F1 2018: Who will win the Midfield Scrap?
The 2018 Formula 1 season has reached its halfway mark at the British Grand Prix, which also marks the end of the three back to back Grand Prix weekends for the first time in the Formula 1 history.
After looking at the first half of the season, we can predict that its a two horse race between Mercedes and Ferrari for the silverware. RedBull can be in contention if they are consistent much like the last 2-3 races.
But as of now, RedBull doesn't have a competition for the third place. It's the battle for the 4th place which is heating up. Four teams are contending for it Renault, Haas, McLaren and Force India.
The midfield scrap is still wide open and the contrast in excellent drives from the top teams from largely uncelebrated drivers deserves some recognition.
Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, the McLaren drivers and the Renault drivers. But there’s no monopoly on this spot, and like last season, it will all come down to the last race in Yas Marina.
Only 20 points separate these teams. With Renault leading the pack with Force India at the last position in this battle of midfield. Renault has been consistent with the course of the season with regular double points finish. Their trajectory after making their debut in 2016 has been quite impressive. In their first year back, they finished ninth and in their second year, they finished 6th. This year, their points accumulated until the British GP has been more than what they were able to achieve in their first two years combined. So given the French manufacturer have targeted fifth place this year, their start to the season must be considered a success. They also have a partnership equivalent to achieve it. At the start of the season, Hulkenberg was looking more dominant of the two, but the Spaniard has made a good comeback and is fighting for a top 10 finish in the driver standings with his teammate.
They had a great start at the recently concluded British GP, with both their drivers in the top 10 in the very first lap.
Hulkenberg started at P10 and Sainz started the race at P16. It was a commendable effort but unfortunately, they couldn't bring both the cars home as Sainz couldn't finish the race as he crashed with Grosjean.
Constantly possessing the fourth fastest car on the circuit, Haas hasn't been able to replicate that success in the constructor's championship. They currently lie fifth behind Renault. The American team had a great pre-season and in Australia, they were dominating and showed early signs of a good finish in the standings until the pit stops errors ruined everything for them. Kevin Magnussen is having an amazing season and has single-handedly kept his side in contention for the midfield battle. Romain Grosjean had a horrific start to the season. With his first points coming up in the last race in Austria. So without all his DNFs, Haas could have been easily above Renault in the standings. At the British GP, they had the best grid position after the top three teams to start the race. This circuit favoured the Ferrari engines so it was expected that they'll have double points finish. But sadly both the Hass teammates made a contact with each other on the very first lap. But you can't count Kevin Magnussen out after the season he is having. He rose how to manage to romp his Haas into the points at the chequered flag. Also if Romain shows the performance which he showed with Lotus, we will be seeing Haas in contention for double points finish every weekend.
McLaren was having a good season after changing from Honda to Renault at the start of the season. They had a great start to the season with three double points finish in the first four races. After the first races, they have struggled with Vandoorne not able to finish in the top 10, the veteran Alonso having multiple DNFs. They had a difficult start to the British GP with their team director Eric Boullier resigning, much controversy but still, the veteran Fernando Alonso was able to finish in points, as he does every time. As Renault engines themselves finding less competitive when compared to the likes of Mercedes and Ferraris, McLaren has still been able to defy all the expectations and have a good chance of finishing 5th at least.
The Pink Panthers, Force India are the major shock of this year. They have been performing consistently in the last 4-5 years with multiple top 5 standings in the constructor's championship. An odd run of one point from Melbourne to Shangai has been followed by a more familiar 25-point haul from Azerbaijan to Monaco to place them back in the running for the grid's leading midfield slots. With Sergio Perez being the only non-Mercedes, Ferrari and RedBull driver to finish on the podium. But their opportunistic drivers are always up for a challenge. As they did at Silverstone where they were struggling throughout the weekend and didn't have any advantage in this midfield battle. But still, after Perez colliding on the first lap, they were able to bring their cars home at P7 and P10. So, it won't be a surprise if they start performing in the second half of the season.
Formula 1 gets dull and boring when we see the top guns like Mercedes and Ferrari dominating it. But this fight for pride and the added financial initiatives of finishing higher makes it more exciting. The race for the fourth position in the constructor's championship is far from over. Come Abu Dhabi and we will still see these teams fighting for those precious last points.