Traditional high flyers now further down the paddock
Paddock Avenue, that vibrant asphalt trench between the teams garages and motorhomes, is the spine of any Formula One meeting. This season it has seen a change not witnessed in years.
According to the rules, the teams and their facilities line up on the avenue in the order of their positions in the previous years constructors championship. True, Number One Paddock Avenue is still a deep red spot as Ferrari has successfully defended its title, but then, what a change.
Below them the status quo of recent years, when numbers two and three were invariably a toss-up between Mclaren and Williams, was turned upside down in 2004. BAR, who had previously seen little success following their much-hyped debut back in 1999, suddenly found spectacular form, finishing second to Ferrari in the standings.
They were followed by Renault, who lost out by 14 points to the Honda-powered squad to take position number three. Williams hold court at number four in the avenue this year, changing address with Renault. Then at number five are McLaren, thanks to their worst result in many years.
For Jean Todt, Ferraris team principal, defending the title and thus keeping the paddocks finest address, was a matter of hard work, the best driver and paramount strategy: For years we were putting together a team that proved to be the winning ticket so defending title and position in the paddock line-up was a foreseeable result.
For BARs new team manager Nick Fry the sudden success after years of misfortune has many advantages: To get closer to Ferrari has a practical value because the space that the team gets is bigger and the distances to all the important meetings is shorter and the majority of the media never really make it down the road so media coverage is a surplus that goes with it. In opposition to last years objectives where the team wanted to score as many points for a good championship position, this years objectives are clearly to win races and naturally to keep the position we fought so hard for.
And according to Flavio Briatore, Renaults rise was merely a natural progression that just needed a little time to be accomplished: I knew that we will be successful so ending up where we did was no surprise. And regarding his competitors who were not blessed with so much luck last year: For some it is a good lesson to learn how it feels at the lower end of the success ladder.