11th. Pedersen-BMW (Pre-season prediction: 11th)
Poor old Pedersen just couldn’t get going at all this season, mostly thanks to a terminally underpowered engine… being BMW’s sole supplier undoubtedly didn’t help matters. Highlights were therefore sparse, but both drivers managed to score points at the very first race, when reliability was at its most marginal. The other highlight came at Hockenheim when Kamui Kobayashi qualified 9th on a wet track. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if Pedersen had abandoned development halfway through the season so they could focus on being more competitive for 2014, and it would be nice to see this team do well again after their team boss received a ban from so-called Facebook.
10th. Horizon-Mugen (Pre-season prediction: 7th)
Horizon’s second season in FF1M proved to be an extremely challenging one. Although they showed some good pace during pre-season testing, the reality wasn’t quite as fruitful with just three finishes in the points for both drivers. This could well be blamed on the engine which appeared to not be developed properly. Sutil’s highlight was a 7th place at a soaked Hungaroring, while Sam Bird put in an extremely tenacious drive at a damp Spa to take a hard-earned and somewhat cleansing point. Another saving grace was that Horizon’s car appeared to be fairly reliable, which is a good sign for the following season and its new engine regulations.
9th. GRM-Mercedes (Pre-season prediction: 6th)
Like Horizon, GRM showed strong form in pre-season testing, even topping the second day at Dubai, but it didn’t translate into the actual racing with just one point from the first ten races. Valtteri Bottas then took a creditable 7th place at Hockenheim before taking a shock but no less deserved win at the Hungaroring by virtue of staying out of trouble, staying on the right tyres, and staying on the track… mostly. It is therefore no surprise that they wanted to keep Flying Finn 3.0 for next season. Paul Di Resta’s season only bore a single point, but he did win the coveted ‘Bandit of the Year’ award by tipping his car onto its side at Singapore and then continuing!
8th. FJR-Mugen (Pre-season prediction: 3rd)
Needless to say, the entire paddock, including myself, vastly overestimated my team. Pedersen even had Lewis Hamilton winning the drivers championship! As it happened, I failed to record a single podium finish, the first that has happened since Season 3 of the Masters era. The car was semi-competitive at the beginning with Hamilton leading at some point during the first couple of races, but poor reliability plus some uncharacteristically clumsy manoeuvres on other drivers dented his chances for points. As for Esteban Gutiérrez, only five finishes in 14 races led to him being replaced by FF2M frontrunner Giedo van der Garde, who also failed to score points, one of two drivers to do so in 2013… the other being Gutiérrez. Rather embarrassingly, Esteban had more retirements than any other driver, and he didn’t even finish the season!
7th. Willows-Mercedes (Pre-season prediction: 2nd)
After a dream debut season, Willows came back down to earth as 2013 almost mirrored that of FJR’s season, except neither driver really did anything wrong. The car was fairly competitive early on with Nico Rosberg finishing on the podium in China, but right from the start, it was clear that the Mercedes engine was a long way off in terms of power compared to Ferrari and then Renault. This crippled the talented Mr. Ricciardo in particular with only three points finishes all season for him. Frustration then crept in as Daniel caused a chain reaction at Spa which affected Jenson Button and Pastor Maldonado. It is likely that Willows abandoned development early as they only scored one point in the final eight races.
6th. Mitchell-Renault (Pre-season prediction: 9th)
A reliable car in the early part of the season helped Nico Hulkenberg to a podium finish in Australia, his first since the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix. Nico then became the most reliable driver during the first half of the season with eight points finishes and no retirements during the first nine races. Qualifying was his biggest strength, not once qualifying outside the top ten. The Renault engine became more powerful, but this had a dramatic effect on reliability as in the second half, Hulkenberg suffered a string of retirements including a scary one at Hockenheim where he converted his car into a roadblock after an engine failure led him to a petulant smash into the barrier, which then ricocheted him into the path of both Pedersens and his teammate. Speaking of which, despite a creditable 4th place in Australia, Jaime Alguersuari was outshined by Hulkenberg throughout the season, but he will remain alongside the German for 2014.
5th. AndrewF1-Renault (Pre-season prediction: 10th)
AndrewF1’s 2013 season began in a similar fashion to 2012 with an early podium finish for Robert Kubica, but rather than falling behind on car development, AndrewF1’s car actually improved as the season went on. This was down to some hard work with Mitchell to extract more power from the Renault engine. Despite a few engines blowing up in the second half of the season, Kubica took two pole positions and benefitted from Romain Grosjean late gearbox failure to take his first win since the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, and AndrewF1’s first win since the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix… seems to be a lucky circuit for both! It will be interesting to see if AndrewF1 pushed for wins or if he did indeed stop development early.
4th. Shake n Bake-Ferrari (Pre-season prediction: 4th)
One of three predictions I actually got right! Sebastian Vettel did nearly all of the legwork for Shake ‘n’ Bake by taking a couple of wins and stayed in contention for the championship right up until the end of the penultimate race, despite what I reckoned was the 4th best car on the grid. His win at the Nurburgring was particularly impressive. Combine this with completely annihilating his Venezuelan teammate Pastor Maldonado, Vettel therefore takes my ‘Driver of the Year’ award. It is likely that Shake ‘n’ Bake pushed for the drivers championship until the end of the season, so I’m a little bit nervous about their prospects for 2014, but they will have two very capable drivers at their hands.
3rd. Exolite-Ferrari (Pre-season prediction: 8th)
Having made his third comeback to the FF1M circus this season, I expected Exolite to be a little bit behind on car development compared to the others… how wrong was I? With two former champions in the form of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, they were immediately quick, and Button was leading in Australia before his suspension collapsed. Both drivers were regular points scorers which gave Exolite the edge over Shake ‘n’ Bake in the constructors, and despite retiring in four of the first five races, Alonso proved to be extremely dependable. At Monaco, he took Exolite’s first win for a very long time… the first round of Masters Season 8 to be exact!
2nd. Tornado-Ferrari (Pre-season prediction: 5th)
Before the season began, I had Tornado starting off well and then fading as the season developed. I got that prediction wildly wrong as the Tornado package was one of the strongest in the field throughout the season, but not a dominant one. Both drivers shared seven wins between them with Romain Grosjean’s best coming in Suzuka after a splendid overtake on Kimi Raikkonen going into the Spoon curve with just a few laps remaining. Interestingly, both of Jean-Eric Vergne’s wins came at the two super-low downforce circuits, but he seemed to draw the short straw on strategy in a couple of races, notably in Singapore and the US. Where Tornado lost both championships was in the reliability department as Grosjean suffered a hefty seven retirements, but nevertheless, another strong season for Tobias.
1st. Gojira-Ferrari (Pre-season prediction: 1st)
For me, Gojira were always the favourites going into the season with a well developed car and the works Ferrari engine. For the most part, they had by far the fastest car in qualifying with ten poles for Raikkonen and four for Sergio Perez. In fact, they locked out the front row in 50% of the races, but the races told a slightly different story. Reliability was less of a question mark, but Raikkonen lost at least two possible wins because of suspension and tyre failures at Silverstone and Hungary, while Perez had brain failure at Silverstone after a spin left him in the Copse gravel trap and couldn’t be arsed to rejoin for about four laps. With four races to go, both championships looked to be Tornado’s, but Raikkonen and Perez dramatically overhauled a 28 point gap to pinch the constructors championship by just a single point.