Monthly Archives: December 2013

F1 2013 Review

As the season concludes it is worth looking back over the season and to assess the relative achievements of the different teams. Usually at this point it would be possible to make some attempt at anticipating the potential for next season, but given the huge raft of changes that are in line for 2014 that would be an exercise in futility.

Red Bull

As the runaway title winners it is difficult to say much against the team. However, the problems they faced early in the season before the tyre changes seemed to indicate a degree of fallibility and a slight hope that they won’t start next season as they finished this one, at least hope for the other teams.

From a driver perspective, Vettel was simply untouchable. Suffering now from the jealously and thinly veiled hatred that accompanies success he has managed to maintain a private life, and his head above the petty machinations of lesser drivers. Webber, as usual, made up the numbers. He is worshiped by many, but I have never seen the pride in constant bitching about everything being against you whilst voluntarily signing up for more of the same. A lot of people indicate he will be missed in F1. Not by me.

Daniel Ricciardo is an interesting choice. I confess that I haven’t seen anything of him that Vettel displayed, but that might be more the fault of the car than the driver. I don’t see him competing with Vettel in 2014, all things being equal, but Red Bull will expect him to line up in the top four every race.

Mercedes

If anything Mercedes had the best season. They couldn’t turn some early season pace into a realistic challenge; for Mercedes the tyre change worked against them (and thereby fuelled the fires of conspiracy from the intellectually challenged ‘F1 fan’ who thinks Eddie Jordan says anything worth listening to). That the team was a regular top runner is undeniable. Both drivers showed management of the car to an extent, and over a single lap it was one of the fastest cars on the grid. However, the changes within the team – that is the loss of Ross Brawn – could mean trouble for the new year.

Maintaining the current driver line up will be a great help to Mercedes. Hamilton and Rosberg were consistently the 2nd/3rd best throughout the season, and as long as they work well together could prove a real threat in 2014. How the drivers will work together if a DWC is on the cards is another matter; one that I hope we see next season.

Ferrari

As usual the team flattered to deceive, and Alonso drove well to maintain a challenge into the last quarter of the season. The ‘Prancing Horse’ has been a disappointment for a number of years – but that might just as well be due to the performance of the Red Bull! Ferrari hold a privilged place in the F1 hierarchy, but that will not last if the team cannot turn around the performance where 2nd is nothing.

Alonso drove well throughout the season, but at times appeared to be frustrated with the team. To the extent that I think the pairing with Kimi is a recipe for disaster. Massa showed glimpses of his talent, and one can only hope that he can express that more fully in a Williams. Above all, there is the hope that he doesn’t fall into the trap of Barrichello and spend his remaining years in F1 complaining about his treatment at Ferrari after having taken the pieces of silver year after year. I am hopeful that won’t be the case, as Massa was always a better driver than Barrichello could ever hope to be.

Lotus

Ah, Lotus. That black and gold livery excites every F1 fan over a certain age, and for a brief moment it looked as though this could be the season where would could Photoshop a JPS logo onto a new F1 title winning car. It was not to be though, and the team has lurched from early season success to later season penury. Given the state of the finances, there is real concern that they will finish the 2014 season, let alone start it.

On the driver front Grosjean was a revelation this season. He seems to have learned the lessons from the frequent incidents earlier in his career, and has developed into a solid driver. He deserves a win, and personally I would have preferred to see him in the Red Bull. Kimi drove well enough, but, as usual, seemed to lose motivation – although not being paid would tax anyone’s motivation – and his departure was inevitable. But the biggest concern has to be the signing of Maldonado for 2014. A legend in his own mind Maldonado has experienced the greatness of an F1 win, but singularly failed to parlay that into anything approaching a reputation as a decent F1 driver. I do not know of a single person who thinks Maldonado is driving for Lotus for any reason other than the cash he brings with him. A real shame.

McLaren

A disastrous season for the team – again – and some radical changes that scream of a knee jerk reaction. The car wasn’t good enough, of that there is little doubt, but for now there is a concern as to whether this can be turned around with the current personnel.

