What can F1 fans expect for new season?
BERLIN (dpa) – Nearly four months after the dramatic finale in Sao Paulo, Formula One will begin the 2013 season on March 17 with the Australian Grand Prix. What can F1 fans expect for the new season?
What has changed?
The number of race cars has dropped from 24 to 22 this season as the Spanish team HRT ran out of money and pulled out of F1. Otherwise, there are not really any major changes regarding technical regulations or grand prix format.
What does that mean for the pecking order?
With the current rules pretty much pushed as far as they can go, nobody expects any miracles from the engineers. “It will be really tight once again,” said the three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. “Just like in 2012, we will see a lot of different winners in the first half of the season. But the favourites will come to the forefront in the second half.”
Who are the favourites?
Vettel must be considered a contender to defend his title in his strong Red Bull car. His biggest rival will likely be Spaniard Fernando Alonso. “There is no reason why we shouldn’t challenge for the crown,” said the Ferrari star.
But McLaren and Jensen Button could also put up a fight – if he can cut down on the number of races not finished. And Lotus and Sauber are waiting and hoping to spoil the party.
What can be expected of Mercedes?
Not even a great driver like new acquisition Lewis Hamilton can be expected to close the gap to the elite teams in the short term. “We certainly did not make up three seconds,” said Mercedes’ new ace
Hamilton. But the pressure is high for the team, which now has Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff holding the reins. Daimler just recently had to fend off demands from shareholders to quit the sport.
How good are the new drivers?
Five new pilots will be starting this season. Finland’s Valtteri Bottas from Williams is said to have a strong future; Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez will help the team keep sponsors from Mexico after the move of Sergio Perez to McLaren; Giedo van der Garde (Caterham); and new Marussia duo Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi, who are mainly considered drivers for the back of the grid.
How much influence will the tyres have this season?
Just like last season, the sensitive tyres could once again decide races. “Our range of tyres for 2013 will reshuffle the deck again,” promised Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery. The goal will be for more overtaking and more pit stops.
What role will the 2014 plans for new engine formula have?
Engineers are already messing around with new six-cylinder engines which will replace the V8 engines next year.
Because of the new rules for 2014, teams must decide when they will concentrate their development resources on the next race car. Those who make a mistake in this timing endanger both their success this season and next year.
Meanwhile, the 2013 Formula One season will see a streak snapped as no new grand prix will join the race calendar for the first time in five years. Last season, the Austin Grand Prix in Texas made its debut in motorsport’s elite circuit.
After 20 races last season, there will be 19 stops this year as the Grand Prix of America along the New York skyline was postponed until 2014 due to financial issues and problems with the completion of the city course. Formula One in 2014 will then add a race in the Russian Olympic city of Sochi as well.
One of the stalwarts of the race calendar going into the 64th FIA season is Monaco.
The storied race features the shortest track lap of any race during the season at 3.340 kilometres as well as the shortest total distance at 260.520 kilometres. But the drivers must complete the most laps of any grand prix, driving around the streets of Monaco 78 times.