Lotus and Virgin Racing have come under criticism from several quarters about their relative lack of pace, and have generally run some 5 seconds off the leading pace of the front runners.
Several of the F1 drivers – Felipe Massa and Jenson Button, to cite two examples – have raised concerns that the new teams’ lack of pace will cause an obstruction (and, they claim, a safety issue) for the front-running teams.
How quickly the drivers are to forget that it was not uncommon for the Minardis, Jordans and Super Aguris to be running well off the pace in the early rounds of several seasons, and the drivers didn’t utter one peep during that time!
Norbert Haug is inclined to agree, and at a Mercedes GP press conference in Bahrain, he said that the new teams deserve respect for having even made it Bahrain in the first place.
"It just shows it’s not easy to come into Formula 1. This is a very competitive environment and I would say that you can have at least seven to eight teams that are very, very competitive this year.
"It’s not only four teams. A team like Force India has improved a lot. Toro Rosso is still improving, so I think that is better than ever in Formula 1.
"But the new ones that are coming now need to make big steps but we should give them some time. I think it is a very good sign that new teams are coming amid difficult circumstances. It’s not easy for them to find support and sponsorship money.
"I’m sure the worked very hard and my view is that I pay them a lot of respect. And of course they need to improve."
Also present at the press call was Michael Schumacher, who echoed Haug’s sentiments: “"I think what Norbert said already what you have to see. They give the maximum effort to arrive in Formula 1. It means a lot of dedication and this is much more important to see that people are interested to come into Formula 1.
"And you need to give them time. Everybody needed time when they arrived and I think it’s great to see so much interest from new teams that they risk such a step."
[Image via ITV-F1]