F1 2017 Mid-Season Review: The bottom five teams

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The Managing Director of Formula 1 Ross Brawn has said that there needs to be closer competition in F1 between the teams and cars. There are two classes in the Formula 1 championship right now. In fact, the top two teams are well ahead of the rest of the field. The bottom five teams can only hope to improve their positions by one or two places during the rest of the season. The drivers in these teams will drive for pride and to secure their current seats or aim to find better seats for next season.

F1 2017 Mid-Season Review: The bottom five teams

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Constructors’ Championship Position: 6th (39 points)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Carlos Sainz Jr: 9th (35 points)
Daniil Kvyat: 17th (4 points)

This junior Red Bull team has shown an improved performance for a strong sixth position this season. The Faenza-based team boasts of a talented Technical Director in James Key who has produced another good chassis. With the 2017 Renault engines, they have been more consistent in challenging for points. Carlos Sainz Jr has been embroiled in some controversy as his bosses did not take kindly to his suggestion that he might need to look for other options outside the Red Bull family for 2018. But the young Spaniard has held his own with his performance on the track. Sainz has one sixth place finish in Canada and two seventh and eighth place finishes. The experienced Daniil Kvyat has had a wretched season with only four points and many driving errors. With nine penalty points on his superlicense, the Russian is only three points away from a race ban. Kvyat needs a calm and strong performance in the remaining races to retain his F1 seat.

Toro Rosso with a Renault engine update in the second half of the season can seriously challenge for fifth place and their best ever finish in the championship.

Haas F1

Constructors’ Championship Position: 7th (29 points)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Romain Grosjean: 13th (18 points)
Kevin Magnussen: 14th (11 points)

The second season for this American team has been more challenging and has seen inconsistent performances. The team has moved up a position due to the misfortune of other teams. Romain Grosjean has scored a decent chunk of points, but has been complaining bitterly to the team about brake-issues and the balance of the car. The new driver Kevin Magnussen has kept pace with his teammate and has got more comfortable with the team as the season has progressed.

If both drivers stay consistent the team can retain the seventh position and even try to challenge the teams above them.

Renault

Constructors’ Championship Position: 8th (26 points)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Nico Hulkenberg: 10th (26 points)
Jolyon Palmer: 19th (0 points)

The French car manufacturer is in the second season after their return to F1. In recent years, the lack of resources has seen many of the top names in the technical department of the team depart. Renault has made a strong commitment to the team and the team has benefited from the increased resources. After a wretched start to the season, recent updates have yielded results. Equally, the improvement in performance of the Renault engines will impact the team. Nico Hulkenberg has proven to be the team leader Renault were hoping the German would be and has outperformed the car. Jolyon Palmer has struggled and is yet to score a point and is in danger of losing his race seat.

Renault will hope a new upgraded engine and performance improvements will see the team move up the order in the second half of the season.

McLaren

Constructors’ Championship Position: 9th (11 points)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Fernando Alonso: 15th (10 points)
Stoffel Vandoorne: 18th (1 point)
*Jenson Button drove in place of Alonso during his IndyCar sojourn.

The second most successful F1 team, McLaren has languished at the back of the grid. The Woking-based team’s last win came in 2012 and it has been an alarming slide down the order since then. With the Honda engines again showing a marked deficit in reliability and performance to the other engines, McLaren has had a wretched season. But the chassis in non-engine dependent tracks has shown promise and a better engine could see the team back at the sharp end of the grid. The team boasts of one of the star drivers on the grid in former world champion Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard has turned in some stellar performances, but engine failures in the last laps of races have dimmed his chances. The rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, in his first full season, after early season struggles has come into his own in recent races.

McLaren is at a crossroads and will have to decide on whether to stay with the Honda engines for another season or switch to a new engine manufacturer like Renault. They have to offer their champion driver Alonso something tangible for the next season or the Spaniard could walk away from the team and F1 at the end of the season.

Sauber

Constructors’ Championship Position: 10th (5 points)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Pascal Wehrlien: 16th (5 points)
Marcus Ericsson: 20th (0 points)

This once respected Swiss team served as the breeding ground for many a future top driver. The Hinwil-based team has seen the departure of Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn mid-season after differences with the new owners. Her replacement Frederic Vasseur is an experienced hand and the new chief has decided to end the deal with Honda for new engines for 2018 and stay with Ferrari albeit with new engines for next season. Pascal Wehrlein has scored all the points for the team, but the Mercedes protégé is in danger of losing his race seat. With Ferrari providing new engines and treating the team as a junior team, there is no place for Wehrlein next season. Marcus Ericsson has not looked like scoring a point and with the owners support will be around next season.

The only way is up for this team. F1 fans would hope that financial troubles are behind the team and with Ferrari’s support there will be a revival of this team’s fortunes at least next season.
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