F1 season review

The Motor Sport team shared responsibility for Formula 1 coverage last season. Here are some personal highlights of 19 Grands Prix won by five drivers on as many continents

Nigel Roebuck
“When I think back to the 2013 season, I’ll remember primarily Vettel – and Pirelli.”

Sebastian Vettel recently said he was concerned that the new technical regulations for 2014 might have an adverse effect on the excitement factor essential to Grand Prix racing. It’s a fact that the changes, notably in relation to engines, are the most radical in 30 years, and no one quite knows how the new Formula 1 will be.

At the same time one can hardly say that the excitement factor was at any kind of high in 2013, the final year of the V8 screamers, for although the engines continued to make a lot of noise, one of them – the Renault in Vettel’s Red Bull RB9 – could quite often be heard in isolation. The excitement factor in F1 may be dissipated by many things, and one driver winning all but six of the 19 Grands Prix comes high on the list. Hardly the fault of Sebastian or Adrian Newey or anyone from Red Bull, who simply did the job better than their rivals, but unpredictability – in terms of who would win – rather went out of the window.

When I think back to the 2013 season, therefore, I’ll remember primarily Vettel – and Pirelli. It would be too tedious to go into detail again on the vexed question of ‘tyres in F1’, but suffice it to say that in the first half of the year those on offer were so delicate as to reduce a Grand Prix essentially to an economy run, so that you had Lewis Hamilton, in response to radio suggestions that he ‘watch his tyres’, yelling, “I can’t drive any slower!”

Farcical, to my mind, and a denigration of something calling itself ‘Grand Prix racing’.

Look at Rosberg’s victory in Monaco, which was as decisive as any we saw from Vettel, Nico having worked out precisely what was needed in the prevailing circumstances and delivering it to perfection.

Watching the opening laps of the race, though, one didn’t know whether to laugh or weep, for the leading Mercedes looked almost as if on a warm-up lap. Into the swimming pool complex, traditionally a blink-and-you-miss-it left-right flick, the car’s pace seemed almost leisurely, and so it was: initially Nico was running 10 seconds from his pole lap, a time that wouldn’t have qualified him in the top six for the Renault 3.5 race. After 15 laps he was down to times that would have given him a shot at the GP2 pole.

And the thing was, nobody was threatening him! How could they, when ‘tyre wear’ was the only thought in their heads?

Some people relished this phenomenon, suggesting it made for the unpredictability everyone craves; it seemed not to matter that it was wholly contrived.

In accordance with the increasing move towards F1 Lite, the powers-that-be had instructed Pirelli to go down this route, to create a Sunday afternoon cruise interrupted by a multiplicity of tyre stops. I could not but agree with Dietrich Mateschitz: “This has nothing to do with classic racing any more – this is a competition in tyre management. Under the given circumstances, we can neither get the best out of our cars nor our drivers…”

You could hardly blame him. Here he was, spending a fortune on his Red Bull team, which was effectively being penalised for building cars that were too good! As usual, they had more downforce than anything else, and that chewed swiftly through artificially tender tyres.

As owner of four cars on the grid, Mateschitz is a powerful figure in F1, and it was no surprise that the tyre policy was modified. If I found Montréal less riveting than usual – Vettel took the pole, and disappeared – it was at least a true reflection of reality, with the quickest car able to demonstrate its superiority.

At Silverstone there was further Pirelli controversy, however, and of a more fundamental kind. Following tyre disintegrations – they were nothing less – on the cars of Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Pérez, Charlie Whiting admitted that he gave thought to calling time on the British Grand Prix, and indeed one felt that F1 dodged a bullet that day.

Thereafter Pirelli abandoned its steel-belt construction (introduced in 2013) and reverted to Kevlar, but the drivers were understandably jittery, and prior to the Nürburgring – just a few days later – issued a threat not to race, should there be any further signs of failure.

There were not, and for the balance of the year Pirelli followed a more conservative route – which undoubtedly had a quite profound effect on the results. Ferrari, in particular, fell away, complaining that it had built a car to be light on its tyres, and it wasn’t fair that it should be penalised because others had been incapable of doing the same. Another way of putting it was that it hadn’t had the downforce to hurt the Pirellis, whereas Red Bull had: Lotus, too, suffered initially with the change in Pirelli’s policy, but – unlike Ferrari – adapted.

