• Season Preview

2013 Season Preview - The Drivers

Laurence Edmondson March 12, 2013

A look at what each of the 22 drivers has to do to impress in 2013

Red Bull

Can Mark Webber step out of Sebastian Vettel's shadow this year? © Press Association
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Sebastian Vettel
Title odds: 6/4 (courtesy of BET365.com)
With three titles to his name and 26 victories it's easy to forget that Vettel is just 25 years old. Another title this year and he would be well on his way to usurping Michael Schumacher's record as the most successful driver in the sport. Yet driving for such a strong team has led some to question how much is down the car and how much is down to his talent. But it's the way that he exploits what he has that makes him stand out from the crowd and shows a maturity that belies his age. Think back to the way he exploited the new characteristics of the Pirelli tyres in 2011 and then adapted his style through 2012 to the changing exhaust solutions on the back of his Red Bull. That is the sign of a true champion.
Target: A fourth world title

Mark Webber
Title odds: 20/1
There were signs that Webber was back at his best midway through 2012, but when Red Bull hit its stride towards the end of the season he wasn't able to match Vettel. Luck didn't always fall his way, but the fact he finished the year over 100 points adrift of Vettel can't be ignored. Now entering his seventh year with Red Bull he really has to step up his game again or this could well be his final season with a front-running team.
Target: Preventing Vettel making him look average

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso is in the No.1 seat at Ferrari © Sutton Images
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Fernando Alonso
Title odds: 3/1
Alonso joined Ferrari three years ago to win titles and so far that hasn't happened. He's come close, but ultimately the car hasn't been a match for the Red Bull. This year the team looks in better shape but he will still require his rivals to take points off each other to be in the running. If he is in a straight fight with Vettel it looks unlikely that the Ferrari will be fast enough to match the Red Bull blow for blow. Losing last year's title despite such brilliant performances will have been draining and it remains to be seen if that has taken the edge off his determination to fight no matter what the car is like underneath him.
Target: Putting Ferrari back where it belongs at the top of the championship standings

Felipe Massa
Title odds: 66/1
There was a strong case for replacing Massa this year, but his return to form towards the end of 2012 was enough to convince Ferrari to keep him on. He is more indebted to the team now than he has been at any point in his seven years at Maranello and is clearly the number two to team leader Alonso. Quite what he can expect to achieve from that position is limited, but with no wins in the past four years even a lone victory would be welcome.
Target: A return to the top of the podium ... but only if Alonso isn't in contention for the win

McLaren

Jenson Button will relish leading McLaren this year © Sutton Images
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Jenson Button
Title odds: 13/2
After three years alongside Hamilton, Button is now the de-facto team leader and is relishing his new role. Whether he can step up and lead the team to its first title since 2008 is by no means certain, but he will be expected to challenge Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen et al at every race weekend. If he is to succeed in that quest he cannot afford the type of mid-season crisis that blighted his 2012 campaign, when he simply couldn't find a set-up to suited the tyres. The McLaren is quick but it's not a Brawn GP-style situation and Button needs to up his game again if he is going to win another title.
Target: Successfully leading McLaren's title challenge

Sergio Perez
Title odds: 14/1
Despite his podiums in 2012 there are still a lot of unanswered questions about Perez. What happened to his form last year after he signed for McLaren? How will he cope with the pressure of being at a big team? Were his best results actually just down to the Sauber's ability to preserve its tyres? The jury will remain out for at least the first three races, but how he performs early on will be crucial for moulding the perceptions going forward that could make or break his McLaren career.
Target: A debut victory and keeping in touch with team-mate Button's points scoring

Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen is the dominant force at Lotus © Sutton Images
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Kimi Raikkonen
Title odds: 12/1
With better one-lap qualifying pace, Raikkonen could have mounted a serious title challenge last year. He had the consistency to match Alonso and showed few signs that he had suffered from his years out of the sport. This season he can expect to have a quicker car and should be in contention for victories throughout the year. If the races are as open as they were last year then expect him to capitalise on the uncertainty and emerge as a title contender.
Target: Mounting a serious title challenge and adding to his victory count

Romain Grosjean
Title odds: 50/1
There's no doubt that Grosjean is a quick driver but his mistakes at the starts of races last year tainted his reputation. A run of clean races and a good haul of points will do wonders to unpick the negative image that he accidentally fabricated last year, but if the mistakes continue it could spell the end of his F1 career. It really is make or break for Grosjean in 2013 and it will be fascinating to see how he reacts.
Target: A solid season to cement his place in the sport

Mercedes

The battle bewteen Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be thrilling to watch © Mercedes
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Nico Rosberg
Title odds: 40/1
As a race winner, Rosberg comes to 2013 with some of the pressure off his shoulders. But after proving himself against an aging Michael Schumacher he now faces an even tougher team-mate in Lewis Hamilton. While it will be tough to beat his team-mate, he will have the benefit of being able to get on with his job while the media focuses its attention on the other side of the garage, and he also has a head start with three years experience at the team. If he can beat his illustrious team-mate it will be his biggest achievement in the sport yet.
Target: Beat Hamilton while taking the odd victory along the way

Lewis Hamilton
Title odds: 8/1
A new team, a new car and a new season. Hamilton already seems happier this year even though he is not likely to be in contention for the title. But he likes being an underdog and if he can score victories this season he will become an instant hero at his new team. In the long run it could be a smart move as his two fiercest rivals - Vettel and Alonso - both have a team that fully supports them and Hamilton could well have the same at Mercedes by the end of 2013.
Target: Victories with his new team while staying in contention for a top three finish in the drivers' championship

