Team-by-team look at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel took another victory on his way claiming a fourth drivers title. The race had been led by both Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber but Vettel’s strategy allowed him to jump both. Elsewhere Sauber took their first double points finish of the season with Hulkenberg sixth and Esteban Gutierrez seventh. The Mexican became the first rookie to score points this season. Fernando Alonso’s fifth place finish keeps him in contention for the drivers title.

Red Bull
IMG_2875Sebastian Vettel finished on the top spot of the podium for the ninth time this season. The German lost out to Grosjean at the start to be third on the first lap. In the end it was strategy which helped him to the win with Grosjean and Webber having also led the race at different points. The two stop strategy was the winning combination with Grosjean and a three stopping Webber stuck in traffic. Webber started on pole but lost out to Grosjean who led from lap one. The Australian later regained the lead but was on a three stop strategy. After his third stop he was behind Grosjean and managed to catch him but could only pass him with a few laps left to run. It was too late to catch Vettel and challenge for the win. The double podium moves the team a step closer to the constructors title.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean had looked set to take his first F1 win showing Lotus he is more than ready to lead the team next season. Third place looked inevitable with the speed of the Red Bulls but the Frenchman had managed to jump both at the start to lead the race. Like Vettel he was two stopping but Vettel managed to get the better of him. Grosjean ened third after Webber passed him on the penultimate lap. Kimi Raikkonen had started ninth but by the end of the race he was in fifth. The Finn charged through the field and eventually got passed Nico Hulkenberg to chase Fernando Alonso. Although he was catching the Spaniard late in the race there were not enough laps for him to catch and pass.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso finished in fourth after a close battle with Hulkenberg and Raikkonen. Alonso was behind his teammate at the start and could not find a way past. At the first set of pitstops both Alonso and Massa had been jumped by Hulkenberg. This remained until after the second pitstop. Hulkenberg was still ahead but Alonso bided his time catching the Sauber as passing near the end of the race. Felipe Massa eventually held on for tenth place after having a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane and a close battle with Jenson Button on the line. The Briton got ahead for ninth right on the line after they had clashed at the previous chicane. Alonso can still mathematically win the championship but seems to have given up on his chances.

Sauber
Sauber had a double points finish for the first time this season. Hulkenberg finished a strong sixth whilst Esteban Gutierrez claimed the first points of his F1 career with seventh holding off Nico Rosberg to the line. Hulkenberg jumped the Ferrari’s at the first round of pitstops and attempted to hold off Alonso and Raikkonen but was eventually passed by them both. Eight points were well earned alongside Gutierrez’s six. The Mexican produced the good result keeping a faster car behind him and becoming the first rookie to score points this season. The double points finish moves the team further ahead of Toro Rosso in the constructors championship.

Mercedes
It was a day to forget for Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton attempted to get between the slow starting Red Bulls but had his tyre punctured after hitting Vettel’s front wing. He made it back to the pits but his car was damaged enough to have to be retired after just nine laps. Nico Rosberg also had a difficult day he had been running higher up in the top ten before being given a drive through penalty for an unsafe pit release. This dropped the German driver back and he was unable to pass the impressive Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez. He finished the day in eighth taking hime four points.

McLaren
McLaren came away with two points in what proved to be an interesting and battle-filled race for the team. Jenson Button struggled with his tyres throughout the race having to make three stops. He was ovetaken by Massa on the last lap but managed to get ahead of him in the drag to the line to finish ninth with two points. Sergio Perez also had to make three stops – however one was unscheduled after he suffered a puncture after a collision with Nico Rosberg and could only manage to finish in 15th.

Force India
Force India continued with their slump in form with Paul di Resta finishing in 11th and Adrian Sutil in 14th. Di Resta had been fighting for the final point among the other midfield drivers but could not keep up and finished ten seconds down on tenth place finisher Massa. Sutil didn’t have a much better day. Having started last he went straight through the middle of the backmarkers at the start to avoid the Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi collision at the start. Another race with no points means Sauber moves ever closer to passing them in the constructors title.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne finished 12th whilst teammate Daniel Ricciardo was 13th. The Australian gambled by starting on the harder compound tyre and ran a long first stint. After his pitstop he made a charge through the field but went off the track passing a Force India. This gave him a drive through penalty which pushed him back down the grid. He had been in the lower points but was unable to get back finishing behind his teammate.

