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How the F1 teams will approach the Australian Grand Prix
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Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Mar 2013   |  8:46 am GMT  |  324 comments

The 2013 F1 season kicks off this weekend with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Testing indicates that it will be close, but also that managing tyre degradation will be of paramount importance.

So here is our guide to the considerations the teams will make when deciding the all important strategy for qualifying and the race.


Track characteristics

Albert Park Circuit; 5.303 kilometres. Race distance: 58 laps = 307.574 kilometres; 16 corners in total, none particularly fast.

Aerodynamic setup – Medium/high downforce. Top speed 318km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 308km/h without.

Full throttle – 65% of the lap. Total fuel needed for race distance: 152 kilos.

Time spent braking: 13% of the lap. 8 braking zones. Brake wear: High.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 20 seconds

Total time needed for pit stop: 25 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.34 seconds


Form Guide

Winter testing is a notoriously unreliable guide to the pecking order in the opening race and this was never more true than this year. The field looks to be very closely matched, with the top five teams hard to separate.

Red Bull is believed to have a small edge, but Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari showed speed and consistency in the tests and have clearly improved from their 2012 performance levels while the new McLaren is a more adventurous design, so may not be a front runner at the first race, but is likely to develop strongly as the year goes on.

McLaren won the Australian Grand Prix last season and also won the season finale in Brazil.

The midfield battle looks very close once again, but with the top five teams looking strong, it could be hard for the midfield teams to qualify in the top 10 and score points as readily as they did in 2012. There will be opportunities, however, and results are likely to be dependent on good race strategy planning and execution.

McLaren has won two of the last four Australian Grands Prix and Jenson Button is a three-time winner. Of the current drivers Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso have all won once. So all five F1 champions in the field have won this race.

* For further insight into the form from Mark Gillan, who ran Williams’ strategies last year, click HERE

Weather forecast

The forecast for Saturday and Sunday is for a warm dry day with temperatures around 21-22 degrees and only 20% chance of rain on Saturday.


Likely tyre performance

Pirelli tyre choice for Melbourne: SuperSoft and Medium.

Pirelli has changed the tyres for 2013 and they are taking some getting used to; the teams will still be learning about them in Melbourne. It’s the first time that Pirelli has brought the softest compound in the range for Melbourne. They hope that the step between the compounds will ensure a performance gap of around 1 second per lap between the cars that will increase the importance of strategy.

As recent years have seen cool temperatures at this race, the two compounds chosen are the ones which have a lower working temperature range. The medium operates at 90-115 degrees and the supersoft at 85-110 degrees. If it is very hot in Melbourne we are likely to see tyre blistering.

It could be warm in Melbourne; the city has experienced a heatwave in the build up to the race. However the forecast is for it to drop to the low 20s just before the race weekend.

The key to these tyres is to get the fronts warmed up quickly, for grip on turn-in to the corner. But it’s vital to get the temperature balanced between the fronts and rears. In the race, keeping the rear tyres cool is essential otherwise performance drops off sharply. There is more lap time to be gained from mastering this than there is from any of the aerodynamic developments the teams spend millions on in the wind tunnel.

The tyres often experience graining at Albert Park. Graining is where the rubber shears away from the top surface, caused by a high level of sliding at high loads, both lateral and longitudinal. Lateral comes from sliding in corners, longitudinal comes from acceleration and braking.

Temperature has a lot to do with it, probably more than any other factor. If the tyres are being used below their operating range the rubber will be less compliant and will shear off more easily.

The track surface at Albert Park is quite old and has low micro and macro roughness, which basically means that the stones in it are small. The result of its age and smoothness is that the surface is very low grip and this means that the tyres grain laterally here because the car slides in the corners.


Number and likely timing of pit stops

As the pitlane in Melbourne is the longest of the season (just a fraction more than Singapore) because of the 60km\h limit it is not desirable to make multiple stops, even if the tyre degradation is very high.

Based on this, and all the above considerations, plus tyre performance data from testing, the expectation, before any practice running has been done, is that the teams will intend to make up two or possibly three pit stops in the race, with some who are gentle on tyres having an advantage. A safety car could help teams to get away with one less stop. Last year we saw predominantly two stops. Sebastian Vettel used race strategy and a piece of fortunate timing with a safety car to steal second place away from Lewis Hamilton.

In recent years there have been some advantages for a fast car qualifying outside the top ten to start the race on the harder tyre and do one stop less than the others, as Sauber’s Sergio Perez did in 2011, moving from 13th on the grid to 7th at the chequered flag. Last year he did it again, driving to 8th from the back of the grid.


Chance of a safety car

The chance of a safety car at Albert Park is 57%, although there have been safety cars in four of the last five years. The average number of safety car interventions for the race is 1.7 (in 2006 there were four).

Recent start performance of drivers and teams

Starts are a critical part of the race and strategy can be badly compromised by a poor start, while good starts can make strategists change their plans in the hope of a good result.

As this is the first race of the 2013 season – no start data has been established yet.

The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is prepared by JA on F1, with input and data from several F1 teams and from Pirelli

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324 Comments
  1. goferet says:

    The 2013 F1 season kicks off this weekend
    ————————————————

    Hallelujah!!!!! Let the good times roll.

    Now, I know testing has been pretty difficult to figure out but if last season is anything to go by, perhaps free practice will give us the first indication on who has got what.

    I mean in 2012, Jenson topped FP1 and Lewis topped FP2 and we were still under the impression Red Bull were hiding their hand.

    I guess we will find out soon and yes, as Ferrari said, the 2013 tyres may throw up a couple of shocks in Melbourne perhaps some big teams’ cars won’t agree with the tyres whilst some midfield runners will love them.

    Personally am hoping for lots of pit stops in Melbourne for I always enjoy melodramas i.e. Lots of pit stops in the dry is the equivalent of a wet race.

    As for Melbourne as a track >>> no better place to start off the season for that first bend tends to catch out the rookies or those pilots that are a bit rusty.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Do remember that for the practice sessions last year Lotus were hanging around 12th or lower, only to prove to have a much faster car come qualifying.

      1. Monji says:

        Not Always as Raikkonen occasionally finished in the top 2.

      2. Andrew Carter says:

        I was reffering to Melbourne, as was the OP.

      3. Sebee says:

        We probably won’t know diddly doodley until after Malaysia, maybe even later.

        Everyone has really played it close to the chest so far. I’m not even sure if it is so important to have the fastest car for first two races. I think patience in update introductions at right time of the season as to minimize competition’s ability to respond may be key this year again. After all, RBR didn’t dominate first 1/2 of last season.

        Just to put this into perspective, Vettel stood on the podium only 4 out of the first 13 races, and won only once in those same 13. Hardly domination. But once they left the cozy surroundings of their factories they dropped the gauntlet, and pounded the competition with upgrades – they were left not able to respond. Fantastic long game play really.

      4. Dave Aston says:

        Stupid Flanders.

      5. Sebee says:

        You pick up on that but not on the inanimate carbon rod comment from a few days back when James mentioned the rod as a RBR new wing stalling device.

        In rod we trust!

      6. KRB says:

        For Grosjean … Kimi was at the back (started P17).

      7. Sebastian says:

        Kimi was at the back because of a communications error, not due to lack of speed.

      8. Andrew Carter says:

        So whats your point, the car wan’t slow since Grosjean was in the top 5, Kimi messed up.

    2. Wayne says:

      ooooooh, it’s actually happening – first race just days away! Hooray!

      James, realistically speaking, why do team such as RBR play such elaborate games in pre-season testing (talking about sandbagging, if that is indeed what they were doing)? If we assume that every compettitor is already giving 100% to make their own car as fast as possibly and all the key players are already analysing each-other’s cars in microscopic detail – what difference would it make if everyone knew that, for example, RBR were .5 of a second faster? They are already analysing the RBR, they are all already trying as hard as they can to go faster – what’s the point of it all other than to rob fans of some precious on-track excitement?

      Additionally, why all the cover screens in the pits? Again, I presume that the other team’s get as many photos as they need from the track. So why rob us all of some good pictures and lively debate?

      Sometimes I really feel that F1 forgets why and how it exists? i.e. for and because of fans!

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Lol, F1 for the fans?
        It’s a business and it sells advertising to millions. It stopped being a sport a long time ago

      2. Wayne says:

        Yes, I agree, but it needs fans or it becomes useless as an advertising vehicle.

  2. AJT_Austria says:

    When you say that the Mclaren is a more adventurous design, do you know exactly what they have done? It seems Mercedes have also made a step change, so I presume they have also radically changed their car. It seems that there aren’t a huge amount of technical car reviews out there, so I presume all the F1 guru’s are a little in the dark at present.

    1. Random 79 says:

      They’ve made a few changes to the car for 2013, but biggest difference (arguably) is that they’ve changed to a pull-rod front suspension like the F2012 last year.

      Considering how that car performed, you’d have to call following in Ferrari’s footsteps ‘adventurous’. :)

      1. Richard says:

        I think the change that will yield most benefit is the raising of the chassis at the front to increase the volume of air passing under the car which increases velocity and therefore downforce. It was considered that just evolving the car would not yield a big enough step improvement and may well have run out of scope for improvement before the end of the season hence the bigger change.

      2. iceman says:

        I think you’re right, the most significant change is switching to the high nose, which is really bringing them into line with most other teams. I suspect the pull-rod suspension is more of an incidental part of making that major change to the front end.

      3. Richard says:

        The reason they opted for pull rod suspension is that having raised the nose they needed to pull the effective centre of gravity back down again

    2. Chris says:

      He is referring to the switch to a pull rod suspension design this year, a la Ferrari have done. They will likely suffer through a period of development challenges to get to grips with the design change, but McLaren may be able to develop and master it faster than Ferrari. Time will tell. Having feedback from two similar styled drivers is probably helpful as well.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Ferraris problems last year had nothing to do with pull rod suspension. It’s gains of lower cog and a small aero gain have to be considered against extra weight and harder to set up.
        Mclaren will take a while to learn best set up for the system but otherwise it’s not a fundamental development.

        Mclaren have changed their philosophy regarding high noses, they were the only one with a low nose last year, and they reasoned there was little development to gain from continuing down this route. That’s the biggest change in their planning.
        Pull rod vs front wing, high nose feeding air to coke bottle rear and over the side pods to accelerate the airflow for coanda effect into the diffuser. All these components critical to downforce.

      2. MISTER says:

        “but McLaren may be able to develop and master it faster than Ferrari”

        I don’t remember Ferrari having any problems with the pull rod suspension. What makes you think Ferrari have not mastered the new suspension from the first race last season? Their problems had nothing to do with the suspension, or at least I don’t remember anyone from Ferrari complaining about that..

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        They didn’t, but as an Italian, I have a theory on this. The wops can’t build a good car, they always struggle.

        Even with the recent unveiling of the Mclaren P1 and LaFerrari, if you read between the lines, the P1 is better because the British media support their own.
        I have no problem with unbiased reasoning but when the subtle comments from professionals journalists are questionable, I don’t give them any value any longer.

    3. blackmamba says:

      Ferrari had a more adventurous design last year too, and it cost them the championship. MacLaren had the fastest car at the back-end of last season, and it baffles me to try and understand why they took such a different philosophy this year, considering the law of diminishing returns applies to everybody so no other team was ever going to find a greater scope for development than everybody else. They took such a big risk and it might work, but with MacLaren you always fear there is a disaster just round the corner.

