Team-by-team look at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Newly crowned 2013 champion Sebastian Vettel took his 11th win of the season as he beat his teammate to the top spot of the podium. Nico Rosberg was the best of the rest with third place whilst Kimi Raikkonen started last after being disqualified from qualifying and was out on the first lap after a collision with Giedo van der Garde. There were impressive performances from Grosjean and Perez and Force India secured a double points finish for the second weekend running.

Red Bull
IMG_28752013 driver champion Sebastian Vettel passed pole sitter and teammate Mark Webber after the Australian made a slow getaway. From then on the German was challenged very little and finished the day with a thirty second gap over his teammate. He celebrated with some donuts but got his car back to parc ferme as he attempted to avoid a penalty. Team principal Christian Horner told Vettel he would be paying the fine for his celebrations. Webber had been passed by both Vettel and Nico Rosberg at the start but made it passed the Mercedes on the 20th lap to complete a 1-2 for Red Bull. A good day for the team who walked away with another 43 points.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg was the best of the rest in his Mercedes as he finished third. He had passed a slow starting Mark Webber at the start to get up to second but this did not last. Webber managed to pass Rosberg on the 20th lap to demote the German to the bottom spot on the podium. However this was 15 well deserved points for the German. Lewis Hamilton ended the day seventh after a poor start and early pit stop, he then found himself stuck behind Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber, Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso and Adrian Sutil’s Force India as they were on different strategies. He had also had some brake problems on the grid but still managed to come away with six points. Altogether 21 points for the team as they battle with Ferrari for second in the constructors title.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean missed out on a podium despite chasing Nico Rosberg to the line. The Frenchman had got a good start getting passed Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg at the start to be up to fourth at the end of the first lap. In the end that was where he stayed to pick up 12 points despite keeping Rosberg honest until the end of the race. Kimi Raikkonen had a bad day which added to his woes. Disqualified from qualifying after failing a floor test. Lotus chose to start him from the back of the grid rather than the pit lane. He hit the back of Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham on the opening lap and damaged his Lotus’s right-front suspension. Despite a mixed day for the team it has been reported their investment deal with Quantum is set to be finalised bring some stability for next year.

Ferrari
Qualifying on Saturday was less than impressive from Ferrari. Fernando Alonso failed to make Q3 for the first time this season qualifying 11th for it to become 10th after Raikkonen was disqualified while Massa was seventh. However in the race it was Alonso who shined. He had been behind his teammate for much of the race but after switching to the soft Pirellis on lap 44 he made his way through the field passing both Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta to end the day fifth. He had looked as if he had exceeded the track limits when passing Jean-Eric Vergne however the stewards investigated but did not take action. Massa ended the day in eighth.

Force India
Paul di Resta finished an impressive sixth for Force India as they completed another double points finish. The Scot completed a long first stint which saw him run as high as second before he pitted on lap 20. IMG_3069Alonso passed Di Resta late in the race but he managed to hold of Lewis Hamilton to claim the eight points. It will be a boost for his confidence amid worries he could be left without a drive next season. Adrian Sutil came from 17th on the grid to finish in tenth. The German tried a reverse strategy to many on the grid starting on the medium tyre. He had looked on course for ninth but was passed by Sergio Perez who had pursued the German for a number of laps.

McLaren
Sergio Perez was awarded for his pursuit of the Force India of Adrian Sutil as he snatched ninth place from the German on the final lap. He had started eighth so would have hoped for better but will be happy with two points which were hard fought for. Jenson Button had a contrasting day with front wing damage forcing an early stop. He ended the day in 12th behind the Williams of Pastor Maldonado.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado was Williams highest finisher as the team once again failed to finish in the points. The Venezuelan was 11th despite a mixed race although he never looked in contention for points. His teammate Valtteri Bottas completed a long first stint pitting on the 24th lap. He ended the day in 15th.

Sauber
Once again Sauber had looked on course for points before it all went wrong. Nico Hulkenberg had started fifth and had been running in the points before an unsafe release meant a drive through penalty. This put his right down the field and he ended the day behind his teammate in 14th. The German had overtaken both Toro Rosso as he tried to make his way back through the field. Esteban Gutierrez had some interesting battles and at one point was holding up Lewis Hamilton who could not find a way passed. In the end he finished the day in 13th just ahead of his teammate.

Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso were almost invisible in the race. Daniel Ricciardo finished 16th while teammate Jean-Eric Vergne finished 17th on a day to forget for the team. Vergne had attempted a one stop race but was losing lots of time in the final laps going from in the top ten to 17th. Both drivers were overtaken by Nico Hulkenberg in the closing laps. Toro Rosso haven’t scored points in the last two races.

Caterham
Both Caterhams finished ahead of the Marussias in Abu Dhabi. Giedo van der Garde avoided damage when Kimi Raikkonen drove into the back of him at the start. Van der Garde and Charles Pic finished where they started in 18th and 19th.

Marussia
Both Marussias lost out to the two Caterhams. Jules Bianchi finished ahead of teammate Max Chilton. Bianchi was 20th while Chilton was 21.

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.

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

Sebastian Vettel took a dominant victory as Fernando Alonso finished second much to the delight of the Italian crowd. Mark Webber converted his front row qualifying to third – his first podium at Monza – whilst Nico Hulkenberg boosted his chances of a better seat next year with fifth in his Sauber. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton’s title chances suffered after a poor qualifying session and race. Here is how each team finished.

Red Bull
IMG_2875Red Bull converted a front row start into getting both drivers on the podium. Sebastian Vettel led from the off as Mark Webber lost out on second to Felipe Massa. Vettel extended his lead over the coming laps to drive comfortably to the end. At the end Fernando Alonso managed to close the gap but could get no closer than five seconds. Webber lost out to both Massa and Alonso at the start but the Australian fought back to get within a second of Alonso. Webber was also told to short-shift in the closing laps but still had enough to finish third. A great result for both drivers and the team with both the drivers and constructors titles not looking too far off.

Ferrari
Ferrari would have been hoping for more at their home race but after failing to get on the front row in qualifying second and fourth may be all they could have hoped for. Felipe Massa started ahead of Fernando Alonso and briefly got himself up to second before letting Alonso past. The Spaniard then trailed Vettel for much of the race leading for a number of laps before pitting. At the end he managed to close the gap to just over five seconds but it was not enough. Massa’s race may go some way to helping his 2014 seat chances but rumours suggest he is most likely on his way out of the team – with an announcement imminent. Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg are being touted as replacements.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg produced the drive of the day to finish a strong fifth in a less than brilliant Sauber. IMG_2809The German started third on the grid after an outstanding lap on Saturday. He lost out at the start and by the first corner he was fifth but a controlled race meant that is where he stayed. He had been in a race long battle with Nico Rosberg but managed to keep ahead of the Mercedes driver right up until the end. It was a contrasting day for Esteban Gutierrez – who had been the faster Sauber driver throughout the weekend – with him eventually finishing 13th. Question marks are over both drivers heads with Sergey Sirotkin set to be one of the teams drivers in 2014. Hulkenberg is also being touted as a candidate for the Ferrari and Lotus seats. Either way this performance will have helped Sauber who have struggled for much of this season.

Mercedes
Mercedes had a mixed weekend but both drivers finished in the points. Nico Rosberg had a race long battle with Nico Hulkenberg but could not pass him despite being faster. He ended the day in sixth. Lewis Hamilton was forced to recover from a poor qualifying which saw him fail to make Q3. A slow puncture meant an early stop which pushed him down the field. A fighting drive saw him make numerous overtakes in the closing laps to finish ninth. He had been on course for eighth but after overtaking Romain Grosjean on the last lap he ran off the track and had to give the place back. Hamilton has suggested his title hopes are now over.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo went some way to proving he is the right man to replace Mark Webber next season with a seventh place finish. The Australian managed to keep his Toro Rosso ahead of Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton in the closing laps using the great straight line speed of his car. Jean-Eric Vergne had been keeping Jenson Button and Hamilton behind him in the opening laps but was forced to retire with a transmission problem. He was out of the race on lap 15. Ricciardo now moves ahead of Vergne in the drivers standings.

