Category Archives: Reviews and Previews

2010 Half-way driver rankings: 25-13

This article, and one to follow, will rank this year’s drivers depending on how well they have done, in my opinion. I was planning to have this up before the Hungarian GP, but a delay forced me to move it back, but it’s up now:

(All facts and figures were written before the Hungarian Grand Prix)

25: Sakon Yamamoto

It would have been very funny, except for the fact that his comic driving is coming at the expense of Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna, who have been forced to give up their driver seats at certain races. He is only here because of extra sponsorship, which the team needs, and he is completely wasting their time, never getting out of last place, and miles off the pace of anyone else. In Germany, he started the race with the pit limiter on dropping him miles back, then later hit the engine fire switch instead of the brake bias lever, causing him to retire. An absolute joke.

24: Lucas di Grassi

At the start of the season, Lucas and Timo were unable to finish races, mostly because of Virgin’s terrible reliability, but also because of the fuel tank, which was too small to last until the finish. A fix for this only came for Lucas in Turkey,and since then he has not been granted much opportunity to prove himself.

Timo Glock has been leading the attack against Lotus, to no prevail, while Di Grassi has mostly been behind Timo, as shown by the fact that he has been out-qualified 10 times by Glock this season so far. While he has not been terrible, he needs to show his potential to stay in F1.

23: Karun Chandhok

Karun is probably the nicest driver you will ever meet in the paddock, although unfortunately has not been given the car to prove himself in the races. The Hispania car is miles off the pace, and Karun has only Bruno Senna to race for position. Mostly, Bruno has won, leaving Chandhok further down the order. However, recently the team have decided that they don’t need performance as much as money, so Chandhok has been ditched in favour of Yamamoto, leaving Chandhok on the sidelines, and now unable to gain experience.

22: Vitantonio Liuzzi

In no way has Liuzzi justified his race seat this year, and with a car like the Force India, it is a complete waste of time with Vitantonio there. One good qualifying performance in Canada is all he has mustered, and a first-lap collision with Felipe Massa took him straight out of contention, although he was able to grab a point.

He has been out-qualified 9 times out of 11 by Adrian Sutil, and has been completely off the pace compared to his team-mate. In some races, h was up to 0.8 seconds slower, and Force India cannot afford this any longer. Paul di Resta is waiting on the sidelines, and after a few impressive Friday Practice runs, has gained good experience to deserve Liuzzi’s place.

21: Pedro de la Rosa

There has only been one points-scoring position so far this year for de la Rosa, while rookie team-mate Kamui Kobayashi has (deservedly) taken all the glory with impressive performances and excellent strategies. Pedro was on course for points in Valencia, but a 5-second penalty after the race brought him down to 12th. It has taken him until Hungary to get himself on the points board. Put simply, he is not on the pace enough to justify his race seat.

His experience must have helped the team out in testing, but in the races De la Rosa has been unable to deliver the goods when the opportunity arises, unlike Kobayashi. Because of poor reliability, he has only finished 5 races, 4 of these have been outside the points. In my view, Pedro won’t be able to keep improving in the car like Kobayashi, and if Sauber are to move up the grid, they need a younger and certainly faster driver. Nick Heidfeld would do fine.

20: Timo Glock

When the opportunity arises, sometimes the Virgin cars have the opportunity to challenge the Lotus cars. In these cases, it has been Timo Glock leading the charge. While the fuel tank saga held him back for the first quarter of the year, since then he has continued to out-qualify his team-mate and consistently finish well.

While Lotus are developing next year’s car from now on, now is the time for Virgin and Glock to seize the initiative and get ahead of Lotus, and extend the gap to Hispania.

19: Jaime Alguersuari

One good points performance is not good enough to prove your place in Formula 1. For the Toro Rosso drivers, consistent points finishes is what is required, and Alguersuari hasn’t scored a single point since Spain, while team-mate Sebastien Buemi has led a race, got more points-scoring positions, and better finishes than Jaime.