Perez’s departure certainly seems a little harsh. McLaren seems to be a team that can only offer support to one driver, and that wasn’t Perez. He certainly made errors, and his performances weren’t exceptional, but worthy of dismissal? Button’s performances certainly were better, but nothing special themselves. Radio traffic may be misleading, but did JB ever say anything that wasn’t complaining about the car or his teammate (when Perez had the temerity to try to overtake him)? Next season will be the making or breaking of McLaren I fear, but I also think that it will see a very talented rookie utterly demolishing the older driver.

Force India

Force India are a well-liked team, not least because their colour scheme is at least something different to the usual red and blue! But, as with others, they really suffered with the tyre changes during the season. However,it always appeared that the weak link in the team was the driver line-up, and so there are high hopes for next season,

Sutil appeared happy to toddle along in the midfield, whilst di Resta appeared to have had his ego fueled by links to top teams last year and failed to deliver when it mattered. The team did let him down at times, of that there is no doubt, but his very public condemnation, when combined with less than impressive performances, did his career no good.

If the team do have access to a good Mercedes engine then with Hulkenberg they have every chance of breaking through. It would be a welcome addition to the top of the final classifications.

Sauber

Sauber always seem to exceed their resources, and did so this year although that was reliant on Hulkenberg’s performances. The team itself appears to be a beacon of hope for midfield runners. Gutierrez may be anotherĀ pay driver, but was relatively solid nonetheless with some real flashes of talent.

Hulkenberg’s move to Force India is something of a surprise, but Sauber’s finances may demand it. The Hulk is worthy of a place in a top team, and I would have thought he would have made a far better teammate for Magnusson that Button.

Torro Rosso

I am never sure what to make of Torro Rosso. Are they just Red Bull’s B team, or are they more independent but generally run as a ‘driver academy’? How close can the relationship be when there are different engine suppliers?

Overall the team finished almost where expected, but I am sure that they would have wanted to beat Force India and Sauber. JEV showed some early season promise which petered out (probably around the time he realised he wasn’t going to get the Red Bull seat), but the number of retirements didn’t help him, nor did his qualifying performances at the beginning of the season. Ricciardo was solid if unspectacular. Next season will be interesting given the Torro Rosso standard to blooding new drivers.

Williams

Oh dear, oh dear. Another season of underperformance. Maldonado appeared to be running through the motions, convinced in his own abilities even if nobody else was. Bottas appeared to shine as the season went on, and is well placed for next season if the car can deliver.

The team also failed to deliver in particular with the wheel tethering issue post pit-stop, and were lucky to only receive fines rather than a more draconian punishment. Next season a more professional approach should deliver; indeed it has to deliver as I fear another bad year could be the end of one of the great names of F1.

Marussia and Caterham

I bundle the two together as there is little to say. Bianchi was the best of the lot in driving terms, but early season promise didn’t appear to develop. As for the teams, I am afraid that I cannot see the point in them. They are still at the back, still way off the pace, and offer nothing to F1 whatsoever. Fortunately the farce that was HRT has gone, and at least these two teams are at least in the same time zone in terms of lap times, but they offer no threat to Q2, no threat to the midfield teams.

A far better option would be for both teams to be taken over as a main runner’s B team – similar to the Red Bull and Torro Rosso relationship. That might at least improve the basic performance level. At the moment, claiming a positive of a driver completing ever lap is utterly ridiculous – I could complete every lap in a bloody Fiat 500 and it would be a lot cheaper.

Overall

The season was not as bad as some think – those that complain most usually have the F1 knowledge of a potato and can’t see beyond ‘their’ driver. Sure, Red Bull dominated but there were some excellent battles behind them. Interesting how the domination of F1 by McLaren and Senna a number of years ago is looked upon as an exemplar of when everything comes together to produce something exceptional, and yet if it happens to be a German then it is a disaster.

Next season will be an interesting one with all the changes. Ferrari have to improve, Red Bull have probably the best designer but one who doesn’t like to be curtailed in his design the way the new rules will force him to be, McLaren haven’t produced a successful new design element for years (the F duct didn’t really offer much) and Mercedes appear to be pinning a lot on the new engine but need to solve the tyre wear issues. There is a lot of play for in 2014, and it will be a very interesting season!

