The Rookie Digest: 9 – 12 Part 3

In this third instalment looking at how the 2012 batch of rookies are doing, their first summer break acts as punctuation before they lay rubber down at one of the most historic circuits on the calendar, Spa-Francorchamps. Here Charles Pic’s and Jean-Eric Vergne’s first Formula One visits to Silverstone, Hockenheim, the Hungaroring and the aforementioned Spa-Francorchamps are examined. To read about the rest of their season check out the first four races here, the next four here and the half term report for Pic and Vergne.

Charles Pic

Charles Pic

Timo Glock

Qualifying

2

2

Race

2

2

Above is a basic head to head between the Marussia team mates, and it’s even stevens once again. Pic hasn’t improved on his last four races in the respect, but more importantly he’s holding station and hasn’t slipped behind. It’s an encouraging sign that he’s able to maintain a level of consistency in the middle part of his first season in Formula One.

To stand against someone who is in their sixth year is a daunting task, with more pressure being put upon the younger drivers to perform and impress in their opening season. Pic hasn’t been completely overshadowed by Glock, although his German partner has produced some excellent drives, we aren’t asking ‘Pic who?’

Races

4 (GBR – BEL)

Points

0

Retirements

0

Out-Qualified Team mate

2

Higher race position than team mate

2

Highest qualifying position

21

Highest race position

16

Average qualifying position

22.25

Average race position

18.75

Overall, compared to the last set of result from the previous four races Pic’s results have dipped slightly. Average qualifying and race positions are just below that of the last four races, however it’s not a drop indicative of a loss of form. Looking at the four race weekends in comparison, his highest result previously is a 15th in Valencia (another 15th in Australia) hasn’t been matched this time around however Pic has buffed his year to a shine.

In Silverstone, and home turf for his team’s factory, Pic failed to get in under the 107% time in qualifying, by 0.425 seconds, which was under a deluge of water during various points of the race weekend, apart from the race itself. Cleared by the stewards based on previous performances from the rest of the weekend, Pic finished just behind Glock on race day, but it was in the next two races he took a step forward.

For two consecutive races in Germany and Hungary Pic both out qualified and out raced Glock, it was around the Hockenheim circuit that the Frenchman left Glock trailing behind. Several hundredth ahead in qualifying Pic managed to finish a lap ahead of Glock on Sunday, with de la Rosa splitting them. Pic took to the Hungaroring rather well, a circuit he podiumed at last year in the GP2 series in second place, and in Formula one he again started and finished his race day ahead of his team mate.

Pic again finished a lap ahead of Glock, helped in part perhaps by the German taking a spin on the third lap and failing to improve his day. Having only scored points just off the podium once in Belgium Pic was unlikely to match that feat this year, but by finishing in 16th he bettered the rest of the results he had earned before in GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5.

It was in Hungary that tensions began to rise within the team, whether bourne out of frustration of finding himself behind too often for comfort, Glock spoke out against Pic apparently blocking him during qualifying. “Maybe he doesn’t understand the English on the radio,” pondered Glock out loud to his team, but when he was asked if he would be dealing with Pic himself he called the task ‘pointless’ and explained further that it had happened often and it was now down to the team to deal with the problem.

Jean-Éric Vergne

Jean-Eric Vergne

Daniel Ricciardo

Qualifying

2

2

Race

1

3

Below is the straight head to head between Vergne and his Toro Rosso stablemate Ricciardo, and on the surface he’s made a small gain in qualifying to the Australian by splitting the fight equally. However on race day Ricciardo has stretched out a small lead by beating him three times to one, but yet again when Vergne does get ahead he’s in the points. And as they say points mean prizes, here he could win another year in Formula One. Although at the beginning of the season Vergne seemed to struggle against Ricciardo, they seem more evenly matched at the halfway point.

Races

4 (GBR – BEL)

Points

4

Retirements

0

Out-Qualified Team mate

2

Higher race position than team mate

1

Highest qualifying position

15

Highest race position

8

Average qualifying position

16.25

Average race position

13

Average qualifying and race positions have improved all around from the last four races. Vergne has been more consistent in qualifying but hasn’t yet been able to break into the final session and the top ten on Sunday morning, same goes for his team mate too. Vergne has again scored points, an impressive bundle of four in a calamitous Belgian GP where a first lap crash took several out of the race.

The first race out of this group of four happened at Silverstone, where Vergne served his ten place grid penalty for his collision with Kovalainen in Valencia and started at the back of the pack. But the Frenchman recovered well to duel with Ricciardo who switched places near the end and only had two seconds difference with Vergne being the one behind.

On to Germany and the Hockenheim circuit where Vergne spent another weekend behind his team mate. In qualifying he failed to make it out of the first round and was just under a second faster than Kovalainen but 8 tenths slower than Rosberg, whereas Ricciardo was squeezed out of the final round by 6 tenths. But again Vergne pulled it out of the bag on Sunday to line up behind Ricciardo at the flag, being the last driver on the lead lap to spare his blushes.

At the Hungaroring neither Toro Rosso driver found a rhythm that worked, although Vergne started ahead of Riccardo (who didn’t post a time fast enough to participate in Q2), he found himself behind at clocking off time and neither driver finished on the lead lap. However Vergne was encouraged off the track by di Resta at the start of the race and with a damaged and overheating sidepod Vergne had to visit the pit lane four times.

It may have been a tough few races for the rookie, however in Belgium where chaos reigned at the beginning Vergne prevailed to rode masterfully to another four points to double his first year tally. For the second race in a row he started ahead of Ricciardo however this time he held on to keep that going until the end, and to make the points sweeter for the team was that both drivers took them home. Although it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Vergne being happier if he was the only one adding to the account. He’s still ahead though.

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