Atlas F1 is going to keep an eye on the battle between team mates throughout the season by race and overall averages (again). The measurement is simple. We compare the intra-team difference in seconds on Saturday. Some may say compensation must be given in the favouritism between the number one and two seats within the team. We, on the other hand, do not grant that pardon. For better or worse, our analyses will be on the perfect world of egalitarian status in intra-team rivalry.
With 15 qualifying sessions completed for 1999, the differentials are on a roll. Let's see which drivers deserve bragging rights.
- Michael Schumacher Things may have changed while Michael Schumacher sat away from the track, healing his wounds, but not for the German. Not where Qualifying Differentials are concerned. Last Michael qualified against teammate Eddie Irvine, at the British Grand Prix, he was only fourth on the overall averages table - with the likes of Barrichello, Frentzen and Alesi having outqualified their teammates to a larger average than he himself. But, since then the teammates of those Brave Three have managed to do a thing or two to close up the gap, whereas time stood still for the Ferrari duo, and with the one second gap Schumacher punched in at Malaysia, he now stands at the top of the overall table, proud and tall, having most outqualified his teammate to the largest average.
- Herbert. Once again Jonny Be Good outpaced his Stewart teammate Rubens Barrichello, to bring down just slightly more their overall average. If he manages to repeat that feat yet again at Suzuka, he might just be salvaged from being deemed as The One Who Was The Worst Qualifier this year...
- Hill. And speaking of that title, it really seems Damon Hill is not at all eager to end his last season with another title to add to his tally, especially when the title at hand is so negative. With one race to go, Hill is at battles of his own with Johnny Herbert on who of the two will escape the dubious honour of being outqualified the most by his teammate, and the battle is ever so close!
- Zanardi. After showing some reccuparation mid season, Alex Zanardi has slipped back to the darker days of the beginning of the season, with a terrible qualifying session. The Italian was outqualified by teammate Ralf Schumacher by no less than 1.327s - a rare feat for anyone. Hopefully it's juts a one off, and Zanardi will yet again bounce back to normal form.
- Wurz. In stark contrast, the Other Alex had a very good qualifying session, quite different to the lucklasture performance we've grown accustomed to seeing from him. The Austrian managed to outqualify his more illustrious teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, by 0.66s - by no means a remarkable feat from someone we've grown used to seeing on the other side of the scale!
The average gap between teammates in Sepang was 0.629 - slighly higher than the usual averages. Compare it to the Nurburgring's average, which was 0.580s. Or the average gap in Italy, which was 0.458; 0.381 secs in Belgium; Hungary's half a second; Germany's 0.588sec; 0.511sec in Austria; Britain's 0.463 seconds; France's 2.514sec; Canada's 0.588sec; Spain's 0.471sec; 0.671sec in Monaco; 0.601sec in San Marino; 0.446sec in Brazil; and 0.922sec in Australia.
The race for the Qualifying Differential Master is about to be summed up. One race to go, and little could be changed. But little is all that is needed to turn the top and the bottom of the tables!