When I went to Spa following the summer break, I little suspected that Vettel’s victory would be the first of nine on the trot – indeed that no one else would win again in 2013. As with Colin Chapman’s revolutionary Lotus 78 back in 1977, Red Bull’s only weakness had long been lack of straightline speed, but on the opening lap Vettel passed Hamilton’s Mercedes up the hill to Les Combes, and with some ease.

At Monza, another ultra-quick circuit, Sebastian was again unopposed, and by now it was clear that Red Bull had moved into a zone of superiority unknown since the days of the ‘active’ Williams FW14B. As at Spa, Alonso was second for Ferrari, but that, as Martin Whitmarsh observed, was more Fernando than anything else. “When I think about drivers,” he told me, “I look at who’s in the car scoring points that it shouldn’t – and that’s why Alonso’s the best…”

Maybe so, but he needs a car that scores the points it should, and until he – or Hamilton or Hülkenberg or Grosjean – gets one, it’s hard to see past Vettel, who has just such a thing, a car that’s a match for his talent. As I walked out of the Austin paddock at dusk, the illuminated scoreboard was still showing the race order, a metaphor for the season: VET, then the rest.

Simon Arron
“Seasonal highlights included Mark Webber’s dignity – on and off the track.”

Not so much a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 2013, as one of extraordinary constants and conflict-ridden contrasts. It’s hard to reconcile images of Kimi Räikkönen battling to put a champagne bottle to his lips, after a comfortable victory stroll in Australia, with the simplicity of his delivery in Singapore six months later. Formula 1 is famously reticent at times of controversy, but the Finn has no time for artifice. He was leaving Lotus to drive a potentially slower Ferrari, he confirmed, for the simple reason that he hadn’t been paid…

My own campaign began in Melbourne and ended at Suzuka, with intermediate stops at Sepang, Monte Carlo, Silverstone, the Nürburgring, Spa and Singapore.

In Australia, Räikkönen had been made to fight for his post-race drink because Sebastian Vettel was busily attacking him with a volley of fizz. Vettel had taken pole in a qualifying session that finished on Sunday, following heavy rain, and was expected to win, but Räikkönen was able to two-stop the light-footed Lotus – a pivotal advantage on the day – and Vettel slipped to third, behind Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.

“We always planned things that way,” said Lotus team principal Eric Boullier, “but it was only at the end of Kimi’s second stint that we felt certain it was possible.” He added that higher track temperatures might suit Lotus even better the following weekend, in Malaysia, but there would be no further victories.

“It’s ironic, really,” said his Red Bull counterpart, Christian Horner. “Last year we struggled here in qualifying but raced very well, and now it’s completely the opposite. At least we know we have a fast car, though.”

The extent of that understatement was apparent the following Sunday, when Red Bull scored its first one-two of the season – a feat no other team would accomplish. The result, though, remains less memorable than the manner of its execution, Vettel almost brushing the pit wall as he ignored an order to hold station behind team-mate Mark Webber. The two came close again before the German finally made his move stick a couple of corners later.

“From a team perspective,” Horner said, “we just wanted to bag 43 points and weren’t bothered which way around the two cars finished. It didn’t make sense to have one following the other too closely, given the potentially detrimental effect on tyres…”

Thus were two of the season’s flash points encapsulated in one short sound bite. It’s true that Vettel won more races than anybody else during the first half of the season, when Pirelli’s purposely brittle new compounds triggered endless debate, but at that stage Red Bull’s true performance was masked by necessary caution. Monaco and Silverstone, races won by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, would share the dishonour of seasonal nadir, for very different reasons.

In the principality, the German capitalised on a solid pole lap to lead all the way… but during the opening stages he lapped at what was essentially GP2 pace, just to keep his tyres alive. Astute race management is a precious ally – and winning as slowly as possible a popular tactic of yore – but this was a backwards step too far, extreme precision instruments rendered relatively ordinary.

The British Grand Prix provided a dramatic contrast, with several tyre failures – one of them incurred by Rosberg, although his coincided with the safety car’s dispatch and he was able to drive fairly gently back to the pits before continuing unimpeded.

