The Rookie Digest: 5 – 8 Part 2

The rookies are getting into their stride now, eight races in they’ve firmly got their feet under the table, but now the pressure is really on. Rookie by name, but related mistakes are not looked upon kindly as one has recently discovered, and being at the back of the grid is no reason to slack either. At this stage of their careers, beating their respective team mates is the first hurdle and best indicator of what the future may hold.

Catch up on the races we’ve had so far here, and you’ll be able to see that in this season absolutely anything can happen. Last year’s rookies that are still around are making an impact, notably Sergio Perez who has found himself on the podium twice this year already. No use being a Sunday driver, you really won’t get anywhere.

Here we are discussing the races from Spain to Europe, the following on from the previous rookie report where the races from Australia to Bahrain were investigated for the pair. By splitting them into four race sections direct comparisons can be made and progress highlighted. Values shown in parentheses refer to the previous four races.

Charles Pic

Below are the basic statistics relating to driver versus driver performance between team mates regards qualifying and race day results between the Spanish and European races, although it must be noted that Timo Glock was unable to participate in the European Grand Prix due to illness.

  Charles Pic Timo Glock
Qualifying  2  2
Race  2  2

It is encouraging to see positive progress in these last four races from the young Frenchman, it came as no surprise that he was comprehensively out qualified and out raced by his team mate in the first four races, but since his trip to Spain Pic has upped the pace and has found himself getting closer to Glock overall. Pic impressed early on with his attitude and ability, and it seems he is now confirming his good reputation, but to ensure his future he’s going to have to regularly finish ahead of his team mate.

Races 4 (ESP-EUR)
Points 0
Retirements 2
Out-Qualified Team mate 2
Higher race position than team mate 2
Highest qualifying position 20
Highest race position 15
Average qualifying position 22
Average race position 18.5

These are more in-depth statistics from the last four races, and when compared they equal or better those featured in the last report, apart from his retirement tally. Both of which were technical problems, in Spain it was his driveshaft and in Monaco it was an electrical issue towards the end of the race, it was in these instances that Glock finished ahead of Pic, however when Pic did finish ahead of Glock the German suffered a brakes failure and did not participate. So due to a raft of reliability issues, technical or constitutional, race pace is not a viable point of comparison which leaves qualifying.

Although there has been a slight dip in his average qualifying position (21.75 to 22) Pic claimed his best qualifying result so far in Spain, where he out qualified Glock by almost half a second. He equalled his best race result of P15 in Valencia, undoubtedly helped by the high attrition rate he still managed to avoid being lapped and despite being Marussia being out foxed by HRT on pace recently he stayed ahead of the duo. Plus, with a little help by several Ferrari pit stops, he had the honour of finishing ahead of Felipe Massa and saved himself from being lapped.

So before he heads to Britain for a visit to Silverstone Pic now has to prove these results are not simply down to bad luck on the part of his team mate, and that magic word consistency appears again. He’s continued to impress, and is racing hard to escape that ‘pay driver’ label, but with HRT refusing to stay at the back of the grid during qualifying the pressure is on Marussia to keep them at bay. Now is the time for Pic to show his mettle.

Jean-Eric Vergne

  Jean-Eric Vergne Daniel Ricciardo
Qualifying 1 3
Race 2 2

Casting an eye over the first four races it is apparent that Vergne has made inroads in qualifying, getting one over Ricciardo in Spain by 0.177 seconds. However since then the Frenchman has struggled on Saturdays, he snuck into Q2 at Monaco but was only able to post a Q2 time over a second behind his team mate and in Canada and Valencia he was one of the first seven out. Even Mark Webber’s shock exit in Q1 at the European GP couldn’t help him into the second round.

Races 4 (ESP-EUR)
Points 0
Retirements 1
Out-Qualified Team mate 1
Higher race position than team mate 2
Highest qualifying position 14
Highest race position 12
Average qualifying position 16.75
Average race position 15.5

This collection of four races haven’t yielded any points for Vergne, and comparing the data, apart from Monaco, race day has been a trial. Like Pic there has been a slight dip in his average qualifying position, for both this could be down to their team mate getting to grips with the evolving car quicker. Looking back at that race in the principality, Vergne was about to claim his best ever result and more points but a gamble on the weather ruined his chances. Running in eighth the team fitted a set of intermediates onto his car when light rain began to fall and his tyres had gone, if it had fallen heavier Vergne would have lauded for taking a risk, but instead his team took the brunt of criticism.

That might have been out of his control but his actions in Valencia were his alone, after a poor qualifying his Sunday was ended prematurely when on lap 27 a questionable attempt at an overtake took him and Heikki Kovalainen out of the race. Bringing himself alongside the Caterham driver on the run down to turn 12 under DRS he pulled across, making contact it was punctures galore. Labelled a ‘rookie mistake’ by the Finn Vergne later used Twitter to apologise and promised to learn from it. He earned himself a 5 place grid drop and a whopping €25,000 fine, which the team announced he was going to pay himself.

As ever there is a more to being a Toro Rosso driver, it’s a heavily results driven team where the aim is to find the next Sebastian Vettel. Alguersuari and Buemi were cast aside with Helmut Marko explaining their weren’t potential champions, the decision was unpopular but it’s how they operate. Incidently Ricciardo and Vergne are on par with the team performance from last year which bodes well despite the team not making the leaps forward they were anticipating. Eyes focused on these two, as the season continues to unfold we should hope to see get on top of the car and the tyres. To ensure he stays around for another season Vergne needs to start making Sundays easier with better qualifying results, then he can draw on that Monaco pace. As they say, points really do mean prizes.

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