The Brazilian Grand Prix may be the last race of the season, but this year it is far more than just that. Interlagos will play host to the end of many eras. Felipe Massa will race in red for the last time, Mark Webber will bring his Formula One career to an end, and the paddock will bid farewell to Cosworth engines along with the V8. As if that wasn’t enough, McLaren’s long-standing partnership with Vodafone will also draw to a close and reports suggest Formula One will lose its Global and Technology partner LG. It also signals the start of an uncertain period for a number of drivers who have been left in limbo over whether they will be in Formula One next season, or visiting pastures new.
Felipe Massa leaving Ferrari after eight seasons
Felipe Massa joined Ferrari as a test driver in 2003 before being promoted to a race seat in 2006, alongside Michael Schumacher. Since then he has accumulated eleven wins, 36 podiums, 15 pole positions and 14 fastest laps. He became a bit of a Turkey specialist, taking pole position and winning the race three years in a row. He has also won his home race – the Brazilian Grand Prix – on two occasions as well as finishing on the podium two further times. He came close to winning the championship in 2008, but it was not to be int the end. He is second only to Michael Schumacher in terms of races entered for Ferrari. Brazil will be number 139 – meaning Massa is third in the all time list for number of races with one team. Michael Schumacher managed 181 with Ferrari and David Coulthard reached 150 races for McLaren. He will begin the next chapter of his Formula One career by joining Williams for 2014 and beyond.
Mark Webber retiring from Formula One
Since his Formula One debut in 2002, Mark Webber has become a popular figure in the Formula One paddock. Not one for shying away from saying things as they are, Webber’s frank nature is refreshing in the current world of Formula One. Starting with Minardi, Webber drove for Jaguar before joining Williams, and eventually moving to Red Bull Racing in 2007. Nine wins, 13 poles, 41 podiums and 18 fastest laps make up his Formula One career. The Brazilian Grand Prix will be his 217th race, and his 129th for Red Bull, placing him fifth in the all time list for number of races with one team. He fought right to the last race of the 2010 season for the championship but unfortunately he has never won one. He has, however, been an important part of Red Bull’s rise to the top and part of the highly successful team who have won four constructors championships in a row. He has won at Brazil twice before – in 2009 and 2011. He appeared in the Thursday press conference and said: “I wouldn’t be leaving if there wasn’t things I’m happy to leave behind, and obviously if there’s more positives than negatives then obviously I would stay. But there’s more negatives than positives so, for me it’s something… I want a fresh change, a new chapter in my life basically – I’m ready for that personally and professionally.
Marussia-Cosworth split leading to Cosworth’s departure
Cosworth have been a familiar name in the Formula One paddock for 50 years, supported by Ford for a number of years as they supplied engines up and down the paddock. They have powered cars to 166 victories, the last of these coming in 2003 when Giancarlo Fisichella won the Brazilian Grand Prix for Jordan. After a brief spell away from the sport (2007 – 2009 inclusive), Cosworth returned in 2010 to provide power to the three ‘new’ teams who entered the sport then – the teams now known as Marussia and Caterham, along with HRT who dropped out after 2012. They also provided engines to Williams for 2010 and 2011. For 2013, Cosworth have just one team – Marussia – and they currently lie tenth in the championship, ahead of Caterham (who now use Renault engines) albeit with no points. After Marussia announced that they would be joining in partnership with Ferrari for 2014, when the new 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged hybrid power units come into play, it will mean the Cosworth name leaving Formula One once again.
Last race for Vodafone as McLaren’s title sponsor
Vodafone joined McLaren as title sponsor for the 2007 season, becoming their official Total Communications partners in 2010. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes have enjoyed a successful seven seasons together, including one world championship in 2008 when Lewis Hamilton became drivers champion. During their time together, Vodafone McLaren have won 34 races, secured 30 pole positions and 24 fastest laps. Considering the season McLaren have been having, it is unlikely they will win in Brazil, so Vodafone and McLaren’s last victory together will have been at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. The announcement about the split was made before the Australian Grand Prix at the very start of the season. At the time Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “We’re immensely proud that, having been set a number of ambitious challenges by Vodafone back in 2007, together we’ve met or exceeded each and every one.” McLaren will announce their new title sponsor when they launch their new car, early in 2014.
End of V8 era as teams look ahead to V6 in 2014
It will be the end of an engine era at the Brazilian Grand Prix with normally aspirated 2.4 litre V8 engines making their last appearance before they give way to turbocharged 1.6 litre V6 hybrid Power Units in 2014. V8 engines made their debut in 2006, replacing the 3 litre V10 engines that had been around since 1995. In 2007 the FIA froze engine development as part of their cost cutting measures and in 2009 a limit on the amount of engines available to teams and drivers was introduced. Since then, each driver has a limit of eight engines per season, which they can use whenever they want, but with every new engine over the limit comes a ten place grid penalty. The RPM limit has also evolved since 2007 when it was 19,000 RPM, being reduced to 18,000 RPM in 2009. Renault have been the most successful manufacturer in the V8 era, powering two teams (Renault and Red Bull) to five constructors championships (2006, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013) along with two drivers (Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel) to five drivers championships (same years as constructors). Along with that, Renault powered cars have won 59 races, taken 65 pole positions and set 55 fastest laps. Seven manufacturers in total have made engines during the V8 era – Renault, Ferrari, Mercedes, Honda, BMW, Cosworth, and Toyota. Only Cosworth and Toyota are without race winners, Toyota having left the sport in 2o10. In terms of race wins, Renault have most (59 victories) while Mercedes have taken 46 victories, Ferrari 39, Honda and BMW with one apiece. In terms of podiums, Renault also top that list with 95. Ferrari and Mercedes have 83 each, BMW have 12, Toyota have 11 and Honda have three. Who can add to their tally in the last hurrah in Brazil?
LG end five year partnership with Formula One
It was announced at the end of 2008 that South-Korean based electronics group LG would be joining Formula One as Global and Technology Parners from 2009 onwards. Their logo appears on live timing and Reports suggest that this relationship will come to an end after the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend.