Who’s ready for take off?
Even though it’s a little mean (not to mention that the F1 season isn’t even half-way through yet) I wanted to make a little list of three teams and three drivers who I seriously think are either at the brink of a professional breakdown or even right out ejection from the sport…
AFTERTHOUGHTS-EDIT (22.9.): My opinions have somewhat changed since I made this blog and I’ll let you know why in the Afterthought sections.
1. Nico Hülkenberg
Hülkenberg’s season has been one huge fiasco. It’s true that drivers have a harder time starting in F1 now than ever before. Whereas Hülkenberg’s team-mate, Rubens Barrichello, is a fairly consistent scorer – Hülkenberg makes mistakes and has even managed to lose positions to the back-lot teams. The only thing that can save Hülkenberg’s position at Williams right now is that his performances would begin to improve dramatically. Williams had its best season since their BMW years last year – but this year has started on a low note.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: While The Hülk improved his performance somewhat since this post he is still far from becoming a great driver and has had some really underwhelming performances. Since his contract with Williams is already a done deal I’m willing to give him one more season to show if he’s got any talent to speak of.
2. Sebastian Buemi
If, at the start of this season, you had asked yours truly which one of the Toro Rosso drivers might get the boot at the end of the season, without blinking I would have said Jaime Alguersuari. However, the young Spaniard started to surprise me early on and has now clearly begun to outshine Buemi consistently. This is quite the shock and though there is only a 2 point difference between the drivers its more than enough to raise a few eyebrows in a bottom-to-middle tier team like STR. Buemi most certainly is not a wonder child akin to Sebastian Vettel but STR has put a lot of effort in its cars, they have scored points and they should be able to pull off a few strong races this season. Unless Buemi is a contributor his future in the team may begin to look bleak.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: Well Buemi is doing pretty much as well as his team-mate at the moment so I wouldn’t count him out as having a future in F1 just yet. I am still underwhelmed by his performance but after a promising start this season even Alguersuari is under-performing now in my view.
3. Kamui Kobayashi
Kobayashi was by-far the best new-comer to the series last season when he stood in for Timo Glock on the now retired Toyota-team. I was extremely happy to learn that Kamui, possibly the most talented Japanese F1 driver in a long while, got a driver’s seat for this season. Now, I’m beginning to think that he would been better off anywhere other than his current team. Sauber has struggled all season and Kamui has only been able to finish one race during the whole season. With no points to his (or the team’s) name Kamui’s career is looking bleak. However, results don’t lie, the man has talent and I really hope he gets picked up for a new seat at a different team.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: The situation at Sauber was really looking dire when I made this post but thankfully they did manage to boost themselves back to middle-tier status and therefore Kobayashi’s future is now safe. Rather surprisingly it’s his team-mate that’s now getting the boot but since the Sauber car started to improve their success has been all Kobayashi’s doing.
1. BMW Sauber-Ferrari
The team’s name alone is a farce. BMW left the sport last season and they left behind many questions about the future of the Sauber F1 team. During the winter-testing the Sauber car looked good. When the season began the ugly truth was evident, the test results were a sham and so is the team. They’ve yet to even finish a race with both cars intact (even the new teams have all managed this amazing feat). Though F1 teams don’t always take off after one no-points season Sauber was a middle-to-bottom tier car already before BMW bought them. As BMW-Sauber they were actually a middle-to-upper tier team from time to time but now they’ve let their side down, their sham didn’t even bring any sponsors their way. The first season is turning into a fiasco and it’s sad since the team is dragging a talented driver down with them.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: My fears were well-founded at this point as Sauber hadn’t been able to finish a race with both cars and they hadn’t really enjoyed any success when I first made this post. Now Sauber is actually doing well and I’m confident they’ll be a strong team next season.
2. Hispania Racing Team
Back of the lot, slowest car on the track. The only thing Hispania’s got going for it is consistency. Unfortunately their financial side is also looking bleak. I’d really wish the team would be able to rough it out and produce a fairly decent car for their second season. However, a team with no results and no resources is often doomed from the start.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: Although the Hispania team too has been improving their financial situation is still a bit of a mystery although the management has announced that they have ‘paid their bills’. I’ll be happy if HRT will be racing next season as well, especially after I already spoke in their defence in a prior blog but if I had to remake this list, HRT would probably be number-1 now.
Though their performance hasn’t been nearly as abysmal as that of the other two teams on this list, Virgin itself has made some serious errors in judgement. The team lacks any notable achievements from this season. They may be able to make it to year two or even three but unless they’re able to pick up the pace they’re going to be crushed under the heel of Lotus.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: Virgin hasn’t really seen any major improvement except for better reliability and the fact that they’ve actually been able to match Lotus’ speed on occasion. Their future seems much better now than it did when I made the list but really I’ve been very ambivalent about the Virgin team from the get-go.