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Team-by-team mid-term review (Part Two)

A look back at how the drivers in the bottom 5 teams (Force India, McLaren, Toro Rosso, Sauber and Williams) have fared so far this season.

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Team-by-team mid-term review (Part Two)
Fuente imagen: @F1

Force India (6th; 59 pts) 

Sergio Perez (10th; 30 pts) 

It’s been quite a difficult year for the talented Mexican to this point. As well as the recent administration storm involving him and his team off track, he’s struggled on it too. 

Last year he dominated qualifying in the first part of the year, but 2018 has seen him struggle against his team-mate in this area and trails 3-9 currently. His lack of performance on a Saturday will have disappointed him greatly. An area he really must improve in when the action resumes at Spa. 

He has taken Force Indias one and only podium so far in 2018, thanks to an excellent, patient recovery drive in a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix following first lap contact. It showed how much more mature he’d become compared to his days at McLaren.  

Germany was the other Sunday highpoint when he finished 7th after calmly making the right call with his team to stay on dry tyres in the tricky conditions. 

Otherwise, Sunday’s have been quite tricky also. Poor qualifying efforts have seen him finish behind Ocon on plenty of occasions.  

There’s no doubting Perez is a quality driver – but he needs to work on qualifying to show how good is he over a race distance like he has done in previous years.  

Again, like others, he could well be fighting for his career in F1 because of Ricciardo’s shock move to Renault. 

Esteban Ocon (12th; 29 pts) 

The young Frenchman got better and better during the 2017 season and has continued that upward progression throughout this season at the moment.  

His biggest leap has been in qualifying. In what was expected to be a close battle, the young Frenchman has left his stablemate trailing in his wake. A 9-3 lead in the head-to-head is seriously impressive.  

Taking Perez’s podium in Baku out of the equation, Ocon’s outscored his team-mate 29-15 in the other 11 races. In general, race pace is another thing he’s improved on compared to last year. In spite of not having as quick of a car as he did last year, he’s scored points in six of the twelve races. 

The young Frenchman may not be grabbing many headlines, but he’s been going about his business brilliantly and absolutely deserves a seat at Force India or somewhere on the grid next year based on his form in 2018 so far.  

McLaren (7th; 52 pts) 

Fernando Alonso (9th; 44 pts) 

Throughout his long career, Fernando Alonso has dragged everything out of himself and his car – and 2018 is no exception. He’s been absolutely outstanding once again and completely demolished his stablemate in the first 12 events. 

If there’s been one tiny weakness in Alonso’s career, it’s definitely qualifying. Yet, he leads 12-0 on a Saturday afternoon in 2018 and has rarely been threatened by Vandoorne. He’s also managed to make two Q3 appearances in spite of McLaren’s lack of speed this year. 

Sunday’s have always seen him at this best and despite his machinery, he sits in the top 10 in the drivers’ standings during the summer break. His best result was a fantastic 5th in round one in Australia as he declared they [McLaren] could fight.  

He scored points in the first five rounds before unreliability and a lack of performance started to kick in. Three eight place finishes in the last four races have kept him in the fight with Magnussen and Hulkenberg. 

Will he ever get the car he deserves to fight for wins again? That’s the question. He consistently gives us examples to show he’s still more than good enough to be battle for the championship. 

Stoffel Vandoorne (16th; 8 pts) 

It was a tough start to life in F1 last year for Stoffel Vandoorne – and it’s got even worse in 2018. He’s massively struggled and his hopes of staying on the grid in 2019 are looking grim, to say the least. 

The Belgian hasn’t outqualified Fernando Alonso in 2018 and is 0-12 down. Incredibly, he hasn’t beaten him on a Saturday since the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix. A quite remarkable statistic. He came within 0.009s of Alonso in Canada but hasn’t got close mostly. 

Vandoorne’s Sunday’s haven’t been any better either.  His best race of the year was last time out in Hungary – but his gearbox packed in and cost him a points finish. Otherwise, he hasn’t scored for eight straight races. His three points scoring finishes came in the first four events. He’s finished a long way behind Alonso in a number of them.  

Quite simply, Vandoorne hasn’t gone enough in the last year and a half to suggest he’s good enough to stay in Formula One. Considering his excellent speed and dominance in lower formulas, this is super disappointing to see.  

Unless he magically finds a lot of extra performance, his career in F1 looks to be over at the end of the year. 

Toro Rosso (8th;28pts) 

Pierre Gasly (13th; 26pts) 

On paper, it’s been a brilliant season for Pierre Gasly as things stand. The young Frenchman has delivered three big points finishes so far in 2018 and driven superbly in those races to take maximum advantage of the opportunities.  

