Unlike the battle at the front of the grid, which hasn’t changed its face for a few years now, the midfield war is as healthy as ever, with a large chunk of the grid fighting in the last few points-scoring positions.
As it stands, Toro Rosso sit sixth on 45-points with McLaren breathing down their necks in seventh, 3-points adrift. In eighth, it’s the Haas team on 28-points. The difference between finishing sixth and eight in the constructors is a small mountain range made up of cashy hills, so it’s worthwhile for Haas to point their cross-hairs at Toro Rosso.
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) August 2, 2016
If the American outfit were to secure sixth in the standings on their debut season, they would achieve in a year what Force India took eight years to do. Haas team boss Gunther Steiner believes that sixth in the constructors is a target based on the grounds of reality, not aspiration. He said,
“You need to have a target. They are now eight, maybe 10 or 12 points ahead… But you have a good weekend with both cars in the points you make it up quickly. We need to have a good weekend but we haven’t given up on getting one.
That midfield is so tight, if you hit it you are in front of it. It can go both ways. It’s not something realistic, like if I said we target Force India, I don’t think that will happen. But Toro Rosso has got a big gap now so I think we will still try to get them.”
– Gunther Steiner
Whether Haas catch McLaren depends on whether the upward curve in the British team’s performances continues at the same rate. Haas are yet to achieve something that both McLaren and Toro Rosso have managed this season, the double-points finish. Whilst Grosjean has scored all of the Haas points to date, Esteban Gutierrez has been painfully close. He’s finished 11th on four occasions this season, which must be frustrating for the team.
Steiner is taking the positives from the German GP though, even though Gutierrez finished 11th and Grosjean 13th whilst McLaren’s Jenson Button scored valuable points with 8th.
“[In Germany] we actually showed we are stronger than Toro Rosso. In my opinion that is an achievement, we are not always stronger than Toro Rosso but on a good weekend we can be better than them. For us that’s pretty good in our first year of Formula One because Toro Rosso has been here a long time.
We were very close to the McLarens, which isn’t bad. I think the position we are in, on a good weekend, we can do it. It sounds a lot but a good weekend you get eight, ten points, two good weekend’s you’re ahead. And normally if we get the points, they don’t get them, because it’s the four guys fighting for the crumbles.”
– Gunther Steiner
The next race at Spa will be an important benchmark in defining how the second-half of the season will look. Power will be a big player at Spa, and McLaren’s progress with Honda will be visible for all to see. If they can pull off a decent points haul there, it will confirm that a fight between Toro Rosso and Haas will be more realistic, with the British team hoping that they can catch Force India in 5th.
The American team will be left questioning their chassis if Toro Rosso outscore them at Spa. If a 2015-spec powered Ferrari team beat a 2016-spec powered Ferrari team on a circuit that has very high full-throttle usage, the cars won’t be the only thing that’s red in the Ferrari camps.