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Analysis - 2013's new team mate battles so far 01 May 2013

Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28 and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 (L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W04 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04 battle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber and Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 (L to R): Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06 and Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 and Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35 leads Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams Renault FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams and Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham CT03 leads team mate Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 (L to R): Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham and Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02 and Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 (L to R): Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team and Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 21 March 2013

Seven of Formula One racing’s 11 teams went into the 2013 season with either a completely new or a revised driver line-up. It’s common knowledge that the first person every driver wants to beat is his team mate, so with that in mind we take a look at how those all-important intra-team rivalries are shaping up after four races…

McLaren
Best results: Jenson Button - 5th, Sergio Perez - 6th
Qualifying head-to-head: Button leads 4-0


Three races into the season and 2009 world champion Jenson Button looked like he’d be the runaway winner of this particular battle, as new team mate Sergio Perez struggled to get as much out of the difficult MP4-28 as his more experienced partner. But after being publically urged to up his game by team principal Martin Whitmarsh, the young Mexican reinvigorated the contest in Bahrain by taking the fight (quite literally) to Button. His over-zealousness in trying to pass Button could have cost McLaren a double-points finish on another day, but a robust display was just what Perez needed to prove to the doubters that he deserves his seat with the team and can cope with the increased level of expectation. Heading to Spain, Perez will be eager to capitalise on his new-found momentum and the first task will be qualifying inside the top ten - something he’s done only once so far. The perennially calm Button, meanwhile, hasn’t qualified outside of the top ten all season and will be keen to re-establish the upper hand in terms of race pace.

Mercedes
Best results: Nico Rosberg - 4th , Lewis Hamilton - 3rd (twice)
Qualifying head-to-head: Hamilton leads 3-1


Nico Rosberg is no stranger to going up against a former world champion with a big reputation, but in 2013 he’s pitched against one near his peak (Lewis Hamilton) rather than one who most would agree was past his prime(Michael Schumacher). Although the results don’t necessarily show it, Rosberg has once again been more than a match for his highly-rated team mate and were it not for a combination of team orders (which he handled with maturity) and reliability woes, he would likely be level pegging in the drivers’ championship with Hamilton. Though many expected the Briton to have the edge over his German colleague in pure pace terms, the 2008 world champion has been quick to underline his respect for Rosberg, who has proven himself adept at managing tyre wear. Hamilton admits it has taken time for him to adjust to his new car - just learning the steering wheel functions has been a huge task - so once he gets fully up to speed he may well develop a performance edge. But, for now, it’s very much neck and neck.

Sauber
Best results: Nico Hulkenberg - 8th, Esteban Gutierrez - 12th
Qualifying head-to-head: Hulkenberg leads 4-0


Sauber went into the 2013 season with an all-new driver line-up, pairing Nico Hulkenberg - who impressed last year with Force India - with Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez. With his greater experience and knack for extracting the maximum from a car (particularly in tricky conditions) many expected Hulkenberg to dominate his young team mate, and so it has proved. Gutierrez, who at 21 is the youngest driver on the grid, has been comprehensively out-raced and out-qualified by his German colleague and at times his lack of experience seems to have been compounded by a lack of confidence. Mistakes, such as running into the back of Adrian Sutil’s Force India early in the race in China, haven’t helped matters, but in Hulkenberg he has a great role model to learn from. Hulkenberg, for his part, has assumed the mantle of team leader with aplomb.

Force India
Best results: Paul di Resta - 4th, Adrian Sutil - 7th
Qualifying head-to-head: Di Resta leads 3-1


Technically this isn’t a ‘new’ team mate pairing as Di Resta and Sutil raced alongside each other at Force India back in 2011. Then, as now, the Scot and the German were incredibly evenly matched, although this time it’s Di Resta who holds the slight edge in the points after four races. The VJM06-Mercedes has looked like a highly-competitive package so far this season and both drivers have been eager to make the most of what, at times, has been genuine front-running pace. In China that enthusiasm spilled over and led to an over aggressive first-lap tussle that left Sutil on the grass, but the air has since been cleared. After a year away from Formula One racing, Sutil impressed many in the first two Grands Prix of the season, but at the last round in Bahrain it was Di Resta who starred with a fine fourth-place finish. You can expect this finely-poised battle to continue to swing back and forth all season long.

Williams
Best results: Pastor Maldonado - 11th, Valtteri Bottas - 11th
Qualifying head-to-head: Drivers tied at 2-2


The team mate rivalry at Williams has been particularly intriguing with race-winner Pastor Maldonado going up against the inexperienced but highly-rated Valtteri Bottas. So far it has been almost impossible to split them in terms of pace and, perhaps surprisingly, it has been Maldonado who has made the kind of errors you might have expected from a rookie like Bottas. In contrast, the Finn has largely stayed out of trouble and finished every race, although the disappointing pace of the FW35 has so far prevented him from producing the kind of surprise results that many had predicted. Williams have promised a significant upgrade for the Spanish Grand Prix and they’ll be hoping that it goes someway to relieving Maldonado’s obvious frustration, although the ever-improving pace of Bottas will keep the pressure on the Venezuelan. The next few races should be very interesting…

Caterham
Best results: Charles Pic - 14th, Giedo van der Garde - 15th
Qualifying head-to-head: Pic leads 3-1


Caterham were another team to enter 2013 with an all-new and very inexperienced driver line-up. Both Charles Pic and his rookie team mate Giedo van der Garde struggled with the CT03 at the first three races and former driver Heikki Kovalainen was drafted in to help with development during Bahrain practice. The good news for the Leafield-based team is that recent upgrades seem to have lifted their car’s performance significantly and in Bahrain Pic was faster than both Marussia’s in qualifying. The Frenchman has used his greater experience to get the better of team mate Van der Garde so far, although as the Dutchman accumulates more mileage he’ll hope to reverse that trend.

Marussia
Best results: Jules Bianchi - 13th, Max Chilton - 16th
Qualifying head-to-head: Bianchi leads 4-0


There was movement in the Marussia ranks even before the season started, with Jules Bianchi a late call-up to partner fellow rookie Max Chilton after Luiz Razia’s race deal fell through. Despite very limited pre-season running in the MR02, Bianchi starred in the opening four races of the season, thanks in no small part to Marussia producing their most competitive car to date. But whilst the Frenchman has shown midfield-bothering pace, team mate Chilton has struggled a little and has not been helped by some appalling luck with reliability. When all things are equal, Chilton appears to be a little off Bianchi’s pace, but then the Ferrari Driver Academy member has much more testing experience and also took part in nine practice sessions with Force India last year. It will be interesting to see what the gap is like at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, as both Chilton and Bianchi are much more familiar with the confines of the Circuit de Catalunya than any of the opening four venues on the calendar.

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