Tag Archives: F1 2013

What to look forward to in 2013

Unfortunate as it is, but it is now time to consign the brilliant 2012 season to the history books, and look forward to the next. Will the 2013 season deliver as many thrills and spills?

Let’s have a look at some of the things that could make the 2013 season great:

Continued competitiveness at the front

As Sebastian Vettel searches for his fourth world title on the trot, double world champion Fernando Alonso attempts to win his first title since 2006.

Meanwhile, Jenson Button will try his best to lead a reshuffled McLaren team to glory, while Lewis Hamilton will settle into Mercedes and attempt to push the team to the front of the grid.

Ferrari, despite their vocality on every single issue in F1, have struggled in recent years, and look to a resurging Felipe Massa to improve the team’s chances at a constructor’s championship.

The 2012 season saw one of the closest and most competitive grids ever seen in the sport, and with little change in the rulebooks for 2013, most of the teams at the front should be able to continue racing for wins. It is likely that Red Bull will continue to have one of – if not the – most competitive cars on the grid, and it will be fascinating to see who will try to topple them.

I estimate that up to 5 teams will have a shot at the title for next year, and that’s good news for F1.

An ever-improving Lotus team

Despite a huge increase in fans and supporters in 2012, Lotus’ actual season was a disappointment. They lost out on opportunities for victory in early races, and only an inherited win for Kimi Raikkonen in Abu Dhabi spared their blushes.

To put it simply, the team too often failed to exploit the fantastic race pace of the E20, and single lap pace was lacking. This must improve for 2013 if the team wishes to challenge for the title.

Romain Grosjean will be looking to recover from a terrible second half of last year, and will be doing his best to turn excellent pace into actual finishing results. Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen will presumably continue as the team leader, and should be able to reap rewards from the Lotus’ fantastic reliability and (hopefully) improved pace.

Considering how close Raikkonen got to the title this year, even before his win in Abu Dhabi, then Lotus are a serious force to be reckoned with this year.

Can Hamilton’s move reap rewards?

One of the most controversial news stories of last year was Lewis Hamilton’s surprise move to a struggling Mercedes team. There will be massive pressure on the Brit to transform the team into a title-winning squad.

That’s an odd statement though, as the team won their previous title only back in 2009. A slump in form in 2010, coupled with a series of underperforming cars, has held them back since. So what does Hamilton bring to the table? Awesome speed and a newfound maturity certainly helps.

Partnered with karting teammate Nico Rosberg, Mercedes now has one of the most exciting driver duos in the sport. Which driver ends up on top is anyone’s guess, but either way, 2013 will be a defining season for both drivers.

A more unpredictable Q1

The exit of HRT will either come as a disappointment or a relief to fans, but their demise has resulted in a much more exciting prospect for Q1 in qualifying.

With the 3 new teams taking up 6 of the 7 drop zones up to 2012, Q1 has been one of the few uneventful parts of an F1 weekend. However, with one less team at the back of the grid, the midfield teams now have a much bigger risk of being knocked out in the first part of qualifying. This also applies to the frontrunners, who will have to push harder to avoid being caught out.

Overall this will result in better competitiveness and more exciting racing in Q1. It also raises the prospects of slower cars being caught out by the 107% rule, as the frontrunners may be forced to take on the option tyre in this session, raising the bar for the teams behind.

Small DRS rule change – big consequences

A minor change to the technical rulebook in 2013 has stated that the DRS device can only be used in its designated zone during practice and qualifying. While it seems unnecessary, looking closer into the matter will show what consequences this has.

By lowering emphasis on DRS in qualifying, teams will no longer give their cars longer gears to benefit from the DRS, only to see that benefit slide away in the race.

This will also provide a boost to Ferrari, whose F2012 struggled in regards to rear stability when braking and disengaging DRS at the same time. For some reason, when the DRS flap deactivated, it failed to provide sufficient downforce for a split second, meaning the car would lose grip when braking for corners in qualifying.

