Formula 1 is back this weekend as the fun and games comes to Europe and the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona after a three week absence following the Bahrain Grand Prix. Whilst it hasn’t perhaps started off with the bang that was last year, the action has been simmering just nicely to really take off over the next few races, and the level of intrigue remains high. So it is perhaps worthwhile recapping what has passed over the course of the first four races.
Two rounds down, seventeen to go, and the 2013 Formula 1 season is already shaping up to be a rather intriguing, and at this stage utterly unpredictable, affair.
There are already a great number of talking points following the curtain-raiser in Melbourne and last weekend’s eyebrow-raiser in Sepang, but we’ve taken four to examine and highlighted the three teams in most turmoil up and down the grid…
1) Are team orders still acceptable in Formula 1?
This season will see Team HARD., led by former BMX world champion and professional cage-fighter Tony Gilham, attempt the unprecedented challenge of running four cars simultaneously in the British Touring Car Championship having run just one until the last round of last season, when they fielded two.
Just in case that doesn’t sound enough of a test, let me elaborate – HARD. will be running two different cars. One of those, the VW Passat CC, will be making its touring car debut. Only one of the five drivers signed thus far by the squad has previous experience of a complete BTCC season. Then there’s the sponsorship and backing for four cars to find, the logistical nightmare to sort out, the cars to finish building before the campaign starts – and yet the squad are looking at adding a fifth entry to their record-breaking endeavours.
Sounding difficult yet?
As another sporting year begins there may be a certain feeling that nothing could top the unforgettable year of 2012, which saw a magnificent Olympic Games, the European Championships, a British Grand Slam winner after so long and much more.
However, there are more than enough prizes to be decided over the next 12 months, some of which are fairly easy to predict, while others remain very much open to debate.
The Armchair Pundits, therefore, has taken a look at the calendar and pinpointed five “sure-fire successes”, some of which are bound to be as controversial as Mario Balotelli and about as likely as Tom Daley being handed his own diving-themed show on televi… Oh, hang on.
This is the moment which could ruin Sebastian Vettel’s hat-trick of Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship crowns.
Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone announced on Sunday that the sport could soon be returning to France in the wake of construction delays in New Jersey, that have caused the Grand Prix of America to be postponed until 2014.
So what does this mean for the sport? Firstly, it could mean the return of a classic racing circuit steeped in history, the setting for 17 Grand Prix races between 1991 and 2008, and almost certainly signifies at least one journey to the land of Proust, De Gaulle and Prost.
The world of Formula 1 was moderately stirred earlier today by the announcement that Lewis Hamilton is set to join Mercedes GP. Having been at McLaren for six years, the 27-year-old driver moves to Mercedes hoping to reignite his title challenge.
Many of you will, no doubt, have been tuned in on Sunday to the Singapore Grand Prix, and suffered with Lewis Hamilton as engine failure cost him not only points but a lot of momentum in his pursuit of drivers’ championship leader, and former McLaren teammate, Fernando Alonso.
I, however, was at a motor-racing event of a rather different nature.
Regular readers of TAP’s motorsport section may have noticed that I’m something of a British touring cars fan, and last weekend I got the chance to fulfill a lifelong (okay, year-long) ambition to go to the BTCC event at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire.
Most people, even the majority of Formula 1 fans, will never have heard of Dr Sid Watkins until his passing last week was announced on national news. Little will they know, then, just how much is owed to one of the most important figures in F1′s safety advancements of the 1980s and 90s.
Watkins’ career and input in F1′s recent history can barely be measured until you look at the reaction of the professional racing community on Twitter.