Eleven Races, seven different winners, five different contenders and one Championship leader. There’s plenty to play for in this years Drivers Championship.
As we’re well into the summer break for this season, now is a good time to take stock while the teams take a well-earned rest. In this mid-season review series we’ll take a look at the performance of each team as a whole and also each driver’s performance. In this article we’ll look at the title contending teams.
Red Bull: Currently leading the Constructor’s Championship, showing that they have the consistently quickest car. This is backed up by their drivers, Vettel and Webber, having bagged four pole positions in total – the most of any team. Currently the team is surrounded by allegations of rule breaking because the FIA has had to intervene about their front wing suspension as well as their engine mapping software. Nonetheless another strong season for Red Bull.
Sebastian Vettel: The reigning world champion is third in the title hunt and only five points in front of Hamilton – a poor display given that McLaren have been beset by problems throughout the season. His reputation as a pole master hasn’t faded – Vettel has three poles to his name, joint most this season- but his race pace has. Excluding a technical failure in Valencia where he had a 10 second lead, he just hasn’t been able to dominate like last year. That said, provided he can maintain his recent form, he’s a certain title contender.
Mark Webber: Another definite title challenger. For the last two seasons it’s been a case of bad luck or no luck for Mark. This season things seem to be going in his favour; consistently fast on race day. Having signed a contract keeping him with Red Bull for another year, he finally looks to be able to get that ever elusive title just within grasp. Some poor form of late, however, (eighth in the last two races) may be a sign that this title might slip through his fingers as well.
McLaren: If McLaren manage to win one, or by a minor miracle both championships they could justifiably use this season to make a script of a box office classic. Starting the season with the fastest (and nicest looking) car it felt like the three years of frustration were at an end.
Then, on their return to racing in Europe, pretty much everything that could go wrong did. Poor pit stops, little development and some crashes had McLaren down in fourth in the Constructor’s championship. Then they do what only McLaren seem to be able to; develop their car into the fastest on the grid within two races. The rest of the season looks promising, provided they don’t rest on their laurels.
Lewis Hamilton: I’ll be up front. I thinkHamilton will win his second Driver’s Championship this season. His driving has been nothing short of magnificent, and more importantly he’s grown up. On McLaren’s newfound pace he hasn’t jumped the gun and assumed he’s already got the title. Instead there is determined realism, as he said himself after winning at Hungary; “lets try and keep this up”. Assuming McLaren keep pushing and updating their car, Hamilton can do the rest.
Jenson Button: Renowned for being able to get the car to do the impossible if (and only if) the setup feels right. Things looked good, winning the first race of the year in Melbourne. Then he came 14th in Malaysia. That quite accurately sums up Jenson’s season – inconsistency. Despite being a Button fan, if Jenson wins the title this season he’s probably also able to turn water into wine.
Lotus: With former world champion Raikkonen and the blisteringly fast Grosjean, Lotus’ lack of a race win is one of the many things that don’t quite make sense this season. Able to outmatch everyone else when it comes to tyre preservation they are always there or there-abouts toward the end of a race. Their main stumbling block seems to be their inability to start a race on pole.
Kimi Raikkonen: With the pedigree of a World Championship behind him he has, unsurprisingly, taken the role of team leader in Lotus. Trailing Hamilton by one point in the championship, and having been on the podium the same number of times as him, the only thing missing is a race win. Whether that will come in the second half of the season is tough to say. In a season where consistency is king, that might not matter. Raikkonen is definitely the dark horse of the title race.
Roman Grosjean: There is no denying he’s fast. The problem for the young Frenchman lies in his four retirements. Only one of these was down to a technical problem. However, when he hasn’t finished a race early, he is always impressive – he’s been on the podium the same number of times as Vettel. 2012 should be used so he can test and refine his driving, so that he can properly challenge in 2013.
Ferrari: They have an incredibly slow car by their own admission. They have one driver who is so far past it that it’s taken for granted that next season he won’t be driving for them. Team boss Stefano Domenicali should be under a lot of pressure. He isn’t. Why? Fernando Alonso.
Fernando Alonso: This man should not be leading the driver’s championship. He has a slow car, no backup from his team-mate and his engineering team have cost him points through poor decision making. That he is leading the Driver’s Championship is testament to the fact that Fernando Alonso is the best driver on the grid. He has outperformed his car, pushed himself to the limit of his exceptional talents and has also become very likeable – he’s even said some nice things about Hamilton! The only reason I think Fernando Alonso won’t win the championship this year is simple, his team won’t be able to give him the car he needs to do it.
Felipe Massa: Just not up to scratch. While no-one would expect Massa to match what Alonso has done, he should be doing better. Massa is toothless, offering no real pace or threat during either qualifying or on race day. He’s out of his depth and needs to be replaced, for his own sake as much as Ferrari’s.