F1 2013

2013 – Better than 2012?

It’s an oft-used cliché that ‘this season was the best ever’ or ‘it’s never been this competitive’. After the roller-coaster ride that was the 2012 season, how is that going to be possible for Formula One in 2013? Can the new year possibly surpass what was an incredible season of racing?

I think it can. But only if these particular events conspire to occur…

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Mercedes are in the Championship fight.

Think about it. It would be a great shame if a driver as fast and as exciting as Lewis was left out of the Championship battle, especially when the other big names such as Alonso, Vettel and Button are almost guaranteed a competitive mount for 2013. Mercedes’ weakness has been all too obvious since their resurrection in 2010, with speed seemingly bleeding off as the season progresses – this was painfully apparent last year with the Silver Arrows slumping from victory in China to mid-grid mediocrity in the US. With Schumacher gone, Hamilton is undoubtedly the driver that Mercedes needs to provide for in order to regain that lost glory. While Rosberg is a number two in all but name he has set his sights on winning while Lewis has claimed he is merely expecting podiums, a dynamic clash of views that could prove interesting when the racing starts between these two former-karting team mates.

Fernando Alonso has a Prancing Horse not a limping donkey.

While the Ferrari F2012 was a pretty ugly beast, it still possessed the speed to take the Spanish star within three points of his World Championship dream. Sit it next to the Red Bull RB8 however and there is no comparison – everything about Adrian Newey’s brainchild outclasses the best Maranello had to offer.

Well, this is the Scuderia’s chance to wipe the slate clean; the rules haven’t changed that much from 2012 but the potential for Newey to come up with a duff one is as high as ever. Admittedly that only seems to happen once every ten years but maybe 2013 will be Fernando’s season should the F2013, or whatever this one is to be called, come up to standard.

HRT are saved from the brink.

It’s probably already too late to save the Spanish minnows who entered into liquidation in early January having failed to join the 2013 entry list. On the other hand they were in trouble from the moment they took to the grid in Bahrain back in 2010, so having survived three full seasons you’d hope a fourth would not be beyond them.

2012 was probably their best effort yet

2012 was probably their best effort yet

While many may not see the loss of HRT as any big deal it’s always disappointing to see the back of a team that has given a lot just to make up the numbers; think Super Aguri, Minardi and Arrows before them. These little ‘garagistas’ as we may dub them in the manner of the late, great Enzo Ferrari, lend a lot of the atmosphere to the F1 paddock – who can forget the many HRT mechanics who bravely tackled the fire in the Williams pit garage at Barcelona last year? That’s what F1 is about, and it would be a sad loss should they fail to make it.

Romain Grosjean stops crashing into people.

While we all love a bit of action in Formula One, Romain probably went a bit overboard with his efforts to provide excitement in 2012 – imagine what Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton would have done in Spa, or Mark Webber could have achieved in Japan had not a reckless and over-exuberant Frenchman driven into them in the first hundred yards.

Three podiums show the speed is there, but it would be nice to see him demonstrating that more often than showcasing his demolition derby techniques. Winning the Race of Champions in Bangkok in December apparently makes him the greatest driver in the world however…

Sebastian Vettel gets better.

I don’t mean this in terms of speed; that would be silly.

No, what I’m talking about is maturity. The gung-ho driving style that marred his maiden title success was less evident in 2011 and absolutely absent in 2012, but the young German still displays a worrying tendency to ‘do a Schumacher’ i.e. Never admit he is at fault off the track. Calling Karthikeyan an ‘idiot’, branding Lewis Hamilton as ‘silly’ and swearing on the podium in Abu Dhabi were horrifying moments of almost-teenage immaturity that carved him out in much the same mold as his recently-retired compatriot in his own early years.

No more Podium interviews.

Love ‘em or hate them, the space age podiums and their associated new order of ceremony introduced at the British Grand Prix last year are truly diabolical. The idea is a good one – drivers give their views directly to the fans via the questions of a legend such as Emerson Fittpaldi, Jackie Stewart and…Eddie Jordan?!

No more of this please.

No more of this please.

In practical terms, it just doesn’t work. The on-screen flags are rotten in comparison to their cotton counterparts, the interviewers often speak barely passable English and the drivers are forced to offer their thanks in a sickeningly forced manner to the assembled fans below the rostrum, who already know everything that happened in the race without hearing it from the drivers in verbal form.

Kimi Raikkonen’s interview in Abu Dhabi was the only good thing to come of the arrangement all year.

 

Another race in Europe.

At the time of writing, no one seems to have decided as to which circuit the empty slot in July will be awarded to, but as the homeland of F1 is traditionally in Europe many are hoping either Austria or France will make a comeback for 2013.

The A1-ring last appeared in 2003 and has since been significantly refurbished by the all-encompassing Red Bull brand, and the French circuits of Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard are both understood to have significant support from fans. Failing that, Valencia could make a one-off return for 2013.

We’d probably rather just have 19 races Bernie than go back there…

New drivers emulate 2012 rookies.

Imagine Esteban Gutierrez lifting the winner’s trophy for Sauber; or Valtteri Bottas streaking across the finish line to lead a resurgent Williams onward into the 2010’s.

Such were the exploits of Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez in 2012 that fantasies like this are no longer pure conjecture. True, 2012 was not the ‘rookie’ season for those two men but, 2011 aside, they are still very raw and it was encouraging that new talent can deliver in the days of reduced testing and limited experience.

Points for Caterham and Marussia.

Racing for 10th in the constructors is all well and good but it’s getting a little tedious now chaps! Caterham have been talking of points since 2011 but their score still stands at a very modest zero. The failure of the 2012 car to improve on the 2011 machinery was another blow for this erstwhile excellent team that boasts such proven staff as Mike Gascoyne, although boss Tony Fernandes seemed unprofessionally distracted by his footballing affairs toward the end of what could have been a crucial season for the Norfolk-based Anglo-Malayan team. Marussia understandably don’t have much to shout about given the diabolical nature of their 2010 and 2011 seasons but 2012 was more promising.

Taken as a whole, 2013 has some way to go to beat 2012. But these aren’t unrealistic hopes are they?

One would hope not, because if they become reality we are certainly going to have one for the record books.

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