A 9th and 10th is all Jaime has to his name, giving him a total of 3 points, while Buemi has 7. With the Hungarian Grand Prix approaching, it has now been exactly a year since Alguersuari entered F1, and he has not proved himself yet. He has been out-qualified 9 times so far by Buemi, and is falling out of contention for the 2012 Red Bull seat.

While his defensive driving has occasionally been impressive, his form must improve if he is to prove his potential in Formula 1.

18: Bruno Senna

Having out-qualified team-mate Karun Chandhok 7 times comprehensively so far, Bruno is completing his first steps in F1 well. With a dog of a car at his disposal, showing his potential is nearly impossible, but it is certainly visible to see that Senna is the faster of the two Hispania drivers.

While a 16th place is his highest finish so far, Senna has also suffered more reliability problems, and that has hampered his assault on the Virgin cars. To be honest, staying in HRT after this year would be a complete waste of time, so it is up to Bruno to get the attention of a better team, and jump ship before his chance goes away.

17: Nico Hulkenberg

Before the season began, Nico Hulkenberg was my favourite rookie, and the one driver I was tipping to cause an upset. Unfortunately I was wrong on both counts, as Hulkenberg’s drives so far have been disappointing at best. Two measly points is all he can offer, while team-mate Barrichello has been challenging as high as 4th place in some races.

His lack of maturity has let him down on occasions, such as pointlessly crashing in Friday Practice in Spain. Two 10th place finishes is all he can offer, and so far I can’t see why he would have deserved anything better. He has been out-qualified 8 times by Barrichello, and put simply his pace is not good enough. It seems as if he will be retained for one more year by Williams, but improvement is needed.

16: Jarno Trulli

The “Trulli Train” has not appeared so far this season, to my relief, which means that, even in the races, Jarno Trulli can now race at the same pace with the other new teams. Traditionally, he would qualify well, and then fall away. While this has happened this year when racing with his team-mate, it is not as profound as it used to be.

However, on the other hand, qualifying, where Jarno is supposed to be better than Heikki, has not gone entirely his way. He is currently leading 6-5 to Heikki, but has been consistently been out-performed in the races. Trulli is now one of F1’s most experienced drivers, but I can’t help but feel that his heart is not in it any more, as he is not driving with as much heart these days.

A senseless lunge at Chandhok in Monaco showed that he didn’t analyse the situation properly. While he is not off the pace, retirement seems to be looming for Trulli.

15: Sebastien Buemi

An excellent qualifying record against his team-mate has helped Sebastien Buemi improve in his second year of F1, and he is well on course to challenge for the Red Bull seat in 2012, so long as he continues improving. To do this, more points finishes are required.

That may be difficult with the Toro Rosso car he has at the moment, but 3 points-scoring finishes so far proves that it is possible. He led the race in Canada for a lap, and managed to just about hold off Alonso and Hamilton at the same time, which shows how well he is improving in his second year.

While bad luck hampered the first half of his season, especially in Australia and Spain, he has comprehensively beaten his team-mate, and maybe some good luck could show his real potential in the second half of 2010.

14: Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki has been the best driver out of the new teams so far, and with good reason. He has always been the driver to challenge the midfield, whenever the opportunity arises, and got within 2 tenths of out-qualifying Kamui Kobayashi in Canada. After two troubled seasons with McLaren, where he was well beaten by Lewis Hamilton, he seems much happier at Lotus.

His best finish has been a 13th place, the best of the new teams so far. Without a doubt, I would put my money on Kovalainen to out-qualify some of the drivers in the midfield this year, and maybe get a point.

13: Michael Schumacher

Even before the season, Michael was making his presence felt, by taking the number 3 car off Nico Rosberg, simply to try and intimidate him. However, in the first half of 2010, Schumacher has turned into a laughing stock, as he has been slaughtered by Rosberg, made stupid dangerous defensive moves, and has been knocked out of Q2 countless times.

Schumacher’s tendency to follow Ross Brawn around, wherever he goes, has backfired on Schumacher, as the Mercedes car is not good enough to challenge for wins yet. However, Nico has got 3 podium finishes so far, while Michael is the only driver out of the top 4 teams to not have stepped on the podium this year. Clearly, Michael simply doesn’t have the pace any more, and is embarrassing himself, and his list of records, every race he competes in. He doesn’t have the pace, has simply shoved other drivers off the road, and simply does not deserve the Mercedes seat any more. His lethal move on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary was the icing on the cake of his retirement party.

