Ranking the Formula 1 Drivers on How Many Points They Beat Their Team-Mates by
Throughout the 2015 Formula One season, the most important intra-team rivalry was the duel for the drivers' championship between the two Mercedes drivers.
Armed with the all-conquering W06, one of them was always going to take the crown, and for the second consecutive year, it was Lewis Hamilton who came out on top. Though Nico Rosberg recovered some dignity by winning the final three races, the gap between the two at the end of the year was still a comfortable 59 points.
With just one notable exception, the other team-mate pairs were separated by much smaller margins. Daniil Kvyat beat Daniel Ricciardo by just three points, while Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso ended the year five points apart.
Felipe Nasr scored 18 points more than Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean was 24 points clear of Pastor Maldonado. The biggest gap of the year was at Ferrari, where Sebastian Vettel outscored Kimi Raikkonen by a whopping 128 points.
But we can't identify the most dominant team-mates from raw numbers such as these. The gaps between slower cars will almost always be smaller than those between front-runners, simply because they score far fewer points.
Our percentage-based system, which we first tested last season, attempts to solve that problem. It should, in theory at least, provide a more accurate picture of which drivers really did have the upper hand over their team-mates when it came to scoring world championship points.
Using such a system, here's how the drivers ranked in 2015—from the closest battle to the most one-sided.
As was the case last year, the rankings are determined by looking at what percentage of the lower-scoring driver's points the higher-scoring team-mate accumulated.
For example, if Driver A scored 50 points and Driver B scored 100, Driver B would have scored 200 percent of Driver A's points. The higher the percentage, the higher the driver's position in the rankings.
10. Roberto Merhi Beat Will Stevens: Countback
Roberto Merhi: 0 (best result of 12th)
Will Stevens: 0 (best result of 13th)
Neither of the main Manor drivers scored points, so they are equal in that respect. When two drivers have the same number of points, a system known as "countback" is employed where the driver with the most finishes in the highest position is ranked ahead.
This puts Roberto Merhi on top. He managed just one 12th-place finish in 2015, but that's enough to beat Will Stevens' best of 13th.
Was Merhi really the best Manor driver? Probably not, but then, Stevens was only a little more impressive. The team's real star appeared to be Alexander Rossi, who replaced Merhi for five races toward the end of the season and also secured a 12th-place finish.
But as he only drove in a handful of races, the American isn't included in our comparisons.
9. Daniil Kvyat Beat Daniel Ricciardo: 103.3 Percent
Daniil Kvyat: 95
Daniel Ricciardo: 92
Daniil Kvyat came out on top in the battle with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo despite starting only 18 of the 19 races.
The Russian's car broke down on its way to the grid in Australia, giving him the first DNS (did not start) of his F1 career. Ricciardo grabbed eight points for finishing sixth and scored points at the next five races to build an early lead in the points table.
However, a fine drive to fourth in Monaco kickstarted Kvyat's season, and a strong run of results—the highlight being second place in Hungary—saw the younger man move ahead.
The two RB11s remained close as the season headed toward its conclusion. Ricciardo got his nose briefly in front with an impressive second in Singapore, but in the end, it was Kvyat who emerged victorious, holding on by just three points.
The is one of the the results that doesn't really reflect accurately on the season as a whole. Ricciardo tended to be the quicker man, outqualifying Kvyat 12-5 when both set a time and usually being faster in the races, but misfortune had a habit of striking his car at the worst possible times.
But Kvyat still deserves a lot of credit for stepping up after a slow start and giving a good account of himself in the middle and latter parts of the season.
8. Valtteri Bottas Beat Felipe Massa: 112.4 Percent
Valtteri Bottas: 136
Felipe Massa: 121
Valtteri Bottas was expected to come out on top in this battle, and come out on top he did—but the gap was smaller than many fans would have predicted.
The Finn missed the season-opener with a back injury, giving Felipe Massa the opportunity to take an early lead. Bottas hit back straight away, overtaking his team-mate to claim fifth in Malaysia.
A pair of fourth-place finishes in Bahrain and Spain gave Bottas the advantage heading into the heart of the European season, and a podium in Canada extended his lead further.