Pirelli turned up with 2012 tyres in Germany, where cars were suddenly restored to something like full potential. Vettel scored his maiden home victory and the balance of power wasn’t so much altered as confirmed. He would triumph in all bar one of the remaining 10 races and commenced a record-equalling nine-race winning sequence at Spa.

Does it reduce the sport’s appeal when you spend 15 hours in the air to watch a foregone conclusion? Some might feel that way, but to me the fascination lies in identifying a nascent challenge. Not that there were too many apparent by mid-October as I rattled along the Kintetsu Line, gateway from Suzuka to Osaka and thence home.

Seasonal highlights included Mark Webber’s dignity – on and off the track. I quit full-time F1 coverage at the end of 2012, mainly to avoid lengthy absences while my wife recovered from serious illness. Whenever I bumped into the Australian, his first question was always the same: “How’s the bride?” He’s a class act with an eye for the bigger picture and F1’s loss is the World Endurance Championship’s gain.

Romain Grosjean’s opening burst in Japan was uplifting, too. One year beforehand he’d been a nervous wreck, in the slipstream of a one-race ban that hadn’t diluted his capacity for accidental mischief. In 2012 Webber talked about “the first-lap nutcase” following some Franco-Swiss GBH at Suzuka, but this time Grosjean made one of the year’s most explosive starts to pass the Red Bulls and hold an authoritative lead. That led Horner to split his drivers’ strategies, a tactic that paid off as Lotus tried to half-cover both: Grosjean went on to finish a close third, just behind Webber, but it had been a fine drive.

Oh, and Nico Hülkenberg is, was and always has been a top-liner, a detail that seems obvious to all bar those handling contractual negotiations for the top five teams.

Disappointments included McLaren (which was present, despite evidence to the contrary) and Lewis Hamilton’s attitude. It was no surprise that the 2008 champion was second- best to Rosberg when drivers were required to tiptoe their way through races, but sometimes the German was more effective on durable tyres, too. He was also much more measured on Radio Mercedes: Ross Brawn’s understated authority might in future be missed, whenever Hamilton’s occasionally wayward energies require redirecting.

Japan remains the finest event of the year – unparalleled in terms of venue and atmosphere – while Germany was probably the cheapest (about £140 for four nights in a campsite hut, including a self-catering Lidl cocktail of chicken curry – prepared by colleague Mark Hughes – and Merlot).

Away from the paddock and its peripheral bustle, I discovered that Singapore Zoo is even better than Melbourne’s, but both should be an essential part of any F1 tourist’s itinerary.

From Red Bulls, then, to white tigers…

Ed Foster
“Talk in the paddock now surrounded the dominance of Red Bull and Vettel”

Bacon, toast, orange juice, milk, coffee, chicken feet, gruel. On the F1 trail you are exposed to various local delicacies and there are none more strange to us Brits than the breakfast menu in China. While chicken feet at 8am might be odd for many, so too, it seems, is F1 to China’s vast population. More than 23 million people live in Shanghai yet, come race day, only 0.2 per cent made the 21-mile journey to the circuit.

Those that did probably left somewhat bewildered after many ‘racing’ drivers were told to let other people past during the Grand Prix. It was a race of differing tyre strategies: there was plenty of overtaking, but quite a lot of it wasn’t very meaningful.

The start of 2012 – when seven drivers won as many races – was still fresh in the minds of many and Pirelli’s purposely fragile rubber was in the spotlight once again. It prompted one onlooker to comment, “We might as well have filmed a chess match and aired that.” Alonso, who won the race from Räikkönen and Hamilton, wasn’t complaining.

By the time we flew from Shanghai to Bahrain, I had agreed to meet Pirelli’s motor sport director Paul Hembery.

It was lucky I actually made the meeting after getting impressively lost between Manama airport and the hotel in Juffair (a hotel, it turned out, whose guests often choose to employ the services of women whose business hours run from 9pm to 3am).

With rumours of violent protests surrounding the Grand Prix, it was with some trepidation that I asked for directions from locals in downtown Manama. They couldn’t have been more helpful or welcoming, though.

