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All Hail The Champ(s)

FEATURE BY CHRISTIAN KLIEN
14/11/2013

Formula One really is all about maximising your chances, and both Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull have done that this year, and deserve their world championships.

For such a young guy, he is just twenty-six remember, Vettel has achieved a lot in a short space of time. As I write he has won seven consecutive grands prix, which is a phenomenal achievement, but then he has had a phenomenal year. For me, 2013 has been his best year so far because he has not made a mistake while maximising his opportunities. That is the mark of a truly great driver.

Of course he could not do it alone, and Red Bull has played a big part in his success. The team has built itself up over the years, recruiting the best designers and engineers in the sport. Over time they have learnt to work as a team, and the victories they now enjoy are because of that.

While Sebastian has impressed Sergio Perez has been inconsistent in my opinion. The top teams expect a lot from their drivers, and even though McLaren has not had the best car this year it will still want its drivers maximising each race. Compared with Button, I don't think Perez has done that. Over the last few races there have been signs that Perez has a lot of talent, but he hasn't proved to be quite the same driver he was at Sauber last year.

Maybe the same is true of Fernando Alonso. In the last few races Felipe Massa has been more competitive against Fernando and I think that is because of two things. Firstly I think knowing that he is leaving Ferrari has taken a lot of pressure off of Felipe, who has always been one of the fastest guys over a single lap, but I also wonder if Fernando is as motivated as he was earlier in the season.

He went into 2013 chasing the world championship, and it has proved another lost year as far as he is concerned. There is no doubt Alonso is the most complete driver on the grid at the moment, and if Ferrari can produce a good car next season he will be one to watch out for. It will be interesting to see how he gets on with Kimi Raikkonen because they are two very different personalities.

Kimi is a character, and it will be a shame not to see him racing in Austin and Brazil because he's one of the very best drivers out there. Back injuries for racing drivers, especially in Formula One style cars, are very real. Sitting so low in the car in a hard, carbon-fibre seat, the driver feels every bump and vibration. The suspension and dampers will absorb some of the shock but the rest will go right through a driver's body, especially on street circuits. We first heard about Kimi's back problems in Singapore, which is one of the bumpiest circuits.

Lotus will suffer without Kimi because with no testing it is almost impossible for any driver to come in and be competitive, no matter how much time they spend in the simulator. It means Lotus will not score as many points as it might normally, and part of me just wonders if the situation at the team was better if Kimi might have waited until the end of the year to have the operation. It is bad that he has not been paid but he is not the first driver to be in that situation and he won't be the last. The difference for Kimi is that he is a driver who can choose what he wants to do where a lot of other drivers who are still proving themselves in Formula One can't.

The biggest problem between Kimi and Lotus came in India. It is always tricky because a driver will always want to race and finish as high up as he can, so being asked to move over is not nice and a driver like Raikkonen won't be used to having to let his teammate through!

I should also congratulate Kevin Magnusson for winning the Formula Renault 3.5 championship. The Formula Renault 3.5 championship is a good series, on par with GP2, and gives the best possible education up to Formula One.

The son of former Stewart driver Jan Magnusson, Kevin will replace Perez at McLaren next year, which shows just how much the team thinks of him because for a rookie it is much harder now than even when Lewis Hamilton made his debut. Back then there was no testing ban, so McLaren could give him lots of time in the car. Kevin will have spent hours in the simulator but nothing fully compares or prepares you for driving and racing, and with limited testing the big question is if he can succeed, and that's a very tough one to answer right now.

It is just another question for 2014. Soon enough all the last pieces for next year will fall into place, but until then enjoy the United States and Brazilian Grands Prix; two great circuits to finish off the year.

Christian Klien

Learn more about Christian and check out his previous features, click here

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by The Rumble Strip, 17/11/2013 21:36

"The 2013 season has been, yet again, one to remember with controversy, close racing and utter brilliance all coming to the fore.

Whilst the achievements of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing should quite rightly be applauded, let’s also not forget all those on the grid, at the track and back in the factories for their efforts throughout the year, which has given us a season to remember.

With the 2014 season promising a shake up in the competitive order, thanks to new regulations and different driver and car combinations, we really are blessed with a current golden age.

Let’s hope F1 continues to entertain and excite for many more years to come.
"

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