But Massa wasn't beaten, scoring his own first podium in Austria. Though unable to match the regular top-three finishes of 2014, the Williams duo were usually in and around the top five, and the fight between the pair remained close all the way to the penultimate race.
There, Massa's disqualification, coupled with a fifth place for Bottas, effectively ended the contest.
The final gap was 15 points, which isn't a terrible reflection of reality. Bottas would have wanted to win by a greater margin, and maybe he deserved to, but Massa definitely had his moments.
7. Lewis Hamilton Beat Nico Rosberg: 118.3 Percent
Lewis Hamilton: 381
Nico Rosberg: 322
Lewis Hamilton again came out on top in the fight with Nico Rosberg—and again the two spent a lot of time close together on the track. But this time, the defending world champion led from the very first race of the year all the way to the last.
The opening races suggested Hamilton was set to dominate. He came home ahead of Rosberg at each of the first four races, winning three times to build an early 27-point cushion.
The German hit back with a crushing win of his own in Spain then rode his luck in Monaco to cut the gap to just 10 points. The Mercedes duo traded wins in Canada and Austria, and there were signs Rosberg might be able to push Hamilton harder.
But the season turned on the British and Hungarian grands prix. In both, Rosberg had a chance to beat Hamilton; in both, he didn't quite get it done. Five wins from the next six races gave Hamilton an 80-point lead over his team-mate—the title race was over with three races to spare.
Rosberg won all of these to cut the final deficit to a more respectable 59 points, and his late-season upturn in form means he wasn't entirely outclassed. The final gap was a fair reflection of the season as a whole.
6. Sergio Perez Beat Nico Hulkenberg: 134.5 Percent
Sergio Perez: 78
Nico Hulkenberg: 58
Sergio Perez came of age in 2015 to turn the tables on the man who comfortably beat him last season.
Nico Hulkenberg got off to the better start with seventh at the first race of the year, while Perez could only squeak home in 10th. But for the early races, neither man was able to get quality points on the board—by the end of the Canadian Grand Prix, round seven, they had just 21 points between them.
Force India had been pushed into an unusual development strategy, starting with a fairly basic car and working on big updates throughout the year. The fruits of their labour began to emerge in Austria as Hulkenberg, fresh from his win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, took sixth.
The German remained on top for the next few races, but his form dipped after a front wing failure in Hungary and a pre-race mechanical issue in Belgium. Perez, meanwhile, started to find his feet—an impressive fifth-place at Spa moved him back ahead of Hulkenberg in the standings.
From there on out, the Mexican never relinquished his lead. Hulkenberg crashed out three times in four races and Perez, boosted by a great drive to the podium in Sochi, pulled clear. He ended up 20 points clear of his highly rated team-mate.
It's hard to argue that the stats don't accurately reflect reality.
5. Jenson Button Beat Fernando Alonso: 145.5 Percent
Jenson Button: 16
Fernando Alonso: 11
Jenson Button won the McLaren battle, but Fernando Alonso is unlikely to be concerned.
The woeful Honda power unit left the two world champions with little hope of even challenging for points in the early part of the year. Button broke his and the team's duck with eighth in Monaco, but Alonso had to wait until the ninth round of the season—the British Grand Prix—to get his own scoreboard ticking.
The Spaniard took the lead in the intra-team battle with a beautiful and slightly fortuitous drive to fifth at the next race in Hungary. Button also scored, coming home in ninth, and optimistic McLaren fans were wondering if the team had turned a corner.
But though the MP4-30 was making its way around the circuits a tiny bit quicker than before, it was still horribly unreliable.
Alonso didn't score at all in the final nine rounds, allowing Button—by virtue of a lucky ninth in Sochi and an excellent fifth in Austin—to emerge on top by five points.
It was the first time Alonso had ended a season with fewer points than a team-mate, but this duel was nothing more than a lottery. Both drivers did well considering the tools at their disposal, and there was very little to separate their performances.
4. Sebastian Vettel Beat Kimi Raikkonen: 185.3 Percent
Sebastian Vettel: 278
Kimi Raikkonen: 150
Sebastian Vettel joined Ferrari after a difficult 2014 season and quickly set about putting his new team-mate in the shade.
