Indian F1 Grand Prix 2013: 5 Key Storylines to Watch in Delhi
Whilst one big Red Bull-related storyline is dominating the talk in the Buddh paddock this weekend, there are several other key things to watch out for as the season draws to a close.
The battle for second in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship is still very much up for grabs, and with several seats still available for 2014, there will be no let-up in intensity.
Here are the five biggest storylines to watch out for in Delhi this weekend.
5. Raikkonen vs. Grosjean
Romain Grosjean had the better of his more high-profile teammate last time out in Japan, leading to some whispers in the paddock that Raikkonen is already looking towards the 2014 season with Ferrari.
However, Raikkonen lies only 30 points behind second-placed Fernando Alonso with four races remaining. Therefore, second place in the drivers’ standings is still very much achievable.
It will be fascinating to see whether Grosjean can continue his impressive form and again finish on the podium, or whether Raikkonen can prove he is as motivated as ever to finish his Lotus career on a high.
4. Will Alonso Fight Until the Bitter End?
Whilst it’s practically impossible for Fernando Alonso to win the title—he needs to win every race and hope that misfortune befalls Sebastian Vettel—you can bet the proud Spaniard will give it his all.
Alonso has finished second in three out of the last five races and will most likely finish runner-up for the third time in four years.
Whatever happens, Alonso can look back on this and previous seasons with his head held high. He told Autosport:
In this last four years I fought for three world championships, which is sad in a way because you are close to winning, but on the other hand I'm extremely proud. I'm doing the best form and the best races of my life in these years, so when I go to bed I am extremely proud.
3. Drivers Fighting for Their Careers
Despite there only being four rounds of grand prix racing left this season, the futures of several drivers on the F1 grid remains as unclear as ever.
Several teams—including McLaren, Force India, Sauber, Williams, Caterham and Marussia—have yet to finalise their driver line-ups for 2014 with some high-profile drivers facing an anxious wait.
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.
Other drivers who will be looking for a strong showing in India to keep themselves firmly in the shop window include Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and McLaren's Sergio Perez.
Massa is reportedly in talks with Williams, according to ESPNF1, while Perez is yet to finalise a new deal with the Woking team.
2. The Tail-End Tussle
Although most eyes will be on happenings at the sharp end of the grid on Sunday, results are just as important at the tail end of the grid.
Autosport confirmed on Friday that Marussia has secured its future after signing a new commercial deal with Bernie Ecclestone, which guarantees them an extra payment if they don’t finish in the top 10 of the constructors’ standings.
Whilst it remains unclear how much this payment will be, it is a certainty that the 10th-placed team will receive an extra $10 million worth of funding, and that Marussia will be fighting tooth and nail to finish above rivals Caterham until the season’s end.
1. Vettel to Be Crowned Champion?
Of course there is one massive story that is likely to grab all the headlines this weekend, and that is Sebastian Vettel clinching a fourth successive world drivers’ title.
Vettel only needs to finish fifth or higher regardless of what Fernando Alonso manages, and after he finished quickest in Friday practice, it’s already looking a dead cert.