Is MS having a better season than it looks? Just basing it on pace I think the answer is yes, he definitely has shown pace on a par or better than NR’s. And he has made fewer gaffs than last year, the one with Senna that also cost him for Monaco being the main one. Last year there were several. At the same time NR has also outpaced MS. So it really depends on the day, as we have experienced with pretty much all drivers and all teams thanks to the unpredictability of the tires.
Of course reliability has been the glaring issue for MS, so in that sense he cannot take the bulk of the blame for his low points tally. But I used to defend JV vs. Button that year at BAR for the same reasons…JV had half of Button’s points, but had far worse reliability, so I always claimed and will to this day, that JV had a better season than JB, or at least a better season than it looked, taking the unreliability into account. But most people didn’t seem to care. It all came down to the points tally and the standings and how that looked to the masses.
I won’t do the same thing to MS that I rued happened to JV, but I will say this. Somehow Merc has managed to on one day win a race, and on the next not even put one car in Q3, nor barely finish in the top ten, so from a team standpoint, a consistancy standpoint, of course a reliability standpoint, and also to look at how much potential they showed in the pre-season testing and in China, to where they sit in the standings both for the WCC and the WDC, this has been a truly terrible season for them. Have they not moved backwards from where they were last year at this time?
Bottom line, MS has been handcuffed by unreliability and sometimes lack of pace, and to ultimately look at the standings, even with the asterisks beside the results, the whole team has not done anywhere near what they had hoped to do this year, as in fight for wins and podiums. Others have done that where they should have if you go by the work they did and the enthusiasm in the off season, and their ultimate goal of progressing to the top. And also if you consider they were supposed to have an ace up their sleeve with the F-duct.