Following on from the first part of our mid-season Formula 1 review on Thursday, we now take a look at how the teams on the grid have fared in the opening half of the 2015 campaign.
Just as we saw in 2014, Mercedes has been the team to beat once again this season thanks to the might of the W06 Hybrid car and, more crucially, its power unit.
However, the other nine teams have their own stories to tell, ranging from a phoenix rising from the flames in the form of Manor to the youngest ever line-up in the history of the sport at Toro Rosso.
But who is top of the class? Find out in MotorSportsTalk’s mid-season team grades below.
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team – Grade: A
Mercedes has been close to flawless in the opening half of the 2015 season once again, scoring 383 points in the first ten races. Had it not been for a bizarre turn of events in Hungary, the team would be ahead of its total at this point last year (393). Wins have been well-earned, and although some results have been lost thanks to Ferrari’s increased presence, both titles are bound for Brackley once again this year.
Highlight so far: Fighting back through the rain to claim a one-two at Silverstone.
Scuderia Ferrari – Grade: A-
Ferrari has come on leaps and bounds in 2015 after a miserable 2014 season, removing the deadwood of the old regime (Marco Mattiacci, Luca di Montezemolo and Fernando Alonso) and reinvigorating the team with new faces such as Sebastian Vettel and Maurizio Arrivabene. Arrivabene targeted two race wins at the start of the season. Having already achieved that, Ferrari will now be hoping to press on and continue to hassle Mercedes in the final nine races, even if Kimi Raikkonen continues to drag his heels.
Highlight so far: Vettel’s dominant victory in Hungary (but it really should have been a one-two)
Sahara Force India F1 Team – Grade: B+
Force India may only sit fifth in the constructors’ championship, but given that it completed just two days of pre-season testing with the VJM08 car and didn’t update it until Silverstone, this is a major achievement. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg have both produced some solid drives for the team, and it is a testament to all of those working behind the scenes that heads have not dipped despite facing some uncertainty over the winter.
Highlight so far: Double points finish in Austria with an outdated car.
Scuderia Toro Rosso – Grade: B
Toro Rosso entered the 2015 season with the youngest driver line-up in the history of the sport, prompting many to question whether Max Verstappen (17) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (20) were ready to make the step up. Both have proven themselves to be more than capable in the first half of the season, though, taking the team to seventh in the constructors’ championship. Expect a close fight for fifth to rumble on until the end of the season.
Highlight so far: Verstappen’s charge to fourth in Hungary.
Williams Martini Racing – Grade: B
Williams has failed to put up as much of a challenge to Mercedes and Ferrari as many would have liked or expected, but the team looks poised to retain top-three status in the constructors’ this year. Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa have both finished on the podium once so far this year, but the team’s caution saw a chance to win at Silverstone pass by. With Red Bull so far behind, it would be nice to see Williams roll the dice a little more in the second half of the season.
Highlight so far: The opening stages of the British GP, running P1 and P2.
Infiniti Red Bull Racing – Grade: B-
Red Bull may have been claiming that every problem so far this season has been Renault’s fault, but the team must take responsibility in some areas. Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat have both impressed on occasion, with their strongest weekend coming last time out in Hungary. However, it has been a largely disappointing first half of the season for the ex-champion team. The ‘my way or the high way’ attitude towards F1 hasn’t helped matters, either.
Highlight so far: Double podium in Hungary thanks to a race of attrition.
Lotus F1 Team – Grade: B-
Perhaps B- is a little harsh for Lotus, but the ability of the E23 Hybrid car far outweighs the haul of 35 points so far this season. Nine retirements in the first ten races have denied the team a chance to battle further up the field, and Pastor Maldonado continues to lag behind teammate Romain Grosjean. It has certainly been a better year for the team, but still a far cry from the lofty heights it was at just 18 months ago.
Highlight so far: Both cars in the points in Canada, although even then Grosjean should have been higher.
Sauber F1 Team – Grade: C+
Like Lotus, Sauber has been better but far from brilliant thus far in 2015. Felipe Nasr’s fifth place finish in Australia was an early high, but few more successes have followed. Like Force India, the team has struggled with an outdated car and a lack of updates, although these are due at the next race in Belgium. 2015 has been very much an average year for Sauber so far – some highlights, but nothing too outstanding.
Highlight so far: Nasr finishing fifth on debut in Australia.
Manor Marussia F1 Team – Grade: C
Just as it was in the driver reviews, it is very hard to grade Manor given the nature of its comeback. Getting on the grid at all has been admirable, and with no other team to compete with at the back, all we can really do is judge Manor on its achievements. P12 and P13 at Silverstone were good finishes for Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens, but in reality, simply racing is the real achievement here.
Highlight so far: Getting both cars back on the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix.
McLaren – Grade: D
Harsh? Perhaps. Fair? Certainly. McLaren has been nothing short of dire so far this season, largely thanks to the troubles with the Honda power unit. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso have scraped up into the points where possible, and Hungary looked like a turning point for the team. In reality though, there is still a mountain to climb for the British team in the second half of the season.
Highlight so far: Double points in Hungary with Alonso finishing fifth.