Williams
The two Williams drivers were fighting it out among themselves throughout the race as they failed to make the points once again. Pastor Maldonado had been in the points at one point but fell back to finish 16th just a few lengths ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas in 17th.

Caterham
Caterham finished ahead of Marussia once again as Charles Pic beat Max Chilton to the line. Pic had avoided the incident which his teammate Giedo van der Garde got caught in to finish 18th. Van der Garde was involved in a first lap incident with the Marussia of Jules Bianchi as both ended their day in the gravel.

Marussia
Max Chilton finished behind Caterham rival Charles Pic as they continue in their battle for backmarker supremacy. Chilton was 19th. Teammate Jules Bianchi ended his day in the gravel on the first lap after a collision with the Caterham of Van der Garde.

Advertisements

Team-by-team look at the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton took a emphatic win – his first for Mercedes – as he held off both Raikkonen and Vettel. Impressive strategy helped him to the win whilst Grosjean’s hopes of converting his qualifying into a win for Lotus ended in multiple stewards inquiries. There were plenty of stories up and down the field as Ferrari struggled to keep up with their Red Bull rivals as Williams took their first point since the US Grand Prix in 2012.

Mercedes
IMG_2955Lewis Hamilton took his first ever win for Mercedes at the Hungarian Grand Prix. He kept his cool alongside a clever strategy to convert the pole into a win. Hamilton kept hold of first position as the lights went out with all the drama happening behind him. Sebastian Vettel initially closed on Hamilton but the Mercedes was not struggling with high tyre degradation. Hamilton was the first of the front runners to pit coming out behind Jenson Button. He quickly regained second but Vettel was caught behind and Hamilton extended his gap to the championship leader. As the race went on it was clear Mercedes had a real chance of the win and Hamilton did not disappoint. The long wait for his first Mercedes win was finally over. Conversely Nico Rosberg lost out in the race. He struggled from the start losing time after a clash with Massa. His afternoon ended in smoke and fire with an engine failure just a few laps from the finish.

Lotus
Lotus will have mixed feelings after Sunday’s race. Romain Grosjean had avoided a penalty post qualifying to start third and had looked set to challenge for the win. He started well despite being squeezed by Vettel on the opening lap. His strong pace kept him in the running and he made an impressive pass on Massa. He later made a pass on Button whilst following Vettel and clipped the McLaren. He was also given a drive-through penalty for passing Massa whilst all four wheels were off the track. At the end of the race he received a 20 second penalty for the Button clash but it did not change his finish of sixth place. Kimi Raikkonen took another podium with a strong second place. He had come under pressure from Vettel in the closing laps but withstood and went on to claim another 20 points. A good points haul for the team but there will be questions over whether the stewards were fair with Grosjean and a sense of what could have been.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel took third place ahead of his teammate Mark Webber in fourth. Vettel’s podium came after a number of close battles throughout the race. The German squeezed out Grosjean at the start to hold onto second place before challenging Hamilton in the early laps. After the first round of pit stops he was caught behind Button who was on the medium tyre. Hamilton had passed Button and pulled away to help him towards the win. Vettel then struggled to pass Raikkonen in the closing laps. Vettel still leads the drivers championship. Webber had a disaster of a day on Saturday to only qualify tenth. He made steady progress through the race to recover to an impressive fourth.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso hung on to fifth place after a tough race in a less than competitive Ferrari. Grosjean had been chasing him in the closing laps but he kept hold of IMG_3575the position to take home the ten points. Alonso’s race was rather anonymous much the same as teammate Massa. The Brazilian finished eighth behind Button’s McLaren. He had been passed by Grosjean in turn four but the Frenchman was later given a drive through penalty for going over the white lines. Massa had also avoided a close call with Rosberg in the early laps suffering minor damage to his front wing. Much of the talk after the race was surrounding rumours Alonso’s management had held talks with Red Bull about a possible move in 2014. Alonso and Ferrari dismissed the claims but Red Bull did little to calm the storm.

McLaren
Jenson Button had a good race to finish seventh after some battles throughout the race. His decision to start on the mediums kept him among the front runners early in the race. Hamilton and Vettel both came out behind him after the first stops. His fellow Brit passed him easily but he managed to keep Vettel behind for a number of laps. It did not help his race overall but gave McLaren some much needed airtime. A clash with Grosjean saw the Frenchman given a post race 20 second penalty but it did not affect the race result. Sergio Perez had a uneventful race to take ninth place.

