The Chinese Grand Prix, now in its ninth year as a Formula 1 venue, is host to plenty of talking points this weekend (Image | providingnews.com)
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?
As Sebastian Vettel slides past the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne on the run down to Turn 4, the yellow flag indicators can clearly be seen showing on his dashboard, either side of the timing screen. This would seem to suggest that the pass is illegal, which could result in a penalty for the German. (Video | YouTube)
This is the moment which could ruin Sebastian Vettel’s hat-trick of Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship crowns.
L-r: Martin Whitmarsh, Bob Fearnley and Ross Brawn flaunt the new FOTA “white shirt, black trousers” uniform (Image | FOTA website)
A number – a small number, perhaps, but a number nonetheless – of interesting quotes emerged from the second English Formula One Teams Association Fans’ Forum. The forum, held Tuesday at the Williams GP base in Grove, Oxfordshire, allowed F1 fans from around the country to pose questions to team chiefs Ross Brawn (Mercedes), Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren) and Bob Fearnley (deputy team chief, Force India) in a 45-minute question-and-answer session.
The session, which took place after an autograph session with Pastor Maldonado and an hour or so looking around the Williams GP museum, featured questions from a variety of different fans with, it should be said, differing levels of F1 understanding and vocabulary (one nigh-incoherent individual rambled on for almost two minutes without posing a question). TAP, as you would expect, had a few questions lined up, but we never got near the microphone…
Heikki Kovaleinen and Caterham were at the first F1 test of 2012 in Jerez, 7-10 February. Marussia and HRT, meanwhile, are yet to unveil their new cars
For the second time in three years, HRT will enter the Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne having not tested their new car at any of the sport’s spring tests in Jerez and Barcelona. This year, after failing the last of the FIA’s 18 mandatory crash tests, Marussia (previously Virgin Racing) will arrive in Melbourne blind, too – their plan to run some light testing tomorrow, the day after the final Barcelona test ends, was nixed earlier this week by the sport’s governing body.
2012 is the third season in F1 for these two teams, as well as for Caterham F1 (until recently known as Lotus Racing). And yet, neither are anywhere near being competitive, and the failure to arrive at pre-season testing – a perennial issue for beleaguered and cash-strapped HRT, in particular – is just another indication that neither team has what it takes to develop into a legitimate F1 competitor.