Formula Ones Predicament: Teammate Wars

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Formula One's rule is beating other teams. But one silent rule is more detrimental. It says: beat your teammate; he's your worst ally.

The highest class of auto racing has become more bubbly, colorful and challenging than it was a few years back. This is because the competition transcends each team's structure. In McLaren Mercedes, British rookie Lewis Hamilton, with 70 points, leads the driver's championship by two points against teammate two-time world champion Fernando Alonso. Inside the Scuderia team, there is a scorching rivalry between Felipe Massa with 59 points and Kimi Raikkonen with 52.

The McLaren and Ferrari battle is heightened by their driver's close scores. Another tight rivalry is spawned by BMW and Renault. In the Bavarian team, next to Nick Heidfeld with 36 points is Robert Kubica with 24. Giancarlo Fisichella flaunts 17 points while teammate Heikki Kovalainen garners 17. The trend is obvious. Teammates are their closest rivals.

But the closest and most-hyped feud is between the drivers' championship leaders. And both are from the McLaren team. The 22-year-old Briton is having some nose-to-nose clash of points with the 26-year-old Spaniard driver. The intense competition between them has made analysts and watchers in the industry speculate a potential estranged relationship. By far, the two reflect good rapport and camaraderie. The attitude is bolstered by their common denominator - their remarkable passion and excellence in racing. An air of it is reflected in the new 60-second McLaren Mercedes promotional ad, which also featured the legendary driver of the team - Mika Hakkinen.

How blistering is the rivalry? It has been as hot as the could contain. But Hakkinen has given Ron Dennis his vote of confidence as the title battle between the two continues to heat up.

With seven races remaining, Hamilton and Alonso are separated by only two points. But Alonso has three victories compared to Hamilton's two. The relationship between the two drivers have also been focus of many a headline in the past few months, with media reports claiming that the rivalry between the McLaren duo is set to explode at any time, reported Planet-F1.

Hakkinen believes it is no worse than it was when himself and David Coulthard were teamed up at McLaren. "I had a good talk with them, and it was very interesting," he told Autosport. "It reminds me of the time when I was with DC (Coulthard) and I could feel the heat between them. It's normal. From the outside it is possible that it can look like more than that, but I think they are working very close together still, they have to, but it's tough."

"It's a very difficult situation. But Ron can give them a direction and instructions, and advice. He has experience from many years, it started with (Alain) Prost and (Niki) Lauda, and there are so many drivers that have been fighting for the Championship, so he has the experience to give the instructions," the Finn added.

"I think he is using his experience with Fernando and Lewis to the maximum level that he can. I don't think it will become a problem," he concluded. "The best driver will win at the end of the day, that is what is going to happen."

Despite the alleged espionage and the threat of a possible expulsion still hanging over McLaren, the team is positive this Formula One season would not just turn out to be phenomenal but blissful as well.

Currently, the team is getting ready for the Hungarian Grand Prix to dig a favorable finish. The drivers do not get too confident because they know they still have bigger fish to fry...

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