Formula 1

Should backmarker teams receive more support?

Caterham & Marussia have failed to score a single point in four years (©GettyImages)
Caterham & Marussia have failed to score a single point in four years (©GettyImages).

Due to the complex financial and political nature of Formula 1, it is inevitable that there will be a hierarchy of teams. Those who have more money and power will be at the front and those with less, at the back.

Since their arrival to the sport in 2010, Caterham and Marussia have constantly been at the back of the pack. Both teams have made significantly little impact on the sport in terms of results.

Neither team has scored a single point. This begs the question: should more be done to support these struggling teams?

It was recently revealed that Williams have rejected an offer to merge with the Marussia team. It was believed that, although both teams were struggling, merging their budgets, talent and facilities would benefit both parties.

The idea was supported by Bernie Ecclestone, but understandably rejected by Williams’ deputy team principal Claire Williams.

However, a similar deal could still be done between Marussia and Sauber. Both teams are linked to Ferrari and co-owner Peter Sauber is keen to sell up.

2014 provides a big opportunity for smaller teams to make their way up the grid. Just look at 2009, when a big change in rules allowed Red Bull and Brawn to fight for the title. However, with their smaller budgets and resources, it is doubtful that the same will happen with the current backmarkers.

If this is the case, then a merger could potentially be the way forward.

However, backmarkers are arguably necessary for the sport as they provide young drivers with an opportunity to make a name for themselves. Daniel Ricciardo drove for HRT at the back of the field in 2011. In 2012 he moved to Torro Rosso and two years later he will be driving for Red Bull, in a car that has won the past four driver’s championships.

Three of the four drivers who drove for the backmarkers this season were in their rookie year, and Charles Pic was only in his second year.

It could be argued that if the backmarkers only hired rookie drivers then it is harder for them to progress. However, the teams have all had the expertise of experienced drivers in their team before, such as Kovalainen and Trulli at Caterham and Glock at Marussia, and they have not moved up the pack.

Front running teams like Ferrari and McLaren also rate the backmarker teams as a way to get rookie drivers into Formula 1.

Ferrari academy driver, Jules Bianchi, currently drives for Marussia. They believe this will give him valuable experience to one day become a Ferrari driver. McLaren, before hiring Kevin Magnussen themselves, looked at getting him a drive at Marussia.

Backmarker teams also add another element to the sport. Whilst Vettel had already won the championship, there was a more exciting battle at the back of the field to see which team would finish the year in 10th place.

It is also exciting when a driver from these teams achieve a significant result; such as this year, when both Marussia drivers got through to Q2 in Spa.

So in essence, backmarker teams are not a pointless addition to Formula 1. They provide a platform for young drivers into the sport, whilst adding another exciting aspect to the sport.


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Formula 1

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