20 things that made F1 great in 2013

2013 F1 season review

The 2013 season was not a classic. But it wasn’t without a few highlights and memorable moments. Here are the 20 things which made 2013 great for me.


Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda in Rush

When I first heard about the plan to make a film based on the 1976 F1 season my hopes weren’t high. Of course I’d enjoyed Senna, but that was crafted with documentary footage. For Rush the material would had to be shot and I had doubts over how well that might be done.

I needn’t have worried: Ron Howard’s team did a first rate job and Daniel Bruhl was a revelation of Niki Lauda. It wasn’t perfect, but Rush was a huge amount of fun, and a welcome tonic during a season in which the real thing often failed to deliver.

After the un-watchable guff that was Driven (2001) and Talladega Nights (2006), it restored my faith that motor racing can be realised on the big screen.

Qualifying at Spa

Paul di Resta, Force India, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012

Spa is appropriately named, for the challenge of this king of circuits is often heightened by the addition of water. Qualifying on the rain-hit track was, for my money, a more exciting session than any of this year’s races.

It began with three of Marussia and Caterham’s drivers taking a risk on slick tyres and ended with Paul di Resta almost taking a shock pole position – despite having blundered in several other wet qualifying sessions during 2013.

New cameras

As an avid fan of IndyCar racing I’ve been used to seeing rotating onboard cameras for several years. Until this season it seemed an innovation F1 was never going to get around to introducing, but we finally saw the first examples of it at the end of the season. Here’s hoping for more in 2014.

Another new view in 2013 was the infra-red onboard camera, which gave a fascinating look at how tyres cool and warm during a lap. Keep ‘em coming, FOM!

Silly season surprise #1: Raikkonen to Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Suzuka, 2013

Two world champions at Ferrari for the first time in 60 years? This was without question the most exciting driver market news of 2013, and a mouthwatering prospect for next year’s championship.

Silly season surprise #2: Kvyat to Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Interlagos, 2013

You have to feel for Antonio Felix da Costa. Twelve months ago he looked a shoo-in for an F1 seat after his exceptional performance in Formula Renault 3.5.

But when an opportunity finally became available Da Costa’s form had dipped and Daniil Kvyat was snapped up by the team – though rumours persist that lucrative Russian backing played a role in his selection.

Alonso praising Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Korea International Circuit, 2013

Nico Hulkenberg produced some superb performances for the mid-grid Sauber team in the second half of the year, taking fifth at Monza and holding off Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton for fourth in Korea.

Yet his talent continues to go unrecognised by the front-running teams. Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren all had vacancies to fill the year and all of them overlooked him.

But full credit to Alonso for drawing attention to Hulkenberg’s potential, calling him “one of the best drivers on the grid” following their Korea battle, adding “hopefully we [will] see him in a competitive car in the future”.

Singapore’s new turn ten

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Singapore, 2013

It’s rare to see circuits being changed for the better these days but the eradication of Singapore’s ugly, slow, Mickey Mouse chicane was long overdue. The new corner may not be much to shout about, but the eradication of what was the worst bend in F1 certainly is.

No Valencia

Sergio Perez, Sauber, Valencia, 2012

Did anyone miss this dreary, chicane-filled tour around a Spanish industrial estate? No? Good, then let’s never go back.

There’s no sign yet of Bahrian and Yas Marina succumbing to the same fate, but there’s no Korea on the 2014 F1 calendar so things are definitely looking up.

Greenpeace’s protest in Belgium


Regardless of your view on the substance of Greenpeace’s protest against arctic drilling, the effectiveness with which they hijacked the Belgian Grand Prix to get their point across deserved respect. Particularly the deployment – several weeks ahead of the race – of remote controlled banners which appeared during the podium ceremony.

The sight of podium organiser Alex Morina tackling the pop-up banners as if he were playing a giant Whac-A-Mole game must rank as the best comedy moment of the season.

Proper launches

McLaren MP4-28, 2013

The simple art of the F1 car launch – have the drivers pull the covers off, let everyone take a few pictures and ask a few questions – is being lost.

Mercedes decided to reveal their car online using Tweets to slowly open a virtual garage door. Predictably, they were deluged with Tweets and the website crashed for hours.

Red Bull, meanwhile, demonstrated their commitment to innovation by inviting dozens of journalists to see the new RB9, then refusing to let them take pictures of it…

So three cheers for the teams who still get it right, such as McLaren and Ferrari, who managed to have both proper launches and working online video streams.

