A quick what's what on F1 for 2013The 2013 Formula One season is fast approaching and it seems like it was just last week that Vettel clenched his third consecutive world title.
The Formula One 2013 season is fast approaching and it seems like it was just last week that Vettel clinched his third consecutive world title. Time flies huh? In 2012, we witnessed one of the most exciting F1 seasons of recent times. An adventure full of flare, glamour, passion, and drama, still so vivid in our memories… it’s hard to believe the first test session of 2013 in Jerez is in a mere couple of days and the first race in Melbourne is just a month away. We have seen old stars depart and new blood break in. Several teams have already unveiled their new cars while others are still very much a work in progress. For easy reading, I’ve written up a summary of what’s changed since the end of the 2012 season, and what to expect in the 2013 season in terms of the drivers and teams. I will do a write up for the technical and sporting regulation changes as well as calendar changes in the near future. So here’s the story so far:
Red Bull Racing
Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel and teammate Mark Webber remain the pilots of the amazing Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull car. I mean, why fix what’s not broken? Certainly a team that’s won the last 3 consecutive constructors championships and world driver championship is something completely opposite to broken. Red Bull and their RB9 will be the team to beat this upcoming season.
Missing the driver’s championship by just 4 points was a massive blow to Ferrari, the biggest name of them all. However, there were only positives to take away from their season considering Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who are both still onboard for this season, had to wrestle around a car that was significantly off the pace compared to the top teams. The F1 icons started the season middle-of-the-pack, at the very best. Ferrari are much more confident that they will have a strong contender. Following arguably the best season of his career, the super-talented Alonso will be highly motivated.
Ah, finally we get to the good stuff. Amber alert, amber alert, Lewis Hamilton leaves home. He’s been with the Woking-based team since a small boy and has now decided he needs a change, moved out, and got a job at Mercedes. Honestly, Lewis and his extremely fast MP4-27 could’ve and should’ve been competing for the title had it not constantly break down as well as a pit crew that’s made costly mistakes, so I don’t blame him. Now, welcome Sergio Perez, previously at Sauber, has gotten his dream drive at McLaren. He had a very impressive 2012 season, enough for McLaren to give him that ever-so-exclusive seat. Replacing Lewis, Sergio has very very big shoes to fill. Sergio will be partnered with former world champion Jenson Button, who remains a driver for McLaren. The MP4-28, built on top of last year’s pace-setting car, with Sergio and Jenson at the wheel, will definitely be challenging for the win.
It seems like Lotus is now that team in the paddock that likes to have some fun, joke around and not afraid to chillax for a bit. They’re really milking the PR goldmine that is Kimi Raikkonen. Equal to the hilarity of his radio messages is his talent that shown through in a remarkable comeback season in 2012. Multiple podiums, 3rd place in the drivers’ standings, and even a win in Abu Dhabi marked a great overall season for the Finn. Romain Grojean, or First-Lap Nut Case as Mark Webber would put it, also retains his seat. Although he had a difficult first season with many DNFs and crashes caused, his raw talent and pace was evident to everyone, and his promise and potential earned him another year at Lotus.
Big things are happening at Mercedes. There is some trouble’a’brewing in the upper-management, with key figures being sacked, replaced, and general signs of instability. Even the legendary Ross Brawn might get sacked according to rumors, however a lot of the stuff out there are indeed rumors, so let’s not get caught up in them yet. The biggest news at Mercedes is that they welcome Lewis Hamilton to the team and wave goodbye to 7-time World Champion, Michael Schumacher. He is the best there ever was in the sport by almost every measure, and we pay tribute to a long and ridiculously successful career. Notorious for being able to make a great drive out of a poor car, Lewis will be an exciting acquisition for Mercedes. Since their comeback 3 years ago, Mercedes has struggled to develop their car good enough to compete with the top teams. If Lewis can help turn this team around, he will forever be cemented as one of the all time greats, if he isn’t already. He will join Nico Rosberg, a good friend who he grew up with racing karts. Nico Rosberg has also shown great potential, with the win in Shanghai and a few podiums to boast. Mercedes is a team that will be interesting to watch, at the very least.
With Sergio Perez’s departure, Esteban Gutierrez joins Sauber. He’s been extremely impressive in the GP2 series and Sauber have promoted him from reserve driver to the real deal. Unfortunately, Kamui Kobayashi, despite all his fans efforts, loses his seat at Sauber for 2013. We hope and expect to see him back in F1 soon. He makes way for Nico Hulkenberg, who joins Sauber from Force India. He is another driver who’s shown great potential especially with a very strong 2012 season.
So far only one driver has been confirmed at Force India for the upcoming season. Paul di Resta was relatively consistent last season, however if he wants to be something special in F1, he will want to up his pace for next season. The remaining seat is still up for grabs, apparently with FI test drivers Bianchi and Sutil being the top candidates so far.
The team with so much history in F1 finally got their first win in the last few years via Pastor Maldonado in Spain. Someone who brings in so much talent, as well as sponsorship money, is a very important asset for Williams. If he can de-burr his rough edges then he’ll definitely be challenging for podiums. Another new name enters the sport, in the form of Valtteri Bottas. Bottas has been a test and reserve driver for Williams in 2012 and that experience along with the motivation from his brilliant GP3 season, he will be playing a big role in Williams’ success.
Red Bull’s sister team retains their 2012 drivers, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo. Toro Rosso had a relatively poor season and neither drier had any real highlights in their season. Perhaps their consistency is what earned them their driver for a second year.
One of the few teams on the grid to have two new drivers for the upcoming season. Charles Pic joins from Marussia following an impressive season showing great potential. We also say welcome to Giedo van der Garde. This will be his first year on the F1 grid following strong performances in GP2 and as Caterham’s reserve driver. We say goodbye to all-round-good-guy Heikki Kovalainen, who I think was a little ungrateful to Caterham. Also, Vitali Petrov makes his departure, even though one of his race finishes gave Caterham the vital 10th place they were seeking for the extra millions in prize money.
Another F1 veteran makes his departure in the form of Timo Glock. Although he was never able to win a world championship, Timo has had a long and rewarding career in F1. Max Chilton is promoted from test driver to a full time race seat following a strong GP2 season last year. The other race seat at Marussia is still yet to be announced.
Financial issues have caused HRT to close down shop, pack up, and leave. While they were often slowing others down, it’s always sad to see a team leave F1. Good luck to all their future endeavors.