After 19 races across five continents, attention turns to the imminent changes ahead of 2014 and musings over their potential implications. Next Formula One season will contain some of the biggest technical changes to the sport in years but let’s not forget that 2013 was a record breaking season. The end of an era, some might say. When the dust settled in Sao Paulo, it was amidst goodbyes. With the V8 engines now retired, we will see a 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engine in its place. Two major partnerships have also been dissolved. Ferrari bid a goodbye to loyal wingman, Felipe Massa and Mark Webber called time on his career with reigning Constructors Champions, Red Bull. Many other talented drivers end the season with their Formula One futures still hanging in the balance. The likes of Paul DiResta, Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez all remain without a seat confirmed.
In 2013, five drivers made their debuts; Marussia featured an entirely rookie line up in the form of Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi. Esteban Gutierrez for Sauber. Valtteri Bottas took Bruno Senna’s seat at Williams. Giedo Van Der Garde joined his former GP2 Series teammate (Charles Pic) at Caterham.
Hulkenberg switched from Force India to Sauber and Adrian Sutil returned to the sport after a season absence to fill his shoes.
The 2013 season witnessed a long overdue resurgence from Mercedes. Following his move from McLaren to Mercedes, all eyes were on the Briton to see whether he could deliver the goods and challenge for the driver’s championship. He proudly took the victory in Hungary but as the season has progressed Hamilton appeared less and less comfortable in the car. He took four podium finishes over the season and finished 4th in the driver standings after a prang with Valtteri Bottas in the final race of the season.
Nico Rosberg, in comparison a veteran of the team has finally come into his own. Affectionately deemed ‘Britney’ in the paddock, his experience with the car has benefited him and allowed him to yield the most out of the car in areas his team mate may have been struggling with in the latter stages of the season. Two victories, one at Silverstone and the other at Monaco and two podiums has cemented his status within Mercedes.
In a stark contrast to 2012, Romain Grosjean enjoyed a season of improved driver awareness and as such was rewarded with six podiums. Believed to have been at the last chance saloon, he has found composure and speed. Team mate, Kimi Raikkonen took the first race victory at Australia and followed that with seven more podiums. After suffering financial difficulties with Lotus, the team who had tempted him back into the circus; he made a swift exit from them and agreed a return to Ferrari to partner Alonso in 2014.
Mclaren one of the most dominant teams in the history of the sport has been left on the side lines for most of the season. New charge Sergio Perez and World Champion teammate, Jenson struggled to find pace throughout the season and failed to score a single podium. Perez, has since been left out in the cold in favour of Kevin Magnussen and released from his contract for 2014.
Fernando Alonso’s third title prospects continued to remain illusive for the Spaniard as once again he had to settle for best of the rest in the standings. Two wins and seven podiums later, he was and still remains, many peoples only serious contender to end Sebastian’s reign of glory on the grid. Whether he is lamenting the loss of team mate Felipe Massa or lamenting the impending pairing of himself and Kimi, the man he replaced at Ferrari, in 2014 all concerned will need to step up a gear to consider themselves serious Championship threats.
Pirelli found themselves heavily under fire when challenged with the task of creating a tyre compound that would add spice to the mix. The British Grand Prix pushed the realms of farcical where we saw six blow outs. After the grand prix, crisis talks decided a reversion back to the previous year’s construction for the next race and an order not to switch their rear tyres.
A sport known to court controversy, 2013 was rife. Malaysia showed the sparring red bulls media perfection unravelled in spectacular fashion and inspired an unimaginable number of memorabilia sporting the famous words ‘Multi-21’ after Vettel made a controversial pass on his team mate after both drivers were told to hold position and Webber had already began to turn his engine and settings down, leaving him at a disadvantage. During the same race, a few seconds behind, was a mirror image at Mercedes with Rosberg being told to hold position behind Hamilton. The contrasting outcomes of the situation reignited the team orders row and driver management skills in the paddock.
The latter part of the season has been utterly dominated by Vettel. Crowned a quadruple champion with two races in hand. His relentless grip on the podium continued right up until the final chequered flag in Brazil.
Mark Webber, in his final season avoided mentally checking out completely after the Malaysia row and pushed himself back into the third place in the driver’s championship after a podium in the last race at Interlagos. He failed to get one victory but did manage eight podium finishes and the 19th fastest lap of his career.
Fellow countryman Daniel Ricciardo found himself promoted from Torro Rosso and secured the converted seat.
Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg were the only ones to secure a victory other then Sebastian. Alonso and Rosberg two apiece
2013 also saw the sport thrust into the Hollywood lime light with the much anticipated release of Ron Howard helmed “Rush”. The paddock was abuzz with anticipation with the stars being paraded up and down.
It swept up the fans and doused them in nostalgia. It reminded us that we are desperate trying to connect to traditions and styles gone by, most of which never to return in the foreseeable future. It gave a fleeting glance through the window of the soul of the sport and is surely set for Oscar success.
Hopefully the technical changes will force the teams to push the limits even further. With promises of a more even field, 2014 will surely be the season to facilitate a nail biting, season long, serious challenger for Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel.
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