The Oracle of F1

The Artist.....

Champion Elect
The Oracle of F1…

It’s that time of year again, where I’ve been gazing into my crystal ball, and looking to what we can expect from the 2013 F1 season.

January is nowadays a quiet time in F1, as gone are the days when teams would spend their entire Christmas vacation pounding round Barcelona, with just a short break to cut the turkey and pull a few crackers, but the less said about Nico Rosberg’s extra curricular activities, the better. However, in January, fevered anticipation is awaiting the announcement of the last two missing seats in F1. No-one is surprised when Bruno Senna’s money finds his way to the back-of-the-grid Caterham seat, but Force India pull off a major coup by announcing that they have convinced Michael Schumacher to “un-retire” and complete the job he began when the team was Jordan. Schumacher is quoted as saying “I still feel that despite 7 world championships and 91 race victories, I still have things left to achieve in F1”.

With a flurry of car launches just before pre-season testing, hyperbole is never far away. The new McLaren partnership has already had its first major disagreement; Button wanted to go for sushi, but Perez wanted to go for Mexican food instead. In the end, they compromised and had curry instead. However, a united front is presented at the launch, where they seem amicable, and announce their intention to win both championships by a mile. Ferrari again produce a radical car, stating that the only way to win the championship will be to do things differently to how they have done it before, and really push the boat out. Red Bull again produce a stunning looking car, but questions are already raised about the rigidity of the front wings, as they are seen flapping before the covers are even removed! Christian Horner firmly denies that there’s anything illegal about the car, stating that “We have never failed any tests, the car is 110% legal. Mercedes also launch their car, but already are trying to keep expectations in check: “We hope to improve on our overall position in 2013, and with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, we believe we have the best driving partnership on the grid” states Ross Brawn, before Norbert Haug adds “We also have the largest and best design team on the grid too – there’s no reason why we cannot win 2 or 3 races this season, before completing our conversion to title challengers in 2014.

Initial testing results for both McLaren and Mercedes are not good. Both teams seem all at sea with their new cars, but both promise that when they get their “Final aero packages”, they will be competitive. Michael Schumacher’s first test with Force India is even worse though, ending the session 3 seconds behind his team-mate, di Resta. After the test, he hastily organises a press conference, into which he walks with a distinct limp and an apparent crick in his neck. “Unfortunately, I am forced to announce my retirement from F1, as I have not fully recovered from the motorcycle crash I suffered 5 years ago”. When questioned why this hadn’t affected his time at Mercedes, he simply walked out of the conference, all evidence of a limp having vanished.

The teams arrive in Melbourne with a spring in their step, and the anticipation of a new era. However, Red Bull demoralise everyone by qualifying first and second on the grid by over a second. Further questions are asked about the legality of the front, and now rear wings, as they are seen curling up on the straights, and then letting themselves out in the corners. Red Bull argue that these are not moveable aerodynamic devices, as they have passed every test thrown at them. Red Bull win the race at a canter, and the following race at Sepang, but then the FIA announce an immediate increase in the load being applied to front and rear wings to try to stamp this out.

As the teams arrive in China, to the new FIA front wing load tests, Caterham, Marrussia and McLaren are all embarrassed, as due to the strength of the new test, their front wings snap. Red Bull once again sail through the test, and issue a press release; “We have not had to change any element of our car in order to pass these new tests. Our car is completely unchanged from its specification in Melbourne”. However, the advantage they had over Ferrari seems remarkably reduced in both China and Bahrain. Bernie Ecclestone is overheard discussing the 2014 calendar, and suggests that the Russian GP in Sochi is likely to be cancelled, as with the New Jersey race. Disneyland offer to run a second US GP from 2015 onwards, but there is controversy straight away, as despite not having a place on the calendar, the Valencia circuit have issued a trademark for “The Mickey Mouse Grand Prix”. The FIA also quietly announce that they have decided to cancel the move to a V6 turbo engine.

The teams head to Barcelona, with Red Bull a long way ahead in both drivers and constructors championships. However, Spain marks the start of a run of bad results for the team. Mark Webber has announced his retirement from F1 at the end of the season, and suddenly starts fighting with his triple champion team-mate. He’s heard muttering before the Barcelona race “I am not a ****ing second driver… I’ll not take this any more” Vettel and Webber crash into each other going into the first corner in Spain, leading to both drivers receiving 10 grid place penalties for Monaco, and then crash into each other again at the start of the Monaco GP, leading to both drivers being banned for a race.

Going into the British Grand Prix, hopes are high that Lewis Hamilton can turn around Mercedes’ dire season in the British GP. In a damp qualifying, he puts the car on pole, and is leading comfortably, but the car retires in a smoky mess with less than 10 laps to go. Jenson Button comes through to take his first win of the season for McLaren, and announces that the McLaren team have finally turned the corner, and have found how to make the car work.

There had been some indecision prior to the season about whether the German GP would be held at the Hockenheimring or the Nurburgring. 11 of the teams arrive at the Hockenheimring, and wonder where McLaren are. Unfortunately, McLaren had instigated their annual administrative cock-up and booked hotels next to the Nurburgring, and parked in the paddock behind the pitlane there. Having discovered their mistake, they eventually show up on the Saturday of the GP, but all of the team have to sleep in their transporter, as they have failed to find any empty hotel rooms. Due to the fatigue, when Perez comes in for his pit stop, the mechanics put the front tyres on the back of the car and the rear tyres on the front of the car. Surprisingly, this makes the car suddenly lap a second a lap faster than anyone else. The car is immediately disqualified, but the team announces that “This experiment has shown us precisely where we need to make improvements to our car”. As the teams roll into Budapest, hopes are high in the McLaren team, but despite all their hopes, Button and Perez are over a second a lap slower than even the Lotus Renault team.

Following the 3 week break after Hungary, the circus arrives in Spa, with Kimi Raikkonen again promising great things. Having spent 2012 getting back up to speed, he is really on it in Spa, and deftly gains his customary win in the Ardennes forest. When asked during the podium interview why he is always so fast around the Spa track he answers “It is because I have ****ing bigger balls than everyone else”. This, having been broadcast live and uncensored around the world, brings instant condemnation and criticism for Raikkonen. Raikkonen is stripped of his victory and made to work on a road safety campaign. When interviewed about the road safety campaign, Kimi again swears, but this time in Finnish, so only a fraction of the population can understand what he says.

Mercedes announce that since it has failed to so much as achieve a podium in 2013, it is stopping development on the 2013 car, and will put all of its focus on 2014. When interviewed about this Ross Brawn states “We see this as a building year. In 2014, there will be a large change in the regulations, and we expect to be at the sharp end with the new V6 turbo”. When quizzed about the fact the new engine formula had been dropped Brawn answered “Nobody told me! I’m only in charge of the race car… The engine’s Norbert’s side and the driver’s Niki’s side!”

The Asian tour begins well for McLaren, with the team gaining consecutive 1-2 finishes in Yeongam and in Suzuka. However, rumours are rife that Button is still not happy with his new team-mate. “We we supposed to be going out for a Japanese meal, but we ended up having sodding Tacos” he was heard muttering after his Japanese victory. Bernie Ecclestone releases the 2014 calendar, with races pencilled in for New Jersey, the Sochi GP is still listed as provisional, and the Mickey Mouse GP was listed, but rather than being held at Disney Land, instead it was being sub-licensed to Magny Cours. A representative of Walt Disney announces “We are very excited about being able to host a GP, and we feel that Magny Cours is the best place to hold a Mickey Mouse Grand Prix”.

Despite their early season domination, Red Bull’s intra team contretemps has meant that the title race comes down to the final race, once again. Alonso, Raikkonen and Vettel go into the final race, all with a real chance of the title. Felipe Massa needs to help his team-mate to aid his championship challenge, not only for Alonso, but also to secure his drive for 2014. In the end, Massa wins the race, with Alonso only needing second for the championship. However, on the run to the start-finish line, Alonso’s Ferrari suffers its first mechanical break-down of the season, allowing Vettel to take his fourth title.

The teams pack up following the Brazillian GP, and prepare for a new season. Lewis Hamilton announces that he is very excited about the new challenges the new regulations will place on both engineers and drivers. Kimi Raikkonen announces that he can’t ****ing wait to start racing again in March… He is given a 1 race ban for his troubles..... Roll on 2014
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