Grand Prix 247 Random Awards of the Year for 2013
22 December, 2013
Invariably each Formula 1 World Championship season throws up a myriad possible awards, some unique to a certain season, thus we present the Grand Prix 247 Random Awards of the Year for 2013 – some good, some bad and some downright ugly.
Overtake of the year: Alonso on Webber at Monza
Good mates Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber relished racing with each other throughout their years together in Formula 1, and once again they stunned during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza when they went wheel to wheel in a breath taking duel.
Apart from their friendship, they are also hard as nails rivals and have been so for years. In the past the pair have delivered some brilliant, albeit hair raising moments on track as they battled each other relentlessly but fairly – remember Eau Rouge 2011?
They were at it again in Italy, the pair side by side exiting Curva Grande, into and through Variante della Roggia. Alonso took second place thanks to the move which would have probably ended in tears had it been tried by a lesser man on just about any other driver . Bravo chaps!
Shock of the Year: Perez axed from McLaren
It is no secret that McLaren produced one of their worst Formula 1 cars in their illustrious history when they rolled out their MP4-28, which also happened to coincide with Sergio Perez’s first year with the team. Talk about bad timing!
Moving up from a perennial midfield outfit to McLaren with their huge legacy is a big task for any driver and it can be argued that the Mexican did not disappoint. In fact he out-qualified vastly experienced Jenson Button 10 to 9, and from the outside appeared to have done a good job.
Martin Whitmarsh gave a tongue twister of a reason for the decision to axe the 23 year old, “He [Perez] is an exciting driver, and I don’t want to talk about why we didn’t re-sign him. I would rather say we saw such great potential in Kevin that we decided to sign Kevin. It was not about what Checo did wrong. What Checo did wrong was that Kevin existed. Kevin was part of our programme.”
The McLaren boss added, “I am trying to help him get a drive.”
It appears that Perez was made a scapegoat for bad management decisions made long before the Mexican youngster even set foot at Woking.
From the outside, his ruthless axing smells like a well devised smokescreen to protect senior management who would have long ago been given their marching orders if McLaren F1 Team were McLaren FC…
Of course they will put their spin on the reasoning, but from where we sit it was undeniably a shocker.
Track of the Year: Circuit of the Americas
For the second year running we cannot resist, and award Circuit of the Americas as the Grand Prix 247 Track of the Year.
Unlike similar new Formula 1 venues, the Austin masterpiece exudes character and atmosphere. It feels like a race track should, and what really swung it for COTA is the massive crowd that embraced the event with huge enthusiasm.
Few images are as dramatic as the cheering and waving masses of Formula 1 fans on the embankment taking up the space between the slope up from the start line to the top of that iconic Turn 1.
Throw into the pot the pristine red, white and blue eye candy, plus a city eagerly promoting the event and a Herman Tilke track which actually delivers good racing – and you have the undisputed Grand Prix 247 Track of the Year for 2013.
Disappointment of the Year: Heikki Kovalainen
There are two schools of thought regarding Heikki Kovalainen: the one being that he deserves another crack at Formula 1 on talent and experience alone, while the other claims that he had his fair chance with McLaren, Renault and Caterham to never deserve a drive at the pinnacle of motorsport ever again.
Lotus believed the latter and ignored their nominated reserve David Valsecchi, to give Kovalainen another crack at the big time to replace surgery bound Kimi Raikkonen at the United States GP and the Brazilian GP.
Now the E21 is a handy piece of kit, with Romain Gorsjean at the sharp end of proceedings in the final two races of the season, but Kovalainen was nowhere near the Frenchman. In fact the experienced Finn looked way out of his depth, which in itself was weird enough, considering that he has 111 grand prix starts on his resume.
He said of his Lotus foray, “I think the car is great, but I was not able to unlock the pace. I was anticipating it would be easier to come back and race competitively.”
