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.

Who will finish second in the constructors' championship?

  • Ferrari (34%)
  • Mercedes (32%)
  • Lotus (34%)
  • Someone else (0%)

Total Voters: 299

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Who will finish fifth in the constructors' championship?

  • McLaren (81%)
  • Sauber (18%)
  • Force India (1%)
  • Someone else (0%)

Total Voters: 293

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

  1. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 19th October 2013, 14:27

    If Mercedes keeps having those unbelievable failures (nosecone, early release, tyre-eating cars) and Massa 2.0 keeps complicating Alonso, I guess that is enough to give Lotus the 2n place, almost as a presentvfor the “consistent inconsistency” on the other 2 teams. And about McLaren, I doubt that big difference they still have on their favor can be reduced and surpassed by the other chasing teams.

    • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 19th October 2013, 22:01

      @omarr-pepper Both Mercedes drivers are making mistakes too currently.

      • OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 19th October 2013, 22:09

        Yeah, @spoutnik and even when you can appreciate Hamilton’s attempt to take the small spot between Webber and Vettel to overtake them, it was far too much, too risky, and it finally backfired.
        And about 5th spot in the WCC, Perez has to stop making his “formula to overtake” which is pushing the other driver off the track. He’ll get many penalties by doing that! That can only end up in McLaren losing the advantage,

  2. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 19th October 2013, 14:43

    My bet is on Ferrari and McLaren ! But Massa’s poor performances might change things for the 2nd place battle tho. He’s racing for himself now, and we’ve seen that.

  3. George (@george) said on 19th October 2013, 14:45

    I think McLaren have 5th in the bag, their car is generally running in the top 10 so I dont think Sauber can catch them, they might overhaul Force India though if they can keep scoring in the mid-top-10.

    The fight for 2nd is more up in the air, Mercedes have the fastest car and the best driver lineup, but their race pace isn’t quite there still, and their strategy has been questionable.
    Ferrari have had a bit of a dip in form but they’ve still been picking up what they can. I think between these two it will depend on how their cars perform at the last few events.
    Lotus I think are just too far behind unless the front two have a lot of DNF’s, although I expect them to outscore the other two for the remaining races.

  4. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 19th October 2013, 15:24

    Red bull didn’t really need Mark Webber this year. Vettel’s points alone put the team tied first with Ferrari in the constructors championship! If I was Christian Horner I would drop webber now and put Ricciardo in the car, giving him an early start to his RBR career to help him adapt more quickly to the team.

  5. iAltair (@ialtair) said on 19th October 2013, 15:39

    Vettel might beat 2nd in WCC. :O

  6. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 19th October 2013, 15:46

    I think Mercedes have been woefully unlucky in the last few races, and this has to a certain extent masked how much Ferrari is struggling to keep in touch with both Mercedes and Lotus on race day. I think Mercedes will get a few good results and that will be enough to capture second. I can see Lotus continuing their good form and pipping Ferrari for third.

    If Ferrari had a stronger driver than Massa in their second seat then I’d be a lot more optimistic about them keeping second but unfortunately Massa has cost Ferrari in the constructor’s championship over the past three seasons and I can’t see that changing.

  7. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 19th October 2013, 16:25

    Although they don’t qualify on pole anymore, I think Mercedes still has the best car overall outside the Red Bull. They are qualifying ahead of Ferrari and Lotus, and their race pace is usually a match for them too, although it differs per venue. They also have two strong drivers, unlike Ferrari, so I think they should be able to take second place. However, they have to start getting more out of their weekends.

    As for fifth, I’d like Sauber’s incredible rise to continue, but I believe McLaren will continue to grab a couple of 8th and 9nth places, securing fifth in the standings. If there is rain in Brazil, though, Hulkenberg might surprise them all and score the podium he was on course for last year, until sliding into Hamilton.

