What can one say about the 2013 Formula 1 season? If you were to describe it in one word, that word would be boring. If you were to use more words it would be boring as hell. If you were Sebastian Vettel or Red Bull I’m sure you would rather describe it as dominant, masterful or record breaking. To be honest all of these descriptions of the 2013 Formula 1 season are very fair and true, but in case you didn’t realise from what has already been written, it won’t go down as a classic.
Two things dictated how the 2013 Formula 1 season panned out and they were Red Bull and Pirelli tyres. One should be able to dictate how a season goes and the other shouldn’t, the Pirelli situation was incredibly embarrassing for both Pirelli and F1 and made a number of races driven at a leisurely pace. Sadly for F1 fans (and let’s be honest who cares about them?) too often drivers found themselves nursing tyres rather than putting in blistering (it’s a pun!) laps where they chase down their opponents.
At many times this season I found myself pondering good ol’ Bernie’s (a man I despise for the poor manner he runs Formula 1) idea of getting the sprinklers out to make the races more exciting (something I had guffawed at in the past). If only mad Bernie had got his way a couple of years ago, who knows maybe I wouldn’t be sitting here constantly using the word boring to describe the season (despite the fact it is totally impractical, and you get the feeling the sprinklers wouldn’t have been turned on if a Ferrari was leading…).
In this I will split the review into the constructors and drivers who competed for the Championship.
It is pretty hard to start a season review for 2013 and not mention the man who totally dominated Formula 1. I wrote about Vettel and his dominance within Formula 1 and whether it was good or bad for the sport after Monza (which you can read here). At the end of that I commented that I thought that Vettel would definitely win the championship and that nobody wants to see the same guy win every single race. So what happened after I wrote that? He won the championship (I expected) and won every single race in dominant fashion (I doubt anyone really expected).
Have a look at some of these stats; 13/19 race wins, 16/19 podiums, 18/19 top 4 finishes and only 1 retirement. Contemplate that for a moment. These are unbelievable stats, these are Tiger Woods in 2000-2001 sort of stats; it is pure dominance of a sport. Look at the records he set and equalled; joint most wins in a season, joint most wins in a row and most consecutive wins in a single season, this is a once in a lifetime run of form and Vettel should be revered for his accomplishments. Sadly Formula 1 isn’t like other individual sports such as tennis or golf, where a player’s dominance is lauded and considered a privilege to watch. Rather Formula 1 doesn’t work when one man leads from start to finish, and the only time you see him is when the race starts and when he crosses the finish line.
When you consider that Vettel finished outside of the top 4 only once, when he retired in the British GP (and the crowd happily cheered, which was one of a string of unusual crowd reactions), a race which he was leading at the time, it truly shows you the consistency with which Vettel was able to drive his car compared to the other drivers. To go an entire season with only one mechanical failure is lucky, but to go an entire season without being a part of a fatal incident (for the car) is quite remarkable (it does help when you start on pole 9 times). Even when something did go wrong such as in Brazil, it didn’t matter because it ended up affecting his main competitor as well (Webber having to stack).
I know from the piece I wrote about Vettel that a large portion of people think that Vettel is an above average driver in an extraordinary car, and I think that is true. However the same could be said about Mark Webber, yet he didn’t win the World Championship at a canter. Yes the car is better than the driver, but without a top notch driver that knows how to get the best out of the machine, championships aren’t won.
I think one of the biggest things which will be remembered about Sebastian Vettel from this season isn’t his record setting dominance, but rather his treatment of Mark Webber in Malaysia (because negative things are easy to remember). It isn’t fair because regardless of that incident Vettel would have won the championship, but it must stick in the throat of Webber that Vettel stole what would have been his last win in Formula 1 away from him, which he of course wouldn’t have known at the time (and I doubt he would have done it if he knew how the season would pan out) but it is quite sad.
Anyway despite all my misgivings about how boring it was to see Vettel win his fourth Formula 1 Championship in a row (the youngest driver to do so), you have to admire his form throughout the season and he is a worthy champion.
It is sad to see Mark Webber bow out of Formula 1 when it looks like he is still capable of competing at a top level, and I have no doubt Red Bull would have liked to have kept him for at least another season. However Webber said he felt that he had lost a couple of tenths and that this was the time to go, which is the official reason that he tells the press and the unofficial reason is that he feels unloved by Red Bull and their clear support for Sebastian Vettel (which is mere speculation but almost certainly true).
