Albert Park, Melbourne
F1 2013 is here, and it all starts Down Under. The first venue, as with most years, is Australia- a place where most frontrunners try to lay down a marker for the remainder of the season. Sebastian Vettel is, once again, the defending World Champion. He is the youngest 3-time Champion in the history of the sport- and another win could have many wondering if Schumacher was the greatest after all.
4 times Lucky?
Things have changed a bit in the big bad world of F1 since 2012, though.
Red Bull: (Vettel, Webber)
Remains the same. Reluctant to change a winning combination, and rightly so. Many suspect that this could be Mark Webber’s final season with the champions. Will he be satisfied trying to succeed Barrichello as the greatest no. 2 driver in F1?
Ferrari: (Massa, Alonso)
219 wins in 851 races. 16-time World Champs. Ferrari is the Sachin Tendulkar of F1, but are they on their last legs too, after two heartbreaking losses in the last 3 years? Alonso will want to make things right, and it would help if Massa comes to the party more often.
‘Future Perfect: Vettel 4.0′
McLaren: (Button, Perez)
One of the teams that has changed drivers. Button remains, hoping to bring more consistency and experience to this unreliable car. Perez, the Mexican that made waves with Sauber over 2 years, is now living the dream. He replaces Lewis Hamilton, and is looking for his first F1 race win.
Lotus: (Raikkonen, Grosjean)
One ice-cool Finn and one ‘mad first-corner hothead’. Raikkonen will look to build on his impressive 3rd place finish last year with a couple of wins and a little more foresight from his young French partner Grosjean- who has been garnering a reputation of a crash specialist.
Force India: (Di Resta, Sutil)
93 races without a win. Time is running out for Mallya and co- and a team that started out as a strong mid-table contender, steadily improving faster than most cars, with nothing to still show for their efforts. A couple of podiums a season may not be enough anymore.
Williams: (Maldonado, Bottas)
All eyes will be on new 24 year old Finn Valtteri Bottas- who has been Williams’ test driver for 3 seasons, and will finally make his F1 debut at Australia. Maldonado, meanwhile, will take over the role of no. 1.
Mercedes: (Rosberg, Hamilton)
The most high-profile change in 2013- Hamilton replacing Schumacher at the Brawn-run Mercedes. Rosberg, the German who has lived on ‘promise’ for years, will finally look to come to the fore- by proving himself against a younger, more successful driven teammate that is looking to make right all his wrongs at McLaren.
Sauber: (Hulkenburg, Gutierrez)
254 races without a race win. Hulkenburg did not come close last year either, with Perez (their only podium hope) leaving the team for greener pastures at McLaren.
Toro Rosso: (Vergne, Ricciardo)
One of the lower mid-table teams and Red Bulls sister team, usually used as a stepping stone for the greater drivers. Still looking for their next star after Vettel.
Charles Pic, making his debut
Caterham: (C. Pic, Garde)
Team Lotus is now Team Caterham- the Malaysian owned racing team based in UK. Caterham is F1’s feeder team, competing in the GP2 series since 2011. Pic and Garde, rookie drivers, have replaced Kovalaleinin and Petrov.
Marussia: (Bianchi, Chilton)
While most refer to these teams as mere number-forming outfits, these are still big days for the new drivers making their debut in the highest form of motorsport. Formerly Virgin Racing- just one season old, like Caterham, this team will look to make its mark after Timo Glock recently left the team for commercial reasons.