Mid-season review: Battles at the back

By on Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Part one of our mid-season review takes a look at the teams towards the back of the field...

Caterham: Recovering from slow start

Constructors Championship: 11th, 0 points | Charles Pic: 21st, 0 points | Giedo van der Garde: 20th, 0 points

PIC 22/16 20/14 20/16 18/17 22/17 18/R 18/18 18/15 22/17 19/15
VDG 21/18 22/15 21/18 20/21 18/R 15/15 21/R 22/18 20/18 20/14
Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team

Caterham currently occupies eleventh place in the championship but that isn’t to say it’s been a hopeless season for the Leafield based team. Caterham’s strategy pre-season meant that they were always going to struggle through the early stages but improvements came once their large upgrade package arrived in Bahrain. Since that package was bolted onto the car – including a modesty panel that hides the ghastly stepped nose – Caterham has been outqualified by Marussia just once. Reliability has also been fairly good, with Pic’s engine fire in Monaco the only serious mechanical blot on the copybook. Progress has occurred, but in reality 2014 will be the major test. However, getting back ahead of Marussia in the championship should be a reasonable target. On the driver front, Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde have done a competent, if unspectacular, job with the equipment in their hands. Neither driver has made serious errors – although Pic has had a few scrapes – and both are showing improvement. Pic started the season much more strongly than Van der Garde, but the Dutchman is beginning to assert himself in the sport. An inspired tyre choice allowed him to progress through to Q2 in Monaco while he has also benefited from a few strong starts. Both Pic and Van der Garde are inexperienced, meaning that mistakes will happen. The second part of 2013 will be about consolidating their relationships with the team ahead of next season – assuming both drivers are retained. Another intriguing situation will be to see how lead driver Pic reacts to Van der Garde’s recent form.

Marussia: Bianchi stars but form getting worse

Constructors Championship: 10th, 0 points | Jules Bianchi: 19th, 0 points | Max Chilton: 22nd, 0 points

BIA 19/15 19/13 18/15 19/19 20/18 20/R 19/17 19/16 19/R 21/16
CHI 20/17 21/16 19/17 21/20 21/19 22/14 20/19 20/17 21/19 22/17
Marussia F1 Team

Marussia F1 Team

Marussia currently holds tenth place in the championship and maintaining that position could be financially beneficial, as well as a kick in the teeth to some naysayers. However, such has been their recent pace drop-off that it could take some fortune to keep hold of tenth place. They began the year in a much better position than Caterham, but as soon as their rivals started throwing upgrades at the car, Marussia has slipped back. Ensuring financial security is still key for Marussia – as it is for most of the grid – and 2014 will be a big challenge. A Ferrari engine deal is positive news, especially if they get to keep star driver Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman pumped in some stunning performances early on in the year, particularly his heroics in Malaysia when he came agonisingly close to making Q2 on merit, and has rarely been threatened by team-mate Max Chilton. Bianchi’s performances have marked him out as a potential future Ferrari driver and a year out of the limelight will undoubtedly be beneficial to his development. Chilton has done as good a job as could be expected and has not been out of his depth. The gap to Bianchi has occasionally been too large – particularly at Silverstone – but he has done a competent job, finishing every race. He was though to blame for causing the red flag in Monaco. Being closer to Bianchi, and perhaps beating him, would mark a successful second half of the year for Chilton.

Williams: Drivers restricted by dismal car

Constructors Championship: 9th, 1 point | Pastor Maldonado: 16th, 1 point | Valtteri Bottas: 17th, 0 points.

MAL 17/R 16/R 14/14 17/11 17/14 16/R 13/16 15/11 18/15 15/10
BOT 16/14 18/11 16/13 15/14 16/16 14/12 3/14 16/12 17/16 16/R
Williams F1 Team

Williams F1 Team

At the mid-season break last year, Williams had a win and 53 points to their name. This year, Pastor Maldonado’s tenth place in Hungary means that at the same point they have just a solitary point to show for their efforts. The team has struggled to understand their FW35, leaving them playing catch-up in the development race. Mike Coughlan has departed and the team has recruited Pat Symonds to spearhead their revival; a shrewd signing with more new names set to come. The team has also opted to end their brief partnership with Renault to move to Mercedes-power for next year. The rest of the season could be an uphill battle as even catching Sauber would seemingly be out of reach. Rookie Valtteri Bottas has asserted himself well courtesy of his methodical approach and is currently 6-4 up against known expert qualifier Maldonado on Saturdays. The high point came during Canada, where the Finn was quick in tricky conditions and qualified in third place. He has so far failed to score a point, but that is down to the deficiencies of the car rather than his own talent shortfall. The duo have been fairly matched come race day but Maldonado has suffered two more retirements than Bottas; the only driver error being the Venezuelan’s spin in Melbourne. Maldonado has perhaps struggled more than Bottas to adapt his aggressive style to the woeful Williams. Picking up a few more points will be important – especially for Bottas – but focus should soon be on 2014.


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