The standout moments are clearly them three races in Bahrain, Monaco and Hungary. His drive at Sakhir was outstanding, P4 in a Toro Rosso in only the second of the year will surely be one of the best drives this year. 

Yet, you get the feeling that we don’t know how good his year has been. For all those excellent races, Brendon Hartley is not a brilliant benchmark to base him on. However, he’s doing a good job for the most that and nobody can question that.  

It’ll be interesting to see if he can pick up more big points when the action resumes at Spa. 

Brendon Hartley (19th; 2pts) 

Despite some terrible luck, Brendon Hartley’s return to single-seater racing has been disappointing and the New Zealander looks out of his depth in Formula One.  

The average gap between himself and his stablemate in qualifying is over a second and that’s enormous in this day and age of F1. He missed qualifying in Spain and Britain thanks to huge crashes in FP3. The one at Silverstone was a suspension failure and in no way his fault.  

He’s picked up two points in twelve races – P10 finishes in the slightly mad races in Baku and at Hockenheim. Overall though, he’s been a long way behind Gasly in the races where the Frenchman has scored points. Hartley finished over a minute behind the Frenchman in Bahrain. 

He’s a World Champion in WEC, so there’s no doubt he’s very talented – but barring a miracle turnaround, this will be the Kiwi’s first and only full season in F1. 

Sauber (9th; 18 pts) 

Charles Leclerc (15th; 13 pts) 

After a slow start to 2018, the youngster from Monaco has starred in 2018 and is already looking like a world champion for the future. 

He did struggle in the opening events, particularly in Bahrain and China where he ended up having a number of spins and clearly outpaced by his team-mate. 

A set-up change in Baku has completely transformed his season, though. He scored a brilliant 6th place at that event after avoiding all the carnage around him through the race. That was the start of a brilliant run of performances. 

Three Q3 appearances in the last five races and five points-scoring finishes in the last nine races shows how much he and the team have improved since the beginning of the year in Australia. He leads Ericsson 9-3 in the qualifying battle and is comfortably quicker than the Swede now. 

Leclerc seems to be something special and if he doesn’t join Ferrari in 2019, 2020 will surely be his time to join the famous Italian squad.  

He’ll be hoping for some clean races and more points from Belgium onwards after various issues on Sunday’s before the summer break.  

Marcus Ericsson (17th; 5pts) 

Following a strong start to the year, Marcus Ericsson’s season faded rapidly and has been left trailing in the wake of his stablemate. A great drive in Bahrain to P9 suggested he could be lead driver at Sauber. 

Yet, when Leclerc got into his groove, the Swede was left well behind on Saturday afternoons especially. He’s on average almost 6 tenths slower than Leclerc in qualifying so far this year – that's way too much for a guy in his fifth full season in the sport. 

He’s done slightly better on Sunday’s with points finishes in Austria and Germany alongside Bahrain. However, on a number of occasions, he’s finished a long, long way behind his team-mate from Monaco.  

You would be surprised if he kept his seat – but the same applies at the end of each year from ‘14-’17. Ericsson needs to raise his game to guarantee a spot on the grid next year, that’s for sure.  

Williams (10th; 4pts) 

Lance Stroll (18th; 4pts) 

After a tough 2017 when he massively struggled for large parts of the season to get near Felipe Massa, 2018 hasn’t got any kinder to Lance Stroll. The main issue this time is the car and it means he’s regularly at the back of the grid.  

He’s scored Williams’ only points with an 8th place finish in that crazy race in Baku back in April. The young Canadian has probably been the star of the opening laps this year – he's regularly gained places on them.  

Yet, he’s trailing 5-7 in the qualifying battle with his team-mate and still seems to be struggling to get up to speed in F1. 

With his father leading a consortium who have taken over at Force India, that seems his most likely destination for the future. For now, it looks like Stroll will have to accept a tough second half of the season with Williams.  

Sergey Sirotkin (20th; 0 pts) 

It has been a real baptism of fire for the Russian in his rookie season in Formula One. Sirotkin has had next to no opportunities.  

However, it’s not been all bad. He’s outqualified Stroll on seven occasions and did a very impressive job in Monaco to make Q2 on his first F1 appearance there. He’s shown flashes of speed – but ultimately a lack of pace from the car is holding him back. 

He’s kept out of trouble for the most part and it’s difficult to measure his season on the basis of what is written above. You would hope he gets another chance to prove himself next year considering how much Williams has let him down with the machinery they’ve given him in his first season of F1.  

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