Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013

Which team has the best driver line-up for 2013?

2013 F1 season previewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013With Lewis Hamilton’s headline-grabbing move to Mercedes and an influx of five new drivers, the F1 field has had a shake-up this year.

Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Toro Rosso head into the new season with unchanged driver line-ups, while three of their rivals have all-new squads.

But which team has the best blend of speed, consistency, technical ability and racecraft? Read more about the 22 drivers of 2013 below and vote for which team you think has the best driver line-up.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Three world championship titles and still only 25 years old. Superb in qualifying, he still makes mistakes but they’re getting rarer as he adds layers of experience to his daunting natural speed.

Sebastian Vettel biography

Mark Webber

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Capable of giving Vettel a hard time on his best days, but can blow hot and cold. Particularly effective on ‘proper’ tracks and fearless in wheel-to-wheel combat.

Mark Webber biography


Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Two times a champion already and could have had more since. Consistent and seldom makes mistakes but doesn’t like pressure from team mates.

Fernando Alonso biography

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Was a championship contender before his nasty crash in 2009. Has been under the cosh from Alonso ever since but ended last year on a high.

Felipe Massa biography


Jenson Button

Jenson Button, McLaren, Jerez, 2013Surprised many by holding his own against Hamilton at McLaren after taking an unlikely title win in 2009. A shrewd judge of mixed weather conditions but often misses that final tenth in qualifying.

Jenson Button biography

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Making the transition from scrappy insurgent to front-runner. Could be even better at eking out tyre life than Button, but had too many incidents at the end of last year.

Sergio Perez biography


Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Impressive comeback last year showed only a little race rustiness. Capable of winning another title even if he lacks that last one percent of commitment.

Kimi Raikkonen biography

Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Prone to errors of judgement, particularly on the first lap. Quick enough to trouble Raikkonen and justify a second season but needs to show a new maturity.

Romain Grosjean biography


Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Defeated a past-his-prime Michael Schumacher and scored his first win last year. It’s hard to see him as a championship contender though the same might have been said of his title-winning father.

Nico Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Possibly F1’s fastest driver. A gutsy racer, though more susceptible to mistakes than his fellow champions and occasionally gets lost on set-up.

Lewis Hamilton biography


Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013His F1 development was disrupted by losing his Williams seat for reasons not related to his performance. Made rapid progress with Force India and is one to watch this year.

Nico Hulkenberg biography

Esteban Gutierrez

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013His GP2 record suggests another Grosjean in the making – quick but careless. But he’s patiently racked up the miles in testing and understands the scale of the challenge awaiting him.

Esteban Gutierrez biography

Force India

Paul di Resta

Paul di Resta, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Has been solid but unspectacular in his first two years of Formula One and is yet to out-score his team mate over a season, which needs to change this year.

Paul di Resta biography

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Shook off his reputation for being crash-prone and had developed into a dependable midfield runner before being dropped at the end of 2011. Has something to prove on his comeback.

Adrian Sutil biography


Pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013A first-rate qualifier and capable of the kind of mature race performances that you might think were beyond the same driver who all too often loses his head when battling with a rival.

Pastor Maldonado biography

Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013This year’s potential Next Big Thing. Impressed Williams with his performances in practice last year off the back of a GP3 championship victory.

Valtteri Bottas biography

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Out-scored his team mate last year but was weaker in qualifying and made some costly errors.

Jean-Eric Vergne biography

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Showed flashes of promise in the uncooperative STR7 but like his team mate needs to stand out this year to remain part of the Red Bull programme.

Daniel Ricciardo biography


Charles Pic

Charles Pic, Caterham, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Made a name for himself last year by giving the more experienced Timo Glock a hard time, particularly in qualifying. Has a lot on his hands this year as de facto team leader at Caterham.

Charles Pic biography

Giedo van der Garde

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Has been on the periphery of F1 for years and would have made it in a long time ago if enthusiasm alone made it so. Caterham were pleased with his work with their fledgling GP2 squad in 2012.

