big results every week at Renault. 

These giant killing results should be more frequent with the Mercedes-powered Force India. Whenever Fisichella has had to race against the odds, as he has done throughout his career at the likes of Jordan and Benetton, he has often overachieved.

Fisichella will look after the tyres effectively and bring the car home each race. Sutil, I feel, may continue to struggle with regards to tyre conversation, and he can get himself involved in too many incidents.

I think this could be Sutil’s last season in F1.

FINAL VERDICT: Giancarlo Fisichella will comfortably come out on top, and will very likely end Adrian Sutil’s F1 career in the process.


Brawn GP – Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello

Last season, Rubens Barrichello was the better driver in the Honda camp. Button seemed to be a bit de-motivated because of having a dog of a car.

Barrichello, on the other hand, was far more positive about the situation and was fighting tooth and nail for his career. That was his source of motivation. He didn’t make many errors and got the points, when they were available.

I think Rubens will be very strong again this season. He is very adaptable and gets the best out of the machinery that he is given.

So. if the first Brawn GP car is a bit of a handful to drive, Rubens will make the most of it and deliver results. He will still be fighting for his F1 future, and he seems very intent on enjoying himself these days.

Jenson will definitely be more motivated this season. Despite a poor 2008, he is still a very talented driver with plenty to offer. His driving style is very smooth. In terms of looking after the tyres in the race, this could hand him an advantage over other drivers.

This is very close to call. However, I think Jenson will up his game this season massively and establish himself again as the No. 1 driver in the team.

Now that the team is definitely on the grid, he seems very happy and upbeat, rather than down in the dumps, as he was last season. This will make a big difference to his performance.

FINAL VERDICT: Jenson Button will be in much better form this year, and I think he will come out on top here. Barrichello will run him very close.


Williams – Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima

Nico Rosberg was the better driver of the pair last season. However, Nakajima wasn’t as far away as many were expecting.

Nakajima is a very intelligent driver. He has very good race pace and has shown that he can get the car to the finish line. He didn’t make too many rookie errors last season. He is very good at keeping his head.

In chaotic races, he was always there picking up points. His main issue that he needs to solve this season is qualifying pace.

He just can’t get it together over a single lap. The issue left is that it’s hard to fight back through the pack during the race. This makes scoring points in normal circumstances difficult.

Give Nico Rosberg a quick car and he will deliver results. This season is a very important season for him, and he will be very keen to deliver. He is very intelligent just like his team mate. He has big potential which hasn’t really been fulfilled yet, mainly down to the car.

I think Nakajima will improve this season and score more points than in his debut season. However, I think Rosberg will win the team mate battle again this season and more comfortably than in 2008.

FINAL VERDICT: Both drivers will up their game this season, in what is likely to be a better car. However Nico Rosberg has more star quality, and he will extend his margin over Nakajima. Rosberg will step up another level in 2009.


RED BULL RACING – Mark Webber and Sebastien Vettel

This is perhaps one of the most fascinating team mate battles of 2009. There will be great implications for whoever wins this war.

If Mark Webber can beat Vettel then that will show people that Mark is in fact a very talented driver. It would also show that perhaps Vettel isn’t the superstar that he is being made out to be.

If it goes the other way, it would confirm Vettel’s superstar status, and Webber’s F1 career would be in trouble, at least when it comes to trying to bag a quick car in future seasons.

Vettel is clearly a very talented young man. In the rain, he has proven that he is superhuman. In the dry, though, I wouldn’t say that he has done anything really amazing yet.

He has got good results in what became a very good car in the latter parts of 2008. The first two thirds of the season weren’t as productive for Vettel.

Vettel will go into 2009 as the favourite, but Mark Webber is more than capable of challenging him. His single lap pace is absolutely sensational.

If he can beat Vettel in qualifying and get ahead of him on the grid, he can give himself the advantage when it comes to the races. His race pace has improved over the last two or three seasons too.

In Webber’s favour is that all the pressure looks like it will be mounted on young Vettel. There is an awful lot of expectation with this guy now. Therefore, Webber can race feeling a bit more relaxed without as much pressure on his shoulders.

If Webber can start the season well and get the upper hand straight away, he will be getting all the praise, and the press will reduce the pressure on Vettel.

In conclusion, think Vettel will have two or three supreme weekends in 2009, which will set him apart from Webber? Webber will have his share of strong performances too.

So, I think Vettel will end up edging it, but it will be nowhere near the complete thrashing of Webber that many F1 fans are predicting.

FINAL VERDICT: This is going to be extremely tight. Webber will have his best season in F1 to date, but Vettel will be equally as good. Overall Vettel will have the edge on Webber. It could well be the rain-affected races that shift the balance in Vettel’s favour


March 24, 2009 - Posted by | Previews

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