F1 Teams Unveil 2013 Cars

February 16, 2013 6:42 pm

f1 2013So, it’ that time of year again. Formula 1 fans have spent the last two and a half months doing anything they can to replace the adrenaline-fuelled excitement that comes with watching a Grand Prix but, just like every other off-season, nothing compares.

But, at last, there is a light at the end of the Monaco tunnel. Starting last Monday, teams began to launch their new cars, revealing the machinery they hope will lead them to the Formula 1 championship.

Lotus were first off the mark on 28 January when they revealed the Renault-powered E21 in an online ceremony broadcast from the team’s Enstone factory. Only limited changes were made to the technical and sporting regulations since the 2012 season so there were no ugly surprises like the stepped noses of seasons past. Team principal Eric Boullier certainly seemed confident that the team can build on their impressive and consistent form last season. He said: “I think it is fair to say that great things are possible from the team and the E21. The leap we made from 2011 to 2012 showed what we are capable of. Add to this the continuity and potential of our driver line-up and we have a very powerful cocktail for the season ahead.” Young Frenchman Romain Grosjean and the ever charismatic Kimi Raikkonen retain their seats at the team with Jerome D’Ambrosio as reserve driver. Alain Prost’s son Nicolas and reigning GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi are development driver and reserve driver, respectively.

Three days later, McLaren lifted the lid on the MP4-28, powered by Mercedes for the 19th season in a row. Based at the team’s UK base in Woking, the event was also used as a celebration for McLaren’s 50th anniversary. Unlike their Lotus rivals, McLaren claim their new machine is a deep and sweeping re-design of its predecessor which they hope will lead them to their 13th Drivers’ Championship. Jenson Button returns as lead driver with new team-mate Sergio Perez being given a tremendous opportunity in only his third season in the sport. But he is not unaware of the tough road ahead of him. He said: “Of course, I am fully aware of the steep slope ahead of me: it has already been an intense couple of weeks, getting to grips with a new team, meeting my engineers and mechanics, learning new ways of working and, of course, learning all about a brand new car – something I’ll need to do with just six days of on-track testing. It’s a big challenge.”

The first day of February saw the launches of both Ferrari and Force India. The F138 was unveiled at Ferrari’s Maranello factory with double World Champion Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa continuing as team mates for another year. The legendary Italian team will be hoping for a strong start to the season, banishing the tradition of slow starts that has plagued them for the last couple of years. Although Ferrari insist every single element of the car has been improved, the F138 is, nonetheless, an evolution of last year’s almost championship winning car.

formula 1Force India revealed their new car, the VJM06, named after team principal Dr. Vijay Mallya, at Silverstone last Friday. The squad, now in its sixth season, will be hoping to become regulars on the podium after a disappointing year left them in the bottom half of the championship. Paul di Resta was left to unveil the new car on his own as the team have yet to announce who will replace Nico Hulkenburg after the German transferred to Sauber. Possible contenders include Adrian Sutil, who could not find a drive for last season, and the team’s reserve driver Jules Bianchi.

Sauber unveiled a sleek new look at their car launch last weekend in Hinwil, Switzerland. Their previous white paint job has been replaced by a more modern black look but it’s the all-new driver line-up, rather than cosmetics, that could help them improve on sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Former GP2 and A1 GP champion Nico Hulkenburg joins the team from Force India with Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez completing the team. Team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn spoke at the launch. She said: “We have very high expectations and both of them know that.We have two young, very fast and talented drivers.”

Defending champions Red Bull Racing unveiled their new car, the RB9, at their Milton Keynes factory on 3 February. Obviously, the team felt no need to change a line-up that has brought home both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ title for the last three years. Mark Webber returns for what could very well be his last season as a top flight racing driver and triple world champion Sebastian Vettel is back too. Their dream team line-up is, again, completed by team boss Christian Horner and designer Adrian Newey. Anything other than a forth-straight clean sweep of the championships will be seen as a failure, not just by their fans but by the team themselves. Tech chief Newey described the car as “evolutionary”, despite only small changes in the regulations for the forthcoming season and said he believes the new Pirelli tyres will, again, play a big role in the fight for supremacy.

The next day saw one of the most anticipated launches of the new year as Mercedes broke the cover on their new machine, the F1 W04. Nico Rosberg gave the car a brief shakedown at Jerez but it was new signing Lewis Hamilton garnered all the attention. After 13 years of being associated with McLaren, and six years driving for the team, Hamilton’s move came as a surprise to many and fans are eager to see whether his decision will pay off. However, the pre-season has been marred for the Silver Arrows after reports surfaced claiming legendary team principal Ross Brawn was going to be replaced. Brawn steered Micahel Schumacher to all seven of his record-breaking Formula 1 Championships and also enjoyed a fairytale year in 2009 after buying out struggling minnows Honda and going on to claim the championship with Jenson Button. Click here for more details. Mercedes have already signed Toto Wolff as the team’s Executive Chairman and Head of Motorsport and are also rumoured to be trying to persuade Paddy Lowe to leave McLaren to run the technical and sporting aspects of the team. There was much speculation over what role would be left for Brawn after the two new possible appointments. But Brawn hit back saying: “I know the situation completely. I’m planning on being here a very long time.”

On the same day, Toro Rosso unveiled their new car for the 2013 season, the STR8. There is no change in the line-up for the Red Bull junior team who retain drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. After a year in which they were way ahead of the bottom three teams but too far off the pace of everyone else, Toro Rosso will be looking to bridge that gap with the top teams and consistently score more points finishes.f1 cars

February 5th saw the launches of Formula 1’s bottom two teams, Caterham and Marussia. Charles Pic returns for Oxfordshire-based Caterham and is joined by rookie Giedo van der Garde. Marussia have still to confirm their second driver for the year but it is already known that young Brit Max Chilton will make his F1 debut with the team. Catherham and Marussia’s bottom of the field companion, HRT, will not be joining them this season. The Spanish-backed team, who never scored a point, were forced to leave the sport after continual money troubles.

Williams will be the last team to launch their car on 19 February, less than a month before the season gets under way in Australia. Drivers will again have to take a wide berth around the Williams Renault because crash-happy Pastor Maldonado is back for his third year in the sport. Rookie Finn, Valtteri Bottas, will make his debut with the Oxfordshire-based team after three years as test driver.

Twitter: @zoehiggins3

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