Although changes in Formula 1 for 2013 are not on the scale planned for racing in 2014, there will be some notable differences.
Use of DRS
The way in which the Drag Reduction System (DRS) is used in practice and qualifying will be the major change for next season. Until now, drivers have had the luxury of using it as they wished in order to produce the ultimate flying qualifying lap, but from 2013 they will only be able to deploy it within the designated DRS zones. Drivers have lobbied for the change on safety reasons. Kimi Raikkonen expressed his views to Turun Sanomat newspaper.
“It had been going more and more in the direction of everyone trying to take advantage all the time to use DRS earlier and earlier.”
“At some point it was going to cause a big crash. The drivers wanted this change.”
Prohibiting the use of DRS during qualifying could level the playing field between the teams. The dominating force in qualifying, Red Bull, with the help of their genius aerodynamicist Adrian Newey, have enjoyed an advantage provided by a superior DRS system that could be used when cornering, in addition to the benefit it provides on a straight. With this removed, 2013 could see a more varied array of pole sitters.
Causing huge debate when they were revealed prior to the 2012 season, stepped noses were deemed ugly and many mourned the loss of the ‘beautiful’ Formula One car. Not wishing to completely redesign the car for 2013, a solution to mask the nose has been allowed instead. Teams will be able to fit a panel concealing the horror beneath.
Perhaps in response to Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren being abandoned on track due to lack of fuel following qualifying in Spain and then the similar situation for Sebastian Vettel in Abu Dhabi, the rules regarding the amount of fuel required at the end of a session will be changed for 2013. Instead of just one litre being an adequate sample, next season teams will have to demonstrate that the car contains one litre, in addition to the amount absorbed when returning to the pits.
Cars have had to pass more demanding crash tests in order to be deemed safe enough for the 2013 season, Sauber, Ferrari and Mercedes have already proved their cars are viable for racing next season.
Loss of HRT
The number of cars on the grid is reduced to eleven following the loss of HRT at the end of the season. Having spent three years in the sport without achieving a point, the team was unable to continue for financial reasons.
A switch for Lewis
Having been one of the most talked about stories of 2012, 2013 will see Lewis Hamilton drive for Mercedes after leaving the team he grew up with, McLaren. Having proved himself as a racer, he will now endeavour to extend his skills into leadership. Lewis’ presence at his new team will create a change in driver dynamics and the true potential of Nico Rosberg may be revealed. Having largely outperformed the returning Michael Schumacher, and taking the victory in China he has created the illusion of being a promising driver. Racing against Lewis will either shatter the illusion or make it a reality.
The 2013 season will see at least three rookie drivers line up in front of the red lights in Australia. Valterri Bottas joins Pastor Maldonado at Williams, Esteban Guttierez will partner Nico Hulkenberg at Sauber and Max Chiltern has been confirmed as a Marussia driver alongside Timo Glock.