Williams
Williams took their first point in the 2013 season with Pastor Maldonado finishing tenth place. This was Williams first point since the 2012 United States Grand Prix. IMG_3024The Venezuelan had run in the top ten at different points in the race but benefitted from Rosberg’s late retirement and penalties for other drivers. Valtteri Bottas’ race ended early with a hydraluic problem. A good weekend for Williams with the change in tyre compounds looking to have benefitted the team.

Sauber
A drive through penalty ended Sauber’s chances of scoring at a third consecutive race. Nico Hulkenberg had been on course to secure a single point for the third race in a row having qualified 12th. The German just held onto 11th from then two fast catching Toro Rosso’s. He had a drive through penalty after speeding in the pit lane due to a shift down problem. Esteban Gutierrez didn’t make it to the end of the race having to retire due to a gearbox problem.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo failed to convert his impressive qualifying form into a strong race performance as he only finished 13th. He was once again beaten by his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne with the Frenchman passing the Australian with just four laps to run. The car lacked pace but some will be left wondering why Vergne is being disregarded in the Red Bull race despite comfortably being ahead of Ricciardo on a number of occasions.

Caterham
Caterham are now comfortably leading the Marussia’s in race conditions. Giedo van der Garde led teammate Charles Pic for the whole race. A strong performance from both drivers will help to put their minds at rest amid rumours one of them may lose out to another driver in 2014.

Marussia
Marussia suffered from a disappointing lack of pace. The team had worked to close the gap to Caterham in practice and qualifying but it was not enough to beat them on Sunday. Jules Bianchi once again led home teammate Max Chilton.

Force India
Force India’s season seems to have stalled as once again the team faced a hard weekend. Things had looked slightly better than Germany with Sutil qualifying 11th but he lost out at the start and later retired from his 100th race with a hydraulic leak. Paul di Resta only started 18th after a poor qualifying but made up a number of places on lap one. He later struggled outside the points before retiring with three laps to run.

Team-by-team look at the 2013 German Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel took a fantastic home victory despite being chased by both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. The two Lotuses took second and third as a differing strategy allowed Fernando Alonso to take fourth. There was drama as a cameraman was caught by Mark Webber’s lose wheel and a rolling Marussia brought out the safety car. 

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel took an emphatic victory in front of a home crowd. The German held off a strong challenge in the closing laps from a fast charging Kimi Raikkonen having withstood pressure from Raikkonen’s teammate Romain Grosjean earlier in the race. Vettel led from the first lap and won by just over a second. Teammate Mark Webber had started third but climbed one place on lap one for a Red Bull 1-2 in the early laps. His chances of a podium ended after his first pit stop when he was released from his pitstop without the right rear tyre secured. The tyre flew off hitting a cameraman who had to me taken to the medical centre. Webber was a lap down when he rejoined  but the safety car period allowed him to recover to seventh to allow Red Bull to take a double points finish. The team were later fined for an unsafe release.

Lotus

Both Lotuses finished on the podium with a second and third place finish. Kimi Raikkonen had challenged Vettel in the closing laps and believed he could have won had he not had to pit again. The safety car had allowed the Finn to close up on Vettel from 12 seconds down on the leader but it was not enough to challenge for the win.  Romain Grosjean had challenged Vettel earlier in the race but could not within the DRS zone to attempt an overtake. The safety car led to him having to pit but Raikkonen was able to leapfrog Grosjean. Grosjean held on to third despite pressure from Fernando Alonso in the closing laps.

Ferrari

A day of mixed fortunes for Ferrari. After choosing to run on mediums in qualifying Fernando Alonso climbed from eighth to fourth. The Spaniard was challenging Grosjean for the last podium spot in the closing laps but did not have enough to pass him. His teammate Felipe Massa’s day ended prematurely after he spun out on lap four at the first corner. The BrazilIan driver had been in sixth place after starting seventh on the medium tyres.

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton was passed but both Red Bulls having started from pole position. The race didn’t get much better after he was running behind late stoppers Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button. Hamilton was sixth in the closing laps but managed to pass Button on the last lap to finish fifth. Nico Rosberg started 11 th and struggled to make much progress. He ended the day in plinth place ahead of fellow countryman Hulkenberg.

