Briefly looking the 2nd half


Points Scorer
Nearly 50% of 2013 Formula 1 season is in the books and much of the talk thus far has been centered around the tires. Well, I’ve got news for you, that’s not going to change anytime soon. Maybe by the time 2014 rolls around we can finally switch off our “tired” minds and focus on the new engine formula. But for now: more tires. Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel have a tight grasp on the both championships as they seek their 4th straight crowning. However, with completely new tires due at the Hungaroring for the rest of the season, the reigning champs cannot sit on their laurels. 34 points is a very comfortable lead with 10 races remaining, but whoever can figure out these new Pirellis the quickest will be in the catbird seat.

The teams (minus Mercedes) will be able to put a lot of miles on these tires coming up in Silverstone and start to gain an understandings of them, but it will still take 2-3 races to fully grasp the new rubber, and I think it will be these 2-3 races that ultimately find us our 2013 Champion. If Ferrari and Alonso can figure the tires out and take a couple of wins in say, Spa or Italy, lookout, because the Spaniard will be coming. If Raikkonen and Lotus take those wins, he’s right there too. But, if Vettel and Red Bull go on a run like they/he did in September/October of 2012, it’s all over and their rivals should just put their heads down and work towards 2014. Luckily for Ferrari and Lotus, Spa and Monza are tracks that should suit their cars over the Red Bulls, but like the great American football coach Bo Schembechler said “The Tires, The Tires, The Tires!” (Or was it “the team, the team, the team!”)?

If I had to place the crown on a team’s head right now, I would give it to Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel. Any car that has Adrian Newey behind the drawing board with a new regulation, or in this case tire, has the advantage straight away. The Red Bull warms up it’s tires very well and does an okay to average job of preserving them over the race distance. The Lotus does an excellent job of preserving the tires on the long runs and their latest upgrades point towards good improvement of getting heat into the tires rather quickly - good for Saturdays. The Ferrari, which is also very good on the tires, struggles with getting the tires up to proper temperature, obviously hurting them for one lap runs in qualifying. If Pat Fry and company can somehow figure it out between now and then, they will be right back in it and able to lay down their trump card in Alonso. Like I mentioned earlier, and luckily for them, Spa and Monza are just on the horizon. Mercedes, I feel have missed their chance – they really struggled with race pace in Germany and are missing the three-day test in Silverstone, two components that do not bode well going forward. It pains me to say it, but the boys in Brackley need to throw in the towel on 2013 and come out swinging in '14.

This time of the season always makes me wonder just how much is left to gain in performance, mainly for the Red Bulls and Lotus currently, especially compared to the Ferrari who still need to/can find .4 seconds or so. So watch these next three races (and even the test times) closely because that is where the key to championship is held. And who knows, maybe even McLaren can get back to their old ways.
Mercedes have invested heavily since returning to F1 and i don't think defeatism is part of their vocabulary. They are second in the championship and Hamilton is closer to Vettel in the standings than the latter was to Alonso last year. They also have the fastest car over one lap and although question marks still remain over their long run pace they are making progress on this front and we saw glimpses of this at Silverstone. Redbull may have the advantage but i don't think Ferrari and Lotus are better placed than Mercedes going into the second half of the season.
Lotus have Kimi and a great Sunday car. Ferrari have Alonso and a great Sunday car. All teams not named Mercedes get three days of testing brand new tires. Merc already struggles with race pace and all these elements don't make me feel too confident for the final 10 races. So yeah, I would say Ferrari and Lotus are in a much better spot than Mercedes to challenge RB
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