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Your views: Reflecting on Bahrain

24 April 2013

Young team-mates causing headaches for senior drivers

It may be coming to that time in certain drivers careers where a world championship is looking an ever improbable feat, issues with the chassis seem to mount up on race weekends and worst of all, they're feeling the heat from their young team-mate.

This certainly seems to be the case for McLaren's Jenson Button of late, especially on reflection of the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend. Button has been very outspoken of the uncompetitive nature of this year's chassis, and his title charge appears to be in tatters after just round four. His results so far suggest the McLaren is capable of moving forward in race conditions, but Button now has a new headache to nurture in his team-mate.

Sergio Perez certainly made Button aware of his presence during the race on Sunday as the two McLaren's consistently squabbled for track position throughout. On one occasion Perez even touched the rear right tyre of Button and was fortunate to not cause any front wing damage or even a puncture to the 2009 world champion.

Button reacted angrily during his post-race interviews, saying Perez 'overstepped the mark' and needed to 'calm down'. Equally, Perez owned up to his racing being a little 'risky', but much like Sebastian Vettel's apology to Red Bull and Mark Webber after last month's Malaysian Grand Prix, the Mexican can head to Barcelona with the confidence and result under his belt.

It is now becoming the case where the senior members of the F1 grid are becoming increasingly frustrated with the young guns in the field. But this has to be the case for any visual progression to be seen from the younger team-mate. Button and Webber, both at least ten years senior to their partners, have to delve into the memory bank and remember the motives behind the actions of the less experienced.

Obviously Vettel's case for his actions in Malaysia could be considered a little more legitimate, considering he has beaten Mark Webber in each of the last five seasons and three of those resulting in World Championship's. It is a situation that seems to have finally taken its toll with Webber, who has been linked with a WEC drive with Porsche next season. But for Jenson Button, it is now important he extinguishes the flame sharply.

If Perez were to beat Button in this year's drivers' championship and deliver a race win or two come November, it could be the beginning of the end for Jenson. Momentum and inevitably McLaren backing the younger product could see a shift in ranking at the team as Perez proves his hunger for success.

Di Resta shows his worth

Many considered Sergio Perez's appointment as McLaren's second driver in 2013 to be a serious dent to the career aspirations of Paul Di Resta. The Scot was a rumoured candidate for the seat, but was overlooked for the Mexican, leaving him with no option but to remain with Force India after two frustrating seasons with the team.

But it may be a case of third time lucky for Di Resta this season, following promising pace and a heroic drive in Bahrain that saw his narrowly miss the podium to finish fourth. Force India currently lie in the middle tier of pace behind Red Bull Lotus and Ferrari, but are providing a stern challenge to the likes of McLaren and Sauber.

For Di Resta, he needs a car that is quick enough for him to express his quality as a driver. Only then will he be truly considered for a seat in a top team. To use Perez as a comparison, the Mexican claimed three podium finishes last season in an inconsistent, occasionally brilliant Sauber.

Di Resta must take these chances and prove, as he did on Sunday, that he is worthy of a move. After all, Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari could well have seats up for grabs next in 2014.

Alonso needs stroke of Renault fortune

It seems criminal that such a talent as Fernando Alonso has not claimed a drivers' title for more than six seasons now. What must sit even worse with the Spaniard is that he could and maybe should have had at least three more since his back-to-back title wins in 2005 and 2006.

His move to McLaren in 2007 was soaked in controversy as Alonso felt he was not getting the backing he deserved in his fight with rookie team-mate Lewis Hamilton. In house squabbling and the two drivers will to beat each other meant that Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari stole the title from under their noses on the final day of the season. Had Alonso had the backing that a world champion deserved that year, the title would have been his.

2010, and perhaps the biggest drop of all. Alonso was comfortably leading the standings heading into the final race in Abu Dhabi. Mark Webber was his closest challenger on points, and Ferrari opted to concentrate on his progress in the race. Ferrari responded to a Webber stop, bringing in Alonso at a similar time, only to feed him back out behind the Renault of Vitaly Petrov. That was game over. Alonso could not pass the pacey Russian and Sebastian Vettel went on to claim the title.

Last year perhaps wasn't Alonso's to lose, but heck did he deserve it. He wrestled an uncompetitive Ferrari to three wins and twelve podium finishes, but still lost out to the raw pace of the Red Bull by just three points. Twice he was also taken out on first corner incidents that were no fault of his own.

Wind back to 2005, where Kimi Raikkonen's challenge was hounded by reliability issues and to 2006 when Schumacher's Ferrari went up in smoke in Suzuka. How Alonso could do with this kind of fortune to supplement his incredible talent. Alonso has earned the right for a dose of small fortune and already looks like he may need some this season.

by Dan Connor


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