2013 – A Year Of Two Halves And One Name

2013_f1_italian_gp_red_bull_05_1-0909-1024x692

Those hoping for a competitive and challenging season at the sharp end of Formula One would have been kept interested following the first four races and still enticed by the season’s half-way point. By the conclusion of a year which had tyres as the main talking point, most were just glad to see the chequered flag for the final time in 2013.

Far from resting on his laurels, Sebastian Vettel added himself to the scarce list of drivers who have won more than three World Driver’s Championship titles since the Formula One World Championship began in 1950. The German became only the fourth man to have won four championships, equalling Alain Prost’s total of four and sitting behind the pairing of Juan Manuel Fangio’s five and Michael Schumacher’s seven titles respectively. While his nine poles may not have beaten his 2011 qualifying tally of fifteen, he set a new season wins record for both his career and the history of Formula One. If 2011’s 11 race wins had set a gold standard, the thirteen victories during 2013’s nineteen-race season had Vettel making platinum. However, the first half of the season didn’t always have Vettel’s name on it.

Lotus' Raikkonen took his only win of the year in the opening weekend

Lotus’ Raikkonen took his only win of the year in the opening weekend

In Australia Kimi Raikkonen took the victory as his Lotus used its kindness on its tyres to full advantage as rival teams and drivers paid for their own inability to retain both speed and tyre life. The need to balance fast laptimes with careful tyre management was to be the theme for the first half of the year as both the rapidly-wearing super-soft and longer-lasting hard compounds both proved to be problematic. Malaysia was a stroll to victory for Red Bull but not without controversy. In the closing laps of a race which Red Bull had led most of, the leading car of Mark Webber came under pressure from his team-mate Sebastian Vettel who was on the fresher set of tyres having gone for an aggressive four-stop strategy. At this point, both drivers were instructed to hold their positions for the rest of the race, which would hand Webber the victory. Vettel only had the win on his mind and the two drivers fought for the lead until Vettel finally took and kept the lead to win, despite calls from team boss Christian Horner on the pit radio, pleading with Vettel to move aside. China had Fernando Alonso’s race strategy of starting the Grand Prix on the quicker but fragile soft tyre prove to be the factor in opening the Spaniard’s race wins account for the season.

Rosberg showed his class in the classiest race of them all - Monaco

Rosberg showed his class in the classiest race of them all – Monaco

Bahrain was the scene of Sebastian Vettel’s second win of the season in a easy race for the young German. Pirelli, maker of the tyres used in F1, were coming under pressure from Red Bull for the tyre manufacturer to make its tyres more suited to the Red Bull car. Following the Bahrain Grand Prix, it had been agreed that  tweaks would be made for the upcoming races in Europe for the purpose of more open and varied races. At this stage of the season, races were at slower speeds than usual as the tyres were worn down at a fast rate, particularly the soft and super-soft compounds and Red Bull were one team who suffered despite their two wins from four races. The tweaks to the hard compound were not about to improve the racing.  In Spain, Fernando Alonso took his second win of the season and the second victory of his career at the Catalunya circuit, while at Monaco Nico Rosberg drove a controlled race, taking a race win in Formula One for the second time in his F1 tenure. Red Bull swept to victory in Canada with Vettel on form while Rosberg brought his Mercedes team two wins in three races after winning in Britain. Sebastian Vettel won his home race in Germany for the first time in his career, Lewis Hamilton won for the first time as a Mercedes driver in Hungary.

David Coulthard would be the last man to get away from Vettel as the German's nine-race winning streak began here in Belgium

A wet David Coulthard would be the last man to get away from Vettel as the German’s nine-race winning streak began here in Belgium

From the next race in Belgium onwards, it was the same driver who clocked up race win after race win. Sebastian Vettel took an unprecedented nine victories in a row in a single season and was rarely under any hint of a threat. Thirteen wins in total and nine pole positions marked 2013 as Vettel’s year. The first half of the year may have had it’s mixture of winners but it was the same name again on the championship trophy handed to the German at the governing body’s motorsport awards in December. With four consecutive world titles to his name, Sebastian Vettel is, statistically at least, in legendary company as only three other drivers have won four world championships in the 64-year history of the sport. He will begin the coming season as the favourite to land a fifth title in 2014.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s