Mid season review part two: The midfield

Posted on August 26, 2010

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2010 has been a curious year so far for the midfield teams. The top three have been so far out in front in terms of drivers and developments they’ve not had a look in even for podiums, while the new teams have been so far off the back most of the time there’s no real worry about finishing dead last. This doesn’t look like changing much for the rest of the season and the challenge is to find some way, any way, to come up with something innovative enough to move forwards.

6th Force India – 47 points

Adrian Sutil is important for Force India to keep moving forward - unless he ends up somewhere like Renault. Credit: Force India

Force India have had a curious season. Overall, they are higher up the pack – they finished the constructor’s race ninth in 2009 – but they’ve had a frustrating season nevertheless. With a second place finish in Spa for Fisichella, and then a fourth at Monza, last year they looked poised to take a solid car and make it a good one.

Certainly, in Adrian Sutil they have a more than capable driver, who they should hang onto with none of the bigger seats open this winter, with the possible exception of a Renault seat next to Kubica.

But the squad have been curiously anonymous for much of the year, with Vitantonio Liuzzi too often coming home with no points.

All that having been said, the team – Eddie Jordan’s old outfit based at Silverstone – have made huge strides forward since its debut in 2008. This will be their best ever season in Force India colours.

7th Williams – 40 points

Rubens Barrichello might be a great driver but Williams are yet to give him the car. Credit: Williams

Williams are having a curious year. In Rubens Barrichello they have a great veteran racer, a brilliant development driver and a man with the balls to still mix it at the top. But the British independents simply don’t seem to have the resources or the brains go up against the big boys.

It’s been a long time since Williams were at the head of the pack on merit and there’s been little sign of them making it back this year. Nico Hulkenberg has been slow to get up to speed and Rubens hasn’t had the machinery. As ever the team is competent and professional, with a reliable car, but they are missing something. It’s long passed time when they should be moving forward.

Williams have scored reasonably regular points this year and they should have a decent chance to jump Force India for sixth place overall.

8th Sauber – 23 points

It's been a tough year of stabilisation for Sauber. Credit: Sauber Motorsport

Sauber have stabilised after an incredibly bumpy start to the season. Still bearing almost no sponsorship after BMW pulled out over the winter, the car arrived much further off the pace than testing implied. Both drivers struggled to get started but that situation changed in more recent races. Kamui Kobayashi has started to deliver the promise he showed in his Toyota cameos in 2009.

The team is in a solid, safe position now with limited prospect for moving forward in 2010. There’s little sign they can beat the Williams and Force India cars on a regular enough basis to move forward up the championship but equally they are well ahead of Toro Rosso.

If they can get some sponsors on board, do good work on development and most importantly keep Kobayashi, the team can move forward in 2011.

9th Toro Rosso – 10 points

Toro Rosso haven't been moving fast enough for several seasons now. Credit: Getty Images/Toro Rosso

The old Minardi team have gone backwards over the past couple of years since losing Sebastian Vettel to the Red Bull team proper. Losing some of the technical and institutional support from Red Bull proper hasn’t helped either. It’s made for an increasingly frustrated season.

Jaime Alguersuari has shown flashes of speed this year, scoring his first three points in Malaysia. Sebastien Buemi has done better, pulling in seven points.

But Toro Rosso are the only team looking likely to fall into the clutches of the new teams. Lotus and Virgin are  not a million miles off their pace and in the right conditions would be able to keep a Toro Rosso behind them.

illiams-Cosworth 40
8 BMW Sauber-Ferrari 23
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10
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