I digress… “All it meant,” said Hembrey, discussing the five-lap soft tyre in China, “was that it was a qualifying compound. The race tyre was good and we only had three stops. There weren’t four, five or six. A lot of it depends on how it’s reported.” In answer to the point that F1 cars weren’t going flat out, he commented, “It’s not true they aren’t going flat out – they are within the limitations of the package. It’s been like that from day one in F1.”

Whether you agree with Hembrey or not, talk of tyres peaked at the British GP and then cooled thanks to revised compounds.

It was figuratively and physically a different world that greeted us in India for the Grand Prix in October. Talk in the paddock now surrounded the dominance of Red Bull and Vettel – the tyres were, like so many things in the world of F1, a thing of the past – and the sights (or lack thereof, due to the smog) and sounds of India made the Bahraini heat seem very far away.

By now the development race had stopped and Red Bull was up to a second a lap faster than the other cars – a Vettel victory and world title was as good as guaranteed. That’s not to take away from how brilliantly the four-time world champion drove in 2013. You don’t secure as many F1 crowns as Alain Prost without being one of the all-time greats.

When he wrapped up the title in India he delighted fans with donuts on the pit straight and then by throwing his gloves into the grandstands. He was slightly shell-shocked in the press conference afterwards, despite the fact that he surely knew he would seal the title in India, but was amusing and quick-witted. The boos he’d experienced elsewhere seemed more undeserving than ever.

The achievement of a fourth title was not lost on him. “To join people like Prost, Fangio, Schumacher…” he said after the Indian GP. “I’m too young to understand it. Maybe when I am 60 I will, but then no one will care! It’s something that no one can ever take away from you, though.”

By the time teams reached the searing heat of Abu Dhabi, the air of resignation that had been prevalent the weekend before had finally lifted. The titles gone, the focus was now on second, third and fourth in the championship for constructors and, at the back, the fight between Marussia and Caterham, one that the former would eventually win.

The Indian and Abu Dhabi GPs were only a week apart, but the two races couldn’t be more different. The former is chaotic, characterful, dirty in places and, much of the time, completely terrifying. The latter is ordered, bland, squeaky clean and oozes money. I know which I preferred.

Damien Smith
“As ever, opinion was divided, but from where I was sitting the Spanish GP was a farce.”

Somehow I contrived to report on Formula 1 Grands Prix that Sebastian Vettel didn’t win in 2013. Even the race I watched from a grandstand with my son yielded a Nico Rosberg victory. Perhaps I should have travelled to more races!

In a season of dominance for a single driver and team, I still can’t bring myself to describe Formula 1 as boring, but I must admit my enthusiasm waned in the Barcelona paddock back in May – and it had nothing to do with Vettel or Red Bull.

A week earlier, I’d been at Spa watching a six-hour World Endurance Championship race from which I couldn’t tear my eyes, such was the competitive ferocity and pace. Now I’d just witnessed a motor race in which most drivers stopped four times to complete 190 miles, and even then they’d been forced to trail around far from the limit to save their Pirellis. As ever, opinion was divided, but from where I was sitting the Spanish GP was a farce.

Ferrari and Lotus could be forgiven for disagreeing. They’d both built cars to suit the fragile rubber and, indeed, Kimi Räikkönen had stopped ‘only’ thrice. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso basked in the glory of a home win, his second in three races – and what would turn out to be his last of 2013. I wouldn’t have predicted that at the time.

Alonso’s trademark fast starts allowed him to match or improve his finishes from grid positions in 14 of the season’s 19 races. In those GPs his average gain was more than three places as he outperformed his team once again.

In Barcelona, he’d used KERS to catapult past Vettel, Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton in the opening moments, and Rosberg’s pole-winning Mercedes had no answer either as predictions about the silver cars being one-lap wonders proved all too accurate.

The same was expected in July at the Hungaroring, when a glum Hamilton told us after scoring the fourth of five pole positions: “It’s great, but it doesn’t really mean a lot. It’s going to be tough tomorrow.”

