Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus vye for runner-up spot

Debates and Polls

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Korea International Circuit, 2013With Red Bull poised to wrap up their fourth consecutive world championship the battle to be ‘best of the rest’ is far from settled.

Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus are vying for second place in the constructors’ championship which brings rich financial rewards as well as prestige.

The extra income would be welcomed by any of the teams but particularly Lotus, who are operating on a considerably smaller budget than their well-heeled rivals.

Further back in the championship Sauber’s resurgence could see them rise as high as fifth. Who will come out on top?

The race to runner-up

Here’s how many points Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus have scored so far this year:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2013teamcolours.csv
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Ferrari 30 40 73 77 117 123 145 168 180 194 218 248 274 284 297
Mercedes 10 37 52 64 72 109 134 171 183 208 235 245 267 283 287
Lotus 26 40 60 93 111 112 114 124 157 183 187 191 206 239 264

Maximum points remaining: 172

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2013There’s been little to separate Ferrari from Mercedes in the contest for second place in the championship for the last four races.

Mercedes can usually rely on having better qualifying pace but the Ferraris come one strong in race conditions – as was clear at Singapore. In Japan Lewis Hamilton’s first lap misfortune and Nico Rosberg’s hasty departure from the pits saw Mercedes squander vital points in their battle with Ferrari.

But the last two races saw Lotus take points off both teams which has brought them firmly back into contention for the runner-up spot. There are two main reasons for Lotus’s rise.

The first is the improving form of Romain Grosjean, who has out-qualified Kimi Raikkonen more often than not in recent races and led almost half the race in Japan.

Lotus are also suspected of gaining a similar advantage to Red Bull from the mapping of their Renault engine. Mercedes believe Renault have found a way of legally enhancing their car’s traction.

These two factors could prove decisive over the final races. Having lost Raikkonen along with technical figures James Allison and Dirk de Beer to Ferrari, Lotus could be about to have the last laugh this year.

Sauber’s late surge

Here’s how many points McLaren, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso have scored so far this year:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2013teamcolours.csv
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
McLaren 2 4 14 23 29 37 37 37 49 57 65 66 76 81 83
Force India 10 10 14 26 32 44 51 59 59 59 61 61 62 62 62
Sauber 0 4 5 5 5 5 5 6 7 7 7 17 19 31 45
Toro Rosso 0 1 7 7 8 12 20 24 24 24 25 31 31 31 31

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, Suzuka, 2013Sauber’s return to form will be a cause for sleepless nights at Force India.

The Swiss team is in a similar situation to Lotus – as well as making gains with their car in recent races, their championship situation has been bolstered by the improving form of their second driver.

In their case it is Esteban Gutierrez who scored the first points of his F1 career with a highly credible seventh place at Suzuka, behind team mate Nico Hulkeneerg.

Hulkenberg’s star is also rising. Since missing out on a switch to Ferrari he has produced giant-killing performances in Italy and Korea.

The Hungaroring was a turning point for the team as a new aerodynamic upgrade arrived and coincided with Pirelli’s changes to the tyre construction. Both have clearly been to their benefit, and the latter has clearly disadvantaged Force India, who look set to follow Toro Rosso in being overhauled by Sauber.

McLaren’s hold on fifth place may not be secure, especially if Sauber repeat their Japanese feat of getting both their cars home in front of the silver ones.

Over to you

Who do you think will come out on top in these three-way battles? Cast your votes in the polls below and have your say in the comments.

[poll id="442"]

[poll id="443"]

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Images ?? Lotus/LAT, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Sauber

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66 comments on Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus vye for runner-up spot

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  1. Fixy (@fixy) said on 19th October 2013, 10:35

    I say Mercedes and McLaren. Although I’m pretty certain of the latter I’m in doubt over the first, as Ferrari and Mercedes should be pretty evenly-matched with Lotus not far behind. It all depends on how much the next circuits suit each team.

    • Yes you’re right the tracks are what we must consider nevertheless I believe Ferrari will be able to keep their place and so is McLaren. There are a couple of rear limited places out there including abu dhabi and Brazil and a couple of front limited as India which is prone to extreme front wear, where I reckon Ferrari and McLaren will do very well and there’s USA which is possibly front limited aswell.

  2. hunocsi (@hunocsi) said on 19th October 2013, 10:37

    Current form suggests Lotus should get second easily, I voted for them. Obviously technical issues could play a part but I hope they won’t matter much.

    The battle for fifth is just as interesting as the other one I think. It’s hard to predict if Sauber can keep the momentum compared to McLaren but they certainly look good for now. It could be a much tighter fight but my vote goes to McLaren, they don’t want to give that place away easily.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 19th October 2013, 14:35

      It would be great to see Lotus claiming the 2nd place. Their budget is at least 3 times smaller than that of Ferrari so they have been doing very well. It would benefit everybody if we have 5 top teams next year.

