5 Things Besides the Titles Still to Play for in the 2013 F1 Season
With both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles all but sewn up after another season of Red Bull dominance, there seems little left to play for with only four rounds of the championship remaining.
Far from it.
With valuable seats still up for grabs for the 2014 season, many drivers are still very much in the shop window. Even teams at the tail end of the grid have much to play for in the constructors’ battle, which could see them net valuable income as a result.
Here are five reasons why the last few rounds of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship are well worth tuning in for.
It may seem hard to understand why drivers out of the title race would still be motivated to push to the maximum.
It was suggested recently that Kimi Raikkonen’s recent lack of form compared to teammate Romain Grosjean was a result of a lack of motivation, and that he is already looking towards the 2014 season with Ferrari.
However, team boss Eric Boullier told Autosport that Raikkonen remains as motivated as ever—and why wouldn’t he be? After all, he lies third in the standings behind his teammate for next year, and it would be a huge psychological boost if he were to leapfrog Fernando Alonso for second.
Felipe Massa, who is being replaced by Raikkonen, will also want to prove that he is still a racer to be reckoned with as he fights to keep his hopes of a future in F1 alive.
4. Finishing on a High
Red Bull may have both titles in the bag but there is a certain psychological edge to be gained by ending the season well and sending a message out to the rest of the field.
Neither Red Bull nor their rivals will want to slack off and give their competitors extra motivation that the gap has narrowed going into the close season as the development for next season’s cars picks up.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was quoted by ESPNF1 as saying there would be no let-up in intensity and that the team would “fight to the bitter end.”
3. Car Development
Although the change in engine regulations for 2014 means there is nothing that can be worked on in that department during the closing rounds, teams can still tinker on other aspects of development with a view to next season.
Smaller parts can easily be flown out from the factory as teams search for those extra tenths whilst at the same time working towards 2014, as Ross Brawn explained on Formula1.com:
There are areas of the 2013 car that we will continue to develop, almost until the end of season because they can follow on to 2014. If we look at suspension systems; we think fundamentally the tyres will be similar next year and therefore developing suspension systems is entirely relevant for next season.
2. Financial Gain
According to a report in The Times earlier this month, as covered by ESPNF1, the cost of finishing fourth as opposed to fifth in the end-of-season standings is massive—with £272 million paid to the top four teams, and £174 million divided between the other seven.
At the tail end of the grid, results are equally important as the season draws to a conclusion.
Bernie Ecclestone confirmed back in April that teams finishing lower than 10th in the constructors’ standings would no longer receive $10 million worth of funding, as was the case in previous seasons.
The fight for that 10th spot, between Marussia and Caterham, couldn’t be tighter. With the money amounting to almost a third of their budget, the battle of the minnows is quite simply a massive deal.
1. Seats for 2014
Perhaps the biggest motivation for many drivers to keep pushing until the final lap of the final race is that their very futures in the sport are at stake.
Nico Hulkenberg recently delivered potential suitors Lotus an ultimatum that he wanted his F1 future sorted by the end of the month.
However, with the move dependent on Lotus securing a financial deal with Quantum Motorsports added to concerns about next year’s weight regulations, Hulkenberg told Autosport he is now under pressure.
There are opportunities out there and I'm sleeping OK. I wouldn't like to wait until the end of the season, that's for sure. I said in Korea that before the end of the month I would like to do what I'm doing. It's coming close so I have to hurry up. I'm under pressure now to do something. These things take time sometimes and you are negotiating and it's how things go.
Other drivers fighting for their F1 future include Ferrari’s outgoing Felipe Massa and McLaren’s Sergio Perez, with Force India, Sauber, Williams, Caterham and Marussia also yet to confirm their full 2014 driver line-ups.
There’s still a lot to play for!