The F1 season will move into its second half this weekend with the French GP. With Ferrari and Red Bull Racing battling it out for the top honours, the rest of the grid has often been left to scrap for mid-table positions.
This is despite the introduction of a host of changes at the beginning of the season to bring the competition closer among different teams. Though the Mercedes side saw a drop-off in performance, Ferrari has taken over their spot to keep F1 a two-horse race.
Comparing two F1 drivers from different teams would be a faulty proposition due to the difference in machinery they operate. The analysis is done, therefore, by how much better or worse they have performed compared to their teammate. Though teams have preferred one driver over the other on occasions, a driver, ultimately, has the same car as his partner.
Let’s look at how F1 drivers of the top-five teams have fared against their teammates in the 2022-23 season so far.
RED BULL RACING
Though the numbers nudge towards Verstappen, Perez has significantly reduced the gap from last season. While Verstappen was 0.512% faster than Perez in qualifying for the 2021 season, that number has nearly halved to 0.265% this season.
In 2021, the 32-year-old could outperform his teammate only when the Dutch driver was forced off races. But this season, Perez has finished better than the defending champion thrice, including in Monaco, where the Mexican secured a memorable win.
Ferrari has taken full advantage of the newly enforced changes to get into both the title fights, effectively replacing Mercedes at the top. Despite the occasional reliability issues, the Italian giants has kept the Red Bulls in their sights.
Within the side, though, Charles Leclerc has pulled away from Carlos Sainz compared to performances from the last season. Though Sainz has found a purple patch, including a first-ever win at Silverstone, in the previous few races, the Austrian GP win assures the Monegasque of his numero uno status within the side.
Leclerc’s advantage is particularly evident in qualifying, where he has been 0.201% faster than his teammate, compared to just 0.078% last season. With better fortune, the Ferrari drivers could run the Red Bulls close in the second half of the season.
This is one head-to-head outcome very few would have dared to predict. Lewis Hamilton, who had missed out on a record-breaking eighth title by the thinnest of all margins, would have expected to have it easy over his new teammate, George Russell. But the younger Brit has consistently performed well in a Mercedes car which is visibly slower than the Ferraris and Red Bulls.
To put things in perspective, Hamilton was 17 to 5 against his former teammate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying in the 2021 season, while the Finn could finish better than him on a race day only four times.
Hamilton, though, has found his way back in the last few races with a hat-trick of third-place finishes. But Russell still edges his senior at Mercedes at the halfway stage of his debut season under Toto Wolff’s stewardship.
The only thing going good for Lando Norris this season is that he has been significantly better than Daniel Ricciardo on track. The 22-year-old has pulled further away from his Aussie teammate, who has been struggling to even get into the points this season.
The difference is most evident in qualifying, where the British youngster constantly trumps his teammate. In 2021, in qualification (in dry sessions), Norris was 0.255% faster than Ricciardo, while in 2022, the gap has almost doubled to 0.423%. Ricciardo’s 2021 season was salvaged by his Italian GP win. Unless the former Red Bull racer brings out such a performance this season, his place in the side might be in danger.
The driver head-to-head in the Alpine team is the most interesting among the top-5 F1 sides this season. Fernando Alonso has been better than Esteban Ocon in the qualifying sessions, where he has used his vast experience to push the Alpine car often to the final qualifying stages. The Spaniard’s average qualification position though is ramped up by his magnificent second-place drive in the Canadian GP.
But, on the final race days, Ocon outperforms the two-time F1 champion, who had to deal with reliability issues with his car. Nevertheless, the Renault engine-powered side would be happy with their performance so far and would be looking to get a podium finish or two in the second half of the season.
All data valid before the French GP.
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