At half-time, who's in driving seat and who's eating dust?

At the mid-point of the F1 season, David Tremayne explains why it's been so up and down and who he expects to take control in part two

Q. Why have we had such a topsy-turvy season, with a record seven different winners in the first seven races?

A. The major problem for everyone has been finding the "sweet spot" of the "made to degrade" Pirelli tyres which wear even faster this year than last. They have deliberately been designed that way, and this year even half a pound of pressure or just one of two degrees over or below the optimal operating temperature can render a car an also-ran.

Q. Will Pirelli's tyres continue to exert such a huge influence over competitiveness?

A. Yes. Some teams will tell you that they think they are getting a handle on finding the "sweet spot", but the signs are that nobody is yet doing it really consistently. As Fernando Alonso noted last week: "It's going to be tight. As we have seen this year, in a bracket of two- or three-tenths there can be eight or nine cars…"

Q. Is any kind of pattern finally beginning to emerge at the halfway point?

A. Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren look very evenly matched. The McLaren managing director, Jonathan Neale, said after the German Grand Prix last week: "Based on the data I saw from Germany, I think the three top teams have very competitive cars. Whilst it is undeniable that Fernando has driven really well this season, if you look at the point conversion rate of Red Bull they are also very strong, and we have to get in amongst that mix. There is still a lot to go though; I don't think it is static."

Q. Has there been much controversy?

A. Not a lot. What there has been has centred around Red Bull. First there were the holes in their floors in Monaco, then their hub design in Canada, and just recently their engine torque mapping which they have had to alter. None of the changes that have been required appear to have affected their performance much.

Q. Who will lead the fight for the championship in the second half of the season?

A. Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren look strong, but as we saw after Canada with McLaren, it's easy to drop off the pace and have to make a massive effort to claw it back. The odds favour these three, however, because of their inherent strengths; financial muscle and experience.

Q. Can Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button get back into the fight?

A. Yes, if the McLaren is competitive. There are 10 races left, which means there are 250 points up for grabs for the race winners, and in the constructors' stakes there are a maximum of 430 if a team were to finish 1-2 in every event (25 points for first, 18 for second). It's a long way from over.

Q. Who will be the surprise package in the second half?

A. Williams have already shown very strong form, with Pastor Maldonado taking that surprise win in Barcelona. Lotus won't actually surprise if they win because that's been due since Bahrain, but they could be the strongest contender against the top three. If we have another wet race, watch out for Sergio Perez in the Sauber, who so nearly scored a victory in Malaysia.

Q. How will the championship be won?

A. McLaren's sporting director Sam Michael predicts a "ferocious" development battle as the season moves into its second half, and the rate at which teams can keep bringing updates – as Red Bull did in Valencia, McLaren in Germany and Ferrari have done all season – will determine who keeps up the greatest performance.

The Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, summarised the challenge facing them all: "I see very strong opponents: McLaren have made great progress, Red Bull are very strong".

Q. Will Lewis Hamilton stay at McLaren?

A. Where else can he go? The door is closed at Red Bull, Ferrari remains unlikely, and so does Mercedes. There seems to be a general desire on his behalf and McLaren's to stay together, if financial issues can be resolved. But it remains to be seen whether he signs a long-term contract or just a one-year deal, Mark Webber-style, to wait and see how things shake down for 2014.

Q. Will Michael Schumacher retire?

A. Almost certainly not. Having been pulped by team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2010 and '11, the veteran multi-champ is back on the pace and more often than not running ahead of his young compatriot in a car that better suits his aggressive oversteer style.

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower