The Brazilian Grand Prix brought the curtain down on the 2013 season, one that promised a lot at the outset, but ultimately ended up a very one sided championship.
How to sum up the season?
It was the end of an era in many respects; the last race for V8 engines, the last race for Mark Webber and possibly a few others who don’t know it yet, like Paul di Resta, depending on driver market movements in the coming weeks.
It was the last race, for the moment at least, for Cosworth engines and Felipe Massa’s last race for Ferrari. And maybe Ross Brawn’s last race at the helm of Mercedes. If so, will he return in a different shirt?
These – apart from the change of engine formula – are the normal comings and goings of a sport which is like real life on fast forward, always restless and changing.
The real question is, will the 2013 season be looked back on as the end of the Sebastian Vettel/Red Bull era, or just a staging post?
The 2013 cars today are instantly obsolete as new rules for 2014 now come into force, with cars with different aerodynamic regulations built around the new hybrid turbo powertrains. The teams will have little time to rest up after a gruelling season, as testing begins at the end of January, so new cars have to be built over the winter. Some teams will get it right and some will get it wrong.
The end of the V8 era is met with mixed feelings by many fans and insiders. The teams feel the brunt of the extra costs of the powertrains and of developing new cars to accommodate them. In a post recession environment where sponsor cash is still scarce, especially outside the top teams, this is a problem. Quite a bit of what has happened this year can be explained by teams shoring up the finances in the face of 2014 expenditure.
The rise of pay drivers and the lack of car development from a number of teams are linked to that.
Renault ended the V8 era on top with a win, as they did the V10 era. They also won the first V8 race in 2006, and have won the last four world championships among their 12 championships in total.
The 2013 season came to an end in much the same way as it had been played out since the summer; with Vettel, Red Bull and Renault in the ascendant. They continued to throw significant development at the car, particularly in the diffuser area, in tandem with engine mapping steps.
Vettel ended the season with 397 points, a new record in F1, beating his own record of 392 from the 2011 season. His points were sufficient on their own to win Red Bull the constructors’ championship; runner-up Mercedes closed with 360 points.
Mercedes are delighted with second place as it shows clear progress, but it wasn’t arrived at without controversy; the secret Pirelli test in May was one of the seasons most controversial moments. The team went on a winning streak soon after, but the FIA International Tribunal ruled that the FIA, Pirelli and Mercedes were equally culpable for mixed messages and the team was found to have acted in good faith, so no significant punishment was levied.
Vettel’s win at Interlagos was the 13th of the season and as the German is believed to be on a bonus of $1 million per victory.
He has not only broken new records and raised the bar with his fourth world title at the age of 26, but he has clearly improved a lot in all areas as a driver during 2013 and worryingly for the others, he’s still to enter the period generally considered the peak for Grand Prix drivers which is 27-32.
Red Bull scored 596 points, which means that their entry fee to the FIA will be $4.07 million next season!
Each team must now pay a basic $500,000 entry fee, with the constructors’ champions paying $6000 per point scored and every other team paying an extra $5000 per point.
In contrast after McLaren’s worst season since 1980, the Woking team will pay just $1.1 million. But their fifth place in the constructors’ championship will mean that they lost out significantly on prize money. They ended the season with one record at least; “McLaren became the first team in Formula 1 history to have both its cars classified in every grand prix during the season,” according to the team.
All of this, and the behind the scenes stories from throughout the season, are covered in the new JA on F1 2013 book, which will be published on December 7th, priced £10-99. With a Foreword by David Coulthard and stunning photos from top F1 phoographer Darren Heath this limited edition book has lots of new written content looking back on the happenings and setting the stories in context.
Every copy ordered through this site will be personally signed by me. Copies will be despatched on December 7th in plenty of time for Christmas. To order yours and to be sure of getting a copy click on this link: JA on F1 2013 Book