2015 may be about survival, not revival, in Formula 1

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The beginning of the new Formula 1 season usually heralds a fresh start for most in the sport. Whether they are drivers, engineers, mechanics or stewards, each and every person in Melbourne will be looking to make a fresh start when set foot in the paddock for the first time in 2015.

However, it appears that the cost crisis that blighted the tail-end of the 2014 season still lingers, with a heated dispute between Sauber and its former test driver Giedo van der Garde threatening to overshadow the Australian Grand Prix this weekend.

Many of the problems with F1’s financial structure were exposed when both Marussia and Caterham collapsed following last year’s Russian Grand Prix, leaving just 18 cars on the grid for the United States Grand Prix, one of the sport’s biggest events. Three further teams – Sauber, Lotus and Force India – considered boycotting that race in protest, demanding change to prevent further losses.

Five months later, and what has changed? Nothing.

Actually, one thing has changed. The grid is now back up to 20 cars following the incredible revival of Marussia F1 Team, now known as Manor Marussia. Fresh investment has got the team to Melbourne for this weekend’s race, and although it may stand little chance of being competitive, the very fact that it will be racing in 2015 is a small miracle in itself.

It is not thanks to a collective effort from the F1 community, though. Force India blocked Marussia’s bid to use its 2014 car this season, complicating the team’s comeback and earning itself a number of critics in the paddock. However, needs must: Force India is known to be in a spot of financial bother, as exemplified by the late debut of the VJM08 car in winter testing.

Force India’s case is an odd one. The team has been so competitive in the past two years, and with McLaren switching to Honda engines this year, many tipped (this writer included) Vijay Mallya’s team to finish in the top five in the constructors’ championship. Now though? The future is unclear. The situation does not appear to be quite as bad as it is for some of the other teams in F1, but Force India will know that 2015 is a year that could prove to be one of its most challenging yet.

What of Sauber and Lotus though? These two teams look poised to enjoy contrasting years on-track, whilst off-track, uncertainty remains.

Lotus’ situation is more positive. The team had its annus horribilis in 2014, scoring just eight points as it struggled to work with the Renault power unit and the E22 car. Since switching to Mercedes power for 2015 though, the noises coming out of Enstone are far more positive. Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were far more upbeat throughout winter testing, suggesting that it could be a brighter year. The financial boat has been settled as well, it appears, and losing its F1 Strategy Group membership won’t give the team too many sleepless nights.

Sauber looks to be in a deeper mire, with the reality of its problems coming to the fore in Melbourne ahead of the race weekend. In order to ensure it stayed afloat last year, a number of drivers – Adrian Sutil, Esteban Gutierrez, Giedo van der Garde, Simona de Silvestro and Sergey Sirotkin – brought some kind of finance to the team. Van der Garde and Sutil both had firm contracts to race for the team in 2015, and both were surprised when Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr were announced as the firmed drivers last November.

Sutil was paid off by the team, but van der Garde has not gone quietly. Instead, he opted to take the case up with the Supreme Court in Melbourne, which yesterday said that Sauber must race him this weekend. Put simply, it has three drivers contracted and only two seats to race with.

Another court case is due tomorrow, just two hours ahead of FP1, meaning that it is likely the team will proceed with Ericsson and Nasr in its cars. However, the consequences of doing so are still unclear. Inevitably, some kind of contract will be breached.

It’s a total mess, but perhaps one that needed to be made for Sauber to survive. Needs must and all.

What does van der Garde stand to gain out of this though? A drive for a team that doesn’t want him? Will other teams look at him less favorably following this case? Again, the outlook is very unclear.

For F1’s small teams, 2015 will all be about survival, not revival. Even in Manor Marussia’s case, the war has only just begun. It has won the battle by getting on the grid, but must now fight to the end of the season and get back on its feet.

The F1 Strategy Group will continue to sit in its ivory tower and ignore the problems of the smaller teams. It will get nowhere once again in 2015, holding regular meetings where the big five – Mercedes, Red Bull (Toro Rosso included), Ferrari, Williams and McLaren – will call the shots. Force India’s membership has become worthless over the winter.

