With the 2013 Formula One season coming to an end this weekend, both teams and fans will be saying farewell to some familiar faces, as well as saying ciao to another Sebastian Vettel dominated season. As always with Formula One, next year will be all change.
Brazil will be the last race for many drivers for their respective teams and for one man in particular, his last ever in Formula One. Mark Webber is calling a halt on his hugely successful eleven year career.
He is arguably one of the greatest drivers never to have won a World Championship; the great Gilles Villeneuve being another that springs to mind.
He’ll spend his 2014 season racing for Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship and is probably relishing the prospect of no longer being in a sour inter-team battle with Vettel.
The challenge of being Vettel’s teammate now falls to the hands of Australian Daniel Ricciardo who moves from sister team Toro Rosso. Mark Webber will be missed from the driver line-up. When we look back over his career, one has to quote the man himself: ‘Not bad for a number two driver.’
Brazil marks Felipe Massa’s last race in a Ferrari car, at a circuit where for half a lap, he was World Champion in 2008. It also marked his last race win in Formula One, something he must hope he can rectify when he moves to Williams for 2014.
With Massa no longer occupying the Ferrari seat, Kimi Raikkonen steps in to partner Fernando Alonso, completing the strongest driver line-up next year. Both drivers will be hoping that Ferrari can produce a car that can match their talents.
McLaren have surprisingly, only one season into an apparently multi-contract deal, sacked Sergio Perez, a move that Perez himself has called shocking.
He will be replaced by novice Kevin Magnussen. McLaren must up their game from a dismal showing in 2013 where they haven’t even been on the podium.
As well as significant driver line-up changes, there will be significant alterations in the regulations for next year’s cars. It is possible that this could prove a stumbling block for the most dominant team of 2013: Red Bull.
The team is famed for its effective utilisation of exhaust gases for aerodynamic effect. This exploitation has proved vastly advantageous for the Milton Keynes based outfit. Several teams including Red Bull’s current nearest challenger Ferrari have struggled with this manipulation of exhaust gases and have not been able to keep up.
It is therefore understandable that Red Bull will be concerned that using the exhaust gases for aerodynamic effect will not be allowed for 2014. This and a host of other regulatory changes could spark a change at the top of Formula One.
Many Formula One fans will be hoping for a season that brings to an end a series of four consecutive Championship wins by Sebastian Vettel, the regulatory changes could just bring that about.
For now though, fans will enjoy the final weekend of the 2013 calendar before turning their attention to a year where we can expect so much to be different.
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