Five key themes to look out for in 2013

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

Lewis Hamilton's move to Mercedes conjured up one word with most Formula 1 fans: money. However, there is more to the deal than meets the eye and the 2008 World Champion could surprise quite a lot of people in 2013. Switching to the Silver Arrows for what has been titled a 'fresh start', he certainly has a difficult task on his hands, but his rollercoaster career with McLaren will have prepared him well.

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?

"CVC will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me," are Ecclestone's own words on the bribery case which could ultimately drive him out of Formula 1. The business magnate transferred a sum of around 27 million pounds to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to push through the sale of the sport to private equity firm CVC in 2006, with Ecclestone claiming that the latter had threatened to supply tax information to HM Revenue & Customs if he was not paid.

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

With seven different winners from the first seven races of 2012, Pirelli was hailed for its large part in producing an almost unpredictable Formula 1 spectacle. However, teams and drivers eventually got on top of the complex tyre situation as the races passed by and at the end of the season the Italian company was being described as overly cautious.

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.

In-season development

Formula 1 has long been known as a constant development race, but there will be a big twist this year. A major engine overhaul, amid further regulation tweaks, will come into play in 2014. This will force teams up and down the grid to perform a balancing act; the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus can't let up in their bid for title glory, whereas teams further down the grid could opt for a strategic gamble.

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

A string of silly errors may have tarnished Romain Grosjean's reputation in 2012, but the Frenchman remains one of Formula 1's most exciting prospects. It must be reiterated that the 26-year-old, who claimed the 2011 GP2 title, contested his first full F1 season last year, with his 2009 stint at Renault not worthy of being described as a genuine opportunity to shine.

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.

Mike Seymour
Twitter: @MikeSeymourF1

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Wednesday 27 August 2014

  2. Vettel gets new race engineer for 2015 15:17

    Vettel gets new race engineer for 2015

    Red Bull has confirmed that Gianpiero Lambiase will become Sebastian Vettel's new race engineer from the 2015 season, after...

    F1
  3. Video: Rosberg's ice bucket challenge 13:30

    Video: Rosberg's ice bucket challenge

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg takes the ALS ice bucket challenge.

    F1
  4. Frijns management denies GP2 speculation 11:58

    Frijns management denies GP2 speculation

    The management team behind Robin Frijns has denied that the Dutchman is pondering a GP2 return. According to media...

    F1
  5. Yamaha 'confident' of Silverstone victory 11:15

    Yamaha 'confident' of Silverstone victory

    Yamaha Team Director Massimo Meregalli says he is "confident" that the Japanese manufacturer has what it takes to claim its...

    MotoGP
  6. McLaren admits drivers 'uncomfortable' over futures 10:33

    McLaren admits drivers 'uncomfortable' over futures

    McLaren admits that the uncertainty over its line-up for 2015 and beyond has left Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen feeling...

    F1
  7. Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Belgium 09:56

    Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Belgium

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net is this season running a feature series entitled Story behind...

    F1
  8. Renault with 'renewed confidence' for Monza 09:00

    Renault with 'renewed confidence' for Monza

    Renault has said it will go to the Italian Grand Prix next week with "renewed confidence". The French manufacturer took...

    F1
  9. Video of the Day: Wind tunnel guide - Part 7 05:00

    Video of the Day: Wind tunnel guide - Part 7

    Sauber's Head of Aerodynamics, Willem Toet, continues his talk on the science of F1 wind tunnel design.

    F1
  10. Tuesday 26 August 2014

  11. Video: Onboard with Vettel in Sochi 18:05

    Video: Onboard with Vettel in Sochi

    Join Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel as he becomes the first ever Formula 1 driver to do a lap of the Sochi Autodrom, venue for...

    F1
  12. Ecclestone: Greece 'keen' to hold F1 race 17:30

    Ecclestone: Greece 'keen' to hold F1 race

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that a grand prix in Greece is still a possibility, even though the...

    F1
  13. FIA will not take action against Rosberg 16:38

    FIA will not take action against Rosberg

    The FIA has no plans to investigate Nico Rosberg despite Lewis Hamilton's claims that German admitted he had deliberately...

    F1
  14. Pedrosa with 'good momentum' for Silverstone 15:30

    Pedrosa with 'good momentum' for Silverstone

    Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says he will take "good momentum" to Silverstone this weekend for the British Grand...

    MotoGP
  15. 15:18

    Photos: Vettel laps Sochi Grand Prix Circuit

    F1
  16. Verstappen makes Formula 1 test debut 14:32

    Verstappen makes Formula 1 test debut

    Max Verstappen tested a Formula 1 car for the very first time today at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire. The...

    F1
  17. Alonso: Mercedes will struggle to keep peace 13:05

    Alonso: Mercedes will struggle to keep peace

    Fernando Alonso believes Mercedes will find it "difficult" to keep both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton happy this...

    F1
  18. Whitmarsh officially leaves McLaren 12:16

    Whitmarsh officially leaves McLaren

    Martin Whitmarsh has now officially left McLaren, it has been confirmed, with both "agreeing amicably to part...