      1. Anne says:

        Ferrari had a problem with their wind tunnel last year. That´s not the case with McLaren

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Something that intrigues me, most teams have evolved their designs due to same regs essentially and in less than a year, a completely new design required that nothing from this year can be carried over.
        So Mclaren design a car that will need development over the course of its short life.
        1) 2009 Brawn won the championship with a dominant first half of the season and trick diffuser. When they tried developing the car through the season, button struggled more and more and Barrichello had wins and generally stronger races. They were listening to Rubens input because Buttons was not helping.
        2) fast forward to 2012. Button suffered for a few races during season when team mate was securing pole position and podiums. Eventually copying Hamiltons set up. His feedback was confusing the team.
        3) his famed sensitivity on tyres. Really? He won his first GP for Mclaren because he had destroyed his intermediates and had to change within a handful of laps of the start. Once they were working, it was too late for the others. Lewis made an important statement after a GP last year about having looked after his tyres better than the others, something that obviously bugged him about the medias reports.
        4) people are quick to say over 3 seasons Button had the measure of Lewis. But they don’t factor in all the races that Lewis was impacted by car issues. Or take into account that Button is a far maturer race driver. He’s been around 13 years now, whereas Lewis is an infant in comparison.

        Conclusion: if the team hit its sweet spot during a race weekend, he’ll be unbeatable, but don’t expect Button to find it himself.

      3. etls says:

        hero
        When counter arguing with Jenson fans in reguards to him out pointing Hamilton, try putting your objection this way.
        F1 points are amas per season, and a season run’s over 8 months.
        Jenson Button and Hamilton were together at McLaren for 3 years.
        Over that time, Lewis out pointed Button by 2 season’s to 1.
        That was in 2010 and 2012.
        2010 Lewis tally = 240, Jenson = 214.
        2012 Lewis tally = 190, Jenson = 188.
        2011 was the only time Jenson out scored Hamilton
        Jenson tally = 270, Lewis Hamilton = 227.
        And to give them a little more to ponder on, ask them this,
        “As a WDC, how come it took Jenson 3 years before he set a Q3 pole?” (Belgium 2012)
        Same team, each got the same cars.

      4. bob says:

        @etls

        And when counter arguing with Hamilton fans you could ask the following;

        1. It’s true, Jenson did only beat Hamilton in 1 of the 3 seasons they raced together. But how on earth did he even manage that? I mean after all, you always tell us that he is nothing but a crap midfield driver and Hamilton is the best in the world. So how did he beat him, even if only for 1 season.

        Also, why did he beat him by a bigger margin in 1 year than Hamilton managed to beat him over 2 years?

        And while you’re at it, could you please also explain how this crap midfield driver not only beat Hamilton, but also Alonso – you know, the guy you all loved to hate in 2007 but are now having a love in with?

        2. Why has Hamilton, who according to all the Hamilton fans is the greatest F1 driver on the planet, only managed 1 WDC in 6 years driving one of the best cars on the grid? Oh, hang on, let me guess – it’s McLaren’s fault or Whitmarsh’s fault or Jenson’s fault. Or maybe it’s his mums fault because she didn’t hug him enough as a child?

        3. How do all you Hamilton fans have so much inside information about the teams and the way they operate? Of particular interest to me is how you all seem to know so much about how crap Jenson is at setting up the car and how the teams look to his team mate for help because they are confused by Jenson. Do you all have friends on the team who give you the inside scoop?

        4. You all continually tell us that each WDC is over 1 season and 1 season only. By this measure, Hamilton beat Button 2-1. And yet, Hamilton has 1 good season with his tires (2012) and all of a sudden you Hamilton fanboys are telling all and sundry that he is better than Button at looking after his tires. Really? 12 years in F1 gaining a reputation as being very smooth on his tires and earning the nickname ‘twinkle toes’ from just about all of the F1 experts and now you want to dismiss this on the evidence of 1 season?

        Surely, Button’s season on his tires in 2012 can only be seen as a bad year, much like Hamilton’s form in 2011? Maybe Jenson was having girlfriend’s problems or some other perfectly acceptable and viable excuse in 2012?

      5. Quade says:

        McLaren most likely went pull rod this year, because it is expected to be the suspension style all teams will adopt in 2014.
        They obviously think its better to have an early start; aside from Ferrari, McLaren and Sauber, all other teams could be at a disadvantage next season.

    4. Joel says:

      Exactly my thoughts !!
      A lot is said and written about McL and their “radical” design. What prevents someone from concluding Merc has done “radical” design for 2013 compared to 2012? If they have only continued their development from last year’s car, I don’t think they would be showing vastly improved pace (comparing their pole in Barc 2012 vs 2013 testing)?

    5. Timmay says:

      Mclaren have ferrari type pullrod suspension (or is it push?) – anyway its the biggish change that Ferrari reintroduced to F1 last year.

      Mercedes have changed alot too mainly because their double DRS idea is now illegal – so there goes that concept.

      Also – DRS is for certain parts of the track only on qualifying – that will impact Red Bull negatively an Ferrari positively unless they have new concepts now (which I am sure they do).

    6. alex says:

      I would say there is lots of info about the car designs out there: this website, BBC (Gary Anderson) and the Scarbs website

  3. Candice says:

    bloody tyre…..cant they just feature quick degradation without low temp issues??

    1. audifan says:

      quick answer …no

  4. F*ckYeah says:

    On the first lap, how many cars will Grosjean take out, or damage ? I say 3,7.

    1. Jack says:

      I think he’ll take somebody out on the first corner, but then limp back to the pits and finish 11th. Specific I know, but I FEEL IT!

    2. Random 79 says:

      Is that supposed to be anywhere from 3 to 7, or 3 point 7? I mean Grojean’s good, but I think 7 is overestimating even his talents ;)

      Realistically I think he’ll be on his best behaviour, at least for the first race of the season. He’s probably going to make or two mistakes at some point this year – and he won’t be the only one – but he definitely won’t want to start the year with a crash.

    3. DB says:

      What would constitute 0,7 of a car?

      Or do you mean Alonso (3) and Raikkonnen (7)?

      ¦¬)

    4. Yak says:

      How many did he take out at last year’s Australian GP? Oh that’s right, none… Maldonado rammed him off the road early in the race. Presumably catching up to him so quickly by not bothering to slow down for the yellow flags at the corner before.

    5. Scott says:

      Firstly, love the username. It exudes the enthusiasm appropriate for such an occasion, that is the beginning of the greatest motorsport competition there is.
      Secondly, I hope Grosjean qualifies midfield on the inside of the track. He’ll lose traction on the dirty side of the track, quickly losing ground & therefore infuriating him. Kimi would’ve qualified higher up so there’s where Grosjean will believe his true position to be. He’ll stay in the gas too long & brake far too late in an attempt to make up position only to lock the brakes & sail into the rear of a much more cautious, sensible driver ruining their race & his own.
      Can’t wait.

      1. Quade says:

        Terrible things to say.

    6. FastGuy says:

      I thought: 2 questions, 2 answers.

      “…take out, or damage ? I say 3,7.”
      Take out 3, damage 7.

  5. goferet says:

    Some Melbourne stats.

    a) Considering the fact that F1 is pretty new in Melbourne (since 1996) lots of nationalities haven’t won there i.e. French, Australian, Dutch and all drivers from the Americas.

    However, Melbourne has been pretty kind to the British drivers as they have been the most successful with 5 different Brits winners. Next successful are the German drivers with 2 different winners.

    b) For some reason, apart from Schumi, Couthard and Jenson, no other driver has won more than one race in Melbourne. However, Schumi & Jenson are the only back to back winners with Schumi being the only driver to have won back to back wins in the same team

    c) Ferrari and Mclaren have been equally strong in Melbourne with 6 wins a piece, Renault, 2 wins whilst Williams and Red Bull having one win.

    d) Mercedes powered cars have won 4 of the last 5 races in Melbourne with Vettel’s 2011 win being the exception.

    e) Ferrari is the only team to have won 4 back to back races whereas the best Mclaren have done is 2 back to back wins

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Your stats are wrong, I only count 4 British winners in Hill, Coulthard, Hamilton and Button (Irvine’s Irish so doesnt count).

      1. Crom says:

        Irvine’s British

      2. Dan says:

        If he was a world champion he’s be British!

      3. Dan says:

        *he’d*

      4. madmax says:

        Irvine comes from Northern Ireland which makes him British and the stats correct.

      5. Mr. Whoopsie says:

        Irvine is actually from Northern Ireland – so technically British.

      6. John says:

        Irvine is from Northern Ireland and thus British.

      7. Andrew Carter says:

        Ah, my mistake. Comes from the fact that he’s always said he considers himself more Irish than British.

      8. Jim McMillan says:

        Actually Andrew, Eddie Irvine IS British. He holds a British passport, was born to British parents and was born in Britain. He holds an Irish racing licence, but this was due to technical reasons when he required a racing licence quickly.

      9. Carl Craven says:

        Irvine, from NI so technically British too. Personally, I prefer to think of them as coming from their respective countries rather than British. Says more about their identity.

      10. Ant Dale says:

        Irvine is northern irish so therefore british..

      11. Andrew M says:

        He’s Northern Irish and raced under a British license.

      12. Tony says:

        He’s Northern Irish though, isn’t he?

      13. Gazz says:

        Irvine was Northern Irish so British……

      14. Brian R says:

        Irvine’s from Northern Ireland so of course he counts

      15. KRB says:

        Irvine’s from Northern Ireland, racing under the British (UK) flag.

      16. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        Who is Irvine?

      17. Rich C says:

        LOL
        +1

      18. Random 79 says:

        Not sure…but I read somewhere that he’s British ;)

    2. Random 79 says:

      When I write a comment stating such and such driver has had so many wins or something similar, I try to make sure of my facts before I write it – this drives me nuts trying to find the right records and stuff.

      So believe me when I say that even though I don’t believe in statistics being particularly meaningful, I do respect the sheer amount of time you must spend collecting these stats and identifying patterns to compile your posts. :)

      1. goferet says:

        @ Random 97

        Cheers.

        It’s true, stats aren’t the gospel truth but rather a guide to the truth >>> so to speak

      2. Rich C says:

        To paraphrase Mark Twain, there are 3 types of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.

      3. Random 79 says:

        We have a couple more types in Aus, but James probably won’t let me type them ;)

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        Nice sentiment, but I’ve heard autistics have incredible talents for vague stuff. :)

      5. Random 79 says:

        Maybe, but it still takes a bit of time to collect the vague stuff, and a bit more to make it slightly less vague ;)

        Somehow I think I started this with a compliment, but then somehow managed to slip back to derogatory. :(

        Oh well, at least I tried :)

    3. Andrew Woodruff says:

      Is there a point to these stats? Apart from perhaps the engine one, I don’t see a lot here to help predict form for the coming weekend.

      I’d say the only thing that is certain, as usual, is that Alonso will be strong in the race! How everyone fits around him is a lottery. I thought Red Bull would be strong last week based on comments from Brundle and Anderson, but since then the BBC man has been saying some very positive things about Merc, so I’m very confused!

      Back in the days of Schuey, Hakkinen, Montoya, Villeneuve and others, I’m sure teams used to brag about the times they clocked in winter testing. Year after year Schu would go out in the new Ferrari and break the Fiorano lap record almost immediately! I long for those days of real anticipation and one upmanship – the attitude was so different. Far removed from the sand bagging and the “we successfully completed our own running programme and pay very little attention to the times” line that all teams trot out now.

