The drivers’ championship battle is thrillingly close at the moment. But there’s plenty more going on in the championship as the season heads into its final stages.
Will Michael Schumacher finish outside of the top ten on his F1 return?
Who will be top rookie? And will Virgin’s all-computer-designed car be beaten by HRT’s testing-free approach?
The constructors’ championship
1. Red Bull 312
2. McLaren 304
3. Ferrari 238
Yes, it’s the “consolation prize”. But teams who place well overall gain useful benefits like preferential spots in the pit lane, greater travel benefits and the best car numbers for next year.
With the revised points system this year there is a maximum of 301 points to be won in the final seven races.
Best of the rest
4. Mercedes 132
5. Renault 106
Mercedes have failed to keep pace with the front runners and instead find themselves fighting a rearguard action to keep Renault at bay.
This is reflected both in the constructors’ championship and the battle between Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship (see chart).
Rosberg’s podium finish at Silverstone moved him ahead but there’s only three points in it now. And while Mercedes struggle with the development of their W01 Renault have made impressive progress with their R30.
The Schumacher situation
9. Michael Schumacher 38
10. Adrian Sutil 35
11. Rubens Barrichello 30
At this rate it’s looking possible Michael Schumacher could finish outside the top ten in the drivers’ championship on his return to Formula 1.
He’s currently ninth, eight points ahead of 11th-placed Rubens Barrichello. Perhaps Schumacher had the championship situation in the back of his mind when he came perilously close to crashing into Barrichello in the last race.
Adrian Sutil will also fancy the bragging rights for finishing ahead of his famed countryman in an identically-engined car. Sutil’s excellent pass on Schumacher at Silverstone brought him within a point of his rival.
12. Vitaly Petrov 17
13. Kamui Kobayashi 17
(14. Vitantonio Liuzzi 12)
15. Nico H?â??lkenberg 10
The championship situation for the rookies (in this case, drivers who had completed less than a full season before this year) is finely poised. Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov are level-pegging, and Nico H?â??lkenberg is not far behind.
Petrov has the best car and should be the best bet over the closing half of the season. But points are easily lost in the midfield and his closest rivals will punish any slip-ups.
The new teams
Not having scored any points, the three new teams are separated according to who’s scored the best results. Lotus lead the way with a single 13th place.
Virgin are just seven races away from ending their first season last, behind a team that did no pre-season testing at all. On pure pace they’re not far off Lotus and much better than HRT, but their finishing record has been poor.
This championship battle will be strongly affected by how well the other 18 cars finish the remaining races. A spate of unreliability or a first-lap crash could allow any of the new teams to grab a one-off high results – possibly even a point – that could decide the championship for them.
Who do you think will win these five championship battles? Have your say in the comments.
Image (C) Mercedes