Five key themes to look out for in 2013
1 January 2013 – Formula 1 2012 has been and gone in a flash, with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull crowned triple World Champions. Now the attention turns to the 2013 campaign, with plenty of talking points to mull over. Here are five key themes to look out for...
Hamilton's switch to Mercedes
Although Hamilton has enjoyed front-running machinery during many of his McLaren years, it is easy to forget his heroics from 2009 when driving a sub-standard car. Much like Alonso in 2012, the Briton has proven that he can get the most from a slower package and so an early performance deficit should not unduly concern him. The 27-year-old clearly wanted a new challenge and Mercedes has provided him with that opportunity. He has new-found focus and, most importantly, the speed to deliver. Sergio Pérez, who is still a slightly unknown quantity, has big boots to fill this season.
A changing of the guard?
What will come of the situation? We know this much: Gribkowsky was arrested in 2011 and Ecclestone is now under investigation for his role in the deal. Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo says stepping down is the only option for the 82-year-old if found guilty, but the situation looks likely to drag on for some time. One thing is for sure, no matter how controversial a figure Ecclestone has been during his long reign, Formula 1 would endure a massive structural loss if he leaves.
Pirelli's 'more aggressive' tyres
Despite this anti-climax, fans need not fear ahead of the 2013 season. Speaking to GPUpdate.net last month, Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said: "There’s a more rapid warm-up and more temperature going into the tyres. With the changes we’re making to the compounds we’re trying to bring back some degradation levels." This is definitely something to look forward to as the first race approaches.
Highlighting the issue facing the entire field, Ferrari has already announced that two separate designers will be leading its respective 2013 and 2014 projects, meaning the staff at Maranello can be split equally in the chase for those crucial tenths of a second. The differing strategies will be extremely interesting to follow.
The real Romain Grosjean
Dotted around his mistakes were performances even the most established of drivers would have savoured. A stunning lap to claim third on the grid for the opening race of the season well and truly marked his return to the Grand Prix scene, with podiums in Bahrain and Canada following. If it wasn't for an alternator failure in Valencia, he may well have become France's 13th Grand Prix winner. Lotus will have a championship contender on its hands if his lapses in concentration can be eradicated.