    F1
  19. Ricciardo 'staying grounded' amid title talk 12:10

    Ricciardo 'staying grounded' amid title talk

    Daniel Ricciardo says he is "staying grounded" and will not get carried away, despite suggestions he might have an outside...

    F1
  20. 11:28

    Photos: Belgian GP in black and white

    F1
  21. Vettel becomes first driver to sample Sochi 10:30

    Vettel becomes first driver to sample Sochi

    Sebastian Vettel has become the first Formula 1 driver to do a full lap of the Sochi Autodrom circuit ahead of the inaugural...

    F1
  22. Winners and Losers at the Belgian Grand Prix 10:00

    Winners and Losers at the Belgian Grand Prix

    Spa-Francorchamps played host to a captivating and controversial race as Daniel Ricciardo claimed his third win of the...

    F1
  23. Button: Shame it is not a cleaner fight 09:35

    Button: Shame it is not a cleaner fight

    McLaren's Jenson Button says it is a "shame" that it is not a "cleaner fight" between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton for...

    F1
  24. Caterham: More updates on way for Monza 09:00

    Caterham: More updates on way for Monza

    Caterham Team Principal Christijan Albers has confirmed that the outfit will have more updates for the Italian Grand Prix...

    F1
  25. Video of the Day: Neuville's big shakedown crash 05:00

    Video of the Day: Neuville's big shakedown crash

    In case you missed it, here is how Thierry Neuville warmed-up for Rallye Deutschland, where he took his - and Hyundai's -...

    WRC
  26. Monday 25 August 2014

  27. Horner: Not Vettel's fault he only finished fifth 18:05

    Horner: Not Vettel's fault he only finished fifth

    Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has defended Sebastian Vettel and has said it was not "his fault" he only finished...

    F1
  28. Lotus still looking for 'pot of good luck' 17:22

    Lotus still looking for 'pot of good luck'

    Federico Gastaldi says that Lotus will "keep looking for that pot of good luck" after more misery in the Belgian Grand...

    F1
  29. Fry: Start procedures need to be improved 16:39

    Fry: Start procedures need to be improved

    Ferrari engineering guru Pat Fry says the team will need to "learn to improve" its procedures in light of Fernando Alonso's...

    F1
  30. Video: Rosberg denies Hamilton claims 15:40

    Video: Rosberg denies Hamilton claims

    Nico Rosberg has disputed claims made by Lewis Hamilton that he admitted to deliberately crashing into him. The German...

    F1
  31. Lotterer thanks Caterham for F1 outing 15:30

    Lotterer thanks Caterham for F1 outing

    André Lotterer has thanked the Caterham F1 team after he got the chance to compete for the squad in Belgium and make his...

    F1
  32. Button enjoys playing 'long game' in Belgium 14:14

    Button enjoys playing 'long game' in Belgium

    Jenson Button says he had "fun" en-route to an eventual sixth place finish in the Belgian Grand Prix. Button started...

    F1
  33. Video: Sonoma IndyCar highlights 13:57

    Video: Sonoma IndyCar highlights

    Scott Dixon wins the penultimate round of the 2014 IndyCar season at Sonoma.

    Indy
  34. Kvyat: This was a good but tough race 13:02

    Kvyat: This was a good but tough race

    Daniil Kvyat enjoyed "a positive weekend" and took his fifth points finish of the season on Sunday in the Belgian Grand...

    F1
  35. Pérez: I achieved the most possible at Spa 12:15

    Pérez: I achieved the most possible at Spa

    Sergio Pérez reckons he achieved the "most that was possible" during the Belgian Grand Prix. The Mexican started down in...

    F1
  36. Mercedes to 'strengthen focus' on Constructors' 11:03

    Mercedes to 'strengthen focus' on Constructors'

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has confirmed the team will "strengthen its focus" on securing the Constructors' Championship now...

    F1
  37. Rosberg: Hamilton clash a 'racing incident' 10:18

    Rosberg: Hamilton clash a 'racing incident'

    Nico Rosberg has insisted the collision with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton during the Belgian Grand Prix was a "racing...

    F1
  38. Vettel: Maybe the racing was a bit too hard 09:46

    Vettel: Maybe the racing was a bit too hard

    Sebastian Vettel has said the racing "sometimes" was "maybe a bit too hard" in the closing stages of the Belgian Grand...

    F1
  39. 06:04

    Latest IndyCar photos: Sunday at Sonoma

    Indy
  40. Dixon outlasts field at Sonoma after leaders falter 06:03

    Dixon outlasts field at Sonoma after leaders falter

    Scott Dixon came from third on the grid to outlast the field in the closing laps to win the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on...

    Indy
  41. Video of the Day: Youngsters on Max promotion 05:00

    Video of the Day: Youngsters on Max promotion

    Fellow young hopefuls share their views on Max Verstappen's Formula 1 promotion with Toro Rosso.

    F1
  42. 03:00

    Championship standings after Belgium

    F1
  43. Sunday 24 August 2014

  44. 18:00

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps

    F1
more news