Giedo van der Garde biography


Max Chilton

Max Chilton, Marussia, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013F1 is a big step up for this well-funded driver who doesn’t have a championship victory from the junior categories on his CV. But Marussia’s problems have given him the opportunity to conduct extra testing.

Max Chilton biography

Jules Bianchi

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Has got more F1 experience than a typical new driver thanks to Ferrari’s patronage and practice runs for Force India. A solid qualifier but racecraft has been a weaker side to his game.

Jules Bianchi biography

Over to you

Which team has the best driver line-up for 2013? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Which team has the best driver line-up for 2013?

  • Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber (27%)
  • Ferrari: Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa (14%)
  • McLaren: Jenson Button and Sergio Perez (5%)
  • Lotus: Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean (12%)
  • Mercedes: Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton (37%)
  • Sauber: Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez (1%)
  • Force India: Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil (1%)
  • Williams: Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas (2%)
  • Toro Rosso: Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo (0%)
  • Caterham: Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde (0%)
  • Marussia: Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi (1%)

Total Voters: 587

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Find the updated driver line-up for 2013 including test and reserve drivers here:

2013 F1 season preview

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287 comments on “Which team has the best driver line-up for 2013?”

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  1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    5th March 2013, 14:07

    IMO it’s between Hamilton/Rosberg and Kimi/Grosjean.

    Have to give the slight edge to the Mercedes boys. Mainly because Rosberg is more consistent and less error prone than Grosjean.

    If Grosjean improves his decision making ability, I can easily see Lotus having the best driver lineup, because the boy is dam quick when he’s on it. Raikkonen provides the pure consistency (had he not had that little ‘adventure’ in São Paulo, he would have completed every lap on the calendar) and good points scoring ability.

    However Hamilton is just too quick and when he has the machine under him, he’s unbeatable, no “if’s”, “And’s” or “But’s”. Rosberg’s also proven to be quick if he’s got the car.

    Honorable mentions to Vettel/Webber.

    1. Hamilton is just too quick and when he has the machine under him, he’s unbeatable, no “if’s”, “And’s” or “But’s”

      Of which driver can this not be said?

  2. The whole subject has too many “if’s” and “but’s”, we’ll see the strongest line-up… around Christmas. That’s all that counts. Predictions are for the weather forecast people. They get paid being right or being wrong. Right?

  3. Williams. Pastor has amply improved and the ‘red-mist’ is a thing of the past. Valtteri has a very good CV, and showed good pace and maturity as their third driver. My pick for ‘rookie of the year’.
    WARNING: Valtteri might ruffle Pastor’s feathers, and the PDVSA-backed Venezuelan might get rattled by the promising Finn.

    1. How can you make that statement, Pastor has always been fast, but usually a bit uncontrolled. And how do you know the red-mist events are over, I very much doubt it.

      1. @w-k His last misdemeanour was at Spa, and unlike Grosjean did not appear to become slow and timid after being pulled up by the FIA. He’s also very fast as he showed last year with superb Q3 laps at Barcelona, Valencia, Spa, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

        1. @wsrgo – Problem with Pastor is that his misdemanours is that over the course of 20 races, they were so severe, he could only score 45 points and 15th in the championship, in a car that merited far more. No way is he part of the best driver lineup on the grid at the moment, and I like Bottas.

        2. His career before F1 was also filled with incidents, and he hasn’t improved in F1, there were longer gaps than the present one between incidents. And if Bottas should start to threaten him then expect the toys to start flying out of the pram.

  4. though more susceptible to mistakes than his fellow champions and occasionally gets lost on set-up.

    @Keith – You are usually balanced, thoroughly fair, and i find not susceptible to the usual bias a lot of F1 journalist naturally pre-disposed towards. Therefore, i find your unfair assessment of Lewis highly unusual .
    Yes, he has been involved in quite a few incidents, due to his “gutsy” attitude, but to make such as assessment (as you made) would suggest that most of the incidents that resulted were his fault. Analysis of the stewards penalties (most of which a lot of F1 fans found to be unnecessarily unfair) does not even bear this out.

