The 2013 season was not a classic. But it wasn’t without a few highlights and memorable moments. Here are the 20 things which made 2013 great for me.
When I first heard about the plan to make a film based on the 1976 F1 season my hopes weren’t high. Of course I’d enjoyed Senna, but that was crafted with documentary footage. For Rush the material would had to be shot and I had doubts over how well that might be done.
I needn’t have worried: Ron Howard’s team did a first rate job and Daniel Bruhl was a revelation of Niki Lauda. It wasn’t perfect, but Rush was a huge amount of fun, and a welcome tonic during a season in which the real thing often failed to deliver.
After the un-watchable guff that was Driven (2001) and Talladega Nights (2006), it restored my faith that motor racing can be realised on the big screen.
- Rush – the F1 Fanatic review
- Ron Howard on the challenge of accurately capturing the spirit of seventies F1 in Rush
Qualifying at Spa
Spa is appropriately named, for the challenge of this king of circuits is often heightened by the addition of water. Qualifying on the rain-hit track was, for my money, a more exciting session than any of this year’s races.
It began with three of Marussia and Caterham’s drivers taking a risk on slick tyres and ended with Paul di Resta almost taking a shock pole position – despite having blundered in several other wet qualifying sessions during 2013.
As an avid fan of IndyCar racing I’ve been used to seeing rotating onboard cameras for several years. Until this season it seemed an innovation F1 was never going to get around to introducing, but we finally saw the first examples of it at the end of the season. Here’s hoping for more in 2014.
Another new view in 2013 was the infra-red onboard camera, which gave a fascinating look at how tyres cool and warm during a lap. Keep ’em coming, FOM!
Silly season surprise #1: Raikkonen to Ferrari
Two world champions at Ferrari for the first time in 60 years? This was without question the most exciting driver market news of 2013, and a mouthwatering prospect for next year’s championship.
Silly season surprise #2: Kvyat to Toro Rosso
You have to feel for Antonio Felix da Costa. Twelve months ago he looked a shoo-in for an F1 seat after his exceptional performance in Formula Renault 3.5.
But when an opportunity finally became available Da Costa’s form had dipped and Daniil Kvyat was snapped up by the team – though rumours persist that lucrative Russian backing played a role in his selection.
Alonso praising Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg produced some superb performances for the mid-grid Sauber team in the second half of the year, taking fifth at Monza and holding off Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton for fourth in Korea.
Yet his talent continues to go unrecognised by the front-running teams. Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren all had vacancies to fill the year and all of them overlooked him.
But full credit to Alonso for drawing attention to Hulkenberg’s potential, calling him “one of the best drivers on the grid” following their Korea battle, adding “hopefully we [will] see him in a competitive car in the future”.
Singapore’s new turn ten
It’s rare to see circuits being changed for the better these days but the eradication of Singapore’s ugly, slow, Mickey Mouse chicane was long overdue. The new corner may not be much to shout about, but the eradication of what was the worst bend in F1 certainly is.
Did anyone miss this dreary, chicane-filled tour around a Spanish industrial estate? No? Good, then let’s never go back.
There’s no sign yet of Bahrian and Yas Marina succumbing to the same fate, but there’s no Korea on the 2014 F1 calendar so things are definitely looking up.
Greenpeace’s protest in Belgium
Regardless of your view on the substance of Greenpeace’s protest against arctic drilling, the effectiveness with which they hijacked the Belgian Grand Prix to get their point across deserved respect. Particularly the deployment – several weeks ahead of the race – of remote controlled banners which appeared during the podium ceremony.
The sight of podium organiser Alex Morina tackling the pop-up banners as if he were playing a giant Whac-A-Mole game must rank as the best comedy moment of the season.
The simple art of the F1 car launch – have the drivers pull the covers off, let everyone take a few pictures and ask a few questions – is being lost.
Mercedes decided to reveal their car online using Tweets to slowly open a virtual garage door. Predictably, they were deluged with Tweets and the website crashed for hours.
Red Bull, meanwhile, demonstrated their commitment to innovation by inviting dozens of journalists to see the new RB9, then refusing to let them take pictures of it…
So three cheers for the teams who still get it right, such as McLaren and Ferrari, who managed to have both proper launches and working online video streams.
P1 vs LaFerrari
The contest between two of F1’s great teams has its equal on the road once more as both revealed their latest range-topping hypercars during 2013. But will the McLaren P1 (great car, great name) and Ferrari LaFerrari (great car) ever face each other on-track?
Brundle hushing the Singapore boos
After a vocal minority of embittered Vettel-haters started jeering from beneath the podium at some races, it was heartening to Singapore podium interviewer Martin Brundle administer the schoolmasterly rebuke this infantile behaviour called for. “That’s not correct,” Brundle told them, and they haven’t been heard from since.
Vettel ignoring team orders
If this is what the booers objected to about Vettel then they get no sympathy from me. Red Bull’s attempt to tell him not to pass team mate Mark Webber home in Malaysia, proved just as effective as when Webber was given a similar message at Silverstone in 2011. I.e., not at all.
This pair are real racers both, and they proved it with a thrilling tussle for the lead of the race that was one of the season’s highlights. Hopefully a few other drivers have taken note of how a four-times world champion responds to team orders.
Tracks with only one DRS zone
DRS is gradually consigning real overtaking to the dustbin of history: this year almost every track had two DRS zones where drivers could jab the button and blast past their competitors without the inconvenience of having to think about it.
Fortunately two tracks – Monaco and Suzuka – proved incapable of accommodating two DRS zones and so had to make do with one. Know what would be even better? Tracks with none.
Kimi Raikkonen testing a GP3 car
I’d love to see more F1 drivers racing other cars – like Lewis Hamilton getting his elbows out in the BTCC or Fernando Alonso applying his remorselessly consistent race pace to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Kimi Raikkonen testing a GP3 car for Koiranen GP was the closest we came to seeing it happen this year.
Vergne’s Cevert helmet
Jean-Eric Vergne’s tribute to Francois Cevert, who died 40 years ago this season, was the pick of a large selection of one-off helmet designs that appeared during 2013.
Yes it was on this list last year, but for me this remains one of the most entertaining and insightful additions to F1 coverage of recent years. And judging by the popularity of F1 Fanatic’s radio transcripts it seems many of you do too.
McLaren’s flat caps
There was little for McLaren to celebrate in 2013 but they marked their 50th anniversary in style at the Italian Grand Prix, sporting these natty retro flat caps.
Sauber’s new livery
Sauber’s livery last year looked like an afterthought which would have been out of place on anything that wasn’t a panda bear. They smartened up their style this year and with Caterham and Marussia sporting revised and improved new paint jobs the overall look of this year’s field was somewhat better than last year.
— Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) September 11, 2013
The ‘funny’ hashtags could be wearisome but Lotus’s self-deprecating sense of humour gave then a winning social media presence which other teams have belatedly tried to imitate. But none have gone so far as Lotus’s amusingly cheeky reaction to losing Raikkonen to Ferrari.
Over to you
What made the 2013 season great for you? Have your say in the comments.
2013 F1 season review
- F1 Fanatic’s new year thanks and credits 2014
- The complete F1 Fanatic 2013 season review
- The drivers, teams and cars of 2013
- 2013 F1 season in stats: The year in context
- Essential reading: F1 Fanatic’s highlights of 2013
Browse all 2013 F1 season review articles
Images © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Lotus/LAT, Williams/LAT, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Mercedes/Hoch Zwei, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Red Bull/Getty, Force India, Sauber, Caterham/LAT, Marussia, Pirelli