Can you remain friends with your teammate in Formula 1?
2014 has been a very interesting year; not only does it mark a new chapter in Formula 1 due to the regulation changes in cars in terms of Powertrains (Engine – gearbox – transmission) & Aerodynamic rule changes, it has also helped bring another struggling team to outshine the rest and dominate the sport, just like it helped Red Bull emerge in 2009-10 after the 2009 rule changes.
Mercedes AMG Petronas has won every single race this season so far, with both drivers finishing 1,2 consecutively (barring the first race).
The drivers’ championship lead that these two have over the rest is staggering and that results in Mercedes leading the constructor’s championship by a huge margin.
It’s very apparent to every viewer that the way Mercedes is progressing this season,the championship might be decided between its two drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. This has resulted in a media speculation about a rivalry brewing up between the two, and many have gone as far as comparing it to Senna – Prost rivalry of the 80’s.
Analogies with Ayrton Senna and his career have been reduced to a joke by the Media; it’s really sad when they start comparing everything to it. However, post the Monaco Grand Prix, it was apparent from Hamilton’s interview that there is a growing tension between the two drivers.
The cold body language was intense enough, for it to be cut with a knife during the post-race ceremony at Monaco.
Team-mate rivalries are nothing new to this sport. In fact, it remains one of those pillars that has helped strengthen the sport and given it popularity in every era.
Right from the most infamous Alain Prost – Ayrton Senna showdown to the Nigel Mansell – Nelson piquet and Prost-Mansell fight of 1987, all have been legendary.
If you were to look back at these rivalries, you can draw certain similarities in all of them:
- All these rivalries happened when the said team, both were racing for,was at their peak performance.
- All these rivalries involved 2 very different personalities - One emotional and extremely talented guy, the other also talented but a practical thinker.
- All these rivalries stem from a desire to be the no.1 driver and claim the championship.
Now, 1 & 3 are valid and fairly obvious points that most will conclude. However,point no.2 is what makes all of this most interesting for the viewers.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg started their careers together in karting. Both went head to head in GP2,and then in F1 simultaneously.
They have been friends for a long time, and have shared great camaraderie, but that does not change the fact that both are very different in terms of their temperament and personalities.
Lewis Hamilton is a former world champion, he has statically more wins and poles over his teammate. However, I do not agree with stats being the sole measure of talent.
Lewis is known for his aggressive driving style. He is, and I have no doubt in saying this, the best overtaking driver we have in the business today, his pole taking abilities are an extension of his natural talent. And temperamentally, he is a very emotional person.
What I mean is, we know when Lewis is happy and we see when he is sad. He wears his heart on his sleeve. Nico Rosberg, on the other hand, is an extremely methodical and practical driver.
Rarely will you see him aggressively overtaking an opponent or locking up on the turf (which with Lewis is a very frequent sight). His strength is his ability to adapt to changes.
He is the son of World Championship winner Keke Rosberg, and the world has seen that in a good car, he sure has his father genes intact of performing relentlessly.
Just like Senna – Prost or Mansell – Piquet or Villeneuve - Pironi, this story is about the clash of two egos, the clash of two personalities, stark opposite, yet fighting for the same prize, existing together in the same squad.
So can two teammates fight for a championship and still remain friends?
Can they go toe to toe in a fight and still maintain their camaraderie, respect? Sure, but what about friendship?
In my opinion, team-mate is there to be beaten in a sport, he is a co-competitor, and any sport is about squashing your opponent and moving forward towards victory.
We can discuss as much as we want about them growing up as friends, but you have to outperform one man.
No matter what bonds you shared earlier, you will know the ‘real’ nature of the other person ,when you stand under the light to hear the bell go “ding”.