October 22nd, 2013 (F1plus/C. Cassingham).- Emerging from the dying embers of the 2013 Formula One Drivers’ Championship are two fascinating battles for vital positions in the Constructors’ Championship. While less glamorous than the fight for the drivers’ title, the fight between teams in the championship are necessary for the longevity of the sport.
Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus are now embroiled in a battle for second place in the constructors’ standings. The spoils? Millions upon millions of dollars in prize money that could be the difference between fighting for the 2014 title, or fading into the midfield.
Lotus have hit their stride since Korea, with three out of a possible four podiums making up their results, the worst of them a fifth place from Kimi Raikkonen in Japan. As a result, the Enstone-based team has clawed back a significant amount of points relative to Ferrari and Mercedes who, in the same two races (Korea and Japan) have hardly troubled the podium finishers.
Much of this shift in relative performance is down to Lotus’s recently introduced long wheelbase chassis. As their final development push for 2013, before their focus switches fully to 2014, this new car was aimed at improving high-speed cornering and braking stability. So far, both have been accomplished, and the results substantiate this.
If Romain Grosjean can keep up his impressive run of form and challenge the Red Bulls like he did in Japan on a regular basis, then second place for Lotus is not an unreasonable target.
The second battle brewing is between Force India and Sauber. Their seasons could not be more contrasting, with the former enjoying podium-threatening pace in the early races, and the latter starting off in terrible fashion with an uncompetitive car and an unprepared rookie.
In Italy, the tables were officially turned, with Sauber hauling home 10 points courtesy of Nico Hulkenberg from a fantastic third place grid spot. This was the base from which Sauber’s most recent results are stemming.
Fresh from their first double points finish of the season in Japan, Sauber are now only 17 points behind the struggling Force India. Considering the team has taken home 37 points in the last four races, 17 more doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Force India will be fighting until the last race, as the team attempts to consolidate their sixth place position in the standings.
As Sebastian Vettel looks set to secure his, and Red Bull’s, fourth consecutive world title, the rest of the field is gearing up to make the end of the 2013 season one to remember.