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2012’s qualifying kings - which team mates are on top? 28 Jun 2012

Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber and Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber with comedy sunglasses.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, Jason Priestley (CDN) Actor and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 battle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 (L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari and Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 13 April 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 and Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 26 May 2012 (L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 finished second and team mate Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 22 April 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05, leads Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 13 May 2012 (L to R): Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber and Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber with Chelsea Football Club scarfs.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 10 May 2012 (L to R): Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso and Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso at the launch of the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One Testing, Preparations, Jerez, Spain,  Monday, 6 February 2012 Race winner Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams and Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams celebrates.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 13 May 2012 (L to R): Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham, Juan Pablo Ramirez (MEX) race engineer and Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 (L to R): Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia F1 Team and Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 13 April 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team and plrp.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Montreal, Canada, Saturday, 9 June 2012

The championship table might be the most important judge of team mates’ relative performance, but it rarely tells the whole story. If you want to know who’s ultimately quickest, qualifying stats will cast a brighter light on the form book. Eight rounds into 2012 and only one team’s drivers are level-pegging, three men have whitewashed their team mate, and three former champions are losing the qualifying contest. Here’s our team-by-team review - note, statistics are based on actual qualifying performance, not final grid positions…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel 4
Mark Webber 4

It’s perhaps telling that the only team on the grid with a dead heat between its drivers is the world championship leaders. Webber had the edge in the early rounds, the Australian seemingly quicker to adapt to the absence of the exhaust-blown diffuser, but Vettel gradually found his feet and has now scored three of Red Bull’s four 2012 poles to date.

McLaren
Jenson Button 0
Lewis Hamilton 8

It’s commonly acknowledged that Lewis Hamilton is usually the faster McLaren driver over a single lap, but few pundits would have predicted such dominance by the 2008 champion. After front-row starts at the first two rounds, Button’s struggle with set-up and tyres has seen his Saturday form fade away, the Briton even failing to make Q3 on a couple of occasions.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso 8
Felipe Massa 0

Another whitewash here, this one arguably less surprising. Massa had a nightmare start to the season, and though his pace has improved of late, the Brazilian has yet to get the better of his esteemed team mate on a Saturday afternoon. It’s no secret that the F2012 has not been the easiest of cars to drive or set-up and Alonso has simply been making a far better fist of it.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher 3
Nico Rosberg 5

Schumacher is still being overshadowed by his younger compatriot, but compare things to this time last year, when the score was 7-1 in Rosberg’s favour, and you get a sense of the seven-time champion’s ever-improving form. Yes, it was Rosberg who put Mercedes on pole in China, but Schumacher would have done the same in Monaco but for a five-place grid penalty. This fight can surely only get closer.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen 2
Romain Grosjean 6

At the start of the year, all eyes at Lotus were on returning ex-champion Kimi Raikkonen. But while the ‘Iceman’ was getting the attention, his team mate - fellow F1 returnee Romain Grosjean - was getting the job done. Some might argue Raikkonen has focused his efforts on race strategy - he leads Grosjean by 20 points in the standings - but there’s no doubt it’s the Frenchman who has impressed most in terms of single-lap speed.

Force India
Paul di Resta 5
Nico Hulkenberg 3

Two highly-rated young drivers, both in their second year of competitive F1, and both in their second season with the team. Perhaps no surprise, then, that this has been a pretty tight contest. Di Resta may be ahead, but Hulkenberg spent the first few rounds getting ‘back up to speed’ (after 2011 on the bench as a tester) and should now be pushing his team mate all the way.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi 5
Sergio Perez 3

Kobayashi is well known for his searing pace, Perez more for his tactical nous and ability to make one set of tyres last a lifetime. Cliched stereotypes perhaps, but they fit the qualifying pattern, with the Japanese driver generally putting his C31 in front on a Saturday (only to find the Mexican’s ahead come Sunday evening).

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo 7
Jean-Eric Vergne 1

At the start of 2012, both drivers in Toro Rosso’s all-new line-up were being heralded as rising stars. Eight races in and it seems one star continues to rise, while the other is falling rapidly back to earth. Ricciardo may have had the advantage of 11 race outings with HRT in 2011, but rookie team mate Vergne wouldn’t have expected to be this far behind in qualifying’s junior bull fight.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado 6
Bruno Senna 2

There’s no disputing the number-one driver at Williams this season, be it in qualifying or race. Maldonado may still have his rough edges, but when it comes to hooking up the team’s impressive FW34, the Venezuelan has made the most of his machinery. And while his team mate has highlighted the car’s potential, Senna has tended to overdrive it trying to match him.

Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen 7
Vitaly Petrov 1

Former race winner Kovalainen may not currently be in a front-running (or even a midfield) car, but that hasn’t stopped him showing what a class act he is. Petrov is no slouch, but at the back of the grid where the tiniest of margins can make such a difference, it is the Finn who has excelled, twice putting Tony Fernandes’ team through to Q2, and out-qualifying both Toro Rossos in Valencia.

Marussia
Timo Glock 5
Charles Pic 3

There’s no substitute for experience. That’s the pretty simple lesson in evidence at Marussia. Rookie Pic has far from disgraced himself, but Glock has been the man to beat - and the score could have been 6-2 in the German’s favour had he not missed the European round through illness.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa 8
Narain Karthikeyan 0

Karthikeyan is no rookie - he’d racked up 27 Grand Prix starts prior to 2012 - but in difficult times at a fledgling team, it was perhaps predictable that one of the sport’s most experienced hands would have a clear edge - and so it has proved. De la Rosa is yet to be bested on a Saturday, even if his Indian team mate does lead the way on race form.

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