    Also, i find the suggestion that “he occasionally get lost on setup” quite preposterous. Again, to assert this would suggest that he is more prone to set-up woes than any of his competitors. I am yet to see any evidence of this, and if you have, i would welcome your elucidation on this.

    There is one driver with well-known and documented set-up problems. This does NOT mean he is the only one by a long shot, but that his issues are the most publicised by himself, and his team. If anyone deserved that comment, it should have been him.

    1. This @Keith, who hasn’t been active for 10 months and 3 weeks, must have millions of accidental replies! I wonder what he will think if he comes back online ;)

      1. @andae23
        LOL! I knew that Keith and Keith Collantine were different people all along! :p

  5. I haven’t read any other comments so far, I will only give my own opinion.

    I voted for Lotus. I think they have the strongest driver line-up in the basis that both of them can fight on equal terms for wins, if the car has genuine race wining pace. This also means that I believe Grosjean will make very few mistakes this year (compared to last year).
    For me Sauber and McLaren are very close to them. Button is a WDC and Perez should be good for race wins but still a bit of uncertainty with these 2. Hulkenberg is, IMO, a sure bet for race wins, Gutierrez might be even more promising than Perez was last year.
    It’s strange I don’t consider Mercedes one of the top-3 pairs but I just don’t like Rosberg enough.
    Webber will stand no chance this year to make a challenge to Webber (my prediction), Massa is still fast but only good for podiums (same way as Webber) and that covers the best teams.
    One mention to the Williams pair, it is not the best (Bottas still a rookie and Maldonado makes too many mistakes) but for sure it seems to be the more close fight in terms of raw pace.

    BTW, I predict that Pic wil “destroy” van der Garde, Bianchi will do the same to Chilton, Sutil will beat Di Resta but not by a long margin and the STR in-team fight will almost be as exciting as the Williams one.

    1. Just a clarification, I don’t think that Hulkenberg will for sure win this year with Sauber, but I think that he is a driver that given a race wining car, will win for sure.

  6. Just a final comment; if Lotus proves to be fast on every track, everybody will have a tough job catching Kimi and Romain (we’ll give him a THIRD chance), because Lotus is so gentle to the tires. Everybody is crying about massive degradation, so drivers like Kimi, Jenson, Pastor and Sergio will have their fair chances. I think the title will go to the most reliable (team), so every mistake will count. New RB is a mystery, McLaren will fly, Ferrari looks good, Mercedes will wake up (the only question is when), Sauber could be suprise of the season… Vale Bottas also. It’s gonna be a long and terrific season…

    1. @breza… I think this coment was written after Jerez test because at the moment, Lotus’ pace isnt great. Merc Rb and Ferrari look stronger though

  7. Best line up: Mercedes
    Most interesting line up: Williams
    The pair that I will watch out for: Force India. Both the the drivers are highly underrated by fans and both have to make a point to prove. One to move up the grid next year and another to stay in the grid next year!

  8. “Possibly F1′s fastest driver ..”

    “.. the fastest driver in the world”

    “..Hamilton is arguably the quickest in Formula One”

    I’m genuinely curious as to where the belief that Hamilton is the fastest/quickest driver in F1 (or the world) comes from. Maybe it’s a question for the forum as opposed to here – I’ll ask it there if the question is too off topic.

    Hamilton is certainly one of the “A list drivers”, but what exactly has he done to lead so many to believe that he is in a class of his own?

    1. @jonsan – his spectacular qualifying ability and his immense natural ability. I am not his fan and I don’t think he is in “a class of his own” at all (Vettel is more than a match for him I would say in an F1 car) but he is undoubtably very, very fast. For sure though, he isn’t a clear best.

      1. Despite all his poles last year how many of the races did he win! Being fast in qualy doesn’t give you points or championships FACT, and don’t start the sob stories

        1. @sonia54 – in fairness to him, he lost three potential race victories through no fault of his own (definetly at least one). I am not fan of his and I don’t think he is the best driver in F1 by any means, but you are simply ignoring the reality.

