So after a painstakingly long wait, the grid for the 2013 Formula One season has finally come together. There are plenty of familiar faces as well as some you might not know about. Returnee or rookie, everyone will be pushing from the first day of testing to prove they’re worth their seat. This is a list of the teams, drivers and cars taking part this year.
RED BULL – RENAULT
Team Principal – Christian Horner
Technical Director – Adrian Newey
Chassis – RB9
2012 Position – World Champions
(1) Sebastian Vettel – Seb battled with Fernando Alonso last year but triumphed at the last race at Brazil to come out on top, in the process becoming the youngest ever Triple World Champion. His seat was never in doubt and he will be aiming to rub shoulders with Alain Prost as a Quadruple World Champion by the end of 2013. Can he fend off his rivals for a fourth consecutive year?
(2) Mark Webber – For the past two years people have been saying “This is Mark’s last chance to win the title” but the Aussie proved he still has what it takes, with wins last year in Monaco and the UK. He may be F1’s elder statesman but 2013 will be business as usual for Webber, as he aims to keep his young team mate in sight while proving things really do get better with age.
Team Principal – Stefano Domencali
Technical Director – Pat Fry
Chassis – F138
2012 Position – 2nd
(3) Fernando Alonso – The super-quick, ever-present Spaniard refuses to leave the front of the grid alone. He hassled Vettel all year in 2012 and brought Ferrari’s challenger up to speed after early-season mediocrity. Coming so close in 2012 and 2010, ‘Nando wants nothing more than to pick up his elusive third title, he needs no reminding that it’s been 7 years since he picked up the 2006 trophy. But with the Tifosi loving him at levels comparable with Michael Schumacher, he’s sure to have all the support he needs to have the best possible chance this year.
(4) Felipé Massa – Some people say Massa has never recovered from his crash in Hungary 2009 after being lacklustre in 2010 and 2011. But last season brought with it a change of fortunes for the Ferrari number 2, with consistent points and a couple of podiums, the second being in his home country of Brazil. Felipe is only 31 and in no way ready to retire. With that in mind, the momentum gained from the end of last season is crucial in keeping him at the Team from Maranello, considering all the talk about Sergio Perez taking his place. He didn’t eventually, but the rumour must have scared him into getting his act together.
VODAFONE MCLAREN – MERCEDES
Team Principal – Martin Whitmarsh
Technical Director – Tim Goss
Chassis – MP4-28
2012 Position – 3rd
(5) Jenson Button – Mr. Smooth had a decent season last year, bookending the season with wins in Australia and Brazil, as well as an incredibly impressive domination of Belgium in the middle too. He got a taste of being team leader to experienced Lewis Hamilton last season, but this year his job is different – nurturing the fantastic Mexican Sergio Perez into a household name. Jenson’s undeniable speed and fluidity will obviously serve him well in 2013 and if McLaren iron out last year’s creases, there’s no reason he can’t challenge at the front once again.
(6) Sergio Perez – ‘Checo the tyre whisperer’ impressed from his very first race with a unique ability to manage his tyres. He and Kobayashi have propelled Sauber forward, towards front-running teams. Sergio nearly clinched a win in Malaysia last year, hunting down Fernando Alonso and sliding off the damp track just a few laps before the end to lose crucial ground. He finished only 2 seconds behind the Spaniard and declared himself as a serious rising talent with second place, a feat he repeated in Italy also scoring a podium in Canada. In his first season with a world-beating team and experienced team mate, he hopes to become Button’s protege and add to McLaren’s list of young drivers who would go on to become champion, such as Raikkonen and Hamilton.
LOTUS – RENAULT
Team Principal: Eric Boullier
Technical Director: James Allison
2012 Position – 4th
(7) Kimi Raikkonen – The Iceman’s return in 2012 was perhaps the most popular driver signing of the year. The 2007 World Champion wasted absolutely no time getting back up to speed, challenging for victory in Bahrain which eventually went to Vettel. He scored 7 podiums and only failed to finish in the points once in China, where his tyres famously “Fell off the cliff”.
(8) Romain Grosjean – The Frenchman’s second debut in F1 came courtesy of the same team as in 2009, which was then known as Renault. Carrying the stigma of “fast but inconsistent” (much like contact-happy Maldonado) he must calm down and focus on harnessing his abilities next to Kimi Raikkonen. He managed three podiums, with an impressive second in Canada, but, lest we forget his monumental accident in Belgium. He took out Hamilton, Alonso and Perez as well as himself, and earned himself an unenviable record, of being the first banned entrant in 7 years (Since BAR Honda were banned from the 2005 Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix) when he was not allowed to race in Italy. Jerome d’Ambrosio took his place.
Team Principal: Ross Brawn
Technical Director: Bob Bell
2012 Position: 5th
(9) Nico Rosberg – joining his old Formula Three teammate this year, Nico’s aim will surely be to double his race win tally after his flawless exhibition in Shanghai last year. After being taken under the wing of the most illustrious driver in the sport’s history, Michael Schumacher, Nico must keep up with his more aggressive team mate to drive the team forward, as is their aim.