As the season concludes it is worth looking back over the season and to assess the relative achievements of the different teams. Usually at this point it would be possible to make some attempt at anticipating the potential for next season, but given the huge raft of changes that are in line for 2014 that would be an exercise in futility.

Red Bull

As the runaway title winners it is difficult to say much against the team. However, the problems they faced early in the season before the tyre changes seemed to indicate a degree of fallibility and a slight hope that they won’t start next season as they finished this one, at least hope for the other teams.

From a driver perspective, Vettel was simply untouchable. Suffering now from the jealously and thinly veiled hatred that accompanies success he has managed to maintain a private life, and his head above the petty machinations of lesser drivers. Webber, as usual, made up the numbers. He is worshiped by many, but I have never seen the pride in constant bitching about everything being against you whilst voluntarily signing up for more of the same. A lot of people indicate he will be missed in F1. Not by me.

Daniel Ricciardo is an interesting choice. I confess that I haven’t seen anything of him that Vettel displayed, but that might be more the fault of the car than the driver. I don’t see him competing with Vettel in 2014, all things being equal, but Red Bull will expect him to line up in the top four every race.

Mercedes

If anything Mercedes had the best season. They couldn’t turn some early season pace into a realistic challenge; for Mercedes the tyre change worked against them (and thereby fuelled the fires of conspiracy from the intellectually challenged ‘F1 fan’ who thinks Eddie Jordan says anything worth listening to). That the team was a regular top runner is undeniable. Both drivers showed management of the car to an extent, and over a single lap it was one of the fastest cars on the grid. However, the changes within the team – that is the loss of Ross Brawn – could mean trouble for the new year.

Maintaining the current driver line up will be a great help to Mercedes. Hamilton and Rosberg were consistently the 2nd/3rd best throughout the season, and as long as they work well together could prove a real threat in 2014. How the drivers will work together if a DWC is on the cards is another matter; one that I hope we see next season.

Ferrari

As usual the team flattered to deceive, and Alonso drove well to maintain a challenge into the last quarter of the season. The ‘Prancing Horse’ has been a disappointment for a number of years – but that might just as well be due to the performance of the Red Bull! Ferrari hold a privileged place in the F1 hierarchy, but that will not last if the team cannot turn around the performance where 2nd is nothing.

Alonso drove well throughout the season, but at times appeared to be frustrated with the team. To the extent that I think the pairing with Kimi is a recipe for disaster. Massa showed glimpses of his talent, and one can only hope that he can express that more fully in a Williams. Above all, there is the hope that he doesn’t fall into the trap of Barrichello and spend his remaining years in F1 complaining about his treatment at Ferrari after having taken the pieces of silver year after year. I am hopeful that won’t be the case, as Massa was always a better driver than Barrichello could ever hope to be.

Lotus

Ah, Lotus. That black and gold livery excites every F1 fan over a certain age, and for a brief moment it looked as though this could be the season where would could Photoshop a JPS logo onto a new F1 title winning car. It was not to be though, and the team has lurched from early season success to later season penury. Given the state of the finances, there is real concern that they will finish the 2014 season, let alone start it.

On the driver front Grosjean was a revelation this season. He seems to have learned the lessons from the frequent incidents earlier in his career, and has developed into a solid driver. He deserves a win, and personally I would have preferred to see him in the Red Bull. Kimi drove well enough, but, as usual, seemed to lose motivation – although not being paid would tax anyone’s motivation – and his departure was inevitable. But the biggest concern has to be the signing of Maldonado for 2014. A legend in his own mind Maldonado has experienced the greatness of an F1 win, but singularly failed to parlay that into anything approaching a reputation as a decent F1 driver. I do not know of a single person who thinks Maldonado is driving for Lotus for any reason other than the cash he brings with him. A real shame.

McLaren

A disastrous season for the team – again – and some radical changes that scream of a knee jerk reaction. The car wasn’t good enough, of that there is little doubt, but for now there is a concern as to whether this can be turned around with the current personnel.

