As Formula 1 enjoys its annual summer break, F1Zone.net offers a brief summary of how each of the 10 teams has fared across the opening half of the 2015 season.
Mercedes has been the class of the field again in 2015, surging to 10 pole positions and eight victories, six of them 1-2 finishes. It has the best chassis and the best power unit and it is on course for a second ‘double’ by the end of the year. It has been fallible on occasion and some strategy decisions have been unusual, proving that it can be pressured by rivals. Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off in 2014 and has been the master of qualifying to boot, while Nico Rosberg has been playing catch-up, with far too few top performances.
Ferrari has recovered from its awful 2014 campaign with its SF15-T a far more consistent and predictable machine than its predecessor, though the largest gains have come courtesy of power unit fixes. New-found confidence and belief installed by incoming management has had the desired effect, with Ferrari achieving its pre-season ambition of two victories. A renewed Sebastian Vettel has led the charge though Kimi Räikkönen has had more of a struggle, particularly in qualifying.
Williams has been comfortably the third best squad for much of 2015, though took podiums in Canada and Austria, while only a questionable strategy and rain prevented it from fighting Mercedes in Britain. Conversely, performance at low-speed twisty circuits such as Monaco and Hungary highlighted the FW37’s weaknesses. Nonetheless, this remains a team on the rise and punching above its weight considering its financial resources. Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa have been relatively equally matched, though the Finn has just edged the battle.
Red Bull has slipped back this year due to Renault’s unreliability hampered by performance issues. While that is now on the up, it remains a substantial weakness. However, Red Bull’s RB11 was not up to the team’s usual standards, though recent upgrades have acted as a boost. Daniel Ricciardo had a dip for a few races but looked rejuvenated and back to his best in Hungary while Daniil Kvyat has recovered from a difficult start to appear more comfortable in his surroundings.
Force India had a miserable pre-season campaign and spent much of the early part exceeding expectations with an undeveloped car. Mercedes power unit has naturally helped progress while B-spec VJM08 delivered the anticipated step, though Hungary failures were a worry; fifth at this stage is impressive. Nico Hülkenberg was quiet early on but recovered his form, with surprising Le Mans win a highlight, while Sergio Pérez has been a typical midfield scrapper – Monaco was a standout performance.
Lotus has improved on a woeful 2014 with an E23 Hybrid which is more stable, aided by a switch from Renault to Mercedes power. However, there have been far too many reliability glitches and a lack of development amid uncertainty over future ownership has held the team back. Lost points have so far cost them a likely fifth in the standings. Romain Grosjean has been leading Lotus’ fight, gathering the bulk of points, while Pastor Maldonado has been a mixture of exciting and erratic, the nadir coming in Hungary.
Toro Rosso has one of the strongest chassis in the field but it has been held back by Renault’s problems and is now likely to be out-developed by rivals. Reliability has been problematic, with both Max Verstappen – early on – and Carlos Sainz Jr – in recent races – held back by glitches. Both rookies have been hugely impressive across the duration of the campaign, with Verstappen delivering the stand-out moments but Sainz also worthy of his place on the grid.
Sauber has improved on its awful point-less campaign in 2014 largely aided by Ferrari’s power unit refinements, as downforce remains a key weakness for the Swiss outfit. A bulk of points in Australia was a relief after the Giedo van der Garde saga, though the team will be pinning its hopes on a two-part engine/chassis update coming in Belgium and Singapore. Rookie Felipe Nasr has been a pleasant surprise, while Marcus Ericsson has been solid and unspectacular.
McLaren expected its reunion with Honda to be challenging but probably didn’t anticipate such a struggle. The chassis is fundamentally competent though its full potential unknown due to much of the focus being on the power unit, which remains significantly down on its rivals. Progress has been made recently, but there’s a long road ahead. Both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have been consummate professionals throughout, but sadly their talent is being wasted.
Manor Marussia’s mere existence is a testament to the resilience of senior team management, who never gave up hope. Team owes its presence to the ninth place gained by Jules Bianchi, sorely missed by the Formula 1 community, particularly the plucky minnows. First half of 2015 has been a battle to return to normality, while resources are being diverted to 2016 car. Will Stevens has held the upper hand over Roberto Merhi, with both largely staying out of trouble.