F1 minnows Marussia and Caterham once again head into the final round of the season knowing that either could snatch the final paying place in the constructors' championship in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.
Just as twelve months ago, Marussia holds the upper hand, but Caterham theoretically has less to do to overturn the 'deficit', as it only needs to match the Banbury's team's best result of 13th place to supplant it in tenth spot overall. Last year, it took a Vitaly Petrov pass on Charles Pic
for eleventh position with five laps remaining in the season to switch their places.
Caterham has the better overall results for 2013, with three 14th places to Marussia's one enough to turn the tide should either Pic or Giedo van der Garde finish 13th on Sunday, and team principal Cyril Abiteboul admits that success would mean more than just a financial boost for his squad.
“I think [finishing last] will be essentially costly for the morale of the team,” he noted, “Everybody believes that we deserve [tenth]. All due respect, I think we both have done a good job, but the figures tend say we deserve it just a little bit more than those guys. I think, whatever the result, we are committed to the sport, so it's not going to make a huge difference. It will give a bit of a headache to my financial director but, apart from that, it's not going to change our entire strategy to F1.”
Marussia's John Booth agreed that the sporting outcome would take precedence over the financial reward of finishing tenth, but was at odds with the Frenchman's claim that Caterham had been the better team, particularly as his squad has devoted a lot of time and resources to making sure it is ready for the new-look F1 due next season.
“There may be a small financial consideration, but it's the sporting matter that is more important,” he insisted, “We are the smallest team, we operate with the smallest budget, but we are racers and we want to improve. Tenth place would be a massive plus for the guys in the factory.
“It's been a good scrap this year. There was a large spell in the middle of the year when Caterham looked much stronger than us, [but] we had a good race last week and we think we're getting on top of our issues. It's been a long, long season. We took that tenth place [in the championship] in Malaysia, [and] the last update we brought to the car - of any significance - was Barcelona, so it's been a long old season hanging on to that tenth place and it's been pretty nerve-wracking to be truthful.
“We've brought some small improvements and worked very hard at optimising what we have, and I think we have gone forward. It would have been better to have two or three large upgrades through the season, but we are the smallest team and to build a 2014 car that has to be on the track in Jerez in January was a big feat for us. We've had to concentrate on that very hard.”
As usual, both teams will have to come from the very back of the grid if they are to record a better result than already on their slate – despite Abiteboul confirming that both his drivers had been performing a rain dance ahead of qualifying.