Last November on a cloudy and rainy day in Sao Paulo, Brazil, we saw a championship battle for the ages take place between Scuderia Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel. On the opening lap of the grand prix, Felipe Massa charged from the third row of the grid in his Ferrari to split the two McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Vettel spun on the opening lap but rebounded quickly. The race was ran mostly in rain but Vettel prevailed to win his third championship in a row over Alonso, a two time champion by three points.
The Brazil race from last year also marked SPEED’s last ever Formula One race. I remember the race and the broadcast very well. Bob Varsha, Steve Matchett, David Hobbs, Sam Posey and Will Buxton showed a lot of class and emotion while calling that race. When I watched the last F1 show on SPEED “F1 Debrief” I was getting choked up because I was amazed that there were so many memories in their tenure of covering Formula One. Most of these I hadn’t seen but I’ve seen a lot of it on YouTube. Whether it was the random fan running on the track in 2002 at Silverstone International Circuit or Rubens Barrichello letting Michael Schumacher past for the win in Austria in 2003. How about the epic end to the 2008 championship between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa? Who could forget Felipe Massa’s near death crash at Hungary in 2009. There are too many memories with this TV partner and Formula One. Although I will miss SPEED’s F1 team, they do bring most of the members over to the new company that will cover F1, NBC Sports Network and NBC.
NBC Sports group brings over Hobbs, Matchett and Buxton from the ailing SPEED channel. Veteran sports car announcer for SPEED, Leigh Diffey will handle the play by play duties for NBC’s Formula One coverage. This is a recipe for success for the motorsport side of their network.
I, like most people are excited for the 2013 season. This season we start off the season losing a legend; Michael Schumacher. His replacement is 2008 World Driving Champion: Lewis Hamilton, who is making a controversial switch from McLaren to Mercedes.
The preseason testing and car launches have begun. So far, I’d have to say that the Lotus E21’s driven by Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen looks the fastest during testing at Circuito del Jerez in Spain. Lotus has also changed up their paint scheme a little bit. They have added a light red to the side pods instead of the classic black and gold Lotus colors from the past two years.
Speaking of paint schemes with the new cars, Sauber’s C32 has really changed. Sauber has elected to go with a metallic grey, it looks very sharp. Red Bull has elected to put their sponsor, Infiniti on the car instead of Red Bull logos. All the other teams have similar paint schemes to last year so far. The only team that hasn’t launched their car is WIlliams. Vatteri Bottas replaces Bruno Senna as their second driver as Senna is going sports car racing with Aston Martin. The team is scheduled to launch at the second preseason test in Barcelona, Spain at Circuito de Catalunya.
One thing that does concern me is that Force India has launched their car for this season with only one driver under contract, Paul di Resta. Di Resta has tested the car in Jerez this week but the team is yet to confirm its second driver. Force India has put their simulator driver James Rossiter in the car this week in a few afternoon session. It is not that they don’t have sponsorship. They have FlyKingFisher and Sahara as major sponsors. If they don’t confirm a second driver, they probably will not be on the grid. Then we would be down to 20 cars. I really think that their team principal, Vijay Mallay should really look at putting the team’s third driver Jules Bianchi in that second spot or even look at a Kamui Kobayshi, Sebastien Buemi or Jamie Alguesari to name a few. If this team folds, I would feel very bad for Paul di Resta because the kid has talent.
Speaking of team/driver news, Marussia has confirmed Timo Glock’s replacement. The team has come to terms with GP2 runner up Luiz Razia. This means the team will have two rookie drivers the other one is Max Chilton.
Last year, Steve Matchett predicted that Caterham, Marussia or HRT would score points at some point. This prediction was false. HRT has closed its doors. Caterham and Marussia came very close at Brazil last year. I have to pose this question: Will the fourth year of competition be the charm for Caterham or Marussia? My quick answer is no way because the cars lack competitiveness. There are a few possibilities I see them scoring points. The first situation is, say there is a big crash at the start at one of the three street circuits (Monaco, Valencia and Singapore) with the mid-pack cars and there they are near the top ten. The other thing I see is if there is a mixed weather condition race like Brazil 2012.
After much anticipation, there will not be twenty races for the season. Formula One president and CEO Bernie Ecclestone revealed that his dream race in the streets of New Jersey at Port Imperial Street Circuit. Discussions were underway to add a replacement race in July. There were talks with the Red Bull RIng in Austria which is owned by Red Bull. A revival of the French GP and Portugal GP. The thing that does concern me for 2014’s calendar is that you are adding three more races (New Jersey, Sochi and Thailand.) One or two of these races would have to go that are on the current calendar in order to make this feasible for the teams.
Overall I am very excited for the season to begin!