Mid-season Movers

Who will be the most improved team between China and Silverstone?

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Champion Elect
After a three week break and a return to Europe the teams will probably be bringing their first major upgrade packages of the season to the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend. With the major regulations overhaul this year many of the teams started the early season in all sorts of trouble, with Lotus probably being the most obvious example but also Sauber (and Red Bull had to work their socks off to turn around a disastrous testing). It's therefore quite likely that we will see some serious performance gains from a few teams in the coming races.

The question is, between now and the mid-point of the season after Silverstone, who are we going to see make a break for it? Let's have a quick look at everyone:

Mercedes: Clearly the dominant package so far but will it continue? Mercedes have clearly stolen a march on the rest with their engine package but given the law of diminishing returns you'd probably expect the gap to shrink rather than increase. But they have the resources and have been able to focus on performance (rather than just finishing) from day one so you never know, maybe the gap will increase...

Red Bull: Held back by spectacular cooling issues during testing as well as Renault's own engine troubles, Red Bull have done amazingly well to start the season as Mercedes' closest challengers. General consensus is that they still have the strongest aerodynamic package on the grid, so their fate lies largely in the hands of whatever extra performance Renault can extract from the power train.

Force India: Force India are punching above their weight yet again and lie third in the constructors championship despite a difficult first couple of races for Perez. Just maintaining their current level would be an incredible achievement and making any moves further up the grid would require some sort of financial miracle.

Ferrari: Ferrari have pretty much failed to make performance improvements relative to everyone else since 2010. Alonso continues to put the car places where it has no rights to be, but I don't have much confidence in Ferrari finding the large performance step they need. Mattiacci might be able to steer the ship to places that Domenicali couldn't, but I doubt that will come this year. Ferrari's biggest hope is probably that Raikkonen figures out how to drive the car...

McLaren: Testing was promising both in terms of pace and a few unique innovative features like the rear suspension and then Australia was even better than expected, but since then McLaren's downfall has been incredible. In China, McLaren were most certainly the least competitive Mercedes powered team. Surely they can't continue to be this bad for this long (after 2013 as well)? I don't think they can get much worse but they're probably looking to 2015 already.

Williams: Williams have failed to convert what looked like the second best package on the grid during testing, frankly. There has been some bad luck mixed in and tyre wear issues haven't helped, but 6th in the constructors championship is not where they should be. That can give them some hope to make moves up the grid, but you'd expect most of the teams ahead of them in the constructors championship to be able to develop at a faster rate.

Toro Rosso: Toro Rosso have probably optimised what they have, which is a weaker engine package than Williams and Force India who are the only teams ahead of them they can realistically hope to challenge. Kvyat has started strongly and will only get better as he gains experience, and Renault might get more competitive, but that's about it.

Lotus: Lotus missed the first test and then went downhill from there, having all the engine/cooling issues that Red Bull had but not the resources to turn it around. Their aerodynamic package is likely to be stronger than a few of the teams ahead of them but they have not come close to understanding setup etc. Strong performances from Grosjean in the last couple of races have seen them come close to getting points on the table. You'd expect them to move up but with the team severely hemorrhaged due to lack of finances I doubt they'll end up anywhere near where they were last year.

Sauber: The car is overweight, the drivers are average, the engine is average, finances are tight and the car looks like a bit of a mess to drive. I think Sauber are stuck between a rock and a hard place at the moment and I don't see much scope for them to improve. All their hopes rest on the introduction of a new lighter chassis.

Marussia/Caterham: The chance to score their first points this season is most likely gone now and they are still where they've always been at the back. One of them will come out on top of the battle for 10th in the constructors championship but hardly anyone will notice. I'm pretty confident they won't be overhauling one of the other nine teams any time soon...

So you've heard my thoughts, now your comments and votes please! For the record, I'm struggling to decide between Red Bull and Lotus.
I think describing Gutierez and Sutil as 'average' is rather generous.
As for most improved team, I think Lotus have a good chance, mainly because the start of the year was so very bad.
Average wasn't the first word I thought of to describe Guiterrez and Sutil but I decided to be politically correct...
I voted for Mercedes because we haven't even seen the full extent of their superiority yet.

Only in Bahrain did we see their drivers being in a situation where they had to push hard in their battle against each other, and even then there was a safety car.

How much further ahead of everyone else would they have finished had there not been one?
Think the Op said it all really! I plumped for Enstone over Red Bull although I only expect good results from 1 car!

I think Grosjean's attitude has been impressive for the first few races. He hasn't sulked he's just quietly got on with it and has even troubled the time sheets in quali when he had no right to do so in the car he had under him
I'm going for Ferrari, they tend to have about a quarter of the season where they kick on magnificently, followed by a plateau.
Cock-eyed optimism (aka HOPE) has me thinking that Williams will live up to their pre-season performance.
I think Mercedes: they should have more potential speed to unlock from the ultra short nose that was introduced in China after finally passing the crash tests. Unfortunately, they'll probably not need to unleash their full performance potential unless a situation like Bahrain happens again.

I'm surprised McLaren have so few votes, as they are normally best at gaining ground midseason.
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