2013 F1 Season Preview

Now that we are mid way through the pre-season car launches, and with testing fast approaching, I’m starting to look forward to the 2013 F1 season.

It’s the end of an era – the final year for the current car and engine regulations. The 2014 cars will look and sound very different so the only certainty is that the sport will change a lot in 2014. The handling of the 2013 cars will favour and hinder different drivers in ways we can’t yet anticipate, so this year is the final one in which we can accurately predict which drivers are strongest in the pecking order.

So with all the changes on the horizon won’t 2013 just be a damp squib, a case of going through the motions until the big bang of the ‘new F1’ in 2014?

Well there is certainly a risk that we will see teams, once they realise they don’t have a competitive 2013 package, switch their attention to 2014 at the expense of their 2013 performance. I actually expect this to affect some of the biggest budget teams, particularly Ferrari and Mercedes.

Although the team structures are different – as corporations Ferrari and Mercedes both have to design an engine and a car for 2014, whilst almost everyone else will be either an engine customer (Red Bull) or a specialist engine builder (Renault).

That division of labour may favour the customer teams in 2013. And when it comes to engines with few manufacturers left in F1 almost everyone is a customer.

We will see some races limping along (Germany, Korea) even as others have finally been consigned to the scrap heap (Valencia).

We will see how Lewis Hamilton copes with internal management bickering and a poor car whilst Sergio Perez flys in the McLaren.

We will see how a disturbing number of drivers cope with being referred to, accurately, as pay drivers whilst past stars sit on the sidelines.

We will see how many new sponsors arrive, and how many leave.

We will watch for signs of consolidation in the US market, and see how Bahrain copes second time around.

We’ll wonder whether Bernie is enjoying (enduring?) his final season at the top of the F1 tree.

We’ll wait to see whether Force India makes it to the last race, and whether Marussia makes it to the first.

It’ll be fun, and it won’t be predictable. Until Vettel starts winning everything in sight again.

Bring it on!

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