This problem dogged the Ferrari team for all of last year, but it will no longer be an issue in 2013. Hopefully this means that they can improve on their poor qualifying form, and actually challenge Red Bull and McLaren on Saturdays.

Goodbye to stepped noses?

Stepped noses proved to be a flop with fans in 2012, many of whom engaged 100% nostalgic capacity and bemoaned the look of the current generation of cars.

Thankfully, the FIA has introduced an optional panel, to be fitted to the cars’ nosecones to eliminate these controversial steps. Before 2012, a safety measure meant that the front of the nosecone was to be lowered – but the rear was to remain the same height. This is what caused the controversy in 2012, and it’s good to see the matter finally come to a close.

For the record, I didn’t actually mind the stepped noses – the initial surprise is the only thing bad about them.

Hulkenberg and Sauber – a step up or sideways?

Force India described Nico Hulkenberg’s switch to rival team Sauber as a “step sideways”, an opinion shared by more than a few in the paddock. Can Hulkenberg prove them wrong?

Nico is one of the finest talents in F1, finishing off the 2012 season with a series of brilliant drives. In only his second season, he has taken a pole position, and nearly took a shock win in last year’s season finale. However, his performances in 2013 may be limited by what Sauber can produce.

But we’ll have to wait until March to see how the Hulkenberg/Sauber combination works. Nico has the potential to be a race winner and world champion in the future, so this is a hugely important moment in his career.

BBC reveal 10 free-to-air races for 2013

The BBC have shown off the 10 races that will be broadcast on free-to-air on the 2013 calendar.

The bold step has been made to drop the Monaco Grand Prix, which I feel is the right one, seeing as races there can be mostly boring. Replacing it is the Canadian Grand Prix, widely regarded as the fans’ favourite race of the season.

Interestingly, the season opener in Australia will not be shown, as will the next in Malaysia. Therefore BBC live coverage will begin with the Chinese Grand Prix.

The currently unannounced race, which for 2013 takes the place of the delayed New Jersey Grand Prix, is also on the BBC calendar. However, it has been confirmed that if the race is dropped, the BBC are not allowed show a different race live instead.

Similar to last year, the 10 races not shown live will be broadcast later on that day in a highlights package. Here are the 10 races being shown live:

Race 3: China: April 14

Race 5: Spain: May 12

Race 7: Canada: June 9

Race 8: TBA*: July 21

Race 9: Great Britain: June 30

Race 12: Belgium: August 25

Race 13: Italy: September 8

Race 16: Japan: October 13

Race 17: India: October 27

Race 20: Brazil: November 24

* = This race is unannounced, and will be a one-off only. It will most likely be hosted in Istanbul or the A1 Ring (now called the Red Bull Ring).

Valtteri Bottas to replace Bruno Senna at Williams

Valtteri Bottas will drive alongside Pastor Maldonado at Williams for the 2013 F1 season.

This means that Bruno Senna is out of a race seat for next year. Senna handed over his car 15 times during practice sessions this year to Bottas – a clear indicator that this move was always going to happen.

Valtteri is the second rookie driver to join the F1 paddock for 2013, as Esteban Gutierrez has already been confirmed at Sauber.

Bottas has previously won the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, the 2009 and 2010 Masters of Formula 3 races, and the 2011 GP3 series.

While all drivers concerned stated their usual PR quotes as expected, Bruno Senna has some interesting words to say about his sacking:

"Since the beginning of my program with Williams I accepted that I had to share 
the car with Valtteri Bottas in 15 Fridays as a part of his preparation for a 
likely debut in 2013.
It has been extremely satisfying to be the teams most regular point scorer and for 
me to demonstrate my pace in all 20 races."

 

Perez states that Esteban Gutierrez will join Sauber in 2013

Sauber driver Sergio Perez has jumped the gun on his team’s driver announcement for 2013 this weekend, and let slip that Esteban Gutierrez is set to be signed for the team for next year.

