The mid-season summer break is now complete and the 2016 FIA Formula 1 World Championship is headed for its final nine Grands Prix.
Looking forward to what will hopefully be a strong finish to the season are the four bottom-ranked squads on the constructors’ standings.
Haas, Renault, Manor and Sauber have each had forgettable campaigns in the first half of the year.
The good news is that there’s no other way to go but up, and so it remains to be seen whether any of them will show any signs of life and make a serious push for improvement moving forward on the calendar.
Haas F1 Team - 8th, 28 points
Haas have shown the most potential amongst this season’s cellar-dwellers so far.
Their success has come as a major surprise, considering that it is their maiden campaign in the top flight. But the American outfit have proven that they belong, mostly thanks to their hard-working driver tandem of Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.
Grosjean enjoyed a fantastic start to the 2016 season with sixth and fifth-placed finishes in Australia and Bahrain, and he has cracked the top eight another two times since.
Gutierrez has not had the same success but has displayed solid consistency, finishing every race since starting the championship with a couple of retirements.
Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steiner commented:
“The pace is there. We can do it, we just have to pull it all together and get it done. We’ve showed that we can do that, which is ultimately a positive for the team moving forward.”
Renault Sport F1 - 9th, 6 points
Renault’s return to Formula 1 as a constructor this season has not been an easy one. Despite taking over for Lotus, their four-year hiatus has certainly made it a challenge to keep up with the top flight’s other big names, but if there’s any team that has the resources to turn things around, it is them.
Kevin Magnussen has been solid and has one points-finish to his name. Rookie Jolyon Palmer has had it rough thus far, missing the race in Bahrain and having three retirements since.
But that hasn’t stopped Renault Team Principal Fred Vasseur from having a positive outlook on the upcoming second half of the championship. He commented:
“We’ll come back after the break fighting.”
Manor Racing - 10th, 1 point
Manor, formerly Virgin and Marussia, headed into this season hoping to finally make a splash in Formula 1. There has been an improvement, but nothing major to help the rookie partnership of Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto break out of the bottom-half of the field.
Wehrlein has had one highlight so far, however: a 10th place finish in Austria to claim his team’s first and only points so far this season.
Manor have already made their first major change moving forward in an effort to shake things up. They have signed outstanding French youngster Esteban Ocon to replace Haryanto for the remainder of the season. Let’s see if Ocon can help inject some life into the squad.
Manor Racing Director Dave Ryan said:
"There is no doubt that this year’s car is a massive step on last year’s. But we are still nowhere near quick enough. This year we’re definitely able to be competitive with some of the cars around us and the performance gap we had to find to do that was massive. But we need the same improvement again. It’s not one area in particular, it’s everywhere.”
Sauber F1 Team - 11th, 0 points
Finally, the biggest disappointments of the year thus far: Sauber.
Coming off a promising campaign in 2015 where they finished eighth on the constructors’ championship, the returning driver line-up of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr were hoping to take the next step forward.
But things have been the exact opposite. Sauber have not a single point to show for their efforts.
Off-track issues regarding their finances and little upgrades to their car have contributed to their misfortunes, which included a double-retirement in Monaco following a crash between their two drivers.
Hoping to put those things behind them, Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn said:
“Now we will turn our focus to the races after the summer break, where we bring new parts on the car side. We do expect an improvement in terms of the performance of the Sauber C35-Ferrari.”
The Formula 1 season resumes on August 28 with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.