Then and Now – New Teams

With the FIA inviting tenders for new teams to join the Formula 1 circus from 2015 or 2016, what chance have they got to make a success of it?  The four most recent teams to have been lucky enough to be given an entry (for 2010) haven’t really made much of an impact on the record books:

USF1 never really got going and financial troubles from the start meant the most they completed was a nosecone (which was subsequently destroyed in the crash test);

HRT at least made it to the grid, and finished the first season in 11th place thanks to three 14th places compare to Virgin’s one.  They repeated the feat in 2011, but by 2012 had slipped to last place, and failed to raise enough funds to continue in 2012.

Lotus Racing started well, finishing the first two seasons in 10th place, although not able to get any higher than 12th place in any race.  Following a legal battle, they changed their name to Caterham in 2012 (still finishing in 10th overall), but dropped to 11th and last place in the championship last season.

Virgin were unable to get the benefit of midfield or top teams unreliability for the first two years of its existence and so finished behind HRT despite having an arguably faster car.  A change of title sponsor lead the team to change its name to Marussia for 2012, while they finally managed to finish above HRT in 2012, they continued to improve last year finally finishing ahead of Caterham in 2013.

All four of these teams entered on the understanding that there would be a cost cap (of the order of £40 to 50 million a year).  While the remaining two teams have managed to secure budgets of about twice that for the year, this is far short of the budgets of the top two or three teams.  While in 2013 there was still a clear gap to the midfield in terms of lap-time, the gap to the very front of the grid has reduced dramatically over the four years they have been competing.

If we examine the records of the other teams that are in the championship we can see the following results:

ConstructorFirst EnteredFirst PointsFirst WinFirst Constructors’ Championship
Red Bull2005200520092010
Lotus (Enstone)201120112012None
Mercedes (Brackley)201020102012None
Force India20082009NoneNone
Toro Rosso200620062008None


Three of these teams have remained with the same identity all the way through their existence: Ferrari, McLaren and Williams.   The gap between Ferrari entering (the race after F1 championship started) and their first constructors’ trophy is due largely to the fact there was no constructors’ championship prior to 1958.  McLaren started winning races only two years after entering the sport, although the first championship took a little longer they are still arguably one of the top teams in F1.  Williams as a constructor, were a little faster off the mark, scoring points in year two, winning five races in year three and the championship the following year.

However many of these teams started life with another identity (as with Caterham and Marussia), so to be completely fair we have to go back and examine their predecessors, to see how long it took before they scored points, wins or championships. So if we start with the team now calling itself Lotus (note this has nothing to do with the team Colin Chapman started).

ConstructorFirst EnteredFirst PointsFirst WinFirst Constructors’ Championship
Renault (Enstone)2002200220032005


So in the first year it didn’t score any points (points only going down to 6th in those days), in fact it struggled to get a car to still be running at the finish.  Its best result was 10th in Germany for Derek Warwick, two laps down and a minute behind Nigel Mansell in 9th place.  On the whole a similar performance to that recently achieved by the ‘new’ teams.  Despite some outstanding podium places in 1984 (possibly due to the drivers rather than the car), it wasn’t until the team was taken over by Benetton that the first win appeared in 1986.  The team won constructors’ titles both as Benetton and Renault before the team changed its name again to Lotus.

The other team with a name that goes back to the 1950’s (and beyond) is Mercedes, but that team can trace its ancestry back through Brawn, Honda, BAR and Tyrrell:

ConstructorFirst EnteredFirst PointsFirst WinFirst Constructors’ Championship


While Ken Tyrrell entered a team before 1970, this was the first year he constructed his own chassis, with the Tyrrell 001 entered for the last few races alongside the March 701 they had used all year.  The Tyrrell failed to finish any of the three races it started in 1970, yet by the following year it was good enough to take the championship for Jackie Stewart.  Following Stewarts’ retirement, the team went into a slow decline, before the entry was sold to BAR.  Despite promising to win its first race, the team went for a whole season without scoring a point, and never managed to collect a winners’ trophy.  When Honda took over the whole team (rather than just supplying the engines) they did at last mange a solitary win in changeable conditions.  Then following Honda withdrawing after a disastrous 2008, the resurgent Brawn team managed to maximise the change in regulations to win the 2009 championship before selling the team to Mercedes.

Sauber have changed names, selling to BMW before being bought back by Peter Sauber in order to save the team, but their results are captured in the first table above.  ForceIndia on the other hand have gone through several iterations, starting with the most successful to date for the Silverstone based outfit:

ConstructorFirst EnteredFirst PointsFirst WinFirst Constructors’ Championship


A very successful debut season and steady development (especially once the theam stopped changing engine suppliers) lead to a first win in Spa 1998.  !999 brought the team very close to a drivers’ championship for Heinz-Harold Frentzen, and then the decline set in.  Once sold to Midland, the team didn’t even last the season before being sold again to Spyker.  Although they did manage to score a point in their first full season, the team was sold again at the end of the year to Force India.  They have yet to approach the success achieved by the first incarnation of the team.

Toro Rosso of course started out as the paddocks favourite backmarker:

ConstructorFirst EnteredFirst PointsFirst WinFirst Constructors’ Championship


This team possibly most closely resembles the two newest teams in F1 today.  It took them three years before they were able to score a point, finally getting a sixth place (out of eight finishers) in Detroit in 1988.

Last, but by no means least, Red Bull didn’t create a team from scratch, they can trace their roots back to Stewart:

ConstructorFirst EnteredFirst PointsFirst WinFirst Constructors’ Championship


When Paul Stewart Racing moved up to F1 from Vauxhall Lotus, F3 and F3000, they did it right.  The team had been the butt of many jokes in the lower paddocks for concentrating on getting the details right (e.g. jacking the trucks wheels up and rotating the wheels to make sure the tyre logos were the right way up), but once they started winning in the lower formulae and wanted to move up to F1 this attention to the small details meant they would fit right in to Bernie Ecclestone’s meticulously organised world. The team came in with a three year plan, and indeed managed to win a race in their third year before selling the team to Ford who branded the team Jaguar.  Going from a small racing team to a big corporate entity didn’t help, even if the funding was potentially better, and it took the arrival of Adrian Newey once Red Bull had taken over to turn the team around.

So Stewart were the last ‘new’ team to score points back in 1997 (for Barrichello’s second place at Monaco), and Sauber the last ‘new’ team to win in 2008.  Is there any prospect of Caterham or Marussia replacing them?  Well with reliability possibly being the dominant factor in the early races this year, we may see one or both teams break their duck, but I don’t really expect to see either taking a podium.


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