It’s the paradox of Formula One. Each car is driven by one person, all aiming for the big prize – the driver’s world champion. Yet they are employed and are responsible for the success of a team spending millions of pounds a year to compete.
Finding the right balance between these two aims has caused problems all the way through the history of F1. In fact, with the extreme determination and hunger for success inherent within an F1 driver, it’s surprising that so few teams currently have issues.
A quick analysis of the current intra-team relationships shows how many teams are managing the situation successfully, while at the same time a couple are having to deal with slight tensions.
The highest profile relationship is the one between the world champion himself and his team mate. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber fell out when they clashed while battling for the lead at the 2010 Turkish grand prix. There’s been a number of other incidents since such as Silverstone 2011 when Webber attacked Vettel for the lead despite being told not to, and most recently the furore at the Malaysian grand prix this year, but despite all this somehow the relationship has managed to remain professional.
Vettel may not have turned up for Webber’s 200th grand prix celebration but the team-mates reportedly still share data and work together behind the scenes.
McLaren may have a brand new driver pairing but already there have been tensions between the two. The events of the Bahrain grand prix, where Sergio Perez hit Jenson Button during an aggressive battle, strained relations between the two.
Button, as the veteran with 12 seasons of experience surely expected to have the upper hand over his young team mate. I’m sure he will be worried about being outperformed by Perez despite his and the team’s claim that everything is harmonious.
Ferrari is famous for having a very different team structure which often leads to fallouts but at the moment is working quite effectively. Having a clearly defined number one, Fernando Alonso, supported by Felipe Massa in 2012 almost converted a mediocre car into a world championship. It surely takes a weaker character alongside a very strong leader to make this work in any form, indeed it’s hard to imagine this style of management working at any other team.
Mercedes is the second team with a brand new line up for 2013. Lewis Hamilton, widely acknowledged as one of the top four drivers on the grid, hasn’t yet got a complete upper hand over Nico Rosberg. While the qualifying record is 3-1 to Hamilton, the gap has been closer than Hamilton’s fans claimed it would be.
The pair have been friends since karting in their childhood and this strength of friendship looks like it might just support the competitive rivalry between the two.
There’s nothing the media and fans love more than a big team mate fallout, however unfortunately for everyone, the likelihood of more happening isn’t as large as some predict.