Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean enjoyed a competitive battle in 2013
It is perhaps something of a shame that Kimi Raikkonen will no longer be pitting his wits against Romain Grosjean in the same team in 2014.
Whilst the Finn undoubtedly started the 2013 season as the senior driver, Grosjean ended the season the stronger and it would have been fascinating to see what developed in 2014 had Raikkonen not moved to Ferrari.
In the first of a series of driver comparisons for 2013, we evaluate who came out on top by looking at the key criteria of qualifying, race results and temperament.
After the opening seven races of the season, this looked a totally one-sided contest.
Raikkonen out-qualified Grosjean in every race from Australia to Canada before Grosjean edged him at Silverstone.
But from Hungary onwards, Raikkonen only had the edge in two of the last eight races he drove in the season, despite sitting out the U.S. and Brazilian Grands Prix.
Qualifying head-to-head: Raikkonen 10-7 Grosjean
Average grid place: Raikkonen: 8.35 Grosjean 8.11
As with qualifying, race results followed a very similar pattern with Raikkonen dominating the first half of the season before Grosjean pulled things back towards the end.
The Finn finished the season with 183 points compared to Grosjean’s 132 and would probably have finished third in the drivers’ standings had he not sat out the final two races.
Raikkonen got off to a flyer by winning in Australia and followed up with second places in China and Bahrain. He was again second in Korea and managed a total of eight podium finishes.
Grosjean was no mug in this area either, however, managing a total of six podiums with a high of second place at the US Grand Prix.
But Raikkonen proved the more consistent over the season with 10 top five finishes to Grosjean’s seven and a higher percentage of race finishes.
Whilst the previous two criteria in judging driver performance have been based on hard facts and figures, this is a more subjective area.
Grosjean came into the 2013 season with big question marks hanging over his mental strength after a series of high-profile accidents in 2012 led Mark Webber to label him a “first lap nutcase”.
But some mature drives throughout the year proved that Grosjean was now a different man and the Frenchman put it down to the help he received by working with a psychologist before the start of the season, as quoted on Sky Sports.
(It was) not an easy end of the season but I think I've learnt how to put everything together for this year. We know that there won't be any more chances so I'll have to deliver what the team want. It's not a secret that I started work with a psychologist in September last year and it went very well during the winter. I had a lot of discussion with Genii, the owner, to try to help them understand and take the right decision. And when they called me to say, 'Okay we go again for one more year' I was more than happy.
And two incidents towards the end of the season proved that Grosjean was much more of a team player than Raikkonen.
Having made a minor mistake to allow Raikkonen past him in Korea, Grosjean felt somewhat aggrieved that he was not allowed the position back despite apparently being the quicker man.
Grosjean had been compliant in Germany in letting Raikkonen past to pursue Sebastian Vettel but again he bit his lip and took the disappointment on the chin admirably.
The same could not be said of Raikkonen, who found it hard to accept letting Grosjean by in India despite struggling for grip on shot tyres.
The Finn’s stubbornness finally got to trackside operations director Alan Permane who told Raikkonen to “get the f**k out of the way!”
Raikkonen didn’t take kindly to being spoken to in that manner, responding "Don't shout, f*****. When I have a chance, but not in the middle of the fast corners."