Webber managed to finish 3rd in the championship without ever actually winning a race, and although you could criticise Webber for not performing compared to his teammate in what is easily the best car on the grid, but to be fair Vettel will have the better car and received the preferential treatment from the team. In races Webber actually finished (4 retirements) he never finished lower than 7th and had 8 podium finishes (which would have been more had it not been to mechanical issues). I think all things being equal Webber probably deserved to finish 2nd in the championship, but it doesn’t really matter because 2nd don’t win you anything.
If Vettel was lucky, then Webber was the total opposite. Not only did Webber seem to suffer from almost all the mechanical failures, but he also managed to endure the team mistakes (such as slow pit stops). The one major criticism I would have of Webber is that he just isn’t a good starter, often finding himself having to fight through the pack because he gets bogged down early on. Oddly again, this is the total opposite of Vettel who usually has an excellent start.
I’m sure the thing Webber will be mostly remembered for this season is the Malaysia incident, which as I said would have been his last race win in F1. You then can’t help but wonder if Vettel hadn’t been on an 8 race win streak if he might have moved aside and given Webber the win in his last race (I seriously doubt he would). I really wanted this to happen, but I knew it wouldn’t. It could have been the nicest of gestures to show his gratitude to Webber for being a vital part of his four championship winning seasons.
I think Mark Webber as a driver and personality is a loss to Formula 1 and I think it is a shame that he didn’t manage to get a win in his last season, but finishing 3rd in the championship isn’t something to be scoffed at and at least Webber will know that he went out at the top of the game.
What Alonso did in what was at best the 3rd best car constructor on the grid is quite remarkable. He comfortably finished 2nd in the championship and did so in a car which struggled to be competitive most of the season. Alonso won 2 races early on in the season (interestingly enough both races Vettel finished 4th) and managed 9 podiums. There isn’t really much to say about Alonso as a whole because he had a solid season without ever truly challenging for the championship after half way, because of the Ferrari’s struggles with the tyres in the second half of the season. I think that this season further proved that despite not winning the championship, Alonso is currently the best driver in Formula 1.
When I evaluate how good a driver is I think that the best way to do so is by looking at how well they did in comparison to their teammate in what is almost an identical car. Alonso finished with 242 points and Massa finished with 112, the gap between the two is massive and shows that not only did Alonso totally outperform the car but that he is also one of (if not the) best driver in F1.
I think it says a lot about Alonso when he did his podium interview in Brazil where he was strongly hinting that if Felipe Massa had been in 4th he would have let him go past on the last lap to allow him to be on the podium in his last race for Ferrari in his home country, Vettel should take note.
The biggest shock about Felipe Massa is that he managed to survive at Ferrari for so long. I’m pretty sure that Massa would have been dropped by Ferrari sooner if it wasn’t for the fact that Alonso didn’t want a more competitive teammate and the accident he had in 2009 where he was lucky to survive.
I’m not sure why Williams signed up Massa for next season, because there are much better and younger drivers who are available and would snap at the chance to drive for Williams, however I guess that is the state of F1 where being from a large market is more important than being a talented driver. Personally if I was Massa I would have went to IndyCar where he would be much more competitive.
Lewis Hamilton is in my opinion the most over rated driver in Formula 1. He is officially a World Champion but let’s be honest here, the guy bottled it the year prior when he should have won the championship and when he did win his championship he surely shared the trophy with Timo Glock who essentially stopped racing on the last lap allowing Hamilton to take his undeserved crown.
Once again Hamilton showed this season that despite clearly being the number one driver at Mercedes, he could barely outperform his more talented (and cheaper) teammate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton managed to finish 4th in the championship, but in reality he wouldn’t have finished in front of Raikkonen had he driven in the last two races.
Hamilton managed to be the last driver to win a race before Vettel went on his win streak to end the season, and added to that, he managed to achieve 5 podiums. At best what can be described as a mediocre season, when you consider that he drove the second best car available. Of course Hamilton’s lack of production wasn’t down to his own inabilities but rather his teams, always a sign of a quality driver….
As I said in regards to Alonso being a much better driver than Massa and the sign of that is the gap in points, the same can be said about Rosberg and the very small gap between himself and Hamilton, despite the fact that Hamilton received preferential treatment. That doesn’t mean that Rosberg didn’t under achieve (much like Hamilton), but you have to think that he would have scored more points if it weren’t for the fact that he was the number two driver.
