>>It is *** to see the work of the true team-mate destroyers:
>>Schumacher, Frenzen and Hakkinen. All these three leave only "complaining
>>second-rate drivers" behind. It may not be a pleasure to be driving in
>>the same team as these gentleman. You have a great probability that there
>>won't be another season for you...
The mistake that we observers make is in thinking that the two drivers
are team-mates. They are, in the sense that there is commonality of
the superficial items such as car, engine, sponsors etc. However, we
must realise that the top 2-car teams are really two one-car teams
which just happen to be sharing facilities for economies of scale.
Just look at Williams this season. Jacques Villeneuve has a different
dash layout and pedal box to Damon Hill, to the extent that changing
the spare car involves changing front ends and dash instruments. Both
drivers have their own engineering teams. In some teams it is apparent
that drivers hide set-up data from each other (classic case is
Schumacher at Benetton; he refused to share information with Johnny
Herbert for fear that it would eliminate his advantage).
And at the end of the line, your team-mate is the guy you want to beat
Where the problems start are when resources are directed
disproportionately towards one driver. This creates a tilted playing
field against the other driver, who will lose out in terms of track
time (Schumacher did most of the testing at Benetton, to the extent
that eventually they stopped hiring a full-time test driver because
there was nothing for him to do), access to engine supplier data, and
(more damagingly in the medium term) will find the car being designed
around the #1 driver's style. This has been the fate of Schumacher's
team mates in recent years. Herbert needs a neutral car, Schumacher
likes a car with a loose back end that he can balance off against the
turn-in. The two styles are largely incompatible.
The disproportionate direction of resources can happen because of lack
of $$$ or parts (those who mock Mark Blundell should remember that for
most of 1995 he was at least 1 engine spec. behind Hakkiinen), the
presence of a #1 driver by contract (Schumacher's Ferrari contract
gives him #1 status, priority access to the spare car, first call on
development parts, etc, etc.) or (more subtly) the preference of the
team principals for one driver because they empathise more with that
driver's style and attitude. A classic example of the latter is the
Jones-Reutemann situation in 1981 at Williams, where Reutemann was
frozen out by a team dedicated to Jones (who had won the championship
in 1980). Other examples are Prost and Lauda at McLaren (Ron Dennis
apparently resenting Lauda's cost relative to Prost) and Mansell and
Prost at Ferrari (Mansell was out-maneouvered by Prost's supporters).
So next time you hear drivers talking about team mates, permit
yourself a wry smile...there ain't no such thing in a top 4 F1 team.
Graham Shevlin TISD Sunbury UK