The 2013 Formula 1 season starts in less than two weeks, and pre-season testing came to an end today in Barcelona. So on which team should you place your money for the GP of Australia? Here comes my not data- or anything-proven Power Ranking.
1. Mclaren MP4-28
Drivers: Jenson Button | Sergio Perez
The team should actually be in a bad mood. Over the majority of 2012 they had build the fastest car, but after 19 races, the boards listed them as 3rd. Lewis Hamilton, the teams "son" and probably best F1 driver, left McLaren for Mercedes-Benz and Paddy Lowe - the man behind Martin Whitmarsh - followed him.
And still they rolled out a very promising car. Not an evolution of last years vehicle, but a heavily reworked car. They needed some time to understand it, but it now works really well and seems to be an allrounder. Even more alarming for the rest of the grid is Sergio Perez performance. And considering that a) the car has tons of potential yet to be unleashed and b) Mclaren is the best development team, I see the Macs taking the win in the first race(s).
2. Lotus E21
Drivers: Kimi Räikönen | Romain Grosjean
Everybodys F1 darling Kimi Räikönen could once again have a tool to be a serious contender for the championship. Yay! As with the Red Bull, the E21 is a Evolution of the previous car, and that´s a good thing. Lotus says that they could keep the cars great tire management but improoved its qualifying potential, so I am pretty sure that there will be mor than one victory for the team, maybe even Crashkid Grosjean will show his real talent.
3. Mercedes-Benz GP W04
Drivers: Nico Rosberg | Lewis Hamilton
For 3 seasons now, Mercedes-Benz GP could not constantly be part of the top teams. While last year started well with a victory and some podiums and ended aweful, many things changed in the teams structure. Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, buth austrian, now coordinate the Grand Prix effort. Michael Schumacher finally went into retirement after a year of bad luck and errors and was replaced with Lewis Hamilton. Looks like it worked, as Rosberg set the fastest testing laptime since 2009. And even better, the problems with the rear axle are solved as longruns are now level with Ferrari. So, the team has got a promising position to make up for the bad 3 years they had before.
4. Red Bull RB9
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel | Mark Webber
The RB9 is a pure evolution of last years championship winning car, the RB8. And the RB8 was an evolution of the RB7. Especially at the start of the season this will come in handy, as the team has got tons of relevant data to setup the car properly. And as the RB8 was the second fastest car of 2012, chances are high that we will see Vettel on top at many races this year, but not in Melbourne.
BUT: the FIA just declared Renaults new engine mappings illegal, and thats very bad news for RedBull and not-so-good for Lotus: They were the only teams to have a slightley different exhaust solution, and rumours are that only special engine mappings could make it work. Adrian Newey will find the performance again, but not until race day in down under.
5. Ferrari F138
Drivers: Fernando Alonso | Felipe Massa
Heads will roll, heads will roll, on the floor. At least if Ferrari looses a championship again. It is a thing of pride for the italians, as loosing against McLaren or Mercedes hurts, but being beaten by a company making caned energy drinks is a no-go.
And it doesn´t look good. Yes, the car got better, and no, they don´t have lost 2.5 seconds on Red Bull this time. But I´m sorry Fernando, the F138 is not in the shape of winning races. Good thing is that the car has got potential. A lot. And Ferrari engineers proved to be able to work well under the pressure of being fired. So relax Fernando, you will get your chance this year.
The rest of the field:
8. Force India
9. Toro Rosso
We will see soon wheather I´m right or not, in the mean time, feel free to discuss.