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

2013 F1 season preview

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

Ferrari

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

McLaren

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

Lotus

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

Mercedes

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

Sauber

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

Williams

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

Caterham

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

Marussia

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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2013 F1 season preview


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

  1. dragoll (@dragoll) said on 5th March 2013, 18:05

    I’m surprised that everyone has jumped off of McLaren, I would have thought that Jenson Button & Sergio Perez is a great pairing, it combines the experience and reliable driver of Jenson, and the youth and raw speed that Sergio brings with him, fresh off the back of an outstanding season with Sauber.

    • Jono (@me262) said on 6th March 2013, 0:14

      @dragol raw speed? I believe that Perez does not have the raw speed that should come with his level of inexperience. If I remember correctly Perez was more often than not out qualified by Kobayashi – I was a little surprised at McLaren’s decision to sign Perez, not because he hasnt the talent to get better but he is pretty similar to Button: tyre management, excell in damp weather conditions etc, weak qualifiers. Button rarely out qualified Hamilton in 3 years – this akes McLaren to have the most un balanced of pairings imo. They will have an excellent hand on paper if its stop/start rainy on race day though!

  2. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 5th March 2013, 18:09

    I’m sure that my opinion will change at the end of the season, but for now it has to be Vettel and Webber, simply because they have proven themselves more so than any other pairing in the past few years. Mercedes do have a strong line-up as well, but for me I would say that Vettel is better than Hamilton, and that Webber is more proven than Rosberg.

    The other teams have some great drivers, but their team mates are either untested, or have been inconsistent in the past. For example:
    - Alonso and Massa
    - Button and Perez
    - Raikkonen and Grosjean

    Even though I’m not a big fan of Maldonado, I’m really looking forward to the Williams pairing this year, as well as seeing how Bianchi does.

  3. Shimks (@shimks) said on 5th March 2013, 18:30

    Another ridiculously excited fan here. I can’t wait for the first qualifying session!

    I voted for Mercedes for best driver line-up. Two very strong drivers; Hamilton a proven entity; and I really think Rosberg still hasn’t had the chance to show in F1 his full capability. They just haven’t got the car yet.

    With a team growing and constantly adding formidably strong players, Mercedes should be a force to be reckoned with in 2014 – but doubtfully before.

  4. Chainsaw (@chainsaw) said on 5th March 2013, 19:55

    I know Hamilton plus fast laps in testing plus all the management reshuffle etc has put the limelight on the Mercedes team, but removing all that clutter, I find myself choosing these two…

    For me its Vettel and Webber….. not because they are in a world champion team, but these guys are together for a really long time…5 years if I am right… more than any pair today.. Have lots of wins between them…That means a lot

    And so, the signs of a good pair is well evident, they are triple world champions…

  5. Alex (@smallvizier) said on 5th March 2013, 20:28

    I think this is decided on second drivers.

    Very roughly, Vettel = Alonso = Button = Raikkonen = Hamilton. However, Webber and Rosberg are quite clearly ahead of Massa (the modern version), Grosjean and Perez. Therefore the best line-up belongs to either Red Bull or Mercedes.

    Personally I believe that Webber remains better than Rosberg (though Rosberg has more potential), and that Vettel is a more complete driver than Hamilton. Therefore I voted for Red Bull.

  6. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 5th March 2013, 20:57

    No-one stands out as being much better than the rest, but I would say Red Bull have the best proven line-up. Vettel will be relentlessly quick, and if Webber has a good season they could be untouchable, so that’s my vote. Ferrari probably have the single best driver, and also have a second driver who could go either way.

    McLaren, Lotus, Mercedes and Sauber will almost certainly be unbalanced, with one driver picking up more points than the other. All could be in the hunt if their cars are good enough. Bottas looks good, better than Maldonado, but he’s a rookie. The rest don’t stand out.

  7. andae23 (@andae23) said on 5th March 2013, 21:22

    What I find strange is that currently 95% has voted for the 5 ‘top-teams’, while only 5% voted for the other six (of which I am one). I get that the top-teams all have a champion in their line-up, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘line-up’ is good. I have also read comments like: “Red Bull has won the constructors’ three times in a row, so they have a good line-up”. 80% of the teams simply aren’t in contention for winning that title, so why would this be a disadvantage for them in this poll.

