With still far too many days to go until Spa, we’ve decided to kill time by reviewing the performance of each driver in the first half of the season, so…it’s here, part three of our Formula 1 mid-term report, featuring the… y’know what, let’s not say tail-enders, because they’ve all had their moments.

These guys are probably the most difficult to judge, because the teams simply don’t have the resources to compete – Manor and Sauber have always been shoestring budget teams, and while Renault and Haas have plenty of dosh, both cars are incomplete, with Renault’s car a half-baked Lotus chassis, and Haas only in their first season.

With that in mind, and without further babbling, here’s the final part of our F1 half-term report.

(And if you haven’t already, check out Part 1 and Part 2!)

8Romain Grosjean

Grade: A
2015 Position: 11th
2016 Position: 12th
Subject requiring more homework: English – It’s “Haas”, not “Arse” mate.

The questions were numerous when RoGro hopped from soon-to-be factory team Enstone to newcomers Haas. Is he going because he thinks it will fast track him to Ferrari? Can Haas actually get the car ready in time? Does he know he’s pronouncing it “Arse F1”?

These and more were on the lips of F1 fans as the most improved driver of 2013 left security for uncertainty. Oh, how fickle we were. The gamble has paid off and then some, with newcomers Haas massively outscoring Renault by 26 points to 6 – all of Haas’ points coming from the smiley Frenchman.

An excellent sixth-placed finish in the chaotic Australian GP, followed by an even more impressive fifth in Bahrain got the ball rolling for the new outfit, with more points coming in Russia and Austria. Fortunate some of the positions may have been, but 28 points for a new team’s first half-year is a hell of an achievement, especially considering they’re all from one man.

7Esteban Gutierrez

Grade: D
2015 Position: N/A
2016 Position: 19th
Subject requiring more homework: Needlework – more points needed

In truth, Gutierrez has not had a terrible season, but when compared with the four points-scoring performances of team-mate Grosjean, the Mexican really hasn’t delivered. The Haas looks like it’s getting rapidly out-developed compared to the early season points, which may mean that the ship has sailed for Gutierrez to scoop some.

Esteban has been tantalisingly close to the top ten, finishing 11th in Spain, Monaco, Austria and Germany, but failing to pass Pascal Wehrlein’s Manor in Spielberg does nothing to aid his cause. There was a messy start in Russia when he collided with Nico Hulkenberg, ending the Force India driver’s race.

Whether his place in the team will be taken by GP3 ace Charles Leclerc remains to be seen, but you would have thought that another GP3-to-F1 jump is unlikely, considering Haas’ inexperience.

6Kevin Magnussen

Grade: C+
2015 Position: N/A
2016 Position: 16th
Subject requiring more homework: Law – negotiate better contracts!

(Just a joke, not a lot he could do)

With a little more experience, K-Mag could have been in the McLaren this year, but after being unceremoniously dumped last year – via text message – the young Dane was thrown a lifeline by the new Renault outfit and has been instrumental in keeping them above water with his six points scored in Russia.

As a global company, Renault would have survive without the prize money for those points, but it puts down a marker; despite Renault having one of the toughest jobs of all in regards to development (considering Ferrari and Mercedes’ arms race) – that he can race hard regardless of his machinery.

Cruelly robbed of potentially more points in Monaco when he was clouted by Daniil Kvyat after a well-timed pit for intermediate tyres, the Dane may yet score again.

5Jolyon Palmer

Grade: D
2015 Position: Rookie
2016 Position: 20th
Subject requiring more homework: Music: Needs to be more for-TUNE-ate.

I can’t help but feel that Jolyon Palmer. Along with Daniil Kvyat, he has had the lion’s share of bad luck this year. The epitome of that was in Britain, when after being let go from his pit box with only three wheels attached, he had to take a stop/go penalty, and ultimately had his race ruined when he went a lap down.

After a hydraulics failure took him out of commission before things even started in Bahrain, and crashing due to – of all things – a zebra crossing in Monaco, Palmer has not had a dream debut season by a long shot, but twelfth places in Austria and Hungary have been highlights. He nearly held on to a point in the latter race, only to spin at the top of the hill.

If the car gets better – and Red Bull’s resurgence suggests that at least the engine will – Palmer junior may yet get another chance to score, and now that the threat of Esteban Ocon taking a Renault seat has subsided (expect Palmer to have a shrine of Rio Haryanto in his house from now on; more on that later) he may be under less pressure as the season goes on.

4Pascal Wehrlein

Grade: B+
2015 Position: Rookie
2016 Position: 17th
Subject requiring more homework: Orienteering – watch out for slippery surfaces.

The 2015 DTM Champion’s inclusion as part of Manor’s 2016 line-up was a very exciting prospect. It makes perfect sense too – Wehrlein is a Mercedes development driver, so his loan out to Manor probably came with a few engine perks and rebates.

And of course, it has paid off brilliantly, with the German-Muaritian notching his first World Championship point in Hungary – the first for re-branded Manor, and the first for the team since Jules Bianchi’s points in Monaco in 2014.

A couple of spins in China and in Silverstone when it has been chucking it down hint at his inexperience a tiny bit, but largely he has outqualified his team mate when the playing surface has been even.

Wehrlein is highly-tipped as a star of the future, and doing what he has done so far in a Mercedes-engined car is the perfect was to put himself in the shop window in case there’s any more fallout in the main team. One point to show for a car that looks great, but doesn’t have much to offer except straight line speed. That’s no slouch.

3Rio Haryanto

Grade: F
2015 Position: Rookie
2016 Position: 23rd
Subject requiring more homework: Economics – find more money!

F1’s first Indonesian brought with him an army of fans from the densely-populated Pacific Islands. His popularity was so great that he actually ended up winning the inaugural Driver of the Day vote – only to have it taken away because some people found a way to vote more than once.

However, this popularity has not been enough to keep him in the sport. After twelve races in the sunshine, Haryanto has been dumped by Manor in favour of 2015 GP3 champion and (another) Mercedes Development driver, Esteban Ocon.

Haryanto didn’t exactly do anything massively wrong, but as is often the case, his pay driver status was not sufficient when his money ran out. With a best finish of 15th, Manor may have made the right decision in deposing him.

2Felipe Nasr

Grade: E
2015 Position: 13th
2016 Position: 22nd
Subject requiring more homework: Ballet – not enough pointes.

The pace that Felipe Nasr showed last year in the Sauber made him one of the more promising youngsters on the grid. He scored in the latter part of 2015 where his team mate failed to, and if you had to pick one of the two as Sauber driver of the year, it would have to be him.

However, despite virtually no changes to the car, Nasr has not delivered this year. The car is rudimentary, but it does have the updated Ferrari engine, and he has not bested his team mate in the way that he did last year.

His Banco do Brasil sponsorship should be sufficient to help him stay in F1 next year, but he had better watch his back for Raffaele Marciello.

1Marcus Ericsson

Grade: D-
2015 Position: 18th
206 Position: 21st
Subject requiring more homework: Existentialism – find a point in life.

Like Nasr, it is hard to judge Ericsson on his performances with what is essentially the 2015 Sauber car that didn’t go to in-season testing, and has basically not been developed all year. However, of the two, Ericsson has fared ever so slightly better.

Neither have notched points in 2016, but of the two, the Swede has finished higher, with two twelfth-place finishes. That’s how it looks on paper, at least, although Ericsson was responsible for the very clumsy collision between himself and Nasr in Monaco.


There you have it. That’s all 22 drivers done and dusted!

We go back to school next weekend in Spa – can anyone improve their grade by the end of the season, and how will new boy Ocon get on? Check back for the end-of-term report in December. Thanks for reading!