The teams of death in F1 2013

6 February, 2013 | by Lance Branquinho

You just know this is going to end badly.

Winter testing, F1’s pre-season promotional.

Held in Spain, because it’s sunniest there and accommodation quite cheap (post EU economic crisis), the Jerez circuit allows drivers to absorb their new cars as they time off lap-after-lap.

Ostensibly it’s an opportunity for teams to collate data, but we all follow it for the inevitable political shenanigans and driver in-fighting. And in season 2013, there are team/driver combinations that have the powder-keg potential bordering on nuclear fallout.

Ferrari is pretty settled as Alonso will dominate –as he prefers – and Massa will stay out of the way and be of little consequence, especially on team resources. It’s a shame Ferrari pander to the great Spaniard and refuse to put a driver of true desire and ability in the second Scuderia, but that’s Maranello’s policy – and it’s been that way ever since the Schumacher years.

Red Bull? All the expectation and pressure, but the status quo is set with the Austrians: Vettel is incumbent world champion and Webber’s expected to be grateful for an opportunity to drive a car as excellent as the RB9 will no doubt be, a race win or two is expected to keep him satisfied.

THREE-POINTED CHAOS

The Mercedes powered teams are where the tension is building. Lewis Hamilton, credit to him, has gambled and moved to under performing Mercedes. Hamilton will bring his intense, yet off-beat, British laddishness to the German team; where his team mate is as a prototypical blonde, German: Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg will now have a team mate who not only has massive qualifying pace but also epic race craft. Will Hamilton deal well with the language issue? Especially when Rosberg vents in German and discusses strategy with technicians in a language Hamilton is not versed in? Expect a tremendous clash of personalities, methodology and ability.

At the other front-of-the-field Mercedes team, McLaren, Hamilton’s departure has left happy-go-lucky Jenson Button with a Latin team mate. When Alonso was at McLaren with Hamilton, it was a deeply unhappy combination. The Woking team appears unable to create an environment where the temperament (of lack thereof) exhibited by Latin drivers is converted to something positive. Alonso struggled miserably at McLaren, despite driving brilliantly at times, Hamilton’s rookie pace upset him.

The question then is: how will Sergio Perez cope? The Mexican is talented, but whereas a top six finish was as good as a win for Sauber, anything but victory will be seen as a failure at McLaren. That’s a huge increase in expectation.

Button is not a belligerent team mate (his combination with Hamilton was always cordial), but he is settled at McLaren and Perez is the new boy. At testing in Jerez this week Button has proven quicker by quite some margin. The pressure, then, is squarely on Perez, 2013 will either make or (probably) break him as a driver.

So, the Mercedes powered teams are the ones with the most potential for a mid-season team mate strangling incident.

At Mercedes proper it could be a combination of the Anglo-German culture clash between Hamilton and staff, not to mention Rosberg, and the Briton’s raw pace showing up his German team mate; whilst at McLaren expectations are almost debilitating in their weight and Perez will no doubt be aware at how badly things went for a previous Spanish-speaker at McLaren.

Who’ll crack first? Rosberg or Perez?

     

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