Before this weekend, Sauber had confirmed that they would make their driver announcement after the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

However, in the driver’s press conference today, Perez noted that “the team have a good experienced driver in Nico [Hulkenberg] and he will have a strong team-mate in Esteban [Gutierrez].”

He then stated: “we are waiting for the announcement”.

Gutierrez has already driven for Sauber this year, taking the place of Perez in Friday practice in India. He has previously won GP3 and Formula BMW Europe championships, and took 3rd this year in the GP2 series with ART.

Ricciardo and Vergne to stay at Toro Rosso for 2013

Both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne have been confirmed to stay at the Toro Rosso team until the end of the 2013 season.

Ricciardo has recently impressed with 3 points-scoring positions in a row, while Vergne has a 3-point lead over his teammate. The two drivers were competing with several young drivers for 2013 drives, most notably Antonio Felix de Costa.

However, with today’s confirmation, both drivers will continue on for a second year with Red Bull’s junior team. Team principal Franz Tost today stated:

"Both drivers have done a good job this season. Daniel joined us with a few Grands 
Prix under his belt and so his feedback and experience was particularly useful while 
Jean-Eric got up to speed, often having to deal with tracks he had never seen before.

Since the summer break, both drivers have scored more points and everyone in the team 
has been impressed with their maturity in terms of working with the engineers and 
their racecraft on track. We will be doing our best in the next few months, to produce 
a 2013 car which will allow them to demonstrate their talent."

 

Nico Hulkenberg to join Sauber in 2013

After the departure of Sergio Perez to McLaren, the Sauber team have confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg is to join the squad in 2013.

This is the third team that Hulkenberg will race for within three years of Grand Prix racing. He was ditched by Williams after the 2010 season in place for a pay driver, then spent a year in the wilderness, as reserve driver for Force India. He moved up to second driver for the team in 2012.

The highlight of Hulkenberg’s career so far has been his shock pole position in Brazil 2010. He was upped his game in the second half of this season, with a 4th placed finish in Belgium, and three points-scoring finishes in a row up to and including India.

The young German has signed a 1-year contract with the team. Sauber stated that they would confirm Hulkenberg’s teammate at a later stage.

This move has intensified the battle for the second Sauber drive. Kamui Kobayashi’s position is under serious threat, with Robert Frijns , Jules Bianchi, Jaime Alguersuari and Adrian Sutil all gunning for a place on the grid next year.

New Jersey race to be postponed to 2014 – Ecclestone

Next year’s planned Grand Prix of America, set to take place in New Jersey, has been offset until the 2014 season, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

The track, which features a stunning view of the Manhattan island, was rumoured to be behind schedule, but nevertheless Ecclestone has been unusually quick in pulling it off the 2013 calendar. Today he stated:

"They've run out of time. There's all sorts of things...and they didn't quite think 
it all through. They've had a wake-up call but the wake-up call came too late.

They couldn't get everything ready in time - that's the bottom line."

The main issues were believed to be with repairing roads and obtaining permits for the track. Bernie had hinted at this issue months ago, when he noted that the race organisers had not complied with the terms and conditions of the race contract.

If the New Jersey track is indeed completed for 2014, it will join the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi as the two new races for that season. The United States Grand Prix, located in Austin, is still set to go ahead at the end of this season.

“Modesty panel” to be introduced, and double DRS banned in 2013 Technical Regulations

2012’s unloved “stepped noses”, featuring in the design of the majority of the cars in the field, may be on the way out, as the FIA has approved the use of a “modesty panel” to hide the controversial feature.

As the 2013 Technical Regulations were posted online by the FIA, readers noted a new Article had been created for the new panel:

"With the exception of an optional, single piece, non-structural fairing of 
prescribed laminate (whose precise lay-up may be found in the Appendix to the 
regulations) which may not be more than 625mm above the reference plane at any 
point, no bodywork situated more than 1950mm forward of rear face of the 
cockpit entry template may be more than 550mm above the reference plane."

