2006 Team Review - Spyker MF1 07 Nov 2006
After spending 2005 in transition from their previous incarnation as Jordan, Midland started the 2006 season as Formula One racings first-ever Russian entrant.
With Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers heading a youthful line-up, a new livery and an all-important new car - powered by Toyotas latest V8 - Midland expected to challenge the Toro Rossos, Red Bulls and BMW Saubers. And as the season got underway in Bahrain, team boss Colin Kolles openly declared his aim of seeing at least one Midland make it into the second round of qualifying.
In reality, the expectations were a little wide of the mark. The best times of Monteiro and Albers were over two seconds adrift of the cut-off point for Q2 and only the Super Aguris spared the team from blushing too brightly. Kolles would have to wait another seven races before Monteiros quick lap at Silverstone finally got the team into the second session.
The M16 proved pretty reliable, but lacked the pace of the more established midfielders, hence neither driver finished higher than last or second-to-last in the opening seven events. As a result, Monteiro and Albers often spent Sunday afternoons racing each other and on more than one occasion (including the notorious start-line incident in Monaco) collided.
Despite a double retirement in the US, where Albers had started an impressive 14th on the grid, Midlands limited testing programme gradually began to pay off. As the gap between the M16 and the midfield closed, Monteiro and Albers made real progress, finishing ninth and tenth in Hungary, ahead of Scott Speeds Toro Rosso and the Toyota of Jarno Trulli.
But that result proved to be the high point of the season. With speculation growing that Midland Chairman Alex Shnaider wanted to sell the team, both cars were disqualified in Germany after the FIA deemed the M16s rear wings illegally flexible. Then in September - just nine months after becoming Midland - it was confirmed that the team had indeed been sold to Dutch car manufacturer, Spyker.
Three races later and Spyker MF1 already look set for a brighter 2007. With Kolles and Albers staying on under new boss Michiel Mol, the arrival of ex-Toyota technical chief Mike Gascoyne, and a Ferrari engine deal, what was a faltering future now seems far more certain.
More 2006 team reviews - Renault, Ferrari, McLaren, Honda, BMW Sauber, Toyota, Red Bull, Williams, Toro Rosso and Super Aguri.