The Pressure Gauge: Australian Grand Prix

Rosberg and Perez have no place to hide in 2013, while Webber and Alonso kick-start the season somewhat more comfortably.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13th, 2013 (F1plus/J. Polychronis).- The Pressure Gauge is a segment conducted before every race weekend of 2013. It is designed to predominately assess the big name drivers in F1 and how their pressure mounts or diffuses, depending on their situation.

Four drivers will be assessed/reviewed per race. The Pressure Gauge readings are: Ice Cold, Low, Medium, High and Extreme

Mark Webber: Low

Pressure on Mark Webber cannot be seen as exceedingly high in 2013 for one simple reason; no one expects him to win. Commentator, analyst and former driver, Martin Brundle, is just one credible source to express concerns over Webber's title winning credentials. Brundle, while analysing his former campaigns, has been perfectly blunt by stating; "Here's a package (car) that can win a title, and your team-mate did it and you (Webber) didn't. And you didn't even finish a close second every time."

Webber is the perfect driver to compliment Sebastian Vettel as far as Red Bull Racing is concerned. The Australian claims an adequate amount of points to help secure Constructor's Championships, however, not enough to cause any real disharmony within the team. The main source of pressure application on Webber this season will be from himself. Considering his employment operates on a year-by-year basis, a poor showing will end his F1 career.

Considering the RB9 is likely to be a machine capable of claiming multiple victories, it is unlikely Webber will have a season that warrants retirement.

Sergio Perez: High

Sergio Perez’ decision to depart Sauber for 2013 not only saw him move into the cockpit of a McLaren, but it has also seen him move into the spotlight. This is a fact which is not lost on the 23 year old as he confessed by saying; “The pressure is always there, especially when you are with McLaren, no? The whole world is watching you and you have to deliver in not so much time.”

During Perez’ time at Sauber in 2012, it was simple for people to define him by the outstanding treble of podium finishes which he accumulated. It was similarly easy for the same people to detach him from his abysmal final 7 races in which he amassed 1 point. This will no longer be the case for Perez, as every single race performance becomes recognisable when driving for a major contender.

The only saving grace that excludes Perez from the ‘extreme’ category of The Pressure Gauge is the fact that a well-accustomed Jenson Button will serve as his counterpart. This means that Perez will likely assume number two status.

Fernando Alonso: Medium 

In 2012, Sebastian Vettel became the youngest triple world champion of all time. Not only that, he also became only the third driver of all time to claim three titles in a row. This placed him alongside the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher. Nonetheless, in a season where all of this materialised, it was Fernando Alonso that was still the best driver of 2012.

In a season where podium finishes were considered to be satisfying outcomes for Ferrari, Alonso went out on the track and claimed three victories. His heroic efforts extended to the final 8 races in which he finished on the podium for 7. In the end, it was only a 3 point deficit which prevented Alonso’s elusive third world championship.

It is at this point that we need to consider, who is the pressure really on at Ferrari; Alonso, or the team? It is arguable that had Alonso driven the RB6, 7 and 8, we would be gazing upon a 5 time world champion by now.

Alonso’s seat at Ferrari is a staple, however, a title is essential for him to reach Schumacher, Lauda and Ascari status at Ferrari. Should the F138 prove to be a title contending car, expect Alonso’s pressure status to soar.

Nico Rosberg: High

As it turned out for Nico Rosberg, having a 7-time world champion as a team mate was not entirely stressful. Simply Michael Schumacher’s presence was surprisingly therapeutic to any sort of mental fatigue Rosberg may have displayed during the past 3 years. The story of Schumacher’s comeback was always able to deflect media attention away from Rosberg. Also, Schumacher’s retirement-laden season of 2012 certainly did nothing to mount pressure on his compatriot.

The honeymoon period at Mercedes GP is certainly over now for Rosberg. No longer can the team be seen as new. No longer can his performances fly under the radar as his team mate diverts attention.

The arrival of Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes GP is certainly something that should create a few beads of sweat dripping from Rosberg’s forehead.

Rosberg had been the man for the future at Mercedes. All he supposedly needed was some time for the team and himself to develop. The fact that Hamilton has been signed by the team can, and should be seen as a vote of no confidence in the German though. Should he not shape up and compete with Hamilton this season, he will see the 2014 title that Mercedes have envisaged for themselves, snatched from under his nose.    

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