      Also I think Sauber needs the money more than McLaren so I hope they can claim the 5th place so they can at least have one decent driver next year.

  3. I think McLaren should certainly hold on for 5th place, but I can see Sauber stealing 5th from Force India absolutely.

    What is the really difficult one to predict is for 2nd: Lotus seem to have found pace and were quick in Abu Dhabi last year but I suspect Ferrari may be on par or have a slight edge in the other remaining rounds. Mercedes could also be key players, but I’m going to stick with my initial convictions and say Ferrari.

    However, will Mercedes cease squandering points?

  4. Rigi (@rigi) said on 19th October 2013, 10:54

    It’s going to be pretty close for 2nd place i reckon. after seeing how much lotus have improved since spa and monza, whereas mercedes and ferrari seem to “struggle” to catch the red bulls, it might just work out for them. with grosjean being on top of his game, and raikkonen who is world champion they’re garanteed to catch up to ferrari and mercedes in the next races.

    as for the battle for 5th, McLaren will probably stay in 5th, saubers point deficit from the first half of the year is simply too high. however, now that gutierrez seems to get going, i wouldn’t rule out sauber just yet!

    don’t forget, it only takes a bit of a crazy race and all of the sudden we may just see a sauber on a podium, and a lotus on the top step.

  5. Jimmy Hearn (@alebelly74) said on 19th October 2013, 10:55

    Sauber’s recent meteoric rise mirrors that of mine on gridbids! Can I keep up my recent dominance, can Sauber?

  6. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 19th October 2013, 10:56

    I hope lotus takes second place they need the extra money and it would be nice to have a team on a smaller budget to beat to big boys. Mclaren will probably take 5th, they have done such a bad job this year, it’s unbelievable.

  7. Valhyre (@ausuma) said on 19th October 2013, 11:13

    If you remove Red Bull from the equation this would be the exciting battle for the first place.

    Still it’s gonna be an exciting battle for the best of the rest.

  8. Diceman (@diceman) said on 19th October 2013, 11:14

    I really don’t care who finishes second, but I think Ferrari can handle it. What I’m excited about is the 5th place, and will Sauber catch Mclaren. I hope (and trust) they will if Gutierrez keeps scoring points.

  9. kpcart said on 19th October 2013, 12:00

    will there be fallouts at Mercedes if they finish 4th by seasons end?

  10. Dion (@infinitygc) said on 19th October 2013, 12:03

    I think Lotus and McLaren. If Lotus’ speed in last years practice sessions in the final few races can still tbe aplied to their speed this year, I think they should be able to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari for second.

    For fifth, I’m going with McLaren, since there is probably too big of a gap for Sauber to close in on.

  11. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 19th October 2013, 12:16

    Ferrari and McLaren.

    Ferrari have been the most consistent team after Red Bull this season, while Mercedes may have a better #2 driver, Ferrari are the more complete team. Likewise, I don’t think that Lotus will be able to keep up the form they had in Korea and Japan.

    As for 5th place in the WCC, it’s a no-brainer, really, Force India have fallen back like a stone in the last 5 weekends, while Sauber and Toro Rosso are way too far back to threaten McLaren, who have a very solid and consistent #1 driver.

    • Based on driver lineups, Merc should really be the ones do it… But Lotus is showing recent form… Ferrari have the lead, but will maintain only if Felipe can pull his thumb out. I said Ferrari, but it really could go either way.

  12. PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 19th October 2013, 12:25

    I hope Lotus get second, though I have voted for Mercedes who I think will get it. Lotus getting second should hopefully help financially, whereas Ferrari and Mercedes need that less.
    For fifth, I’ve gone for Sauber. It’s definitely an outside chance, but a chance nevertheless. Plus, I’d say based on how it’s been going, they deserve it more. Otherwise, it’s McLaren, and they are with out a doubt the most likely to get 5th. Sauber will definitely at least get 6th though.

  13. MNM101 (@mnm101) said on 19th October 2013, 13:54

    Shouldn’t Vettel be included in this article ? he is tied on points with Ferrari :P

  14. I think the live results paint a very true picture of how it really is: for second, it really is anybody’s guess (hence why they are split almost evenly for now). And for 5th, the overwhelming majority think McLaren will hold on due to their points lead.

  15. obviously said on 19th October 2013, 14:26

    Massa’s incompetence is a gift that keeps on giving… to their rivals. Not only is he potentially costing them the 2nd place this year, but the fact that due to his poor points total means that they still can’t fully focus on 2014, which means his incompetence is influencing their 2014 campaign too!

    And he wants a seat in another top team?

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