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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 08:35 GMT
F1 team-mates or rivals?
By Mike Burnett

Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button
Rubens or Jenson: Who will prevail at Honda?
Formula One driver Jim Clark was once asked in 1967 how he was enjoying being Graham Hill's team-mate at Lotus.

The Scot replied: "I'm not. He's my team-mate."

Nearly 37 years later, a new Formula One season kicks off in Bahrain on Sunday with many drivers still feeling the same way.

They may be racing for the same side, but competition between them can be brutal.

"When you've got a very level situation at a team, then in a sense your team-mate is the person you have to beat," former F1 driver John Watson told BBC Sport.

NEW 2006 LINE-UPS
FERRARI:
Michael Schumacher
Felipe Massa*
WILLIAMS:
Mark Webber
Nico Rosberg
HONDA:
Rubens Barrichello
Jenson Button
BMW SAUBER:
Nick Heidfeld
Jacques Villeneuve
MIDLAND:
Christian Albers
Tiago Monteiro
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO:
Vitantonio Liuzzi
Scott Speed
SUPER AGURI:
Takuma Sato
Yuji Ide
* New drivers in italics

"Because if you can't beat him, you're not going to be the number one driver in any sense."

The 2006 season sees shake-ups at five of the 10 established outfits and the arrival of F1 new boys Super Aguri, but the most anticipated line-up is surely Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello at Honda.

Button, long heralded as the next big thing in F1, still has yet to win his first race after 102 attempts but is expected to deliver this season.

In his way is Barrichello, finally out of the shadows of Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, and likely prove a difficult adversary and benchmark.

"Rubens is a very clever, wily driver who has been around five years with Michael and learned an awful lot," said Watson.

"He doesn't need to be quicker than Jenson, he just needs to beat him."

And former F1 driver Johnny Herbert, who won three races in the 1990s, says fellow Briton Button will be well aware of what is at stake, and will be more determined than ever to be the main man.

Nelson Piquet in 1987
I didn't come to Williams just to race my team-mate
Nelson Piquet in 1987
"I think Jenson will put the pressure on himself," Herbert, now Midland's sporting relations manager, told BBC Sport.

"He knows it's up to him and he'll be less concerned what others are doing and what the media say."

Barrichello's arrival is likely to make or break Button as the season unfolds - a situation seen many times before in F1.

Over the years, some of the greatest drivers have found their biggest threat close to home.

As early as 1955, Juan Manuel Fangio dominated the world championship with Mercedes team-mate Stirling Moss.

But rivalry was never more intense than when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were team-mates at McLaren.

Senna burst into the squad in 1988, determined to unseat the team's - and sport's - established number one.

Kimi Raikkonen (left) and Juan Pablo Montoya
McLaren hope Montoya can push Raikkonen all the way to the title
Senna never missed an opportunity to better his team-mate and eventually succeeding in driving the Frenchman out of the team the following year.

Prost had already decided to leave for Ferrari by the time he won the title following a collision between the two in the Japanese GP in 1989 - something that only deepened the intensity of their rivalry.

Such was the tension at Williams in 1987 that Nelson Piquet complained after Nigel Mansell fought back to overtake him and win the British Grand Prix: "I didn't come to Williams just to race my team-mate."

In these more PR-conscious days, drivers tend to keep a more united front, at least in public.

But Herbert, who raced alongside Michael Schumacher at Benetton in 1995, believes in-house competition is still fierce.

"Drivers are treated much more equally at teams these days, they get the same car and the same support," Herbert, the sporting relations manager at the Midland team said.

"Except for Michael Schumacher's situation at Ferrari, teams don't think of drivers as number one and number two as much.

Montoya was McLaren boss Ron Dennis' insurance policy to keep Raikkonen on his toes
Former F1 driver John Watson
"So certainly, all drivers will go into the new season hoping to beat their team-mates and win races."

There are exceptions - world champion Fernando Alonso is unlikely to see fellow Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella as his biggest rival this season having comprehensively beaten him in 2005.

And Schumacher's new team-mate Felipe Massa will be under no illusions as to where he stands in the pecking order at Ferrari.

But even if there is an established number one driver, teams can still use intra-team rivalry to their advantage - as seen at McLaren.

"Looking at (Juan Pablo) Montoya and (Kimi) Raikkonen as an example," added Watson. "I could never see Montoya being a champion because I believe the reasons Montoya was brought in were varied but it was (McLaren boss) Ron Dennis' insurance policy to keep Raikkonen on his toes.

"And if Raikkonen had a problem, they needed someone who could pick it up and deliver for the team."

Of course, no driver wants to be viewed like that and Montoya's performance in the second half of the 2005 season, when he was at least Raikkonen's equal, may have forced McLaren to review this viewpoint.

But whatever the team tactics, Montoya and the rest of the F1 stable head into a new season this weekend determined above all else to be their team's number one, whether they are at the front of the grid or at the back.

Additional reporting by Andrew Benson




SEE ALSO
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