Formula One Mid-term report 2013

NB: This post was originally published on Blogspot and the team names had coloured backgrounds and text to correlate with the car colours, but on WordPress you can’t change individual words’ backgrounds. That’s the reason for random colours.

As the F1 summer break finally ends, let’s reflect on Part I of the 2013 season.

Ten of the season’s 19 rounds have been completed. It’s been a decent season thus far. Vettel and Red Bull might be etching their dominance into the record books once again, with shades of the Schumacher-Ferrari days of a decade ago, but it has been interesting up and down the field. Tyres have been controversial and of paramount importance. Old champions have ruled again, new blood has impressed, and unpredictability has been par for the course.

Whatever you make of Formula One in 2013 so far, you can’t deny that it has brought unpredictable and exhilerating racing.

What follows will be a summary of how each team and driver is faring.

RED BULL – RENAULT

The Austrian behemoths continue to be the ultimate benchmark for top-end performance and general excellence. They’ve picked up a clutch of commanding victories in Malaysia, Bahrain, Germany and Canada, and the RB9 looks just as strong as the four cars that have preceded it. Inter-team squabbles have at times got in the way, such as in Malaysia, where Vettel was told to stay behind, but he didn’t. The result was one that changed only the drivers’ standings, and the team avoided any collisions. The PR teams minimised any damage to the team’s image, but Webber’s pride was once again hurt. The car proved it was not infallible in Britain, where Vettel’s gearbox let him down.

GRADE: A-

Leading the class, but not without the odd slip up.

Sebastian VETTEL

GRADE: A

A little insubordination, founded on that blinding speed of his, Seb looks very strong.

Mark WEBBER

GRADE: B-

Nearly bounced back to win in, Britain. Must improve to end F1 career on a high.

FERRARI

Ferrari have started to fall away from the pace they showed earlier in the season. sublime wins for Alonso in Spain and China showed that he’s still a very real threat to the WDC, and the car has been rapid, although the F138 seems to have dropped off ever so slightly, settling into the position of what is effectively the 4th-fastest car behind Red Bull, Louts and Mercedes. If Ferrari’s designs on the title are just, they will need to develop their chassis to make their already-quick car a world-beater. Complacency from Massa has not helped the team, and the Brazilian looks like he might be leaving at the end of the year.

GRADE: B
More homework required, but basically a good student.

Fernando ALONSO

GRADE: A-

Shows strong promise, Alonso is somewhat annoyingly always where he needs to be.

Felipe MASSA

GRADE: C

A few mistakes this year have cost him valuable points, and many say he is on his way out.

McLAREN – MERCEDES

The MP4-28 has shown itself to be a slow car with regards to downforce and cornering speeds as well as top-end straight line acceleration. By McLaren’s excellent standards, their results have not been good enough – fifth place in China, way back in April was the best Button has been able to muster thus far. They’re no slouch though, you can bet that the boffins in Woking will have sorted out something for Spa.

GRADE: C-

In danger of being beaten up for lunch money.

Jenson BUTTON

GRADE: C

He’s been overshadowed by his young companion, but is finding his feet again.

Sergio PEREZ

GRADE: D

‘Checo’ has been fast, but erratic in Bahrain and China, and quite frankly horrific in Monaco.

LOTUS – RENAULT

The teeny little Enstone team has performed miracles already this season. They powered past Mercedes last season, and in 2013 they look to be in a desperate fight with them for second best, but third place was their target for this year, so they’re right on track. They might have won the race in Abu Dhabi last year, but it was inherited. The win for Kimi in Australia was sublime, and proved that Lotus have genuine title designs this year. They need to push now, much like Ferrari, and properly snap at Reb Bull’s heels.

 GRADE: B+

Great effort, keep up the good work.

Kimi RAIKKONEN

GRADE: A

The Iceman has already won, and along with Hamilton and Alonso is consistently snapping at Vettel.

Romain GROSJEAN

GRADE: B+

For the most part, all of his immaturity has evaporated. Excellent improvement from Romain.

MERCEDES

After three formative years with Schumacher at the helm, the might of Mercedes AMG is showing through and after all the money they’ve thrown at their F1 programme, it’s about time too. Rosberg’s win in Monaco might have been flattered by the difficulty of passing in the principality, and his win in Silverstone somewhat inherited; but qualifying prowess and Hamilton’s crushing win in Hungary are undeniable pointers towards the team’s outright pace.

GRADE: B+

Looking very strong, if only qualifying was converted more often.