    4. Rishi says:

      I was thinking today how the opening Grand Prix of the season traditionally used to be quite high attrition (at least it seemed that way!). So that could be an interesting route for statistical analysis; whether there is any obvious difference between number of finishers at older Aussie GPs compared to newer ones.

      There’s still a chance of a high-attrition race this weekend (for example as recently as 2008 only 6 cars saw the chequered flag), but I guess not too many people would put money on it. Caterham & Marussia would love it to happen though – if it meant the cards fell their way of course!

  6. D17MO.D says:

    It’s now official; the F1 season is underway!! :-)

    1. Webber Fan says:

      bring it on..

      Ive packed my sunscreen and my Webber shirt and hat.. Hi ho, hi ho, its off to the track i go

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        Grrrr………..i’m stuck in brisbane and can’t get their this year…..grrrrr…. :(

      2. Dragster says:

        Im in the same boat Grayzee, just In Sydney!

    2. Lindsay says:

      6pm on Wednesday evening and a car is circulating the track as I sit on a tram in st Kilda road

      Must be the dual seat running

  7. goferet says:

    Some driver stats for Melbourne

    i) Despite having been on the podium the last two seasons with a 2nd and a 1st. The rest of Vettel’s races have ended in a DNF.

    ii) Lewis has been on the podium 4 times with the exception of 2009 ~ disqualification and 2010 ~ 6th.

    iii) Since 2004, Alonso hasn’t finished lower than 5th (with 4 of those being podiums)

    iv) Taking only into account the years Jenson has had good cars (2004, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), he hasn’t finished lower than 6th i.e. finished 6th in 2004 and 2011 and won the rest.

    v) In the 10 years Kimi has been racing, 4 times he has been on the podium. The rest he finished mainly in the P6-P8 bracket.

    1. Random 79 says:

      I have to say I like your first point ;)

      1. KRB says:

        Vettel’s DNF’s? In 2008 he stalled it at the start, then went out in a pileup with Webber, Button, and Davidson at Turn 3, all on the first lap.

        2009 it was Vettel trying to close the door on Kubica as he was going past, which in the end put them both out.

        2010 he retired from the lead 25 laps in.

      2. Random 79 says:

        …and went on to win the WDC, and in 2011 damn near everything he touched turned to gold, and in 2012 he went on to win his third consecutive WDC. I thinks he’s doing okay :)

        It should be clear by now that I’m biased toward Webber. That doesn’t mean that I hate Vettel, but still – even though it’s wrong and unfair – I still kind of grin inside whenever Vettel gets a DNF.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Taking into account the drivers record getting to and from the track, they have never finished lower than 22nd except when they had a poor car and hadn’t made it to F1 yet .
      What a pile of poo. For your next essential stat, find out who takes more toilet breaks, there’s probably se vague connection there also

      1. Random 79 says:

        You must have been a poet in a previous life…

  8. Equin0x says:

    Nice article James bur yet again you discredit Vettel why???

    You are adamant Redbull have the fastest car when the chances are they don’t. Look at last year you said the same thing before Melbourne that Redbull was fastest and yet come qualifying Mclaren was way faster, Lotus and Mercedes were also faster.
    Then you say its the strategy and safety car that got Vettel his 2nd place but what I saw was different, his raw pace was frightening when everyone thought the Mclarens were going to run and hide he reeled them in after he disposed of the 2 Mercedes, if Hamilton wasn’t so slow he would have kept his 2nd place like Jenson did by winning but the main reason why Vettel split the Mclarens whilst driving a slower car was because he was a faster and more consistent driver.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      What a load of rubbish.

      Going in to last season most experts believed Red Bull had an advantage, McLaren being ahead by a clear margin was a bit of a surprise.

      Vettel didn’t “dispose” of the two mercedes, yes he made an excellent pass on Rosberg but Schuy had a gearbox failure whilst comfortaby holding him off for 3rd. You seem to have forgotten there was a safety car last year and under the rules the drivers must drive to a set time for each split so yes, Hamilto wa going much slower because he had to, whilst Vettel was lucky enough to be right next to the pit lane when the SC came out, letting him make his stop and get out ahead of Lewis.

      1. Equin0x says:

        Actually he caught Schumi hand over fist and Michael went off the track twice trying to stay ahead, that doesn’t look like a driver being comfortable, and probably going off was what broke the transmission, but the point is Hamilton waws slower than Button in the same car as he was dropped and had no answer and Seb in a slower car was catching him, fact. James said Redbull would have the fastest car after winter testing last year and they didn’t, and this year they haven’t either.

      2. Andrew Carter says:

        Hamilton spent ages stuck behind Perez which cost him ~8 seconds and most of the gap to Seb. Yes Button was quicker than Hamilton because he’d set the car up better. Yes, over one lap the McLaren proved much faster for most of the year but on race pace there was very little to choose between the Mac and the RB, particularly in those early races. As for Schumi, I don’t remember that first off at all, but the second one was definitely caused by the ‘box breaking and he’d already had Vettel stuck behind him for a couple of laps.

        BTW, why are you trying to take predictions based onwinter testing as gospel, all the teams run very specific programs with 60kg+ of fuel on board. Anybody thats actually read such articles in the last few years will know that they are full of caveats because a definitve statement is impossible. And how would you know if the Red Bull is the fastest car or not when they havent even got to first practice yet, time to polish your crystal ball I think.

      3. bob says:

        @Andrew Carter

        “Button was quicker than Hamilton because he’d set the car up better.”

        Another team and driver expert I see.

        I love how when Button beats Hamilton it’s always because he set the car up better, had better luck, had preferential treatment from the team, stole Hamilton’s setup.

        And when Hamilton beats Button it’s because Button is crap and Hamilton is the greatest!

        Gotta love Hamilton fans!

      4. Mr. Whoopsie says:

        Spot on.

      5. Yak says:

        I don’t recall Schumi “comfortably” holding off Vettel, but maybe I need to go back and watch it again. I remember it as looking to be quite an interesting battle, with both of them pushing hard and looking a bit rough in doing so. And then it was unfortunately ended prematurely with Schumi’s retirement.

      6. Timmay says:

        Wow – would you really rewatch an F1 race circa 2012? Could you even rewatch a 2010-2012 race without falling asleep? I couldn’t and I am someone who has downloaded entire seasons of F1.

      7. Andrew Carter says:

        Thats pretty much how I remember it, though without Schumi macking a mistake I doubt Vettel would have made it past on track, which is where my “comfortably” comment comes from.

    2. **Paul** says:

      Fait point, McLaren ended last season with the quickest car, and had in pace terms the dominante car of 2012. Red Bull had the second fastest car overall. And yes you’re right, Vettels pace forced McLarens hand regarding strategy in last years Oz race, which was just as much a factor in Lewis losing 2nd place as the Safety car was.

      If the tyres are so delicate I expect Button, Perez, Vettel, Raikkonen and Alonso to all go well as those guys have the ‘knack’ of keeping their tyres in good shape. In contrast I expect Webber, Hamilton and Massa to struggle as they’re all pretty aggressive.

      1. Phil H. says:

        Hamilton showed last year that him being worst on the tyres is a myth. Look at the race in Barcelona, or every race where he had the lead and managed his tyres without letting his opponents come too close (Hungary is the best exemple against Kimi, but also Singapore against vettel). Yes he’s aggressive, but he has learned to manage his tyres just as well as guys like Button. Truth is, a driver can make a difference with these Pirelli’s, but you still need a car that’s gentle on the tyres.

      2. Equin0x says:

        A myth? it certainly wasn’t a myth when Hamilton couldn’t keep pace with Button at Australia and even then his tyres couldn’t last as long as Jenson’s, same in Malaysia where if it wasn’t for a certain HRT Button and Vettel would have also beat him along with Alonso and Perez, then his tyres went of alarmingly, in Barcelona he was on a complete different strategy and I don’t recall a good result or miracle Perez like tyre saving, Bahrain, Valencia, Monaco, Silverstone were just a few races where his tyres were shot before others and he was struggling, in Hungary Kimi had better tyres but just couldn’t pass due to the Lotus’s lack of straight line speed and the nature of the track, but he saved his tyres better and was faster than Hamilton, then look at Suzuka and Korea or even Brazil, I don’t see the same season you saw to be honest, a very overrated driver that was beaten by the tyres and Button over 3 years, I’m sure many excuses will come out this year too when Nico gives him a good hiding.

      3. **Paul** says:

        I knew someone would mention Spain, but lets be honest here, Lewis is harder on his tyres than many of his rivals. Now, that might be down to his driving style, or his preferred car setup, but it’s one or other of the two. You’re right regarding setup though.

      4. Quade says:

        Last year, Lewis was much, much better with tyres than Jenson.

        It was a pleasant surprise! That lad can really drive.

      5. Dragster says:

        Can’t stand this year of ‘who is the best tyre saver’. Can we go back to the days of real racing. The days of Schumi, Barrichello, Coulthard etc.

      6. Joel says:

        While McLaren was certainly the fastest car on a few circuits (particularly in Qualifying), the Red Bull and Ferrari were the fastest in race trim for the majority of circuits.

      7. hero_was_senna says:

        Ferrari were quick in race trim if driven by Alonso. It took 2/3 of the season before Massa added to the party

      8. **Paul** says:

        Over the course of the season the McLaren was the fastest car in both race and qualifying. They had a 3/4 season dip where Red Bull strung together some wins and McLaren looked really off form, but other than that they were fast all season long. At least that’s what Paddy Lowe (IIRC) said.

    3. F*ckYeah says:

      Hamilton “slow” ROFL… He has been accused of many things by rivals fans, but never of being slow. What you mean is that the Mclaren had a good Quali pace and lesser race pace, the opposite of Ferrari last year, for example…

      1. Dave C says:

        Nice swear name, but to the point I remember last year’s oz GP and Button was faster than Hamilton in the race and barely 0.1 behind in quali, the way he was pulling Hamilton and Vettel catching in a slower car showed Hamilton was slow in that race I agree with equinox.

    4. Craig D says:

      No, Hamilton lost 2nd due to having just pitted and having to spend effectively more time on the track in slow ‘SC mode’ whilst Vettel pitted under the SC, thus losing comparatively less time and jumping him.

      Vettel may have had good pace but he wouldn’t have beaten either McLaren if it wasn’t for his SC fortune.

      1. Morphine says:

        Vettel’s pace forced McLaren to do that pitstop, that is a fact. That was their only choice to stop Vettel maybe and it did not work either.

        But keep diminishing everything Vettel does, it has gotten to such ridiculous levels now that you can only smirk at it.

      2. KRB says:

        Agree with everything you’ve said. Although in the latter part of the race, the Red Bulls (both Vettel and Webber) were faster than Hamilton’s McLaren. After the SC Hamilton never really threatened Vettel, while Webber basically pushed Hamilton over the line.

        When I say faster it was very, very slight. If Vettel was behind Hamilton at the end, he wouldn’t have been able to get by (as Webber was not able to) … the difference in pace between them at that time was too small.

      3. **Paul** says:

        You forget the reason Lewis pitted to start with, and that was the threat of Vettel coming at him, while JB had left LH for dust. So I repeat, the threat and pace of Vettel was as important as the SC in giving Vettel 2nd place last year.

