First four races of the Formula 1 season are now behind and we have already seen good racing, drama and team politics. The season is still young, but we already had some positive surprises by teams and drivers as compared to the 2012 season. Next up is the Spanish Grand Prix which has been the race over the years where the teams bring their first big updates to their cars. Let’s find out who have impressed us the most so far, and what updates we can expect the teams to make...
Mercedes GP has been strong since the start of the season, and the team getting 3rd and 4th positions from Malaysia shows that the team and the car have potential. After Malaysia, Lewis Hamilton got the pole position in China, but finished 3rd. Equally, his team mate Rosberg got the pole position at Bahrain, but ended up finishing the race in 9th position. The biggest problem for Mercedes has been the new Pirelli tyres and the race speed. The car seems to destroy the tyres quite rapidly. In China, Hamilton was already struggling with his tyres only after couple of laps. Still, with two pole positions this season so far, Mercedes have proved the car is very fast on one lap, but in the race both drivers are struggling. This is something Mercedes needs to work with, and I think we can expect Mercedes to make steps forward on their race pace when going to Barcelona. The car is a potential winner if they can reach a similar race pace as their main rivals. Both drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have been consistently in a good speed and are able to grab good positions for the team. If only their problems are fixed soon...
Force India has been a consistent middle field team for a long time. This year in the first two races it seems they have made bigger steps forward. The team contracted Adrian Sutil back to the team, after he was spending a year off from the category. The decision seems to be right, as the German driver is possibly in his best at the moment. Sutil led some laps in Australia, and together with Di Resta, the Force India double finished with very good points on 7th and 8th positions. At Malaysia it didn’t go as planned for the team: Force India had serious problems with wheel nuts and they lost way too much on the pits with both Di Resta and Sutil, which in the end forced both drivers to retire from the race. Without problems, the team could have finished some good points again as they did in Australia. In China it continued a little bit unlucky for the Indian team as Sutil was taken out of the race by Gutierrez, but Di Resta was able to collect some good points with his 7th place. In Bahrain Di Resta continued with a positive form as he finished in 4th place. In terms of pace, Force India has been very consistent and is possibly the best midfield team right now. The team needs to keep up with their updates compared to their rivals when going to Barcelona.
Lotus seems to be a really good car this year. Kimi Räikkönen’s win at Australia and 2nd place at Bahrain and making one pitstop less than his main rivals shows that Lotus has an advantage, or, Räikkönen understands the behavior of tyres very well and drives intelligently. Romain Grosjean was struggling in the start of the season, but in Bahrain he also had a strong race and was able to finish 3rd behind his team mate and two Lotus drivers on the podium was a really positive result. Even though the latest race was positive, Räikkönen has admitted that the team needs to work really hard to keep up with other teams.
Although there are many contenders, these two drivers have really stood out from the competition, and they were least expected to make an impact. They raised up to the challenge, and have provided some impressive performances at this stage of the season..
The Brazilian driver Felipe Massa continues with his good shape which he was on in the last part of the 2012 season. Massa has been able to challenge Fernando Alonso in all sessions consistently and it seems that those difficulties the Brazilian driver faced in the last couple of seasons are now behind finally. The Ferrari car has been good since the start of the season, which is also a different position to start the season than last year. If Massa can keep with his good pace, he will be able to bring home some good positions. Podium positions are very realistic, and for sure the Brazilian wants to get a victory after many years without one. Alonso is the clear number one in the team, but this year Massa will definitely make a big part on the team work and collect some important points for his Italian team to help them on the constructor’s championship. It’s very important for him to keep this pace up until the end of the season.
The French rookie has done incredibly good job with the Marussia car since the beginning and it has been really impressive. He has been much faster than his teammate Max Chilton, and his speed in some sessions haven’t been many tenths away from the midfield teams such as Toro Rosso or Williams. The French driver has proved that he is really worth of his seat. Even though he is a rookie, he really puts the Marussia car to the limit. It would be great to see him starting to challenge the middle field when he gets even more experience and if Marussia can keep up with updates, but on the start of the season it’s looking really positive.
The Wrap UP:
In Barcelona, we can expect the situations changing a little bit. At the top, it might not be anything too radical, but what I expect the most is that Mercedes will solve their race pace problems and they will seriously challenge Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari. Another team that needs to make steps forward is McLaren. The team has been struggling in the start of the season and Jenson Button celebrating getting into Q3 at Bahrain really shows that it hasn’t been easy for McLaren. The race in Bahrain though was already a bit more positive for the English team with both drivers on points. McLaren is a top team and have faced problems in the past too, but many times those problems have been solved during the season and the team has been able to win again, so I expect them to take steps forward and get closer to the top level. Williams and Sauber have also been the disappointments this year as compared to their last year’s pace. Last year Pastor Maldonado was able to win with Williams. This year it doesn’t seem to be very likely to happen.
In general it will be interesting to see what the teams have will bring to Barcelona and who will be on the top.
Which Team and Driver have impressed you the most this season?
Written By: Sini Salminen