Daily Archives: July 1, 2010

2010 Mid-season review: Toro Rosso

On the face if it, Toro Ross have had made improvements since last year, when they only scored 8 points in 2009. This year so far, they have scored 10 points in 5 different races. However, on closer inspection, if the 2009 points system was in place, they would have a grand total of 1 point, being even worse off than last season.

One good performance in Malaysia isn't enough for Jaime Alguersuari's drive to be secure

One good performance in Malaysia isn't enough for Jaime Alguersuari's drive to be secure

When each driver’s performance is compared, it is clear that Sebastien Buemi has been beating Jaime Alguersuari so far, with 7 points to the Spaniard’s 3. When they finish outside the points though, Alguersuari is more consistent, finishing every race and never ending a race lower than 13th, whereas Buemi has retired 3 times, and has had 2 16th position finishes.

While each driver has their advantages and disadvantages, it could be argued that neither driver is performing at full potential. While Buemi led the Canadian Grand Prix for a lap, and scored more than double Jaime’s points tally, he has had 3 retirements, 2 of which were first-lap collisions. While Jaime had a great race in Malaysia, and hasn’t recorded a single retirement, he hasn’t scored a point since Spain, 5 races ago.

However, it is being rumoured that Red Bull are eyeing up Buemi for 2012, leaving Alguersuari as the driver who needs to prove himself this season. After about a season in F1 now (he started halfway through 2009), the second half of this season is crucial to him if he is to stay in F1. If he cannot, then there are two very competent drivers who are eager to take his place: Brendon Hartley and Daniel Ricciardo.

So far, I have focused on the drivers, seeing as the car is very reliable with medium pace, which means that the drivers simply have to prove themselves in it. However, for the team themselves, an engine switch may be in order. While their Ferrari unit has not failed yet, it does not have the fuel consumption or pace like the Renault or Mercedes engines do. Seeing as Mercedes are filled up at the moment, Renault would be the optimum choice for Toro Rosso, seeing as their older sibling, Red Bull, already use those engines.

While the Ferrari engine hasn’t been bad to Toro Rosso, if they are to make progress in the constructors’ championship, then they must make changes to their car first. Otherwise, they will be stuck as a midfield team, in which case they will be battling with Lotus very soon, making things even harder for them.

2010 Mid-season review: Sauber

In pre-season testing, the outlook was exceptionally good for Sauber. While their new livery left much to be desired, their times were just behind the top 4, and their tyre wear data showed that they were managing their tyres extremely well. This all pointed towards Sauber being a surprise package for 2010, or so we though. Regardless of progress since, Sauber are the lowest out of the points-scoring teams, and have suffered dire reliabilty so far.

Progress or not, Sauber's reliability has held them back all season

Progress or not, Sauber's reliability has held them back all season

After 9 races, the team hold only 7 points, all of which have been earned by the “lunatic” Kobayashi. Worse than this, the team have a horrific level of DNFs, with 11 so far, and 1 DNS (Did Not Start), when Pedro de la Rosa’s car couldn’t even make it to the grid in Malaysia. In fact, the team didn’t get a point until Round 7 in Turkey, when Kobayashi earned a solitary point. He has had one top 10 finish since then, when he drove magnificently after a clever strategy in Valencia to finish 7th, after running 2nd for most of the race.

However, Kamui can only produce the goods when he is given the opportunity, and in the C29, that is exceedingly rare. The finger of blame should be pointing squarely at the Ferrari engines, which have failed countlessly, are poor in terms of fuel consumption, and, at the end of the day, lack in power.

Pedro de la Rosa shouldn’t be excluded either, as he has performed very consistently when the car allows, finishing 11th once and 12th 2 times, with the rest being retirements. In fact, between the two of these drivers, their worst finishing position each has been 12th, which isn’t too shabby considering their lack of pace. Also, Kobayashi has only finished a race outisde of the points once.

But, at the end of the day, reliability is the key to unlocking Sauber’s potential. The only was this can be achieved is by switching engine suppliers at the end of the year, most likely Renault. This would allow the car to run less fuel (Renault engine has the best fuel consumption on the grid), which would allow them to manage their tyres even better. Also, by finishing more races, consistent points finishes could well be a target for Sauber by next season.

Mallorca circuit bidding for F1 race

Recently, the future of the European Grand Prix has been in doubt, as the organisers of the Valencia circuit have been struggling to pay the contract. Because of this doubt over the long-term future of this event, representatives of a planned circuit in the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca have met with Bernie Ecclestone to try and snatch the F1 rights off Valencia as early as 2013.

The first draft for the proposition for a circuit in Mallorca

The first draft for the proposition for a circuit in Mallorca

The circuit is in its early design stage, although Spanish architects Mateo Palmer and Biel Arbona are already working on the track layout. Federico Gastaldi, one of the men who brought Argentina back on the F1 calendar years ago, is currently in discussions with Bernie Ecclestone over this plan. Joan Jaume Mule, the the mayor of the Llucmajor municipality of the Balearic Islands, has already thrown his support behind the project also.

Valencia has a contract to hold F1 races until and including 2014, but rumours a few months ago speculated that the circuit orgainisers were struggling to keep up payments to Bernie. If this is the case, then the Mallorca circuit may be allowed to enter negotiations.

Mallorca itself is completely centered around tourism, seeing as half the population work in the tourist industry. Economically, the island could be capable of hosting an F1 race, but it’s the track itself that worries me. While it is only the first proposition, it appears to be a mess of heavy left and right-handers. This 3.6 mile track has no exciting corners, and only has 1 realistic overtaking opportunity. More though is required if these designers even want to start to think about a proposition to host an F1 race.