Everyone is enjoying one of the most exciting Formula One World Championships in history with the 2010 season giving us multiple race winners and with only a handful of races left, there’s still five gentlemen in with a shot of taking the glory – whoever is World Champion in 2010, they will be a worthy one and that’s for sure.

Over on the other end of the grid we have seen three (nearly four, but we won’t mention that) new teams join F1 this year, the unfortunately named HRT, the pun-filled Virgin Racing and then the return of the classic “Lotus” name, in whatever form it ends up following wars of words over whether it’s Team Lotus or Lotus Racing for 2011.

Watching these three new teams find their feet and get racing has been just as enjoyable as the fight for the title, so Badger thought it only right to look into how they are all getting on, after nearly a full season in F1.

The New Team Championship

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This alternative Championship table shows only the new teams’ qualifying and race positions, their average so far (ignoring DNFs) and then the points they have accumulated.  The points are worked out on the old classic points system where it was 10 for a win, 6 for coming second and then 4, 3, 2 and 1 point for 6th place and are of course only relative against each other.

So, as you’d probably expect, Lotus are the best of the bunch with Virgin not too far behind and Hispania wondering around somewhat further back, firmly in last place.  One thing that’s clear from this table is how Lotus and Virgin have improved with less DNFs as the season has continued, good stuff.  Another glaring point to take from this table is Hispania’s portfolio of drivers…

Badger’s Tail-End Charlie Championship

You’ve seen the points and team/driver comparison, but instead of getting swamped with numbers and stats, we’re going to take a more qualitative (young folk – that means, things you can’t measure!) look at each of the new teams, taking into account all the various happenings since they started filling the final few grid slots.

HISPANIA

First things first, HRT are the proper tail-end Charlies and we’d like to apologise to Virgin and Lotus for including them in this generalisation.  For 14 of the 15 races this year at least one HRT has been on the back row – not an impressive figure for any potential sponsors out there and unfortunately there isn’t a wooden spoon on offer in F1.

Off the track, Badger has been pretty annoyed with HRT since they dropped Chandhok from the race line up – not only has he scored more points that the rest of HRT put together, he’s nearly level with the Virgin drivers despite not taking part in the five most recent races.  He’s also a massively popular driver in terms of his personality, he is regularly on the BBC coverage and even joined Radio 5 Live for the Italian GP commentary (and did a great job) as well as earning the respect of F1 fans on Twitter with his often personal, insightful or plain hilarious tweets.

Badger would love to me more positive about Hispania as a team, we love to support the underdogs, but this team just hasn’t done enough in it’s first year so far to earn any respect.  If they are in F1 in 2011, they need to make a proper impression on the sport – positive PR doesn’t have to be expensive, of course some pounds and pence would help with development of the car – but just a thought, maybe some cheap but positive PR would help raise their profile to potential investors and give us a third proper team in F1.

Lastly, if it’s not clear already – bring back Chandhok!

VIRGIN RACING

The Branson-endorsed team has come on in leaps and bounds since March and their beautiful looking, simulation designed car has done well after the early fuel tank embarrassment, which wasn’t entirely their fault and more so thanks to the FIA changing the rules and regulations too late.  As recently as Singapore, Glock was enjoying a good performance and proving he’s still a great driver and that given a chance (or maybe a few more tenths from the VR car) he and team can be up with the mid-field.

Aside from the track action, the Virgin team has won over the hearts of F1 fans and their marketing has been spot on, it may not be a great surprise with Branson’s massively marketable ‘Virgin’ brand all over the car, but seriously this team has done everything and more that a new team should – they are just as, if not more popular than Chandhok on Twitter, they listen to the fans and have even started a new competition “Where’s Alex” – setup thanks to super-fan Alex who’s traveling to every race this year and is now good friends with the VR team – read more about it here.  They even setup a fans campsite at Silverstone and had the drivers pop over to meet them all

Seriously, can you imagine any other team dedicating their website front page to a fan.  No.  This makes Virgin Racing very special indeed and their openess is more than welcome amongst the often-closed doors of F1.