Rosberg was one of only two drivers not named Vettel to win more than one race (the other being Alonso) by winning both in Monaco and Britain. He also managed to secure 4 podium finishes, which isn’t particularly good when you are driving what is the second best car on the grid.
You have to wonder about Rosberg’s future at Mercedes, where he has for the past four years sat behind less talented but bigger name drivers in the pecking order. It seems highly unlikely that Rosberg will ever get a move to Red Bull and Kimi’s move to Ferrari makes that an unlikely future destination as well. It seems that Rosberg will have to sit behind Hamilton for the foreseeable future and hope that things change and that Mercedes are capable of producing a car where he could genuinely challenge for world championship.
Kimi is like one of those pictures where you look at it and you think it is one thing until you look at it from another angle and you then don’t know what the hell is happening because it takes the last two races off for back surgery.
Kimi won the first race of the season and finished 2nd more than anyone else as well (6 times), but you can’t help but think sometimes that Kimi isn’t fully trying. Half way through the season and despite still being in the title race, Kimi decides to air the dirty laundry about Lotus not paying him. Kimi really is an anomaly; a man with undoubted talent but you have to wonder if his heart is really in it.
Kimi will go to Ferrari next season (which has a familiar ring to it), in a move that doesn’t make much sense for Ferrari. I like Kimi, but surely Ferrari would have been better off giving a younger driver who is more likely to give it his all with a look to the future, than giving the most talented but also the most perplexing man in an F1 a seat.
Grosjean really came into his own towards the end of the season with five race run of three 3rds, a 4th and a 2nd. He managed 6 podiums this season and managed to not have lots of crashes which is a vast improvement on last season’s general debacle.
Grosjean undoubtedly has potential but you can’t help but think that he was hampered earlier on in the season by the criticism he had received in the previous season for being a reckless driver. He should get his seat for next season based on this year’s performance, and who knows maybe he will flourish under being the main man for Lotus.
What can only be called a year to forget for McLaren, where they managed to go from a fairly competitive team to just another in the middle of the pack. Incredibly, McLaren managed to finish as high as 4th in only one race which just happen to be in Brazil (the last race of the season). For a team of the calibre of McLaren this naturally isn’t acceptable, but it is even worse when you consider that both Button and Perez received classifications in every single race (although between them they didn’t finish three).
It is back to the drawing board for McLaren for next season, with Jenson Button retaining the number one seat next to Kevin Magnussen in the second seat. Wait what? That’s right, after what I thought was a fairly decent debut season for McLaren, Sergio Perez has been dumped in favour of the promising Dane Magnussen. You have to feel sorry for Perez who although at times could be reckless, surely did enough to retain his seat. The situation reminds me a lot of when Kobayashi couldn’t find a seat this season; undoubted talent, incredibly exciting to watch, but a risk because of his disregard for the conventional way of motor racing. Perez is the exact same; just look at his suicide dives in this year’s Monaco Grand Prix (which otherwise was a dull race) where he made up a number of places but didn’t know when to stop and cost McLaren a bunch of points.
I hope Perez gets a seat for next year, because he would be a loss to F1, but he could easily turn out to be the next Kamui Kobayashi. For McLaren, you have to believe that they will be better because they can’t be much worse.
Nico Hulkenberg is undoubtedly the best young driver in Formula 1 who is not currently in a big seat. The big question about him is why isn’t he in a big seat? The answer seems to be quite sadly that he is too tall (usually the opposite is true in sport). The fact that Hulkenberg scored 51 points and his teammate Gutierrez only managed to score 6 (finishing in the points only once) says a lot about what a quality driver Hulkenberg is. After a season like this, I find it hard to believe that Hulkenberg won’t find a team to drive for; the question is whether or not he will be able to find a team which could be reasonably competitive.
You wonder if Gutierrez will have a future at Sauber because of what was a very underwhelming rookie season, and with Sergio Perez being let go from McLaren his chances are decreasing considerably. However racing under that Mexican flag and with a Mexican Grand Prix next year, I find it hard to see him not getting a drive even if it is at one of the very poor teams.
Force India looked like they had made giant leaps in the right direction in the first half of the season; however after the tyre changes Force India never really were able to be fully competitive again.