    My question is: why do so many people don’t vote for a team like Sauber or Williams, who actually have a very exciting line-up in comparison to RBR, Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus (imo of course)?

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 5th March 2013, 21:52

      @andae23 I think it’s just purely a matter of the fact the best drivers are usually in the best teams. There are some real gems in the midfield teams though I agree, like the William’s line-up and at least the Hulkenberg half of Sauber.

      But yes, quite why past successes of that team should influence how good their drivers are is beyond me.

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 5th March 2013, 23:06

      Very simple: once you go past the top 5, you’re into the realms of Pay Drivers.

      Nobody’s going to vote for Chilton and VanDerGarde over Rosberg and Hamilton.

    • Slr (@slr) said on 5th March 2013, 23:31

      My question is: why do so many people don’t vote for a team like Sauber or Williams, who actually have a very exciting line-up in comparison to RBR, Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus (imo of course)?

      Because the most exciting line up and the best line up is not the same thing. Last year I would say that Sauber probably had the most exciting line up, but they most certainly did not have the best line up.

      Hulkenberg and Maldonado are quick, but they arenot amongst the best drivers in Formula One right now. And Gutierrez and Bottas haven’t proven anything yet, so I don’t see how they could be rated higher than the likes of Massa or Rosberg when they have zero starts to their names. Going on the past successes of the drivers is the best way to choose in this poll I believe.

    • W-K (@w-k) said on 6th March 2013, 0:20

      Because until a driver has had at least a full season in F1, then his past performance means very little. If past performance meant anything then Rosberg would have won the WDC at least once by now.

  8. David-A (@david-a) said on 5th March 2013, 21:53

    I’ll go with Red Bull, closely followed by Mercedes. Vettel and Hamilton are class, but Vettel is the one who has 3 titles in a row. Rosberg, I believe could be better than Webber though.

    If Massa regains his 2008 form, I’d say Ferrari, as he would be better than Webber, and with Alonso, the strongest collective lineup.

  9. Serby said on 5th March 2013, 22:11

    McLaren all the way

  10. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 5th March 2013, 22:22

    Chose the Red Bull pair though I could’ve easily went for the Mercedes-nothing to choose between them at all. My order would be:

    1) Red Bull, Mercedes

    3) Lotus, Ferrari(also too close to call)

    5) Mclaren

    6) Sauber(mainly because of the Hulk, who in my opinion is an outstanding driver)

    7) Toro Rosso( been quietly impressed by their drivers in 2012, especially DR)

    8) A tie between Force India who have a pair of very dependable drivers but a bit boring, and Williams where Bottas is very promising but a rookie, and Crashtor Stupidado who is worse than rubbish

    10) Marussia ’cause Bianchi>Pic and Chilton=VdG. Therefore at last place:

    11) Caterham

  11. a4p (@a4p) said on 5th March 2013, 22:38

    If Massa starts the new season the same way he ended 2012, then Alonso and Massa at the wheel of the F138 are going to kick MANY *****.

  12. Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 6th March 2013, 0:42

    For me, Alonso and Massa (2nd part of last season Massa).
    Hamilton trashing is quite normal around here.
    I really don’t understand so many compliments to Webber, a very average driver who get a quick car, but maybe he’s been sandbaging all of those years (like Red Bulll this winter).

  13. panache (@panache) said on 6th March 2013, 4:59

    Come on everyone, this is easy. I’m astounded that so many people have voted for the Mercedes pairing at this point in time (36% Mercedes vs 29% Red Bull) but I’ll get to that later.

    Red Bull have the best driver pairing for 2013. They have the three times defending drivers world champion in one seat and the third most experienced F1 driver in the other (Button debut 2000, Raikkonen 2001, Webber 2002). Vettel is on top of his game and will tackle the demands of the season with supreme confidence in his own ability and the expertise he has gained of how to win races and championships. Webber is no slouch either. He does blow hot and cold but he is often a match for Vettel on qualifying pace and he races strongly despite truly piteous starts. He’s also somewhat of a specialist at Monaco and Silverstone.

