MID SEASON REVIEW

From a precarious race with ever changing weather in Australia, to a controlled race in Hungary; covering controversy, constant tyre changes, loose wheels, and pit lane accidents along the way – 2013 has been a tumultuous yet, thrilling ride for the teams and drivers.
10 races into the last season of the V8 engines, and the whole F1 fraternity has gone for the usual ‘recharge mode’ during the summer break.  But its just three weeks before the teams land in the historical Spa Francorchamps to resume the latter half of the season.
Here’s the mid-season review before we head on with the more interesting half of the season, where the championship battle between the top 3 drivers will heat up.
Red Bull Racing: Red Bull is the only team on the grid to maximize their results every race. Now, ahead in the constructors from Mercedes by almost 60 points, they don’t have a speed breaker ahead in their course.
Their No.1 driver, Sebastian Vettel, too is in clear air with the nearest contender, Kimi Raikkonen, 38 points adrift. Vettel, who this time last year was struggling with the car and its reliability, has made sure he gives it his all in the first half, even if it meant he had to defy team orders to get 6 points.
However, his performance with a not-the-quickest car on the grid has been very impressive, and as David Coulthard says, “It’ll be surprising only if he didn’t win his 4th title”.
Mark Webber, his retiring team-mate, isn’t having a very good season, as his zero wins this season indicates. He has been out-qualified by his team-mate 10/10 times this season, and hasn’t finished higher than him in 10 occasions (except Silverstone, where Vettel failed to finish the race due to mechanical issues). Is the Aussie grit taking it light because its his last season?
Mercedes: Mercedes can definitely be given the award for biggest turnaround over the course of a year. Their phenomenal driver partnership, along with the correct analysis of last year’s mistakes, has lead the Brackley based team on the right path.
The car has been strong all season and everywhere. This gives an opportunity for budding drivers like Nico Rosberg to prove themselves time to time. He has recorded two wins this season and continues to impress everyone with his performance.
His team-mate and ex-McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, who has been facing criticism for his distracted form, finally took his first win at his favourite circuit – Hungaroring. Though Mercedes being in the title hunt is very unlikely, their drivers and engineers are motivated enough to keep up the good performances until the end of the season.
Ferrari: Ferrari’s bad luck continues even now, as their car is constantly off the pace during qualifying, and they have dropped one position in the valuable constructor’s championship.
That is probably why their star driver Fernando Alonso has been linked to Red bull, where the cars produced are always one of the top runners. His season has been a complete contrast to the 2012 season, when he had a 40 point lead in the driver’s championship and a whole summer break to enjoy it. The first half of the season was blighted by issues and failures, but his two wins in China and Spain has kept him in the title hunt.
Felipe Massa started his season off on a good note by out-qualifying his team-mate and finishing on the podium in Spain, but accidents in races (like Monaco) slowed his momentum. Though Massa retained his seat in Ferrari with an impressive comeback in the 2nd half of last year, this year looks like its going to be his last year at Ferrari.
Lotus: The Lotus F1 team has continued the great momentum from last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Kimi won. Their constant evolution and the way the tyres work for them has made this team a contender for the podium at every venue around the world.
Kimi Raikkonen, who recently displaced Alonso from second place in the driver’s championship, is now chasing his likely team-mate for next season – Sebastian Vettel. His consistency, and of course a good car, has added vital points in both the championships.
His team-mate Romain Grosjean, who was formerly known as ‘first lap nutcase’, also sprung in good results for the team. His pace in Germany and Hungary proved the fact that he has grown to be a better driver than he was last year.
McLaren: McLaren are possibly having one of their worst seasons in Formula One. It can be said that from Australia, they’ve only gotten better.
Jenson Button’s strategy calls have worked wonders for him, as in the last four races, he was seen challenging for 5th and 6th places constantly. His MP4-28 is certainly not the choice of his car, and his radio messages during qualifying are classics.
Sergio Perez, the new McLaren driver replacing the well-off-in-Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, is performing fairly well. Though the car won’t let him, Sergio tries hard to place his car higher, even if it means fighting hard and beating his world champion team-mate, Jenson Button.
The information that McLaren has released is that they are working on the 2014 car rather than work on this year’s car. Hopefully, next season will be their year.
Force India: Force India was a strong contender early in the season, but along the way, both their cars lost pace and fell back on strong upgrades.
Adrian Sutil, who celebrated his 100th race last weekend, had lead several laps in the very first race and looked strong in several others. He drove immensely well in Monaco with mind blowing overtakes on a street narrow track. But just like his team-mate, he has failed to keep his pace up in the last few races.
Paul Di Resta was threatened by his team-mate’s strong comeback early in the season, but his strong drive in Canada and Spain brought him level with Sutil. Both the drivers have worked to take McLaren’s place in the Constructors’ championship.

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