But the next day, he surprised himself by winning – aided, admittedly, by Vettel’s struggles to clear Jenson Button’s McLaren. The “miracle” he said he’d needed seemed to have been delivered, in the form of the tyre construction changes forced on Pirelli by those Silverstone failures. His form, and that of Mercedes in searing heat, looked promising. Little did I know, as I drove back to Vienna airport on Monday morning (it’s cheaper than Budapest and only an hour and half up the road), that Lewis would be the last man to beat Vettel. After the summer break, Seb’s amazing Ascari-matching feat would begin – and I didn’t predict that, either.

For both Alonso and Hamilton, 2013 delivered more frustrations than highlights and the patience of both would crack, in Hamilton’s case seemingly at least once a weekend in the second half of the season. The pouting bottom lip does him a disservice, but in Hungary I felt privileged to see the best of the man in a race where tyre degradation hadn’t been the story – thank goodness.

Three months is an age in Grand Prix racing, and so it proved between May and July. For two of F1’s finest performers, those wins must seem even more distant in the memory.

A winter off the road will surely be welcome, but the ache of Vettel’s trouncing will be nagging away right now. For these two, the 2014 season surely can’t come soon enough.

Nigel Roebuck’s top 10 drivers

1. Sebastian Vettel

This was not domination as much as annihilation: after July 28 none but Vettel won a Grand Prix in 2013. Yes, again Red Bull fielded a demonstrably superior car – which only improved as the year wore on – but Sebastian went with it every step of the way, and the opposition could only look on. Much of the time he was utterly imperious, as nine-on-the-trot suggests, his season marred only by the stolen victory in Malaysia, which demonstrated contempt for both team-mate and team. That apart, fault was hard to find.

2. Fernando Alonso

After four years of routinely outperforming his cars, Alonso had yet another season go by without a title, and on occasion in 2013 he finally allowed his frustration to break surface, which led to internal friction. Ferrari started well, but if Pirelli’s mid-season switch to more conservative tyres did the team no favours, so the team’s own development programme stalled. Fernando sometimes fell short in qualifying, but his starts remain a thing of wonder and he maintained his reputation as the racer’s racer.

3. Nico Hülkenberg

Only 10th in the standings, but in terms of what he did with what he had, none performed better in 2013 than Hülkenberg, whose talent screams out – apparently to deaf ears – for a top drive. Sauber began poorly but progressed well, aided by Pirelli’s change of philosophy. In the season’s final third – along with Grosjean and the inevitable Vettel – he was a true star, quite brilliant at such as Monza and Yeongam. One of those who can think and drive at the same time, Hülkenberg is a champion in the making. Anyone listening out there?

4. Kimi Räikkönen

In so many ways, Räikkönen was more content with Lotus than ever we saw at McLaren or Ferrari. Had the team managed to pay him for his work, it is doubtful he would have moved on. Perhaps that ultimate edge is gone, but Kimi outqualified team-mate Grosjean more often than not, won in Melbourne and was usually a serious contender, back pain or not. Returning to Maranello guarantees Räikkönen financial comfort, but assuredly there will be times when he thinks wistfully of the less demanding ambience he has left behind.

5. Lewis Hamilton

Smiles were thin on the ground in 2013, but if all the heart-on-sleeve stuff can get a little tiresome for those who work with him, Hamilton’s season undeniably had its moments, notably the victory at the Hungaroring and the electrifying pole at Silverstone, where Lewis would have won had Pirelli been able to keep up with him and his Mercedes. Sometimes he starred, as expected, but he was mighty hard on himself when he didn’t, as if mystified by his form. As with Alonso, the years without titles are passing by.

6. Nico Rosberg

Many expected Rosberg to be seen off by his new team-mate, but Ross Brawn wasn’t one of them – and he was right. Sometimes Hamilton’s raw pace was too much, but on other occasions Rosberg’s smoother style and more cerebral approach reaped their reward: at Monte Carlo he was untouchable and eight times he outqualified the man widely considered the quickest of all. Almost unnaturally calm, in and out of the car, Nico remains a somewhat enigmatic figure, but his rivals know better than to underestimate him.