One can only hope that there are still ten teams left on the grid when Gene Haas rocks up in 2016 with Haas F1 Team. In all honesty, the chances right now look a lot less than 50/50.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Anaheim 2


The Triple Crown format shook up the results in the Monster Energy Supercross round at Anaheim 2 with no rider dominating, but in the end two wins and a fifth-place were enough to give Chase Sexton the overall victory. It was the second 450 Supercross win of his career coming a little more than a year after he won his first in San Diego.

This year San Diego was not nearly as kind. Sexton crashed on the first lap of his heat and his Honda was center punched by another rider. The damage sent him into the Last Chance Qualifier and a poor gate pick contributed to his fifth-place finish last week.

Sexton showed he was more than ready to put that behind him Saturday night in Angel Stadium by winning the first of three races in the Triple Crown format. Entering Race 3 as one of three drivers who could have secured the overall win, he chased down Jason Anderson on Lap 4 and led the final 10 laps.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here 250 Results

Ultimately Anderson dropped to third in the final Supercross moto of the season in Anaheim 2, but strong results in the first two races secured second overall. Anderson won the second race and his 5-1-3 fell two positions shy of the overall win.

All questions about whether Ken Roczen would need an adjustment period as he switched from Honda to Suzuki have been answered: He did not. Sweeping the top five in his two Supercross Main events and in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown, he amassed enough points with his results of 2-3-4 to score his first podium of the season.

Click here for 450 Triple Crown Race 1 | Race 2 | Race 3

Cooper Webb steadily improved his results during the Triple Crown, but a seventh-place finish in the first race proved to be too much to overcome. He finished fourth in Race 2 and charged to second in the final race to secure fourth overall.

Dylan Ferrandis showed a lot of consistency with results of 4-6-5 to round out the top five.

Eli Tomac was one of the three riders who might have secured the overall victory by winning Race 3, but he pressed too hard while trying to pass Webb for second. He jumped wide midway through the race and landed on a Tuff Blox. After getting violently pitched from his Yamaha, he found that it was slightly damaged when he remounted and could only salvage sixth-place points with finishes of 3-2-13.

It was enough for him to maintain the overall lead in the points’ standings by four over Sexton and Webb.

Click here for Round 1 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Levi Kitchen didn’t win a battle on Saturday night, but he won the war. He established in the top five in Race 1 with a fourth-place finish and then swept the runner-up spot in the final two motos. That first SuperMotocross victory of his career with a previous best of seventh in Supercross this year in Anaheim 1 and a third in Motocross last year at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado. It was a much-needed morale boost for Kitchen, who finished 21st last week in San Diego.

The night was disappointing by Jett Lawrence standards. He suffered falls in the first two races and stalled one another occasion, but was able to overcome those problems each time with results of third and sixth. That put him in a position where he had a shot at the overall if Kitchen stumbled just a little in the final moto. Lawrence won Race 3, but still does not have an overall Triple Crown win in the Supercross 250 division. With only one more Triple Crown on the schedule before he climbs on a 450 for the outdoor season, time is running out.

Click here for 250 Triple Crown Race 1 | Race 2 | Race 3 | Last Chance Qualifier

The Triple Crown always shakes up the Supercross results and Anaheim 2 was no exception.

Stilez Roberston capitalized on mistakes by Lawrence, RJ Hampshire and Cameron McAdoo during Race 2 and won. That victory, coupled with a third in Race 3 and a sixth in the first main, was enough to give him the final position on the podium. In this format the results are added together and the lowest number wins. Robertson tied Lawrence with identical results of 10 accumulated points, but Lawrence’s win in the final race relegated Robertson to third.

With a total score of 15 (5-4-6), Mitchell Oldenburg was a relatively distant fifth. The 18 points he earned are enough to keep him fourth in the standings and with McAdoo and Hampshire experience trouble in the race, he was able to close the gap on second in the standings.

Click here for 250 West Overall results | 250 West rider points

After missing last week’s Main, Max Vohland finished with results of 7-8-4 in the Anaheim 2 Supercross race and rounds out the top five.

McAdoo and Hampshire both lost ground in the championship standings with difficult races.

McAdoo was able to salvage sixth-place points (17) and that allowed him to leapfrog Hampshire (12). Proving that even bad days are not that bad for last year’s 250 East champion, Lawrence left Anaheim 2 with a points’ lead of 16 over second-place.

2023 Results

Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 2: Ken Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s