Part 2 will be up soon.


2010 Mid-season review: McLaren

Unlike Ferrari, McLaren had the raw pace to take pole positions last year. This year, they have kept their development rate impressively high, so much so that, since Turkey, the team have looked unstoppable. Red Bull’s early falters have granted McLaren the lead in both championships, but can they hang on?

Unless Red Bull can sort themselves out, it seems to be a battle between Button and Hamilton

Unless Red Bull can sort themselves out, it seems to be a battle between Button and Hamilton

On the face of it, it certainly appears so. Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are probably the best line-up of drivers on the grid, despite their different driving styles. Button’s wins in Australia and China were both thanks to excellent tyre management and strategy, while Hamilton’s faster raw pace gave him the advantage in Turkey and Canada, despite being much harder on the tyres.

The team itself has provided a car that is now well capable of matching or beating the Red Bull, and with their F-duct device still working the best, no other car can touch them on the straights. The reliability of the car is also perfect, the only retirement so far this year was when an engineer left an engine cover on Button’s car in Monaco, causing the car to overheat.

Fantastically consistent finishes have also been McLaren’s specialty this year, with ever single race finish being in the points so far this year (except Hamilton in Spain, who retired 2 laps from the end, so he was therefore classified).  In fact, the worst finish by a McLaren driver so far has been 8th place, which happened only once.

However, main rivals Red Bull have also had every race finish in the points, although they have had 1 more retirement. With this, we can conclude that both teams have extremely reliable cars, with drivers who are unlikely to crash (Turkey excluded).

Therefore, the only difference between the two teams is their drivers. Red Bull have been rocked by rumours of favouring Sebastian Vettel over Mark Webber, and this could well cost them dearly in the championship battle if their drivers fall out, like Alonso and Hamilton did in 2007.

While McLaren have also had their moments, they have dealt with it much more efficiently. Take Turkey, for example, with the radio discussion between Lewis Hamilton and his engineer, regarding Button overtaking him. While there was confusion and rumours after the race, Martin Whitmarsh quickly cleared things up, and the drivers were only confused with each other rather than annoyed. Compare this to Red Bull, who spent the days after Turkey blaming Webber for no evidential reason, then doing a u-turn and saying both drivers were at fault, and claiming that both drivers had forgiven each other about it.

It took a massive 3 races for both drivers to “forgive each other” again for a different incident. On the other hand, before the British Grand Prix, people were speculating that Button and Hamilton would fall out at Silverstone, and would hand the advantage to Red Bull. No such thing happened, and they performed above the car’s potential to get 2nd and 4th.

This is the sort of thing that could well win McLaren the championship. Lewis Hamilton has claimed that McLaren are “over-performing” with their current package, and later implied that another upgrade to the car was coming soon. If this new package can deliver performance equal to the Red Bull car, then the championship will be in both Button’s and Hamilton’s hands. It’s just a matter of which driver can take the opportunity, and at the moment, it’s too close to call yet.

2010 Mid-season review: Renault

2009 was nothing short of a disaster for Renault. Despite Fernando Alonso remaining with the team for that year, team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr was consistently awful, failing to score a single point until he was replaced by Romain Grosjean, who was similarly off the pace. the Singapore 2008 “Crash-gate” scandal shook the team to its core, leading to the exit of team bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds. On top of all this, the R29 was lacking in pace, although Alonso dragged it to a solitary podium in Singapore. With all of this combined, Renault’s future was in doubt for this season. But, thanks to a buyout from Genii Capital, and the hiring of Robert Kubica, the French outfit are back and firing on all cylinders.

