Pre-Canada analysis - team mate tensions 11 Jun 2010
The art of racing your team mate is very much under the microscope this weekend in Montreal, following the clash in Turkey between Red Bull's Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, and the ensuing wheel-banging fight for the lead between Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at McLaren.
On the one hand the first person you have to beat is the guy in the same car as you; on the other, crashing into your team mate is never popular with the team management.
We dont have any rules, so of course you try to balance the risk you will have to take to overtake whoever it is, your team mate or anyone else and you always try, especially if you are already side-by-side or in the front, to not hit the other guy as it doesnt pay off, Renaults Robert Kubica said. You are already in front, so what does it matter if you take half-a-metre wider line or narrow. It is really depending on the situation and whatever it is and whoever you are overtaking; you always try to balance the risk to overtake him.
Hamilton, who repassed Button after the 2009 world champion had briefly edged ahead in Istanbul, said: We dont have any team orders and of course we always want to support the team in getting the most points, but clearly both drivers always want to win. So if there is an opportunity you take it. But you have to weigh up the risks and try to make as sensible a move as possible.
McLaren, of course, have a long memory, especially of the days when Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna collided in the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix, and financially the stakes are even higher today. The clash between Webber and Vettel in Turkey cost the team 28 world championship points and may yet influence the outcome of this years title fight.
So are the drivers more comfortable to be in the defending position or in the attacking position, compared to a situation where they have to fight a driver from a different team?
For sure, it depends on the condition, Felipe Massa thought. On some tracks, when you race in Monaco, for sure if youre easy-going being at the front you can defend your position in a very easy way. On some tracks, like here or maybe Monza, they are races where its much easier to be overtaken, especially if you dont have a good top speed. Its simply that you take care a lot more if youre at the front. But also when you are behind you also more enjoy fighting to overtake somebody than to maybe lose your position. It depends on the circumstances.
I think the bigger difference is which car you have in front of you and which car behind, Kubica said. If you have behind you a car equipped with KERS like last year, it was difficult to defend, it was much easier for them to overtake. On the other hand this year we have the F-duct but some teams are really taking a big advantage on the straight, so of course those cars have easier opportunities to overtake and if you have to defend them, its much more difficult. Its rather more car dependent, I would say, than anything else.
Meanwhile, as the debate raged, Webber and Vettel continued to agree to disagree.
"I'm cool, absolutely fine," Webber said. "I'm totally over it and ready to go this weekend. I'm looking forward to getting back on the track."
Vettel said: "What happened, happened so there's not much more to say. You can look at it from many different angles and you can't change it now, so looking back I wouldn't have done anything differently.
"What happened was bad for both of us and especially for the team because we gave a present to McLaren, but the most important thing is to move on.
"To be honest, F1 is not about yesterday, it's about tomorrow. I don't want to spend much time talking about what happened. It's important to understand what happened and that's why we met and talked about it."