Is 2014 a Successful Year for Smaller F1 Teams?

Marussia and Caterham are often struggling at the back of the grid each race weekend.

Marussia and Caterham are often struggling at the back of the grid each race weekend. Regardless of driver talent, they frequently battle with a car far less impressive than those at the top of the championship. 

But this season has been a significant one so far for both of them. With Marussia making history and Caterham simultaneously changing hands and facing legal issues, is this year a positive one for the rival teams, or are they still far from success?

Determination From Marussia

Marussia’s fighting spirit paid off this year when they scored their first ever points in Monaco, after Jules Bianchi finished 9th. Since overcoming their first hurdle, the team are hungrier than ever to prove themselves.  

“We have been waiting for this for a long and now that we have done it I am so proud of the team,” said Bianchi after Monaco, with 2 points under his belt. “They did a really good job and I am really happy to give them the result.”

Bianchi is proving himself to be a strong asset to the team this season. After Kimi Raikkonen’s crash at Silverstone prevented him from taking part in testing, Bianchi traded in his Marussia for a Ferrari for the day, coming fifth overall for Ferrari and completing the most laps of all drivers – an impressive 108.   

His team mate Max Chilton is also a skilled driver, proven by his first ever DNF of his F1 career coming this year in Canada, his first retirement in 26 races. Statistics like this prove how capable and conscientious he is on track, despite rarely having the speed to prove himself.

The Future of Caterham

Futher down the paddock though, this season is turning out to be a disappointment for Caterham. Earlier this year, team founder Tony Fernandes gave them an ultimatum, they either step up their performance or he would be gone.

At the time, Caterham were yet to score a point after five years of racing, and as it stands that is still the case. Unsurprisingly, at the beginning of July it was revealed that Fernandes had sold the team to Swiss and Middle Eastern investors, abandoning the team after a poor season.

“I’m the most optimistic man in the world but you don’t want to be coming last all the time,” he explained.

With both drivers paying their way, it is incredibly aggravating that their car consistently fails to finish.

“Obviously as a team we want to be performing a bit better” says Caterham driver, Marcus Ericsson. “We know that we need to improve of course but everyone in the team is working really hard.”

A team under new management halfway through the season certainly mixes up the team dynamic, even more so due to the fact they attempted to cut costs by reducing staff. However towards the end of July, it was revealed that over 40 former employees are taking legal action claiming unfair dismissal.

It’s safe to say Caterham have their hands full at the moment, struggling with new management, legal issues and trailing behind their rivals Marussia in the championship.

Successful or Substandard?

In the last race before the summer break in Hungary, both Caterham’s failed to finish, making the team’s total retirements at 9 so far this season. Marussia on the other hand had a positive race, Bianchi pushed Ferrari’s Raikkonen out of Q2 on Saturday, setting them up for a good weekend.

Though Bianchi and Chilton finished last on race day, the cars are finishing consistently each race – they’re unfortunately just not quick enough. Marussia also recently bagged Alexander Rossi from Caterham as their new reserve driver, which is sure to grind the opposition’s gears.

The smaller teams will always have a financial disadvantage when it comes to motorsport, hindering drivers from performing to the best of their ability and racing competitively.  

“I think cost cutting has a huge part to do with it” explained Marussia’s Max Chilton. “I think the wins have to be spread more fairly so the smaller teams have more to play with, then the cars [will be] closer in comparison.”

Despite financial issues, 2014 is shaping up to be the best season yet for Marussia. But will Caterham be able to score some points and challenge them? Or will it take luck alone for them to beat their championship rivals?

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.