McLaren

Germany seemed to signal a turning point in McLaren’s less than impressive season. Having qualified a strong ninth Button ran high up in the order on medium tyres. After pitting he stuck to his strategy to finish a strong seventh after being passed by Hamilton on the last lap. Sergio Perez finished a strong eighth for a double points finish for the British team. Perez had started 13th. Button was unhappy with the backmakers Caterham who he suggested led to him being overtaken by Hamilton on the last lap.

Sauber

Sauber made a rare appearance in Q3 of qualifying on Saturday after a fantastic effort by Hulkenberg in Q2. The team decided not to run in Q3 and started on the medium compound tyre. Hulkenberg started strongly and ran high up until his first pitstop. He kept ahead of the Force India of Paul di Resta to finish where he started in tenth to take he final point of the day. Esteban Guttierrez also had a better qualifying session but started on an opposing strategy to Hulkenberg on the soft tyres. He had a steady race to finish 14th but was fighting throughout to hold position. Whether or not this is a return to form for the team amid its financial problems only time will tell.

Force India

A disappointing weekend all round for the team. They struggled in qualifying with both drivers failing to make Q2. Paul di Resta started 12th whilst Adrian Sutil started 15th. Both failed to make much progress with Di Resta ending the day in 11th and Sutil 13th. Sutil struggled with tyres and had to be switched from a two stop to a three stop strategy. The team were later fined for an unsafe pit release of Di Resta into the path of Jean Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso.

Toro Rosso

A strong qualifying result did not help Daniel Ricciardo during the race. Despite starting sixth on the grid Ricciardo struggled early in the race and found himself back in the midfield fighting for position. He ended the day a disappointing 12th. Jean-Eric Vergne also had a day to forget – he retired on lap 22 with a hydraulic problem. Early in the race he had to taking avoiding action after Paul di Resta was unsafely released in his path during a pit stop. Force India were later fined.

Williams

Williams’ 600th Grand Prix start was a disappointing affair for the team. A bad Saturday saw both drivers miss Q2 but things had looked slightly better in the race. Both Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas battled it out among the midfield. They ran better than in previous races this year but could only manage 15th and 16th by the end of the race. They would have hoped for better for such a momentous weekend.

Caterham

Both Caterham drivers finished the race ahead of the Marussias. Charles Pic ended the day in 17th after a close fight with his teammate Giedo van der Garde . Van der Garde went on to finish 18th. Jenson Button later complained that the two Caterhams had hindered his race in the closing laps leading to Lewis Hamilton passing him on the final lap.

Marussia

Jules Bianchi’s retirement on lap 24 led to the only safety car of the day. Bianchi ground to a halt on lap 22 his car momentarily catching fire and after the Frenchman had left the car it began to roll down a hill and across the track. The marshals had not yet had a chance to recover the car. Max Chilton was unable to make any progress and finished behind the two Caterhams.

cropped-cropped-f12013.png

Five things to watch out for at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix

Before racing begins in Canada we take a look at five of the things you should be watching out for. From the protests surrounding Mercedes and Pirelli’s tyre test to the impressive form of Force India these are the five key stories to look out for this weekend:

1.Tyres tests
Tyres once again were a major talking point last time out in Monaco after it was revealed Mercedes and Pirelli carried out a tyre test using their 2013 car. The test held after the Spanish Grand Prix led to Red Bull and Ferrari lodging protests against this. The matter was referred to the race stewards who in turn referred it to the FIA. The test using a 2013 car with 2013 drivers was essentially run by the team which led to the upset. Both Mercedes and Pirelli claim the FIA knew about the test and let it go ahead, however the FIA isn’t so sure. To add to the drama Ferrari will now also be investigated after it conducted a test with Pirelli using a 2011 car. Using a 2011 car is normally thought to be within the rules and regulations but the Italian team will still be investigated. It had been suggested a outcome could be decided by Canada but this looks unlikely – the issues looks set to run and run and who knows who may be next to admit to a tyre test.

