Red Bull and McLaren are separated by just 1 point in an epic battle for the championship this season while their drivers and Fernando Alonso are locked in their own title fight. Yet there is one fight away from the spotlight which carries its own intrigue involving Lotus, Virgin and HRT. Yes they all haven't scored this season but there is still something to fight for.
Let me explain, if teams or drivers find themselves equal on points then countback decides who is ahead. This usually means who has won the most races. However countback keeps going down the positions until it separates the positions in the standings. Lotus find themselves best of the new teams in 10th after a best finish of 13th in Australia whilst HRT's 14th in Monaco means Virgin Racing are rooted to the bottom of the championship.
This is important for all the teams as it is the team standings that decide the prize money awarded at the end of each season. There is also plenty of competitive edge between the new teams as well as the rivalry between airline CEO's Tony Fernandes and Richard Branson. So can Lotus maintain hold off their rivals and achieve their main objective of 2010? Lets look at the remaining races which may act as both opportunities and threats.
Monza this weekend is set to be sunny and dry so really it will be hard for either HRT or Virgin to get the minimum of 12th place required to move forward in the championship. The only factor would be the potential of chaos at the chicane on lap 1 but apart from that it will be very unlikely.
Singapore could well present a decent chance. It is a very long race, the 2009 event was over 116 minutes long, and has proved quite an attrition event. The safety car has appeared 3 times in 2 races there so is another factor. Rain has never occurred during 6 days of F1 action at the venue but when it rains in Singapore it can be very heavy so on a street circuit under lights this would be quite a challenge for all the teams. Certainly a chance for a surprise result here.
The Asian races in Japan and Korea should be both normalised though Japan has had some horrible weather in the past and Korea seems to be taking a heavy hit from storms recently. Then we come to Brazil which will probably be the last realistic chance to get points in 2010. Again it will require a Sao Paulo storm but as we seen in 2003 Jordan won with Giancarlo Fisichella anything is possible. Abu Dhabi will be the most unlikely with dry weather almost guaranteed and a nice open circuit making incidents a low possibility.
I think the new teams have done ok in the circumstances, what it has shown is that coming in as a new entry is not easy and yesterdays FIA decision that none of the new applicants for 2011 were accepted shows that even the governing body have realised that it takes a lot of resources and finances to be competitive in the sport. Lotus will be keen to be fighting in midfield come next season and Virgin will hope for more consistency. HRT have a more muddled outlook. With both Epsilon Euskadi and Jaqcues Villeneuve still looking for a way into F1, there may yet be a merger or buyout involving the Spanish team.
So as you follow the twists and turns of the title battle or on the edge of your seat as a crazy race unfolds keep an eye on the new guys because even a 12th position could yet prove significant