Reviewsday : 2013 Formula 1 Teams

I wouldn’t say I’m new to F1, but then I’m not a long-time supporter of the sport. I have memories of being vaguely aware of it whilst I was a lot younger and my father was watching it, but it was only during the last few races of the 2010 season and a doomed relationship with a F1 fan that I really became aware of it.

I can fairly vaguely remember an afternoon in November, filled with flu and watching my second or third Grand Prix with my boyfriend and his friends. The race just happened to be the final of the 2010 season; which ultimately made Sebastian Vettel a World Champion for the first time. I remember asking a good deal of rather silly questions; partly because I didn’t know what the rules were, partly because it seemed like a good idea to show interest in the sport my hen-boyfriend was into, and also because I did find it interesting. It was complicated; there were rules upon rules, and even at the very end of the season there was so much happening on the race track that I couldn’t help but to be swept along with the excitement in the room.

Four months later, and very much single, I found myself tuning in to watch the opening race of the 2011 season. I’d caught a glimpse of this fascinating sport and was determined to see whether it would be as interesting after the winter break. It was. And I wasn’t just ogling the drivers (which is rather impossible, to be honest; they’re helmetted up and hidden in their cars for the whole race, as well as the qualifying sessions the day before. That said, there are a couple of them who I might call ‘rather tasty’ if I had to pass such a shallow judgement!)

I started turning up at my Dad’s on a Sunday afternoon to sprawl on his sofa between my dog and one of his, watching with a fellow fan who would tolerate my occasional commentary, and this has become a lasting tradition when we’re both free on a Sunday.

We are now 2 races in to the 2013 season, and already there’s so much drama; we have new drivers, we have a few familiar drivers in new teams, and we have a lot who are still where they were last year. We have team-mates battling on the track, defying their team boss’s orders. We’ve had spins and sparks and wheel-to-whel racing, not to mention a series of pit-lane calamities. So I’ve decided to give my very biased review of the top 8 teams in the 2013 Formula 1 Grand Prix. (I’m skipping the last 3 because otherwise this would be huuuuuugely long, and also because I don’t know a lot about the teams or their drivers. Plus it’s my review, so I’m allowed to rig it to make it easier to write!)

This is in reverse order of how they fared last year, i.e. McLaren came third in the championship last year, so they’ll be in at 3 on the countdown.

8 – Williams F1 Team
Ok, we have to start off with a talk about Pastor Maldonado (car number 16), Williams’ number 1 driver. (Each team has a number 1 and a number 2 driver, even if they’re allowed to race each other on the track.) Maldonado is a spirited driver who had a very trying 2012 season. By which I mean he seemed to be involved in almost as many accidents/non-finishes as Michael Schumacher. That’s saying something! It got to the point where other drivers were worried about his potentially dangerous driving style. There’s no doubt Pastor wants to win, something he managed in Spain last year; taking pole position in the Saturday’s qualifying session and turning it into a win during the race.
As for their second driver, Valtteri Bottas in car 17, I know little-to-nothing about him. New to F1 this year but by no means new to racing; the Fin got to F1 by rising up through the lower Formulas, and then spending 3 years as a Williams test driver. At 23 he’s not the youngest driver on the track, but he’s oung enough to make me feel rather old!

7 – Sahara Force India F1 Team
Force India have a very interesting line up… Or at least I find them interesting. We’ll start with di Resta (car14) who, I maintained all of last yet, is one to watch. Ok so he’s not really sparkled yet, but I think we’re playing a long game with Paul – as soon as he can move up to a better team with a better car, that’s when the magic will happen. I may be a little bit biased toward the British drivers, and young di Resta is a Scot, so that might be the basis of my belief in him.
Adrian Sutil (car 15), on the other hand, is someone I’m really not sure about. He’s returned to F1 this year after a year off. A year in which he was convicted for assault. I don’t know any of the facts about the case; only what I’ve read on Wikipedia, so this may not be true, but it seems that after the Chinese GP in 2011, in a nightclub, he was ‘involved in an incident with Genii Capital CEO Eric Lux’. Sutil had broken a champagne glass and Lux had received a cut to the neck. Lux filed a criminal complaint, while Sutil claimed it was unintentional. Ultimately Sutil stood trial and was convicted of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm. He paid a €200,000 fine to charity and received an 18-month suspended sentence. I’m not sure how I feel about him racing this year; I’m sure he wants to prove himself after a year out, but a very judgemental part of me is very aware that there are other drivers out there just as hungry for victory but who didn’t glass someone in the neck. He was the last driver to be confirmed for the 2013 season.

6 – Sauber F1 Team
Another newbie to the F1 competition this year is the driver of car number 12; Esteban Gutiérrez. He freaks me out for one very silly reason – he was born in 1991. I can REMEMBER 1991. The 21 year old has a good run of karting, GP3 and GP2 races behind him, and finished 3rd in 2012’s GP2 series, so he’s probably quite good at this driving lark.
As is Nico Hulkenberg, car 11, who I remember from those early days of paying attention in the autumn of 2010. Back then he surprised a lot of people with a pole position driving for Williams. He then spent 2011 as a reserve driver for Force India, and was promoted to a race driver for them in 2012.

