As the Formula 1 launch season approaches fast, its time to begin speculating what F1 in 2013 is going to be like, who’ll be fast and who’ll be bringing up the rear, which teams will have improved, which drivers are under pressure to perform from the start of the season, and who’ll come out at the end of it as Formula 1 Drivers & Constructors champions?
RED BULL RACING RENAULT RB9
1. Sebastian Vettel – Germany
2. Mark Webber – Australia
Sebastian Vettel & his Red Bull Racing team are on a roll. Three consecutive World Championships for driver & team will make them the pre-season favourites to add a fourth. Adrian Newey has claimed that they are on the back foot after putting in so much effort into winning it in 2012, and rumours were the new car would miss the first pre-season test in Jerez. However those rumours were put to bed when the team announced they’d be launching the car on 03rd February, just in time for the first day of testing.
Helmut Marko has a big mouth, we all know that, and I hope Mark Webber knows to ignore whatever he says. We all know Mark is a talented race car driver, and could have been the 2010 World Champion had the final race turned out differently. However Helmut has come out and basically condemned Webber to a support role to Vettel, which is both unjustified and unfair. If Mark is ahead of Sebastian, I’d be delighted to see him stay ahead. Whether or not he’ll be ahead enough of his teammate in the first place is another matter. Vettel does hold the upper hand but on his day Webber is unbeatable. Its just a shame his day doesn’t come often enough.
3. Fernando Alonso – Spain
4. Felipe Massa – Brazil
I think it was clear to most people that the 2012 Ferrari wasn’t the best car out there. In fact, sometimes it was lagging behind Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, Lotus, sometimes Sauber, sometimes Williams, sometimes even Force India. However Fernando Alonso put in an amazing effort with it to take the championship to the wire. You’d expect a better 2013 Ferrari, which comes out on the 1st of February. If its a better car, then you’d have to say Alonso will be one of the favouritres to win the title. He’s possibly the most complete driver on the grid right now, and will be remembered as one of the legends of the sport when he hangs up his helmet.
Whereas Alonso’s future with Ferrari was assured for 2013, Felipe Massa’s was far from it. He had a disappointing first half of 2012 but came back strongly, and was on the podium a couple of times, running Alonso close. He showed he still had his fighting spirit that everyone thought lost after a bad few seasons following his horrific Hungary incident in 2009. It was nice to see his return to form, but he needs to be on form from the offset in 2013 to give him a chance of remaining not only at Ferrari but also a chance to remain in F1. A win or two will do wonders for not only his confidence, but his whole career.
MCLAREN MERCEDES MP4-28
5. Jenson Button – Great Britain
6. Sergio Perez – Mexico
Jenson Button becomes the unofficial team leader of McLaren after Lewis Hamiltons defection to Mercedes. He’ll hope that now the car, released on 31st January, should be designed around him more that he’d be able to challenge for wins on a more regular basis. When the races are affected by mixed weather, there is no one better than Button. He has showed time and time again just how smooth his driving is. If McLaren can give him the car, he’ll be a contender for sure.
The fact that McLaren replaced Hamilton with Sergio Perez was a surprise when it happened, but no one should be surprised really that the Mexican driver has reached a top team so young. Its been obvious in his relative short career that he has the talent behind the wheel, but 2013 will be his biggest challenge yet. He’ll need to prove that he doesn’t need alternative tyre strategies to do well, and will have to show he knows how to qualify better. In his Sauber days, that was his biggest downfall, and he knows he’ll have to step it up. This kid is under pressure to show that hes worth the hype and the promotion.
It seems that three drivers are secure where they are: Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso & Jenson Button. However their respective teammates are under pressure to perform. Mark Webber has un-necessary pressure from within his own team, whereas Felipe Massa is under pressure to prove he still belongs in a top team. Sergio Perez is under pressure to prove he deserved his promotion to the big league.
In the next Blog, I will comment on Lotus, Mercedes & Sauber.