The 2013 Formula 1 season has produced some explosive news stories. From the driver market to secret tests, team orders, regulation changes and penalties, journalists have been kept busy over the course of the year.
Nico Rosberg’s controlled race win at the Monaco Grand Prix was overshadowed by the biggest story of 2013: Mercedes’ and Pirelli’s private tyre test at the Circuit de Catalunya using a 2013 car. The news emerged just prior to the start of the blue-riband event.
After a seven-hour court hearing, the International Tribunal announced on June 24th that Mercedes were banned from the three-day Silverstone Young Driver Test and both the team and F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli were reprimanded for breaking the FIA F1 Sporting Regulations.
Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders to pass the sister Red Bull of Mark Webber and win the second round of the season in Malaysia, sparking one of the biggest stories of the season.
It was a ruthless move by the German driver, who admitted at the next race in China: “The bottom line is that I was racing, I was faster, I passed him, I won.” He also added that Webber “didn’t deserve” the victory but later apologised to the Aussie and his team.
The British Grand Prix was, quite literally, the most explosive race of the year with six tyre blow-outs that sparked concern amongst drivers and teams. Blame was first placed on the kerbs at the Silverstone circuit, before being put on the teams. However, the cause was ultimately found to be in the tyre design.
F1’s sole tyre supplier reacted quickly by introducing modified tyres for the next round in Germany and introduced new compounds for the Hungarian Grand Prix later in the month.
4) FIA announce regulation changes
This is the newest story in our top 10 countdown, but it sparked one of the biggest reactions amongst the fans. The FIA confirmed on December 9th that several new regulation changes will debut next season, including permanent numbers. Drivers will have to carry the same number throughout their F1 career – unless they take the title, where they will receive the number one – from 2014 onwards.
The second regulation change is the introduction of double points for the season finale, which will take place in Abu Dhabi next year. This new rule received a very negative response, with fans labelling it as “gimmicky” and an unnecessary addition. The FIA also confirmed that a cost cap will come into force in 2015.
It had been widely speculated but on the Thursday of the British Grand Prix weekend, Mark Webber officially confirmed that he would leave F1 at the end of 2013 and front Porsche’s LMP1 programme in the World Endurance Championship and at Le Mans.
The Aussie had the option to stay at Red Bull Racing for 2014 but decided that it was the right time to leave the sport, feeling that he needed a better work/private life balance. His replacement Daniel Ricciardo was confirmed in September.
6) The ‘Iceman’ returns to Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen had three options on the table for 2014. He could’ve stayed at Lotus, moved to Red Bull Racing or returned to Ferrari.
He chose the latter and was confirmed as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate in September, creating arguably the strongest line-up on next year’s grid. The news came just a day after Felipe Massa announced his departure from the Scuderia after eight years. He was replaced at Lotus by Pastor Maldonado.
By the end of the 2013 season, the relationship between Lotus and Kimi Raikkonen had soured after a turbulent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. The 2007 world champion almost didn’t turn up to the race due to missed payments. He took part in the weekend but crashed out on the first lap. It was the last the F1 paddock would see of him this year.
The Finn decided to make an early exit from Lotus and announced that he would miss the final two races to undergo back surgery. He was replaced by countryman Heikki Kovalainen.
8) Honda confirms F1 return
McLaren and Honda announced in May that they would rekindle their famous partnership in 2015, with the Japanese manufacturer returning to the sport for the first time since 2008.
Honda powered the Woking-based outfit to eight world championships and 44 race victories in the late 80s and early 90s. They will join Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault in the fight to build the best V6 Turbo engine.
It wasn’t just the driver market that was stealing the headlines. Ross Brawn and the Mercedes AMG Petronas team confirmed in late November that they would part company at the end of the 2013 season, ending the Englishman’s six-year stint as team principal for the Brackley-based outfit.
The 59-year-old is a highly respected member of the paddock and has been working in F1 since 1978. He joined the Mercedes team when it was known as Honda in 2007, before helping to buy-out the team for 2009 and leading Brawn GP to the title double. It was then bought by Mercedes, where he remained team principal. He will now take a sabbatical and mull over his options next summer.
10) Vettel’s record-breaking season
Sebastian Vettel joined a very exclusive list when he took his fourth world title at the Indian Grand Prix, joining Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio.
The German driver continued to dominate right to the very end of the season, breaking two new F1 records. He scored nine consecutive race victories, equalling Alberto Ascari’s record, as well as breaking the record for the most race wins in a season – 13 – and the most championship points scored in one single season with 397.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic