Top 20 moments of 2014, #5: Marussia/Caterham give new meaning to money problems

Looking back of the top 20 moments of 2014, the struggles of Marussia and Caterham cannot be overlooked.

Top 20 moments of 2014, #5: Marussia/Caterham give new meaning to money problems
Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham CT05
Max Chilton, Marussia F1 Team MR03
Max Chilton, Marussia F1 Team MR03
Max Chilton, Marussia F1 Team
Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham F1 Team
Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham with the media
Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham with the media
Max Chilton, Marussia F1 Team MR03
Max Chilton, Marussia F1 Team MR03

Thirty years ago – that would have been the 1984 Formula One season – it was the 35th year of the championship. The list of the top 20 drivers was filled with now-famous names: Niki Lauda was the champion, followed by Alain Prost, Elio de Angelis, Michele Alboreto and Nelson Piquet. Also on the list: Keke Rosberg. Ayrton Senna. Nigel Mansell. Patrick Tambay. Ricardo Patrese. Thierry Boutsen. In 16th, Eddie Cheever, followed by Stefan Johansson.

Then, lower on the list, Corrado Fabi. Johnny Cecotto. Mike Thackwell. Huub Rothengatter. Some of those guys – answers to the F1 version of “Trival Pursuit” – were low on the list because they weren’t great drivers, or weren’t in good equipment. I saw Johnny Cecotto’s last-ever F1 race, the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix, but I had to find a photo of his red, white and blue Candy-sponsored Toleman to remember who he was.

Flash forward to 2014, and you have to wonder who will be remembered in 30 years, 2044, from this season: Lewis Hamilton, of course; Sebastien Vettel, and a bunch of others. But will anyone remember the Formula One careers Caterham and Marussia drivers like Kamui Kobayashi, Will Stevens, Andre Lotterer, Max Chilton, Marcus Ericsson? Not unless they give us a reason to in subsequent season.

There have always been F1 teams on the brink, the “nots” in the “have and have not” world of big-time racing. But the late-season bankruptcy of Marussia and Caterham was a sobering reminder of what’s at stake here – even the smallest teams have at least a hundred families depending on the company to put bread on the stable, kids through school.

Small grid, big problems

There was nothing like the 18-car grid at Circuit of the Americas in Austin to drive home how brutally expensive the sport is, especially when the sanctioning body dictates a bunch of pricey changes that they explain will help save money. Indeed, Ferrari’s fourth-place winless season is proof that no matter how much money you have, you are never guaranteed success. And the somehow still-ticking Sauber team, which managed to run every race, finished with the same number of points that Caterham did: Zero. One spot behind Marussia, thanks to Jules Bianchi’s heroic ninth-place finish in Monaco.

The failure of Marussia and Caterham polarized the F1 family: Some insisted these teams bring little to the table, and should be allowed to die. Others insist that the sport must do more to help them, as failure darkens the sport, and that good drivers often get their shot on small teams.

Remember Gerhard Berger, for instance? Zero points scored in 1984 with his ATS team, which folded at the end of 1984. But had they not given Berger that first shot at F1, would he have gone on to win 10 races and 41 poles with teams like Ferrari and McLaren?

Which, incidentally, do still exist.

shares
comments
Top 20 moments of 2014, #7: Hamilton vs. Rosberg
Previous article

Top 20 moments of 2014, #7: Hamilton vs. Rosberg

Next article

Autocourse back in time: Ayrton Senna, profile of a champion

Autocourse back in time: Ayrton Senna, profile of a champion
Load comments
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season Prime

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as Stuart Codling finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1 Prime

How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. Nigel Roebuck recalls a remarkable champion.

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022