“These two races were not the best. I knew it was a bit of a risk [replacing Raikkonen] but I did not think it would be so difficult,” admitted Kovalainen. Very disappointing – ask Valsecchi…
Show Me the Money Award: Anthony Hamilton
Anthony Hamilton spent most of December in court where he was suing Paul di Resta for unfair dismissal and loss of earnings, after being being fired by the Formula 1 driver.
Early on during proceedings Lewis Hamilton’s father said that all he got for his years of dedication to the long and arduous journey of getting his son to Formula 1 was “a thank you” – only to reveal a few days later that in fact he earned €3.5 million between 2007 and 2012 from Lewis, but this had skipped his mind.
“I completely forgot there was a service agreement between Lewis’ company and my company [Hamilton Management Group] but I never submitted an invoice in 2007, 2008 or 2009. He paid up after we split in 2010. He still maintained to pay Hamilton Management Group half a million pounds [€600,000] a year until 2012,” said Hamilton Snr.
Earlier he had claimed, “Some of us do it so that our kids have better opportunities than we had. For the love of the child. I never asked Lewis for a penny. When he won the World Championship in 2008, he thanked me and that was all I needed for 18 years of graft.”
Crash Test Dummy of the Year: Pirelli
Pirelli did themselves no favours in 2013 as their products exploded, imploded and shredded far too often on a global stage watched by billions – how many people went out and bought Pirelli tyres for their cars after the Silverstone debacle?
Despite this one cannot but sympathise with the Italian tyre manufacturer who was given the brief to spice up the show by the powers that be in Formula 1, and when the rubber started bursting they were left high and dry by those very same powers.
Many believe that the tyre saga decided the outcome of the title race by tilting the playing field towards Red Bull, who were not as comfortable with the early season specification tyres. When the build was reverted to a mix of 2013 rubber with 2012 construction it appeared that Red Bull were the biggest winners.
Here again Pirelli took the brunt of the blame, but teams were also culprits as they used the tyres with incorrect pressures, radical cambers and swapped left tyres with right tyres and so on.
Then there was the Mercedes ‘secret’ test which got Pirelli in hot water and did their reputation with teams untold damage, adding fuel to a very volatile situation.
But this is a Crash Test Dummy ‘Award’ and tyre related failures – whatever the cause – during the course of the season were far too high, and the common denominator was Pirelli.
Worst Kept Secret of the Year: Mercedes & Pirelli
Straight after the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona the Formula 1 circus took down its tents and rode out of town into the sunset… except for Mercedes and Pirelli who left their dozen or so trucks on site for a three day ‘secret’ test.
Well, the secret only lasted a week as it all came to light during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend in early June and the proverbial sh*t hit the fan as Red Bull and Ferrari lodged protests.
In a remarkably rapid sequence of events Mercedes and Pirelli got away with reprimands at the end of what would normally be a long winded and cumbersome FIA legal procedure. The verdict was out on 21 June, a mere two weeks after the protest.
Mercedes always claimed that the test was not secret, but admitted that with hindsight it was regrettable that Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had used black crash helmets during the test, conceding that it may have added to the air of suspicion surrounding the test.
Bottom line is that the worst kept secret of the year is a two way tie: Mercedes and Pirelli
Villain of the Year: Pastor Maldonado
What was Pastor Maldonado thinking when he accused Williams of sabotage, after he was comprehensively outshone by his rookie temamate Valterri Bottas, during qualifying for the United States Grand Prix?
Maldonado failed to make it beyond Q1, ending 18th fastest in the session on the day, while his teammate progressed through to Q3 and was ninth on the grid for the start at Circuit of the Americas.
The Venezuelan declared in his post qualifying interview with Sky Sports, “I think in my car somebody is playing with the pressure and the temperatures. But one more race to go, so great.”
He added, “You need to ask the team, to the guys that are working on the car, it is quite clear. It is a question for them.”
Later he retracted and explained himself, “Sure, it was wrong of me to say it, because for three years I respected them, and they respected me. I was stressed on the first weekend after the announcement that I am leaving the team.”
This coupled to his cynical last lap overtake on Bottas at the Japanese Grand Prix has surely not won Maldonado many fans.
Subbed by AJN.