In Formula 1, drivers aim at winning races. Their target is to score as many podiums as possible. Drivers keep pushing for every extra point - who knows a single point might be the difference between the one who wins the championship and the one who takes second in the standings.
However, at the other end of the grid, even 13th is a dream result. Caterham and Marussia do not have the machinery with which they can finish in the top 10. They look for opportunities such as heavy rain so drivers ahead on track retire from the race, promoting them to the front. Their inter-team battle usually gets unnoticed in the FOM World Feed, but it's still great to watch.
Three teams - Team Lotus, Virgin and Hispania made its way to the Formula 1 grid in 2010. This three way fight for the top spot among the backmarkers was turned into a duel between Lotus(now Caterham) and Virgin(now Marussia) after HRT's demise at the end of 2012. During these four years, Caterham has been the driving force, leading the battle at back of the field. However, the Oxfordshire based outfit faced defeat for the first time this year in the hands of Marussia, despite a much faster car.
Another thing that failed to live up to the expectation was the Caterham CT03 - team's 2013 challenger. It had a performance deficit to 'historic' rivals Marussia till first few races of the season. However, the updates they brought to the car during the European leg again pulled them ahead of the Russian outfit in terms of pace.
As far as the results are concerned, Caterham's best qualifying performance was 14th in the hands of Giedo van der Garde, while team's best race result was also 14th, achieved at three occasions - Malaysia(Pic), Hungary(Van der Garde) and Korea(Pic).
Bianchi has had considerable F1 mileage with both Force India and Ferrari. And his talent and extra mileage was evident in his performance with many calling him the best rookie of the season. Even the team was impressed by his efforts and that became evident when they signed him for next year, as early as October. Usually backmarkers keep it late to announce their driver line up for the forthcoming year, but this was an exception. Chilton, meanwhile, had done a young drivers test with Force India in 2011 and in 2013, he became the first ever rookie to finish all races in a debut season.
As far as Marussia's second season with the current name was concerned, it was just opposite of Caterham. They started the year with a faster car but eventually lost to Malaysian outfit in terms of sheer pace. However, by the time Caterham got the edge, they had done the damage. At the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Russian team made most of others retirement to take 13th at the Chequered Flag and occupy a higher spot in the teams table.
Despite having the edge from early on in the season, Marussia couldn't relax after what happened the previous year when they lost to Caterham in the constructors standings at the very last race of the season. However, this time all went well for Marussia and they duly took 10th position in the standings, ahead of Caterham.
Not so bad for Caterham in terms of money
Despite finishing last in the standings, financially it isn't as bad for Caterham as you might think. The distributable revenue of Formula 1 is divided into three columns - column 1, column 2, column 3. The column one money is distributed among the top 10 teams on the basis of how they perform in the last three years. Caterham has had the edge of 2:1 over Marussia over the last three years and hence they would get the same percentage of money from this column, as they got in 2012. They won't lose out on anything from column three money either as this column provides $10 million to each team, irrespective of where they finish in the standings. What it will lose out on is the Column two money, which is given on the basis of performance during the current year.
But the two backmarkers have an excuse - they deliberately cut down their 2013 budget to meet the increased costs of 2014. But the question remains the same - how long will they stay in their current position, far from midfielders in terms of pace, and several laps down on the leaders?
All we can say is that they need some significant investment, not from their drivers but investors. Force India is a very good example of a team running at the back of the field for years before moving up the field after investment from Dr Mallya and Sahara Group. With the current budget, the likes of Marussia and Caterham have survival and not performance as their biggest issue.