May 30th, 2013 (F1plus/G. Keilloh).- If any F1 driver was to be totally candid they'd tell you that the first thing they think about after opening their eyes in the morning is how they plan to beat their team mate. No matter what, they are your yardstick; the match-up wherein there are few places to hide. Excuses for being beaten by them are near-impossible to sustain.
2013 is rather rich with tantalising intra-team tête-à-têtes. The McLaren pairing of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez we've mentioned, wherein against many expectations Checo for all of his foibles evidently is getting under Jenson's skin (betrayed by Jenson's radio communications, which in Monaco even included the lowest form of wit).
But it has nothing on Mercedes. I, like rather a lot of people, have been consuming ample portions of humble pie in recent times given that Nico Rosberg, rather than be put in the shade by his new and revered team mate Lewis Hamilton, has for the most part matched him and laterally has even started to beat him.
So, what is the explanation? It most likely reflects a couple of things: Rosberg being better than we thought, as well as possibly raising his game ever so slightly with Lewis's arrival; as well as Hamilton taking time to get used to a new machine and team and getting it all to his taste (he mentioned over the Monaco weekend about the brakes not being to his liking).
There also are a lot of parallels with the Alonso-Hamilton pairing at McLaren in 2007: champion arrives in team with fanfare, but finds himself up against someone already there who is much better than anyone had realised previously, and also finds that what is underneath him is not immediately bespoke (in Alonso's case it was the Bridgestone tyres among other things).
The glaring difference this time of course is that it is in something of a mirror image, as then it was Lewis who surprised everyone by getting the upper hand while now he is on the receiving end (though in fairness Hamilton is at least, for now, keeping his response to all of this in public in check).
F1 is a sport that loves to provide delicious ironies.