Formula 1 News

First half gone: Part 4

To place Williams and Sauber as backmarkers is really sad for two teams that achieved podium finishes last season. Marussia and Caterham keep fighting for the same goals year after year.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 28th, 2013 (F1plus/Jael Arias).- The reality of the underdogs is very different from the top teams. Having such a low budget does not allow them to constantly evolve their packages, they just meet the minimum requirements to stay in the category.

The 2013 championship enters its decisive phase. While the top teams must decide whether to continue to develop their current package in order to fight for this championship, the back of the grid should concentrate on working on the 2014 project, which will mean a radical change in the sport.

Far away from the podium…

After surprising the whole paddock last season achieving a victory with Pastor Maldonado, this year has meant a great setback for the British team.

Williams began the preseason tests rolling with the previous year's car. It was during the final days of testing in Montmelò when they were able to use the chassis of this season.

The only point Williams has this year, was scored by Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan driver has signed an uneven start to the season. With two retirements in the first two races, Maldonado is far from the form which saw him win in Barcelona in 2012 ahead of Kimi and Alonso.

It wasn’t until Hungary when Pastor achieved the first point of the season for the British team. While it is true the FW35 has not helped that Maldonado show his best, the three retirements in the first three races is something that he should address in the second half.

On the other hand, Valtteri Bottas has shown a very good adaptation to the category in his first year of competition. The highlight of the season for the Finn was the second row from which he started in the Canadian Grand Prix.

In the first 10 races, he has just suffered abandonment in Hungary. He has been very consistent and has showed he learns pretty fast.

The British team faces the second half with optimism. The addition of Pat Symonds from Marussia is a great signing for a team needed of technical capacity. The English worked with Renault when the French team achieved the world championships in 2005 and 2006.

Things can’t be worse…

Meanwhile, Sauber has brought a car difficult to drive which has not allowed any of its drivers to fight for higher targets this year like they did last season. The radical design embodied in the C32, hasn’t been able to take its potential to the track. And on top of that, the Swiss team financial crisis is just making everything worse.

Only Nico Hulkenberg has been able to shine for the Hinwil based team. The German driver does not get tired of demonstrating that he is one of the most talented in F1. At the age of 26, Nico screams for an opportunity in a better car.

After this goal he went to Sauber. However, he has been frustrated in a team that keeps struggling to get into the points, while his former squad (Force India) has been so close to the podium. However, the top teams are not unaware of the German’s potential. Despite the bad material he has been able to score in 4 of the 10 GPs held.

Nico's situation is the opposite of what Esteban Gutierrez is living. The Mexican driver had a lot of pressure on his shoulders by replacing his compatriot Sergio Perez in the Swiss team, who accumulated great results in his career at Sauber.

But Gutierrez has not been able to give the best of him and has been another victim of the complicated C32. The Mexican has speed. His fastest lap in Montmelò is a proof. This second half he’ll go through a bigger amount of pressure. Following the entry of Russian capital in the Swiss team, Gutierrez could see his future in F1 compromised.

The Swiss team will keep suffering for the remainder of the season. They should already focus on cleaning up their financial situation for next year and begin working on the complex project of 2014.

Miracles away of the backmarkers…

Marussia and Caterham keep struggling to stay in F1 year after year. These teams have only served as a springboard for some drivers to showcase their talent. If everything remains the way it is, will be a matter of time before we see one of these teams leave the class as HRT did last year.

Within Marussia, the best news was the confirmation of Jules Bianchi as a talent to be considered in the future of the category. The Frenchman signed a phenomenal start to the season and his name sounded to make the jump to Ferrari next year.

Despite retiring two times this season, his driving during the first five Grand Prix has generated numerous accolades to the young driver of Ferrari’s Academy.

Max Chilton on the other hand, in his debut year in Formula 1, has finished every race which is quite an achievement driving for a backmarker, but has fallen short to his teammate.

While it is true the English youngster doesn’t have Bianchi’s experience who participated in some practice sessions last year with Force India, it's time to start raising his game to remove the label of pay driver. Chilton has received strong support from his millionaire father.

The story is not much different in Caterham. This year they opted for two new drivers after leaving veteran Heikki Kovalainen without a drive. This team hasn’t shown the level to allow any of their drivers to make the leap to a middle grid team.

Giedo Van Der Garde has improved his performance after a difficult start to the year. The Dutchman, a veteran in the previous categories to F1, has been able to maximize the potential of his car and has demonstrated that he was ready for F1 long ago.

On the other hand, Charles Pic could not replicate the level shown last year with Marussia that led him to sign for Caterham this season. A guy, who received so much praise in 2012 for his driving, finds himself in a difficult position to get to a more competitive team in the short term.

In this sector of the grid is less likely the occurrence of miracles. The best option is to focus already in the 2014 car. In a year with such a radical change in the rules, it could represent a unique opportunity for one of these teams to take a major qualitative leap. 

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