Being Scottish Paul Di Resta is naturally my favourite driver in F1, and it really saddens me to be writing that it is very unclear whether the incredibly talented driver from West Lothian will actually be in the sport next season. With rumours flying around that Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg are likely to be taking the Force India seats for next season, you have to wonder where Di Resta can realistically go from there. It seems that despite out performing his teammate Adrian Sutil (who I do think is a good driver) by 48 points to 29 points, teams are still more willing to take Sutil on for some reason (strong rumours he is going to Sauber). I can’t personally see him dropping down to the really poor cars, because why would he when he is good enough to drive a good car? Sadly it looks like Di Resta might be lost to F1 by way of IndyCar, a sport where his cousin Dario Franchitti has had vast success.
Force India face an uncertain future for next season with neither driver being confirmed as of yet, but it would be fair to assume that mechanically the team will take a further step forward and continue their improvement that they have had year upon year.
Toro Rosso never really seem to improve past the level which they have been at for years, with it very much being considered a sister team to Red Bull. With that it should come as some surprise that the only driver to have graduated to the big boys was Sebastian Vettel. Well no longer is that the case with Daniel Ricciardo being promoted to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull after what can only be called an average season at Toro Rosso. It does seem odd when you consider that better talent like Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Di Resta would all be available and more than willing to join the best team in F1. However more than likely because of influence from Sebastian Vettel, Ricciardo has been given the seat that every driver in the paddock was dreaming of.
Toro Rosso had another typical Toro Rosso season, and with their drivers being set for next season (Vergne and Kvyat) I’m sure we will see more of the same.
Quite an embarrassing season for Williams, who only managed to score point in 2 races (that’s 2/38), not what would be described as a successful season. Williams also have their drivers set for next season with Massa and Bottas (who struggled in his rookie year but showed glimpses of potential).
Now onto what I think is one of the biggest disgraces in modern Formula 1, Pastor Maldonado. It isn’t Maldonado’s fault, but apart from a fluke win last season this guy has shown consistently he isn’t of the class required to drive in Formula 1. Now please tell me how it is then fair that this man is more than likely going to receive a seat at Lotus next year when there are much more deserving drivers (which I am not listing because there are so many)? The answer is that it isn’t. Maldonado shouldn’t be in F1 next year, never mind getting a bloody promotion. Pathetically this is the state of F1 that the money is distributed so poorly through the teams that a team like Lotus (who finished 4th in the constructors championship) has to hire a driver not on his ability but rather on if he is from an area which can make them money in sponsorships. Maldonado luckily enough is from Venezuela, so will receive a drive somewhere despite the fact that he makes the Caterham’s look competitive. Until Ecclestone fixes the finances in F1 and makes it less about the big teams and executives making all the money and more about making the sport as competitive as possible, these sorts of farcical events will continue.
Marussia and Caterham
Both teams are rubbish with very little positives to say about them…except Max Chilton managed to be the only driver to fully complete every single race this season, despite being the worst driver by quite a distance in F1, the boy is well out of his depth.
Overall it was a very poor season of Formula 1; partially due to Vettel’s dominance and partially due to the farce that was the tyres. The irony is that there were very few retirements (from either mechanical or driver error) and very few races held under wet conditions (I can only think of one).
I could sit and write about what the race of the season was, but to be honest they were generally much of the same throughout; no battle for the top positions and exciting driving behind. The problem with that of course is that I tune in to Formula 1 to see the top team’s battle it out for 1st, not the bottom teams battle it out for 12th.
You can only hope with the major manufacturing changes happening for next seasons F1, that the gap between Red Bull and the rest will be closed dramatically because another season like this and fans are going to become less and less patient. Competition is a serious concern with F1 and teams like Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Lotus are going to have to get their finger out for next year for the good of the sport.
It is pretty hard to write a review of the 2013 Formula 1 season and not sound negative, which is sad because I don’t want to be negative, but it was such a poor season particularly in the second half of the season that it is hard to be anything but negative when you talk about it. Here’s hoping for a better, more competitive and most importantly more exciting 2014 season, because god knows F1 needs it.
So, did you think watching history happen made the season, or do you think that Sebastian Vettel is the reincarnation of the devil? Leave a comment about what you thought of the F1 season and let me know. Plus find all the latest updates from bm23sportsreviews on Facebook and Twitter.