Behind the top three of Ferrari, McLaren and BMW the battle among the midfield teams is just as excitingly close. Not least because it’s two factory teams versus their two customers:
4. Red Bull-Renault 24
5. Toyota 23
6. Williams-Toyota 15
7. Renault 12
Toyota made a major step forward in France, scoring their first podium in two years. With Silverstone similar in character to Magny-Cours, could they become the ‘best of the rest’ team this weekend?
In the last two races Toyota have scored more points than their three principal rivals combined. At Canada Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli were well placed to profit from the timing of a safety car period. In France Trulli qualified fourth and raced to an excellent third, profiting from McLaren’s problems and out-performing the BMWs on an off-day for the German team.
Can Toyota repeat that form at Silverstone? If Ferrari, McLaren and BMW run to their season-long form, and suffer no reliability problems, then Toyota and the other three will be looking for seventh in the race at best. But the top three cars have not yet filled the top six places this year, so there are likely to be more than just three points (for seventh and eighth) on offer for the midfield teams this weekend.
But the midfield leaders Red Bull are more wary of the threat from Renault than Toyota. Mark Webber said recently:
In terms of the opposition, Renault have definitely not performed to their maximum yet and we can expect strong opposition from them and from a few other drivers and teams that have maybe under performed so far.
Renault certainly haven’t delivered on their potential so far this year. Languishing in seventh in the championship, they at least managed their first double points score of the year at home two weeks ago.
But the championship table still makes painful reading for the French team. Two years ago after the first eight races they were leading the constructors’ championship with 106 points, 31 more than Ferrari. After eight races last year they had 28 points and were third. Today they are seventh with 12 points.
Williams can also be described as a team that haven’t delivered on their potential. Since the high of their podium at Melbourne their form has varied from race to race. Nico Rosberg has had a nightmarish last three races with a crash in Monaco and another in Canada, which of course landed him with the same ten-place grid penalty as Lewis Hamilton for France.
Which of these four teams will be on top this weekend?