2013 Driver-by-Driver Preview


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Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
So, the triple World Champion returns for another go at the summit. He was a less impressive Champion last year than he had been in 2011, but he'll still be extremely difficult to beat if he is given the best car

BEST CASE SCENARIO: He qualifies on pole every week and usually buggers off into the distance.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: He comes 2nd or 3rd in the Drivers' Championship; World Domination halted.

Mark Webber (Red Bull)
Farewell, Mark? It seems unlikely that Webber will be at Red Bull, and therefore in F1, next season. Therefore, this may be the time for a great swansong. He'll still be beaten by his team-mate though.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: He'll lead the Championship after the European season then disappear without trace for Vettel's favourite races.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: He'll disappear without trace right from the off.

Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Alonso had a spectacular year of making an inconsistent car quite consistent and showing his skills in the wet. Whether he can keep on dragging Ferrari up the field is the question, especially if the car's not great.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: No-one gets a march for the Championship, finishing 3rd on 10 or more occasions enough!
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Someone else finishes 1st or 2nd on the 10 or more occassions he'll finish 3rd.

Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
Yep, he's still there. He's looking more and more likely to be remembered for the premature celebrations at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, so at least the last 3 years might not impinge on his legacy too much...

BEST CASE SCENARIO: He'll have a couple of excellent races (Interlagos preferably) but still be battered by Alonso.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: He'll look useless, and will be battered by Alonso.

Jenson Button (McLaren)
Number One driver for one of the biggest teams in F1; a team who have a budget to develop the car for the whole season? It is judgement day for Jenson Button, one feels!

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Red 5 does it like Mansell in 1992
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Jenson Button, Canadian Grand Prix, 2012

Sergio Perez (McLaren)
Perez had three great races for Sauber last year, but he now needs to attain that level on a consistent basis. He's a McLaren driver now, and that means there's far more pressure.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: He beats Button in quali and looks very fast in the race.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Any performance like those after Suzuka last season.

Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
What won't happen is him looking interested and smiling when interviewed by a journalist used to Buttonesque media-savvy from top sportsmen. And that's why we love him!

BEST CASE SCENARIO: He pulls the Lotus damn close to the title.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: He keeps qualifying behind Grosjean and doesn't get past by default on Lap One!

Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
Maybe we should try to remember the good times. Great qualifying, some excellent races. And in each of those excellent races his car remaining intact by the time the cars cross the start line again...

BEST CASE SCENARIO: He survives Lap One in most races.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Davide Valsecchi will be surviving Lap One by the end of the season.

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes AMG)
Wurz, Nakajima and elderly Schumacher seen off fine, now Nico's career gets interesting. Can he beat Hamilton? Doubt it!

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Competitive with Hamilton and the phrase "next Jenson Button" moves inexorably closer.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Blown away by his team-mate and the phrase "next Giancarlo Fisichella" moves inexorably closer.

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes AMG)
It is now Hamilton's time to test himself in unfamiliar waters, and try to secure his legacy. His pitch for greatness will start here...

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Á la Michael Schumacher in 1996, a great performance in shonky machinery before his old designer comes aboard.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Mercedes are too close to Felipe Massa on a regular basis.

Nico Hulkenburg (Sauber)
If F1 was about being good in semi-wet conditions at Interlagos, he'd be the king already. Looks like he's got them other skills as well!

BEST CASE SCENARIO: First win for Sauber and his career has lift-off. Drizzle at Interlagos.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Dull midfield muddling.

Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber)
He is a former GP3 champion and he did OK in GP2 last year as well. Will have to be fast if the words "pay" and "driver" are to be shaken off.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Competitive with the Hulk, although you won't like him when he's angry etc.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: The "pay driver" claxon is sounded!

Paul di Resta (Force India)
At this rate, di Resta is in danger of becoming the most midfield driver in the history of Formula One, although he did beat Vettel as a team-mate back in the day.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: He beats a team-mate!
WORST CASE SCENARIO: He gets beaten by his team-mate again, and is yawningly dull. Again.

Adrian Sutil (Force India)
As Force India's Pierluigi Martini, it was only a matter of time until Sutil returned, pending various visa applications. Could liven up history's dullest driver partnership by not being allowed into various countries, giving Rossiter time.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: 2011 is here again. Except the bit about stabbing Eric Lux with a champagne flute.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Visas denied left, right and centre; Rossiter outperforms him.

Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
Even the huge amount of money his Venezuelan backers bring in may only be sufficient to cover his repair bill, but if he calms down, he's quick. He's very, very quick.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: The subsequent 10 races.

Valteri Bottas (Williams)
A former GP3 winner and a man highly rated by Williams. Had last year acclimatising as Williams planned to usher Senna out the door asap. But Antonio Pizzonia was pretty highly rated by Williams...

BEST CASE SCENARIO: He's quicker or slightly slower than Maldonado, but finishes races once in a while.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Antonio Pizzonia.

Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
Four eighth places last year saw him beat his team-mate, so at least we know he can do it when the points are on offer. The rest of the time would be nice though, JEV.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: He ever gets out of Q1, and starts to outqualify Ricciardo.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: He starts so far down the field, even driving on a lake on slicks isn't enough...

Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
Say what you like about Danny having a good season, before 2010 it would have been a nul pointer, but then its for the Toro Rossos of this world the points were extended.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Pushes into Q3 sometimes and scores regular minor points.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: JEV wakes up on Saturdays and still shows better race pace.

Charles Pic (Caterham)
A Marussia second driver has survived their complete anonymity! Admittedly, he needed money and Caterham to do it, but its the first time its ever happened!

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Heikki Kovalainen 2010-12.

Guido Van Der Garde (Caterham)
Someone finally wanted his money! After years of trying, he's in; with a junior record comparable to Kamui Kobayashi!

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Kamui Kobayashi.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: It could be hilariously bad.

Jules Bianchi (Marussia)
His GP2 career has only seen one win, but two Championship podiums. Ferrari will be watching and wondering.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Beats Chilton well.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Jerome d'Ambrosio.

Max Chilton (Marussia)
Last in the Top Three of any Championship as runner-up in T-Cars to Luciano Bacheta. That could be considered less than pedigree...

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Makes Bianchi look like a Ferrari driver. (Capelli, Badoer, Morbidelli)
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Makes Bianchi look like a Ferrari driver. (Prost, Schumacher, Alonso)
Well there isn't a great deal more you can add to any of that. Suffice to say, I think you've summed it up beautifully TBY.
I think we all need to be prepared for Bottas to be the fastest Williams driver from day one.

However, there are two possible explanations for that, and only one is that Bottas is fantastic. Personally I might plump for the other possible explanation, if that does indeed come to pass.
Having championed Bottas career from the off I expect he's likely to fluff his lines and make my predictions look even worse.

We managed the amazing event of all the drivers on the grid at the start of the season still being in the race seat for the last GP (although Grosjean missed a race on a ban). Will we have that again? It looks like Razia won't make the first race at the moment but leaving him out of yhe equation who do we all think are the most likely to be dropped before season end?

The two Toro Rosso boys have a very fast reserve driver hounding them and VDG doesn't have that much cash.
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