F1 Tops and Flops of 2012, Part 3 – The last of the last

Someone up there in the skies apparently loves tricking me.

As I was going to start writing Part 1 of my Tops and Flops list, criticising Mercedes and Lotus for the poor results they achieved despite the expectations, Lotus won their first race of the year, indeed.

After I criticised Force India for their poor results throughout the years in Part 2, they had a great race with Nico Hulkenberg fighting for the lead until he faultlessly crashed into Hamilton and got a drive-thru for that.

Luckily the Championship is over, it has not really ended the way I was hoping, but at least there is no risk my opinions get proven wrong by the facts.

In Part 3 of my Tops and flops list I am going to analyse the back of the grid, the not-so underdogs, but rather the hopeless, desperate, last of the last teams. Caterham, Marussia and HRT.

They were all “wisely” chosen in 2009 from a list of several other teams to compete starting from the 2010 season. Times have changed since the 1980s, when new teams were born every race: they were purposely chosen based on their likelihood to compete on the same level with the other teams.

However, you could see that something was wrong from the beginning. Take HRT, for instance: Bahrain 2010, their car was completed the Friday before the race. Australia 2011: same story. Australia 2012? You guessed it right.

Caterham (formerly known as Lotus Renault) and Marussia (formerly known as Virgin) are just slightly better. Caterham is surely the most consistent of the three, with good chances of scoring their first point soon. This year’s car was equipped with a Renault engine and a Red Bull’s gearbox. Their business is solid thanks to the amount of sponsors and the financial stability of patron Tony Fernandes.

Despite this good basis, however, they are still looking to gain their first point. This year they even risked losing the 10th position in the Championship in favour of Marussia. A  10th position is the last spot that guarantees money from TV rights, $19 million to be precise. A huge amount of money for a team like Caterham, that will surely help them develop next year’s car.

The result was achieved during the last Brazilian race, thanks to Vitaly Petrov’s  11th place. Marussia’s Timo Glock previously secured the aspired 10th spot after a nice 12th place in Singapore.

Despite this result, Caterham have not confirmed Petrov yet, whereas they already dismissed Kovalainen (surely a Top in my list) in favour of Charles Pic who, apart from money, will not bring much to the team. He has driven for Marussia this years, so you cannot really expect him to bring some know-how. Only a big bag of green notes, which is never to dislike, after all.

What else to say about these three teams and six drivers? Quite strangely, 2012 has seen no driver dismissal, except Jerome D’ambrosio replacing Romain Grosjean at Lotus due to his disqualification from the Italian GP.

I would give a plus to Pedro De la Rosa just for the way he keeps fighting for HRT. Not many people realise that he is already 41! Thumbs up, I wish he got more from his intermittent Formula One career.

An absolute Flops is Narain Karthikeyan: I am sure he can bring a lot of useful money to HRT, but he has been a constant danger on the track. We will surely not miss him next year.

Provided that HRT is not forced to close down.