Lotus have fired up their 2013 F1 car – the E21. It’s unlike anything you will ever hear on the road. The engine revs high, generates ridiculous power, and sounds magnificent. Hear it here:
Mercedes could have a very strong 2013, according a tweet from prominent Formula One journalist Peter Windsor yesterday afternoon:
He could well have a point. Mercedes do have a significant budget, certainly one of the largest on the grid. A focused off-season could use those financial resources to make up much of the performance gap to the front-running teams. Added to that is the stability in the technical regulations, which limits the progress of the top teams who have already come close to maximising their aero development. And when the cars become very similar aerodynamically, the difference in performance becomes a combination of driver and engine.
Mercedes have secured the services of Lewis Hamilton from 2013, which will certainly provide a boost to the team. Hamilton is arguably the quickest driver in the field and will get the maximum available performance out of the car. Ross Brawn has already stated that the team’s aim is to win races next season. Hamilton forms a crucial part of that plan.
The Mercedes engine is widely reputed to be the most powerful on the grid. Strong performances for the Mercedes-engined cars at tracks that require power (Monza, Spa, Shanghai) confirm the Mercedes power advantage. With engine development still frozen for 2013, there is very little the other engine manufacturers can do to make up the deficit, which puts Mercedes at an immediate advantage.
Mercedes are very much the unknown for next season. They should be running at the front, but so far the team has struggled. Inevitably that struggle must end and, if Windsor is right, it could be as soon as the coming season.
The current Formula One season has seen grid penalties handed out for all sorts of reasons, from gearbox changes to causing collisions to impeding drivers during qualifying. At this weekend’s Korean Grand Prix, Marussia’s Charles Pic becomes the first driver to receive a grid penalty for an engine change.
Each driver is permitted to use eight engines per season, and may choose freely when to use each available engine. For every additional engine used, however, the driver will incur a ten-place grid penalty for the race at which it is first used. Pic will use his ninth Cosworth engine of the season on Sunday, and therefore receives the prescribed penalty.
For a front-runner, a ten-place penalty would be extremely damaging. For Charles Pic, however, the penalty will have very little impact. A qualifying position of 14th or lower will result in the Frenchman starting last on the grid. Considering that his best qualifying result of the year so far is 19th, Pic’s only task in qualifying is to be within 107% of the fastest time in Q1, which should not be a problem even on the prime tyres – on option tyres in Q1 for last week’s Japanese Grand Prix, Pic was three seconds quicker than the 107% time. He can therefore save an additional set of supersoft tyres for the race.
Despite the lack of impact on Charles Pic’s weekend, penalties for engine changes are likely to become topical in the next few weeks, particularly among the front-running teams where grid position could have a material effect on the outcome of the championship. Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel would be very unhappy to have an extra ten cars to pass at the start of a race.