2. Sergio Perez
Heading to Bahrain Sergio Perez was being told to ‘toughen up’ by his team but just four races later his new feisty attitude is upsetting his teammate and other drivers. Jenson Button has been unhappy on numerous occasions with Perez’s overtaking with the pair having some near misses. In Monaco the Mexican may have been able to get past Button but it did not end well when a misjudged overtaking attempt on Kimi Raikkonen left Raikkonen with a puncture and having to pit and Perez out of the race. Both blamed each other for the incident with Raikkonen saying Perez should be “punched in the face”. The Mexican needs to find a balance between the aggression he has been showing over the last few races and the control he showed in the early part of the championship. If he can find the perfect balance he has a chance of doing well in Canada.

3. Force India
Force India are having a truly impressive start to a season. They have 44 points from six races and have only failed to score on one occasion in Malaysia due to a wheel nut problem. In Monaco they appeared to be single handedly trying to dismiss the claim you cannot overtake on the streets of Monte Carlo with some impressive moves by both their drivers. Adrian Sutil achieved the teams best ever performance in Monaco with a fifth place – ending his bad luck of recent races – whilst Paul di Resta scored points for the fifth time this season. Historically the team has never done well in Canada having only scored three points there in 2010. This year the car is much better and they have their best chance of scoring some good points and extending their lead over the other midfield teams in the constructors championship.

4. Romain Grosjean
Monaco signalled a return of Romain Grosjean of 2012. His less than impressive drive saw him crashing into the back of the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo ending the Australian’s race. The incident also brought out the safety car. Grosjean seemed to show he hasn’t quite learnt the lesson about controlling his race and after an investigation by the stewards he was given a 10 place grid penalty for Canada. Monaco saw Grosjean have four accidents in just three days – all of which were his own fault. The team repaired the car each time only for Grosjean to go out and reck the car again. Whilst it wasn’t in the same league as Spa last year where he potentially changed the face of the championship he denied Ricciardo the chance of points. Will he have learnt his lesson in Canada or will it be a case of de ja vu?

5. Williams and Mercedes power
After a dismal start to 2013 Williams have announced they will move to Mercedes power in 2014 when the new V6 turbo engines are introduced. The deal is understood to be long term and will see Williams supplied with Mercedes engines and Energy Recovery Systems. Williams have used Renault engines for the last two seasons but haven’t really seen any improvement in fortunes. This season they have had two best place finishes of 11th out of six races. They have no points compared with the 44 they had at this point last season. The move will hopefully produce results next season but until then the once illustrious team need to sort out their difficulties in 2013.

cropped-cropped-f12013.png

Five things to watch out for at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix

Before racing begins in Spain I take a look at five of the things you should be watching out for. From the dominance of Red Bull and return of Romain Grosjean to some of the interesting updates teams are bringing to the European races these are the five key stories to look out for this weekend:

1. Dominant Red Bull
In Bahrain Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull appeared to take charge of both the drivers and constructors championship with a dominant win. Vettel became the first driver to secure multiple wins in 2013. His unchallenged win could signal the beginning of a winning streak similar to 2012. Vettel has extended his lead in the drivers championship by 10 points whilst Red Bull lead Lotus in the constructors by 16 points. This weekend could see them extend that lead further.

2. Romain Grosjean
Bahrain signalled a return to form for Romain Grosjean. His impressive drive which saw him secure a third place podium finish showed he has grown as a driver and got rid of the crashes and near-misses he was blighted with last season. He knows this year could be make or break and his driving in Bahrain has shown he certainly means business in 2013. He seems to be relishing the chance to challenge teammate Kimi Raikkonen and perform in a car capable of winning a championship.

3. Sauber’s rear wing
Sauber will be testing a new rear wing at the Spanish Grand Prix in an attempt to improve their fortunes. Sauber have only scored five points at the first four races- all from impressive performances by Nico Hulkenberg. The team has shown none of the pace that last years car had and have seen themselves struggling to challenge fellow midfield team Force India. The team have struggled with the rear stability of the C32 and the team hopes the updates to the car will help correct these issues- the team is aiming to finish with both cars in the points at this race.

4. McLaren
Bahrain signalled a run of better performances for McLaren. They secured their first double points finish with Sergio Perez sixth and whilst Button finished tenth. The pair had battled closely in the initial laps and Button was not always happy with Perez’s driving. The team will also have some upgrades for Spain although Button has dismissed how crucial they will be but said he hoped it would move them closer to the cars in front.