P1 vs LaFerrari

Ferrari LaFerrari, 2013

The contest between two of F1’s great teams has its equal on the road once more as both revealed their latest range-topping hypercars during 2013. But will the McLaren P1 (great car, great name) and Ferrari LaFerrari (great car) ever face each other on-track?

Jenson Button, McLaren P1, MP4-28 launch, 2013

Brundle hushing the Singapore boos

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, podum, Singapore, 2013

After a vocal minority of embittered Vettel-haters started jeering from beneath the podium at some races, it was heartening to Singapore podium interviewer Martin Brundle administer the schoolmasterly rebuke this infantile behaviour called for. “That’s not correct,” Brundle told them, and they haven’t been heard from since.

Vettel ignoring team orders

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang, 2013

If this is what the booers objected to about Vettel then they get no sympathy from me. Red Bull’s attempt to tell him not to pass team mate Mark Webber home in Malaysia, proved just as effective as when Webber was given a similar message at Silverstone in 2011. I.e., not at all.

This pair are real racers both, and they proved it with a thrilling tussle for the lead of the race that was one of the season’s highlights. Hopefully a few other drivers have taken note of how a four-times world champion responds to team orders.

Tracks with only one DRS zone

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Suzuka, 2013

DRS is gradually consigning real overtaking to the dustbin of history: this year almost every track had two DRS zones where drivers could jab the button and blast past their competitors without the inconvenience of having to think about it.

Fortunately two tracks – Monaco and Suzuka – proved incapable of accommodating two DRS zones and so had to make do with one. Know what would be even better? Tracks with none.

Kimi Raikkonen testing a GP3 car

Kimi Raikkonen, GP3, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013

I’d love to see more F1 drivers racing other cars – like Lewis Hamilton getting his elbows out in the BTCC or Fernando Alonso applying his remorselessly consistent race pace to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Kimi Raikkonen testing a GP3 car for Koiranen GP was the closest we came to seeing it happen this year.

Vergne’s Cevert helmet

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 2013

Jean-Eric Vergne’s tribute to Francois Cevert, who died 40 years ago this season, was the pick of a large selection of one-off helmet designs that appeared during 2013.

Team radio

Red Bull pit wall, Melbourne, 2013

Yes it was on this list last year, but for me this remains one of the most entertaining and insightful additions to F1 coverage of recent years. And judging by the popularity of F1 Fanatic’s radio transcripts it seems many of you do too.

McLaren’s flat caps

Jenson Button, McLaren, Monza, 2013

There was little for McLaren to celebrate in 2013 but they marked their 50th anniversary in style at the Italian Grand Prix, sporting these natty retro flat caps.

Sauber’s new livery

Sauber C32 launch, 2013

Sauber’s livery last year looked like an afterthought which would have been out of place on anything that wasn’t a panda bear. They smartened up their style this year and with Caterham and Marussia sporting revised and improved new paint jobs the overall look of this year’s field was somewhat better than last year.

Lotus’s Tweets

The ‘funny’ hashtags could be wearisome but Lotus’s self-deprecating sense of humour gave then a winning social media presence which other teams have belatedly tried to imitate. But none have gone so far as Lotus’s amusingly cheeky reaction to losing Raikkonen to Ferrari.

Over to you

What made the 2013 season great for you? Have your say in the comments.

2013 F1 season review

Browse all 2013 F1 season review articles

Images ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Lotus/LAT, Williams/LAT, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Mercedes/Hoch Zwei, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Red Bull/Getty, Force India, Sauber, Caterham/LAT, Marussia, Pirelli

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77 comments on 20 things that made F1 great in 2013

  1. Glenn (@glennb) said on 24th December 2013, 12:57

    Nice collection Keith. I would like to add Seb’s donuts and Mark’s lap without a helmet. Maybe even the Fernando/Mark incident at Singapore. Good stuff. The exploding tyres at Silverstone were exciting in their own way too.
    Hear, hear on your DRS comments too.

  2. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 24th December 2013, 13:09

    Great article! I would also mention the news of the impending return of the Red Bull Ring as one of the best moments. I just love that track even in its truncated form: it’s short, fast, simple, low grip, has elevation changes and is extremely picturesque. I have my doubts about Sochi, but having the A1 back instead of something like Korea is a great trade-off. Now we only need the upgraded Imola back instead of Abu Dhabi. Yeah I know, ain’t gonna happen but one can dream!

