A Review of the Year: F1 – March, April & May

Part two of a review of the year (2013) in Formula One. Part one (January & February) can be found by following this link.

March 2013

No sooner had Luis Razia been announced as a Marussia driver than he was replaced by Jules Bianchi due to financial reasons.

The third and final pre-season test continued and concluded with Nico Rosberg setting the fastest overall time.

Prior to the first race of the year (the Australian Grand Prix), Formula One announced the extension of its partnership with DHL, with the company remaining as the Official Logistics and Global Partner and sponsoring the Fastest Lap Award.

Sebastian Vettel demonstrated a taster for the year ahead by topping both FP1 and FP2 in Australia. Romain Grosjean was fastest in FP3. Qualifying was delayed until Sunday due to heavy rain. Vettel took pole position but it was Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen who took the first race win of the year. Fernando Alonso and Vettel also finished on the podium. Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Button and Grosjean rounded out the top ten. The race was the first indication of the struggles McLaren would face over the year.

Mercedes announced that Chief Executive Officer Nick Fry would be standing down from his position, although remaining with the team as a consultant.

Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen topped first and second practice in Malaysia but it was Sebastian Vettel who ultimately topped FP3 and qualifying, then going on to win the race.

Force India announced that their deal with Mercedes would continue into 2014 and beyond.

Williams announced that Claire Williams had become Deputy Team Principal.

April 2013

Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were fastest in the practice sessions for the Chinese Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton took Mercedes’ first pole of the season and his first away from McLaren. Mark Webber was sent to the back of the grid after he stopped on track after qualifying, unable to provide the required fuel sample. Alonso won the race ahead of Raikkonen and Hamilton.

Caterham announced that former race driver Heikki Kovalainen would be re-joining the team as a reserve driver.

Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso topped the Bahrain Grand Prix practice sessions. Nico Rosberg took Mercedes’ second podium in a row but it was Sebastian Vettel who won the race, beating the Lotus duo of Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

Sebastian Vettel became the first Formula One driver to drive at Sochi – the location of the Russian Grand Prix in 2014. He said: “I can already see it will be a fun circuit to drive in a Formula One car and the rest of the venue is very impressive.”

May 2013

In early May, Lotus announced that their Technical Director James Allison would be leaving the team. They replaced him with Nick Chester.

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa topped the Spanish Grand Prix practice sessions, but none were able to prevent Mercedes taking their third pole position in a row. It was once again Nico Rosberg, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton qualifying second to make it a front row lock-out. It was Alonso who won the race, however, beating Kimi Raikkonen and Massa to the chequered flag.

McLaren revealed that from 2015 they would once again be partnering Honda. The multi-year technology partnership would result in McLaren’s long-standing relationship with Mercedes come to an end after a final hurrah in 2014.

Mercedes announced that Paddy Lowe would join them from early June, following his early departure from McLaren.

Felipe Massa took part in a demonstration run in Warsaw. He drove the 2009 Ferrari around a specially-designed street circuit.

Pirelli announced that they would be changing their tyre constructions from the Canadian Grand Prix onwards. Paul Hembery said at the time: “Our aim is to provide the teams with a new range which mixes the stability of the 2012 tyres and the performance of the current ones.”

It was revealed that the Mercedes F1 Team had taken part in a ‘secret’ test with Pirelli following the Spanish Grand Prix. The matter was brought in front of the FIA International Tribunal in June.

Nico Rosberg dominated around the streets of Monaco to top all three practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself. It was his second victory of the year and saw him finish ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. It was Mercedes’ fourth pole position from five races.

Toro Rosso revealed that they would move from Ferrari to Renault engines from 2014 onwards.

Also on the engine front, Williams announced that they would be moving from Renault to Mercedes for 2014 and beyond.

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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.