At present, Red Bull Racing have to be considered a midfield team when judged on points scored this year. The Williams team who are third in the constructors’ championship have more than double the points of the former quadruple world champions, after the four races so far contested.
Just 12 points cover Red Bull in fourth and Force India in eighth and everyone expects McLaren to start scoring points soon. Further, if we are to believe Big Ron’s assertive comments to F1.com about their partnership with Honda, McLaren will be a force to reckon with in the not too distant future.
“Mark my words! We’ll win together and, when we do so we’ll do so dominantly”.
- Red Bull 23 points
- Sauber 19 points
- Lotus 12 points
- Toro Rosso 12 points
- Force India 11 points
Force India have had a well documented nightmare start to the season, much of which has been down to a lack of cash flow, causing their first 2015 car offering to arrive late.
“It definitely wasn’t what we were wanting to do,” Otmar Szafnauer – Force India’s CEO told SKY. However, Otmar is positive about where the team lie in the championship battle given the circumstances they have been forced to accept.
“The good news in the two days of testing we were able to do in this car – it was very reliable. We didn’t have any DNF’s from a chassis perspective yet this year – and we’re able to score points in half the races. I think we’re still learning about the performance of the car because we’ve only had 2 days of winter testing, so there’s more to come – and there’s an upgrade in the works as well”.
The struggles of Red Bull and the others below them have played nicely into Force India’s hands, and if they can hang in contention for the next four races, their much awaited big upgrade will be available for the test following the Austrain GP.
“It’s a long season. There’s good points to be had – we’ve got 2 excellent drivers – they’re very talented. The team is the team we’ve always had and we’ve done well, we work well together – all those elements are still there – the Mercedes powertrain is still – not bad to say the least. From Austria test onwards – at Silverstone hopefully you’ll see a transformed Force India”.
Force India have traditionally started the season well and faded as their finances run dry. Mallya has not funded the team personally for some years – so the Silverstone based outfit have been financing their operations from the FOM distribution of funds and sponsorship.
The good news for them is having being restricted by funds available on early season spending, their monthly payments from FOM kicked in in March and so development for them should be stronger as the year continues.
On track Sauber had a fantastic start to the season, posting quick times in winter testing much of which was due to the improvements in the Ferrari powertrain.
Off track it was a nightmare, as the team has been hauled through the courts due to their improper breach of Giedo van der Garde’s contract to drive in 2015. A big settlement with the Dutchman has been agreed but Sauber have yet to agree a settlement with Adrian Sutil.
Lotus and Red Bull are expected to bring substantial upgrades to Barcelona, while Sauber have little other than a redesigned front wing they trialled in China.
Speaking to Globo, Felipe Nasr is not optimistic. “I don’t know if we will be as close to the points scoring places as we were in the first races”.
However, it appears the team knew their early form would be tough to maintain, as Nasr added, “realistically, we knew that things would get more difficult during the year.”
Toro Rosso like Red Bull are handicapped by the struggles they have with their Renault power unit, and with two rookie drivers are unlikely to improve their championship standing any time soon.
Lotus believe they are the fourth quickest car in F1, behind their other Mercedes powered competitors. However, the erratic Pastor Maldonado may be bringing big funds to the team, but he is costing them points from regular rookie style errors.
Shutting down his engine during the pit stop in Bahrain was a ridiculous mistake to make.
However, Romain Grosjean has demonstrated the potential of the Lotus car, claiming seventh place in both China and Bahrain. If Pastor can remain quick and reduce the erratic performances, Lotus will feel they can challenge Red Bull over the coming weeks for fourth spot.
As TJ13 revealed first, Red Bull are bringing what is in effect a whole new car to Barcelona. Now they have their new shorter front nose, much of the design of the rest of the car will become optimized – such as the aerodynamics around the floor and the rear of the car.
Red Bull expect a gain of up to one second a lap as they head to the Catalunya capital.
It may well be Red Bull need to make hay while the sun shines, getting points in the back in case a resurgent McLaren Honda come on strong over the latter part of the season.
Even if Red Bull and Renault deliver, it appears they will struggle to make the top three manufacturers this year – which will be a first for some time – and another bitter pill for the once dominant F1 competitors.