  8. If Lotus keeps getting Podiums then they may have a chance. But mostly Ferrari can seal the Deal for P2. But who will be P3 and P4 will be Interesting as Mercedes last Podium was in Spa by Lewis Hamilton with a P3. Also they never had a Double Podium Finish this season unlike their Rivals Lotus and Ferrari
    Since Spa GP Ferrari scored 103 Points, Mercedes scored 79 Points, Lotus scored 81 Points.

  9. thetobs (@thetobs) said on 19th October 2013, 17:11

    I voted for McLaren to take fifth in the constructors. Sauber are too far behind to challenge unless they have a podium or McLaren have a couple of bad races. For second, based on current form, I think that Lotus are in with a small chance. They could beat Mercedes but I think that beating Ferrari will be a big ask. Alonso is very consistent but Grosjean has been having some good races. it going to be very close.

  10. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 19th October 2013, 17:12

    My heart says Lotus & Sauber, and that could be possible. Logic tells me Ferrari & McLaren.

    The biggest question marks for the number 2 spot is Massa driving intelligently to maximize points. He would make himself look better than if he goes out overly aggressive and foolishly independent. I don’t mean team orders, just score the most points possible for yourself and team. Isn’t that the overall idea? Mercedes could easily win 2nd spot with two strong drivers and no errors or bad luck. That remains to be seen. Lotus appears to be peaking toward the end of the season with the car overall and Grosjean in particular. If Kimi gets the car setup more to his liking, look out.

    Sauber’s star is rising with both drivers now capable of point scoring. To finish 5th they really have to depend on the misfortune of others. While FI is in a points drought McLaren has a substantial lead and would have to have mechanical failures, bad luck or poor driving judgement by Perez multiple times to enable Sauber to finish ahead. Stranger things have happened.

    The other points scrambling factor that has not figured into the championships much at all this season is weather. One or two wet races could scramble things up in a very interesting way.

  11. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 19th October 2013, 18:18

    I believe Mercedes is going to finish 2nd in the constructors, mainly due to the fact that the tires are so much of a factor these days and the tires announced by Pirelli for the last 4 races lean toward the hardest combination of compounds which Mercedes clearly likes more than the Ferrari, and much more than Lotus. Plus, Mercedes is still the most balanced combination of drivers, both capable of scoring huge points and taking points of their rivals. Yes they had a misfortune in Japan but this won’t happen every time

    I don’t think it’s even remotely realistic to expect Sauber to clinch 5th place. even if they keep up the huge scoring of the past 4 races(9.5 points/race average) that will still bring them only to 83 which is exactly the points Mclaren have now. Even if Sauber raise it to the last 2 races average of 13 points and finish on 97 Mclaren only need to average 3.75 points to beat them. So unlikely. They will snatch 6th from force India though, unless something dramatic happens

  12. Strontium (@strontium) said on 19th October 2013, 20:16

    WOW! This really shows what a big impact the tyre changes had on all of the teams. I knew it was big but not this big!

  13. Deej92 (@deej92) said on 19th October 2013, 20:25

    McLaren I think have too big a lead to be caught, but I expect Sauber to overtake Force India.
    It’s difficult to predict who’ll get 2nd. Mercedes have had some rotten luck lately which could’ve let them overtake Ferrari, and right now Lotus have the 2nd best package on the grid. I’ve ended up going with Ferrari but it’s anybody’s guess.

  14. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 19th October 2013, 20:57

    1. Red Bull
    2. Mercedes
    3. Lotus
    4. Ferrari
    5. McLaren
    6. Sauber
    7. Force India
    8. Toro Rosso
    9. Williams
    10. Marussia
    11. Caterham

    Close between 2-4 and 5+6, otherwise pretty clear.

  15. Makana (@makana) said on 19th October 2013, 23:16

    I think Lotus have a lot to prove in 2013 still while Ferrari and Mercedes have more to prove in 2014, furthermore Kimi is finishing races, and Romain wants to prove he’s faster big time and that’s a plus. So going for Lotus as second. Sauber IMO can beat Force India but McLaren! they need a miracle… Sauber for sixth.

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