June 27th 2013 (F1plus/ R.Creed).- 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. Mark 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.
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.