Rating the teams so far: Part one
After the Hungarian Grand Prix F1 headed into its summer break. It won’t be until the end of August that the teams meet up again at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the teams fared in the final race before the break, and how it bodes for their chances in the remainder of the season.
Bringing up the rear
It’s no surprise to see Marussia and HRT still bringing up the rear in their third season in F1. Both have undergone major internal changes recently. Marussia has ditched its radical approach to car design in favour of a more conventional one while the sports car company which bears its name has taken over from Virgin.
HRT have moved bases to a new factory in Madrid following a takeover by Thesan Capital last year. They failed to qualify for the first race of the season in Melbourne. Neither had their cars ready for pre-season testing and although they’ve made progress since, they remain well off the pace of the third team which also made its debut in 2010: Caterham.
Out of points contention
It comes as something of a disappointment to see Caterham (formerly Lotus) are still out of points contention. The team has consistently been the most promising of the 2010 arrivals but are yet to crack the top ten.
Equipped with Renault engines and Red Bull gearboxes the team expected to make major gains this year, particularly after a major performance upgrade was introduced at Silverstone.
But they remain too far off the pace of their closest rivals ahead to be serious contenders for points and have usually been eliminated in the first part of qualifying.
Heikki Kovalainen continues to impress and has been linked with a move to a bigger team. Odds of 4.7 for him to appear at Sauber next year are worth a look – the Swiss team could do with a dependable performer like Kovalainen.
Toro Rosso have failed to score in the last nine races. The Red Bull junior team are tipped to lose technical director Giorgio Ascanelli to Ferrari, so it’s hard to see them getting back in the mix with those ahead of them any time soon.
The midfield melee
The battle for supremacy among F1’s midfield teams has rarely been fiercer. And on occasions some of these teams have been capable of competing at the front and winning races: Williams triumphed in Spain and Sauber’s Sergio Perez pushed Fernando Alonso hard for victory in Malaysia.
Williams’ victory was the only occasion they’ve finished in the top five this year. Pastor Maldonado has been quick but erratic and accident-prone. Team mate Bruno Senna has struggled in qualifying and his efforts to make progress in the race has led to a few collisions.
However Senna appeared to make a breakthrough with his car’s set-up in Hungary. He’s closed to within five point of Maldonado in the championship. If he keeps it up, he might end up ahead of his team mate come the end of the year – you can get odds of 4.0 against that on Unibet at the moment.
Force India haven’t peaked as high as Williams but in Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg they have two talented young drivers whose consistency belies the fact this is only their second seasons in the sport. The VJM05 has not been as competitive as Sauber’s C31 or Williams FW34 but their drivers have done an excellent job extracting the maximum from it.
We’ll continue this look at the teams’ progress so far in next week’s column.
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Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic