Now that the dust has settled from the 2013 season, I thought it was time to do a short round-up and a glance towards the coming season. After Kimi left Lotus for his back surgery, I must admit that some of my motivation to follow F1 and write about it were seriously weakened. But I caught the final races. F1 races are still few and far between so I enjoy the racing still.
Kimi was the big talkie when he took sick-leave for the final 2 races. If he had been paid what he was owed by Lotus, I’m sure he would have finished the season in style. But seeing that Lotus were on a wild goose chase after non-existant Quantum Group money, Kimi called it quits and pulled one of his best moves of the season. Get the back surgery done as early as possible to be fit for fight when winter testing in the red car rolls around in January.
As I am sure you have heard, the surgery went well, thank goodness, and Kimi is enjoying some well-deserved R&R before he goes back for checkups. Steve Robertson threw the media a curveball by saying that Kimi was to have surgery in Salzburg when he in fact was operated on in Strasbourg. (A town where he did rallies in and around by the way) Robertson just said afterwards that he got the town names mixed up. Haha. Nice one.
I have also given Kimis unusual first-lap exit from Abu-Dhabi some thought. It was a very atypical error from the Finn and I do wonder if he did it half on purpose. He was talked into coming to Abu Dhabi. Finds out during the weekend that no salary is coming in spite of lofty promises. And on race day, he just “loses” concentration for a few seconds and bam – I’m outta here suckers! Well – that is just speculation on my part and likely not true. But one wonders.
So – Kimis replacement is Pastor Maldonado. I guess that is as big a sign as it can get; that there is no Quantum money and there never was. Maldonados PDVSA money is needed to save the debt-ridden Lotus team. Romain will have an easy task beating him in qualifying and races next year. Which will only add to his already overhyped status due to a few good races in the final part of the season. Hulkenberg had been so much better for the team. The Lotus team decided to publish this tweet after the announcement. I have no clue why they would do that. We are not laughing with you, Lotus. We are laughing at you.
Picture and tweet here: https://twitter.com/Lotus_F1Team/status/406453321109471233/photo/1
I had to giggle when I saw Massa joining Vettel in the donut making after the final race in Brazil. First off – it wasn’t really donuts – more like U’s. Second – why was he celebrating? That he was leaving Ferrari? Perhaps it was the fact that he cost Ferrari 2nd place in the WCC by getting a penalty? The points Ferrari would have had with a 3rd and 4th place in Brazil would have moved them ahead of Mercedes. But Massa blew it. Even if the penalty was harsh, the drivers had all been warned before the race not to cross the lines at the pit entry with all 4 wheels. Ok, Felipe baby. Go on. Make your funny little half-donuts.
So what about next year? I know plenty of people are hoping and expecting a shake-up in the pecking order of the teams. I may have to apply some cold water to that. There is a whole lot going for Red Bull being at the very front again. They have the man-power, the resources and the experience. And with the weak link of Webber removed, there might be no stopping them. They also have the brain, dont forget. Adrian Newey have always done well with bigger rule changes. My hope is that the engine will play a bigger part than aerodynamics next year. And in that case, the manufacturer teams should have an advantage. Which, with Kimi at Ferrari, would be excellent.
The first testing sessions are 2 months from now. And then we will hear the V6 turbo engines spring to life. I am not too worried about the sound. Should sound good. The 1,5 liter 4-pots from the 80′s sounded pretty sweet. And we will see what kind of speed the 2014 cars have in them. Some say that the new cars are 10 seconds slower – which is slower than GP2. I doubt it, but if that is the case, I dont think anyone involved will accept that and some tweaks will be made. Thankfully that is not hard to do. Rpm limit with 1-2000 more rpms should do wonders for instance.
There is no doubt that the Raikkonen-Alonso pairing will be the strongest for next year. And to me, that is the most exciting and interesting aspect of 2014. I have a friend that is adamant that Kimi will quickly have a clear upperhand on Alonso next year. Not only because of his talent but also due to his immense feel for the tires and the fact that throttle control and ability to not break traction will be harder and even more crucial next year. The turbo engines have so much more torque and power from a lot lower in the rev range than the V8s did. Remember how Lotus raved over Kimi after he won in Australia? How he hardly broke traction even once. It’s difficult to envision how hard that really is to accomplish in an F1 car during a race.
I am not so sure that Kimi will have an upperhand on Alonso that easily. I may not like the bugger, but he is a great driver. What I do know is that the power struggle inside Ferrari between Montezemelo and Alonso is far from over. Latest development is that Monty have leaked to the press that Alonso has been restrained to write tweets about Ferrari. Ferrari themselves will take care of that. But he can tweet about anything else. Ouch. Chew on that for a while. That’s gotta be hard to swallow for someone like Alonso.
This year, we had to say goodbye to a dedicated Kimster and a dear friend to many, Denise “Dindi” Minoza. I am sure other fans of Kimi have passed on as well but we knew this one and she went far too early. She is and will be missed. RIP Dindi.
And with that I will round off my 2013 round-up. We have exciting times ahead of us. So keep passing the open windows and let the winter of our discontent pass you by.
Thanks to my friend Zeljka, for the video below.