Lotus
IMG_3183A day to forget for Lotus. Both drivers started outside the top ten but Romain Grosjean managed to get himself into the top ten. He finished eighth after a battle with Daniel Riccardo. In the last laps he kept Lewis Hamilton behind him to keep hold of the four points. Kimi Raikkonen’s day didn’t start well when he ran into the back of Sergio Perez at the first corner. He had to pit because of the damage. He drove well to claw his way back up the field but still had to make a second stop. He was overtaken by Hamilton as they made their way thorough the field. Raikkonen failed to pass Jenson Button and ended the day in 11th.

McLaren
On McLaren’s 50th birthday race the team would have hoped for more. They had seemed to have made some sort of recovery and passing Force India in the constructors championship at the last race. However things didn’t really go according to plan in Monza. Both Sergio Perez and Jenson Button had mixed it in the top ten but only one of them stayed there at the end of the race. Button took the final point finishing 10th. Perez was 12th after being passed by Raikkonen.

Williams
There was disappointment for Williams once again as both drivers finished outside the top ten. Both Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas were passed by Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil on the opening lap and battled throughout the race to make up lost ground. They ended the day in 14th and 15th behind Gutierrez.

Force India
Both Force India drivers were forced to retire from the race in Monza making it a race to forget for the team as they continue to struggle in the second half of the season. Paul di Resta’s race was over on lap one when he locked up and drove into the back of Grosjean. The stewards are currently investigating the incident. Adrian Sutil started from 17th after a three place grid penalty for impeding Hamilton in qualifying. He made up the places but was forced to retire on the last lap.

Caterham
Charles Pic beat teammate Giedo van der Garde in the battle of the backmarkers. The Frenchman had a strong advantage over his teammate as both finished ahead of the Marussias. Caterham still trail Marussia in the constructors.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi once again finished ahead of teammate Max Chilton as they continue their inter-team battle. The team still lead Caterham in the constructors title but have been beaten by their fellow backmarker team in recent races.

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

Before racing begins in Germany we take a look at five of the things you should be watching out for. From the trouble with Pirelli tyres to Mark Webber’s replacement these are the five key stories to look out for this weekend.

1. Pirelli tyre failures

The furore around Mercedes and Pirelli’s tyre test was forgotten amid multiple tyre failures at the British Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton, Jean-Eric Vergne, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez were among the drivers to suffer a left rear tyre failure. Drivers and teams alike have branded the tyre failures dangerous and Pirelli will be changing its tyres for this weekend. The FIA have allowed Pirelli to make the changes without the agreement of the teams. It will see Kevlar belts used for the first time this season in place of the current steel ones. Only the rear tyres will be changed. Whether or not this will affect performance only time will tell but either way Pirelli look set to continue to face criticism.

2. Driver boycott

Drivers have threatened to pull out of this weekend’s grand prix should the tyre failures seen in Britain reoccur this weekend. Although Pirelli have acted to make changes to ensure the tyre failures do not happen again the drivers are not prepared to put themselves at risk. Following a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) on Thursday evening a statement was published saying “the drivers have decided that, if similar problems should manifest themselves during the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw from the event, as this avoidable problem with the tyres endangers again the lives of drivers, marshals and fans”. 19 of the 22 drivers are members of the GPDA.

3. Young Driver Test

At the Young Driver Test at Silverstone later this month teams will be allowed to run their race drivers to allow them to test the Pirelli tyres. This follows the six tyre failures at the British Grand Prix. The test has been extended from three days to four. FIA president Jean Todt said race drivers could take part in the test as long as it was proved it was for tyre testing purposes. Mercedes are still banned from the test following their illegal tyre test with Pirelli in Barcelona. Whilst the teams and Pirelli seek a solution to this the young drivers set to test F1 cars will suffer losing out on their chance to demonstrate their potential.

4. Mark Webber’s replacement

Rumours over who will replace Mark Webber at Red Bull in 2014 continue to grow. Whilst Kimi Raikkonen is still thought to be number one in line Daniel Ricciardo’s impressive performance at Silverstone will only go to help his chances. Jean Eric Vergne is also on the list with his Toro Rosso links but a tyre failure resulted in a disappointing result last weekend. Another name has been added to the list after Jenson Button was mentioned. Button has remained coy over the rumours suggesting he wasn’t actively looking to leave McLaren. Red Bull are unlikely to make any decision this weekend.

5. Brawn to stay at Mercedes in 2014

Ross Brawn has suggested he doesn’t have any plans to step down as team principal of Mercedes is 2014. The arrival of Paddy Lowe at the team was expected to signal the winding down of Brawn’s career. Lowe is thought to be Brawn’s replacement in the long term after his move from McLaren. Brawn told the BBC the team looked in good shape for next season and he didn’t want to miss the fun.

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

Before racing begins in Britain 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 announcement Webber is leaving F1 these are the five key stories to look out for this weekend.

1. Tyre Test
Mercedes have been reprimanded and suspended from this year’s young driver test after an FIA tribunal found their tyre test with Pirelli breached F1 rules. The test held after the Spanish Grand Prix led to Red Bull and Ferrari lodging protests against the team. 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. The FIA found whilst Mercedes were in breach of the rules they had no intention of gaining any unfair sporting advantage. Red Bull and Ferrari have criticised the decision.

2.Webber
It was announced on Thursday morning that Mark Webber would be leaving F1 at the end of 2013. With 12 races still left to run this season his decision has come very early in the year. However after Malaysia’s team orders furore some would say it is not surprising. The Australian will leave Red Bull to race Porsche’s new sportscar programme in the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours. Webber made his debut in F1 in 2002 and has raced with Red Bull since 2007 but Malaysia he undoubtedly felt the team were not supporting him – and what point is there staying at a team where you will always be overlooked even when in the stronger position.

3. Webber’s replacement
The announcement will heighten rumours over who will replace the 36-year-old with Kimi Raikkonen, Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo thought to be in the frame. Rumours surrounding a potential move for Raikkonen to the team have been doing the rounds for weeks but he has said the announcement has not chanced his position. However the Finn is yet to sign a contract for 2014. Whilst Ricciardo and Vergne are Toro Rosso drivers and essentially have a shoe in there performances are not in the league of Raikkonen. They will hope to use the coming races to show they deserve a promotion.

4. Williams
Williams will be celebrating their 600th Grand Prix starts at Silverstone this weekend. Although Germany will officially be their 600th Grand Prix start the team have decided to celebrate the achievement at their home Grand Prix. The British Grand Prix holds good memories for the team as they took their first ever win there in 1979 and their 100th win in 1997. The number 600 will be displayed on the sidepods of the FW35 and the livery will have the names of all 691 Williams employees as a tribute to their continued hard work.

5. Paddy Lowe and Mercedes
Paddy Lowe will attend his first Grand Prix in his new role with Mercedes. The former McLaren director had not been to a Grand Prix since late last year following his decision to leave the team for Mercedes. A deal was agreed with Mercedes to release him from his contract and he joined Mercedes as executive director (technical) on June 3. Lowe is eventually expected to run the team in the team principal role when Ross Brawn decides to retire.

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

Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix may have been won by Sebastian Vettel but the main talking point of the race was the use of team orders in the final few laps from both Red Bull and Mercedes. The decisions from both teams led to an awkward podium and could prove to have ramifications for harmony within both teams. I take a look at the wider picture and see where each team stands after round two.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel may have won the race but the majority of F1 fans felt he had taken the victory from teammate Mark Webber. This race has certainly shown Vettel in a different light- and it’s not a positive one. Vettel appeared to show arrogance at points in the race telling the team over the radio: “Mark is too slow, get him out of the way. He is too slow”. He continued to race Webber closing in on him despite both being told to turn down their engines and hold station after the final round of pit stops. Vettel continued to ignore team orders pushing Webber for the lead and eventually passing him. His blatant decision to ignore the team orders didn’t go down well with either Webber or Christian Horner. What should have been a positive result for Red Bull has turned into a rift between their drivers that doesn’t show any signs of healing soon.

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton may have taken his first podium for Mercedes but there was a similar feeling between the drivers as at Red Bull. Hamilton had benefitted from Rosberg being told to hold station despite him having the pace to pass Hamilton. Speaking on the podium Hamilton admitted Rosberg should have secured third place since he had the better pace during the race. Despite appearing angry following the team decision Rosberg said he knew if he had been ahead the situation would have been the same. There was also a moment early in the race when Hamilton attempted to pit at his former team McLaren’s pit box, he apologised to the team for the mistake. Despite the issues surrounding the team orders it was a good result overall for the team who are fourth in the constructors championship just three points behind Ferrari.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa took fifth for Ferrari despite having start on the front row. Massa lacked the pace of the leaders but fifth was well deserved after a battle with the Lotus’ of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen. The race was a disaster for Fernando Alonso on his 200th Grand Prix appearance when his damaged front wing collapsed underneath his car. Alonso had run into the back of Vettel on lap one and then gambled his damaged wing could last until his first pit stop. Massa now leads Alonso in the driver’s championship by four points and the team have slipped to third in the constructors championship. Malaysia will appear like a missed opportunity for the team.

Lotus
Malaysia proved to be a disappointing weekend for Lotus despite a double points finish. The team took sixth and seventh position with Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen but the car showed none of the tyre preservation it had in Melbourne. Both drivers had a battle with Felipe Massa throughout the race. Raikkonen also battled with Nico Hulkenberg, with the Finn becoming frustrated with the German’s defending. He eventually passed the Sauber driver and both drivers finished the race with just three pitstops compared to their rivals four. Raikkonen is now second in the driver’s championship and the team are also second in the constructors.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg recovered from the disappointment of not starting the Australian Grand Prix with a points finish in Malaysia. The German battled with Kimi Raikkonen before finishing the race in eighth and securing Sauber’s first points of the season. The race was also positive for Hulkenberg’s teammate Esteban Gutierrez who finished 12th after having earlier ran in the points. Although the team may have benefitted from some of the misfortune of other teams, the pace they showed today seems to suggest they will be in contention for points throughout the season.

McLaren
A mixed day for McLaren with only Sergio Perez finishing in the points. Perez took two points for McLaren after a ninth place finish taking their constructors total to just four points from two races. Jenson Button’s race had started off well with him holding fifth for much of the early stages and then leading at the third round of pitstops. However a botched pitstop saw his right front wheel not secured properly and despite recovering to 12th he later retired with mechanical problems. McLaren were not expecting things to be much better in Malaysia but they have missed an opportunity for a reasonable result and those 10 points that Button could have finished with will be sorely missed.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne secured tenth place and Toro Rosso’s first points of the season in Malaysia. Despite a pitstop incident in which Vergne and Caterham driver Charles Pic tangled his tenth place was not affected. Vergne had been released from his stop as Pic turned into his pitbox in front of him, the impact breaking the front wing on both cars. Vergne kept going and the team were consequently fined $10,000. Daniel Ricciardo failed to make the finish retiring on lap 51 with exhaust issues. Overall an average weekend and a well deserved point for the team.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas finished 11th for Williams after starting the race from 18th. Despite a commendable drive it was not enough to secure points and Williams remain in ninth in the constructors title with no points. Pastor Maldonado failed to finish a second race in a row after an off track adventure broke his front wing and he later stopped on track. Bottas‘ performance will be encouraging for the team but Maldonado will need to improve his consistency.

Marussia
Sunday was a good day for rookie Jules Bianchi who finished the race in 13th place beating Caterham rivals Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde and also his teammate Max Chilton. British driver Chilton was the final finisher of the race and it is the second time he has been beaten by his fellow rookie teammate this season.

Caterham
Caterham failed to match backmarker rivals Marussia with both Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde being beaten by Jules Bianchi. Pic picked up a damaged front wing after a collision with Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne. Toro Rosso were later fined $10,000 for the incident.

Force India
Sunday was a disastrous day for Force India’s pit crew. Issues at Adrian Sutil’s pitstop delayed both him and teammate Paul di Resta who had pitted behind him to replace his intermediates. Both drivers fought back but when Di Resta pitted issues with wheel nuts prolonged his pitstop and he was left at the back of the field. The drama continued with Sutil who faced a similar problem and found himself at the back of the pack. Both drivers later retired which the team were disappointed about considering the pace the car had shown over the race weekend.