7. Romain Grosjean

If Grosjean had driven the first half of the year as he did the second, he would be way higher than seventh, but it wasn’t until mid-season that he began properly to deliver. Monaco, for example, looked like more of 2012: blazingly quick – when he wasn’t in the wall. From Silverstone on, though, there wasn’t a dud in the box, as Romain shed the silly mistakes and invariably outpaced Räikkönen. It was no surprise to see him lead convincingly at Suzuka and hold off Webber’s Red Bull at Austin. The revelation of the year, without a doubt.

8. Mark Webber

Had Vettel not reneged on team policy at Sepang, Webber would have won a GP in his final F1 season, but that wasn’t the way it went and he never came so close again. In ultra-quick corners he remained at least a match for his team-mate, but elsewhere Sebastian’s technique in getting the most from the ‘blown floor’ put him out of reach. Webber often raced superbly, but poor starts often left him with too much to do – and, as ever, whenever a Red Bull broke, it seemed to be his. He leaves F1 at the right time, on his own terms.

9. Jenson Button

Strangely, for this last season of V8 F1, McLaren opted to ‘go radical’ rather than develop the car that finished 2012 as the one to beat, and the decision proved disastrous: not a single podium. Button, now team leader, drove some fine races – Sepang, Shanghai, Budapest, Interlagos – but the car’s lack of pace got him down, and his presence often went unnoticed – Sergio Pérez outqualified him 10-9. Given a car that suits him, Jenson will be a factor again in 2014 – as, with Kevin Magnussen alongside, he will need to be.

10. Paul di Resta

At the time of writing, it seems unlikely that di Resta will remain in F1: such is the way these days, when personal sponsorship often stamps on talent – and perhaps Paul’s downbeat personality doesn’t help. In three seasons with Force India, he often showed great natural speed, but if he had some exceptional drives in 2013 – notably at Bahrain and Suzuka – so he fell very short at such as Monza and Yeongam, and he should have shown better against Sutil. Deserves an F1 seat, but that doesn’t guarantee he’ll get one.

Australian Grand Prix
1. Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
Pole: Vettel 1min 27.407sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 30min 03.225sec

A dominant win for Räikkönen from seventh on the grid. The Lotus is much kinder to its tyres than any other car in the Melbourne heat, leaving pole-sitter Vettel 22.3sec behind at the flag.

Malaysian Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Pole: Vettel 1min 49.674sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 38min 56.691sec

A controversial first win of the season for Vettel, disobeying team orders to overtake Webber during the final stint. Rosberg, in fourth, does as he is told and holds station behind the slower Hamilton.

Chinese Grand Prix
1. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2. Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Pole: Hamilton 1min 34.484sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 36min 26.945sec

A fighting win for Alonso, with strategy playing a big part for the top three. Vettel, on fresh tyres in fourth, is catching Hamilton at three seconds a lap by the end, but the Mercedes driver holds on.

Bahrain Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
3. Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault)
Pole: Rosberg 1min 32.330sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 26min 0.498sec

Vettel beats the surging Lotuses, Grosjean only taking third from an impressive Paul di Resta in the closing laps. Potential front-runner Alonso is hamstrung by a malfunctioning DRS flap.

Spanish Grand Prix
1. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2. Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
3. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
Pole: Rosberg 1min 20.718sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 39min 16.596sec

Alonso takes an emotional home win with Massa joining him on the podium. After the race, Mercedes sticks around for a secret test with Pirelli, stirring its rivals’ ire once the cat slips from the bag... two weeks later.

Monaco Grand Prix
1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
3. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault)
Pole: Rosberg 1min 13.876sec
Winner’s time: 2hr 17min 52.056sec

Rosberg scores Mercedes’ first win of the year with the tyre test at the forefront of paddock talk. Pirelli also comes under fire for the GP2-like speed of the opening stages, with drivers unable to push.

Canadian Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Pole: Vettel 1min 25.425sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 32min 9.143sec

Valtteri Bottas qualifies his Williams an impressive third, but it is business as usual in the race. Vettel cruises home while his rivals scrap and McLaren’s awful run continues, neither driver reaching Q3.

British Grand Prix
1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault)
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Pole: Hamilton 1min 29.607sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 32min 59.456sec

Rosberg’s second win of the year, but again tyres
are the subject of the day after several spectacular delaminations, including one for leader Hamilton
while the race is still young.

German Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
3. Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault)
Pole: Hamilton 1min 29.398sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 41min 14.711sec

Vettel achieves one of the few things left on his checklist, taking a home win in front of an appreciative crowd. Lotus is again the best of the rest, Räikkönen only a second behind at the end.

Hungarian Grand Prix
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
Pole: Hamilton 1min 19.388sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 42min 29.445sec

Hamilton finally converts his strong pace to a win for his new team, with Räikkönen defending hard to take second. Talk starts of a potential challenge to Vettel’s lead in the standings.

Belgian Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Pole: Hamilton 2min 1.012sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 23min 42.196sec

Yet another pole for Hamilton, but an ominous performance from Vettel heralds another win. Spectators are met with the odd sight of Greenpeace protesters on the grandstand and above the podium.

Italian Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault)
Pole: Vettel 1min 23.755sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 18min 33.352sec

Pole position and another Monza victory for Vettel, although the fans are unsurprisingly more interested in the man in the Ferrari. Webber could have annexed second if not for gearbox worries.

Singapore Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3. Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
Pole: Vettel 1min 42.841sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 59min 13.132sec

Vettel takes another win to increase his grip. Alonso and Webber cause a post-race stir when the Australian cadges a lift on the former’s sidepod: both earn a reprimand as rivals have to swerve to avoid the Ferrari.

Korean Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault)
3. Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault)
Pole: Vettel 1min 37.202sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 43min 13.701sec

Vettel again, with Räikkönen and Grosjean following him home. Nico Hülkenberg finishes an impressive fourth for Sauber after withstanding fierce, enduring pressure from Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Japanese Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault)
3. Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault)
Pole: Webber 1min 30.915sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 26min 49.301sec

A different Red Bull on pole this time, but the result is the same. Vettel is made to work hard for victory, though. Romain Grosjean leads initially, only for Lotus to be undone by Red Bull’s split strategies.

Indian Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
3. Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault)
Pole: Vettel 1min 24.119sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 31min 12.187sec

Rosberg puts up the only challenge to Vettel during the race, but not a very strong one as the Red Bull driver clinches the title. Grosjean makes it to the podium again, this time from 17th on the grid.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault)
3. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Pole: Webber 1min 39.957sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 38min 6.106sec

Vettel’s seventh in a row, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record for consecutive wins in a season. Rosberg has another strong showing in third, albeit 33 seconds down the road from his compatriot.

United States Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault)
3. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault)
Pole: Vettel 1min 36.338sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 39min 17.148sec

The train keeps on rolling: eight wins in a row, another seasonal record broken. Räikkönen quits Lotus early to have back surgery, giving Heikki Kovalainen the chance to reprise his F1 race career. He fails to score.

Brazilian Grand Prix
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault)
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Pole: Vettel 1min 26.479sec
Winner’s time: 1hr 32min 36.300sec

Vettel equals Ascari’s record for consecutive wins, Webber bows out with a feisty second place and a few teams say goodbye to the V8 era with a bang... by revving their engines to destruction.

Drivers final championship standings

1 Sebastian Vettel 397
2 Fernando Alonso 242
3 Mark Webber 199
4 Lewis Hamilton 189
5 Kimi Räikkönen 183
6 Nico Rosberg 171
7 Romain Grosjean 132
8 Felipe Massa 112
9 Jenson Button 73
10 Nico Hülkenberg 51
11 Sergio Pérez 49
12 Paul di Resta 48
13 Adrian Sutil 29
14 Daniel Ricciardo 20
15 Jean-Eric Vergne 13
16 Esteban Gutiérrez 6
17 Valtteri Bottas 4
18 Pastor Maldonado 1
19 Jules Bianchi 0
20 Charles Pic 0
21 Heikki Kovalainen 0
22 Giedo van der Garde 0
23 Max Chilton 0

Constructors final championship standings

1 Red Bull Racing-Renault 596
2 Mercedes 360
3 Ferrari 354
4 Lotus-Renault 315
5 McLaren-Mercedes 122
6 Force India-Mercedes 77
7 Sauber-Ferrari 57
8 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 33
9 Williams-Renault 5
10 Marussia-Cosworth 0
11 Caterham-Renault 0