Formula 1

F1 Teams with No Clear No. 1 and No. 2 Driver so Far This Season

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2014

F1 Teams with No Clear No. 1 and No. 2 Driver so Far This Season

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Formula One is different to other sports.

    While the term "teammate" roughly translates as "partner" or "colleague" in football, for example, it is a synonym for "closest rival" in F1.

    And unlike other sports institutions, Formula One teams—following the lifting of a ban on team orders in 2011—have the power to favour one of their employees over another.

    The reasons for teams' decisions to do this vary from performance-related motives to ageism, with some team principals favouring the "next generation" for something as shallow as promotional purposes.

    And although the morality of these steps may be called into question, it is undeniable that these inter-team wars create compelling sub-plots for Formula One.

    There are some drivers, though, who for whatever reason—be it race results, qualifying performances or merely their stature—have failed to solidify their status as their team's prime focus so far this season.

    We've listed those teams operating on equality here.

Marussia: Max Chilton or Jules Bianchi?

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    In a sense, Marussia have the perfect dynamic in terms of their driver line-up.

    Jules Bianchi is quick, aggressive and can be relied upon to take the fight to the midfield. While Max Chilton, having completed every grand prix he has ever started, is an ideal back-up option.

    The trouble is, however, that Bianchi's inconsistency so far this season means he has struggled to keep his side of the bargain—despite out-qualifying his teammate in three of the opening five events.

    A first-lap crash with Pastor Maldonado in Malaysia before a bout of handbags with Adrian Sutil in Bahrain has seen the Frenchman waste potential opportunities to score Marussia's first F1 point.

    Chilton, though, has compensated for Bianchi's mistakes by securing the two 13th place finishes which elevated the team to 10th in the constructors' championship in Australia and then Sakhir.

Toro Rosso: Jean-Eric Vergne or Daniil Kvyat?

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    Peter Fox/Getty Images

    Both Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat have four points apiece so far this season—which is surely bad news for the latter as he fights for his future at Toro Rosso.

    The Frenchman's failure to assert any sort of dominance over the Russian rookie, however, is down to Vergne's wretched luck, which has led to him retiring from three of the opening five races.

    His car's tendency to succumb to technical problems in grands prix has overshadowed Vergne's achievement of qualifying in the top 10 in each of the three wet qualifying sessions so far this season.

    Kvyat, in contrast, has made Q3 on only one occasion—but the 20-year-old has developed a habit of creeping into the points, scoring on three separate occasions compared to Vergne's one.

Sauber: Adrian Sutil or Esteban Gutierrez?

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    Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

    Three retirements in the opening five races, two of which were due to mechanical problems, have prevented Adrian Sutil from making his experience over Esteban Gutierrez count.

    The Mexican has also had his fair share of DNF's, twice failing to see the chequered flag.

    On the occasions when both drivers have finished, however—in Australia and Spain—Sutil and Gutierrez have finished within one position of each other.

    It has been similarly tight in qualifying, with Gutierrez having out-qualified Sutil on three occasions to the German's two.

McLaren: Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen?

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    Rob Griffith/Associated Press

    The records of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen so far in 2014 are as follows: One podium, one points finish, one non-finish and two non-points finishes.

    The gradual decline in form of Button and Magnussen is a reflection of McLaren's fall since they began the season with the second-fastest car behind the all-conquering Mercedes team, with neither scoring a point in the last three races.

    That difficult period has allowed the 2009 world champion's vast experience to come to good use, with Button out-qualifying and out-racing his Danish teammate in that time.

    Nevertheless, it is still arguably a little too close for comfort for Button to be considered the team's focal point.

Mercedes: Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton?

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Whether Mercedes have a No. 1 driver or not is dependent on whom you believe or what you rely on.

    The team's willingness to allow both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton to race without team orders suggests there is complete equality.

    On the other hand, Hamilton's record of four pole positions and four grand prix victories in five events has made the 2008 world champion Mercedes' self-appointed team leader. 

    Yet Mercedes' huge performance advantage over the rest of the field, which has been reflected by their four-race streak of one-two finishes, means the team cannot afford to put all their eggs in one basket.

    Not yet anyway.

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