5. FIA
Electronic issues with the cockpit warning system should be fixed in Spain following an FIA upgrade. The first four races of the 2013 season have been affected by a telemetry link between race control and the cars not working. This left race control unable to automatically disable DRS. The issue also saw drivers left without warning lights in the cockpit to reaffirm yellow flags. This weekends race in Barcelona should not be affected by the issues.

cropped-cropped-f12013.png

Has Bahrain signalled a return to form for Romain Grosjean?

LOTUS

Last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix appeared to signal a return to form for Romain Grosjean. A flawless performance with plenty of on track action- minus any crashes or near misses he became known for in 2012- saw him take his first podium of 2013. So have we now seen the return of Grosjean challenging for podiums in a car which looks capable of winning a championship?

Just over half a year ago I wrote my first ever article for my blog beckycreedf1 about whether Grosjean deserved his ban for causing the first lap crash in Belgium. After the race in Spa the rest of his 2012 season proved turbulent- a mixture of point scoring races (four in the final seven races) and retirements due to accidents and mechanical issues (three).

So when the 2013 season came around many said this was Grosjean’s chance to prove he could be more consistent and produce the podium and race winning results he had hinted at being capable of last season (think Canada 2012).

However 2013 didn’t exactly start as Grosjean expected or wanted. In Australia whilst teammate Kimi Raikkonen dominated the field and finished first, Grosjean could manage just 10th place. By Malaysia things had improved and Grosjean secured a sixth place finish. In China Grosjean had a fairly anonymous race ending up ninth but once again Raikkonen was much further up the field taking another podium with second.

There must be something about the Bahrain circuit for Grosjean. In 2012 he secured his first ever podium for Lotus with a third place finish and in 2013 he replicated that result taking his first podium of the season.

He seems to have shaken off any problems which had remained from last season- a season in which he retired from crashes and accidents six times- and is beginning to relish the task of challenging his teammate.

Grosjean drove a clean and controlled race in Bahrain overtaking Paul di Resta for he final podium place in the closing laps. That is not to say he had a quiet race- there was plenty of close racing and a well executed three stop strategy.

He was heavily criticised for his driving and crash prone nature last season but seems to be going to great lengths to change people’s opinions this year.

However it should be remembered Grosjean did show flashes of brilliance last season producing podiums performances only to end his next race with a retirement after a crash (think Hungary 2012’s third position followed by Belgium’s lap one incident which saw him banned).

This season could end up much the same but Grosjean seems to have grown as a driver over the last couple of races. He knows this year could be make or break and his driving has shown he certainly means business in 2013.

cropped-cropped-f12013.png

2013 Team Preview: Lotus

Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean

2012 Constructors position: 4th
2012 Drivers position: Raikkonen 3rd, Grosjean 8th

2012 saw Lotus in limbo between the top three teams and the midfield. The team scored nine podiums during the season but only managed one win despite promise and mechanical developments. They should have been capable of more wins but at many of the Grand Prix they were fighting their own battle to qualify well enough to get a win and ensuring both cars finished each race.

LOTUS

Lotus have retained both Raikkonen and Grosjean, but 2012 was a contrasting season for the drivers. Whilst Raikkonen had seven podiums, Grosjean had seven retirements. Raikkonen was F1s Mr Consistency scoring at all but one race- the Chinese Grand Prix. He finished the season 3rd in the drivers championship but over 70 points behind Vettel and Alonso. Grosjean finished eighth in the drivers championship but was accident prone, with his first lap crash in Belgium getting him banned from the Italian Grand Prix. Raikkonen’s win in 2012 shows that should Lotus produce a championship winning car in 2013 then Raikkonen will definitely be in contention for the drivers title. Lotus will need both cars to finish in the points consistently to beat Mercedes for fourth and challenge the front runners of Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari.

LOTUS SING

The car has looked consistent and quick during pre-season testing. On long runs and race simulations the car has had similar pace to the Red Bull and should be capable of challenging for more wins this season however it will be a tough fight for fourth in the constructors against Mercedes.

Predicted 2013 Constructors position: 5th

Jerez testing: Grosjean and Lotus ahead on day two as Hamilton crashes

Romain Grosjean set the fastest time on the second day of the first pre-season test in Jerez.

Grosjean led both the morning and afternoon sessions, going faster in the afternoon after switching to short runs on the softer tyre.

The Frenchman ended the day ahead of Paul di Resta who looked impressive in the Force India. Behind them Daniel Ricciardo set the third fastest time despite causing the first red flag of the day stopping on track between turns 10 and 11.