    5. Assesment says:

      You have to understand: for a few years now there is a campaign to diminish anything Vettel achieves, by the mainly British and Spanish media and Hamilton/Alonso fans. They always forget to mention there is a second RBR driver that does not come close to Vettel, except half a dozen times in the 4 seasons they have been together.

      Sour grapes. He is a German (oh noes) who stole the spotlight from the other wannabe legends who try really hard to portray themselves as the best and rub each others’ back to create a hype people love to believe in.

      Vettel is one of the most talented drivers of all time. None of the guys on the grid are in his league. People are just blind to it at the moment. If Fangio had been alive now, they would whine how he is overrated because his cars were on average 2-3 seconds faster than all the other cars (fact by the way, unlike the BS said about the RBR cars).

      People who keep saying “just because of the fastest car/Newey”. Last year they did not have the fastest car and it was unreliable and Vettel still did it with some stunning drives (Aus, Spa, Abu, Brazil for instance). While Webber was fighting with Mercedes.

      And McLaren did not need newey to have the fastest car and Newey cars did not win anything for a decade, until Vettel started driving them so, there goes that theory too. Newey said Vettel flatters his cars, for a reason.

      1. yugin says:

        Nonsense.

        “except half a dozen times in the 4 seasons they have been together.” Webber was quicker than Vettel (and ahead in the championship standings) until Newey perfected his EBD design. Also, it was Webber who was Alonso’s closest challenger going into the final race of 2010.

        “None of the guys on the grid are in his league.” Are you honestly suggesting that Vettel is way better than Alonso and Hamilton? That instantly diminishes your credibility immensely.

        “Vettel still did it with some stunning drives (Aus, Spa, Abu, Brazil for instance)” In Abu Dhabi he had a car geared massively towards overtaking, crashed into a DRS board under the safety car, and overtook Grosjean off track. In Brazil, he got a bad start off the line before turning in on Senna. And in Australia- yes, it was a good drive by Vettel, but what about Alonso finishing 5th in a Ferrari that was 1.5 (?) seconds off the pace?

        “Newey said Vettel flatters his cars, for a reason.” No one is denying that Vettel is a top driver. But do you think that Alonso or Hamilton wouldn’t have made the RB car look good?

    6. MrFrosty says:

      I seem to remember a Renault powered caterham driven by Petrov stopping on the track when he could’ve parked it on the grass, causing the safety car to appear, letting vettel catch up after his pit stop…If it wasn’t for that the Mclarens would’ve been long gone.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        That’s a new angle. For years people have held this belief that Ferrari tells it customers what to do, like Malaysia last year. Forgetting conveniently that in Monza, Perez sailed past Alonso when Ferrari needed the extra points for the WDC.
        But this is interesting, Renault is controlling all their teams… Funny how all of them have been spoken to by the FIA regarding legality of their cars during testing

      2. MrFrosty says:

        Having all the races on sky+ is very interesting….there were numerous instances of Renault powered back markers, letting the Red Bulls through as soon as they were in sight then funnily enough when a non Renault tried to get past they became blue flag colour blind….

  9. Baghetti says:

    Sauber F1 published a race preview yesterday in which they say that braking stability will be most important for this race. Any idea why that would be more important in Melbourne than in other races?

    1. Yak says:

      I would think basically it’s because there’s a bunch of heavy braking zones, and with the low grip surface and quick-deg tyres (especially with the supersoft being used), you’d want to avoid sliding around as much as possible. Then there’s also the long slow run down pit lane if you do prematurely mangle your tyres and have to add an extra stop.

      It’s of course a factor everywhere. But how much importance they put on it might vary from one weekend to the next depending on the conditions, tyres, and what they’ve determined is the quickest way to run the race.

  10. Horno says:

    Bam, Bam, Bam… you can hear the drums already!!
    WOW!! i’m looking forward to this years battle!
    -Vettel, the main man to beat; who’s got everything to loose and nothing to win..or maybe his 4th title.
    -Hamilton, didn’t like him untill this year, really think he is finally drying up and ready to win his 2nd wdc, also think that you need balls to change teams like he did.. Giving up a secure spot at McLaren to step into the big unknown at Merc.
    -Alonso, my personal favorite driver..
    -Raikkonen, never under estimate the brilliance of this guy..
    ——————————–
    I truly hope that these 4 drivers, will give us all a hell of year to remember!!

    1. Paul Watson says:

      agree with everything you’ve said in that! I didn’t like Hamilton for a mixture of reasons, but i couldn’t agree more with you on the point about his character for changing teams – more importantly to a worse team for a challenge.

      Also, Alonso my personal fav. Really hope these four fight it out. Love Alonso and feel he deserves a third title before he leaves the sport.

    2. Gazz says:

      Dont be surprised if you see JB in there as well….

      1. Paul says:

        Yes, all the F1 champions are in with a shout this year. It could be a classic.

  11. Millsy says:

    All the top drivers have won the Aussie GP except for Webber. Given that RBR have likely been sandbagging and will bring a quick, if not the quickest, car to Melbourne, and this is probably Webbers last year with Red Bull, I say go get ‘em Marky boy and give ‘em hell!

    1. Sebee says:

      If they are fastest out of the box in Australia, it will be an amazing shock to everyone. But in their pattern they usually go..

      2010 – Hard WDC win
      2011 – TOTAL Domination
      2012 – Hard WDC win
      2013 – calls for TOTAL Domination

      Also…

      2010 – Alonso won, but Vettel took WDC
      2011 – Vettel won and took WDC
      2012 – Button won, but Vettel took WDC
      2013 – Vettel has to win to take WDC #4? :-)

      1. Phil H. says:

        Yo Seebee hold it, stats are Goferet’s jurisdiction :p

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Difference is sebee’s are based on historical data, not deluded wishful thinking, lol

      3. Sebee says:

        But I was only doing patterns from a select sample to suit my point. I thought that and conspiracy theories were an area I could expertly address.

      4. KRB says:

        Button won in Australia in 2010. Alonso won the first race that year, in Bahrain.

      5. Random 79 says:

        But to extrapolate a little further…

        2009 – Just missed out
        2010 – Hard WDC win
        2011 – TOTAL Domination
        2012 – Hard WDC win
        2013 – Just missed out :)
        Also…

        2009 – Button won, but Vettel had an accident
        2010 – Alonso won, but Vettel took WDC
        2011 – Vettel won and took WDC
        2012 – Button won, but Vettel took WDC
        2013 – Webber won, but Vettel had an accident

        I have no basis to chuck Webber in for the win, but what the hell… :)

        Note: All stats can be verified by goferet, if he so chooses.

      6. Sebee says:

        What is your problem Random? Don’t try to introduce data here that doesn’t support my point man. I don’t need no monkey wrench in my rock solid statistics sample. 2009 doesn’t count….they were ramping up! :-)

        There are lies…damn lies! And statistics. goferet knows this. That’s why I mainly stick to conspiracy theories and karma.

      7. Sebee says:

        Btw. Button won Oz and WDC in 2009 so thay would support the pattern that winner of Oz wins WDC this year in my super computer generated pattern.

      8. Random 79 says:

        Seebee, 12.46 pm:

        Could be worse Seebee; at least I didn’t introduce 2008… ;)

        There are lies & damn lies…but statistics are infinitely malleable :)

        Seebee, 1.02 pm:

        Hopefully that means that because Webber won that means he won the WDC too? :)

      9. Sebee says:

        Random,

        2008 was “blown up” by Crashgate. For that reason anything before 2009 is irrelevant!

        Well, they don’t need to be .5 or 1s faster. But it’s certainly looking good so far for my pattern theory to be realized this year.

      10. Random 79 says:

        Seebee,

        I’m a bit dubious about your first point – in 2008 RBR was doing terrible all on their own, regardless of anything else – but it’s looking like your pattern might be right after all. Damn your super computer!

    2. Random 79 says:

      +1

    3. Phil Glass says:

      I hope Mark has been mentally practicing his starts!

  12. Phil Glass says:

    EXCUSE ME, THEY CAN’T START THIS WEEKEND.
    I’ve got no stats, charts, timing apps, nothing. I can sort all this out pronto, just need a few more days.
    James, Please. One more week is all I ask

    1. nathan says:

      Denied!

      1. blackmamba says:

        You wanna cause a riot?

      2. Alfie says:

        Nathan, that’s gold.

    2. Random 79 says:

      No worries Phil, I was just on the phone to Bernie and explained the whole situation. He said ‘No problem Random, anything for Phil’ :) and so now everyone’s flown back home to chill for a couple weeks so that you can get ready…but they are asking for a small refund – you know, just little stuff like their flights, logistics, catering, salaries, hotel accomodation (including movies and mini-bar) and other sundry expenses.

      1. Phil Glass says:

        Random, mate, you are a buddy and a pal.

      2. Anne says:

        ¿You have Bernie´s phone number?

        Well call him back. I want VIP tickets for Barcelona, Silverstone, Spa and Monza

        :)

      3. Random 79 says:

        Sorry Anne – I tried, but he said I already exceeded my favours quota for the year :(

  13. Chris says:

    I have always loved the Australian GP opener because it does require a certain effort bothering to getting up and watching it live these days (with pause TV and what not). It Seems to have come around pretty quick this year already and I can’t wait to see who is where this year and I hope Merc and Ferrari are strong enough to at least fight RedBull this year.

    1. James Clayton says:

      I really miss getting up at 4am in the UK for a breakfast barbecue to welcome in the Formula 1 season.

      Now I’m the other side of the world there are no early morning races at all. This works out well for the rest of the season… but the morning of the first race… I really do miss that!

  14. Gaspar Tank says:

    Open request to all F1 team ‘insiders’ posting on this site
    (you know who you are! – and we know you do!)

    Come on, guys – now that testing’s over and Melbourne’s just around the hairpin please desist from using this ‘sandbag’ thing in your replies to any upcoming free practice reviews.

    The astute amongst us realise it started out years ago as a pit-lane in-joke amongst those pushing to the max at all times (well, that’s what F1 is all about, surely?). Now, unfortunately, thanks to you, the beast has escaped its cage and janet&john-public have picked up on the term and think the practice actually exists. Your wilful use of the concept on serious sites such as this one have almost guaranteed it becoming a social ‘meme’ ingrained in the psychy of those who support- and thus deserve better treatment from yourselves.

    Once again, for the benefit of this wonderful sport, please curb your literary ‘enthusiasm’!

    1. Innes Iderh says:

      Interesting observation – until recently the practice you mention was hard to verify, let alone quantify. Not so in the current digital age. I have it on good authority that the teams have resorted to facial expression profiling applications to determine whether or not their rivals are pulling their punches.

      Some of you regulars in the pit-lane might have noticed an increased use of phone- and video-cams by technicians trawling outside their competitors’ paddocks during the pre-season tests. This was in order to capture the engineers’ and pit-crew’s combined expression-response to car-driver performance during and after each run. Software back at the spies’ bases could then determine the true aggregate emotional satisfaction level of the marque in question.

      Believe me, the algorithms are sophisticated enough to see through any facile and superficial ‘slow = sad’, ‘fast = happy’ facade assumed by those being observed who might desire to confuse their rivals. Look out for the use of the above during all free practice sessions during 2013.

