A Review of the Year: F1 – January & February

It was a Formula One season that saw Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel clinch two more world titles. 2013 brought with it plenty of thrills and spills, from cars launching and driver news in January, to prize-giving galas and more driver news in December. Here is part one of a review of the year in Formula One.

January 2013

After the off-season, things got going once again in January.

Early in the month it was announced that Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull had been nominated for Laureus Awards for the third year in a row. Vettel, who at the time had just become the youngest ever triple world champion, was up for the World Sportsman of the Year award while Red Bull were nominated for the team equivalent.

Jules Bianchi, who would later become a Marussia race driver for the 2013 season, was victorious at Felipe Massa’s annual karting event in Brazil, Desafio Internacional das Estrelas. The French driver beat GP2 driver Felipe Nasr by 15 points and a host of racing drivers from Formula One (including Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi, and Massa himself), Indy Car and Stock Car racing.

Ferrari announced in January that they had signed former McLaren test-driver and racing driver Pedro de la Rosa to their testing line-up.

There were changes to the FIA set-up when they announced that they had replaced outgoing doctor Dr Gary Hartstein with Dr Ian Roberts. Hartstein revealed in a series of Twitter messages after his sacking in November 2012 that he was unsure why he had been replaced. Dr Roberts had served as the Chief Medical Officer at the British Grand Prix for a number of years and also sits on a number of motorsport medical advisory panels.

The Lotus F1 Team became the first in 2013 to unveil their new car – the E21. A launch was held at the their factory and interviews were held with Team Principal Eric Boullier, Team Chairman Gerard Lopez, and Technical Director James Allison. Drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean took the covers off the car, giving the world its first look at what they hoped would be a title challenger.

Just three days after Lotus, on the 31st January, it was McLaren’s turn to launch their car. It was also used as a way of launching their 50th celebrations. Bruce McLaren set up McLaren back in 1963 and a poignant video was shown before the launch itself. This was followed by a convoy of McLaren’s most iconic cars – from the M8D CanAm Sportscar to the McLaren P1 supercar. Sam Michael and Jonathan Neale offered their thoughts on the MP4-28, which was unveiled by Jenson Button and McLaren’s new recruit Sergio Perez.

Toto Wolff revealed that he was leaving Williams for Mercedes. It was later announced that he would form part of the management line-up at the team for 2013, alongside Team Principal Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda.

February 2013

Ferrari became the third team to launch their 2013 car, doing so from their factory in Maranello. Team Principal Stefano Domenicali and drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa offered their thoughts on the year ahead.

Force India also launched their car on February 1st, theirs being at Silverstone. Deputy Team Principal Bob Fearnley was on hand, along with Technical Director Andrew Green. The job of unveiling the car itself was left to Paul di Resta, Force India’s only driver at that stage. They had not yet announced who would be partnering him for the 2013 season.

Caterham confirmed their line-up for the 2013 season, with it being announced that 2012 reserve driver Giedo van der Garde would partner Charles Pic.

Sauber unveiled their 2013 car at their Hinwil base, with all new line-up Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg in attendance. Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn and Chief Designer Matt Morris were both there to offer their thoughts on the year ahead. A striking difference was the change from a predominantly white livery to a much darker graphite.

Newly rebranded Infiniti Red Bull were the sixth team to launch their new car – the RB9 – doing so at their base in Milton Keynes. Prior to the launch the team uploaded a video entitled Rhythm of the Factory to their website, which outlined the different processes of putting the car together. Team Principal Christian Horner and Adrian Newey were in attendance, along with Simon Sproule – a representative of Infiniti – and drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

Mercedes were first of two teams to launch in Jerez – the location of the first test. Drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took the covers off it before both taking the W04 out for a spin.

Toro Rosso launched their 2013 car – the STR8 – in the Jerez pit-lane. Drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo took the covers off it.

Rolex announced that they would become title sponsors of the Australian Grand Prix, following their confirmation as official Timekeeper and Time Pieces in December 2012.

Emirates and the Formula One Group announced a new five year deal which saw them become a Global Partner of Formula One.

Marussia and Caterham unveiled their car at the start of testing. The MR02 was the first car of Marussia’s to be fully equipped with KERS. It was unveiled by their new driver Max Chilton.

Williams revealed their new car at the start of the second pre-season test.

Luis Razia was confirmed as a Marussia driver for the 2013 season.

McLaren became the first motorsport organisation in the world to receive the FIA Environmental Award for the Achievement of Excellence.

It was announced that Adrian Sutil would test for Force India in Barcelona at the second pre-season test. He was later confirmed as Paul di Resta’s partner for the season ahead.

After the announcement that Paddy Lowe would leave McLaren at the end of 2013, the team confirmed that Tim Goss would take over as Technical Director.

McLaren’s Jenson Button set the fastest time on the first day of testing. Felipe Massa was the fastest overall by the end of the four days. Sergio Perez ended the second test (which was in Barcelona) fastest.

Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Pic traveled to Russia to take part in the Race of Stars, an ice racing event organised by Renault.

A busy man, a new ad campaign featuring Kimi Raikkonen surfaced, posing the question – why is Kimi so far away from home?

The third and final pre-season test started in Barcelona.

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