As stated, the panel cannot be a structural part of the car, but must be able to fit onto and over the stepped nose of the car. Seeing as the article was added to improve the look of the cars, the panel may also cover the side of the stepped section as well.

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe confirmed that the panel would be restricted in size to avoid teams from gaining an aerodynamic advantage.

Also mentioned in the 2013 regulations is the banning of the “Double DRS” system pioneered by the Mercedes team. Their car layout allowed the DRS flap to activate a second duct to direct air to the front wing, which has now been banned:

[The movable rear wing] "cannot be used to change the geometry of any duct, 
either directly or indirectly, other than the change to the distance between 
adjacent sections permitted by Article 3.10.2."

 

Webber to stay with Red Bull through 2013

Webber has turned down a switch to Ferrari

Webber has turned down a switch to Ferrari

After his recent victory at the British Grand Prix, Mark Webber has announced that he will stay on at Red Bull until at least 2013.

Webber admitted that he had held discussions over moving to Ferrari, but felt that staying with the Milton Keynes squad was the right choice.

Since joinin Red Bull in 2007, Mark has achieved 10 pole positions, 9 wins and 31 podium finishes. He currently lies second in the driver’s championship, 16 points off Fernando Alonso, and 13 ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.

In an announcement today, Webber stated:

"I’ve been with Red Bull Racing since 2007 and have achieved nine Grand Prix wins 
during that time. I’m high on confidence at the moment and firing on all cylinders. 
I know the team well and I’m very comfortable here; we have grown together over 
the years and it feels like absolutely the right thing to stay with Red Bull for 
another season.

The team is constantly working hard to improve in all areas and we’ve shown that 
together we can win races. It’s great to be able to make this announcement off 
the back of the win in Silverstone at the weekend and I’m looking forward to 
competing on the edge and pushing myself in every race again next season.

There were discussions with Ferrari, but my decision was to stay here.

Obviously with Seb [Vettel], we’ve worked very, very close together for a long 
period of time now. I think no-one would really have envisaged how long we have 
worked together, so that’s probably been a bit of a surprise.

There are not many team-mates staying together for that long in Formula One, but 
it’s proved to be a successful partnership with both of us working very hard with 
the key technical members of the team. It’s been a potent operation.

We’re still competitive when we hit the track, no question about it, especially 
in 2010 and this year. Last year there wasn’t much racing between Sebastian and 
I, but in 2009, 2010 and this year, there have been some great battles.

That’s been enjoyable for the team, sometimes stressful too as it’s not easy for 
both of us to be at the front and I can understand that, as both of us are 
thinking about ourselves sometimes, but ultimately we know that we need to get 
the cars home and get the best results for us and the team."

 

Barcelona and Valencia to alternate from 2013

The Circuit de Catalunya will soon alternate with Valencia

The Circuit de Catalunya will soon alternate with Valencia

The Circuit de Catalunya and the Valencia Street Circuit are to alternate hosting the Spanish Grand Prix from 2013 onwards.

Both venues have run into financial trouble in recent months. The Spanish government’s financial woes completely rules out any government interference, so an alternating track system was decided to be the best approach.

Bernie Ecclestone broke the news to Spanish radio station Cadana Ser today. He also clarified that both races would continue in 2012 as planned.

Barcelona hosted the Spanish Grand Prix from 1991 onwards, while Valencia is a relatively new addition to the Formula 1 calendar, joining in 2008. Neither circuit has proven popular with fans in recent years, due to frequently dull races and no scope for overtaking. It is not clear which track will be ditched for 2013.

The Spa circuit is also looking at a similar deal, with the Circuit Paul Ricard in France. The birthplace of motorsport, France has not hosted a Grand Prix since Magny Cours was dropped after 2008.

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