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Midfield Monitor

About Midfield Monitor

There’s an age old debate in Formula One, focusing on whether a season is good because it is made up of individually exciting races, or whether the overall championship story is a classic. In 2011, we had to settle for the fascinating weekends, as the title fight was over before it ever had a chance to get going. There was, however, one section of the Constructor’s Championship battle that remained entertaining to the last. The midfield teams were fighting for points and for position in the standings table right up until the final few laps. Quite often, it is the midfield that provide the entertainment of any race weekend, and they are also the teams that are often overlooked. The Midfield Monitor intends to reverse that trend, paying attention to the middle four teams only.

The toughest battle comes from within

Toro Rosso's trio of tasks for the 2016 season

Sidepodcast: The toughest battle comes from within

by Christine Blachford

Being a new team gives you some leeway in terms of expectations. Everyone else has to deal with the scrutiny that comes from having experience in the sport, which brings with it the assertion that you should be on top of things by now. For the 2016 season, it looks like Toro Rosso have finally managed to pull things together and could be in with a real shot of putting together an impressive season of running.

Are Haas heading straight for the midfield?

Predicting the order of things as 2016 gets underway

Sidepodcast: Are Haas heading straight for the midfield?

by Christine Blachford

When a team is as dominant and unflinching as Mercedes have been these last few years, it is to the midfield that we look for our entertainment. For the real battles, the inter-team squabbles, the strategy calls that don't work out, the pit stops that could be done better, we zero in on those teams that are almost there but not quite. I'd planned to resurrect Midfield Monitor, the feature that focuses on the central portion of the grid, even before we had a new team to talk about. As it happens, Haas are confident they can debut right in the midst of the pack, and thus become a star of Midfield Monitor in their own right.

There but for the grace of Marussia

What the mixed up qualifying session at Spa showed us

Sidepodcast: There but for the grace of Marussia

by Christine Blachford

One of the more interesting aspects of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend was qualifying. The race promised plenty yet under-delivered, while Saturday was one of the more exciting qualifying sessions we’ve seen in a long time. It was the elements outside of team control that made the difference, as is often the case. Formula One employees know their jobs inside out and it takes something natural, unexpected and usually weather-related to mess up the order of things.

Cast adrift

Significant spaces open up in the 2013 constructor's championship

Sidepodcast: Cast adrift

by Christine Blachford

With the dust settling after the Hungarian Grand Prix, and a lengthy summer break stretching out before us – the halfway point of the 2013 F1 World Championship has been reached and passed. As the saying goes, it is all downhill from here. For the midfield teams, however, it’s an uphill battle as they try to pull whatever they can get from the second half of this season.

Opportunity knocks

McLaren's midfield appearance gives hope to surrounding teams

Sidepodcast: Opportunity knocks

by Christine Blachford

McLaren aren't a team that you would expect to feature in this Midfield Monitor column, but they have got their 2013 season off to a shockingly poor start and find themselves only seventh in the constructor standings after two races. With just four points on the board, McLaren have given themselves an awful lot of work to do as Formula One takes a three week break before heading to China.

Narrowing the field

The 2013 season creeps closer, with a midfield set focused on improvements

Sidepodcast: Narrowing the field

by Christine Blachford

2013 heralds a diminished entry list, with HRT no longer present and correct in the F1 paddock. However, if recent form is anything to go by, Caterham and Marussia will continue their backmarker roles with Toro Rosso slipping neatly in as the third slowest team. With qualifying now spitting out the six slowest cars after each event, it doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to figure out how the first twenty minute session is going to go each week.

The Sauber stalemate situation

A promising battle between Sauber and Mercedes looks set to deliver nothing at all

Sidepodcast: The Sauber stalemate situation

by Christine Blachford

Earlier this month, Monisha Kaltenborn - newly installed team principal at the Sauber team - reiterated just how proud she was of her team, and what they have achieved this year. With four podium positions to their name, Sauber were riding the high of a third place for Kamui Kobayashi at his home race in Japan. Spirits were lifted, and the motivation to go on and do even better was there in abundance.

