5 F1 Drivers Who Went Backwards in 2013
For some Formula 1 drivers, the end of the season could not have come quickly enough.
Whilst a fortunate few are bathing in the glory of a job well done and enjoying some well-earned time off, others face an anxious wait regarding their F1 futures or are left to reflect on what has been a tough campaign.
Taking last season as a comparison, here are five drivers whose end of term report will not make for happy reading.
Honourable Mention: Kimi Raikkonen
2013 – 5th – 183 points
2012 – 3rd – 207 points
After winning the season opener in Australia in convincing fashion, many expected a strong title challenge from the Finnish favourite.
Indeed, following second place finishes in China, Bahrain and Spain, Raikkonen was only four points behind Vettel with five races of the season gone.
Two more second place finishes in Germany and Hungary meant that Raikkonen remained in touch with half the season remaining but that would be as good as it as Vettel won every remaining round.
Still, the season was by no means a disaster and although teammate Romain Grosjean enjoyed the stronger finish to the season, Raikkonen’s promising seasons with Lotus rewarded him with a return to Ferrari in 2014.
5. Felipe Massa
2013 - 8th - 112 points
2012 - 7th - 122 points
The popular Felipe Massa is safe in the knowledge that his future as an F1 driver is secure for another season at least after Frank Williams offered him a lifeline.
Even so, his last season at Ferrari has not been a happy one. Massa has struggled in comparison to his excellent teammate, achieving only one podium finish.
Last season was hardly stellar, either. Massa finished just one position higher in the championship with an extra podium to his name.
In his defence, the Ferrari has hardly been a dream machine to drive, and he has one of the great drivers as his teammate. Regardless, Massa’s decline has been a sharp one since he so nearly won the title in 2008, and many trace it back to his horrific accident in Hungary the following season.
4. Sergio Perez
2013 - 11th - 49 points
2012 - 10th - 66 points
McLaren raised more than a few eyebrows when the team announced it would be replacing Sergio Perez with unknown quantity Kevin Magnussen for the 2014 season.
Perez himself admitted to being shocked by the decision that was taken only days before the U.S. Grand Prix.
However, in truth, Perez’s performances haven’t been much to write home about. Several drivers have been critical of his driving, including teammate Jenson Button after the pair clashed in Bahrain. Kimi Raikkonen felt the same after a collision in Monaco that hampered the Finn’s chances and ended his own race.
In fairness to Perez, he did raise his game significantly towards the end of the year and ended the season with four solid points, scoring finishes that put him in with a good chance of finding a drive for 2014.
3. Mark Webber
2013 - 3rd - 199 points - 0 victories
2012 - 6th - 179 points - 2 victories
A second-place finish in his final race in Formula 1 wasn’t quite the fairytale ending that Mark Webber had in mind for his final season in the sport.
Webber announced back in June only days before the British Grand Prix on BBC Sport that he was to quit F1 at the end of the season to join Porsche’s new sportscar programme.
His high-profile clashes with wonderkid Sebastian Vettel, including the “Multi-21” team orders controversy in Malaysia at the start of the year, may have had something to do with his decision.
In truth, however, and despite some misfortune with technical issues and retirements, he has not been a match for Vettel or Fernando Alonso this year and not mustered a single race victory in unquestionably the class car of the field.
While he did score more points this season, the quality of the opposition from McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus was much stronger in 2012, and he would have expected a stronger finish to his F1 career.
2. Jenson Button
2013 - 9th - 73 points
2012 - 5th - 188 points
For 2009 world champion Jenson Button, the 2013 season will be one he will be glad to see the back of.
Last year, Button finished a creditable fifth in the drivers’ standings, only two points behind teammate Lewis Hamilton with three race victories and three second-place finishes.
This season has seen McLaren fail to score a single podium en route to its worst season since 1980, the year in which Button was born. Only a fourth-place finish from Button in Brazil prevented the team from recording its worst season since its debut year in 1966.
To Button’s credit, it hasn’t all been his fault.
The MP4-28 has been a dog of a car to drive for both Button and teammate Sergio Perez, and has been beset by design problems from the outset to such an extent that they switched their focus to next season’s machine as early as July, as revealed on BBC Sport.
1. Pastor Maldonado
2013 - 18th - 1 point
2012 - 15th - 45 points
A stunning victory for Williams at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix hinted that great things were just around the corner for former GP2 champ Pastor Maldonado.
However, the Venezuelan’s fall from grace has been a sharp one and he mustered only a single point this season compared to the impressive 45 he wrung from the Williams last term.
What is more, Maldonado’s image with both fans of the sport and those in the industry has taken a sharp hit after he accused his own team of sabotaging the tyres on his car during qualifying for the U.S. Grand Prix, as reported by The Telegraph.
Maldonado may bring substantial backing with him in the form of his country’s national oil company, PDVSA, but teams may now look at him as a disruptive influence after his recent outburst.