The second red flag of the day was caused by Lewis Hamilton who ended up in the gravel trap after just 15 laps because of a brake issue on the car. Mercedes were unable to fix the car and their day finished early for the second day running. Hamilton finished the day with the sixth fastest time despite the limited running.

The third red flag of the day was caused by Luzi Razia who had only been announced as a Marussia driver earlier in the day. Razia came to a stop in the Marussia along the pit straight but finished the day with the 12th fastest time.

Mark Webber completed the most laps on Wednesday with 101 and set the fourth fastest time ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber who set the fifth fastest time and completed 99 laps.

Sergio Perez got his first taste of the McLaren setting the seventh fastest time ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari with Pastor Maldonado completing 71 laps in the old-spec Williams and setting the ninth fastest time.

Force India switched drivers late in the afternoon with James Rossiter completing 19 laps of the Jerez circuit and setting the 10th fastest time. Behind him Giedo van der Garde set the 11th fastest time in the Caterham.

Towards the end of the session both Grosjean and Hulkenberg stopped on track. Sauber later revealed the car stopping had been planned as a ‘run-dry’ test.

Testing continues tomorrow in Jerez with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen getting their first taste of the 2013 cars.

It should be remembered that the times set in testing are unlikely to be a true gauge of each cars performance.

News round-up: Lotus announce launch date and teams reveal who will test 2013 cars first

Lotus announce launch date

Lotus is to reveal its 2013 car on Monday January 28 with the launch being streamed live online.

The launch of the E21 will take place at the teams Enstone factory a week before testing begins in Jerez.

Both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean will be at the launch which can be viewed via the Lotus F1 youtube page from 7:15pm on Monday.

The Lotus will become the first constructor to unveil its car if Marussia, who are yet to announce a launch date, do not launch sooner.

Testing begins in Jerez on February 5.

Teams announce drivers to begin testing programmes

McLaren, Red Bull, Lotus and Sauber have all announced which of their drivers are to test their 2013 cars first.

McLaren have revealed that Jenson Button is to begin the teams’ testing programme. Button will be the driver of the MP4-28 on February 5 in Jerez with Sergio Perez taking over for the second day. The final two days of testing will be shared between the drivers.

Mark Webber will be the first of Red Bull’s drivers to test for them in 2013. Webber will driver for the first two days of the test before he hands over the RB9 to Sebastian Vettel for the final two days.

The new Lotus E21 will be driven by Romain Grosjean for the first two days of testing before Kimi Raikkonen takes over. Whilst at Sauber Nico Hulkenberg will be the first to test the Sauber C32 before rookie Esteban Gutierrez takes over for the final two days at Jerez.

Did Romain Grosjean deserve a one race ban?

The Belgian Grand Prix race stewards’ decision to give Romain Grosjean a one race ban in light of the crash they deemed him to have caused appears to at first be justified. Grosjean will not race at next Sunday’s Monza Grand Prix after he appeared to cut in front of Lewis Hamilton at the start of last Sunday’s race. This caused a multicar crash that left three of his fellow competitors unable to continue and nearly caused a serious injury to Championship leader Fernando Alonso.

Grosjean appeared to move into a gap that simply wasn’t there and the ensuing damage prevented Hamilton, Grosjean, Alonso and Sergio Perez from completing the race. It also very nearly left Alonso injured as Grosjean’s car cut across his head. However a further look at the decision made seems to raise some questions. Although Grosjean and his Lotus Team accepted the punishment and apologised, Grosjean had admitted that he couldn’t even be sure who had caused the crash. Despite this there appeared to be no doubt in either Hamilton or the stewards minds. Hamilton’s immediate reaction was to go straight to Grosjean and he could be seen gesticulating at him whilst the stewards used their power to ban him for one race. The stewards did concede that the punishment was given as Grosjean had taken out several competitors for the World Championship. However this appears to beg the question that had it been Hamilton, or another championship contender, who had caused the crash would they have been given a ban also. It cannot be denied that Grosjean’s apparent lack of experience could have caused a much worse outcome and resulted in severe injury to one of his fellow drivers. Nor can it be ignored that this is not the first time he has been involved in a lap one incident this season, however he seems to have taken a punishment for what could have happened rather than what actually did happen.