Forget Hamilton and Rosberg; the real action in Austin was further back in the pack. But did anyone miss the two tail end teams this weekend? Our editor tries to answer that question.
Despite all the rhetoric of potential boycotts, and the apparent spectre of financial implosion hanging over a number of teams, Sunday’s US Grand Prix actually turned out to be rather enjoyable to watch. In fact, the midfield action was probably some of the best racing that has been seen all season. Which leads to the pertinent question; did the absence of Caterham and Marussia actually make any real difference?
From Alonso who finished 6th, to Button who came across the line in 12th, there was genuine racing throughout the majority of the race. Yes, there were many factors at play, such as Vettel starting from the pit lane, Alonso running a longer middle stint, and Button’s tyres dropping off dramatically at the end. But this all made for a very enjoyable race for the neutral spectator, with Grosjean and Vergne getting up close and personal, whilst Alonso and Vettel slugged it out.
Put simply, would the addition of Marussia and Caterham to the grid have made any difference to the action on track? In all honestly, I very much doubt it. Such has been the performance difference between even the rear of the midfield teams and Marussia/Caterham, it would seem conceivable that Ericsson, Kobayashi and Chilton would have soon dropped away from the rest of the runners early on.
As sad as the loss of Marussia and Caterham from the grid has been, there seems little point in having ten teams in Formula 1 if such a performance gulf exists between the front and back of the grid. At numerous times this season the qualifying pace of the slowest F1 car has actually been closer to the quickest GP2 runner, rather than the F1 pole position. Take the below examples from Monza and Sochi for instance: