The 2013 F1 season started well for Sahara Force India at the Australian Grand Prix, which saw Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta come in at 7th and 8th respectively. Adrian Sutil was the only driver to start off with medium compound tyres which enabled him to stay at the front of the pack for 11 laps. He went in for a pit stop at lap 21 and though he didn’t make it to the podium it was quite refreshing to see Sutil fend off attacks from Hamilton and Webber during the race.
Coordinated efforts by strategists and pit crew enabled Adrian Sutil to stay within the competition even though Raikkonen passed him on the 43rd lap leaving the German trailing behind in his smoke. The Lotus team employed an effective two pit stop strategy unlike their counterparts who made use of a three pit stop strategy thereby giving the Iceman leverage to scoot over to the front of the pack for the reminder of the race. Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta did well and showed a lot of maturity on the track a sign that the best still had to come. As the team heads out to Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix one would hope to see a rejuvenated team pulling out all stops to land a podium finish.
The Malaysian Grand Prix didn’t prove fruitful foor the team in term sof points as both racers retired early owing to faulty wheel nuts. As a result, the rcae ended without any points for the team. With the 2013 Chinese Garnd Prix scheduled for this weekend, the team will work hard towards retaining their 5th place in the Chamionship at 10 points currently.
At Malaysia, it was a double podium for Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault. Sebastian Vettel won the race from team-mate Mark Webber is one way of looking at those results. Lotus F1 Team, Australian Grand Prix saw Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen finish in 6th and 7th place respectively. In Australia the team finished in 1st and 10th place, Kimi, and Romain respectively. Kimi is now 2nd in the drivers’ championship, and Lotus F1 Team in 2nd place. Valtteri Bottas of Williams Renault F1 Team came in 11th in Malaysia in missed out on his maiden F1 points scoring chance. Pastor Maldonado of Williams Renault retired on lap 45 after a suspected KERS failure. Caterham Renault F1 Team’s racers, Charles Pic, and Giedo van der Garde finished in 14th and 15th place.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations said, “The Malaysian Grand Prix is always a hard challenge for the engines on account of the percentage of the lap spent at wide open throttle and the low speed driveability required for the hairpin turns. Managing fuel consumption is also tricky with the weather changing very quickly. With Sepang being the second race of the year, we started to see different strategies emerging with engine usage, with some teams choosing to run units to high mileage and others changing to new ones. As the field is so tight this year how you allocate your engines and the mileage accrued will become a very important consideration in gaining track position later on this season.”
He added, “Overall, it’s been a fascinating Grand Prix weekend and a very positive result for Renault Sport F1, with four Renault engines finishing in the top ten and the top three drivers in the championship powered by the RS27. Across the four teams in Australia and Malaysia we’ve covered around 12,000 km without any major issues – the engine change for Pastor this morning was precautionary and will not affect our plans for the year at all – so we are completely on schedule for where we should be now. We have a bit of a gap before the next race so we’ll return to Viry and work with the teams to maximize performance for the next double header.”
The 2013 UBS Chinese Grand Prix takes place in the 5.451 km Shanghai International Circuit. This is the 10th GP at the circuit, which made a debut back in 2004. The last 3 races here see Nico Rosberg as the ‘Shanghai specialist’ as he has led 78 of a total of 168 laps laps here. This works to 46% of the time. It’s interesting to note that Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers, Nico Rosberg, and Lewis Hamilton have won the Chinese Grand prix in 2012 and 2011 respectively. In the last 5 races in China Ferrari has won once, and Mercedes 4 times. Safety car risk at Shangahai is medium with deployments in 3 of the 9 races thus far.
Last week, Nico Rosberg said, “I travel to China next week with very good memories from winning my first Formula One race in Shanghai last year, and having led the race there for the past three years. I enjoy the Shanghai track a great deal and I have a positive feeling going there with the car that we have at the moment. The team have been working very hard to develop our car since returning from Malaysia and I will be at the factory on Monday to complete my preparations in the simulator for the next two races. We’ve had a strong start to the season and I’m confident that we can keep pushing and hopefully score some good results in China and Bahrain.”
Lewis Hamilton said, “I’m looking forward to getting to China next week and going racing again; it feels like a long time since Malaysia! My first two races with my new team have been a great experience and everyone has made me feel so welcome. We’ve had a better start than we expected and to have finished in fifth and third places so far is really positive. I know there is much more to come so we will keep working hard and pushing the development of the car. I’ll be at the factory this weekend and look forward to hearing about the work that’s gone on in the last couple of weeks and the upgrades that we will take to China.”
Ross Brawn said, “The Chinese Grand Prix of course holds great memories following the first win for Nico and our Silver Arrows team in Shanghai last year. That win was an extremely proud occasion for us all and certainly one that we hope to emulate in the future. Our season has started well, perhaps better than we expected, however we’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close and that we must keep up the pace of development. A lot of hard work has taken place at our factories over the last two weeks to do just that and I look forward to seeing how that translates to track performance. The Chinese Grand Prix race is well established now in its tenth year and it’s an important market for both Formula One and Mercedes-Benz. The circuit itself is challenging with fast curves, tight corners and two hairpins. The layout requires good straightline speed, braking stability and traction, and the temperatures are likely to be cooler than we have experienced in the first two race weekends.”
Toto Wolff said, “One year on from Nico’s win, a lot of people will be asking whether this is something our team can repeat in 2013. But like they say, yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games, and that’s definitely true for us. We start again from zero this year and need to work hard to adapt the car to suit the circuit and the tyre compounds we have available, in the conditions that we find on track next weekend. Then we will see where we stand relative to the competition. We have made a solid start to the season in the first two races with Nico and Lewis both performing at a very high and equal level. The development race will be critical this season so we have more new parts planned for China. Our aim has to be to improve on our good start to the season and continue scoring good points in both championships.”
3 weeks earlier Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team announced that Nick Fry, the team’s Chief Executive Officer would step down beginning April. His poition is now as consultant to the team’s commercial operations until end of 2014 at the very least. This sees Executive Director and 30% shareholder Toto Wolff come to the forefront in terms of day-to-day running of the team alongside Team Principal Ross Brawn.
Nick Fry said, “I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with our team for the last 11 years and remain extremely proud of the fact that we took the team to its first race win and especially the double World Championship in 2009. Equally important is the success of our commercial activities as we have managed to gain the support of some of the most important companies in the world, thereby building a strong foundation for the future success of the team,” “I believe that Mercedes AMG Petronas offers the best sponsorship proposition in Formula One and I look forward to continuing to assist the team and its partners over the coming years.”
He added, “I would like to thank Nick for more than ten years of service to the team in Brackley,” commented Toto Wolff. “Mercedes AMG Petronas enjoys a strong network of global, blue-chip partners who want to be associated with Mercedes-Benz in Formula One and we will work hard to retain our loyal partners while also attracting new names to the sport in the future. I am pleased that Nick will remain close to the team to support us in achieving these targets.”
In regards to how far Ross Brawn will go as the Mercedes Team Principal,k the answer is doubtful and up for speculation. Paddy Lowe from McLaren has been recruited by Mercedes AMG Petronas and this has increased the possibility of Brawn moving on. Lowe will be looking after the team’s affairs and will work in close coordination with Toto Wolffe – Executive Director of Mercedes from the coming season.
Lowe comes in to the Mercedes team after working for 20 years with McLaren team where he has served for the last two years of his tenure as technical director. McLaren’s loss is Mercedes gain and Lowe will be assuming his new office at Mercedes while Brawn has not yet discussed his future plans and is we’re all awaiting for formal announcements. Lowe’s appointment to Mercedes is a setback for the McLaren team and came immediately after Hamilton’s departure. McLaren promoted engineering director Tim Goss to replace Lowe.