5 – Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
And here we start getting to the real contenders. Rosberg and Hamilton have been racing together for pretty much all of their careers. They started karting in their early years (Rosberg in 1996 and Hamilton in 1993) and by the time they reached the Formula Super A ranks they were team mates. Rosberg first raced in F1 in 2006, driving for Williams and Hamilton joined in 2007, driving for McLaren. Neither driver has ever ended an F1 season without having scored points.
I must admit I don’t know much about car 9 driver Rosberg. He’s finished the last few seasons consistently well, but always behind the lead teams. From all accounts he seems like a nice, quite good racer. Hamilton in car 10, however, I know a fair bit more about. Not all of it great. But here’s the bias – he’s one of my Brits, so I’m going to root for him, even when he’s being silly. Hamilton has a very high desire to win, and in past years this has made him an aggressive driver. Before I started watching, he was partnered by Fernando Alonso, and the two of them reportedly had a very bitter rivalry. In recent years, to my mind, he seems to have matured and settled down, although he still races very competitively. I think leaving McLaren at the end of last year was a great move for him as he’d raced with them for his entire career at that point and it was time for him to find himself in another team. The Mercedes car wasn’t touted as one of the best at the beginning of the year, but results so far are looking fairly promising. I’m touting Hamilton to be in the top 3 at the end of this year.

4 – Lotus F1 Team
I’ve got to admit I’ve often under-estimated the Lotus cars, to the point of not really paying them any notice, and then bam – Kimi Räikkönen appears out of nowhere to win a race. The Finn in car 7 is not new to F1 racing, having started racing in 2001 and became a World Champion in 2007, eventually leaving F1 after the 2009 season to drive in the World Rally Championship. He returned to F1 in 2012 and, after a rough start, finished 3rd over all. Kimi is a very strong contender for the 2013 crown.
Similar to Räikkönen, Grosjean in car 8 has recently returned to F1 after a year out, this time taking time away to drive in the GP2 races. He seems to be a good racer, although I do recall a number of bumps and crashes with his name attached to them.

3 – Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Ah, McLaren, my team of choice, although it seems they’re never going to be quite good enough to take the Championship. When I started watching F1, McLaren had Hamilton and Button as their drivers; it was a promising team filled with Brits and so I naturally gravitated toward following them. Hamilton was fast and reckless, whilst Button was reliable and great in wet conditions. With those glowing references they managed to get beaten. Now we’ve lost Hamilton to Mercedes, and the 2013 car is looking rather below par, but I’m still a McLaren girl.
Jenson Button, in car 5, seems to be a really lovely guy. He’s the Chris Martin of Formula 1, if you will! He’s a former World Champion, and is renowned for his excellent tyre management. I want him to win all the things, but I really don’t think he will.
The new boy, on the other hand, Sergio Perez, is not my favourite person. He’s come up from Sauber to take Hamilton’s seat and car number 6, but he’s not the best driver considering his level, He managed to get 3 podiums last season, ultimately coming in 10th. I’d like him to do well for McLaren, but am not really enthused about him in general.

2 – Scuderia Ferrari
Even if you’re not a F1 fan you’ll most likely have heard of Ferrari. Fast cars are their business, and they’re rather good at it. They are the oldest team in the competition and have a massive fanbase, particularly in their homeland, Italy. For the past 4 years their drivers have been Fernando Alonso and Filipe Massa.
This is where my bias starts to truly show. I’m not really a fan of either of the two Ferrari drivers. This is based on very little, and is most likely completely unfair, but I am Mr Darcy; my good opinion once lost is lost forever. The thing is their number 1, Alonso, comes across as an arrogant man, I don’t know what prompted that assumption; whether it’s something I’ve heard others say and have agreed with, or whether it came from an incident. I just don’t really like the guy. Massa, on the other hand, I disliked in the 2011 season when he and Hamilton were running a similar pace, and every post-race interview seemed to feature Massa complaining about Hamilton. They have a history of tussles, and it seemed like Massa was a bit whiny. This wasn’t seen so much in 2012, so it might be that Hamilton’s maturing has earnt him a better reputation amongst his fellow drivers, or might just be because Massa had a difficult season.

1 – Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Finally we reach the top team; the reigning World Champions in the Constructors’ Championship, and their number 1 driver, in car number 1, who is the reigning World Champion in the Drivers’ Championship.
Let’s start with Mark Webber, car 2 . I have a lot of time for Webber, he speaks his mind and he races fairly. He had a terrible season in 2012, with some poor starts really holding him back, but he’s a consistent racer and a team player. If he can sort out his starts he could return to the good form he showed in 2010 and 2011.
Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, I have no time for. When he won in 2010 I didn’t much know who he was. When he won again in 2011 it was a little boring; mainly because he won 11 races and came second in 5 – there was no fight, just Vettel-domination. 2012 was at least a little closer to the wire. The thing with Vettel isn’t that he wants to win; they all want to win. Vettel wants o destroy the competition. He wants to get pole position in qualifying, he wants to win the race and he wants to get the fastest lap in the race, and be damned to anyone who tries to get in his way. Even his own team mate as was shown disastrously in the Turkish GP or 2010 and almost happened again just two days ago. Last weekend was a particularly good example of how much Seb Vettel is out for himself in this competition, despite being one half of the drivers in the Red Bull team.

And that’s my review of (most of) the teams in the 2013 Formula 1 Championship. What do you think> Who do you support? Why don’t you watch it?

LINK: The Race Calendar for this year.

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