Nico ROSBERG

GRADE: B

Two wins for Nico mark an improvement. You’re not your father, but you may yet be.

Lewis HAMILTON

GRADE: A

A new maturity, and a much better fit than McLaren. He’s the prodigal son.

SAUBER – FERRARI

They took a risk with narrow sidepods and an interesting areo package, but relative to 2012’s sublime C31, the car is dreadfully slow. A relativvely experienced hand like Hulkenberg is not a bad thing at all, he proved his speed last year, but without enough development, the team look in danger of a battle with Williams to not be the team ‘just ahead of Caterham and Marussia’. 

 GRADE: D

Falling way below last term’s standards, not good enough.

Nico HULKENBERG

GRADE: C+

Left Force India to join at-the-time evenly matched Sauber. Unlucky, still shows promise.

Esteban GUTIERREZ

GRADE: F

Very underwhelming ‘lite’ version of Sergio Perez. Simply not good enough.
FORCE INDIA – MERCEDES

Force India’s obsession with making cars that are only fast in a straight line is gone, and the team have a very well balanced car. They’ve been unsettled by the change in tyre constructions that have taken place through the season, but genuine pace remains, and the team continue to set decent qualifying times, and steady points. If the Brackley-based chaps can get on top of the grip situation, there’s no reason they can’t finish a superb 5th ahead of the ailing McLaren.

GRADE: B-

On target with projected development.

Paul DI RESTA

GRADE: B

di Resta is becoming a household name, and the pacy Brit is having an excellent season.

Adrian SUTIL

GRADE: B

Sutil’s return to F1 after a sabbatical has shown a new maturity. Excellent job.


WILLIAMS – RENAULT
Williams has been a team in decline for some times now, and despite that crazy win in Spain last year, the team’s future looks shakey. Of course the team’s glorious past is referenced, and with Venezuelan money pouring in, they should be set to continue racing, and perhaps recover. The team will also be switching to Mercedes engines for 2014 as well, and with this change, maybe glory will be found again. For now though, ONE point out of the first ten races is… well, I can scarcely find an adjective negative enough. Adbismal? Diabolical? S**t.

GRADE: F

Williams, we need to speak to your parents after-school.

Pastor MALDONADO

GRADE: E

I don’t care. He’s a pay driver, end of.

Valtteri BOTTAS

GRADE: D

His helmet camera is exceptional. Good quali in Canada, maybe his car hides his speed.

TORO ROSSO – FERRARI

This season is looking like one of STR’s strongest. They’re never going to emulate 2008 when they won a race and beat the senior Red Bull team, but young hot-shoes Vergne and Ricciardo are causing an awful lot of excitement. Toro Rosso’s job is to find suitable candidates to go into the major team and it looks like they’ve done exactly that. Both drivers look equally quick, with Ricciardo more consistent, and therefore he may move up in rank for next season when Webber departs. Before then, the pair are looking like they want some fun in a very quick car, in a straight line at least.

 GRADE: B-

Doing exactly what they need to, great job all round.

Daniel RICCIARDO

GRADE: B+

Looks very strong as Webber’s replacement. Quick and consistent.

Jean-Eric VERGNE

GRADE: B

A good prospect. If he’s nurtured, his talent will prevail.

CATERHAM – RENAULT

The young team aren’t really going anywhere, and thought they can be cut some slack for still being a young team, four seasons is long enough to build up a decent team from scratch. The team operate in many junior formulae and perhaps spread themselves a little thinly, but Mike Gascoyne is around, and they are starting to tag on to the back end of the field a bit more closely.

GRADE: D

Ambitious, but taking their time.

Charles PIC

GRADE: C

He usually leads the ‘young teams’. He’s making the most of his equipment.

Geido VAN DER GARDE

GRADE: F

He’s been a bit fortunate in Qualifying sometimes, but is largely sloppy and just there to make up the numbers.

MARUSSIA – COSWORTH

Not a lot different to say here than what was said about Marussia. They still warrant a soft assessment because of how young the team is, but really need to start joining the mid-field slog.

GRADE: D

Promising to move up, they perhaps will soon.

Jules BIANCHI

GRADE: C

For me, the most impressive rookie. Quite a pretty man, and competing with Pic for fastest of the lastest.

Max CHILTON

GRADE: D-

Max’s racing genes are in no doubt, like Bottas, his car may be hiding his true potential.

GOLD STAR AWARD

Lewis HAMILTON

The Brit has looked so cool, and with three Poles on the trot in Britain, Germany and Hungary, you can tell he is in a good place at Mercedes.

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