      Not sure which packages they are using but those with a technical bias might like to refer to the following:-
      http://nviso.ch/
      http://www.noldus.com/human-behavior-research/products/facereader

      1. CarlH says:

        If this is true then it’s briliant.

      2. Paul says:

        This explains Hamilton’s ridiculously oversized glasses then.

      3. Innes Iderh says:

        No – I believe his supreme modesty dictates that he is blessed with a relatively small head.

      4. Dave Aston says:

        Oversized, but half empty.

      5. Jock Ulah says:

        I guess you’re implying that V for V masks might be worn in garages this season. Great opportunity for additional sponsorship ad space.

      6. hero_was_senna says:

        SkyNet went live on…

      7. Innes Iderh says:

        You might jest but I’m afraid we’ve all become thought-slaves to the media machine.

        Our ‘extermination’ is not imminent but our independence of mind has been corralled by ubiquitous technology.

      8. Quade says:

        @Innes Iderh
        Thanks for that. Your post might be one of the most valuable ever on this site.
        There are so many high tech opportunities in F1.

      9. Innes Iderh says:

        My pleasure and glad to be of assistance.

        I assume you represent one of the few teams not aware of this strategy?
        I firmly believe in a democratic, level playing field – hence the exposé.

      10. Quade says:

        Nah, I’m just a regular fan. Thanks.

    2. Art Nottsianz says:

      I have to agree – far too much misinformation spread by those who should know better. They just pander to the F1 fan-boys who are only after cheap thrills and cheap laughs these days – sad!

  15. Matthew Cheshire says:

    Fingers crossed for Hamilton to win and really throw the cat among the pigeons.

    1. janice says:

      @Matthew Cheshire: Fingers crossed for Lewis…indeed! :-) I’m so happy to see F1 back! Best of luck in 2013 to him, Nico & Mercedes AMG!!

      1. Matthew Cheshire says:

        Showers Saturday and overcast Sunday down here. A little rain could help level the field for Lewis. Keep your fingers crossed.

      2. Carl Craven says:

        Didn’t help in Brazil

    2. F12012 says:

      What a story that would be, think the F1 world would go crazy, come on Lewis!

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      In a strange way, I’m looking forward to Lewis success. I love the fact he’s left Mclaren. I just hope that Lauda and Wolff don’t receive any praise for the turn around.

      1. Carl Craven says:

        what turn around?

      2. Matthew Cheshire says:

        +1 to that. If Mercedes get some early wins, they’ll need to beg Ross Braun to stay.

      3. KRB says:

        Why no love NL or TW? If Mercedes do well out of the box, the credit will rightly go to Brawn, Bell, Costa, and Willis. BBCW … F1′s CSNY?

    4. **Paul** says:

      I’d prefer to see Rosberg win and really put a cat amongst the pigeons!

  16. CarlH says:

    And so it begins.

    To quote Homer Simpson, woohoo!

    1. Simmo says:

      By the end of the year, if red bull win, I’ll be saying Do’h!

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        And no doubt the FIA will continue to police RBR as the Springfield police seargent would…

  17. chris green says:

    22 degrees – tyre management will win this race.

    1. Sebee says:

      I fear you may be correct Chris.

      I fear that we may actually face the ultimate contridiction – fastest car doesn’t win.

      If that happens, I will be absolutely outraged. Imagine footballers needing to run slower to prevent their cleats from wearing out before 90 is up – unthinkable!

      I really really hope that doesn’t happen.

      1. Ral says:

        And how many footballers do you know who can sprint for 90 minutes?

        It’s not just the tyres they’re saving either. Remember Kimi begging to be allowed to turn his engine back up to keep Hulkenberg off his back?

      2. Sebee says:

        Indeed. Another artificial limitation that doesn’t belong in sprint type racing like F1.

        If the goal of these rules was to save money and prevent domination by one team, I think an argument can be made that it failed.

  18. Grant says:

    Bring on the weekend can’t wait, good luck Lewis hope u can silence all those no sayers

    1. janice says:

      My hope too! ;-)

  19. Martin says:

    Hi James,

    Thank you for mentioning load on the tyres when discussing wear. I’ll keep my slow education process going on downforce leading to increased tyre wear, not reducing it.

    Cheers,
    Martin

    1. D17MO.D says:

      +1

      This part of the article registered with me as well!

      Really enjoyed reading that explanation! Definitely learned something…

      …Thanks James :-)

  20. Mickey78 says:

    OT: Found on antoher website
    Carlos Gracia, a vice-president of Formula 1′s governing FIA, has lost his license for drink-driving.

    Spain’s El Confidential reports that the Spanish motor racing chief was pulled over in the Aragon region last October.

    The 72-year-old failed the breath test, the report added.

    A court has taken away Gracia’s license for a period of eight months. The German-language Speed Week claims he also lost his license for the same reason in 1966 and 2003.

    “We all make mistakes, and on that day (in 2012) I made one,” he is quoted as saying.

    “I was at my sister’s birthday party, I was not feeling well and I had a glass too much to drink.

    “The police stopped me, I did not have an accident but my alcohol level was too high,” said Gracia. (GMM)

    1. CarlH says:

      He’ll be eased into ‘retirement’ now surely?

    2. Kidza says:

      With the FIA trying to champion road safety, surely his job ought to be on the line. Just wonder how he got the job with such a record to begin with!

      1. Rich C says:

        Speaking of the FIA’s Road Safety program, I just watched some WRC last night. Talk about unsafe! These ppl are fricken *lunatics, and so are the fans lining the roads!
        Didn’t *somebody get reprimanded for cutting a few donuts a while back?
        What a double standard.
        If FIA were serious about safety they’d drop the WRC in a ditch somewhere and never mention it again!

  21. Gravity says:

    looking forward to the weekend & in particular:
    1. Nico vs. Lewis
    2. Re-charged Felipe vs. Fernando
    3. Jenson vs. Sergio &
    4. Mark vs. Seb
    2013 F1 is a go!!!!

    1. Kidza says:

      Not to forget Kimi vs Grosjean!

      1. Gravity says:

        True – but would like to see a more consistent Romain before putting him there; for that matter, that’s true for Sergio as well – but given that this is the first time we are going to see him in a top team, that will be an interest..

    2. blackmamba says:

      What about Lewis v Jenson v Sergio? That has got to be of some interest.

      1. Gravity says:

        Lewis vs Jenson is more a Merc vs Mclaren – so can’t read anything into it!!

        For that metter, Seb vs Fernando will be fun as well.. Reading the above 2 subjects will be more fun than on track racing!!

        Don’t you think so?

      2. Anne says:

        Lewis has said he doesn´t care about Jenson because he doesn´t find it exciting. Lewis find exiting to fight with Alonso because it´s the driver to beat.

  22. Glennb says:

    Roll on Australia ;)

  23. Robert N says:

    James,

    of the ten drivers making it into Q3, how many do you think will do a timed lap on the supersofts?

    Cheers,
    Robert

    1. Glennb says:

      I reckon it will be all 10 on the inters.

  24. Dale says:

    On reading this excellent James Allen article and being an F1 fan for over 45 years watching countess races and champions during that time I am more now, than ever before of the opinion that F1 is not a sport and it shouldn’t be referred as or called one as it simply isn’t.

    Last year we all saw amazing seasons by two drivers that, in my opinion, excelled way beyond that shown by the Vettel the man who took the title.

    Alonso was supreme in his skill, his driving sublime though (for me) that was bettered by Hamilton who drove (as ASenna had in his last year at McLaren) the best he’s driven since coming to F1, (in my opinion) had it not been for the failings of his then team McLaren he’d have been the 2012 champion (Alonso just didn’t have the car to compete had Hamilton not been stifled by his team – is it any wonder he chose to leave)?

    The record books will forever show the results as they are in todays F1, Vettel as 3 times F1 champion where few who really follow and understand F1 would agree that he is, or was the best driver of the time.

    Watching Senna fighting his McLaren in his last season with them against the far superior Williams driven by Prost, as great a Senna was (in my view the best together with Clark) even he couldn’t beat what was simply much much better machinery.

    Going way back to the 60′s when the likes of Jim Clark were racing the driver and his skill counted for so much more though as good as Clark was the record books will never really tell just how good he was as he was let down countless times from many certain wins by unreliable machinery.

    I love F1, always have but a sport it ain’t.

    The above said, having watched more races than most there have been many many many races that have bored me senseless where I have sworn I would waste any more time watching F1 yet when the nest race comes along………….arghhhh, guess I’m just hooked on it!!! :)

    1. Random 79 says:

      Fair point, but – sport or not – F1 is about driver AND machine.

      If one is not up to scratch, both are let down.

      I’m sure that there have been years when a team has had a championship worthy car, but no driver good enough to take advantage of it.

      In the end it doesn’t matter: The true fans such as yourself know and remember who the good drivers were, regardless of the results :)

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      I like your post but am struggling to see how you could possibly compare Lewis to Senna in 1993. The closest I’ve seen is Alonso last year.
      Most journalists, and F1 team managers, insiders voted Alonso the best last year and if he had won the championship would have been one of the most incredible achievements in F1 history.
      Hamilton drove well but reliability is an important part of a teams success. You mention Clark, again a brilliant driver but drove for Lotus, brilliant design, not always the most reliable.
      If Hamilton had won last year, it would have been deserved but nothing particularly significant about it.

      That’s why Senna in 1993 is still considered so highly. Mclaren with a Ford engine, Donington and Prost and Hill in a wonder car

      1. Phil H. says:

        I agree with you on Alonso being the man last year. But then again, you say reliability is an important part of a team’s succes. That is very much true as well, but you forget to consider that the Ferrari F2012 was bulletproof. Of all the top teams, Ferrari was the only team without a mechanical DNF.

        Alonso was great, but the F2012 was great as well on race day. With great reliability comes opportunity and I believe that the best exemple is Valencia. Alonso drove like a king, but if the the Renault engines don’t faill( Grosjean and Vettel), then Alonso gets nowhere close to those 25 points. There’s just as much a driver can do to fight against a mechanical advantage (i.e. RB+ Mcl being faster cars) and that is to get the maximum out of your car. Alonso did that and deserves much praise for this, But Hamilton (at least imo) did just the same. Don’t forget, a “slow” Ferrari F2012 gets you 15 points on a normal day, a fast but unreliable RB or Mcl gives you 0 points on a bad day.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Agree 99%.
        Just one thing though, and I say this with confidence as I was watching that race 3 nights ago, Vettel retired on the same lap that the safety car came in.
        Alonso had already passed Grosjean at the restart and took over the lead.
        For a few laps, Grosjean followed closely then Alonso began to edge away. That’s when Grosjean retired.
        A little pedantic, sure, but Alonso inherited the lead on Vettels retirement.

      3. Dale says:

        Clark was simply amazing in the fragile, overly sensitive cars of his day though few of today’s F1 fans will know who he was never mind just how good he was – had he been around in more global media Senna time he’d be held and seen in the same light for me almost impossible to separate.

        Donington and Senna, for certain the wet weather levelled the cars and the likes of us know what happened, Senna in those conditions regardless as to what car he drove (Toleman, Lotus, McLaren or Williams) was in a class of one, certainly, in my view a class that hasn’t been equalled to date.

