October 28th 2013 (F1plus/Bruno Ferreira).- The thing that everyone in F1 already knew for a long time finally happened last weekend. At the Indian GP, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing secured the Drivers’ and the Constructors’ crowns for the fourth time with another dominant win.
As such, the fact that the title battle is decided might decrease the interest of some fans on the three races remaining in 2013.
With the wave of the brand-new technical rules coming, teams are completely changing their focus to next year’s machines, which mean the pecking order seen at the last few races is unlikely to change from now on. Furthermore, usually the strongest cars at the end of a season could be an indicative of who can do well on the following year – but that’s not the case now with 2014 cars are being made from scratch.
That’s why some people may think that Abu Dhabi, United States and the Brazilian GPs are going to be boring, but it’s worth it to mention that there are a lot of things still at stake until the end of the season.
The Constructors’ runner-up spot
Red Bull already took its fourth Constructors’ crown in a row, establishing the second best streak ever (behind Ferrari and the six titles between 1999 and 2004). Such incredible achievement outshines the fight for “the best of the rest” spot starring Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus. But this battle has its value.
For Mercedes it would be a solace, as the German squad would finally establish its improvement this year leaving behind the modest seasons from 2010 to 2012. Meanwhile, Ferrari will anyway be devastated to a new defeat to Red Bull, but it would be important to beat the other rivals in order to ease a little the pressure over the team on the road to a new season.
On the other hand, finishing the season in the second position would be a huge win for Lotus. The team is still fighting to secure its future financially speaking and such result would be the best statement possible to potential investors.
The search for seats
Perez, yet to be confirmed, seems poised to saty at McLaren.
Nico Hulkenberg future is still up in the air.
Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg, two charismatic drivers of the grid, still don’t have a seat secured for next year. Both believe they’ve already done enough in their seasons and the decision about a hiring is now up to the teams. The talented German seems to be the favorite to get the seat in Lotus, and the Brazilian is more likely to sign with Williams.
But there are drivers who still need to show some performance in the last races of the season in order to be on the paddock in 2014. The Mexican duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez has been criticized for not delivering, so they need to raise their games in the races remaining.
It is unlikely that Perez will be out of the grid next year – the question is whether he’ll stay at McLaren or not. The fact he’s on the dark regarding his situation is a clear sign that the Woking team is not 100% satisfied with his form. Although McLaren trusts Jenson Button (who is beating Perez by 27 points in the standings), they know the 2009 champion might not be the right man to lead the team. Instead, he’ could better playing the supporting role being consistent and scoring points to the Constructors’ Championship – as he did alongside Lewis Hamilton in the last few years.
That’s why the team was chasing Fernando Alonso about a comeback in 2015, which is so far improbable to happen. Nevertheless, the boss Martin Whitmarsh recognizes that the Mexican deserves another shot due to the lack of speed of MP4-28.
His countryman Gutierrez was in a very uncomfortable position at the start of the season. He struggled in his first F1 races because of his little experience in such powerful machinery, and Sauber’s poor form certainly didn’t help. His redemption started at Singapore GP, when he outqualified his teammate Hulkenberg for the first time; two races later, Gutierrez shone at Suzuka with a solid race and a seventh position. But that’s not enough, especially because the future of the Swiss team is unclear. On other words, he’s been doing a good job in the last races, but still needs to prove he’s a good name for next year.
Webber wants to reach the 10th before the goodbye
The Mark Webber’s 12-years spell in F1 is coming to the end, but the Australian certainly doesn’t want to leave a bad impression. He’s still missing a win in the season and not getting that until Interlagos would not represent the best farewell ever, especially because his teammate has been so dominant over the year.
He was close to reach the top of the podium at some races (Malaysia, Japan and even India are good examples), but in the end his 10th win slipped through his fingers. At least he has a good record in Brazil with two wins (2009 and 2011), so a victory in his last F1 race is possible and it would represent the perfect goodbye.
McLaren and Williams to bounce back to avoid historic bad record
Two of the most traditional teams in F1 are looking for bounce back in the last three races to avoid an even bigger embarrassment in 2013. McLaren won the final two races in 2012 and started the new year ensuring that the MP4-28 would be the best machinery ever made in Woking, but on the track that wasn’t the case at all. After 16 races the team is on the verge to have its first season without a podium since 1980.
Perez’s strong performance at Buddh can bring hope for the team, as the race was probably the best shot for McLaren to get a podium. But certainly the task won’t be easy especially because three of the top teams are still fighting for best positions at the Constructors’ battle.
Williams also had an encouraging year in 2012, getting a win for the first time since 2004. But everything went wrong in 2013 and the team only got a point once, with Pastor Maldonado’s 10th place in Hungary. Although good results in the last three races probably won’t change Williams’ position in the Championship – the Grove team is 31 points behind Toro Rosso – the squad need strong performances in order to be in a good momentum for 2014, which can represent a good opportunity of a comeback to top positions.