December 7, 2013 (F1plus/Jael Arias).- The last year of V8 engines in F1 ended with Red Bull back on top of the podium. The hegemony of Milton Keynes personalized in Newey’s genius and Vettel’s driving finally came on top.
While it is true that after the performance of Mercedes in Hungary hopes for a second exciting half became dormant, the victories of Vettel in Spa and Monza at the start of the second part returned us back to the reality of the past four years.
When it seemed impossible to improve…
Some would argue that Red Bull started the year with the best car. What cannot be denied is that in raw speed they had no rival, except for Mercedes with sublime performances by their drivers could achieve a similar pace throughout the year but was diluted in favor of the Milton Keynes based squad.
The competitiveness of the RB9 was disguised by the fragility of the Pirelli tire. Similar to Mercedes’ W04, their pace in qualifying could not be translated to long runs earlier in the year. But it was a matter of time before Newey could find a solution.
However, this solution did not come from the English genius. Red Bull salvation came from the work of Christian Horner in the offices, who succeeded supported by Mercedes, in bringing back Pirelli tire 2012 construction.
Despite the return to constructive geometry of last year, the adjustments needed to be competitive were a matter of time. With the return to last season design Red Bull bought themselves some time. But the ability to be the best yet with the initial construction has always been there. No doubt about that.
Sebastian Vettel reigned in the chaos of the transition to the new tire. The German has left little doubt about his class this year. If last season Alonso was crowned as the best by the team leaders despite not having won the title, in 2013 the Red Bull driver has not left the slightest glimmer of who has been the best of the year.
It's amazing how Sebastian continues to generate suspicion. “That he never won in Germany”, “That he didn’t do well in the European part of the season”, etc. This season he broke all these myths triumphing at Nurburgring for his first victory in his country and was the best driver of the European tour.
The year culminated for Vettel with a very much deserved fourth title which puts him in an elite category alongside Fangio and Schumacher. It seems only a matter of time before the German breaks all the records of his compatriot. And he is in the right place to do it.
In the second car of Milton Keynes we have seen a Mark Webber who has been no match for Sebastian. The Australian continues to commit the same mistakes and has left no doubt of why the Austrian team puts all their money in the young German.
Weak in race starts, full of doubts in overtaking maneuvers, Webber leaves F1 without having taken advantage of one the best machines ever seen in the 60 year’s history of the sport.
While it is true that the second half was slightly better than the first for him, Mark leaves a lot to say being a driver who had a car a second faster than the competition in race pace and allowed a less competitive Ferrari or Lotus stand between him and his teammate.
Gone with the wind…
From the group of challengers to the throne of Red Bull, Mercedes has undoubtedly been the one that has come off better. Between them and the Milton Keynes based team, they shared the 19 pole positions of this season. The W04 was a quick car from its birth. But its tire management was always its Achilles heel.
In the end they finished the season with the second place in the constructors' championship ahead of Ferrari. The tandem of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg lived up to expectations and were consolidated as the best line up of F1.
The Englishman looked uncomfortable at the start of the championship. But gradually his category was coming to light and it became evident who is the strongest man in Mercedes. He began the second half taking the pole at Spa but keeping up with Red Bull was an impossible task for Lewis, who saw his chances in the drivers' championship slip through his fingers.
Viewing the current situation of McLaren, there is no doubt that the decision of joining Mercedes was the right one. In 2014 Lewis surely will be one of the favorites for the title as he finds himself in a team with one of the highest budget and that has showed most development in recent years.
Nico Rosberg meanwhile, has shown he is capable of big things. After three years in Mercedes, the signing of Hamilton posed a real test for the German and he certainly came out well positioned of this challenge.
The distance between the two in the championship is not reflected in the final position of both. Nico was the victim of some reliability problems earlier this year that prevented him from finishing closer to Lewis. But his speed is unquestionable.
Next year it will be very important to see how Paddy Lowe and Toto Wolff manage the team of engineers that Ross Brawn built and he’s leaving behind after his departure from Brackley.
Brawn has been the key figure in the current position of Mercedes in F1 and undoubtedly it is going to be interesting to see how this team evolves without the philosophy of the English engineer.