The Frontstretch: Formula 1 Friday: Half-Term Report by Andy Hollis -- Friday August 9, 2013

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Formula 1 Friday: Half-Term Report

Andy Hollis · Friday August 9, 2013


So we’re there or thereabouts in terms of half way and fortunately this is the last of the long, long breaks between Grand Prix. Is it just me, or has it felt like there’s been more of those than usual??

Anyhow, in championship order, let’s have a look at the runners and riders and have a spot-check on how they’re doing so far in 2013….whilst also indulging in a little bit of silliness by comparing them to bands. Well, why not, we have to do something to keep the interest going…..this week, the top half……

Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Racing
Grudging grade A
If he were a band – Aqua – Annoyingly Successful

Sebastien Vettel is once again at the top of the charts…er..standings.

Oddly enough, this is only the second time that Sebastian Vettel has reached the midway point of the season at the top of the points table, despite his seemingly incessant dominance of recent times. Four wins to date launch him to the top, but Vettel is also (bar his DNF whilst leading) yet to finish outside the top 4 in a race this season. It’s going to be tough to shift him from the top step once again and one has to concede it’ll be another deserved victory.

Why a grudging grade? Twofold really – one, I’d just prefer someone, anyone, else to come away with the title this season (we Brits are odd when it comes to success. Give us an underdog any time). Secondly, the ‘Multi 21’ controversy at Malaysia left a somewhat sour taste, and what’s more laid to rest the ‘chirpy chappy’ persona to reveal the rather less pleasant underlying character that is more familiar to those in the team…..

Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus GP
Yes, yes, yes, Grade A
If he were a band – The Clash – punk rock coupled with “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”

The paddock’s favourite snowmobile racer, Mr. Consistent himself, Raikkonen has now scored points in all but one race since he decided to bring his reticent, yet dryly entertaining self back to the sport. He’s a man in demand as a result, with a possible move to Red Bull on the cards. He perhaps doesn’t have the outright, one lap speed of an Alonso or a Hamilton (which is one of the reasons why Vettel has openly stated he’d prefer Kimi to Fernando as a teammate next year), and has a good thing going at Lotus. I think it would hurt him to move in 2014, tempting though it must be…..

Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
A Slightly Tetchy Grade A
If he were a band – Lady Gaga – masterful at playing the game, and teetering on being controversial.

Frustrated Fernando this year sits in a relatively decent third place in the championship, but for the Spaniard and the Ferrari team it’s been once again a story of extracting the very, very best out of a package that hasn’t been quite up to the task. There’s only so long a man of Alonso’s myriad talents will put up with being second (or third) best, hence the recent reports of his manager going for a friendly chat with Christian Horner. Ferrari know they need to up their game to keep their main man.

Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
A ‘getting there’ Grade B+
If he were a band – The Doors with Ian Astbury – a talented new boy finding his feet in unfamiliar surroundings. Occasionally awkwardly….

As Mercedes are finding out, life with Lewis Hamilton is not restricted to what he does in the car. That aside, there was certainly no expectation that in a new team Hamilton would find himself in title contention, no matter how remote. Having driven through an awkward stage where it looked like his underrated team mate had started to take the lead, the momentum is once again with new man Hamilton, and this new found confidence should serve him well in the second half of the season. His record of 4 pole positions is testament to his continually impressive one-lap pace.

Mark Webber – Red Bull Racing
An ever unlucky B-
If he were a band – Ultravox – their brilliant single Vienna was kept from the Number One spot by a parody song. Now that’s unlucky.

Sadly this is, in terms of points scoring, the affable Aussie’s poorest return since 2008. Despite his seemingly endless run of bad luck (and some might say bad support after Malaysia), the truth must be told that he’s once again been unable to hold a candle to Vettel. It’ll be sad to see one of the true characters of the sport go at the end of the season, but the time seems right.

Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
Impressively B+
If he were a band – Archive. Well known on the European continent but hugely underrated by people in the UK who should know better.

Many seasoned observers of the sport expected Nico to be blown away by Lewis Hamilton this year. However he has very much held his own against the highly rated Englishman (which perhaps shows that Michael Schumacher’s comeback wasn’t quite so bad as suspected). He may lag behind Hamilton in the standings, but he’s also failed to finish three more races, none of which were down to his own errors. Impressive stuff indeed.

Felipe Massa – Ferrari
A consistently average C
If he were a band – Black Eyed Peas – They’ve always done well for themselves, have had their moments, but in reality they’re just not very good.

We seem to say this every year, but one suspects this is the end of the road for Felipe at Ferrari. It’s never easy being the team mate of somebody so dominant as Fernando Alonso, but the truth of the matter is that once again his performances haven’t been at the standard one expects, if not demands, for the Italian marque.

Romain Grosjean – Lotus GP
A frustrating B-
If he were a band – Rush – Can be great, can be bog average, and might do better to stay on track sometimes….

Grosjean, on his day, is mighty quick. But when you watch him you find yourself waiting for the mistake, and normally you need not wait long. Add consistency and he’d be a fine driver, but how long do we wait….?

Jenson Button – McLaren
An average C+
If he were a band – Sadé – smooth, but a little bit bland

Jenson’s had a bit of a time of it this season trying to tame a wild dog of a car and a wildly enthusiastic new team mate. He’s struggled a bit with both to date, but at least the first of these is beginning to recover a little. The second half should be more rewarding for JB than the first…..

Paul di Resta – Force India
A nearly there B+
If he were a band – Coldplay – pretty good, but achingly dull…

Di Resta is perhaps surprisingly already within 10 points of his total score in 2012 which shows that the young Scot is having a decent season. However there’s a lingering suspicion that he could have had more. He’s quick, the car’s good, and if he carries on as he is, a move to a top team may be a possibility.

Adrian Sutil – Force India
A returning B
If he were a band – Metallica – fine to watch, but you wouldn’t want to meet him in a bar…..

Returning to the sport after a year’s absence, Sutil has done well and been immediately competitive within a decent package. Again the feeling persists that he’s not a top line driver, more one in the David Coulthard mould – consistent, quick enough and a decent point scorer. The same pattern has continued this season.

Come back for Part II and more slightly forced band comparisons next week!

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Robin Sutliff
08/09/2013 09:12 AM

I look forward to your articles each week. Thanks.

Steve K
08/09/2013 05:37 PM

It is tough give out grades without taking the teams into consideration.

No one thought Mercedes would do anything special this year, yet they are emerging as a threat to Red Bull. Does Mercedes get the A or does Hamilton and Rosberg deserve the A? Another way to look at it is Hamilton leaves McLaren, a great car for an average car, Mercedes, and the great car becomes average and the average car becomes great. Coincidence or is Hamilton (B+) underrated?

The same thing with Ferrari. The car seems to be just a step or two ahead of the dreadful McLaren yet Alonso gets a questionable A? On the other hand, how how much worse would Ferrari be without Alonso’s A driving and developing?