Perez’s departure certainly seems a little harsh. McLaren seems to be a team that can only offer support to one driver, and that wasn’t Perez. He certainly made errors, and his performances weren’t exceptional, but worthy of dismissal? Button’s performances certainly were better, but nothing special themselves. Radio traffic may be misleading, but did JB ever say anything that wasn’t complaining about the car or his teammate (when Perez had the temerity to try to overtake him)? Next season will be the making or breaking of McLaren I fear, but I also think that it will see a very talented rookie utterly demolishing the older driver.

Force India

Force India are a well-liked team, not least because their colour scheme is at least something different to the usual red and blue! But, as with others, they really suffered with the tyre changes during the season. However, it always appeared that the weak link in the team was the driver line-up, and so there are high hopes for next season,

Sutil appeared happy to toddle along in the midfield, whilst di Resta appeared to have had his ego fuelled by links to top teams last year and failed to deliver when it mattered. The team did let him down at times, of that there is no doubt, but his very public condemnation, when combined with less than impressive performances, did his career no good.

If the team do have access to a good Mercedes engine then with Hulkenberg they have every chance of breaking through. It would be a welcome addition to the top of the final classifications.

Sauber

Sauber always seem to exceed their resources, and did so this year although that was reliant on Hulkenberg’s performances. The team itself appears to be a beacon of hope for midfield runners. Gutierrez may be anotherĀ pay driver, but was relatively solid nonetheless with some real flashes of talent.

Hulkenberg’s move to Force India is something of a surprise, but Sauber’s finances may demand it. The Hulk is worthy of a place in a top team, and I would have thought he would have made a far better teammate for Magnusson that Button.

Torro Rosso

I am never sure what to make of Torro Rosso. Are they just Red Bull’s B team, or are they more independent but generally run as a ‘driver academy’? How close can the relationship be when there are different engine suppliers?

Overall the team finished almost where expected, but I am sure that they would have wanted to beat Force India and Sauber. JEV showed some early season promise which petered out (probably around the time he realised he wasn’t going to get the Red Bull seat), but the number of retirements didn’t help him, nor did his qualifying performances at the beginning of the season. Ricciardo was solid if unspectacular. Next season will be interesting given the Torro Rosso standard to blooding new drivers.

Williams

Oh dear, oh dear. Another season of underperformance. Maldonado appeared to be running through the motions, convinced in his own abilities even if nobody else was. Bottas appeared to shine as the season went on, and is well placed for next season if the car can deliver.

The team also failed to deliver in particular with the wheel tethering issue post pit-stop, and were lucky to only receive fines rather than a more draconian punishment. Next season a more professional approach should deliver; indeed it has to deliver as I fear another bad year could be the end of one of the great names of F1.

Marussia and Caterham

I bundle the two together as there is little to say. Bianchi was the best of the lot in driving terms, but early season promise didn’t appear to develop. As for the teams, I am afraid that I cannot see the point in them. They are still at the back, still way off the pace, and offer nothing to F1 whatsoever. Fortunately the farce that was HRT has gone, and at least these two teams are at least in the same time zone in terms of lap times, but they offer no threat to Q2, no threat to the midfield teams.

A far better option would be for both teams to be taken over as a main runner’s B team – similar to the Red Bull and Torro Rosso relationship. That might at least improve the basic performance level. At the moment, claiming a positive of a driver completing ever lap is utterly ridiculous – I could complete every lap in a bloody Fiat 500 and it would be a lot cheaper.

Overall

The season was not as bad as some think – those that complain most usually have the F1 knowledge of a potato and can’t see beyond ‘their’ driver. Sure, Red Bull dominated but there were some excellent battles behind them. Interesting how the domination of F1 by McLaren and Senna a number of years ago is looked upon as an exemplar of when everything comes together to produce something exceptional, and yet if it happens to be a German then it is a disaster.

Next season will be an interesting one with all the changes. Ferrari have to improve, Red Bull have probably the best designer but one who doesn’t like to be curtailed in his design the way the new rules will force him to be, McLaren haven’t produced a successful new design element for years (the F duct didn’t really offer much) and Mercedes appear to be pinning a lot on the new engine but need to solve the tyre wear issues. There is a lot of play for in 2014, and it will be a very interesting season!

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