Formula One Movers & Shakers 2013

It’s been a long closed season but the new season is just two weeks away, testing is firmly underway; but that is not what I am going to talk about as anyone who knows anything about F1 knows that pre-season testing rarely has any relation to form when the Australian GP rolls around.

Let’s talk about the driver changes for 2013; the biggest driver move is Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes from the team that has supported him all his life, McLaren. Many have questioned the wisdom of Hamilton’s move to Brackley, including me and the jury is still out on whether it was a good move or not. No-one at Mercedes seems to consider their 2013 challenger to be a race winner. Of course, Hamilton joining Mercedes is only one of a number of changes, Norbert Haug has made way for Williams’ Toto Wolff as head of motorsport, former F1 driver Niki Lauda has been made non-executive chairman and McLaren’s technical director Paddy Lowe has also defected. There were also suggestions that Ross Brawn might be leaving Mercedes, but thusfar he is still head honcho, while Nico Rosberg has been retained for 2013; reviving an old GP2 rivalry with Lewis Hamilton!

Ferrari have stuck with the pairing of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, the Brazilian impressing in the second half of last season earning a one year contract extension. Red Bull have also stuck with a tried and tested partnership of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, extending their partnership to five years. Lotus have retained both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean; although Grosjean has been warned about crashing out so consistently so whether the Frenchman will make it through the season is another matter, no doubt that ‘Iceman’ Raikonen will be as consistent as ever!

McLaren have drafted in Sauber’s Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez to replace the outgoing Lewis Hamilton, Perez exhibited some great drives in 2012, claiming two second place finishes during the 2012 season. Jenson Button will partner relative rookie Perez, assuming the mantle of #1 driver for McLaren, let’s see if Button can maximise his potential now that Lewis Hamilton has departed the Woking squad.

Force India have been taking their time in making up their mind concerning drivers, but have elected to retain Paul di Resta and bring back Adrian Sutil, who was dropped in favour of Nico Hulkenberg last season. While Hulkenberg has moved to Sauber to partner rookie Esteban Gutierrez after Perez left for McLaren and Kamui Kobayashi was dropped, I tip Hulkenberg for good things this season!

Williams have retained crash kid, Pastor Maldonado while rookie Valteri Bottas replaces Bruno Senna. We’ll see if another year of experience will help calm Maldonado’s driving; Bottas is a complete unknown, hopefully he can manage to finish in the points more than the outgoing Senna.

Toro Rosso have elected to stick with last years driver line-up, Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo. Caterham have plumped for an all new driver line-up in Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. Marrussia have also gone for an all new rookie line-up, Max Chilton and Luiz Razia.

All the players are in place, bring on Melbourne, two weeks and counting to Free Practice 1!

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