    3. Val from montreal says:

      Senna then and Alonso today are both similiar .. They both need(ed) the “encouragement” from the public … Senna the god … , according to Prost , Magic Senna had multiple personalties … Was Honda’s # 1 driver , nothing wrong with that , but it would piss Prost off when Honda’s engine crates were stamped ” For Senna only ” … In 45 years you watching F1 , Senna almost killed Prost … That was a crime punishable in legal courts , since it was premeditated … Phisically attacking fellow F1 drivers !

      Schumacher and Irvine have something in common , they were both assaulted by Ayrton Senna ! Irvine got punched out by Senna for no apparant reason … Schumacher got grabbed by the throat by Senna , which MSC later on described it more of a neck massage than actual pain …

      Prost was better than Senna … Senna was giving Prost a headache at the start of 94 by calling him constantly over the phone wanting to know details , suggestions , how-to information about the car , the engine ….

      Putting all that aside , dont ever put Alonso and Hamilton in the same stratosphere as Senna as it’s very insulting …

      1. Dale says:

        Well, for me having been an F1 fan/fanatic for 47 years the nearest driver I have seen to Senna is Hamilton.

        Hamilton, like Senna can drive around a bad handling car like few others, Hamilton like Senna is a pure racer and for me I firmly believe Hamilton like Senna was in his day is the current faster driver in F1.

        Alonso probably has a better racing brain but he is not as fast as Hamilton (Hamilton would relish having Alonso as his team-mate again in equal equipment, the same isn’t the case with Alonso)!

        Of course F1 is all about opinion though in this case I’m right and you’re wrong :) It’s good to smile :)

  25. Richard says:

    Sounds like nobody knows until experience of the 2013 tyres is established. Not sure if Red Bull do have a slight advantage, yes as usual they do look good in cornering, but are they too slow on the straights to realise any advantage overall. This year it really is to close to call, but my money is on Mercedes and Ferrari initially.

  26. Gus says:

    Nice James, good post, however from the pre-season testing who do you think has the best handle on the new tyres and therefore managering the balncing of temps at front and rear.

    Obviously the conditions in Spain were different to those in Aust and the lap times from testing were so variable between teams and drivers as they ran there programs so a you say it is hard to get a good read on the situation.

    Do think the silky smooth guys like Button, Vettel and perhaps even Kimi will favour the tyres or will they have issues switching on the fronts and getting the bite into the corner (i.e. avoiding understeer.) Or will those that tend to be more agressive Hamilton, Alonso or even Webber have more luck, or do you think they will be hit be graining more beacuse of there intrinsic styles of manipulating the car?

    Thanks.

    P.S. Look forward to seeing you back on the One HD F1 telecast in Aust in 2013.

    1. Formula Zero says:

      Ferrari, Red Bull & Lotus showed the best tyre management. The last podcast posted by James touches a lot of critical point about tyres.

  27. Oh boy oh boy! I just can’t wait! So excited by this season.
    Personal hope and ambitions include: Williams doing well and finishing strongly. Button being in the mix and not so down on his car. Alonso being even stronger (as if it’s possible) and the German kid not winning another easy title (please!).
    Come on James tell us who you think will win the first race! I’ll throw my hat in the ring and say Kimi for Lotus!

    1. Gravity says:

      “Another easy title” did you even watch the 2010 & 2012 seasons?

      1. Jesse Charlebois says:

        Yes thank you I did….I notice you omitted the 2011 season in your little reply there which is the season I was refering to. Obvioulsy I realise that no titles are easy but 2011 was won at a canter and I was hoping that there wouldn’t be a repeat….ok with you? Or was there anything else from your hostile little mouth?

  28. Mark in Australia says:

    Can someone please explain the difference between total time for a pitstop and loss time for a pitstop???

    1. Gate 21 says:

      Total time for a pit stop is as it reads: time it takes from entry to exit of the pit lane with the stop in-between.

      Loss time takes into account the pitstop relative to a car at speed on track.

      Taking the numbers quoted in James’s article above: if Vettel leads Alonso by 20 seconds at Turn 15 and pits for a total time (from entry to exit) of 25 seconds, Vettel will be at pit exit at the same time Alonso reaches pit exit.

      This is because although the pit entry to pit exit time was 25 seconds, Vettel wasn’t stationary for the entire time: the distance covered in the pits is equivalent to 5 seconds at full speed on the racetrack proper.

      1. KRB says:

        Exactly right. The time it takes to go – on the racetrack proper – from where pit entrance is, to pit exit, has to be subtracted from the total pitstop time.

        If I had to hazard a guess, I think the loss time is the least for Canada. The pit entry there is right at the end of a straight, and those that stay out on track have to navigate the Wall of Champions, then turns 1 and 2, where the pit exit feeds out to. Part of why Canada serves up exciting races usually.

      2. Gate 21 says:

        Canada is very short loss time because, exactly as you say, you bypass some slower parts of the track – the final chicane and turn 1 – to feed out into the exit of turn 2.

        I think the new Silverstone pit layout is also very short as well since taking to the pitlane bypasses the entire Club complex consisting of the final 3 turns as well as turn 1.

    2. IJW says:

      I would hazard a guess that;
      Loss time of a Pit Stop is the time from the crossing over the start of the Pin Lane line, the Pit Stop itself, and the up to crossing the End of the Pit Lane.
      The Total Time, is the above plus the time spend exiting the circuit to reach the Pit Lane itself,plus the time spend returning to the circuit from the exit from the Pit Lane.
      Hope that makes sense.

    3. CJD says:

      it takes the car from pitentry to pitexit 25 seconds. – total pit time

      but the racetrack is actually longer in melbourne, pits actually shortcut turn 1 & 2

      so compared to the car on the track, he looses only 20 seconds.

      hmm .. somehow sounds funny – can this be right?

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        If you had said Canada I’d agree, but in Melbourne they exit before turn one…

  29. Formula Zero says:

    Great analogy James ahead of the first grand prix of the year. I am sure every F1 fan can feel the adrenaline of seeing the cars around the great city of Melbourne. I have not been able to post comments here as much as I used to, but I certainly read every pre season article you have posted so far. It has truly been great.

    Going back to the first pre race weekend analogy, I can clearly see the why it is so difficult to predict the front-runners this season. From what the teams said so far, it seems Pirelli has changed formula 1 racing completely. There was a time when the cars weren’t all that reliable, driver performance, unlimited testing & great resources used to produce championship cars and world champions. Of course refueling was also fantastic as far race strategy was concerned. Now Pirelli seem to be the main decider of the modern F1 racing. I guess it is because the cars too reliable now a days, plus the quality of the non-paying front running drivers are very close. So, in a way Pirelli is doing a good job to make sure F1 does not become boring. However, in my view Pirelli is taking it a bit too far. Tyre should not be more than as big factor as it is at the moment in my view.

    Lets have a look at the weather analogy James. Yes, tell me about the weather. We had nine consecutive days over 30°C temperature. In fact, it is nearly 11pm today and it is still 32°C! However, it will cool down significantly during the race weekend. I wouldn’t be surprise if it even rains during the qualifying sessions just like last year. That’s Melbourne! And for the race it will probably be around 22°C. So, the changeable temperature will play a massive role as far as the set up and qualifying strategy goes which makes the race weekend even more unpredictable. That is why I think Mercedes will have a great chance with Rosberg or Hamilton. I am putting money on Rosberg & Alonso in cooler condition to win the race over Hamilton & Vettel. Rosberg, because he understands the cars a bit better than because of he spent with Mercedes. And of course Alonso because he is like a wounded tiger ready to pounce & take the lead as early as possible in the championship.

    James, you have not touched the DRS & KERS impact on the car performance. DRS rule being so different this year should have a big impact. Also, Red Bull (mainly Webber) & Lotus both had KERS issue last year. Mercedes, McLaren & Ferrari seem to have the best KERS out of everyone. So, that should play in their hands as well.

    Last interesting point is pit. Who has the best pit stop so far based ont he testing results? Last year I watched the race from Dick Johnson V8 lounge at Albert, which is basically where the pit entry line is. I noticed that the cars were sliding around and vibrating more than any other year entering the pit lane, even after the first run in Q3! Now the pit lane being so long and Pirelli being so radical of course there is a big chance for some teams to pit 2 or 3 times (possibly even 4 times in some races). But cooler condition should play in the hands of Mercedes and Renault. That gives Kimi with a huge chance as well.
    See you at the race track James.

  30. Dan says:

    James, we keep reading about the “adventurous” design of the McLaren.

    Given that McLaren have said the differences are mostly beneath the surface, can you speculate (or confirm) what these differences are likely to be?

    I take “beneath the surface” to mean non-aero changes (is this to simplistic?) . How much lap-timeis there to be gained from mechanical/packaging tweaks?

    1. Lojen says:

      I’d say the main visible changes on the McLaren this year are a switch to a pull-rod suspension and a high nose. These are pretty significant differences to last years car and should allow for greater development potential through the year than if they had gone with a simpler evolution of last years car.

      1. Quade says:

        Martin Whitmarsh said this week that it would have been easier to make last years McLaren faster for this season. So, its a fair bet that McLaren have gone pull rod in preparation for the turbo era that begins in 2014.

    2. Andrew Woodruff says:

      My understanding, which may be misguided, is that the main change in design philosophy at McLaren is around the suspension. They’ve moved from a push rod to a pull rod system (or the other way round, I never remember!). Whichever, I think they have wisely copied the Red Bull approach.

      Unfortunately I have no idea of the technical pros/cons of either system. Possibly a feature for one of James’ technical features…?

      1. KRB says:

        Pull rod … McLaren’s copied the Ferrari approach, which is to go with pull rods in the front suspension. RBR is push rod in front still, pull rod in the back.

  31. schick says:

    As a Melbournian, good luck with the weather forecast…low 20′s! you gotta be kidding, I’ll be there in shorts and plenty of sunblock barracking for Kimi in hot conditions…bring it on.

  32. dufus says:

    Its going to be hotter than you think.
    Trust me, 30 deg+ in Melb

    1. Yak says:

      While it has been stupidly warm lately, forecasts are suggesting low 20s for the weekend, with possible showers.

      The relevance of a weather forecast in Melbourne is of course up for debate…

      1. Cozza says:

        The famous Melbourne March weather.

        Just remember last week (or was it two weeks) ago we were having thunderstorms and allot of rain lol

        Hell, come this weekend it might be a hurricane lol

  33. jeroen says:

    I think what most pundits and fans seem to have forgotten in all of the preview stuff as to who will be top dog is this.

    Over the last 3 seasons the reason RB have won is their Q3 pace which enables them to drive a car in clear air and manage the field. I see absolutely no indication that anyone is going to out qualify RB. So the idea that maybe Merc and Ferrari are a little closer and that McLaren has potential simply means more of the same I’m afraid.

    Sure the behaviour of the tyres and weather and things will make it all look unpredictable and interesting at times, but over 19 races I would put all my money on RB…

    1. Austin Bill says:

      Remember the rule for the DRS has changed this year. You used to be able to use the DRS for the full lap in qual. Not this year – only in the specified zones. I think this will hurt RB as their superior down force helped exploit this rule in qualifying the last 2 years. This rule change will cut into their domination.

      1. Lol says:

        FIA has been changing the rules for 3 years now, even mid-season, just to slow down RBR so the other “legendary” teams can catch up.

        Lol, sport?

    2. blackmamba says:

      Actually there is nothing to suggest that Red Bull are ahead either, and it is possible that they could find themselves in the same situation as they were last year in Oz too!