Always look on the bright side of life

Do team principals ever let their optimistic guard slip and tell it like it really is?

Sidepodcast: Always look on the bright side of life

by Christine Blachford

As an F1 fan, optimism can ebb and flow, depending on how the season is going. If your chosen driver is not having the best year, it can be hard to muster up enthusiasm for another race. Meanwhile, if your top team are leading the standings, it’s easy to tune in each weekend for another exciting motorsport adventure. For those inside the teams, however, it seems as though each year is a season full of neverending optimism – if the press releases are to be believed.

Stuck in a Mercedes moment

Michael Schumacher's struggles in Hungary are indicative of a bigger concern

Sidepodcast: Stuck in a Mercedes moment

by Christine Blachford

With the summer break now upon us, teams that had a good result in Hungary will be feeling confident. They’ve got something to keep the momentum going over the extended shutdown, and can ensure that morale remains high amongst the employees and drivers alike. For Mercedes, the single point secured at the Hungaroring left a lot to be desired, and they are now firmly sitting in a midfield wilderness - ahead of those behind them, but nowhere near the leading four. With five weeks before the next race (albeit two of them enforced holiday), what can the team do to turn things around?

Caught in the middle

The close field of 2012 makes a midfield racer's life even harder

Sidepodcast: Caught in the middle

by Christine Blachford

The 2012 F1 season has been closer than anyone could have possibly anticipated, and in the European Grand Prix this past weekend, we saw a great example of just how tight the field really is. The difference between the top thirteen drivers in second qualifying was less than three tenths of a second - the slightest mistake could prove to be very costly. In the final qualifying shootout, Sebastian Vettel stormed ahead by three tenths, but behind him, the drivers remained incredibly close. A tenth here, a tenth there, this is where mistakes are really starting to prove costly, and it’s never more obvious than in the midfield.

Fast car, low mileage, two careless owners

Sauber teeter on the line between rise and fall, but their foundations look solid

Sidepodcast: Fast car, low mileage, two careless owners

by Christine Blachford

Sauber had a really strong start to the 2012 season, but since then things have been looking difficult for the Hinwil based team. A double points finish in Australia was followed by a second place podium for Sergio Pérez. The entire team were emotional with the great result, and it looked like their ability to look after the tyres was going to play into their favour over the coming year.

Force India - Front to back

Force India's quiet start to 2012 belies some interesting potential

Sidepodcast: Force India - Front to back

by Christine Blachford

Before the 2012 season got underway, I was not alone in hoping the Force India team would be front and centre. Since joining the sport in 2008, the team have made slow but steady progress through the field, finishing last year in 6th place. This season felt like one they could really grab. We all sensed the competition would be much closer, that Red Bull would not be walking all over everyone again. Although it would still be a long way to the top, it felt like there would be room for a new team to make a significant jump forward.

Magic eight haul

Williams enter the 2012 midfield despite two difficult early races

Sidepodcast: Magic eight haul

by Christine Blachford

Williams finished the 2011 season just inches away from being one of the backmarker teams. Change was sorely needed, and change is exactly what the team got. Everyone was, and is, keen to see whether they could pull themselves out of the abyss and back into the midst of a highly competitive field, or if they would spend another season losing momentum at the back of the grid. Two races in, and we're starting to discover the answer.

Introduction

Tracking the midfield F1 teams

Sidepodcast: Introduction

by Christine Blachford

With the 2012 season just moments away, it's time to introduce the teams who finished last year firmly in the midfield and who want to approach the new season with the intent of moving on out of it. From the high profile appointment at the newly-named Lotus, through the behind the scenes issues at Force India, to the teams sitting on the fringes of the midfield and looking in. As the season progresses, we'll cover the on track racing and off track endeavours of the midfield four, but for now, we begin with an introduction to those sitting there as 2012 begins.