Mid-season review: Part Three

By on Monday, August 11, 2014
Marussia F1 Team

Marussia F1 Team

With the Formula 1 paddock still on its summer break ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, we reflect back on the first half of the 2014 season. Our third and final part takes a look at those teams for whom 2014 has been a challenge.

Marussia F1 Team (9th, 2 points, best: 1 x 9th)

Marussia sits in ninth place in the championship courtesy of a crazy race but they were the team to grasp the opportunity – and deservedly so. Considering that the MR-03 started the year plagued by reliability issues, with both cars wheeled off the grid in Australia, and it’s a sign of their progress. The car clearly lacks downforce, but it is a fairly drivable machine – something which its nearest rivals in the championship would love. Somewhat ironically, Marussia claimed their two points in a location where any celebrations would prove to be rather expensive!

#17 Jules Bianchi (16th, 2 points, best: 1 x 9th)

Jules Bianchi was a star rookie in 2013 but his year started badly, with a non-classification in Australia, collision in Malaysia and more contact, with Adrian Sutil, in Bahrain. This led to penalty points and suggestions that he needed to calm down. But in Monaco he seized his chance, through a robust removal of Kamui Kobayashi, and claimed two welcome points. Opportunities since have been scant, but he’s still regularly beating Max Chilton, while getting to test for Ferrari is never a bad sign.

Marussia F1 Team

Marussia F1 Team

High point: Bold and incisive race in Monaco which merited ninth

Low point: Contact with Sutil in Bahrain was clumsy

#4 Max Chilton (21st, 0 points, best: 2 x 13th)

Chilton, meanwhile, has done exactly what Marussia required of him – try and stay out of trouble and don’t break the car. Chilton has been a little closer to Bianchi than in 2013, although he got too close in Canada when he hit his team-mate and caused both to retire – a unique experience for Chilton in his 30 race career. The Brit is far from the world’s fastest driver, but he and Marussia have a strong relationship and continuity over the winter break clearly helped. He still has room for improvement, so getting closer to Bianchi – and staying on the road – may end up netting him a point in a chaotic race.

High point: Making Q2 at Silverstone, albeit scuppered by a gearbox penalty

Low point: Collision with Bianchi in Canada ended his finishing streak

Sauber F1 Team (10th, 0 points, best: 2 x 11th)

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber F1 Team

Few expected Sauber to excel in 2014, but equally few would have predicted that Sauber would be starting the second half of the season without a single point. It’s been a woeful season for the Swiss team, whose car is slow, lacking in driveability and overweight. When watching trackside, the car never knows exactly where the apex is and such instability is clearly causing its drivers significant issues. Sauber managed to shed weight in time for Spain, but that means starting again with a vastly different machine, with a different balance. Reliability has also been poor, not aided by the difficult Ferrari Power Unit. These are tough times for one of Formula 1’s bastions.

#99 Adrian Sutil (17th, 0 points, best: 2 x 11th)

The first four races of Adrian Sutil’s Sauber career were effectively a write-off due to the overweight car, exacerbated by Sutil’s lofty frame, but the races since have hardly been outstanding. The car has not been close enough to the midfield for Sutil to battle with rivals on merit, while Marussia and Caterham has generally been lagging behind Sauber. Reliability has been a blight this season, while a few driver errors have also crept in. The fact that simply scoring a point would be an achievement shows Sauber’s woes.

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber F1 Team

High point: Battling drive to 11th in Hungary

Low point: Monaco crash was costly

#21 Esteban Gutiérrez (20th, 0 points, best: 1 x 12th)

Esteban Gutiérrez has made a step up compared to 2014 but sadly that’s been masked by a recalcitrant Sauber. Both he and Sutil have made mistakes, although that’s understandable in a car which looks completely evil to drive. Points in Monaco went begging when he clipped the inside barrier at La Rascasse – a costly error – while he was on course in Hungary until the car packed up. Like Sutil, reliability has been a struggle, but occasionally – especially in Spain – he’s given it a go. Hopefully matters will improve and we can properly judge Gutiérrez as a Formula 1 driver.

High point: Start and first few laps in Spain

Low point: Minor error in Monaco proved decisive

Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team (11th, 0 points, best: 1 x 11th)

This has been a tumultuous season for Caterham. The chassis was not the step forwards that the team was hoping for, while the Renault Power Unit has caused other problems. Off-track, Tony Fernandes ran out of patience and the development of the car stalled. A mid-season sale was completed, although the identity of the new owners remains a mystery. Christijan Albers has been tasked with turning around the fortunes of the team and he’s made a good initial impression. A big upgrade package is coming for Spa, which they hope will save their 2014 – and perhaps save their future.

#10 Kamui Kobayashi (22nd, 0 points, best: 2 x 13th)

Kamui Kobayashi has done the best he can with the machinery at his disposal. Such was the Japanese’s love for the sport that he abandoned a secure Ferrari deal in sportscars to return to a team struggling at the back of the grid. He’s taken the right to those above him when possible, most notably in Monaco, when Bianchi’s aggressive move left him particularly irritated as he felt that pass cost Caterham a point. Kobayashi’s future in Formula 1 is uncertain, but it’d be a shame if his return to the sport ends like this.

Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team

High point: Feisty drive in Monaco went unrewarded

Low point: Return to sport ended in gravel after brake failure in Australia

#9 Marcus Ericsson (18th, 0 points, best: 1 x 11th)

Marcus Ericsson was facing a tough baptism of fire as a rookie with a patchy GP2 record, but he’s undoubtedly struggled in a difficult car. His pace has been regularly slower than team-mate Kobayashi and he’s had his fair share of accidents across the duration of the race weekends, which never endears a rookie to teams or fans who regard some backmarkers solely as pay drivers. He managed 11th in Monaco by staying out of trouble, but if he’s to have a future in the sport he firstly needs to avoid the wall, start matching – or beating – Kobayashi and then prove he’s not just here for a good time.

High point: He at least matched Caterham’s best result, in 11th

Low point: Huge Hungary shunt not what a struggling F1 team needs before a break

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