The 2013 Formula One Championship is shaping up to be one of the most tightly fought contests since its establishment back in 1950. Here is a lowdown on the contenders…
Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel: The current World Champion has won the honour 3 years on the bounce and is searching for a fourth. The young German holds a number of records such as youngest driver to win a GP and is the youngest ever triple world champ. Bookies have been making him the favourite for the championship crown. Mark Webber: Possibly the most loved F1 driver to have never won the world championship. The Aussie will be looking to mount a more serious challenge on the title after finishing a disappointing 6th position last term. He waited the longest to win a GP, failing 129 times before he eventually won a race.
Fernando Alonso: The speedy Spaniard led most of last season, before Vettel turned up the gas in the last few races, and the 2012 runner up will be looking to go one better this time around, question is; will the Ferrari 138 be as competitive as last year? Felipe Massa: Long-serving Felipe hasn’t really come close to the title since finishing runner up back in 2008 to Lewis Hamilton. This season; he will be hoping to rekindle that form that saw him narrowly miss out on a maiden title five years ago.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Jenson Button: The longest serving racer in F1 on this year’s grid, Button will be using his experience to try to win his 2nd Drivers Championship. The Briton struggled with the McLaren car last season due to technical errors. Will this season’s car be more consistent or will it be more disappointment for the 2009 world champ?
Sergio Perez: After impressing for Sauber, Sergio Perez was linked heavily with a move for Ferrari, but the Mexican has moved to the Woking-based team looking to be in contention for his first world championship come November. The 23 year old will be hoping to become third youngest world champion in history. He replaces Lewis Hamilton at McLaren.
Lewis Hamilton: Lewis has faced mixed criticism since moving from McLaren to Mercedes in the winter, but Hamilton believes Mercedes and himself can challenge for the drivers and constructers championships. The Brit has won the championship once back in 2008 and will be hoping for a dream debut season for the silver arrows.
Nico Rosberg: The German grew up with Lewis through karting so their partnership should be a good one. The German has had mixed results since joining Mercedes in 2010. He won in China last season but never mounted a serious enough challenge then many thought in 2012.
Lotus Renault F1
Kimi Raikkonen: The Fin could be credited to having a successful comeback season with Lotus last term, finishing an impressive 3rd. The “iceman” has won the championship back in 2007 whilst driving for Ferrari and he will be hoping to go two better in this season run in.
Romain Grosjean: The Frenchman had a relatively good but controversial 2012. He grabbed the headlines for many different things. He finished 3rd in Bahrain, his best finish to date in Formula One. But he can also be wreck less at times, famously remembered for nearly taking Fernando Alonso’s head off in a first corner incident at the Belgian GP.
Williams Renault F1
Pastor Maldonado: Another successful season for a relatively unknown F1 driver last season, the Venezuelan finished a respectable 15th with 45 points, far better than his debut back in 2011. The Williams driver claimed his first victory at Catalunya and will be hoping that he can find his feet in the sport and aim for a top 10 finish this season.
Valtteri Bottas: This is Bottas’ debut season in Formula one- replacing Bruno Senna at Williams. The Fin will hope to follow in the footsteps of Kimi Raikkonen and win a world championship in the future- this season however it will mainly be finding his feet. He has been the Williams test driver since 2010.
Sahara Force India
Paul Di Resta: The Scot has seemed to have come into his own since debuting for Force India in 2011. He was considered as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton at McLaren but that move never materialised and Di Resta will be hoping to score higher this season to show he can be considered a replacement driver at a bigger team.
Adrian Sutil: Sky sources say that Sutil will be returning to Force India and F1 this season after 2 years out, replacing Nico Hulkenberg. The German has just served a ban for an incident in a Shanghai nightclub but will be hoping to make amend for his actions.
Nico Hulkenberg: Another German driver, but not as prolific. He spent last season at Force India, finishing mid-table. But since moving to the Swiss based team (replacing Kamui Kobayashi) he hopes to make more of a name for himself.
Esteban Gutierrez: Another debutant, Gutierrez will hope to adapt to F1 quickly. The Mexican has impressed in testing for the Swiss team and will hope to take this opportunity with both hands. He replaces fellow Mexican Sergio Perez who left to join McLaren.
Scuderia Torro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne: the Frenchman starts his second season in the Torro Rosso driving seat. Vergne impressed last year and claimed some points for the team known for preparing younger drivers before a possibility for driving for a bigger team such as Red Bull.
Daniel Riccardio: Daniel also reclaims his seat as Torro Rosso go into 2013 unchanged. Riccardio, like Vergne, had a relatively good debut season with the team, enhancing his reputation as a F1 driver.
Charles Pic: Still finding his feet in the sport, Charles had a season of getting used to the car and dynamics of Formula One racing at a team who aren’t going to compete for the title. He moved to Caterham in the winter and hopes to help the team catch up with the middle order teams. Pic replaces Heikki Kovalainen.
Giedo Van der Garde: The first Dutchman in F1 for a number of years now, it will be a good opportunity for Van der Garde to show off his potential in the sport after impressing as test driver in 2012. Van der Garde replaces Vitaly Petrov at the Malaysian based team.
Luiz Razia: The first of a new driving partnership at the Russian team, the Brazilian is hoping to cope with the world of Formula One. He replaces Timo Glock at Maurssia after the German left by mutual consent earlier in the winter.
Max Chilton: The fourth Brit in this seasons competition, Chilton will hope to be able to find a consistently at Maurssia and find a better, more competitive team in years to come.
Overall there have been many changes in the driving line up for this season’s championship; who will win? We’ll just have to wait and see…