Robert Kubica has done a fantastic job leading the Renault team back up the grid

Robert Kubica has done a fantastic job leading the Renault team back up the grid

Alongside Kubica is Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov, the “Vyborg Rocket” who came 2nd in the GP2 Series last year. Bahrain was a disappointment for the team, but in Australia Kubica snatched an unexpected podium finish, after making a great strategy call early on. Petrov retired in the first 3 races, but in his first race finish in China, he took 7th place, while Kubica was 5th.

From Australia to Valencia, Kubica has finished every single of these races in the points, and took another podium in Monaco, after very nearly taking pole position. Robert is the only driver on the gird who has been racing every single lap so far this year. He has become the driving force of the team, and has performed so well that Ferrari were rumoured to be looking at hiring him for next year. Petrov has not got a points finish since China, but had a terrific battle with Fernando Alonso in Turkey, although a later collision ruled out any points for him.

Depsite this, I would say that Petrov is one of the most impressive rookies this year, and Kubica is certainly punching well above his weight. The Renault car, while unable to challenge for wins, has been near-bulletproof in its reliability, with only 1 mechanical retirement this year. The Renault engine gives better fuel consumption, giving the team an advantage in the first 20 laps of every Grand Prix, as they can carry much less fuel. Their straight line speed is impressive, even without the F-duct. The only chink in Renault’s armour is the lack of grip compared to the top teams, but constant development in this area – most notably in the front wing area – is solving this issue.

With 83 points, Kubica has single-handedly pulled Renault back up the order, currently in 5th place, but well poised to overtake Mercedes soon. Hopefully, Vitaly can improve to get a few more points-scoring positions this year, which is all we can expect from his first year in Formula 1. However, in his defence, here’s an interesting fact for you – Petrov got a fastest lap in Turkey before Kubica got one in his entire career. With this in mind, Renault’s line-up appears to be solid.

The question is: Can they catch up to the top 3? Mercedes are already in their clutches, and hopefully after a few races can be overtaken in the standings. However, catching Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull will be much trickier. If Petrov improves next year, and the R31 is on the pace, then it could well be a possibility.

2010 Mid-season review: Force India

Last year, there was no doubt that Force India had a fantastic low-downforce package, as shown by their shock performances in Belgium and Italy. While the team only amassed 13 points across these 2 races, and therefore the season, it was well-known that the team would have to develop a medium-downforce specification if they were to make the next jump. So far, the VJM03 has done exactly that, and has made excellent progress to begin challenging the top teams.

Paul di Resta could be the key to allowing Force India compete with Renault and Mercedes

Paul di Resta could be the key to allowing Force India compete with Renault and Mercedes

At the start of the season, it was Vitantonio Liuzzi who was getting the points, with 2 consecutive top 10 finishes in Bahrain and Australia. After this, Adrian Sutil became the driving force of the team, with a 5th place in Malaysia, and has since got 5 points-scoring finishes in a row, leaving him with an impressive 31 points.

Liuzzi, meanwhile,  has only 12 points, after 3 9th places and a 7th position finish. His drive was in doubt before the Canadian Grand Prix, but a very good 6th place in qualifying seemed to quell these fears. But, a first lap collision with Felipe Massa appeared to ruin his chances of a points finish, but he recovered to get 9th place, still ahead of his team-mate. In Valencia, when Sutil drove from 13th on the grid to 6th, Liuzzi had no pace, and fell from 14th to 16th.

It seems odd that Vitantonio continues to drive at Force India, when there is a fantastic talent sitting on the sidelines, called Paul di Resta. This man, in 2006, beat Sebastian Vettel in the Formula 3 championship, so I am at a loss to explain why he is not racing in Formula 1. He has been allowed to occasionally race in FP1 sessions (3 times this year so far), and once beat Liuzzi when he took over Sutil’s car. Certainly he should be allowed a proper opportunity in F1, even at the expense of Liuzzi.

Aside from the drivers themselves, the car must also be improved if the team are to challenge the top 5 in the championship. While their Mercedes unit is well up to the task, and their new exhaust blown diffuser is on the way, a high-end aerodynamic package must be available to the team if they are to be competitive at every race.

This is not to imply that Force India need dire improvements, just that if they are to make more progress, changes must be made, most notably replacing Liuzzi with Di Resta.