LOTUS RACING

Tony Fernandes was onto a winner before his Lotus team even arrived at Bahrain back in March.  The Lotus name is Britain’s Ferrari and the intentions were clear as day once the car’s livery was unveiled in London, paying more than a subtle tribute to the marque’s historic team colours – maybe next year they’ll bring back the John Player Special livery – one of the favourites amongst F1 fans.

As far as on-track performance, as our Championship table shows, they’ve pretty much become F1’s 10th team, but what’s much more of an achievement is bringing Heikki Kovalainen back into the limelight.  He came into F1 and didn’t get on particularly well with Flavio’s Renault team, moved to McLaren and was firmly number two alongside Hamilton, but then as soon as he was confirmed at Lotus the young Finn hasn’t stopped smiling and is obviously enjoying bring the new team forward.  If the team promise to keep improving as much as they have done, Heikki could find himself in a race-winning car in a team that’s built around him within the next 4 or 5 yrs.

Out of the three new teams, Lotus is the most promising to become a great, solid team – even if they aren’t really the British Lotus team, they won’t have any problem building a fan base and with them switching to 2011 development already, Gascoyne on a 5yr contract, a Renault engine deal on the horizon and a solid driver line up, things look rosy for the Malaysian-owned British team.

The Fans’ thoughts

Badger’s been busy investigating what the fans think of the all-new threesome of teams and it’s clear that most don’t see Hispania (in their current form) making it to 2011 or if they do, not lasting the full year.  People are confident in Lotus doing well and warming to the idea that Virgin have their best yet to come – there’s definitely a lot of love for Virgin Racing across the interweb.

HRT and their driver merry go round have been an embarrassment, putting yamamoto who is proven to be useless in place of senna and chandhok who need all the f1 experience they can get and may have potential is just wrong. I’ve enjoyed the fight between lotus and virgin though, imo they’ve earned their place with some very respectable performances. – Alex Bentley

Lotus- Good Job
Virgin- Not bad after they got the fuel capacity to finish a race
HRT- S**T –
Gary Marshall

Lotus and Virgin are fighting a good fight between each other. HRT are lagging behind because they are short on cash and will do anything for sponsorship.
I hope all of the teams remain in it next year and take a step closer to the grid.
Sally Morgan

Go Lotus and Virgin is starting to get it’s act together.
If HRT would just admin that they are using Sakon for money, and actually figure out how to raise some captial, I might like them.
– Davin Roberts Sturdivant

Lotus & Virgin (after a bit of a wobbly start) have done really well and shown the way to many of the established teams in the way they have connected with fans.
Both are completely deserving of their place on the grid.
HRT, however, have tre…ated their drivers, Karun in particular, like cheap commodities. They have been dishonest and if they weren’t there next year, would we really miss them. Harsh, but true.
– Ian Phillipson

BEYOND ABU DHABI 2010

It’s (to use an F1 phrase) for sure that both Virgin and Lotus are in the sport long-term, with HRT it’s unclear, but we do hope they find a way to keep going, as long as Karun Chandhok is in one of their cars.  As for Badger’s Tail-End Charlie Championship leader, it has to be Virgin Racing – largely for turning the ideas, attitude and approach to running an F1 team on it’s head and making a very good job of getting fans involved at every opportunity.  They embrace the millions of F1 enthusiasts across the planet and give something back – finally a team that’s accessible and listens to us all.

Badger likes to see itself as a voice of the fans and therefore we have to go with Virgin Racing, they’re also a proper underdog (or rather an underdog with a tricky yet promising future, unlike HRT which has just been a underdog) – the facts, stats and figures point to Lotus being the first to join the mid-field battle in 2011, but don’t count Virgin out too quickly, there are many talented people in the team and with a bit of good fortune, they’ll be moving up the field soon enough.

You can follow Virgin Racing on Twitter and follow F1 Badger too

So what do you all think of the new teams, do you agree with Badger’s thoughts?  Agree, disagree or have a comment – let us know in the comments below and enjoy some banter…