Formula One 2010: The Trouble of a Tough Teammate

Lewi M. SweetContributor IJuly 15, 2010

VALENCIA, SPAIN - JUNE 24:  Vitaly Petrov of Russia and Renault attends the drivers press conference during previews to the European Formula One Grand Prix at the Valencia Street Circuit on July 24, 2010, in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)
Andrew Hone/Getty Images

A point of interest at the start of every season is how fresh blood will fare in the cut and thrust of Formula One.

2010 has blessed us with no fewer than five fresh faces, as well as two other drivers who had not yet completed a full season in motorsport's pinnacle.

It has been far from an easy ride. No rookie has been given a top-notch car that Lewis Hamilton landed in back in 2007, and they have either been rooted to the back of the grid or been in the shadow of their more experienced teammates.

Take the German GP2 champion Nico Hulkenberg. For a man with such an impressive CV going into his debut season, the 22-year-old has been quite underwhelming when you weigh his performances against his expectation. 

For the early part of the season his Williams was not the easiest car to drive, and if that wasn't enough, sitting in his sister car is a man close to reaching an astonishing feat of taking part in 300 races.

Understandably, the Williams team are more likely to turn to the vastly experienced Rubens Barrichello for technical advice, and for this reason the car is probably being more tailored to the Brazilian's needs. 

Credit Hulkenberg though: in recent races he has at least matched Barrichello's qualifying pace, even if he is not matching him blow-for-blow in races. 

Vitaly Petrov finished behind Hulkenberg in GP2 and faces a similar situation at Renault. His teammate Robert Kubica is a car obsessive and a perfectionist, never happy unless he is getting the maximum out of the car and always striving for further improvement.

Renault know how lucky they are to have Kubica and it has been publicly known that they listen to him a lot, giving him more command over the car.

Kubica has also been near-flawless this season, outperforming his machinery and battling amongst the front, bringing Renault two slightly unexpected podiums. 

Petrov shows flashes of what he is capable of and can be happy with a few points finishes, but in reality he is nowhere near his teammate on raw pace or in the long haul of a race distance.

Renault say they are happy with Petrov, but understandably want to see more consistency from him.

With recent speculation of former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen returning to Formula One dying down, as well as a very static driver market, Petrov could well be on course to book his seat for 2011.

But Renault, and Kubica in particular, have very high ambitions for the future.

If Petrov cannot prove that he has the talent to match these ambitions, he will undoubtedly move on.

With Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi, and the two Toro Rosso drivers looking more promising all the time, as well as the possibility of Hulkenberg one day switching teams, Petrov has to get into gear before he finds himself glued to the lower half of the Formula One grid.