2010 Mid-season review: Williams

In recent years, it has become impossible to count how many times Williams claim that they will bounce back up the grid, with a new upgrade or change to the car. 2010 has been no different, with lacklustre performances all throughout the season, despite a good line-up of drivers, or so it would seem.

Nico Hulkenberg needs to improve if Williams are to make progress

Nico Hulkenberg needs to improve if Williams are to make progress

Actually, at the start of the season, it didn’t seem this way. Rubens Barrichello qualified 9 tenths off Sebastian Vettel’s time, and nearly got through to Q3. In the race, Rubens was 10th, scoring one point, while GP2 champion Nico Hulkenberg was 14th. However since then, their form hasn’t improved. Despite a few points finishes, their pace has been consistently mediocre, and a small amount of retirements highlights this fact.

After the loss of Nico Rosberg to Mercedes, Williams must have known that it would have been difficult to finish many races in the points like they did last year. His replacement, Barrichello, has finished 4 races in the points, while Hulkenberg has only one, with a solitary point in Malaysia. Since then, Hulkenberg’s best finsish was 13th in Canada, well below what would be expected of the reigning GP2 champion.

After Rubens finished an excellent 4th in Valencia, which was aided by the safety car, has has 19 points to his tally, while Nico has only one. I think that Rubens is doing as well as he can, whereas Nico needs to seriously up his game to help push Williams through the field. His pointless crash in Spanish practice showed that he trying very hard, but needs to be more mature in the car.

So far, Williams’s performance has been quite disappointing this year. Their progress for the 2010 season depends on 2 factors: better development of the car, and Hulkenberg. Williams are set to unveil their new exhaust-blown diffuser at Silverstone, which will provide another performance boost to the car. It is up to the drivers – especially Hulkenberg – to make the most of it.

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.

2010 Mid-season review: Lotus

Whether you think they have completed 500 races or 9, there is no denying that Lotus have made the biggest leap to the midfield after building a brand new car from scratch. Their consistently fast rate of development means that, as it stands, they are well poised to be racing with Williams and Toro Rosso by the end of the season.

Lotus have had the highest rate of development in the field, and should be battling in the midfield soon

Lotus have had the highest rate of development in the field, and should be battling in the midfield soon

Despite all of this though, it wasn’t without difficulty. At the season opener in Bahrain, the slight shortcomings of the car were revealed, when the glass of the wing mirrors fell off. Regardless of this, Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli qualified well, 5 seconds off the pace of pole sitter Sebastian Vettel. In the race, while all HRT and Virgin cars retired, Lotus acheived a double finish on their debut.

Since then, they have proven themselves the fastest of the new teams in terms of raw pace. In the last 8 races, a Lotus driver has been the fastest of the new teams 7 times in qualifying. Their reliability has been very good also, suffering only 6 retirements so far this season, 2 less than HRT, and 1 more than Virgin. On the other hand, one driver has failed to start a race because of a car failure twice, once in Australia and once in Spain.

Aside from this, they have consistently outperformed both HRT and Virgin in races also. In the 9 races so far, a Lotus driver has finished the highest out of the 6 drivers 5 times. Because they have recorded only 1 double finish so far, it is impossible to compare performances by the drivers, Trulli and Kovalainen. However, it is possible, by using low-fuel qualifying times, to show that Jarno Trulli has been ahead of Kovalainen more, but only just, as he is leading 5-4 against Heikki.

As well as this, their car has been developed well to stay ahead of Virgin and HRT. In Bahrain, they were 5 seconds slower than Red Bull. Now, halfway through their first season, they are only 2.3 seconds off the pole position time, an amazing achievement.

So, with a competent driver line-up, an ever-improving car, and plenty of Malaysian finance to keep the team running, it is safe to say that Lotus will continue to be the best of the new teams, and begin to contend for position with the midfield soon.

2010 Mid-season review: Virgin

Like HRT, the team formally known as Manor Motorsport would definitely have been in further doubt for the 2010 season, if it wasn’t for investment – and a change in name – from the Virgin group. Unlike HRT, though, their rate of development has been much slower, if at all, leading to worries about becoming the slowest of the new teams by the end of the year.

