It has been a long three week vacation, but Formula 1 is back this week as we visit Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg put Mercedes AMG on the top step last season, but the team doubts they can follow up the performance (I agree). Here are how the teams look after the Malaysian Grand Prix.
1) Red Bull – Say what you want about the events that happened a few weeks ago in Malaysia, but the fact is Red Bull’s form is on par with their high standards. I personally think the team orders were issued too early, but I don’t run the team obviously.
2) Ferrari – The Scuderia would have remained in first, but the gamble taken in Malaysia was silly and will probably cost them in the long run. Team that with a weak race from Felipe Massa and it will take a good performance in China to keep the Italian marque above Mercedes.
3) Mercedes – Mercedes showed amazing pace in Malaysia and are now going to China where they secured victory last season. I am hesitant to move Mercedes into P2 as they started last season pretty strong too. The championship campaign is a marathon, not a sprint.
4) Lotus – Wretched weekend for Lotus. They will be eager to get back on track after this long break. Kimi penalized, rallying his Lotus in Malaysia brought the fans back to earth. Grosjean is getting no love from Lotus management either. I actually forgot he still drove for the team.
5) McLaren – I have seen at least 4 stories over the last three weeks where Martin Whitmarsh has claimed the team has turned the page in performance for their disappointing 2013 challenger. I guess we will find out in China!
6) Force India – The team has pace, but nobody was ready to see the end of Malaysia more. The team looked like a circus act as the wheel nut issue cost them a good chunk of points. Given how competitive the teams are this year, that will come back to haunt them.
7) Sauber – A pretty good run for Nico Hulkenberg showed the Sauber has really good race pace. Tough to put it all together for the single lap in quali, but I think this team will continue to improve in the coming weeks.
8) STR – Team has been pretty meh so far. I am beginning to question the role of this team. It is a development program for Red Bull Racing…or so we thought. Looks like Webber will be out at the end of the year, and the Red Bull upper management is really not looking at any prospect on this team to fill the shoes.
9) Marussia – This team has impressed me more and more after each race. Jules Bianchi is a future world champion in my mind. They have taken the fight to Caterham and are giving their rivals all they can handle. I want to see Marussia in the points at least once.
10) Williams – Nightmare. This year was supposed to be special; instead it has been more terrifying than the Evil Dead movie.
11) Caterham – Marussia is ALL over Caterham at the moment. Charles Pic needs to step up if he has any hope of catching Jules Bianchi on pace. I like what the team is doing, but someone has to be last.