(10) Lewis Hamilton – His move to Mercedes (ending his 13-year partnership with McLaren) was perhaps the most controversial contract change of the season. Hamilton has won a race in every season of his career so far and looks to add to that list this season. However, he is all too aware that Mercedes, at least based on last year’s pace, are not in the position to challenge for race wins on a regular basis. Hamilton’s ‘undisputed’ team leader status at Mercedes is very much reminiscent of Schumacher moving to Ferrari in 1996, trying to bring a once-glorious team back to the very front of the field.
SAUBER – FERRARI
Team Principal: Monisha Kaltenborn
2012 Position: 6th
(11) Nico Hulkenberg – The Hulk had a very strong season for Force India last year. He finished in 11th place, picking up a fourth place in Belgium, and two fifths in Europe and Brazil, the latter of which he fought for the lead until a collision with Lewis Hamilton. The 2009 GP2 champion will be a team leader for the first time in 2013 and will be eager to get his first podium in the sport for the ever-improving Sauber outfit.
(12) Esteban Gutierrez – The second young Mexican to join the sport in 2 years for Sauber brings with him a solid history in junior formulae, winning the 2008 Formula BMW Europe Championship, the 2012 GP3 series, and 3rd place in last year’s GP2 series. His former ART teammate in GP2, Vallteri Bottas is also a rookie this season.
FORCE INDIA – MERCEDES
Team Principal: Vijay Mallaya
Technical Director: Andrew Green
2012 Position: 7th
(14) Paul di Resta – In his third season with the team, Paul will be hoping to break into the top ten and possibly score a podium finish, scoring a best-ever finish last year with fourth in Singapore. Paul’s consistency has left him a strong midfield runner, and he’ll be keen to push further this year. “The man that used to beat Vettel” (seriously, 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries) hasn’t had many chances to show his true potential, which I’m sure he will deliver this year.
(15) Adrian Sutil – This efficient German had a year out, being replaced last year by Nico Hulkenberg in 2012. The final seat in the F1 paddock was going to either Adrian, or Jules Bianchi, but Force India chose experience over youth, much to Sutil’s delight. The roles are reversed from the 2011 season, with di Resta leading him, and adjusting to this new status quo may take a few races for him.
WILLIAMS – RENAULT
Team Principals: Sir Frank Williams & Patrick Head
Technical Director: Mike Coughlan
2012 Position: 8th
(16) Pastor Maldonado – Unfortunately dubbed ‘Crashtor’ by some, the Venezuelan had an incredibly mixed season last year. He began with a crash in Australia but brilliantly won the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso a month later. The win was the first since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix for Williams. However, in stark contrast, his lowest point came after a crash with Lewis Hamilton in Valencia after going off-track, ending the Brit’s race. He scored a few more points at the end of the season, but simply must become more consistent to establish himself as a quality driver.
(17) Valtteri Bottas – the ‘New new new Flying Finn’ took part in 15 of last year’s practice sessions and was immensely quick, moreso than both Maldonado and Senna (who were the race drivers at the time) and hence replaced the Brazilian for 2013. He won 2011’s GP3 season before singing as full-time test driver for Williams and came third in the 2008 and 2009 seasons of Formula 3 Euro Series.
TORO ROSSO – FERRARI
Team Principal: Franz Tost
Techinical Director: James Key
2012 Position: 9th
(18) Jean-Eric Vergne – ‘JEV’ impressed hugely at the Abu Dhabi Young Drivers’ test in 2011 and was snapped up for the start of last season. He had a decent season last year, scoring four 8th place finishes. Toro Rosso tend to flush their systems through every couple of years, so both driver will be feeling the pressure to move up the field and into regular points-scoring positions this season.
(19) Daniel Ricciardo – Daniel Ricciardo is one of the impressive drivers in Red Bull’s young driver programme, and HRT borrowed him for 11 races in 2011. He finally got his designated Red Bull-owned seat with Toro Rosso, scoring a few points finishes, including 9th at his home race in Australia. He’s recently been quoted as saying that his pace last year wasn’t good enough, so expect to see him pushing the Williams and Force India cars for points.
CATERHAM – RENAULT
Team Principal: Cyril Abiteboul
Chief Technical Officer: Mike Gascoyne
2012 Position: 10th
(20) Charles Pic – Pic raced for ‘New team’ rival Marussia in 2012, and is the only driver of the new teams to keep a race seat for 2013. He score a best race finish of 12th place in the season-ending race in Brazil behind former-Caterham driver Vitaly Petrov.
(21) Giedo van der Garde – van der Garde has come through all the usual junior formulae to reach Formula One: Formula Renault; Three; Renault 3.5; GP2 Asia and GP2 Main series. Now, he steps up to the plate and along with his teammate Pic, he hopes to score Caterham’s first ever points.
MARUSSIA – COSWORTH
Team Principal: John Booth
Technical Director: Nikolai Fomenko
2012 Position: 11th
(22) Jules Bianchi – The young Frenchman has tested for Ferrari and Force India, with a regular weekend seat for the Indian outfit. Luiz Razia was due to take this seat, but Marussia terminated the contract after Sutil was chosen over Bianchi at Force India. On his road to F1, he won Formula 3 Euro Series in 2009, came third in GP2 in 2010 and 2011, and came second in last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 series. The young Frenchman personally impresses me a lot and I would love to see him score a point for Marussia.(23) Max Chilton – brother of Touring Car star Tom Chilton, Max will make his deubt in Australia. He’s taken the regular route through Karting, Formula Three, and GP2, where he stayed for three years, coming fourth in the championship in 2012.