    3. Equin0x says:

      Over 19 races the bet is Vettel right? Coz if he was at Ferrari or Mclaren I think most of the Hamilton fans even deep down wouldn’t bet against Vettel, face it he’s too good Alonso and Hamilton are just clutching at straws bigging each other up they also know who the real boss is.

      1. Quade says:

        For real?

      2. Random 79 says:

        Rewind to last year:

        If Vettel had been in the F1012 and Alonso had been in the RB8, you would have seen a very, very different WDC – one where Alonso would have absolutely pummeled Vettel and everyone else.

        Try and tell me I’m wrong.

      3. Spinodontosaurus says:

        You are wrong.

        Race pace the RB8 and F2012 were virtually equal. The F2012 struggled in qualy relative to the RB8, but it’s electric starts and brilliant reliability made up for that.

  34. AlexD says:

    Finally we talk the right thing:-)

  35. Rachel says:

    Looking forward to this and finally seeing what the cars are like.

    Are you doing the pitstop/tyre strategy calculator this year again?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not this year.

      We will have enhanced pre and post race strategy content

      1. shri says:

        It would be great if you could keep the Pitstop calculator. Really enjoyed it and engaging as well.

      2. Robert says:

        I doubt he is able to predict how the tyres are going to behave well enough to have one

      3. Random 79 says:

        Maybe he’ll use a Mayan calculator ;)

      4. Avinash says:

        James I really hope you can bring back the strategy calculator. I guess thats what made previews on JAonF1 so unique. It’ll be great if you can reintroduce it.

  36. Marcelo Leal says:

    Just one more or less off-topic James…
    Wondering about the big changes about the McLaren’s car for this year, could be possible that the pullrod vs. pushrod suspension be a result of the fragility of the car in recent races? Where Lewis Hamilton retired because of colisions that other cars (red bull, force india, etc) could get away without problems?
    Here there is a cool picture:

    http://www.formula1-dictionary.net/Big/pullrod_pushrod_comparison_big.jpg

    So I wonder if pullrod makes it stronger…

  37. Onko says:

    Mr Allen,a salute to you Sir. a superb
    insight to the opening of 2013 F1.
    Thanks a heap and keep it up.

  38. Grahame says:

    Could be interesting for Red Bull – I believe that they typically run a higher downforce than other teams. With DRS restricted in quali, they won’t be able to do that and still be at the front.

    1. Phil H. says:

      Fingers crossed for that to be true. I don’t remember them being ridicously faster than the rest in qualifying last year (in comparison to 2011). So if the new drs-rules hurt them more than the rest, we might see some very interesting qualifying.

  39. Paul Watson says:

    Bring It On!

    My predictions:

    Qualifying:
    1 – Vettel
    2 – Grosjean
    3 – Webber
    4 – Hamilton
    5 – Raikonnen
    6 – Alonso

    Race:
    1 – Vettel
    2 – Alonso
    3 – Perez

    1. Phil H. says:

      Q

      1.Hamilton
      2.Alonso
      3.Grosjean

      R
      1.Alonso
      2.Vettel
      3.Räikkönen

    2. Anne says:

      But what would be Perez starting position? I don´t see him overtaking neither Raikkonen nor Hamilton under a normal race situation

      1. Random 79 says:

        You’re assuming it’s going to be a normal race situation.

      2. Paul Watson says:

        While its obvious Merc have the raw pace, and in Hamilton somebody who can deliver the results. I still have concerns over their reliability. Also wonder at how much Hamilton has matured, i.e. will he want to prove too much too soon and revert to 2011 form.

  40. seeing scarlet says:

    OOOOOOOOOOOO can’t wait can’t wait all the teams seem full on can’t wait

  41. Elie says:

    Im really bemused by people who think Button is the make all and end all of tyre management given what transpired most of 2012 and given these tyres have a narrower operating range again. 2011 was different because the temp range was slightly broader again so the “sweet spot” was relatively easier to achieve and a smooth driver could hold it in that range for longer. I think these tyres are right up Lewis / Sebastian and Kimis alley because these guys know how to getting heat into them very quickly without destroying them – particularly the fronts which is what they need on a circuit like Australia.
    I just very much fear that Ferrari once it gets going is very consistent- it’s single lap pace was very good at Barcelona too. Oh well I will be there cheering the Iceman on – hoping he brings that Lotus name & his -back to their winning glory they so richly deserve.

    I will always back a team that does it with far less resources too. I think it’s a real credit for them to even be there, hope we see a jump from Williams too- Im keen to see Bottas become the next big star.

    1. Quade says:

      No, the tyres have a wider operating temperature this year. But you are right that all the talk about Jensons tyre management is a myth, Lewis tyres kept much better than Jensons for the entire year. If I recall rightly, Jenson had to make an additional stop at Abu Dhabi.

      1. Richard says:

        Yes that’s right this years tyres are designed to have a wider operating window, and the tyres will be faster for a lap or two, but will ultimately degrade faster. I also agree that Lewis looked after his tyres much better than Jenson last year, but I think there is much more to it than that. I think much of what happened can be laid at McLaren’s door for not achieving the ideal set up on Jenson car for quite a spell, but only occasionally for Lewis. It is easy to be critical but fully understanding the tyres in relation to a particular car is never an easy job, and whenever there is a change the teams are thrown into disarray. – Enter Melbourne 2013. -I suspect the tyres will play a large part in the fortunes of the front runners this year. So I have to ask the question is this really F1 when tyres have such an impact on outcome. It’s all right Hembrey arguing that the fastest guy’s on the circuit are those that keep the tyres in the operating window. – Well of course they are when those outside it are floundering.

      2. Quade says:

        Everyone I know is upset about the tyres. I wonder what Pirreli is getting out of the situation? Bad press won’t sell more tyres.

      3. Richard says:

        It should also be said that Pirelli are merely delivering what has been asked for, but these tyres are not good for wheel to wheel racing, and serve to protect the car in front. On top of that all the drivers are mindfull of keeping the tyres in the operating window by not putting too much energy through them so it clearly is a constrained form of racing as there is no latitude for proper catch up just that you have to hope the tyres belonging to the guy in front are in worse shape than your own. – It’s entirely false form of racing that we are stuck with.

  42. mhilgtx says:

    Most of my life F1 has been a passive interest to me. Living the US F1 is not the most accessible sport.

    But last year around Abu Dabi I started catching the F1 bug. Now I am hooked. Bought the game, spending hours on Youtube and sites like this one thirsting for more info. This has been a long hard winter for me with only really 2 races under my belt paying attention.

    I don’t have a favorite driver or team yet. But I am so excited about staying up until 1:30 AM Texas time to watch practice.

    Can’t wait!!

    1. Timmay says:

      Your fav driver is Kimi Raikkonen.

      1. Rich C says:

        No, it has to be Webber. He’s most like a Texan of any of them.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        These are not the droids you are looking for…

      3. Random 79 says:

        Not a bad starting point.

        If you’re new to F1 mhilgtx, Raikkonen is the guy they call the Ice Man – just to look at him and listen to him in interviews you’d swear he has no personality…BUT DON’T BE FOOLED!

        Kimi is hands down one of the coolest drivers on the grid and a great driver besides :)

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Welcome to the madhouse

    3. Glennb says:

      Welcome to F1. You are now a Mark Webber / RBR fan. Congratulations :)

    4. Random 79 says:

      We have t-shirts :)

  43. paul jaworski says:

    Tires, tires, it looks to be all about the tires. Too bad in my view. I think the best race last year was the race in Austin Texas where the tire wear played a small role. Watching Lewis stalk Seb for what was it, 20 laps was the best racing of the year.

    1. Lol says:

      A car with a much higher top speed overtaking a car with the lowest top speed after being slowed down by a backmarker.

      Yeah, so amazing…

      1. Phil H. says:

        Yeah well, Lewis still had to get close enough to Seabastian in order to overtake him.

        It was a long and amazing hunt (20 laps might be true)because the DRS-zone where Lewis overtook Sebastian came after a series of corners where the RB was definitely faster than the Mclaren + being within a second of Sebastian at the beginning of the DRS-zone wasn’t enough to overtake him, he needed to be as close as within 0.7 to be able to overtake him. It was close (Lewis had only 1 real shot), so for a lot of people it was an amazing hunt down (but that’s really a matter of personal taste).

      2. Quade says:

        It was amazing. A superlative drive.
        Lewis made the Austin race something to cherish.

      3. paul jaworski says:

        Phil, Thanks for the info. You stated it the way I saw it. The thing is the tires really didn’t play a part. That’s the point I was trying to make.

      4. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Hamilton was consistently faster in sector 1, but slower in sector 3. He simply couldn;t make enough time back in sector 1 to counter the chunk he was loosing in sector 3.

  44. Giorgio says:

    This year is one WDC less than last year ;) nevertheless the winner will certainly deserve WDC title as last year and as forever. Cheers and have a nice F! year..

  45. Ant Dale says:

    Hope my team Williams have a great year(fingers crossed) Cannot wait for the season to begin.

    1. Phil H. says:

      I love Williams as well, look out for Bottas (and Maldonado is mighty quick as well)!

      1. Ant Dale says:

        yeah got high hopes for Bottas and Pastor is super fast. just hope he stays out of trouble a little more this season..

  46. Neil says:

    I use windguru internet weather forecast as it is pretty good. They give Sat in Melbourne at 17:00 local time (qualifying) as 17 degrees, and 2mm rain per 3 hours, which could be scattered showers. For Sunday at 17:00 16 degrees and 0,3mm rain, which means virtually nil. The very cold temperatures will likely cause considerable tyre graining problems, from what we have been told.

  47. Ronbruce says:

    Goferet wrote that the Aussie GP has only been going in Melbourne since 1996.

    I watched Stirling Moss win the Australian Gran Prix there in the sixties.

    Jack Brabham also won there.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Unusual coming to feret’s defence but he did refer to Melbourne

    2. Andrew M says:

      It’s only been part of the F1 World Championship since 1985, and only been held at Melbourne since 1996.

  48. Feral says:

    Great look into what is know so far as usual James, will be eager to read your reports & seeing you on ONE HD this year. .(Mark Gillan is definitely a great asset to JA F1:)

    As Mark says Tyrer’s, Tyrer’s, Tyrer’s, Tyrer’s, I agree.

    As I see it we will get the normal Q3 runners with maybe more of Kimi and Romain up there….If you can do that 1 fast lap, switch on the tyres quicker than the others and the car is set up right, makes for a place in the front 5 after the 1st lap manage your tyres and have good pit stops & strategy (A lot of luck) you will be the one to beat :))

    A lot of drivers in non winning cars will be aiming to show what they are made of for that RB seat next year and will make for some great racing this year in the pack.

    looking forward to see Daniel Ricciardo really step up as he says he will, showing what’s got him this far so far.(nothing less than a WDT within 5 years I read)

    Cant wait till Q3 – like a child waiting for xmas morning to see what santa brought…(to see what the true grid is for 2013)

  49. Craig Pooel says:

    Hi James,

    Just wondering if you had seen this report…. It has been published on an Australian website and has come at a great time for Marks confidence going into his home race and this season if this is accurate. Especially after Dr Marcos comments earlier this year.

    http://motoring.ninemsn.com.au/cars/motoraction/8625500/red-bull-boss-webber-our-number-one-vettel-free-to-leave

    Can you heard and confirm this is accurate information??? Would love to get your opinion.

