04 November 2010

End of season driver report cards - tailenders

I know the season hasn't yet finished, but feel enough time has passed to begin characterising the performance of the new teams' drivers. This is the first of 4 reviews, working from back to front, three teams at a time.

For the backmarkers I will list their best three results, further up the grid I will give points totals and best result and at the front I will list race victories.


Heikki Kovalienen: (12th Japan, 13th Korea, 13th Australia)
Has generally lead the 6 driver fight for 19th on the grid and has recorded the best results in races. Of all the drivers who went to the new teams, he has the most reason to be satisfied with his performances across 2010 and if it wasn't for the financial crisis and the return of the need for drivers to pay for all but the very top seats, he would fancy his chances at a promotion back to Renault or Force India. As it is, he is very likely to be driving a Renault-powered Lotus, which is currently predicted to be fighting the Toro Rossos for 9th in the constructors' championship.

Jarno Trulli: (13th Japan, 15th Monaco, 15th Hungary)
Has been the victim of more than his share of Lotus' reliability gremlins, but this doesn't mask the fact that he has also been outperformed fairly consistently by his teammate. Until this year he had a reputation as one of the best qualifiers in the sport, but has routinely been outdone on a Saturday by Heikki, who did not have this reputation before.


Timo Glock: (14th Japan, 16th Hungary, 17th Italy)
After a tough start to the season, where Virgin's fuel tank wasn't big enough for the team to finish a race, Timo has generally succeeded in taking the fight to the Lotuses. He has also consistently outperformed Lucas Di Grassi and was the last driver to lose his record of always outqualifying his teammate. He has certainly proved that he is worthy of a place in the sport. He has also been unlucky to be pushed off track when running amongst the "big boys" in Valencia and Korea, which has deprived him of two very strong results.

Lucas Di Grassi: (14th Malaysia, 15th Singapore, 17th Belgium and Europe)
Whilst he has better results than his teammate, this is more a reflection of luck than consistency. He has also had more than his fair share of accidents, particularly the recent smash before the Japanese Grand Prix even started. His place in the sport is almost certainly gone, since he has neither the sponsors, nor the performance to retain it.


Bruno Senna: (14th Korea, 15th Japan, 16th Malaysia and China)
Missed the British Grand Prix amidst rumours that his sponsors weren't paying, but more importantly got comprehensively outperformed by Christian Klien in the Austrian's first race for 4 years. Makes you wonder how he would have coped with the pressure, had he been chosen in Barrichello's place for the Brawn team last season. I suspect he might have cost the team both titles. Disappointing, given the expectation of his uncle's fans.

Karun Chandhok: (14th Australia, 14th Monaco, 15th Malaysia)
Had the best results for the Hispania team after his poor performance in Bahrain but was replaced after 10 races by Sakon Yamamoto, presumably for financial reasons. Has probably done enough to prove he's worth a place, but will need more funds to actually get one. He has also provided very useful insights on the BBC Red Button coverage of practice, so perhaps a career at the Beeb awaits. A pity, but he seems set to become the new Anthony Davidson.

Sakon Yamamoto: (15th Korea, 16th Japan, 19th Italy and Hungary)
Has been given many chances in the sport, by Super Aguri, Jordan and now Hispania, but has yet to outshine his teammate. Thankfully for him, he has the sort of funding that keeps tail-end teams alive, but it appears that Hispania are betting on Christian Klien's ability to score an 11th place, securing the team 10th place in the championship, as a better means of safeguarding the team's future as the Austrian has been brought in for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Christian Klien: (retired in Singapore)
Outqualified Senna, then ran nearly a second a lap faster until his retirement in Singapore, the Austrian former Red Bull protege has shown that he is still a good driver. His recall for Brazil shows the faith the team has in him and may earn him a chance to race for a 2011 drive.

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