2010 New Team Championship
Ahh, 2010. That was quite the year. Mainly because of the introduction of the New Teams Championship, where Lotus Racing, Hispania and Virgin Racing all went head to head to try and become victors of this championship. Where, you get glory for being less rubbish than someone else. Who wouldn’t want that? This page is a basic list of everything you need to know about the New Teams Championship in 2010, back when it was actually alright to call them new teams, because they were.
Teams and Drivers
A dramatic and somewhat impressive New Teams Championship kicked off in 2010. With the announcement of three new teams to enter the sport in the year: Manor (later renamed Virgin Racing), Campos Meta 1 (renamed to Hispania) and USF1 (later failed to show up), and the subsequent arrival of Lotus Racing, the opportunity was there to see how they compared against each other, rather than the rest of the field, who they lagged, far, far behind.
Regular names to F1 fans were introduced. Lotus Racing stocked up on two one-time race winners in Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, while Virgin Racing signed German Timo Glock. His team mate would be Lucas di Grassi. Hispania signed the nephew of Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, Bruno, bringing in Karun Chandhok alongside.
The first race would be a massive challenge. Timo Glock saw his wheel fall off in practice, while Hispania struggled to get the car ready, Chandhok’s first laps in the car came in Qualifying 1 of the Bahrain Grand Prix. It was no surprise he qualified last.
Bahrain would see only two finishers, the two Lotus cars headed by Kovalainen. The rest struggled to finish and reliability would be a massive problem for one team in particular, Virgin. A dodgy fuel tank meant that the car was unable to get to the end of the race on one tank of petrol, something which couldn’t be solved until the fifth round, subsequently the same point in which Timo Glock scored his first points. Di Grassi had only clocked one more finish, although that was a win in Malaysia.
Reliability was something though which worked for Karun Chandhok, and had always been in the high end of the points at the expense of others, and found himself to the surprise of many, third in the Championship. This behind the seemingly uncatchable Kovalainen and his team mate, Trulli.
The first race in which none of the cars reached the chequered flag was at Monaco. Mechanical issues plagued Glock, di Grassi, Kovalainen and Senna, and although coming to the end of the race, Trulli attempted a risky overtake on Chandhok, which ultimately ended with Trulli on top of the Indian and the Safety Car deployed. The incident just took place so they were within the 90% required to score points, where Chandhok scored more than Trulli to move ahead.
Virgin became a threat after a 1-2 in Turkey, a place where Chandhok drew level with Kovalainen. But Kovalainen soon ended three non-finishes in a row with a superb win in Canada and began pulling away. That was until Valencia and the scenes which are almost iconic to 2010. After a dreadful start, Red Bull driver Mark Webber was attempting to overtake Heikki Kovalainen. Due to one thing and another, he launched up the back of the Lotus, sending his car in a terrifying mid-air flip, retiring both cars. This result, with Chandhok coming in second, would see the Indian lead by two points. Valencia though was the final race with the original six, in Britain, Sakon Yamamoto replaced Bruno Senna on the eve of practice to much disbelief. His driving wasn’t much better, being frightfully and probably dangerously slow. For the first time when Kovalainen finished a race he didn’t win, with Trulli taking the spoils. Meaning that half way through the season, the Finn was leading the Championship again, albeit by only one point to Chandhok. Trulli and di Grassi were in their own little fight over third, while Glock was quickly catching up on them.
But the tight Championship fight would be spoiled. Bruno Senna came back in, but this time Karun Chandhok was dropped for Yamamoto for the remainder of the season. The result in Germany saw Glock win, and join the battle with Trulli and di Grassi, both non-scorers.
Then, in Hungary, history was made. All six cars made it to the finish, led home by Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, and no doubt the first signs that no one was going to be able to catch the Finn.
Kovalainen would go on to finish every single race left in the season, and finishing all of them inside the top two. His title was picked up in Japan, with three whole races left to go. Lotus Racing’s Team Championship was won a round later in Korea.
But the battle for second was only warming up. Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi all in the fight for the silver medal. For a while, it looked like Trulli had it more or less secure, but back to back retirements in Italy and Singapore made things far more interesting. In Singapore, both Virgin Racing cars jumped Trulli in the standings, a race most noted for the fire extinguishing done by Heikki Kovalainen.
In Japan, after an embarrassing crash for di Grassi on the way to the grid, Glock moved ahead. Nothing changed in Korea, with all three retiring. Then in Brazil, another non-scoring round for di Grassi saw him as ranked outsider for the final race, with Glock on 60, Trulli on 58 and the Brazilian on 55.
But in Abu Dhabi it was a disaster for two cars. Timo Glock’s gearbox decided enough was enough, forcing him to retire, while Jarno Trulli suffered a nasty rear wing failure towards the end of the race. All di Grassi had to do was finish second, and that is exactly what he did, pipping both Glock and Trulli to second.
So after a thrilling season, Heikki Kovalainen was by far and away the best driver, a deserving champion, after winning ten of the races, and never finishing outside the top two when he did finish. The battle for second was enthralling, di Grassi a somewhat surprise victor in that sense. Kovalainen’s team mate, Jarno Trulli, failed to even make the podium.
It would be interesting to see what Karun Chandhok could have done had he been given a full season. My belief is the second half he would have struggled, but at least been involved in the fight for second. Bruno Senna never impressed, and was later beaten by Sakon Yamamoto in races. The fourth Hispania driver, Christian Klien, showed some promise but had no time to deliver.
(After Round 19: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix)
|2||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||61|
|3||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||60|
|Battle of the New Teams : (Bahrain Grand Prix)|
|Kovalainen Extends His Lead : (Australian Grand Prix)|
|Di Grassi Takes Surprise Win: (Malaysia Grand Prix)|
|Kovalainen Battles in the Rain: (Chinese Grand Prix)|
|Virgin Strike Back: (Spanish Grand Prix)|
|Carnage in Monaco: (Monaco Grand Prix)|
|Advantage Virgin: (Turkish Grand Prix)|
|Back From the Dead: (Canadian Grand Prix)|
|Chaotic Valencia Mixes Things Up: (European Grand Prix)|
|Silverstone Shake Ups See Small Changes: (British Grand Prix)|
|Lotus Lose Out in Germany: (German Grand Prix)|
|Lotus Win as Everyone Finishes: (Hungarian Grand Prix)|
|Belgian Weather Sees Lotus Extend Lead: (Belgian Grand Prix)|
|Glock Enters Championship Battle: (Italian Grand Prix)|
|Blaze of Glory: (Singapore Grand Prix)|
|We Have a Champion: (Japanese Grand Prix)|
|Mayhem in Korea sees Lotus Champions: (Korean Grand Prix)|
|All Too Easy: (Brazilian Grand Prix)|
|The End: (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix)|