    Thanks

    1. KRB says:

      Saw this story on Autosport … looks like the story’s been torqued in that piece.

    2. Random 79 says:

      It is an Australian website, so it’s understandable it would be a little biased toward Mark.

      I did find this funny though:

      “It is difficult for him to come up against Sebastian, but the team guarantees equal material and treatment for both drivers.

      So that’s why Mark got to keep his new front wing after Vettel broke his own at Silverstone?

  50. John Marshall says:

    Great as always!

    One suggestion, though. Maybe include a track map.

    Thanks as always James.

    1. KRB says:

      Would just be duplication … use the FIA’s Race Previews for a track map:

      http://www.fia.com/news/2013-australian-grand-prix-preview

      1. John Marshall says:

        I realize I can find a track map elsewhere. I’m not interested in opening another website while I’m reading the story here. It was just a suggestion to help visualize the track while it’s being discussed.

  51. PK says:

    I want Michael to race again.
    I’m saddened that the season is now starting.
    I miss Michael

  52. Kimi4WDC says:

    As several drivers pointed out. All this talk about degradation is waste of breath as testing conditions have close to zero correlation with that is going to happen during the season -tyres wise.

    Unless they start doing winter testing in warmer climate, winter testing going to be just a systems check and reliability test – which are questionable cause race conditions are not present.

  53. James you say none of the corners are particularly fast, but aren’t turns 11 and 12 mighty quick?

    Just asking because thats how it feels when I drive around in F1 2012. Powering out of the Clark chicane, surely using KERS and its just a dab on the brakes and one cog down and turn into turn 11 and follow through into 12. Feels awesome when you get it right.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Is this a real F2012? …and can I borrow it? :D

  54. nusratolla says:

    I have a gut feeling that Mclaren will be the fastest car in Melbourne with Perez throwing up a massive surprise.

    Ferrari according to me is the best package on the grid.

    Redbull always sandbag and after A.Dhabi and Brazil, only a fool will discredit Vettel.

    Mercedes the Dark Horse with the most lethal driver line-up on the grid.

    Lotus…. I don’t think they will repeat their 2012 campaign…. but with Raikkonen at its wheel…. anything is possible for he is the most lethal driver on the grid.

  55. nusratolla says:

    What I would like to see is just how fast would cars dive into the pits for fresh set of rubber…. from a spectacle standpoint the faster the degradation the better, the more the pit stops the better.

    Common, the amount these drivers are paid they ought to stop complaining about tires and concentrate on racing for the spectacle can only enhance through uncertainty…. since, the circuits have become extremely safe, this I feel is needed to elevate the spectacle of the sport without compromising on someone’s safety.

    So a big thumbs up to Pirelli and 2013 tires.

    Bring it on.

  56. Paul Mc says:

    Its great to have F1 back! No Schumacher but it should be a cracking season. Expecting big things from Lotus and Mercedes this year.

    Shaping up to be a cracker!

    1. Methusalem says:

      No Schumacher, No Glock, No De La Rosa, No Kobayashi, No Senna, No Petrov.

      When was the last time that so many drivers were fired in a season?

      1. Methusalem says:

        Forgot Kovi, No Kovalainen

  57. McHarg123 says:

    Were looking at a wet Gp fellas!
    Just had one of the longest heatwaves on record and now, typical Melbourne weather, decides it will most probably rain on both Saturday and Sunday.

    1. Glennb says:

      Thus my prediction that all ten drivers will be on inters in Q3 ;)
      I’m in Sydney and even I can see from here that it is gunna rain in Melbourne. I’ve been there like 50 times on business and it rained 49 times. And when it rains it doesn’t much about :)

  58. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Because we have 5 top teams in 2013 and in theory they can get all the 10 positions with points, any drive for a midfield team that reaches one of those 10 positions could be considered a “victory”.

    I am thinking about Hulkenberg, Sutil, Maldonado, Ricciardo, for example.

    If they do that, they will be seen as material for the top teams.

    Inversely, IMO any driver who don’t achieve the top 10 could be seen as a worrying weak drive.

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      Correction: “Inversely, IMO any driver FROM THE 5 TOP TEAMS who don’t achieve the top 10 could be seen as a worrying weak drive.”

    2. Random 79 says:

      Good point. Some drivers are going to feel the pressure…

      1. Glennb says:

        None more than LH.

  59. Quade says:

    Mercedes have gone Red Bullesque!
    Other teams garages are open in Melbourne, but Mercedes have high gates to firmly BLOCK all view!

    Hmmmm!

    http://img2.auto-motor-und-sport.de/Mercedes-Formel-1-GP-Australien-13-Maerz-2013-19-fotoshowImageNew-e11bd620-669063.jpg

    1. Phil H. says:

      Being the number 5 of last season, I would suspect you just don’t do this unless you mean serious business (this might be wishful thinking though).

      1. Quade says:

        Lets hope they really mean mean serious business. It will be good for the sport and for Lewis.

        I believe they might have been tinkering with their suspension or some other hidden gizmo. It wouldn’t make sense for them to hide parts that’ll be visible come Friday, its got to be something internal.

    2. Flip Ante says:

      Nothing to do with the car – Ron Dennis was there to thank them in person for taking L-’data-tweet’-H of his hands.

    3. Glennb says:

      I saw behind the screen. Lewis was sunbathing topless. Nico’s pit is wide open.

  60. goferet says:

    @ Ronbruce

    Aah hadn’t realized F1 had raced at Albert Park before.

    But from what I have seen on Wikipedia, F1 didn’t race at Albert Park in the 60s but only in 1956 and 1953 and won by Moss and Whiteford respectively.

    Apparently, these races weren’t part of the F1 championship

    1. Random 79 says:

      You don’t mess with the goferet

  61. f1kings says:

    Dear JAMES ALLEN, I NEED YOUR HELP ASAP,. TO WAIT ON THE FORMULA ONE SEASON TO BEGIN IS ONE THING,BUT TO FIND OUT ALL THESE YEARS WATCHING THE RACE ON THE SPEED CHANNEL IN THE STATES LIVE I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE RACE LIVE IS SAD TO HEAR… THERE IS NO LISTING FOR PRACTICE QUALIFYING ARE THE RACE ON NO NETWORK. WHERE DO I GO TO SEE ALL THE F1 EVENTS FOR A FORMULA ONE WEEKEND???? PLUS SEE IT LIVE IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO SO PLEASE HELP ME JAMES SOON ASAP…..

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s on NBC SPorts. I’m sure some American readers can supply exact details

      1. drdata says:

        Sadly, the news does not seem to be good.

        A bit of background. Both NBCSports and ESPN are available via cable. When ESPN was bought by Fox, some races appeared on local over-the-air Fox channels. There would be about 4 a year or so. And, if I may say, a bit dumbed down from the ESPN broadcasts because a less informed audience was watching, in infer. And, too, the broadcasts were not live but later in the day and were edited to fit the time slot.

        Now, we are going to NBCSports with the same good crew that was on ESPN for so many years with the substitution of Leigh Diffey for Bob Varsha who will stay with ESPN. Diffey substituted for Varsha on occasion so he will be familiar with regulars.

        NBCSports as I understand it, will broadcast most over their cable channel and 4 races through local NBC affiliates and one on another of the NBC cable channels.

        However, NBCSports is not available on anything I can get and from what I can tell, it is not that widespread via cable. If you check the NBCSports Web page…good luck finding anything about F1 because it seems very much an afterthought for them. I saw NBCSports listed from one satellite provider for a premium. I can’t guess how this will shake out but I would welcome more information.

        I have heard that it can be streamed from SKY but I can’t see how–without buying a big TV package and even then, it is not clear to me that it will work in the US.

        I think after many, many years, most US fans are SOL.

        Thanks, Bernie.

        James, great, great site. Thank you.
        drdata

      2. James Allen says:

        NBC F1 producer sitting next to me in media centre says that it’s available on most cable systems. It’s a lot more widely available than Speed Channel.

        FP2, Quali and Race always live with commentary

        FP1 and FP3 live streamed online without commentary.

        For Australia, running FP1 tape delayed at midnight EST, after college basketball, that will run on into FP2, ending at 3am.

        The website is a little impenetrable, I have to admit, having just looked at it now!

        Be sure to send us your feedback after the first race.

      3. f1kings says:

        thank you thank you thank you james allen i owe you brother look me up this year at austin gp. looking to see you there. ps,f1 life is forever…..

      4. drdata says:

        James,

        I am sure the information you have about the availability of NBC Sports vs. Speed (and thank you for the gentle correction–I don’t know who took over my body and typed “ESPN”). I do know that my sample (n=2) of local cable companies both have Speed and not NBCSports. So, I am out of luck but the broader coverage they offer will be great for US F1 fans.

        It is clear that NBCSports has made a number of excellent decisions. Keeping the Speed F1 group together as much as possible was one and having more coverage was another–seeing the practice sessions will be wonderful. They have also apparently spent a lot of money beefing up programming. I rather suspect that my local cable company may pick them up later in the year and I will then resubscribe. F1 is about the only thing I watch on cable.

        I started following F1 in the 60s and at the time, one saw an occasional, heavily-edited rerun of the odd race here or there on TV and a few months later an article in one of the car mags. I have found it easy to forget my joy at better and better TV coverage and the ability to see races all over the world live. So, I will be patient until the happy day NBCSports is available locally.

        Meanwhile, I will rely on your excellent posts and the comments from the knowledgeable community which has assembled here. To you and to them: thanks for so much informative commentary. This is the premier F1 site.

        drdata

    2. Brian says:

      NBC acquired a full time sports channel formerly called Versus. Now re-branded NBC Sports Channel.
      Live coverage of both practices, qualifying, and the race, with repeats of qualifying and the race.
      More than Speed used to carry.

  62. Sri says:

    James,

    Can you have a fantasy league for us fans? Thanks.

    1. Robert N says:

      There is a good competition over on http://www.f1pick6.com

      But I agree that it would be a great addition to JAonF1, too.

    2. Random 79 says:

      A lot of people are already complaining that F1 is artificial and you want to turn it into a fantasy league?

      Not a bad idea though James :)

  63. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    My prediction:

    Pole: ROSBERG
    WIN: ROSBERG

    Just in case:
    2nd: ROSBERG
    3rd: ROSBERG

    I said it first here in JAonF1.

    1. Stu Piddpoast says:

      You neglected to cover the remaining seven points slots for Rosberg so I’ll claim them for him – thanks!

      Just in case:
      DNF too

      1. Random 79 says:

        Good thinking. I’ve got 11th – 22nd – the odds are in my favour! :)

    2. Spinodontosaurus says:

      Which one is Keke?

      1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        No, I’m serious.

      2. Random 79 says:

        So is he.

    3. Glennb says:

      I agree. Rosberg will claim all 3 places. Not even Vettel or Schumi have done that ;)

  64. Craig in Manila says:

    Bags are packed (including raincoat AND sunblock) and am killing time before going to the airport and heading down to Melbourne.

    Even after reading much of the expert predictions, I still have absolutely no idea whatsoever re the likely results from quali or the race.

    Personally, I’m hoping for a RBR/TR 1-2-3 (in any order) on Sunday as that will mean that at least one Aussie got onto the podium.

    1. Random 79 says:

      That would be nice to see :)

      Regardless, hope you enjoy it down here :)

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