It Takes Two - The Power of the Second Driver
There's a conundrum for team bosses when hiring drivers, firstly the team needs a front runner to challenge for the silverware over the 20 races, the second needs to be scoring enough to wrap up the constructors crown. Over the years we have seen a number of approaches, have two star drivers who both get involved in the title fight, or have one clear number 1 and a driver who plays second fiddle and yields when needed.
is considered up there with the best drivers the sport has had, three times he has won the ultimate crown, whilst driving for Brabham in 1981 and 1983 Piquet was world champion, Brabham had a line up with a clear number two and Piquet the clear number one. This was clear was Williams
in '81 and Ferrari
in '83 won the constructors competition. The 1987 season however saw Piquet at Williams with Nigel Mansell
, the pair collected a 1-2 in the championship and clearly the constructors also headed Williams's way. While operating a clear number two Brabham had just one title yet Williams had two marquee drivers and with it two championships.
So the star driver is best, correct? Wrong, the relationship ended sour between Piquet and Mansell, so much so that Nelson left to join Lotus
, a similar story happened the following season... And the year afterwards with arguably the most legendary partnership in Formula 1 history. Ayrton Senna
and Alain Prost
. Two legends of the sport, Senna the young upstart and Prost the wily old master. The two had a great battle in 1988, down to the final in Japan, Senna took the championship and again Prost in second which secured the constructors crown. The same thing happened again entering Japan in 1989, this time however the pair collided. Prost was out and Senna continued to victory making Senna champion again, but not for long, Prost who was Ferrari bound called an enquiry on his team mate who was subsequently disqualified handing Prost the championship and McLaren retained the constructors.
1994 was known for two reasons, the fatal weekend in Imola which proved a tragic end to he careers of Roland Ratzenberger
and the legendary Ayrton Senna, and the controversy surrounding Benetton's entrant for the season. This car may have won the title in the hands of German Michael Schumacher
, a controversial man himself, but Benetton's second driver was nothing like a star, Jos Verstappen
, J-J Letho and for the finale Johnny Herbert
. The team lost the constructors championship to Williams who had the runner up Damon Hill
in the car 0 and world champions in Senna and Mansell partnering the new boy [David] Coulthard in car 2 (car number 1 wasn't used as Alain Prost won the championship but had retired from the sport at the end of 1993). This plan won Williams the constructors championship and made it 3-0 to the star drivers and for the first time, the drivers remained friendly.
1995 was both Williams and Benetton fielding a star driver and a less big name, Schumacher (Benetton) won the title from Hill (Williams), Coulthard (Williams) was third ahead of Herbert (Benetton). Schumacher accumulated enough of an advantage on points for Benetton to clinch the crown, the next time we saw this clash of stars Vs Number 1 & 2 was 1998, McLaren vs Ferrari, Hakkinen and Coulthard the stars of McLaren took on the mighty Michael Schumacher and his accomplice Eddie Irvine
. Hakkinen took the drivers crown from Schumacher, Coulthard in third ahead of Irvine. This meant McLaren and the star drivers who the day.
12 months later McLaren technically had the star drivers however it was clear Coulthard was behind Hakkinen in the pecking order. This however didn't pay off as the Irvine/Schumacher/Salo partnership won the race for the championship making the scores Star Drivers 4-1 Number 1&2.
Fast forward to the dominant Ferrari years and everyone preferred the clear number 1&2 system, the next time we saw a battle was 2005 where McLaren stars Kimi Raikkonen
and Juan Pablo Montoya
took to battle with Renault
's eventual world champion Fernando Alonso
and his new team mate Giancarlo Fisichella
. A horrible run of early season luck and struggles to adapt from Williams to McLaren meant the constructors championship went to Renault, 4-2 now to the stars.
2007, McLaren had reining double champion Fernando Alonso and rookie Lewis Hamilton
, Ferrari had last seasons third place man Felipe Massa
partnering fourth place and new acquisition from McLaren Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari had the biggest stars but McLaren came out constructors champions, Kimi Raikkonen took the title by a single point over the joint second placed McLaren's of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, the British rookie was ahead on the placement ruling. Technically McLaren won the formula one championship with 218 points however due to the 'spygate' espionage scandal they were deducted 15 points before later being excluded. This meant Ferrari were champions however on points the McLaren drivers won the day, 4-3 to the star drivers.
For 2008 the star drivers extended there lead in our fictional contest with Kimi Raikkonen comfortably beating fellow countryman Heikki Kovalainen, this was enough to counteract Ferrari compatriot Felipe Massa who trailed Kovalainen's team mate, the 2008 world champion, Lewis Hamilton by a mere 1 point.
So the debate will always rage on, the more close you have your drivers on ability the more likely they will fall out, one we didn't mention was the friction between Mark Webber
and Sebastian Vettel
, such incidents such as the British Grand Prix "not bad for a number 2" radio message and the disobeying of a "multi 21" order robbed Webber of victory, his best chance in his final season. Despite this having star drivers makes you 6-3 more likely to win the constructors championship than having a clear number 1 and number 2 yet having the two bigger drivers runs the risk of losing the drivers crown, on our featured examples the team with star drivers have won the drivers title 6 times and lost it 3 times (interestingly not the same 3 that lost the constructors title). So as a team boss there is not a simple solution but one thing is for sure, the more drama, the better it is for us watching at home.