        2. Sonia he won 1 less than the wchamp

    2. I think his first season (2007) has done miracles for his reputation: consistently on the podium, on par with Alonso in an equal car (though some doubt that for some reason I don’t quite get) and almost world champion. I still think Hamilton is one of the best drivers in F1 at the moment, probably along with Vettel and Alonso.

      1. exactle jon clearly ant been watching f1 , I bet you find Vettel’s stats outstanding jon well if u do surely you will rate Hamilton , because Hamilton is just like vettel , ok Vettel’s stats are more impressive but I think we’d all agree 07 and 08 when Ham had best cars the opposition was far tougher than when Vettel was dominating so is stats are not as good but their pretty close imo , 07,08,09 Hamilton was brilliant and 2010 Hamilton did very well. 2011 is his worst year and e was in a crisis yet still won 3 Grandprix , watch Nurburgring 2011 a class drive .And 2012 was arguably his best year , you must of been watching something we weren’t.

  9. kamui kobayashi &Nico Hulkenberg

  10. No other team comes close to Mercedes imho. Only other good pairings are the current Red Bull team and the Lotus. I don’t rate Webber that high, but Vettel is one of the top 3 drivers. Massa has improved a lot, but it is not a team, I’d fear. Only Alonso makes it look good on paper. Kimi and Grosjean are one of the best pairs in the grid. Just wish Kimi’s quali pace was good enough to challenge Lewis, Alonso or Vettel. Rosberg and Lewis are the strongest pair, because not only are they fast but Rosberg is a big surprise package and I think we all know Lewis’ qualities.

  11. i’d go with lotus, kimi raikkonen is probably the most consistent driver in f1 (also he is a world champion) and romain grosjean has a lot of raw pace, as long as he stays out of trouble, lotus is the team to look out for

  12. also i don’t know why people make such a big deal about hamilton, of course he is a good driver, but only when he has a good car. i still doubt that mercedes will show up on the podium a lot this year. and rosberg never did anything astonishing, i’d say they have the 4th best driver line-up, after lotus, ferrari and red bull

    1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
      5th March 2013, 16:45

      @rigi fully agreeing with you there, mate. Too much unjustified fuss about Hamilton.

  13. It’s got to be Vettel and Webber and then I would probably put Hamilton and Rosberg next.

  14. Despite being a Hamilton fan and having a fondness for Rosberg, I had to begrudgingly vote for the Red Bull pair.

    I’ve seen lots of comments saying that they still don’t know how good Rosberg actually is, and yet still picking the Mercedes pair as the strongest line-up. It’s this exact reason that I picked Vettel/Webber ahead of Rosberg/Hamilton. Vettel is one of the two out and out fastest drivers in F1, and Webber is a proven race-winner and will consistently collect points for the team. Hamilton is the second of the two fastest drivers in F1 (for arguments sake, let’s say they’re equal) and, on his day, is a match for Vettel and Alonso (these three are arguably the stand out drivers at the moment, Alonso not quite having the single-lap pace of the other two, but is a better race tactician). However, those days for Hamilton are sometimes too few and far between.

    Rosberg, as we’ve already covered, is still an unknown quantity. He has never, really, had to face a driver that is on the same level as Hamilton, Alonso or Vettel. Regardless of Schumacher’s achievements, he was not the same driver when he came back to the sport. If Mercedes’ form from testing is genuine then this season will show just how good Rosberg is. Personally, I don’t think he is quite as good as Webber at the moment if he comes out of this season with a couple of race wins, then that opinion might change. But, right now, I think the Red Bull pairing is the strongest.

  15. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
    5th March 2013, 16:43

    I cannot believe 41% of people have voted for Hamilton-Rosberg. Yes, they were topping the tables in testing. But making conclusions from testing is like deciding the winner when Nadal and Djokovic are warming up. I strongly believe Webber and Vettel are the strongest pair. I like Webber. But as a die-hard Ferrari and Alonso fan, I hate RBR and Vettel. I mean, of course, I have tremendous respect for both. In any case, there is no jusitification for people voting for Hamilton and Rosberg. That’s just, I don’t know, a whole new level of stupidity?