Virgin are in danger of being caught by HRT

Virgin are in danger of being caught by HRT

On the day of the launch of the car, it all seemed very impressive. The VR-01 was the first ever Formula 1 car to be designed using solely Computer Fluid Dynamics. On the other hand, it has never seen a wind tunnel, the first time this has happened to an F1 car since the wretched 1997 MasterCard Lola. Despite this, the car looked good, and had a very handy line-up, of Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi.

Which would have been great, if the fuel tank was big enough.

It emerged after the first two races that the fuel tank was not big enough to last a full race distance, unless the drivers backed off considerably, rendering their efforts useless in the first place. After a very embarrassing request to the FIA to modify their chassis to allow the larger fuel tank, their new revised VR-01 was able to race to the finish – after Turkey. Which means that, for the first 7 races, the Virgin team was unable to show their genuine pace.

Since Turkey, the team have achieved their second double finish. That is pretty much the only good news that they have given us so far, as they have the highest retirement rate of all of the new teams this year so far, and their highest finishing position was 17th in Valencia.

After all of this misfortune, I’m impressed that they have kept their heads up and continued to push hard, but the fact of the matter is that, since the start of the season, they have not closed the gap to the frontrunners enough. Wirth Research (the company that did the CFD) will need vast improvements to this -and next year’s- cars if they are to stay up with the rest of the pack.

2010 Mid-season review: Hispania

There is pretty much a universal agreement that, if Colin Kolles and Jose Ramon Carabante had not taken over this new team, then Hispania (or Campos as it used to be known) certainly wouldn’t have made the grid. While their grid position has not changed a single bit since the start of the season, Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok have at least got into competition with Virgin at the back of the field.

Since Bahrain, HRT have cut the gap to the front in half

Since Bahrain, HRT have cut the gap to the front in half

It seems like such a long time ago, when Bruno Senna sent out the HRT car for the first time in Bahrain. The suspension was broken, speed was nonexistent, as was grip or downforce. Senna’s first two laps in the car were 11 seconds off the pace. Their qualifying times were well off the 107% rule that will be intorduced next year, and it seemed like a waste of time going to the first race at all.

The race was no better. Chandhok lasted an entire lap before crashing his car, and Senna’s car overheated on Lap 17, and that was the end of it. While they had made no impact on the race, I’m sure the team were relieved to have made it. Now that they had broken their way into F1, they could concentrate on developing the car, to catch up with the midfield.

But, there was another problem. Dallara, the company who made the chassis of the car, promised to make changes to the F110, but never did so, meaning that HRT were forced to spend the first 6 races with absolutely no chasss development at all, meaning they were losing even more pace to the other teams. After the Monaco Grand Prix, Hispania ended their contract with Dallara, and have since been developing the car on their own.

However, since the start of the season, HRT have come a long way in terms of raw pace. In Bahrain qualifying, they were 8 seconds off the pace of polesitter Sebastian Vettel. However, up to the last race in Valencia, this deficit has been cut in half, as Bruno Senna was only 4.5 seconds off the pole position lap. In other races such as Monaco, where aerodynamic grip isn’t as necessary, both cars leapfrogged the Virgin and Lotus cars, and later on Karun Chandhok was battling with Jarno Trulli for position, with a heavy crash at La Rascasse being the result. Seeing as Chandhok was in front, and it was an over-opportunistic move by Trulli, it’s safe to say that Karun could well have fnished in front of the Lotus.

Having said that, from this year to the next, I would be surprised if their line-up remained the same. Test driver Christian Klien has replaced Karun Chandhok for 2 Friday Practice sessions so far this year, and has performed well on both occasions. While many would feel that Chandhok has not been given enough time to prove his potential, there are rumours that he could well be replaced, mainly due to a lack of sponsorship money.

Their rate of development so far has been impressive, but unfortunately it will only get harder from here, as it becomes more difficult to extract more performance out of the car. A points finish is asking too much out of them, but more competing for position with the Virgin and possibly Lotus cars would be a good improvement.