Kimi Raikkonen had looked far more comfortable with the SF15-T than he had with its predecessor, and pre-season testing suggested a closer contest. But Vettel grabbed 15 points and a podium at first race while a retirement left Raikkonen stuck on zero.
The German's victory at the next race, in Malaysia, extended his advantage further.
Despite outperforming Vettel in Bahrain to take his first podium of the year, Raikkonen quickly settled into a role as the Ferrari No. 2. The competitiveness of the car meant he usually took home a decent haul of points; unfortunately for him, Vettel's haul was nearly always a little bit bigger.
Ten races in, Vettel had two wins, five further podiums and 160 points. Raikkonen had just one podium and 76 points.
The intra-team scrap was a little tighter in the second half of the year, but Vettel remained the dominant presence. He ended the season third in the championship with 278 points—128 more than fourth-placed Raikkonen.
Converting the gap to a percentage makes this the fourth-most one-sided duel of 2015. But the evidence on the track suggests it was closer to being the second.
3. Romain Grosjean Beat Pastor Maldonado: 188.9 Percent
Romain Grosjean: 51
Pastor Maldonado: 27
Romain Grosjean ended his Lotus career with an entirely predictable demolition of Pastor Maldonado.
Both E23s were out of the Australian Grand Prix before they'd completed a single lap, but Grosjean opened his points account with seventh in China. He added more in Bahrain and Spain, but Maldonado struggled to get off the mark.
The Venezuelan was on the receiving end of a barrage of rotten luck, and he retired from five of the first six grands prix. As Maldonado was scoring his first points of 2015—in Canada—Grosjean was adding his fourth top-10 finish of the year.
This pattern continued until the 13th round of the season; as the chequered flag fell in Singapore, Grosjean had a podium and 38 points from six top-10 finishes. Maldonado, having scored on just two occasions, had 12 points.
A late burst of good race-day form from Maldonado made the final gap to Grosjean a little more respectable.
But it was still a huge 24 points. In terms of pure performance, especially in qualifying, this was the most one-sided duel on the grid—and the percentage gap accurately reflects that.
2. Max Verstappen Beat Carlos Sainz Jr.: 272.2 Percent
Max Verstappen: 49
Carlos Sainz Jr.: 18
Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. both gave us reasons to be optimistic about the future, but only one of the Toro Rosso kids got the points his driving deserved.
Sainz finished ninth on his F1 debut in Australia, but Verstappen produced one of his now-trademark overtaking moves to beat his team-mate to seventh in Malaysia. In the first nine races of the season, they had fairly similar results; post-Silverstone, Verstappen held a one-point advantage.
As the second half of 2015 got under way, Verstappen found his feet and began to put some serious points on the board. Fourth in Hungary and the United States were the highlights of a run that saw him take top-10 finishes in eight of the final 10 races.
But near-constant reliability issues with his STR10 meant Sainz was unable to do the same. A mere three points finishes, all in the lower reaches of the top 10, left him with just 18 points for the season—31 fewer than his younger team-mate.
Verstappen was the better driver and deserved to come out on top, but the final points difference is incredibly misleading.
In terms of actual on-track performance, the two rookies were far, far closer than the statistics suggest.
1. Felipe Nasr Beat Marcus Ericsson: 300 Percent
Felipe Nasr: 27
Marcus Ericsson: 9
Felipe Nasr made a promising start to his F1 career and became the holder of an impressive-sounding record.
His brilliant fifth-place finish at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix was the best result ever achieved by a Brazilian on his F1 debut. Marcus Ericsson also opened his account in that race, but he was down in eighth.
Both sniffed around the edges of the points in the early races of the season, with Nasr coming out on top more often than not. A mid-season string of three top 10s in a row saw Ericsson close the gap, but Nasr's sixth-place finish at the Russian Grand Prix put the outcome of the duel beyond any reasonable doubt.
He finished the year 18 points clear of his team-mate.
No one knew it at the time, but the intra-team battle at Sauber was over as soon as the chequered flag fell in Melbourne. Nasr scored more points in that one race than Ericsson scored all season.
But when one relies solely on statistics, the true story is rarely told. Though Nasr was undoubtedly the better driver over the course of the year, this wasn't quite the most one-sided battle in the field.