Caterham have been the leaders of the three newest teams on the grid and they set a lofty initial target this season of getting in amongst the midfield runners — but that has failed to materialise.
The midfield pack has tightened up, with Sauber in particular making a leap and both Williams and Force India looking more competitive — leaving Toro Rosso, who have scored just six points so far this season compared to the 46 of Force India ahead of them, as the target for the back of the pack to latch onto.
It all looks bleak for Toro Rosso with technical director Giorgio Ascanelli — who has been in control since they won with Sebastian Vettel — apparently now parted with the team, leaving them in limbo for the rest of the season.
Toro Rosso, however, have actually made steps forward and closed in on the fastest time in Q1 over the first 11 races of this year compared to the last 11 races of last year. It's a clear improvement — but the problem is the leap forward achieved by Sauber and the others has made it look like the Italian team has gone backwards.
Indeed, Daniel Ricciardo is averaging 14th on the grid and has twice made it into the top-10 shoot-out, which is not bad. It's a much higher average than any of the other drivers in the bottom spots — the closest being team-mate Jean Eric Vergne on 17th - and the same as Williams' Bruno Senna and Sauber's Sergio Perez.
But race averages are significantly down on the teams ahead, with both Toro Rosso drivers averaging 13th place. The Williams pair are closest with an average finish of 12th while Sauber and Force India are several places ahead (averaging 9.5 and 8.3; 9.7 and 10 respectively).
That means Toro Rosso have been firmly drawn into the backmarker category. Their two points-scoring finishes came in the first two races, and they've not had a look-in since.
The worst news for the team this season, however, is the departure of Ascanelli as that effectively puts a stop to development on this year's car and they are now seriously in danger of attack from behind.
Caterham are champing at the bit and while the midfield target may still be a long way off, the chance of stumbling on a point or two is very much in Caterham's sights.
They have clearly improved this year, with their gap to the fastest time in Q1 better on all but four occasions than their best last year. They are on average 1.9s off the Q1 pace in this year's first 11 races compared to a 3.1s average over the final 11 of 2011.
Again, this significant progress has gone under the radar as the positions haven't improved significantly — the two drivers still average 18th and 19th in qualifying and 17th in races — but the gap has been closed to Toro Rosso and signs are it could close further still in the second half of the year.
Caterham introduced upgrades at Silverstone that they could not optimise due to the wet weather conditions. More rain followed in Germany and the team has not only benefits to reap from these but, unlike Toro Rosso, they have plenty more upgrades to come.
The team, which has just completed a move to a new factory in Leafield, aims to bring in smaller updates race by race and a major upgrade in Singapore. Their target is now to score a point before year-end.
Behind Caterham, Marussia and HRT have also both improved, with Marussia averaging 3.7s off in Q1 compared to 4.7s in 2011 and HRT 4.5s off this year compared to 5.3s last.
It's been a frustrating year for Marussia, not helped by an unsettled start after ditching the all-CFD approach in favour of wind tunnel testing, perhaps a bit too late. Claims that they are "eating into the gap to Caterham" are perhaps a little hopeful.
HRT, meanwhile, failed to qualify for the first race as they tried to set up a car "created by someone else" — but their suggestion that they have "50 percent more" performance to extract from it would only be impressive if they had the resources to do so.
But at least they are both hanging onto Caterham's coat tails as the gap across the entire field continues to tighten — and if there's a mixed-up race, you wouldn't bet against one of the three 'newcomers' snapping up that elusive first point.