5 Formula 1 Teams That Are Too Good for Their Current Drivers
It is undeniable that some drivers have lucked into their seats for the 2014 Formula One season.
The reasons behind this are usually financially motivated, with teams employing so-called "pay drivers" in exchange for a payment package that will go some way towards keeping the outfit in business.
But teams have also offered opportunities to young drivers in the hope that the naivety of youth will lead them to the top of the sport, with those decisions either backfiring spectacularly or failing to deliver their full potential.
Whatever the reasons are, there are some team and driver combinations on this year's grid which leave you thinking: "How on Earth did that happen?"
And on the back of our recent slideshow looking at drivers who are too good for their current teams, here are five teams that are too good for their current drivers.
It could be argued that Caterham overachieved slightly when they signed Kamui Kobayashi for the 2014 season.
The same cannot be said, however, for the capture of Marcus Ericsson, whose signing—like many of the drivers featured on this list—carried all the hallmarks of a team selling to the highest bidder.
Three wins in four seasons whilst competing in GP2, Formula One's feeder series, with a highest championship finishing position of sixth did little to suggest that the Swede was worthy of a step up to F1.
And despite claiming Caterham's season-best finish with 11th in Monaco, the 23-year-old has done little to suggest why he should be retained by the team in the future.
Ericsson, an embodiment of Caterham's attachment to the back of the grid, is a GP2 driver lost in F1.
When Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez were confirmed as Sauber's drivers for the 2014 season, it was widely considered the most boring, underwhelming partnership on the grid.
And with seven races of the year completed, both drivers have done little to change that opinion having failed to score a single point.
Sauber made their name by handing opportunities to young, talented drivers who would go on to become modern greats, such as Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
But when you look at Sutil and Gutierrez, you don't see potential—you see two drivers taking advantage of a popular, punchy team's financial difficulties to keep their stuttering Formula One careers on life support.
For an outfit that not too long ago was regarded as a training ground for future world champions, Sauber deserve better.
Having scored their first Formula One points in last month's Monaco Grand Prix, Marussia have officially joined the big boys.
As well as the financial rewards for potentially finishing in 10th (or perhaps even ninth) in the constructors' championship, the team are now better positioned to attract a higher calibre of driver.
The surge in reputation enjoyed by Jules Bianchi since the Frenchman's ninth place finish on the French Riviera will be an attractive proposition to either upcoming racers or existing F1 drivers fighting to restore their reputation.
And those drivers are likely to be faster than Max Chilton, who after his retirement in last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix no longer has that record of finishing every race he has started to fall back on.
Chilton's DNF in Montreal, which saw the British driver take Bianchi with him after a loss of control at Turn 3, prevented the team from the possibility of adding to their points tally.
And that incident came only a fortnight after Chilton lost the opportunity to record points of his own in Monaco after tripping over the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen under the safety car.
If Marussia are serious about scoring on a regular basis from now on, they'll need a faster driver than Chilton.
When you look at the Formula One records of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, the Lotus drivers, the statistics are misleading.
Grosjean has scored a number of podiums in recent years—but it is Maldonado who has the all-important pole position and race win to his name.
Yet there is no question that Grosjean is far more deserving of a seat with the black and gold team than his Venezuelan teammate—whose habit of crashing must make his Lotus mechanics wonder why their bosses allowed themselves to be wooed by Maldonado's vast sponsorship funds.
Maldonado's ability to crash into anything from his competitors to the pit lane entrance, above, couldn't be more different than the style of his predecessor, Kimi Raikkonen, who broke the record for consecutive race finishes between 2012 and 2013.
It is almost fitting that Raikkonen's departure and Maldonado's arrival coincided with the team's regression from the sharp end of the grid to the obscurity of the midfield.
Lotus, as one of the most iconic names in F1 history, deserve to be fighting at the front—but you suspect they will be prevented from doing so as long as Maldonado drives one of their cars.
When you think of McLaren, you think of glory.
You think of Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton winning countless world championships.
You think of a group of people performing at their peak and with absolute efficiency.
The trouble for the team, however, is that their current drivers, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen, are not performing at their peak.
Button, now 34, is unlikely to replicate the blistering form that provided the baseline for his 2009 world championship success with Brawn GP, while Magnussen, at 21, is arguably a couple of years from realising his potential.
And although both drivers displayed their ability to perform well in a good car with a double podium finish in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, their drop in form since then suggests they are unable to remain competitive in spite of a car's vices.
That perhaps explains the team's apparent eagerness to re-sign Fernando Alonso, as recently reported by Motorsport.com, who has prided himself on outperforming his equipment at Ferrari in recent years.
And although it may be harsh to consider McLaren as too good for Button and Magnussen, it is clear the team's current line-up does not carry the excitement of years gone by.