Australian Grand Prix 2013: Vettel sets the fastest time on Friday

Sebastian Vettel topped both free practice sessions at the first Grand Prix of the season in Australia.

The 2012 world champion set his fastest time in the second session on the supersoft tyres.

Behind him teammate Mark Webber set the second fastest time of the second session despite a half spin at Turn 13.

Nico Rosberg set the third fastest time of FP2 following a late run on the supersoft tyres, whilst teammate Lewis Hamilton’s attempt to improve his time was ended after he stopped on track at Turn Six leaving him seventh.

Fourth and fifth fastest were the Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean whilst Fernando Alonso set the sixth fastest time.

Felipe Massa set the eighth fastest time despite a near clash with Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez at Turn One.

Adrian Sutil’s return to F1 saw him set the ninth fastest time in the second session with Nico Hulkenberg setting the 10th fastest time.

McLaren struggled during Free Practice setting the 11th and 13th fastest times with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.

Paul di Resta set the 12th fastest time in the second Force India whilst Daniel Ricciardo set the 14th fastest time ahead or Gutierrez in the Sauber and Pastor Maldonado in the Williams.

Jean-Eric Vergne was 17th ahead of Valtteri Bottas on his F1 debut, with Jules Bianchi 19th for Marussia.

Charles Pic set the 20th fastest time for Caterham ahead of Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde.

FP3 is at 3am UK time with qualifying at 6am. Full coverage of all practice and qualifying sessions can be seen on Sky Sports F1. Extended highlights of qualifying are on BBC One at 1pm.

2013 Team Preview: Red Bull

Drivers: Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber

2012 Constructors position: 1st
2012 Driver position: Vettel 1st, Webber 6th

Red Bull enter the 2013 season having won both the constructors and drivers championship titles for three consecutive years. With continuity in their choice of drivers and no rule changes for to the 2013 cars Red Bull could be set to dominate the 2013 season. However the lack of rule changes could mean that their rivals are closer to them than at the end of last season and may challenge them for both titles more closely.

RED BULL

Vettel appears a sure bet to contest the 2013 driver’s title but Webber should not be discounted especially when you think back to 2010. It is likely that unless Webber contests for the drivers title his time at Red Bull could be ending. Several names have been linked to the Red Bull seat in 2014 including Kimi Raikkonen but with rumours suggesting Vettel will move to Ferrari, Webber may stay on for 2014. The combination of Vettel and Webber as drivers and Adrian Newey as car designer suggest Red Bull should be aiming for nothing less than first in both championships.

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Pre-season testing has shown that the team has a strong car for its 2013 campaign. It is championship contender material but other teams such as McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes will all be hoping to muscle in on the fun.

Predicted 2013 Constructors position: 1st

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.

Vettel continues dominant form with pole in India

Red Bull locked out the front row for tomorrows Indian Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel beat teammate Mark Webber to pole.

McLaren could only manage third and fourth with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button after failing to be able to challenge the Red Bulls.

Ferrari will start tomorrow fifth and sixth with Fernando Alonso’s chances of challenging for the win tomorrow and drivers championship diminishing after only setting the fifth fastest time.

Championship contender Kimi Raikkonen will start from seventh as his chances of securing the drivers championship get smaller. Behind him Sergio Perez qualified a surprise eighth for Sauber ahead of Pastor Maldonado in ninth and Nico Rosberg in tenth.

Romain Grosjean qualified the second Lotus in eleventh ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg in 12th. Bruno Senna finished the session in 13th in the second Williams ahead of Michael Schumacher who appeared to be struggling with his Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo managed to qualify 15th ahead of Paul di Resta who could only manage to set the 16th quickest time. Behind them Kamui Kobayashi had a contrasting day to teammate Perez after only qualifying 17th.

Losing out in Q1 was Jean-Eric Vergne who failed to make Q2 in his Toro Rosso and will start from 18th tomorrow. Behind him the two Caterhams and Timo Glock qualified ahead of the two HRTs who in turn managed to out-qualify Charles Pic.

Taking into account Red Bull’s recent form it looks unlikely that the McLarens and Ferraris will be capable of challenging Vettel and Webber for the win tomorrow as Vettel looks to extend his lead in the drivers championship.