    And as was mentioned above, Webber driving without helmet, and a few drivers performing doughnuts were also good things. Yep, when the racing is rubbish you have to resort to these things to get satisfaction

  3. I largely agree, but I think Vettel’s championship celebrations in India was worth a mention. For me, easily the most spectacular celebration in F1 for quite some time.
    Webber driving without a helmet back to the pits in Brazil is another incredibly memorable moment of the 2013 season.

  4. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 24th December 2013, 13:45

    Great list @keithcollantine! I especially agree that McLaren and Ferrari seem like the last dinosaurs that do proper launching, therefore it was nice to see Sauber do it the proper way too.

    However Keith I think it is about time you take some days off don’t you think?

  5. Imre (@f1mre) said on 24th December 2013, 14:01

    Vettel ignoring parc fermé rules in India. Vettel doing donuts.

  6. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 24th December 2013, 14:24

    Vettel’s celebrations in India are surely worth a mention. Surprising to see how contrasting people’s opinions are of the last two seasons, but 2014 should at least be a nice shake-up if anything else.

  7. Breaking the 60 year old record with 9 wins in a row i would say is worth a mention, may be boring for some but a truly remarkable thing to be witnessing. Also as some has mentioned Vettels celebrations in India should have been on the list.

  8. Hunt in Rush was completely fictional I didn’t like the movie and I liked Senna even less, there are many better Senna documentaries but there aren’t many Lauda Hunt films. Nevertheless this year we’ve had the re-release of “Weekend of a Champion” and that’s marks this year as a very good year for racing films.

    • Steven (@steevkay) said on 24th December 2013, 17:58

      What are some of the better Senna documentaries, in your opinion? I would love to see more… I thought the Senna was a fun documentary, although it still left me with a lot of questions about his junior years, and left me wanting more about the spectacular races he had (I know many mention Donington ’93 not being included). Also, I don’t think it was right to antagonize Prost the way the movie did (that said, no matter what, the disqualification on the ’89 Japanese GP was not right).

      • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 25th December 2013, 10:30

        Senna was a brilliant documentary. I think a lot of people, even non-F1 fans, could not hold off tears at the end. I disagree with Prost being cast as this ruthless villain, as Senna could be just as ruthless.

  9. While I am a Vettel sceptic, for me, the doughnuts were my highlight of the season.

    I don’t rate Vettel much at all, and I am as sick of the hype heaped on him by the media as I am of DRS. But the doughnuts and that shot of him stood on the car, surrounded by smoke was the coolest image of F1 for decades. All this ** about him not suckiing up to the parasitic media being the reason for him not being popular, and a few doughnuts later and suddenly he became a genuine icon.

    I still dont rate him…..

  10. dutchtreat (@dutchtreat) said on 24th December 2013, 17:27

    Congratulations for providing such a fantastic site! Happy 2014
    Maybe a 2014 prediction game for first driver to run out of fuel…

  11. Jan (@yancheelaa) said on 24th December 2013, 18:52

    What I would put here on the list is webbers good bye, and him taking of the helmet while driving the lap of the circuit…one of the most emotional moments for me…

  12. @keithcollantine – There’s no sign yet of Bahrian and Yas Marina succumbing to the same fate, but there’s no Korea on the 2014 F1 calendar so things are definitely looking up.

    Yas Marina is a beautiful circuit in a truly magical oasis, and whilst the same can’t be said for Bahrain, the relentless anti-Middle_Eastern sentiment that infuses the commentary here borders on being racist at times, including now.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:36

      That is really just nonsense, and you reading something into a line that absolutely is not there @joepa. Sure, Yas Marina is a beautiful place, just as Valencia is a beautiful city and well worth a visit. But that does not make it a great racetrack by a long shot. As for Bahrain, yes, I agree that the whole political situation does nothing positive for the track, even when the track itself is not too bad (apart from when they included that awkward bit in 2010), but it still is hardly a great venue that enhances the calendar a great deal (like Singapore for example – the circuit isn’t great either, but the whole atmosphere makes it feel like its something special)

  13. Wesley (@wesley) said on 24th December 2013, 23:02

    Sad season for actual racing huh?
    You missed Vettel’s donuts and record consecutive wins Keith.

  14. Wesley (@wesley) said on 24th December 2013, 23:03

    …..and Webber’s last race.

  15. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 24th December 2013, 23:08

    Kimi in the parking lot at Abu Dahbi while the race was only a few laps old.

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