    Both drivers are well accustomed to delivering under pressure at the front of the grid for a top team which is something that shockingly can’t be said for any other current line-up besides Ferrari; although Massa hasn’t consistently been in the fray for race wins since his accident. The importance of experience winning races and contesting championships should not be underestimated and Red Bull has recent experience in abundance.

    I’d place Lotus after Red Bull based on the potential of their lineup. I think @Tango summarised their potential nicely:

    “I voted Lotus too. I believe Raikonnen is a definite top 5 driver and I believe Grosjean has the pace to beat any of those 5 in his good days. Now if those good days become everyday, Lotus would have a brillant lineup.

    I think Lotus have the best potential line up (Grosjean if he matures, Raikonen if he doesn’t get bored)”…

    The combination of a highly competitive veteran and an extremely fast but erratic younger driver has worked for plenty of teams in the past. Raikkonen is the second most experienced driver in the field and as a WDC he obviously knows what it takes so I think he can be counted on to perform at the highest level, especially after impressing on his comeback last year. Grosjean is an unknown quantity in terms of whether or not he can sufficiently hone his racecraft and awareness in race conditions but when at his best he is a force to be reckoned with. I think Grosjean will win a race and I digress, he’ll do it before Perez wins for Mclaren.

    After Lotus comes Mercedes. I am inclined to agree with the notion that Hamilton is the fastest driver in F1. If Hamilton and Button were still in the same team they would win this poll easily but they are not, so Hamilton, despite his immense talent and ability, is not in the team with the strongest driver pairing as Rosberg doesn’t quite make the grade yet in my opinion. That is not to say that he won’t in future though. Button was once on a similar career trajectory with one race win in six years, both drivers winning in changeable conditions with cars that were incapable of competing for wins in normal circumstances. Now Button has a drivers championship, fifteen wins and seven times more podium finishes than Rosberg.

    For the moment, Rosberg is an enigma. With only one win and no experience in a front running car it’s impossible to judge his true potential, although I suspect he’s not quite as good as many people are suggesting he is. He’s shown promise and consistency in junior categories and also in F1 but last season in particular was not as good as it could have been for him despite his maiden F1 race win in China. Rosberg appears to be extremely fast in qualifying but perhaps the reality is that his recent teammates were not so competitive? Wurz, Nakajima and Schumacher returning from retirement at 40+ years old.

    I share the sentiments of @fer-no65:

    ”I just think he should’ve trashed Schumi last year just as he did in 2010. If you look at the 3 years they’ve been together, it looks as if Schumcher closed the gap, when realistically it should’ve been the other way. Or maybe that’s all Rosberg has to give.”

    I anticipate that Hamilton and Button will both conclusively outperform their new teammates this year.

    I think Perez is still too rough around the edges and will need time to settle in to driving a Mclaren with the pressure and expectation of pole positions and race wins, not to mention contesting a championship despite Perez stating himself that winning the drivers title is his target for this season. If Button can be consistent in his performances with this years tyres he should dominate Perez at Mclaren.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Hamilton is faster than Rosberg from the beginning but I’m happy to be proven wrong on that. It would definitely be exciting to watch Hamilton and Rosberg in a close contest with each other throughout the season, as it would be to see Perez closely matched against Button but I think neither is likely. I’m expecting Grosjean to come good and be closely matched with Raikkonen throughout the season.

    Bring on Melbourne!

  14. KeithR (@lockup) said on 6th March 2013, 8:01

    It’s a question of Webber vs Rosberg really. Close. I’m hoping Nico is going to raise his game. I must say I don’t recognise Hamilton in his little writeup – he’s probably the driver who LEAST often struggles with setup. I don’t see many driving errors either; I give him a lead over SV and FA.

  15. smifaye (@smifaye) said on 6th March 2013, 8:32

    I think it’s hard to look past Red Bull really. Vettel with his 3 championships in a row and Webber with multiple wins. I think Mercedes have a good team too but it’s very difficult to judge Rosberg at this point I feel. Now up against Hamilton we will really see how good he is.

    I think Williams have the strongest midfield team if the hype behind Bottas is to be believed. Maldonado already seems a lot maturer this season so hopefully they can bring some good results for the team.

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