    1. I think there is a certain minority of people here – and on every other F1 fan site in the English speaking world – who would vote for Lewis Hamilton and a blind quadriplegic as “the strongest team”.

      1. +1…the result of the poll would have been a lot different had this site not been a British one….

        1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
          6th March 2013, 11:44

          Agreed. People need to think rather than vote for HAM just cos he is British.

    2. Hamilton is a very fast driver, and Rosberg isn’t too shabby himself. It is debatable whether they are thebest absolutely, but they both have talent. Perhaps they may not be the most witty driver line-up in the world though: Hamilton doesn’t seem to be as good with the big technical decisions as Vettel or Alonso say.

      1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
        6th March 2013, 12:15

        Yes, Hamilton is fast, but have in mind, you have seen him with a McLaren and only a McLaren. And yes, he topped the charts in testing in the Merc, but do you really think the Merc has higher pace than RBR, McLaren, ferrari and Lotus? Maybe Lotus, who knows. But definitely not more than the top three – those teams haven’t maxed their car yet! Watch Melbourne and you will know I am correct.

        1. @shreyasf1fan – oh no I absolutely don’t think the Mercedes is the fastest car, you clearly haven’t seen my debate on the matter a few days ago!

  16. Red Bull definitely. Vettel is superb while Mark Webber is very good (and underrated).

    The other top teams all have 1 great, world champion driver (Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen, Button) and 1 decent driver. Of course in 1 year’s time I might be changing my tune.

  17. If the car is good then Mercedes.

  18. Well I’m sorry but I can’t see any justification on pure driving ability for Sauber or Williams having the best lineup. Each of the top 5 teams have one top class/very good driver and then a strong/good second driver. With the exception of Massa I don’t think Hulkenberg and certainly not Maldonado are much better if at all than Webber, Rosberg, Perez or Grosjean.

    And then you have a rookie in the second car. You can perform well in feeder series all you like but F1 is a step up. Hulkenberg found that out in his first year at Williams, he was meant to comfortably beat Barrichello but Rubens had the upper hand. Hulkenberg was good last year but of the other teams second drivers I would back Rosberg to beat him over a season, and if Grosjean cut out the stupid errors I reckon it would be close between them two as well.

    I think saying Maldonado has performed really well is also questionable to say the least, he has been quick yes but better than all of the drivers mentioned above over the last 2 seasons? I don’t see it. Put any of the drivers who were top 10 in the championship last season in that Williams and I reckon they all would have finished comfortably higher than 15th at the end of the season.

    1. Don’t know how this got posted here, it was meant to be a reply to @andae23

    2. @debaser91 Thanks for your replies, turns out we simply have different opinions on this matter.

  19. Out on top, it’s difficult to vote against the Mercedes crew. They’re both fast, and have few weaknesses. What ones they have, aren’t going to sabotage a season.

    Many of the other teams are suffering from “one great, one ok” syndrome.

    McLaren are interesting in that if you asked this question at this time last year of a button/Perez pairing (particularly after oz) they’d have a much stronger showing. Button off the back of a stunning season when he regularly beat Hamilton on pace as well as racecraft, and Perez already showing more spark than a flat kobayashi. During last year though, both drivers let their weaknesses overcome them for long periods. This leaves us with the position that while they probably wouldn’t derail your season they won’t drag you forward.

    If I had to do a ranking, I’d go
    Mercedes > red bull > McLaren > Ferrari > lotus (the last two Peru much solely on the strength of their lead drivers)

  20. I think that is everyone whose opinion is different than mine is insane, absurd, drunk and biased to boot, concurrently and consecutively.

    But anyhoo, ‘best’ driver pairing depends on what we mean by best. If I were to choose the most balanced driver pairing on potential before we’ve turned a wheel this season I’d go for Raikkonen and Grosjean – if he cleans up the mistakes he’s shown already that he can be very, very quick.

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