Marussia by Todd (Negative Camber)
I’ll be honest; I like the Marussia F1 team. I always have and while my optimism for the team has waned slightly with the departure of Pat Symonds, the team still have a group of committed individuals that I believe are very good thinkers, designers and engineers.
With John Booth and Graeme Lowdon at the helm, I think they are still in good stead but cash, as with most teams in F1 these days, is hard to come by. The lingering debt of the team was absorbed by the investors as, effectively, a long-term note to shareholder and that has freed ups some capital. The 10th place constructor’s finish in 2013 could add significantly to the coughers should Marussia capitalize on it with another 10th in 2014.
To those ends, the first few races will be critical for the team because the regulation changes will see all-new engines, aero, heating issues and more. Any act of attrition on any of the midfield teams could see Marussia stealing a 13th place or better and this could play very well into their hands.
For Marussia, their season could really culminate in the first 4 or 5 races. Keeping the Caterham’s behind them will be no small task but there are a few key elements they will bring to the table in 2014…namely, a strategic relationship with Ferrari.
With new Ferrari shove in the back of their car and an ERS as well as technical help, Marussia could make a significant jump in 2014 as they were saddled with a waning Cosworth engine in 2013. The downside is the cash it will take to keep that relationship fueled and a steady flow of engines and parts coming from Maranello. The team will also gain an ear of Shell as a Ferrari engine customer and that can’t hurt.
While money will be the biggest challenge in 2014, they also have a vested interest in continuing to race for their partner, Ferrari, as their driver is a prodigy from the Italian teams junior driver program. Jules Bianchi will continue at the team and Ferrari are very keen to keep this young man racing so there could be some monetary help or supplier help to foster the teams livelihood in 2014.
Coupled with Max Chilton, the only man to finish every race in 2013, the team will look to Chilton sponsor dollars and Bianchi talent to propel them to another 10th in the constructor’s championship increasing their take-home pay by tens of millions of dollars.
On paper, you’d have to say that Caterham look to be in a stronger position but if Booth and Lowdon can really grease that Ferrari relationship, they could be the small team that could and take Caterham to task in 2014. Look for Marussia in the back but possibly ahead of Caterham if fate will allow.
Red Bull Racing by Grace with an assist from Adam Vella
In 2014, car number 1 and number 3 will belong to Red Bull Racing drivers Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and based on their four constructors titles and four driver championships, I’m predicting they will do quite alright in 2014. Okay not the boldest prediction on the grid but I think previous theories will hold true again for 2014 – do they still have Adrian Newey and his cardboard cutouts? Then the team will do just fine. Sure, there is always the off chance of a misstep or an illegal new car component but as it years past it seems unlikely.
So while total world dominance seems likely for RBR, they did have a major driver change this season. Mark Webber decided to move on after spending seven years with the team as the “don’t call him number two” number two driver. While Mark has left the Formula 1 for sports cars, he will be missed on the grid for his Aussie Grit style and his strong performances at many Formula 1 races. Personally, I will always remember him for his heartfelt celebration with Paul Stoddard after winning the teams first F1 point in three years at their home race in Australia in 2002. Mark will be missed but I can’t wait to see him behind the wheel of a Porsche at Le Mans.
While we say good-bye to one Australian, we say hello to another.
Meet Daniel Ricciardo – Australian and Toro Rosso driver. In his three years as a Formula 1 drive he has crossed paths with HRT and STR before landing the seat at Red Bull next to Vettel. While he is a relative unknown to Formula 1 fans, he continues to carry the Aussie attitude around the paddock and has risen from the ranks of my favorite feeder series Renault 3.5. His past has shown strong performances and sheer determination but the backing of Red Bull has to be a crowning achievement. As of right now, all sign point to top talent in the second Red Bull car but it will take time for Daniel to develop into a top driver.
So for 2014, I predict:
• World domination, including both the constructors and the drivers championship
• At least one technological advancement that RBR will try to keep secret, all the other teams will try to copy, and that the FIA will ultimately ban
• And while Daniel wouldn’t win the drivers championship in 2014, give it sometime and you will likely see him representing for his home country from the top step sometime after the midseason break. Maybe say Italy.