What Every Formula 1 Team Needs for Christmas
With Christmas Day almost upon us, Formula One is well into its winter break.
While the drivers spend the cold and dark months putting their feet up—new world champion Lewis Hamilton, for instance, has been skiing—the work never stops for the teams, who are by this point on top of their preparations for the coming season.
To show our appreciation for their efforts, here's a tongue-in-cheek list of presents that we'd send to each of F1's 10 existing outfits from Mercedes to Caterham.
Mercedes: Friendship Bracelets
Just what do you give the Formula One team that has everything?
Mercedes, the new world champions, are faultless in almost every area, with a pace-setting chassis and power unit package, strong management and one of the strongest, dynamic driver line-ups on the grid.
The partnership between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, friends since their karting days, boiled over on a couple of occasions in 2014, however, as title tensions heightened.
To prevent a repeat of the post-Monaco and Spa tensions in 2015, when the Mercedes drivers will surely fight head-to-head for the championship once again, a set of friendship bracelets might come in handy.
Red Bull: Rulebook
Red Bull found themselves in hot water on a couple of occasions in 2014 as the four-time world champions tried to exploit loopholes in the regulations.
Daniel Ricciardo was memorably disqualified from second place in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as his car exceeded the new fuel flow regulations, with the team going on to lose an appeal against the stewards' decision.
More controversy followed at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, where both Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel were excluded from the qualifying results and forced to start from the pit lane after their front wings were found to be too flexible.
A rulebook, then, would ensure that the Milton Keynes-based team remain on the straight and narrow.
And who knows? It might even give Renault, Red Bull's struggling engine partner, a better understanding of the new-spec power units.
Williams: Self-Help Guides
Williams were a front-running outfit for much of the 2014 campaign but failed to win a race, despite giving Mercedes a headache in Canada, Austria and Abu Dhabi.
Why not? Well, as head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley told Autosport's Ben Anderson, it was because the team—who, let's remember, have taken 114 grand prix victories—didn't know how to win.
It was not the last time that a member of the Williams hierarchy was found harping on about the need to rediscover the art of winning, which was a lame excuse for one of the most successful organisations in F1 history.
A self-help guide or two, with that in mind, would fast-track the team's route to success.
Ferrari: A Blender
Ferrari's efforts to return to the front have been aggressive in recent weeks, with new team boss Maurizio Arrivabene restructuring the Prancing Horse's departments.
Pat Fry, the head of engineering, chief designer Nicholas Tombazis and tyre man Hirohide Hamashima have all departed the team, with Jock Clear the first of what should be many new arrivals.
And that's before you bear in mind the changes to the team's driver roster: Fernando Alonso has been replaced by four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, while test driver Pedro de la Rosa has been succeeded by Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne.
With so many changes in such little time, all Ferrari can do is chuck everything in a blender and hope something good comes out the other side.
McLaren: Zimmer Frame
With the signing of 33-year-old Fernando Alonso and the retention of Jenson Button, who is fast approaching his 35th birthday, McLaren will have the oldest driver line-up on the grid in 2015.
The pair will have a combined age of 68 when they take to the grid ahead of the Australian Grand Prix but neither have shown signs of slowing down.
A zimmer frame might not be required just yet, but it's better to be on the safe side. You know, just in case.
Force India: A Hammer
For a privateer team, Force India do an outstanding job. Since Vijay Mallya took control of the team in 2008, the Silverstone-based outfit have grown from perennial backmarkers to consistent points scorers.
Despite regularly fighting alongside the likes of Ferrari and McLaren on the track, Force India have very little to show for it having secured just two podium finishes since 2009.
Giving the team a hammer, then, might allow it to finally smash through that glass ceiling and achieve the results that reflect the effort that is put in.
And if that doesn't work out, it can be used to knock some sense into Sergio Perez whenever the fast but clumsy Mexican gets involved in a needless accident.
Toro Rosso: A Cot
Toro Rosso has forever prided itself on handing opportunities to young drivers, but they will take that to the extreme in 2015 with the signings of Carlos Sainz Jr., 20, and 17-year-old Max Verstappen.
The announcement of Verstappen, in particular, sent shock waves through F1, with the Dutchman easily confused for a competition-winning teenager when strolling through the paddock toward the end of 2014.
With three night races on the 2015 schedule, both Verstappen and Sainz Jr. will need plenty of shut-eye—not to mention permission to stay out late from their high-profile parents—if they are to complete every round of the season.
A cot will be put to good use at the Faenza-based team.
Lotus: Foam Padding
Christmas came early for Lotus in 2014, with the news that the Enstone-based outfit would switch from Renault to Mercedes power units from 2015.
Access to the most powerful engine in Formula One, however, will count for nothing if the car has three wheels, which is a distinct possibility with Pastor Maldonado sitting in the cockpit.
Maldonado almost certainly sported a bruise or two after the latter shunt, so some extra foam in the driving seat would be more than welcome.
In 2014, Sauber became the most boring team in Formula One.
An uninspiring driver line-up of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez didn't do much for their image, nor did an overweight and under-powered car that failed to score a single point across the season's 19 races.
The car's grey livery compounded Sauber's dull profile, with a splash of colour urgently needed.
If—with the underwhelming Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr behind the wheel—Sauber still struggle to generate excitement in 2015, the Swiss team should at least pretend there's something worth looking at.
Caterham: Money in a Card
Buying a Christmas present for Caterham would be a risky move, with there being no guarantee that the backmarkers will be around long enough to enjoy it.
The cash-strapped team utilised a crowd-funding campaign to make it on to the grid for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where anything from a team cap to a driver's overalls were given to anyone who donated to Caterham's cause.
A similar strategy could be used to ensure the team make it to 2015, with fans sending Christmas cards enclosed with a fiver to the team's headquarters to help Caterham out of their struggles.
It might be a small gesture—but it's the thought that counts, right?