Sauber

It's an all-new line-up for Sauber in 2013 © Sutton Images
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Nico Hulkenberg
Title odds: 200/1
If Sauber can produce a car on a par with last year's, Hulkenberg could have all the tools for a breakthrough season. At Force India he showed that he can be consistently quick and with a strong car it's likely he will take podiums and silverware. He will also be expected to lead the team this year alongside his rookie team-mate, but he is fully prepared for the challenge.
Target: Score the big results that will convince the likes of Ferrari to sign him up in 2014

Esteban Gutierrez
Title odds: 750/1
He's been destined for Formula One for some time and now has the chance to prove himself at the top level. On the basis of his 2012 results in GP2 he still has a lot of work to do, but he is intelligent and the Sauber team is the perfect environment for a rookie to learn his trade. He's said he will take a measured approach to the first few races, but it remains to be seen whether he will be able to be as cool and calm in the cockpit as he is out of it.
Target: Prove that he has the consistency to match his talent and consolidate his place in the sport

Force India

Old team-mates reunited © Getty Images
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Paul di Resta
Title odds: 600/1
Being overlooked for the top drives this year will have hurt his ego and he is determined to prove that he is worthy of a top drive next year. A problem with his car's chassis hindered his progress towards the end of last season and he will be keen to show that his poor run of results was not a reflection of his driving skills. With Adrian Sutil as his team-mate he is going up against a driver he respects but also one he knows he can beat and he will be looking to hammer home the advantage he has in testing mileage this year at the early races.
Target: A podium or two to prove that he is on a par with the likes of Perez and Hulkenberg

Adrian Sutil
Title odds: 750/1
Second chances are rare in Formula One but to the surprise of the paddock Sutil has been given one. His pre-season testing was limited as a result of the late announcement but he knows the team well from his earlier career and appeared to adapt quickly at the final test. However, he will have to impress if he is to remain in the sport and fend off the next wave of pay drivers next season.
Target: Beat di Resta as he did in 2011 to prove that he deserves his second chance in the sport

Williams

Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas should have a quick car this year © Sutton Images
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Pastor Maldonado
Title odds: 300/1
His victory in Spain last year was hugely impressive but by the end of the season it was the negative aspects of his driving that stood out most. He needs to get his temper under control when on the race circuit and accept that he will not win every corner all of the time. If he can do that he is fast enough to score podiums and possibly more victories this year.
Target: Stay out of the stewards' office while continuing to demonstrate his prodigious pace

Valtteri Bottas
Title odds: 750/1
He may be a rookie but Williams has big hopes for Bottas this year. He comes to the team on merit rather than money and has shown flashes of pace in free practice sessions and at tests. Now he has to prove he can put together a full race weekend, which could be a bit tricky to start with as he hasn't raced since winning the GP3 title in 2011.
Target: Score consistent results while getting close or matching Maldonado on one-lap pace

Toro Rosso

A competitive battle is expected at Toro Rosso this year © Sutton Images
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Daniel Ricciardo
Title odds: 1500/1
One of the most likeable drivers on the grid, Ricciardo would be a popular front runner if he can land a drive at Red Bull in the future. That is the target going into this season and he has vowed to be more focused and aggressive this year to try to achieve it. On qualifying pace he proved he had the edge over team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne last year, but he needs to finish ahead on points if he is to convince Red Bull to promote him to its senior team.
Target: Beat Vergne and score some results that are worthy of a drive at a top team

Jean-Eric Vergne
Title odds: 1500/1
Vergne is clearly talented but struggled to show that at times in qualifying last year and was often caught out in Q1. This year there will be two midfield drivers dropping out with Caterham and Marussia in Q1 so it will be all the more important for him to get on top of his one-lap pace. In race situations he has shown more promise and will be hoping he has a car capable of top six finishes this year to underline his ability.
Target: Beat Ricciardo in qualifying as well as on points to secure the Red Bull promotion

Caterham

Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde were separated by just three points when they were team-mates in GP2 © Sutton Images
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Charles Pic
Title odds: 3000/1
Pic joins Caterham from Marussia after a solid first year in the sport. His new home is a better bet for the long term but this year he could find himself staring at the gearboxes of his old team as Caterham waits for upgrades for its underwhelming CT03. He will be expected to show some leadership as he starts his second year in F1 with rookie van der Garde as a team-mate.
Target: Pick up a point if the opportunity arises

Giedo van der Garde
Title odds: 3000/1
At 25 van der Garde has been waiting a long time to get his break in Formula One. He is still very much a pay driver but has shown flashes of pace in junior categories en route to F1. Going up against Pic won't be easy - his new team-mate beat him in GP2 in 2011 - but he fitted into the team well in testing.
Target: Finish off the back of the grid in qualifying and ahead of the Marussias in races

Marussia

Jules Bianchi came to the team at the final test © Sutton Images
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Max Chilton
Title odds: 3000/1
Another pay driver eager to prove that he deserves his place in F1. Chilton has shown flashes of speed in GP2 but needs to prove he can consistently get the most from the car. In Bianchi he has a formidable team-mate and will get credit if he can out-qualify and out-race his opposite number.
Target: Beat the Caterhams and Bianchi as often as possible

Jules Bianchi
Title odds: 3000/1
Coming to the team at the final test was not ideal, but Bianchi's experience with the Ferrari Driver Academy and as a Force India reserve will serve him well. Many feel he should have been given the Force India drive over Adrian Sutil so he will have to take the Marussia by the scruff of the neck to demonstrate he was unfairly overlooked.
Target: Lead the battle of the Caterhams and Marussias

Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1

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Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1 Laurence Edmondson grew up on a Sunday afternoon diet of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell and first stepped in the paddock as a Bridgestone competition finalist in 2005. He worked for ITV-F1 after graduating from university and has been ESPNF1's deputy editor since 2010